Atheistic Fundamentalists

Kunk Fu Zoby Kung Fu Zu8/28/13
The one thing which stands out about such radical atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, et al, is their complete lack of humility. I am not talking about the holding-your-candle-under-a-bushel type of humility. I mean the type of humility which comes from understanding the vastness of creation. I mean the type of humility which realizes that mortals are limited in what they know.

And even types such as Dawkins and Hitchens, who appear to be so exalted in their own minds, don’t know and can’t know the answers to the greatest questions in life. I am referring to the type of humility which realizes there is a reason that, throughout history, people have felt the need to search for something greater than and superior to themselves.

These radical atheists have the temerity to explain this away by saying that the masses are deluded and they, the anointed, aren’t. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Lenin thought the masses needed a vanguard to lead them to the future as well.

Some radical atheists will say many religious leaders lack humility as well. But what these purveyors of nothingness and their cohorts don’t seem to understand is that most people are looking for hope and meaning. It is not arrogance which is driving them.

In the end, these atheistic fundamentalists could do themselves and the rest of us a favor. Show a little humility because, contrary to what they seem to think, on the big questions, they really don’t know any more than anyone else. And they really aren’t any better than the rest of us. They simply have bigger voids in their spirits. • (3688 views)

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96 Responses to Atheistic Fundamentalists

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Generally speaking, prominent atheists do little more than box with shadows and set up and then tear down straw men. Yes, a little humility would go a long way but so would integrity. And many atheists simply don’t have it.

    I’ll concede that it is an open question as to the attributes (general or specific) of the Force, Thing, Being, or Whatever that caused to come into being all that is (or, I should say, all that we know of).

    God doesn’t commonly dial me up or send a telegram, so I don’t and won’t thump philosophical atheists over the head for being uncertain about a Creator, or even taking the position that because uncertainty is so great that it suggests a negative position is warranted.

    But we’re generally not talking about philosophy. We’re talking about people (atheists) who have the need to feel superior so they treat religious people like retards (there’s that humility question again).

    And whatever one believes, I’ve found atheists to be, generally speaking, among the most obnoxious, self-righteous, dogmatic people I’ve ever met. They are what they accuse everyone else of being, which is typical of the Left. And I would posit that most atheists are actually political atheists (not philosophical atheists) and are of the Left.

    Hell, I have those days when I’m an atheist. I don’t begrudge anyone that philosophical point of view. But I do begrudge the pip-squeak little snot-nosed assholes who get their jollies by using Christians as a punching bag. Not only does this show a lack of class, but it totally betrays the fact that these aren’t the supposed Nice People who are better than those rotten Christians. They’re just mean people and exactly the type of people who could use a little (a lot, really) religion.

  2. faba calculo says:

    I’ve always had great admiration for Hitchens. His Farewell, Fellow Travelers article telling the Nation why a liberalism that didn’t support the liberation of Iraq was masterful. But let the topic turn to religion, and he was hard to take, even for this agnostic. And don’t even get me started on his comments on Mother Teresa!

    Faba Calculo (A.K.A. blsdaniel)

    • faba calculo says:

      should have been “why a liberalism that didn’t support the liberation of Iraq wasn’t worth being called liberalism was masterful”.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      You could say much the same for Dawkins. He’s a very interesting write on the subject of natural history, except that occasionally it becomes clear that his deity is Darwin and he has no interest in knowing anything about heretical notions such as intelligent design. This latter is a common problem among Darwinists, of course.

  3. Ed Cottingham says:

    I’m going to try to leave this topic alone for a while. Lately, I’ve caused some pain in my life by my blunt and irreverent opinions. For decades, I have vigorously defended Christmas carols in schools, Christmas in the public square, various school prayer situations, etc. I still defend those things and consider myself a “cultural Christian.” But calling myself merely an “agnostic” — as I used to do — is timidity bordering on outright dishonesty. I will only say that aggressive religiosity from some Christians is very real and can sometimes turn respectful dissenters into nasty dissenters…especially as we get older and crankier.

    I will mention a couple of vignettes from my personal life: In 1966, I was in the Army and in Officer Candidate School. It was six months of intense pressure, and the penalty for being one of the many washout losers was to be sent directly to Vietnam as an infantryman (which was quite different than being a cook, clerk, communications technician, mechanic, etc. A tiny percentage of the soldiers in Vietnam took the real heat of jungle patrols and combat.).

    One of my classmates informed us all that there was an OCS tradition of “posting out,” which was a shared prayer at lights-out. This was absolutely fine with me. It would have been unthinkable to stand up and make an issue of something like that….a guaranteed OCS washout and quick ticket to Vietnam. The Army was not looking for radical free-thinkers for the officer corps.

    Turns out, the fellow who made this suggestion and led the “operation” was a rural fundamentalist. This was no Lord’s Prayer. This was a long, rambling, improvised, fundamentalist, rather illiterate prayer led by him every night for months. For the first time in my life, I felt angry and crowded by Christianity. But, of course, no one complained.

    Decades later I was in a rural area of western North Carolina (the “Bible belt”) for two or three years on a job. I was always desperately tuning my FM radio trying to find something intelligent to listen to. There was one signal on the left end of the dial that really boomed in and it was a staggeringly ignorant, obnoxious rural fundamentalist preacher. It was a 24×7 rant about Hell and the certainty that all sinners would end up there and weep and wail for eternity. Seriously a rant. There was a characteristic speech mannerism of raising the voice at the end of each phrase. It was moronic and obnoxious, scarcely better than I would expect from the Taliban.

    I really just want to say that sometimes non-believers who may seem to be radical atheists have legitimate complaints against aggressive religiosity. I remember despising Madeline Murray O’Hare back in the day, although I myself was already a total disbeliever. I wanted to live with respect for the culture and for the beliefs of others. Now I am a little more hostile to Christianity. Frankly, I was annoyed at the relentless Catholicism pushed by National Review. What could possibly be more unAmerican than the deliberate marriage of religion and politics? WFB had the right to create any magazine that he wanted and nothing in the constitution prevented it. But now that NR is such an important voice of conservatism and even the GOP, I find it deeply offensive that they mix so much (Catholic) religion in with their politics.

    But — like I said — I don’t really want to talk about it. [irony] I sincerely do not want to offend my believing friends.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Ed, I hear what you’re saying about too-obnoxious Christians. But part of our work here in countering the Left is gaining a sense of proportion.

      It’s not fundamentalist Christians who are threatening our freedoms. It’s fundamentalist atheists or, more accurately, fundamentalist Leftists who hide their religion under the guise of “secular.”

      Now, I’m all for (as the Founders were) a secular government. But it was also supposed by the Founders that we needed to be a moral people. And for that, we need to be a religious people. And if someone wants to argue that they can be a good atheist or agnostic, I will acknowledge that.

      But, by and large, I hold to the Prager doctrine that we’ll find it very hard to remain a good people if we discard the wisdom of the ages.

      It’s obviously a tricky balance to promote a secular national government (the states may be as religious as their constitutions now allow) and a religious people. But that is our cause.

      One thing generally misunderstood is just how much of our society’s laws and morality are based upon the Judeo-Christian tradition. The answer is “A lot.” In fact, this would soon become apparent if we were to base those laws either on the religion of Leftism (as we are doing now) or on Islam.

      Obviously in America we have a mix of Jesus and Scottish (and French) philosophers in regards to our view of unalienable rights. And throw in the very important subject of natural law as well. This is an interesting and complex mix, but it is the mix upon which America is substantially based.

      But now we are beginning to base our society upon the religion of Leftism. And this has happened, in part, because the Left has done a very good job at hyping up paranoia against “the right” and against Christians. The anti-Christian propaganda anyone on the Left is exposed to is thick and mean.

      So although I don’t mind a good rant against Christian fundamentalist — and have done so a time or two myself (even got kicked out of a religious site once) — I think as conservatives or old-style libertarians, it would not do to play the part of useful idiot for the Left. Yes, let’s tamp down those too-zealous Christians, but note that they are not of any danger at the moment. All of the danger to our liberties right now comes from the fundamentalist Left.

      And I get only the online content of National Review (Online). I don’t get their printed magazine, so maybe the magazine is chock full of Catholic content. I don’t know. But certainly the online site is not. Every once in a while you get a milquetoast and weak article from Kathryn Jean Lopez. And I think she’s a marvelous lady. But she hardly thunks anyone over the head with her Catholicism. I actually wish she would a bit. This weak namby-pamby stuff isn’t of much service to the issue of good morals.

      • faba calculo says:

        “It’s not fundamentalist Christians who are threatening our freedoms. It’s fundamentalist atheists or, more accurately, fundamentalist Leftists who hide their religion under the guise of ‘secular.'”

        Depends on one’s view of what freedom entails. While it’s isn’t just fundamentalist/evangelical Christians who are blocking gay marriage, they appear to me to be the driving force. So if, like me, you see both gay marriage and the being able to refuse to work in gay marriages as fundamental rights, the attack comes from both directions.

        faba calculo (A.K.A., blsdaniel)

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          The idea that allowing gay marriage is some kind of litmus test for if a good and fair society is a recent invention by an ideology that simply wants the right to do any weird-ass thing it wants, regardless of the rights of others or the fundamentals of mankind itself (such as the centrality of marriage and child-rearing to any society that is worth a darn).

          That gays and the Left have whipped themselves up into a frenzy to the point of labeling Christians as bigoted merely for upholding the traditional and logical definition of marriage shows just much the Left and the gay movement has become a fever swamp of muddled thinking and sometimes actual fascistic actions (such as intimidating those who support the traditional and real definition of marriage).

          I just don’t define myself or my psychology by taking axe-grinders and making victims of them and then somehow thinking that I am some special and particularly nice person for doing so. You seem to make a career of that, Mr. Calculo.

          I have nothing against gays, but the way they have framed this issue that to be against gay marriage is to supposedly be a bigot is the realm of kooks, nitwits, and spoiled brats. There should be shame on the people who have framed this question in this way and who care not a whit for how this would effect married people or society as a whole. They are not victims of a persecuting society. They are simply spoiled brats — narcissists.

          • faba calculo says:

            I’ll be the first to say that, should someone actually believe, purely for intellectual reasons, that allowing gay marriage is going to significantly damage the institution of marriage, they are not a bigot for opposing gay marriage. Hell, if I thought that, I’d be against it as well. And so would at least some gays. I recall a debate in which the pro-gay marriage person (don’t recall who it is, but Mary Gallagher was his opponent) openly said as much.

            That said, it’s impossible to look back at the history of even the last few decades here and abroad and realize that there has been a LOT of animus aimed at gays that was very much similar to that which was aimed at blacks. To think that it is all gone now and that ALL opposition to gay marriage is based on pure reason (which I’m not saying that you do), to deny that a lot of opposition to gay marriage IS being driven by the remaining irrational animus, would simply be to lie to yourself and others. And that is a poor way to live.

            “You seem to make a career of that, Mr. Calculo.”

            Brad, frothing at the mouth is a poor replacement for reasoned discussion.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Animus at gays is a different issue than gay marriage. You can’t swing a dead cat in the industry that I’m in and not hit a gay person.

              But there is no way for limited government to exist without upholding the sanctity of the family. It’s impossible. When we make our government the surrogate spouse or parent, we undermine the family as the main supporting structure for people. And absent that main supporting structure, there is only government.

              Gay marriage is like writing graffiti on the idea of marriage. Marriage is a very special idea, and one that needs to be carefully protected. Hell, this even goes against libertarian ideas. Libertarians seem to think that society will just self-assemble in a good way and all you need is free choice and a free market for this to work.

              But this is as naive as the idea of gay marriage. But we are right now in the ascendency of bad ideas. And it’s out with any idea that puts constraints upon people. We are not all now socialists as much as we are narcissists with little or no appreciation for what it takes to keep a society both together and good.

              And don’t lecture me, Mr. Calculo, on frothing at the mouth. I have found your posts of late, both here and at NRO, to be somewhat dishonest.

              One of my favorite musicians is Klaus Nomi, a man who was obsessively gay and died because of it. But he was otherwise a very sweet and gifted human being. But gayness is an aberration, and not a particularly healthy one. We may tolerate it, and rightly so, but let us never celebrate it or put it on par with the sacrifices and duties that are a part of a biologically-suited married couple.

              But people do come in all shapes and sizes. A tolerant society is the goal. But there also is required various kinds of glue to keep society functioning. It is all the rage these days for people to invent all kinds of new “rights.” But very few are pointing out that society does not self-assemble itself. It has to be based on various workable and good ideas (if we want a free and good society). And central to a free society is one in which married people, and the families they produce, are the backbone.

              I’m single, and I can live with that. And gay people should also tip their caps to married people instead of despising them or narcissistically thinking of themselves as victims.

              • faba calculo says:

                “Animus at gays is a different issue than gay marriage.”

                But it is very much a part of the question of whether or not people who oppose gay marriage do so out of animus. People with animus against gays like oppose gay marriage. Of course, that doesn’t make the reverse true (i.e, that people who oppose gay marriage feel animus towards them).

                “When we make our government the surrogate spouse or parent, we undermine the family as the main supporting structure for people.”

                Good thing then that gay marriage doesn’t do that. Quite the opposite: it says to govenment, “show me the harms in allowing gay marriage or equal protection applies, and gays must be allowed civil marriage”.

