Reconquering the Discourse—Part 2: Disarming Atheistic Smugness

VoltaireThumbby Monsieur Voltaire
If there’s one thing that I find more annoying than dreaming it’s Friday and waking up on Monday, is a proselytizing atheist. You know who I’m talking about: the frump with the footed Darwin fish on her Prius (as if somehow the mechanism of evolution and a God setting it in motion were logically incompatible), the mouth-breathing idiot sharing “I f**king love science” nonsense on Facebook (whom you know thinks Pythagoras is a Gyro sandwich), the indoctrinated human ape who, ever proud of his hirsute ancestry, parrots by ear the pabulum that “all religions have only caused carnage, misery and ignorance everywhere in the world,” the college-educated guy or gal for whom a degree is a $60,000 soapbox from which to spew adolescent pap tarted up with the occasional 5-syllable word… All these forms of humanity have one thing in common: they have faith in science as a purveyor of metaphysical truths—even though most of them don’t even know it; and they feel free to slap these “metaphysical truths” into your face, as if to wake you up from some Medieval trance doing you a favor in the process (and counting on your thankful silence in return).

So, let’s get one thing straight right from the start. Christianity has been on the receiving end of statist attacks pretty much since the days of the French revolution, and these attacks have gained considerable momentum thanks to Nietzsche, Marx, John Dewey (a pox forever on his name), various Supreme Court justices, the 1960’s progressive movement, the 1970’s pop-sci fad, the worshiping of multiculturalism and diversity, and a mass media that thinks that mentioning God outside of your closet is a greater offense than public urination. Therefore, the old “never discuss religion in polite society” dictum is off and has been for a long time, as far as I’m concerned. For a while now, as part of the effort to reconquer the discourse, I shoot back at anyone who impugns my (or someone else’s) belief in God, and I make him realize how offensive, intrusive, out of line, conformist and most often silly his so-called arguments. Let’s get started.

1 – There is a big difference between belief and faith. Belief is something about which you are deeply convinced out of reason, observation, calculation, probability or sheer logical process. If in the last 100 weeks my dog has scurried away to her crate every time I’d fire up the vacuum cleaner, I would be perfectly justified in believing that the pooch is not on chummy terms with the Hoover. Faith has nothing to do with it. Similarly, if Johnny is a man and I know all men eventually die, I can believe with almost perfect certainty that someday Johnny will also be pushing up daisies. Again, faith has nothing to do with it. Much as science-by-hearsay fans may dislike this, belief is at the core of any scientific theory as well. For instance, a large number of scientists now believe that the material and temporal universe began with the Big Bang—that is, until a more plausible explanation comes along. Faith, on the other hand, is taking at face value something that we cannot ascertain ourselves—not by direct observation, logic, calculation, probability, etc. If an astronomer tells me that the Sun is 93 million miles from the Earth, I have to take his word on faith, since I am not equipped in any way to verify this for myself. If some hack at East Anglia tells the world that there is a warming “hockey stick” to which his research unquestionably points, much of the public will take this on faith just as most Christians will take the Ark of Noah and the virgin birth.

2 – We don’t necessarily believe in God because the Bible tells us to. Belief in God is a perfectly logical metaphysical conclusion that can exist even independent of faith. If we believe that every effect must have a cause, and we travel upstream the cause-effect river all the way to the source of the universe, we eventually hit an immaterial, non-temporal wall. What caused the first effect? Logically, the answer must be “something uncaused.” And that something is what we call God—what we have called God pretty much since the days of Aristotle, even before Christ. Now, why do we know God is not just another law of nature, and therefore that he was working out of free will? Because laws of nature work by necessity, and if it was necessity which compelled our God to create the universe, then we must stipulate an even prior cause that effected these laws—thereby only moving God up a couple logical links in the cause-effect chain. Even the idol of the “I f**king love science” groupies, Stephen Hawking, concurs with this when he reluctantly admits “It appears that … the apparent laws of nature are not demanded by logic or physical principle.”1 Bottom line: those who think we Christians are simpletons who think God is a white-bearded man in the sky who picks our socks in the morning, only reveal their abject ignorance on the God question, which is one that—even absent faith—has still failed to provide a convincing answer on the side of atheism.

