Question about atheism

I presume you are thinking of 'belief in a deity" when you ask “why do you think it still remains?” That could actually be separate from the questions you ask about the police and whether or not people invented something…I think the need for deity is just there in us because it was meant to be there to begin with. It could be just like a shadow on the sidewalk. If we see a shadow, we know it came from something or someone, even if the person is right around the corner and has not yet come into view (depending on their location, or yours). The “shadow,” in this case, is the universality of some concepts – such as do not murder. steal etc., Something about those basics (before you define different gradations of each illegal act) has always been in humans. And they existed before the first police department, otherwise we would never have felt the need for law enforcement to begin with. Another “shadow” is the need to worship someone or thing. If we don’t worship God, then we worship our jobs or an entertainer or guru or our new car or spouse or kids…Worshipping these other things eventually get us into trouble at times because people disappoint and new cars break down at unpredictable times and the job has layoffs…but that is because they are really not what we should have placed faith in to begin with.

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So what if it is true, and God doesn’t exist? Would you want to live your life any differently?? (said the agnostic) :wink:

(Hey, Dan – it’s been a while. :slightly_smiling_face:)

There is no ‘what if’ hypothetical for some. I will point to George Müller again (I have a lot lately, it seems – I don’t know if you have seen any – there are two above – here and here) and your profession* ties in:


*Dan’s a statistician, for those who don’t know. (He’s still a statistician, for those who do. :slightly_smiling_face:)

Sounds like therapeutic deism.

thanks for the answer. I think my life would change quite a lot

you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong… I see my religion dismissed on the grounds that ‘the comfortable parson had every reason for assuring the nineteenth century worker that poverty would be rewarded in another world’. Well, no doubt he had. On the assumption that Christianity is an error, I can see early enough that some people would still have a motive for inculcating it. I see it so easily that I can, of course, play the game the other way round, by saying that ‘the modern man has every reason for trying to convince himself that there are no eternal sanctions behind the morality he is rejecting’… But of course it gets us not one inch nearer to deciding whether, as a matter of fact, the Christian religion is true or false. That question remains to be discussed on quite different grounds—a matter of philosophical and historical argument. However it were decided, the improper motives of some people, both for believing it and for disbelieving it, would remain just as they are.

-C. S. Lewis, Bulverism


A bit more of Lewis’s thinking on the topic…

Suppose I think, after doing my accounts, that I have a large balance at the bank. And suppose you want to find out whether this belief of mine is ‘wishful thinking’. You can never come to any conclusion by examining my psychological condition. Your only chance of finding out is to sit down and work through the sum yourself. When you have checked my figures, then, and then only, will you know whether I have that balance or not. If you find my arithmetic correct, then no amount of vapouring about my psychological condition can be anything but a waste of time. If you find my arithmetic wrong, then it may be relevant to explain psychologically how I came to be so bad at my arithmetic, and the doctrine of the concealed wish will become relevant—but only after you have yourself done the sum and discovered me to be wrong on purely arithmetical grounds. It is the same with all thinking and all systems of thought. If you try to find out which are tainted by speculating about the wishes of the thinkers, you are merely making a fool of yourself. You must first find out on purely logical grounds which of them do, in fact, break down as arguments. Afterwards, if you like, go on and discover the psychological causes of the error.


to me a lot of atheists suffer from Santa syndrome, talking about the imaginary friend in the sky, which is amusing when accompanied by the claim of their intellectual superiority. Not to be able to look past this childish view of God is a bit embarrassing and a bit of a declaration of intellectual bankruptcy.
There is indeed something uncomfortable about the claim that there is some entity that sees everything we do and judges us for it, so the faith into the absence of such authority is an understandable wish born out of human desires. After all, that is what sin is about, the rejection of authority over ones self. Its the problem of puberty, and luckily a lot of us grow out of it.

The “Santa syndrome” is an interesting term, but the other extreme of atheism is to view God as something or someone really malevolent. I believe one skeptic said he was going to ask this awful Deity (if he ever saw him) about the justness of a universe that allowed “bone cancer in children,” for instance…and from there of course the list goes on and becomes more personal (that is, more personal if the issue of bone cancer is somehow not personal for that particular person)… These are both extremes, and they are influenced perhaps more or less by our own wishes or fears (depending on which you think it is)—or silliness (“the flying spaghetti monster,” as someone put it)…And in the end have nothing to do with whether or not God exists, why He was invented(if it happened that way)–or what He looks like—or the statistical likelihood that the Universe could have come into being on its own. He either does or He does not exist. I like the quote, which I read elsewhere, from a famous skeptic who said that nothing shook his atheism so much as realizing some details about the development of the carbon atom. As an issue, one way or the other, the nature of the Universe and its complexity and rationality, etc. — are more to the point of the question of a Creator being than all the rest of it. IMHO. Well…anyway…

To avoid this conundrum It would probably be better for believers to simply back off the specificity of beliefs regarding God and accept that it is outside our reach to be able to k ow these things. Admit that we don’t know what God is capable of or what His aims and reasons may be. Christians cherish the idea that they have a powerful ally on call when they also realize only He knows what is best at any given moment. Sure does make for some real puzzles.

