(Cartoon: The Christian Post/Rod Anderson)

Atheists Want a World Without Christianity. Here’s How It Would Look

History Records a No-Christian World That Looks More Like Hell on Earth

Atheists and Islamic extremists have something in common – they want a world without Christianity.  These strange bedfellows believe that the world would be a better place if it was devoid of this religion started by Jesus Christ two millennia ago and counts a third of the world’s population as followers.

But they don’t have to imagine what a ‘grand’ world it would be without Christianity, they just have to look at history during the Greco-Roman period and more recently during the 20th century.

“What was the world like before Jesus?  Was that a great world?” asks Dr. Jeremiah J. Johnston, president of Christian Thinkers Society, in an interview with ChristianWeek.  “There is nothing new about the ‘New Atheism’. … They are going to take us back to a pre-Christian, pagan, racist world of inequality because without God there is no humanity.  Without God there are no morals.”

Johnston is the author of the new book Unimaginable:  What Our World Would Be Like Without Christianity (Bethany House, December 2017), which has an astounding 31 pages of citation notes for 200 pages of reading.  The professional researcher, who also serves as professor of Early Christianity at Houston Baptist University, begins the book by looking at the world before Christianity.   He cites ancient letters and historical records by non-Christian civilians and historians to paint a world where Greco-Roman gods often were seen as the source of harm and suffering, a fourth of the population was sick at any given time, a quarter of the population were slaves and sold naked like animals in markets, life expectancy was only 20 years of age, and infant girls and babies born with abnormalities were routinely “exposed” to the elements and wild animals to their deaths, as normal practice.

“By today’s standards, it was hell on earth.  Poverty, sickness, premature death, domestic violence, economic injustice, slavery, and political corruption were the given of life,” Johnston writes.

The concise book, written with the busy mom in mind, is divided into three parts:  The World Before Christianity, The World Without Christianity, and The World with Christianity.

Before Christianity, the idea of human dignity and value were arguably non-existent.  One in four people in the Roman Empire was a slave, and the ancient Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle writes in Ethica nicomachea 8.11: “The slave is a living tool and the tool a lifeless slave.”  Slaves were property and therefore owners could sexually exploit female, male and child slaves with impunity.

Aristotle also writes in Politica, “Slaves are subhuman or lesser men, while masters are superior.”

Also the Roman Law of the Twelve Tables (Leges Duodecim Tabularum), dated as far back as fifth century BC, commanded fathers to put to death their child if he/she is deformed, with a law in Table IV.1 reading:  “A notably deformed child shall be killed immediately.”

For women, every point in her life during the Greco-Roman era was fraught with danger.  A girl baby was more likely to be abandoned or killed, young girls or teenagers were likely to face sexual abuse or forced prostitution, adult women were under the control of their husbands who had the right to abuse or abandon them, and widows faced poverty.

“Some of it is simply terrifying.  Today’s atheists and nihilists do not know that they are playing with fire, a fire that could destroy our civilization.  What ended racism?  What ended slavery?  What ended systemic abuse of children and women?  What ended gross ignorance and superstition?” asks Dr. Craig A. Evans, the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University, in his review.

What ended the prevalent practice of slavery during the Greco-Roman era was the revolutionary Christian message about equality among humankind as declared by Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentle, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  This radical Christian idea took hold of the Roman world and the West, and for the next millennium, no influential philosopher advocated slavery, infanticide or eugenics.

But during the 18th and 19th centuries there was the rise of anti-Christian philosophy among influential thinkers who again promoted racism, including the famous Scottish philosopher and atheist David Hume who asserted in “Essay XXI. Of National Characters”:  “Negroes, and in general all the other species of man (for there are four or five different kinds), [are] naturally inferior to the whites,” and “You may obtain anything of the Negroes by offering them strong drink; and may easily prevail with them to sell, not only their children, but their wives and mistresses, for a cask of brandy.”

The Big Five in the 19th century that moved the world away from a Judeo-Christian worldview are:  Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872), Charles Darwin (1809-1882), Karl Marx (1818-1883), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), and Sigmund Freud (1856-1939).

Friedrich Nietzsche, who was a committed atheist and hated Christianity, came up with the dangerous idea of the Superman, who is a monster from our world that wishes to dominate humanity.   Nietzsche devalued humanity and wrote:   “You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm.  Once you were apes, and even now, man is more ape than any ape.”  He also wrote, “The great majority of men have no right to existence, but are a misfortune to higher men.”

It is Nietzsche’s idea of the Superman that inspired Adolf Hitler, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and Josef Stalin.

“The nineteenth century produced a particularly toxic brew of worldviews, and Adolf Hitler became its incarnation – Nietzsche’s Superman – a madman determined to destroy most of humanity to benefit a ‘superior’ race,” writes Johnston.  “Hitler was the end-product of the West’s determination to move away from its Christian heritage.  In rejecting Christianity, the radical atheism of the twentieth century did not take humanity forward into some enlightened post-Christian utopia; it took humanity back into pre-Christian barbarism.”

He continues, “Theistic-based ethics were swept aside and replaced by new ‘scientific’ ethics that had no problem with supposedly superior humans enslaving and murdering supposedly inferior humans.  The main difference between pre-Christian antiquity and post-Christian totalitarian governments is that the latter possesses far greater zeal and far more dangerous tools.”

Darwin’s ideas were also used to justify slavery, with some suggesting that lesser-evolved human races were closer to apes than more evolved humans from Europe.  “Not only did this understanding of humanity accommodate racist ideology, it provided a theoretical foundation and justification for slavery itself,” the Unimaginable author comments.

It was William Wilberforce (1759-1833), a Christian English politician and leader of the movement to stop the slave trade, and John Wesley (1703-1791), English cleric and founder of Methodism, who both  lived during the so-called Age of Enlightenment that pushed for the end of slavery.

“Were secular philosophers of the time ‘enlightened’ to the evils of slavery?  The simple answer is no,” Johnston writes.   “A ‘Who’s Who’ of major enlightenment figures supported slavery:  Thomas Hobbs, John Locke, Voltaire, David Hume, and Edmund Burke, among others.”

With an increasing number of people in the West wishing for a world without Christianity, the popular saying ‘You might get what you want, but you might not want what you get,” comes to mind.  Johnston’s book Unimaginable asks those who want Christianity to go away, in a sober tone, are you sure?  

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About the author

  • im_a_libertarian

    No, ignoramus. Atheists want a world without religion. That means ALL religions. Not just Christianity. We despise Islam and Christianity equally. Your pathetic mythology is no better than any other pathetic mythology. They are all mass delusions that lead to nothing good.

    Believe whatever nonsense you want to believe, but stop inflicting it on everyone else and keep it the hell (pun intended) out of civil society.

    • Al Hiebert

      Atheists have their own religious faith (much like Buddhists, Scientologists, etc. who have no deity in their worldview) that matter is all that exists, that the cosmos popped into existence without a cause, that life appeared spontaneously on our planet, that a human’s existence terminates at the death of their human life, that human morality has no objective basis or standard, that all beliefs other than their own are simply false, etc., etc.

      • Michael M

        Adding an unknown and unproven variable to the complex equation of the beginnings of the universe does not solve the equation. It only invalidates the equation, and makes finding the right answer impossible.
        Because we do not completely understand the universe does not mean the answer is a god.
        Humans once thought earthquakes and lightning were the work of god(s). Science has shown us these things have nothing to do with any deity, but are actually caused by tectonic plates and electrostatic discharge.
        There is no supernatural entity needed for any proven scientific law or theory.
        There will be no entity ever needed for any future proven scientific law or theory either.

        To think morality comes from a god shows an incredible ignorance.
        Human and hominid societies have had a moral code for thousands of years before the Christian god was fabricated from polytheistic beliefs.
        Almost all social animals show “morals” of one sort of another.
        i.e. Why do piranhas not attack each other in a feeding frenzy?
        Why do elephants care for their sick?
        Social animals, including humans, develop a “morals” which dictate which behaviors are a benefit to their survival as a society, and which behaviors are not.
        Animals which engage in behavior which is detrimental to their social group are often ousted from the group or killed.
        To think “morality” comes from a Christian god is ridiculous.

        Yes, when you are unable to think, you are unable to be self aware.
        It’s not a difficult concept.
        What is your recollection of January 10th, 1776. Where you up in the sky watching the British and Americans clash?
        Your recollection of January 10th, 2076 will be the same as 1776.
        Thinking you’ll be some magic ghost who still has a cognitive consciousness is just plain childish.

        Also, billions of years for life to form and evolve is hardly spontaneous.
        Your above comment shows an incredible ignorance and arrogance of things which you know nothing about.

        • Al Hiebert

          Millions of people have believed falsehoods. So what? The same is true today. So what? Millions of people have believed and now believe ideas that others consider ridiculous or childish. So what? Sure some are unable or unwilling to think. So what?
          Can you provide a convincing atheist case for anyone’s belief in objective morality?

          • Andrew Getting

            Not to someone who’s already insisted on making strawmen arguments about what atheists believe.

          • Al Hiebert

            Okay, you tell me what atheists believe about the morality of psychopaths, the origin of the cosmos, the origin of first life for starters.

          • Andrew Getting

            No. You’ve already spread lies about us in attempt to pass yourself off as our moral superior, and here you are, comfortable in your knowledge of that. I’ll pass on your insincere pretense at this. If you actually cared, you’d have asked us what we believed, or researched it yourself.

          • Al Hiebert

            You say, ” If you actually cared, you’d have asked us what we believed…” in response to my, “Okay, you tell me what atheists believe about the morality of
            psychopaths, the origin of the cosmos, the origin of first life for
            starters.” I’m still waiting for you to tell me about these few topics. Mockery and ridicule do not constitute rational discussion.

          • Andrew Getting

            That’s right. Mockery and ridicule do not constitute rational discussion.

            COMPARING US TO PSYCHOPATHS IS MOCKERY AND RIDICULE.

          • Al Hiebert

            I did not compare atheists with psychopaths. I merely asked you to “tell me what atheists believe about the morality of psychopaths…” Please read more carefully what I say.

          • blankman

            “Okay, you tell me what atheists believe about the morality of psychopaths, the origin of the cosmos, the origin of first life for starters.”

            First you’re making a serious error by assuming that atheists hold common beliefs.

            Second, if you want answers to those questions you shouldn’t be asking the question on a general discussion board. You should be speaking to professional psychologists about psychopaths and you should be speaking to physicists and biologists about the origin of the cosmos (e.g, the big bang vs the steady state model and so forth) and the origin of first life (abiogenesis).

            And just because someone is an atheist (or theist) doesn’t mean that they know anything about those subjects. For that matter, do you know enough mathematics to begin to debate the big bang theory with someone like Stephen Hawking?