3 – Faith—especially Christian Biblical faith—is at the very least a credible mythology aimed at the good and at the betterment of mankind. When we talk about Moses receiving the Ten Commandments and Jesus preaching on the Mount as the Son of God, we are in the realm of faith. But this is a positive, sun-lit faith, a faith that reinforces and glorifies the fact that man is much more than a random coming together of molecules and cells and governed by mechanical determinism like a rock to gravity. Our faith—buttressed by our logical belief—teaches us that the human soul exists, and that it is composed of the God-like attributes of memory, reason and free will. Thus Jesus, as the Son of God, becomes a model to imitate to maximize the faculties that we were blessed with—with memory and reason helping thrust free will into deeds of love, devotion to Someone greater than ourselves, good conscience, self-betterment, care for others, responsibility, self-sacrifice and true charity. And in this, not all religions are created equal. The God of Islam, for instance, does not love all equally—only the true believers; he is not knowable, and therefore cannot serve as a model through his Son. And what he does teach through the prophet is to convert or subjugate nonbelievers as enemies rather than loving them, all the way up to slaying them for apostasy. So, only a fanatical fool would find Christianity an irrational, frightening doctrine that keeps the mind in the dark.

4 – Purely positive statements about your own beliefs and faith are—by logic–neither exclusionary nor offensive. When you say “geez, I really love my family,” you are not saying “yours, on the other hand, is a dysfunctional bunch of inbred morons that should mow my lawn for free every two weeks just as a lucky tribute to my letting them breathe my same air.” Similarly, when you put up a Christmas tree, you are saying “I love Christmas” (which happens to be a perfectly joyous and harmless American tradition); you are not saying “if you’re from another religion, don’t you dare even sully my tree with your filthy eyes and scoot your infidel butt out of my field of view.” That a positive statement would be automatically exclusionary is one of the parallel-universe memes created by political correctness. To purely express your love for X does not logically imply hatred or intolerance towards Y; rather, the act of supreme intolerance is to deny your freedom to express the love of X without forcing you to also mention your loving all other letters, A to Z.

5 – No, Christianity is not and has not been without sin. But who could ever expect it to be? Christianity is a human institution—divinely inspired though it is. But just as you wouldn’t blame the art of poetry (a human creation) for William McGongall’s notorious The Tay Bridge Disaster, you shouldn’t blame the concept of Christian religion for its occasional gross misapplications. The same can be said about pretty much all human institutions: you can’t blame the art of architecture for a building that collapses any more than you can blame Christian ethics for the Catholic pedophilia scandal: in both cases, it is by ignoring, perverting and misapplying the rules that tragedies happen. But here we must make a pretty macroscopic distinction: some religions—Christianity chief of all—are constantly reforming themselves and are at least trying to learn from their historical mistakes. The New Testament, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation and Vatican II are only a few of the historically-verifiable instances in which the Church as a human institution has tried reforming itself. Can the same be said about all other religions (just open the paper—any paper)? And what about totalitarian statism? No, both in terms of stubbornness and body count, Christianity as a human institution still looks pretty peachy compared to many others that are, alas, just as prevalent in the world.

So, armed with these facts, I haven’t been shy about fending off ignorant and blindly self-congratulatory statements about the Christian faith. When you force people to think—and I can assure you that most in the Darwin-fish crowd haven’t given the issue more than the proverbial two brain-cells’ worth of thought—you plunge your interlocutors into such foreign logical territory that they have to at least let you take the lead. At which point, you have their attention, and you can at the very minimum end it with their having lots more respect for your point of view, and perhaps reconsidering their own ideas as the truly intolerant ones.

_______
Notes: 1 – Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 143.

Part 1 of “Reconquering the Discourse” can be found here. • (2374 views)

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42 Responses to Reconquering the Discourse—Part 2: Disarming Atheistic Smugness

  1. Pingback: Reconquering the Discourse–Part 1: The Battleground of Ideas |

  2. CCWriter CCWriter says:

    You make some great points, M. Voltaire.

