Making sense of the present crisis

In the days of my forefathers, when calamity befell the community, it was reasoned that the ancestors had been wronged and corrective measures were deemed necessary to appease them. Sacrifices and cleansing ceremonies would be arranged to please these ancestors. It was understood there would be both good and bad ancestral spirits. So it is particularly these bad spirits that would be appeased to stop the pestilence from decimating the population.

The missionaries came with their monotheistic religions with one powerful god. And in these times of crisis, I keep seeing texts and memes from my Christian friends that we have offended their powerful god through our godlessness, and all. One text I received this morning says god has decided to bring to a halt, temporarily, I think, the worship of sports, celebrities and even the public worship of the gods by ensuring people can’t go to church. And my godless self is here left wondering how unimaginative can people be?

It’s beyond the pale to claim that an all loving God has seen it fit to bring pestilence (& locusts) upon mankind because she has been displeased by a few people here and there. It is like killing of David’s son, as told in the Bible, for the transgressions of the father. It also brings to sharp focus the claim by the same group of persons regarding the vicarious redemption Jesus was meant to offer through his death. Was it for all time or it is like my android apps that need updates every few days?

The good news, if it can be called that, is this will end. People will die and those who remain will continue with the breeding business. Some people will lose faith. Some churches will grow in membership until such time as another crisis hits us or those who will be left.

When one looks at the statistics being shared around regarding the number of people who might get infected and die, fear and paralysis is likely to set in. We must find ways to be alive. To live meaningful lives even in the midst of the crisis. There is room, a lot of room, to be kind, useful and helpful to others.

If we die, we die but let’s die as we have lived.

What’s the best way to treat an atheist if you are a Christian

I was taking a walk with my fingers on quora where I found this question. I don’t know if the poster was serious or people have asked all the possible questions and this is what remains unknown. So in the interest of the Christians who visit this humble site, here is my advice.

1. Do not be unequally yoked as Paul said

2. Don’t touch them with a mile long pole

3. Spray holy water everywhere they come into contact with

4. Pray for them without ceasing, your life depends on it.

5. Preach and attempt to convert them.

But if you are a decent human being, treat them as you would treat another person, with respect. Don’t be an ass. Your religion is like your genitalia, good to have but you should only show those who are interested.

Unbelievable? Chapter 8

A chat with Dawkins

This was to me the most boring chapter.

He writes he asked Dawkins, if we lived in a universe where rape was considered fine, would that mean rape is fine.

He says Dawkins response was that it is enough that we live in a universe where rape is not considered fine, a response which Justin finds inadequate. To turn this question on its head, if as Justin insists, we live in a world governed by god who is the lawgiver and it programmed such a law, what would we do? The argument that god is good by definition will not cut it. We have no way of knowing the nature of god, so the Christians have told us. They can’t have it both ways.

Justin takes issue with the following memes

  • Atheism as simply a lack of belief in god

He claims that atheism has been defined typically as the belief that there is no god. On the contrary I think many atheists have defined atheism as a lack of belief in the existence of god as contrasted to theism which is the belief that their is a god. This could be splitting hairs but they mean different things. Again contrary to his claim that this definition makes the atheist no different from an agnostic, many atheists would willingly admit they are agnostic with regards to belief in god, that is, we do not know whether or not a god(s) exists. It is no argument against atheism that there is disagreement on how it is defined.

  • god didn’t create humans, humans created god

As far as memes go, this is interesting. Maybe Nietzsche had a point, was god man’s first mistake.

Justin goes after the argument, unsuccessfully I must add, that our belief in the supernatural began in an ignorant age arguing that the source of a belief should is not sufficient to prove that its contents are also false. We however have occasion to believe that humans make wrong inferences all the time, and so it is with religious belief.

  • out of the thousands of religions only Christianity is true

Justin says this argument undercuts the grounds of atheism as well. I don’t see how. It is either one religion is true, all are true or all false. But atheism isn’t a religion. He continues to say Christians hold some common beliefs with other religions such as a creator god and that historical evidence supports the existence of Jesus. The Jesus question we already dispensed with in a previous chapter.

  • Hell

He says god is not sending anyone to hell. That you are consciously choosing with your own freewill to go to hell by rejecting god. Why did god create hell if she didn’t want anyone there anyway? And why not nudge us away from disbelief?

  • Religion is to blame for all the conflict in the world

is first of all a strawman. No one makes this claim ( I don’t know if the claim by Hitch that religions poison everything could apply?) but what I have heard is at least that religion is responsible for some of the conflicts in the world. And this is undisputed. To claim a body account between atheism and theism doesn’t advance the argument for theism. It only tells us human systems have their flaws.

 

Commercial break

I don’t know if I have said it before, but I like quora. Generally it’s a good site. There are also unbelievable stories that I have read on there that I have usually suspected must be by some bored fellow living in a basement where light never shines.

Anyway I have seen a question on quora and I think some people should not have internet. A guy has asked

If god doesn’t exist, how do atheists explain that the coronavirus outbreak emerged in a non Christian country? Why do search outbreaks never emerge in Christian countries


This link from WHO is a good place to start. And I thought measles was eradicated? What the hell Europe?