                “Gay marriage is like writing graffiti on the idea of marriage.”

                How, precisely? Isn’t what gays getting civil marriage means for civil marriage conditional on the behavior of gays who get civil marriages? How is their mere existence a harm?

                “central to a free society is one in which married people, and the families they produce, are the backbone.”

                And some gays form families, bring children into this world, and raise them. They also are part of this backbone (however small a one), and they deserve the same rights and responsibilities available to others via civil marriage.

                “I’m single, and I can live with that.”

                So what? That’s your choice. What I ask is that they be given the same opportunity to marry the person they fell in love with to an other similar degree as straights are allowed.

                “And gay people should also tip their caps to married people instead of despising them or narcissistically thinking of themselves as victims.”

                Maybe they’ll stop despising married people when you stop despising married people. I mean, hell, as long as we’re doing empty accusations…

            • Kung Fu Zu says:

              Please see my response to this under “Breakfast of Chumpions” After I clearly demonstrated to you that polygamy is a terrible idea, you responded by saying “Groovy”. I replied to that post yesterday at 10:43am. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to transfer that to this string.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          One must realize that homosexual marriage is not actually banned anywhere that I know of. The issue is government recognition of it for such purposes as computing taxes. Note that in the Elane Photography case (in which a couple were charged with discrimination for refusing to photograph a homosexual ceremony), it didn’t matter that New Mexico (like most states) doesn’t recognize homosexual marriage. When anti-discrimination laws are used to coerce people to take part in such ceremonies despite their moral disapproval, the restriction on personal freedom isn’t coming from the moral disapproval of religious people.

          • CCWriter CCWriter says:

            I keep thinking that if government got out of the business of taking such a large number of variables into account in computing taxes, so much of what you refer to would be a moot point! The problems arise when government discovers the need to define people’s status and private business. Then people start assuming nothing can be defined without the government to do it, and start going to the government and requesting to be classified.

            I say out with all the social engineering!

            • Kung Fu Zu says:

              We are in 100% agreement here. Our present tax code is an overarching evil. It is used to pick winners and losers. To bribe some and penalize others.

              Although I have no expectation of ever seeing it, a simple tax with a straight rate(s) across the board would strip much coercive power from government. That’s why it ain’t going to happen.

              • CCWriter CCWriter says:

                You’re probably right. Too many people refuse to let go even of their dreams of the prospect to use the government to coerce other people. They would rather have that than live free of the government coercion they’re already struggling under.

    • CCWriter CCWriter says:

      I consider myself a theist and have many sympathies for religion, including the fact that overactive government is trying to push it around. On NRO, there are topics I simply stay out of because I’m not Catholic. At least the Catholics will not claim the privilege of telling you what to think and do if you inform them you are not one.

      More worrisome to me is the gist of exchanges I have had with some evangelicals there. There are people who consider themselves conservative because they are socially conservative, but they appear to know nothing about the Constitution and make great leaps over logic and steal multiple bases in claiming that this is “a Christian nation” and so forth. For instance: The Declaration of Independence says our rights come from God. Therefore any assertion that is based on someone’s interpretation of what God wants trumps the Bill of Rights. Never mind the fact that the twin pillars of the First Amendment vis-a-vis religion are very clear: A law may not involve an establishment of religion (favoring one interpretation of what God wants over another), neither may it restrict the free exercise (practice). Both conditions have to be satisfied, period. It is very convenient for someone to assume his idea of what God wants is the only idea there is–it’s also completely wrong.

      Alas, even some who don’t take such a ridiculous stand may still have a blind spot. That is, they believe that the only way to deal with government’s intrusion into the area of values must be to take it over and direct the laws to impose their own values instead. One of their blatant errors is the assertion that since the Constitution says nothing about allowing such and such, it’s perfectly constitutional to prohibit it. Aside from the fact that they’ll never get the votes on a national level to prevail (inconvenient but true), this vision is completely contrary to the idea of limited government, and anyone who still advocates it ought to admit that he or she is not a constitutional conservative, rather than allow the left to tar the rest of us with the brush of aggressive overstepping.

      Let’s remember that genuine constitutional conservatism keeps government to a limited role, and rather than leaving a vacuum, the intent was to allow voluntary institutions in civil society to flourish and encourage good values in the citizenry–without imposing them by law. After all, simple obedience to the requirements of the law does not constitute morality; moral behavior has to be chosen, and this is encouraged by the experiencing of consequences and social sanctions, neither of which can be directed from above. If that sphere of life has been weakened, I can’t imagine a convincing argument that it’s from not having enough government involvement.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        On NRO, there are topics I simply stay out of because I’m not Catholic.

        That’s never stopped me, CC! LOL. But seriously, so many Catholics haven’t a clue about Catholicism (and I do have some background in that), that it sometimes takes a non-Catholic to show some of these people how their own faith works. It really is honestly true what Dennis Prager says: A lot of Christians and Jews now worship Leftism in place of their traditional and authentic religion. This is indeed bizarre, but it is indeed true.

        But “Catholic” is such a huge subject. Truly, the word “Catholic” (meaning “universal”) is somewhat appropriate because there are so many different approaches even if they share the same Nicene Creed. That is, Catholics (when they’re not simply being Leftists) are a quite diverse group in the true sense of the word. You’ve got mystics and just all sorts of approaches.

        But, good god, yes, you do get those “Christian Nation” people who say they are conservative because they are Christian and yet wouldn’t know a Constitutional principle if it bit them on the ass. There are low-information voters on both sides surely.

        As for using government to institute values, the dirty little secret is that is exactly what government is for. But in regards to our national government, the thrust is supposed to be for “the general welfare.” That means that laws aren’t supposed to favor Presbyterians over Methodists. But a law that, say, allows school vouchers to be used at any religious institution would be the sort of “general welfare” that the Founders intended.

        But this is quite in contrast to the noxious “secular” conception of the Left which says that our entire government must be non-religious in any and every way. And that’s just not possible (or, at least, it’s certainly not desirable). We forget that it is not by accident that America is underpinned by a moral ethic that is quite unlike that in the Far East who often view life cheaply. A buddy of mine toured the East in his college days and he was shocked by the discarded and desiccated corpses of babies that typically littered the sides of roads.

        A society based upon “Thou shall not kill” is a quite different one. And if we ever did actually have a “separation of church and state,” we would be the worse for it, as we are finding out now. Many (but certainly not all) of our general ideas of law and morals come from the Judeo-Christian tradition. And the left, under the guise of “separation of church and state,” wants to eliminate that connection. And part of their deceit is to call their own set of Leftist religious values “secular.”

        Even as we sometimes struggle with people who are way too fundamentalist with their religion, it would do to note that indeed many, if not most, of our laws are about instituting a certain kind of morality. Part of “Albion’s Seed” is a wonderful exposition of the Quakers who had very modern ideas of industry and wealth creation.

        But this ethic (which they grounded in religion) is quite different from the socialist or Communist ethic. Or the Islamic ethic. Or, of course, the Leftist ethic. I *want* the general outlines of Christianity forced upon us in the “general welfare” way of doing so. I want free markets because it is believed that only by being free and by producing something from one’s god-given talents can one be, or come to be, a noble and worthy human being. This was the Quaker idea, and one that still has a hold over us (although that hold is waning fast).

        Granted, there are different interpretations of what the religious ethic brings us. But I hope we never forget that our worst nightmare is when “secular” (that is, the Left) becomes considered a neutral and normal way of being, that any laws they propose are considered “not imposing their values.” That is the very issue we are facing and so we must learn how to defend the Judeo-Christian religion and — quite oddly and ironically — often from Jews and Christians who are more Leftist in orientation than Christian or Jew.

        What a bizarre and complex mixed-up situation. But that is what we have been handed.

      • Ed Cottingham says:

        I strongly endorse the remarks of CCWriter above.

        Edit: …and below

        Edit: …but then acknowledge Brad’s strong critique of zealous libertarianism.

        • CCWriter CCWriter says:

          Thank you. But as a traditional and thoughtful libertarian I must point out that the “zealous libertarians” I see criticized often turn out to be little straw dolls.

    • Kung Fu Zu says:

      Hi Ed,

      It is always interesting to see how people react to anything religious.

      ” I will only say that aggressive religiosity from some Christians is very real and can sometimes turn respectful dissenters into nasty dissenters…especially as we get older and crankier.”

      Sorry, nobody can turn you or anyone else into “nasty dissenters”. Only you have that power over your thoughts and, more importantly, your actions.

      I am not sure what your definition of “aggressive” religiosity is, but I am certain none of these aggressively religious Christians are holding a gun to your head. If you don’t like listening to these people get up and leave.

      If they happen to be people who you love or wish to be around i.e. you don’t leave, then you have made your own decision as to which is more important to you.

      I have never seen it written that anyone can have everything just the way they would like things to be. Making choices is what life is all about. Nobody ever said choices are simple. In society i.e. life, one almost never gets exactly what one wants.

      “One of my classmates informed us all that there was an OCS tradition of “posting out,” which was a shared prayer at lights-out. This was absolutely fine with me. It would have been unthinkable to stand up and make an issue of something like that….a guaranteed OCS washout and quick ticket to Vietnam. The Army was not looking for radical free-thinkers for the officer corps.

      Turns out, the fellow who made this suggestion and led the “operation” was a rural fundamentalist. This was no Lord’s Prayer. This was a long, rambling, improvised, fundamentalist, rather illiterate prayer led by him every night for months. For the first time in my life, I felt angry and crowded by Christianity. But, of course, no one complained.”

      Again, you made a choice. You could have opted out, but you didn’t. Obviously your choices were less than optimal, for you. But we all exist in a community. All communities create normative values which pressure those in the community to conform. That is simply fact. It has been so since the beginning. The Libertarian conceit that every action happens in a sort of societal/cultural vacuum is simply nonsense. I constantly hear that basically the only thing government should be concerned with is keeping people from raping, robbing and killing each other. While that is certainly the basic minimum required, it is simply false to think that is all there is too it. No society has every existed without creating norms.

      ” It was moronic and obnoxious, scarcely better than I would expect from the Taliban.”

      Really? You expect fundamentalists Christians in the Smokey Mountains to go out and beat women for not wearing veils? You expect fundamentalists Christians to confiscate TV’s, radios, CD’s, novels, makeup? You expect fundamentalist Christians to shoot apostates? I could go on, but won’t.
      Ed, I hope your were using over the top hyperbole and got a little carried away, because otherwise your statement is extremely ignorant and bigoted. And I say this as a non-Christian. Damn it words have meanings.

      Now, I have as little use for many of these holier than thou types, as you do. But, and I don’t know if this is the case with you, I have noticed that some of the most vehement anti-Christians are those who were brought up in the faith and rebelled against it. Very emotional. Too often they don’t appear to have read the Bible and reject everything having to do with Christianity. They are not only willing, but want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      They resent it that Christians appear to really be concerned about the souls of others, which according to Christian belief, will be lost without acknowledging Christ as the Son of God. Frankly, I am a little touched that another person would be concerned with the well being of my soul. Many people couldn’t give a good God damn about anything but themselves.

      I believe our reactions to such things say a lot more about us as individuals that about Christianity per se.

      To quote Shakespeare, “the fault dear Brutus lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

      • Ed Cottingham says:

        Yes, KFZ, I could have turned off my 24×7 radio ranter about the fires of Hell. And I did, in fact. And as a child up until about the age of six I attended with my family the sermons of a fundamentalist pastor who never preached a sermon that was not full of the threats from this “loving God” to burn people in Hell for all eternity. But if I didn’t have a personal choice, my family certainly did, and we all did eventually escape it.

        Later church services did not impress me much more although they were less wrathful but filled with a social gospel and bilge about how we were all born in sin and needed urgently to sign up for the program (and the friendly, weekly envelope payment plan). Meanwhile, it seemed that there were only two things available Sundays on mid-50s television in my area: the Washington R–Skins, which I enjoyed. And that consummate liar and thief, Oral Roberts. But I could have turned off the television or left the room. Yes, I could. Ditto for years of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, the unspeakably loathsome Robert Tilton, and all the rest of the Christian carnies. Modern American Christianity has a Hell of a lot to apologize for not to mention the centuries of unspeakable atrocities by the Catholic Church and even breakaway Protestants as they sought to lead people to the Cross (or burn them at the stake).

        Now most American churches that are not completely corrupt are obsessed with the social gospel and are handmaidens of Democrat demagoguery.

        And you want to tie the barbarities of Leninism around the necks of those who call all of this poppycock for what it is? The trick of picking out a couple who especially get up people’s noses is a thin veneer for your assault on atheism.

        To you, KFZ, and others on the thread, I acknowledge that mankind has a general impulse toward religion, which proves to me absolutely nothing except that we are an anxious species. I even acknowledge that we would probably be better off if we all embraced some sensible variant of religion. But I don’t decide to believe things just because such a beliefs might sooth my spirit. I am kinda committed to trying to sort out what is actually true.

        And if a few prominent atheists are arrogant and excessively cocksure of their opinions, how can this possibly be compared with the ocean of fervent religious believers in this world?

        Thanks for the crumb of understanding that I truly was in a bit of tight spot when I had to either tolerate months of mind-numbing backwoods preaching at OCS or volunteer for a year of direct combat service, understanding surrounded by a cloud of religious apologetics.

