The Atheist’s Where’s Waldo Approach

Over the years, I have shown the fatal flaws inherent in the atheists’ demand for evidence of God’s existence.  We have seen such demands completely ignore the subjective dimension of all evidence and mistakenly treat evidence as if it can objectively adjudicate disputes.   We have also seen that such demands invariably translate as a demand to see a miracle, yet such demands rely on God of the Gaps logic, a form of reasoning all atheists deny.  This problem alone renders the atheist’s demand for evidence as incoherent.

Let me see if I can illustrate yet another problem in this demand for such empirical evidence.  If you step back from the whole debate, you’ll notice that atheists treat the question of God’s existence as one big game of Where’s Waldo.

where

Can you find Waldo in the picture above?  You see lots of things in that picture – all kinds of different people doing different things in different states of dress.  You see people in the water and on the beach.  You also see animals, various inanimate objects, various boats in the water, etc.  Waldo is just one more thing among many things in the picture.

Now, almost every atheist I have encountered treats reality like that picture, only they can’t find Waldo.  They’ve looked and looked, and they can’t find him.  They’ve asked countless people to point out Waldo, and no can do it.  Thus, they conclude Waldo is not in that picture.  Those who think Waldo is in the picture are either delusional or they squint their eyes so hard that someone who kinda, sorta, looks like Waldo (but is not) is identified.

If you think of reality as the picture, and Waldo as God, this is the common atheist approach.  But in playing this game, the atheist is merely assuming God’s existence is like detecting Waldo.  For they are assuming that God is “just one more thing” (like Waldo) that is part of reality (the picture).   We can know this because atheists assume God, if He existed, would be detectable like other things – detected by our senses and our science.  We can further know this because atheists treat God as being perfectly analogous to unicorns, fairies, and Santa Claus, which, if any existed, would just be one more thing that is part of our reality.

But is God, if He existed, merely be one more thing that is part of our reality?

Imagine the picture above does not contain Waldo.  Does the picture change in any non-trivial way?  No, it’s still a picture of the same people at the beach doing the same things.  Everything remains  exactly the same except…..Waldo is not there.  The “one more thing” is simply not there, meaning there isn’t “one more thing” in the picture.  And that’s all.  Waldo’s existence or non-existence doesn’t have any effect on the rest of the picture.

But can we say the same about God’s existence?  The reason the whole of God’s existence has been such a burning, central issue of debate over the centuries  is because His existence, or non-existence, has far reaching ripple effects on our reality.  If there is no God, there is no reason for existence, there is no purpose to existence, there is no good or evil apart from our opinion, there is no right or wrong apart from our opinion,  life has no value apart from our opinion, there is no free will, there is no life after death, etc.   The whole picture changes.  And once you realize that, you’ll see just how profoundly misguided this whole Where’s Waldo approach is.

I personally think a superior approach is more like another picture.

6350455230_e516d23b69

So what do you see?  A young woman?  Or an old woman?

I see both.

So what if detecting God’s existence is not like finding Waldo, but more like being able to see the young woman?  It’s not the ability to detect some thing.  It’s the ability to see the whole.  To see it all fit together.  For some, they can only see the young woman and this how it has always been.  For others, they experience the gestalt shift, and see the young woman for the first time and choose to focus on it.  For others, they can only see the old woman and this is how it has always been.  For yet others, they experience the gestalt shift and see the old woman for the first time and choose to focus on it.  And finally, there are those who go back and forth between the two.

While this example may not perfectly capture how this theist came to see God (and the evidence for His existence), I think it is much better than the Where’s Waldo approach of the atheist.  With this gestalt approach, the lines of the drawing (data) remain the same, yet can be interpreted to reflect a vastly different representation.  And you won’t get very far arguing endlessly over whether the squiggly lines in the center of picture  represent the young woman’s ear or the old woman’s eye.  The answer to that depends on your perception of the whole.  Meaning that when the atheist insists there is no Waldo in the picture and it is delusional to think otherwise, this theist hears him saying the picture is an old woman and it is delusional to think otherwise.

Of course, this leaves us wondering why God would create such an ambiguous reality.  Why not make the picture such that only the young woman can be seen by all?  I think the answer to that has to do with us.  Being woven into an ambiguous reality is part of our identity and makes us who we are.  More on that later.  But I’m reminded of something Blaise Pascal wrote – In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.

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68 Responses to The Atheist’s Where’s Waldo Approach

  1. jim- says:

    Good evening Michael. I get the feeling that you assume the common atheist was never a believer. I’d say most of us did our very best before realizing the core of it doesn’t do anything we can’t do ourselves.
    In life we seem to always have two wrong choices.
    If there is no God, there is no reason for existence, there is no purpose to existence, there is no good or evil apart from our opinion, there is no right or wrong apart from our opinion,  life has no value apart from our opinion, there is no free will, there is no life after death, etc.. This is complete rubbish. Just because there is no god, does that automatically mean there is nothing? No collection of experience, no continuation, no contribution, no memories or relationships? It certainly doesn’t mean that to me. Atheism is no belief in gods, but that isn’t really the last stop on the tracks. To get to the root of Christianity you must iron out a thousand errancies and contradictions from omnipotence to evil, then in the end, acquiescence and mob mentality that has had its fair share of horrors—surrendered to the masses. But atheism isn’t so different.
    Atheism in the informal sense is a profoundly religious attitude—an attitude in life of total trust in letting go. When we form images of god they are all really exhibitions of our lack of faith—something to hold on to, something to grasp.
    If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go.
    Atheism is actually a deep display of personal responsibility and integrity. Against the grain of all the indoctrinated masses, persecuted as immoral, yet we are not willing to validate what is unbelievable to us.Funny how simply not believing in a god (any god)is considered the worst kind of offense, when most of us are just trying to find our way outside the failures of religion.

