Debate 013: Ernest and Blair debate ethical Atheism

NOTE: This is a rebuttal and single-response only. Ernest never rebutted my response. He may have just been looking for answers or never expected a response. However, his email title “Another one bites the dust” led me to believe that he was going to be an interesting debate… alas…

Ernest Rebuttal #001:

Thank you for being openly invitive to people e-mailing you. I know that some people who profess to atheists are really stingy in that in whatever gentle manner that I explain my beliefs in Christianity, they still just mock me and throw insults, and sometimes curses. Likewise, there are those people who profess to be Christians, and whenever an atheist tries to gently explain to them their viewpoint, the person professing to be a Christian proves to be nasty. However, I am glad that you are a kind gentleman in that you wouldn’t be nasty to me. You and I may be straightforward with each other, but being nasty is not the way to go.

I first wanted to comment about your statments of atheists being victim of bigotry and prejudice. The truth is, however, that there are by far more Christians who are victim to these attacks than there are atheists. There really aren’t that many cases where atheists are attacked in the liberal media. I see that the persecuted are mainly Christians or conservatives.

Second, I would like to define to you, exactly what a Christian is. A true Christian is one who has been converted by the Holy Spirit to trust in Christ. Therefore, that person has their sins payed for and they can now pass into eternal life, not because they deserve it. The truth is that not one person deserves salvation. We all deserve God’s judgment for rebelling against him. Every single human being is a sinner. If that human being does not trust in Christ as His personal Lord and Savior, that means that the individual will have to pay for their sins themselves in eternal punishment.

To be a true Christian, one also has to be patient, kind, loving, generous, moral, and godly. So, a Christian is not a person who just believes everything he is told because he was born in a Christian-filled area, but one who has been converted by the grace of God. I consider being saved a blessing since it prevents me from paying for my sins as a I deserve. To say that I’m a “victim” of Christianity, would be just like saying that I am a victim to a person who has helped me, regardless of how nasty I was to that person.

I would just like to ask you what is your standard of morality. How can you call anything evil, evil. In an atheistic universe, how can you define what is evil? Besides that, even if what you said was in fact evil, in your universal understanding of the world, it could not be evil, tomorrow. I know that atheists believe in a chance universe. If that is true, then 1+1=2 today, but that may not be that case, tomorrow.

I would plead with you, Mr. Scott to turn to Christ in repentance and except Him as your savior. You must do it now, because after death comes, God offers no second chances.

P.S. I find it hard to believe the contradiction in Islam, when Muslims say that Jesus was a prophet. They then turn around and say that Jesus was not the savior. How can that be when Jesus as a prophet professes to be the savior of the world, and declares Himself, divine.

P.S.S. You told anyone not to send conversation e-mail. I don’t think that mine was conversational, because of the fact that mine is not much longer than many of the others that have been on the debate section of your web page. (I’m pretty sure he meant “conversion email.”)

 

Response to Ernest #001:

Thank you for your comments. To make things easier I will address different parts of your letter individually.

ERNEST: “…they still just mock me and throw insults, and sometimes curses.”

I have witnessed this on several occasions and it bothers me. When I see atheists behaving in this manner I will speak up in defense of the Christian or other religionist. Regardless of the motive of the atheist, this type of behavior is unbecoming and inappropriate. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when mocking and poking fun of others is appropriate, just as any joking is only appropriate in certain times and places.

Appropriateness aside, the motive of such behavior is important to at least understand. After discussing such issues with atheists that have resorted to such behavior, I have found that most of them don’t have a hatred or loathing for Christians, but that they are basically frustrated and that frustration is being taken out on the Christian or other religionist that they were talking to. They are frustrated at being the victims of ignorance and hatred and they are lashing out. They don’t do it out of spite – they do it out of frustration. Unfortunately, this frustration can be vented onto a religionist that would have not been one to resort to such tactics as to cause that frustration in the beginning. You are probably a good example of such a religionist.

You approach in friendship and a search for understanding and you are made the recipient of vented frustrations built up from encounters with your brothers in Christ that were not so friendly and understanding. Your best bet is to not take it personally and understand the reasons for it. Even I have been known to do this when things get really bad. I’ll address that next.

ERNEST: “Likewise, there are those people who profess to be Christians, and whenever an atheist tries to gently explain to them their viewpoint, the person professing to be a Christian proves to be nasty.”

This is exactly what I was referring to above. This type of behavior is what causes the frustration. To try to compare the two is a little unfair however. The Christians clearly outnumber atheists in this country (and other religions, as well) and the number of offenders that are your brethren in Christ are certainly greater than any offending atheists. While I certainly condemn such behavior, a small part of me wants to applaud them for restraining themselves to mocking and ridiculing in speech and type.

There are many other things they could do, such as violent acts, which they do not resort to. They vent their frustrations in a healthy manner, healthy in the sense that it doesn’t cause physical harm, but unhealthy in other social aspects. Because the atheist is the minority it is imperative that he or she maintain the highest standards at all time and remain above the constant squabble and quibble that we see in the religionists around the world.

Perhaps I can make this a bit more personal so you understand why I see their mocking behavior as restraining, regardless of whether the behavior is good or bad. The religionists in my area, Southern Baptists in particular, have been very nasty to me. I have had a cross planted in my yard. I have received death threats via email. I have had death threats and other warnings drawn and written on paper and placed under my windshields. My car has been bashed in twice. My bumper stickers have been stolen on numerous occasions. My children have been harassed at school. I was threatened to be fired over my atheism and only retained my job at the threat of a religious discrimination lawsuit.

All this happened BEFORE I became an activist. It was BECAUSE of this behavior that I felt Atheism Awareness was necessary. I also formed an atheist group in my city and started writing articles for a freethought newspaper. As expected, my activism only made it worse.

I have yet to hear of a group of atheists committing such atrocities. They may mock you, they may tease you and they may call you “brainwashed” or any other adjective – but they are not doing any physical harm. If I had it my way, they wouldn’t mock you or tease you, either, but I have to at least commend them for not resorting to the often-violent behavior we see coming from the religionists’ side. There are no atheist suicide bombers. There are no atheists blowing up abortion clinics. There are no atheist shooters taking out doctors. There are no atheists calling for war against the Muslims.

I hope you understand what I’m trying to say. I deplore violence and commend atheists for not resorting to it like religionists have. At the same time, I want to go beyond such and elevate beyond the mocking and ridicule as well. Until that time arrives, when atheists behave in a 100% exemplary manner, we can be appreciative that atheists are not violent like religionists.

ERNEST: “…that there are by far more Christians who are victim to these attacks than there are atheists.”

To be frank, that statement is absolute nonsense. The only cases where I see Christians being victims of bigotry and severe prejudice is in cases where the perpetrator is a fellow Christian or practitioner of another religion. Christians are victims of such in India. Atheists aren’t doing it – Hindus are. Christians are victims of such in the Middle East. Atheists aren’t doing it – Muslims are.

What is the atheist going through in those countries? He or she is getting it from both sides. Atheists in India and Pakistan are tried for treason and beheaded. Atheists in the Middle East are tried for blasphemy with the mandatory sentence of death. In the United States atheists are supposed to be protected, but they are constantly victims of harassment and brutality. Not just atheists, either. Any religious minority in the United States can be the victim of such.

Four atheist high school students in my area were the victims of constant torment and physical abuse. During lunch at the school the captain of the football team would stand up and begin a prayer. Everyone stood up except the four atheists. They were respectful and remained quiet during the prayer. They didn’t tease or mock – they remained quiet in respect for the religion of others. What did they get in return? They got food thrown at them. They got beat up. They got kicked and punched in the halls by your brethren in Christ.

A Jewish family in Troy, Alabama asked that a prayer given at school be generic in order to appeal to all religionists and not just Christians. What did this bring on them? Constant harassment, death threats, the kids beaten up at school, the father losing his job and no one willing to hire them. They were forced to move.

An atheist in the Wiregrass area complained about the teachers sending their kids home with religiously oriented materials. What did this bring them? They were ostracized and ridiculed by the entire community. The kids were threatened at school. The principle even pulled a stunt by keeping the school bus from picking up the kids and then trying to get the parent in trouble for truancy. The family was forced to move.

A high school senior challenged the Christ-laden graduation prayer that was supposed to be generic. He was beat up, ostracized, ridiculed and ultimately forced out of his home. Ultimately the stigma of the event led him to leave the state.

When I hear about Christians that are victims of similar hatred I ask where the hatred was coming from. What I always hear, at least in the United States, is that the hatred was coming from other Christians. The Baptists hate the Catholics, the Methodists hate the Assembly of God, the Adventists hate the Lutherans and everyone hates the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Criticism of the dogma, rites and rituals is not harassment. Criticism of policy and procedure is not harassment. Criticism of texts and claims of historicity is not harassment. Harassment is the continued threat of physical or emotional violence. I only see harassment coming from the Christian side here in the United States. Just look at the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland and how that violence has carried over a couple of times into Boston.

The Muslim community is learning first-hand what it means to be a victim of Christian love. And Christians wonder why they hate them…

ERNEST: “There really aren’t that many cases where atheists are attacked in the liberal media.”

Absolute nonsense. Every talk show I’ve watched where an atheist was the guest, the atheist was berated and called names. Of course Christ called people names, too, so I guess calling people names is a Christian behavior (…ye Vipers!). The only time I see Christians berated in the “liberal media” is when they are covering a Christian that has done physical damage or harm to someone or something, such as an abortion clinic.

Most of the talk shows have a left and right representative, one who berates and one who defends. The media, in the talk show sense, cannot be considered as a source of “harassment” of anyone. Talk shows are meant to be aggressive and create a scene that gets people’s attention.

Just last night I watched Crossfire with Jerry Falwell on it. They were talking about how Graham had called Islam an “evil and wicked religion”. No one harassed Falwell or called him names. They did question him on a few things he said that were not true or were over-exaggerated to his benefit, but they were respectful. Even the lefty on the show treated him respectfully.