          • Michael M

            Many falsehoods people have once believed has come at the hand of religions.
            If people could look beyond their childish beliefs they would see objective morality is non-factual and non-existent.
            They could use the brain evolution gave them, without indoctrinated religious interference, and understand a belief in god(s) has no positive effect (or in the case of the bible belt, an adverse effect), on the morality of a society.
            Saying “so what” if people are ignorant or indoctrinated with non-factual childish beliefs shows an incredible ignorance and arrogance and demonstrates the harm believing religious nonsense can do

          • Al Hiebert

            So without objective morality (“non-factual and non-existent”) you are okay with Stalinist, Maoist, Pol Pot and Nazi morality and Jeffrey Dahmler’s, Ted Bundy’s, Charles Manson’s, etc?

          • Michael M

            Why would think I would be okay with such things?
            Did you not understand my explanation of social animal behaviors?
            Did the behaviors of Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Dahmer, Bundy, or Manson offer positive or negative effects on society and human survival?
            If social animals, such as humans, develop morals based upon behaviors which benefit their society, why would I find behaviors which negatively effect society “okay’?
            What about getting your morality from a deity which, if actually did exist, allows the death of 9 million children under the age of 5 every year?
            Have ever you added up the number of people supposedly killed at the hands of the Christian god as written in the Bible?
            A god which condones owning another human being?
            If such a deity was real, Stalin or the Nazis are no comparison for the commission of horrific acts against humanity.
            You are “okay” with getting your morality from such a creature?

            Your inability to understand the difference between right and wrong without it being dictated to you in a book filled with immorality is quite unnerving.
            It brings a quote to mind:

            “Atheists are routinely asked how people will know not to rape and murder without religion telling them not to do it, especially a religion that backs up the orders with threats of hell. Believers, listen to me carefully when I say this: When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. We hear you saying that the only thing standing between you and Ted Bundy is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literate people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority.”— Amanda Marcotte

          • Al Hiebert

            It sounds to me that you too believe in objective morality (cf. your rejecting the morality of Stalin or the Nazis) while you also claim that objective morality is “non-existent.” So which is it?
            The Christian God as described in the Bible is also an infinitely holy God who executes justice infinitely beyond human capacity to evaluate. No human (atheist or other) is qualified to sit in judgement over Him.

          • Michael M

            I have offered no evidence of “objective morality”.
            I have given you examples of utilitarianism and consequentialism.

            Funny how you cannot judge right and wrong when it comes to your god.
            If I used the bible to anonymously describe your god to any “moral” person, they would find your god to be a narcissistic, jealous, sociopathic, immoral, and evil.
            Why worship something that cannot itself follow the standards it expects of you?
            Perhaps you should look for a more moral god.
            I might suggest FSM. FSM has all of the good things of any god – without all of the subservience, threats, or psychopathic extortion of most gods.

            Since you’re hung up on objective morality, give me an example of an “objective morality” set forth by your god.

      • Stew

        I think you are confusing a few different concepts. Scientists who are atheists don’t have faith they have the scientific scepticism and want proof of statements. Religious people such as Christians believe that proof is unnecessary and that other people should just take the word of a book written by people who were telling second hand stories about Jesus.

        • Al Hiebert

          Of course scientists who are atheists DO have faith IF they sit on chairs, drive cars, fly planes, get married, have kids, hire contractors or employees, etc., etc. Many thinking Christians examine the evidences pro and con their beliefs about Jesus, God, the Bible, etc. with the same sort of epistemological scepticism that scientists who are atheists do concerning their scientific beliefs about reality, causes, the cosmos, biolgy, etc. But scientists who are atheists do not often excersize such epistemological scepticism about beliefs that variations among finches’ beaks or skeletal similarities “prove” that one species of birds (or any other living organism) has naturally evolved from many ancestoral species or that billions of years or millions of fellow believers somehow makes such beliefs rational or scientific.

          • Andrew Getting

            Yes. Scientists believe that evidence and scientific theory are convincing.

          • Al Hiebert

            Sure skeletons give evidence of a long deceased organism. But those bones never give evidence of one kind of life transforrming to another kind of life. That crucial step is always supplied by special pleading creative imagination, not by empirical data. Sorry, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.

          • Michael M

            Comparing fact based conclusions based upon empirical data to supernatural characters in a storybook is quite possibly one of the most stupid comments you have posted.
            There has been a great deal of skepticism and a great deal of peer review, spanning multiple scientific fields regarding evolution.
            Evolutionary theory is as solid as Gravitational theory.

            As expected, as more evidence has been uncovered, many hypothesis and previously extrapolated data has changed. But that’s what’s cool about science. Unlike religion, it will change with new evidence.
            Even with the many additions and changes, each new piece of evidence has only solidified evolutionary theory.
            Even if we didn’t have the massive amount of evidence in Homologies, Fossil Records, Vestigial Traits, Early Embryo Development, & Short Timescale Evolution – the Genetic Evidence alone would solidify evolution as fact.

            Now for the evidence a magic man made us from dirt: N/A

          • Al Hiebert

            The empirical data collected by Charles Darwin and his admirers show variations within species (micro-evolution) never natural macro-evolution (naturalistic development from non-living matter to living organisms or from simple living organisms to complex living organisms.Beliefs in the latter are the stuff of creative fictions, not empirical science. Adding billions of years or millions of fellow believers cannot somehow make such beliefs rational or scientific.

          • Michael M

            I’m not sure if you consider scientists Darwin followers, but we have overwhelming evidence of macro evolution.
            The fossil record is quite clear.
            As far as your claim about non-living matter turning into living organisms – You are correct – there is no clear empirical evidence showing matter becoming life.
            Even though it is still unclear how the first living organism came to be, just the like earthquakes and lightning example I used prior, claiming “God did it!” is never the correct answer.

            Just to clarify, macro-evolution is well documented. Since you are ignorant regarding transitional species (Macro-Evolution), I thought I might give you a fossil or two which has clear empirical data showing species transition. There happens to a couple examples…

            —Invertebrate to Vertebrate
            Unnamed Upper (U.) Pre-Cambrian chordate — First to bear a primitive notochord; archaetypical chordate.
            Pikaia gracilens — Middle (M.) Cambrian chordate with lancelet-like morphology.
            Haikouella — Lower (L.) Cambrian chordate, first to bear a skull; archaetypical craniate.
            Haikouichthys — L. Cambrian quasi-vertebrate, intermediate in developing a vertebral column; archaetypical vertebrate.
            Conodonts — U. Cambrian to Triassic quasi-vertebrates with spinal cord; “bug-eyed lampreys”.
            Myllokunmingia — L. Cambrian vertebrate with primitive spinal column; oldest true crown-group vertebrate.
            Arandaspis — L. Ordovician vertebrate, armoured jawless fish (ostracoderm), oldest known vertebrate with hard parts known from (mostly) complete fossils.
            —Jawless Fish to Jawed Vertebrate
            Birkenia — Silurian primitive, jawless fish, a typical member of the Anaspida
            Cephalaspis — Silurian armoured jawless fish, archaetypical member of the “Osteostraca,” sister group to all jawed vertebrates.
            Shuyu — Silurian to Devonian, armoured jawless fish belonging to Galeaspida, related to Osteostraca. Internal cranial anatomy very similar to the anatomy seen in basal jawed vertebrates. This similarity is directly implied with the translation of its name, “Dawn Fish,” with the implication that it represents the “dawn of jawed vertebrates.”
            —Acanthodian to shark
            Ptomacanthus — sharklike fish, originally described as an acanthodian fish: brain anatomy demonstrates that it is an intermediate between acanthodians and sharks.
            Cladoselache — primitive/basal shark.
            Tristychius — another sharklike fish.
            Ctenacanthus — primitive/basal shark.
            Paleospinax — sharklike jaw, primitive teeth.
            Spathobatis — Ray-like fish.
            Protospinax — Ancestral to both sharks and skates.
            —Primitive jawed fish to bony fish
            Acanthodians — superficially similar to early bony fishes, and some have been identified as being the ancestors of sharks.
            Palaeoniscoids — primitive bony fishes.
            Canobius, Aeduella — palaeoniscoids with more advanced jaws.
            Parasemionotus — combination of modern cheeks with more primitive features, like lungs
            Oreochima — first teleost fish
            Leptolepids — vaguely herring-like ancestors of modern teleost fish. Lung modified into swim bladder.
            Amphistium and Heteronectes — percomorphs that demonstrate the transition of the eye location of flatfishes.
            —Fish to amphibian
            Paleoniscoids — both ancestral to modern fish and land vertebrates
            Osteolepis — modified limb bones, amphibian like skull and teeth
            Kenichthys — shows the position of exhaling nostrils moving from front to fish to throat in tetrapods in its halfway point, in the teeth
            Eusthenopteron, Sterropterygion — fin bones similarly structured to amphibian feet, but no toes yet, and still fishlike bodily proportions
            Panderichthys, Elpistostege — tetrapod-like bodily proportions.
            Obruchevichthys — fragmented skeleton with intermediate characteristics, possible first tetrapod.
            Tiktaalik — a fish with developing legs. Also appearance of ribs and neck.
            Acanthostega gunnari—famous intermediate fossil. most primitive fossil that is known to be a tetrapod
            Ichthyostega — like Acanthostega, another fishlike amphibian
            Hynerpeton — A little more advanced then Acanthostega and Ichtyostega
            Labyrinthodonts — still many fishlike features, but tailfins have disappeared
            Gars — Fish with vascularized swim bladders that can function as lungs
            Lungfish and Birchirs — fish that have lungs
            —Primitive to modern amphibians
            Temnospondyls
            Dendrerpeton acadianum
            Archegosaurus decheni
            Eryops megacephalus
            Trematops
            Amphibamus lyelli
            Doleserpeton annectens
            Triadobatrachus primitive frog
            Vieraella
            Karaurus primitive salamander
            Amphibian to reptile
            Proterogyrinus
            Limnoscelis
            Tseajaia
            Solenodonsaurus
            Hylonomus
            Paleothyris
            —-Early reptile to turtle
            Captorhinus
            Scutosaurus
            Odontochelys Semitestacea — partial formation of a turtle shell, showing how the hard underbelly, or plastron, formed first.
            Deltavjatia vjatkensis
            Proganochelys
            —Early reptile to diapsid (dinosaurs and modern reptiles except for turtles)
            Hylonomus
            Paleothyris
            Petrolacosaurus
            Araeoscelis
            Apsisaurus
            Claudiosaurus
            Planocephalosaurus
            Protorosaurus
            Prolacerta
            Proterosuchus
            Hyperodapedon
            Trilophosaurus
            —Reptile to mammal
            Paleothyris
            Protoclepsydrops haplous
            Clepsydrops
            Archaeothyris
            Varanops
            Haptodus
            Dimetrodon
            Sphenacodon
            Biarmosuchia
            Procynosuchus
            Dvinia
            Thrinaxodon
            Cynognathus
            Diademodon
            Probelesodon
            Probainognathus
            Exaeretodon
            Oligokyphus
            Kayentatherium
            Pachygenelus
            Diarthrognathus
            Adelobasileus cromptoni
            Sinoconodon
            Kuehneotherium
            Eozostrodon
            Morganucodon — a transition between “mammal-like reptiles” and “true mammals”.
            Haldanodon
            Peramus
            Endotherium
            Kielantherium
            Aegialodon
            Steropodon galmani
            Vincelestes neuquenianus
            Pariadens kirklandi
            Kennalestes
            Asioryctes
            Procerberus
            Gypsonictops
            Juramaia
            Eomaia
            Sinodelphys
            —Dinosaur to bird
            Allosaurus –A large theropod with a wishbone
            Compsognathus –A small coeleurosaur with a wishbone
            Epidendrosaurus
            Epidexipteryx
            Scandoriopteryx
            Gigantoraptor
            Gobivenator
            Mei
            Saurornithoides
            Sinovenator
            Buitreraptor
            Pyroraptor
            Unenlagia
            Graciliraptor
            Bambiraptor
            Balaur
            Tsaagan
            Dromaeosaurus
            Sinosauropteryx
            Protarchaeopteryx
            Caudipteryx
            Velociraptor
            Deinonychus
            Utahraptor
            Achillobator
            Oviraptor
            Sinovenator
            Beipiaosaurus
            Lisboasaurus
            Sinornithosaurus
            Microraptor — a feathered bird with distinctly dinosaurian characteristics, such as its tail.
            Xiaotingia — slightly earlier than Archaeopteryx, slightly more like a dinosaur and less like a bird
            Archaeopteryx — the famous bird-with-teeth.
            Anchiornis
            Baptornis
            Rahonavis
            Confuciusornis
            Sinornis
            Iberomesornis
            Theriznosaurus
            Nothronychus
            Citipati
            Falcarius
            Alxasaurus
            Chirostenotes
            Avimimus
            Khaan
            Incisivosaurus
            Caenagnathus
            Troodon
            Byronosaurus
            Ingenia
            Hesperonychus
            Conchoraptor
            Patagopteryx
            Ambiortus
            Hesperornis
            Apsaravis
            Ichthyornis
            Columba One of many typical modern birds
            —Transitional mammalian fossils

