The Deadly Atheist Meme Even Christians Get Wrong

By Tom Gilson Published on December 1, 2018

Atheists love all their soundbites, but this one they love most of all. There is none more destructive than this: “Faith is belief without evidence.”

It’s destructive because it’s been wielded with carpet-bombing efficiency as the core idea in Richard Dawkins’ runaway best-seller The God Delusion. Never mind that the book violates Dawkins’ own standard of “reason” on virtually every page. Never mind that he operates without evidence himself in every chapter. He’s sold a lot of books in spite of that, and he’s sold a lot of people on atheism.

It’s destructive because it misrepresents Christianity as an unthinking religion. Never mind that our greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, or that a huge proportion of the greatest scientists, artists and thinkers in Western history have been Christians. Somehow, still, this meme makes Christianity out to be a fool’s game, a delusion.

Worst of all, though, it’s destructive because even Christians — many of them — believe it’s true. They actually think that’s what faith is. So they don’t bother teaching one another how we can know Christianity is true. Thus they practice their religion while discarding the life of the mind — living in open disobedience to the greatest commandment of them all.

A Test: What Would Happen If It Were True?

clarke on atheism

Another version of the same mistake. It’s not true this way, either.

The meme is wrong. The best way I know (there are many) to prove it’s wrong is by pretending it’s true. Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that faith really is belief without evidence. Most atheists (and some unaware Christians) would go on to say that faith and knowledge never cover the same territory. If you have faith, it’s in something you don’t know, and if you know something, it isn’t faith. There’s never room for the two to share the same space.

So let’s suppose that’s true, and add some other facts to that, and take them in order:

  • Fact 1: Faith is one of the top virtues in Christianity, second only to love.
  • Fact 2: One of Jesus’ main purposes on earth was to build men and women of faith.
  • Fact 3 (for the sake of argument): Faith requires not knowing for sure that something is true.
  • Fact 4: After Jesus’ resurrection, says Acts 1:3, He “presented Himself alive … with many infallible proofs.”
  • Conclusion 1: When the disciples saw those proof, they knew for sure Jesus’ resurrection was true.
  • Conclusion 2: At that point the disciples knew Jesus was their resurrected Lord and Savior.
  • Conclusion 3: Because they knew it, and because faith can’t share the same space with knowledge, it wasn’t faith anymore.
  • Final Conclusion: By proving His resurrection, Jesus was taking away His disciples’ faith!

It’s absurd. Ridiculous. Impossible. But it’s where you land, once you start down a path of saying faith is believing things you don’t know. You make Jesus one of history’s great destroyers of faith. It just proves what a big mistake it is to start down that path in the first place.

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Part of an ongoing series

Who Thought Up This Idea, Anyway? Not Christians!

In other words, faith isn’t believing what you don’t know. That mistaken belief originated with philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, David Hume and others living 17 or more centuries after Christ, who said we can’t really know what we can’t see, hear, feel, smell or taste, and even that’s in doubt. Before then, and in pockets of more sensible thinking since that time, faith has always had a much more reasonable meaning.

Its simplest definition is simply trust. We can trust things we know are true, can’t we? My wife is away at work today. I trust she’ll spend the day doing what is good and right. I trust it because I know it; or it would be equally true to say I have faith in her because I know her.

Faith has always been that way. One of the earliest followers of Christ, Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), said,

We offer proof [of Jesus Christ] . … with our own eyes we behold things that have happened and are happening just as they were predicted; and this will, we think, appear even to you the strongest and truest evidence.

Evidence is at the forefront. More recently, C. S. Lewis put reason there, saying faith is “the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.” In other words, it’s continuing to believe what you know is true, even if your emotions tell you it doesn’t look that way.

Knowledge Beyond Direct Proof

Faith goes beyond proven knowledge into matters of revelation. Take life after death, for example. Christians have faith that there is a future state of life and joy ahead for us, when we die. There’s no direct evidence for it, at least not in the form of what we can see, touch, hear and so on. But that doesn’t mean it’s believing without any evidence at all. For we know plenty.

Faith is an attitude of trust toward what one knows is true, coupled with confident willingness to take risks to go with it.

We know (or at least we should know) that Jesus Christ rose from the dead; the historical evidence is solid and secure. We know that He promised resurrection to his faithful followers. WE know that He is trustworthy to keep his promises (again, the evidence is strong). Therefore, faithful followers can be sure that they have an eternal life of love and joy awaiting them someday.

That’s a matter of faith, sure. But notice: it’s faith is built on things we know are true.

Knowledge, Trust, Risk

Which leads to my own preferred definition of Christian faith: Faith is an attitude of trust toward what one knows is true, coupled with confident willingness to take risks to go with it.

For trust — faith — implies risk. You’re not really trusting the hot air balloon to carry you safely, as long as the gondola is still standing on the ground. It’s only when the balloon rises above you, and you rise with it, that trust kicks in. Of course you have reasons to trust the balloon — but it’s still trust, isn’t it?

Faith is like that. The risk I take in Christ is that I’ve devoted all that I am to Him to the best of my ability, no matter what, my whole life long. I feel secure in that — because I know who Jesus is. That’s what faith is: built on knowledge, moving forward in trust.

Part of a series on atheist memes.

 

Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream who‘s taken on some of the top purveyors of this meme-mistake in his co-edited book True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism (Kregel Publications, 2014) and an ebook, Peter Boghossian, Atheist Tactician. Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.

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  • Ray

    Seems to me that the greatest evidence that God exists, is the earth itself. It’s way too big to have been made by any man. Now this might seem a bit circumstantial, but even in courtrooms with good judges and juries, we see some convictions when the circumstantial evidence is big enough.

    So what has often happened is that a man has enough conviction to believe that God may indeed exist, and so he sits down after his long walk, and prays, thanking God (whom he has not seen) for all the beautiful things he has seen, and somehow…something cloudy has become more clear, something darkened has changed to light. His future looks a bit brighter, and he can see some things a bit more clearly. He is even happier than he was before, and so, he prays again another day.

    He begins to walk this way, and some people took notice at his knowledge and understanding. The called such people men of wisdom and truth. Those who had no knowledge of God, became known as fools, because God showed himself to them.

    • apollo

      Unless God opens the eyes of a non-believer he or she will live and die in the fallen realm of Satan.

      • Trilemma

        Why does God not open the eyes of all non-believers?

        • apollo

          “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and
          opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with
          me.” Revelation 3:20

          The key : “… and opens the door,” We have free will. But mankind loves its sin.

          • Erwin Wild

            Spot on, God does not break in by force, He knocks on the door. Now, are you willing to open, yes or no? Are you prepared to learn more form Him, yes or no? Do you want a relation with your creator, yes or no?
            God respects your free will.

          • apollo

            Very nicely said.

          • Ray

            It’s about the heart isn’t it?

          • apollo

            Yes Sir it is. I remember when He came into my soul. It makes me weep with joy just thinking about it. God Bless you.

          • Trilemma

            First, you said that God needed to open the eyes of the non-believer for the non-believer to be saved. Now, you say the non-believer needs to open his eyes himself to be saved and not God. Which is it?

          • apollo

            Because I have no other answer to offer you. I am inclined to support the doctrine of predestination. I believe I was ordained to know God and if I so chose to accept the offer of salvation it was mine. I can not tell you how many times I felt His presence and pushed Him out of my mind. Until the day my life blow up. Then I literally screamed “Come back I need you!” And He came. All I have to offer you is my experience with Christ. It is unique to me. And can not really be understood by anyone other then me. It is a mystery . I live in the mystery and even though I experience Christ every day it is still a mystery to me.

        • Andy Doerksen

          He has: “The true light, who gives light to every person, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9)

          “[T]he wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all impiety and unrighteousness of people, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is evident among them, for God made it clear to them. For from the creation of the world, his invisible attributes, both his eternal power and deity, are discerned clearly, being understood in the things created, so that they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, but . . . exchanged the truth of God with a lie, and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed for eternity. Amen.” (Romans 1:18-21, 25)

          So, God has opened everyone’s eyes. The problem is that they’ve shut their eyes all over again.

        • Because you have free will and prefer your own ego over God.

  • Ray

    An atheist is one who took a little bit of a walk, but then turned back.

    • Andy Doerksen

      Yet they continue to walk in faith, like everybody else.

      • Ray

        Rather, they walk according to their own delusion, after their own imaginations. They go in the opposite direction of the Christian walk. If they have a trust, it’s trusting in their own falsehood, having no real hope.

        • Andy Doerksen

          I’m using “faith” in the ordinary sense of the term: trust or belief in someone/-thing you can’t prove. So yes: all human beings exercise faith, on a constant basis, in all sorts of ways.

  • Trilemma

    I’ve read The God Delusion. A better title would have been The Religion Delusion. He didn’t address abiogenesis at all. He only addressed the natural selection half of evolution and didn’t address mutation at all.

    The definition of faith by Richard Dawkins.
    Faith is belief without evidence and reason.

    The definition of faith by Tom Gilson.
    Faith is belief with evidence and reason.

    The definition of faith by the Bible.
    Faith is belief.

    This is just an argument about definitions of faith. The Bible uses faith and belief as synonyms. If you use faith and belief in the same sentence it implies you’re not using them as synonyms as the Bible does. I view belief as a combination of faith, evidence and reason.

    • No, the definition of Faith by the Bible is founding oneself in God by trusting Him and His Church.

  • swordfish

    “We know (or at least we should know) that Jesus Christ rose from the dead; the historical evidence is solid and secure.”

    Such as?

    “Faith is an attitude of trust toward what one knows is true, coupled with confident willingness to take risks to go with it.”

