religious disservice

It is Monday, Easter is around the corner and maybe it is time for some sermons. I have been rereading Okot p’Bitek’s Artist the Ruler: Essays on Art, Culture and Values which I highly recommend, if you can find it that is. He quotes Eric Mascall who wrote

It has been emphasised that Christianity is historical in a sense in which no other religion is, for it stands or falls by certain events which are alleged to have taken place during a particular period of forty eight hours in Palestine nearly 2000 years ago.

Eric Mascall, inaugural lecture

Okot continues to say after this that all sorts of strange things happened during these few hours

  1. how for one do you interpret Peter’s so called denial? Why should a rugged fishermen deny his friend
  2. did Jesus ever claim to be king?
  3. who were the other thieves who were hanged on either side of the Christ?
  4. when some fellow, Joseph of Arimateus took Jesus’ body, was he really dead?

Elsewhere, he quotes from Rene Fullop-Miller’s Lenin and Gandhi

It is truly sickening….God creating: is this not the worst type of self reviling? Everyone who occupies himself with the construction of a god, or merely agrees with it, prostitutes himself in the worst way, for he occupies himself, not with activity, but with self contemplation and self reflection, and tries thereby to deify his most unclean, most stupid and most servile features or pettiness.

Lenin in response to Alexei Maximovich’s god-seeking

Have a pleasant Monday, will you.

On labels or that kind of thing

A number of the readers here identify as atheists. Some who don’t do so identify as either non religious, agnostic and a few as anti-theist. Yesterday I was reading a paper, An argument for unbelief: a discussion about terminology by Nickolas G Conrad in which he makes the case that the best all encompassing term to use is unbelief. Atheism as we all know is loaded politically and socially and doesn’t cover the nuances of say Barry, who for all intents has rejected the orthodox dictates of religion but still find some relevance or utility in religion (a term that you might realise is not so straightforward by the way) or my friend from across the lands Veracious Poet or Nan.

He also argues, and I think I agree, that referring to some ancients as atheist do not do them real justice. They could have rejected orthodox religion but never did refer to themselves as atheists. They were freethinkers in France, Fouriers, positivists or followers of Saint- Simon but not atheists.

What do you think?

If atheists found out that God is real, what would they do differently in their lives?

I find quora sometimes does have very interesting questions. Notice I say interesting not intelligent.

The first problem( taken literally) with this question implies we believe god is fake or unreal which is a gross misunderstanding of the atheist position. I have no belief in the existence of god or deity.

The second is implied. That the deity we will find is the Abrahamic one who sends you to hell because he loves you very much. Such a deity is terrifying.

If one were to meet, say, the Maori god of earthquakes that Barry was telling me this morning, one could ask them what joy they derived from such destruction? Do they have regrets and can they teach me to create an earthquake?

A meeting with Apollo or was it Bacchus would be a different thing altogether. Maybe we would get so high no meaningful conversation would be possible.

I have digressed.

Atheists live their lives just like other people except they don’t have the tendency to meet on a certain for worship or thank their cats for something that happened to them or that they did and I guess many would continue that way.

Finally, there is an implicit acceptance by this believer that god could as well be real. Or else this believer doesn’t subscribe to an omni god. And I am with anyone who entertains such doubt and I encourage them to move just one step further.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Have you read your New Testament lately?

Because that could be only reason you are an atheist. So dear friends, atheists especially, pick up that dusty old bible of yours wherever you have been keeping it, jump to the new testament and Jesus will minister to you on every verse. Can I hear a loud Amen.

And then if you are lucky, you might just marry an international healing evangelist willing to compete with the local shaman in a village of your choice. Amen.

But this works well if you try it while undergoing a traumatic episode in your life. You can start with the 30 no-pay- trial period before you purchase the full version. What are you waiting for?

Or maybe you have the stomach for this. I didn’t.

Fishing

The Necessity of Atheism by Percy Shelley is one of the best you will ever find. It is precise and straightforward. It’s a joy to read only comparable to reading Nietzche’s the Antichrist.

