A World Without Religion Doesn’t Look So Good

A common theme of the New Atheist narrative is the belief the world would be a much better place without religion. This belief is connected to the New Atheist’s extreme perceptions of religion as “one of the world’s greatest evils.” And it drives their missionary-like zeal in trying to suppress religion and convert people to Atheism.

I have never encountered any good evidence to support the belief the world would be a much better place without religion. Yet there is plenty of evidence that indicates it is false. One line of evidence comes from the atheist blogosphere itself. As we have seen over the years, atheists on the internet are constantly at war with each over, all because of something that once happened on an elevator. If the world would be a much better place without religion, the atheist blogosphere, which is a world without religion, should be a beacon of light. It should be the one place where we can find hope and reason to be optimistic about the future. But it is clearly not.

Another line of evidence comes from academia. While academia is not purely atheistic, I think one could make solid arguments for it being much more secular than the rest of society. At the very least, one would have a hard time blaming any problems within academia on the eevils of religion. So what’s the problem with academia?

New Atheist activist Jerry Coyne explains it:

Sadly, the decline in free speech at American universities, and the proliferation of ludicrous “trigger warning” mandates for books and courses, are topics covered largely by the right-wing media, so often I must hold my nose as I examine their sources. But even a right-wing venue can get stuff right, as Legal Insurrection does on the latest bit of nonsense from American campuses

Coyne worries that the universities, with their obsessions over “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” are heading down the road to Literature Fascism.

In fact, Kirsten Powers, who is a liberal Christian, would agree.

She notes that our unversities are becoming “a place of fear and intimidation” and has written a new book outlining the evidence to support her claims.

The root of nearly every free-speech infringement on campuses across the country is that someone—almost always a liberal—has been offended or has sniffed out a potential offense in the making. Then, the silencing campaign begins. The offender must be punished, not just for justice’s sake, but also to send the message to anyone else on campus that should he or she stray off the leftist script, they too might find themselves investigated, harassed, ostracized, or even expelled. If the illiberal left can preemptively silence opposing speakers or opposing groups— such as getting a speech or event canceled, or denying campus recognition for a group—even better.

Clearly, a “world without religion” does not entail a world where free speech and free thought are more likely to exist when secular universities are becoming the place that is most hostile to free speech and free thought.

Look at it this way. We live in a world where there is great diversity of thought. In addition to atheism, agnosticism, and secularism, there are all kinds of religions, and all sorts of degrees of religiosity. Such diversity is healthy for our species. Different viewpoints challenge us and also help the more extreme versions of our own worldviews from going unchecked. Yet what the New Atheists propose is the elimination of this diversity, such that only atheists exist, perhaps allowing for small pockets of closeted religiosity. What the New Atheists propose for our future is thus that of intellectual inbreeding. And it is intellectual inbreeding that can spawn all sorts of freakish ideas – such as turning a university into a place where people are afraid to speak their mind.

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78 Responses to A World Without Religion Doesn’t Look So Good

  1. David says:

    Reblogged this on David's Theology and commented:
    Articles re-blogged do not necessarily reflect the views of this site.

  2. Arkenaten says:

    Really? You do not consider the world would be a better place without religious fanatics like ISIS and idiocies like Accelerated Christian Education and other forms of Creationism?

  3. Michael says:

    Er, the New Atheist meme is that the world would be a better place without religion. It’s not the world would be a better place without ISIS and Creationism. The Gnus decided to pick a fight with every religion and every religious person on the planet. Are you implying they want to cowardly retreat while claiming, “We only meant ISIS?”

  4. ccmnxc says:

    @Arkenaten

    Didn’t realize religion = ISIS & Creationism.
    I suppose the Little Sisters of the Poor is a secular organization?

  5. Arkenaten says:

    And what makes mainstream Catholicism, for example, so much better than mainstream Islam?
    Could you explain?

  6. Billy Squibs says:

    What exactly is mainstream Islam and mainstream Catholicism? What has a comparison of the merits of either got to do with the OP? You aren’t asking the right questions, Arkenaten. Please reread the OP to see what point Michael was getting at.

  7. Michael says:

    It’s rude to change the topic, Arken. The topic is not which religion is better. The topic is the Gnu meme that the world would be a better place without religion. Are you a New Atheist here to defend your meme?

  8. mechanar says:

    “diversity is healthy for our species”

    Exactly how I think, good post.

  9. ccmnxc says:

    Couldn’t tell you a whole lot about “mainstream Islam,” whatever that might mean.
    Is mainstream Islam basically in cahoots with ISIS? If so, then, I think you already know my answer to your question.
    Or is mainstream Islam disassociated with ISIS? If that’s that case, how bad is Islam, exactly? It is pretty obvious, after all, that you are trying to make an unflattering comparison, so you’re going to have to lay out the problem here.

  10. Arkenaten says:

    Fair enough. Apologies.
    Yes, of course the world would be a far better place without religion. Period.
    It is happening as we speak. It is just a matter of time that’s all.
    I am an atheist. I don’t have a meme, thanks.

  11. Michael says:

    Fair enough. Apologies.
    Yes, of course the world would be a far better place without religion. Period.
    It is happening as we speak. It is just a matter of time that’s all.
    I am an atheist. I don’t have a meme, thanks.

    It’s clear you are an atheist with a meme – one that you cling to with great faith.
    We can tell this by how you completely try to sidestep the points in my blog entry.

    Anyway, here is something from 4 years ago, just as relevant today as ever:

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/open-your-eyes/

  12. Arkenaten says:

    I have never encountered any good evidence to support the belief the world would be a much better place without religion.

    Well lets’ shoot this falsehood straightaway shall we?

    As an example of why I believe humans would be better off without religion perhaps you would like to demonstrate your integrity and defend your stance by answering this simple question

    (We can move on to each religion in turn , no problem.)
    Would the world be a better place without ISIS: Yes or No?

  13. Billy Squibs says:

    Yes, I think it would. What has that got to do with the OP?

    Now, for my question. Would the world have been better off with communism? Yes or No? also, do you still beat your wife? Yes or No?

  14. John says:

    ”Would the world be a better place without ISIS: Yes or No?”

    Yes

    Why?Because it does such atrocities as burn captives alive or behead people.

    Now,what does that got to do with religion?Are you implying Islam teaches for ISIS-style violence to occur?

    If your point is that Islam does indeed teach such things,then that still doesn’t prove anything.

    Islam is just one religion among many others.Other religions don’t necessarily teach any violence at all.

  15. Michael says:

    Would the world be a better place without ISIS: Yes or No?

    Yes. But what does this have to do with my observation of never encountering any good evidence to support the belief the world would be a much better place without religion? Do you claim to know that without religion, no ISIS-like organization would ever come into existence?

  16. Arkenaten says:

    Well, we start by addressing religion by religion, that way we can arrive at the point where the answer will be self evident. Okay?
    If there was no religion and people lived their lives without it then why would another ISIS like religion manifest?
    Yes, of course it is possible. Christianity produces different cults every five minutes it seems.

    So, moving on.
    We are agreed that the world would be a better place without ISIS.
    Excellent.
    Next: Would the world be a better place without the imposition of Sharia Law? Yes or No?

  17. Allallt says:

    Non-violent versions of religions–or “mainstream” religion–are secularised religions. It’s either fundamentalism or there is some level of humanism sneaking in.
    A world without dogma would be a better world. That is what we see in Scandinavian countries today.

  18. John says:

    ”Non-violent versions of religions–or “mainstream” religion–are secularised religions. It’s either fundamentalism or there is some level of humanism sneaking in.”

    I guess by that notion we can call Bible scholars who came to the ”secular” conclusion via research also Chrisitans with subconscious hints of secularism.

    Not really.Saying that religion must be fundamentalist in order not to be secularised is nonsense.

  19. John says:

    ”If there was no religion and people lived their lives without it then why would another ISIS like religion manifest?”

    Religion itself is not the only motivator.There are many other reasons why terrorist groups could still pop up.Such as political reasons,resources,ethnical and other reasons as well.

    ”Christianity produces different cults every five minutes it seems.”

    Strange how this number is very controversial.

    Another thing is,the Catholic Church has existed since the beginnings of Christianity and has remained unchanged since.

    Then the Orthodox Church split up and only then did Protestantism come along.

    Now,at least all Christians have something in general.

    Many want unity or working together with other Churches.And all believe the basic tenets of Christianity.

    ” Would the world be a better place without the imposition of Sharia Law? Yes or No?”

    To this question:Yes.