    The history of the development of religion is about mankind’s coming to adopt a concept of God that surpasses the tribal deity and occupies a higher moral level than their own primitive and bloodthirsty instincts and predilections. Most modern religions inherited at least a few vestiges of these notions from their earlier forms. The test of a religion is whether the prophetic-revelatory part of the doctrine actually, by its practice, relegates the unfortunate bits to obscurity. Moses kicked the idea of God up a notch and Jesus took it further, and those parts have generally won out in the Judeo-Christian tradition. There are other major and minor religions that have followed a similar path. Consider Buddhism, Sikhism, Baha’i. I don’t think such religious evolution is finished by a long shot–it continues with each generation.

    Typically atheists don’t want to recognize this. Their argument often is “I can’t believe in a God who …” The appropriate comeback might be “Well, describe the kind of God you could believe in.” Describing the kind of God they think worthy of worship by civilized and evolved people is exactly what theists have been doing down the centuries. Funny thing, the higher they reach for their God-concept, the more civilized and evolved the people tend to become.

    (I should add–I don’t mean to say that humans are making anything up. I think it’s a process in which God is inspiring and speaking to those whose hearts have been opened to him by what they have been taught by tradition and what the spirit within tells them. Some such people have more lasting influence than others.)

    • Monsieur Voltaire says:

      “The appropriate comeback might be ‘Well, describe the kind of God you could believe in’.”

      That’s so good, I think I’ll steal that.

    • ladykrystyna says:

      “Describing the kind of God they think worthy of worship by civilized and evolved people is exactly what theists have been doing down the centuries.”

      I have a feeling that the God atheists (particularly leftist atheists) think worthy of worship would be the same as the government they like – the kind that gives them everything and makes the world a wonderfully happy place.

      You know, like the Garden. Except that they forget that we lost our privileges in that Garden because we were naughty.

      They just can’t understand that. They want to do whatever they want, whenever they want, without consequence.

  3. Kung Fu Zu says:

    This there are so many places to go with the theme, as ignorance and misinformation on religion abounds.

    One of my pet peeves is when someone says “religious wars have killed more people than all other wars” or some such nonsense. This is the meme which has been passed down by “intellectuals” for a long time. Of course, the ignorant and lazy hear this and pass it on without any question of its veracity.

    I love it when someone uses this line on me. I look them in the eye and mention, the Vietnam War, Korean War, WWII, WWI, Spanish American War, War Between the States, War of the Mexican Secession, War of 1812, Revolutionary War, Seven Years War. By this time they are getting very uncomfortable and resentful as the are feeling foolish. Then I say, “I haven’t started on wars in European and Asia”. With that they give up and admit they were wrong.

    In closing I tell them that it is not religion which causes war, but the wars which were supposedly religious wars were really wars about greed and power, where those in power simply used religion as an excuse for their sins.

    • CCWriter CCWriter says:

      You can make a good case that modern instances of totalitarian genocide were religiously motivated. Religious in the sense that the ideology driving it is regarded as the highest possible value. But when the state takes the place of God, humane morality is out the window and anything that serves state power may be justified.

      • Kung Fu Zu says:

        I have heard similar arguments in the past and I disagree strongly. Religion, at least any religion I have encountered, deals with spiritual things. Each faith generally has some concept of life after death and personal choice.

        Modern totalitarian thought is completely materialistic. It is concerned only with earthly communities and how to coerce people into accepting the dictates of the privileged few who, of course, are smarter than the rest of us. Individual choice is completely quashed for the good of the group.

        • CCWriter CCWriter says:

          To be clear, I’m not saying their totalitarianism qualifies as real religion. I am saying its adherents bring religious zeal to materialism and coercion. It’s a tragic misplacement, of course.

          • Kung Fu Zu says:

            Thanks for your clarification, with which I agree. I am a bit of a stickler for clarity as you will remember from our interchange about libertarians on NRO. (sex , drugs and college students)

            JTTP

            • CCWriter CCWriter says:

              Ah, yes, I do remember. Our exchange was an excellent example of people who thought they were in opposition coming to understand how much they agreed on. It’s why you were invited here. Encouraging one another to be more clear is much to be desired.

