The Blasphemy Challenge

I am curious if the Christians here think that whoever participates in this is definitely going to hell

They don't even understand what that teaching means.

More evangelical atheists, eh? They're certainly keeping busy. EDIT:

This is a post from Digg by a user named Isidore that should at least address the Catholic response to the "Blasphemy Challenge":

"These people have not (yet) damned themselves. The Blasphemy Challenge has set up a straw man by ignorance/misrepresentation of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) there are 6 sins against the Holy Spirit
- Despair
- Presumption of God's mercy
- Impugning the known truth
- Envy of the spiritual good of another
- Obstinacy in sin
- Final impenitence
http://www.catholicdoors.com/faq/qu42.htm

ALL of these sins can be forgiven except Final Impenitence (ie a final refusal to accept God's forgiveness), which CCC#1864 explains "There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss." http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a8.htm#IV

Since we can repent while we are alive, (Purgatory?). These kids are not as clever as they think, according to the Catholic Church, God's love is greater than their sillyness."

:0

Not that I'm defendng the RRS (I don't really listen to or view their stuff...have only heard one show)...

But:

  1. Why is it "evangelical" suddenly becomes a word of derision when applied to atheists, but apparently gets a free pass if followed by the word "Christian?"

  2. Ok Deathside, then... when are all those Christians who rail against secular humanism going to be listed as a "hate group" too? Double standards again?

  3. So, what does that passage mean? The Detriment: The RRS was quoting the bible. Quoting Catholic catechisms is just referencing what one particular sect of Christianity believes (of the many thousands of sects). That hardly settles the matter in your favor.

Prof.

To me  this is just proof that there is more going on than meets the eye.  I can believe that there are some honest atheists out there who have rationally and logically arrived at an inability to believe in God.  I think they are in the minority and I think they are not the kinds of people who go around proselytizing against religion when they do make a decision.  An evangelical atheist is engaging in deliberate attacks on Christianity (let's face it that is the number one religion they most often have an issue with) for any number of reasons but clearly with a more emotional than rational bent.  And the mockery thing is most disturbing.  Jesus was treated with a spirit of mockery and these people seem to be infected with that same spirit. 

Anybody who says things like "I don't believe in God just like I don't believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny" has already revealed their low intelligence and their complete lack of deep thinking on the subject. Its like saying the Bible is a fairy tale.  That is impressive to other ignorant people but actually speaks to a lack of precise thinking and the lack of a post secondary education.

Prof,

I wasn't necessarily using the term "evangelical atheists" as a term of derision, but rather an accurate descriptive term for what these atheists are doing: Actively proselytizing atheism in an attempt to convert theists to an atheist viewpoint.

If one is going to "blaspheme," the term needs to be defined. The Catechism defines the term, and it isn't as simple as merely saying, "I deny the Holy Spirt." Of course, I only speak based on my knowledge of orthodox Christianity. Nearly all Christians agree, however, that to blaspheme one must do more than simply take part in a half-witted "Blasphemy Challenge."

There is more interesting commentary on the nature of blasphemy from a Christian standpoint here:

http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Brown/T/Pierce/1923/blasph-1.html

"What a load of crap. The Rational Response squad is going to end up listed as a hate group if they don't clean up thier act."

they already are a hate group

And by extremist Bludhall means people who believe in or practice anything.  The only non-extremists are the ones who don't believe in anything but being stoned all day long. 

Ridgeback,

----"Anybody who says things like "I don't believe in God just like I don't believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny" has already revealed their low intelligence and their complete lack of deep thinking on the subject. Its like saying the Bible is a fairy tale. That is impressive to other ignorant people but actually speaks to a lack of precise thinking and the lack of a post secondary education."

Ridgeback, I understand why you would feel that way from your perspective. And also I understand the underlying point, that unlike Santa Clause, the issue of God's existence has been the source of an incredibly rich history of complex debate among brilliant people.

But....

Christians always laugh at the Santa, Easter Bunny comparisons considering them non-sequiturs to their belief in God. But the point is that, from the view of many atheists....they are in a very fundamental way, equivalent.

They are equivalently unbelievable (to us) and I can, for instance, defend a belief in Santa using very similar types of apologetics as used by Christians.

When you remark: "Its like saying the Bible is a fairy tale. "

Well...YES! That's the point that the santa comparisons are meant to bring out. It IS, to us, like believing in a fairy tail. That is almost precisely the impression I get whenever I start reading the bible. When I start reading Genesis, or much of the old testament, or even the new testament and I consider that people ACTUALLY believe this to be true, it is with the same sense of bewilderment and amazement as if I had opened any fairy tale and was told people believe it to be true!

Surely you can get some sense of this when looking at other belief systems (especially ones you find ridiculous). Take Scientology and it's story of "Xenu:"

"In Scientology doctrine, Xenu (also Xemu) is an alien ruler of the "Galactic Confederacy" who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of aliens to Earth in DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes and blew them up with hydrogen bombs. Their souls then clustered together and stuck to the bodies of the living, and continue to wreak chaos and havoc today."

Full Xenu story:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenu

Now, is it unfair to presume that, like me, this story strikes you as utterly ludicrous and clearly fictional (and I hardly think we even need to be aware of what a shyster L.R Hubbard was to find this story silly)?

Aren't these stories about having to rid everyone of the residue of alien "body thetans" from this event depicted above patently fictional?

And yet...there are people who apparently believe it!

Well, this is how we atheists feel about anyone believing The Bible, too.

In fact, it is to me not a non-sequitur to compare belief in the biblical stories to belief in any particular fairy tale. I mean, to me it is just plain bizarre that someone can look at The Big Bad Wolf, or the Santa story and recognize it as fictional and unbelievable, and then turn around and say..."But this thousands of years old tale of a dead carpenter rising from the grave, walking on water, animals loaded two by two on a giant boat built by an old man, talking serpents, speaking bushes, women formed from a man's rib etc etc...now THAT'S BELIEVABLE!"

