Saturday, July 09, 2011

One night stand with Jesus (...or, we get mail)

Here's an e-mail from someone who made a video rebuttal to something Russell and I said, then begged us to comment on it and then didn't like that I called him out for rationalizing away the horrible doctrines he accepts by implying that we're all God's playthings to do with as he pleases.

He was moved to write (unedited):

You know, i watched quite a bit of your stuff a few months ago, just when i was realy beginning to go deeper in to my relationship with Christ. After i had listened to the things you guys where saying i began to feel attacked for some reason. And started questioning my own character. Your poison started to pull me away from a God who has loved and looked after me all my life, despite the ravages of religion. Christ told me in 2003 to follow him. That night was very real to me. Theres no other way to explain what happened to me, and i think it had to happen that way otherwise i would never have beleived. I would have fallen away as soon as someone would try to pull me apart. Like you try so hard to do.
I mite not be a seasoned christian with all the answers like you. But i will always have that night. I will always have the times i cried out to Jesus in the back of ambulances and he pulled me through.
He gave me hope that i will see my Brother again. And so much more.
And that alone, you and your goons will never take from me.

I dont know why you never felt or herd Christ in your 25 years of "being a Christian"
And im sorry for what it has done for you.

You guys are like naughty kids who dont like the fact you have to follow the rules, thet what God says goes. You reject him because you know whats going to happen to you and you hate him for it.
So your going to do your level best to take as many with you as possible.
With the rubbish that flows like efluient from your mouth. Just like the great deciever.
I dont push my veiw on anyone, if people read my stuff. Its up to them. If the kids ask me about Christ i tell them. Otherwise i grow my faith in Christ. And i do this because deep inside, despite the poison of people like you and the doubt you breed. I know Christ is real, and you can chuck off as much as you want about it and be little it as much as you want.
But you are the one that twists his word and takes it it out of context, that is obvious from your show. You pray on Christians searching for answers. And enjoy the the easy game.

Ive seen what mans religion has done, and yes it is mind blowing how people can cause such pain and suffering in a Loving Gods name.
But that still doesnt change the person of Christ and his love for us and even you.
You need to turn from this and go back to Christ as you already know you should, or fight him and blame him for all the worlds problems and die alone.
The things you said to me in your last letter were quite character destroying and demoralising. But thats because you dont know me. Just like you dont know all those people whose lives you may have already destoyed by taking there hope away from them. Without Christ in your corner and regardless of how smart you think you are against a mans undertanding of God. You will still have to stand before him. And that you can do nothing about.

If you regect him then he will give you what you want, because you wanted it.
As for me your smuggness has made me feel ill. And i am going to continue to love Jesus despite Religion, including yours.
You have nothing good to say.

EDIT: For clarity:

I probably shouldn't have posted this. I didn't think about the fact that you're all not familiar with the discussion (and I won't be posting the full discussion or the video, for privacy issues).

I realize, now, that it looks like I'm simply poking fun at someone - that's not the case.

This was much more about demonstrating the sort of road blocks people put up and the way the rationalize their position. Instead of honestly assessing the issues (which may simply be beyond comprehension due to preconceptions), it's easier to imagine that the person you're arguing with is simply lying and evil.

It's the result of the protective mechanisms built into many religions - and in some cases it's virtually impossible to overcome.


  1. Yes, as a matter of fact, I would like fries with that.

  2. Must not correlate bad spelling with witnessing something unexplained and attributing it to God. I'm trying hard!

  3. this person has dressed himself in a straightjacket and placed himself in a padded room.

    is there any way to help someone like this? i have no idea!

    about the grammar and spelling -- it's not just a matter of misplaced letters... it's a very deep ignorance of the meaning of the words he's using.

  4. I'm a bit concerned about this guys mental well being. I'm not sure it is wise to directly challenge this guys beliefs any longer... he seems incredibly dependent on them in order to remain emotionally and mentally stable.

    By no means is this written in malice, either. This genuinely seems like a person that might do something bad to themselves if they were to be made vulnerable again =\

  5. Maybe i'm off base, but it seems like every time someone starts a conversation/email and includes "my relationship with christ" that it's going to be a ride through crazy town.

    Do they say relationship because a voice in their head answers back?

  6. Wow. That was such an excellently written letter. The perfection of the grammar and word usage married with the beauty of the truth spoken has me all giddy for Jesus.