  20. ccmnxc says:

    Allallt, so essentially, you’ve redefined most instantiations of Christianity out of “religion,” which means, I suppose, that if you say the world is better off without religion, most Christians are unaffected. I guess I could live with that.

  21. Arkenaten says:

    So we are agree that the world wold be better without ISIS and the imposition of Sharia Law; both examples of religious extremism.
    That;s two.
    Next:
    Now let’s consider Accelerated Christian Education or ACE, which is basically Creationism that is quite aggressively indoctrinated into l children from small encouraging them to eschew all genuine scientific inquiry and all non creationist worldviews.
    Would children be better off (ergo the world) without this form of extreme religious fundamentalism and encouraged to grow through developing critical thinking skills?
    Yes or No.

  22. Kevin says:

    Rather than holding hands and taking a step at a time toward whatever “GOTCHA” point you have, let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

    Any ideology that does not tolerate the existence of dissension is problematic, and the world would be better off without that ideology. This list includes:

    Left-wing political systems such as Communism, as well as certain forms of American liberalism
    Social justice groups (just say you oppose gay marriage and see what happens to you)
    New Atheists (do not even tolerate other atheists who disagree with their anti-religious bigotry)
    Certain forms of nationalism
    etc

    You’ll notice that none of the above have any roots in religion, and some in fact are diametrically opposed to religion. So, if the problem in fact is being forced into either accepting an ideology or pretending that you do or face consequences, then you must also get rid of a huge host of beliefs that have absolutely nothing to do with religion.

    Of course, if you insist on singling out religious beliefs with some odd criteria that only applies to religious beliefs, then we will know what the actual problem is.

  23. Michael says:

    Well, we start by addressing religion by religion, that way we can arrive at the point where the answer will be self evident. Okay?

    I see. So your evidence is going to amount to a bunch of musings about “what if?” questions and you plan to accomplish this by cherry picking examples of religion that happen to conform to your biases. That’s not evidence. Stop tap dancing and provide the evidence.

    But we can play your game if you want.

    Would the world be a better place without Dr. Stephen Foster? Yes or No?

    If there was no religion and people lived their lives without it then why would another ISIS like religion manifest?

    As a person who is here to judge the integrity of others, why do you dishonestly put words in my mouth? I said nothing about another ISIS like religion. I brought up the possibility of another ISIS-like organization. You seem to possess this cartoonish notion of ISIS as something that is purely religious. There is no denying that ISIS has a religious component, but there is much more to it than that. For ISIS, religion simply serves as a unifying, rallying cry that imparts some form of order. Secular ideologies can accomplish this also. So I once again have to ask, do you claim to know that without religion, no ISIS-like organization would ever come into existence?

    Another fatal problem with your approach is that it entails magical thinking by assuming you can strip all elements of religion out of history and society and leave everything else intact. In reality, everything is connected (down to the butterfly effect). Let me give you an example.

    Would global warming exist without science? No. Global warming (which many consider to be a bigger threat than ISIS) exists because of science. Meaning, if science did not exist, there would be no global warming. So, would the world be a better place without science?

    So, moving on.
    We are agreed that the world would be a better place without ISIS.

    Which is a rather meaningless point unless you can demonstrate alternative worlds would have no ISIS-like organizations to fill the void. Of course, I would expect you to want to “move on” rather than show your first example is meaningful.

    Next: Would the world be a better place without the imposition of Sharia Law? Yes or No?
    Yes.

    My turn.

    I figured you would ignore my previous link (and the argument in the OP), so let’s display it more prominantly on the table.

    Here is how one atheist described your world without religion:

    I can’t count how many times I publicly stressed that the atheist/skeptical movement, while not perfect, is still a safer place for women and other minorities. But now I recognize that I was trying to convince myself that this is true. I don’t feel safe as a woman in this community – and I feel less safe than I do as a woman in science, or a woman in gaming, or hell, as a woman walking down the fucking sidewalk.

    Another atheist concurs about this world without religion:

    Over the past several years, I’ve been groped, grabbed, touched in other nonconsensual ways, told I can expect to be raped, told I’m a whore, a slut, a bitch, a prude, a dyke, a cunt, a twat, told I should watch my back at conferences, told I’m too ugly to be raped, told I don’t have a say in my own treatment because I’ve posed for sexy photos, told I should get a better headshot because that one doesn’t convey how sexy I am in person, told I deserve to be raped – by skeptics and atheists. All by skeptics and atheists. Constantly.

    Wow. This reminds me of something Sam Harris wrote:

    “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.”

    Do you agree with Harris? Yes or no.

  24. John says:

    ”Would children be better off (ergo the world) without this form of extreme religious fundamentalism and encouraged to grow through developing critical thinking skills?
    Yes or No.”

    Not necessarily.

    ACE may undermine scientific teaching,but it is a smaller minority.Many creationist organisations are not as agressive as ACE.

    Now ACE may undermine scientific testing or value,but we do not know what full extent it will have in the future.

    ISIS on the other hand is extreme.It is based on commands that command believers to mercilessly kill people who are not obedient to it.ACE may undermine scientific testing,but really,what power does it have in the world?

    How much science is lost because of ACE?

    Now,the significance of murder is greater then the significance of loosing smaller parts of science.

    If,for example,Franz Ferdinand wasn’t killed,there would be no World Wars in the 20th century,and not many people killed.

    Now,by changing just one person being killed,we can end up with immense results and consequences.If one person who is killed is changed to not being killed,then who knows how this could impact history.

    Maybe the survivor there could end up convincing ACE or previous organisations they were wrong or could impact science with additional discoveries.

    Now,the world would be a better place without ACE if we are going to bother with the small details.

    But really?How much of an impact does ACE have?If it is small,then people know not to trust it and there would be almost no difference between if it exists or had not existed.

    Now,if we removed all extremism and fundamentalism in the world,a majority of religion would be left intact,without difference.

    The reason people wrongly come to the conclusion that certain religions ban certain things is because of misunderstandings.

    Now,let us look at for example movies.

    A few movies have caused people to commit crimes.

    Does that mean the world would be a much better place without movies?

    Well,the argument can be made that it would be not.

    A movie may cause people to commit crimes,but it is also likely that the movie inspired them to do crimes because they had a previously held desire to do crime,and that is why they were wrongly understanding movies intentionally.

    So there was a previous desire to do the crime and the wrong interpretation came with it,and that is why you have crimes asociated with movies.

    The same can be aplied to religion.

  25. Arkenaten says:

    @ Kevin.
    I am glad you at least were able to recognise what was happening. Good.
    You will also be aware, I am sure, that a multi -religious society can only be possible where a fair degree of secularism is present?
    Your religion – which I will presume is Christianity – could not flourish in a theocracy, I am sure you will agree, yes?
    This is evident in certain Islamic state and was also prevalent for over a thousand years within Christianity.
    Try to envisage all those churches in any town in Alabama in a country like Saudi. Hilarious, right?

    There is also a fallacious assumption often bandied about that if there was no religion the void would be soon filled with something heinous, that somehow religion maintains a balance. Nonsense , of course.
    What many religious people fail to take into consideration is there are already some wonderful functioning examples of what our society would be like without religion.
    Just look at some of the Scandinavian countries. While there is still church it is mostly paid lip service.
    For real evidence simply use Google – it is after all your friend and research which countries are the most tolerant, socially stable, lowest divorce rate, crime rate etc and you will see that by and large they are mostly those countries that tend to eschew religion.
    You don’t need a zillion inks, you can Google yes?

    What you must also try to understand is there is no one ( that II am aware of) actively advocating banning outright, but rather keep it out of the public sphere; to the extent of not having it a part of genera public life.
    I’m sure i don’t really need to list particulars?
    Besides, as demonstrated by some of the more socially advanced nations, religion will die a natural death in the end.
    As long as normal people are vigilant when it comes to indoctrinating kids, it will eventually fade away.
    Patience.

  26. Arkenaten says:

    @John.
    Sweeping change regarding religion is almost an impossibility and would incur serious negative knee-jerk reaction.
    But ACE ( for example) has insidiously crept onto the radar and it is not that difficult to close it doewn and there are a few individuals doing sterling work in this regard.

    Of course, ne can simply sit back and do nothing, religion’s demise is inevitable, even if it takes several hundred ( or more ) years simply because it is built upon a foundation of lies – especially the Abrahamic religions.
    But if it is possible to help children who are being abused in these systems then why not?

    Any move toward a secular humanist society, free of the garbage of religious nonsense can only be a good thing, surely?

    I mean, do you think it is a good thing to lie to children about such things as Moses and the Exodus for example?

