Christian Division and Atheism

Christian Division and Atheism

I have run across many unbelievers that feel that the division in Christianity weakens its argument for the existence of its God.  However, the opposite might be true. Division over many subjects about God should be expected, seeing that we are talking about an infinite God that is beyond human understanding, because of this, a difference of opinion in many areas would be normal and expected.[1]

Yes, Christianity is divided on a number of issues however most agree on the essence of the faith outlined in the Apostles Creed. Even the majority of the so called cults could confess their faith in the doctrines proclaimed in the ancient Creed, for the Creed simply set forth the basic facts[2] of what the Bible teaches. Christians for the most part (except for some far-left liberals) agree on the basic points of the Creed. However, some are not in agreement as to their interpretation of some of those points. This is where the division begins to creep in as it does in any discipline which is based on facts. Facts must be interpreted and it is in the interpretation where the division comes in[3]. For the most part, Christians agree on their facts.

Facts are claims or ideals corresponding objectively with something that has existed in reality, independent from one’s interpretation or a point of view. For example, I point to a stone on the ground and say that is a stone. Of course, if it was a banana it would not be a stone. Facts also must be identifiable by the right word or label to be understood. However, a fact can be qualified and interpreted by one’s world view or ideology, e.g. the resurrection is a fact of history for the Christian, but not for the atheist. Now, the atheist might believe that Jesus lived and died, but deny that he was resurrected because he does not believe in the supernatural. This would lead us to say that some aspects of a fact can be questioned while accepting others. This rejection or acceptance can be based on one’s point of view.

A good example of the power of viewpoint is a person walking into an empty room without any furniture and saying the room is empty. Yes, from a pragmatic point of view it is empty however, from a scientific point of view it is filled with air and atoms. The reason that the person said it was empty was that he was dependent on his sense of sight. If he was asked the question if there was air in the room he would take a deep breath and reply yes. If the individual was blind, he would have to depend on his sense of touch to determine whether there was anything in the room and it would take an extreme amount of time to make a judgment. However even after the judgment was made, he would have to admit that he did not know for sure because during the time it took him to touch and feel everything in the room someone or something could’ve entered the room, e.g. an insect.

The question arises then what point of view could be called the truth? The one based on sight, the one based on science or mathematical probability, the one based on personal experience (inhaling the air in the room) or touch? It would be an interesting exercise to figure out which of the forms of knowledge would best reflect the human condition and best serve that condition.

Another question that might be asked is, what would the effects of a presupposition about existence have on the person walking into the room?  How would a presupposition affect their vision of what’s in the room? Is seeing believing or do you have to believe to see? Would you ever find something microscopic without being told that something was present? Because of this, what worldview or viewpoint would be more open to that infinitely small and infinitely big, materialism or theism?

[1] Atheist are as divided in their opinions about many things as the religious note John Gray’s book “Seven Types of Atheist”.

[2] The Apostles Creed is based on twelve statements that Christians believe are facts.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

[3] Two examples of this is science and philosophy.

The child-like faith in Reason by John Gray

The child-like faith in reason

Belief in human rationality requires a greater leap of faith than any religion, argues atheist John Gray.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard religion being described as childish. It’s one of those uncritically accepted ideas – perhaps I should say memes – that have been floating around for generations. Even many religious people seem to accept that there’s something at least child-like about their faith. Believing in God, they sometimes say, is a bond between human beings and an infinitely wiser power – we should trust in God just as we would a loving parent. When they hear this, our evangelical atheists feel vindicated in their crusade. In their view, nothing could be more childish than a relationship in which human beings are utterly dependent on a supernatural power. For these atheists, putting your trust in such an imaginary being is the essence of childishness.

Speaking as an atheist myself, I can’t help smiling when I hear religion being mocked in this way. Looking at the world as it has been and continues to be at the present time, it’s belief in human reason that’s childish. Religious faith is based on accepting that we know very little of God. But we know a great deal about human beings, and one of the things we know for sure is that we’re not rational animals. Believing in the power of human reason requires a greater leap of faith than believing in God.