    How dare you, naughty kids, try to make this kid think more rationally and realize that his beliefs are nonsensical at best!

    Now, go to your room and think about what you did!

  7. Oh, and I love this line the best--

    "You pray on Christians searching for answers. And enjoy the the easy game."

    Easy game is right!

  8. Could someone please post a link to the video this guy made? I would like to see the conversation "develop". Additionally, is Matts reply available online? Id like to see this "character destroying smuggness"...

    I give him the benefit of the doubt. Seems like he was in a very emotional state when he wrote this. The grammar parts of your brain turn off when your worldview is threatened.

  9. I think your brain simply turns off when you believe in god.

  10. It is easy to pour scorn on people like this.I think we should save our contempt for the organ grinders not the monkeys.
    Ultimately it is the religious indoctrination of the young that leads to people feeling so worthless and needy.

  11. Bottom line is that it's all very confusing and that's the whole point. Weak minded people are particularly convinced by a kerffufle of words strung together that have no basis and virtually don't really say anything. It sort of reminds me of the debate Matt had with the 'father' Hans Jacobse...'you presupposed this and that and morality comes from god because it comes from us and god made us so it's actually god that instilled morality in our system'....yeah..alright, I have a vivid imagination too...

  12. Among the predictable twaddle the line 'He gave me hope that i will see my Brother again' stood out for me and I found that very touching.

  13. @Vilges Sola: "Among the predictable twaddle the line 'He gave me hope that i will see my Brother again' stood out for me and I found that very touching."

    Theist: How can you as an atheist possibly deal with with the death of a loved one?
    Atheist: I deal with it.

  14. Ah, the good old "Atheists really do believe in God, but they reject him because they want to disobey him, and you're all evil for sowing doubt in what I believe in, and you think you're so smart but just wait till you stand before God" argument.

  15. How many fallacies in this do you reckon?

    How many of the old debunked lies?

    I spotted the 'Atheists just love sin.'

    'Atheists really do believe in god.'

    'Atheists don't want to be judged.'

    'Atheists hate god.'

    'Atheists reject god'

    'Atheism is a religion. (And apparantly Christianity is not? Christians...always trying to retcon history...)

    'Doubt is bad. Poison.'

    'Atheists are arrogant (smug as he put it)'

    'Atheists are minions of satan (the great deceiver)'

    He said: "Ive seen what mans religion has done, and yes it is mind blowing how people can cause such pain and suffering in a Loving Gods name.
    But that still doesnt change the person of Christ and his love for us and even you."

    Because they weren't true Scotsmen, then?

    Man's religion? Oh, yes. Men create religions, god wants a 'relationship'?

    It's the personal, individual god, shaped to be whatever he wants it to be, despite all the evidence to the contrary, despite all the doubt he should have he puts his fingers in his ears and goes 'lalala I don't hear you' and believes the bible to be true because the bible says it's true.

    I suspect atheists have had a greater impact on him than we cares to admit and maybe one day when all these lies are corrected he might see atheists in a different light.

    But I doubt his beliefs will ever be challenged where he's going.

    "You will stand before him"

    Threats of hell. How original. Just another redressed version of Pascal's Wager. Fear the loving god, because he doesn't like the way you think. And I know so because I read it in a book.

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  18. I really need to stop trying to respond to blogs before my 2nd cup of coffee! Sorry about the deleted posts.

    My one coherent point:

    In the U.S. the odds of a conscious ambulance patient praying are about 9 out of 10. Those who survive (being conscious is a good sign there) live to tell the tale. But "dead men tell no tales." It's the ultimate sampling bias.

  19. @ eimerian I agree, but it doesn't make it any less sad.

  20. So I take it somewhere in the rambling of misunderstandings, misrepresentations, cliche strawmen and accusations that he got around to providing sufficient evidence for a god, right?

    No? Oh, okay.

  21. somehow, i don't think we should be ridiculing with this person. this rambling shows severe disability... and it's not just that he's wrong, it's that he's probably in a situation where the wrong's reinforced daily with like-minded people. what he sees and hears on the AthExp must be a rarity.

    frankly, i was very saddened when i read it. i don't want to seem condescending, although i realize what i'm saying must seem like it. i just think there must be a way to help people like this in gradual, bite-sized steps.

    or i maybe i'm naive.

  22. @tribbles

    For some people it can't be helped. In his email, he wrote, "The things you said to me in your last letter were quite character destroying and demoralising.".