  2. TFBW says:

    Jim said, “Atheism is actually a deep display of personal responsibility and integrity.” Jim also said, “Atheism in the informal sense is a profoundly religious attitude—an attitude in life of total trust in letting go.”

    Letting go of what? Clearly you are still clinging to notions of “responsibility” and “integrity”, despite claiming alignment with a world view that supports neither of these things except as personal, emotional impulses. You’ve let go of the foundation, but not the things that were built on it, as though those things could possibly hold any weight without the foundation itself. Seriously, what is the basis for your notions of “responsibility” and “integrity” other than your own personal feelings of responsibleness and goodness? Is there some transcendental standard of behaviour to which we are all held accountable? If so, how do you know? If not, what is this “responsibility” and “integrity” of which you speak, and does that standard actually have any capacity to judge the quality of our adherence to it, and do anything about it if we don’t?

    Sorry, jim, I can’t take your atheistic mysticism seriously. You’re not an atheist, and you haven’t let go of “god” as a notion at all: you just think you can be your own god. Change my mind.

  3. Ilíon says:

    Michael:… If you think of reality as the picture, and Waldo as God, this is the common atheist approach. But in playing this game, the atheist is merely assuming God’s existence is like detecting Waldo. For they are assuming that God is “just one more thing” (like Waldo) that is part of reality (the picture). We can know this because atheists assume God, if He existed, would be detectable like other things – detected by our senses and our science. We can further know this because atheists treat God as being perfectly analogous to unicorns, fairies, and Santa Claus, which, if any existed, would just be one more thing that is part of our reality.

    But is God, if He existed, merely be one more thing that is part of our reality?

    This is why I frequently write “the universe” in that manner (i.e. in scare-quotes) — God-deniers insist upon regarding the physical universe, and especially its material component, as the entirety of ‘What Is’. And they insist upon regarding the term ‘God’ to be as equally applicable to Zeu Patar (Sky-Father) as to ’ehyeh ’ăšer ’ehyeh (I Am That I Am).

    But, we ourselves — what we know to be true of ourselves even before we have done any serious or in-depth contemplation of reality — are proof that “the universe”, as the God-deniers conceive it, is not the entirely of ‘What Is’. We are physical beings … and yet we transcend the physical (much less the material).

    And Zeus/Jupiter/Zeu Patar “is just one more thing among many things in” “the universe”; whereas ‘I Am’ is the Creator (*), the Causer-Continuously-To-Be, of ‘What Is’.

    (*) The Creator does not create as Michelangelo did, having formed a block of marble into ‘David’; nor yet is the Creator as a quarryman-sculptor, who wrangled a block of marble out of a mountain and sculpted it into a wondrous statue; nor yet again is the Creator as Space Alien who caused a planet to form, and in time caused a mountain containing marble to be raised up, from which he wrangled a block of marble and sculpted it into a wondrous statue.

    These and all such images of the Creation fail not only because both the Sculptor and the Statue are “just one more thing among many things in” “the universe”, but also because the Sculptor and the Statue are both distinct and separate one from the other. That is, while the Sculptor caused the Statue to exist, he does not cause it to exist: he caused it to begin to exist; he does not cause it to continue to exist. In contrast, God is “the ground of all being”, God is “Being Itself”; God participates in the continuous being of ‘What Is’. The Creation is not a once-and-done thing, it is continuous and on-going.

  4. Excellent point, Michael. I realized this myself a long while back. The pattern I kept seeing in atheist-theist debates, especially online, was that God, to the atheist, is nothing more than a thing in the universe that should be detectable by science (they never explain how or by what method apart from “putting Him in a test tube”….somehow). If it’s discovered, well, that’s good, that’s a mystery solved, la de la life goes on (even though it is claimed that the more science discovers the less need we have for God so…..how is science supposed to get us to God? Just don’t ask em!). The problem is if we equate God, an intelligent and living being, to nothing more than a scientific explanation or equation, how does atheism view the rest of life? The same way or differently? If differently, why shouldn’t we see God the same way? That’s why the classical arguments for Christianity will always be sound to those who have the right method and why they won’t ever convince the atheist. Their method is meaningless and gets us nowhere. Unless they clarify what they mean when they shout “there’s no evidence for god” any conversation with them will go nowhere.

  5. nsr says:

    A truly honest atheist could only be a nihilist, since on atheism there is nothing beyond personal subjective opinion to provide meaning or value to human life.

    In practice most atheists reject God for emotional reasons but still want to hang on to all the things that only God’s existence can substantiate, again for emotional reasons. They remind me of teenagers who scream to their parents “I HATE YOU” but still expect to be fed, clothed and educated at the parents’ expense.

