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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:04 pm  I am seriously questioning my atheism Reply with quote

Disclaimer: This post may be out of place on the Christianity and Apologetics forum (even though it does have some relation to Christianity), if it is, I apologize and ask that it be moved to a more appropriate place on the forum. However, I do intend this thread to be a discussion, if not a debate, so I felt this was the best place for it.

As many of you know, I am an ex-evangelical Christian and a current atheist. By "atheist," I mean I lack belief in god(s) of any kind, although I do not assert that there are definitely no gods. Since departing from Christianity, everything has made so much more sense: an eternal Universe (defined as the totality of natural existence) explained existence, evolution explained the diversity of life on earth, the absence of god(s) explained the problems of evil, inconsistent revelation, and so on.

However, there is one thing that I have been unable to account for under atheism: morality. Atheists almost invariably state that moral values and duties are not objective facts, but are simply subjective statements of preference and have no ontological value. That is, of course, until we are presented with cases of true evil, such as the Holocaust, the atrocities of Pol Pot, or the horrible psychopathic serial killings of individuals like Jeffery Dahmer. Then we as atheists tacitly appeal to objective moral values and duties, saying that individuals who commit should be severely punished (even executed) for doing "evil," saying that they "knew right from wrong." But if right and wrong are simply statements of subjective opinion, then how can we say that others knew "right from wrong" and are accountable for their actions? If relativism is true, they simply had differing opinions from the majority of human beings. However, it seems obvious to me (and to the vast majority of others, theist and atheist alike) that this is absurd -- the monsters who carried out the aforementioned acts really, objectively did evil.

Given this, the only reasonable conclusion is that moral facts and imperatives exist.

However, atheism appears to offer no framework for moral facts. Because of this, a few weeks ago, I started up a discussion on Wielenbergian moral realism, which states that objective moral values are simply "brute facts" that exist without any explanation. However, others rightly pointed out that the existence of "brute facts" is ontologically problematic and that the best explanation (on atheism) is that morality is simply subjective. Additionally, even if atheistic moral facts existed, the Humeian problem of deriving an "ought" from an "is" would preclude them from acting as moral imperatives; commands which human beings are obligated to follow.

In light of these airtight logical objections to atheistic moral realism, I was forced to abandon my position on moral facts and tentatively adopt moral relativism. However, relativism still seems problematic. After all, if morality is subjective, no one person can accuse another of failing to recognize the difference between "right and wrong," however, it is obvious to me (and, I would suspect, to other atheists as well) that right or wrong really objectively (not subjectively) exist.

The only rational conclusion I can seem to come up with is that there is a (are) transcendent moral lawgiver(s) who both grounds moral facts and issues binding moral commands on all humanity; i.e., God(s). This echoes evangelical Christian philosopher William Lane Craig's moral argument, which syllogism reads:

WLC wrote:
Premise 1: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist
Conclusion: Therefore, God exists


Premises 1 and 2 seem bulletproof -- (1) was demonstrated earlier in this post, leaving (2) as the only premise to attack. However, (2) seems to be as obvious as a hand in front of my face. The conclusion necessarily follows from (1) and (2), so is there any rational reason for me to reject the conclusion of the argument?

Remember, I am no believer of any kind. I am a staunch, educated, informed atheist, and I am well aware of the philosophical arguments against God(s), such as the problem of evil, the dysteleological argument, the problem of omniscience, etc. I'm also well aware of the plentiful empirical evidence against the existence of God(s), for instance, evolution, mind-body physicalism, etc. These are the reasons I reconverted from Christianity in the first place. However, I don't see way around this problem other than to accept either that our apparently obvious sense of moral facts is somehow mistaken, or that (a) theistic being(s) exist.

Debate question: Are my issues with atheism legitimate? Can atheism provide a coherent moral framework other than nihilism, relativism, or subjectivism? Do these problems really present evidence for theism? Is William Lane Craig right? Is this a real problem for atheism, or are my (our) emotions simply overriding my (our) rationality?

Feel free to present evidence for or against atheism, Christianity, or any religious or nonreligious perspective in this thread.
Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 271: Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:02 pm
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Welcome to the forum! Glad you're here! Smile Smile Smile

ossiezig wrote:
My logic tells me that there is no way we got here by chance, but my logic also questions as to whether the architect is as friendly and loving as christians proclaim him to be.