I am looking for work by abolitionist Garrison; a lecture by Ernestine Rose in defense of Atheism, and Stunton’s work on women’s rights.

If you have pdfs or epub copies of these works, please share. And that is all the fishing I am doing today.

who knew

that all you heathens are on a slippery slope towards the troubled realms; and this means you are headed into veganism. Sometimes I think if people could read whatever they write out aloud to their friends they would be advised against pushing the publish button.

And this analogy has made me laugh. I almost want to agree with the author. Politics and religion are generally similar- chosen without much reflection.

What do you believe in?

Is a question I get asked occasionally when I say I am not religious. Generally, depending on what I am doing at that precise moment, my response will be drawn from it. For example if we were having beer, I would jokingly say I believe beer is good.

But I don’t think this is the answer they are looking for. The question seems to me to be a loaded one. It does seem, in some sense, that to the believer, my lack of religious belief and by extension god belief, I am devoid of beliefs.

The other implication is, for the believer, all their other beliefs can be explained by their belief in god. That is to say, to the believer, any question would be answered by god and that would seem to be a sufficient answer.

But there is a problem. Whereas we hold beliefs to the degree we believe them true and no more, it is possible we hold unexamined beliefs, false beliefs and so on. And where there is true knowledge, we generally (in common usage) say we know 1+1=2 except for catholics where 1=3, but that’s a debate for another time.

Therefore, in answer to the above question, whoever should want an answer should be specific. I hold many beliefs depending on the weather and what side of the bed I wake up from.

To those who get asked this question, how do you respond?

Evidence for Christianity

The argument from truth

The author of the linked post intended, and failed, to show that atheism is not compatible with truth or to argue that atheists have a problem with truth. I argue, without fear of contradiction, that s/he has not proved their case. They didn’t even get off. We cannot, from reading their blog determine what truth is and how its existence is proof for god or an argument against atheism.

I will state, following Odera Oruka that all truths are contextual, where context is a tradition that determines the levels of understanding and the rules of rationality. Within a context, objectivity is implied and therefore, to argue that truth is contextual is not to commit to relativism.

After failing to make a coherent argument for truth as demonstrating that the Christian god exists, our interlocutor moves to morality and attempts to kill the horse that has been killed so many times there is no death left in it- is morality objective or subjective?- in their own words

What about claims that morality is relative? Someone may say one behaviour is acceptable and another not. If there is no God, then all our morals are a matter of personal opinion and not objective.

And as I have said of truth, codes of behaviour are context specific. And within a given context, whatever norms or codes that people live by are considered, they will be objective.

Our interlocutor then writes

If there is no God, then all our morals are a matter of personal opinion and not objective.

as if transferring the source of the opinion improves objectivity. Where gods have been claimed to have spoken, they have not been clear. Is it bad to kill? Not if they worship a different god. Or if it is as a sacrifice to a god. So that, if we are to follow the precepts laid down in the bible (our interlocutor argues for Christianity), we would not be certain on how to act.

We are told

However, if there is a God, and that God has defined right and wrong moral behaviour, then we have a standard outside of ourselves providing us with an objective standard for morality. If God does exist then we can have real objective moral truths.

and I ask which are these? Don’t eat shellfish? Take for example the command don’t kill. Why should we not kill? Because god has said. This, I argue, is unhelpful. It takes us to WLC philosophy of divine command theory where everything that god says is right. I am not sure Euthyphro’s dilemma has been successfully answered.

Most times when I read blogs by Christian apologists, I am left wondering why do they live in such small worlds. When a person writes

The Atheist must borrow the Christian worldview, to hold onto objective moral truths, but at the same time they want to reject the foundation for moral truth.

i ask is the world divided only between Christian and atheist? From whose world view does the atheist in Buddhaland borrow from?

If 1+1=2, the existence of god adds nothing to this. It is independent of gods. I don’t see how empirical facts help with the argument for existence of gods. Unless the apologist is able to demonstrate that the existence of god will change the value of 1+1, then using it as an argument to demonstrate the existence of god fails, unless I am missing something.