            -Primates
            Purgatorius — the earliest primate-like organism
            Plesiadapis — Mammal closely related to primates.
            Carpolestes — Mammal closely related to primates
            Archicebus — First euprimate, or something very similar to it.
            Omomys — Tarsier-like primate
            Eosimias — Basal anthropoid
            Amphipithecus — Another basal anthropoid
            Apidium — The first, primitive monkey.
            Propliopithecus — Primitive New World Monkey
            Darwinius masillae — a link between earlier primates and later ones.
            Dryopithecus Primitive ape.
            Proconsul Primate that is closely related to apes.
            Djebelemur First lemuriform primate.
            Cantius Extremely primitive prosimian from the Early Eocene of North America.
            Teilhardina First North American primate.
            Non-human primate to human
            Aquatic ape hypothesis — a very controversial suggestion, aquatic apes may or may not have existed
            Australopithecus — a genus of bipedal apes
            Australopithecus sediba — advanced Australopithecus showing more human features
            Homo habilis — a transitional form from Australopithecus to later Homo
            Homo rudolfensis — a type of Homo habilis or a different species
            Homo ergaster — a form of Homo erectus or a distinct species
            Homo erectus — a transitional form from Australopithecus to later Homo (Latin for humans) species
            Homo heidelbergensis — A possible common ancestor of modern man and Homo neanderthalensis
            Homo neanderthalensis — They may or may not have done Humpy bumpy with modern humans.
            Cro-magnon — considered early modern human and perhaps as smart as we are

      • Andrew Getting

        “that matter is all that exists”

        Citation needed.

        “that the cosmos popped into existence without a cause, that life appeared spontaneously on our planet,”

        Gross distortions of both Big Bang and evolutionary theories.

        “that human morality has no objective basis or standard,”

        This is a clear lie from someone who thinks atheists lack empathy.

        “that all beliefs other than their own are simply false,”

        Lack objective, scientifically-verifiable evidence in support. There’s a difference.

        • Al Hiebert

          Re “that human morality has no objective basis” see Michael M’s above comment “objective morality is non-factual and non-existent.” Is that “a clear lie”?

          • Andrew Getting

            It’s his claim. It’s what he believes. I can’t speak to that, beyond that I disagree.

            You, though, pretended that was something we universally believe. From you? Yes, it’s absolutely a lie.

          • Michael M

            Let me clarify since Al is kind of an ignorant putz.

            Objective moral standards mean that some actions are always immoral no matter the circumstances.
            Al thinks his god is a necessary condition for objective morality.
            Ok. Let’s test the main example used by theists (including Al above) of an objective morality.
            Al’s god says “Thou shalt not kill”.
            Since Al’s god said it, Al seems to think it is an objective morality.
            Is it truly an objective morality?

            Should we not have gone to war to defeat Hitler because war requires killing, and killing is an “objective morality” according to the (murderous) Christian god?
            Did stopping Hitler through war make our soldiers immoral?

            My argument is there really is no objective morality. Especially defined by a god.
            Our morals are the result of evolutionary utilitarianism.

            Like I told Al, his god condones slavery and rape. Our society does not. How did our society become more moral that his god?

          • Andrew Getting

            At this point, I don’t think Al’s ignorant so much as he’s not worth thinking about.

          • Al Hiebert

            To claim that “Our morals are the result of evolutionary utilitarianism” is to claim that no moral judgements are actually right or wrong in themselves. E.g., on the basis of evolutionary utilitarianism morality itself is subjective and culturally/historically situated and
            can be seen changing dramatically over time and in between generations. Hence, the atheist can never assert with confidence that torturing infants for fun is actually wrong or that the commands of Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot to kill millions of their citizens were actually wrong — they were successful in achieving their goals (the aim of utilitarianism). Biological evolution focuses on the survival of a species, not on the establishing any truth or what is actually right. Ignore that if you wish, but please don’t consider such a choice as rational or scientific.

          • Andrew Getting

            No, Al. You just feel like abusing us, so you lie and create strawmen and jerk off to how holy you are.

            Meanwhile, some of us have empathy and are horrified at the thought, because rationally and scientifically we wouldn’t want it done to us, but you dismiss that thought as irrational and unscientific, something actual scientists would disagree with.

            Regardless, since you’ve doubled down on lying and hypocrisy with each of your posts, I’m done with you. Go back to making stuff up about us and pretending it’s right. I’ll remember you as just another Christian who felt like abusing people who’d done him no harm.

          • Al Hiebert

            Sorry, Andrew, you accuse me of “abusing” you and your fellow atheist believers, lying, hypocrisy, etc. without specifying where or how I have done so.

    • RMW

      “We despise Islam and Christianity equally.”
      Don’t know about that. Nowadays, isn’t it the case if someone takes a stand against Islam/Muslims, then that person gets denounced as some kind of racist (never mind Islam is not actually a race) Islamophobic bigot? Look at the hostile reception American President Trump got when he wanted to prohibit people from some Islamic countries from going into America.

    • Isn’t religion a product of evolution? Why get rid of it? Also, why are you free to inflict your belief on everyone else?

  • Andrew Getting

    Lying for Jesus, I see.

    • Al Hiebert

      So can you identify the lies, or would you rather simply smear?

      • Andrew Getting

        Well, let’s see.

        The underlying premise is that atheism would inherently leave people immoral and evil. Even aside from that being raw opinion, it ignores that atheists actually tend toward believing that since this is the only life we get, being cruel to others is wrong.

        “What ended racism? What ended slavery? What ended systemic abuse of children and women? What ended gross ignorance and superstition?”

        I’ll give you a hint on these — it wasn’t Christianity. Many Christians actually in favor of the lot of the above. Some still do.

        “What ended the prevalent practice of slavery during the Greco-Roman era was the revolutionary Christian message about equality among humankind as declared by Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:28”

        Curious, then, that Christianity was still popular during the much worse chattel slavery of the Americas. I’ll also note that this claim is completely made with absolutely zero support.

        “But during the 18th and 19th centuries there was the rise of anti-Christian philosophy among influential thinkers who again promoted racism”

        This is an absolutely detestable lie of omission, pretending that Christians weren’t equally racist.

        “Friedrich Nietzsche, who was a committed atheist and hated Christianity, came up with the dangerous idea of the Superman, who is a monster from our world that wishes to dominate humanity. ”

        This is a gross distortion of Nietszchean philosophy. While I’m no fan of his, the Superman he proposed would implement a new form of morality free of the trappings of abstract punishment or reward.

        “It is Nietzsche’s idea of the Superman that inspired Adolf Hitler, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and Josef Stalin.”

        Another lie of omission: Nietzsche specifically called out anti-Semitism and nationalism.

        “Hitler was the end-product of the West’s determination to move away from its Christian heritage. In rejecting Christianity, the radical atheism of the twentieth century did not take humanity forward into some enlightened post-Christian utopia; it took humanity back into pre-Christian barbarism.”

        This is a mix of the No True Scotsman fallacy (plenty of Christians supported him), and another deliberate lie, conflating Hitler with atheism, which to my knowledge has absolutely no historical support.

        “Were secular philosophers of the time ‘enlightened’ to the evils of slavery? The simple answer is no,” Johnston writes. “A ‘Who’s Who’ of major enlightenment figures supported slavery: Thomas Hobbs, John Locke, Voltaire, David Hume, and Edmund Burke, among others.”

        Thomas HobbEs — note the e — said that “atheism, impiety, and the like are words of the greatest defamation possible.”

        John Locke was also devout Christian.

        Voltaire, as was popular at the time, was a Deist, but argued forcefully in favor of religious liberty, something antithetical to many Christians in the US today.

        Edmund Burke had nothing but contempt for atheism.

        Thus, excepting Voltaire, we can see this statement for blatant ignorance and lies betraying a clear lack of research — Johnston simply namedrops without knowing the first thing about the people he’s discussing.

        So, yes. Lying for Jesus.

  • Ed Thomas

    As the author seems to be confused (no surprise), I’d like to point out that atheists are not strange bedfellows of Islam. We loathe that vicious ideology as much as we hate your vicious ideology and judaism, etc. etc. We are looking forward to a world without ANY religions. If you feel especially targeted, then ask yourselves why we would dislike your religion (hint: your attitude might be a good place to start). You let yourselves down every single day. The sad part is that you know you do, yet you can’t help yourselves.

    • Al Hiebert

      The atheists’ attitude to Christ and Christians might be a good place to start to understand why we’re not atheists, though there are many other sound reasons.

      • Michael M

        The believer’s attitude towards anyone who believes differently than they do is a good place to start to understand why we are not theists, though there are many other sound reasons.
        When the one promising you “Salvation” is the one threatening you with punishment, it’s not Salvation. It’s Extortion.

      • blankman

        If a man tells his girlfriend “love me or I’ll take you to the basement and torture you with fire” we call him insane and lock him up but when god says “love me or I’ll take you to hell and torture you with fire for eternity” we’re supposed to call him loving? What’s the difference?

        And what do you mean when you refer to “the atheists’s attitude to Christ and Christianity”? First there is no monolithic atheist movement so there can be no single “attitude”. Secondly, most atheists don’t really care what you do or do not believe or what god or gods you want to worship. What they do care about is the attempts by at least some of the religious to force their beliefs on the rest of us and attempt to force people to live their lives according to the tenets of their religion. As the saying goes “Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean I can’t eat a donut”

        But I’d love to understand how that (non-existent) attitude is the reason you and others are Christians. While we’re at it – what are those “other sound reasons”?

