To Christians (and all other religious people) out there, I have a question. Don’t answer it if you’re incapable of civil conversation, please.

Why is it that our evidence, as atheists who think about the universe in scientific terms – archeological finds, carbon dating, big bang theory, evolution, all of that good stuff, science that is testable, science that is observable, our theories for how the universe started are not enough for you? Why is the bible more believable to you? Or whatever holy book you may read. I’m genuinely interested in your position. Why is the information presented to you in the bible more convincing?

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About thatcatkatie
I came to this site to discuss my beliefs, and yours too, and hopefully learn some things from my fellow human beings.

23 Responses to To Christians (and all other religious people) out there, I have a question. Don’t answer it if you’re incapable of civil conversation, please.

  1. Because they have been indoctrinated from a young age to believe the Bible, I guess. Also, people don’t like to admit they’re wrong. Also, they focus on the problems of science but not the problems of their own beliefs. A few reasons, from an atheist perspective…

    • thatcatkatie says:

      I can understand that to an extent, but I used to be a Christian, not because my parents ever talked to me about religion, but because most of my friends went to church so I started going with them, and it took off from there. I came to the conclusion of being an atheist out of Christianity, I had to admit I was wrong, so even thought it is hard for people it’s not impossible.

  2. There are various positions inside Christianity. I am a christian, yet I think that evolutionary biology is remarkable. Also if you think that all Christians think that the earth is 6000 years old than that again is misinformation, that is not even required for belief or even have faith.

    Come over to my blog, you may like it, we can have some discussion for sure, if you would like that.

    • thatcatkatie says:

      I know that not all Christians think the earth is 6,000 years old. I also know there are some who do, who also think the earth is flat, that our solar system revolves around us. I have little hope of trying to connect with these people logically on any level, because they’ve been presented more than enough evidence that their beliefs are wrong and are still stuck. I feel that way about most religions, though, but I recognize they are not so exteme or ignorant in their beliefs as others, such as the group of people I described.

    • thatcatkatie says:

      And yes, I will check out your blog later. Looking forward to healthy debate since you seem like you can handle that.

  3. I know there are flat earthers on the internet, they are a rare minority not a majority.

  4. I think some people take the position of science and the Bible being incompatible, but I don’t. Science is the investigation into the material world. It can tell us little about morals or values; beauty and experience… I love science. But assuming there is only the material world is a philosophical position, not a scientific one.

    • thatcatkatie says:

      This post was made in light of some fundamentalists telling me that evolution was a big lie made to bring down Christianity. I know there are many Christians that accept some scientific theories in hand with their own religion, evolution included. You’re right, science can’t tell us anything about morals, but we don’t need it to. Just because religion takes it upon itself to emphasize certain morals in its teachings, doesn’t mean that you need such teachings to know what morality is or to act upon it. I had a conscience when I had a God, and now that I find myself God-less, I don’t find myself without morals. I also don’t need religion to be able to appreciate nature, my brain is simply amazed at the wonders of this world and beauty is subjective.
      As for your last statement, assuming there is more than only the material world is a philosophical position, not a scientific one.

      • Yes I agree that believing there is more than the material world is a philosophical position  I don’t think science is able to say anything about this, or many other subjects… the question of an objective morality without a supernatural basis is an interesting philosophical discussion. While I accept that you, or anyone, can be moral without a belief in God; the question whether this is philosophically tenable is more difficult. This interesting debate between William Lane Craig shows that Sam Harris really has trouble answering the logical points WLC is putting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwhgPjPCpL8&feature=g-vrec In summary, how do you know what is right or wrong? The Nazis often thought they were ‘doing the right thing’. How do you argue with them that they are wrong? The problems is you just get to a point where you say, ‘cos I said so,’ unless there is an external source of that morality, such as the Bible. Liberal humanists in the 1970s, for example, were campaigning for greater freedoms for paedophilia. It can be very easy to convince ourselves of the rightness of something. I also find it interesting, that many of the morals of humanism are Christian in their roots – certainly in this country, and in many others. However I’m certainly not judging your personal morality and values, which may well be very good.

