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Comments

  1. Neil Crellin says:

    This site is obviously a half clever attempt by a religious organisation to proselytise. The normal deviousness and contempt for intelligence by fundamental religious fanatics could not be more obvious. What dishonest people your religions are.

    • graham says:

      Thank-you for commenting Neil. However could you please direct your comments to the contents of the site. If you disagree with what has been written please tell us why you disagree.

    • Ray McKendry says:

      I don’t see what is devious about it. It seems honest enough to me. Of course atheists using Darwinian ideas is pretty deceptive because if Darwin had known about the revealations of DNA, RNA and the electron microscope he would not have held onto atheistic evolution. Evolutionists cannot explain very much in reality becuase they do not understand why I love my wife ior why they love anyone.

  2. WarWeasle says:

    Wow. So scientists haven’t discovered everything yet and what we have discovered is complex, difficult, and sometimes unpleasant. Is it better to create an easy answer so you don’t have to work for it? Yes, some of these can be painted in a negative light, much like you have done. It is true we do not know “where” or “when” (since that is when time began) the Bang came from. But we are still looking! We are still looking for consciousness, abigenesis, and a grand-unification-theory. Discovery is exciting! We should be praising explorers, not pooh-poohing them for disagreeing with a two-thousand year old manuscript.

    • graham says:

      Yes, it is true that there are a lot of very important things we don’t know – origin of life, consciousness, intelligence, morality, meaning, free will (?) – and have little foreseeable prospect of ever knowing how they could occur by purely naturalistic means.

      And I doubt if most young people appreciate how barren our knowledge in these crucial areas is. THey should be told.

      • WarWeasle says:

        I wouldn’t call it barren. I would call religious understanding of reality barren. There are gaps, but the foundations are very solid. Even newton vs Einstein is just adding a little to the first theory to make it work under special circumstances. As opposed to religious dogma, which can not change unless you’ve been reading the book wrong all this time.

        • graham says:

          Well, with all that missing you can tell yourself that the foundations are still solid, but it leaves me unconvinced. And again, young people should be aware of just how much is not known and without prospect of ever being known.

    • Andrew says:

      Which ever you believe (special creation, or evolution), you can still perform the same investigations – why things work the way they do. In fact many of the major advancements were made by people who believe in a God of order. The point of the article is even if the general outline of evolution is right, and the specific mechanisms by which it could have happened are found – then; “what does that mean?” What if you keep looking? Making a discovery is exciting for the person who made it perhaps, but what are the chances it will make any difference to the characters in the story who are looking for meaning or purpose in life?

  3. LSYX says:

    Hello,

    You claim that only a god can provide final accountability for immoral actions. Given the existence of a god, however, isn’t it possible to obtain forgiveness for immoral actions after they are committed, thus escaping any form of punishment?

    If god’s acceptance of your actions is the foundation of morality, doesn’t god accept every possible action by offering forgiveness? Aren’t you arguing that “anything is permissible” under this scheme as well?

    • graham says:

      I don’t think I actually said that on the site but I gues that conclusion could be taken to be inferred.

      You are correct that the Christian position is that God will forgive all those who seek his forgiveness. But it would not be correct to conclude from that that a person can seek God’s forgiveness, then continue to live however they like, seek forgiveness again, live however they like, seek forgiveness again, and on and on like that.

      If a person is to meaningfully seek God’s forgiveness they must be genuinely sorry for their wrong-doing. A person’s life is changed when they become a Christian and they are not to continue to live in ways that are offensive to God. Paul addressed this issue directly in Chapter 6 of his letter to the church in Rome. Romans6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

      So no, it is not the case that anything is permissable according to the Christian position.

  4. Ted Whileman says:

    The problem with your site is that the atheist Dad is a straw man. He’s stuffed with a mish-mash of quotations, most of which have been stripped of their context. Every page he says something that I and nearly all my favorite famous atheists would fervently disagree with. He is merely a mouthpiece for a theist’s poorly understood idea of an atheist. (That goes double for your two fantasies of sociopaths, the guy with the knife and the evil wife.)