        • MarkW says:

          To me, religion is the belief that there is something greater than yourself that you owe an alegiance to.
          Political dogmas can qualify as a relgion when they are taken on faith, and people are willing to subjegate themselves and others to it.

    • MarkW says:

      The problem lies to a large degree in how people categorize “religious war”, vs a “non-religious war”.
      They seem to feel that as long as one of the countries involved is nominally “religious”, then the war is a “religious war”.

      Conflict is unfortunately part of the human condition. We will always have those who want more then they have, and are willing to fight or kill to acquire it.

  4. ladykrystyna says:

    Great article!

    “Purely positive statements about your own beliefs and faith are—by logic–neither exclusionary nor offensive.”

    I really like that statement and what followed. That is a great comeback when someone starts blathering on about how a Christmas tree or a Nativity scene is offensive.

    What the Left is looking for is to slowly but surely destroy religion.

    In fact, I would say that the Left’s tactics from the earlier 20th century were found to be wanting, even by those who perpetrated them. It’s the old “frog boiling story”.

    Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, etc. all turned up the heat too fast, causing people to fight back and rebel.

    So they turned to the slow boil. And that’s certainly what they have been doing in this country. Not only that, instead of attacking from the outside (which they still do in some respects), they also attack from the inside. The March through the Institutions is testament to that: politics, entertainment, news, education, and yes, even religion.

    They will destroy it from the inside, like a cancer.

  5. Terri King says:

    Rock ON! That was great!

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Welcome, Terri. We gotta stop meeting like this. 😀 Terri, I’d like to introduce you to the Crowd. The Crowd, this is Terri, a very long-time internet friend and one of the wisest ladies I know.

      Okay, I just put a LOT of pressure on you now. LOL. Hope you stick around and share your two bits. And I look forward to your first article, book review, movie review, conservative recipe, or whatever the hell. You’re an extremely thoughtful writer.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    If we believe that every effect must have a cause, and we travel upstream the cause-effect river all the way to the source of the universe, we eventually hit an immaterial, non-temporal wall. What caused the first effect? Logically, the answer must be “something uncaused.” And that something is what we call God—what we have called God pretty much since the days of Aristotle, even before Christ. Now, why do we know God is not just another law of nature, and therefore that he was working out of free will? Because laws of nature work by necessity, and if it was necessity which compelled our God to create the universe, then we must stipulate an even prior cause that effected these laws—thereby only moving God up a couple logical links in the cause-effect chain. Even the idol of the “I f**king love science” groupies, Stephen Hawking, concurs with this when he reluctantly admits “It appears that … the apparent laws of nature are not demanded by logic or physical principle.”

    This is outstanding, as is the rest of it. I thought C.S. Lewis passed away decades ago. I guess not. And a little Ann Coulter mixed in. I love that. A great article, MV. Keep them coming. And I hope you inspire others to flesh out their thoughts regarding the subjects that interest them. Thank goodness I didn’t waste my money on subscriptions to National Review or American Spectator, although those are both fine publications. I’ve set this all up here just so that I could read great articles daily, in one place, without having to sift through the blankety-blank RINOs.

    • Monsieur Voltaire says:

      Thanks, Brad–as well as for the wonderful opportunity to have a venue such as this. I see that this RINO-free watering hole is attracting more and more great fauna, as it should. Sad too about NRO. It could have been a great site, but it’s slipping into squishiness. Now I pretty much only check in on Saturdays for Steyn’s article. Insane, because Jonah’s book “The tyranny of cliches” is perhaps the best contemporary Conservative book I’ve read (I may post a review of it if I get the courage to do it–it’s a “huge” book, both in terms of density of content and scholarly research).

      Anyway, thanks for the kind words. If I must give credit for the arguments in my article, it’s Thomas Aquinas with a little St. Bonaventure–they had this fully figured out in the much-maligned Middle Ages–seasoned with whatever I my poor mirror can reflect of my namesake’s sunny sarcasm, 21st century style.

      I love Ann Coulter’s “voice”–she’s the female Mark Steyn I’d like to get stuck on a desert island with (see, you made me end a sentence with a preposition). 😉

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        That article was a bit of a consecration. As I told LadyK privately, this site can certainly succeed without Karl Rove or Elliot Abrams. But it cannot survive and thrive without some kind of “English” being put on it in a positive way by the Creator off all that is.