Perhaps the biggest reason that we see Christians getting a bad name in the press is because the most vocal Christians, the ones that love the media, are the biggest asses that speak out in the name of Christ. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others like them are media hogs that go out of their way to get on talk shows. If Christianity doesn’t get better spokesmen for the media then they will continue to be snickered at from the sidelines. The talk show host doesn’t have to say anything most of them time – the Christian guest usually digs his or her own hole.

About two months ago an atheist was the guest on Crossfire. What happened then? Did the left defend and the right berate? Nope – they both berated. Why? Because neither wanted to be seen by the public as supporting an atheist. People in high public places have often made statements against atheists that have astounded me. Statements have been made, that if made by replacing atheist with the word black, would have caused national uproar. Statements like, “Atheists should not hold public office” or “Atheists should not be considered citizens of this country” or “I’d never let an atheist baby-sit my children”. Those are actual statements made by celebrities and politicians, by the way.

Could you imagine if Star Jones had said, “I’d never let a Hispanic baby-sit my children. You can’t trust them.” No one seems to care when the atheists is the victim of discrimination. It was odd hearing Jones’ anti-atheist comments on the air. It was odd because as an overweight black woman you’d think she’d know a thing or two about discrimination.

ERNEST: “I see that the persecuted are mainly Christians or conservatives.”

I’d like you to clarify this statement about persecution. How do you persecute someone on TV?

ERNEST: “Second, I would like to define to you, exactly what a Christian is. […]”

The entire paragraph that you wrote is irrelevant. A Christian is easy to define. “Christ” denotes “the anointed one” and -ian denotes “a follower of”. Therefore a Christian is “a follower of the anointed one”. What that means is that a True Christian (TM) is one that has accepted Jesus as the Christ and all the baggage that comes with it. That’s it.

If someone says they accept Christ as their savior then they are a True Christian. This thing lately about trying to say that Christianity’s offenders were not “True Christians” (TM) is absolutely bogus. If they believed that Jesus was the Christ then they were True Christians. If they didn’t believe Jesus was the Christ then they were Jesusians (followers of Jesus).

ERNEST: “…that means that the individual will have to pay for their sins themselves in eternal punishment.”

This is moral how? Basically what you are saying is that Jesus said, “Worship me or I’ll torture you forever.” Even if Jesus did exist he would not be worthy of worship just for that alone. You don’t force people to follow you and worship you by threatening to burn them for eternity. It’s immoral and it’s a good example of what we’ve been talking about. Jesus would persecute me just for not believing in him – giving credence to the same behavior by your brethren in Christ.

ERNEST: “So, a Christian is not a person who just believes everything he is told because he was born in a Christian-filled area…”

Correct. A Christian is someone that accepts Jesus as The Christ. You missed the point I was making with the “victim of geography” statement that I made on the web page. You are Christian not because of any truth to what you have accepted. You are a Christian because you were raised in a predominantly Christian area. If you had been raised in India we would be arguing over the dogma of Hinduism and the historicity of Vishnu. If you had been raised in Iran we would be arguing over the dogma of Islam and the historicity of Muhammad.

The only reason we are discussing Christianity is not because of any “revealed truth”, but because you were born and raised in a predominantly Christian area. You are a victim of geography and demographics.

ERNEST: “I would just like to ask you what is your standard of morality. How can you call anything evil, evil.”

My standard of morality is easy. Each human being has only one life to live and that’s it. That means each human life should be respected. The key to morality is happiness. Happiness for everyone involved – not just on an individual basis. For example, a rapist is “happy” when he’s raping, but because his actions cause unhappiness to someone else, then his action is therefore immoral. The happiness must not be at the expense of the happiness of others. The greatest amount of happiness for all involved without being at the expense of the happiness of others is the path to good morality.

Atheists are more moral than most Christians. This is not just some abstract statement that I’m making, either. This is obvious in every form of statistic and accumulated data concerning morality. Atheists have the lowest divorce rate in the nation. 1 out of 4 Christians is likely to be a perpetrator of domestic abuse against their wives. This number increases to 1 out of 3 when talking about Christian Fundamentalists. The murder rate in the Bible Belt is the highest in the nation per capita. Christians occupy 85% of the prison population and roughly 70% of the national population. Atheists occupy .01% of the prison population and roughly 14% of the national population.

If morality was a religious issue then one would expect to find a greater number of non-religious in the prisons, a greater number of non-religious in the divorce courts and a greater number of non-religious in the domestic abuse courts. What we have seen historically and statistically is that religion is a greater path to immorality. That doesn’t mean that all religionists are immoral – that is certainly not the case. What it does mean is that a religionist is up to twenty times more likely to be immoral.

ERNEST: “In an atheistic universe, how can you define what is evil?”

Evil is a religious concept – so it would need no definition in an atheistic universe. If the religious concept of evil where an issue that I was forced to decide on then I would have to say that evil is what is done to prevent happiness on the parts of others.

ERNEST: “I know that atheists believe in a chance universe. If that is true, then 1+1=2 today, but that may not be that case, tomorrow.”

Why not? A constant is a constant – regardless of anyone’s worldview. Perhaps you can come up with a better analogy to make your point? I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

ERNEST: “I would plead with you, Mr. Scott to turn to Christ in repentance and except Him as your savior. You must do it now, because after death comes, God offers no second chances.”

Been there, done that – nothing happened. I hope you didn’t assume that I was never a Christian. If your Bible-God exists then he is not worthy of worship. Anyone with a sense of morality that has read the Bible would understand that the Bible-God is unworthy of worship.

ERNEST: “I find it hard to believe the contradiction in Islam, when Muslims say that Jesus was a prophet. They then turn around and say that Jesus was not the savior. How can that be when Jesus as a prophet professes to be the savior of the world, and declares Himself, divine.”

Perhaps you should read the Qu’ran then – so you can believe it. Remember that the Muslims think that the Bible is a bunch of bologna, just like me. They think that the Christian sect of Judaism is a lost cause because they believe that Jesus never died on the cross. The Surah is explicit when it says, “They think that he died and resurrected unto Allah. He did not die. He lived on and continued his work as a prophet for Allah.”

Debate 006: Adam and Blair debate morality

Adam Rebuttal #001:

You’ll get a full answer to your questions and arguments as soon as I get the time to write down my answer. Until then, I have a question that atheism must answer in some way. That is, where do people gain their sense of morals – their conscience?

Response to Adam #001:

ADAM: “Until then, I have a question that atheism must answer in some way.”

Atheism must answer nothing. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in god(s) – that’s it. You are still assuming that atheism means more than this.

To understand humanity and the morality thereof you need to understand the cycles of society behavior and establishment. For example, I can answer your question as an individual, as a member of the human race (humanity), or as a member of many societies. These societies are:

  • Immediate Family Society (spouse & offspring).
  • Extended Family Society (all other relatives).
  • Neighborhood Society (surrounding homes).
  • Cultural Society (religion, sex, gender, activities, hobbies, etc).
  • Village/Town/City Society.
  • State Society.
  • Country Society.
  • World Society.

Each of us plays a different role in each of those societies. Within each major category of society are mini-societies that we participate in both directly and indirectly. As a member of each society – we are required to justify ourselves to said societies. Take away the society – and the need for justification (or morality – which is a higher form of justification) goes away.

ADAM: “That is, where do people gain their sense of morals – their conscience?”

Since I obviously know where you are going with this let me first establish some requirement on the subject of “God is required for morality”.

What morals have your God dictated to you? Remember that laws of worship have nothing to do with morality – so “have no idols before me” is not a moral issue. Also remember that laws of justice have nothing to do with established morality – so stoning someone to death for adultery is not a moral issue. The adultery is the moral issue and not the punishment. Also remember that laws are not morality, either. So “eat no pork” is not a moral issue – it is a law. Please write down every moral established by your God.

The reason I ask this is because before you can assert that there can be no morality without belief in a God you must prove several issues:

  1. There can be morality with the belief in God.
  2. God is a good moral role model.
  3. God does not promote, condone, endorse, or sanctify immorality.
  4. God defines morality and the morals thereof clearly and concisely.
  5. God adheres to his definition of morality and the morals thereof.

Once you have done that then you can begin to assert that there can be no morality without belief in a God. Once you assert it – you’ll have to prove it. You will have to prove that atheistic religions (such as Buddhism) are immoral. Or you will have to prove that atheistic beliefs derive their morality from God.

At least you associate morality with the conscience. That’s a step in the right direction. Most Christians that I debate with refuse to associate the two as the same thing. They see the conscience as a “scientific” brain function that can dictate right from wrong based on our life’s experiences, the laws of our societies (even if they are based on religious ideologies), our senses, our memory, and the experiences of others.

Adam Rebuttal #002:

BLAIR: “Each of us plays a different role in each of those societies. Within each major category of society are mini-societies that we participate in both directly and indirectly. As a member of each society – we are required to justify ourselves to said societies. Take away the society – and the need for justification (or morality – which is a higher form of justification) goes away.”

So our morality is just a social convention? What is it based on – what’s best for society? I would think not. After all, is it not ‘better’ for society, in the evolutionary sense, if only the strongest and smartest people survive? That would make it morally right to kill our parents, people with disabilities – anyone who is weaker than we are. This seems to me not the case. Also, if morality is just a convention of whatever society we belong to, it would be morally correct for me to join an Amazon tribe that has no qualms about killing any outsiders that come into their territory. Would that not be morally right?

BLAIR: “What morals have your God dictated to you? Remember that laws of worship have nothing to do with morality – so “have no idols before me” is not a moral issue. Also remember that laws of justice have nothing to do with established morality – so stoning someone to death for adultery is not a moral issue. The adultery is the moral issue and not the punishment. Also remember that laws are not morality, either. So “”eat no pork”” is not a moral issue — it is a law. Please write down every moral established by your God.”

