Why Atheism?

Posted: October 28, 2006 in Atheism, Evolution, Religion

smiley.jpgAtheism, according to various nations’ census data/results, is growing as an identified belief system (yes, it is a belief and not some sort of faith – there is a very distinct difference) while the percentage of those that hold onto religious beliefs would appear to be shrinking. So why is the human race slowly but surely turning away from the various gods presented to us to throw our devotion to? Attempting to speak for all Atheists would be extremely arrogant and undoubtedly end up being inaccurate so here, instead, are the reasons I am a staunch Atheist.

First I should point out that I grew up in a religious environment; I attended a Lutheran primary school which (as witnessed by a recent teaching stint there) is still pretty fundamentalist in their beliefs (dinosaurs walking side by side with humans, for example). I then had my secondary/high school education at a Christian college which had regular religious classes, during this time I even had the habit of attending church with my family. I know the Christian doctrine pretty well, I know the b
ible and I have read it from cover to cover on more than one occasion during my life – therefore I can confidently say I am not coming from a position of ignorance by any stretch of the imagination.

A few of those reading this may be thinking, at this point, that I had some sort of traumatic experience related to the church and religion but that is false, my time there was certainly not overtly negative in any identifiable ways, though I never felt comfortable with the thought of the whole deal. I distinctly remember, as a child, being in church and wondering ‘Why? Why were all these adults who I respected standing around and singing about some guy they don’t know is there?’

Homer and his BrainThat’s basically the start of it, I simply sat down one day and thought about the whole religion and god thing – this was about fourteen years ago. After all, rational analysing of any belief or faith system is imperative, else you have no foundation on which to build that system on and thus justify your opinion and that thinking served quite nicely as the foundation for a person re-examination of the entire Christian faith … and I came to find it severely wanting on numerous fronts.

To begin with, all available evidence points to the historical accounts within the bible to be very inaccurate. Geological evidence mixed with the laws of physics make the possibility of a global flood impossible – not only would it have been physically impossible for it to have occurred (it would have made the Earth incapable of supporting life for quite a long time) but it would have also left some sort of evidence/trace of it occurring, of which none can be found.

Heston as MosesThe exodus from Egypt is another classic tale from the bible which is often held is quite high esteem by believers but it also never happened. How do we know this? A casual objective look at the subject quickly spots some rather major flaws with the story; there are no records detailing any slave revolt, the death of a pharaoh or large numbers of military via flooding or any mention of various god delivered plagues (and the Egyptians were quite keen on keeping accurate records). Take into account that, if the bible story were true, then the number of slaves would have outnumbered actual Egyptian citizens and a slave revolt of that magnitude would have left Egypt in economic and social ruin – which would have appeared in records of nearby countries, yet there is not a single mention of any such event. Having a couple of million escaped slaves wandering through the desert for forty years would have, without any shred of doubt, left some evidence for those hard working and dedicated archaeologists to find (evidence of structures, dropped pottery, human remains, etc) and yet nothing has turned up despite numerous thorough examinations of the area.

The old testament is filled with events and people of which there is no proof for; cities which never existed, countries which never were, queens who were a fictional creation and so forth – mixed with inaccuracies in regards to times and locations of everything ranging from geography to battles. The bible even goes so far as to contradict itself numerous times, starting with Genesis and continuing the trend throughout the entire text – old and new testaments alike.

For detailed examples of the innumerable historical inaccuracies and contradictions within the bible, please refer to the following sources (far from a comprehensive list by any measure but they do make a nice starting point for further research):

Relating directly to the book of genesis, specifically the global flood and creation theory:

From this we have no choice but to conclude that the bible is a flawed document, without even considering the significant other factors such as the fallibility of the word-of-mouth passing of tales/folklore and translation errors. Parts of the Jewish community hold that large chunks of the Old Testament never happened and were written to serve as nothing more than a parable, since the Jewish pre-dates Christianity and supposedly it was those of the Jewish faith who wrote those passages, it is a stance which has to be considered. Since the bible is clearly and inarguably flawed then it can not be used as evidence to support the existence of god or justify the religious teachings therein.

So now that the bible is out as a citable reference in defence of god’s existence (though it can be used to indicate something else, see below), what else is there? Logic comes into play at this point to show that the ideas presented by most Christian faiths make no sense and are self contradictory (much like the bible itself). According to Christian faith god is omnipotent (all powerful, nothing is impossible for him), omniscient (he knows absolutely everything) and omnipresent (he’s everywhere at once) and yet all of these can be shown to be either logically impossible or proven false by the bible itself (yes, the bible is flawed but if it what certain religious folk cite as literal proof to support their claims then it can also be used for shooting them down).

Let us start with omnipotent; the god of Christian belief is supposedly unstoppable and without peer, he is able to do anything and is all powerful. Unfortunately, various passages in the bible itself show this to be quite false – Judges 1:19 is a classic example, which states:

And the Lord was with Judah and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had chariots made of iron.

TankFor an all powerful deity figure, being defeated by chariots of iron seems rather … well, weak. Was god out of thunderbolts that day? Was he unable to manifest some handy Abraham Tanks for Judah to use? Were his legions of Angels taking a sick day and unable to swoop down and kick some valley dweller butt on behalf of his loyal people? Regardless of the answer, that and other passages clearly show that if god exists then he is clearly not omnipotent. Another classic one is when the bible states that god is unable to lie … if he’s omnipotent than telling a simple white lie shouldn’t be a problem at all, the entire human race is quite capable of it after all.