  27. John says:

    ”Just look at some of the Scandinavian countries. ”

    Not really.

    In Sweden,no more than 23% of Swedes are atheists.In fact,according to a Eurobarometer poll done 3 years ago, only 13% are actually atheists.And also,when the poll was conducted in 2010, 34% of Swedes were atheist, meaning more than half of atheists gave up on atheism after just two years.

    And also,Sweden isn’t in exactly in a pristine condition.

    Since the 80s or 90s,Sweden started to suffer from too much imigration.
    Now,the state is so bad some people predict Swedes will become an ethnic minority in 30 years.

    ”religion will die a natural death in the end.”

    Communists believed that.Look what happened to Poland.

    Another thing is,not exactly,religion in fact is growing.Estimates say that in 50 years Christianity will increase massively in Africa and Asia,and even in America to a smaller extent.

    While atheism and agnosticism will remain a small minority that might actually shrink.

  28. Arkenaten says:

    @Michael

    Your example focuses on the US. (?) And it sounds as if you are trying to suggest that with the demise of religion, standards are dropping. Ergo non-belief results in this sort of social breakdown.
    Really?
    And what was 9/11, for example? A blip on the religious screen
    Your tacit ‘’suggestion’’ would only have any serious merit if this behaviour were prevalent across the board

    Is it?

    I think you are trying to be a little disingenuous here, Michael to be honest.
    To your final question: Do I agree with Harris? No.

  29. John says:

    ”But ACE ( for example) has insidiously crept onto the radar and it is not that difficult to close it doewn and there are a few individuals doing sterling work in this regard.”

    Again,how much power does ACE have?

    It might have insidiously crept onto the radar,but the same can be said for Ancient Aliens or other wacky ideas.

    ”religion’s demise is inevitable, ”

    So why did communism fail to destroy a majority of it?
    Communism was hostile towards religion and many communists also held to the belief it will die with time.

    Another thing is,some people are saying religion won’t die.It cannot die.

    Religion tends to increase as natural disasters and poverty and other things increase.
    There will always be natural disasters and uncomfortable things such as this,and religion will survive and be a part of our culture.

    ”simply because it is built upon a foundation of lies – especially the Abrahamic religions.”

    Many things just…disagree with this claim.

    What else to say about this really?

    Just…no.

    ”But if it is possible to help children who are being abused in these systems then why not?”

    If we remove Islam from the equation and from the map,would you still make this claim?

    ”free of the garbage of religious nonsense”

    I guess Bible scholars,hebrew linguists,literary scholars and archaeologists are all the simple product of that nonsense.

    ”I mean, do you think it is a good thing to lie to children about such things as Moses and the Exodus for example?”

    I believe you are wrong about what you say.But I believe also that you are ignorant about certain things and that is also why you are wrong.Would it then be equally correct to call your claims things that could be taught to children that would be lies?

  30. Arkenaten says:

    Another thing is,not exactly,religion in fact is growing.Estimates say that in 50 years Christianity will increase massively in Africa and Asia,and even in America to a smaller extent.

    This is a natural cycle and give a false positive which cheers up the religious no end.

    If you were truly honest you might contemplate an entire world under Islam for example and then ask the question as posed in the blog post?
    It is worth remembering that a multi-religious environment can only flourish under a secular democracy and the more you try to wheedle your particular religion into the public domain the more that freedom is eroded.
    However, a secular humanist society which was eventually free of all religion would not have to deal with such fractious nonsensical issues as god belief and all its incumbent idiocies.
    Surely this is something worth aiming for? Don’t you agree?

  31. John says:

    ”This is a natural cycle”

    So,when are we going to get to the ”religion shrinks and atheism and non-belief rises” part?

    ”If you were truly honest you might contemplate an entire world under Islam”

    Imagine no Islam now…

    Also,I do not fully get your point there it seems…

    ”It is worth remembering that a multi-religious environment can only flourish under a secular democracy”

    And that means there are going to be democracies with growing non-belief?

    Also,Greece contradicts your statement there.

    ”with such fractious nonsensical issues as god belief and all its incumbent idiocies.”

    I guess we can sum up something extremely complex with just dreams and hopes.That is,religion is nonsense,and all of it’s other complex things such as biblical scholarship,literary scholarship and much more are also onsense as well.

    ”Surely this is something worth aiming for? Don’t you agree?”

    Taking all the facts and observations into account,no.

  32. Arkenaten says:

    @John

    Again, how much power does ACE have?

    I am sure there were one or two Roman Senators who said the same thing about this ‘’New Jewish sect called christianity’’. And now look at the shit that oversight caused?
    Besides, what relevance has power got to do with anything? It is a bad system abusing kids. Period.

    So why did communism fail to destroy a majority of it?

    Because it tried to do it by brute force. That will fail every time. People simply need to be told the truth, and educated to think critically.

    Religion tends to increase as natural disasters and poverty and other things increase.
    There will always be natural disasters and uncomfortable things such as this,and religion will survive and be a part of our culture.

    Yes …. See comment above.

    ”simply because it is built upon a foundation of lies – especially the Abrahamic religions.”
    Many things just…disagree with this claim.

    Evidence tells you the statement is truth. What can I say? Don’t shoot the messanger.

    ”But if it is possible to help children who are being abused in these systems then why not?”
    If we remove Islam from the equation and from the map, would you still make this claim?

    Are you suggesting the problems lie solely with Islam? Lol You are being facetious, yes?

    ”free of the garbage of religious nonsense”
    I guess Bible scholars, hebrew linguists,literary scholars and archaeologists are all the simple product of that nonsense.

    If they are religious, and are pushing the religious worldview why yes, of course.
    Kitchen is a good example of an evangelical Christian Egyptologist; peer-reviewed with over 200 books to his credit and respected for much of his work, but when it comes to the Exodus for example he has no credibility whatsoever, outside of his religious/evangelical circle.

    ”I mean, do you think it is a good thing to lie to children about such things as Moses and the Exodus for example?”
    I believe you are wrong about what you say. But I believe also that you are ignorant about certain things and that is also why you are wrong. Would it then be equally correct to call your claims things that could be taught to children that would be lies? </ blockquote
    If they are lies, sure. But to teach children that Moses and the Exodus, for example, are historical fact is blatant lies, plain and simple. If you believe that statement is wrong then please produce evidence that refutes it.

  33. Arkenaten says:

    Taking all the facts and observations into account,no.

    I take it you are an evangelical christian, yes?

  34. Michael says:

    Your example focuses on the US. (?) And it sounds as if you are trying to suggest that with the demise of religion, standards are dropping. Ergo non-belief results in this sort of social breakdown.
    Really?

    You are confused. I’m simply expressing skepticism concerning your belief that the world would be a better place without religion. I cite an example of a “world without religion” and I don’t see how it is a better place. Ergo you have no evidence for your meme.

    And what was 9/11, for example? A blip on the religious screen
    Your tacit ‘’suggestion’’ would only have any serious merit if this behaviour were prevalent across the board
    Is it?

    You ignored so much of my response that I don’t know what you are talking about.

    I think you are trying to be a little disingenuous here, Michael to be honest.

    The feeling is mutual.

    To your final question: Do I agree with Harris? No.

    Very good. So there is disagreement among the atheists when it comes to a world without religion vs. a world without rape. I see that Sam Harris is a very popular leader among the New Atheists. Can you point to a place where other New Atheists have publicly expressed their disagreement with Harris about this?

  35. Michael says:

    What many religious people fail to take into consideration is there are already some wonderful functioning examples of what our society would be like without religion.
    Just look at some of the Scandinavian countries.

    That example won’t fly. Y’see, the Scandinavian countries exist because of the military might of a very religious nation – the USA. Without the protective umbrella from this religious nation, Scandanavia, as it exists, would not exist. So its really not truly an example of a society without religion.

    The question to ask is just how sustainable is Scandanavia. In the USA, the rise of secularism is correlated with a growing military weakness, meaning that in a few decades, Scandanavia would very well lose its umbrella.

  36. Arkenaten says:

    Ah … the right wing conservative approach.
    Sorry, that example wont fly.
    But nice try though.
    What next ? A positive lesson on why George Bush was really misunderstood?

  37. Michael says:

    Besides, what relevance has power got to do with anything? It is a bad system abusing kids. Period.

    I don’t know anything about ACE, but you tossing around the word “abuse” caught my attention.

    Do you agree with Dawkins’ crackpot position that a religious upbringing is child abuse?

