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Let me say at the outset that this is not a challenge, a demand for evidence, a call for miracles, or anything of the sort. I pose no grand test for believers to meet, nor do I intend this as a trap for the dimwitted. There is a very simple way that atheists can be persuaded to believe in god, and I will reveal it in this post. If those who call themselves religious ever want to defeat the big bad atheism once and for all, this is how to do it. Just realize that it will come at a bit of a price.
To persuade an atheist to believe in god, all one has to do is define “god” so broadly that it cannot possibly be doubted. …
The religious could claim every prominent scientist as one of their own if they would merely expand their definition of god and jettison that little matter of the supernatural.
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_—–____——-__–__-_-_ HT: The Atheist Revolution
My favorite Atheist blog, The Atheist Revolution, recently wrote a lament post entitled “Wake Up, Indeed,” in which he laments the “schizophrenia” of an opinion piece written by a Christian from a Christian perspective. Below is a lengthy excerpt, and carries the spirit of his critique.
The good pastor is convinced that his religion is being attacked by people who have little understanding of it.
Christian teaching and beliefs are being attacked all over. Here are some recent examples: the lighting of the “non-denominational holiday shrub in Boston”; the “atheist creed being placed by the nativity scene in the Washington State capital”; the attack of “Prop 8 proponents in California in regards to those who supported the defeat of the gay marriage amendment.”
With the possible exception of the atheist sign in Washington, how can any of these examples be construed as attacks on anything but intolerance?
But Panzer’s inconsistency kicks into high gear when it comes to his bible. His words will likely do little but confuse already confused believers. After appearing to proudly accept the fundamentalist mantle, he immediately reverses himself by implying that his bible is open to correction.
So, call me John the Baptist if you will. I believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God written for our teaching, rebuking, and correcting. I believe that it’s just as valid and certain today as it was back then. Its purpose is to point us to Christ for our redemption, life and salvation. So, call me Patrick Henry too. I believe in the blood of the soldiers who have given us this great country with so many freedoms, including the freedom of capitalism. I believe in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, that they are just as valid and certain for us today as they were back then.
If his particular bible is “the inspired, inerrant Word of God,” how can it have been “written for our…rebuking, and correcting?” Does Pastor Panzer not know what “inerrant” means? Who is he to rebuke or correct the word of his god?
Two things that stick out to me about Vjack’s interaction.
1. Vjack asks, “…how can any of these examples be construed as attacks on anything but intolerance?” I have to wonder whether this is a real question, or just an expression of displeasure at a different point of view. It’s not hard to understand how those of strong religious persuasions might understand attacks against those who support Prop. 8 as attacks on something other than mere “intolerance.” Worldview makes the difference. Given the right worldview, a person can come to construe reality in ways that are very counter-cultural and may seem to others as invalid perspectives. This question, then, makes Vjack look intolerant himself, and ignorant also. All it takes is a little serious dialogue with such people to get a handle on how they see the world, even if in the end, one might strongly disagree with them.
2. Christians would immediately notice what is wrong with his criticism of schizophrenia. It’s founded on the accusation that the Christian pastor was saying that he believed the Bible to be God’s inerrant word, yet that we should correct and rebuke God’s word. Well … if he was saying that, he definitely might be liable to Vjack’s accusation. But, of course, that’s not at all what the man was saying. The verse this pastor was referring to was 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness ...” (Vjack actually admits later in an “update” on his post, his criticism of schizophrenia was based on a misunderstanding of the pastor’s point.)
Disliking the viewpoint of the Christian author, and being unfamiliar with the Bible, Vjack has attacked him on false accounts. What’s ironic is this: The opinion piece written by the Christian pastor stressed how people are attacking Christianity but have little understanding of it. As it turns out, Vjack ends up (by accident) proving the point of the Christian who wrote the opinion piece by providing a documented case of this very thing in his post.
___——___——_-_-_-HT: Atheist Revolution
Vjack talks about his trouble with the facebook setup in a post. Here’s an excerpt:
… I was not sure what to make of the “religious views” line on my profile. Coincidentally, a reader e-mailed me and asked my opinion about this very issue just as I was confronting it myself. She did not want to put “atheist” under religion because she recognized that atheism is not a religion and did not want to pretend it was. This led her to think of simply putting “none” in the space. However, she wasn’t sure she liked this idea much better.
You see … vjack does not think of atheism as a religion. He explains this in another post.
Thus, an atheist is one who does not believe in a god or gods. Note that “one who lacks belief in a god or gods” is not quite the same thing as “one who believes that there are no god or gods.” This distinction may be subtle, but it is important for reasons I will review below.
As I have stated elsewhere, “Atheism is not a religion, a philosophy, a worldview, or anything similar. It is not the conviction that there are no gods, ghosts, angels, etc.” Rather, atheism simply refers to the lack of theistic belief. A young child or person living in an isolated community who has never heard of any gods is an atheist. In fact, we are all born atheists because we have not encountered any theistic concepts before birth.
… it is critical to recognize that atheism does not involve the assertion of any belief claim. An atheist is simply an individual who do not hold the theistic belief claim (i.e., that god or gods exist). … When the theist says, “God exists,” we are correct to expect evidence in support of this claim. Without such evidence, the claim cannot be accepted on rational grounds.
But vjack can’t get away that easy. You don’t escape the worldview nature of atheism just by stating it’s belief negatively as the absence of theism. I could say that theism is just the absence of belief in atheism. If vjack is not ready to assert positively that there is no God, god or gods, he is not actually an atheist, but a skeptic—–someone who doesn’t affirm theism but doesn’t leave out the possibility that God, a god, or gods exists either. Is Vjack really only a skeptic or does he have strong convictions that belief in God, god or gods is irrational, and therefore that God doesn’t exist? Based on his definition, he only wants to be considered a skeptic. But if you just read a few posts on his blog, you will see that he thinks people ought to live as if there were no God. He’s not simply unsure about whether there is or is not a God, he’s working out the implications of hard-atheism.
Vjack’s way of defining things is not original. Atheists have long argued for a distinction between hard-atheism and soft-atheism. Hard-atheism as belief that there is no God, god or gods, and soft-Atheism as belief that there is no apparent rational reason to believe there is a God, god, or gods. Either way, vjack’s claim that atheism is not a worldview, then, is unfounded. Atheism actually demands presuppositions about the nature of knowledge (epistemological presuppositions) to even begin to evaluate whether there is or is not any evidence for the existence of God. Read the last part of that excerpt again.
When the theist says, “God exists,” we are correct to expect evidence in support of this claim. Without such evidence, the claim cannot be accepted on rational grounds. [italics added]
Epistemological presuppositions about how we ground true knoweledge is at the very heart of worldview theory and determines the outworking of what one accepts as true, false, right or wrong. It’s the hinge on which one’s worldview turns.
Therefore, for vjack to claim atheism is not a worldview may be a sly way of dodging theistic rhetoric, but it is also reveals a glaring logical blind spot. Atheists tend to pride themselves as rational, but as I see it, they make foundational rational mistakes all the time. This is one of them: Claiming that atheism is not a worldview when in fact, it either demands that one assert there is no God (which results in a different way of viewing the world as not created by God) or that there is no apparent rational reason to believe in God (which demands a non-theistic epistemology, such epistemologies being at the heart of worldview theory).
———————————–HT: Atheist Revolution——————————–