        I see the threat from the ACLU-types who are at war with every bit of Christanity in the public square. I do not see or respect the obsession with people like Hitchen and Dawkins just because they get up the noses of the faithful. I feel like getting up their noses myself sometimes.

        • Ed Cottingham says:

          You say I took the name in vain
          I don’t even know the name
          But if I did, well, really, what’s it to you?
          There’s a blaze of light in every word
          It doesn’t matter which you heard
          The holy or the broken Hallelujah

          Hallelujah, Hallelujah
          Hallelujah, Hallelujah

          I did my best, it wasn’t much
          I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
          I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
          And even though it all went wrong
          I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
          With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

          Hallelujah, Hallelujah
          Hallelujah, Hallelujah
          Hallelujah, Hallelujah
          Hallelujah, Hallelujah
          Hallelujah, Hallelujah
          Hallelujah, Hallelujah
          Hallelujah, Hallelujah
          Hallelujah, Hallelujah
          Pandora started playing this for me as I finished up my previous post. These are the last couple of verses. Lyrics by Leonard Cohen; performance I was hearing by Jeff Buckley.

        • Kung Fu Zu says:

          Ed, where to start?

          I don’t understand the point of your first paragraph. It is clear you hated your youthful exposure to Christianity and are happy you got away from it. Good for you, but it doesn’t have anything to do with what I wrote in the article. Unless, of course, you are a radical fundamentalist atheist who declares he knows whether there is a God or not and likes to preach this in an obnoxious manner like those fire and brimstone preachers you so hate. If you are like that you of course fall into the category of arrogant, and dishonest types I was describing.

          Much of your second paragraph is simply a litany of complaints about being bored on Sundays in the 1950’s. What is that about? I mean is being bored as a child so scarring? It is then finished off with the numerous preachers you hate and hazy accusations against American Christianity and the old chestnuts against the Catholic Church, as if we are still living in the 1500’s or 1600’s. Out of curiosity, do you think any Christian Church did any good for anyone?

          You then say that most of the Churches in America are corrupt except those which are handmaidens of the Dem party or for social justice. Please give some facts to back this up.

          “And you want to tie the barbarities of Leninism around the necks of those who call all of this poppycock for what it is? The trick of picking out a couple who especially get up people’s noses is a thin veneer for your assault on atheism.”

          A dishonest statement. 1) I did not try to tie Leninism around the necks around those who call all of this poppycock for what it is. You imply that I equate all atheists with Lenin and I said no such thing.

          But, in case you didn’t get the memo, Lenin and the Bolsheviks were radical atheists. Stalin, Mao, Hitler and others were radical atheists as well. And as long as you wish discuss the barbarities committed by the Church lets compare them to the barbarities committed by these radical atheists.

          2) I connected the arrogance of both types and their disdain for the common people. Furthermore, I did not assault atheism. I assaulted the arrogant “Atheistic Fundamentalists”. In case you didn’t get it, this was used as an analogue to “Religious Fundamentalists”. I don’t care much for either but at least the Christians have the humility to admit their religion is based on faith, while the fanatical atheists maintain they know there is no God. Yet such a claim is unprovable.

          “Thanks for the crumb of understanding that I truly was in a bit of tight spot when I had to either tolerate months of mind-numbing backwoods preaching at OCS or volunteer for a year of direct combat service, understanding surrounded by a cloud of religious apologetics”

          Huh? You had to listen to some guy drone on in a prayer for a few months instead of going to Vietnam. Oh, the humanity. Oh the horror!! Did your ears bleed? If this is the worst thing that happened to you in life, you must be a really lucky guy.

          What did you expect me to say? Golly Ed, you sure did suffer there. I mean that really was a hard moral choice you made. We all know it took more courage to listen to that insane religious fanatic than to go to Vietnam. You really had to martyr yourself there. Ed, you must be about 70 years old, and this all happened about 50 years ago yet you still harbor this grievance. Why?

          “But I don’t decide to believe things just because such a beliefs might sooth my spirit.”

          Good for you, but that doesn’t mean anyone has to pursue your path and they aren’t necessarily any worse or less intelligent than you if they choose to too. In case you didn’t notice, much of my piece was about humility.

          “I am kinda committed to trying to sort out what is actually true.”

          So are many other people who don’t agree with you and again that doesn’t mean they are stupid or bad. It means they disagree with you.

          Frankly, I am not very bothered what you or others chose to believe. You can get up Sunday mornings and have breakfast with Bonzo as your religious experience if you like.

          • Ed Cottingham says:

            Overly snide and another disappointment

            I am little inclined to try to have a substantive conversation but the assertion that “at least the Christians have the humility to admit their religion is based on faith” is a particularly unwarranted generalization that goes directly at a point of grievance for me.

            I always respectfully back off from Christians who take that point of view, as the more sophisticated often do. But there are countless millions out there who will get blue in the face arguing that the virgin birth of Jesus, not to mention the immaculate conception of Mary, are absolute, established facts. Along with all the miracles of the saints and yada, yada, yada, yada. I don’t respect such rubbish in the least, and I won’t pretend to.

            • Kung Fu Zu says:

              “overly snide and another disappointment”.

              Disappointment? No your poem was a disappointment. Were you trying to offend people, trying to be cute, thumb your nose?

              I don’t know what you expected? I ask you to please go back and calmly read what the article said. The article was very specific about certain people and their like. The upshot was that they could use some humility. If that is you and you took offense, then that’s life. But if you did take offense then you must have a very thin skin.

              You then go into a list of grievances which were, frankly, pretty petty.

              If you don’t think there is some room for me to be “snide” I am sorry. But I have always tried to be substantive in our exchanges. It is only when you brought, what I believe, arguments which are below your normal level, that I got a little bit snide.

              I am a just a few years younger than you Ed so we are both not kids. I like to have good conversations with people on a serious level or at least fun level. But if you are unable to discuss a subject somewhat dispassionately and get overly excited about it (as you have suggested you do in other comments) then it is probably best to drop the conversation and go on to another subject.

  4. CCWriter CCWriter says:

    Well, just to restrict myself to two main points:

    1) The use of vouchers is to get the government out of deciding for people where they can send their kids to school. In a more ideal system there wouldn’t be government financing involved. The reason the education establishment hates vouchers is because it makes education responsive to the end-users instead of the social engineers. The fact that they object to the values taught by religious institutions just reveals their real objection: parents having any choice at all. So they pretend that allowing them to direct where the money is spent is somehow creating an establishment, when all it’s really doing us un-doing their secular establishment.

    2) Saying the government should leave a wide swath of morality to the private sector should not be construed as undercutting the traditional basic protections of law. I can support all of that just by arguing from traditional libertarian principles. The basic function of government is to neutralize people’s attempts to exercise force on one another–theft, violence, fraud. Certainly religions also support prohibitions on these things, but it doesn’t make the laws inherently religious, nor does it mean that anything else a religion wants to prohibit (dancing, bacon cheeseburgers, not marrying who your parents tell you) must be covered by the law. And to my mind claiming that it is all dependent on religion only hurts the case for properly limited government with its guarantees of religious freedom that in turn allow a dynamically moral society to exist.

    The genius of our constitution is that it provides a framework for due process in dealing with illegitimate uses of force, aiming legitimate force against them, while making sure the governmental use of force is precisely focused and does not overstep into telling people how to think, assemble, publish, worship, spend their money (would that freedom of commerce had been made more explicit, but who knew?) and so on.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The basic function of government is to neutralize people’s attempts to exercise force on one another–theft, violence, fraud.

      The basic function of government is either what we want it to be or what we can’t help it from being.

      In the former case, more and more people want it to be a nanny. In the latter case, our government is ranging beyond the means of any party or popular movement to control it and keep it within any even vague agreed-upon functions.

      Regarding vouchers, as you said, CC, they are opposed by the social engineers. But even more basic than that, they are opposed by statists of all stripes because it undermines their positions as lords over the rest of us. We really are dealing with the building of a stratified society composed of the political class (and their hangers-on) and everyone else. And for the vast majority of teachers, they oppose vouchers simply because they are for preserving their jobs at whatever the cost, including harm to our children.

      But unlike libertarians, I do not view the entire dynamic of government as being about eliminating coercion. You couldn’t even have a functioning highway system without lots and lots of coercion in the form of taxation to support it and handing out tickets to those who violate traffic laws. And such coercion often has nothing to do with keeping people from exercising force over others.

      A government is also about managing chaos because chaos itself is not a good state of affairs. That’s kind of what we had in regards to trade between the states prior to the adoption of the Constitution. The original impetus for the Constitutional Convention was the desire for several of the states to get together and standardize trade agreements along the Potomac. This quickly took on the goal of something far more encompassing.

      Societies must be formed. They don’t just come about (at least in any good way) from letting the atomized parts just jiggle about any which way. And this is stated by someone who fully believes in the free market. But the role of government, at least in America, is far more than about the narrow libertarian views of neutralizing the use of force.

      Certainly law-and-order is one of the critical functions of any government. But that function itself is not enough. In fact, the preamble to the Constitution agrees:

      We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

      A libertarian preamble would look far different. There was a larger goal than just “non-coercion,” at least for the National government. Our Constitution has to do with putting up “guardrails” and providing an overall idea of the goal of the government (and thus the type of society facilitated by it).

      And the idea of “guardrails” does not tend to be a popular idea among libertarians. But they are necessary. And this remains true even if the nanny state that we are all suffering from right now is trying to throw up too many and for the wrong reasons. But there are also right reasons for guardrails and for government to exert a positive formative effect — aka “coercion.”

      • CCWriter CCWriter says:

        OK, this is a bit of a side issue but an interesting one, so I’ll bite.

        You can make a case that it is the proper function of government to establish an infrastructure or framework for private commerce to function. Many libertarians (including me) will agree with that to one extent or another. For instance, the very framework of law and courts–contract enforcement–makes business possible and perhaps more efficient. That’s my idea of “general welfare.” (In other words, it is supposed to stay out of specific welfare by establishing a simple, clear rule of law and administering it impartially. The classic level playing field. Referees and umpires calling the plays and scores according to the rules, not bending them so all games end in a tie. What makes the welfare general is that the incentive to play your best and practice sportsmanship is preserved. To undermine it would hurt everyone in the long run.)

        You can also make a case that certain parts of the physical infrastructure, such as highways, can only be created by government. Most minarchist libertarians will not contradict you, though some will also point out that there is unused potential for privatization of things that it was formerly assumed, or was formerly true but no longer due to technology, could only be created and managed centrally. The federal government didn’t build the railroads, though it did get involved and there was lots of crony capitalism going on. But private administration of the railroads, once upon a time, made money rather than losing it, even while providing a great benefit to individuals and other commercial enterprises.

        And as far as handing out traffic tickets–this isn’t directly related to government origin of the infrastructure, it’s related to legitimate regulation of public behavior (not on private property) that has a significant probability of causing physical harm to others if simple rules are not established. Hence traffic lights. It’s reasonable and minimal interference, and again, it’s based in that legitimate core function of neutralizing harmful use of force (even if negligent rather than deliberate–the force in this case being all that horsepower that can kill if not well controlled). You take turns–the delays are as short as practical–no vehicle gets special privileges–accidents are avoided. (Unfortunately, local governments have been abusing this function to raise revenue, and doing it by unholy alliances with crony contractors. This is a whole ‘nother discussion.) In the future, maybe there will be other mechanisms for avoiding collision, managed automatically.

        Finally, let’s consider the Internet. Its first primitive iteration, the Arpanet, was properly created by the government back in the mainframe era, for national security. But it wasn’t the federal government that transformed it into the Internet as we know it. This was done by entrepreneurs with vision, and capitalists who invested in taking it many levels beyond. It grew organically–it was not centrally directed. And because of all that freedom brought to bear on its elaboration, it works very well and is still adapting to newly discovered needs. I guess you can give the federal government credit for refraining from ruining the whole thing through unwarranted coercion. Though some of them are still trying!

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          The classic level playing field. Referees and umpires calling the plays and scores according to the rules, not bending them so all games end in a tie.

          Unfortunately, statists of all stripes (Republican and Democrat) are intent not on keeping a level playing field but tilting the field in their desired direction — like a dictator.

          We have Obama and his totally BS “green jobs” tilting. Much of the tilting is for ideological reasons such as when you have public officials trying to imprint their own specific preferences instead of letting the market decide.

          There is a huge difference between a government standardizing weights-and-measures in the pursuit of facilitating commerce and one that tells you what kind of insurance you MUST buy. But our society has become so bastardize with socialism (and a useful idiot populace who too readily buys this rhetoric) that much of the tilting of the playing field is for government to pick winners and losers instead of the market deciding.

          Some of the infrastructure things become gray areas. You get back to that original fight between the Federalists and the Jeffersonian faction. To the credit of the Jeffersonians (and people such as Patrick Henry), they were correct in regards to where the central government was headed, although it arguable took 150 years or so to get there (around the time of Woodrow Wilson or Teddy Roosevelt, when “Progressivism” proper started to take off, backed by new amendments that gave the Federal government and demagogues even more power).