Great thoughts, Mark…and you are right! It does make for some real puzzles…see the Book of Job

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On call?? I wish. :grinning:

From what I hear there is more calling going on than answering. :wink:

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From what I hear there is a lot of answering going on and a lot of people dialing the wrong number as in calling Santa instead of God and trying first class mail to the North Pole by adding - and this I ask in the name of Jesus - instead of asking for things Jesus would have asked for, e.g to help him to do Gods will. It is the lack of realisation that Prayer is reflection with God to change to make his wishes for reality come true and not to ask God to change reality according to our wishes.

I had some debate with the Taizee community asking them to reissue the text to their song “Oh Lord hear my prayer” as it sounds to me like a song that complains about God not listening which is incoherent with the view of an omnipresent and omniscient God. They granted me permission to use my own text but not to publish it under their name for copyright reasons. I would have happily given them the copyright as I would have preferred them to publish a revised text as they admitted to only rarely use the song for the same reason.

Instead of
Oh, Lord hear my prayer Oh, Lord hear my prayer
When I call answer me
Oh, Lord hear my prayer Oh, Lord hear my prayer
Come and listen to me

I sing

Oh Lord here’s my prayer, oh Lord here’s my prayer,
when I pray you listen to me
Oh Lord here’s my prayer, oh Lord here’s my prayer,
help me to hear what you say

Oh Lord here’s my prayer, oh Lord here’s my prayer,
when I pray you answer me
Oh Lord here’s my prayer, oh Lord here’s my prayer,
help me to listen to you.

If someone argues about God being cruel usually for letting children die of a particular cancer, ask them why they find that worse than God letting old people die of Alzheimer’s or letting his own son be killed by being made to wear a crown of thorns and then being nailed to the cross.
If they do not get it that it is God who gives us the strength to bear the pain of physical death, the logical consequence of living in the material body, and that in him and in Jesus we can overcome that pain and bear what others perceive as unbearable suffering, as in being in God allows us to find a peace that only he can give you in death they have an intellectual problem. After all, for him our physical death is not a problem as it brings us back to him and removes the barriers of our materialism / physicality and it is not a punishment but the possibility to be fully in his presence again. .

Thanks Marvin. I appreciate the thoughts. Someone would, of course, find Alzheimer’s objectionable too — wouldn’t you if it were you? And then they might argue about the reality of the crucifixion of Jesus or resurrection…(By saying this, I am not saying it did not occur. I believe that it did, but this would be their next argument.) As for God giving us the strength to bear certain things, well “easy for us to say” ---- I doubt that any of these things is pleasant — otherwise we would not spend so much time and effort trying to put it off or delay it or prevent it altogether. Whether God ever had physical death in mind for us, is another source of debate…A coworker took photos of his wife in her death throes, had the pix developed and brought them to work to share. Those who had the stomach to look said they were gruesome … …These are big subjects and reams of paper have been covered with print about them. Whether or not God “is” is actually not the same subject as “why is God like this or that” or “why do children die of bone cancer”…all great topics for future BioLogos blogs, I am sure!

The question is so why they choose the death of a child dying of bone cancer as an example and what their beef is with death. If he let his own son be crucified it should be clear even to those of lesser intellect that we are not talking Santa here fulfilling childish wishes, but that perhaps a loving God can protect those why physically die from their suffering, which after all in a supernatural, e.g. philosopical or metaphysical issue.

Do we imagine that a world without childhood cancer would have been as easy to create as the one in which we actually live - especially while leaving our nature as is, free will and all? That any human being should presume to know God’s limits, or lack there of, has always seemed beyond belief to me. I guess that must be what some call a pre-supposition since there is no way to justify it otherwise.

My assumption, when the “bone cancer” illustration was used, is that this is some sort of really painful death – or the attempted cure or chemo is really uncomfortable. I am really not familiar with that kind of cancer, or any kind. So that is my presumption —but of course, the analogy may only signify the question “why are children allowed to die?” but your thoughts also are good, Mark

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Quote begin:: > "Is the eye-worm the knock-down blow to Christian faith that atheists believe it is? Stephen Fry seems to think so. In an interview with Irish TV host Gay Byrne last week, Fry was asked what he would say to God at the pearly gates of heaven. The ensuing rant – articulate, polite but savage – was widely shared. “I’ll say, ‘Bone cancer in children? What’s that about?’ How dare you? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil.”

And the eye-worm? It’s this to which he refers when he says: “Yes the world is very splendid but it has in it insects whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind. It eats outwards from the eyes. Why?”

So do the worm, and the bone cancer, and all the other ghastly conditions that disfigure the biological world – not to mention the multitude of horrors human beings inflict on other members of their own species – make it impossible for a reasonable person to believe?

Tell me about this worm, then.

He seems to have borrowed it, so to speak, from David Attenborough, who said in 2009 that he got hate mail from creationists complaining that he didn’t credit God enough for the wonders of nature. He told the Radio Times: “I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs.”"

Christiantoday has a go at it and hints at the problem of Jesus death, why an all powerful God allows suffering. However they all fail to figure out to address the core problem of suffering so beautifully addressed in the bible but so commonly missed by all the Santa syndrome sufferers, the desire of wanting to have things go our way, our will to be done. It is those who suffer that realise that God is the only way to overcome suffering, and that is also what Jesus shows us on the cross. I can only hope that those who face death can feel the love of God when they get there as otherwise they will burn up on re-entry. Only if you understand Jesus you have the heatshield to survive the re-entry phase or if God beams you across. I pray to God that he will help me to fix the tiles in the heat shields of others that risk their heatshield to break down or to help some to build that heat shield, and this I know I can truely ask in the name of Jesus.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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