  6. spawneedave says:

    I don’t see life as being meaningless, therefore I am not sure how you equate atheism with nihilism? There is nothing wrong with personal subjective opinion. I like the colour blue, I like the taste of apples, I see the beauty in nature. I know that empathy and compassion will ultimately help improve society, as it has done for thousands of years. But do I believe in Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, Zeus, Odin, Ra, Shiva, etc? The simple answer is no. And I don’t generally have any problem with those that do choose to believe in one or more god, because I know our beliefs aren’t the only trait to judge people on. Their actions are more important to me.

  7. Ilíon says:

    spawneedave,
    You will die, everyone descended from you will die, everyone you know will die, your entire culture will die, your entire species will die, all species will die, all planets will freeze over, all stars will burn out. It will be as though nothing at all had ever been.

    Where is your “meaning”? Where is your “personal subjective opinion”? Where is your “empathy and compassion” that allegedly “will ultimately help improve society”?

    ===========
    Meanwhile, what do you even *mean* by “improve society”? How can you judge when or how society has improved? Since you can (allegedly) judge when or how society has improved, what is the end-state goal of all this societal improvement?

    What is your yardstick for “trait[s] to judge people on”? Why is *your* yardstick the right one; why not the yardstick of my grandfather’s grandmother … who, had you been an enemy captive back in the day, well might have taken part in your torture-before-gruesome-execution?

    It is exactly as ‘nsr’ said: you, like “most atheists [want to] reject [the reality of] God … but still want to hang on to all the things that only God’s existence can substantiate”.

  8. TFBW says:

    spawneedave said, “I don’t see life as being meaningless, therefore I am not sure how you equate atheism with nihilism?”

    Just because you happen to like your existence doesn’t make it meaningful. You are, after all, on atheism, simply the end product of the laws of physics operating arbitrarily. You are no more meaningful than the atoms of which you are composed, or the atoms of which you are not composed, for that matter. Indeed, the term “you” isn’t all that meaningful, since the atoms in question are always in flux. Is the water you drank a minute ago “you” now? When you speak of yourself as an entity, you speak of an abstraction which has no basis in atheism, since atheism recognises nothing beyond the material. Ditto for your references to other people and your professed concern for their well-being. At most, “a person” is on a par with an abstraction like “a river” or “a rock”: a somewhat physically persistent set of phenomena. On atheism, why should I think of people as more meaningful than rivers or rocks?

    Having said all that, there’s no particular reason to berate you for inconsistency. On nihilism, there is no demand for consistency, coherency, or much of anything else, so if you choose to believe that life is meaningful or that people are real things that have value independent of the mere matter of which they are composed, those inconsistencies don’t really count against you. If you profess not to be a nihilist, however, they might cause you some concern. Of course, if you profess not to be a nihilist, it should also concern you that atheism provides no basis for anything else—at least, not without positing some kind of substitute for God. Nihilism doesn’t mean, “I hate everything”; it means, “there is no basis for anything.” The only basis for anything that atheism offers you is the laws of physics, and there is no basis for “meaning” there.

    The lifestyle you describe is a form of hedonism, because the common factor in all your choices is that they make you feel good on some level. You might question whether you would approve of such hedonism in others, if their personal proclivities happened to differ substantially from yours. I suspect that you think there is such a thing as an evil act, and that the act would still be evil even if someone enjoyed doing it. That being so, your stance on “personal subjective opinion” might need some revision.

  9. John Branyan says:

    Can you explain the point of Michael’s article, Jim? Your response doesn’t indicate that you do.

  10. jim- says:

    @TBFW—Letting go of belief as a form of sustenance and/or substance. Letting go of all the explanations. Letting go of the contradictions. Letting the regulars fight about who has the best images of god. If your god we’re so evident, how come he’s so new?

  11. TFBW says:

    @jim, your “letting go” simply means “embracing something else”. Your “letting the regulars fight about who has the best images of god” is not something that you are above, since you are here proclaiming the superiority of your own theology. Your grammar is terrible too, but that’s a minor quibble compared to the utter lack of substance in your words.

  12. Kevin says:

    Letting go of belief as a form of sustenance and/or substance.

    Except not really, because now you believe other things that are important to you. You didn’t let go of a mindset, you just changed your mind as to the details.

  13. spawneedave says:

    Isn’t that what is great about our species; that we have differences of opinions, and that in the most part, can remain respectful? You might have this particular viewpoint of atheism, but it is not my viewpoint. You think my lifestyle is hedonistic? That is so sweet! I am not sure it was meant as a compliment, but I will take it as one.

    Can you give me an example: “I suspect that you think there is such a thing as an evil act, and that the act would still be evil even if someone enjoyed doing it.” For me, evil would be harm caused to others without their consent, such as murder or rape. And I have worked in forensic mental health, I have met people who did enjoy murder and rape, and yes, I would still say they were evil.

  14. Michael says:

    jim:

    This is complete rubbish. Just because there is no god, does that automatically mean there is nothing? No collection of experience, no continuation, no contribution, no memories or relationships? It certainly doesn’t mean that to me.