    If we know something is true, we don’t have faith in it, or trust it, we just know it’s true. Do I have faith that I’ve got two legs, or do I just know I’ve got two legs? The only reason for invoking the concept of faith at all is precisely because we don’t know for a fact that the claims made by religions are true. In fact, going back to your last atheist meme, we know that most claims made by most religions must be false.

    • Such as… libraries and libraries of material, which is why I could do no more than allude to it here. I’d suggest J. Warner Wallace’s book Cold-Case Christianity as a good reading start.

      Do you trust you have two legs? That would be an odd thing to say, and I certainly wouldn’t put it that way myself; but if you wanted to say it, then you could also say you have faith you have two legs.

      “The only reason for invoking the concept of faith at all is precisely because we don’t know for a fact that the claims made by religions are true.” — In which you repeat the message of the meme I have explained is wrong here.

      As for multiple religions, I suppose I should have specified more explicitly I am talking about “faith” as Christians use the term. In case it wasn’t clear from my use of the Bible, Justin Martyr and C. S. Lewis, that is. If other religions use the word differently, they have that freedom.

      And of course it should be obvious there are other unrelated uses of the term, such as “faith” used as a synonym for “religion” (as in “The peoples of the world follow many different faiths.”) That usage has nothing to do with either this meme or my answer here.

      • swordfish

        “Such as… libraries and libraries of material”

        There are a lot of apologetics books, but certainly no “libraries” of historical evidence, so let’s not allow that false claim to create a misleading impression. In fact, historical evidence for the resurrection is almost entirely absent. There are a few scattered references to Christians, to a “Christus” figure, and so on, but nothing to establish the resurrection as a fact per se.

        “Do you trust you have two legs? That would be an odd thing to say, and I wouldn’t put it that way; but if you wanted to say it, then you could also say you have faith you have two legs.”

        It would be odd to say “faith” or “trust” to describe something we know to be true precisely because these words don’t mean such a thing.

        • I’ve been to at least one library of apologetic evidence, swordfish. It’s in Matthews, NC. But sure, I was speaking metaphorically. There are enough books to fill libraries, okay? I have a downloaded version of part of the online Library of Historical Apologetics (google it) that didn’t quite fit my combined 96 Gb of Flash drives, and almost all of it is just text. That’s a library’s worth of material in public domain works alone.

          Granted, it’s not libraries’ worth of strictly contemporary evidence for the resurrection. It’s libraries’ worth of material reporting on the evidence, analyzing its strengths and weaknesses, placing it in context of other relevant information (enough there to fill libraries, by the way).

          So let’s not allow your counter-claim to create a misleading impression.

          As for your trust in having two legs, apparently we’re in agreement. Let me know if you have any other questions on that.

          • swordfish

            “As for your trust in having two legs, apparently we’re in agreement. Let me know if you have any other questions on that.”

            We’re not in agreement.

            “Granted, it’s not libraries’ worth of strictly contemporary evidence for the resurrection.”

            We’re in agreement.

        • Andy Doerksen

          Can you point us to “libraries of evidence” re. the metaphysical claim that Nature is all-powerful, self-existent, and responsible for itself and everything within it . . . ?

          Cuz that’s what would have to be true in order for anyone to be a rational atheist.

          • swordfish

            “Nature is all-powerful, self-existent, and responsible for itself and everything within it”

            You’re claiming that I have to believe the above. Please defend your claim.

          • Andy Doerksen

            Dude, yes, you MUST believe what I just described – otherwise you’d have NOTHING. Good grief, put away your hostility for just one moment and THINK. There is logically *NO* other way to view it: EITHER you accept that God exists and is our Creator – *OR* you believe that the universe is in some way self-created and responsible for everything that follows.

            There is NO OTHER LOGICAL OPTION.

          • swordfish

            “Dude, yes, you MUST believe what I just described […] Good grief, put away your hostility for just one moment and THINK”

            I’m hostile, but you’re shouting at me to THINK? Okay.

            “EITHER you accept that God exists”

            But not necessarily the Christian God, or any other god imagined by human beings, or anything with any of the qualities normally associated with God.

            “*OR* you believe that the universe is in some way self-created”

            AFAICT, the universe just exists.

        • GLT

          “but nothing to establish the resurrection as a fact per se.”

          Would you be willing to die for something you knew was untrue?

          • swordfish

            Where did I claim that Christian martyrs didn’t believe Jesus was resurrected?

          • GLT

            I was asking you the question. Would you be willing to die for something you knew was untrue, not something you believed was true? There is a difference.

        • Andrew Mason

          Actually can you know you have two legs? How do you define legs? What is two? How can you know anything for certain? Are you simply relying on assumptions and socially constructed concepts to claim you know something?

          If I recall correctly Musk argued we might be living in a simulation. I’ve yet to hear anyone seek to disprove that argument.

          • swordfish

            “Actually can you know you have two legs?”

            Yes, I’ve just counted them 🙂

            “If I recall correctly Musk argued we might be living in a simulation. I’ve yet to hear anyone seek to disprove that argument.”

            I just did a Google search for “proof we aren’t living in a simulation” and the first article was titled (since I can’t post links) “Elon Musk Is Wrong. We Aren’t Living in a Simulation” on the site “Motherboard”. I also think that most physicists disagree with Musk.

          • Andrew Mason

            Is your two the same as everyone else’s two? And how can you be certain what you think you’re counting is really there?

            I didn’t bother with searching for a counter-argument as I don’t think Musk’s position has much merit. It’s mostly useful in counterarguments such as these.

        • The Bible is a library, in fact the word literally translates to Library.

          The existence of the Church and its 2000 years of history proves the Ressurrection.

          • The_Albert

            “The existence of the Church and its 2000 years of history proves the Ressurrection [sic].” Really? Do all the years in which the earth was universally known to be flat prove that our planet is a disk? Widespread and long-term belief in falsehood doesn’t make that falsehood true.

          • I don’t know of anyone who actually believed that, as the Bible states our planet is round. Using 18-19th century memes against the Church is a bad basis for attacking the Church.

            People do not go to their deaths for mere ideals or because they like someone. Nor does the Church pop out of nowhere and have so many miracles, and act like they have Absolute Truth with the hard thinking to back it up, just out of random.

          • swordfish

            “the Bible states our planet is round”

            Round, but not spherical. Most flat earth maps are round.

          • So semantics is what you are relying on?

          • There were never any years when any large number of people thought the earth was flat. Never. Look up “flat earth myth” in Google.

            That’s a modern misconception that probably originated with the same author, Washington Irving, who invented the Headless Horseman and Rip Van Winkle.

            Meanwhile, the church-related claim in its complete form (not presented here) is more than a mindless attempt to say “It’s true because lots of people believe it.” The formation of the church in its earliest stages is very difficult to explain apart from the Resurrection. The Church’s continued existence isn’t direct proof of the Resurrection, in my mind, but it’s strong evidence that the uniquely historically-situated beliefs on which Christianity is based have enough credibility to warrant a close look.

    • Craig Roberts

      The “evidence” is testimony from people that were willing to be tortured and killed rather than recant. Normal people would find this sort of evidence sufficient even for extraordinary claims.

      • swordfish

        The 9/11 terrorists were willing to die for their beliefs. Does that mean that we should believe that Mohammed really flew on a winged horse?

        • NewcastleB

          Yes, people will die for lies they believe are true. People, however, will not die for lies they know are lies. The Disciples would have known if what they believed was lies or not as they originated the claims about Christ to begin with. Yet, they all died martyrs deaths.

          • swordfish

            If you look into this, you’ll find that it’s accepted amongst most modern scholars that the gospels weren’t written by the disciples, the gospels were written by ananymous authors, and that there’s little evidence that said disciples were all put to death.

          • NewcastleB

            You are woefully misinformed. Most modern scholars and theologians don’t believe that at all. The historicity of the NT is well established including its authors and dates of writing. No archeological or historical fact currently known contradicts it. It’s simply the most reliable ancient text in existence. It’s considered by secular historians and anthropologists as the best primary source document available for it’s times.

          • swordfish

            “The Gospels were written by highly literate, Greek-speaking Christians living 40–65 years after the death of Jesus. Let me stress: this is NOT a disputed point among critical scholars of the New Testament or ancient historians generally. These authors were not eyewitnesses. They lived in different countries from Jesus. They spoke a different language from Jesus. They did not have extensive written documentation from those who were eyewitnesses to Jesus because there was no documentation.” – Bart Ehrman.

          • NewcastleB

            Your first sentence is correct. The rest are not. At least two of the Gospel writers were Disciples (Matthew and John). That all were not eyewitnesses is not critical as it’s clear they are reporting eyewitness testimony in all the Gospels. All the writers had access to eyewitnesses and eyewitness accounts (See: Bauckham, Richard “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”). And you’re seriously quoting Bart Ehrman? He’s a pariah among serious Biblical scholars and his opinions are simply not credible.

          • NewcastleB

            Yes, The Gospels were written by highly literate, Greek-speaking Christians living 40–65 years after the death of Jesus. That’s the only thing you have correct. At least two of the Gospel writers were Disciples (Matthew and John). That all were not eyewitnesses is not critical the authors had access to eyewitnesses and eyewitness accounts are reporting eyewitness testimony in all the Gospels. (See: Bauckham, Richard “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”).

            And you’re seriously quoting Bart Ehrman? He’s a pariah among serious Biblical scholars and his opinions are simply not credible.