Back to the question, I thought if god exists, it is everywhere. So god must have caused the outbreak. Let’s hope no Christian dies😁

There is a devastating locust outbreak in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, how is this to be treated?

is it rational to believe in god

Well, who knew scientists were polled and their verdict was it is rational to believe in god. So Brian and Jeff, find the nearest church near you and ask to join.

Will Jones opening salvo is a fallacious argument. The bible says there is a god and the bible says it is rational to believe in its god. You can see where there is going. Downhill all the way! Jones calls as his witnesses Plato and Aristotle but unfortunately this doesn’t help his cause. To Aristotle, the number of gods could be 47 or 55. This is not all for Diagoras and Theodoras flatly denied that there were any gods at all and many other ancient philosophers did not agree on the nature of god(s).

Had the being of god been obvious, there would have been no need for apologetics. Jones tells us

However, Bible-believing Christians have generally stuck by the classical and biblical view that the existence of God is something for which sufficient reasons are supplied by the light of nature.

which is interesting because humanity have managed to explain things that were believed to belong to the domain of the gods but Christians have stuck to their old conceptions as if time has remained static and we have collectively as a race done nothing towards knowledge acquisition.

Jones disagrees with Spufford whom he quotes as having written

No, I can’t prove it,’ Spufford says. ‘I don’t know if there’s a God (and neither do you, and neither does Professor Dawkins . . . it isn’t the kind of thing you can know. It isn’t a knowable item).’

and calls the above anti-rational idea which tells me he would disagree also with Pascal who in his Pensees argues reason can help you make the ascent to the being of a god. You must forget reason. And have faith. While we are here, I don’t know of anyone who became a believer because he heard Francis Collins is a believer. In fact, this post by Ark might be helpful on this point.

Seeing that his arguments lack substance, Jones then calls as a witness to his god the fine tuning argument. Any argument that depends on an inference of design a posteriori was dealt a blow by Hume many years ago. Maybe if Jones had read Hume, he might not have called this witness to the stand. This is the only fine tuning argument I am willing to get behind.

In a world with an omni god as the Christians claim their god is, free will is not possible. While Jones want us to believe that without his god, we can’t have morals, he forgets that eons passed before some desert goat herders dreamed their religion and some European missionaries decided to spread this nonsense around the world.

While I agree with the first part of this statement

Ultimately, Francis Spufford is wrong about human beings: we are not entirely controlled by our feelings, and reason is not and ought not to be, as David Hume had it, ‘the slave of the passions’. Whatever else we are, we are rational animals, possessed of a reasoning mind, capable of recognizing and responding to truth when we see it, including the truth of God.

it shouldn’t be lost on us that Jones intended to demonstrate that belief in god is rational. This he has failed to do.

This

Seasoned apologist John Lennox spoke at Coventry Cathedral recently on the evidence for a Creator, and a colleague of mine went along with an atheist friend. Afterwards the friend turned to him and said: ‘I now believe in a Creator God.’ That is the power of truth.

is funny. Who would believe such drivel really?

A word of advice to believers

but to Christian apologists especially. Don’t be like this fellow.

How many people are represented by Richard Dawkins? Or what would one make of this

Many atheists (e.g., Richard Dawkins) spend much of their time railing against the Creator they believe doesn’t exist, and they hold their cause with great devotion and faith.

Against the 7 dimensions of religion, I will say a few things.

On Narrative

It should be noted there were atheists before Darwin. Simon should read the work of Jean Messlier which should cure his ignorance. Messlier’s Last Will and Testament which is a polemic against religion appeared 100 years before Darwin put pen to paper to write the Origin of species.

Experiential, Social, and Ritual

That some atheists meet on a regular basis on a Sunday no less doesn’t make it a religion. Community is deeply human. To want to be in community with like minded fellows does not make the gathering any less human.

Doctrine

I am yet to meet a Santa Claus believer who has threatened my neighbour with hell. Religious people are everywhere selling their religions. To counteract their claims is not religious. It is the duty of all intelligent men and women.

Ethical

There is nothing stopping a moral relativist from making an ethical claim. Besides, among atheists there is to be found a broad spectrum of belief; from moral relativists, realists, objectivists etc. Atheists don’t exist as one homogeneous group with identical beliefs.

This claim by Stephen

This is not to say that you do not need to profess belief in God to argue morality, but you do need God to have absolute morality.

is quite the stretch.

Material

That NDT said “Accepting our kinship with all life on earth is not only solid science, in my view, it’s also a soaring spiritual experience” doesn’t mean all atheists say the same thing. There is a fallacy here.

His final claim is so ridiculous it doesn’t warrant a response.

There is a better response to the above trope here.

who knew

that

[..]. Precious few God-deniers have so much as even attempted a rational evaluation of the question of God’s reality.

one would be tempted to ask why are apologists busy creating new silly arguments to defend their chimeras if it was not the challenge from the godless?

