Atheism as a social positive force: A review

by Converse, Raymond W.

This book is in two parts. In the first part of the book, the author attempts within the few pages to give a history of religion and it’s evolution from the time of the primitive man. The history covers a period of over 20K years and from where the conclusion that can only be made in favour of Atheism is that religion and gods have been a human construct. Any one who thinks there is a point in the life of humans that god decided to reveal himself to the most ignorant in the society and got busy afterwards need to furnish the evidence for the same.

Once this basis has been established, that is religion being a human construct, we must then move forward to show why human reason can replace the place occupied by superstition and myth. He further argues that religion has provided a basis for morals and grounding in life for most and that this can’t be ignored. However, he says it is time that myth and superstition be replaced with human reason.

The question of the existence of gods is not a very important question. Most believers live their lives like there was no god and he says there are atheists who after saying they lack a belief in gods, live there lives like there were gods. He says anyone who identifies as an Atheist should be able to rationally justify his position. He takes issue with the apparent use of ridicule by many Atheists to argue against religious belief and insists that this may not convince a believer to the truth of Atheism.

In the second part of the book, which is focused mainly on the US of A is not as interesting. The saving grace is that the book is short, I would have aborted reading it to the end.

In this part he looks at ways in which Atheism can be a positive social force. His propositions are noble, they cover matters of law, family matters[types and definition of the family unit], response to terrorism, war, education and health matters.

I, however, disagree with him on one item, justice. I must begin by saying that society has a right to protect itself. Once I concede that part, I also insist that society has to breed the best possible people. That society should be such that it encourages the raising of people who would not be driven to crime. I refuse there is a justification for killing someone. I refuse that justice is a noble pursuit. I find the word justice to be a cover for revenge in this case what society has done it has transferred the need and power of revenge from the individual to the state. In this respect therefore I think an Atheistic society based on human reason should be geared towards a society that is reasonable, healthy, and where criminals can be reformed. I stand against punishment. I don’t think it does any good and neither does it achieve the ends to which it is aimed.

In conclusion, the book is not very powerful in defense of Atheism compared to some that have already been covered here, it is not a very interesting read but, to give credit where it is due, gives a good history of religious thought in a few concise pages and in this pages provides a defense for Atheism.

Buildings I like

Taj Mahal, a symbol of love. A perfect symmetry from any side. A master piece. It took I think 25 years to build.

Today I want to share some architectural masterpieces from several periods with you. You may not like my choices but I think they are great buildings and for each I give a reason why.

The Colosseum at Rome. One of the stadiums designed with safety in mind. The stadium could be evacuated in so short a time you can’t believe it.

The Parthenon in Athens

 

Parliament at Dhaka by Louis Isidore Khan one of America’s greatest architects. I love the planning, the lighting and the siting of the building. It is truly a national monument.

Pyramid at Giza. You cannot get anywhere today any perfect pyramid as these great pyramids in Egypt.

Antonio Gaudi’s Casa Mila. A sculptor of a building

 

 

How to make god ?change his mind

Another opportunity has presented itself for us to have fun in this series where I bring to light the kind of spurious arguments apologists use to defend their god, make him look both good and rational but which all fall flat face. As I have said before, I grant the brother right of reply.

I think anyone who in this day and age believes in the doctrines of John Calvin, to the extent that he[Calvin] supported the killing and burning at the stake of Dr. Severtus, this person is not a friend of man and further that this person could willingly participate in the Inquisition if one were to be held today believing if god was to damn a non-believer eternally there would be no problem causing the same person untold pain and suffering down here. This is the making of a fiend. I have no doubt that the brother is a kind person trying his best to make sense of the world, I believe he is better than his creed. I can’t respect his creed, I can’t support his creed that says man is born depraved and that the greatest percentage of men are to be damned for no fault of their own. No man should be made to believe that he doesn’t have evidence for. Let reason reign, let men be free to soar the skies like eagles, let every man be his priest and king. And most of all, let us stop believing in superstition.

Let all men work to remove the doctrine of hell from the pulpit, let us convert churches to libraries and theatres. Let the pastors, ministers, bishops and priests become teachers of things natural. There are no ghosts, holy or otherwise, concerned with how we live our lives. Let make this life the best. If we live a good life here, should there be another life elsewhere, we will just make it as good as what we had here. Besides my late mother has not come to tell me stories of another life or even my grandmother who loved me and as such I entertain no such hope of resurrection.