          But certainly roads, bridges, dams, and things such as that — which have also been used as completely Communistic works projects — are legitimate functions of government. They facilitate the free market and do what no one business could do. Such things thus promote the general welfare — unlike, say, the money that our dastardly president used via “stimulus” to to reward and further purchase the votes and loyalties of his Democrat constituency. This alone is grounds for impeachment.

          The internet is an interesting occurrence because it is the type of thing that only a totalitarian government could ever functionally control. And although many Americans have become used to the idea of the government controlling and owning their retirement — and now their very bodies via Obamacare — it may be a case of (ironically) “hands off my porn.” As the internet becomes more and more the central access point for the citizenry in regards to news and information (and whatever), it will be a tempting target for truly awful people such as Obama who do not like being questioned or countered.

          Americans have put up with far too much from our government. But intrusions by government into the internet could spark another modern-day Tea Party. Restricting the internet is the equivalent (or so it might be perceived) of burning books, and that’s always a touchy subject for Americans — hopefully even those fully indoctrinated into Leftism. And right now, the internet is probably the only means we have of staying out of complete control by the propaganda machine of Big Government, government schools, and the media.

          We will face that day when authoritarian anti-American evil people such as Obama will try to control what political views are disseminated on the internet. One only hopes that Americans will find it within themselves when that day comes to tell these bullies to stuff it. We’ll see.

          • CCWriter CCWriter says:

            Yep, I think we’re on the same page now.

            I guess my only issue with the dams and such is that they tend to promote the assumption that only the government can do stuff like that (which sometimes is not the case) and then by extension that the government must have been the cause of anything else worthwhile, even when it definitely didn’t and could not have done it well (like the Internet). And then on from there to the idea that anything the government proposes to get behind is necessary–and there you have Solyndra.

            Cellphones are another great example. What made them possible? An idea that did not come from a bureaucrat but from a bunch of engineers in private industry, solving pieces of the problem. What did the government do? It didn’t screw up allocating the spectrum, which is the only part that’s limited. (On the other hand, it doesn’t hand out web URLs now, does it?) What made the phones and service economical and ubiquitous and ever more replete with useful features? Lack of price controls! The only “control” necessary is that if you are not happy with Verizon, you can switch to AT&T, etc. etc.

            Anyway, I’d be for regular examination of whether any proposed “facilitation” is truly necessary or merely serving a statist agenda. If it’s true in any given instance, proof will do no harm.

            (Oh, and P.S., speaking of weights and measures, I don’t know if you remember when the federal government tried to switch the country over to metric, and the public wouldn’t cooperate so they dropped the idea. A little-celebrated victory! I don’t care if they keep the official inch and the official centimeter–just let me choose which I want to use.)

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Right now our damn “Progressive” government is generally in the process of removing the dams for environmental wacko ends. So they build them and then take them down. Wasn’t there a movie about stuff like this that was called “Catch-22”?

              I’ve read that there are still people in England hanging on to their own British measurement systems and cultural ways in the face of the liberal fascist EU. It’s still difficult for me to wrap my mind around how the cradle of modern civilization so easily and quickly went down the route of socialism. They no longer have the moral high ground which enables them to wag their fingers at the Germans who fairly recently went down a slightly different socialist path in the 1930’s.

              Britain is cracking up. We have to find a way not to follow them. In the way are all those precious little snowflakes who think they are god’s gift to the enlightened. A cult. A goofy cult of know-nothings.

  5. Black JEM says:

    “The basic function of government is to neutralize people’s attempts to exercise force on one another–theft, violence, fraud.”

    My opinion is fastly moving to the function of government is to create a monopoly over the use of force.

    Yes, there needs to be guardrails, but the federal government is completely not up to the task because it attempts to take one point of view and foist on allof us one set of morals – secular humanism.

    Smaller communities actually did a pretty good job of organizing life and providing an environment for the local folks to determine what was acceptable and what was not. They handled the big stuff and property and contract law and it worked. It was only through some tortured readings of the amendments coming out of the civil war, and Wilson/FDR progressive’s tortured readings of the consitution that we got to the place where we are dictated to by the feds, local norms be damned. Now we cannot be even offended.

    Guess what – I am offended by militant gay groups. I am also offended by race hustlers, and the so-called environmental wackos. But since their heresy is approved by the feds, accept it I must.

    Yes there are hypocritical religious types – and I find the most strident in forcing their views on you have the same bad habits as the leftist groups I mentioned above. And they do great harm in their quest to bring god’s kingdom to earth.

    Both sides are blinded by a faith in the ability to create utopia here on earth. Guess what – ain’t happenin’.

    Don’t get me wrong – I am a Lutheran who is a weekly attendee at Catholic church with my Catholic spouse. I see great value in organized religion – and a great opportunity for malpractice by their most devout followers. But the advantage I have is that I can walk away from the church.

    The government is always there. My only solace is that the government is essentially broke – and many of our most secular state and local government units are already claiming bankruptcy. It cannot happen soon enough.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      but the federal government is completely not up to the task because it attempts to take one point of view and foist on allof us one set of morals – secular humanism.

      You’re right, Black Jem. That’s why the Constitution gives fairly specific enumerated powers. But the trend for over 70 years now has been to lose the federal nature of our association of states and substitute a one-size-fits-all top-down approach from the Federal government. And it has done so quite outside its enumerated powers and to quite bad effect even if those powers were enumerated to it.

      A bad idea is a bad idea at any level. But the closer that government is to the people, the better. People in a school district know more about what they want and need then some ass-wipe bureaucrat in Washington DC (or even in the state capitol).

      But that is the trend. As our schools, media, and political system dumb us down and make us more dependent, there is developing two classes in society: the political class (and their hangers-on) and everyone else. This is not how America or our federal republic was supposed to function.

      We need to throw off that political class. And that starts by throwing off the mindset of a dependent. I think all those here at StubbornThings regardless of our differences on specific issues are not obsequious toadies of government uber alles.

  6. the krell says:

    Kung Fu Zu,

    You have addressed a subject that puts me at odds with virtually all on the right and all that go by the moniker of a conservative.

    I am in fact an atheist. However, I do not view people who believe in a Supreme Being in any negative light. My bigger problem in this area is organized religions that want to force people to believe in God in a very formulistic fashion and if you don’t you can’t possibly believe in God.

    More importantly, your points about the finiteness of human knowledge is an important one, and of course it is partly responsible for the necessity of the concept of a Supreme Being. However, my view is that axiomatically, existence exists. In other words there is no pre-condition to the existence of the universe. The notion that nature abhors a vacuum is never prevalent when trying to consider the absolute nothingness that would exist if there was no universe prior to Genesis. In fact my prior sentence is a logical fallacy because nothingness cannot exist. Therefore, the universe has been and will always be. It can be no other way.

    I fully understand the human need that is being or at least attempting to be satisfied by religion and religious beliefs. (One caveat, my full “understanding” is my own view. I do not pretend to speak for anyone other than moi. It is an integration of various sources.) On the one hand there is the need to reconcile the infiniteness of the universe with the finite nature of our life and our knowledge. Regarding knowledge because humanity understands the world in conceptual terms we have the ability to transfer that knowledge generation to generation therefore the knowledge pool continues to grow. But life, so far, is extremely finite. Thus it is understandable that the human condition would require/need the concept of a God, whose image we were made in, that created the wonder of existence.

    There is also the need to give reason to human life. “Why am I here?” Much of that is satisfied with the concept of a life after death, of residing in the Kingdom of God once this earthly life is done. Coupled with that are the ethics of leading a good life, which is necessary to either get into the Kingdom or to a have seat near God’s throne. The human need for a moral code is metaphysical. Without one the ability to make the proper decision when faced with difficult or life and death situation ones existence may be threatened. For many the Bible provides such a code.

    Of course the above barely scratches the surface of these subjects.

    I hope that nothing I said here insults anyone or is viewed that I am degrading anyone’s beliefs. I realize that religion is a very important personal issue and that for many people it is central to their lives and how they identify themselves. If I have offended anyone please accept my apologies. Lastly, I hope that my views in this area do not irreparably effect how my future posts here are received.

    • Kung Fu Zu says:


      I am not sure this subject puts you at odds with virtually all on the right. Maybe with lots of Christians, but many conservatives are not Christians. This includes myself. For lack of a better term, I would say I am agnostic. And I would like to point out that none of my articles or any of the positions I write about are based on religion. I have never said we need to do this or that because its says so in the Bible.

      I have nothing against atheists, unless they are the obnoxious, get in your face, know everything better kind. As I tried to say in my piece, I think a little more humility is in order for those types. I didn’t say it wasn’t in order for Christians because my piece was not about Christians. Clearly, some readers took it to be so.

      It doesn’t take a genius to understand that on this earthly plane, it impossible to know if there is a God. It doesn’t take a genius to know that the most important questions about being, existence, the meaning of life cannot be definitively answered.

      These are things we all have to deal with, or not deal with as the case may be. And for me at least, a person’s religious beliefs are so personal as to be almost beyond discussion until they begin to bang away at me from one side or the left.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I hope that nothing I said here insults anyone or is viewed that I am degrading anyone’s beliefs.

      No, not at all, Mr Krell.

      But I’m still looking for those people who are trying to ram Christianity down my throat. Maybe they exist in your area. But most Christians just want to be left the hell alone by government and don’t want “the separation of church and state” to be used as a means to (my words, not theirs) establish Leftism as an official state religion. And that’s where we are now.

      Nowhere that I am aware of will you lose your job or be threatened if you state that you don’t believe in Jesus as your savior. But see how far you go if you deny global warming, gay marriage, or a number of other Leftist issues.

      I think we need to keep a sense of proportion. And we need to understand that the Left has spent decades whipping people into a frenzy about the supposed theocracy that is “just this close” unless we watch out for those Christians.

      Well, it was Christians who created this country and this Constitution. They had their chance to establish their theocracy and they did not. But now who is establishing an authoritarian government?

      All of you people who hyperventilate about Christianity seem to me to be a least a slight version of a useful idiot for the Left. Christians are not only not the problem, they are our ally in the cause of freedom.

      As for atheism, I’m going to take it on good faith the most of the atheists here are philosophical atheists and not political atheists. If you don’t understand the distinction, I’d be glad to do an article on it. But realize that you still may hold views that are the result of noxious anti-Christian propaganda.

  7. the krell says:

    Great clip Brad. Perfect. Love the “Holy Grail”.

    However to you and KFZ, maybe I overstated the “virtually”. It is based on a perception I have as a result of the posts on NRO, and the expressed positions of many in NRO’s stable of writers, and the radio commentators I can still listen to.

    It is not so much that I am faced with many people trying to ram their views down my throat, but I have experienced shock and some derision when I admit to being an atheist. I accept that my characterization of “virtually” all those on the right is not accurate. Thanks for setting me straight.

    Regarding what type of atheist I am, I believe in the need for philosophy, I just don’t agree with many of the philosophical tenets of religion. I am however, not a political atheist, the need for politics is as real as the need for philosophy. (Brad, is that what you were driving at?)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Well, we all want to be accepted, Mr. Krell. And someone being an atheist doesn’t shock me, although I typically hold my nose only at political atheists who are basically just another flavor of socialist. Their “atheism” is more of a negative statement rather than a positive one. It’s something around which they organize their grievance and sense of alienation. They don’t believe in atheism as much as they just have a chip on their shoulder against religion.

      I haven’t gone to church in, oh, thirty years or more. I’m not a church-goer and never will be. I have little respect for church these days. But it’s not because I hate church or hate religion. It’s just that, as I’ve come to understand, most of these priests and pastors don’t know their asses from their elbows.

      I guess in many ways I’ve taken my spirituality into the Masters or PhD level while many churches still seem to be obsessing over what music to play and what should be in their four-color brochures. Frankly, most of these people don’t get Jesus. I do, it’s just that I don’t necessarily believe at this point. But doubt is part of this entire picture.

      Let me say more about the distinction between a philosophical atheist and a political atheist. A philosophical atheist is someone who believes there is not enough evidence to suggest a purposeful, conscious Creator. Fine. The evidence of reality is indeed ambiguous, although I think a fair reading would move one at the very least to a weak agnosticism bordering on belief.

      Be that as it may, there are people who just don’t believe in religion and think it’s all bullshit, whether this comes from their own judgments or simply because they’ve been immersed in this kind of thought and know no other.

      Then there is the political atheist. His atheism is not his philosophy as much as it is his organized vehicle for his sense of identity. And that identity is almost always Leftist/socialist. Often included in this identity is a person who has a chip on his shoulder regarding religion. He is not one of those rubes who believes in myths and stories. He imagines that he is one of the smartest people in the world. He is, in my judgment, looking for a mainline shot of self-esteem. These atheists tend to be shot full of egotism, thus Mr. Kung’s article about fundamentalist atheists.

      Like I said, I have my days where I’m quite sure there is no god. But even so, this has nothing to do with hating the religious. But one common feature of the Left (or a proto-Leftist mentality) is to want to inflict your misery on others and/or to hate and want to disrupt those around you who aren’t as miserable as you are. This is the vibe I get from political atheists and is part and parcel of the Left.