It is actually entirely possible for us to have gotten here by chance, especially if the theories on the multiverse are correct.

However, if there is some sort of designer, there is nothing that necessitates that he/she/it would be good.

Quote:
To say that the sole reason why God sits passively on the sidelines and allows people to bear exctruciating pain because he "holds people accountable to make good decisions" doesn't make much sense to me. If I had the power to intervene and prevent my own children from being tortured because someone chose to do so, but instead decided to sit by and watch as it happened, any logcial human being would condemn me and agree that I wasn't displaying love at all. How is it then that we can say that God is displaying love by allowing daily attrocities year after year to happen to his own children?


Exactly, and this is one of the most ludicrous aspects of classic theism. How can a god that purports to be omnibenevolent turn a blind eye to the suffering of conscious beings?

Quote:
It's very easy for us in our comfortable chairs, warm homes and full stomachs to proclaim "God loves me", but try convincing that to someone who is being subjected to torture, starvation, or being forced to watch their children go through something like this. As a Christian Apologist, I am of the opinion that you would should be required to conjure up a much beter explanation than this to explain why cruel things are allowed to continually happen to people on a second by second basis for thousands and thousands of years. If a man believes in God, then views the world, isn't it a natural reaction for him to hold God accountable for not protecting his people from pain? I have yet to hear an explanation that holds any weight to me.


I agree, and this is one of the key reasons why Christianity fails.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 272: Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:41 pm
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[quote="Artie"]
arian wrote:
TheJackelantern wrote:
arian wrote:
Your Youtube video is a perfect example of a weak mind, and this would never happen to me unless I was in on the joke.
So the Monkeys have a strong mind, and the humans have a weak mind.... Clearly you are not grasping this.. And it's rather interesting how that relates to cults and religions eh?..


arian wrote:
The monkey reacted to pain (his or the other in the group)


Yes he did. When he understood that his actions inflicted pain on others he stopped even to his own disadvantage. That was the whole point. Not whether he understood poetry. Did you get the point?


When other animals sense danger to their own life, or their kind, they react. They learn what caused the danger and try to avoid it next time, even if they go hungry. I gave an example that punishing one dog will warn the other also. Even fish unanimously react to danger, God built it into them, it is called instinct. They don't get together and talk: "Hey guys, ... there is a shark prowling around, what should we do?" Humans do that, we analize the danger and the risk of responding to it. We might after all decide to face danger inspite the 'risk'.

Artie wrote:
arian wrote:
Shocked I... am... an... animal... I... am... an... animal... ... nope, won't work.


Take a DNA swab. Compare your genome to a chimpanzee and you will find that you share over 95% of your genes with it. How can you not be an animal? What do you think are in those 5% that makes you divine?


And 94% would make me a rat! What's your point? It only proves that the same Creator that created man from the dust of the earth created all the animals from the same source, same concept.
I sure hope you don't eat dead humans, ... do you? After all, what is 5% difference, right?

Artie wrote:
arian wrote:
"Look Johnny, we need to talk. Now let me explain to you something; you see that Grandfather clock against the wall, that was made by a famous clock-maker. It was carefully thought out, planned, designed and a lot of people put a lot of work in making it.


Then tell him that that clock is a result of evolution. Sundials -> Water Clocks -> Candle Clocks -> Sandglass -> Weightdriven -> Springdriven -> Pendulumdriven.


Are you now saying that even 'Sundials' evolved to 'Grandfather clocks'? icon_confused2

Artie wrote:
What happens when Johnny grows up and understands that other people believe Allah created the universe, or that yet others believe that Brahman created the universe? When he puts two and two together and understands that he has been brainwashed into believing that the Christian God created the universe simply because his dad didn't have the brains to understand that which deity you believe in just depends on what your parents believe in and where you happened to be born? Will he be proud of his dad then...


I don't believe that any deity created the universe, those are those other 'theistic' god or gods man made up. My kids understand what deities are, god and gods described in theism.

I don't 'indoctrinate' my kids as todays scifi scientists do, nor how the theistic-religious people do. I 'reveal' the truth to them as God reveals it to me. I teach them to walk in the light of truth, not in the 'doctrines of men'.