If human beings were potentially capable of applying reason in their lives they would show some sign of learning from what they had done wrong in the past, but history and everyday practice show them committing the same follies over and over again. They would alter their beliefs in accordance with facts, but clinging to beliefs in the face of contrary evidence is one of the most powerful and enduring human traits.

Outside of some areas of science, human beings rarely give up their convictions just because they can be shown to be false. No doubt we can become a little more reasonable, at least for a time, in some parts of our lives, but being reasonable means accepting that many human problems aren’t actually soluble, and our persistent irrationality is one of these problems. At its best, religion is an antidote against the prevailing type of credulity – in our day, a naive faith in the boundless capacities of the human mind.

The belief in reason that is being promoted today rests on a number of childishly simple ideas. One of the commonest is that history’s crimes are mistakes that can be avoided in future as we acquire greater knowledge. But human evil isn’t a type of error that can be discarded like an obsolete scientific theory. If history teaches us anything it’s that hatred and cruelty are permanent human flaws, which find expression whatever beliefs people may profess.

In Europe before and during World War Two, persecution and genocide were supported by racial and eugenic theories, which allowed some groups to be demonized. These theories were pseudo-science of the worst kind, but it wasn’t this that discredited them. They were exposed for what they were by the defeat of Nazism, which revealed the horrors to which they had led. Subsequent investigation has since demonstrated that such theories are scientifically worthless. But the habit of demonizing other human beings hasn’t gone away. The same minorities that were targeted in the past – Jews, Roma, immigrants and gay people, for example – are being targeted in many countries today.

Across much of Europe, the politics of hate has returned with the rise of the far right. From one point of view, this isn’t surprising. The lesson of history is that in conditions such as those that exist in some parts of Europe, old bigotries and prejudices become more virulent and more dangerous. When incomes fall, jobs are scarce and there’s no prospect of improvement, those who appear different tend to be scapegoated and blamed for society’s ills. What may seem more surprising is that Europe’s elites are so complacent. Dark forces are on the move again, and yet as far as those who govern the continent are concerned, business goes on much as usual.

This complacency testifies to another enduring human flaw – sticking to a project when it has become self-defeating in its effects. Pushing ahead with ever greater union when large parts of the continent are suffering massive social dislocation fuels the very divisions the European Union was supposed to overcome. If Europe’s elites were even half-way reasonable, they would put their grand project on one side and focus on dealing with this danger. But like true believers everywhere, they’re convinced the only thing wrong with their dream is that it hasn’t yet been fully realised. Everything suggests they’ll push on until the entire edifice they’ve constructed cracks under the strain.

Science may yet confirm what history so strongly suggests – irrationality is hard-wired in the human animal

The refusal to see clear and present danger shows that the idea that human beings base their beliefs on their experience is just a fairy-tale. The opposite is closer to the truth – shaping their perceptions according to what they already believe, human beings block out from their minds anything that disturbs their view of the world. Psychologists who examine this tendency – sometimes called cognitive dissonance – have speculated that refusing to face the truth may confer an evolutionary advantage. Screening out unpleasant or disturbing facts may, in some circumstances, give some people a better chance of survival. But at the same time this tendency leads us all into one folly after another. Many regard science as the supreme embodiment of human reason, but science may yet confirm what history so strongly suggests – irrationality is hard-wired in the human animal.

Certainly, unreason can be tempered by the hard-won practices of civilization, but civilization will always be a precarious achievement. To believe that human beings can be much improved by rational argument is to assume that they are already reasonable, which is obviously false. The old doctrine of original sin contained a vital truth – there are impulses of irrational destructiveness in every one of us.tn-1970) was a philosopher, logician, and social reformer

This was the conclusion of the economist Maynard Keynes – by any standards one of the most brilliant minds of the last century. In his memoir My Early Beliefs, Keynes described how he renounced the faith in reason he’d had as a young man in Cambridge. Commenting on his friend the logician and social reformer Bertrand Russell, Keynes observed: “Bertie sustained simultaneously a pair of opinions ludicrously incompatible. He held that human affairs are carried on in a most irrational fashion, but that the remedy was quite simple and easy, since all we had to do was carry them on rationally. IMAGES

Today’s believers in reason are caught in the same contradiction. To imagine that we can become much more rational than we have ever been, if only we want to be and try hard enough, is itself thoroughly irrational. It’s an example of magical thinking, an expression of the belief in the omnipotence of human will that psychoanalysts identify as the fundamental infantile fantasy.