      And I’m as sick of dealing with political atheists as I am Paulbots. Both are rampant egoist who can’t be reasoned with. Their sole purpose in life seems to be to show everyone else how supposedly smart they are — which I think is an effect of our culture’s emphasis on self-esteem. But the thing about religion is, that’s not the point of it. And humility is a great deal of the point. So in some sense, religion is like wolfsbane to the Draculas of atheism. You see this in the Objectivist types. It becomes an obsession that no one steal my life force or self esteem. This is one of the few areas that Ayn Rand went off on a half-cracked tangent.

      And this is something that Mr. Kung touches on in his article when he mentions humility. I may think what I think but I do retain a certain amount of epistemological humility regarding the Big Questions. To me it would be stupid not to. Frankly, to have one’s mind made up that one is an atheist is most likely an emotional reaction rather than a reasoned one. Existence is too amazing and grand for there not to be an equally amazing and grand explanation. At least I think that is a quite reasonable assumption. And one of the eternal truths of religion — something that Mr. Kung himself may or may not agree with — is that wisdom comes when we can learn to lay aside our ego and conceits as our one and only identity or way of being. But this idea makes no sense to many people simply because they been taught that anything that even remotely sounds like religion must be bullshit.

      And thus many people have been impoverished as they’ve taken their cues (however unwittingly) from people and forces whose ideas are little better than poison and who mean them no well.

      • Ed Cottingham says:

        >>Frankly, to have one’s mind made up that one is an atheist is most likely an emotional reaction rather than a reasoned one.
        And to having one’s mind made up that one is a believer as most Americans and, especially, most Republicans and conservatives do…that is what kind of reaction?

        You think any atheist posting here has his mind more made up than Santorum or Perry or Huckabee or GWB or Kathry Lopez or…

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Ed, speaking purely philosophically, I think if we were to put atheism at “0” on the far left of the spectrum and put theism on the far right at “10,” I would think a fair evaluation of the evidence provided by existence would warrant — using pure reason alone — at least a 7 on the scale with agnosticism being at 5.

          That’s my opinion. I think atheism is therefore a naive philosophical point of view and usually based in part on a sense of grievance or alienation. And I have no doubt that many people who are religious also make those choices to a large extent based upon emotion.

          But it’s also an affirmation. Even if one doesn’t believe all the articles of a faith, having a faith in something like Christianity is a positive assertion that life is not meaningless, that there is a purpose to each life, that there is value to each life, and that there is a foundation for hope and love and even a reason to endure hardships.

          Atheism is inherently, at least in part, a rejection of life, no matter how cleverly atheists couch their philosophy. I do believe the path out of the rot and poison of cynicism, alienation, hopelessness, and anger is to have a little extra-rational faith in something.

          • Ed Cottingham says:

            I am sorry, Brad. There are paragraphs there by nice Brad and paragraphs by bad Brad.

            Your imputation of psychological motives is kind of offensive. Surely you can see that.

            Setting up a little imaginary meter with agnosticism as the null point is well, you know, not serious. Just another way of saying what your opinion is.

            I’ve left crumbs of my history here and there, but let me sum up a bit for you: I became aware at about age 13 that I did not believe in God. If I had gone to an impressive Catholic Church with smart clergy, it probably would not have happened at 13 and maybe never. In a way, I consider myself lucky, because I was able to pretty easily dump the whole load off of my shoulders and think about it with no pressure. What I thought was that it is B.S.

            This was my secret for a couple of years until I was amazed to discover that my best friend had the same opinion. I participated in Scouts and other organizations with a religious component without the least discomfort; ditto for school devotionals. I just accepted Christianity as part of my culture. I closed my eyes during prayers. I was not resentful in any way. Not until my very annoying Army experience that I related did I feel any active resentment at all. (Oh, I almost forgot: I used to yell at Oral Roberts trying to trick folks out of their money on TV.)

            The Army OCS thing was just something that happened. I did not march out of that experience proclaiming myself an atheist. I have always been angered by what I saw as the pointless assaults of Christanity by ACLU types.

            But the more I watched the world the less I respected Christianity, which just happened to be the religion closest to me. And I gradually became more blunt in my private thoughts about it although only occasionally blunt to believers. I generally admitted to agnosticism and preferred that the conversation move on.

            Now as to your meter, here is my view: Christianity — the mystical or spiritual essence of it — is utterly unsubstantiated by anything whatsoever remotely resembling a scientific fact. Do I have any actual facts to disprove it? Certainly not although I’d like to ask God why he lets babies suffer and die, millions perish in horrible wars and gas chambers, etc. But as Christians will tell you, we cannot understand the ways of God so my questions might embarrass Him but would prove nothing.

            I’d be left with a set of incredible assertions about virgin births, resurrection, miracles, etc…..all things profoundly counter to my experience and knowledge of the world. And I look at all this for years and see nothing to budge your needle in the slightest. So where does that needle sit? It sits at zero, which is my default position for fantastical claims without evidence. If I told you that a creature that looks exactly like Mickey Mouse lives on Pluto would you say, “Well maybe, maybe not. My needle’s at five. I’m agnostic on that question.” Of course you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t believe me for a moment. You would DISbelieve me.

            Sure millions have believed…in something. But their beliefs have been at such huge variance that they often want to kill one another.

            Please don’t tell me that atheists are just psychologically needy people. And, by reasonable inference, that believers must have healthy psychology in this area. Please.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I look at all this for years and see nothing to budge your needle in the slightest.

              Ed, my needle is just fine. In fact, as I’ve already admitted, it flickers from right to left and left to right all the time on the atheist/theism scale.

              You’re imparting to me the dogmatism and closed-mindedness that is typical of atheists.

              So where does that needle sit? It sits at zero, which is my default position for fantastical claims without evidence.

              Ed, existence itself is ample evidence for something fantastic. So this “without evidence” stuff is not rational but merely represents some kind of acquired hostility you have to the very idea of a Creator.

              And I can understand that as well. Life is full of all kinds of suffering. The theodicy question is one of the most challenging questions of all.

              But, good god, you sound like you’re just regurgitating high-school-level talking points straight from Richard Dawkins. Okay, you don’t believe in god. As I’ve said, that’s fine with me. But that’s not enough for you. You obviously cannot believe as you believe without it being firmly based on antipathy, if not outright bigotry, toward religion.

              And that’s just not a healthy place to be, in my opinion. Life is too grand to have one’s nose stuck in that kind of alienation and bitterness, and that’s sure how it looks to me.

              Hey, I get pissed at God all the time. The very idea of a loving god often seems absurd to me. But then I realize just how small I am in this universe and how little I know. And I realize that usually it’s just me having a tantrum or the satisfaction of feeling like a victim. But that usually passes. I hope it passes for you.

              • Ed Cottingham says:

                >>You’re imparting to me the dogmatism and closed-mindedness that is typical of atheists.
                Fuck you, Brad. You can take this comment and all your other obnoxious ad hominem remarks and shove them straight up your arrogant ass. Ciao.

              • Black JEM says:

                Seems we hit too close to the truth – unfortunate reaction.

            • faba calculo says:

              “I’d like to ask God why he lets babies suffer and die, millions perish in horrible wars and gas chambers, etc. But as Christians will tell you, we cannot understand the ways of God so my questions might embarrass Him but would prove nothing.”

              I too am an ex-evangelical Christian, having given it up about the time I turned 30. However, this one actually never bothered me from a Christian point of view. You’re going to exist forever, so what if you died as a baby from this or that. A billion years from now, what’s it going to matter?

              What’s far more distressing is the Christian doctrine of Hell. Everyone (save perhaps those who die very young) is condemned to Hell by default, and the only way out is to become a Christian.

              Problem: the evidence for Christianity just isn’t remotely strong enough to prevent people who are honestly seeking from choosing something else. So, in the end, there are going to be people who wind up in eternal conscious tormernt for guess wrong? This makes no sense in the context of a god who is remotely loving.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                What’s far more distressing is the Christian doctrine of Hell. Everyone (save perhaps those who die very young) is condemned to Hell by default, and the only way out is to become a Christian.

                From reading “Albion’s Seed,” the Puritans had a particularly bleak Calvinistic view of this. It didn’t even matter what you did on this earth, per se. It was determined before you were born whether you were one of the saved or not. Talk about having the deck stacked against you and no room for redemption.

                I’m not sure why that idea ever caught on. But the other side of it (and this I found to be somewhat humorous in a dark sort of way) was that Fischer points out in “Albion’s Seed” that no depravity committed by mankind could ever surprise the Puritans. Unlike many of the Utopianists of our age, they did not view man as inherently good.

                The move today in Christian churches is toward sort of an ecumenical “everyone is saved” attitude. And although there are doctrinal problems with this (Jesus spoke more than once about hell), it makes little sense to the modern ear to think that one would go to hell because one, say, didn’t get that final Sacrament. Eternal torment because of a mere human technicality?

                People are going to believe what they want to believe. But the more I’ve read (especially about Christian mystics), and the more I’ve lived, the more I think the whole point is to be Christ-like, to be One with God, if you will. That is, after all, the very meaning of the word atonement: at-one-ment.

                This is why, to some degree, I have sympathy for the libtard versions of Christianity. Oh, I don’t mean this “social justice” crap which is just another word for socialism and is grievance against “the rich” in the guise of nice-sounding words. I mean that I don’t think one will find the essence of Christianity in condemnation. I think Hell could be understood as simply being separated from the light. I think the point is to walk with that light, to find or include a path that is beyond mere human egos and conceits.

                But religion tends to acquire all the foibles of humanity and they become institutionalized. One has to, in my opinion, be as careful in choosing a church as one does a school for your children. Both institutions are quite open to corruption and to getting off track.

                But whatever reformation is needed is not to make Christianity more socialist nor to get rid of all distinctions of right and wrong and simply mimic the “everything is permitted” attitude of the Left. But I do think being a good Christian means not being a hard ass just for the sake of being a hard ass. And there’s often a lot of that going on — inside or outside of religion. If I had a dime for every time this Obama fellow hit me over the head with his Marxist/Leftist dogma….

              • Monsieur Voltaire says:

                Faba, your last point about hell is part of a historical interpretation that is not commonly shared by Christians. Even several prominent Medieval theologians clearly stated that not knowing Christianity does not necessarily end in damnation. We can argue (and should) about such doctrinal points–and, BTW, I am firmly in your camp on the issue of “do all Buddhists go to hell?”

                The point of my article from a couple weeks back, though, seems to be missed. Taking aim at some articles of faith to deny the validity of a whole system of belief and ethics seems to me like tearing down a whole house because a picture hanging on one of the walls has the wrong frame.

                First of all, simply believing in God has nothing to do with salvation, the Virgin birth, sacraments, the Trinity or even the Bible. One is a logical proposition, the other is an article of faith. Believing in God is a strongly-logical conclusion (ontological argument) that has withstood the test of time. I buy into it logically, perhaps you (generic you) don’t, but it remains a logically-sound argument that, per se, has no myth attached to it. To say that you can’t believe in God because you can’t believe in the Virgin birth is a categorical error–it’s like saying that you can’t believe that the sky is blue because your bedroom ceiling is green, and both the sky and a ceiling are something found above you. God and the Christian faith are logically separate entities, and they become joined only if you subscribe to the latter.

                Secondly, the Christian faith is not only about salvation. To me, it’s mostly about explaining the universe around us in a way that implies more than mechanical chance. There is a source and a goal to all that are greater and more meaningful than “from nothing, by chance, to nothing.” With this comes a whole set of ethical principles that ennoble the concept of life–whether or not these have been rightfully observed throughout history. As I said in the article, you don’t judge the art of poetry by a bad poem that, by definition, violates the rules.

              • CCWriter CCWriter says:

                Let’s see, this is the farthest down I can reply, but it’s really a response to what Brad and Voltaire said.

                In C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, there was a nation known as the Calormenes (with culture, I understand, modeled on the Saracens), who worshiped a god (demon) named Tash, and did not know or believe in Aslan, the divine lion (a Christ figure) who watched over the world of which Narnia and Calormen were parts. And in the course of the plot of one of the books, it happened that a very sincere Calormene nobleman (an army officer) came face to face with Aslan. Instinctively recognizing Aslan’s divinity, he abased himself, saying (I paraphrase from memory) “O Glorious One, alas, all my life I have served Tash, I am unworthy to live in your presence.” And Aslan replied, “My son, every righteous deed you counted as service to Tash, I count as service done unto me.”

      • Kung Fu Zu says:

        “And one of the eternal truths of religion — something that Mr. Kung himself may or may not agree with — is that wisdom comes when we can learn to lay aside our ego and conceits as our one and only identity way of being.”

        Well said and I agree 100%. And let me take it further that laying aside ego and accepting humility is not only important as regards religion. If growing older, having seen all the variations and permutations of life, doesn’t give one a sense of humility, then nothing will.

        Life presents so many different paths. The absolutely correct path is rarely clearly marked. It is very difficult to know which one to take and we all make mistakes. Still, I believe one needs a basic sense of where one wants to go, but must be willing, perhaps even desirous to get off of one path for another if the time and place seem right.