Omniscient … this is where some simple logic comes in. Omniscient means that you basically know everything and anything even before you ask yourself any given question. There’s literally nothing you are not aware of, nothing which escapes your notice … I’m sure you get the general idea. The bible states quite clearly that god gave human kind free will, so that they might do as they wish. If you’re unable to instantly see the contradiction between the notions of omniscience and free will, I’ll try to join the dots for you. Free will works directly against the notion of predestination, that there’s a set future or destiny that we can’t avoid no matter what we might do simply because whatever we decide is a part of that destiny to begin with. If any being in the Universe is omniscient then that means they are already aware of what decisions any given being will make throughout their lives, which means that those decisions have already been made and are proverbially locked in and can’t be changed. If those decisions can’t be changed then free will is merely in illusion and doesn’t actually exist … so either god isn’t omniscient or free will is a con job and the bible (or god) is false.

Omnipresent … this one ties in a lot with omniscient and fails for the same reasons (if he’s everywhere then he must automatically know everything, which we can see doesn’t work). Additionally, the very idea of an organised church with set places for worships works against the philosophy of omnipresence. What is the point, other than dropping money into a collection plate, of going to a certain building at a certain time when god is everywhere and thus can hear your devotion/prayers/whatever no matter where you are? Surely just hearing the ‘good word’ from a preacher/paster/whatever isn’t enough since isn’t the bible meant to be all any good follower needs to sustain and grow in faith? What is the point of the term ‘House of God’ and having dedicated altars when god shouldn’t care where you make offerings/sacrifices/sing-a-longs to his name?

blakesatan-inflicting-boils-on-job.jpgGod is also supposed to be an all loving and universally forgiving force/being and yet this is evidently not so. How do we know this? It’s quite simple, really – the bible points out several times (in both testaments) that certain things need to be done in order to get in heaven/paradise after you snuff it and wander off the mortal world. You need to love god, finding him through Jesus, be humble, follow the commandments and so forth. If you don’t then you end up somewhere else, presumably somewhere not quite as nice as heaven … possibly something involving fire, demons, torture and general unpleasantness for eternity. Logically, therefore, if even one person ends up in the nasty place then obviously they haven’t been forgiven for whatever they may have done … ergo, that universal forgiveness does not exist.

It goes a bit further than that, however. If you break that line of reason down a bit and keep with the doctrine then things get very morally questionable to say the least. To make my point here, I’ll use an example: There’s a woman called Jane and she’s a really nice person. She’s kind and generous to a fault, helps the homeless and poor to the best of her ability and never hurts anyone. However, she doesn’t believe in a creator being/god and she does all these good deeds just because she’s a good person and doesn’t have the threat of eternal damnation hanging over her head. Sticking to church doctrine, poor Jane is going to hell/hades/the bad place when she dies despite being a great person who did her best to make the world a better place. That’s right; she’d be stuck with eternal damnation and torture without the possibility of parole or release simply because she didn’t kow-tow to god. If that fails to raise some serious questions about morality of religion/church/god in you then things are very wrong in the world. In short, if good people are allowed to suffer simply because of their lack of faith then any god who allows that isn’t worth worshipping in the first place … instead he deserves a slap across the back of head for being a morally bankrupt egomaniac. The argument could also be made that any sort of creator being that has the power to sense and stop evil/immoral acts but declines to do so is himself evil or, at best, amoral.

Keeping with the logical and objective train of thought, there is a passage from another book which helps to highlight the logical absurdity of the existence of any sort of higher creator being. The book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and though the book is a comedy, the logical basis of the following is still quite sound – read it and think about it.

“I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
“But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. Q.E.D.”
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

If you correctly followed all the above text then you should have reached the conclusion that both a creator being and the bible are logically absurd and pretty irrational from an objective viewpoint. Please note those last two words, ‘objective viewpoint’, since that is central to reaching any sort of rational decision – you need to start from neutral ground when considering such things. If you start the assessment with your mind already made up and your beliefs known, you’ll get nowhere and learn nothing. In short, you use the evidence to form the belief and not the belief to find evidence.

Time to move along, this time to a lesser but still notable factor in regards to the choice of Atheism: The Church. Christian dogma (and please don’t feel like I’m picking on the Christian faith, it’s just the one I’m most familiar with – all other faiths I know of have just as little or less rationality behind them) is based on the premise that Christians are the chosen of god and everyone else would be well served by following their example. The Vatican, in particular, has managed to set itself up in spectacular fashion as being the paragon of devotion to god and yet it is that same organisation which is perhaps the greatest indulger in questionable acts that serves to turn rational people away from faith in a creator being.

For the supposed holy men of god and examples of the faith, the Vatican and others of faith have committed some of the worst atrocities in known history. Would any god allow the supposed epitome of devoted followers to commit such dire and appalling acts? Is any creator being who allows evil to be carried out in his name as morally abhorrent as those who do the deed? As the old saying goes ‘All that is required for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing’, which can just as easily be applied to any creator being as to normal human beings. So what are some of these evils that the faith has perpetrated upon the rest of the world? Such a list, if in detail, could go on for quite a long time so instead a quick list will suffice to get the point across:

The Crusades: In which countless people died, countries were invaded. One crusade involved approximately 50,000 children who marched off … and ended either being sold into slavery or dying long before they reached the supposed holy lands.