    This was likely a response something said like, "your beliefs have no basis in reality". The only way to not offend this person would be to not speak at all, or agree with him 100%.

    The person has to want to confront the truth, first, before anything we say would help him.

    However, he's a pretty good example to others who are "on the fence", in terms of how religious mentality discombobulates a thinking mind.

  23. This is an email that screams not to be answered.

  24. To clarify what I mean, unless this discussion has been around the bend a few times, I seriously doubt Matt would have been condescending to him on the first communication. And yet, this is the response to just discussing the topic with him.

    I don't think being extra nice to the person would accomplish anything.

  25. WOW

    @farmboy - I missed about half of those on my first read

    @LadyAtheist - apparently his ambulance bias is even stronger, because he says "the times" that he was in the back of an ambulance

  26. @MAtheist -- he must have something like anaphylaxis or diabetes that's scary but treatable.

    Come to think of it... my ambulance ride for anaphylaxis resulted in me getting well and not dying, and I forgot to "pray." Unfortunately, I also forgot to remind the paramedics about the neighborhood speed bump, which coincided with them sticking a needle in my vein. The resulting bruise was quite impressive looking. Does God punish atheists by having their veins punctured over speed bumps?

  27. I really wonder what's going on in a person's head when they beg someone who they knows disagrees with them to comment on a video response, and then when they are generous enough to do so, proceeds to throw a hissy fit when they - **surprise, surprise** - disagree.

    Could he not anticipate this response? Did he think his video was going to be so persuasive that you would change your mind?

    Perhaps he's lashing out because he's experiencing doubts and that scares him.

  28. @ Excredulous

    I think you've hit the nail on the head. Deep down this fellow clearly knows that his beliefs are untrue but he is completely unprepared for a mortal life without an ultimate authority figure. So his defense mechanisms have completely taken over here and they never learned how to use a spell check.

  29. Putting a video on youtube is the antithesis of private. I say post the video, but that's just me.

  30. I would agree with Excredulous about the doubts scaring him.
    From personal experience I would guess he had a moment of serious doubts, and in a sense stopped believing for about 10 minutes.
    Then he felt so extraordinarily guilty when the beliefs came back in he felt a need to lash out.
    "God's helped me my whole life and gave me all the good things, and you arrogant jerks made me doubt he even existed. PUPPETS OF SATAN!!!"

    I'm sure this isn't a snapshot of his character, and I know there's still hope for someone in this situation. Even if the hope is that they become a more liberal Christian.

  31. "I know Christ is real ... SO JUST TAKE MY WORD FOR IT AND SHUT THE HELL UP, OR ELSE!"

    Since that childish assertion was basically how Christianity spread, and has existed for such an absurdly long period of time, I don't blame the guy for trying it here. Personal testimony/delusion is still a better defense than desperately trying to defend the Bible.

  32. With this type of person, theres no conversation, you can point all the evil that religion made in the world, and they just going to say:

    "No,no,no,no, thats not god work, thats people taking his name for theyr actions".

    Whats is funny is, since theres no gods, saying who is his real representant, any people that says that is doing god work, actuly is, its just theyr version of that god.

  33. When it comes to atheists being smug/arrogant/etc.--I really don't know if there is a solution.

    I work in a multicultural workplace, with Protestants, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, and those are just the ones I can identify. They get along fine; I'm sure every one of them is satisfied with "I believe what I believe and you believe what you believe, and it's just that I'm right, all others are just somewhat off the mark, and for now that's okay."

    Atheism necessarily implies "I believe your cherished beliefs are wrong, and your reasons for belief aren't good enough for me, full stop." We're already up in their grill, mentally speaking, just by the word itself.

    Matt's definitely right about the mental roadblocks. If there's a way to meaningfully engage on these issues without triggering that allergic reaction, I don't know what it is. Accommodationism seems to be an attempt to wear the same live-and-let-live hat that all the other religions seem to put on when they go to a shared workplace.

  34. This guy is funny he defines the christian god as all loving I don't think this guy has even read a bible, God is much worse than any human serial killer, the killing never stops.

  35. Matthew,

    Sadly, most Christians find their god to be a loving god and chalk up his horrible crimes against humanity as necessary for the greater good.

    I was having a conversation with a christian this weekend in which I brought several examples of God committing genocide. The Christian argued that the reason was that God was protecting his children, the Israelites. No amount of discussion with this christian could get him to see that murder is murder, regardless of the reasons behind it.