I am speaking not of revealed law (laws written down in the bible), but that sense of right and wrong with which every human, to some extent, is born. That sense of right and wrong may be suppressed by the society the person grows up with, but they are still born with it. This law I am speaking of may be called the Law of Human Nature: A ‘voice’ in their mind that tells them to be unselfish. A little voice that tells us we ought to do something or ought not to do something. We often don’t like what the voice tells us, after all, to follow it we would have to be unselfish. So, many people ignore the voice. This is what makes it different from the various instincts people are born with. Instincts are very hard, if impossible, to suppress. But conscience can be suppressed and ignored. Nor is it an evolutionary instinct or urge. After all, sometimes what our conscience tells us to do puts our own safety on the line. (For example, helping people who are in danger)

BLAIR: “The reason I ask this is because before you can assert that there can be no morality without belief in a God you must prove several issues:”

I am not (yet) tying conscience or our moral sense to the Christian and Hebrew God. I am simply saying that the conscience cannot be just a social convention, or some evolutionary mechanism.

The basic law of our conscience is to be unselfish. Everything else our conscience tells us is a subcategory of that.

Unselfishness is exactly the opposite of what evolutionary instinct would be – the preservation of one’s self. Some sense of right and wrong is found in all cultures and societies. The extent to which they adhere to the code differs, but all have it.

In no culture is selfishness admired very much. The extent of acceptable selfishness varies from culture to culture. In some on must only be unselfish to one’s family. In others, also to one’s country, or community.

The only reason anyone can be held to a moral law is that it is imposed by someone higher than humans. If our moral are dictated simply by our society, then no society’s moral code is any more right or wrong than ours.

Thus, Nazi Germany would have been in the right when they killed thousands of Jews and tried to enforce their governments on other societies. After all, they were following their own moral code. So why did people fight the Nazis? Because they didn’t want to belong to the fascist political party? You might say that it was in order to protect their rights and freedom that they fought back. Then my question is to you, what made them think that they were entitled to those freedoms? The fact that someone decided they should have them? The fact that someone in America wrote down what freedoms people have by nature? I doubt it.

BLAIR: “Once you have done that then you can begin to assert that there can be no morality without belief in a God. Once you assert it – you’ll have to prove it. You will have to prove that atheistic religions (such as Buddhism) are immoral. Or you will have to prove that atheistic beliefs derive their morality from God.”

As I said, our sense of right and wrong does not come from inspired law (Bible, Koran, Torah, etc), but is what English legal historian Blackstone called Natural Law: The sense of right and wrong that every human is born with. Therefore, even without a belief in God, all people have, to some degree, a sense of what is right, and what isn’t.

Thanks for the interesting discussion.

Response to Adam #002:

ADAM: “So our morality is just a social convention?”

Yes and no. The major influence is societal but there are other influences directly and indirectly. The human animal is a social animal. If the social drive were to disappear overnight things would change drastically. The need for morality goes away when the influence of society and the drive to be social disappears. The need for cooperative living goes away. The need for self-preservation increases and the desire to preserve self over all others becomes a primary mission.

There is still self-preservation within a society but they are focused differently. If human beings were not social animals the self-preservation factor would increase drastically. That is to say that flight or fight become more important. Another human being in your territory becomes a threat and should be eliminated. Human beings would only gather to copulate and reproduce. We would be purely animalistic.

It is the fact that we are social animals that requires morality to form. As social animals can we run around killing everyone that walk through our grass? As social animals can we run around stealing everything we want? No – because a society cannot last under those conditions (if it’s a society at all under those conditions in the first place).

The question then becomes what guidelines were used by those first societies to establish the rules and guidelines that evolved into a complex moral structure? There are several factors that play into the formation of the rules and guidelines.

But why are we social animals? What drove the solitary hunter/gatherer to associate with others of his kind and form the first mini-societies? We’ve all heard the phrase, “There is safety in numbers”, and we take it for granted. But there really is safety in numbers. More food could be gathered, larger prey could be hunted, more females could tend the young, and more males could protect the group.

But at the formation of the group guidelines and rules had to be established and a leader had to be picked. Obviously there is no way to know exactly what procedures were used to choose a leader back then. But by looking at primitive cultures today we have a basic idea of what could have happened. Once that leader is chosen and the guidelines and rules are set up your have accomplished two things. You have created the foundation for a moral structure and a moral “law enforcement”.

The guidelines were based on personal experience, group experience, knowledge of the known world, etc. In other words if someone steals something from you how does it make you feel? Do you feel bad because you know its wrong or do you feel bad because someone took your stuff? Because you feel bad you associate that act with being bad and create a rule against it. The first societies established their rules and guidelines based on their personal experiences. They established new rules and guidelines as situations developed that required the intervention of the leader. The leader would make a choice and that choice would become a new guideline.

What it boils down to is that our personal experience with things done against us helps us to establish what is wrong or right. When someone does something to us and it makes us feel bad then we know what that someone did was wrong. We know what we did is wrong by instinct and feeling – not because someone tells us its wrong. If morality were nothing more than a code of laws dictated down by a Supreme Being then there would be no emotion attached to things done against us. We would know something is wrong because we were told it was wrong – not because we felt that it was wrong.

Our leaders, regardless of how they are chosen, create the guidelines and rules we live by based on those experiences and other factors. Even to this day our representatives in government make guidelines and rules based on their experiences. Laws and morality are created by our feelings about actions against others and us. For example we, as an animal species, want to protect our species and specifically, our young. We know how it makes us feel when our young are threatened. We know what a mother’s and father’s protective instincts feel like. These feelings toward our young are reflected in our social morality and the laws we create based on that morality.

ADAM: “What is it based on – what’s best for society? I would think not. After all, is it not ‘better’ for society, in the evolutionary sense, if only the strongest and smartest people survive? That would make it morally right to kill our parents, people with disabilities – anyone who is weaker than we are.”

I would disagree with your assessment of those that are weaker. If everyone in the society were extremely intelligent and strong – who would perform the menial labor? A friend of mine said it best the other day (even if it is mildly insulting), “We need stupid people in the world… someone has to pick up our garbage and clean our public bathrooms.” While his remarks were insensitive he effectively summed up the societal view of the weaker.

Another point you missed is that we know how it feels when someone close to us is killed or dies. It is our feelings that create the morality for society that killing is wrong. There are people out there that would gladly kill the weak. There have been many examples throughout history. But that only goes to show that our personal feelings can and do dictate our morality. A bunch of people that felt the same way rallied behind a leader that represented their moral views.

ADAM: “Also, if morality is just a convention of whatever society we belong to, it would be morally correct for me to join an Amazon tribe that has no qualms about killing any outsiders that come into their territory. Would that not be morally right?”

Good luck joining said tribe – they will probably kill you before you can join. What you have to realize is that a tribe such as your example kills not because their morality dictates a higher need for tribal self-preservation and protection. They would need to eliminate threats. In their societal view killing you would be morally right because the protection of the tribe is more important than your life. Would that make it morally right for other people? That depends entirely on their societal needs and influences as well as their personal feelings of the issue.

ADAM: “This law I am speaking of may be called the Law of Human Nature: A ‘voice’ in their mind that tells them to be unselfish. A little voice that tells us we ought to do something or ought not to do something. We often don’t like what the voice tells us, after all, to follow it we would have to be unselfish.”

Essentially you are referring to the same thing I am – you are just calling it something different and associating it with a Supreme Being instead of the influences of society. That “voice” you are referring to is our conscience. Our conscience is learned and is not something we are born instinctually with. A baby does not know that killing someone is wrong – that is something they will be taught and learn in their lifetime experiences.

Is it safe to assume that you are not going to compile a list or moral issues from the Bible?

ADAM: “Instincts are very hard, if impossible, to suppress. But conscience can be suppressed and ignored. Nor is it an evolutionary instinct or urge. After all, sometimes what our conscience tells us to do puts our own safety on the line. (For example, helping people who are in danger)”

Your conscience is an instinct – a learned instinct. The conscience of one human being is different from another. If it were, as you claim, something you are born with – then everyone would have exactly the same conscience. And that is not so – each of us has a different conscience based on what we have experienced, what we have been taught, and the moral guidelines and rules of our society. Some members of the established society and morality go against the grain and choose not to conform. Some societies have different views of conscience. That is evident in the difference of laws around the world.

ADAM: “I am not (yet) tying conscience or our moral sense to the Christian and Hebrew God. I am simply saying that the conscience cannot be just a social convention, or some evolutionary mechanism.”

I am not saying it is just a social convention. I am saying that it is the societal influence that dictates how we translate our emotions, feelings, and conscience into guidelines and rules that ultimately become established morality within said society.

ADAM: “Unselfishness is exactly the opposite of what evolutionary instinct would be – the preservation of one’s self.”

Why do you assume that unselfishness is the opposite of evolutionary instinct? When residing in groups and societies we have to look out for each other. That was the whole point of forming groups in the first place (safety in numbers). In a society we look out for each other – we protect each other. If unselfishness were not an issue then we would not have formed societal groups and cohabitated. It is our evolutionary instincts to preserve our species and that instinct translates directly to our emotions and feeling regarding death and sickness, which in turn translates into established morality.

ADAM: “Some sense of right and wrong is found in all cultures and societies. The extent to which they adhere to the code differs, but all have it.”

Exactly.

ADAM: “In no culture is selfishness admired very much. The extent of acceptable selfishness varies from culture to culture. In some on must only be unselfish to one’s family.”

That is because there is no culture that has not grouped into societies. Self-preservation requires unselfishness to protect the species and the society.

ADAM: “The only reason anyone can be held to a moral law is that it is imposed by someone higher than humans. If our morals are dictated simply by our society, then no society’s moral code is any more right or wrong than ours.”

When you say someone “higher than humans” I’m assuming you are referring to God or some Supreme Being. So again I ask you to supply a list of morality defined in the Bible. Then show me how that morality is enforced and imposed on the human race by said Supreme Being.

ADAM: “Thus, Nazi Germany would have been in the right when they killed thousands of Jews and tried to enforce their governments on other societies. After all, they were following their own moral code. So why did people fight the Nazis?”

In the Nazi view they were right. The Nazi societal morality at the time allowed for the murder of anyone that did not fit the Nazi societal criteria. They established a criterion for recognition in their society. Anyone that did not fit said criterions were murdered.

People fought the Nazis because their societal moral views were different. People also fought the Nazis for self-preservation. We group in societies for self-preservation, which includes defending ourselves against intruders. The rally against Japan was not because they were Japanese (that came later) but because they had invaded our land. They infringed upon our sovereignty and our national pride. As Yomamoto said, “…we have awoken a sleeping giant.”