    Furthermore, there are some real philosophical conundrums that your comic raises, but you imply that theism solves them, and it doesn’t. For example, theism does not solve the problem of moral relativism — something Socrates pointed out long before Jesus came along. And it doesn’t solve the problem of free will versus determinism either. These are all interesting questions, but theism deals with them only with hand-waving and wishful thinking.

    • graham says:

      It is not very helpful to say that you disagree with just about everything and then not specify even one thing you disagree with and why.

      You seem to miss the point with the two sociopaths (in the Determinist’s Dilemma and Making Up Meaning), as you describe them. If determinism is correct, as virtually all atheists seem to think, then none of us have any control over what we are doing, whether we are doing things that you happen to like or you don’t like. You need to demonstrate how it is possible for us to have any control over what we are doing in a materialistic universe. You say that theism relies on hand-waving and wishful thinking, but at least it is a coherent notion for God to have created genuine free agents. It would seem to me to be absolutely incoherent for a completely materialistic, mechanistic universe to generate free will. Yet we all have a very strong sense that we truly are free agents and we regard other human beings as having free will.

      As far as the ‘evil woman’ goes, I don’t know why, on your terms you should regard her that way. There is no absolute meaning to life, according to every atheistic writer I have read, so it would seem we are free to generate any meaning we like. If that is so, it is essentially meaningless to denigrate or praise one person’s manufactured meaning relative to another. And yet you are right, we want to say a person like that woman is wrong or evil, but it doesn’t make sense to do so if atheism is true.

  5. Ted Whileman says:

    Sorry my comment wasn’t more helpful, but there are so many errors in your depiction of atheism that it’s hard to know where to start.

    One place would be the notion that atheism necessitates moral relativity, giving me no basis to judge what is right and wrong. This is false. There are moral relativists, and some of them are atheists, but moral relativism does not necessarily follow from atheism any more than pedophilia necessarily follows from Catholicism. None of the world’s most famous living atheists that I know of are moral relativists. In fact, one of them, Sam Harris, has just published a book that explicitly attacks moral relativism, *The Moral Landscape*. I know that Dawkins is not a moral relativist, so the quote you have of his suggesting that he is is almost certainly whittled from its context to misrepresent him. (Which, if it’s deliberate, is a kind of lying. Which, to me, does not speak well of the morals of the whittler.) In fact, many of the atheist objections to theism are made on moral grounds.

    This is because theism is highly susceptible to moral arbitrariness as well. This is the lesson learned in Socrates’ dialogue with Euthyphro. If God’s ethics are based on what is objectively good, then we do not necessarily need God to tell us what is good. It’s a truth that is out there in the world, and we can figure it out for ourselves. However, if what is good is whatever God says, then morality is arbitrary. (And, in fact, it seems to be so in the Bible, where God constantly does all kinds of things that seem completely evil to any rational human being.) And if morality is the arbitrary will of God, then it is very difficult to know what is good, because how can we know what God wants? Are we supposed to take your word for it? Are we supposed to take the word of the authors of books that claim to be divinely inspired? Why this book over that book? Why not the Book of Mormon or the Koran? Do we just listen to what we perceive to be God’s voice in our own minds (like, for example, when it tells us to slit the throat of our own child on an altar)? In fact, thinking that morality consists of the arbitrary will of God is very dangerous morally, because it leads to cults, like Jim Jones or David Koresh. (In fact, all religions are really just cults with longevity.)

    No, there must be some human way of discerning what is objectively good — in which case, our notion of what God wants is defined by our innate sense of morality, and not the other way around. This is how all but the the most literalist fundamentalist is able to accept or reject the elements of a given religious tradition, by measuring the tenets against his or her own sense of morality. “I will feel very guilty if I murder someone, somewhat guilty if I get a divorce, but not guilty at all if I eat shellfish.” Making such moral calculations is essential to our well-being. This is how we were able to abolish slavery, even though our religious tradition tacitly approved of it. We said “Slavery obviously isn’t good. I can’t believe that God would have wanted this. From now on, I’m going to ignore or reinterpret all parts of the tradition where God seems to be indifferent to or approving of slavery.”

    Humans have evolved the capacity for empathy and reason, and this is where all human ethics come from, including the acceptable parts of religious ethics — “don’t murder, don’t steal, love your neighbor, etc.” (I can explain in more detail, but that’s all I have time for today.)