          • NewcastleB

            Yes, the Gospels were written by highly literate, Greek-speaking Christians living 40–65 years after the death of Jesus. That’s the only thing you have correct. At least two of the Gospel writers were Disciples (Matthew and John). That all were not eyewitnesses is not critical the authors had access to eyewitnesses and eyewitness accounts are reporting eyewitness testimony in all the Gospels. (See: Bauckham, Richard “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”).

            And you’re seriously quoting Bart Ehrman? He’s a pariah among serious Biblical scholars and his opinions are simply not credible or respected. There are dozens of critiques of his works online and elsewhere. I’m not sure he’s even a step up from Richard Dawkins.

          • swordfish

            “And you’re seriously quoting Bart Ehrman? He’s a pariah among serious Biblical scholars and his opinions are simply not credible or respected.”

            Looking at his CV, I trust his opinion more than your unevidenced claim.

          • NewcastleB

            If you want to know what the serious scholars think read this.

            (Disqus won’t let me post this link live so copy and take the space out between the r and g in .org and read for yourself.

            http://www.isca-apologetics.or g/papers/isca-2006/response-bart-d-ehrmans-misquoting-jesus

          • swordfish

            Your response to my quoting one author with a PhD is to direct me to another author with a half-baked PhD from the “Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary” – how is that going to prove anything? (Other than that your author is highly biased.)

          • NewcastleB

            It’s about what they say not their credentials. You can find many more critiques of Ehrman if you cared. The real problem is that you don’t know enough about serious theology, ANE and Biblical history to have a meaningful conversation with. Ehrman is every atheists favorite author. He’s quite literally become a cliche.

          • swordfish

            This kind of comment makes me angry. What exams on “Biblical History” (a contradiction in terms for the most part) is it necessary to pass to become indoctrinated into Christianity in the first place? None?

            I almost certainly know more about theology and arguments for God than the majority of Christians. My mum was a Christian her whole life but I doubt if she knew anything about theology.

            “Ehrman is every atheists favorite author. He’s quite literally a cliche.”

            Actually, my favourite author on the Bible is Richard Carrier.

          • NewcastleB

            You can be as angry as you like. If you’re quoting Ehrman you’re far outside of anything that’s considered reasonable for Biblical history or interpretation. And I wouldn’t doubt you may know more than many Christians. But if you do then copy and pasting Ehrman isn’t a great way to show it.

          • swordfish

            I don’t care what opinion other Bible scholars have about Ehrman. Why don’t you say exactly what claim in my Ehrman quote is wrong?

          • swordfish

            I don’t care what opinion other Bible scholars have about Ehrman. Why don’t you say exactly what claim in my Ehrman quote is wrong?

          • NewcastleB

            I supplied you a 50 page paper detailing exactly what is wrong with Ehrman’s analysis. But I gather that’s not enough.

            Ok. How about this. Do you know the story of “Misquoting Jesus”? It was originally an academic paper that Ehrman tried to get published in academic journals. He was literally laughed out of the building. So, he dumbed it down and published it as New Atheist screed. Now, I have to give him credit. He made a lot of money and garnered some fame as well selling a book about Biblical historicity to a bunch of people who had never even heard the term Biblical historicity before. So, if your among the group that thinks he’s just the cat’s meow, welcome to the club.

          • swordfish

            I’ll ask agan, exactly what claim in my Ehrman quote is wrong?

          • NewcastleB

            Actually, I already did that in my original posts to you but you ignored that, ignored the acedemic review and ignored the questionable history of Ehrman’s work too. Quite a trifecta there swordfish.

          • swordfish

            Actually, I’ve read through about half of the article you linked to, but I didn’t find it very convincing, or even interesting, bearing in mind it’s about a book I haven’t read and didn’t quote from. A lot of it merely complains about choices Ehrman’s made, or about things he’s allegedy left out or not considered. By my reckoning, every miraculous claim in the gospels should be discarded just on the principle that such claims are almost certainly false, so I’d chuck out quite a bit more than Ehrman.

            I forgot that you’d replied to my original quote, mainly because it agreed with me more than it disagreed.

            Really, the whole issue of whether Jesus existed or not is irrelevant to me, as I don’t accept any miraculous or divine claims made about him. What does interest me is learning that much I had previously accepted as fact when I was a Christian is actually disputed, even down to the authorship of the gospels. I often see people claim that the gospels are all eyewitness accounts, or that Jesus is the most soldily established figure in history – these sorts of claims are what I’m questioning, because they’re the sort of claims I believed were true.

          • NewcastleB

            Christ’s existence is well established historically. That’s confirmed even by Ehrman. The Gospel authors and dates of authorship are also well established and even skeptical scholars are generally in agreement. Richard Bauckham’s, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” continues to be the seminal piece of scholarship on the eyewitness testimony on which are Gospels are based. And BTW you quoted from Ehrman’s book in your post just above. If the best you can do is copy and paste you can at least know where you’re copy and pasting from.

          • swordfish

            I find this style of debate by quoting sources back-and-forth in a “my dad’s bigger than your dad” kind of way to be completely pointless. I’m here to express my opinion, not someone else’s, and I find the historicity of Jesus to be the least interesting aspect of religion.

            “Christ’s existence is well established historically. That’s confirmed even by Ehrman.

            It isn’t confirmed by other authors, but you’ll just question their credentials.

            “And BTW you quoted from Ehrman’s book in your post above.”

            I quoted from a debate. If he was quoting from his own book, how would I know that?

          • NewcastleB

            So you quote Ehrman when he supports your position but then deny his expertise when he doesn’t. You strike me as someone who doesn’t have or care about having any reasons for anything you believe. You believe whatever you want no matter.

          • His existence is unquestioned by every credible historian of the era. Every. There are a handful of people — 2 to 4 of them, maybe — who claim to be historians and who deny it, but the entire rest of the field considers them fringe characters.

            Look at it this way: The knowledgeable academic consensus on the existence of Jesus is greater than the consensus on anthropogenic global warming and on Darwinian evolution. If you’ve ever called on academic consensus for any opinion whatsoever, you ought to call on it here, too.

          • swordfish

            As I said, I’m not really very interested in this whole issue. I’m quite happy to agree with you that the majority of historians think Jesus was a real person, or at least that someone called Jesus (or rather, Yeshua) was a real person, however, few historians would accept a miracle-working, divine Jesus unless they were Christians in the first place, which means that agreeing just that he was real doesn’t have much significance.

          • You say, “few historians would accept a miracle-working, divine Jesus unless they were Christians in the first place.” Did escape your attention that this is nearly logically equivalent to, “few historians would accept a miracle-working, divine Jesus unless they accepted a miracle-working, divine Jesus”?

            There have been many historians who did not accept a miracle-working, divine Jesus when they began their studies, but came to accept Him as such when they looked at the evidence. So now they don’t count, according to your view, because they’re Christians.

            It’s like the old canard, “No one in ancient history wrote that Jesus rose from the dead except Christians.” It’s quite a standard to call for: Someone who believed Jesus rose from the dead, but didn’t believe.

            Remember, though, “few historians deny a miracle-working, divine Jesus unless they deny Christianity in the first place.” It works both ways.

          • swordfish

            “There have been many historians who did not accept a miracle-working, divine Jesus when they began their studies, but came to accept Him as such when they looked at the evidence.”

            I can think of one (unconvincing) example, not many, but I don’t understand how anyone could look at the evidence and conclude it’s more convincing than an average person who hasn’t looked at it would assume it is. For example, the gospel accounts of the resurrection come across to me as going out of their way to be as unconvincing as possible. Having people see Jesus but not realise until later, for instance, or having different people being the first to see the empty tomb. Or another example, I doubt if most people know that the gospels were picked as the best out of 40?

          • Andy Doerksen

            So the CVs of competing biblical scholars make no difference? You’ve chosen to accept HIS cv over others’? Why? That shows bias on your part. Why do you have that bias?

            I’ll tell you why: It’s because you WANT there to be no God. You’d rather be your own “god,” and you know that if God actually exists, then you’re facing judgment. And you can’t stomach that thought, so you evade it by purposely choosing to ignore or reject any decent evidence for the truth of the Bible.

        • People die for wrong beliefs all the time. People don’t give up their lives for lies they knowingly made up themselves.

          (Why is this answer so hard for so many atheists? I get this question all the time. I don’t know what’s difficult about it.)

          • swordfish

            “People don’t give up their lives for lies they knowingly made up themselves.”

            For a start off, how would you know that? Secondly, I’m not suggesting that the early Christian martyrs were lying, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t mistaken, just as you presumably think the 9/11 terrorists were mistaken.

        • Craig Roberts

          Good question. The answer is obviously no. But there is a difference between people willing to suffer death and people eager to inflict death. Every soldier is wiling to die, but given the choice, would prefer to kill their enemies. Mohammed lived and died for the glory of killing the enemies of god. Christ lived and died for the glory of forgiving the enemies of God so that they could live.

        • Andy Doerksen

          Wel, gee, swordfish, should we believe life came from nonlife? And that nothing + time = everything?

    • Faith is founding oneself in God by trusting God and His Church.

      your position is absurd fundamentally (ignoring all the other ways it is absurd) because you deny that you first must trust that your own knowledge (that you give some otherworldly quality because it’s “your” knowledge and that makes it special somehow) means anything at all.

      • swordfish

        It’s absurd not to believe in an invisible formless mind, a talking snake, and a worldwide flood which has left no trace?

        • Spirits are beings without bodies, but have a Rational Soul. The devil is a spirit and you have no problem doing all he asks of you without protest, so what is your problem with formless creatures of pure thought. Unless you are claiming God is a mere spirit, in which case you are beyond messed up if you are confusing mere spirits for the uncreated, uncontingent Prime Mover.

          you are like a snake yourself and you love to talk.