ADAM: “The fact that someone in America wrote down what freedoms people have by nature? I doubt it.”

You are basing this statement that only Americans were engaged in the fighting. There were many brave men and women that were fighting to get their homes back and protect their families and society from the Nazi regime. America fought back for several reasons. First and foremost they fought the Japanese because of the attack on Pearl Harbor. They fought the Nazis for a couple of reasons. First was that once Nazi Germany began attacking great Britain the next stop was Canada and America. The Canadians knew the threat as much as we did and were also in Europe stopping the Nazis. We also fought the Nazis because our societal morality knew that the actions of the Nazi regime were wrong.

ADAM: “Therefore, even without a belief in God, all people have, to some degree, a sense of what is right, and what isn’t.”

Thanks for agreeing with me.

Adam Rebuttal #003:

I’m not sure if you understood exactly what you’re saying, so I will briefly outline what the consequences of your thought pattern are:

1. Mores are the result of the needs of societies and cultures.

1.a. Laws and morality are created by our feelings about actions against others and us.

1.b. Our leaders, regardless of how they are chosen, create the guidelines and rules we live by based on those experiences and other factors.

2. Societies and cultures have different mores.

2.a. The Nazis had a different morality from us.

3. Morality is not absolute.

4. Society controls the definition of morality.

4.a. Laws and morality are created by our feelings about actions against others and us.

4.b. Our leaders, regardless of how they are chosen, create the guidelines and rules we live by based on those experiences and other factors.

5. Society is controlled by its members.

5.a. Our leaders, regardless of how they are chosen…

6. Society’s members control the definition of morality.

7. Society’s members want the best for themselves.

8. Society’s members control the definition of morality. (6)

9. Society’s morality is whatever society’s members want.

10. Morality is open to definition

10.a. Society’s morality is whatever society’s members want. (9)

11. Morality is the definition of right and wrong.

12. Right and wrong are not absolute.

Thus, since right and wrong are not absolute, you cannot say that some action is wrong. All you would be saying it happens to be inconvenient for our society, or in disagreement with how the majority felt.

Suppose I were to bludgeon you with a baseball bat (don’t worry, I’m not about to). What would be wrong about that?

Let’s look at some of the reasons it might be wrong:

It hurt or killed you? And what about it? Who says hurting or killing is wrong? Society. And who says that society is right? The people who make up society. So society says that society is right?

It hurt society by killing a member? And what about it? Who says it’s wrong to hurt society? Society? And who says that society is right? Society’s members. Once again, society is justifying itself.

It hurt society by giving other members a bad example: As I said earlier, there seems to be nothing more wrong about murder than about stealing a stalk of celery from the grocery store. Both hurt society. But once more, what’s wrong about hurting society? “If society breaks apart survival will be much harder”. And what about it? Who says there’s anything wrong with that? After all, you say there isn’t a god or Gods. Thus there is no purpose for humans, so there would be nothing morally bad about society collapsing and humans becoming extinct. In fact, it would free up a lot of resources for the rest of the animal kingdom.

Another point: If there is no absolute moral right and wrong then society’s moral values never improve, they just change. Take slavery, for example. Apart from our self-evident freedoms (bestowed by God) there is no moral anything that says that slavery might be wrong. After all, it sure benefited southern society and economy. So where is the moral improvement in today’s society over a 19th century society when slavery was the norm? And where is the improvement in giving women equal rights? There is no moral improvement if morality is nothing more than what society’s needs and wants are at any one moment. What, I ask, is the justification for saying that we all are guaranteed equal rights and freedoms? That people like having equal rights because they know how it is not to be treated ‘fairly’? I would reply, “Apart from an absolute right and wrong, what meaning do ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ have? None, because society dictates what is right and wrong, and thus dictates what our rights and freedoms are. So when society changes, so do our rights and freedoms.”

Response to Adam #003:

ADAM: “1. Morals are the result of the needs of societies and cultures.

1.a. Laws and morality are created by our feelings about actions against others and us.

1.b. Our leaders, regardless of how they are chosen, create the guidelines and rules we live by based on those experiences and other factors.”

1. Yes.

1a. Yes. If we feel bad when someone steals from us or a loved on dies then we know that stealing and killing are bad.

1b. Yes and no. Obviously there is the ability for corruption and abuse of power to dictate self-want over societal needs (such as Hitler – but his society followed him willingly, though). Throughout history often there was what was called “The Divine Right of Rule or Law”. What this meant was that the ruler had authority to dictate morality because he had been given “divine authority”. This obviously came about after religion was invented. There is no denying that leaders use their religious beliefs to dictate morality – but that in no way signifies that morality requires religion. It signifies that religion is another form of morality.

ADAM: “2. Societies and cultures have different morals.

2.a. The Nazis had a different morality from us.”

2. Yes. Even to this day there are different morals around the world. As a seasoned world traveler I can aver for the different moralities throughout countries and societies.

2a. Yes. They believed that it was okay to kill others to preserve their own heritage, which they considered to be a “super-race”. That type of morality continues today in sub-societies such as the Christian Identity, KKK, Aryan Youth, etc.

ADAM: “3. Morality is not absolute.”

3. Correct. Morality constantly changes based on the changing views of society. Abortion is a good example of changing morality. Pre-marital sex is also a good example of changing morality.

ADAM: “4. Society controls the definition of morality.

4.a. Laws and morality are created by our feelings about actions against others and us.

4.b. Our leaders, regardless of how they are chosen, create the guidelines and rules we live by based on those experiences and other factors.”

4. Yes.

4a. Yes, as stated before.

4b. Yes and no, as stated before.

ADAM: “5. Society is controlled by its members.

5.a. Our leaders, regardless of how they are chosen…”

5. In most cases. There are obvious exceptions. Religion is an exception where morality is dictated rather than chosen. However there are different moral views even among Christians – regardless of dictation. That is because the sub-societies of Christianity have chosen their own morality even in light of their dictated morality in scripture.

5a. Yes and no, as stated before.

ADAM: “6. Society’s members control the definition of morality.”

Yes – today this is more noticeable through popular vote and representation. Unfortunately, our political system allows for corruption and self based morality to interfere with that process. That is unavoidable when a society grows too large. Imagine how much of a problem we’ll have when a world union is created. Every country trying to enforce their own view of morality, laws, and rules. Every religion offering their own version of morality, etc. I don’t think any leader is looking forward to that day.

ADAM: “7. Society’s members want the best for themselves.”

Yes and no. We want the best for ourselves because we know how it feels when things are done or are not done to or for us. That experience allows us to empathize with the other members of our society and species. We use our personal experiences to control our actions. Self-preservation plays a key role, though.

Many misconstrue this as; “If that’s the case then everyone would be killing everyone else in order to preserve him or herself.” However, nothing could be further from the truth. If I went around killing everyone I would start to make enemies of my victims’ loved ones. I would then become a hunted man and the self-preservation factor would become null and void. Making alliances and grouping together better serve self-preservation. As an individual, I have a better chance of survival if I group. As a group we can gather more food, build structures faster, and protect ourselves more efficiently.

For example, let’s say that John has a lake on his land but his acreage is not very fertile. Mike has tons of fertile land but no access to water. Should John and Mike try to kill each other and capture the other’s bounty? What guarantee does each have that they will escape the conflict unscathed? How can you enjoy the fruits of war if you are injured? If Mike were to capture the water – how can he do all the work himself? It is better for Mike and John to form an alliance and share the work and the bounty from that work. With both of them working together they increase the self-preservation chances.

ADAM: “8. Society’s members control the definition of morality.”

8. Yes.

ADAM: “9. Society’s morality is whatever society’s member’s want.”

Yes and no. The members of a society decide what is best for that society based on the aforementioned criterion. There are obviously dissenters. If everyone in our society agreed with the common rule of not murdering then there would never be a murder. Societies members decided that murder was not beneficial to the overall society. But there are a few out there that disagree with this assertion and dissent… and murder.

ADAM: “10. Morality is open to definition

10.a. Society’s morality is whatever society’s member’s want.”

10. Yes. Just look around at the differences in religious sects and their interpretations of dictated morality. Just look around at the different laws and guidelines as you cross country borders and even state borders. In Tennessee it is illegal to have sex in any position other than missionary style – yet in the surrounding states it is legal to have sex in any position you want. Except in South Carolina where it’s illegal to have anal sex. And obviously there are many other examples.

ADAM: “11. Morality is the definition of right and wrong.”

11. For the particular society that has adapted a certain morality – yes. Morality may be what we “consider” to be right and wrong – but that does not define an absolute. The Nazis are a good example. They considered themselves to be right by their defined morality. Yet others considered what they were doing to be wrong. Right and wrong are only perceptions based on the society that has implemented said morality. Take that morality somewhere else and it has a pretty good chance of not being so black and white.

For example, our society feels that polygamy is not moral. There is an estimated 10,000 polygamists in the United States (1996 figures – couldn’t find anything newer). Those 10,000 feel that the societal moral demand of no polygamy is wrong and counter it. However – if they were to travel to countries in the Middle East or South America they would find an open-arm welcome from a societal moral demand that polygamy is “right”.

ADAM: “12. Right and wrong are not absolute.”

12. Right and wrong are defined by each society. The morality of that society is right and wrong only for that society. That is why right in America does not mean right in Saudi Arabia. Wrong in Australia does not mean wrong in Venezuela.

ADAM: “Suppose I were to bludgeon you with a baseball bat (don’t worry, I’m not about to). What would be wrong about that?”

In the American society that would be considered morally wrong. In other societies it might be considered okay. If you had bludgeoned me with a baseball bat in 1941 in the middle of Berlin it would have been okay.

ADAM: “Who says hurting or killing is wrong? Society. And who says that society is right? The people who make up society. So society says that society is right?”

The majority of people that make up a society adhere to the morality that is established by that same society. But, as I stated earlier, not everyone jumps on the morality bandwagon of society. That is why we have rape, murder, drunk driving, molestation, child pornography, etc. Because there are dissenters from the morality established by the society.

