Over the next several days or so, I should begin posting a variety of arguments for the existence of God. The purpose of this thread is to give context to those arguments so that people have a bird's eye view of them when they are presented and evaluated.
I don't care if you become a Christian or not, nor do I care if you end up becoming any other kind of theist. Rather, my goal on this forum is to persuade you of the following proposition.
"It is not unreasonable to be a Christian theist."
Obviously, this core proposition should be distinguished from the proposition that Christian theism is unreasonable - i.e., crazy, stupid, insane, dishonest, and so on.
My core proposition should also be distinguished from the proposition that Christian theism is true, because something can be false yet reasonable for people to believe. This seems to happen a lot in science. For example, for a long time there could be reasonable disagreement between cosmologists regarding whether the Big Bang theory or the Steady State theory was true. I think atheism and theism are like that: There are a lot of arguments that go both ways, and someone can arrive at either conclusion without broaching rationality (of course, it is also possible to arrive at either conclusion irrationally).
Having said all of that, I'd like to ask whether anyone will agree to my core proposition without argument. I know that some atheists believe that Christianity can be reasonable, so the question is just how many such atheists post on this site.
My family is full of good people who go to church and would give me anything they could manage if were in trouble. One thing the good Christians have is strong families. Fanatics can ruin their families, though and that goes equally well for atheists.
Christians believe in original sin, condemnation and hell.
I don't believe any of that. I think people are who they are based on genetics and environment (and other things I can't think of now).
I think the belief in original sin and the belief that people are evil and need to be saved is totally unreasonable. That is why Christians who talk to me about their faith exhaust me. I certainly don't tell them my view on things because I am a hairstylist. I hear the craziest religious saturated stories in my chair ( I live in the deep south-Birmingham, Alabama). Sometimes it amuses me but mostly it makes me feel angry and sad.
I say all this to state that I think Christians and Christianity are totally unreasonable and destructive because of their core belief in original sin, evil, and hell.
So yes, it is unreasonable to believe in Christianity or any other religion that believes in an afterlife unless you believe in magic which is unreasonable on its face.
@ David - I do not think it has to be magic if it turns out there is some sort of after life. I am an atheist and I doubt very much there is an after life. Even if there was, there will be no god there.
What I disagree with is when religion or anybody for that matter, says absolutely there is an after life. There simply is no way to prove this at this time. Religion does not have anything to do with whether there is an after life or not.
William. I found a blog by Richard Carrier via our weekly Sunday School(<--click me) blog by Nelson. It answers the alleged 20 questions that atheists can't answer. Several of the questions asked/answered are the ones you listed in your original post. I think it's worth it for you to read it and then get back to us with your thoughts. Whether or not the questions are answered to your satisfaction may not be the point, but that there are answers to these apparent "unanswerable" questions that scientists and atheists both accept. These are reasonable answers that are backed by experiments, research, etc... theism seems only to be clutching at ideas long debunked.
Here is the blog: 20 Questions. <--click me
Hi William – The problem for us is that they are old arguments. We have all collectively dealt with them on this site before or individually offsite. Every so often a Theist joins this site and offers this same list or a variation of it and with the same apparent enthusiasm. Once they realise that we are not being persuaded by these arguments they tend to continue for as day or so and then disappear. You may find them compelling arguments and it is probably true that many members of this site did at one time too.
However we have given them serious thought over time and we have not dismissed them out of hand. We have done so because there are stronger arguments generally supported by peer reviewed evidence to warrant us considering them redundant. We have moved so far ahead of those arguments that they appear almost naïve. I am not being frivolous here. If you could see it from our point of view you would be comparing arguments from the middle ages with where modern cosmology and science is now at. Of course you need to be an Atheist to see this.
This leads me to question why you posted in the first place. I don’t think it was to win over some Atheists to your viewpoint so maybe you are a Theology student (the study of nothing as Thomas Paine quipped) or just wish to strengthen the arguments for future use. However as you use words like “probably does exist” when referencing your god it may be that you are here because you have doubts about it. It is just faith based after all. We are here to help you challenge those doubts.
Maybe rather than challenge us you should study them careful yourself. You seem intelligent enough so don’t waste it. We have no “Atheist Agenda” here. You are the one who can come out a winner. Now is your chance to free yourself from the slavery of Christian apologetics. You are the person who stands to benefit from critically stepping through each of them with the intention of demolishing them. If they stand up to interrogation then they may warrant the status of being reasonable pointers to Christian theism. We will help you as best we can if you want to post individual ones on each argument and show you the errors with them. We have nothing to gain from doing this but you have the chance to come out a winner and become a Freethinker. You owe it to yourself. Good Luck William.
Reg, in case you haven't been following closely, William has indicated that he had been atheist, and had gone back to religion - the possibility certainly exists that he isn't all that sure.
Not quite. Saying that we are atheists at birth implies that all atheists are ignorant, because that is what babies are. At birth, we all have zero knowledge of anything, which is ignorance. Atheism isn't' a lack of knowledge of the divine; its a rejection of claims of divinity. One can only be an atheist after being told about someone's god or gods. Without theological contrivances, there would be no atheism.
Babies aren't atheists. They are just ignorant.
Exactly. Atheism is an actively held position, not a default.
tell us your arguments. If people aren't interested, then they can choose to look at something else. We're not going to cry if someone disagrees with us.
If atheists will only talk to other atheists, then what's the point? We're just going to disappear up our own arses, and everyone will forget about us. There's a big world out there.
I assumed that William did not mean he was born Atheist but that he had a religion he grew up with and like most born again or renewed in the faith types had labelled the time before he found Jesus as his spell with Atheism. Most Theists I know who claim to have been Atheists never make the claim until they find Jesus. This leads to them misunderstanding what Atheism is. For many Theists the definition of Atheists are those people who do not accept Jesus or Allah into to their hearts rather than people who do not believe a word of it. He found Jesus and like many others is trying to get the arguments for his belief validated. How better than to challenge Atheists for if we cannot handle the arguments they must act to confirm his presupposed belief that a god does probably exist. However if he is still at the gambling stage (Pascal's Wager) he must have doubts about it all.
William – apologises for talking as if you are not in the room or making assumptions about your journey. Feel free to correct me. I am talking in general rather than specifically about you.
Actually Reg, as he was not exactly encouraged to stay, there's a good possibility he has left the board. Frankly, I hope not, as he seemed like a nice guy.
If I recall some of his original statements from the other thread, he was raised in a relatively secular home, and only went to church for the first time because of a girl he was dating, which would certainly imply a rather indoctrination-free youth. From there, he chose to accept religion.
I think there has been plenty of encouragement for William to stay since practically everyone who has engaged has been asking questions and for clarification. I feel like we've already handled him with kid-gloves. He does seem like a nice guy, but his skin can't possibly be so thin that he can't handle being challenged. I hope he will stay. What I must assume, right now, is that he has a life and can't answer everyone's questions as often as they're asked.