    I have realized that debating these things and trying to get Christians to see just how evil their god is, tends to be a pointless endeavor.

  36. Matt, your patience with people like this is entirely boundless. I would have printed his letter out, put a big fat red F in a circle on the side, scanned it and then sent it back to him with the note: "You've failed basic English, Logic, Philosophy, and Science 101. Please go back to the first grade and start over."

  37. @MethodSkeptic you said: "Atheism necessarily implies "I believe your cherished beliefs are wrong, and your reasons for belief aren't good enough for me, full stop." We're already up in their grill, mentally speaking, just by the word itself."

    Except they are doing the exact same thing with regards to every other belief except their own! Are we really MORE arrogant for adding one more?

    Christians believe every non-Christian will go to hell. (And the same goes for other beliefs). They also believe the world, the universe of that matter, was specifically created with them in mind and that they have the approval of a divine entity.

    I find that way more offensive and arrogant than just saying "I don't believe you."

  38. @Shannon you said: "The Christian argued that the reason was that God was protecting his children, the Israelites."

    You should've pointed out that all non-Israelites are supposed to be god's children as well, and he's being a racist for favouring one over the other, something which he also has full control over. He could've appeared to everyone, but no, he preferred it if one tiny group slaughtered the rest. Basically god as a father told one of his many sons to start slaughtering his other children, because he is his favourite and the others don't obey, therefore they should all die. He's a monster!

  39. @farmboy "Christians believe every non-Christian will go to hell. (And the same goes for other beliefs)."

    Actually, not all beliefs believe in a Heaven and Hell. For one: Jews. They don't believe or say anything about a Heaven or Hell. Christians came up with that idea (The Kingdom of Heaven). Judaism really doesn't speak about such concepts.

    Also, Jews don't convert people, which is something I can kinda respect. Unlike Christians and Muslims, Jews don't go around telling others to become Jewish or they'll suffer eternal punishment. Jews, even ultra-orthodox ones, don't really care about the religion of other people. They simply regard it as not being for them. It may be elitist at heart in a sense, but at least they're not usually pushing that on others (although they will infuriate other Jews by telling them to be "more Jewish", etc....they just don't preach outside of the religion).

    Also, there are other religions that don't really talk about Heaven and/or Hell, or regard them as esoteric concepts.

    Obviously, it doesn't make any of them correct about assuming that there is a God(s) in the first place, it's just nice that not all of them tell you that you'll burn for eternity simply because you disagree.

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  41. @Farmboy

    I did point that out as well. That is where the conversation ended, abruptly, because he no longer had an explanation for the rape, murder, genocide and other atrocities in the bible.

    He used an analogy of a father allowing his son to go through pain for the betterment of the child. He talked about a child with cancer having to go through chemo and how that child will probably not understand why the father is allowing for so much pain, but that in reality it is for the betterment of the child.

    The christian's logic was so flawed it was hard to take him seriously. He suggested I read Lee Strobel's books for evidence that God exists, which I quickly shot down and explained that Strobel's works are filled with circular reasoning and ridiculous and fallacious arguments.

    Funny enough, he never addressed the several verses in Deuteronomy that condoned rape.

  42. @Summer I can respect the position of the Jews. They don't actively seek to convert people to Judaism.

    They do, however, believe that they are the chosen people of God which singles them out among anyone else. They do believe in the promised land, which is only promised to the Jews.

    So, while they are not actively proselytizing in the streets and converting people. They do have their elitism and believe that they are better than you or I because we are not Jewish

  43. Leaving Orthodox Judaism was a relatively slow process for me, although I've since learned that others tend to go even slower. Belief went first, followed slowly by individual practices. I struggled with it, and leaving was something I thought about a lot - even though I wasn't brought up in it and had come to it later in life.

    Yesterday, I went to an event with a lot of Orthodox Jews, mostly Hasidic. I felt an odd sense of dislocation, and found myself wondering just how I had struggled for so long. What was attractive about it, what seemed true about it? I saw that what passed for learned dialogue and commitment to "God" was nothing more than an alternative to developing any real social skills. The whole thing (in the modern day, anyway) struck me as nothing more than a cover for being rude, socially awkward, and so on.

  44. You can't really convince someone who believes they had a personal chat with Jesus that there isn't a god any more than they can convince you that they had a personal chat with Jesus.