You’ve  probably come across those passages in the Bible where God changes His mind after a prophet intercedes for the Israelites. Maybe you’ve even been part of discussions about how to reconcile such passages with those other passages that explicitly say God does not repent, or change His mind. Two common solutions have been proposed. Most liberals and open theists have settled for a smaller God, a God whose will conforms to ours. They have settled for a God who reacts to new information. A God whose actions are determined by our “free will”An Arminian God, if you like. But others have sought to preserve God’s sovereignty in the face of this apparent contradiction. And the most common solution to the puzzle can be summarized in these words by R. C. Sproul:

I have come across many of such verses like where Abe tries to talk god out of destroying Soddom and Gomorah, where Moses tells god to stop acting stupid and so on and I have no problem reconciling these apparent contradictions. I know the bible is work of different men, writing at different times and there was never and can never be any room for supernatural inspiration. Try reading the bible just like you would have no need for any solution. And please don’t bring free will into the discussion! I must add too that this problem exists to the theist since he/she has not been able to coherently define what they mean by the word god. Any other attempts at explaining contradictions in scripture or between religious beliefs result from this core problem.

“I think that what we have here is the mystery of providence whereby God ordains not only the ends of things that come to pass but also the means. God sets forth principles in the Bible where he gives threats of judgment to motivate his people to repentance. Sometimes he spells out specifically, “But if you repent, I will not carry out the threat.” He doesn’t always add that qualifier, but it’s there. I think this is one of those instances. It was tacitly understood that God threatens judgment upon these people, but if somebody pleads for them in a priestly way, he will give grace rather than justice. I think that’s at the heart of that mystery.”

What this makes of such a god is that he does poorly at persuasion. Any time you have to resort to threats or intimidation then your position is weak. I also think the priests were taking advantage of the ignorant masses just the same way as ignorant masses take this statement as a solution to a contradiction.

I noticed that ALL the passages in which God repents have to do with God’s wrath and God’s punishment of sin. He is always repenting from punishing the Israelites for their sins, upon intercession or mediation. For instance:

“Thus the Lord God showed me, and behold, the Lord God was calling to contend with them by fire, and it consumed the great deep and began to consume the farm land. Then I said, “Lord God, please stop! How can Jacob stand, for he is small?” The Lord changed His mind about this. “This too shall not be,” said the Lord God,” [Amos 7:4-6]

and

“Then the LORD relented and did not bring on His people the disaster He had threatened.” [Exodus 32:14]

another one,

“Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.” [Jeremiah 26:13]

Am I missing something here. If I repent for doing harm, it only can mean one thing, I was wrong in the first instance. If my brother is willing to accept that god can be mistaken, we can remove the omniscience attribute from god[he never claimed it for himself anyway]. The verses presented here by the good brother cannot be used to qualify the attribute of all loving and all merciful even if he doesn’t carry out the threat. He intends to if something is not and such change can only be possible when we consider a sentient being not an infinite, timeless, formless and unchangeable god. So as I said in the beginning paragraphs, the theist must first define what he or she means by god before we deal with the matter of existence and then what god so defined can or can’t do!

On the other hand, I noticed that ALL the passages that speak of God never repenting or never-changing His mind have to do with God’s blessings, or God’s mercy and grace. For instance:

“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it. [Numbers 23:19-20]

and this one,

“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent” [1 Samuel 15:29]

or this one,

“I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” [Malachi 3:6]

and in the New Testament,

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” [James 1:17]

Anyone please tell if you have ever met a man who repents for being merciful! Am waiting….. and am a patient guy 😀

Why this imbalance? Why is it that God only changes (or seems to change) His mind when it comes to punishing our sins but never seems to do so when it comes to blessing us? If Moses and other prophets like Amos could reason with God and convince Him to relent from punishing the Israelites, why couldn’t the sins of the Israelites and their disobedience cause the same change of heart concerning God’s promise of blessing? It is obvious  from the look of things that, people sin, God promises wrath, someone interceded, people repent, then God relents. But when God promises blessing, even when the people stray, His promises still stand. If it is indeed possible to change God’s mind, why can we only change His mind towards not cursing us and we seem not able to change His mind towards not blessing us?