        • thatcatkatie says:

          Anything that harms other people or takes away their basic rights is wrong. It’s always been fairly simple, the nazis knew they were harming people, I can’t account for phenomena like that. Evil is wrong that thinks it is good, but it’s not like anyone but the nazis were fooled by their actions, the rest of the world knows it was wrong. Does any religion define morality? Not exactly, but it does tell you what acts to do/not to do. There are immoral acts, like rape for example, that the bible addresses but doesn’t condemn. But we all know rape is immoral, don’t we? Because it harms someone. I feel no need to defend my moral values, because I know I do my part for society and I know that I try my best to affect others positively. Morality was around before Christianity, before all of the major world religions – ancient civilizations had figured out that things like killing people and stealing were bad for society.
          I think it’s weird to think that morality doesn’t mean anything without a supreme being. To me, this is like saying that since you can’t put your morality on a score board that decides what happens to you in the afterlife, then there’s no reason for it to exist. Which simply isn’t true, without morality there is chaos – people generally don’t want to live in chaos. People say there’s no reason for morality if you don’t have a religion – but is there any more reason to be immoral? Why would anyone want to live in a society like that? They wouldn’t. And besides, if religion has some great claim on morality, how do you explain all of the atrocities that happen as a result of religion?

          • I think the philosophical debate is more like – if there is no external, supernatural foundation for your morality, how can you determine between two people’s different ideas? So if one person says, ‘in order to reduce suffering in the world, we should kill all the poor and disabled people at birth’ and the other says, ‘in order to reduce suffering in the world we should force people ot open their homes to poor and disabled people’ and another says ‘we should just leave it as it is’ – how do you decide between them? On what moral basis can you make that decision? The first two are arguing for reduced suffering, both have downsides (for parents, or the homeowners). Without an external set of morals it ends up just being wrangling between different people’s opinions, and history shows that this does not work very well. The communists had great ideals and values, yet turned out to be incredibly vicious and oppressive.
            So I repeat – I’m definitely not saying you’re not moral! I’m just saying if you and a few other atheists got into a room with different ideas about something, it becomes difficult to judge between them without an objective morality. That’s fine if it’s about small matters, but if it’s about life and death it’s potentially very dangerous. I hope you’re never in the position where you see a great wrong being justified but it’s quite scary and has happened many times in history, not just by the Nazis.
            And yes obviously religious people do bad things. Firstly I’d ask – was it inspired by their religious text? if not, well they’re just flouting the objective morality they claim to hold. So the crusades, inquisition – are contradicting themselves and directly disobeying many commands in the Bible. I’m sure you’ve read the Bible, how do you think a Christian could justify those actions? Perhaps if the church had been more Bible-focused at those times it wouldn’t have happened. I do acknowledge people can still use the Bible for ill, Westborough Baptist church springs to mind, but again they are ignoring some of the basic teaching that Jesus gave.
            However my personal experience and that of those I know is that following Christ and reading the Bible has definitely brought me to a more loving place.
            I’d argue that rape is condemned – firstly in terms of the adultery commandment, secondly through ‘love your neighbour’ and ‘love your wife as Christ loves the church’. But also, the stories of rape in the Old Testament clearly show it in a bad light. Sodom and Gomorrah for example, was a community in which raping male visitors was seen as the norm – and look what happened to them.
            Interesting chat – thank you! Look forward to your responses 🙂

          • thatcatkatie says:

            I think it’s much, much simpler than that. You cannot end suffering by creating more suffering and call it moral – killing this people would create fear and pain. In this situation, in order to reduce suffering in the world we should find effective ways to feed people, help them find their own way to financial stability (so long as they have an even playing field, what they do with it is up to them), and find ways to work with disabled people that enable them to live as normally as possible. The moral basis I make that on is that it is the only way that ensures everyone has a fair chance, no one is harmed, and no one has their rights taken away from them. You can have great ideals and values, but if you choose to act upon them in a way that harms people in any manner, then it is immoral to do so. This has always been clear to me. Is morality easy to achieve? Not always, but I really only think it is so complicated if you make it that way.
            I know you’re not saying that I am immoral, I wouldn’t accuse you of that. On the topic of religion and morality, perhaps the church thought it was acting upon the bible at the time – perhaps their chosen interpretations of the bible were different from how the bible is interpreted now. Perhaps you only believe the bible to be such a strong objective moral guide because of the way society currently interprets it. Seeing as how morality is not something that can really be interpreted to me, I don’t think that religion can claim having a strong moral code. It is, at the end of the day, ultimately up to the individual whether or not they act ethically. However, it isn’t hard for a person to figure out whether or not their actions will hurt someone else, regardless of what the bible tells them.
            I don’t mean to talk the topic of rape to death, I meant to use it merely as an example that the bible and other holy books have moral failings, and if you can’t ignore these failings then I’d think you’d have to question whether or not the bible really can be used as an authority on morality.

    • Actually, lilies, there is a lot that science can tell us about morals and values. Try Sam Harris’ “The Moral Landscape,” Joseph Daleiden’s “The Science of Morality,” or the writings of Massimo Pigliucci and Michael Shermer. (Daleiden explores the philosophy of morality in greater depth.) We can put measure the effect of a particular moral viewpoint, which, in our case, deals with how human beings (homo sapiens) should live. As Harris puts it, something is morally good if it promotes the flourishing of conscious creatures. This then is a social morality, the difference for religious people then being the factoring in of an afterlife into that society. For those of us who are atheists and do not believe in any here-after, we focus on the here-and-now, and science can at least inform our morality and how we live our lives.

  5. Hi Katie. For some reason I wasn’t been informed of some of your replies, which is why I stopped the conversation! Just realised you’d replied.
    I totally understand that you could answer that moral dilemma with moral answers. The point I was making is, without God as the source of an objective morality, how can you justify what you say? How can iet get beyond what you judge to be a moral thing, as compared to another’s judgement?
    So when you say, “The moral basis I make that on is that it is the only way that ensures everyone has a fair chance, no one is harmed, and no one has their rights taken away from them.” How do you define what rights, harm and fair chances are, and more to the point what’s the justificaiton of them, when faced with someone who thinks differently?
    Atheist philosophers admit this problem. “Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality,” according to Kai Nielsen.
    So what I’m putting to you is that you’re living out a Christian ethic, but if you were in a world in which this was not part of the cultural narrative, such as communist Russia, you would find it very difficult to justify it to them. After all, they were working for fairness and rights, but they had very different ways of implementing it than the Judeo-Christian West.

    • Hey lillies,

      I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with you here. 😦
      Of course we have morals built into us; how else would we have survived before Moses came down with the ten commandments? Were we murdering each other with impunity? No, this is not natural.
      It is natural for us to feel disgust at killing one another, especially when you are killing people you know. In war, for example, there is a reason people get shell-shocked.
      As for the idea that it is a Christian ethic that has granted us morality; this is, I’m sorry, nonsense. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you didn’t think this one through. Where do most of the people in the world live? In Asia. In most of India and China, the two most populous countries, people do not live under the Christian ethic, nor have they even heard of it. Yet, things are not violent here as you might expect. I am currently living in an East Asian country, South Korea, which until recently in its history, had little exposure to Christianity. One thing that people learn very quickly here is that you’re as likely to be mugged or attacked in any way here as you are to be hit by lightning. It’s almost unheard of. How can you explain this? How can you explain that our culture, which is based on the Christian ethic, is so much more violent? I’ve also traveled to China and I know people who’ve lived here in Korea and there and they say it’s very similar. So, I’m afraid that your theory about Christianity granting superior morality fails to explain this.