This post says nothing in so many words.

This however has me banging my head against bricks

You might have heard atheists talking more about achieving peace and unity among men instead of meditating upon the significance of our Lord’s incarnation. But how could they even properly speak of “peace and unity” if they believe that God does not exist? Peace and unity presuppose order and order presupposes God. Without God, there will be no principle or reason to which we shall unite or strive for peace. The only virtue that a materialistic worldview could provide is the survival of fittest. There is nothing more.

Where to begin? What has belief in god to do with peace? Somewhere in that christian book of tales, it’s written

  Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Mathew 10:34)

If the christian believes in an omni god, whence cometh disorder? Who has allowed disorder to reign and why has omni not prevented it from taking root? In Genesis 11:1-11, god is the author of confusion, not men.

We live in a society of men and with discord, that society cannot long survive.

In a society where survival for the fittest is a virtue, peacefulness would be preferred to war. So i don’t see how this post is an argument against survival for the fittest or was the author just looking for words to throw around?

If Christians took their belief seriously, I think very few if none would join an army to kill brothers and sisters with whom they have no reason to be at war with. Tolstoy’s the Kingdom of God is within you would be their to go to book. Or if not, the many tomes against war wouldn’t have to be written, especially in christian nations.

In Mark Twain’s war prayer, after one side has finished offering their prayers to the god of war, these fellow approaches the pulpit to make them aware of the prayer that was not said and they conclude he was a mad man.

Happy holidays

Dear friends, passerby and all, happy holidays.

And if you are one of those people who don’t have something to celebrate today, worry not, it is my birthday. And I am receiving gifts and cash donations. All will be used for a good cause of my choosing of course 🙂

Now that we have that behind us, can we examine the claims in this post.

In the very first paragraph, the author makes an unjustified claim, that is

Suppose that there were no God. I say that both atheists (that is, naturalists) and theists would be deluded.

do we know that there is a god? Nope.

We are told atheists would be deluded because

Atheists, or at least most atheists, would also be deluded. They think there is a meaning to life. Not a grand meaning, but a personal meaning. They make the meaning. It’s subjective, of course.

and i can’t help but wonder how believing that we give our lives meaning be a delusion? To start us off, it should be important to point out there is no consensus on what meaning in life is. Is it different from a moral life, a happy and pleasant life? Those who believe meaning is subjective (mind dependent) represent just one group of naturalists. There are as well objectivists who maintain meaning is mind-independent. But this distinctions are not important for our discussion now. It is only important to point out that the author of that post without claiming to, does believe in a supernaturalist view of meaning- without deity no meaning is possible.

S/he writes

This meaning would be reducible to a set of brain states. These can be ultimately reduced to chemicals. Thus, this meaning could be achieved chemically. So if we could invent an advanced heroin-like drug, something akin to the soma found in Brave New World, one that could induce a sense of awe, wonder, purpose, connectedness, community, happiness, etc, then we all can find meaning in our lives. Why not? We could make this available to everyone, so that everyone lives a meaningful life.

and i reject this view. We wouldn’t consider a life in tube (simulator) as meaningful. Two, does a happy life mean a meaningful life? Or a life in community? Could it be the case that these things answer to different states and may only be secondary to the question of meaning.

The author writes

To rephrase this as an argument, let’s call the combination of all those features of lives worth living well-being:

(1) Well-being is subjective.

(2) If well-being is subjective, then it is reducible to a set of brain states.

(3) Therefore, well-being is a set of brain states.

(4) If well-being is a set of brain states, then it can at least theoretically, if not practically, be induced chemically.

(5) Well-being can be induced chemically.

Does well being and meaning mean the same thing? And while subjective is reducible to brain states, I don’t know whether it is the practice anywhere, even among scientists to reduce their states of mind to chemicals. I think this is a strawman argument.

How the author comes from the above to

if an atheist/naturalist thinks that meaning, purpose, and all that makes life worth living is anything beyond a set of states that can be induced by drugs, then they are deluded too.

but how is this so?

In this last paragraph, the author is conflating happiness and meaning when he writes

However, if an atheist is willing to accept that happiness, at least in the short term, can be achieved by some kind of drug, then I guess they aren’t deluded after all. This could be extended, theoretically if not practically. Imagine that we can solve our survival problems with machines so that we don’t have to work, and arrange for the machines to manufacture and deliver our drugs, then an uninterruptedly happy and meaningful life can be achieved completely by drug use. Ahh, heaven at last!

for one, a few people are known to claim to be happy  when high. This is not a delusion and is a fact of common experience- i.e, it is a truth. We have been working towards inventing machines to solve our survival problems not so that we can be uninterruptedly happy, but so we can have more time (thanks to capitalism this is not happening, we still work long hours side by side with robots) to do those things we find meaningful.

In the end, I argue that this author has not proved what he sought to do. But that happens a lot when you create a strawman anyway.

So once again, Merry Christmas my friends. You have one and all made blogging interesting and worthwhile.


for those interested in further reading on the subject