Is there a religious morality from the Bible against rape? Drunk driving? Child pornography? Is there a religious morality from the Bible against having sex in any way other than missionary style?

ADAM: “It hurt society by killing a member? And what about it? Who says it’s wrong to hurt society? Society? And who says that society is right? Society’s members. Once again, society is justifying itself.”

Of course societies justify themselves, their morality, and their actions. America had to justify its actions and morality on a daily basis during the Kosovo Conflict. America, as a society, justified its own actions. Societies do this every day – so why do you have such a hard time with that concept?

ADAM: “Both hurt society. But once more, what’s wrong about hurting society?”

If you hurt a society then you break apart the very foundation of self-preservation. If a society crumbles then it becomes “every man for himself”. We say this happen during the Los Angeles riots. There was no sense of morality at all during that time. The sub-society had crumbled and chaos broke out. It was imperative to the overall society to gain control and reestablish morality to the sub-society before is spread like a cancer.

If you hurt a society then you degrade your overall chances of self-preservation. As I discussed earlier, you have a better chance of self-preservation through alliances – not through individual endeavors and killing sprees. Societies must take care of those that go against the societal morality – thus laws were born.

ADAM: “”If society breaks apart survival will be much harder”. And what about it? Who says there’s anything wrong with that? After all, you say there isn’t a god or Gods. Thus there is no purpose for humans, so there would be nothing morally bad about society collapsing and humans becoming extinct. In fact, it would free up a lot of resources for the rest of the animal kingdom.”

That is also counterproductive to self-preservation. We, as humans, are an animal species. We have a drive to stay alive. Why do people make every effort to save themselves in a crisis situation? If there is a God and you believe in that God then why fight to survive? Just give up, die, and meet your maker. But evolutionary instincts kick in. Adrenaline flows, and we look for every possible way out of a crisis situation. We want to survive. Your statement is purely emotional.

ADAM: “Another point: If there is no absolute moral right and wrong then society’s moral values never improve, they just change.”

For the society that has defined that morality – it is an improvement. For another society it might not be an improvement.

ADAM: “Take slavery, for example. Apart from our self-evident freedoms (bestowed by God) there is no moral anything that says that slavery might be wrong.”

First of all, where in the Constitution does it say, “Bestowed by God”? There is moral basis in the Constitution that slavery is wrong. “That all men are created equal” is pretty good moral basis for abolishment of slavery. It was that very line that led Abraham Lincoln and others to lead the crusade to abolish slavery.

ADAM: “After all, it [slavery] sure benefited southern society and economy. So where is the moral improvement in today’s society over a 19th century society when slavery was the norm?”

It also benefited the Israelites in the Old Testament. The Bible says slavery is okay – so why don’t Christians and Jews own slaves? Because they have stepped beyond the dictated morality of their Bible and accepted the societal morality that no one should be a slave. However, there are still societies in the world today that own and sell slaves.

If you can’t see the moral improvement then perhaps you should evaluate yourself instead of evaluating the societal morality.

ADAM: “And where is the improvement in giving women equal rights? There is no moral improvement if morality is nothing more than what society’s needs and wants are at any one moment.”

You don’t see the moral improvement by giving women equal rights? Of course you don’t – the Bible says women don’t have equal rights. There are a lot of women that sure are happier that the dictated morality of the Bible does not “rule the land”.

ADAM: “What, I ask, is the justification for saying that we all are guaranteed equal rights and freedoms?”

If each of us has equality and freedom then we have a greater chance of serving the society.

ADAM: “I would reply, “Apart from an absolute right and wrong, what meaning do ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ have? None, because society dictates what is right and wrong, and thus dictates what our rights and freedoms are. So when society changes, so do our rights and freedoms.””

Correct – as society changes, so do our rights and freedoms. Society changed its view on the use of drugs and you no longer have the freedom to do drugs. Sure – you can do them. But then you face the consequences of the societal morality and the laws created thereof.

Adam Rebuttal #004:

BLAIR: “1a. Yes. If we feel bad when someone steals from us or a loved one dies then we know that stealing and killing are bad.”

Incorrect. All we know is that we feel bad about it.

How do you connect the feeling that something is bad with the statement that it is morally bad without involving an absolute reference? Let me explain. You are relying on your emotions to tell you what is right and wrong. The only reason anyone would use their emotions as a reference for moral decisions is that they believe that their emotions have a more objective view of right and wrong than their reasoning. In other words, they trust their emotions more than their reasoning and admit that their emotions are not fully controlled by the conscious mind. You might point out that emotions are simply a product of subconscious reasoning based on past experience and biological sensations. However the fact is you’re saying that your feelings about issues are ‘better’ or more morally correct than your conscious reasoning. And the only way you can say they’re better is to compare them against some absolute reference.

BLAIR: “Morality constantly changes based on the changing views of society. Abortion is a good example of changing morality. Pre-marital sex is also a good example of changing morality.”

In that case it is not morality: It is an opinion.

BLAIR: “Yes – today this is more noticeable through popular vote and representation. Unfortunately, our political system allows for corruption and self based morality to interfere with that process. That is unavoidable when a society grows too large.”

Hold on a moment . . .

“our political system allows for corruption”: All you are saying is that through popular vote we create systems that can be used in a way contrary to what we want. I guess then that the only reason for that corruption is that we are sloppy when we create laws.

“self-based morality”: Isn’t, according to you, all morality self-based? If the only reason we feel that anything is morally bad is that it hurts our self-preservation efforts and makes us feel bad then all morality is our opinion of what is good and bad for us personally.

BLAIR: “Imagine how much of a problem we’ll have when a world union is created. Every country trying to enforce their own view of morality, laws, and rules. Every religion offering their own version of morality, etc. I don’t think any leader is looking forward to that day.”

Interesting point. In that case we will have to submit to whatever morality is held by whoever has the majority. That might well be China or some other country with completely different morals than we have. Suddenly free speech will be morally wrong and we will have nothing to appeal to.

BLAIR: “Yes and no. We want the best for ourselves because we know how it feels when things are done or are not done to or for us. That experience allows us to empathize with the other members of our society and species. We use our personal experiences to control our actions. Self-preservation plays a key role, though.”

Many misconstrue this as; “If that’s the case then everyone would be killing everyone else in order to preserve him or herself.” However, nothing could be further from the truth. If I went around killing everyone I would start to make enemies of my victims’ loved ones. I would then become a hunted man and the self-preservation factor would become null and void. Making alliances and grouping together better serve self-preservation. As an individual, I have a better chance of survival if I group. As a group we can gather more food, build structures faster, and protect ourselves more efficiently.

For example, let’s say that John has a lake on his land but his acreage is not very fertile. Mike has tons of fertile land but no access to water. Should John and Mike try to kill each other and capture the other’s bounty? What guarantee does each have that they will escape the conflict unscathed? How can you enjoy the fruits of war if you are injured? If Mike were to capture the water – how can he do all the work himself? It is better for Mike and John to form an alliance and share the work and the bounty from that work. With both of them working together they increase the self-preservation chances.

BLAIR: “12. Right and wrong are defined by each society. The morality of that society is right and wrong only for that society. That is why right in America does not mean right in Saudi Arabia. Wrong in Australia does not mean wrong in Venezuela. The majority of people that make up a society adhere to the morality that is established by that same society. But, as I stated earlier, not everyone jumps on the morality bandwagon of society. That is why we have rape, murder, drunk driving, molestation, child pornography, etc. Because there are dissenters from the morality established by the society.”

As I said: Society justifies society’s views. The majority’s opinion is the justification for the validity of the majority’s opinion.

BLAIR: “Of course societies justify themselves, their morality, and their actions. America had to justify its actions and morality on a daily basis during the Kosovo Conflict. America, as a society, justified its own actions. Societies do this every day – so why do you have such a hard time with that concept?”

You are saying that the opinion of the majority is correct because they say that it is correct. That is not valid reasoning. I would be committing the same fallacy were I to say that the Bible is accurate because it says it is accurate.

BLAIR: “If you hurt a society then you degrade your overall chances of self-preservation. As I discussed earlier, you have a better chance of self-preservation through alliances – not through individual endeavors and killing sprees. Societies must take care of those that go against the societal morality – thus laws were born.”

You are saying that hurting society is wrong because it goes against our instinct for self-preservation. In other words hurting society is simply going against instinct, like skipping a meal when you’re hungry. I don’t see anything inherently wrong with that.

BLAIR: “That is also counterproductive to self-preservation. We, as humans, are an animal species. We have a drive to stay alive. Why do people make every effort to save themselves in a crisis situation? If there is a God and you believe in that God then why fight to survive? Just give up, die, and meet your maker. But evolutionary instincts kick in. Adrenaline flows, and we look for every possible way out of a crisis situation. We want to survive. Your statement is purely emotional.”

As I said, your morality basically comes down to evolutionary instinct.

BLAIR: “For the society that has defined that morality – it is an improvement. For another society it might not be an improvement.”

To say that any morality is an improvement is to compare it to the previous morality. To compare two moralities you need an absolute reference by which to compare them. Otherwise you are simply saying that one makes you feel better than the other, or makes more sense economically.

BLAIR: “First of all, where in the Constitution does it say, “Bestowed by God”? There is moral basis in the Constitution that slavery is wrong. “That all men are created equal” is pretty good moral basis for abolishment of slavery. It was that very line that led Abraham Lincoln and others to lead the crusade to abolish slavery.”

After all, it [slavery] sure benefited southern society and economy. So where is the moral improvement in today’s society over a 19th century society when slavery was the norm?

BLAIR: “It also benefited the Israelites in the Old Testament. The Bible says slavery is okay – so why don’t Christians and Jews own slaves? Because they have stepped beyond the dictated morality of their Bible and accepted the societal morality that no one should be a slave. However, there are still societies in the world today that own and sell slaves.”

You are changing the subject. I asked where you see any moral improvement in today’s society over society that condoned slavery. My point is that without an absolute moral reference, it is impossible to say that any society’s moral views get better or worse. You must stick with the statement that the current society’s moral views suit your subjective opinion of what is right and wrong more or less than its former moral views.