  38. UpstateIslandersFan says:

    I really don’t know that anyone can make the argument that the world would or wouldn’t be a better place without religious beliefs. It’s very easy to point out the excesses of religious believers that cry out for correction. In other words, we notice the atrocities carried out in the name of a creed because they make the news (think of beheading in the name of Islam or the even rarer physical attacks on abortion providers). We notice the social struggles that occur when traditional faith and modernity collide (think the redefinition of marriage by state legislatures). For many, these events and struggles become the default view of religion in society. Religion becomes something that is seen mostly as intolerant, unbending, cruel, wicked, backwards, etc. The problem with this way of thinking is that it completely negates what the majority of religious practice is, which ranges from innocuous social gatherings to moderation and generosity in personal life all the way astounding acts of charity. It’s been pointed out on this blog that if religion can’t be credited for what is considered good than neither should organized disbelief. The same goes for the bad. If religion is going to be called out for something like the various crusades, then organized disbelief should be called out for it’s brutal excesses in the Enlightenment all the way up to through the 20th Century. I think it’s too easily ignored by anti-theists that theists suffered greatly under organized atheistic governments. Ask a Muslim or a Catholic in Albania during the Cold War if they think disbelief was a force of good.
    Another issue is conflating beliefs, which I see a lot when these discussions arise. Someone will make the sweeping claim that all religious belief is the same in all places and in all time. Unless I am wrong, most of the history of Christianity – at least in the orthodox (with a lower case ‘O”) sense – have not shared or expounded the beliefs that are now crudely ascribed to them, which are often the views of strict biblical literalists pasted and put on top of them. You can’t accurately compare Roman Catholicism for example with biblical fundamentalism and expect to be taken seriously because you haven’t seriously considered the differences. You may deplore both beliefs, but that would require you to at least understand the difference. Before there was an organized New Testament, there was a group of believers. Most of them held to a deposit of belief which in the first century is roughly the same as the 21s century; the virgin birth, crucifixion, resurrection, and the belief of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Various “fathers” of the church held different interpretations of scripture and how they should be approached, but I think it’s fair to say that most saw scripture as anything but simplistic and to be read in the same way in all cases.
    With regards to a secular society, aggressive non-believers often have a p*ss poor definition of what that actually means. Does that mean simply that religion is not recognized by a government (as in nearly all nations in the West)? Does that mean that religion is actively discouraged by a government? Does that mean that one owes his or her life to a government? The very idea that one can rely on secular principles alone to make a better life or increase the greater good of man has a spotty track record in my opinion. Two rather large nations that I think could fit into definitions of secular societies built up large stockpiles of deadly weaponry to annihilate each other just within the last century.
    The last point I’ll make is this: much of what we think of as inalienable human rights and values in the 21st Century are in large part rooted in theism. Now, that doesn’t mean that theism is correct, but that much of what we consider good; the idea of the human being, the right of that human to his/her own conscience, the intrinsic value of his/her life, did not arise out of thin air. In large part they are the result of transcendent principles and beliefs. To eradicate those transcendent beliefs is to turn all of those notions on their head. I’m sure one can make a strong argument that the classical world was extremely brutal and little concern for the least of its people.
    In a materialist based society, these notions are merely shadows. They have no foundation. They are perhaps more delusional than what people criticize belief as being. As physical materialism increases, it’s logical too that consumer materialism will increase and with it the idea that a person’s value is based upon what they can produce and what they can acquire. That can only lead to a type of insipid elitism that I think all of us – believer or non-believer – should shudder to think about.

  39. Arkenaten says:

    If you don’t know anything about ACE this aptly demonstrates its insidious nature. It is from your country US (?)
    It is Creationism.
    Google it.

    Why do you suggest it is crackpot? Do you consider lying to children with the intent to indoctrinate them with fallacious beliefs child abuse?

    Are you an evangelical christian, Michael?

  40. Kevin says:

    You will also be aware, I am sure, that a multi -religious society can only be possible where a fair degree of secularism is present?

    Agreed. I do not advocate for a theocracy. But nothing in Christianity requires a theocracy.

    Your religion – which I will presume is Christianity – could not flourish in a theocracy, I am sure you will agree, yes?

    Agreed. But then the problem with a theocracy is the same problem with brutal Communist regimes, the Cult of Reason, etc – a tyrannical, intolerant ideology gaining dominance of the government and imposing its will.

    There is also a fallacious assumption often bandied about that if there was no religion the void would be soon filled with something heinous, that somehow religion maintains a balance. Nonsense , of course.

    The point isn’t that it WOULD be filled with something bad. The point is that religious ideology is hardly the only justification people need for doing crappy things to each other, and it’s not the only type of ideology that inspires oppression. Not to mention that religious beliefs accomplish many GOOD things in people’s lives. I’m unaware of anything within the purview of naturalism that would give me the quality of life I now have (not talking monetary), since I tend to cut through all the BS and go straight to the nihilistic truth of any atheistic ideology.

    What many religious people fail to take into consideration is there are already some wonderful functioning examples of what our society would be like without religion.

    Scandinavian countries are also now increasingly unable to tell the difference between boys and girls, so I’m not convinced of their rationality as a society.

    For real evidence simply use Google – it is after all your friend and research which countries are the most tolerant, socially stable, lowest divorce rate, crime rate etc and you will see that by and large they are mostly those countries that tend to eschew religion.

    Far more likely is that religion flourishes where misery abounds, because people need more than what atheism has to offer emotionally – which is nothing. People who have all their material needs met do tend to be happier with the immediate here and now, but that doesn’t have anything at all to do with religion or lack thereof.

    What you must also try to understand is there is no one ( that II am aware of) actively advocating banning outright, but rather keep it out of the public sphere; to the extent of not having it a part of genera public life.

    Many among the New Atheist leaders consider teaching Christianity to kids to be child abuse and wish it could be made illegal. They believe Christianity is a mental illness that should be treated (our dear prototypeatheist on this very blog calls it a delusion). Some consider it worse than rape, though by your words you disagree, which is good. Some get ticked off when a prominent Christian like Francis Collins gets put in a position of authority or has articles published in major venues. They DO NOT WANT religious ideas to be able to spread.

    So yes, while you’re correct that very few call for outright bans, they are doing everything they can to make it disappear.

    Besides, as demonstrated by some of the more socially advanced nations, religion will die a natural death in the end.

    I think Michael’s take on it is more likely.

    As long as normal people are vigilant when it comes to indoctrinating kids, it will eventually fade away.

    One man’s indoctrination is another’s truth and education. The word doesn’t impress me.

  41. Arkenaten says:

    @Kevin.

    Your rebuttals have all the hallmarks of evangelism and when faced with rational arguments against religion you adopt a herd (christian) mentality regarding atheism and start uttering absurdities, especially as you tacitly avoid Islam in this reply; which is as much child abuse as any rigid fundamentalist ideology.
    Christianity is not the only religion on the planet.
    And what quality of life is there in believing in superstitious nonsense?

    Explain why the world would be worse without religion – all religion
    Once you can do that you have a case. But so far religion has done frakk all to genuinely benefit humanity as a whole that could not have been achieved without it.
    Can you tell me what relevance it has that makes it a genuine force for good?

  42. Arkenaten says:

    They DO NOT WANT religious ideas to be able to spread.

    As I am sure you wouldn’t want Islamic ideas spread or Mormon ideas or Hindu ideas.
    Or do you believe atheism is solely anti – christian? Sorry, no. Your religion is not that special I’m afraid. It’s just another superstitious belief based on a bronze-age Canaanite god. Why would anyone want to cling to such nonsense let alone spread it?

  43. Talon says:

    “As I am sure you wouldn’t want Islamic ideas spread or Mormon ideas or Hindu ideas.
    Or do you believe atheism is solely anti – christian? Sorry, no. Your religion is not that special I’m afraid. It’s just another superstitious belief based on a bronze-age Canaanite god. Why would anyone want to cling to such nonsense let alone spread it?”

    Without evidence, the above scribbles amount to little more than empty assertion and the genetic fallacy thrown in for good measure, please try again. These may be your sincerely held beliefs about Christianity but unless you can rationally justify them you’re blowing smoke and nothing more and such assertion isn’t reason to think the world would be better without religion.

  44. Billy Squibs says:

    The Canaanite God thing again! Is this the new New Atheist meme?

    Arkenaten, you make one assertion after another after another. Sayin’ it don’t make it so. No matter how many ways you say it.

    Let’s move on from your ponderous “Yes or No” serious of questions. My guess is that you intended these as a lead in your telegraphed coup de grace that never quite appeared. Instead, let’s cut to the chase.

