Mencken on religion

“For men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt. The more stupid the man, the larger his stock of adamantine assurances, the heavier his load of faith.”
― H.L. Mencken,


doubt, faith, awe

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think the book of Job as Sasot claims, teaches us about what faith entails, but about vanity of the gods. Why does Job suffer? Because god has placed a bet with Satan. Let’s pause for a moment and just think about this. Religious people of all persuasions insist Satan is the source of their problems always tempting them. In the story of Job, we learn they, Satan and god, are work colleagues, each granting the other a favour when need be.

Sasot, taking Job 38:4 out of context, uses it to castigate Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for advising Job to repent. In actual fact, that particular verse is god refusing to answer Job’s query on why he suffers, instead he goes on a rant.

I find it strange, coming from an atheist, when she writes

What this implies is that nothing and no one can tell us what exactly God wants but God himself. Anyone or anything who weren’t there when He laid the foundations of the earth are all ignorant of how the Divine would unravel.

Which god?

In this next paragraph, she makes a virtue out of faith. She tells us

Fundamentalism is based on absolute certainty, while faith is based on uncertainty. Fundamentalism claims, faith trusts. Fundamentalism is unreceptive, faith is welcoming. Fundamentalism is the negation of doubt and the annihilation of the doubtful, while faith is the presence of doubt and the refuge of the doubtful. Fundamentalism arrests, faith surrenders.

And I am yet to meet a religious person who has faith and doubts they are destined for heaven or even entertains the possibility there are no gods and that they are wrong about religion and all that comes with it.

I agree with her when she says

Inspire your children to find their unique path to self-realization.

and only add that encourage children to doubt, to ask questions and to be open to new knowledge.

blind faith of ….


The author of this post has committed herself to convincing their audience that atheists, not Christians, have blind faith.

She claims

[..]indeed, for consider that while the Christian may have an ‘unknown but justified faith’ where he (the Christian) might not know how God, say, created life or consciousness, he (the Christian) is justified in believing that God could do so given His omnipotence

which makes several assumptions atheists doesn’t make. In the part quoted, she claims to know the universe was created, except how it was done, claims to know god is omnipotent and so on. I, as an atheist, readily admit that I don’t know how life began, that is, if it had one, or even if the universe came to be or always was.

The apologist who conceived of god as having omni-powers made this god an impossibility. Can an omnipotent god create a mountain without a valley? Or to put it differently, can an omnipotent god make 1+1 not equal 2? Or are its powers constrained by laws of logic? Can omnipotence make a triangle where the sum of all its angles are >180deg? I digress.

Back to the post, she continues on the attack

and yet the atheistic-naturalist, by contrast, has an utterly blind and unjustified faith for not only does the atheistic-naturalist not know how, on his worldview, life came from non-life, or rationality from irrationality, or consciousness from unconsciousness, the atheistic-naturalist does not even know if they could arise on naturalism

and one wonders how it would be construed as blind faith to admit ignorance? I am confused when she argues life could not arise naturally and so on. I don’t think the naturalist makes any claim other than that, all we know are natural events. It is possible there could be other causes, but we have no way of knowing them.

When she writes

for he has no idea if natural forces have the causal power to make these things come about, and thus the naturalist

I am sure she doesn’t understand naturalism. I don’t know what she has been critiquing all along. For what else is naturalism, if not that Nature is an efficient cause. That no other forces operate in the world. How nature does all this may be forever locked to us, but while it is good to speculate some other being or alien could be responsible, it is always prudent to remember this is speculation and not fact.

On a related point, where do these apologists learn writing skills?

it takes great faith to be an atheist

where an apologists wastes so many words to show his ignorance.

Atheism is a lack of belief in gods [deities]. It says nothing about why we think pink is pink or why cows are yellow. Nothing at all.

The OP is numbered and so my response will follow the same numbering

1. what is faith? atheists certainly have it.

I believe this is true. I believe strongly that if there is any truth, the only way to arrive at it is through reason. We have no other way to arrive at judgments except through reason. It is not an issue of faith to say when I die, am dead. I have no reason to suspect otherwise.