    • Ed Cottingham says:

      >>I am however, not a political atheist…
      That’s good. But I don’t understand why Brad would be so concerned about the possibility of political atheists when clearly the GOP has a substantial number of political Christians. Nor do I understand why atheist should need to defend ourselves in this particular way. Anybody really want to suggest that Rick Santorum’s religion is not intertwined with his politics and everything about him? Anybody want to suggest that there are not people at NR who love him for exactly that reason? I hope we are educating folks here on the fact that atheism is not the same thing as Leftism. Hey, we atheists are being PROFILED! Hell, most of those founding deists and guys like Mark Twain just ducked the atheist label because they didn’t want to face the Hellfire. As Mark might say, their spines weren’t stiff. Mencken…another great non-believer.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Brad would be so concerned about the possibility of political atheists when clearly the GOP has a substantial number of political Christians.

        Right, I have no problem with political Christians. But you either didn’t understand my distinction between philosophical atheists and political (aka “socialist or Leftis”) atheists or you intentionally misrepresented my point, Ed.

        In my experience, the defining element of most of the atheists I have ever run across isn’t regarding a philosophical assertion regarding the hypothesis of a Creator. It’s about antipathy toward religion, outright bigotry toward religion, and/or and identity with Leftist politics and worldview.

        Like I said, I have a good friend who is a very good conservative and who doesn’t believe in God. And he believes that most of religion is bullshit. But he doesn’t orient his life toward hating religion, thinking all religious people are kooks, or that he should be free from expressions of religiosity.

        Speaking of Rick Santorum, our Constitution and Declaration of Independence are wrapped up in religion, at least at the back end. We would have a completely different looking Constitution if its creators had been Muslims, Hindus, or Leftists. But these were American Christians and they had a certain ethic and worldview. And that went into those great documents.

        Even though I’m not a Christian, I thank the Christian for the fine work they’ve done and the fine work they continue to do. We would not have America or freedom without them. That’s a fact. Even if I just hated religion and thought Christians were the devil, I would have to admit that America would be fundamentally different without them.

        And most of the Founders were not Deists. And as Dennis Prager notes, even a Deist believes in God.

        I have my own set of beliefs. But I do not feel the need to recast the Founders or anyone else as something they are not just to buck up my beliefs. It is intellectually dishonest to do so.

  8. Ed Cottingham says:

    >>All of you people who hyperventilate about Christianity seem to me to be a least a slight version of a useful idiot for the Left.
    The hyperventilation here was introduced by KFZ’s blue-sky rant against Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (R.I.P). Are a couple of provocative, intellectual atheists Brits really that much of a threat?

    The repeated linking of atheism and Leftism is utterly unwarranted, IMO. Is the world-wide Christian megachurch (a.k.a., the Catholic Church) not deeply infected with “social justice?” Not that Protestant churches are not also eaten up with ethical messages that condition people (de-stiffen their spines) for the Leftist message which is always couched in notions of charity, passivity, and non-judgmentalism?

    I see a squish like Eric Bolling on The Five, a former pro athlete looking like a tough guy and an aggressive conservative on economic issues. But Bolling is a typical Northeastern Rockefeller Republican…in it for the money but filled with piety leading him to avoid the more “raw” conservative issues and to be quick to throw red-state conservatives under the bus. Bolling lets it slip from time to time that he goes to church every day. EVERY DAY! His piety is inextricably wrapped up with his politics. And there he sits posing as a political commentator with a powerful microphone. Just like K-Lo and others at NR. A couple of snide Brits are a threat and these guys are not? Or compassionate Mike Huckabee? Or Catholic zealot Rick Santorum? Or pious ex-Democrat Rick Perry? Somebody look me in the eye with a straight face and tell me that our side is not seriously infected with people who richly mix their fundamentalist Christianity with their politics?

    So atheists tend to be on the Left. I don’t deny that. But I pretty much deny all the rest of this B.S.

    And the “hyperventilate” word is shabby rhetoric. To accuse others of it is to be guilty yourself of exactly that.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Ed, I’ve read four books on evolution by Dawkins. I think he’s a pretty good scientist. But as a philosopher he’s an idiot. And I don’t mean that as an insult as much as an apt description. He’s a condescending fool, as was Hitchens to a large extent.

      To me that’s just reality. I admire Dawkins for his science. But like a lot of intellectuals, his expertise in one area has gone to his head and he thinks he has something smart to say about other areas (a typical malady of intellectuals as often commented on by Thomas Sowell).

      Dawkins’ philosophy is little better than high school level. He’s not a serious thinker. He’s simply a rank ideologue. He’s a guy who has a chip in his shoulder (for whatever reason) and that’s about all you get from him.

      These guys are little more than religious bigots. Their buffoons, clowns, at least regarding religion.

      I think the linking of atheism and Leftism is obvious. Stalin’s Russian and Mao’s China were atheist states, and you can’t get any further Left than that. And I have the evidence of my own eyes. I’ve debated with too many “atheists” where it wasn’t atheism that defined as much as it was their Leftism or anti-religious bigotry. That’s just a fact.

      That doesn’t mean all atheists are of the left. I have a very good conservative friend who is an atheist.

      And you seem shocked by Huckabee and Santorum. These guys are religious lightweights compared the the deep faith expressed by many of our Founders and others of that era. Why should the new normal be the type like Dawkins? I resist that new “normal” because I think it is pure poison.

      Ed, by dredging up Huckabee, Santorum, et al, you’re just trying to convince yourself of your own prejudices. I certainly don’t agree with all religious people or all religious beliefs. But to fault a particular enterprise because of the flaws of a few is not an honest technique. That’s the kind of stuff we get from the Left when they’re trying to tear down capitalism. They’ll highlight some thieving businessman or corporation and say, “See! That’s the nature of capitalism.”

      If you have a grudge against religion then fine. But don’t try to pretend that it’s justified just because there are imperfect religious people in the world.

  9. Ed Cottingham says:

    Decent arguments, Brad, until you go into allegations of dishonesty and psychoanalyzing your interlocutors to belittle their arguments. I have specifically avoided cheap rhetorical point-scoring from a sense that this is too intelligent a place and you and KFZ would not be fazed by bogus arguments. I’ve made points that I think were valid. But that sort of stuff has come up repeatedly from both you and KFZ. Not pretty. And not valid. And discouraged of serious response. I, of course, have increasingly taken the bait and displayed diminishing respect for your comments.

  10. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Fuck you, Brad. You can take this comment and all your other obnoxious ad hominem remarks and shove them straight up your arrogant ass. Ciao.

    Ed, if you’re still listening, I wouldn’t have any friends left if I parted from those who told me to f-off. But let me give you and others some general advice.

    I do not believe that atheism as a political, social, emotional, or even philosophical position is a healthy thing. My opening post to Mr. Kung’s article has yet to be proven wrong. My experience with those who profess themselves to be atheists hasn’t been a pleasant one.

    And maybe that’s partly my fault. It takes two to tango. And yet I think it’s objectively true that any doctrine that derives from, and depends upon, grievance is a doctrine that will always lead to “Fuck you, Brad.”

    This is what we see from Islam, from Black Liberation Theology, and from the Left itself. The Left is a dogma of grievance, whether racial grievance, class-based grievance, feminist grievance (where men are thought to be the enemy), or various other types of grievances.

    Some people have had it really tough in life. And I harbor no grudge against those who don’t believe in god or who think god is a bit of a bastard. I can’t walk in another man’s shoes and know all his hardships.

    But I do know that the philosophy of grievance is not the way to go. I’ve read some of Dawkins’ and Hitchens’ books on religion and they are pure poison. They are books that are simply the atheist equivalent of dogma. These books are written to convince themselves that their grievance, bigotry, and small-mindedness are justified.

    They even get to the point where they say “God is not great” and believe that “religion poisons everything.” Hitchens even refers to Mother Teresa as a whore. They do not and will not acknowledge all the good that religion — particularly Christianity — has done.

    We need some religion in all our lives (good religion) if only to have a proper place to nourish something other than grievance, for grievance is a very poor substitute for something that would nourish our better natures.

    • faba calculo says:

      “Ed, if you’re still listening, I wouldn’t have any friends left if I parted from those who told me to f-off.”

      Brad, I may accuse you of frothing at the mouth at times, but I’ll say this for you: no one is ever going to accuse you of being able to dish it out but not take it. You can clearly do both, and the latter with surprising grace. I salute you, sir!

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Thanks, Mr. Calculo. That’s nice to hear.

        • Black JEM says:

          I agree.

          Religion can do that to people like Ed. His reasons for feeling as he does are probably real, hurtful things done to him by people who were trying too hard to impart to him some truth they felt he needed to save his soul. And that is the side of all religion that can rub people the wrong way.

          I have always marveled how such open minded and inquisitive men as Hitchens and Dawkins are/were could be so closed minded on the nature of God. I always wondered how could they know with such certainty they were right. What is the very nature of the universe and how did it start. How do we know this world isn’t some giant petri dish with some greater being watching to see what happens.

          Who knows?

          I certainly know we are biologically wired to believe, which proves little but should at least cause someone to ask a question.

          Brad – and your defense of Christianity is pretty well done. I will keep that for future reference.

  11. Monsieur Voltaire says:

    Commenting on the article–

    The paradox of this kind of atheism is this:

    1 – As a man, I am nothing but a non-special random collection of cells, with no soul, and with a DNA that is 90+% identical to that of a baboon.

    2 – Nothing can possibly exist outside of what I–the aforementioned random, soulless, quasi-baboon–can see with my eyes and touch with my hands.

    3 – The system of all that I have seen with my eyes and touched with my hands (science) is permanently self-correcting, therefore always right and always wrong at the same time; but it is the only truth, and if you don’t believe it you must be a dolt.

    4 – Ethics is nothing but what a majority of us random quasi-baboons can impose on a minority by any means necessary–since there is nothing universally right or wrong. So what’s right today can become wrong tomorrow (or in a country of quasi-baboons who think differently) by means of a simple vote–making ethics potentially 100% right and 100% wrong at the same time. But if you don’t buy into the ethics of the here and now, you are an unenlightened brute.

    We are at the same time angels and devils–there is no God but we are our own god, we are nothing but phalluses and vaginas with arms and legs and a brain stuck on “must procreate” but we understand everything about the universe, we can vote on who means nothing, but we mean everything.

    • Kung Fu Zu says:

      I have always wondered how we obtained consciousness? Was it simply a random chemical reaction? That seems a little implausible.

      • Monsieur Voltaire says:

        Yep–a chemical reaction that remains the same in spite of the thousands of complete changes in cells and atoms that our body undergoes. I know it because I read it on Skeptic magazine. 🙂

      • faba calculo says:

        I agree. Problem: all the other explanations don’t look much better.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Right, Mr. Kung.

        Consciousness (sentience, broadly speaking) blasts a wide gap in the radical materialist view of the universe. Its existence, to my mind, leaves only two logical options:

        1) The doctrine of theism — or some extra-conscious or super-conscious cause — for consciousness could not arise from nothing.

        2) The doctrine of magic, otherwise know as “emergent phenomenon.” It’s the idea that causes are not necessary, nor are derivative sources. Things are just said to “emerge” which, on a logical level, is no different than saying that one believes in magic.

        The “emergent phenomenon” argument is how intellectually-dishonest atheists try to get around any type of theism. Consciousness, as Dan Dennett explains, is more or less just a byproduct, sort of just an extra bit of sludge that just happens to occur but doesn’t mean anything.

        But the problem with the doctrine of “emergent phenomenon” is that it doesn’t explain why some things emerge and not others. And, again, the honest atheist may not fall back on an evolutionary explanation, for if anything could just “emerge,” wouldn’t the ability to read other people’s minds or see through solid rock be useful? Never mind the laws of physics. There *is* no law of physics that even describes mind, let alone predicts it, so anything goes in regards to the doctrine of emergent phenomenon.

        If one doesn’t subscribe to the doctrine of magic, then one must describe to the doctrine of derivative causes, that consciousness can only be derived from a thing that is at least super-consciousness, if you will (or some style or manner of existence that we cannot directly perceive or even imagine).

        Thomas Sowell has long noted how intellectuals are clever at hiding rubbish inside of nice-sounding language. And that is what one must constantly deal with when dealing with atheism, for the fact of the universe itself — while quite ambiguous in many ways — does not lead to the idea of mere randomness (whatever that actually could mean…even this word should not be accepted at face value) as being a formative cause for anything, let alone consciousness.

  12. faba calculo says:

    “Even several prominent Medieval theologians clearly stated that not knowing Christianity does not necessarily end in damnation.”

    I remember the discussion of “escape clauses” when I was still in, and, as I recall, they are strictly for those who have never heard the Gospel, and even those were hotly debated. Once you heard, no matter what, if you didn’t sign on, you were screwed.

    “Taking aim at some articles of faith to deny the validity of a whole system of belief and ethics seems to me like tearing down a whole house because a picture hanging on one of the walls has the wrong frame.”

    But the system relies on its revelation. I mean, lacking a Bible, one could easily conclude that there is a God, but it would be the rare individual indeed who would still deduce Christianity. Thus, if the revelation is wrong anywhere, it seriously undermines any ability to trust that system.

    “God and the Christian faith are logically separate entities, and they become joined only if you subscribe to the latter. ”

    Certainly, but merely believing in “god” is hardly going to have much of an effect on your life. Believing just that does nothing to provide you with an ethical system, a hope for life after death, or any relationship with that god whatsoever.

    “There is a source and a goal to all that are greater and more meaningful than ‘from nothing, by chance, to nothing.'”