    You are arguing against a straw man. I never claimed or argued that if there is no “god,” there is nothing.

    Atheism is no belief in gods, but that isn’t really the last stop on the tracks.

    In you mind, God is “one of the gods.” Which supports my point about atheists viewing God as “one more thing” No belief in gods = I don’t see Waldo.

    Your reply fails to address the point I actually raise. But in an oblique manner, you unknowingly support the point I actually raised.

  15. jim- says:

    Maybe that is because the point of the post is not the way atheists feel. Here again, Christians want to define atheism on their own terms instead of asking an atheist. There’s 1 million reasons to not believe in gods yes, but on one hand TBFW accused me of mysticism, while his own religion is the epitome of mysticism. Isn’t it the miracles and wonders that convinced you of Jesus and his little parlor tricks?
    You don’t really seem to care what atheists believe because you’ve already figured it out. I believe in nothing, only what I’ve experienced directly. In that case, 50 years of Christianity proved to be a hoax, propped up on every angle to support a mysticism that supports a central power.
    I suppose your Waldo analogy fits more towards Christianity with an exception. Waldo actually appeared in some of the cartoons.

  16. Kevin says:

    propped up on every angle to support a mysticism that supports a central power

    What is this central power?

  17. Kevin says:

    And I have worked in forensic mental health, I have met people who did enjoy murder and rape, and yes, I would still say they were evil.

    Is your definition of evil “doing something that most people wouldn’t want to happen to them”? Because it seems to me that under atheism, the concept of “evil” is little more than a minority opinion. Some people obviously are not bothered by causing harm to others and in fact derive pleasure from it. Are they objectively wrong?

  18. pennywit says:

    When it comes to finding gods in the everyday world, I think it’s a lot more like this image. People see what they want to see or are predisposed to see. And what they see reflects the person viewing, not the image itself.

  19. jim- says:

    Kevin, does your god share his throne? Has he not said that “every knee will bow and declare his allegiance to god? What kind of being would want that, let alone demand that? Isn’t that the ultimate “central power”? You’ve taken no chances but have aligned yourself with the chief oppressor, and the scripture even says it. Even if any of it were true, I would not align myself to it because of what it is and what it has done by its divine command, which is merely the egocentric writers.

  20. jim- says:

    My grammar was on voice text. Sorry I don’t meet your standards. I have no theology. There is no god, but there is no end either. Stuck are you, from seeing things the way they really are? There was never nothing and there never will be. Your belief can’t change anything and the universe is much more interesting, complex, and vast than your Yahweh can account for.
    I can see it now, 70billion light years ago, jesus up in yonder heavens tinkering with the human genome to get his Adam, creating stars his prized possession could never see, to eventually punish him for simply being or not believing what was not revealed. I see, makes perfect sense.

  21. jim- says:

    If disbelief in gods defaults to nihilism, you lack depth of understanding the process. Christianity promises enlightenment it never delivers and ends on faith, which is only phase two of the process, not the pinnacle of the religious experience. There is more to the story than Yahweh can account for. There is no god, but you will never see past that through belief mode. It’s a neat trick that has produced the monotheistic stall. Ever learning but never coming to the truth.

  22. TFBW says:

    @spawneedave

    You might have this particular viewpoint of atheism, but it is not my viewpoint.

    This is not about me having a different viewpoint; it is about me saying that your beliefs aren’t consistent with each other. Look, it’s not a terrible indictment on you if you don’t care for rigorous consistency—most people never do the slightest bit of self-auditing on their beliefs—but if the sum total of your contribution here is, “hey, I’m an atheist, and life seems meaningful to me,” then that’s very jolly for you, but it’s of no intellectual value to anyone else. Meaningfulness is not a feeling. Happy fuzzy blobby feel-good atheism is a thing you can do, but not a thing that can be argued with. I’m here for the arguments.

    You think my lifestyle is hedonistic? That is so sweet! I am not sure it was meant as a compliment, but I will take it as one.

    If I’m making complements or criticisms, I tend to be pretty explicit about it. In your case, it’s just an observation, and I meant “hedonism” in a strictly philosophical-school-of-ethics sense. In a nutshell, it’s the school of thought that pleasure and suffering are the axis of morality: that “good” is what increases human pleasure, and “evil” is what decreases it, or increases suffering. I’ve seen nothing in your subsequent comment to suggest I’m mistaken in that analysis.

    My point is that atheism and hedonism aren’t all that compatible. Atheism offers no basis for anything unless it can be expressed in terms of the laws of physics, and hedonism doesn’t even refer to the same fundamental concepts as physics. As such, if one of the people you’ve met who enjoyed murder or rape challenged you on your assertion that they are evil, you’d have no recourse but to simply re-assert what you already said: the assertion would be based on your hedonist morality, for which you have no basis other than your intuition. The psychopath in question could easily be an atheist too, but simply disagree that the suffering of his victims had any moral significance. Having atheism in common would gain you no shared moral foundations.

    That’s not even the worst of it: as I’ve already pointed out, atheism doesn’t even provide a basis to recognise people as entities of any value. Matter is just matter. But hey, you haven’t expressed any interest in this problem, so I’ll leave it there.