THEISM:
1. belief in God: belief that one God created and rules humans and the world, not necessarily accompanied by belief in divine revelation such as through the Bible

Microsoft® Encarta®

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 273: Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:07 pm
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ossiezig wrote:
My logic tells me that there is no way we got here by chance, but my logic also questions as to whether the architect is as friendly and loving as christians proclaim him to be.

To say that the sole reason why God sits passively on the sidelines and allows people to bear exctruciating pain because he "holds people accountable to make good decisions" doesn't make much sense to me. If I had the power to intervene and prevent my own children from being tortured because someone chose to do so, but instead decided to sit by and watch as it happened, any logcial human being would condemn me and agree that I wasn't displaying love at all. How is it then that we can say that God is displaying love by allowing daily attrocities year after year to happen to his own children? It's very easy for us in our comfortable chairs, warm homes and full stomachs to proclaim "God loves me", but try convincing that to someone who is being subjected to torture, starvation, or being forced to watch their children go through something like this. As a Christian Apologist, I am of the opinion that you would should be required to conjure up a much beter explanation than this to explain why cruel things are allowed to continually happen to people on a second by second basis for thousands and thousands of years. If a man believes in God, then views the world, isn't it a natural reaction for him to hold God accountable for not protecting his people from pain? I have yet to hear an explanation that holds any weight to me.

spayne wrote:

I think your argument is a classic case of the atheist seeing the misery in the world and blaming God for it. But that is not the Christian worldview. The Christian does not blame God for the evil in the world because God explicitly holds people personally and corporally accountable to make good decisions, and is very clear that He is not going to step in and exert his will over the freedom of choice that people want to have. That would be a dictatorship. It's obviously very hard to undertand the reality of poverty. But I believe that many Christians would confirm that poverty, like so many other social ills, is a consequence or a symptom of a world that is full of greed, pride, selfishness, conquest and conflict. Hence, my statement that starvation is the result of a brutal world that has rejected God.

I propose then the Christian who praises God when folks do good is in equal error.


Hello Ozziezig,
I just thought I would point out that, in responding to my post, you totally misrepresented my argument by not quoting everything I said. The second parapraph of my post I think more than adequately addresses some of what you said above.

To restate:

We have statements in the Bible that God's love for people is incomprehensible and unending. And I believe he hears the cries of the broken...those who are in a state of starvation or some other kind of misery for example.

Psalm 34:18 says that the LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

1 Samuel 2:8 says that God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.

Proverbs 19:17 says that whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.

And for the people who are willing to reach out to him (many are not), he will be their "refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble," as Psalm 46 states.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 274: Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:50 pm
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Quote:
arian wrote:


Then tell him that that clock is a result of evolution. Sundials -> Water Clocks -> Candle Clocks -> Sandglass -> Weightdriven -> Springdriven -> Pendulumdriven.


Are you now saying that even 'Sundials' evolved to 'Grandfather clocks'?


In a way, yes.

Do you recall the words of Julian Huxley..."we, homo sapiens, are evolution become aware of itself".  Not only can we consciously contribute to our own evolution, but we can and do engage in the evolution of other organisms and systems.

We are at the emergent edge of 16 billion years of evolution.

Evolution is a process of inclusion and transcendence

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 275: Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:07 pm
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Hello Ozziezig,
I just thought I would point out that, in responding to my post, you totally misrepresented my argument by not quoting everything I said. The second parapraph of my post I think more than adequately addresses some of what you said above.

To restate:

We have statements in the Bible that God's love for people is incomprehensible and unending. And I believe he hears the cries of the broken...those who are in a state of starvation or some other kind of misery for example.

Psalm 34:18 says that the LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
You have statements in the Bible that make that claim. But you also have endless chapters of the Bible describing Him behaving the exact opposite. I don't know about you, but I judge a being by Its actions rather than Its words.

Quote:
1 Samuel 2:8 says that God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.
When in reality, millions of poor remain in the dust, and needy stay in the ash heap.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 276: Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:44 pm
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Autodidact wrote:
Quote:
Hello Ozziezig,
I just thought I would point out that, in responding to my post, you totally misrepresented my argument by not quoting everything I said. The second parapraph of my post I think more than adequately addresses some of what you said above.