  6. Hey you two! Hope you’re both well & life in your part of the world is good.
    Just a quick point – gotta be really careful about distinguishing between the teachings of orthodox Christianity and the behaviour of a very small number of Christians. Christianity would condemn rape. If a small number of people are making strange arguments its not the fault of the faith but their particular reasoning, and it certainly wouldn’t be the beliefs of most Christians. (I’m assuming you’re talking about the US senators, but I think that argument would stand for any other peculiar interpretators of things!)
    To antagonisers point – don’t think I’ve explained my point well enough, because we would agree in part here. Would say though, the Asian countries do have an objective morality, through their own religious systems. Also just because there are low mugging rates doesn’t mean that crime or social problems overall are low. South Korea, for example, has a massive problem with suicide. Also 20% of the SK population is Christian and between 4-10% of Chinese pop is Christian.
    Also re having an inbuilt morality – yes there is, but in some communities it completely breaks down, such as the Waodani tribes (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waodani).
    Anyway I’d not explained myself very well. The argument I was making is not about whether or not people of religions or none behave in a moral manner, at all.
    The argument is more philosophical. If there is no God, on what reasoning and foundation are you basing your morality? I’m sure you have a great morality that you could explain to me. But if you were faced with someone who said, I think the right thing to do is to kill all disabled people – it comes down to an argument between two different people’s judgements. None of us are moral relativists, I don’t think. We believe in objective right and wrong. But how can we prove this? How do we know our judgement is any better than someone else? If you tell me your morality is about human rights and equality, on what foundation is that made? We both agree that those things ARE objectively right and good. But if there is no God, who says that? If you’re faced with someone who thinks differently, it comes down to just arguments between differing viewpoints.
    Does that make sense? I’m not saying you’re any less moral than me; just that our shared agreement that there is an objective right and wrong is difficult to justify through reason without the concept of a God. Many atheistic philosophers agree with this.

    • thatcatkatie says:

      Ok, well that’s great from a philosophical point, but I’ve more than addressed that before. And being that it’s philosophical – it means that you’re applying a more subjective understanding to it, from your religious perspective and probably what your pastors, preists, or whomever, your congregation and people who believe similiar things to you, have told you these same things, and you came to similiar conclusions. It’s only one perspective that fails to wholly acknowledge the others. Christian morality IS subjective morality, because it is one of many competing schools of thought (other religions) that people believe for subjective reasons, not objective ones. So who decides what morality is? People ultimately do, through trial and error – and because evolutionary processes instilled in us give us an objective morality, which some people do seem to lack (or have a warped one), but you cannot account for every crazy person in the world, some people just aren’t right. In societies with low crime rates and high happiness – we see moral values that people ultimately end up agreeing upon once they’ve gone through enough trial and error – these places have moral values you see across all cultures because human beings are capable of figuring these things out, otherwise we wouldn’t see them at all.
      The bible tells you that people are imperfect, sinners, basically unworthy of God’s love, but he loves you anyways – that anyone can be saved so long as they truly want to be, no matter what their past. So how does this really make anyone morally accountable for their actions? People would not ultimately believe in a religion in which there was no way for them to get into heaven if they’d done bad things before, it’s the very reason why so many people who get thrown in jail try to turn their lives around with religion – because it provides a big loophole in which all of their moral failings no longer exist, because Jesus loves all sinners, as long as they repent. The story does in fact say he died for our sins, does it not? Christianity claims moral ground, but then provides this excellent way for anyone to act immorally and still get away with it.
      Also, the bible does not in fact condemn rape, it says some odd things about it, but it doesn’t give any just punishment for it. And people agree that rape is wrong, it harms people in a serious way. I’d love to explain to you why if you’d give me your perspective on it first, so I know exactly what perspective you view it from first.

      This objective wrong and right has only been, if anything, more muddied by the concept of a God. Religion clearly preaches some things – like that thou shalt not kill, and then goes on to contradict itself in it’s own writings by saying which sins are punishable by death. I also mentioned the great moral loophole religion provides already. And since religion has, in fact, directly influenced people to do awful things, it should prove that it’s not a clear moral code from any perfect being. A clear moral code would dictate a clear message, wouldn’t you think?