    My only response would be if Jesus wanted me to believe in him then he knows where to find me too. I've been given no additional evidence to change my opinions or to stop talking to people about my opinions. If this makes you feel personally attacked then maybe you're not as confident in your beliefs as you say you are, otherwise you wouldn't feel so insecure when those beliefs are attacked.

  45. Reasonable and rational arguments are great for finishing off a dwindling belief, but they do not do so well as an opening move. A lot of the de-conversion stories I have heard begin with an emotional upheaval that allows for a possibility of doubt, which in turn allows the believer to actually think about the rational arguments and give up faith entirely. The guy in this post is clearly still in stage one, the whole letter dripped with emotional appeals shored up with logical errors.

    I would like to think that all the indoctrination could be escaped though good reasoning alone, but I have to admit my own road to atheism started along the lines of reading the bible and deciding the god described there was a real asshole. The logic and empiricism was the last straw, not the first.

  46. @Shannon Kish

    I said I think it's elitist in my post. I don't disagree with you. :)

    However, it didn't originally mean that the Jews are the chosen people of God in the way that it is now understood. That is a later interpretation when the God of the Jews became a universal type of God when at first it never was intended to be. In fact, there is very little different between a general tribal sort of God that is savage in a savage and primitive world than with any other savage and primitive tribal gods. Every tribe used to have gods which told them that they are special. When they were defeated in battle, various things usually happened (mostly that the conquered tribe accepted the conquering tribe's god as being more powerful).

    In Jewish circles, I have observed, "God's Chosen People" has a very sarcastic ring to it for the most part. And, one must remember, that most Jews in the world are actually atheist or agnostic. They're more culturally Jewish than religious at all. I even know some Jews who go to orthodox synagogues who openly admit that they do not believe religiously but just go because it's custom and they enjoy it. They don't actually really believe that they are God's Chosen or anything else.

    As to "The Promised Land", that becomes a political discussion. I will say this though: There have always been Jews living in that place since before Greek times - that's just an archaeological fact. Even during the Roman Diaspora, or the Crusades, or the Ottoman period, you had Jews living there. The fact that the Palestinians (and Palestinians not so long ago meant Jews, not Arabs by the way) today claim otherwise flies in the face of every historical and archaeological evidence that we have (which some have been busily trying to destroy beneath the temple mount in Jerusalem).

    Which brings us to modern day Israel which, contrary again to popular opinion and propaganda, was not formed by an invasion of Jews after the Second World War. There were various Aliyahs, which stands for immigrations, dating back to the mid-1800's. There were, at various points during those times, people against those immigrations of Jews (mostly from Eastern Europe at first), and then many for it. In fact, some very powerful Arab leaders at the time were in favor of it and saw it as a possible boon for various economic and social reasons (some good, some bad). It's a mixed bag.


  47. (cont..)

    However, one thing you cannot say is that those waves of immigrants were started by religious Jews. They were, for the most part, not. The fact is that most of the founding fathers (and mothers) of modern day Israel, from the late 1800's to the mid 1900's called themselves atheists - and even communist in many cases. Founding the state of Israel was going AGAINST the religious beliefs of religious Jews of the time. Almost all of them rejected the Bible in religious terms, rejected the ghetto mentality, rejected the teachings of tradition, and rejected the notion that only the Messiah could "redeem the land of Israel".

    Israel, "the promised land", as it stands today, was formed as a *rejection* of religious Judaism, and not to support it. There is a very good book (and movie) called "The Chosen" which talks about just this very issue - albeit only on the tail end of the story. However, for a hundred years before that story, Jews in Eastern Europe were basically rabble-rousing with ideas of an independent Jewish state, contrary to the beliefs of the religious in their communities. And when they got to Israel, they founded Kibbutzes, which mostly were more Communist than you or I can imagine - even to the point of always eating communally, and even having communal dormitories for babies as a rejection of the traditional family unit.

    So when people point out the problems with Jews and "the promised land", I like to point this out to them: Israel wasn't formed by religious maniacs (although, goodness knows, they have more than enough living there now which are causing major fucking problems and should honestly shut the fuck up....), but by Godless Atheists who rejected the notion of Judaism altogether. The only thing which united them, which identified them in each other's eyes, was the fact that *other* people persecuted them because they were "born Jewish".

    That is what banded most of them together during the pogroms to seek another solution apart from standing there in the ghettos to get slaughtered by random events (and I might also add some ghettos in the Muslim world as well contributed to this...not all was European in nature).