There’s something deliciously comic in the spectacle of people railing against unreason being themselves so obviously in the grip of a childish delusion. But we shouldn’t be too hard on our anti-religious evangelists. Evidently they need their simple faith in reason – it seems to be the only thing that keeps them going. That doesn’t mean we have to take them seriously. The notion that human life could ever be ruled by reason is an exercise in make-believe more far-fetched than any of the stories we were told as children. We’d all be better off if we saw ourselves as we are – intermittently and only ever partly-rational creatures, who never really grow up.

A Point of View is broadcast on Fridays on Radio 4 at 20:50 BST and repeated Sundays

My Personal Perspective on Atheism

 

My Personal Perspective on Atheism

 You can tell me all you want about the openness and sincerity of atheists but here’s my real-life experience of 72 years.  I have given hundreds of atheist books written by some of the best Christian apologists and not one of them have read them. I must gather from this than by in large they are not open seeking people. They seem to be fundamentalist in their thinking process and they’re thinking is like concrete. They do not seem to be overly interested in truth, which is understandable when considering their world view. Moreover, they are ignorant about the things that they criticize to the point of being ridiculous.

They have no facts; all they have is an attitude that they like to call “non-belief”. In their thinking, their best argument is a laundry list of the evils of religion, which they somehow believe addresses the question of the existence of God. The amazing thing is that they engage in this rock throwing while forgetting that they live in a glass house of communistic atheism, which has done more evil than all the religions in the world put together.

Their silliest parody is their constant appeal to science for the reason why they don’t believe in a God. Of course, every first-year science major knows that the subject of  God is outside of the realm of scientific study. The US National Academy of Sciences has gone on record with the following statement: ‘Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.” Taken from “Who Made God, Searching For A Theory Of Everything” by  Edgar Andrews.

If you want something to read, try reading or watching some of Jordan Peterson’s discussions with Sam Harris. As you watch, carefully observed the thinking process of the two men. I don’t agree with everything that Peterson says but at least his mind flows and is not concrete like Harris. Though I admit that Harris is a very intelligent person and is well spoken. However, having a well-spoken sophist as the head of a movement does not prove the movement right.

Atheism an Assumption Based Faith

Atheism an Assumption Based Faith

The atheism faith is based on at least two assumptions that cannot be proven.  And yes, it is a faith because it is an idea that exists in the human mind and is supported by other human beliefs.  The idea that it is a non-belief is nothing but atheistic sophistry.  Calling it a non-belief is like calling it a non-idea.  Just some more nonsense.

Let’s look at a couple their assumptions.  The first one being that there is no God.  No one can prove that there is no God for in order to do so they would have to be everywhere in the universe at the same time and also outside of the universe at the same time, for the very place that they were not, might be the very place that the Uncreated One is present.  They would also have to know everything there is to know in the universe, for if there was one thing that they didn’t know it might be that there’s a God.  In essence, they would have to be God in order to say with certitude that there is not a God.  The atheist always has to leave a small possibility that there might be a god, in which possibility itself negates the very idea of atheism.  However, out of fear of the camel getting his nose into the tent, many pretend to deny the possibility altogether.

The second assumption that I have found in most atheist’s is the belief that they are smarter than those that believe in a God.  I have found this trait even in those who seem to be friendly towards religion.  Of course, this is an assumption that has no scientific basis.  In fact, recent polling of scientist’s indicate that the split is about 50-50 as to whether or not they believe in some kind of higher power.  There is also evidence that at the higher levels of IQ there is about equal numbers that believe in a Higher power.  Some believe that the American philosopher and psychologist  William James was the most intelligent man in recent times and of course he was a believer.  I have read estimates that his IQ was twice that of Einstein’s.  Many people believe that Chris Lagan, a believer, is the smartest man alive at the present time with an IQ of over 200.  Of course, this does not prove or disprove the existence of a God, but it does prove the atheists second assumption that they are smarter than believers, as totally wrong.