BLAIR: “If you can’t see the moral improvement then perhaps you should evaluate yourself instead of evaluating the societal morality.”

It doesn’t matter what my views are about this. I asked you where you see the moral improvement in today’s society over a 19th century society when slavery was the norm?

BLAIR: “You don’t see the moral improvement by giving women equal rights? Of course you don’t – the Bible says women don’t have equal rights. There are a lot of women that sure are happier that the dictated morality of the Bible does not “rule the land”.”

I was not making a statement about my views on the subject. I was asking you, “where is the moral improvement in giving women equal rights?” Please answer my question.

BLAIR: “If each of us has equality and freedom then we have a greater chance of serving the society.”

How about communist countries? Their population had an even easier time serving the society.

Here’s my main point: If I have two one-yard measuring sticks of different lengths I cannot be sure which one is really one yard long without comparing both against something of a known length, like an accurate measuring tape. In the same way, for any morality to be judged better than another morality there has to be something objective and absolute to judge them against. A person’s feelings are rarely absolute or objective. And the sum of a million people’s feelings is just as subjective and volatile.

Response to Adam #004:

ADAM: “Incorrect. All we know is that we feel bad about it.”

How do we know that what we feel is “bad”? What we know is that what we feel just doesn’t “feel right” in the sense that it makes us angry, upset, or sad. It is only the introduction of vocabulary that attributes “bad” to this feeling. Early man knew not of bad or good – only what made him feel different. I think throughout your rebuttal you are stuck on modernistic definitions and semantics and not looking at the big picture. You are stuck on morality being an absolute reference and “bad” vs. “good” as a modern perspective.

I think your view and the difficulties you are having are based on your theological morality and your views thereof. That is not to say that your views are wrong – only that they are preventing you from seeing the grand scheme of things here. Your later confusion with progressive morality with opinions further illustrates this. How does the theist know what is “good”? Does he know it is good because God knows it is good or because God commands it?

The Greek philosopher Plate discussed the dilemma in his dialogue Euthyphro. The character Socrates meets the character Euthyphro who is on his way to court to prosecute his own father for the murder of a laborer. In ancient Greece loyalty to one’s family was a matter of great theological importance. Socrates asks Euthyphro whether or not he is certain that the gods will be offended by his actions against his father – whether or not it is immoral. Euthyphro assures Socrates that he is an expert in the wishes of the gods and Euthyphro begins to defend the divine command theory of ethics. Euthyphro states that we know what is good only because the gods tell us what is good. So the dilemma then becomes, does God command what is good because god recognizes what is good or is it good because god commands it to be good?

It is good because God commands it to be good. By that standard anything can be good if god commands it. For example the slaughter of Egypt’s firstborn in Exodus is considered to be good because God commanded it. But is the slaughter of every firstborn in a nation really a good thing? We often hear theists defend the actions of their god as “it is god’s will” or “the lord works in mysterious ways” or “we cannot know what good god meant from this but since god is pure good we know that it was a good act.” All I can say to that kind of rationalization is, “Hogwash!”

Christianity insists that their standards of ethics are above non-Christians morals because their God commands their morals (Ten Commandments, Laws, etc.). There are instances in the Bible where the Christian God commanded acts that are automatically good because God commanded them. Yet by my own conscience and the way I feel when I see such atrocities or read about them I know that it doesn’t sit right or “feel right” with me. My modernistic vocabulary allows me to attribute the word “bad” to these acts. Acts like dashing babies heads, stoning people to death, murdering the entire world’s population, etc. Are these acts moral simply because they are the word of God?

By God’s commandment the Ten Commandments could be anything he wanted and the Christian would be forced to follow them as “good”. Fundamentalist Muslims throw themselves to death in suicide bombings all the time declaring it as the “will of Allah” and therefore, by their theistic standards, it is good. Yet we consider such atrocities to be bad.

God commands what is good because god recognizes what is good. This of course leads us to the conclusion that if God recognizes what is good then there is a standard of good other than God. Therefore religion and god are not required to know what is good. If there is a standard of good outside of God that God recognizes when passing commands for doing good – then God becomes obsolete. In other words, if God knows what is good and then tells us what to do on the grounds of what he knows to be good then god is not the source of morality since the command was given by what was observed or recognized by god and not what was made by god. God simply becomes an investigative reporter for the Good Times magazine.

Either way – there is no foundation for the theistic assertion that theistic morality is on a higher level or that non-theistic morality is non-existent.

So we come back to figuring out where morality came from in the first place since obviously God cannot be the source or we have no way of knowing whether or not what god has commanded is actually good or just a commandment in the guise of good. There are numerous theories of ethics from Kant to Mill’s utilitarian ethics to a virtue-based (aretaic) ethical system.

Kant states that the foundation of ethics and morality is the “good will” of man. In short, it is not what we do that makes us morally good or bad but what we intend to do and what we attempt to accomplish. These actions are a direct reflection upon us by the society that evaluates our actions.

Mill defines his utilitarian system by saying,

MILL: “The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals “utility” or the “greatest happiness principle” holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.”

In other words we choose our actions based on what will bring us the most happiness and self-preservation. We decide what is wrong or right based on how we feel. And these feelings are reflected in the grand scale when individuals accumulate to form mini-societies and ultimately major-societies. There has to be an agreement of what is wrong and right based on those feelings.

Around 300 BC, during the time of Aristotle and the ancient Greeks, the virtue-based system of ethics, or aretaic ethics, were born. Aretaic ethics imply that the central issue of morality is not what actions are best but what type of character and what type of life is best. It addresses the motivational and communal dimensions of ethical conduct. Many people are confused by what is meant by “character”. In our modernistic view character is a personal issue. But as Edith Hamilton states in her book The Greek Way we learn what “character” meant to the Greeks in ancient Greece,

HAMILTON: “To us a man’s character is peculiarly his own; it distinguishes each one from the rest. To the Greeks it was a man’s share in qualities all men partake of; it united each one to the rest. We are interested in people’s special characters, the things in this or that person that are different from the general. The Greeks, on the contrary, thought what was important in a man were precisely the qualities he shared with all mankind.”

In other words the Greeks viewed each individual as a part of a whole community. Aristotle explained it as a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean. The state of character is instilled by habit. Society worked to instill the habit of responding with appropriate action (moral choice) to situations. The appropriateness of the action is extremely important. A good example is that while it is an appropriate action to give a little money to the poor it is not an appropriate action to give all of your money to the poor so that you become poor yourself (an action acclaimed and insisted upon by Jesus in the Bible).

Now obviously there is no way to establish a listing of actions for every situation. So what are the virtues that establish themselves in an aretaic ethics system? In the book Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Humanism, Paul Kurtz lists some of these virtues, what he calls the common moral decencies. The include integrity, truthfulness, fidelity, dependability, benevolence, good will, refraining from harming others, respecting other’s property, sexual consent, beneficence, fairness, gratitude, accountability, justice, tolerance, and cooperation.

That being said, let’s take a closer look at some of your arguments.

ADAM: “How do you connect the feeling that something is bad with the statement that it is morally bad without involving an absolute reference? … You are relying on your emotions to tell you what is right and wrong. The only reason anyone would use their emotions as a reference for moral decisions is that they believe that their emotions have a more objective view of right and wrong than their reasoning.”

There is no absolute reference. If there were an absolute reference then every society in the world would have the same morality. Why do you feel it necessary that there be an absolute reference when basing one’s morality on their feelings and/or emotions (they are different)? When I say something makes you “feel bad” I am using a modern vocabulary to explain that feeling. If you take away your knowledge of vocabulary then experience those feelings and emotions – how do you think you will react. That “doesn’t feel right” feeling that we get when something is done against us (vice for us) lets us know that what was done wasn’t “kosher”, if you will. It identifies that action as undesirable. We learn from that experience and the feelings and emotions associated with that experience that the actions against us did not make us happy and therefore cannot be “good”.

ADAM: “In other words, they trust their emotions more than their reasoning and admit that their emotions are not fully controlled by the conscious mind.”

There is still the ability to reason. The emotional and feeling response only established the foundation of morality. Once we use our reasoning then we begin to understand why we had those feelings and emotions. We begin to understand exactly why those actions are “bad”. We can then establish laws and guidelines using our reasoning skills. Today’s penal codes and laws are attributed more to our reasoning – but the groundwork for that reasoning and creation of laws and codes was laid down by our emotions and feelings on the actions committed against us.

ADAM: “However the fact is you’re saying that your feelings about issues are ‘better’ or more morally correct than your conscious reasoning. And the only way you can say they’re better is to compare them against some absolute reference.”

I’m not saying our feelings are better. What I am saying is that our feelings and emotions established the groundwork for morality. Our reasoning skills fine tuned that basic morality and adapted societal needs into them. It is for this very reason that there are so many different moral values worldwide. Each society has a unique morality – because there is no absolute reference. If you think about it there would probably be a more even keel of morality worldwide if reasoning were not an issue. If all moral systems were based on our instincts, our feelings, and emotions – then there would more than likely not result in such a fight when the world’s governments come together to discuss adaptive morality in the New World Order.

ADAM: “In that case it is not morality: It is an opinion.”

On the contrary – why do people have an opinion? Are you pro-life or pro-choice? And why do you feel that way? After you ask somebody his or her opinion we have a tendency to ask, “Why do you FEEL that way?” We ask that because opinions are based on feelings, emotions, and reasoning. The very things we establish morality upon. Not to initiate a pro-life debate here – but the abortion issue is a good example. The earliest emotional morality identified all death as “bad”. Then our reasoning skills took over and justified some deaths (war, euthanasia, self-defense, first-term abortions, etc) as not necessarily good – but at a minimum, justified. The reasoning skills override the emotional instincts on abortion. Abortion was legalized and the issue continues to this day. Recently the turn has been back to the emotionalism of the issue. Reasoning has left and emotionalism has returned.

There are two sides of the emotionalism – the far right and the far left. The total pro-lifers and the total pro-choice people rely on emotionalism (which is why they fight so much). Those whom remain insistent on reasoning skills and discussion the issue logically are stuck somewhere in the middle under a barrage of crossfire from the extremists. The entire abortion issue has become rather pathetic – but it still remains a good example of changing morality as the views of society change.