  23. TFBW says:

    Jim said, “I have no theology. There is no god…”

    You’re a tedious idiot. Your comments are 90% condescending smugness and 10% self-contradicting garbage like this.

  24. Dhay says:

    Jim- > Good evening Michael. I get the feeling that you assume the common atheist was never a believer.

    As regards that “…the common atheist was never a believer”, ‘TheCommonAtheist’ is you, it’s the title of your blog; and the former Christian (“believer” is your derogatory term for Christians) is also you. You complain elsewhere about Michael’s responders referring to you in the third person, yet you do that to yourself here.

    (I note in passing that should you claim you were not referring to yourself in the third person, your “…the common atheist was never a believer” is simply untrue for the UK, for much of mainland Europe, and many other places worldwide, where the typical atheist is not a convert from religion.)

    I take it your meaning is that you’ve seen Christianity from the inside, so your responses are informed by that familiarity. Be aware that Michael and I have seen atheism from the inside.

    > In life we seem to always have two wrong choices. … … Atheism … isn’t really the last stop on the tracks. … But atheism isn’t so different [from religion].

    So you are here as an advocate for something that is neither religion nor atheism.

    > Atheism in the informal sense is a profoundly religious attitude—an attitude in life of total trust in letting go.

    Atheism in the informal sense comprises a hotch-potch of different atheisms, including Atheism+, Richard Dawkins’ “Brights”, “don’t know, don’t care” apatheists, probably quite a few agnostics, New Agers, the religiously unaffiliated Nones – it comprises all atheists except those who are atheists in the formal sense. I rather think a miniscule proportion (if any) of said ‘atheists in the informal sense’ would agree with you that ‘atheism is an attitude in life of total trust in letting go’, I am surprised you should think so yourself, and I am very surprised you think you can float that weirdness past us without challenge.

    Total trust in letting go is a very bad idea: in his book, Waking Up, Sam Harris quotes the Dzogchen master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche as saying that for advanced adepts like CTR himself, morality is – I find I can paraphrase him using your words – an attitude in life of total trust in letting go:

    ”[Morality] or discipline is not a matter of binding oneself to a fixed set of laws or patterns. For if a bodhisattva is completely selfless, a completely open person, then he will act according to openness, [and] will not have to follow rules; he will simply fall into patterns. It is impossible for the bodhisattva to destroy or harm other people, because he embodies transcendental generosity. He has opened himself completely and so does not discriminate between this and that. He just acts in accordance with what is. . . . If we are completely open, not watching ourselves at all, but being completely open and communicating with situations as they are, then action is pure, absolute, superior. . . . It is an often-used metaphor that the bodhisattva’s conduct is like the walk of an elephant. Elephants do not hurry; they just walk slowly and surely through the jungle, one step after another. They just sail right along. They never fall nor do they make mistakes.”

    Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, his pedophile son Sakyong Mingyur Rinpoche, his right-hand disciple Ösel Tendzin (aka Richard Rich) and Sogyal Rinpoche – these Tibetan Buddhist “spiritual masters” have each proven to be manipulative and abusive, and sexual predators; for these, treading on other people is not considered a mis-step, fallen or a mistake.

    I observe that “an attitude in life of total trust in letting go”, as some of its greatest adepts have demonstrated in their lives and actions, leads to a repugnant and repulsive, appallingly low and callous standard of morality. Me myself, I’m staying with the better standard I know, and I will not follow them down their path (and yours?) to such moral degradation.

    > When we form images of god they are all really exhibitions of our lack of faith—something to hold on to, something to grasp.

    So what’s “faith” there, how do you, idiosyncratically, use the word? Ah yes, it’s [informal atheists’] faith, as above; so that translates to: “When we form images of god they are all really exhibitions of our lack of an attitude in life of total trust in letting go…”

    Perhaps you should check out Genesis:

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1%3A26-27&version=ESVUK

    > If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have [informal atheists’] faith, since [informal atheists’] faith is not clinging but letting go.

    Or, expanded: “If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have an attitude in life of total trust in letting go, since an attitude in life of total trust in letting go is not clinging but letting go.”

    TFBW > You’re a tedious idiot. Your comments are 90% condescending smugness and 10% self-contradicting garbage like this.

    I’d change the percentage towards there being more garbage. Otherwise, yes.

  25. Dhay says:

    jim- > I can see it now, 70billion light years ago, jesus up in yonder heavens…

    A light year is a unit of measurement of distance, not of time. Or if you meant 70 billion years ago, the age of the universe is only about 13.8 billion years.

    You keep trying to impress us with your knowledge of science, but you lack even the most basic understanding; you lack even the general knowledge that, supposedly, everybody knows.

  26. Dhay says:

    jim- > Christianity promises enlightenment…

    It’s Buddhism (and Hinduism, etc) that promises enlightenment, Christianity most certainly doesn’t promise anything of the kind. You’re clueless, and an utter bullshitter.

    You claim you were Christian, once?!

  27. John Branyan says:

    The atheists insist their beliefs are misrepresented until we ask what their views are.
    Then they insist they have no beliefs.

  28. Dhay says:

    jim- > Waldo actually appeared in some of the cartoons.

    Is this more clueless bullshitting? To the best of my knowledge, Waldo appeared in all of them.