    When you say “But so far religion has done frakk all to genuinely benefit humanity as a whole that could not have been achieved without it”, please demonstrate that this is true. Inform us when you have constructed your counter-factual machine and are ready to begin your research.

    In the meantime, please note that you are knocking down an argument of your own making. Who here said that *only* religion can account for such and such a wonderful thing? (Christopher Hitchens was fond of asking a similar question. It was as confused then as it is confused in this formulation.) Please actually try to engage with the topic at hand. Reread the OP if you are confused.

    Can you tell me what relevance it has that makes it a genuine force for good?

    Do your own research. Don’t just stop at the bad stuff that has been done in the name of a particular religion and don’t tar all religions with the same brush. Frankly, we really should define what “religion” is – and that is difficult to do – but I don;t have high hopes for this conversation.

    Look up the origin of most of Universities in Europe. Investigate the origin of the word ‘hospital’. Research the how religious observance has a positive correlation with good mental health (including lower rates of drug abuse and suicide). Compare charitable giving between those who identify as religious and those who identify as secular. Actually go and talk to those working in soup kitchens and in other charities and find out for yourself what their motivations are. (You will find that many are motivated by their religious beliefs.) Look at history and see the motivation of the early scientists like Kepler, Bacon and Galileo. Note how religious beliefs were central to men like, Wilberforce, MLK Jr and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

    None of this is to whitewash the past. Nor it it to demonstrate that God exists. Rather, I’ve written this to counter your grossly inaccurate central claim. Sadly, I suspect that I’m whistling into the wind here.

  45. Michael says:

    If you don’t know anything about ACE this aptly demonstrates its insidious nature.

    You mean…..it’s a conspiracy?

    It is from your country US (?)

    Just a few hours ago, you complained, “Your example focuses on the US. (?)” Now you want me to focus on the USA. Make up your mind.

    It is Creationism.

    So? ISIS kidnaps people and cuts off their head. Sharia stones women for being raped. Do you have evidence that Creationism similarly harms people?

    Google it.

    It would seem to me that the growing threat to free speech at universities is a more serious and widespread problem. It even has someone like Jerry Coyne alarmed.

    Why do you suggest it is crackpot?

    Because there is an extensive body of scientific literature on child abuse and to make his case, Dawkins does what any crackpot does – ignore the science and instead rely on anecdotes and rhetoric. In fact, Dawkins got caught with his pants down when this was pointed out to him.

    Do you consider lying to children with the intent to indoctrinate them with fallacious beliefs child abuse?

    To lie, the Creationists would have to teach their creationism while not believing in it. Yet every creationist I have known actually believes it. So no lying is occurring.

    As for indoctrinating kids with fallacious beliefs. Is that child abuse? Of course not. That’s a silly claim.

    Are you an evangelical christian, Michael?

    Nope. Just a mere Christian (who, BTW, accepts evolution).

  46. Michael says:

    As I am sure you wouldn’t want Islamic ideas spread or Mormon ideas or Hindu ideas.
    Or do you believe atheism is solely anti – christian? Sorry, no. Your religion is not that special I’m afraid.

    LOL. Yep, those anti-Hindu essays from Harris, Dawkins, and Coyne are killers. It’s hard to keep up with them all. 😉

  47. Kevin says:

    Arkenaten, your entire first paragraph to me was pretty much nonsense, but one thing I would like to address is your crying foul at my omission of Islam in my response. I am not in any way responsible for Islam and it is thus irrelevant when I am talking about Christianity. “Religion” is an absolutely useless term to use as a blanket statement.

    And are you suggesting my life would improve if I was brainwashed into being an atheist and accepted the “truth” that my life was no more valuable or meaningful than a housefly? Would I have to pack on the delusions of subjective meaning to be happy? Wow I can see why you want more atheists, they are apparently masters of self-delusion.

    You made the claim the world would be better without religion. You get to prove it. I have no burden of proof since my life can in no way be improved by being an atheist that I have seen. Back up your claim, with evidence, and without conflating my Bible study with ISIS.

  48. Billy Squibs says:

    You made the claim the world would be better without religion. You get to prove it.

    Larry Taunton wrote a book called The Grace Effect which I’ve been meaning to read. It’s about his (and his wife’s) experience when adopting a child in the Ukraine. It’s his contention that the corruption that pervaded society and the inhumanity that he saw in the orphanages was ultimately a result of the atheism that was at the heart of the society for so long. In other words, religion-less societies have been tried before and they have been found wanting. In the words of Christopher Hitchens, a man I’m not inclined to quote, “Mankind is unquestionably evil” (you can read Taunton’s book for more content on this). A religion like Christianity attempts to explain why humanity on a whole is prone to such wickedness. I can’t say the same for atheism.

  49. Kevin says:

    Hard to be able to explain something they don’t even think exists.

  50. TFBW says:

    Arkenaten, I just did a quick review of your comments to see if I could refute any of your arguments, and I was unable to do so because you haven’t presented any yet. Are you a street epistemologist, by any chance?

  51. JWDS says:

    Here is how our eminent defender of reason is arguing:
    “The world would be better without entire category X because of specific example Y.”

    Let’s try some other examples of this reasoning.

    The world would be better without abortion, because of Kermit Gosnell. Would our atheist guest agree to this?
    The world would be better without chemicals, because of anthrax. Would our atheist guest agree to this?

    How exactly is this valid? This is poor generalization, begging the question, composition, presumptive analogy, and probably some other fallacies, too.

    Why do the defenders of reason need logic lessons?

    Also, the whole Scandinavia thing completely ignores history, since those nations were Christian in culture for much of the modern era.

    Oh, and at least some religions have lower correlation with certain superstitions than anyone else.

  52. Chuck says:

    Is arkenaten a poe trying to make atheists look bad? If so, he is very good at it.

  53. Michael says:

    Billy: The Canaanite God thing again! Is this the new New Atheist meme?

    The funniest thing Arken said all day was: “I am an atheist. I don’t have a meme, thanks.”

    The only thing he brought to the table was memes. And more memes. Never did see any evidence that the world would be a better place without religion. He clearly has great faith, but can’t admit it to himself and others.