        Or to put it another way, our principles must be aligned with Celestial ones, as best we can figure them to be.

  7. Kung Fu Zu says:

    These types of discussions often end up with claims that the universe was created through the Big Bang, a theory which postulates that the complete physical universe came from an infinitesimal point called a singularity. For argument’s sake I cede the point and ask where the singularity came from. This is really another way of asking how did we get to something from nothing? No materialist has been able to answer that question.

    • ladykrystyna says:

      Well, that’s exactly the problem that science faces: evolution is probably a fine theory, but it doesn’t tell us HOW life began, just that it began at some point and evolved from there.

      Just like they can give us the Big Bang theory, but then as you said, where did the singularity come from? I thought matter was neither created nor destroyed. If that is the case, then the singularity must have come from somewhere, come from something.

      Now I don’t necessarily expect science to answer that question. It may be impossible for us to do so, especially with current knowledge and technology.

      But then they could at least admit that there’s nothing weird about assuming that a God or gods created the universe.

      Man has believed in some kind of religion since the Neanderthals (they buried their dead with flowers and I believe objects – why would they do that if they didn’t believe in something “other”?).

  8. kabeman says:

    Great article. Great site.
    I’ve followed your posts (as well as most of the other commentators to this one) over at NRO and want to tell you how much I appreciate reading them. I usually learn more from the comments than the original articles. Thank you.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Absolutely ditto, Kabeman. Great to have you here. But, watch it. There’s a one in three chance that your above post will be deleted at random.

      Just kidding. We don’t seem to have the problem here. And, yes, I think the same thing to myself frequently: The comments to the articles at NRO are often better than the articles themselves. This is why I thought drawing from the best of these commentors was the best way to seed this site. Still looking for more, so join in you think you have an article or review in ya. 🙂 And spread the word if you can. Thanks.

  9. MarkW says:

    Another atheist question that is tricky to deal with is the question of what came before God.
    I answer this by pointing out that the entire notion of time is intimately tied up in the fabric of our universe. The old space/time continuum thing.
    Outside the framework of our universe, time is a concept that has no meaning, therefore the question of what comes before God is a meaningless one.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That’s a great point, Mark. To understand God, we have to understand that we are inside of space-time. There is no real “outside,” of course. That would still be thinking in terms of space-time. But we must logically try to get the gist of the ontological discontinuities that we are dealing with. We may not be able to directly experience “outside” of space-time (although some Christian or other mystics might argue otherwise). But we can logically deduce that there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

      Atheists reject that notion for no good reason other than a sort of blinkered bigotry and/or a rather unimaginative and unwarranted obsession with materialism.

    • Monsieur Voltaire says:

      You are absolutely right in answering that, Mark. And here are a few more tidbits to add.

      As understood in Western science and philosophy, time is the measurement of motion between instances of stillness, or stillness between motions (as defined in Aristotle’s Physics, VIII). Before matter and matter’s motion, there is no time–hence the traditional definition of God as transcending time, matter and motion. Before time, there was no time, and thus there was no before–and metaphysically, it is absurd to ask:

      What There Was (before [before there was time]).

      It’s like dividing zero by zero: meaningless and undefined.

  10. Kurt NY says:

    Good points all. To me, one of the more bizarre ramifications of Islamist atrocities attacking the West is a growing sense among much of our population to condemn all religions as if all faiths are actively seeking unbelievers to murder when, for the most part, it is mostly Islam that is distinguishing itself in this fashion. And, even more bizarrely, Western conversions to Islam have increased since 9/11. So, Islamists intentionally murder thousands and Christianity gets blamed for intolerance. Unbelievable.

    For a culture whose ostensible religion has been Christianity since its emergence after the fall of Rome 1500 years ago, it is astounding how ignorant our chattering classes are about it, despite their supposed education. Witness the Pope’s recent comments on gays, which as any of us knows, has long been the Church’ position. The reception of his off-the cuff comments by the media, while welcome, were amusing in their ignorance. They are apparently shocked that the institutional church doesn’t sound bigoted, when as we all know, such has always been its position.