  29. unclesporkums says:

    He is. He’s just made smaller on the page to make it more challenging.
    “As the series goes on, Waldo progressively becomes harder to find, reducing his size on the page and surrounding him by more other characters. In the first book, Waldo was on average 0.99 square centimetres (0.153 square inches) big. This was reduced to 0.80 cm2 (0.124 sq in) in the second book, 0.33 cm2 (0.051 sq in) in the third, and between 0.20 and 0.17 cm2 (0.031 and 0.026 sq in) in the fourth through seventh book. He has also been surrounded by more other characters, from 225 on the first book’s first page to about 850 on the last book’s first page.”

  30. TFBW says:

    I’m just a bit bemused by the fact that Wally was renamed Waldo for the US market.

  31. Ilíon says:

    TFBW:You’re a tedious idiot.

    Properly speaking, he is a tedious fool (*). A true idiot cannot help being an idiot, he cannot help being ignorant or lacking in understanding. In contrast, a fool *chooses* to remain ignorant, a fool *refuses* to understand.

    (*) ‘fool’ doesn’t mean “idiot”; it means “one who behaves as though he were an idiot”. Or, to put it another way, and specific to the context of argument, ‘fool’ means “intellectually dishonest person”.

  32. jim- says:

    Michaels phrase common atheist was in his post. I was not referring to myself but maybe he was being a little cheeky with the term. You forget to read it and head straight to comment? Just a putz looking to fight? Your Christianity beliefs are oozing with hate. Nice work. I am just a person with ideas different than yours. At least I have the integrity to express them, while you copy what you’ve heard. Nice work.

  33. jim- says:

    Wow. You are one of the eye openers Christianity had for me. Rude and loving hypocrites. It’s amazing but true, anyone that will embrace you over belief, will abandon you over unbelief. I’ll give you a star for being a typical Christian. I’ve done nothing to you and you go act like a political hack.

  34. jim- says:

    Sorry, never played the game. Are you sure he was in all of them?

  35. jim- says:

    “And the piece of god which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus? It appears you missed that one. It certainly didn’t stick to you.

  36. jim- says:

    No, i really don’t have belief in anything supernatural. I can show you a process to see things clearly. I’ve noticed the readers here lack comprehension of other ways of being. The ability to connect a few dots diminishes in proportion to the amount of faith effort.

  37. jim- says:

    Well dHay, i see the best argument Christianity has is typical. I was just having a little fun, but like most apologists you attack the style of speech and hand wave the message. You understood full well what I meant, you just have no rebuttal, then went to special pleading because you’re ridiculous to “believe” the fact that 70billion years ago jesus was at the helm making the universe out of nothing.

  38. jim- says:

    But let’s just stick with 70 million year old light traveling through space just now hitting the Hubble telescope from when Jesus sent it on its way. Much more realistic

  39. jim- says:

    This blog is probably the best example of late, of what Jesus does to those who are serious about him. A vile bunch of hate and piety. Eric Hoffer was right—”The impression somehow prevails that the true believer, particularly the religious individual, is a humble person. The truth is the surrendering and humbling of the self breed pride and arrogance. The true believer is apt to see himself as one of the chosen, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a prince disguised in meekness, who is destined to inherit the earth and the kingdom of heaven too. He who is not of his faith is evil; he who will not listen will perish. No apologies needed. I know your core. All of you are phonies hiding behind a religion that supports your hatred. Adieu

  40. TFBW says:

    jim, I don’t hate you, I just think you’re a tedious idiot with a smugness problem. There are things I hate, but you don’t make the cut. The most you evoke in me, emotionally, is eye-rolling and mild boredom.

    What is it with the modern plague of narcissists who think that everyone hates them? It’s not like jim is rare in this sense.

  41. Kevin says:

    This blog is probably the best example of late, of what Jesus does to those who are serious about him.

    Based on what you have said, at most it would put us on your level.

    Of course I have not done anything even remotely worthy of your accusation, so that would be a black mark against you.

  42. Michael says:

    Maybe that is because the point of the post is not the way atheists feel. Here again, Christians want to define atheism on their own terms instead of asking an atheist. There’s 1 million reasons to not believe in gods yes, but on one hand TBFW accused me of mysticism, while his own religion is the epitome of mysticism. Isn’t it the miracles and wonders that convinced you of Jesus and his little parlor tricks?
    You don’t really seem to care what atheists believe because you’ve already figured it out.

    I’m not talking about atheist feelings or beliefs. I’m talking about the approach one takes in trying to determine if God exists.