    Naturally, political Zionism has evolved considerably since then. But that's another matter. "The Promised Land" has had Jews living on it for thousands and thousands of years - whether by war with other tribes as it clearly states in the Bible, or by living there under oppression. At that point, "The Promised Land" becomes less of a religious dogma to them as just the fact that this is where they originated from and they really don't see where else they have left to go.

    Sorry for the dissertation, but I always find that statement about "God's Chosen People" believing in "The Promised Land" to be a loaded political anti-Israel statement. And I'm not accusing you of that, but I just wanted to clarify the history of it. =)

  48. Oh I'd like to clarify two more points:

    1) I fully believe in a two-state solution. I said that the Jews don't think they have anywhere else to go, and I think that applies to the Palestinian Arabs as well - they don't have anywhere else to go either. Whether or not their family roots can be traced back as far as Jewish roots is inconsequential to me. They have lived on the land for long enough to merit to share it with others. What I do reject is a one state solution on either side - as did the Israeli founding fathers, by the way, all of whom accepted partition.

    2) One thing I do like to point out to religious messianic Jews and Christians alike is that the Messiah already came and "redeemed" the land of Israel. His name was David Ben Gurion. =) This pisses a lot of people off, but I don't really care. The original meaning of Messiah was just somebody who would re-found the kingdom of Israel as an independent state (and kick out the Romans...or fill in other oppressors, etc.... ) And that was accomplished in 1947 when the Declaration of the State of Israel was signed by the head of that state: David Ben Gurion.

    Ben Gurion was an atheist, by the way, with very communist leanings. He never claimed to be the Messiah, and he'd probably laugh at the idea. But as far as I'm concerned, as an atheist who thinks the whole religious notion around a political notion founded over two thousand years ago is absolutely fucking ridiculous, just in a historical context: that's what the Messiah was supposed to do.

    It's been done. People should recognize that, accept it for what it is, shrug off their senseless religion (Jewish, Christian, or Muslim) and move on.

    Try mentioning that to a religious Christian sometime and watch them splutter because they'll have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. But if you do, you kinda have history on your side.

    They, on the other hand, never do. =)

  49. I don't read Mary Worth except through The Comics Curmedgeon, but they had a storyline about a wacko nurse who went out with this doctor, he broke it off, and she kept acting as if it never happened. That's what this person reminds me of - the person who has a one-night stand and the next morning they keep talking about love, marriage, kids, a future - and they never see or hear from the person again. Of course, here the one-night stand was all in their mind, which make it sadder.

    The "times" (plural) they cried in the ambulances suggests that this person does have problems, may be suicidal even. That type of personal can be very vulnerable to this kind of delusion, and as noted, the "character destroying" result of discussion suggests that they place a lot of themselves on this relationship, so much so that if it is suggested it isn't real - then they see themselves as worthless.

    I do really wonder at the kind of mind that thinks that we really do know their god, we know what will happen to us, and yet somehow, we just continue to sin and sin away. I guess eternal torture is worth that candy bar I stole! Yeesh - and they call us crazy?

    - Summer Seale - depending on what interpretation, the Messiah was either going to be a king or a high priest (or both) - I'm not sure Ben Gurion (didn't he fight Gamera? - sorry, bad joke) fits that bill. I'm sure the religious have a way around that, however. Hmm - same thing for the "descendant of the House of David" bit, I assume.

  50. @Badger3K The religious always have a way around everything. =) But it can infuriate them to hear it.

    Of course I don't believe in a Messiah... =) And yes, the Messiah was supposed to be a King, from the line of David, who would kick the Romans out. But since the Romans weren't around in 1947, and since Jews no longer had Kings, I just tell them that Ben Gurion qualifies. Then I tell them that I also don't care what their justification is because at least I can point out that the "historical" part of the "prophecy" was fulfilled with the version I put forth, and that's better than the no fulfillments that they constantly have to live with and try to justify.

    It's just to rub the salt into the wounds a bit more. =)

  51. As much as I hate to admit it, and am embarrassed when I mention it, I too believed as fervently as this poor sap does. It is easy to pick on this person as being a weak minded dolt, but I can relate to him and his current feelings. Yes, I too was a weak minded dolt, or better yet, I just didn't care about what I believed until decades past the point where I should have known better and abandoned the insanity. When your whole life revolves around "church" it is hard to see things with a different pair of glasses on. I too cried out to god and begged his forgiveness more times than I like to admit and nothing but nothing could change my mind. Well, after taking the "red pill" things are much clearer now...something I never thought would happen. Keep challenging the theists...they can, and do change. I am living proof of it.