The Spanish Inquisition: Religious blessed torture and murder which had nations in fear due to the methods employed to force confessions of heresy wherein people were put to death in horrific fashion.

Language: Back in the 14th century, the church threatened anyone who had a non-Latin bible with death. Wycliffe, who translated the bible into English, so upset the Pope with the act that his remains were dug up 44 years after Wycliffe’s death, crushed and deposited in a river. Skip forward a handful of decades and the Catholic Church had people burned at the stake for daring to teach their children to say the Lord’s Prayer in English. Keep in mind that the mandatory Latin version of the Bible was a truly horrible translation of the Greek which it had come from. This habit of burning bibles kept going until at least the 16th century, where Bishops desperately sought to keep the first English version of the New Testament from being distributed.

Knowledge: Directly linked with the language examples, religious groups have often fought desperately to suppress new knowledge and understandings. Some of the best examples of upholding of ignorance range from jailing Galileo for heresy for disproving the church’s geocentric view of the universe right to the current day where evolution is denounced and the illogical intelligent design hypothesis promoted.

The Salem Witch Trials: A mixture of era-centred ignorance and religious fanaticism resulted in the recorded deaths of twenty people and imprisonment of approximately one hundred and fifty. A classic example of people using faith as an inappropriate answer to a problem better left to rational thinking.

World War II: Various elements of World War II are quite suspect; continued tales of ethnic cleansing blessed by the Catholic Priests of the Croatian region, stories of how the Vatican assisted Nazis flee from Europe, etc. The details of these stories remain obscure due to the Vatican’s continued refusal to open their archives yet it is clear some inappropriate actions were carried out.

Child Abuse: As a more recent example, numerous members of the priesthood in the 1990’s and early 2000’s were accused of inappropriate actions with minors of both genders. In an apparent bid to stop these men of faith facing trial, the church decided to reassign them to other parts of the country or the world rather than allow them to face due justice.

The list could go on and on but I think that small sample gives you a pretty clear indication that the supposed holy followers of god have done (and in some cases, continue doing so) some morally abhorrent deeds. Any god that allows these deeds done by his/her/its supposed followers is amoral at best and certainly not deserving of any sort of worship.

atheistwarning.jpgTherefore, the simple act of logical reasoning proves that there can be no god or other creator being and if one did exist then they would almost certainly be amoral and not worthy of worship anyhow. We are who we are and there is no one else available to show us the future, we must inspire ourselves and leave irrational myths and other fairytales behind in the dust so that we may be all that we can be.

  1. tobilehman says:

    I think that you have quite possibly made one of the most profound assertions I have ever read via the blog medium, it is this kind of rationality that keeps me sane, and reminds me that I am not the only one who thinks the way I do. Thank you.

  2. Lazaro says:

    Why should we trust “logical reasoning”?

  3. Daniel says:

    Found it Matt!
    Anyway, I cannot possibly respond to everything at once so I should like to take it one post at a time, if that is okay…Your first objection is the flood story and that is completely understandable.
    The Bible does not support a “global flood”. The words that it uses (i.e. the Hebrew) and the phrases are more often used to describe the “known world” or the “local geography” etc. Just as the ark landed in the “mountains of Ararat” (Ararat was a kingdom or “country” as it were). Mountains was translated from the same word used to translate hills, mounds, and low foothills as well. I can direct you to all these resources if you ever so desire, but will leave it at that for right now as it is not within the scope of this post to answer everything.
    What people generally miss and now I realize why Jewish religious authorities would have considered most to be “unlearned” in scriptural matters is that the flood story encompasses many issues (all of which I can prove)…
    It talks about Messiah (indirectly)
    It talks about the term of pregnancy as related to judgment (twice)
    It talks about the luni-solar calendar
    It establishes a “day-for-year” prophecy
    It establishes the date for the “Judgment Day” on the 21st of Tishri
    It establishes the “Shemini Atzeret” (Eighth Day Assembly) on the 22nd of Tishri.
    Even the dimensions of the ark relate to the Ark of the Covenant
    There are many more layers to this story and I can prove each and every one. It is the moderns who do not understand…

    The Exodus is your next one and that is equally understandable. My take on it is much different than most (even the Jewish Rabbis). I am currently writing a book which discusses some of this as well as other things. Basically, the historical information is there and is encoded. The Exodus was an event that shaped their (Hebrews and Israelites) national identity. I will however, provide you with a little insight into my thinking on this matter.

    1) The Egyptians did not keep very accurate and detailed records. In fact, succeeding Pharaohs would often strike from the records any information that cast Egypt in bad light. This is acknowledged by Egyptologists.

    2) There are a few records that indicate plague, darkness, death etc. but “scholars” have interpreted these records to be referring to the political climate, etc. There is no indication that these records were anything but an accurate reflection of an event(s) that occurred.

    3) The Bible uses “spiritual dating” coupled with references that enable one to discover a “historical date”. This is complicated and involves both lunar and solar dating methods. For instance, when I use the spiritual date of “480 years” from the 4th year of Solomon then I end up with ca. 1446 B.C.E. When I recognize that 111 lunar years of oppression have been left out, then I can compute a historical date of ca. 1553 B.C.E. (i.e. 111 lunar years is about 107.5 solar years).