    • graham says:

      I hope at some point to read Harris’s book, The Moral Landscape, but after checking the 1 star reviews on amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Landscape-Science-Determine-Values/product-reviews/1439171211/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar), I won’t be expecting too much. I suggest you check those reviews out, many of which are written by people who generally are supportive of Harris’s position.

      In particular I would cite this portion of the comments posted by Ian Kluge:
      “Take for example the claim [by Harris] that “science can determine values.” However, no scientific procedure can tell us what we *should* do – which is the realm of ethics – and even Harris admits it: “Science cannot tell us why, scientifically, we *should* value health” (p. 36, original emphasis). If science cannot tell us why we should value something as scientifically measurable as health, it is clear that science cannot tell us why we should value anything as a good. What can science tell me about the intrinsic value of honesty, loyalty, respect for life and appreciation of person? Moreover, science has no way of establishing the morality of torturing a terrorist who has vital information that could save thousands; cheating on a spouse; bombing German civilians (killing 650,000 to 1 million) during WW II. Science is helpless here because ethics deals with imperatives – things we are obligated to do – and science cannot measure obligation.

      Another difficulty is using well-being as the criteria of morality. He admits this “leaves the question of what constitutes well-being genuinely open” (p.12) which is true – but this does not encourage him to fine-tune his thinking. Whose well-being? What about the measurable well-being of a majority being used against a minority? Well-being as the criterion of morality provides no standard by which to judge among conflicting theories of well-being. All of the great dictators of the 20th C – Stalin, Hitler, Mao – committed enormous evils while working for the well-being of their nations.

      Instead of refining his idea, he simply fogs the issue by going on about brain-scans and measurable well-being – as if this solved any ethical dilemma. Could members of the SS or Stalin’s NKVD have felt measurably positive brain-states as they killed and tortured on behalf of the greater glory of their ideology or society? Of course. The problem is, ethics isn’t about feeling good – it’s about doing the right things – – and brain-states don’t tell us if our pleasure is about something good or something evil.

      Another difficulty is the “authority problem.” For a moral command to be an imperative i.e. something we *should* do – requires that they be authoritative – but the source of this authority is a problem for all ethical systems that want to remain strictly scientific. Individual or collective consensus is unsatisfactory for obvious reasons. That is why Kant – who did not think God’s ontological existence could be proven – proposed a “postulatory theism” in which we postulate God and act *as if* he existed to solve the authority problem. Not the best solution but unlike Harris, he at least faced the problem.”

      You claim that Dawkins is not a moral relativist. I would agree that in some of the things he says and writes it is evident that he doesn’t like moral relativism, but the fact he doesn’t like it does not give him any basis for escaping from it. To take Kluge’s final point above as one example, how does Dawkins or Harris or any other atheist, escape the “authority problem” in relation to moral commands?

      You assert that “there must be some human way of discerning what is objectively good”. On what grounds can you make such a claim? Why, in a universe that, on your terms, has unintentionally come into being and has merely happened to spawn conscious beings into existence for no ultimate purpose, should there be such a thing as objective good? In such a universe on what principled basis can it be said that one behaviour is any better or worse than any other?

      Regarding the Euthyphro Dilemma may I direct you to the following article http://creation.com/atheism, specifically point 4.2 (but I would recommend the whole article. It contains a fuller transcript of the interview with Dawkins where he concedes that the notion that rape is wrong is arbitrary).

    • CB says:

      In some societies we help our neighbors rebuild burned barns. In other societies, we eat our neighbors for lunch. Who is “moral”, and why?

  6. Ted Whileman says:

    Well, I think all of your objections to Harris’s book are anticipated and directly addressed in it. It is true that the book is receiving some flack from some atheists, but that is precisely because of its adversarial stance towards moral relativism, and specifically the cultural relativism that would defend the barbaric practices of Islamic fundamentalism from criticism. You sort of imply that “it’s so bad even some atheists dislike it!” ignoring the fact that Harris has more agreement with you regarding morals than he does with them. In fact, this is true of all the most prominent of the “new” atheists. Not a moral relativist in the bunch.