  52. @Farmboy:

    Yes, you're exactly right. As Matt has pointed out on the show, every religion blasphemes every other religion. I participated in a lot of interfaith activities as a child and teenager, since my flavor of Xtianity was pretty liberal. When I encountered fundamentalism, it was not lost on me that believing *that* would necessitate that I think bad thoughts about the Jews, Hindus, and Muslims with whom I'd enjoyed fellowship.

    My point is, though, that I can report from direct experience the ability of religious people of even conservative stripes to compartmentalize their mutual blasphemies--hence the fake ecumenicalism of the National Day of Prayer, the constant bleating about "Judeo-Christian values," etc.

    Atheism, for anything other than the most mealymouthed, agnostic, accommodationist stances, disrupts that compartmentalization.

  53. And that's a good thing! They're lying to sustain lies. This fake ecumenism will always be reluctant and forced, extended tribalism to counter the growing numbers of atheists.

    We should always strive to make theists more self-aware. It's the herd-mentality that dominates them into believing through social pressure and mass hysteria.

    I read that not even the Ku Klux Klan wanted anything to do with the Westboro Baptist Church.

    Moderate christians would condemn the fundamentalists, but that's about it. They'll turn their backs on them and pretend they don't exist. Well, true, it wouldn't be right to take away their freedom of religion or freedom of speech, but as chr...istians I would think they would try to stop them doing what they do (as if they have to care about human law anyway). I know people like professor Ken Miller vehemently oppose creationists and their intelligent design agenda, but they are clearly in the minority.

    Most moderate christians would not 'attack' any fellow christian for having disagreeing views, but atheists are all of a sudden fair game. We suddenly don't get equal rights and equal time and respect (because we apparantly interpret the bible the only way they can never accept; so really there's no wrong answer except for not believing its outlandish claims. They don't care about anything else, but of course if they would you'd get inter-denominational warfare as seen in Ireland in particular) and see any instance of voicing our opinions as offensive, any criticism an attack, any demand for evidence a display of arrogance. WTF?

    It's so hypocritical. When it comes to differing interpretations of the bible it's "teach the controversy" and to each their own opinion, as if having an opinion automatically gives it merit and credibility, no matter objective reality! It'...s political correctness gone mad, too afraid to offend anyone's religious beliefs because they are so fragile and personal and taboo. Screw reality, right?

    Yet they would insist on teaching 'the controversy'. It's how they're keeping the faith alive, as if it's a virtue. It's how they desperately try to keep the peace through fake ecumenism and keep any semblance of credibility concerning their book of talking snakes and avatars of invisible tribal space warlords who grant wishes to desert nomads if they become his willful slaves, while at the same time they wouldn't give anyone who'd proclaim the presence of Thor a second of their time. All to avoid providing evidence and to normalize claims of magic through argument ad populum. A lot of people believe it, so let's not offend them, they can't all be wrong, right?


    They'll proclaim "Science doesn't know everything!" and therefore somehow, magically, everything goes and argument from ignorance isn't a logical fallacy. No, fellow christians get a pass because of their faith in the bible. Doesn't matter what they do, what they believe, religion is off-limits because it's religion, most times only when it's their own of course.

    Tribalism in action. A remnant of a bygone age of savagery and xenophobia and intolerance alive today in religion.

    They're respecting the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

    Sorry for the long rant.

  54. Well, the original point was the perception of atheists as smug and arrogant, and I think it's because the defining characteristic to a theist is "You Are Wrong." Atheists don't (and IMO shouldn't) compartmentalize that for the sake of pretending to common ground. Theists do that quite readily, it seems. Hypocritical, to a degree, but extremely common. Atheism, though, is necessarily and directly blasphemous in a manner not easily avoided.

    It's the difference between:
    "You believe what you believe and I believe what I believe and let's talk about what we agree about," and
    "You believe what you believe and I believe you're full of shit, full stop."

    We can talk about the justification for that, but I'm just trying to say it makes the conversation more difficult from the outset. Atheists, by definition, aren't as amenable to accommodating the things we don't believe, it's necessarily the opposite. Even at the interfaith events I attended when I was younger, a dyed-in-the-wool atheist would have gone over about as well as a fart in an elevator. Now, I'm that guy. Oh well.