So, no, this analogy to Santa or other fairy tales really does get at a valid point. I see nothing more believable about the mythology and miracles of the Bible than I do a fairy tale. No more reason to believe either one.

In fact, it was this amazement that led me (especially in my twenties) to go on quite a religion-binge, looking at many people's beliefs, searching out the best theistic minds I could find in answer to my question "How is it people could actually believe this? There MUST be some good reasons out there...."

But what I found was a history of baroque rationalizations, exactly of the type I would expect would be necessary if a fairy tale had been latched on to as "really representing reality."

And as an atheist watching religious belief, it really CAN feel like you've walked into a world in which every adult actually still believes in Santa Clause.

And I know that from many religious viewpoints, my idea of the world is equally inscrutable or unbelievable.

Just trying to give a perspective from the "other side."

Cheers,

Prof.

Prof,



Its too bad you are going to take the side of those people.  I actually respected you more before you wrote that apology.   But putting belief in God on par with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus is ignorant.  And calling what appears to be fiction in the Bible a fairy tale points to an ignorance of literature and literary categories. 

---"But putting belief in God on par with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus is ignorant. And calling what appears to be fiction in the Bible a fairy tale points to an ignorance of literature and literary categories. "

No it doesn't, it points to a conclusion about what types of claims are believable or not.

An ancient story of Jesus casting demons from people, walking on water, turning water into wine and rising from the dead is, I find, as equivelontly fantastic as "Dracula rose from the dead to drink people's blood."

A story of a serpent speaking to a woman and tricking her to eat some fruit is as fantastical as a wolf speaking to a little girl to trick the girl.

The story of a man (ultimately reaching something like 900 years old) loading every animal onto an ark to sale a world-wide flood at a God's request is as fantastical as a jolly bearded man who is able to magically deliver presents to children around the world.

It doesn't matter that one may claim to have actually "happened." They are both equivolently unbelievable to me. It doesn't matter that the bible may not be, in literary terms, a "fairy tale." That's just a distraction to the point at hand. No Christian writing I've encountered has moved any of the biblical miracle stories to a status of: "more believable than the events in a fairy tale."

Sorry. That's how I see it, which is why I don't believe.

But, again, you should be able to understand my disbelief if you can look at your own reactions to the beliefs of others. For instance, you didn't answer my question about the Xenu story of Scientology.

What is your attitude toward that story? Honestly, do you find it at all plausible?

Prof.

Prof,



I understand that you believe you are right.  Do you think that is an antidote to ignorance?

I actually understand atheists who simply find they cannot make the leap of faith to believe that God became man, was born of the Virgin Mary, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. There is a reason they call it "faith," after all. :)

However, it seems that the atheists I've recently encountered or read believe all religions have a negative impact on the world. They usually rationalize this belief by saying religion has held back scientific progress, and in turn, the progress of humanity.

Unfortunately I think they ignore the many contributions of Christians and other theists to science - Christians have a natural desire to understand God's creation, after all. One could argue Christian monks alone were indispensable in shaping Western civilization, preserving ancient knowledge after the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, and coming up with many of the innovations that have helped drive science, including the creation of the University system.

Most importantly, perhaps, Christian monks taught the rest of Europe how to brew beer. :) That alone is a reason to thank God!

I can certainly appreciate all the good that is done in our society by religion.

Yet, all that seems to disappear when they knock on the door 9 am Sat morning.

Well atheism did give us the gulag. 

"Yet, all that seems to disappear when they knock on the door 9 am Sat morning."

I'll go out on a limb and say none of those knocks came from Catholics. ;)

Ridgeback,

----"I understand that you believe you are right. Do you think that is an antidote to ignorance?

Of course not, but I admit I can't quite make sense of what you just asked.

I have never claimed to hold "the truth,"...only that I believe I generally have good reasons - one's that I've thought a lot about - for what I believe and don't believe. A position I'm always willing to discuss and defend.

I can understand how you or any Christian would bridle at Christianity being compared to a fairy tale. Of course I can. Hey, I get Christians (and Muslims, often fundamentalists) calling many of the things I believe "fairy tales" all the time. For instance, I can't count how many times I've read and listened to Christians derisively mocking evolution "How can anyone believe the fairy tale of goo-to-you!"

Or being incredibly derisive of naturalism or materialism...casting it as the belief of fools to the enthusiastic endorsement of a Christian audience. It strikes me that some Christians aren't quite cognizant of just how pervasive and directly beliefs like mine are openly derided within Christianity. (Which is not at all surprising, since they are continually derided in the Christian's holy text).

But my main point about the fairy tale comparisons is to give the feel of an atheist's perspective. (Note in this thread how I continually cast it as a perspective, not an argument). And I think you can understand this perspective if you try.

So, again, I'll ask: What is your attitude toward the Scientology story of Xenu?

  1. Do you find it plausible in the least?

  2. And if you do not find it plausible, does that attitude make you arrogant? Or ignorant?

Thanks,

Prof.

---"Fundamentalist atheism is basically a rejection of beauty and idealism."

Gee. That may well be...especially when you can make up phrases like "Fundamentalist atheism" and then define it as you wish.

'Course, the fact your definition doesn't actually cover the attitude of atheists I know probably won't bother you a bit in your project.

----"Have you ever known a cheery, artistic, optimistic, atheist?"

PLENTY. You seem to have no clue about what you are writing.

----"Most of the ones I have come into contact with were socially retarded outcast types who seemed to live in a permanent state of angst and unfulfillment."

Then you haven't met a representative proportion of atheists.

Prof.