    It is true that the totalitarianism of the 20th century committed great evil in a misguided pursuit of well-being. The idea is not that pursuit of well-being is in and of itself good. In fact, that’s kind of the point. As Harris defines it, everyone (except for a few obvious outliers) uses well-being to define moral action, even theists. You advocate coming to God because doing so will improve your well-being, both in this life and the next. Harris’s thesis is that science can, in principle, judge how successful the various strategies are. So, for example, you can compare quality of life under the Taliban with that in Alabama with that in Norway, etc. Having done so, you can judge the moral course of action accordingly.

    Now, whether you are justified in rejecting moral relativism in a Godless universe is a more interesting question. But as I’ve said, Euthyphro’s dilemma shows how theism is on no firmer ground than atheism in this regard. Ultimately we judge what is good not solely by the claims that are made about God, but by the correspondence of those claims to our pre-existing moral intuitions. (Or at least most of us do. If you don’t, then you’re Westboro Baptist or some such.)

    I’ve read the Dawkins quote in context, and I still think you are straining to misunderstand him. He’s allowing, correctly, that we might have evolved to such that we had no awareness of rape being wrong. Consider the humble duck. In some species, duck sex is never consensual. It is rape, every time. The female ducks resists, fighting sometimes to the death, while the male ducks, acting in gangs, force her into submission. (All part of God’s plan, of course, if you believe in that sort of thing.) Humans evolved differently. We evolved the capacity to feel empathy towards each other and even to feel shame and disgust at that kind of behavior. Now, is it your position that universal wickedness of rape means ducks are inherently evil? Or do you instead agree with Dawkins that it’s only wrong in creatures who are organized to understand as being wrong (however they might have been organized, naturally or supernaturally?) Understanding that rape is a concept that may not apply in a moral sense to the case of ducks does not mean that moral relativism regarding rape is permissable for humans. It can be the case that we evolved a capacity to perceive objective moral truths about our relations with each other. But the interview and your quoting of it is playing a kind of shell game to imply that Dawkins takes a relativistic stance towards human rape. That’s dishonest.

    Finally, you ask: “Why, in a universe that, on your terms, has unintentionally come into being and has merely happened to spawn conscious beings into existence for no ultimate purpose, should there be such a thing as objective good?” In a way, I sympathize with your anxiety about this, and all I can say is that I think it is born from a childish expectation that the whole universe should be about you. It’s a form pf egotism really. Essentially you are asking “If the ultimate infinite reason for everything doesn’t know or care if I treat my fellow beings as I wish to be treated, then why should I?” My answer is that you do it for their sake, because you can imagine in some sense what it is like to be them. You can be good even if no one is watching.

    • graham says:

      Some people commit rape and from what you say, some ducks always commit “rape”. What, from your perspective, makes rape wrong?

      From what you have written it would appear that you are saying that: for humans at least, the molecules in the brain have happened to coalesce over time in such a way that the act of rape (and even the thought of rape) happens to create feelings of shame and disgust (at least in most people), and it is the existence of those feelings that constitute the case for declaring rape to be “wrong”.

      Presumably, you, and Dawkins, would say that it is quite possible that the molecules of our brains could have coalesced quite differently over time (given even slightly different initial conditions) with the result that humans have no feelings of guilt and shame about rape and therefore we would not regard rape as wrong; right? (Presumably you think this is the case with those ducks.)

      There would appear to be no necessity for human brains to have formed one way or the other – after all, the existence of human brains and indeed the existence of all matter was completely unplanned, unintended, and without any objective, from the atheist’s viewpoint.

      Our present feelings about rape are merely the chance end-product thrown up by molecules blindly interacting according to the laws of physics. (Surely you don’t want to advocate that the laws of physics “care” about how we feel about rape?) Our feelings about rape are completely relative to the nature of uncaring matter.

      You then make the jump from saying how things happen to be to saying that is how they ought to be.

      You need to justify that jump: you are committing the naturalistic fallacy by claiming that you can derive an “ought” from an “is”. Why should anyone have feelings of guilt and shame about rape? Apparently those ducks don’t and a significant number of people (those who commit rape and don’t care) appear not to also. It is just the way they naturally are and who is to say that one natural state is any better or worse than another?