  7. Hi there, I’ve responded on your new post 🙂

  8. Hi lilies,

    I’ve lived in South Korea now for over five years and I interact with Koreans on a daily basis. Further, I’ve studied Korean history and I’m a person who is all around critical of all societies. Is South Korea perfect? Not by a long shot, and I’d argue that modern Western societies are superior in most ways. However, in terms of violence, there is no question that things are drastically less violent here. I don’t think finding a statistic like the high suicide rate helps this argument in any way. Suicide is not due to anger or a desire to commit violence; it is due to depression. I know the reasons for this, but I’m not going to get into it because it has nothing to do with this point. It is not a form of violence in any normal conception of the idea of violence.

    Also, you mention that 20% of Koreans are Christians. What you don’t realize is that Christianity is different in different parts of the world. Although I have met a handful of serious Christians in Korea, most are cultural Christians. They go to church not because they really believe in the miracles of the Bible but because they have family members and friends who are also Christian. I’m not one to force the discussion of religion into a conversation, but it does come up from time to time. Whenever I ask deeper questions to “Christians” here, I very quickly find them saying things like, “but I don’t really believe in Jesus.” Also, the concept of being an atheist is not at all frowned upon here. I used to be a closet atheist (not very closeted, I just let people assume I was Christian), but slowly I realized that there is no negative backlash here in South Korea. Many Koreans do have the idea that they should have some religion, though. For this reason, I think that many Koreans who identify as Christian are really atheists.

    As for Buddhism and Confucianism in South Korea, both of these religions are godless religions. In fact, in many ways, they do not even qualify as “religions” (however, from people’s behavior, I would argue that Buddhism is actually treated as a religion — that’s another discussion). The moral code of the “Golden Rule” exists in both, but what you’ll notice is that every moral code and every religion has the Golden Rule. Why is this? Maybe you’ll say God did that, but I think that this is a cop out. I believe it’s because this is what humans instinctively believe.

    This leads to my next point: we have instinctive morals. Some things, like downloading music illegally for example, have no connection to our natural morality. However, murder definitely does. People try to use NAZI Germany as an example of how this can be molded according to the regime in power. This is absolutely false.

    If you actually know about the details of how the holocaust was carried out, you’d know that the most difficult aspect of pushing through the holocaust was human reluctance to kill. At first, soldiers were just ordered to shoot Jews. This didn’t last long. Although people naturally will go along with authority, this only goes so far. Watching numerous people die by your own hands is something that few people can endure. Eventually, some German soldiers refused to obey their superiors orders, and this led to a cascade effect of other German soldiers refusing. The result? The gas chambers. If you claim that gas chambers are more cost effective than shooting people, you are not thinking about what is involved in the gas chambers. First, the technology didn’t exist. They had to do some serious R and D to figure out how to pull off mass death via gas chambers. Second, they needed to transport people to gas chambers. Third, they needed to build gas chambers and death camps. Fourth, they needed to man these death camps. Fifth, they had to burn the bodies. Sixth, they had to do this in a way to not alert the local population (who, by their own morals, if they found out, would have become horrified). This is only six reasons, but there are many more. The fact is, the NAZI government learned very quickly that their soldiers were moral and they needed to circumvent this morality very quickly and efficiently to prevent mass mutiny.

  9. dwwork says:

    I apologize if you have gotten responses form “Christians” that were either rude or offensive. that is certainly not how a Christian should respond. I was a bit relived to know that atheists also get offensive comments about your beliefs. Since I have only been blogging for a few years I though it was just me. 🙂 . I enjoy having my beliefs challenged as I think nothing makes ones beliefs stronger that defending them to others. Just as science follows evidence I think the Christian faith has plenty evidence to support it. as does the existence of God. Thanks for following my blog and I look forward to a continued dialog. David

  10. phahm says:

    Great question. I think when people embrace religion it becomes a part of their identity. It’s like most Mac and PC users who believe their product is better. It’s because they want to affirm what they have is good. In the end I think it’s more about self affirmation than any rational belief.

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