        A final point – an atheist is someone that does not believe that god (any god) exists. That is very different from believing that god does not exist. So, if you want to completely eliminate atheism all you have to do is prove that god exists – for the record, I won’t hold my breath since far smarter people than anyone commenting here have been trying to prove the existence of god for centuries with absolutely no success. Then you can graduate to proving that the biblical Jesus existed.

        • Michael M

          I am nothing without Him.
          I cannot accomplish anything without Him.
          I am morally corrupt without His guidance.
          I was born a sinner. He is my savior.
          Only He can save me. If I do not let Him save me, He will punish me.
          He is everywhere. He is always watching. I know I cannot escape Him.
          He knows my every thought.
          I will not question His authority or His words, or I shall be rightfully punished.
          I cannot leave Him, He made me. He owns me. He has my entire life mapped out for me.
          He knows what makes me happy, I must do what he thinks makes me happy,
          I only continue to live because He allows me to.
          He punishes me because He loves me.
          When I feel as if He has punished me, I have only me to blame. I need to look at what I have done to deserve His wrath. I must now ask for His forgiveness.
          I shall live my life to please Him.
          —–
          Sounds a lot like battered spouse syndrome, doesn’t it?

          • blankman

            Definitely battered spouse syndrome

            But just an observation – anyone who has never drowned a baby is already more moral than the god of the bible.

  • Liberal Trash

    • Al Hiebert

      Mockery and ridicule do not constitute rational critique.

      • Stew

        I think the point is that christianity kept civilisation in the dark ages for a thousand years and without christianity the world would have been a lot better off.

      • Andrew Getting

        Odd, it was good enough for you when you said this:

        “Atheists have their own religious faith (much like Buddhists, Scientologists, etc. who have no deity in their worldview) that matter is all that exists, that the cosmos popped into existence without a cause, that life appeared spontaneously on our planet, that a human’s existence terminates at the death of their human life, that human morality has no objective basis or standard, that all beliefs other than their own are simply false, etc., etc.”

      • Al Hiebert

        Stew, what facts prompt you to believe the world would have been a lot better off without Christianity?

  • blankman

    Thanks for the laugh. Atheists do not want a world without Christianity – they want a world without religion. That’s any religion. Not just Christianity.

    And telling us how brutal life was before Christianity came along doesn’t cut it – what you’re really telling us is how brutal life was before the days of modern medicine. And if you want to pick on the Greek and Roman gods they’re just other religions (BTW, trust you do know that the Greeks and Romans called early Christians atheists because they didn’t believe in all the gods). As an aside, the god of the bible has been called the most unpleasant character in all of fiction for a reason.

    But one question – and I’ve asked this one on a number of boards and no-one has ever been able to provide an answer. Name one positive thing that could not have been accomplished without the involvement of religion. Just one. For the record, religious charities don’t make the grade because there is no need to involve religion in order to be charitable.

    • Marc Rosenberg

      Or name one scientific theory that was reversed because of religion.

    • Al Hiebert

      Christians were loving and forgiving their enemies millennia before the days of modern medicine. Christians were adopting babies discarded by their Greek and Roman neighbours because they valued the sanctity of human life as created in God’s image as did no other worldview of their time or ours. Hospitals were invented by Christians. The slave trade was abolished in the British Empire by Christians. Can you regard any of these as positive?

      • Stew

        Christians also had the crusades where they invaded the middle east and slaughtered non christians, burned cities and stole goods. Hospitals were around in ancient greece and were called Asclepieia. Slavery was encouraged by the bible (dozens of references to the bible). In the 18th and 19th century anti abolitionists quoted the bible to support the continuation of slavery.

      • blankman

        That’s not the question I asked.

        And I wasn’t speaking about Christianity in particular but was talking about religion in general.

        But the bible has been used to justify slavery, racial discrimination, women as second class citizens, and so forth. But that aside, none of the things you mention required religion.

        Of course no discussion of Christianity would be complete without talking about “little things” like the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades (if you weren’t aware of it when writers spoke about the Crusaders putting cities to the sword and wading thru ankle deep blood they weren’t exaggerating). Fact is the phrase “kill them all and let god sort them out” came from a Christian priest.

        And I’m still of the opinion that the world would be better off with no religion – and I’m far from the only one.

        Two out of three Australians

        https://www.insights.uca.org.au/features/does-religion-do-more-harm-than-good

        Over half of Canadians

        https://globalnews.ca/news/3522802/religion-is-increasingly-seen-as-doing-more-harm-than-good-in-canada-ipsos-poll/

        Most British people

        https://www.salon.com/2014/11/17/6_reasons_why_religion_does_more_harm_than_good_partner/

        Interesting that the last article points out that even “very religious” people feel that way.

        But back to slavery for a minute

        “Since the sixth century and right up until the twentieth century it has been common Catholic teaching that the social, economic and legal institution of slavery is morally legitimate provided that the master’s title of ownership is valid and provided that the slave is properly looked after and cared for, both materially and spiritually. This institution of genuine slavery, whereby one human being is legally owned by another, and is forced to work for the exclusive benefit of his owner in .return for food, clothing and shelter, and may be bought, sold, donated or exchanged, was not merely tolerated but was commonly approved of in the Western Latin Church for over 1400 years”

        http://www.anthonyflood.com/maxwellslaverycatholicchurch.pdf

        The US Supreme Court didn’t strike down the laws against interracial marriages until 1967 (Loving v Virginia is the case the movie “Loving” is based on) and the Virginia court ruling that was being appealed cited scripture when the courts there originally forbid the Lovings from marrying.

        • Al Hiebert

          Sure Christians have done many stupid things. Did Jesus launch the
          Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades? No, Jesus taught His followers to
          love their enemies, do good to their persecutors, etc. Have all His
          followers always done this? No. So what?

          • Andrew Getting

            So you and the original post have attempted to lay the behavior of some atheists (and several theists, oddly enough) at the feet of all atheists.

            It’s disingenuous of you to do so and then take exception when people remind you of Christianity’s failings.

          • Al Hiebert

            Nowhere have I blamed “all atheists” for the atrocities of many atheists. I have merely noted the outcomes of atheist beliefs in many cases in the past century alone. The atheist beliefs of these tyrants were quite relevant to their choices.

          • Andrew Getting

            Yeah, but you’re terribly, terribly offended when someone treats Christians to the same logic.

            Double-standard.

          • Al Hiebert

            I’m not at all offended by anything anyone has said here. I simply do not agree with many of the beliefs that atheists have expressed here.

          • blankman

            What beliefs are you referring to? By definition atheism is a lack of belief in god (any god).

          • Al Hiebert

            Atheist beliefs I am referring to include e.g. that they can predict with confidence what a creator would do about human tragedies like the death of a young child; and that there definitely is no human existence beyond human death.

            Consider the following:
            A. For any rational human who chooses to dismiss the notion of a creator of the cosmos there likely are three alternative positions: 1) atheism (“I know that no creator of the cosmos exists”); 2) agnosticism (“I don’t know whether or not a creator of the cosmos exists”); or 3) skepticism (“I’m not sure whether or not a creator of the cosmos exists”).

            B. Consider Atheism (“I know that no cosmic creator of the cosmos exists”). This is likely rationally indefensible for the following reasons: 1. It seems evident that to defend this belief rationally would require an atheist to provide a convincing definition of the nature of such a cosmic creator in case such a being might exist — clearly a challenge that no atheist has ever met or in principle could ever meet; 2) this difficulty points out that every attempt to meet it is likely to result in a flawed definition, since the logical possibility remains that a cosmic creator of another nature might still exist.

            C. Agnosticism on this matter normally is expressed in either of two varieties: 1) “I know that I don’t know any truth on any issue” (Absolute Agnosticism — AA); or 2) “I know many other ideas to be true but I don’t know whether or not a creator of the cosmos exists” (Partial Agnosticism — PA). The latter often comes with the assumption that no other human now knows any truth on this issue, or has in the past or will in the future. Both AA and PA versions are clearly self-contradictory and therefore false.

            D. Consider Skepticism (“I don’t know whether or not a creator of the cosmos exists but it’s logically possible that I might find convincing evidence one way or the other if I searched for such enough.” Note the moral implication of this rationally defensible position: Any skeptic who fails to give this issue top priority in life has only him/herself to blame if they get this matter wrong. I have yet to meet a truly responsible skeptic on this issue, though I have dialogued with many who profess A (atheism) but quickly retreat to B (agnosticism) and then to C (skepticism).

          • blankman

            There you go – talking about “atheist beliefs” (there aren’t any). But before you lay blame, you might want to read this

            https://tinyurl.com/lc9er2y

            And, as I’ve said, the god of the bible is guilty of genocide on a scale that makes Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot combined look like pikers. After all, they only managed to kill a fraction of 1% of the people on the planet. God drowned 99.99997% and only left 8 alive.

          • Al Hiebert

            Of course atheists believe all sort of ideas, as all humans do. E.g., most humans believe that last Tuesday really happened, even though no human can provide a logically compelling proof that this belief is true.

          • Al Hiebert

            Here are some more atheist beliefs evaluated by a mathematician and philosopher of science with 3 masters degrees and 3 doctorates who has taught mathematics and philosophy of science at Oxford U for more than 20 years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ktJtmaq_Ok

          • Al Hiebert

            Of course atheist apologist Michael Sherlock will believe Adolf Hitler every time he says he’s a Christian and a Catholic, given that Hitler was baptized Catholic at birth, as were most Austrians. Sherlock is blind to Hitler’s political strategies in making these public pronouncements and to Hitler’s anti-Christian actions, policies and private rants, as well as Hitler’s appointments to positions of power many clearly atheist anti-Christians. IMHO in his adult life Hitler was primarily an atheist Darwinian who pursued a place in history as one who demonstrated the evolutionary superiority of the Aryan race. As such he saw no future for himself beyond the grave — as is characteristic of atheist Darwinians whom I have encountered. See “Evidence Hitler was not a Christian” at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaiNLaLE9HY

          • Al Hiebert

            It seens that atheist apologist Michael Sherlock s ignorant of the fact that Theravāda Buddhism (followed by Pol Pot) is an atheist religion which believes in no god.

          • blankman

            Again, that’s not the question I posed.

            And I was talking about “religion”, not its (supposed) teachings. And you can’t hide behind a “no true Scotsman” type argument.

            Jesus told slaves to obey their masters. Even the cruel ones. And the bible is very specific – it commands people to kill everyone in the town if they worship other gods (Deuteronomy 13:12-19, Exodus 22:19, …).

            But back to my question – name one good thing that religion has accomplished that couldn’t have been done by secular means.

          • Al Hiebert

            Secular means have failed to raise one dead person.

          • blankman

            Prove that religious means (including Jesus or the god of the bible) has done so.