  55. Ah, but never forget that this is EXACTLY the same on the other end of the conversation. They think We're full of shit, full stop, and they have faith and therefore nothing will convince them otherwise while most atheists are willing to discuss their disagreements for the sake of finding truth, to challenge ideas and correct mistakes. Most christians I've spoken to happily carry on spouting the same nonsense even after it's been thoroughly debunked.

    We care about the truth. All they're doing is calling a truce to stop infighting between factions (because a house divided against itself cannot stand, and they know this) as a response against growing atheist numbers. IF ever the Biblical god is confirmed to be real (I laugh at the very idea, but for the sake of argument let's say this happens) then the fun will begin. The truce is off. All bets are off. It'll be Ireland all over again, on a global scale. Interdenominational warfare.

    This ecumenism is forced and fake. They condemn us for disagreeing, threaten us with hell, and then they paint us the bad guys. Theists are known throughout history not to be tolerant of blasphemy against their gods and it is still apparant today, especially in the US, that this is still the case.

    We may think they are wrong and/or insane, but I'd never think they deserve to be killed for their beliefs or burn in hell forever for their beliefs. I would fight for their right to voice their beliefs and practice it: they would fight to oppress those who disagree, call them secondrate citizens and cast them out of their community as criminals and/or animals who somehow can't know right from wrong because blindly worshipping a tyrant is somehow the most righteous act in existence.

    Do you blame atheists for being a tad hostile? It has ALWAYS been self-defence. We may be loud, but that's because we've never been allowed to use our voices before, without being murdered for it or burned at the stake. Atheists are here to make their case heard, because theists have been slandering them and spreading their propaganda and lies for centuries and centuries. We have a lot of catching up to do, trying to dig us out of this hole THEY put us in.

    So, yeah.

    Theists love to paint atheists as arrogant, to brand atheism as a positive statement of knowledge, instead of a negative statement about belief. Constantly shifting the burden of proof and labelling us arrogant while they're proclaiming to be the centre of the universe. It's dishonest and hypocritical and most of the time they don't even know they're doing it. They're so indoctrinated into believing all this, they've gone and normalized evil.

    And we're here to make our stand and say NO MORE.

  56. I don't necessarily disagree on any given bit of it, but what's your point? Yeah, I've gotten into arguments with theists, I know how they can be.

    I'm trying to address the issue that when it comes to in-groups and out-groups, the concentric Venn diagram for theists seems to be "Me," "My denomination," "My sect," "Other Religions," and "Atheists" as the outermost level.

    Why do Atheists provoke a much stronger mental allergic reaction than do other religions? I think it's because, when in ecumenical circumstances, one theist can listen to another theist talk about "What Do You Believe And Why" and, essentially, contemplate the degree to which their opposite number has happened upon their particular mix of "true" and "false" beliefs.

    But to talk to an atheist, there's no admixture of true and false, there's no wiggle room to ignore where the other guy believes something mutually contradictory. To a theist listening to our WDYBAY, the sole relevant factor is we're telling them that every cherished belief that gives their life structure and meaning is wrong. It's devastating to imagine.

    Small wonder that they react strongly and negatively.

  57. hehe...yeah, this:

    (via ACA of course)

  58. I don't know the context of the conversation at all, but I think I know how it went. People like that will never be swayed no matter what you say. They've had a "personal" experience and they feel that they've actually spoken with the creater of the universe. That is extreamly creepy. The creater of the universe worries about what's happenig on Earth? Riiight

  59. I am in agreement with Shannon Kish. For years I went to church and spoke in tongues. We learnt about the evils of the non-Christians and the homos. I noticed that my life was never better. Then I stopped going and reflected on the sermons I heard. What is the difference between reading fairy tales and Harry Potter and the Bible?
    Sarah gave birth at 80 while the sinners (all of us) start menopause at 50.
    It is OK to be gay so long you are David. David and Jonathan are friends, not husband and husband and they help kill non-Jews.
    Kill your son like Abraham and get everyone a holiday.
    And apple fibre is bad for your health.Once you start to enjoy apples, you will shun nudity and bear children. If women were not silly enough to eat apples, then pornography will be suitable to everyone.

    Fairy tales are just G rated but the stories of the Bible are full of violence and sex.

    P/S When a tragedy happened, my doctor asked me to pray. It is time I do a homage to Lord Harry Potter. If I follow Voldermort, I will burn.


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