    Monsieur Voltaire is right to point out the incongruousness of modern culture’s attitude towards religion. Anti-intellectual while supposedly extolling science.

  11. RobL_V2 RobL_V2 says:

    Great article. Now the question for you is… how do we encapsulate that into a sound-byte. Usually when these discussion comes up its either on a blog, comment box on Yahoo!, in casual conversation or the occasional TV interview. The Left always resorts to witty rhetoric like…

    ‘Christianity is a myth, fact based science proves evolution and global warming, biblical floods and pillars of salt prove nothing but are aimed to deceive small minded people. We live in the 21st century with fact and progress on our side, we don’t need those slave owning bible thumpers trying to control us anymore so they can stay rich. ‘
    Obviously a conglomeration of the classic left clichés but you get my point…

    The Left is expert at entertaining pithy disparagement.

    The average reader/listener/viewer is too busy, lazy or otherwise uninterested in reading your excellent essay or listening to long droning ‘academic’ ‘preaching’ diatribes. (Note: I’m not calling your work this at all, I’m just offering how the average uninformed citizens perception of our response)

    Perhaps it’s simply not possible. Western Civilization was built on philosophic moral debates searching for truth over 3000 years. Leftism is absent such a heritage and thus can go merrily go down the easy but false path of deceit, lies, and slander laced with a wicked sense of humor which appears to win every time.

    How do we counter?

    • Monsieur Voltaire says:

      Rob, it depends. Drive-by comments like on Yahoo! are just that, and there isn’t much that can be done.

      But in any other venue, it’s pretty easy to demolish a smug atheist’s blather. “So, you take it on faith that I believe in God because the Bible tells me to?” is an opening that I’ve used several times to turn the tables on them. Another one is “So, you take it on faith that to us Christians God is a bearded old man who lives in the clouds?” Bottom line: who is the simpleton here?

      Then, I tell them that they are the ones misplacing faith in science to reveal metaphysical truths, such as why the universe was created, or why mankind seems to share a basic common morality. Science only tells us (at best) how stuff works–and it can’t pronounce itself on who or what made it work that way.

      Once you put them out of their comfort zone, they either change the subject or they listen, because at this point they know that they can’t argue something about which they have given so little thought without sounding like total imbeciles.

      • RobL_V2 RobL_V2 says:

        Good advice Monsieur,

        I’ll have to consider how to tailor your metaphysics perspective into my typical argument. Agree with the strategy, once you make it evident your opponent doesn’t really know what they think they know they will either discuss with you more honestly (a major victory in and of itself) or they will change topic.

        A great response to the change topic stratagem could be:

        ‘well since you are changing the topic I’ll take it you agree with me, so yes let’s now talk about this new issue’.

        And then go ahead and dismantle that one…

        A good plan.

        As to beards and clouds, I’m thinking out loud here…

        Have you seen Picassos’ cubist paintings, like his Guitar or Woman in an Armchair? They don’t really look like a guitar or woman in an arm chair do they? But my they are still certainly brilliant thought provoking evocative images aren’t they?

        Same can be said of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Wonderful paintings, but just like Picasso we know Michelangelo is not depicting reality. He is a man, a sublime artist indeed but just a man creating wonderful images. Do you take Michelangelo and Picasso paintings as real or reality? I would think not because how do you know what God looks like. Do you know?

        By definition god is unknowable is it not? Well then, we agree. So tell me if God is unknowable, how do you know there is no God?

        • Monsieur Voltaire says:

          Hi, Rob–cogent post. Let me offer you a slightly different something to chew on (unfortunately I’m a bit pressed for time at the moment, but feel free to respond and I’ll get to it whenever I have more time).

          Unlike the God of Islam, the Christian God is knowable, as long as we understand that he is only so to a certain extent. He is knowable from his vestiges in the world outside of us–like in the beauty and variety of creatures animate and inanimate; he is knowable from the reflection of some of his attributes inside of us–like love, reason, free will; and he is knowable through Revelation–especially through the person of the Son incarnate, and the Gospels that chronicle Jesus’ teachings.