          • Al Hiebert

            If by “prove” you mean a logically compelling proof such as mathematics delivers, then I must note that such a proof is not possible concerning any matter of fact in the present or the past. If by “prove” you mean a careful examination of all the available relevant data and the formulation of an explanation or understanding of their meaning that best accounts for these, then I suggest that you view the attached three-part video of a single speech in London, UK in 2012. W. L. Craig explores a number of naturalistic hypotheses that seek to dismiss the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead. Skepticism tends to go to extravagant lengths to dismiss the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead.

          • Al Hiebert

            Sorry, here’s the opening part of Craig;s speech, including the introduction to it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8MskdxRn2U

          • Al Hiebert

            And here’s the last segment of this speech, including some Q&A. What are your comments? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reztgdHOd7g

          • Al Hiebert

            Sorry, this speech was given in Southampton, UK in 2011 not in London in 2012. The Q&A continues at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_B-B3rPoYk.

          • Al Hiebert

            At https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW32Rwu_0f0 Craig reports of his
            despair as an atheist before he discovered personal meaning of the resurrection of Jesus.

          • blankman

            Agreed that a proof along the lines of a mathematical one is impossible – after all, mathematical proofs “work” because they start with axioms and proceed by the application of rules of logic.

            I watched part of these – couldn’t stomach the whole thing. And his arguments don’t come close to providing any sort of evidence.

            As I’ve posted before, outside of the bible there isn’t a single contemporary historical reference to the biblical Jesus. Even the historians people like to reference weren’t even born until after the supposed date of the crucifixion (and that’s assuming that the passages in question are legitimate and not forgeries added at some later date – and there is plenty of evidence that’s the case). The gospels were written decades after the crucifixion by unknown authors who had never met him so they had to be basing their stories on second and third hand accounts.

        • Al Hiebert

          Science “has been used to justify slavery, racial discrimination, women as second class citizens, and so forth.” So what?

        • RMW

          “…the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades…”
          RationalWiki, hardly a pro-religious site, describes the Spanish Inquisition as actually more humane, treated its prisoners better and less likely to use torture and executions than other court systems of the day (https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition)

          As for the Crusades, my understanding is it was a belated reaction to Islam’s own offensive wars of conquest that took Spain, North Africa and much of the Middle East centuries earlier. If that’s not the case, does that mean accepting that Muslims can conquer as they wish?

          “And I’m still of the opinion that the world would be better off with no religion – and I’m far from the only one. Two out of three Australians…”
          If the goal is to reject religion then the Australian example at least is a joke. You see, when faced with an Islamic terror attack recently, many Australians reacted by…embracing Muslims and defending them from supposed ‘Islamophobia’. This acceptance of co-religionists of the terrorist is rather puzzling, don’t you think.
          http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-15/illridewithyou-hashtag-takes-off-following-siege/5969102

          For a dissenting view of slavery: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/julyweb-only/truth-about-catholic-church-slavery.html

          But as an aside, I find it interesting that Christianity is bashed for its supposed acceptance of slavery, but nobody cares to bash the Athenian Greeks (inventors of democracy), the Romans (inventors of republicanism), many African societies themselves (as recently as 2007, up to 20% of Mauritania’s population were still living as classic slaves), North Korea, the Islamic world and Thomas Jefferson (early American president and perhaps the most prominent proponent of the concept of separation of church and state) all for supporting and/or practicing slavery.

          Interracial marriage is a whole lot more complex than many realise. I know most people have been overly influenced by the American example of Loving v Virginia and its context. But USA is not the whole world and there are other countries which have interesting, different experiences than America’s when it comes to interracial marriages.
          Brazil never banned interracial marriages. On the contrary, it actually accepted and promoted it, especially between black and white people. Makes an interesting counter-example to the USA which tried to ban such interracial marriages.
          So what do we find in Brazil therefore? Some kind of racial and marriage utopia? Well, not really. You see, the situation there was arguably even more mind-boggling than any ban on interracial marriage. Brazil accepted and promoted interracial marriage in the hope of ultimately breeding out and eliminating black racial characteristics (and therefore the whole black race?) out of the population. And I would suggest that such a goal does not really sound ‘friendly’.
          So if anybody tries to make a big deal of interracial marriage, a question for them should be ‘well, if you support interracial marriage so much, then based on the Brazilian example, which never banned IR marriages and actually promoted it, do you then support the breeding out and elimination of the black race or some other race and why’.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_whitening

    • Al Hiebert

      Since David Hume, Charles Darwin, Thomas Hobbs, Voltaire, Edmund Burke and other “enlightened” thinkers justified slavery, racial discrimination, women as second class citizens, should we therefore dismiss their beliefs as false?

      • Andrew Getting

        I’d like to see you cite your claim that Darwin supported slavery.

        • Andrew Getting

          Still waiting, Al.

        • Al Hiebert

          Darwin first adopted the phrase “survival of the
          fittest” in his fifth edition of “The Origin of
          Species,” published in 1869, by writing of natural selection that “the
          expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer of the survival of the
          fittest is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient.” That phrase “survival of the
          fittest” suggests that slave owners are more “fit” than the slaves they own.

          • Andrew Getting

            You might want to do your due diligence before making more ridiculous claims. Darwin despised slavery. Even casual research into the subject shows it:

            To John Maurice Herbert (a friend from Cambridge), 2 June 1833

            It does ones heart good to hear how things are going on in England.— Hurrah for the honest Whigs.— I trust they will soon attack that monstrous stain on our boasted liberty, Colonial Slavery.— I have seen enough of Slavery & the dispositions of the negros, to be thoroughly disgusted with the lies & nonsense one hears on the subject in England.

            To Charles Lyell (foremost geologist in Darwin’s day), 25 Aug [1845]

            But I will not write on this subject (ie slavery); I shd perhaps annoy you & most certainly myself.— I have exhaled myself with a paragraph or two in my Journal on the sin of Brazilian slavery: you perhaps will think that it is in answer to you; but such is not the case, I have remarked on nothing, which I did not hear on the coast of S. America. My few sentences, however, are merely an explosion of feeling.

            How could you relate so placidly that atrocious sentiment about separating children from their parents; & in the next page, speak of being distressed at the Whites not having prospered; I assure you the contrast made me exclaim out.—But I have broken my intention, & so no more on this odious deadly subject.—

            To Asa Gray (a botanist at Harvard University with whom Darwin collaborated), 16 Oct [1862]

            Our verdict was, that the N. was fully justified in going to war with the S.; … after your victories in Kentucky & Tennessee, [you ought] to have made peace & agreed to a divorce. How curious it is that you all seem to believe that you can annex the South; … I would then run the risk of your seizing on Canada (I wish with all my heart it was an independent country) & declaring war against us. But slavery seems to me to grow a more hopeless curse. … This war of yours, however it may end, is a fearful evil to the whole world; & its evil effect will, I must think, be felt for years.— I can see already it has produced wide spread feeling in favour of aristocracy & Monarchism: no one in England will speak for years in favour of the people governing themselves.

            To J. D. Hooker (a botanist, Director of Royal Botanical Gardens, and Darwin’s closest friend), 24 Dec [1862]

            Slavery draws me one day one way & another day another way. But certainly the Yankees are utterly detestable towards us.— What a new idea of Struggle for existence being necessary to try & purge a government! I daresay it is very true.

            To Asa Gray, 19 Jan [1863]

            Well, your President has issued his fiat against Slavery—God grant it may have some effect.— I fear it is true that very many English do not now really care about Slavery; I heard some old sensible people saying here the same thing; & they accounted for it (& such a contrast it is to what I remember in my Boy-hood) by the present generation never having seen or heard much about Slavery.—

            To Asa Gray, 23 Feb [1863]

            I do, most truly think it dreadful that the South, with its accursed Slavery, shd triumph, & spread the evil. I think if I had power, which thank God I have not, I would let you conquer the border states, & all west of Mississippi & then force you to acknowledge the Cotton States. For Do you not now begin to doubt whether you can conquer & hold them? I have inflicted a long tirade on you.—

            To Asa Gray, 19 Apr [1865]

            Well I suppose we shall all be proved utterly wrong who thought that you could not entirely subdue the South. One thing I have always thought that the destruction of Slavery would be well worth a dozen years war.

            To Asa Gray, 15 Aug [1865]

            We continue to be deeply interested on American affairs; indeed I care for nothing else in the Times. How egregiously wrong we English were in thinking that you could not hold the South after conquering it. How well I remember thinking that Slavery would flourish for centuries in your Southern States!

            To Asa Gray, 16 Apr [1866]

            I declare I can hardly yet realise the grand, magnificent fact that Slavery is at end in your country. Farewell my good & kind friend—

            Yours most sincerely,

            C. Darwin

          • Al Hiebert

            Thanks for this reassuring selection of texts from C. Darwin opposing slavery. Did he not see the contradiction of these to his 1869 embrace of Herbert Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” as “more accurate.” Note that Darwin repeatedly uses expressions like “God grant” and thank God.” Note that Darwin’s only university degree was in divinity. How do atheist admirers of Darwin regard such facts?

          • Andrew Getting

            Beats me, this one views it as a simple disagreement of opinion — as opposed to, say, committing false witness to make a cheap rhetorical point.

    • Al Hiebert

      Truth and morally right/wrong choices are not established by who or how many chose to laugh (Fallacy of the Horse Laugh). Calling the Bible fiction does not make it so. To observe that many religions are false does not prove that all are or that any particular one is. That some people consider some ideas in the Bible to be unpleasant is not to demonstrate that those ideas are properly understood or that they are false if properly understood.

      Sure, atheists can be charitable. That does not demonstrate that their beliefs are right.

      • blankman

        But the flip side of your argument – claiming the bible is non-fiction doesn’t make it true.

        You are correct that claiming that many religions are false does not mean they all are. It also doesn’t mean that any of them are true. And, even if one of them is true, it doesn’t mean that bible is the correct one. There are thousands of gods who are worshiped or who have been worshiped by billions of people. Someone has to be incredibly arrogant to believe that they’re correct and those billions of other people are wrong (and the bible doesn’t exactly think highly of arrogance).

        BTW – claiming that “some people considering some ideas in the bible to be unpleasant” means that those are not “properly understood” really reduces the bible to a meaningless collection of stories. Either the bible means what it says or it means what you want it to say. Personally I’ll opt for the former because if someone has to “interpret” the bible to understand it the result is it means everything and nothing (basically what do you want it to mean)

        But my question wasn’t whether atheists are right – it was to name one single thing that couldn’t be accomplished in the absence of religion. So far no-one has come up with one.

        And one final point – your last sentence suggests that you’re operating under a common misunderstanding of what atheism is. And atheist does not have any beliefs with respect to a god or gods. Fact is, atheism is a lack of belief. To put it another way: A “theist” is someone who believes that a god or gods exist. An “atheist” is someone that does not believe that god exists. That’s very different from believing that god does not exist. If you want to be strictly accurate, an “agnostic atheist” is someone that does not believe that a god (any god) exists. A “gnostic atheist” is someone that believes that god does not exist. [The words “gnostic” and “agnostic” come from the Greek for knowledge.] By the same token there are “gnostic theists” and “agnostic theists”. For the record, while I know a lot of atheists I don’t think a single one of them would tell you that god doesn’t exist – all they’ll say is that they don’t believe that god exists.