    Note that 107.5 solar years is 1/4 of 430 years so if you use a mirror effect from 1553 B.C.E. then we have ca. 1661 for Jacob’s entry into Egypt and ca. 1768 for Abraham’s entry into Canaan. His spiritual entry date was 1876 B.C.E. My Biblical studies have led me to conclude that this is how it was written.

    The historical date of 1553 matches closely with the Hyksos expulsion so my belief is that the Israelites broke from that group and the two became merged.

    The historical date 1661-1553 (107.5 years) matches closely with various estimates of the length of Hyksos rule of 108 years.

    The historical date of 1768 for Abraham matches closely for a projected date of Hammurabi’s reign which means that the old identification of Hammurabi with the Amraphel of Sinar may have been correct all along as the middle chronology suggested a reign of 1792-1750 for Hammurabi.

    It is also with interest that at this time (1553 B.C.E.) the New Kingdom started using the appellation of Moses with Ahmose (son of the moon), Kamose (son of the essence), Ramoses (son of Ra), Thuthmose (son of Thoth).

    Can any of these connections be firmly proven?? Most likely not or at the very least it will be a long time coming. However, the circumstantial evidence is there–it seems that the “interpretive history” that has been issued to explain them might be incorrect or at least lacking. Obviously, I have much more, but am not prepared at this time to type up a dissertation, LOL.

    You mentioned the following…

    Spanish Inquisition
    Salem Witch Trials
    World War II
    Child Abuse

    Yes, all bad things, but not proof of anything other than the fact that a) Evil is in the world (no matter how you define it) and b) God did not enslave us and gave us Free Will.

    Both are in the Bible and a great deal more. The alternative is that we would be under God’s complete control if He suddenly decided to put an end to it. His plan from the very first fall was to give mankind the freedom to see their own follies and choose Him. If man would choose the Lord then none of those things would happen. The Bible states that we will be judged for our actions. You criticize God by saying that if He existed He would be amoral and not worthy of worship and yet it is the culpability of mankind that you so readily ignore? The point is that God shouldn’t have to put a stop to it (He will, but He shouldn’t have to) because He gave us the choice and we should be able to stop it ourselves. However, we will see that we need God because we cannot solve all of our own problems and that is why the Lord is waiting.

    Yes, everything you mentioned are evil deeds and the list does go on, but merely listing bad and evil history does not prove anything. Einstein gave us a gift with his theories and what is one of the first things we did? We created the atomic bomb. So what does that prove??? It proves humans do these things, but that according to the Bible, the time will be cut short so that we don’t totally wipe each other out.

    “But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. Q.E.D.”

    You use a quote by an atheist to prove the atheist position on the logical fallacy of God??

    Q.E.D.–quod erat demonstrandum or that which is proven by demonstration. “It could not have evolved by chance” is a statement with no demonstrable proof to back it. Therefore, while it is funny (and I have read that book which is hilarious), it is in itself “illogical”. I, too, can make categorical statements such as those in any argument, but it does not constitute any proof and isn’t that what you desire–concrete proof? The only thing that quote does is expose the theist/atheist debate for what it truly is–futile.

    I did love the book though…LOL…Wasn’t there something about the meaning of life being the number “42″??? Or was that a different book?

    You mentioned a type of “universal forgiveness”. The Bible makes it very clear that forgiveness is attained through repentence and atonement. In other words, it is “conditional forgiveness” not “unconditional forgiveness”. That is the distinction and so it does not take away from the Bible’s description of God. What can be more simple than merely asking for forgiveness and meaning it? And when one does, he/she is forgiven? We could only wish that this were the case with human affairs, no?

    Why would God (who is also Just) forgive people who refused to repent and atone for those sins? Also, even those who are forgiven will most likely suffer some form of degreed punishment (this is not entirely clear, but is hinted at).

    Omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent are all things that I do disagree with for anything that violates God’s nature, He cannot and will not do. He must act in accordance with His own nature.

    As for your quote of Judges 1:19, it is not good evidence against the Bible’s definition or use of “almighty”. From my research, it is plain that the “he could not” refers to the immediate antecedant (i.e. Judah) and not to God. Later in Judges, it mentions that the Lord did not guarantee the Israelites unconditional victory. In other words, they had to believe in the Lord and His promises and they had to believe that they themselves could carry out His commands. This is abundantly clear.

    In addition, in my research, I did note that there is perhaps a discrepancy in the Bible insofar as that particular statement “So (And) the Lord was with Judah.” Firstly, it should be noted that punctuation, verse number, chapters, vowels, etc. all came later. Secondly, I believe that it needlessly interrupts verse 19 if placed at the beginning instead of at the end of verse 18. Notwithstanding, it matters little as there is no contradiction and as stated, the men of Judah failed and not the Lord.

    You list some websites knowing full well that one cannot answer a “copy and paste” job from any site. While I am not an “inerrancy buff”, I will say that most of the “supposed” contradictions are bunk and easily explainable. Some require very in depth research. If there are any that you would like to see some of my answers on then feel free to ask (one at a time). Anything else is probably borderline ridiculous for one should not rely upon sheer volume in order to overwhelm somebody into conceding any debate.