          The deluge was not a mere flood. The flood was of the “tohu wa bohu” which was the original nothingness from which God formed creation of. The world was deleted and then remade. Why was it remade? Because the countries were all close together and conducive to warring. The new world Noah saw was much more spread out so people would not fight all the time.

          As for no trace, that’s absurd. Just about every country fits into the profile of another country as if it was all one landmass at one point, and every culture has some half-remembered memory of a worldwide flood and reordering.

          • swordfish

            “The devil is a spirit and you have no problem doing all he asks of you”

            I don’t believe in the devil, or in spirits.

            “Just about every country fits into the profile of another country as if it was all one landmass at one point”

            That’s called plate tektonics, or continental drift. It’s still happening now, we can measure it, and flood waters can’t push continents around.

            “every culture has some half-remembered memory of a worldwide flood and reordering.”

            If the flood had happened, no one from these cultures would have survived to remember it.

          • Andy Doerksen

            I completely believe in plate tektonics and continental drift. Your problem is that you’ve PURPOSELY IGNORED a global Flood as a logically possible instigator of those current geological features.

          • swordfish

            So are you saying that a flood pushed the continents into their current positions? That might be logically possible, but it isn’t physically possible.

          • Yet you do whatever the devil commands of you without question. Therefore the joke.

            What part of the deluge was not of water, and the earth was deleted and remade, was unclear?

            All humans are descendants of the Prophet Noah. Yes, even Asian people and Africans, which I assume is the source of your revulsion.

          • swordfish

            “What part of the deluge was not of water, and the earth was deleted and remade, was unclear?”

            All of it. The Bible says it was a flood.

            “All humans are descendants of the Prophet Noah.”

            You mean, by incest amongst Noah’s children? How revolting! Also, commpletely impossible according to analysis of the human genome, which indicates the number of human beings has never fallen below about 12,000 individuals.

          • That you do not know what is actually said and you use sophistry to assume whatever you want, does not justify you.

            you implicitly trust incoherent analysis that claims to know things it has no ability to study, but yet reject simple Truth we have always known. you are a silly, childish gnostic who thinks falsely passing off his gnosticism as “science” will justify your gnosticism.

            How precisely could there have never been less than 12000 people? Were these minimum of 12000 people “always there” like your total lack of thinking insists the universe was “always there?”

            Where is the beginning of this “always?” How do you parse believing everything just being their uncreated and uncontingent while also espousing the idea of evolution which claims everything created itself out of some common rat?

          • swordfish

            Why do you not accept evolution, when the catholic Church does?

          • evolution is an absurdity, and the Church cannot accept absurdities.

          • swordfish

            “How precisely could there have never been less than 12000 people?”

            There’s no point in discussing this (or anything else) with you, but I’ll just say that humans evolved as a group. If you wish to dispute this, take it up with the people who did the genetic analysis.

            “like your total lack of thinking insists the universe was “always there?””

            I didn’t say it was “always there”, I said it “just exists”. How does your total lack of thinking insist that God was “always there”?

        • Andy Doerksen

          You believe in an invisible Ultimate Being that created everything and fully accounts for itself. You believe that–

          – nothing + time = everything
          – life came from nonlife
          – morality came from valuelessness and meaninglessness
          – personhood came from impersonal forces, and–
          – the above-mentioned impersonal forces are eternal

          However, when one begins with the presupposition that God exists, then nothing mentioned in the Bible is the least bit absurd. You’ve rejected it all ONLY because you START FROM the proposition that God doesn’t exist.

          That’s a bias on your part. Why do you choose to make that your starting point?

          • swordfish

            As I said above, I don’t believe in any Ultimate Being. Of the 5 things you also claim I believe:

            “- nothing + time = everything”

            I don’t accept that any ‘nothing’ ever existed.

            “- life came from nonlife”

            That appears to be the case. There isn’t anything special about life as such. no ‘life-force’, or other way in which the chemical processes involved are any different to non-living matter.

            “- morality came from valuelessness and meaninglessness”

            I think morality evolved originally to cope with us living in groups, which has conferred large survival benefits on us. It has since been expended and coded in law to greater or lesser degrees in different societies.

            “- personhood came from impersonal forces, and–”

            ‘Personhood’ means being a person. I’m not sure what you’re claiming here, but I clearly believe that people have evolved.

            “- the above-mentioned impersonal forces are eternal”

            We haven’t observed any fundamental forces to have changed, if that’s what you mean.

            “However, when one begins with the presupposition that God exists, then nothing mentioned in the Bible is the least bit absurd.”

            You could say the same about any religious claims, for instance those in the Koran – why not start with those instead?

            “You’ve rejected it all ONLY because you START FROM the proposition that God doesn’t exist.”

            I was brought up as a Christian but eventually rejected it because I decided it was unbelieveable.

  • apollo

    God lives in a reality beyond our comprehension. Therefore it is by faith that we believe the Kingdom of heaven is what the Bible says it is.

    1 Corinthians 2:9 New King James Version (NKJV)

    9 But as it is written:

    “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
    Nor have entered into the heart of man
    The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

    • Yes, and that’s what I was getting at, I think, in the portion of the article on the life hereafter.

      I would say, though, that there is knowledge underpinning that faith. We know what the Bible says, otherwise we wouldn’t even know there was a Kingdom of Heaven. We have strong evidence that the Bible speaks truly on matters we can check historically. We have strong evidence that it makes sense of life in multiple other ways. So we have some information, some knowledge to work with as we approach and lend our trust to God’s revealed truth.

      • apollo

        Tom thank you for your post. I have argued ad nauseam with unbelievers.I have heard all the excuses. Consequently, I have boiled my defense of my faith in Jesus Christ to the comment I posted. And you know as well as I do that it is only through the power of the Holy spirit that any of us believes. And it is only through the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit that a believer is able to discern the value of the Bible. Only the power of God can open the treasure chest that is the Bible.

        • Andy Doerksen

          What you’ve said is good and true – but could be strengthened by realizing that the atheist is playing on the same field: faith in things beyond human (and scientific) comprehension.

          • swordfish

            Atheism is just a lack of belief in a god or gods. How is that “faith in things beyond human and scientific) comprehension”?

          • Andy Doerksen

            As I said above: you believe that Nature accounts for itself; that it is all-powerful and the Ultimate Being undergirding everything else. There’s zero science backing that up. It’s a faith stance. Therefore you believe in an Ultimate Being that is beyond human comprehension.

          • swordfish

            What I believe about nature hasn’t got anything directly to do with the fact that I don’t believe in God. But in any case, all I believe about nature as a whole is that it exists. I don’t believe in any Ultimate Beings.

          • apollo

            It is hard getting them there. When an atheist feels the the power of God on me they do not stay for a conversation. Here is example . I work with the homeless , druggies , alcoholics and the mentally ill. Yesterday a man that fit into one of those categories literally covered his eyes when I walked near him. On other occasions at soup kitchens I have had demon possessed people curse Jesus Christ as a walked by them. .

          • Andy Doerksen

            Well, most are never going to believe in what you have to offer them. Not just atheists but all sorts of unbelievers. The Bible is very clear that most human beings will end up rejecting the Gospel.

            But among those who are open-minded, then having such a discussion will be beneficial.

          • apollo

            That truth is one of the hardest for me to accept. I am now reconciled to it, but it grieves my heart so…

    • Andy Doerksen

      The atheist’s “god” – All-Powerful Nature – also “lives in a reality beyond our comprehension.” There’s zero science backing that up.

      • That is because it exists in their ego, and they think refusing to admit their own position gives it a supernatural quality.

  • Craig Roberts

    Isn’t it ironic how people that are proud of the fact that they do NOT have faith, just can’t wait to tell the people that DO have faith, what “faith” is all about???

    It’s like men telling women, “Being a woman is like…”

    Or saying, “I don’t know calculus, and I have no intention of learning it because I have no use for it. But I feel compelled to give you advice on what it is and how it works.”

    Or better still, “I’ve never been in love and have no intention of ever falling in love because everybody knows that love is for suckers. So let me tell you all about love. What it is. What it’s not. Why you should stay clear from it and all the many benefits of NOT being in love.”

    • Andy Doerksen

      Your opening line is mistaken, and in fact a major reason that Christians fall powerless before the arguments of people like Dawkins. Atheists most certainly do have faith: faith that Nature is all there is, and can account for itself and every individual thing within it. There’s zero science proving that; that’s a faith position.

      • Craig Roberts

        I’m only taking them at their word. If they insist they don’t have faith they are as deluded as those who deny they have freedom.

        • Andy Doerksen

          Craig, you can take them at their word, if you wish – or you can point out to them why their claim to have “no faith” is wrong. If you “take them at their word,” then you’re actually strengthening their case against Christianity. You’re actually letting them get away with falsely assuming they have all the “evidence” on their side.

          But if you point out to them that atheism is a metaphysic, a faith position, then you can often persuade them to become more open-minded toward Christianity as a competing faith.

          • Craig Roberts

            Good point. I was only trying to point of the hypocrisy of saying “I have no faith” and proceeding to lecture others on what faith is and is not.

    • Andrew Mason

      Activists argue men can be just as much a woman as one born female. Why should it thus come as a surprise that Atheists (who claim to be without faith) believe they can define faith just as much as those they claim to have faith.

      • Skay

        As a female I can say that your first sentence is
        absolutely true.

  • Craig Roberts

    Atheists! You wouldn’t take advice on how to ride a bike from someone that didn’t know how to ride themselves. You wouldn’t ask a person who has never tried sushi what is their opinion of sushi. So why should I listen to you talk about a subject that you freely admit you do not understand and have no experience with!