    You make it sound as if from-nothing-to-nothing is a bad thing. Let evangelical Christianity be true, let the majority of humanity be headed for eternal conscious torment, and no-nothingness is, at this moment, something that most humans who have already would deeply prefer to their current, eternal state.

    Still, I’m NOT saying there isn’t a god. That’s why I’m agnostic. I’m just saying that it isn’t the Abrahamic God. That’s why, if you like, I’m an atheist.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      But the system relies on its revelation. I mean, lacking a Bible, one could easily conclude that there is a God, but it would be the rare individual indeed who would still deduce Christianity. Thus, if the revelation is wrong anywhere, it seriously undermines any ability to trust that system.

      I know most religious people will disagree with me. And that’s fine. You may even call me ignorant. I won’t blink. But this is where the Thomas Paine side of me comes out. I do believe in revelation, but I believe revelation is mostly, if not completely, relevant to the individual.

      I would make a very poor priest, minister, or Democrat. I just don’t have it in me to get up on stage (or on a pulpit) and tell you “You should do this because I say so” or “You should do this because God says so.” And it’s not because I’m shy or particularly good. It’s just a built in lack of being the kind of person who thinks I know how to run someone else’s life, that kind of raw hutzpah. Oh, I think I know how to form the structure of government that allows for the maximum amount of freedom for people being able to run their own lives. But not how to actually run those lives.

      This is in contrast to the narcissists, nannies, and egomaniacs of both parties who write vast, sweeping laws that have nothing to do with the basic functions of government. Instead, they are brazen enough to tell us all how to run our lives. I don’t have that in me. Yes, children need to be told how to run their lives until they are old enough to start doing so themselves. But this is not something I would tell another adult. I would give advice. But I would not command them to do either this or that according only to my preference, all things being equal.

      And this is exactly why governments tend to grow because natural selection, if you will, will tend to select the busy-bodies who want power and want to run other people’s lives. Those who don’t simply are busy running their own lives. They don’t tend to run for office. They’re not egomaniacs.

      The same with revelation. I would find it hard to take an inspiration that I receive and say that this is how you have to run your life. Oh, I would share such knowledge, or such life knowledge as I have obtained. But not to the point where I could look another human being in the eye and say “This is what God says you should do.”

      I’ve become a very big believer in the commandment to not take the Lord’s name in vain. And as I understand that, with some help from Dennis Prager, it means not to use the prestige or authority of God to fulfill one’s personal interests or preferences. Imagine how different most people’s attitudes would be toward religion if we all abided by this commandment.

      As Dennis Prager says, one of the worst things is people who do bad things in the name of religion.

      Certainly, but merely believing in “god” is hardly going to have much of an effect on your life. Believing just that does nothing to provide you with an ethical system, a hope for life after death, or any relationship with that god whatsoever.

      That’s where I disagree. Of course, I’m talking all things being equal. There is some religious dogma that is better than others. But the belief in God is first and foremost assists one in rising out of one’s egocentrism. It’s an aid in gaining a larger perspective on life. What has been ignorantly or disingenuously dismissed by the Dawkins type as “superstition” is actually the first step in rising above being an asshole, if you’ll pardon my French.

      No human being can rise above the station of an animal without the attributes of humility and gratitude. And such things come, or are at least facilitated, when we can raise our minds and attitudes out of our own petty realms of jealousies, hurts, and conceits and begin to think about things in a larger and nobler context.

      This is why I think atheism tends to be so murderous when it is part and parcel of any regime. It reverts an entire society to the level of an animal.

  13. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    And in the course of the plot of one of the books, it happened that a very sincere Calormene nobleman (an army officer) came face to face with Aslan. Instinctively recognizing Aslan’s divinity, he abased himself, saying (I paraphrase from memory) “O Glorious One, alas, all my life I have served Tash, I am unworthy to live in your presence.” And Aslan replied, “My son, every righteous deed you counted as service to Tash, I count as service done unto me.”

    I wish I could say I remember that part, CC. But I don’t. But a marvelous exchange. That C. S. guy was a deep and creative thinker.

    • faba calculo says:

      The problem with this is that the core of Christian salvation doctrine is that deeds do nothing to get you right with God.

      • CCWriter CCWriter says:

        It’s always so interesting when atheists and agnostics consider themselves the primary authorities on theology. Naturally they will tell you the version of any theological issue that they don’t believe in, which is necessarily the most negative one, as it helps underpin their non-belief. They conveniently ignore the many other versions that exist. Particularly off-putting is when someone hews to a religion or a denomination they don’t recognize, or worse yet, believes in a customized religion that satisfies them even if it doesn’t conform to all the Rules. No fair! Nobody is more orthodox than such a non-believer.

        Makes a lot of sense that they don’t approve of C.S. Lewis–a former atheist.

        And as to the point–in my opinion of course it’s not the deeds that get you right with God, it’s the moral choices you made resulting in those deeds. The act of choosing the better path brings your soul more in line with divine reality. I don’t know what you call that, but I don’t need an agnostic’s permission to believe it.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Faith vs. works is an age-old question. I won’t solve it here but I’ll give you my opinion.

        I don’t believe in either Jesus Magic or The Bank of Jesus. By “Jesus Magic” I mean that I don’t think that mere words — such as, “Jesus, I believe in you” — can act as a sort of magical incantation. This goes somewhat to the heart of the “faith vs. works” dichotomy. A religious faith can be easily turned into legalese.

        I also don’t believe in “The Bank of Jesus” whereby salvation or heaven become sort of a Cosmic entitlement, and one that you pay for in installments by going to church and saying all the right words, by being “obedient” and orthodox.

        I’m more of the Gospel of Thomas sort of person: unorthodox and a bit beyond the conventional. I like the idea of (as in the Gospel of Thomas): “I am the light that shines over all things. I am everything. From me all came forth, and to me all return. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me there.”

        It’s actually a pretty orthodox idea to say that “Christ is in me.” We think of places (heaven) but forget that time and space are irrelevant to eternity. But we humans often can’t help but to think in worldly terms. And if there is a heavenly Creator who judges us, we’d better hope that he has made allowances for our stupidity and lack of vision.

        To me, the “faith vs. works” question is simply asking the wrong question. To have “gotten” Christianity is to have gotten to the point where it’s not about buying safe passage to heaven or mindlessly regurgitating the legalese orthodox doctrine so that your ticket must be punched.

        I think there’s a great line from Matthew that goes to the heart of it:

        Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

        In essence, if I my paraphrase, “Get you friggin’ mind out of worldly concerns and follow my example.” And following that example is not something that can be purchased by deeds or by the mere decanting of words of faith. It’s sort of a being type of thing that quite naturally contains faith and deeds, but is more than that.

        • CCWriter CCWriter says:

          Yeah, the point of that passage is often misinterpreted. I don’t think Jesus meant everyone to give up earning a living or being responsible or anything like that (and supporters with money probably financed him and his followers to go around preaching). But he wanted people to understand a concept of intangible “treasure” that demands active attention to its growth, and not subordinate it to daily life or wall it off for the Sabbath only.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I’m with you, CC. I’d rather see those words as suggesting that the point is not to give up all that we have, but to understand “treasure” in a more esoteric way.

            And that’s religion. It’s not Christ. But it is religion. One reason I’m not a Christian, as I quip to my friends, is because I’m not good enough. If I called myself a “Christian” right now I know that I would be a hypocrite.

            But I really think it is about giving up all that one has and following Him. And several people have done that, perhaps most famously, Francis of Assisi. It’s worth noting that the person who arguably did this the best reinvigorated Christianity and spawned a huge movement.

            The Franciscans — even during Francis’ life — were soon finding all kinds of reasons to not actually do what Francis bid them to do according to his simple (straight from the New Testament) rules which, again, were originally:

            “If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Matthew 19,21);

            “Take nothing for your journey” (Luke 9,3);

            “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me” (Luke 9,23).

            Most of “religion” is trying to have our cake and eat it too. The Franciscans in the time of Francis were inventing all kinds of reasons why the above three principles were too hard. The first to go was probably “Take nothing for your journey” as the idea of not actually owning anything and accumulating worldly good was just too unpalatable.

            The Franciscans from our age, as I understand it, have taken this concept of denial to its natural conclusion whereby they are for no one owning private property and are for socialism, in principle….even while, in practice, they own property but get around it via legalese and technical gymnastics of someone else supposedly owning it for them.

            The spirit of Francis (or Christ, for that matter) is alive. But you’ll often have to split a piece of wood to find it.

        • Kung Fu Zu says:

          I think it is something as simple as, if you truly have faith in the message then works will follow as surely as night follows day. True faith will transform and must aim for love. One doesn’t come without the other. Everyone’s circumstances vary, but faith and love cost nothing. With love works come easily. This is not high theology. Read 1 Corinthians 13 (the most beautiful verse in the Bible, in my opinion)

          By the way, in the New Testament, the amount of writing regarding damnation is dwarfed by the writings about love and other positive things. Perhaps many preachers used fire and brimstone as it is generally easier to get the human being to do something through fear than than through a positive message. Who knows?

          On a separate point about the Bible, I think John 1 “In the beginning was the Word” is very interesting.

          Of all the words we have the only word that is what it is, is “word”. All other words are symbols of things. The word building is a symbol of an inanimate object. We can carry the word building on a pad in our pocket. We can’t carry the building in our pocket. Word is literally what it is. Nothing else is, that I can think of. I find this interesting. Especially in the context of its usage in the Gospel of John.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Yes, I’ve always found that notion of “In the beginning was the Word” interesting and have never heard much of an explanation of it.

            • Rosalys says:

              “In the beginning was the Word…” (John 1:1a)

              The Word is eternal. It/He has no beginning and was not created.

              “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14a)

              A clear reference to Jesus Christ.

              “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;” ( John 5:39)

              Christ identifies Himself as the Word and with the Word. The Bible is The Word of God. It is His revelation of Himself to us. It is the spiritual history of mankind – his creation, his fall, his redemption. Man’s redemption is accomplished through Jesus Christ’s voluntary sacrifice on the Cross. From Genesis through Revelation the Bible is about the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word (Bible) speaks of Christ; Christ is the Word.

              “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20)

              The penalty, the price, the cost of sinning is death. We are all sinners – from Adam to the present – and must pay. The Lord was sinless and therefore the only One who could “spend” His own life for our benefit.

              “…O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39b)

              This is the only way God could have accomplished our salvation. He says it right there! This is why He could say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’ (John 14:6) This is why we can recognize Him as a loving God. If this isn’t love then the word love has no meaning!

    • Rosalys says:

      It was in The Last Battle, the last book in the Narnian Chronicles. C. S. Lewis is one of my heroes!

  14. Timothy Lane says:

    Another good example of elitist religion (since atheism is a religion of sorts to the most militant atheists, such as Dawkins and Hitchens) is Gnosticism. It was based on the idea of hidden information known only to the self-chosen elites, and it seems to be very popular among modern liberals (e.g., the Book of Judas). Of course, anything that irritates the Catholic Church will be popular with them.

  15. Terri King says:

    There are a lot of responses here, so I may be simply repeating what others have said, but my fingers are itching, so I figured I’d

    I’ve never read Dawkins, although I was interested in doing so until I saw an interview with him on a British TV show. I had expected more from him as an argument against the existence of God. But frankly, he simply parroted what I’d read in chat rooms (of all places) years before. A couple of examples of this still surprise me since he appears to be quite intelligent otherwise.

    Firstly, he would not admit that both atheism and theism are faith-based beliefs. One can not prove or disprove God, so by default we have “faith” one way or the other. I’ll just leave it at that since I’m sure this has probably already been addressed in some of the other posts. It did surprise me, though, that he was adamantly opposed to the idea of atheism being about faith.

    Secondly, he went straight to the “Why would a loving God allow_____” argument. And in almost the same breath say that the idea of God-given commandments or rules to live by indicated a puppetmaster craving little puppets to control. If a “loving God” is supposed to prevent _____ (fill in your own atrocity), then wouldn’t He by necessity be a puppetmaster, controlling the actions of humanity and nature? And if one doesn’t want a puppetmaster, then aren’t we obliged to realize that humanity is responsible for what it can control and nature is just…well…nature? In that case, how does God even figure into it from his (Dawkins) point of view? Perhaps it’s a mental block, but I’ve never been able to reconcile the idea that one doesn’t want a puppetmaster, yet one wants results, in certain situations of course, that could only be attained by the “master” pulling the proper strings. At any rate, I was more than a little disappointed by this argument.

    Also, it was mentioned in another post or two about religion and political stances. I just wanted to throw in there that while I was attending the UMC (Methodist) here in town, we always received a packet during election years that basically stated if we did not vote Republican, we were not Christians. So some of these affiliations with certain political ideas are simply the result of fear that individuals might be “going against God” if they voted for a certain party over another. It’s a slimey tactic at best, but it’s out there.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Good example, Terri. It’s sort of relates to what I said about the intellectual content of these atheist activists amounting to little more than what might pass for high school level thinking (and it gets worse in college where the ideas are dumbed-down even further).

      Mankind is in the tricky position of needing to believe in something, but not too strenuously. But neither should he fall to the conceit of “centrism” and believe in nothing equally except his own supposed superior wisdom.