    I am certain that many of my answers would be similar to others. That would only be because of a plain reading of the text within all cultural, historical and literary contexts. If there are some that I cannot answer, then I would merely say that “I don’t know that one” or “I cannot adequately answer that one”. If there are some that require me to do research on then I would let you know that I needed more time in order to fully compile a response.

    Having said all that, you must firmly be able to differentiate between a contradiction, discrepancy and inconsistency for they are not one and the same. The burden of proof for me is only to show that a contradiction does not exist. I do not have to prove anything else. Seem fair, LOL?

  4. A Response: Top 10 Signs You May Be a Fundamentalist Christian

  5. Lol, Coops is everywhere, promoting my little Top 10 list…

    Anyway… Daniel, I want to ask you a few questions about your comments:

    “The Bible does not support a “global flood”. The words that it uses (i.e. the Hebrew) and the phrases are more often used to describe the “known world” or the “local geography” etc. Just as the ark landed in the “mountains of Ararat” (Ararat was a kingdom or “country” as it were). Mountains was translated from the same word used to translate hills, mounds, and low foothills as well. I can direct you to all these resources if you ever so desire, but will leave it at that for right now as it is not within the scope of this post to answer everything.”

    Definitely interesting. I don’t know the actual Hebrew phrases, but if you point me to some of those resources you mentioned I’d love to read them. However, even if the Bible doesn’t refer to a global flood, why do religious authorities (who usually are students of theology; shouldn’t they know better?) keep telling their adherents that a global flood is what happened?

    “There are many more layers to this story and I can prove each and every one. It is the moderns who do not understand…”

    Haha, why not help the moderns understand? I’m sorry, but when you say “I can prove each and every one… It is the moderns who do not understand” you are offering me nothing else than your own opinion. There’s a lot to be said for peer-reviewed research articles. This is the age of the Internet, direct people to websites, articles, or databases where they can continue their exploration of the topic. Don’t base a statement on the fact that you say it’s true.

    “Yes, all bad things, but not proof of anything other than the fact that a) Evil is in the world (no matter how you define it) and b) God did not enslave us and gave us Free Will.”

    About A (this also ties in with what you said later on): Have you heard of the Greek Philosopher Epicurus? This is one of his better-known musings:

    “Is God both willing and able to prevent evil? Whence, then, comes evil?
    Is he willing but unable to prevent evil? Then he is feeble.
    Is he able but unwilling to prevent evil? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he neither able nor willing to prevent evil? Then why call him “God”?”

    As for B, according to the Genesis story humans didn’t have Free Will before Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge. If you believe this story then before that time humans were enslaved, which would be the way that God originally wanted them. He was angry when they broke his rule, but why? If he is all-powerful and omniscient (which are two mutually-exclusive terms, by the way), he knew exactly what they were going to do. Being surprised means that he wasn’t omniscient. Being angry is unreasonable, since he set them up to fail (he’s omnipotent, remember?). I like Matt’s Douglas Adams quote: “God… promptly vanished in a puff of logic”. Lol.

    “The alternative is that we would be under God’s complete control if He suddenly decided to put an end to it. His plan from the very first fall was to give mankind the freedom to see their own follies and choose Him.”

    Not from the very first, but close to it. See above.

    “However, we will see that we need God because we cannot solve all of our own problems and that is why the Lord is waiting.”

    God seems like a kid with a magnifying glass and lots of sunlight. He creates humans (and sets them up to fail), then blames them for their failure, banishes and punishes them, then pretends to be a good guy by offering to give them salvation (for something which he set up from the beginning), and gives them the ultimate ‘fair’ choice: Serve him forever in heaven, or burn forever in hell. No pressure.

    “You use a quote by an atheist to prove the atheist position on the logical fallacy of God??”

    Um… yes. Just like you use quotes from the Bible about God to prove that God has trait a or trait b. A physicist would quote other physicists when talking about his field of work. He wouldn’t quote the man selling movie tickets at the mall when he tries to explain something like electron spin. I have no idea what you mean by this…

    “Wasn’t there something about the meaning of life being the number “42″???”

    Lol, yeah, that’s the book. Hilarious :).

    “The burden of proof for me is only to show that a contradiction does not exist. I do not have to prove anything else.”

    My friend, you are mistaken. The burden of proof lies with whoever makes the claim. If I told you that last night the Flying Spaghetti Monster told me that you have to send me all your money, would you do it? Probably not, for the simple reason that I can’t provide any proof that my claim came from the divine. The same goes for people who claim they were abducted by UFOs, people who claim to have seen the Loch Ness Monster, people who claim to have seen Bigfoot… It’s all worthless unless they can provide proof.

    Why, then, do you feel that you do not need to prove anything else?

    Nice post, Matt, and thanks for your comment. I like your blog, keep it up!