    • Andy Doerksen

      Ah, but every human being, regardless of their religion or philosophy, continually “experiences” (exercises) faith – though not always understanding it.

      • Faith is founding onself in God. Therefore your statement is patently false as ego-dramatics are not founded in God.

        • Andy Doerksen

          {Sigh} I’m using “faith” in the ordinary sense of the word: trust in something/someone without scientific proof. I don’t mean “without evidence” or “without good reasons.” I mean PROOF.

          For instance, I can’t scientifically prove that my wife won’t go out tomorrow and commit adultery behind my back. Yet I have FAITH in her commitment to me, for very good reason: her lifetime of compassionate, trustworthy living, her example to me of living for Christ rather than for herself, and, on a simple pragmatic level, her busy and tiring routine that would make carrying on an affair both emotionally and physically overwhelming to her (!!!!).

          THAT is how I’m using the term “faith.” I’m NOT using it in an expressly biblical sense.

          However, the argument can easily be made that even in Scripture, “faith” doesn’t carry a special definition. That is: it still means “trust,” both in Scripture and in ordinary human life. One can argue, of course, that the Holy Spirit persuades sinners to trust in Christ – and that’s absolutely true and I embrace it – BUT . . . that doesn’t change the basic definition of “faith” as “trust.” That would only mean that the Holy Spirit overrides our resistance and steers our faith away from self or earthly things and toward Christ.

          Stop picking fights where there don’t need to be any.

          • Again, Faith is founding onself in God as well as Trust in God and His Church. you cannot get away with using a colloquial definition and apply it to the Church.

            A proof is a philosophical statement where you go step-by-step from your original assumptions / axioms to your final position. If you want proofs, feel free to dive into the 2000 years of the only substantive intellectual tradition mankind will ever have. I am talking about the Church, if you didn’t figure it out instantly.

            As for your strange determinism, no, we all have free will. Some people become reprobate and God removes His Grace from them, therefore they are only lead along by demons without God there to poke them in the head with shame when they are doing wrong.

          • Andy

            Oh my word, dude! I’m just pointing out that all worldviews are predicated on TRUST in things that can’t be scientifically proved – i.e., invisible, can’t be experimented on in a lab, etc.

            What on earth is wrong with you????????

            As to determinism, l don’t have the foggiest where you got that. I argue against Calvinists re. determinism on a regular basis.

            Good grief, man, go get a checkup or something.

          • Andy Doerksen

            Oh my word, dude! I’m just pointing out that all worldviews are predicated on TRUST in things that can’t be scientifically proved – i.e., invisible, can’t be experimented on in a lab, etc.

            What on earth is wrong with you????????

            As to determinism, l don’t have the foggiest where you got that. I argue against Calvinists re. determinism on a regular basis.

            Good grief, man, go get a checkup or something.

          • What are these “worldviews” as if reality was based entirely on perspective? you act as if epiricism is some great standard, when it can only be justified through philosophy.

          • Andy Doerksen

            Oh my word, dude! I’m just pointing out that all worldviews are predicated on TRUST in things that can’t be scientifically proved – i.e., invisible, can’t be experimented on in a lab, etc.

            What on earth is wrong with you????????

            As to determinism, l don’t have the foggiest where you got that. I argue against Calvinists re. determinism on a regular basis.

            Good grief, man, go get a checkup or something.

          • you said this already

    • swordfish

      In that case, why should your opinion on atheism carry any weight?

      • Craig Roberts

        Hah! Because I’ve been their and done that and I’m just here to tell you…there is a better way to live.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    I have little but pity for the new atheism of Richard Dawkins given his self-serving irrationality, his rejection of root cause analysis to the objective truth to embrace what Ed Feser’s entitled “The Last Superstition”. From my limited experience there is nothing that the atheist fears more than an accountability (judgment by a Higher Moral Authority).

    • swordfish

      “From my limited experience there is nothing that the atheist fears more
      than an accountability (judgment by a Higher Moral Authority).”

      Why can’t you understand that atheists just don’t believe your God exists? I didn’t decide not to believe in God, I just decided that my prior belief in God wasn’t based on any good evidence.

      • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

        We cannot understand the irrationality of the comment that “atheists just don’t believe your God exists…..I just believed that my prior belief in God wasn’t based on any good evidence”. By good evidence perhaps your investigation is too limited in scope (limited to the materialism of the here and now) while excluding the metaphysical (now and forever). Compounding that limitation your experience may be limited to Revealed Law of Scripture (faith) without regard for Natural Laws (hard sciences of the Big Bang) and the Metaphysical Laws (Reason, Logic, Mathematics, etc) all of which point decisively to a Creator, whom we call God. The antithetic world view is a faith system that is self limiting to materialism and relativism for which the atheists simply willfully rejects the idea of a Higher Moral Authority to guide them to whom they should give thanks. Then of course there is the problem of pain and suffering that for the atheist must be avoided at all costs hence their blame is placed on God. In your case the best we can do is remind you of the fact that choices have consequences and encourage you to make ever better choices. Edward Feser’s “Last Superstition” and “5-Proofs for the Existence of God” would provided you with a material responses to the metaphysical conclusion of the objective truth of God. Peace be with you.

  • Andy Doerksen

    This is good, but could go much further by exposing and impugning the hypocrisy of atheism.

    The problem with Dawkins’ assertion is its massive blind spot: he himself exercises faith. Constantly. Because every human being does. ALL worldviews, without exception, are based on faith in the scientifically unprovable. ALL worldviews are metaphysics: beyond the physical realm.

    Therefore, it isn’t a matter of “atheism vs. faith.” It’s actually atheistic faith vs. Christian faith. Two competing faiths.

    • swordfish

      No. Atheism is just a lack of belief in a god or gods. It isn’t any kind of ‘worldview’, and it doesn’t require any kind of faith.

      • Atheists keep saying that, and expecting us to believe it.

        • swordfish

          Do you think that people who don’t believe in UFOs have a worldview, or that it takes faith to not believe in UFOs?

          • Everyone has a worldview.

            Does it take faith not to believe in UFOs? That question, my friend, proves you’re not paying attention to definitions. Does it take (from the OP) “an attitude of trust toward what one knows is true, coupled with confident willingness to take risks to go with it”?

            Replace the word with the definition and you discover you’ve asked a virtual nonsense question.

          • swordfish

            If the applicability of faith to not believing in UFOs is nonsense, then so is the applicability of faith to not believing in God.

          • Okay. I’ve answered several of your objections again this morning, but it’s become clear (again) that it’s not going to go anywhere. You’re not reading, not paying attention to what’s been written to you. In some cases you’re making strong pronouncements in fields where you obviously haven’t studied and don’t know the issues or the conversations; yet you pronounce as if you had the final word.

            May I encourage you, please, to find out what you’re talking about? Read atheist Alex Rosenberg’s “An Atheist’s Guide to Reality,” for one. (See, I’m not asking much, not even asking you to read Christian material.) Read atheist Thomas Nagel’s “Mind and Cosmos.” Then read Edward Feser’s book on the mind. (All this relates to comment further up on this thread.) Read my own ebook titled “Peter Boghossian, Atheist Tactician” or my book “A Christian Mind.”

            Learn what you’re talking about, please, before you engage in such proud, confident pronouncements on things you haven’t studied. For your own good.

          • swordfish

            When you complain that I haven’t studied something, what you’re really saying is that I haven’t reached the same conclusions as you. I’ve read and thought about this stuff over several decades. As for not not paying attention to what’s written to me, I’ve read everything carefully, that’s why I’ve been able spot the flaws in your arguments.

            Incidentally, do you think that it’s okay to be a Christian without having read extensively on philosophy, theology, science and history? Many Christians haven’t even read the Bible, yet you expect me to plough through Ed Feser and Thomas Nagel.

      • JP

        Atheism is a knowledge claim about reality I.e. that no gods exist. For that claim to be true you need to have some facts or reasons for it. Otherwise it’s just a preference claim like your favorite ice cream.

        • swordfish

          Some atheists claim that no gods exist, and they usually have facts and reasons to back up their claim, but most atheists, myself included, define our position as a lack of belief in a god or gods.

          • JP

            Your subjective state of mind has nothing to do with the claim that no gods exist. If you have no facts for atheism being true then it’s just a fantasy.

          • swordfish

            I just said that I’m not claiming that no gods exist. That position is more usually called ‘anti-theism’, not atheism.

          • Andy Doerksen

            But you believe in a Power (Nature) that does what the Bible teaches only God can do. Ergo, you ascribe to Nature some of the attributes of God, especially power and eternality. There is zero science to confirm that. Hence, it is a faith position.

      • Andy Doerksen

        If you believe that Nature accounts for itself – that it requires no Higher, Supernatural Power – then you believe precisely what I said atheists believe: that Nature is all-powerful and effectively takes the place of God. Again: that is a BELIEF, not a scientific fact.

  • Juan Garcia

    I’ve studied the word “faith” in depth. It’s one of the most frequently used words in human language. It has hundreds of definitions and applications. I looked up Hebrews 11:1 in every English translation I could find and found 17 different definitions. So what does faith mean? In human terms it translates down to what each individual human believes is reality, their governing worldview. Everybody has faith, even post- modernists who have faith that there is no reality.

    Biblical Faith (capitalized intentionally) however is unique. It is a gift offered to every human, but refused by most. It is what I call a golden key that Christ offers you to open the door to your being and to allow Christ into your darkened reality which then becomes illuminated by His light. But you don’t have to accept that key.

    This analogy encompasses both the sovereignty of God and the free will of the human. Faith is not the end for the Christian it is the means to the end, which is a personal relationship with Christ as Lord and savior. This is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion, world view or belief system in which faith in those alternative beliefs are the ultimate end.