          So, when theologians use the word “incomprehensible” while referring to God, they do so in the Latin sense, not in the commonsense English meaning of “impossible to understand.” Literally, God cannot be “wholly contained” within our mind, because by definition he is much more than what our thought can grasp. But the other side of the coin is that we can very much understand and know God to a certain extent.

          In a way, this makes your argument even more cogent: if God is knowable in all these ways, only the fool can say there is no God (Psalm 14 and pretty much every theologian since). And I haven’t even touched on the proofs for the existence of God, which are “a whole ‘nother issue altogether” as they say in the Midwest.

          BTW, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and Seneca (all pagan and all geniuses) also agreed on the existence of God, so your interlocutor at this point should feel like it’s pretty lonely out there on that ledge. 😉

          • RobL_V2 RobL_V2 says:

            As usual Monsieur great stuff.

            The interplay of theology philosophy and natural science is fascinating. It’s a deep rich heritage which I believe is unique to the West and a heritage so ignored or disparaged by the academic left and one utterly unknown by the media-illuminati left.

            This gets to the heart of who we are as Americans and why it matters. I don’t know if you read my Light, Liberty and the Pursuit of Hemlock article on this site but it explains the basic purpose of my writings.

            I believe America is great because our founders embodied Greek philosophy and their Judeo-Christian heritage culminating in the ideas of the Enlightenment and actualized them in the Declaration and Constitution.

            If we can somehow rekindle a love of the classics, Judeo-Christianity (not necessarily religiously or theologically but just even ‘deistically’ and our Constitution it’s foundational history, I think we can rekindle Western Civilization herself.

            Heady stuff, unbelievably huge task, but what’s the alternative??

            • Monsieur Voltaire says:

              There is no alternative, my friend. Better to participate and lose with dignity than to watch it all go to pot while doing nothing. I know I’d bleed for America–and I wasn’t even born here–so I can only begin to imagine what you all must feel right now.

              And yes, I read your article, and I greatly enjoyed it. The title itself says it all, and I can’t wait to hear more about your thoughts. I’m so glad that Brad made this available to us, and that there’s no Rich Lowry minion to shoot down our posts. 🙂

              • RobL_V2 RobL_V2 says:

                And to that I can only respond with two quotes:

                ‘These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.’

                ‘Fear not the result, for either thy end shall be an enviable and a majestic one, or God will preserve our reign upon the waters.’

  12. MarkW says:

    I’ve lost track of the number of atheists who have told me that there is no difference between believing that God played a hand in guiding evolution, and believing that God created the world, exactly as it is, 5000 years ago.

  13. MarkW says:

    Atheists often claim that if God was good, he wouldn’t let bad things happen. Therefore since bad things happen, either God isn’t good, or there isn’t a God.

    The answer to this, in my mind, is two fold. The first is that God permits us free will, and thus we are allowed to do evil things, such as hurt each other, and stupid things such as building cities next to volcanoes.

    Another point is that God takes an eternal view, while we humans rarely look past the next few weeks. Thus things that look bad in the short run, turn out to be good in the longer run. For a trivial example, how many people have you heard of who get fired from one job, only to wind up in a much better job? At the time of the firing, it feels as if the world is coming to an end. But a year later, they are happier than they have ever been.

    • Monsieur Voltaire says:

      Mark, that is absolutely right. Especially the point about free will.

      God created a world with free will as the best possible world. Free will makes evil possible, although it does not compel it. On the other hand, a world where evil is not possible would be a world without free will (which in a way is the Utopia that Liberals are trying to create… give them an A for consistency…).

      In this context, I like to ask my interlocutors whether they would prefer to live in a world where people are allowed to make their choices, even if this entails the occasional wrong (or even catastrophic) choice–or in a world where they are coerced and confined to follow the script of someone or something else. In other words: the road of liberty comes with the possibility of making wrong turns.

      As to your second point (the escathological argument), by Liberals’ own definition, the world has moved forward in a linear way from worse to better. But even without resorting to this sort of jiu-jitsu sarcasm, it is easy to point out how some of the great tragedies in the world–from self-inflicted ones to natural ones–have taught humans how to cope with them and make their reoccurrence less likely. This reinforces Christians’ idea of a universe in which God will ultimately defeat evil, even while still allowing free will.

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