  6. Daniel says:


    I will try to respond to your questions accordingly, but I may have to break it up a bit…

    For the first part about a more “localized” flood, I will have to dig up some of those resources (if only for your interest and not to try and convert you…LOL). I promise that I will provide those for you. In the meantime, I think that the reason many theologians talk about a global flood is because they are (Fundies?? Fundamentalists–I guess that is what atheists and non-fundamentalists call them?)…

    The second part about the flood story and genesis (in general) having many different layers that I can prove refers mainly back to my list about what is derived (exegetical) from those stories. Rabbis acknowledge the multi-layered stories so why don’t modern Christians? I don’t know…As an example, I will use numerics to illustrate how the flood story discusses the Day of Judgment and the Eighth Day Assembly (Shemini Atzeret–Day of Thanksgiving and Renewal)…

    The flood began on the 17th day of the 2nd month
    The flood ended on the 27th day of the 2nd month (dried (shamed) on the 2nd time)

    Write it as a number with month and day–217
    Write the time the flood ended–227

    The Jewish Day of Judgment of Rain is the 21st of the 7th month
    The Jewish Day of Thanksgiving and Renewal is the 22nd of the 7th month

    Write them as day and month–217
    Write the second–227

    Not many Christians pick up on that because they take an all-too-literalistic approach to the Bible…I could go into the rest, but I am currently writing a book about much of it and while not secret or anything, it is time consuming and not within the scope of this one post…

    Next, I have heard of Epicurus, but admit that I don’t know much about him so thank you for the mention of him and I will look more into his philosophy.

    As for Genesis showing that humans had no free will before the fall, you will have to tell me where because I do not get that from the reading. Also, God was not surprised about any of it, but questioned Adam to see if he would “cop to it”. Parents do the same with their children all the time.

    About the analogy of God with the “magnifying glass”? Pretty decent analogy to a degree, but I do not believe that God “set us up to fail”. A person can fail either by choice or by accident and Adam and Eve chose to disobey. I don’t believe the alternative is to “burn in hell forever”, but I do believe that when given the choice of repentance that if one does not, then one “reaps what was sown”. Naturally, those are my beliefs and I don’t expect you to subscribe to them, but thank you for the response nonetheless.

    On the atheist quote…? LOL…yes, touche indeed for that was a rather “numbskulled” statement to make, but I type as I think and rarely go back and edit so that is why I appreciate the remark on your part…BTW, I love Doug Adams’ books and I think that mine are still at my mother’s house in the next town over (along with many others that I really miss…hehe).

    As for the burden of proof? No, I was responding to the claim of contradictions and as such the skeptic has to prove a contradiction. I only have to illustrate why it is not a contradiction. I did not make the claim first and as such you are incorrect in this matter. I do not have to prove the theology or anything else about the proposed claim. This is true in a court of law and therefore, in this case as well. Notice also, that I did not claim that contradictions may or may not exist–Matt did by posting web sites and making the claim. Besides, I think you are confusing some terms like contradiction, inconsistency, etc. A proposed contradiction by an atheist need not have anything to do with the divine–it may be a historical or numerical discrepancy so your argument about the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” (BTW, where do you get that as I’ve noticed quite a few atheists using the exact same analogy?) and faith-based issues falls short. To wit, I would only have to prove more for a contradiction if it dealt solely with the Divine. If it dealt (or could be shown to apply) with human matters or one can use human analogies to illustrate why it is not a contradiction, then I need not prove the existence of God in order to prove a non-contradiction. You seem to be implying that all supposed contradictions depend on the existence of God in order to be proven wrong?

    Anyway, thanks for the response and as stated, we can tackle contradictions one at a time, but I do not need to prove God to you. If I don’t know an answer then I will plainly state that fact. In the meantime, I will at least direct you to some sources about those Hebrew phrases mentioned at the beginning. Hebrew is indeed interesting due to its complexity (regardless of belief in God or no).

  7. Just as there is not proof for the existence of God, there is no proof for the non-existence of God. Therefore Atheism is, in fact, a form of faith. And while I agree with you that much of what is in the Bible is pure fiction (but entertaining fiction, at that), that does not in and of itself prove the non-existance of God. Most organized religions are just fairy tales that have somehow become dogma, but again, that doesn’t actually prove anything.

    While I myself happen to believe in God, I also realize that it is just that, a belief, and that I have no right to force this belief down other people’s throats. Therefore I have little patience with those who act as though they have God’s cell phone number, be they fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, or whatever (actually I don’t really like fundamentalist anything). So since we can never really know the true nature of God, people should be free to believe in whatever perception of God they like, or simply not to believe at all. But either way, it’s still just a belief.

    Personally, I think believing in God is a safer bet. If I’m wrong, no harm done. But if I’m an Atheist, and I’m wrong, what then? Do I, when I die, come face to face with a pissed off Almighty, who glares at me from under bushy eyebrows and says, “So, you didn’t believe in me, eh? What do you believe now, you little bastard?”

  8. Willem says:


    Thanks, I’m looking forward to the links.

    I’m not sure about your numerics… Over the ages different calendars have been used with different month- and day-counts.

    If, as you say, the burden of proof for you is only to show that a contradiction doesn’t exist and you are able to do so, this would still not be evidence of God. It would only be evidence of an (amazingly improbably) coherent work of century-spanning literature.

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster has an interesting history… After a Kansas school board voted to include creationism in the school curriculum alongside evolution, a physics graduate called Bobby Henderson congratulated the decision but protested that, since they didn’t know for sure that the Christian creation story is the real one, they should also teach other variations. He proposed the doctrine of Pastafarianism, since he and his fellow believers felt sure that the world was created by the FSM. By doing this he demonstrated to them that their winning argument of “you cannot prove it to be false” is completely ridiculous. Using their measure, the gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is just as true as any other.