  54. UpstateIslandersFan says:

    @ arkenaten It looks like you’ve put yourself into murky waters with your argument that the world would be better off without religion. Your claim is so simplistic and confused and judging by your argumentation, it is quite unexamined. You demonstrate this when you conflate all types of religious expression with what most people would consider a crude caricature of religious belief, namely fundamentalism. Now please just focus on what I’m writing, bear with me here so that I may demonstrate that your claim that the world would be better without religion has some serious problems in it. But first, just to get out of the way, I’M NOT TRYING TO MAKE A THEISTIC ARGUMENT, so please keep that in mind.
    I’m assuming that like myself you live in the Western world (North/South America/Europe, et al). I think you are aware that most western nations place a strong emphasis on the individual, and by that I mean the human being. The Declaration of Independence contained something to the effect that all men were “endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights”. NOTE This is not an argument that God wrote the Declaration or seeded America. Also, once again, it’s not an argument for theism. That said, it can be strongly argued that the notion of the individual, as expressed in the American Revolution and the Enlightenment period found much of its roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Putting aside the provenance of the Ten Commandments or the historicity of its prophet, one can at least acknowledge that these laws were not only a means of ordering society but of also upholding the importance of the individual in his society. They are seemingly composed with the dignity of the individual in mind: “Thou shalt not kill,…Thou shalt not steal,…Thou shalt not bear false witness.” In the New Testament Jesus repeatedly calls out people for their selfishness, greed, avarice, cruelty and wickedness. Woven throughout the four gospels is a message that man must look out for the weakest and least among his society because each individual is infused with irreducible dignity. At one point Jesus tells some inquisitors that second only to loving God above all things is to treat your neighbor as you would wish to be treated. He notes that these rest on the law of the prophets. This is sometimes referred to as the “Golden Rule” and although it’s common wisdom nowadays, how many of us actually live it – I know I don’t. But again, I’m not making a theistic argument. Nowadays Christianity is portrayed as stifling, repressive, dictatorial or at best complacent. But in the first century, the message of the gospel was not simply awkward, it was downright radical. It was revolutionary in many ways that still resonate today. The world into which it was first received – the Roman dominated world – was hardly a great beacon of human dignity. Remember, this was the dying empire that was known as much for its torture and warfare as its arts, culture and imperial prowess. This was an empire that even after the death of Jesus at times tolerated human sacrifice and entertained itself on barbarity that would make a UFC bout look like synchronized swimming. Because of this strange notion that each human being had dignity, that people were worth more than birds, that there was nothing of this earth worth risking one’s soul for except for his fellow man, it’s likely that Christianity was found appealing to the least of people in the Roman world, although strangely it found converts among all classes. The first few centuries of Christianity were focused in no small part on sharing the gospel with the least among society, those who in the modern Western world we take for granted that we must provide for, at least basic needs through government. Which, I think is a good thing. But this was strange to classical society, which was significantly elitist and tyranical. I would argue that the very notion of a social safety net found its origins in early Christendom in no small part because the gospel message was much more prescient. Early medical care was provided for in no small part because of the Christian message. In some areas it is said the lot of women and children improved because of the Christian expansion. In the Roman world it was acceptable to let an unwanted infant die of exposure. Of course life was hard during the medieval centuries that followed and with any human endeavor the finger prints of imperfection become smudges. Serfdom existed, warfare reemerged and centuries later inter-religious conflicts, and with the emergence of private capital and exploration, chatal slavery that was tolerated by many Christians. The very existence of this strange religion didn’t make the world’s problems go away, certainly, but in many ways from what emerged was a new vision of the human being as a dignified creature with inescapable responsibilities to other human beings. Now, to get back to my point about living in the West, we too often take for granted that our notions of human dignity, those that provide for a basis of universal human rights, arose out of man’s ability to reason. I would argue that is absolute nonsense. Our human rights may find their fulfillment in law, but their origins date back something transcendent or allegedly transcendent. There is nothing concrete in a natural account of the world that justifies concern for the weak and infirm, that encourages the forgiveness of trespasses or prevents the exploitation of individuals. I have heard confused and contradictory explanations provided by people claiming evolutionary explanations (NOTE, not denying evolution here), but even if those explanations are true, they find their realization in the expression of religion. And because of that, I think it’s quite hard to make the argument that the world would better off without religion. A cold, hard material world doesn’t encourage charity. It despises it. A purely causal world isn’t rational, it is arbitrary. A world without at least expressions of Christian morality provides a lot less emphasis about caring about anything besides survival. That said, I’m not making a theistic argument, but trying to get you to examine your facetious claim. In closing, I’d ask you to consider reading a little bit about Francis of Assisi. He is one of the boldest examples of how someone’s religious faith can make the world better, if even in a small way. Francis was a fanatic. His fundamentalism was so strong that rather than live in the comfort of his family’s wealth, he chose to give all he had, abandon his knighthood and live for the least of his society, lepers, poor people, outcasts. He was beaten by highway robbers, went days on end hungry and yet almost singlehandedly managed to inspire a flagging church. Looking at the overall work of the Franciscans, it’s pretty hard to make your claim about religion because the order Francis founded was founded on religious principles. I would argue that without the idea of the dignity of human life – a notion steeped in transcendence – the world is not a better place. And good luck creating a better society or better world wherein people have no justification for being treated with dignity and respect, to say nothing of love.

  55. John says:

    ”I am sure there were one or two Roman Senators who said the same thing about this ‘’New Jewish sect called christianity’’. And now look at the shit that oversight caused?”

    It caused the fall of the Roman Empire.

    Now,if the Roman Empire survived to today or for a much longer period of time,we might not have seen any countries in Europe at all.Europe wouldn’t be a continent with many sovereign free countries,it would be distinctly Roman.

    For example,the People’s Republic of China controls a big area and over many ethnicities that are not Chinese at all.Yet,it’s grip to power was so long and persuasive that nowadays all parts and people in China are only known as distinctively ”Chinese”.

    If the Roman Empire did not fall,then it would be a similar situation as in China.No France,Italy or Germany or any other countries.And no distinct French or German or Spanish or Russian or any ethnicities,because the Roman Empire and a majority of Europe would be considered distinctively Roman and Roman only.

    With the fall of the Roman Empire came the freedom to create countries,and without the fall of Rome our world would look completely different.Most likely for worse.

    Now,the Roman Empire fell not just because of Christianity,but because of other things such as rebellions,barbaric tribes entering and plundering it’s cities,inflation and a lack of money.

    And to compare Christianity’s impact on the Roman Empire to what ACE would do today in America is utter nonsense.

    We are talking about a nearly 2000 year difference in time,a huge amount of distance away in location,and a huge amount in difference in culture,social world and etc.

    There simply can be no comparison made between Christianity’s impact on closing in the fall of the Roman Empire and ACE’s unknown future impact on America.

    ”Besides, what relevance has power got to do with anything? It is a bad system abusing kids. Period.”

    It seems we are now going to inflate the meaning of the word ”abuse”.

    Now,the creationists at ACE do not abuse kids just because they teach them fallacies.

    ACE honestly believes that what it is teaching is the truth.And teaching the truth would be a good thing to do.

    Now,I believe what you are saying is wrong,and if you taught that to children,wouldn’t that also by your logic be child abuse as well?

    ”People simply need to be told the truth, and educated to think critically.”

    First of all,there are actually many people who convert to Chrisitanity because of rational and reasonable reasons.

    So that contradicts your statement that being educated and taught to think critically will result in the obvious decline of Christianity.

    Also,being taught to think critically?I hear this statement from so many atheists,and it’s nothing but a meme.

    ”Yes …. See comment above.”

    The problem is that religion will increase as long as there are natural disasters.If a disaster happens in America,there is going to be an increase in religion.

    If a disaster happens in other countries,there is going to be an increase in religion.Disasters and poverty and many other bad things aren’t just things we can control or things we ourselves do.

    Forced communism is not a man-made and controllable thing like natural disasters and poverty and etc.

    ”Are you suggesting the problems lie solely with Islam?”

    No,but your comments suggested that most if not all faults can be found in Islam.

    I think you might not have added enough context to make clear what is happening.

    And I also said that because the argument teaching children Christianity or another religion to ”indoctrinate them” is nothing compared to Islam.And because it does not count as actual abuse.

    ”If they are religious, and are pushing the religious worldview why yes, of course.”

    Does that mean that if they are giving resources to Christians to defend their faith with reason,then they are telling nonsense?

    Does that mean that if they are making studies and conclusions in support of Christianity,that this can be considered pushing nonsense?

    I myself don’t see how any of those people specializing in it could have an agenda of sorts to push Christianity.

    These scholars are people who do their own research and come to conclusion based on their studies.

    By the way,the way you talk about ”indoctrination” seems to me to be something no Christian actually does.No Christian would push their religion against people’s will.

    Some may preach Christianity to increase it,but that cannot be considered pushing nonsense or ”abusing” children because:

    A:They honestly believe that what they are preaching is true.Thus,it cannot be ”abuse” in any way.

    B:They are doing it because they think it will benefit the world.That means they are doing it because they want to spread goodness in the world.

    ”Kitchen is a good example of an evangelical Christian Egyptologist; peer-reviewed with over 200 books to his credit and respected for much of his work, but when it comes to the Exodus for example he has no credibility whatsoever, outside of his religious/evangelical circle.”

    Do you mean Kenneth Kitchen?

    If so,then this argument doesn’t seem to be good.

    First of all,what do you mean that he has no credibility whatsoever?

    Do you mean that since no people are trying to even talk about it,that means he has no credibility?

    And another thing is,what arguments do you put forth that he should not be trusted?

    Scholars may disagree with him,but for what reasons?Do you have any evidence he has no credibility even?

    It seems you are just spouting things you have heard other atheists say.If that’s so,then your argument does not hold water.

    Give us an actual explanation of what you mean by ”no credibility whatsoever” because so far it seems your statement can come from anywhere.Including biased New Atheist filters that don’t have either credibility or actual arguments.

    ”But to teach children that Moses and the Exodus, for example, are historical fact is blatant lies”

    I already responded to that claim with:

    ”I believe you are wrong about what you say.But I believe also that you are ignorant about certain things and that is also why you are wrong.Would it then be equally correct to call your claims things that could be taught to children that would be lies?”

    ”If you believe that statement is wrong then please produce evidence that refutes it.”

    Why should I?

    We are talking about nomadic tribes walking through a desert.

    There were,for example,tribes in Russia,that is,Scythians,who lived there for over a thousand years yet almost no evidence popped up about them.

    We only know of their existence through burials they made for certain people and because of one ancient historian briefly mentioning the existence of a tribe in that area in a letter.

    The nomadic Jews in the desert left even less possible evidence.They did not create burial mounds such as the Scythians did that would hint at their existence and there were no historians around in that area either.

    So I don’t think we should expect any enormous evidence.

    ”I take it you are an evangelical christian, yes?”