To restate:

We have statements in the Bible that God's love for people is incomprehensible and unending. And I believe he hears the cries of the broken...those who are in a state of starvation or some other kind of misery for example.

Psalm 34:18 says that the LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
You have statements in the Bible that make that claim. But you also have endless chapters of the Bible describing Him behaving the exact opposite. I don't know about you, but I judge a being by Its actions rather than Its words.

Quote:
1 Samuel 2:8 says that God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.
When in reality, millions of poor remain in the dust, and needy stay in the ash heap.


You did the same thing Ozziezig did. Why not adequately state my argument? The last thing I said was:

And for the people who are willing to reach out to him (many are not), he will be their "refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble," as Psalm 46 states.

Not everybody wants God. How can he help someone who rejects him?

Regarding your first point, I have had these types of discussions with many people on the board, and they typically go nowhere. Why? Because, in my observation, atheists typically are not recognizing one or more of the following (not an exhaustive list):

ongoing revelation of God and the role and importance of dispensational theology;

habitually quote mining verses instead of understanding them in context;

an unwillingness to recognize that God is loving but also just and righteous, combined with an equally important recognition that God proves who he is by being the one being who can actually destroy evil;

an unwillingness to recognize that when God does something that one finds to be atrocious, he actually has valid reasons for doing so, which is always explained in the text;

a concomicant rejection of that text;

a tendency to ignore certain passages in which, when judgement is executed on a group of people, it is done so because they are filled with inexplicable and unabated evil;

an unwillingness to acknowledge the nature and impact of sin in our lives;

an unwillingness to accept the provision of the grace of God in people's lives.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 277: Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:50 pm
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TheJackelantern wrote:
Quote:

Would you consider 'communism' as an expression of a 'happy and fulfilling life'? I know Christian morals can achieve this, and so did hundreds of nationalities who accumulated here in the United States of America. Never in the history since nations existed has so many lived in peace under a set of morals as what we have here in the States. So why destroy it? Why tear it down to some primitive animal state like the 'survival of the fittest'? Why?


America wasn't founded on Christian morals and values. It was founded on trying to escape them and keep them out of government. And if you haven't noticed, America is becoming dangerously close to becoming a Religious police state / theocracy.


It was founded on Biblical morals, which teaches about the dangers of religion. The plan worked almost flawlessly, against incredible odds for over 200 years.

Yes, our government is trying hard to make this country into, .. as you said a "Religious police state / theocracy" so when all hell breaks loose, they could come to our aid as 'Savior/God', just as prophesied in the Bible.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 278: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:29 pm
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[quote="spayne"]
Autodidact wrote:
Quote:
Hello Ozziezig,
I just thought I would point out that, in responding to my post, you totally misrepresented my argument by not quoting everything I said. The second parapraph of my post I think more than adequately addresses some of what you said above.

To restate:

We have statements in the Bible that God's love for people is incomprehensible and unending. And I believe he hears the cries of the broken...those who are in a state of starvation or some other kind of misery for example.

Psalm 34:18 says that the LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
You have statements in the Bible that make that claim. But you also have endless chapters of the Bible describing Him behaving the exact opposite. I don't know about you, but I judge a being by Its actions rather than Its words.

Quote:
1 Samuel 2:8 says that God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.
When in reality, millions of poor remain in the dust, and needy stay in the ash heap.


Quote:
You did the same thing Ozziezig did. Why not adequately state my argument? The last thing I said was:

And for the people who are willing to reach out to him (many are not), he will be their "refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble," as Psalm 46 states.

Not everybody wants God. How can he help someone who rejects him?
It makes no difference whether you reach out or not, you get the exact same result. if you pray to God, and I pray to a jug of milk, we will get the exact same result--nothing. The result of praying to God is the same as not praying, the same as random chance, the precise exact same as praying to a being that does not exist. Funny how that works out, isn't it?