  • Ray

    Faith comes down to trust.

  • Nick Stuart

    In the words of an old Johnny Cash song:

    There are some people,
    who say we cannot tell.
    Whether we are saved or,
    whether all is well.
    They say we can only
    hope and trust it’s so.

    But I was there when it happened, and so I guess I oughta know.

  • bfast

    Joseph Le Conte said, “We are confident that evolution is absolutely certain, … it is axiomatic … The origins of new phenomena are often obscure, even inexplicable, but we never think to doubt that they have a natural cause.”

    Until the data no longer requires the need to describe it as inexplicable, naturalistic evolution is belief without evidence.

    • swordfish

      Your last sentence is extremely difficult to parse, but I’d say that ‘naturalistic evolution’ has never been a theory unsupported by evidence, it’s a theory which was devised to explain the evidence. The fact that life has changed over time was known many centuries ago, long before Darwin.

      • There is no empirical evidence to support the supposition that evolution happened by naturalistic means only, for there is no empirical test for whether God was or wasn’t involved in its processes.

        That’s if you think evolution is true on any accounting, but that’s a separate topic.

        • swordfish

          “There is no empirical evidence to support the supposition that evolution happened by naturalistic means only, for there is no empirical test for whether God was or wasn’t involved in its processes.”

          In the first half of your sentence, you claim there’s no way to test if evolution is entirely natural, in the second half, you claim there’s no way to test if God is involved. If there’s no way to test for God, then we have no choice other than to assume the process is entirely natural.

          In any case, I would have though that we do have evidence that it is natural: the haphazard nature of it is good evidence, along with the fact that almost all species that have ever lived have gone extinct. If it hadn’t been for mass extinctions due to things like asteroid impacts, we wouldn’t even be here. Why would a God create us using such a wasteful and painfully slow method?

          • “In the first half of your sentence, you claim there’s no way to test if evolution is entirely natural, in the second half, you claim there’s no way to test if God is involved. If there’s no way to test for God, then we have no choice other than to assume the process is entirely natural.”

            Really? Given two choices A and B, if there’s no empirical evidence to decide either way, then we must decide A? I don’t know how that works! No, wait, I do understand. It goes like this: “Neither of us can prove our position; therefore I win!”

            But no. Actually, there’s plenty of evidence for God at work in all kinds of ways. And my statement was specifically in regard to Darwinian evolution (which I’m specifying this time, though I intended it both times). But that’s a moot point to me, a red herring, since the case for Darwinian evolution has so many weak points.

            Why would God create us using slow and wasteful methods, you ask? What, was there some concern He might run low on inventory that way? Does “waste” even mean anything in God’s context? Does “slow” mean anything?

            It’s fascinating, at any rate, to see you employing theology to argue against God. You’ve got your own understanding of how God would work, if there was a God, and you find that doesn’t fit reality. Great. You’ve proven God-as-you-define-God doesn’t exist. Congratulations. We didn’t think that God existed, either!

          • swordfish

            “Given two choices A and B, if there’s no empirical evidence to decide either way, then we must decide A?”

            Read your original sentence again:

            “There is no empirical evidence to support the supposition that evolution happened by naturalistic means only, for there is no empirical test for whether God was or wasn’t involved in its processes.”

            You didn’t claim that these two options are equal, you claimed that we can’t prove that ONLY naturalism is involved in evolution, but we have NO empirical test for whether God was involved. But there there is empirical evidence for naturalism, indeed it’s the only thing we have evidence for, so we’re entirely justified in pursuing it to the exclusion of supernatural explanations which you admit are impossible to test for anyway.

            “the case for Darwinian evolution has so many weak points.”

            The field of evolutionary biology disagrees with your assessment, but what would they know?

            “Why would God create us using slow and wasteful methods, you ask? What, was there some concern He might run low on inventory that way? Does “waste” even mean anything in God’s context? Does “slow” mean anything?”

            The “inventory” I was thinking of was the countless trillions of sometimes highly sentient animals which have suffered and died for no reason. But then, Christianity has never been interested in the suffering of animals. To be more direct, a God should be able to create without causing any suffering, so why didn’t he?

          • swordfish, you’re out of your field. There is no empirical proof for naturalism. It is a metaphysical position. It’s also hardly the case that it’s the only position for which we have evidence. Look up my paper on “methhodological regularism” at evolutionnews(dot)org, and you’ll find that the empirical evidence in science is (generally speaking) just as strong for theism.

            I have a more nuanced position than you suppose on whether there are tests for supernatural explanations. I already wrote it; feel free to read it again.

            There was an important meeting of the Royal Society in London a year or two ago, in which evolutionists had long talks about weak points in evolutionary science. Did you know that?

            You’re theologizing again as you end that comment.

          • swordfish

            “There is no empirical proof for naturalism.”

            Who said anything about proof? Naturalism is an assumption, but it’s an assumption which works. I read your paper on “methodological theism” but didn’t agree with your argument, which boils down to: nature under theism behaves *almost* as regularly as under naturalism. How do you know this? Because God says so in the Bible. Okay, scientists could work under that assumption, and some theistic scientists probably already do, but it seems otherwise to be an unhelpful additional assumption bolted onto naturalism.

            “There was an important meeting of the Royal Society in London a year or two ago, in which evolutionists had long talks about weak points in evolutionary science. Did you know that?”

            Yes, I did know that, although I wouldn’t describe it as ‘important’, and I also wouldn’t use the term ‘weak’ points. Some parts of evolutionary theory are subject to sometimes heated debate, but those parts aren’t fundamental to it. Incidentally, it’s over 20 years since the publication of Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box”, yet no one has been able to come up with an example of Irreducible Complexity.

            “You’re theologizing again as you end that comment.”

            Yes, it’s irresistible because it’s so easy to come up with a better plan than God.

          • Enough. Sorry, but you’re not showing up to the table with actual knowledge.

  • Patmos

    Faith IS the evidence. Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as the foundation of things expected, and the piece of evidence that proves things not seen.

    You have to have an extremely puny brain not to understand that.

    Richard Dawkins, and wretches like him, are the people Paul warned about towards the end of his letter to the Romans:

    “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
    For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” -Romans 16:17-18

    • If you must know, most atheist rhetoric is a (as internet trolls call it) a “psyop” by the main satanic coven. They often go by “world church of satan,” but they have about 900+ front organizations that give a different name to the same organization to make it seem like there is more than one of them.

      They print the books and employ the speakers of this type of anti-religion. If you wondered how they get money to spend all day spouting this stuff, that is where.

      Similarly, did you know feminist leader gloria steinem was a cia asset? So was modern art leader jackson pollack.

      Just about all of the evil you mention is highly organized behind the scenes and is not accidental.

      • I’ll have to admit that’s the first I’d heard if that, I’m skeptical, and I’d say that the point I’m making in this article, and the faith-battle Christians are waging, is the same regardless of whether any of that is true.

        • Go on pretending like the devil doesn’t exist and it won’t end well for you.

          • Oh, I’m well aware the devil exists.

          • Then act like it, or realize the devil is not just some passive troublemaker.

          • Thanks for the advice.

          • It might save you.

            I remember there was a “Catholic blogger” (oy vey) who was angry that ex satanic high wizard Zachary King’s life story fit “too well into what Catholics wanted to hear” or some such nonsense.

            Almost like it is all true or something.

    • swordfish

      You’re undermining this article’s carefully contrived argument, and making Dawkins’s point for him.

      • Atheists like to treat Hebrews 11:1 as the definition of faith, and draw the conclusion that there is no evidence for our hope except for faith. This can’t be so, because it would put that verse in opposition to the entire rest of the book, which is an an extended, reasoned argument out of the Hebrews’ accepted information store in favor of trusting Christ. The author wouldn’t have argues all that time for faith in Christ, only to say, “But faith is the only evidence anyway.”

        That particular atheistic point couldn’t have survived in that day anyway, because everyone then knew that faith was a synonym for trust. The word hadn’t been tainted over without misconceptions as it has been lately.

        So what is Hebrews 11:1, then if not a definition? I think it’s probably best to view it as a functional description, that this is (part of, it’s not meant to be exhaustive) how faith works when we put it into action. Note that the chapter that follows it is all about faith in action. Faith gives us assurance of what we hope for, and of what is not seen. In this sense it carries us beyond what we know through reason alone; not that it tells us what we should think but gives us — or in a sense actually is — the confidence to live according to what we know is true.

  • pacman

    Dawkins gets the definition of delusion wrong. “an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument,

    • Craig Roberts

      You make JP’s point well. The atheist maintains that it is the vast majority of mankind that is “deluded” but if you objectively consider all points of view, it is clearly atheism that is an “idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality.”

      “I’m not crazy, you’re the one that’s crazy!” Is not a good argument but it’s not much different from, “You can’t prove it so that proves I’m right.” which is essentially the atheist argument in a nutshell.

      • swordfish

        Your argument only works if you cheat by lumping together all religious believers into one group, despite the fact that you clearly disagree with one another.

        • Craig Roberts

          I lump all religious believers into one group because religion is universal. Religion is the subject of beliefs about ultimate things. Even people that claim to have no religion have beliefs.

          It’s like freewill. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

          • swordfish

            You’re cheating again by redefining religious belief to suit your argument. Can you make an argument which doesn’t depend on redefining terms?

          • Craig Roberts

            What definition would you prefer? If you define religion as a ‘delusion’ that only proves that religion is something that you personally can’t comprehend. That doesn’t prove that religion doesn’t exist.

          • swordfish

            “What definition would you prefer?”

