Monday, 5 May 2008

Genesis to Revelations

atheist n· unbeliever in God or deities: somebody who does not believe in God or deities

"Do you really believe that man descended from monkeys?" mocked the woman sat opposite me.
"Yes, and you really believe that man was made from dust?" i replied. Apparently she did and to think she was laughing at me!

I like to think that as long as those that do believe don't try and shove their religion down my throat, i won't shove my atheism down their throat. Of course that doesn't mean i won't argue the toss about it although i know that i am on very shaky ground because i have never actually read the bible.
I live opposite a man of the Church and we often get into theological discussions and i usually rely entirely on him for anything bible related but the foundations of any religious argument i put up is set on sand because i am always relying on other people or their interpretations of what the bible says.
To right this wrong i have borrowed a dog-eared copy of a Bible from the local Church and plan to work through it although the first thing i notice is that it is a tad over 350 pages long, has no pictures and the writing is really small on each page.
Whether i can put aside my sneering nature and read it as many others do and believe each word that it is telling me i will have to see but the first few pages contain such pearls as Adam lived to the ripe old age of 930 so it won't be easy.
It doesn't bode well for the rest of it but i will give it a go.


Noah "Nog" M. said...

Are you of the understanding that The Bible is the only work of religion or that anyone who objects to any part of that particular book is an atheist?

I'm of the opinion that there's a lot more to theism than Mainline Protestant Christian dogma.

Lucy said...

The bible is the most easily accessible to me and it is the religious text that people seem to want to argue with me about so hence, it is what i chose.

Cody Bones said...

"I live opposite a man of the Church"

I'm sorry, I realize that we have a common language, but I have no idea what that means.

Miz UV said...

I think she probably means he's a neighbor.

I hear the Bible is an interesting work of fiction, Lucy, so enjoy!

Steve Lockwood said...

Lucy - it's much easier to read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Then you won't need to read the Bible!

People who claim that their religion comes from the Bible ignore the fact that they are highly selective about what material they take from the Bible and they rely much more heavily on later interpretation by "scholars" and theologians. If someone wishes to differ from the currently accepted interpretation they form a new religion - thus forming a divergent set of "truths" which can't possibly all be true.

Even with Dawkins at your side, you still won't be able to persuade the diehard God-ists but you will probably have more fun trying.

Cheezy said...

Hmmm, I hope your pleasant personality doesn't get altered by all the racism, sexism, homophobia and religious intolerance that you'll find within that book, Lucy!

All things considered, I think you should stick with 'Grand Theft Auto 4'! ;-)

The Fez Monkey said...

The Bible, eh? You do know that it's actually two separate books combined in one, right? The Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Old Testament is a hoot! Action, drama, sex (a LOT of sex), revenge, duplicity, wars. Great stuff. A soaring tale of hebrews and philistines and egyptians, and others. A real page turner.

The New Testament, on the other hand, is such a bore. It's all about love, redemption, and whining. And talk about preachy! Man, that book is nothing but one big sermon. The end of the New Testament is okay, but it feels tacked on and just like something to relate it to the Old Testament.

Personally, I'm waiting for the final installment of all this - The Bible III: Jesus Get's Jiggy With It.

Ook ook

Lucy said...

A neighbour Cody, his front door is opposite mine and he is a Priest in the Catholic church.

Has everyone else read it?

Noah "Nog" M. said...

Dawkins? The evangelical atheist?

"Even with Dawkins at your side, you still won't be able to persuade the diehard God-ists but you will probably have more fun trying."

There's a difference between refuting "mainline Christianity" and "refuting all of the established religions" and "refuting theism/religion". Dawkins and his evangelical missionaries can certainly do the first two. "The religions" aren't that hard to poke holes in.

But neither Dawkins himself nor any of his other evangelical brethren will ever be able to refute, dispute, or logically contest rational theism.

Things can't come or become ex nihilo (from nothing). So where did "existence" come from?


The Fez Monkey said...

rational theism

By definition, any theistic belief is founded on faith, as there is no possible way to ever present empirical evidence supporting it. And, as we know, you can not prove a negative, so disproving any theist beliefs is impossible.