2. from evolution

The religious person who believes Adam and Eve were created as adult beings cannot believe in any form of evolution. It would be an absurd position to believe in a god guided evolution and god’s perfect creation.

3. from the big bang

There is no evidence from the BB cosmology of an agent, divine, intelligent or what have you starting it. Besides if the theists spent more time reading than praying he would know the BB theory talks about Planck time after the beginning of inflation. We have no way of knowing what was before that, if there was ever a before.

I may hasten to add here that I don’t know how the universe came to be, if it did come to be.

4. From incomprehensible chance on a biological level:

this is the argument from design in a new formulation. It doesn’t hold.

5. From natural order:

Let’s pause a moment. Is order a property of a thing or is it our way of looking at things? Any argument from order is misguided. The same way any argument from beauty would be.

and if the theist did read more than pray, he would know that this claim

It therefore taken on blind faith by the atheist that tomorrow nature will operate in the same uniform manner that it did today, he cannot simply assume that it will.

had been covered ages ago by D. Hume when he challenged the inferences from causation. We however have no reason to suspect that nature would act differently than it did yesterday. However, if we believe in a miracle-working god, he might just stop the sun to help some christian win a war or bomb an abortion clinic or he could be helping the IS somewhere. We can never know, for the universe depends on his caprice.

6. That one-day science will explain everything:

Accuse me of scientism if you wish, but unless you can show your other ways of knowing, fuck off! No matter how many days we fast or how long our prayers, we will never know the answer to 1+1

7. That life comes from non-life:

The theist believes his god created everything ex nihilo. Why would they find it difficult to accept that life could come from non life if it can come from nothing?

8. That their thoughts have value:

My lack of belief in gods says nothing about the value of my thoughts. This is a silly argument.

9. From miracles:

What are miracles?

10. From fine tuning

Of all silly arguments, this strikes me as the one most beloved by lunatics. What would the scientists have compared the present universe to arrive at the conclusion that life wouldn’t be possible if the values were different?

In conclusion, this theist could have spent more time reading his bible than fiddling with things beyond his pay grade.

Dear atheist, your faith is greater than mine

in which I become an apologist for atheism or have I always been [ I thought I would call truce].

Atheism makes no judgement on how the universe came to be, if it did. I see the point though, because an atheist lacks a belief in deities, any attempt at explaining the beginning of the universe that begins by positing a god falls before it can walk or crawl. Too bad for the theist.

This theist writes

Your belief system requires a LOT more faith than mine. Why is that? Let’s see…

  • You believe the universe simply came to be from “nothing” yet you cannot really explain the event. It just happened
  • You believe we were all very lucky that everything randomly worked out just right to create conditions for life on this planet

I don’t know the origins of the universe, I wasn’t there. It really doesn’t matter. I would love to know but as things stand, it has little to do with my atheism.

I haven’t heard that before, but then again, we are here. Whether it is by lack or lack of it, we are here.

When a believer creates a strawman like the one above, then

Those things seem a lot harder to swallow than to acknowledge that a master design and a creator brought it all into existence.

would begin to make sense.

The theist then writes

Sure there is science to demonstrate that a single event we call the Big Bang occurred but I believe it was orchestrated by God. If not, then how did it happen? What was before it? Once it took place, is it really logical or easy to accept that everything just happened to fall into place? How often does order arise from an explosion anyway?

which tells me this particular fellow isn’t up to date with their science, if they have any. Since, to this person nothing happens naturally, is god involved in earthquakes? No one that I know of, and that is a lot of people, has claimed to know what was before the big bang.

What is order apart from our way of seeing the world? I, however, like the Boeing 737 analogy disguised as a big question.

I know I don’t have answers to anything and at least I know this.

It is however wrong to suggest

it seems like a much bigger leap of faith to deny the existence of God in favor of random chance than to humbly accept that a Creator put this all together.

a being for which you have no idea what it does, how it does and to what end. It is in my view more honest to accept not knowing than offer answers that have no explanatory value.

So no, I don’t have faith as you would wish. I don’t know many things and I could list a number of them but it is stupid to say because you don’t know, so god.