            Belief in a supernatural god or gods. That way, atheism can’t be mistakenly classified as a religion.

          • Craig Roberts

            Ok. Fair enough. If ‘atheism’ is NOT a religion, why do atheists consistently and vociferously opine on religious questions? They love to talk about where we came from (nothing) and where we are going (nowhere) but fail to see the irony of claiming they have no “religion” and yet refuse to leave “religion” to the religious.

            Denial. You deny a creator exists, but insist that you know more about Him than the most devout fanatic.

    • swordfish

      That sounds like a correct definition to me.

  • JP

    Love Dawkins. That atheist meme is not applicable for Christianity but for atheism.There is no evidence that atheism is true. In fact it goes against the evidence and therefore is a delusion.

  • Craig Roberts

    The atheist argument boils down to: “If you can’t prove it, that proves you’re wrong and I’m right.”

    Of course this is silly. They can’t “prove” macro-evolution (man came from monkeys) but they are so confident that one day they will be able to “prove” it that they accept it without evidence.

    I can’t “prove” that a bee can fly. But I wouldn’t be so daft as to deny the fact that, apparently, they can.

    • swordfish

      “They can’t “prove” macro-evolution (man came from monkeys) but they are so confident that one day they will be able to “prove” it that they accept it without evidence.”

      What are you talking about? There isn’t any difference between so-called “micro” and “macro” evolution – they’re both the same process except that macro evolution is what happens over a longer time period. We have very strong evidence for “macro” evolution, and a good understanding of how speciation happens (basically with a species being split by geography so the two separated populations develop differently until they can no longer interbreed.)

      And we have very good evidence that human beings evolved from an ape-like ancestor in the form of intermediate fossils, not to mention near-certain proof in the form of a pair of chromosones which apes have but which have fused together in humans.

      • Craig Roberts

        Oh puleez…”near-certain proof” is suddenly ok when explaining your delusion but not mine?

        • swordfish

          Are you claiming near-certain proof for your delusion? I didn’t know that. The fused chromosones in human DNA are very good evidence that we have descended from an earlier ape-like ancestor, and there is plenty of other evidence. Incidentally, there are plenty of Christians who accept evolution, just as there are plenty of atheists who dispute it.

          • Craig Roberts

            Christians have eye witness testimonials. Atheists have scientist that admit that they are only speculating and have yet to find proof.

          • swordfish

            If you did a bit of research, you’d find that the gospels aren’t eyewitness testimony.

          • Craig Roberts

            Uh dur… The gospels aren’t first hand testimony (obviously) but testimony that’s passed on is still (possibly) true.

          • kenneth20754

            Conservative biblical scholarship has had little difficulty affirming the authorship of the canonical gospels. Matthew was one of the Twelve and a direct witness of most of which he recorded. Mark was a close associate of Peter; his gospel likely reflects Peter’s perspective; Luke was a close associate of Paul, had frequent contact with the apostolic leadership, and was an exacting and thorough investigative historian whose accuracy is increasingly appreciated by persons knowledgeable about the first century Near East; and John was also one of the Twelve, even one of Jesus’ inner circle.

            The form criticism of Baur and Bultmann has been exploded. The liberal quest for the historical Jesus was exposed as an exercise in academic narcissism.

          • Craig Roberts

            Good point. I just don’t think it really matters if Saint Matthew actually wrote it or a close associate relayed and recorded his testimony.

      • No difference between macro and micro? I guess you haven’t read Ernst Mayr’s authoritative tome on evolution. And you’re paying no attention to the difference between minor functional changes and major structural novelties in organisms.

        • swordfish

          “I guess you haven’t read Ernst Mayr’s authoritative tome on evolution.”

          Stop name-dropping. They’re just names for the same process but seen over different timespans, so no, there isn’t any difference.

          “And you’re paying no attention to the difference between minor functional changes and major structural novelties in organisms.”

          A large change is just a lot of small changes.

          • A large change requires a very large number of simultaneous small changes. No large change happens with just one genetic alteration. No large change can happen without simultaneous, corresponding, coordinated adjustments elsewhere. That’s one big difference between macro and micro.

            The bigger one, though, is that empirically speaking, microevolution is almost always explainable in terms of a degradation in genetic information: the loss or the non-expression of a gene. Macroevolution requires increases in genetic information in every case.

            On those two bases, if not more, macro and microevolution are qualitatively different, not just quantitatively.

          • swordfish

            “A large change requires a very large number of simultaneous small changes. No large change happens with just one genetic alteration.”

            Why would the changes need to be simultaneous? Large changes consist of an accumulation of small chamges over a long period of time.

            “The bigger one, though, is that empirically speaking, microevolution is almost always explainable in terms of a degradation in genetic information: the loss or the non-expression of a gene. Macroevolution requires increases in genetic information in every case.”

            A mutation is just a copying error. It can change genetic information, add to it, or remove bits of it. So-called ‘macroevolution’ is just change, and if you look at how whales evolved from the land animal Pakicetus, it’s clear that they lost quite a lot of parts, so it isn’t true that large scale changes necessitate the addition of genetic information. Evolution has no direction.

    • Trilemma

      Endogenous retrovirus insertions are very strong evidence that humans and chimps evolved from a common ancestor.

      Some Christians say, “If you can’t prove God doesn’t exist, that proves you’re wrong and I’m right.” God’s existence can’t be proven one way or the other. The atheist argument is simply that he sees no credible evidence for God’s existence. The atheist does not consider the Bible credible evidence.

  • eddie too

    atheists believe that only the physical universe exists or is real.

    ask them what proof or evidence they can offer to support their claim?

    this always flummoxes them because there is no evidence, no proof, for their assertion that only the physical universe is real.

    on the other hand, there is enormous amounts of evidence that more than the physical universe exists.

    • swordfish

      “on the other hand, there is enormous amounts of evidence that more than the physical universe exists.”

      Such as?

      • Craig Roberts

        Does an idea exist in the physical universe? Some things are so obvious that explaining them is futile.

        • swordfish

          “Does an idea exist in the physical universe?”

          Yes, it does. It’s a pattern of activity in the brain, ink in a book, or electrons in a computer.

          • Hoo boy.

            I’ll start with the easy one. Ink in a book is not an idea, nor does it work vice versa, an idea is not ink in a book. No one — literally no one — who has the slightest credibility in the relevant fields of study thinks that there are ideas contained in ink. The idea isn’t there, it’s in the minds of the writer and the reader. Ink doesn’t think. Ink does have the ability to record and convey patterns interpretable by minds as ideas, but that’s not the same as being an idea.

            Ideas (propositions, specifically) have the capacity to be either true or false. Ink patterns do not; there’s no truth/falsity until a mind interprets them as propositions, and then it’s still not the ink, it’s the proposition.

            Propositions have “aboutness” (intentionality, to use the technical term). They are directed toward some other proposition, object, event, etc. To borrow loosely from atheist philosopher Alex Rosenberg’s example, if I write “The Eiffel Tower is in Paris” and you read it, you have thoughts about the Eiffel Tower, about Paris, and about their geotemporal relation to one another. Ink, however, being mere molecules on the page, isn’t about anything. Molecules don’t have “aboutness” relationships. The ink is on the paper, but it can’t be “about” the paper.

            Now, the same is true of electrons in a computer for similar reasons. The patterns they develop have no aboutness to them, and they don’t have truth/falsity to them. They’re just patterns until interpreted by mind.

            And the same applies also to electrochemical activity in the brain, for the same reasons. This is the mystery of the mind/brain relationship, which has occupied philosophers for a very long time. There are some, yes, who reduce ideas to electrochemical activity, but they also tend to be the ones who deny considerable portions of human experience, calling consciousness, morality, identity, and so on mere illusion. They have to toss out our most immediate evidence — the experience of being human — to reach that conclusion.

            There are some who say ideas “supervene” upon brain states, meaning they sort of ride along on top. But this is extremely problematic, because, like a chipmunk riding on the back of an elephant, ideas on this view can’t direct where brain states go; it only works the other way around. Therefore literally one idea cannot lead to another.

            Understand, please, I’m speaking in summary language here; there’s much more to the mind-brain problem than what I have space to write here. But swordfish, your glib answer displays real ignorance of the issues. Be cautious.

          • swordfish

            I was going to give a long reply to this, but I’ll just say that nothing you’re said provides any evidence for anything immaterial. In particular, everything you say applies equally to a computer as it does to a human brain. Ideas aren’t ink, ideas aren’t electrons, but they can be processed by a computer without the need for any immaterial factor X being introduced.

            It’s possible you may have read too much philosophy.

          • kenneth20754

            It is more likely you haven’t read enough, swordfish. As Mitch Stokes has cogently observed, most skeptics aren’t skeptical enough, especially about their own assertions.

          • swordfish

            Sorry, but the idea that I’m ‘not skeptical enough’ is ridiculous. I’ve changed my beliefs about almost everything over the last 20 years. It’s difficult to see how I could be any more sceptical. As recently as only a year or two ago, I still though free will was plausible. I’m continually challenging my own assumptions.

            Also, criticising atheists on the grounds that they haven’t read the right books is so lazy – I could literally say exactly the same thing in response to any argument put to me by a Christian. Going further, the whole idea that I should have to read particular books to qualify as a genuine sceptic is even more ridiculous – since when do Christains have to read particular books? Many Christians haven’t even read the Bible from cover to cover – can I dismiss their beliefs due to that fact?

          • kenneth20754

            My suggestion regarding reading was a rejoinder to your statement to Tom that it’s possible he may have read too much philosophy. I still think it likely, based on all the exchanges here and in the comments posted to other articles, that you haven’t read–or absorbed–enough philosophy. I had no specific book in mind when I first posted, although am certainly willing to provide recommendations upon request. After seeing this response, I believe Stokes’s book “How To Be an Atheist” would be a good place to start.