Therefore, the idea that there can be a rational theism is a contradiction in terms. One can not present rational arguments to support faith. There can only be questions challenging non-theistic belief (Such as the query: So where did "existence" come from?) and emotional evidence supporting any theism. Thus "rational theism" is much like "intelligent design" -- a clever term used to obfuscate faith in empirical terms.

Ook ook

Ook ook

Steve Lockwood said...

Hi Noah,

Actually, I think Dawkins does a pretty good job at refuting theism, not just the "high-street" religions.

I've often been uncomfortable with his tone, whilst generally agreeing with his arguments. You aren't going to change the word's theists ovenight and, in this troubled world, there's a strong argument for tolerance of many views. However, there's also a place for the "militant atheist", such as Dawkins. It's also important to refute the absolute nonsense that some parties would wish to purvey to our children.

My point to Lucy was that theists only use the parts of the Bible that suit their particular world view - other parts will, no doubt, say exactly the opposite but are conveniently ignored. Bible-based argument is futile.

Lucy said...

There is also Christopher Hitchens 'God is not great' book that has also been suggested to me but what order to read them in? Would the Bible have to be read first to understand exactly what Hitchens and Dawkins are poo-pooing?
Also, before i start, is the bible suppossed to be taken literally?

effay said...

Oh God Steve and Fez, you have no idea what you've just done. Now, Noah is going to have to post one of his 1,000 word comments. Yall indulge him too much.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

-"any theistic belief is founded on faith"

-This is not true. The existence of "God" can be "believed" or it can be "known". The term "God" has no inherent connotations of "faith" or "belief".

-"there is no possible way to ever present empirical evidence supporting it"

I could concede to this and still be correct. Some things must be because they cannot not be. For instance, things cannot come to be ex nihilo. Thus existence is created because it can't not be created.

-A thing cannot be conceived that was created from nothing and all things conceived must be conceived under the assumption that they are created. This is irrefutably logical and requires no empirical appeal.

If the "creating" or "generating" force which, in a way (it is to a certain degree nonsensical to understand things before time in a temporal light), preexisted is "theistic" or "spiritual" or "divine" or "metaphysical" in such a way that it can be understood as "God",
God must exist.



P.S. I challenge all of those who think that they can logically explain existence without God or a theological or metaphysical appeal to do so.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

I am admittedly quite indulged but it doesn't actually require a thousand words to irrefutably prove the existence of God. The existence of God is easily provable.


Cheezy said...

"The existence of God is easily provable."

Sweet! This seems to be what I've been waiting for all my life. Lay it on me, dude.

Cody Bones said...

I know, I know, OK, a Polygamist, a Jesuit and a Rabbi walk into a bar....

Never mind, I'm getting silly

One other question, if there is no God, then who the hell have I been thanking for meals for all these years?

Lucy said...

Go for it nog, prove it and none of this look around stuff, we want actual proof.

Anonymous said...


I don't recommend reading the bible from front to back. I suggest you read Genesis (skip the parts where person x begat persons a, b, and c who begat g, h, i, who begat...), Exodus, Samuel 1 & 2, Kings 1 & 2, Ecclesiastes (sp?), then jump to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John then jump to Revelation.

Even this is a lot. Genesis and Revelation are chock full of analogy - how would you explain a helicopter, DNA, atoms, a PC, the internet, or genetic modification to people that lived 2,000 years ago?

I say the whole bible evolves around two themes:
1. father, son, holy spirit
2. faith, love, hope


Noah "Nog" M. said...

I thought I sort of gave the proof already but I'll give it again:

Definitions (an incomplete list):
-God is defined as any force, entity, thing, will, or substance which is external or before or prior or above or separate from the physical universe.

Common Notions (another incomplete list):
-Causality is universally applicable to the physical
-Things cannot be the source of their own creation
-Creation and physical being are temporal concepts
-God is neither physical nor temporal
-The physical universe exists

Proposition: That God must exist

God must exist, but if God does not exist the universe must have been caused, created, generated, or given being some other way.

But no other way can be conceived.

Therefore God must exist


It's crude, quick, and dirty but it gets the job done. I would like to reiterate that this in no way proves Christianity of the Bible or any of "the Religions". This doesn't prove that there is some super-human (but still human-like) interventionist sitting in a cloud giving Southern Baptists lottery numbers.