  7. Ted Whileman says:

    Regarding the “naturalistic fallacy.” I think you are mistaken here. An example of the “naturalistic fallacy” would say something like “A certain number of sociopathic rapists occur naturally in any human society, therefore rape is natural and cannot be said to be immoral.” But my whole point is that the leading atheists today are not saying this, are in fact saying the opposite of this. We are saying that rape is immoral in spite of its natural occurrences, and it would be so even if we didn’t know it to be so.

    You ask, “What, from your perspective, makes rape wrong?”

    We have evolved sentience and the capacity for empathy — that is, to know others as we know ourselves, (or well enough to know that they would not enjoy being raped any more than we would). Therefore, I can empathize with rape victims, and that’s enough to make it wrong for me. There is a word for people for whom this is not enough to make it wrong: sociopaths. There is actually something wrong with their brains. You can see it in a brain-imaging device. A certain part of the brain that lights up in normal people doesn’t light up in them.

    Now, it’s true, as Dawkins admits, that in an alternate reality we might have evolved without this capacity for rape-reviling empathy (as the ducks have). We might, in that sense, all have been sociopaths. But we didn’t evolve this way.

    Apparently that’s not good enough for you. I don’t quite understand this. To illustrate: With a bit of bad luck, I might have been severely retarded. I might have even been incapable of knowing that 2+2=4. That would not have meant that the fact of 2+2=4 was entirely contingent on my mind being able to comprehend it. 2+2 would have go on equalling four, objectively, regardless of my ignorance. Similarly, rape between sentient creatures would have gone on being wrong even if humanity had evolved to be composed entirely of sociopaths. We just would have been incapable of knowing it. But that doesn’t make it less wrong to those who have eyes to see, or undermine the case to be made that it is wrong. Your intuition is telling you otherwise, but intuitions can be wrong, and I think yours is in this case.

    It’s interesting to turn the question around and ask you: “What, from your perspective, makes rape wrong?” It’s not mentioned in the Ten Commandments, suggesting that God didn’t think it as important a sin as failing to observe the Sabbath. In fact, the practice is tacitly approved and even commanded by God from time to time in the Old Testament (e.g., Deuteronomy 20:10-14, and others).

    At one point God decrees that when a man commits rape his punishment should be to pay a fine to her father and then to marry his victim. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). I know that this is utterly wrong because I can empathize with the victim, and I can reason that if an evil man had enough money for the fine, and wanted a disinclined woman for his wife, by this moral logic he could rape her and buy her from her father, then keep her forever for his sexual slave regardless of her wishes. Unlike the author of Deutoronomy, I can recognize how evil that would be.

    So my question to you: do you endorse the claim made by the Deuteronomist? Or do you share my capacity for empathy for the rape victim and find it repugnant? And if you share my capacity for empathy, do you think you would lose that capacity if you were to become convinced that we had evolved? All I can tell you is that I believe in evolution, but my capacity for empathy is not diminished by that belief. If anything, it’s heightened by my recognition that we finite, mortal, sentient creatures have no one but each other to love us. All the more reason why we must love one another.

    • graham says:

      You say that people who are labelled as being sociopaths have something “wrong” with their brains. Now it might be true that in some respects their brains are different to those of most people but you have to show why being “different” equates to being “wrong”.

      Your position implies that there is some state that the human brain ought to be in. On what do you base that claim? How do you know how it ought to be? Why ought it be one way rather than another? Who says so? How do you know you are right?

      After all, the brains of both those deemed as being sociopathic and those not deemed as being sociopathic are both entirely naturally occurring – why is one such brain state wrong and the other right?

      Clearly you have some notion that an objective set of absolute moral values somehow exist out there and you believe that you and likeminded people have been able to tap into those values. Otherwise, you would not be able to make pronouncements that some people act immorally. You make an unhelpful analogy between maths and morality. There is an objectivity with mathematics but until you can demonstrate the objectivity of moral values in an atheistic universe, the analogy fails.

      So, given that, typically, atheists believe that the universe came about unintentionally, that it has no purpose, and that it blindly proceeds solely according to the laws of physics, can you please explain how these objective, absolute moral values came into existence?

      Are you saying that it is in the very nature of atoms, or even sub-atomic particles, to produce such values? – as surely on your terms nothing else exists. Even if you do believe that atoms somehow generate such moral values, why should anyone care what atoms happen to have mindlessly thrown up? Is it possible to offend or disobey atoms?