    “Personally, I think believing in God is a safer bet. If I’m wrong, no harm done. But if I’m an Atheist, and I’m wrong, what then? Do I, when I die, come face to face with a pissed off Almighty, who glares at me from under bushy eyebrows and says, “So, you didn’t believe in me, eh? What do you believe now, you little bastard?””

    That argument is known as “Pascal’s Wager”, and it has been demonstrated numerous times in the past that it cannot work. To quote Richard Dawkins:

    “The great French mathematician Blaise Pascal reckoned that, however long the odds against God’s existence might be, there is an even larger asymmetry in the penalty for guessing wrong. You’d better believe in God, because if you are right you stand to gain eternal bliss and if you are wrong it won’t make any difference anyway. On the other hand, if you don’t believe in God and you turn out to be wrong you get eternal damnation, whereas if you are right it makes no difference.

    There is something distinctly odd about the argument, however. Believing is not something you can decide to do as a matter of policy. At least, it is not something I can decide to do as an act of will. I can decide to go to church and I can decide to recite the Nicene Creed, and I can decide to swear on a stack stack of bibles that I believe every word inside them. But none of that can make me actually believe it if I don’t. Pascal’s wager could only ever be an argument for feigning belief in God. And the God that you claim to believe in had better not be of the omniscient kind or he’d see through the deception.

    Bertrand Russell was asked what he would say if he died and found himself confronted by God, demanding to know why Russell had not believed in him. ‘Not enough evidence, God, not enough evidence,’ was Russell’s reply. Mightn’t God respect Russell for his courageous scepticism far more than he would respect Pascal for his cowardly bet-hedging? And, while we cannot know which way God would jump, we don’t need to know in order to refute Pascal’s Wager. We are talking about a bet, remember, and Pascal wasn’t claiming that his wager enjoyed anything but very long odds. Would you bet on God’s valuing dishonestly faked belief (or even honest belief) over honest scepticism?

    Then again, suppose the god who confronts you when you die turns out to be Baal, and suppose Baal is just as jealous as his old rival Yahweh was said to be. Mightn’t Pascal have been better off wagering on no god at all rather than on the wrong god? Indeed, doesn’t the sheer number of potential gods and goddesses on whom one might bet vitiate Pascal’s whole logic?”

  9. Joey says:

    Felt a reply to be necessary, first of all Matt I must say that you gained my full respect as soon as you quoted the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, wonderful book series! Also I found the rest of your argument to be quite profound and emotional. A lot of opinion, which you are most certainly entitled to and even some valid information to back up your arguments. Judging from the style of this post I can assume you’re an intelligent indivudual and I hope you will not judge me harshly simply because I’m a devout Catholic. I’m sad to say that my experience with many Atheists hasnt been so pleasant. I’ve only met one Atheist in my lifetime who hasnt treated me unjustly because of my beleifs, a close friend of mine who hears me out and accepts me for who I am. I wouldnt be so taken back by negative treatment is I had tried to “convert” the offender, but I beleive everyone is entitled to their own mind-set and I only share my opinions and views, as a result I never treat anyone as less of a person for beleiving differently.

    The biggest reason I respect you is because you question(ed?) your faith, which is something I beleive all people should do. I think more people should ask the question “why?” and more people should try to learn more about what they’re being taught instead of giving into blind faith. The bible is full of inconsistencies and problems, anyone truely interested should know this. As you’ve said before we can accredit this to the damage multiple translations have caused, Aramaic to Egyption, to Latin, to whatever is sure to botch anything. The number of words for which there are no translation in Aramaic and Greek are quite numerable. Because of this I dont think we can take everything in the bible too literally.

    However, I think the bible numbering system is a point of great interest. If you’re unaware of what the bible numbering system is, its a complex mathematical formula the bible follows in which everything equates to 7 or a multiple of 7. It was first figured by Ivan Panin in the late 1800s.

    “Let’s take the number seven as an illustration of the way the patterns work. Seven is the most prolific of the mathematical series which binds scripture together. The very first verse of the Bible “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1:1), contains over 30 different combinations of seven.

    This verse has seven Hebrew words having a total of 28 letters 4 x 7. The numeric value of the three nouns “God”, “heaven” and “earth” totals 777. Any number in triplicate expresses complete, ultimate or total meaning.

    Also tightly sealed up with sevens are the genealogy of Jesus, the account of the virgin birth and the resurrection. Seven occurs as a number 187 times in the Bible (41 x 7), the phrase “seven-fold” occurs seven times and “seventy” occurs 56 times (7 x 8).

    In the Book of Revelation seven positively shines out: there are seven golden candlesticks, seven letters to seven churches, a book sealed with seven seals, seven angels standing before the Lord with seven trumpets, seven thunders and seven last plagues. In fact there are over 50 occurrences of the number seven in Revelation alone.

    There are 21 Old Testament writers whose names appear in the Bible (3 x 7). The numeric value of their names is divisible by seven. Of these 21, seven are named in the New Testament: Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea and Joel. The numeric values of these names is 1554 (222 x 7). David’s name is found 1134 times (162 x 7).”

    I most certainly dont think that this PROVES the truth of the bible but I do beleive it to be evidence thereof. But the fact that the bible was supposedly written by numerable people who loves hudreds and thousands of years apart, makes this significant in the argue for or against. By that logic I can submit to you that either the bible(original) is true, or its the most elaborate hoax ever constructed.