        BTW – that means the burden of proof is on the individual claiming existence.

        And it also means that the burden of proof regarding the truth of the bible lies with the person making that claim.

    • Isn’t religion a product of evolution? Why get rid of it?

      And no, he’s not telling you that life was brutal before the days of modern medicine. He’s telling you that life was brutal before Christianity. And history proves it. http://amzn.to/2DdCNTj

      One positive thing that could not have been accomplished without religion was the abolition of the slave trade. http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-53/william-wilberforce-and-abolition-of-slave-trade-did-you.html

      Or abolition of slavery in America. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Abolitionism

      Or civil rights in America. http://religion.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.001.0001/acrefore-9780199340378-e-492

      Another positive thing is charity. Religious people just give more. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/Religious-Americans-Give-More/153973

      Name one positive thing that could not have been accomplished without the involvement of atheism.

  • Marc Rosenberg

    Maybe the germ theory of disease had something to do with the sickness being helped out.

  • Christoph Koebel

    why trow into the discussion Islam? Does that just the attitude that you HATE Muslis????

  • ksed11

    Atheism has a hard time accounting for objective morality, rationality, and the universe as a whole.

    Regarding the universe, the atheist must claim that the universe came into being from nothing, by nothing, which would violate a basic metaphysical principle that something cannot come from nothing.

    Regarding the mind, the atheist must claim that mind arose from mere blind matter in motion, that rationality arose from non-rational forces, that consciousness arose from non-conscious atoms.

    It’s no surprise then that atheism, when followed to its logical conclusion gives rise to nihilism (as per Nietzsche). As a result, atheism undermines the best hope for humanity. Atheism cannot provide objective, ultimate purpose or meaning to life. If one wants to be an atheist, so be it. But for those who reject it, we have good reason for doing so.

    • Andrew Getting

      “Regarding the universe, the atheist must claim that the universe came into being from nothing, by nothing, which would violate a basic metaphysical principle that something cannot come from nothing.”

      Lie. No atheist says this.

      “Regarding the mind, the atheist must claim that mind arose from mere blind matter in motion, that rationality arose from non-rational forces, that consciousness arose from non-conscious atoms.”

      It’s significantly more complicated than that, taking place over billions of years.

      “It’s no surprise then that atheism, when followed to its logical conclusion gives rise to nihilism (as per Nietzsche). As a result, atheism undermines the best hope for humanity. Atheism cannot provide objective, ultimate purpose or meaning to life. If one wants to be an atheist, so be it. But for those who reject it, we have good reason for doing so.”

      That’s a strawman argument mixed with reducto ad absurdem. You know what my goals are as an atheist?To try to help ease people through their pain, and to love and help my family and friends as best I can.

      Atheism doesn’t dictate that to me. I choose that path for myself. That you can’t figure out why shows you shouldn’t try to dictate my beliefs to me.

      • ksed11

        The things I wrote about are the natural consequences of atheism, regardless of whether any atheist wants to believe it or not. Under atheism, where did objective morality, rationality, etc. come from?

        Obviously, helping people through pain is a noble endeavour. But where does love come in if atheism is true? On atheism, love would be just a biochemical reaction in the brain. The fact that this reaction is directed towards other human beings would be just a happenstance occurrence. It seems that once one rejects God, one still has an existential need. As Nietzsche pointed out, atheists end up filling that need by borrowing meaning and value from the theistic worldview.

        • Andrew Getting

          You realize that Nietzsche is not leader of the atheist club, right? That we have empathy independent of your religion?

          “It seems that once one rejects God, one still has an existential need. ”

          How adorable. You decided to condescend to me about my experiences, why I am what I am, without the first clue of it.

          You know why I don’t believe in God? It started when, after my wife and I struggled for nine months through depression, job loss, and illness — during which I prayed constantly to God for the strength to be a good father, husband, and worker — we went to the hospital only to be told that our daughter didn’t have a heartbeat. This was concerning, but not exactly convincing — she’d been mildy infamous just weeks prior for hiding from the ultrasound such that her strong heartbeat could still only be heard from certain angles.

          Still, for the first and last time in my life, I prayed for a miracle.

          As I held the limp body of my newborn daughter, and watched her skin darken as the oxygen in her blood metabolized, I wondered what I could possibly say to her big sister, who had literally spent a third of her life begging for a baby sibling and another third waiting for it.

          I waited for my wife’s medication to wear off, fragile chemical bonds the only thing separating her from despair.

          I called around to family and friends, who were all cheerfully picking up the early morning news, fully expecting a joyous birth announcement.

          We had to endure a disinterested chaplain, who ignored our pain to drone on that Jesus loves babies, never once offering to listen to our fears or our pains.

          My wife could not bear to go back to work. Every day, someone else saw her and asked when they’d see baby pictures.

          By the time she was stable enough that I could return to work without worry, my colleagues had stolen almost everything I’d left in their care, despite them fully understanding why I’d been away.

          My surviving daughter, only just three at the time, struggled with the implications of the loss of her sister. My father used her pain to try to pimp Jesus to her, without talking to my wife or me first, and the end result was that my daughter thought we gave her sister to Jesus instead of her to play and sing with. We would later find out he’d also baptized her — again, without talking to my wife or me — and taken her to several Sunday school classes.

          My sister, another fine Christian, lamented about her own miscarriage to our mother. When first she told me of the loss of her child, years prior, I dropped everything to try to help her. To this day, she’s still never so much as mentioned our lost girl. A couple months later, she showed up at Christmas visibly pregnant without a word of warning to anyone.

          In our hour of need, not only did we not feel an ounce of support from God, we felt nothing but opportunism and callous indifference from the bulk of the Christians we met.

          The Christians alone were like this.

          Our Muslim friends? Openly wept with us.

          The nice Hindu couple at the deli down the street? Took one look at us, realized we weren’t pregnant anymore and didn’t have an extra child in tow. They helped with our groceries without asking.

          Our Jewish relatives? Despite not seeing us for over a year, and only having met my wife in passing (and never my surviving daughter), brought us together and shared in our loss.

          And my atheist friends? They paid our bills while we were out of work. They listened to our worries when my wife was hospitalized for her mental health. They offered up tales of their own losses, reassuring me that I wasn’t a horrible failure for forgetting one of the month anniversaries of my daughter’s death. They suggested healthy means to discuss death to our toddler, who has since in turn helped another child in her class deal with the shock of his grandfather’s death just before Christmas.

          During all this, I decided I could either believe in an all-powerful, all-benevolent, all-knowing deity that decided to hurt my elder daughter by allowing the death of my younger one, or that this was just something awful that happened without purpose or design.

          I will never hear my little girl laugh or cry. I will never feel her hand tighten round my finger. I will never know the color of her eyes. I will never know her.

          I’m glad your belief in God comforts you — I truly am. I know that many of history’s greatest and kindest people were that way because they felt religion informed their behavior and lives. I know too well what it’s like to feel cold and scared and alone.

          What comforts me is that no maliciousness lays behind the loss of my child. What moves me to be a better person is the understanding that if I don’t help, my own experience has shown me that I can’t trust that someone else would. I fail more often than I’d like, but I have to live with that, and show my daughter how she can learn better.

          That, not your presumption of an existential need, is why I am what I am now, why I do what I do.

          Lie to yourself about atheists, appease your pride and your arrogance, all you like, but you’re never going to learn a thing just looking down your nose at us. The only outcome you’ll get is to remind us that you’re not interested in us as anything more than brownie points or strawmen.

          • ksed11

            I’m sorry for your loss. I truly am.

            As for those Xians you encountered, obviously their actions were not good.
            What I’m addressing in my posts, however, are the natural implications for atheism as a worldview.
            At the end of your comment, you accuse me of lying. That would require some sort of evidence. That is, is what I said false and did I knowingly say false things to mislead? Simply saying that I’m lying doesn’t make it so.
            Also, where was I looking down my nose at you? Again, if you disagree with me fine. In that case, please offer a counter argument, not an insult. As we can see, it is not I who am insulting you but you who are insulting me by calling me an arrogant liar. Which is fine if that’s what you want.

          • Andrew Getting

            “What I’m addressing in my posts, however, are the natural implications for atheism as a worldview. ”

            No, they’re your assumptions, several of which have absolutely no merit and no basis in reality.

            “At the end of your comment, you accuse me of lying. That would require some sort of evidence. That is, is what I said false and did I knowingly say false things to mislead? Simply saying that I’m lying doesn’t make it so.”

            Then perhaps you should actually research the Big Bang theory before describing it as something from nothing. While a common claim from Christians on what we believe, it’s still a untrue — and still a lie.

            “Also, where was I looking down my nose at you?”

            Here:

            “It’s no surprise then that atheism, when followed to its logical conclusion gives rise to nihilism (as per Nietzsche). As a result, atheism undermines the best hope for humanity. Atheism cannot provide objective, ultimate purpose or meaning to life. If one wants to be an atheist, so be it. But for those who reject it, we have good reason for doing so.”

            And here:

            “It seems that once one rejects God, one still has an existential need.”

            Both are examples of you deciding what atheists believe without bothering to ask one.

            “If you disagree with me fine. In that case, please offer a counter argument.”

            No. I don’t owe you a counter-argument on whether you’re in a position to tell me my own beliefs or identity. You don’t get to make up crap about what I believe, then extrapolate from your crass and baseless assumptions about what the world would be like if everyone believed what you assume I believe.

            You are making things up to malign people who disagree with you on a philosophical level about how many deities exist. The sum total of atheist philosophy is that the evidence we’ve seen shows zero for any.

            Anything else — from the creation of the universe to our place in it — would be the beliefs of individuals, not of the sum of us. I am in no way responsible for nor in a position to describe what another atheist believes or does, nor are they for me.

            And you *certainly* aren’t in a position to dictate our beliefs, given you’ve shown gross and irresponsible ignorance for them.

          • Al Hiebert

            I too feel sorry for your family’s loss of the baby daughter you longed for so urgently. An appropriate response would take much more space and time than is appropriate for this comment board.
            Let me suggest that you consider the comments of the chair of the Oxford U math department in a talk on “Has science buried God” at the U of Chicago at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ygib2rNkdWQ. It appears to me that your problem with God is your faulty definition of God and your faulty understanding of the nature of explanation. BTW note that some 65% of the 20th century Nobel prize winners believed in God. Note also the problem of Darwin’s doubt and Thomas Nagel’s “Why Neo-Darwinianism is almost Certainly False.” And Lennox’s “science buries atheism.”

          • Andrew Getting

            If you wanted me to take your recommendation, you shouldn’t have lied to and about me. I couldn’t care less about your opinion now — you’re too enamored of abusing atheists for it to be worth my bother.

            But hey, thanks for continuing the trend and simultaneously feeling sorry for the loss of my daughter and dismissing out of hand my own thoughts on my own experiences. You’re EXACTLY the kind of Christian I’ve come to expect to meet: callous, duplicitous, and willing to lie, cheat, or steal to get what he wants.