      Presumably it is just the luck of the draw that you, apparently, have a brain of the more typical type rather than the purportedly different type of brain such as that which the sociopath has. Or do you regard the sociopath as being responsible for the type of brain that they were born with? Are you a “good/moral” person because your brain is structured in a certain way and is a sociopath a “bad/immoral” person because their brain is differently structured?

      How responsible is anyone for their behaviour, their words, or even their thoughts? If we do not have significant control over what we do, say and think, then surely any talk about moral and immoral behaviour is a complete waste of time.

    • CB says:

      But, what happened to “survival of the fittest”? If such is the case, wouldn’t you want to eliminate as many of your competitors for food and mates as possible? Your argument for morality, whether supernatural or natural in origin, flies in the face of evolutionary theory.

  8. Ted Whileman says:

    Such a lot of questions! You are a bit of a Quella yourself! (But I see you didn’t answer any of mine. My inner Quella would still like to know if you think that a monetary fine and a shotgun wedding to the victim are a morally correct punishment for rape. Or what do you make of some of the other rape-friendly passages in the Bible, such as God’s command to kill everyone in a city but the virgins whom the men may take as spoils of war (Numbers 31:7-18). I think it’s only fair to ask since you are happy to try to create the impression that Dawkins’s position on rape is shaky. The God of the Christian Bible seems much worse on this account to me.)

    How do I know that it is wrong to behave like a psychopath? As I said already: I have empathy and a conscience. You seem to want to plunge into the bottomless pit of radical moral skepticism where every appeal to empathy and conscience will be met with pure incredulity. But I think what you are really trying to ask me is this: “What would you say to someone who was sincerely incapable of understanding why it is wrong to behave like a psychopath?” The answer is: nothing. Such a person must be unequipped with empathy and conscience, and that person is, by definition, a psychopath. No moral conversation is possible with such a one. Just as no mathematical conversation is possible with someone who is sincerely incapable of understanding that 2+2=4. We can’t talk them into agreeing with us. We can only protect ourselves against them. But theism has no advantage over atheism is this regard. (In fact, true Christian ethics would leave us helpless against them with nothing but the dubious hope of retributive justice in the afterlife. “Turning the other cheek” is an impractical way to deal with a psychopath.)

    Another real question for you seems to be: “So how does morality come into existence in a godless universe?” The answer is: it evolves with us. When sentience evolved, it also eventually evolved the capacity for empathy with other sentient beings. It did so because, under the right conditions, these are adaptive traits. Of course, you are right that it is absurd to speak of sentience and empathy previously existing somehow in the molecules from which we are composed, or, for that matter, in the vast universe at large. Our sentience, and our morality as I’ve described it, emerge from the patterns that we make, that we are, in those molecules, and those patterns arise through evolution. This is counter-intuitive, and it requires some real understanding of how evolution works to grasp it, but it is true nonetheless. If Quella had a smarter Dad, instead of the strawman you’ve imagined, he could explain it to her.

    Your skepticism about the possibility of this kind of emergence is a kind of radical reductionism. It’s understandable, but ultimately it’s failing “to see the forest for the trees.” It’s like saying “Beethoven’s Ninth is just air molecules bumping about in an unusually specific fashion.” or “The Bible is just a lot of ink stains on a stack of flattened pulpwads.” It’s not entirely wrong per se, except for the “just,” which ignores so much. Some things, including sentient beings, are greater than the sum of their mindless molecules. Really the molecules are just a medium for real thing or being, which is an amazingly complex pattern in myriad relationships with other such patterns.

    Another question you seem to be asking is this: “What if those patterns has not evolved in that way? Doesn’t that mean that there would be no morality as we know it, and that therefore morality is subjective?” No. Objective moral truths can pertain to any sentient entity with a capacity for empathy regardless of whether such an entity yet exists, the same as 2+2=4 regardless of whether there exists a mind to know it. Without sentience, these truths have no relevance to anything, but so what? Without empathy, these truths may not be perceived, but, again, so what? They are no less true for that.