    You also point out many atrocities done by the Catholic church in the past, admitedly MY church. I dont condone the things you pointed out nor do I think they were right. Fighting for your beleifs truely is an admirable thing but unjust genocide isnt. The Roman Catholic church was a tool used in a very strong and effective War tactic. At the time Catholocism was an admirable and very attractive religion compared to many others, what better way to control new territory than to control they way people thought? To tell someone they were doing something in the name of God when it was really in someone elses best interest was all the rave by governments and conquerors alike. I dont pretend to think that the same dosnt happen today, not just in Catholocism but in many other religions, cults, and sects.

    Why would God let something like that happen? I can only assume the idea goes back to free will. You pointed out what might be a good argument against free will, one that I’ve contemplated on many occasion. I do fail to see the relationship between Omniscient and free will that you demonstrated. Just because God is aware of everything dosnt seem to mean that hes manipulating everything either. I do beleive that God has a plan yes, thats my personal opinion. And the even ground between humans having free will and God having a plan is very difficult to see. The only concept I can provide in defense is that God has an ultimate plan and gives us the tools to see it through. Should someone fail at his given task then something will happen to remedy the situation. The idea of free will is difficult to argue either way, and I cant give an argument any stronger than yours. Which is why I present this as my opinion.

    Another personal opinion:

    “And the Lord was with Judah and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had chariots made of iron.”

    This is a good example of the difficulty presented by the various translations the bible has went through. Your example is from the King James version of the bible, which leaves a second perception where “he” refers to Judah and not God. Meaning Judah was unable to drive them out of the mountain. However in your defense the American Standard bible rewords it so that your interpretation is the only one.

    “And Jehovah was with Judah; and drove out the inhabitants of the hill-country; for he could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”

    Where another translation brings up a different idea.

    “he drave, or he possessed the mountain. but could. Not because the iron chariots were too strong for Omnipotence, or because he refused to help them; but because their courage and faith failed when they saw them. Jud 1:27-32 Jos 7:12 Mt 14:30,31 17:19,20 Php 4:13”

    Its hard to use any part of the bible as proof for or against without direct reference to the original Greek/Aramaic writings

    You also provide what I truely beleive to be a strong argument against the idea of God’s Omnipresence, but I beleive differently. Its true that churches are often referred to as the “house of God”, but thats an idea I’ve always chosen not to take literal. Churches are suppose to be a place of respect and worship and the idea of a church being “God’s House”, I can only assume that the ideal came from tradition in regards to respect given to the owner of one’s house upon entering. While in church one is suppose to be respectful of the ways of the church. Many societies hold the same basic tradition in regards to the politeness to be expressed when in someone else’s home.

    Also humor this opinion of mine, that churches in the physical are for the people, literally, and not necessarily for God. Being atheist you should understand the concept of the tangible, and needing something tangible to support the truth of something’s existance. The presence of a church/temple/synagogue/etc. is a reminder for the people of who they are and what they practice, and a place where everyone is(suppose to be) considered equals and a private place to pray/worship/meditate/reflect/etc.

    You also point out a good, common sense argument against the concept of God’s love. I wish my rebuttle could be as simple and understandable as your initial observation, but bear with me. The idea is always out there that God wishes no one to perish and gives everyone a chance to enter into heaven. In that same respect the idea has also been given and supported that God holds those who are unaware of his teachings as innocent and will accept them regardless. God has given everyone free will to choose if they want to join him or not. His love for us and respect for what we want gives us the choice to enter into heaven or not. Its simply out of complete misfortune that the ONLY other option to accepting God is to break away from him(in other words, goto hell). I dont know what Hell is like or what it is but I can most certainly tell you its not some firey cave administered by some red guy with pointy horns weilding a pitchfork.(That idea actually comes from the Pagan Ideals Satan, Lucifer, and Beelzebub. Ironically Lucifer means “Light Bringer”) I beleive hell to be something much less generic, and not necessarily in the form of a punishment as much as an absence of everything God gave us (body, love, etc.) This of course is a personal opinion with little tangible backing. But I beleive Hell to simple be the full and total absence of God. Which is ideals of god’s infinite love are true makes it a pretty unbearable ideal.

    I’m not trying to convert you or convince you you’re wrong or anything. I’m simply demonstrating that logical reason can also lead to a beleif in God. As said before I have a lot of respect for you because not only can you speak your mind but you can be punctual ann intelligent in the process.

  10. Joey says:

    Spelling errors, curse you Notepad!!!

    But the fact that the bible was supposedly written by numerable people who loves(lived) hudreds and thousands of years apart…

    This of course is a personal opinion with little tangible backing. But I beleive Hell to simple(simply) be the full and total absence of God. Which is(if) ideals of god’s infinite love are true makes it a pretty unbearable ideal.

    …punctual ann(and) intelligent in the process.

  11. teenatheist says:

    Over a year later, and people are still commenting! Powerful stuff, sir, and bravo on an excellent post. I couldn’t agree more, and I must say, my experiences are quite similar to yours.

    – Teen Atheist

  12. Joey says:

    Muahahaha, count on me to beat a dead horse! 😛 I felt compelled to reply cuz I thought it to be well written^^ and worthy of thought.

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