ADAM: “Hold on a moment… “Our political system allows for corruption”? All you are saying is that through popular vote we create systems that can be used in a way contrary to what we want. I guess then that the only reason for that corruption is that we are sloppy when we create laws.”

No – we entrust too much authority to those above us. This is particularly noticeable in this day and age. Back in the good old days of feudal systems this corruption was called Divine Right of Rule/Law. The King was allowed to rule because he had been given Divine Right by God (any god will do – doesn’t matter which one). The Emperor of Rome had Divine Right by God. This caused corruption because the dictator (let’s call them what they were) was able to force his personal morality upon others instead of using the collective morality of the society to establish laws. If the society felt that abortion was bad but the leader felt that is was okay – what law do you think would have been passed?

That does not mean that every case of a leader overriding the people is corruption. In many cases the emotionalism of the general populous can be dangerous and the reasoning skills of someone outside the issue has a better chance of solving the issue and looking at it objectively.

ADAM: “In that case we will have to submit to whatever morality is held by whoever has the majority. That might well be China or some other country with completely different morals than we have. Suddenly free speech will be morally wrong and we will have nothing to appeal to.”

Unlikely. During such a situation I doubt a majority rule will apply in that sense. If true endeavors are made for a world government then there has to be a consensus among the world’s population – and not government aficionados. A worldwide census would have to be performed to get the “opinion” (based on feelings, emotions, and reasoning) of every single human being on this planet. But even then out problem is not solved. This is why I do not envision a world government ever forming (which is why The Revelation is a story and not a prophecy). The morality issue could never be solved. There is too much societal diversity in the morality game.

ADAM: “All you are saying is that doing the best for them happens to be cooperation with others. However, that doesn’t change the fact that behind it all is selfishness.”

So what is the problem with selfishness and self-preservation, that cooperates with a societal goal and enhances cooperation with others also acting out of selfishness and self-preservation? Why does that bother you so?

ADAM: “As I said: Society justifies society’s views. The majority’s opinion is the justification for the validity of the majority’s opinion.”

Of course societies justify their own views on morality. The justification of an established morality is not the issue here. What is the issue is how that morality was established in the first place. Who cares about why people justify their morality or who is the majority of a moral view. That is irrelevant to the issue. What is important is how that morality was formed.

ADAM: “You are saying that the opinion of the majority is correct because they say that it is correct. That is not valid reasoning. I would be committing the same fallacy were I to say that the Bible is accurate because it says it is accurate.”

The difference is that the Bible is not a majority opinion or morality – it is just a book. What I am saying is not that they are correct because they say they are correct. What I am saying is that each society believes that it is correct. Again you are looking at the justification of an established morality and not how or why that morality was established in the first place. Each society views its morality as correct because it is that societies own morality. The Nazis thought they were morally correct in the murder of millions and the conquering of Europe. Genghis Khan and his followers thought they were doing the morally correct thing. Americans thought they were doing the morally correct thing when they entered the Second World War. Americans thought they were doing the morally correct thing when they entered the Kosovo Conflict. But how we justify our established morality is irrelevant. What is relevant is how and why we established that morality in the first place.

ADAM: “You are saying that hurting society is wrong because it goes against our instinct for self-preservation. In other words hurting society is simply going against instinct, like skipping a meal when you’re hungry. I don’t see anything inherently wrong with that.”

Your comment is almost not even worthy of discussion. But I did want to point out one item. Individual self-preservation is enhanced by established society. That is obvious and cannot be denied. But if a “rogue”, if you will, begins to hurt the society then the society will take action because the overall enhancement to self-preservation is affected. If an individual were to start poisoning the farmlands of America don’t you think the society of America would do something about it? How is our self-preservation enhanced by the destruction of our food chain? Answer: it’s not.

ADAM: “As I said, your morality basically comes down to evolutionary instinct.”

And why is that “bad”? What do you think your feelings and emotions are? They are evolutionary instincts. Where do you think your reasoning skills came from? Human evolution. Of course you’ll contest this on the simple fact that you do not believe in evolution and that God created emotions (Adam is responsible for anger and fear) and that reasoning skills are a gift from God. And that is why it is bad to say that evolutionary instincts and the formation of feelings and emotions are bad – because that premise goes against everything that Christianity stands for when it asserts that God is required for morality.

ADAM: “To say that any morality is an improvement is to compare it to the previous morality. To compare two moralities you need an absolute reference by which to compare them. Otherwise you are simply saying that one makes you feel better than the other, or makes more sense economically.”

You’re still missing the point. The “absolute reference” that you keep referring to is non-existent in the grand scheme of things. Each society makes its own absolute reference. When our views on morality change and we make laws to reflect those changing views we see that as an improvement based on our own created moral reference. Another society may view it differently.

For example, in France they have started to issue the morning after pill for high school girls that request it. In France that is a moral improvement because it cuts down on abortion (they have the lowest abortion rate among teenage girls). In America that would never be approved because our moral reference is different. In America we are more concerned about a 16-celled fetus then we are about the teenage girl that has to live with her mistake the rest of her life (which is a shame, of course). In America we are more concerned about a 32-celled fetus then we are about the child being raised (after birth) in a poor neighborhood and starving – never having a decent Christmas or birthday – living in poverty and lacking a decent education. In France, their moral reference is different. They decided that the reduction of abortion was more important and the concern for teenage mothers and children in poverty were more important than a 1 or 2-day old fetus. Bravo to them!

ADAM: “I asked where you see any moral improvement in today’s society over society that condoned slavery. My point is that without an absolute moral reference, it is impossible to say that any society’s moral views get better or worse. You must stick with the statement that the current society’s moral views suit your subjective opinion of what is right and wrong more or less than its former moral views.”

Since you are still talking about a non-existent absolute moral reference that is globally and total society encompassing – your issue is not addressable. The abolishment of slavery is a moral improvement because it increases self-preservation. Even for the Southerners. When they freed their slaves and began to pay them for their work – the freed slave was better motivated because there was a mutual benefit in the service.

ADAM: “It doesn’t matter what my views are about this. I asked you where you see the moral improvement in today’s society over a 19th century society when slavery was the norm?”

It does matter what your views are – you are part of the societal morality. I see a moral improvement in the abolishment of slavery because of my personal views. My personal views are influenced by my feelings, emotions, and reasoning. My feelings tell me that slavery just doesn’t feel right. My emotions display anger, disappointment, rage, hatred, sympathy, and others when I think of people being enslaved by others. My reasoning skills tell me that people will be more productive if they are paid for their services rather than being forced into it. My reasoning tells me – don’t enslave people – pay them!

ADAM: “I was not making a statement about my views on the subject. I was asking you, “where is the moral improvement in giving women equal rights?” Please answer my question.”

My feelings, emotions, and reasoning skills answer that question. You’re still looking for an absolute moral reference that affects all societies worldwide. It simply does not exist. Each society establishes its own reference. In Saudi Arabia their reference is that women are not equal and that America’s view on women’s equality is immoral. Of course countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq do not allow for emotion, feeling, or reasoning creating their morality. Their morality is based exclusively on the dictated commands of their God (Allah). And as we have discussed, and can see in some societies today, religious based morality does not and cannot work. Religious based morality is not moral – it is commanded. And how do we know that what is commanded is actually good or good simply because it is commanded?

ADAM: “How about communist countries? Their population had an even easier time serving the society.”

On the contrary – they did not have an easier time serving the society. The state ran everything and there was no incentive to excel at your job. If you were a state farmer you worked for nothing and therefore you were not motivated to turn out the best product and to make your farm as fruitful as possible. That is why Communism has failed in the long run. That is why lines at the bread store were three miles long. I fail to see where you draw the conclusion that Communism served their society better – are you blind? Once the farmers were able to sell their goods on the open market productivity skyrocketed. It skyrocketed because self-preservation and overall societal preservation was increased drastically when benefits were mutual and not exclusively for the state (not societal).

ADAM: “In the same way, for any morality to be judged better than another morality there has to be something objective and absolute to judge them against.”

That is why no morality is absolutely better than any other. Each moral view is better in the eyes of the person attesting to that moral view. American morality is better because Americans think it is. South African morality is better because South Africans think it is. There does not HAVE TO BE an absolute reference to judge morality against. And, as I’m sure you are heading in that direction, God cannot be an absolute reference. Every religion in the world has a different view on morality because their God has commanded different things as good – and we’ve already discussed the reasons god as a moral “yardstick” fails.

Debate 003: Clay and Blair debate the “search for God.”

Clay Rebuttal #001:

A friend alerted me of his recent discussions with you concerning Atheism and his argument for the existence of God. He is a good friend, an old friend, and out of care for him, and at his request, I went to view your conversation.

Hoping to find some provocative discussion, I read through what are common, yet good, arguments from a non-Christian vantage.

You are a bright man with an earnestness in your discussion, and I respect that. The reason I do is simply because I know that you are not a chemical random product of a chance universe. On the contrary, Atheists, by definition, must see life and morality and love and reason as a fool’s errand because humankind is simply a species at the top of the cruel food chain, amoral beasts living in some developed system of law which, ultimately, is simply an arbitrary game. Please, refrain from any absolute moral statement for fear of being exposed as a hopelessly inconsistent hypocrite.

You have dignity. You are a human being made in the image of the personal God of the Universe. You have a conscience and creativity that separates you from the flora and fauna. Your questions and analysis are not anything that hasn’t been wrestled with throughout the ages, and I am confident that scholarly secular history, archeology (a relatively new discipline) and the history Western philosophy challenge your positions at every turn. I know because I have studied them for years. By the Grace of God, He has opened my eyes to His reality. I cannot boast of any good behavior or moral reason that he has done so. This is His world, His reality, and His rules. His purposes are often far above our understanding, but also they are right in front of our eyes, like BOBBYMAC7 has seen. Sure, these events could be arbitrary. But just as sure, they could not be.