  43. jim- says:

    Maybe I just don’t fit in anything. I’ve been called everything from mystic to naturalist to nihilist to Dawkins and Harris disciple, though I’ve never read them. I just share my observations and ideas in writing and have a lot of discussion on a variety of themes. I certainly expected a different tone in this discussion but it’s not possible for your readers to tolerate a different viewpoint, god forbid a stupid atheist. I do see the outcomes of faith in your readers inability to understand a simple phrase that isn’t in tow with Christian doctrine, then resort to name calling and smugness. The truth is much stranger than Christianity, and much more inclusive.
    You realize right, that there is only one correct answer. That actually really narrows it down. Follow the evidence. One, contradiction free truth in the universe that is the only right answer. One that incorporates all time, knowledge, power, solves the problems of good and evil, and does not violate the laws of energy, and is sewn in a cosmic thread of consciousness that permeates every thing. It is so obvious that it makes you laugh when you see it. There is no hierarchy involved. There is no monarchial boss. And you and I are such a fundamental part of it you can’t see it. The key to the mystery though is unbelief, but I would have never believed that as a believer.
    The appeal to faith is the biggest barrier facing humanity (like a guru challenge) Assigning virtue to a trait man can’t help but do—believe. Everybody is conditioned to belief. The natural man is actually the believer, so your getting points for doing what you can’t hardly help but do. But, until man can surpass belief mode we are not ready to wield the power we possess, as shown by your readers. So, there is wisdom in Christianity after all. It is a challenge to see who can surpass its limitations. They fight for belief while It continues to pit men at odds with their brothers.
    I’ve always enjoyed the Tower of Babel story, but for different reasons than I was taught. You see, “the people were one and this they were about to do, and nothing could be withheld from them. And they were about to accomplish that which they had set out to do” But we now stick with faith. A license to glorify belief as a virtue and the right to condemn another.
    I would enjoy talking about this more, but belief always gets in the way.

  44. Kevin says:

    I certainly expected a different tone in this discussion but it’s not possible for your readers to tolerate a different viewpoint, god forbid a stupid atheist. I do see the outcomes of faith in your readers inability to understand a simple phrase that isn’t in tow with Christian doctrine, then resort to name calling and smugness.

    For you to dismiss disagreement as intolerance says nothing about us.

    It is so obvious that it makes you laugh when you see it.

    Then why haven’t you made money on publishing these obvious truths? Because you are vastly overstating your case.

    But, until man can surpass belief mode we are not ready to wield the power we possess, as shown by your readers.

    This doesn’t mean anything, to be fair.

    I would enjoy talking about this more, but belief always gets in the way.

    Your beliefs and condescending attitude certainly do get in the way. Apparently you’re too good to even address me now.

  45. jim- says:

    Then why haven’t you made money on publishing these obvious truths? Because you are vastly overstating your case”. No Kevin, vastly overstating your case and making money is Christianity to a T. To the tune of $1.2 trillion annually in the US. All on the anticipation that something might happen.
    I don’t need any more money. I live simply with temperance and leave you to the rat race of your choosing. There were countless and beautiful ways of being in the world til Christianity plated its flags. I’ll give you credit for being an idiot though. What better way to ruin the beautiful than try to sell it.

  46. jim- says:

    You’re such a zealot you just had to pomp your way in here. I wasn’t even addressing you Kevin.

  47. jim- says:

    I’ve noticed when I answer you you just MoveOn because you’re wrong like in the above comment. Looks like you’ve mastered apologetics 101

  48. Kevin says:

    No Kevin, vastly overstating your case and making money is Christianity to a T.

    You say it is so obvious. You would be the first person in history to be able to demonstrate it to be so. Guess you don’t want the fame?

    I’ll give you credit for being an idiot though.

    You just demonstrated that one of us is, yes. Unfortunately you misidentified.

    You’re such a zealot you just had to pomp your way in here. I wasn’t even addressing you Kevin.

    And how was I supposed to know, when I have repeatedly asked you to quote what you’re responding to and you almost never do? Plus when you say “your readers” to Michael…and I’m one of his readers…if the definition of pomp is to take someone at face value by their actual words, then I suppose I am indeed pompous.

    I’ve noticed when I answer you you just MoveOn because you’re wrong like in the above comment.

    Cute trick, not quoting someone so they don’t know it is to them, and then criticizing them for not responding to it. I don’t even know which “above comment” you mean, nor am I aware of any post to me that I have not addressed. Quotes really, really help.

  49. jim- says:

    A modern plague of narcissists? If you think it’s everyone else… maybe it’s you. All I’ve done is share my ideas on the failing religion you love and some other options for discussion. You offer nothing to it but plenty of special pleading.

  50. TFBW says:

    I can only assume jim is still here and still talking because it validates his assertions about how we’re all blinded by belief when we tell him he’s blathering.

  51. It’s curious how the “I was a Christian for 50 years” variety of atheists invariably seem to have almost no understanding at all of what Christianity actually teaches.

  52. John Branyan says:

    Without exception this seems to be the case. The angriest, most incoherent screeds come from those who claim to know Christianity “from the inside”. They rail against “religion” while giving no evidence that they comprehend Christian orthodoxy.

    I have engaged atheists of every stripe and none of them (NONE of them) have been able to give any description of the “god” they supposedly don’t believe in.

  53. Kevin says:

    It’s curious how the “I was a Christian for 50 years” variety of atheists invariably seem to have almost no understanding at all of what Christianity actually teaches.

    The main piece of doctrine I get from them is that God is supposed to be a genie who grants wishes, and when those wishes don’t get granted then golly gee it’s time to get angry and stop believing in him.

    Then come the emotion-fueled unassailable worldviews which exclude all possible evidence for God as a foundational premise, yet also claim to be open-minded and merely waiting for that pre-excluded evidence to be offered up for a predetermined rejection.