    There are some other interesting questions that you’ve raised which I don’t have time right now to get to — particularly regarding free will and responsibility. These are tricky issues, I admit. But one of my original points is that I don’t think that theism is any better at answering them than naturalism. (Free will versus determinism is highly problematic in theology. You ever heard of the Calvinists?) And my main point is that your depiction of atheism is ignorant and/or dishonest about the fact the many of the most influential atheists in the world right now believe in and argue strongly for the existence of objective morality (Sam Harris) and free will (Daniel Dennett). It’s slanderous to claim otherwise, and lazy to dismiss their arguments without making any real effort to engage them. You could even say that it is immoral.

    • graham says:

      Yes, I am saying that radical moral scepticism is inherent to atheism. That is not to say that you cannot, or have not, created a set of rules that you label “moral values”, which you think are very worthy. The problem for you is, you cannot provide any compelling reason as to why anyone else should take the slightest notice of the moral values that you have made up. One made-up morality is no better or worse than any other made-up morality.

      You assert though that morality has actually evolved with us. If for argument’s sake it is conceded that this odd notion – that mindless matter could give rise to empathy – is true, that still does not tell us why anyone should take notice of any empathetic feelings that may happen to spontaneously arise. At this point you resort to name-calling – labelling dissenters as sociopaths and psychopaths – but that is not an argument. People are different – why shouldn’t people behave differently to the way you want them to? Further, they may be quite capable of recognising that what they do hurts other people, but why should they care that that is so?

      You claim that sentient beings are greater than the sum of their mindless molecules. That sounds good, but only if you don’t think about it. It is just a raw assertion to say that, “molecules are just a medium for real thing or being”. You say that there are amazingly complex patterns (presumably in the physical universe) but how do patterns make mindless molecules anything more than mindless molecules? Reference to Beethoven’s symphonies and written text is simply to beg the question. Theists will say that these things are only possible because humans are more than just physical beings. You have to show how matter alone can give rise to life, consciousness, objective morality, meaning and free will.

      In particular I look forward to your materialistic account of free will (and not all Christians are Calvinists by the way). I have read Dennett’s book Elbow Room. In the closing pages of the book Dennett abandons all appeal to rational argument and simply asserts, “Yes, if we try hard, we can imagine a being that listens to the voice of reason and yet is not exempted from the causal milieu . . . Yes, we can imagine a rational and deterministic being who is not deluded when it views its future as open and ‘up to’ it.” P.170

      You will probably be delighted to know that I do not have what I consider to be satisfying answers (for myself either) to a number of questions about Old Testament ethics, despite having given considerable thought to it over the years. Recently though I heard of a new book, Is God a Moral Monster? which purports to address these issues and I hope to read it sometime soon.

      Of course you will be asking why it is that I have retained my Christian beliefs if I have not had sufficient answers in this area. All I can say is, that while I agree that these are very important matters, I do not believe that Christianity ultimately rides or falls on them. In the end the atheist has to resort to a belief in secular miracles to account for life, consciousness, objective morality, ultimate meaning and free will. Christians believe in miracles too but at least we believe there is someone greater than us who can bring them about. Please read carefully: http://creation.com/hawking-aliens-life-by-chance.

      • Bob says:

        Like you, there are a few things in the Bible for which I have no answers (and I also don’t consider them deal breakers, since the rest of the system is the only thing that gives a sufficient answer to–as Francis Schaeffer puts it, “the universe and its complexity and the ‘manishness of man'”), but regarding the rape passage in Deut, I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the East and that passage doesn’t confuse people there as much as it does here. They would know based on their very similar-to-Hebrew culture that if a girl is rapes, it effectively means her life is over. No one would want to marry her regardless of how not at fault she was, and since women in that culture aren’t ‘free agents’ the way they are in the West/US, it would effectively mean the end of any meaningful life for her. So the injunction to marry was a punishment to the rapist and for *her* benefit — that she wouldn’t be left with a pointless life. And there’s no question to them that if she (or her parents, more likely) didn’t want her to marry the rapist, it wouldn’t be *required*… that is, it’s an option to protect the girl; not something should would *have* to do.

        Now of course, even that would be considered horrible, no doubt to you, Ted and I, but that’s only because we’re operating on a foundation of moral principles true in the West, which a) is arguably based on the Judeo-Christian ethical system, and b) just makes your point that it is arbitrary from culture-to-culture if there is no absolute standard out there to appeal to.