          • Al Hiebert

            A Disqus email tells me that you have posted a long list of “transitional” life forms from one kind of living organism to another, though I can’t find that post in the above comments. Might I assume that the empirical basis for these chains is the fossilized skeletons of these organisms, not the laboratory observations of any of their transformations from one kind of living organism to another? If so, the belief that one kind of living organism has actually transformed to another is based on a naturalistic leap of faith, no matter how many scientists or naive members of the public believe that such transformations actually happened in undocumented history. Might these fossilized skeletons simply document the past lives of species now gone extinct? To dismiss that explanatory hypothesis out of hand seems to suggest the Fallacy of Special Pleading, characteristic of thinkers who are not carefully skeptical enough.

          • blankman

            Let’s just add evolution to the list of things you don’t understand.

          • Al Hiebert

            Anyone who has read this threat this far needs to view at least the first 50 minutes of “Temple University Open Forum: Does Truth Matter?” at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-EFkOz4Pys&t=2747s

          • ksed11

            It is atheists who have brought up these problems. For example, atheist philosopher of mind John Searle writes: “How can we square this self-conception of ourselves as mindful, meaning-creating, free, rational, etc., agents with a universe that consists entirely of mindless, meaningless, unfree, nonrational, brute physical particles?”

            Thomas Nagel has brought up similar concerns. In fact, some like Daniel Dennett and Paul Churchland will deny what’s patently obvious and simply go the elimativist route and say that we have no minds at all (that’s an easy way to solve the problem I guess).

            J.L. Mackie writes: “Moral properties constitute so odd a cluster of properties and relations that they are most unlikely to have arisen in the ordinary course of events without an all-powerful god to create them.”
            Obviously, for an atheist like Mackie since God is a non-starter, so he ends up denying that there are any objective moral facts at all.

            As for the universe, cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin stated in his paper give at Stephen Hawking’s 70th birthday that all the evidence says the universe had a beginning. But even if one wanted to posit a pre-existing, pre-Big Bang universe, one still has to explain why a universe exists at all. The contingent nature of the universe tells us that it is not self-existent.

            Atheism cannot adequately explain any of these things. To say that consciousness arose from non-conscious matter is to say that something came from nothing, which is an absurdity. Theism, on the other hand, has an adequate explanation, namely, an all-powerful unified conscious, rational free agent who is the locus of objective moral value. Those features that atheist thinkers find puzzling are no surprise in a theistic universe.

          • Andrew Getting

            “Atheism cannot adequately explain any of these things.”

            No, you just haven’t looked into it further than some wonk’s article about how he “destroyed” atheism, and are throwing aside Occam’s Razor in favor of feeling good about how much smarter you are than atheists. It can’t possibly be that we’ve heard this argument and answered it before and you haven’t heard, it’s because we have a pile of scientists who’ve put thought into everything else and are gibbering idiots here.

            And you’re still fine with the pile of lies in the original article. You also haven’t addressed the stack of further lies from Mel. Do I take it that you agree with them?

            And I still do not owe you an explanation of my beliefs after you botched a strawman attempt in explaining them to me.

          • Al Hiebert

            You don’t know that I “haven’t looked into it further than some wonk’s article about how he ‘destroyed’ atheism, and are throwing aside Occam’s Razor in favor of
            feeling good about how much smarter you are than atheists.” You may believe that but your belief does not make it so.

            Might you consider viewing this debate on “Is There Evidence for God? William Lane Craig and Kevin Scharp” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KMd_eS2J7o

    • blankman

      If you really believe that “something cannot come from nothing”, where did god come from?

      And your post makes it clear that you don’t understand the big bang theory (which does not say that the universe came from nothing), abiogenesis, or evolution.

      But if the universe needed a creator, you’re faced with the classical question” “Who created the creator?” And then who created that creator? And so forth ad infinitum.

      BTW – if the only reason someone behaves morally is because they’re worried about what will happen to them in some sort of afterlife they’re not a very moral person to begin with.

      • ksed11

        Let’s assume for a moment that physicist Paul Davies knows what he’s talking about. He states:

        “The mechanism of the coming-into-being of the universe, as discussed in modern science, is actually much more profound than the biblical version because it does not merely involve order emerging out of chaos. It’s not just a matter of imposing some sort of organisation or structure upon a previous incoherent state, but literally the coming-into-being of all physical things from nothing.”
        (http://www.abc.net.au/science/bigquestions/s460625.htm)

        In fact, the millenia old Xian theological and philosophical tradition has always posited a necessary being. So asking “What caused God” is simply the wrong question. It commits a category fallacy. And the question is also not a classical question. It is one that has been posed by New Atheists like Richard Dawkins. But people who actually understand the philosophical tradition know that Dawkins’ question is a non-starter. Atheist Michael Ruse (in his New York times interview with Gary Gutting from 2014) states:

        “Like every first-year undergraduate in philosophy, Dawkins thinks he can put to rest the causal argument for God’s existence. If God caused the world, then what caused God? Of course the great philosophers, Anselm and Aquinas particularly, are way ahead of him here. They know that the only way to stop the regression is by making God something that needs no cause. He must be a necessary being. This means that God is not part of the regular causal chain but in some sense orthogonal to it. He is what keeps the whole business going, past, present and future, and is the explanation of why there is something rather than nothing.”

        God didn’t come from anywhere. He wasn’t caused by anything else. And this is not some ad hoc move made by theists. Most theistic arguments conclude in a necessary being. That is, the conclusion is deduced from the premises.

        E.g. the argument from contingency can be stated:

        1. Every contingent thing is dependent on something beyond it for its existence
        2. But not everything can be dependent on something else (this would lead to a infinite regress)
        Therefore,
        3. A non-contingent (i.e. necessary) thing exists.

        The argument concludes in a necessary being.
        Obviously, a necessary being is a being whose non-existence is impossible. And the first cause argument for God is exactly that. A first cause. If something is first, nothing comes before it. One cannot posit anything more ultimate than the ultimate explanation. The whole question is misconceived. What the atheist must do is actually provide an argument demonstrating that the theistic God actually doesn’t exist.
        Also, one can derive the beginning of the universe from the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Also the Borde Guth Vilenkin theorem shows that the universe has a space-time boundary (i.e. a beginning).

        As for morality, you seem to be confusing the epistemological question with the ontological question. That is, what grounds objective morality in reality? Obviously, one doesn’t need to believe in God or religion to be a morally good person. That’s not the question. The moral argument for God sets up a choice, namely:

        1.The foundation of objective morality is either natural or supernatural.
        2.A natural foundation is highly implausible.
        Therefore,
        3. the foundation for objective morality is supernatural.

        • blankman

          And the argument that everything needs a creator except god who is somehow different and doesn’t need a creator is an example of a classical logical fallacy called a “special pleading”.

          But we all know that god can’t exist because of Eric the God-Eating Penguin

          https://tinyurl.com/yc4vo6h9

          • ksed11

            This is not a case of special pleading for God since atheists have always maintained the same thing for the universe, namely, that the universe was eternal (beginningless and uncaused). So the atheist is in the same boat on that score. The problem is that we now know the universe did have a beginning.
            So the inference to a necessary being is perfectly reasonable. Since all space, matter/energy, and time itself had a beginning, it is rational to infer a non-spatial, immaterial, non-temporal cause for the universe. Again, the theist is drawing a conclusion from the evidence. He is not simply asserting it.

            If all you’ve got is a silly meme, then I wouldn’t be too optimistic for the fortunes of atheism. In any case, the meme seems to be saying that if one cannot prove that X doesn’t exist, one should not believe that Y exists. This doesn’t seem to follow. All one can conclude from the absence of an argument for X is that one should either not believe in X or remain agnostic about X. One’s belief in Y is untouched, for that will depend on evidence and arguments for Y. And since I’ve already offered reasons for believing that God exists, I’m well within my rights to believe that God exists, irrespective of my inability to prove or disprove the existence of some other thing.

            Even worse, anything you fill in for X (e.g. penguins, FSMs, celestial teapots, Thor, Zeus, etc.) will be a contingent being. And as I’ve mentioned, every contingent thing is dependent on something else for its existence. Not so for God. Remember, the necessary nature of God is a conclusion reached by way of argument.

            So, memes of this sort violate the first rule in discussions about God; namely:

            Make sure you’re talking about the same definition of God.</blockquote)

          • Al Hiebert

            Our creator has blessed all humans with creative imaginations — unique among living beings.. Hence the endless creations of fictional characters in literature, cartoons, movies, TV, art, dance, music, religions, fables, hoaxes, etc., most of which entertain us. Some of these even fool gullible kids (e.g., Santa, the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, etc) who believe that their parents would never lie to them. Motives for such endless creations of fictional characters vary endlessly.

            But atheist inventions of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Eric the Magic God-eating Penguin are obvious efforts of atheist mocking such as atheist guru Richard Dawkins recommends to his fellow atheists.These have no place in respectful rational discussion of any claims to truth. They merely express atheist disdain for their opponents. They may also serve as depraved humor for the entertainment of fellow atheists.

          • blankman

            Not quite – they are no less believable than the stories in the bible.

            And why should we believe the bible is true? Because it says it is? Hardly a valid argument. Because lots of people say it is? Or because it’s been around for a long time?

            So why should we believe it’s true? And while we’re at it, billions of people worship other gods. It takes a special kind of arrogance for someone to say that they’re right and those billions of people are wrong. And even the bible doesn’t speak kindly of arrogance.

            But that aside, cavemen invented god(s) to explain things they didn’t understand. And as scientific knowledge progresses the “need” for that explanation recedes.

          • Al Hiebert

            It takes a special kind of arrogance for someone to say that no creator of any sort exists, given the scientific knowledge concerning the absolute beginning of the cosmos and of first life, the incompetence of science to demonstrate the need for honesty in scientific research, the source of love, etc., etc. Imaginative fictions of what cavemen did remain as imaginative fictions, no matter who or how many believe them to be true.

            Responsible history shows that Jesus lived, taught, died on a cruel Roman cross, was buried 3 days in a borrowed tomb, and rose from the dead to give empirical demonstration of the truth of His claim to be God incarnate and to die in atonement for the sins of all who would accept that free gift. Anyone can dismiss these facts for any reason they chose, but doing so is not a rational scientific conclusion. It’s an act of wilful choice for which they carry full responsibility. Let me humbly urge you to check out these facts carefully as have ex-atheists such as Wm Lane Craig, David Wood, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowel Ravi Zaharias and a host of others who deeply care about truth.

          • Al Hiebert

            As for the Bible, let’s first examine by ordinary historical research criteria whether the New Testament is a responsible source for decent historical data concerning Jesus’ biography. Space and time do not permit repeating the thousands of books already published on that subject.

            Please view “The Historical Reliability of the Gospels- Dr. Craig Blomberg” where he reviews 12 sources of evidence for the reliability of the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ biography.See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dHbVjhQdrI. Next read the four gospels to ascertain Jesus’ views of Scripture (i.e.the Old Testament) and His promises of sending the Holy Spirit to write the New Testament. If inductively we conclude that Jesus was actually who He claimed to be, then we can agree with Him on what kind of book the Bible is.