          • Computers don’t process ideas, swordfish. They process voltages.

            See my comment below on your level of learning on this. Yeou’re really quite sadly unaware of the reasoned discussion going on in these issues.

            Please, for your sake, do the reading I recommended below. Then come back and talk when you’ve got a real knowledge base to speak from.

          • swordfish

            “Computers don’t process ideas, swordfish. They process voltages.”

            Swordfish is my name, don’t wear it out.

            1. Computers can process anything which can be represented in a computer’s memory, which includes ideas.

            2. The human brain could be said to be just processing electro-chemical reactions.

            “See my comment below on your level of learning on this.”

            “You don’t understand what you’re talking about” is the classic reaction to any plain attack on any theological mumbo-jumbo idea such as our having an immaterial mind, despite their being literally zero evidence for such a thing and a huge mountain of evidence against it. It’s the emperor’s new clothes all over again.

            Please provide some evidence for this nonsense before expecting me to take it seriously.

          • “Please provide some evidence” — I have.

            “Computers can process anything which can be represented in a computer’s memory, which includes ideas.” — Further evidence.

            Consider the statement, “It’s raining outside, therefore the roads will be wet.” To process that in terms of ideas is to draw a logical inference based on what we know about the meanings of terms like “rain,” “road,” and “wet.” We can rightly say that the conclusion is caused by our correct understandings of those terms.

            But what kind of causation is this? Consider the computer. It can process voltage states programmers and inputters have designated to represent “rain,” “road,” and “wet.” It can run those voltage states through logic gates design to yield the outcome “wet” when applied in the programmed manner to the states corresponding to “rain” and “road.” But it does this without having any idea what a road is, what rain is, or what wet is. There just is no idea of any of those terms in a computer’s memory or processing.

            Further, it does it in a deterministic, programmed manner, that has everything to do with electronics and nothing to do with reasons. The computer does not think, “the road must be wet because that’s what happens when it rains.” It doesn’t reach the conclusion, “the road is wet” on account of that conclusion’s logically following upon the premised conditions. It arrives at its output for physical, not logical reasons. (Don’t be confused by the term “logic” as it’s used in computer design and programming. That’s an equivocation on the term; it’s not the same kind of logic.)

            Humans, in contrast, reach logical conclusions for reasons we can in fact attribute to logical reasoning. It must be so. Consider if it were not: Then no conclusion you reach about any possible fact or opinion would be the result of your considering the merits of its logic, but only the result of deterministic, mindless electrochemical events inside your brain. You would no longer be able to say truthfully that you’ve chosen your beliefs because for good reason or for any reason at all. Your beliefs wouldn’t be chosen, and they would not arise on account of reasons.

            But human experience tells us we do reach our conclusions on account of reasons, at least some of the time. We’re imperfect at this, but in many cases we do quite well. You have already concluded that I disagree with you on some things, and you’ve concluded it correctly. You haven’t concluded it because you have reasons to conclude it.

            Computers don’t operate according to reasons. (Having done some recent updated study on AI, by the way, I can assure you that not even AI comes close to operating on the basis of reasons; it’s just a more complex and intensive mode of managing voltage states.) Humans do.

          • swordfish

            “I’ll give you a sample, one reason to think computers don’t process ideas the same way people do.”

            I note that you’ve moved the goalposts here from “computers can’t process ideas” to “computers can’t process ideas the same way people do”.

            “But it does this without having any idea what a road is, what rain is, or what wet is. There just is no idea of any of those terms in a computer’s memory or processing.”

            Sorry, I don’t agree with this at all. For one, there’s no reason why these terms can’t be defined to any level of detail or to any level of abstraction. For another, these terms also don’t mean anything when viewed at the level of neurons *within* a human brain either.

            “Further, it does it in a deterministic, programmed manner, that has everything to do with electronics and nothing to do with reasons. ”

            Again, I disagree. You’re confusing the computer’s hardware and software. Software algorithms can be abstracted to use exactly the same type of logic or reasoning that a human would.

            “Then no conclusion you reach about any possible fact or opinion would be the result of your considering the merits of its logic, but only the result of deterministic, mindless electrochemical events inside your brain.”

            Again, you’re just assuming the thing you’re trying to prove. Experiments have shown that we make decisions before we’re consciously aware of them. This pretty much proves that our brains don’t operate in the way you think. Reasoning can only work if there is a ‘right’ answer to a problem, or at least an ‘optimum’ answer, so reasoning is really deterministic anyway. If you could use reasoning to arrive at any possible answer, what use would said reasoning be?

            “Computers don’t operate according to reasons. (AI) Humans do.”

            It’s worth pointing out that AI has had some significant successes. Beating the top human ‘Go’ player, and recognising faces, for example. This is after just a few decades of work, where evolution has had millions of years to develop the human brain. In any case, suppose that you’re right that computers don’t think the same way we do – so what? That doesn’t provide any evidence that human thinking is immaterial in any way.

            “Maluuba posted a paper last month describing how its system was able to answer multiple-choice questions about unfamiliar text with more than 70 percent accuracy, outperforming other neural network approaches by 15 percent. Maluuba’s approach combined deep learning with neural network structures, engineered to interact with each other in a way that interactions result in a rudimentary form of *reasoning*.”

          • swordfish

            “But it does this without having any idea what a road is, what rain is, or what wet is. There just is no idea of any of those terms in a computer’s memory or processing.”

            Sorry, I don’t agree with this at all. For one, there’s no reason why these terms can’t be defined to any level of detail or to any level of abstraction. For another, these terms also don’t mean anything when viewed at the level of neurons *within* a human brain either.

            “Further, it does it in a deterministic, programmed manner, that has everything to do with electronics and nothing to do with reasons. ”

            Again, I disagree. You’re confusing the computer’s hardware and software. Software algorithms can be abstracted to use exactly the same type of logic or reasoning that a human would.

            “Then no conclusion you reach about any possible fact or opinion would be the result of your considering the merits of its logic, but only the result of deterministic, mindless electrochemical events inside your brain.”

            Again, you’re just assuming the thing you’re trying to prove. Experiments have shown that we make decisions before we’re consciously aware of them. This pretty much proves that our brains don’t operate in the way you think. Reasoning can only work if there is a ‘right’ answer to a problem, or at least an ‘optimum’ answer, so reasoning is really deterministic anyway. If you could use reasoning to arrive at any possible answer, what use would said reasoning be?

            “Computers don’t operate according to reasons. (AI) Humans do.”

            It’s worth pointing out that AI has had some significant successes. Beating the top human ‘Go’ player, and recognising faces, for example. This is after just a few decades of work, where evolution has had millions of years to develop the human brain. In any case, suppose that you’re right that computers don’t think the same way we do – so what? That doesn’t provide any evidence that human thinking is immaterial in any way.

          • Craig Roberts

            So if the sun exploded and every thing on earth was destroyed the Pythagorean theorem would no longer be true? Things like a triangle, or the number three, would just not exist anymore?

          • swordfish

            I would say not. They are human inventions.

          • Craig Roberts

            So if you meet an intelligent space alien, he will have no word for ‘3’ or ‘triangle’?

          • Craig Roberts

            If you are right than you can’t believe the prior ‘atheist meme’ in this series that Mr. Gilson completely demolished last week.

          • kenneth20754

            Inventions, or discoveries? If, hypothetically, intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, would that life not recognize (at some point in its intellectual development) three, triangles, or the fact that the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides?

          • swordfish

            They probably would develop geometry and mathematics, but that doesn’t prove that those things exist in some immaterial realm. They’d probably invent the wheel also.

          • kenneth20754

            And many other things as well. These things clearly match up with reality. They’re not just mental constructs that humans have come up with. They correspond to what we perceive as being “out there.”

          • swordfish

            There can be 3 ants, 3 galaxies or 3 wise men, but that doesn’t mean that the number 3 exists if there are no objects to count.

          • kenneth20754

            Well, of course. If nothing exists, then not only is there nothing to count, there is no counter, either.

        • Trilemma

          Is God an idea? An idea has no physical properties. Does God have no physical properties?

          • Craig Roberts

            God is an idea the same way a triangle is an idea. Triangles pre-existed mankind and will continue to exist after we’re gone.

          • swordfish

            Will the rules of chess also exist after we’re gone?

          • Craig Roberts

            Only three dimensional chess. Two dimensional chess will revert back to tic-tac-toe.

          • Trilemma

            A triangle can’t create anything, can’t answer prayers, and can’t be called a person. A triangle is an inanimate object or an abstract geometric concept. Is that the kind of idea God is?

          • Craig Roberts

            Of course not. My only point is that some things exist in a non-material realm.

  • jgmusgrove

    The Rev. Dr. David McKechnie used this definition: “Faith is not belief without proof, it is trust without reservation.”

  • Trilemma

    Non-believers obviously have memes they like to toss at Christians. But Christians have memes they like to toss at non-believers. Tossing memes back and forth does not promote thoughtful engagement. Are there memes Christians need to stop using if they want to reach non-believers?

  • There is [no atheist soundbite] more destructive than this: “Faith is belief without evidence.”

    As you imply, you need to work on Christians first. Tell them to stop using “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.” It’s undercutting your argument.

  • Royce E. Van Blaricome

    If “we can’t really know what we can’t see, hear, feel, smell or taste” then I challenge those philosophers to go to the Empire State Building or, oh say any ol’ 20 story building, and jump off. Be interesting to see whether they have faith in Gravity.

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