Proving "the existence of God" doesn't necessarily prove that God does or can do anything now. My definition for "God" is necessarily quite expansive and I've had "atheists" argue rather well that such a definition of God doesn't do much for theism and could possibly be interpreted in a nontheistic way.


Cheezy said...

That was it, was it?

Lucy said...

If that is proof don't ever become a lawyer nog.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

Is there something wrong that any of y'all see in it? It's a fine mathematical proposition. Reductio ad absurdum is a valid method of proof. How is the conclusion not logically necessitated?

If someone cares to explain creation ex nihilo or otherwise give a refutation I'd love to hear it.

Cheezy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheezy said...

To me, your argument seems basically the same as what Thomas Aquinas was talking about back in the 13th century - the 'first cause' stuff. And ever since then, some of the most intelligent minds on the planet, many of them much more intelligent than you and I, have continued to debate the existence of God.

Sorry, but I can't say I'm not disappointed.

I thought you were going to give us all 'the final word' on the subject... :-(

David G said...

Lucy, if you use the bible as a doorstop it will serve some useful purpose.

And whatever Nog is smoking he should give it up straight away before he drowns in his own silly verbosity.


Noah "Nog" M. said...

The simplicity of the argument is its greatest virtue. I'm not ashamed to have gotten to the core of the issue "too quickly".

Also, an appeal to "some of the most intelligent minds on the planet" isn't a critique in that it is an appeal to authority (which doesn't bear any logical merit).

The best atheistic arguments against the "first cause" point are all based on "there not being answers to some things". The hilarious outcome of this is that atheists must take the universe on faith and choose to leave certain questions unanswered as a result of their belief system whereas I can actually scientifically and philosophically explore all avenues of inquiry.

It would appear as if no one is able to rationally dispute my proof. From a scientific perspective, it must be at least understood as "the prevailing theory" until it is refuted.

David Gh said...

It's truly amazing. Primitive Man invents a concept called God to explain what he doesn't understand.

Then others, recognizing human gullibility, come along and turn that concept into several different religions which become thriving businesses.

Then pseudo-intellectual individuals, often with large egos, using semantic pea and thimble tricks, imagine that they prove that god exists.

God does exist! But only in the minds of deluded people.


Miz UV said...

Nog, all you've done is taken the concept of "we don't know how the universe came to be" and renamed it "God." That proves nothing, and certainly your "God" is not what most people mean when they talk about God, thus your clever wordplay is rendered completely useless for meaningful discussion purposes.

Lucy said...

True, it certainly was a conversation killer miz uv.

Cheezy said...

(If you've got the time) then he can be an amusing read though, can young Nog... (erm, I could be wrong, but I'm assuming he's quite young - he comes across that way anyway).

Hey, does anyone remember 'Mr Logic' from Viz magazine?

Here's a great bit of dialogue from when he was behind the till, working at an off-licence.

Armed Robber: No nonsense. Just give me all your money.

Mr Logic: I shall commence by pointing out to you that my demeanour is not one which could be described as nonsensical. Consequently I can attest you have no cause to reprimand me on your first point. On to your second point: Bearing in mind the potentially lethal situation in which I find myself, to wit: your presence in conjunction with the presumably loaded firearm which is presently levelled at my cranium, I will comply with your request comprehensively, albeit reluctantly. Here, twenty-seven pence.

Armed Robber: Twenty-seven pence? Fuck off. There's more than that in the till.

Mr Logic: Indeed, undoubtedly so. However your request was for *my* money. The currency in the till belongs to a third party and is therefore not "my money". However, if you are still desirous of said money I would suggest that you re-phrase your original statement to recognise and incorporate this important distinction.

David G said...

The words of Mr Logic, Cheezy, remind me of a blogger I once crossed swords with. That is exactly the way he debated every issue except he always added in a few technical terms from Logic 101 for good measure.

Such people are a pain in the proverbial and their semantic contortions add nothing meaningful to the discussion of any issue.

Lucy said...

I have never seen Viz but that did give me a chuckle Cheezy.