          • blankman

            I don’t even know where to begin on that one.

            First, your first sentence demonstrates a lack of understanding of the word “atheist”. An atheist simply says that they don’t believe that a god or gods exist. If you’ve got proof please provide it. Better yet, write it up, submit it to a legitimate peer reviewed journal, sit back and collect your Nobel Prize.

            Second, you seem to be positing the existence of a creator. (Of course that leads to the obvious question – who created the creator and then who created that creator and so forth ad infinimum.) And claiming that god didn’t need a creator then the question is “why should the universe need one?” And the claim that “everything except god needs a creator” is an example of a classical logical fallacies called a “special pleading”.

            And the fact that science can’t explain something (yet) does not mean that god exists. That’s another classical logical error called an “argument from ignorance” (sometimes called the “god of the gaps”) and essentially says “I don’t know. Therefore god.” A few centuries back we’d have been saying “Where does lightning come from? We don’t know, therefore Thor.”

            To quote Neil deGrasse Tyson:

            “Does it mean, if you don’t understand something, and the community of physicists don’t understand it, that means God did it? Is that how you want to play this game? Because if it is, here’s a list of things in the past that the physicists at the time didn’t understand [and now we do understand] […]. If that’s how you want to invoke your evidence for God, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on – so just be ready for that to happen, if that’s how you want to come at the problem.”

            As for “responsible history” outside of the bible there isn’t a single contemporary historical reference to the biblical Jesus. While it’s quite possible (in fact quite probable) that there was a man named Yeshua ben Yosef (it was, after all, a very common name) there is no extra-biblical evidence of his godhood or whatever you want to call it. His name doesn’t appear anywhere until the second century and the historians people like to cite (Josephus, Tacitus, et al) weren’t even born until after the supposed date of the crucifixion. Moreover the gospels were written years (decades actually) after the crucifixion by unknown authors who had never met him. The church didn’t attach the names of the apostles to those documents until the second century and that was simply an intent to increase their credibility. Fact is, there is only one passage in the bible where someone actually claims to have met him and most scholars are of the opinion that is a forgery.

            Your “facts” are really unsupported beliefs – you are free to believe them if you want but doing so is not a “rational scientific conclusion”.

          • Al Hiebert

            Your “obvious question – who created the creator and then who created that creator and so forth ad infinimum” was an issue embraced by my atheist philosophy prof who pushed atheism at us a half century ago. It seems he was unaware of the scientific data showing that the cosmos had an absolute beginning in what later came to be known as the Big Bang. Atheist guru Richard Dawkins makes the same objection in his “God Delusion.”

            It seems he and all his fellow atheist believers who raise this objection fail to distinguish between contingent beings and necessary beings. Before the 1960s atheists argued that the cosmos may well be eternal, hence needing no cause for its existence. The Big Bang has closed that door.

            The Kalam argument does not say:
            “Whatever exists must have an external cause to account for its existence.”

            Instead the Kalam argument does say:
            1. “Whatever begins to exist must have an external cause to account for its existence.”
            2. “The cosmos is evidently something that began to exist.”
            3. “Therefore the cosmos must have an external cause to account for its existence.”

            This external cause to account for the existence of the cosmos can rationally be regarded by billions of humans as the creator or God. This creator or God is a necessary being, not a contingent being like the things He/She/It created. To regard the creator as a contingent being generates an infinite regress that still fails to account for the existence of the cosmos. Had you responsibly reflected on the Wm Lane Craig lecture I posted here, I would have hoped that you would have understood this. Alas, I was probably mistaken about that.

            Let me recommend

            “Lennox Vs. Dawkins Debate – Has Science Buried God?” at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0UIbd0eLxw

          • blankman

            Sorry but no cigar. The Kalam argument was debunked long ago

            https://www.scientificexploration.org/forum/the-kalam-cosmological-argument-debunked

          • Al Hiebert

            Sorry, John Prytz seems to have zero understanding of the notion of contingent being vs necessary being. Small wonder that he can simply assert in 1B) “there is no such thing as a First Cause.” His appeal to radioactivity as an analogy does not help him out of his question begging fallacy. His appeal to child birth as an analogy only further exposes his question begging fallacy. In normal biology the birth of a child is caused by its parents. Physicists may not yet have accounted for the cause of radioactivity but that is irrelevant to the suggestion that it has no material or natural cause. Radioactivity is a contingent phenomenon, i.e., it can occur in some materials but need not occur in other materials. There is nothing necessary about its occurrence. An absolute beginning of the material cosmos is a qualitatively different phenomenon in that this phenomenon must be outside the material cosmos in no way analogous to radioactivity or the birth of a child.

            I agree in 1C) “you can only bring something into existence from a previous something” but I don’t agree “You cannot bring a material
            something into existence from pure nothingness or from anything immaterial.” Well yes, I agree that I cannot do that, but I don’t agree that a non-material creator cannot do that — that’s exactly the point of the Kalam argument. How can any reasonably rational person not understand that? The assertion “You cannot bring a material something into existence from pure nothingness or from anything immaterial” is merely another question begging fallacy which betrays a naturalistic metaphysics. It is not a rational inference from anything.

            The imaginative speculation “There could be parallel universes or even a postulated Multiverse or Megaverse – maybe.” comes with zero supporting data, and hence fits in the category of science fiction no matter who or how many thinker prefer to talk about this. Anyone who actually believe there is an actual Multiverse or that John Prytz has actually “debunked the Kalam argument might be interested in a fabulous deal I might offer on some Florida real estate.

            See “The Fine-Tuning of the Universe” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE76nwimuT0&index=4&list=PL3gdeV4Rk9EfL-NyraEGXXwSjDNeMaRoX

          • blankman

            Since you apparently believe the Kalam argument, I can introduce you to a very nice man from Nigeria. He’s looking for a business partner and I’m sure the two of you will get along well.

            The tuning argument doesn’t work either – Douglas Adams (author of Hitchhiker’s Guide) expresses it well when he talked about the puddle

            Having said that, the vid you posted is correct when it says that, if any one of the six constants were to differ by even the smallest amount the universe, as we know it, would be a barren place (BTW – that ignores the question of what would happen if more than one of those constants were changed – is there some other combination that “works” – not a combination that produces life/the universe/etc as we know it but something that “works”)

            The Big Bang theory isn’t about the “bang” itself but is about what happened after the bang. But to continue – there are any number of theories about what happened “before” the big bang. Perhaps our universe is the relic of an earlier collapsed universe – we’re just one of an eternal cycle of expanding and collapsing universes (like the bladder on an oxygen machine). That is, somewhere along the way our universe will reach a point where it stops expanding and collapses back on itself until it becomes a singularity again at which point another big bang occurs and another universe occurs. That’s why some scientists are of the opinion that there have been other big bangs, perhaps trillions and trillions of them, spread thru eternity and the reason we exist in this one is because this is the one we COULD exist in.

            To quote Edward P. Tryon of Columbia “In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our universe is simply one of those things that happens from time to time.” Alan Guth (formerly of Stanford, now at MIT) adds “Although the creation of a universe might be very unlikely, Tryon emphasizes that no-one had counted the failed attempts”

            As for the video’s discussion of probability, all that it does is demonstrate that the author doesn’t understand the difference between an “a priori” probability (which in this case is extremely small) and an “a posteriori” probability (which in this case is 1.00). John Allen Paulos (of Temple University) provides the best explanation of the difference (and why the creationist probability argument is wrong) that I’ve seen yet.

            http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=2384584

            And if you want further commentary on what’s wrong with the fine tuning argument you should read this

            https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_fine_tuning

          • Al Hiebert

            Science fiction writers like Douglas Adams, etc. make a career of imagining endless stories of puddles, pulsating accordion universes, naturally evolving horses, eyes, blood clotting mechanisms, etc. I agree with John Allen Paulos that a priori calculations of the real existence today of horses, eyes blood and clotting mechanisms are irrelevant IF IN FACT we assume they all evolved naturally. But Paulos simply begs the question concerning the truth of that assumption. His claimed a posteriori argument is solidly based on the truth of that assumption. His “fantastically huge number of evolutionary paths that might be taken by an organism (or a process) over time” does not rescue him here. This is still all fiction masquerading as serious science. He also begs the question concerning the truth of his assumption of actual pulsating accordion universes before the Big Bang. He is merely special pleading for an eternal cosmos in the face of the empirical data indicating an absolute beginning of the cosmos as have many others in the past half century who refuse to go where the empirical data leads them.

            When Edward P. Tryon of Columbia talks of “no-one had counted the failed attempts” he apparently failed to mention that those “failed attempts” were all imagined. This is not science. This is science fiction of the order of Douglas Adams’ story of the thinking puddle, even if scientists do it.

            Here are another 10 arguments that seek to debunk the Kalam argument; enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyHqSzXfrkE

          • blankman

            Thing is, Paulos is correct. The probability that matters here is the “a posteriori” one (and I’d have been very upset in any of my undergrad stat students didn’t understand that).

            All that means is that the probability argument in favor of creation (or its stillborn cousin intelligent design) doesn’t work.

            And much as you want it to, the Kalam argument doesn’t work and has been debunked time and time again.

          • Al Hiebert

            Your assertions that “Paulos is correct,” that argument in favor of creation (or … intelligent design) doesn’t work” that “the Kalam argument doesn’t work and has been debunked time and time again” are merely unwarranted assertions. If my undergrad or grad students did the same, I’d respond to them the same way.

            Your ” Perhaps our universe is the relic of an earlier collapsed universe –
            we’re just one of an eternal cycle of expanding and collapsing universes
            (like the bladder on an oxygen machine). That is, somewhere along the
            way our universe will reach a point where it stops expanding and
            collapses back on itself until it becomes a singularity again at which
            point another big bang occurs and another universe occurs. That’s why
            some scientists are of the opinion that there have been other big bangs,
            perhaps trillions and trillions of them, spread thru eternity and the
            reason we exist in this one is because this is the one we COULD exist
            in” is sheer imaginative fiction. What could cause an expanding universe to collapse? Clearly not gravity, whose force weakens in an expanding universe. How many of the videos that I’ve posted have you viewed completely and understood responsibly and how many have you never viewed at all or only partially?

  • Andrew Getting

    Bonus points for the posters so far: even though Christians have posted and claimed to care, not one of them has called out the original article for its dishonesty.

    I guess bearing false witness is cool when it’s an atheist being lied about.

  • Dr Sarah

    Setting aside the issue of the accuracy of Johnston’s analysis of Christianity’s effects on the way that history unfolded (and also the question of why he feels able to make such sweeping claims about what atheists want), I have one big question about this:

    Is Johnston actually trying to claim that getting rid of Christianity now would somehow cause the world to transmogrify into the state it had been in if we had never had Christianity in the first place? If so, on what basis?

    To quote philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards (quote is from a different context, but very appropriate here as well): ‘You might as well try to argue that if you repatriated all the French people in this country we should all start speaking Anglo-Saxon again.”