    Protestant of the Evangelical denomination?No.

    I am Catholic.

  56. Michael says:

    Looks like Arkenaten gets around and got himself banned at another blog:

    Your follow up comments have a habit of violating my comment policy. I’ve been a bit lenient, allowing you to post things that are mostly cynical comments. You’ve spent the afternoon traipsing through my blog dropping sentences here and yon, almost all of which are mere opinions. I’ve found it to be not much use debating opinions.

    The atheists who will play nice and say something meaningful to assist the topic are allowed to stay, while those who merely call names and express unsupported cynical comments are blocked, as you are now.

  57. Arkenaten says:

    Good heavens, you all really do have to work so hard to defend an omnipotent deity,and his/she/its various religions do you not?

    With Christianity having nigh on 30,000 different cults alone. One wonders why so much dissent in the ranks?
    Well, you may trumpet for Jesus, Mohammed, Yahweh, Hanuman or whichever man-made deity or prophet of you choice.
    It is the end game that counts and it is one that you are already losing. Ask Israel Finkelstein.
    Have fun, boys!

  58. Kevin says:

    Arkenaten gets soundly refuted and proclaims the high ground. Is this Sam Harris?

  59. Kevin Stuart Lee says:

    “It is the end game that counts and it is one that you are already losing. Ask Israel Finkelstein.”

    The same Israel Finkelstein whose book on the Northern Kingdom of Israel was sent through the meat grinder by atheist and fellow Biblical archaeologist William G. Dever (see footnotes for critiques of his Low Chronology Finkelstein ignores): http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/reviews/divided-kingdom-united-critics/

    The same Israel Finkelstein whose book “The Bible Unearthed,” co-authored with journalist Neil Asher Silberman, was beset by serious problems a non-specialist reader wouldn’t catch: http://www.scribd.com/doc/250221177/REVIEW-Finkelstein-Silberman-2000-the-Bible-Unearthed-Rev-by-Nicolae-Roddy#scribd

    The same Israel Finkelstein whose reinterpretation of the stratigraphy at Tel Zayit to bring it in line with his theory was laughably inept, as made clear by Tel Zayit’s actual excavator (see especially pp. 138-143): https://www.academia.edu/9205856/The_Depositional_History_of_Iron_Age_Tel_Zayit_A_Response_to_Finkelstein_Sass_and_Singer-Avitz

    The same Israel Finkelstein whose arguments against traditional interpretations of the Philistines rest partially upon shaky etymologies and what, when combined with his book on the Northern Kingdom, amounts to “The Biblical accounts aren’t reliable (except when I use them).”: https://books.google.ca/books?id=gBCl2IQfNioC&pg=PA19&lpg=PA19&dq=singer+%22The+Philistines+in+the+Bible:A+Short+Rejoinder+to+a+New+Perspective%22&source=bl&ots=VuwUbK5EyR&sig=CXHIdMJ1Kx9FbF7Y3D_zYlxeUXk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=eb5XVZSrHpGiyAT0qIHgBw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=singer%20%22The%20Philistines%20in%20the%20Bible%3AA%20Short%20Rejoinder%20to%20a%20New%20Perspective%22&f=false

    Finkelstein is a major figure and good maverick in the field, and is worth reading as such. Maverick status doesn’t magically make him wrong. Witness Edward Feser in philosophy. What makes him wrong is the degree to which his theory diverges from reality, and in this regard it has been tested and found wanting by colleagues who have no faith horse in the race (e.g., Dever, Eilat Mazar and Lawrence Stager to name three). I’m glad you brought him up, as your the first New Atheist I’ve yet seen to reference the current academic state of Biblical archaeology. However, he’s not the grand final salvo you perhaps hoped him to be.

  60. Arkenaten says:

    Shame, Kevin I do believe you must be reading this blog through rose-tinted glasses.
    You do know who Finkelstein is, yes?
    The question is whether the world would be better off without religion.
    As it doesn’t specify which religion one can only presume the author means all religion.
    If you are one of those that believes the world is benefiting because of Islam then why not drop your particular brand of god belief and switch?

  61. Michael says:

    Arkie,

    Yesterday, you proudly began as follows:

    Yes, of course the world would be a far better place without religion. Period.

    Note the bold sense of absolute certainty.

    But when asked, were you ever able to come up with evidence for your belief?

    No. So your atheism entails a belief without evidence.

    Instead of providing evidence, you retreated into some rhetorical quiz game. But as I noted:

    So your evidence is going to amount to a bunch of musings about “what if?” questions and you plan to accomplish this by cherry picking examples of religion that happen to conform to your biases. That’s not evidence. Stop tap dancing and provide the evidence.

    From there, it just got worse. Instead of providing evidence for your belief, you began to spit out a blizzard of words, throwing out one Gnu meme after another after another. I think this was supposed to distract people from the fact that you bold sense of certainty concerning a world without religion was not rooted in any evidence.

    So now you come back for a second day with still no evidence and further attempts to change the topic.

    Look, you’ve completely ignored the points I raised in my blog entry, questioned my intergrity, and have put words in my mouth. I could tolerate all this if you made some kind of effort to support your belief with evidence. But it’s pretty clear by now that you have none. Thus, the message in my blog entry stands and your objection has been defeated.

    It’s time for you to move on. So I’ve blocked you from this thread, but you can still contribute to others. For example, there are two new blog entries after this one. As a Gnu, perhaps you can help us understand the definition of a True Atheist? Or, you could weigh in on Sam Harris’s embarrassing interaction with Noam Chomsky.

  62. TFBW says:

    A pity. You’ve saved Arkenaten from the indignity of responding to Kevin Stuart Lee’s well informed comment on Israel Finkelstein, which I suspect was still awaiting moderation when Arkenaten posted his last comment.

  63. Arkenaten says:

    Good grief, still desperately trying to pull the rabbit out the hat Michael?
    Oh, and no my biases at all. Scientific evidence. and at least partial admission that what you believe is simply bullshit.
    Do you never bother following the likes of Finkelstein, or Wolpe or even Catholic theologians like Ray Brown?
    It’s really that simple.
    I thoroughly enjoy reading apologists like you, Licona, Craig, Habermass etc because it (sadly) confirms my belief that such ignorance is a life choice and while most people ”get it” there will always be a market for ”Stupid”.

    Defeated? Really? Oh well, I am gutted , as you can well imagine. The sun rises and falls on the words of an indoctrinated Christian! lol.

    You have this presuppositional air about you that when you say ”religion” you really mean your own particular cult, as I am sure, you being the stand up guy you are and not in the least bit hypocritical, would hold the door in order to facilitate Islam’s early departure for one, now wouldn’t you?

    You are, of course, perfectly entitled to believe what you like , but the question is not what are you going to when the truth catches you – because it has already done that – but rather, how are you going to deal with it?

  64. Arkenaten says:

    Oh, and here is a wonderful example of why the world would a little better without religion.
    The first link is BBC article and the second is a video of the event.
    Why not share t with all your dipshit friends? You can watch the video over drinks or bible study.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1874471.stm

  65. Arkenaten says:

    So I’ve blocked you from this thread, but you can still contribute to others. For example, there are two new blog entries after this one

    Actually, hotshot, you still have the moderator on.

    Tell me, do you do this to all the non-believers who visit?
    Oh … wait a moment. What other non-believers?

  66. Billy Squibs says:

    Tell me, do you do this to all the non-believers who visit?

    Actually, I think you are in a select group. You get to sit in the dunce’s corner. But please don’t think that this is because you have offered any special challenge. On the contrary, you have failed to support your assertion that the world would be better off without religion with *any* evidence.

    You never answered my question. Would the world be better off without communism (Think communist Russia, China and so on)? And I specifically asked for a “Yes or No” answer because this was how you were framing all your questions. My presumption here would be that your answers would have been “Yes”. If we then applied your own simplistic and wrong-headed logic to politics we would then have to conclude that the world would be better off without any political systems (cuz all politics is the same, right?).

    You have failed to offer us any sort of genuine engagement, Arkenaten. I think it is safe to conclude that you are either incapable of it (at least on this topic) or trolling.

  67. Michael says:

    I let Arkie’s reply to Lee through, along with his “evidence” that the world would be a much better place without religion. Readers can judge for themselves.

  68. Michael says:

    Tell me, do you do this to all the non-believers who visit?
    Oh … wait a moment. What other non-believers?

    LOL! Actually, more non-believers have commented on this small blog than theists have commented on Coyne and Myer’s huge blogs. 😉

    Look, if a theist took your level of arguments and attitude to Coyne’s blog, not a single comment would have seen the light of day. Clearly, I am more tolerant. But I have my limits.