The only argument that an atheist has, if it can be called an argument, is that the human mind can create alternatives to the God hypothesis.  However, alternative narratives are neither evidence, nor proof that a position is right, they are simply positing another position.

The Myths of Atheism

The Myths of Atheism

Myth #1

Atheists are smarter than believers.  This is a common myth among many non-intellectual atheists and even the sentiment of some of their more intelligent expounder’s.  If this myth is true, we would expect to find those on the higher IQ level to be unbelievers.  However, that is not what we find.  In fact, we find somewhat of the opposite for example; Christopher Langan who many believe to be the smartest man on earth has an IQ of close to 200 and he is a theist.  The philosopher William James who some believe to be the smartest man that ever lived with an IQ of 270 or above, he also was a believer.  Albert Einstein did not believe in a personal God but did believe in a higher power[i].  Then there is Copernicus, Newton and Galileo, Shakespeare and Goethe.  All of these men were estimated to have had very high IQ’s and all were also believers.  The founding fathers of our country were all brilliant men with high IQs and all were either Christians or Deist.  My personal belief is that IQ has little or nothing to do with belief or non-belief in God.  It most likely includes a number of components ranging from genetics to environment.

Myth #2

Most scientists are unbelievers.  A survey of scientists who are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science was conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press in May and June of 2009 and they found finds that members of this group are, on the whole, much less religious than the general public.1  Indeed, the survey shows that scientists are roughly half as likely as the general public to believe in God or in a higher power. According to the poll, just over half of scientists (51%) believe in some form of deity or higher power; specifically, 33% of scientists say they believe in God, while 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power.  By contrast, 95% of Americans believe in some form of deity or higher power, according to a survey of the general public conducted by the Pew Research Center in July 2006.  Specifically, more than eight-in-ten Americans (83%) say they believe in God and 12% believe in a universal spirit or higher power. Finally, the poll of scientists finds that four-in-ten scientists (41%) say they do not believe in God or in a higher power, while the poll of the public finds that only 4% of Americans share this view.  This poll was taken in 2007 and may not reflect present figures.

Myth #3

Science disproves religion.  “Science doesn’t draw conclusions about supernatural explanations Do gods exist? Do supernatural entities intervene in human affairs? These questions may be important, but science won’t help you answer them. Questions that deal with supernatural explanations are, by definition, beyond the realm of nature — and hence, also beyond the realm of what can be studied by science.”  Science Dept, University of California at Berkeley

“Science describes and explains the natural world: it does not prove or disprove beliefs about the supernatural.”  American Anthropological Association

“No aspect of science can address supernatural questions…supernatural entities by definition operate outside of natural laws and so [truly] cannot be investigated using methods of experimentation.”  American Association for the Advancement of Science

“Science is not based on faith, nor does it preclude faith.”  American Astronomical Society”

“Theologians may also be interested in the physical world, but in addition they usually believe in a metaphysical or supernatural realm inhabited by souls, spirits, angels, or gods, and this heaven or nirvana is often believed to be the future resting place of all believers after death. Such supernatural constructions are beyond the scope of science.”  National Academy of Sciences

The National Science Teachers Association adds, “Science is precluded from making statements about supernatural forces because these are outside its provenance.”

“Explanations employing no naturalistic or supernatural events, whether or not explicit reference is made to a supernatural being, are outside the realm of science …. all of science, is necessarily silent on religion and neither refutes nor supports the existence of a deity or deities.”  National Association of Biology Teachers.

The US National Academy of Sciences has gone on record with the following statement: “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes.  Science can say nothing about the supernatural.  Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”

When a scientist speaks about religion he is not speaking as a scientist.  He is speaking as a philosopher or a theologian.  For example, when you ask a scientist if there something outside of the natural order?  He may say no, but his answer is not based on science but on presuppositions taken from philosophy.

[i] Einstein faith question has been settled by Max Jammer’s book on “Einstein and Religion, Physics and Theology.”