    Then come the feelings of intellectual superiority propped up by a combination of God the Genie not granting wishes and the pre-rejected arguments from Christians getting rejected.

    And they call themselves people of reason.

  54. Ilíon says:

    n2C:It’s curious how the “I was a Christian for 50 years” variety of atheists invariably seem to have almost no understanding at all of what Christianity actually teaches.

    Also, that claim implies that the claimant is at least 60 years old. Or, to put it another way, that claim implies that the claimant was reared at a time when the schools still taught students how to compose grammatical and coherent sentences and paragraphs.

  55. Ilíon says:

    John Branyan:… and none of them (NONE of them) have been able to give any description of the “god” they supposedly don’t believe in.

    Which rather echos their studied inability to comprehend the logic which lays out (some of) the propositions logically entailed by the proposition “God is not”.

    John Branyan:The atheists insist their beliefs are misrepresented until we ask what their views are. Then they insist they have no beliefs.

    And when one lays out (some of) the (absurd) propositions logically-and-inescapably entailed by the proposition “God is not”, they try to play an unprincipled (*) and ad hoc “Well, I don’t believe that, so it doesn’t matter”.

    (*) “unprincipled” because there is no principle by which to support their contention that their personal/subjective rejection of an entailment of atheism nullifies the logic elucidating the fact of its entailment.

  56. Isaac says:

    Jim my friend, you’re losing it.

    “This blog is probably the best example of late, of what Jesus does to those who are serious about him. A vile bunch of hate and piety.”

    This blog is a great place to have an intelligent, respectful conversation. You just don’t know it.
    Have you been to ANY atheist blog? Or just listened to yourself?

  57. pennywit says:

    I spent upwards of an hour staring at that picture looking for Waldo.
    Then I found Waldo and cannot unsee him.
    I know at least a couple Christians who would turn that into a lesson.

  58. John Branyan says:

    I know at least a couple of atheists who would dismiss that lesson just because it came from Christians.

  59. Ilíon says:

    This blog is probably the best example of late, of what Jesus does to those who are serious about him. A vile bunch of hate and piety.

    Internet ‘atheists’ — like the leftists they most resemble — are quite fond of accusing others of their own sins.

    Really, the only good response when an ‘atheist’ (or a leftist) accuses you of *anything* is to utterly refuse the accusation: it is *never* made in good faith, and there is no way you can get an acquittal once you treat the accusation as having been made in good faith.

  60. Ilíon says:

    I know at least a couple of atheists who would dismiss that lesson just because it came from Christians.

    That’s because *all* God-deniers are intellectually dishonest with respect to God. The difference between *this* God-denier’s intellectual dishonesty and *that* God-denier’s intellectual dishonesty is a matter of how easily they spook when they perceive God’s shadow.

  61. Brian says:

    If there is no God, there is no reason for existence, there is no purpose to existence, there is no good or evil apart from our opinion, there is no right or wrong apart from our opinion, life has no value apart from our opinion, there is no free will, there is no life after death, etc.

    In other words: Because I believe God provides reason for existence, anyone who doesn’t believe in God must have no reason for existence. Because I believe God gives purpose to existence, anyone who doesn’t believe in God must have no purpose to existence. I associate God with all these ideas, therefore anyone who doesn’t believe in God must reject these ideas or embrace the negation of them.

  62. TFBW says:

    @Brian, if you have an atheist theory of reason for existence which isn’t, “you are a cosmic accident,” please share. If you have an atheist theory of personal purpose which isn’t, “make your own purpose,” please share. If you have an atheist theory of good and evil which isn’t grounded in opinion, please share.

  63. Michael says:

    Brian: In other words: Because I believe God provides reason for existence, anyone who doesn’t believe in God must have no reason for existence.

    In other words, you would prefer to argue against a straw man.

    Either humanity exists for a reason or it doesn’t. Christian theism maintains that human beings exist for a reason. That they have a purpose. What does atheism have to say about the human race? That there is no reason for our existence. Humans have no purpose. Of course, individually, we can invent reasons and purposes for our own, personal existence. But that is not the same as humanity itself existing for a reason.

    Whether the Christian or atheist is right here is not the point of this blog entry. The poiint is as I noted – The reason the whole of God’s existence has been such a burning, central issue of debate over the centuries is because His existence, or non-existence, has far reaching ripple effects on our reality.

  64. Ilíon says:

    Brian:In other words:…

    Why is it that God-deniers have such a difficult time reasoning coherently?

  65. Ilíon says:

    Michael:Whether the Christian or atheist is right here is not the point of this blog entry. The poiint is as I noted – The reason the whole of God’s existence has been such a burning, central issue of debate over the centuries is because His existence, or non-existence, has far reaching ripple effects on our reality.

    Exactly. Every question we can ask about reality, and thus every answer we can discover, depends upon, and follows from, the ‘First Question‘, to wit: “Is there a Creator?” Or, phrased slightly differently: “Is the world (and ourselves) a deliberate creation, or is it (and ourselves) a chance accident?

  66. nsr says:

    The only atheist I know of who has ever honestly tackled the problem of meaning and value on atheism was Nietzsche.

  67. Ilíon says:

    ^ Paul and Patricia Churchland may count.

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