  69. Dhay says:

    Arkenaten > Yes, of course the world would be a far better place without religion. Period.

    “Period”. That’s all religion, then.

    Raphael Lataster has declared that “[Richard Dawkins’] New Atheist alum Sam Harris would certainly be considered by most religious experts as a Buddhist.”

    So, the world would be a far better place without celebrity New Atheist Sam Harris’ Buddhist teachings.

  70. Once again, Michael, “New Atheism” isn’t a thing. It’s an attempt by dishonest theists to denigrate atheists who freely and openly criticize religion instead of simply remaining silent like atheists have largely done for millenia. It’s also an attempt to dismiss atheists by likening them to just another “religion” with “dogma”. If theism didn’t exist, atheism wouldn’t exist. Sorry, but religion does cause great harm, harm that has no justification outside of couching it in god belief. For example, opposition to equality for homosexuals is firmly rooted in religion; people don’t fight wars over “holy” land without religion; people don’t kill children for being “demon possessed” when they don’t believe in such nonsense. I’m not saying religion can’t inspire good, but any good religion does can be done without it, but there are plenty of horrors which would disappear if religion went away. Period.

    I see you’re now attempting to bring up the feminist argument to somehow discredit atheists as well. That’s wholly irrelevant to atheism or to the arguments against religion. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods. Anything outside of that is merely correlated to atheism, if anything. If everyone on Earth gave up religion tomorrow, people would still be arguing over feminism. Nobody has ever suggested that getting rid of religion would cure all of humanity’s ills, only that it would remove a tool used to create evil and control people. Besides that, it simply isn’t true. Even if religion had a net positive influence, it still isn’t true, so it doesn’t matter!

    Of course academia is going to be less religious, because religion thrives on ignorance. When people are educated and understand history and science, they understand why religions are false and why gods don’t exist. It’s easy to have “faith” that something is true, much more difficult to understand why it’s NOT true. With respect to all of this coddling of university students with “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings”, I too am opposed to this nonsense. Clearly you have myself and Coyne who are in opposition to these things…so I fail to see how you’re making the connection that this has anything to do with atheism. Your entire argument is: “Colleges are more liberal and secular, therefore this recent movement towards stifling of free speech is due to atheism”.

    You might want to consider correlation vs. causation….

  71. Kevin says:

    New Atheist is a term coined by an agnostic, and it most certainly is a thing. It describes the irrational anti-theistic movement.

  72. Again, it’s not a thing. People who simply don’t like religion being called out for its nonsense have invented this term to describe people who are critical of religion.

    But please, by all mean, describe what is “irrational” about calling religion out on its bullshit.

  73. Kevin says:

    The term was invented by an agnostic, and it describes the irrational anti-theistic movement. The best part about it is that the New Atheist movement is so ridiculous that most reasonable atheists want nothing to do with them. I know you consider them some sort of ideological threat to religions far and wide, but the simple fact is that I am unaware of any Christian who has dealt with New Atheists that finds them anything but ridiculous.

  74. The term is nonsense. It describes atheists who do anything but keep their mouths shut and acquiesce to the demands of theists.

    Religion is a cancer, and we would be better off without it. Only with religion can people justify treating people unequally under the law because of their sexual orientation. Only with religion do people cast doubt on valid science like evolution. Only with religion do people claim that a zygote is a human being. If everyone who attends church decided today that gods don’t exist, would they really stop doing philanthropic work? If so, then they are terrible humans to begin with.

  75. Kevin says:

    The term describes irrational anti-theists popularized by such writers as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. Like I already said, even most atheists want nothing to do with their idiocy. I couldn’t care less if they keep their mouths shut, they are the ones who look foolish as a result.

    Religion is not a cancer. We would not be better off without it. What we would be better off without is opinions like yours, in which people who disagree with you are told the world would be better off without their beliefs. Whether that comes in the violent form (ISIS or Stalinism, for example) or the mere wordy approach (yours), the underlying cause is a refusal to accept that people can disagree with you without being wicked or deficient and in need of some form of correction.

    I haven’t done the research on past non-religious societies regarding homosexuality, but as far as the rest go:

    America did just fine with a huge percentage of the population not believing that humans are nothing but apes, so I disagree that any religious opposition to evolution makes it a “cancer”. Cancer kills. Opposition to common descent does not. Your beef here is ideological (probably the scientism) and not based in reality. Even Dawkins grudgingly admits that young-earth creationists can be perfectly functional scientists.

    All I need is science to declare that human life begins with the first cell containing the new human’s genetic code. It’s ironic that it takes Christianity to champion science in that subject.

    Study after study show that conservatives and the religious kick the collective asses of atheists and liberals when it comes to giving charitably, and that even includes not accounting for tithing. I guess atheists and liberals are terrible humans?

    There is absolutely nothing that atheism offers that would improve my life in a single way. Not one thing. And I hardly believe that I’m the only person in the world that feels that way. So, since you’re a 7.0 on the certainty scale, care to tell me how the lives of religious people would improve if their religion was stripped from them? Or is it only your own emotional state that matters?

  76. Michael says:

    The term was invented by an agnostic, and it describes the irrational anti-theistic movement. The best part about it is that the New Atheist movement is so ridiculous that most reasonable atheists want nothing to do with them. I know you consider them some sort of ideological threat to religions far and wide, but the simple fact is that I am unaware of any Christian who has dealt with New Atheists that finds them anything but ridiculous.

    Indeed. In fact, I don’t think you will find many atheists and agnostics who have dealt with New Atheists that finds them anything but ridiculous. Keep in mind that New Atheists are an extreme fringe element. They are small portion of atheists, who are a small portion of Nones, who are a small portion of the general public.

  77. John says:

    ”For example, opposition to equality for homosexuals is firmly rooted in religion;”

    Last time I checked,there are many Christians who either do NOT hate homosexuals,or actually respect them as human beings.

    The respect other Christians have for them is also rooted in their religion.

    Another thing is,just because some people do something they claim their religion commands does not mean it does command it.

    It would be like blaming a movie maker for inspiring a psychopath to kill people.It is a fallacy and utter nonsense.

    ”Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods”

    Wait,so atheism is simply a lack of belief in any gods?Does that mean you would use the ”We are all atheists about certain gods in our own lives” phrase then if you wanted to?

    ” because religion thrives on ignorance. ”

    Another New Atheist meme.Tell that to the thousands,if not easily millions,of people who converted TO Christianity.

    ”Again, it’s not a thing. People who simply don’t like religion being called out for its nonsense have invented this term to describe people who are critical of religion.”

    It is a fact the term started out from an agnostic.And similar terms were used by other New Atheists.

    You are denying reality here.It is indeed a thing,at least because there is a big difference between the New Atheists and the rest.

    ”Only with religion do people cast doubt on valid science like evolution. ”

    Are you aware that with this logic we can punish a movie director and producer for inspiring a psychopath or another man with predetermined biases to kill someone?

    Just because some people misunderstand a certain religion does not mean we can punish that religion based on a misunderstanding.

    It would be if we criticise all of atheism for having a blind belief that there is no God just because a few atheists believe that.

  78. UpstateIslandersFan says:

    @ prototype with all due respect, I think you have to understand that many people – mostly, but not only theists – have an issue with the type of materialism that is often held up as a cudgel by atheists, and is sometimes self-refuting. Just as forms of religious belief can hold a zygote to be a human being, atheistic, mindless materialism can hold that a human being is utterly worthless. I don’t think you have to be much of a historian to know that the worldviews of Stalin, Mao, Hoxha and many others were inspired by materialism and it’s child, atheism. I would argue that taken to its most logical conclusion, materialism makes being a human being no different than a rock or anything else one believes is solely a composition of mindless matter. The degrees of differentiation are only then imposed on them by the mind and in that sense, illusory or delusional. Now, I don’t know if you subscribe to this type of materialism, but it is held – at least only in lip service – by those carrying the banner of the atheistic crusade, so I apologize if you do not agree with that worldview. I find it amusing when Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne extol a mechanistic mindless view of nature, denying consciousness and free will, and in the same breath use the language of purpose and reason – neither of which can be justified by materialism. You can’t have it both ways.

    On another note, prototype, if religious belief is so bad, what are you doing to stop it? And by what measures should religious beliefs be resisted or snuffed out altogether? Would it be worth it to restrict peoples’ right to expression? Should believers be classified, excluded from office, ineligible for certain privileges?

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