      Good societies, in large part, are made from people who believe in good things but do so with less than a zealous insistency. It matters that we hold to good beliefs and practices, but it also matters that we leave plenty of wiggle room for individuality.

      The thrust of Mr. Kung’s article is thus right on the money. Atheists tend to be fundamentalists. If not all of them, then a very large percentage.

      Look, I have my differences with many aspects of religion, particularly Islam which I think comes from the devil if there is a devil. But the philosophy of theism itself comes not from some too-zealous preacher man looking to spoil our fun but from the inherent nature of existence itself. There has to be a cause, and it is not illogical to suppose that cause to be a stupendous one.

      Thus the Dawkins types prove themselves to be little more than closed-minded bigots who, for whatever reason, do not engage in honest debate but in what is merely a formalized slur. And some people have made a sort of anti-religion out of this. It’s clearly based on grievance and some sense of alienation. This is what I term “political atheism” but one might as well call it emotional atheism.

      The point is, there may not be a god as conceived by man. We don’t really know for sure. And most Christians, when it comes right down to it, admit that inherent to the idea of a Creator who can create all time and space is an entity who is far beyond our ability to conceive in whole, although some believe (and with good reason) we might comprehend in part.

      Other than just religious bigotry, there is another main thrust for atheism. It has become yet another kind of aristocracy wherein its members all sit around and congratulate each other on their supposed intellectual superiority. And this can only be established and maintained by forever ridiculing the religious. With apologies to Catholics, that is precisely what all these “God is Not Great” books are all about from Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Harris, etc. They are like the atheists chanting their own sort of rosary over and over again. It’s little more than a sophomore-level circle jerk…of jerks.

      Religious people have also been known to gather together for the purposes of feeling smugly superior. Muslims might be forgiven this since their religion is all about a Nazi-like sense of superiority. But Christians should know better, if only from the idea that “So the last shall be first, and the first last” and “I have not come to be served but to serve.”

      And atheists would do well to consider the words of Mr. Kung and others.

      • Kung Fu Zu says:

        “To you, KFZ, and others on the thread, I acknowledge that mankind has a general impulse toward religion, which proves to me absolutely nothing except that we are an anxious species.”

        I thought the above comment by Ed showed, if not shallowness, certainly closed-mindedness.

        No doubt we are an anxious species. But it therefore doesn’t follow that the general impulse for religion springs from anxiousness. Or at least, not from that alone.

        How about the idea that humanity has always been looking for explanations? How about a desire the understand why we are here? How about an attempt to explain the grandeur of creation, knowing that it must have come about through powers beyond what we can readily comprehend, much less imitate.

        Humanity, at least earlier members of it, had the humility to know that everything didn’t revolve around us and were curious about things bigger than ourselves.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          That’s a very good defense, Mr. Kung. And is correct. But Ed is not completely incorrect either.

          Religion, in broad, is said to be a means to address man’s most basic concerns, which are health, wealth, and progeny. And if you include Islam, you can include the need for cultural and political hegemony as well.

          It’s worth nothing again that in regards to being perfect (not good, just, righteous, or orthodox — but perfect), Jesus said:

          …go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

          In other words, give up your worldly pursuits and set your sights on something larger and more important.

          But, humans being humans, we find that not just hard to do but inconvenient to do. It is said that the early Christians tended to stick together for their own protection and so that they could share their faith. But there had to be another reason as well: so that they would not be cheated and taken advantage of.

          Part and parcel of authentic Christianity is putting oneself to a disadvantage to the way the world typically works. Turn the other cheek. Don’t throw the first stone. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Etc. In a hostile world where most people were guided by various versions of the law of the jungle, being a person of kindness, sincerity, and integrity put one at a distinct disadvantage.

          So the question isn’t why many Christians (or those of other religions) relate to their religion in worldly ways (whether because they are “anxious” or whatever). This is the world we live in and “being in the world but not of the world” is not something most are prepared to do. And for those who face hardship, live in violent places, are sick, or are born with an affliction, no on can begrudge them faith in a god who might intercede. Whether this happens or not, I don’t know.

          But for the rest of us, it would do to not turn Christianity into a mere kind of Cosmic entitlement or security blanket. In fact, I think Christianity is unique in that authentic Christianity, rather than a safe refuge, burdens people with many and specific ethical commitments. Again, to be a Christian in this world is to put yourself somewhat at a disadvantage in this world.

          I believe one of the reasons that Dennis Prager gave for the long-standing hatred of Jews is that because the Jews were the first to really posit that man had a higher calling than to just smoke pot, butt-f**k, womanize, steal, get drunk, and play video games — or that might have been their spiel had the Jews arrived for the first time on today’s scene.

          I don’t necessarily want to disparage all other religions. There are at least some good attributes in all of them, and many are all-around pretty good. But Buddhism, if you will, is ultimately about enlightened narcissism. It’s a turning within, a quest for inner peace over all else. (I’ve already mentioned what I think Islam is, and I needn’t touch on that again.) Hinduism seems to be the ratification of reality as interesting, but inherently pernicious and arbitrary. It has the old-style feel of the zealous and mischievous gods of the Greeks or Romans.

          But the Judeo-Christian religion posits that man has meaning and that his life has some higher calling. He thus has commitments beyond getting stoned out of his mind.

          In fact, this is what was verified from reading “Albion’s Seed.” The Puritans and Quakers weren’t fundamentalist nut-bags looking to oppress people as much as they were a people who took seriously the idea that their life had meaning and had to therefore be lived in a certain way. In many ways, the Puritans were the least “religious” people ever to set foot inside America. Their churches (and that of the Quakers) were sparse and simple (and there was barely any preaching at Quaker meetings at all). And the Puritans didn’t make a big event out of a funeral or wedding. In fact, in a style that Paulbots and many libertarians might like, they didn’t even have a church wedding but simply made it a strict legal affair.

          So I can understand where the Eds of the world are coming from. There is no end of reasons to find fault with human endeavors because they tend to be infused with human desires and needs. But still, at the end of the day, there is a different focus to Judeo-Christianity than there arguable is to any other religion. But even so (and I do tend to like authentic Buddhism and Hinduism), there is the human acknowledgement in most of them that (wait for it) . . . man is not the measure of all things. And that is what tends to really irk modern “secular” types, atheists or otherwise.

  16. Kung Fu Zu says:

    Last night, I was reading “A History of Religious Ideas” vol. 2 by Mircea Eliade and would like to quote from it.

    “The causes of the final triumph of Christian preaching are many and various. First of all were the unshakable faith and moral strength of Christians, their courage in the face of torture and death-a courage admired even by their greatest enemies, Lucian of Samosata, Marcus Aurelius, Galienus, Celsus. Furthermore, the solidarity of the Christians was unequaled; the community took care of widows, orphans and the aged and ransomed those captured by pirates. During epidemics and sieges, only Christians tended the wounded and buried the dead. For all the rootless multitudes of the Empire, for the many who suffered loneliness, for the victims of cultural and social alienation, the Church was the only hope of obtaining an identity, of finding, or recovering a meaning for life. Since there were no barriers, either social, racial, or intellectual, anyone could become a member of this optimistic and paradoxical society in which a powerful citizen, the emperor’s chamberlain, bowed before a bishop who had been his slave. In all probability, neither before nor afterward has any historical society experienced the equivalent of this equality, of the charity and brotherly love that were the life of the Christian communities of the first four centuries.”

    I am not saying all Christians throughout history have acted in such a way, but this should give a little context when people start declaring all the horrible things done by Christians in general.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That was a very good passage, Mr. Kung.

      The thing about bad Christians is, they’re bad contrary to the beliefs and the doctrine of their religion. As I often say (and I’ll say it again), if you take Christianity to its logical conclusion you get St. Francis. If you take Islam to its logical conclusion you get Osama bin Laden.

      Yes, that’s right, Mr. Hitchens, there are actually GOOD things and BAD things in this world. For a man who thought he was so smart, he missed these most obvious points. For him (ensconced in religious bigotry as he was) it is all the same thing.

      This is such an obvious thing that it still surprises me that anything has to be said about it at all. Religion doesn’t “poison” everything any more than books “poison” everything. It depends on which book, something written by Karl Marx or Shakespeare.

      The sad thing is that many Christians have caved to this intimidation by the Left. That’s certainly one reason that Christianity has moved left and changed from the religion of the brotherhood of man to the ascendancy of Big Brother “Social Justice” Government.

  17. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Some time back, I read the book “Allan’s Wife” which is part of the Allan Quatermain series. In one scene Allan has been speaking to Indaba-zimbi, a Zulu wizard who used a wonderful simile about rain when discussing life and death. I found Quartermain’s remarks about this to be pertinent to our discussions here.

    “He was a strange man, this old rain-making savage, and there was more wisdom in him than in many learned atheists-those spiritual destroyers who, in the name of progress and humanity, would divorce hope from life, and leave us wandering in a lonesome, self-consecrated hell.”

    Quartermain’s words are very astute. As I often say, I am convinced that these people are, to a very large degree, motivated by a sucking spiritual vacuum which they can never fill. Wherever they search, whatever new idea they come up with to fill this void, they fail. This causes rage and misery. As we all know, misery loves company. And raging misery loves not only company in its pain, but to make others even more miserable than itself.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That’s a great quote, Mr. Kung. And I know that you and I have a similar affinity for the Quatermain stories. Reading them via my electronic book reader, I have a few such passages marked because they struck me at the time as worth saving. I don’t remember that one in particular. But it’s a good thought. And I find myself caught between the pull of rationalism and that of spiritualism. And it’s easy for a culture or clique to totally discredit one or the other (usually discrediting religion, Christian religion in particular).

      Many of my “secular” friends think religion is just a con. And I agree that in some respects, or some implementations, it has that aspect, if not in full then in part. Rarely is this “con” theme balanced with the obvious and huge cons such as feminism, global warming, social justice, etc. So despite the superficial gloss of being “a free thinker,” or some such conceit, what we usually are encountering is…well, the term has already been coined: an atheistic fundamentalist.

      I understand my fellow travelers who want nothing to do with religion because I’m not sure I want to either. But much of their distaste, if not all of it, stems from the stigma attached to it by quite thorough indoctrination (by a competing secular religion) that only the superstitious and gullible believe in Christianity (but Muslims and Hindus are all okay, of course). And more than that, there is a sense of superiority in atheistic and agnostic belief. In fact, I was just being fair and kind to suggest that disdain for Christianity stems primarily from the atheistic Marxist-materialist programming as dispensed by snotty college professors and those types. The real selling point is The Cult of Genius-Boy Superiority. It’s not just a matter of not buying what religion is selling, which is a fair enough point of view. It’s The Cult of Genius-Boy Superiority that tends to make atheists so obnoxious and insufferable.

      I went ahead and updated the formatting on this article, adding the date published as well as the drop-shadow to the thumbnail graphic. Man, how time flies. This was first published back in August of 2013. This article has a lot of hits as well.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I’ve noticed that a lot of people who call themselves skeptics are really one-way skeptics. They’re very cautious about the supernatural and about unorthodox science (e.g., intelligent design). But they’ll fall for hoaxes like global warming aka climate change aka climate disruption. Michael Shermer is a perfect example. Judging from Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, this goes back to the Russian nihilists, who saw themselves as reasoning everything out from zero much as Descartes did (cogito ergo sum).

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          And that gets right back to Mr. Kung’s chosen descriptor: Atheistic Fundamentalists.

          Richard Feynman, for example, would be a pretty good example of a thoughtful skeptic and free-thinker. It’s true, he thought religion was a bunch of bunkum. But it’s hard to imagine him buying into the the global warming scam.

          These guys are not free-thinkers. They are the new Church of Fundamentalist Dogma by People Who Think They are Superior and Want to Make Damn Sure Everyone Knows It. (They really do need to shorten that name.)

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I can remember Shermer’s discussion of the arrogant notion that he and his fellow skeptics should call themselves Brights. He actually claimed it wasn’t intended to insult the religious. One wonders if he really expected anyone to believe him. Certainly no one who claimed to be “bright” should have.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I remember “Brights” being spelled “Brites” at one point. Or was I just confusing that with Lite Brite? (This seems to be a slightly more pleasing version.)

              Any specific religious doctrine about God is subject to faith simply because (amazing as this is) there is not a Bureau of God that you can go to in order to get your specific questions answered. It’s a mystery why something so amazing as existence would not come with unambiguous written instructions.

              But I think John Lennox and other philosophers have made an extremely good case for a Creator. “Randomness” simply lacks agency. It’s not enough to assume existence and then postulate the rest as the result of randomness. It reminds me of that old Steve Martin shtick: “You can be a millionaire and never pay taxes. First…get a million dollars.” The million dollars are assumed.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Like the famous recipe for rabbit stew: First catch your rabbit. Beth Willinger, an SF fan artist, did a dragon stew recipe that included a large rock to take out the dragon with.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Clever idea about the rock.

  18. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    It is common for the left to have a different standard re hate speech when dealing with Islam instead of Christianity. The link below takes the reader to an article which displays this hypocrisy. What is interesting is that the hypocrites attack Richard Dawkins, who calls them out by asking “Why the double-standard?”

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Whatever Dawkins’s flaws, he does an excellent job of skewering leftist hypocrisy — not that they ever pay attention to any criticism from someone they choose to ignore. Tue Revolution really is eating its children.

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