Quote:
Regarding your first point, I have had these types of discussions with many people on the board, and they typically go nowhere. Why? Because, in my observation, atheists typically are not recognizing one or more of the following (not an exhaustive list):
I am completely uninterested in a description of your internet experience. If you wish to respond to my argument, you are welcome to do so. If you do not wish to, or cannot, then you may leave it unrefuted. It's entirely up to you.
Quote:

ongoing revelation of God and the role and importance of dispensational theology;

habitually quote mining verses instead of understanding them in context;

an unwillingness to recognize that God is loving but also just and righteous, combined with an equally important recognition that God proves who he is by being the one being who can actually destroy evil;

an unwillingness to recognize that when God does something that one finds to be atrocious, he actually has valid reasons for doing so, which is always explained in the text;

a concomicant rejection of that text;

a tendency to ignore certain passages in which, when judgement is executed on a group of people, it is done so because they are filled with inexplicable and unabated evil;

an unwillingness to acknowledge the nature and impact of sin in our lives;

an unwillingness to accept the provision of the grace of God in people's lives.
Actually, your problem with me is more grave; an unwillingness to recognize that your God exists, unless you can provide persuasive evidence that He does. Begin any time.

What I notice is that the sum total of all these argument always produces an effect precisely consistent with the hypothesis that God does not exist, which I find significant and interesting.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 279: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:00 pm
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[quote="Autodidact"][quote="spayne"]
Autodidact wrote:
Quote:
Hello Ozziezig,
I just thought I would point out that, in responding to my post, you totally misrepresented my argument by not quoting everything I said. The second parapraph of my post I think more than adequately addresses some of what you said above.

To restate:

We have statements in the Bible that God's love for people is incomprehensible and unending. And I believe he hears the cries of the broken...those who are in a state of starvation or some other kind of misery for example.

Psalm 34:18 says that the LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
You have statements in the Bible that make that claim. But you also have endless chapters of the Bible describing Him behaving the exact opposite. I don't know about you, but I judge a being by Its actions rather than Its words.

Quote:
1 Samuel 2:8 says that God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.
When in reality, millions of poor remain in the dust, and needy stay in the ash heap.


Quote:
You did the same thing Ozziezig did. Why not adequately state my argument? The last thing I said was:

And for the people who are willing to reach out to him (many are not), he will be their "refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble," as Psalm 46 states.

Not everybody wants God. How can he help someone who rejects him?
It makes no difference whether you reach out or not, you get the exact same result. if you pray to God, and I pray to a jug of milk, we will get the exact same result--nothing. The result of praying to God is the same as not praying, the same as random chance, the precise exact same as praying to a being that does not exist. Funny how that works out, isn't it?

Quote:
Regarding your first point, I have had these types of discussions with many people on the board, and they typically go nowhere. Why? Because, in my observation, atheists typically are not recognizing one or more of the following (not an exhaustive list):
I am completely uninterested in a description of your internet experience. If you wish to respond to my argument, you are welcome to do so. If you do not wish to, or cannot, then you may leave it unrefuted. It's entirely up to you.
Quote:

ongoing revelation of God and the role and importance of dispensational theology;

habitually quote mining verses instead of understanding them in context;

an unwillingness to recognize that God is loving but also just and righteous, combined with an equally important recognition that God proves who he is by being the one being who can actually destroy evil;

an unwillingness to recognize that when God does something that one finds to be atrocious, he actually has valid reasons for doing so, which is always explained in the text;

a concomicant rejection of that text;

a tendency to ignore certain passages in which, when judgement is executed on a group of people, it is done so because they are filled with inexplicable and unabated evil;

an unwillingness to acknowledge the nature and impact of sin in our lives;

an unwillingness to accept the provision of the grace of God in people's lives.
Actually, your problem with me is more grave; an unwillingness to recognize that your God exists, unless you can provide persuasive evidence that He does. Begin any time.quote]

If your mind is that made up, why do you even want to have such a conversation with me or any other Christian regarding the existence of God? Isn't it just a waste of time? What type of evidence would convince you that hasn't already been presented somewhere in this board?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 280: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:15 pm
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I find it frustrating when evangelical Christians bring up "God's justice" whenever one mentions the suffering of millions of people in this world. "Justice" only applies to those that are actually guilty; when "justice" affects the innocent, it ceases to be just.

There are millions of malnourished and starving children in this world right now -- what crime did they commit? What sin did they take part in? What did those kids do to deserve to be on the receiving end of "God's justice?"

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