        Thanks for the website… I know that people have issues with the way that, for example, Ray Comfort questions people, but sheer quantity of people out there that believe the atheistic system has the answers (to more than a few ‘details’) is unbelievable and the average person (unlike Ted, perhaps) is simply believing it on the basis of faith… people need to be challenged to consider their presuppositions before holding their beliefs on the basis of faith in authority.

  9. James A says:

    I grabbed one of your flyers from the Alain de Botton talk so thought I’d have a quick look.

    Um… I don’t get this site – I’m unable to follow anything you have written – are atheist or theist?

    Thanks

  10. Hans-Georg Lundahl says:

    Are you not giving atheists a bit too much credit for being able to reason things out logically?

  11. Thank you very much. I liked this flyer. I wish we had it in Hebrew.

  12. colin Nunn says:

    Interesting how atheists desperately jump to defend their faith. The truth seems always to alarm them greatly as the word of God says: the evidence of God’s existence is manifest to them, and it is understood by what has been made, (the universe, life etc.) and that they are therefore without excuse. The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies show His handiwork. Every succeeding day speaks about His incredible greatness and every night reveals more and more information about Him – but only to those that have the courage and honesty to seek truth. Atheists are deep-down afraid of God and want desperately to be their own gods, thus they reject what is clearly evident.

  13. Robert says:

    I am a college student and appreciate the comic. While atheists attempt to maintain a high profile and act as though they are the wave of the future, it is interesting to note that, on a college campus, 99 percent of individuals I have talked to believe in God / find the suppositions of atheism unbelievable, counterintuitive, and even unscientific!

    It is interesting that God chooses not to provide overwhelming, unimpeachable “proof” of his existence at this time. For example, if he so chose, he could write in blazing letters of fire across the sky, “God is real!” for the world to see. But I see two reasons for God choosing not to (practically) force people to believe in him.

    First, the proverb holds true in all times and all places, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” The majority of the time, people choose not to believe in God because they are desperate to escape from the repercussions of such a belief. So a supernatural occurrence would quickly be rationalized: “I must have eaton too much pizza last night;” “How did you make that happen?” “Man, with photoshop and Apple engineers, we really Are entering an age of make-believe.” In other words, Jesus Christ said, “If they will not believe Moses and the Prophets, they will not believe, even if one should rise from the dead.” Think about that.

    Secondly, I am convinced that God wants us to believe in him, first and foremost, because we are overwhelmed with the goodness and superiority of his way over the world’s counterfeit. So he wants me to read his word, consider his character, ponder his laws and requirements, and visualize what my life would look like – and what the world at large would look like – if I were to believe in him and live the way he requires me to live. I realize how rich and good life would be if I live by his word. I follow him and obey him and cleave to him – and I realize in full truth how much better my life has become since I have come to believe in him. At this point, Jesus says, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

    It’s not so much about proving that God is real or proving that he isn’t. We really can’t, in a comprehensive sense, prove either one. But we can experiment – yes, we can experiment. We can take God at his word, and see if he proves himself to be real to ME PERSONALLY. And I know that God is real as verily as I know that I am real.

    “You shall seek me, and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.”

  14. John Tindale says:

    “Let’s take it as given that Richard Dawkins is correct: God does not, and never has, existed”

    A scientific mind should take nothing as a given. This is the mark of a religion, as some might take the existence of a creator as a given. Dawkins has a religion and is convinced as any. Its called atheism and it extends far, far beyond the evidence that he produces in his books.
    Dawkins is the high priest of a modern faith. Unfortunately as a scientific sceptic I don’t possess that much faith.

  15. Ken Punter says:

    Ted Whiteman poses the scenario: “If Quella had a smarter Dad” …
    Quella’s Dad has an above-average knowledge of the atheist position. Most fathers would not be able to give answers to their children as clear as those given in the text. It is evident that there are many positions taken by atheists, so that whatever position this “Dad” takes can be ridiculed by another atheist who holds differing views. I would challenge Tim to give his “wiser” answers to the questions, remembering that he is to address them to a child, of course. I am sure the cartoon would not lose its powerful message.
    Atheism has no answers to life’s big questions.

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