The imbalance is easy to explain. The concept of god exist in your mind and you can adjust it to reflect your present circumstances. You can explain away anything always giving god a free pass while at the same time always seeing humanity as the ones ultimately responsible. Something else worth of note here is that to the Israelites, they thought that whenever they disobeyed god, bad things happened to them and that if only they could follow the commandments then god will bless them. Well, they tried this and sometimes they suffered more when they followed this commandments and it is this problem that the prophets writing later why trying to deal with in the apocryphal writings. They could no longer explain why things were the way they were and an explanation was needed. As I have told you in different posts before, the people writing these passages never said they were inspired by god, no they never made that claim, they wrote as they saw things happen. The passages were written after the event and not before.

The prophets[poets] could have been honest in their beliefs that they were the messengers of god, but they were mistaken. They were as deluded as today’s priests, pastors and ministers who claim to speak for a god they can’t define and there adherents who believe this same god speaks to them, hears they crazy blubbers and wishes them well.

It is in this mysterious dichotomy that I found an amazing truth. And this truth lies in the conditions necessary for God to “change His mind.” If we look at the Old Testament, there were always five events that transpired in the cycle of God changing His mind. First, the people sinned. Secondly, God intended to punish their sin. Thirdly, a prophet interceded. Fourth, the people repented. Fifth, God relented. Does this cycle look familiar? Yes, it is the whole redemptive cycle that is at the heart of the biblical narrative. And this cycle in the old testament was only foreshadowing the ultimate cycle fulfilled in the New Testament: We are sinners, God intends to punish sin, Jesus intercedes, we believe and repent, God relents. The Gospel!

There is no truth here. You have just expounded a falsehood. If man sins, god[if we grant it existence] is ultimately responsible. He [for the purpose of this argument lets grant him existence] could have created a universe devoid of sin and made man without the ability to do sin. If he creates man defective, the problem must be laid where it rightfully belongs. If the theist is going to blame man for bad and give god a free pass, he worse than a hypocrite! God must be such an ineffective designer of anything, if he has to always correct his mistakes. It appears to me then that first programme he made was so full of bugs that there were not enough fixes to deal with all the security glitches that he resorted to using death as a means to an end. You can always bury your mistakes, ask doctors if you don’t believe me.

Do you want to change God’s mind? Then preach the Gospel.

Why would anyone rational being want to change the mind of that which does not exist? Is this not the height or credulity?

You see, we cannot look at sinners and then say that they are “almost” saved or on their way to salvation. The paradox of the grace is that we can tell unbelievers “you are headed to hell” without fearing that they could be among the elect; and when they get converted, we can talk to them as if they were always on their way to heaven.

There is no paradox here. It is credulity and ignorance at its highest. To even for a moment entertain the thought that someone is going to hell for not believing in a god when he no evidence to do so only goes so far as to show how one takes pride in seeing others suffer. As I have said before, if not all men are to be saved, then I prefer annihilation to hell. And if heaven can’t exist without hell, then there should be no heaven and I want it remembered that I defended against cruelty. No loving parent having the foreknowledge that their children would disobey them, creates them and then damns them. It is the work of a fiend, a cruel bastard, a monster! If the theists accept their god created hell many years in advance for the sole reason to damn me eternally, they must accept they are worshiping a fiend, an enemy of man and an irresponsible bastard!

This is the paradox of God changing His mind. At the cross, the passages about a God who changes His mind meet the passages about a God who never changes His mind. At the cross, God’s wrath against sin is expressed fully, with no repentance. At the cross, God’s mercy is expressed fully, with no repentance. At the Cross, God’s wrath and God’s mercy kiss.

I have said before this is wishful thinking. If the story of Adam and Eve is metaphor, the fall of man a metaphor it follows the cross is a metaphor and that Jesus if he existed died for a metaphor basically he was a fool.

And the most amazing thing happens. Sin is punished, sinners are forgiven, and God is glorified.

If gods do not exist, there can be no sin that is if sin is defined as an offense against god. We can’t sin against what doesn’t exist. There is no possible way such an eventuality can occur and this I say belongs to wishful thinking.

It may look like God’s mind has been changed, but it’s really our hearts which have been changed.

No such thing has happened. You have just convinced yourself of the impossible and the credulous!