I would enjoy hearing your discussion. But more, if you truly are inquisitive about the condition of reality, if God is actually real, then search for Him like gold, dig for Him like treasure. Consider praying to Him to reveal Himself, and do not give up easily. I know that if you are His, He will open your eyes. I will seriously pray that He does.

Response to Clay #001:

CLAY: “On the contrary, Atheists, by definition, must see life and morality and love and reason as a fool’s errand because humankind is simply a species at the top of the cruel food chain, amoral beasts living in some developed system of law which, ultimately, is simply an arbitrary game. Please, refrain from any absolute moral statement for fear of being exposed as a hopelessly inconsistent hypocrite.”

I think you are confusing atheism with religion and a belief system. Atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in gods. Nothing more to it than that. The beliefs and ideals that atheists hold are as unique as our fingerprints. I debate atheists more than I do theists on “beliefs”. Out of the six rebuttal pages only two are from theists, one is from an agnostic, and three are from fellow atheists.

I’m not sure where you are getting your definition for atheism – but it is far from the truth. Life is wonderful in my view. I get up every morning andlook forward to learning something new and watching my children grow up. I look forward to spending time with my family and friends. What I don’t do is get up and submit to an invisible man in Emperor’s clothes. Regarding love. our emotions are real and tangible. I can feel and have emotions. atheists are not automatons that are lifeless and cold-blooded. We are mammals just like you.

You obviously associate atheism with immorality and theism with morality. Why does morality need a God to dictate that morality?

I cannot be exposed as a hypocrite by responding because you do not know what atheism means.

CLAY: “You are a human being made in the image of the personal God of the Universe.”

Not to sound facetious. but you forgot to add, “in my opinion” to your statement.

CLAY: “You have a conscience and creativity that separates you from the flora and fauna. Your questions and analysis are not anything that hasn’t been wrestled with throughout the ages, and I am confident that scholarly secular history, archeology (a relatively new discipline) and the history Western philosophy challenge your positions at every turn. I know because I have studied them for years.”

There is a reason that Christian Apologetics are called “Apologetics.” They are apologizing for the loopholes in their beliefs and doctrine. Should we ignore those loopholes and continue on as if nothing is wrong with religious ideology? Should we not answer the questions that our conscious has? Should we not grapple with questions because someone else failed to answer them or answered them incorrectly? I grappled with my questions and I found the answers. I am not grappling anymore. I am secure in my atheism and secure in the answers I have found – because I worked hard for them.

Why are you sure that secular history, archaeology and Western philosophy challenge my positions? History has only shown religion to be and ideology that comes and goes. If you have studied them for many years then you should know basic Humanities and what our physical, emotional, and psychological needs are and what purpose religion serves in meeting those needs.

CLAY: “This is His world, His reality, His rules. His purposes are often far above our understanding, but also they are right in front of our eyes, like BOBBYMAC7 has seen. Sure, these events could be arbitrary. But just as sure, they could not be.”

When theists discuss their gods the words “above our understanding” always seem to come up. Why is that? Because religion is a way of explaining what we do not understand and what we fear. If you feel the need for religion to extinguish your lack of understanding then that is your prerogative. I personally choose to look into what I don’t understand and come to understand it. Should I shrug my shoulders and say, “to hell with it. I’ll never understand it.” Why is religion so defeatist in that manner? I don’t give up that easily. I have an understanding of everything I need to understand and everything I want to understand. Am I content? No. I am constantly searching for more knowledge and asking more questions so thatI can look for the answers.

CLAY: “But more, if you truly are inquisitive about the condition of reality, if God is actually real, then search for Him like gold, dig for Him like treasure. Consider praying to Him to reveal Himself, and do not give up easily. I know that if you are His, He will open your eyes. I will seriously pray that He does.”

I am an ex-Christian. I’ve been there before. I figured out what was wrong with religious ideology when I was in the seventh grade. I didn’t understand my atheism back then and kept it in the closet for a long time mostly from fear of repercussions. I am now confident in my atheism and I understand it. I have inner strength and courage – prayer is not necessary.

I haven’t “given up” – I have “left completely – never to return”.

Clay Rebuttal #002:

How I appreciate your diligence in breaking down my rather quick note to you. Had I known the effort you would employ, I’d have been more attentive to delivering carefully my position.

In this fast world, we all too often do not allow time to discuss eternal matters with any depth, so I appreciate your genuine desire to do so. It’s rare and special, thus my desire to think critically and carefully.

Be advised that my thoughts are aimed at the realm of ideas, not personalities or institutions. My position contends that people are gloriously made in the image of God, not merely in my opinion, but in reality, meaning that their individual personality takes its form from the personality behind the universe and behind all of reality, that being the personal Triune God who preceded the universe/creation/matter.

My first cause where I begin this discussion is with the infinite personal God, the Triune God of Biblical Christianity, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who came near in the Incarnation and who physically arose from the dead after having lived a morally perfect life. I contend that, based on the science of Textual Criticism and the generally accepted criteria for accepting creditable historical narrative, especially historical narrative from antiquity, the Bible is a reliable source. Though many would tout that is replete with errors, that is a new argument based on 18th century rationalism, the Emmanuel “Kantian” watershed, if you will. For every argument about gross inconsistency, there is an equally credible reasonable response to the contrary. These academic discussions wind up being intramural arguments not soon solved in front of the watching world. Blind faith has no home with me, or the bulk of biblical historians who see Orthodoxy as both reasonable as rational and historically valid. I ask that you bathe yourself in these various Orthodox approaches before you boldly wave the banner of atheism. I would start with the three larger arguments, the Ontological, the Cosmological and the Teleological arguments. Reasonably disprove them and effectively criticize their adherents’ work over the last 2,000 years before you say that you have concluded, without the shadow of a doubt, that based on all knowledge you have gathered, or that can possible be gathered, God is a psychological necessity for man but not an objective reality.

For example, the substitutionary atonement, the death of Christ on the behalf of sinful man as it’s called theologically, I contend is a real thing necessary to bridge the gap between morally broken man and the personal God who must have justice for harmonious relationship with man to be restored. That’s the reason the Faith says that Christ died for us. We could never merit the merit of Christ. He, our elder Brother, covers us by His moral perfection and death on our behalf. Without an able covering, we, sinful humankind, would never be able to withstand the absolute holiness of a perfect God. As I read the law, the 10 Commandments, I see that I have broken every one of them, hundreds of thousands of times in some cases. Objectively, compared to the Law, I am guilty of eternal death as a lawbreaker who must one day face an infinitely moral perfect and just personal God. Faith in Christ’s work on my behalf, “Christ’s blood shed for me” as we say in the Holy Communion, is a great mystery. Yet, it is what a believer in Christianity must humble himself under to be rid of the burden of guilt and shame that all humans face…ultimately from the common curse of death. That’s the good news of the Christian Gospel over and against all other religions…there is real restored relationship with the Creator where ultimate personality meets our fulfilled personality. The separation is bridged by the only one morally able to be the bridge.

This, I’m sure you know, is basic Christian theology 101. Yet, I must clarify my definitions because in the post-modern world, historically understood concepts are often twisted from their original intent. Vocabulary words mean things. They have historically understood definitions, and I want to agree/disagree over word usage before I strike off in a conversation and before we know it, we are not on the same page. That would be futile, as we would have quite different concepts in mind from the outset. For example, the reason I defined a classic understanding of the pre-existence of a personal Triune God and the need for a substitutionary atonement is so that I define myself from liberal Christianity, higher criticism or Bartism…take your pick of definitions.

Your letter to me used words I use, words like “wonderful,” and “love.” These are words that reflect morality, would you agree? To quote the late 20th century poet/philosopher, Madonna, if “we are living in a material world,” then how do you explain the obvious presence of the love you feel? Is it merely chemical deception? An atheist believes that we are random products of a chance universe, that we are simply biological results of chemical reactions, mammals, carbon and oxygen and the like. Are we computers of complex chemistry? If the beginning of the creation/matter was impersonal, how do you value the person? To speak of morality, love, language, communication, creativity…these are meaningless if we are simply matter. Anything precious simply doesn’t exist in a purely material world. There is no freedom, no dignity at all in a world without an ultimate personality as its first cause. The atheist’s world clearly can have no room for these concepts and concepts of justice and truth. They don’t exist in a material world. Nothing stands behind them. There is no transcendent personality to validate the urges.

I say that’s terrible! An atheist can’t make that statement because there is no morality, ultimately. For the atheist, there is no good, no bad. If this life is just a social construct created by man, evolving along with his chemical evolution as a means of keeping social order and restraining chaos in his devised system, then all of life is temporary. Justice, love, good and bad are arbitrary. Nothing stands behind anything except complex chemistry. How dare you, an atheist, ever make an absolute moral judgment!

God is necessary for personality, morality, and love. That’s why the theist begins here. It is consistent with his/her experience, for one. We see morality and immorality all around. We see love and hate. We experience longing and anxiety. Are these simply chemical reactions? Is there ultimately, as Woody Allen says, only sex and death? From your words, you seem to believe that there is more.

Everything begins either impersonal (Western materialism, Scientific rationalism, Marxism, Eastern religions) or personal, as Judeo-Christianity uniquely maintains. Biblical Christianity claims that God is there and that He is not silent. Life is thus meaningful because He is there. All questions are valid in this, our Father’s world. Honest answers to honest questions are there for the taking and debating. As the book of Colossians reads, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” All things. Atoms, reason, conversation, tensile strength, gravity, love and justice. God’s image in us is why we are who we are. How do you explain our individuality? Whereas Modern Liberalism ultimately calls God the whirlwind, in that He cannot really be known, Orthodoxy says that we can communicate with Him. Though God is infinite and we are finite, He is personal, as are we. The mammals are not personal. You and I are gloriously fashioned, and we can even debate His reality using language and emotions and reason, elements foolishly useless in a world of rigid determinism evolved from dust and ending in dust.

Now, if God is One personal entity, in three distinct Persons (Orthodoxy), why do I say that personality is needed in this life for morality and humanity? He communicates because He wants to. He loves because He wants to. Whereas in Islam, the personality of God disappears, Allah becomes totally arbitrary. Love and compassion are not fundamental to his being. We cannot love Allah as our Father. In contrast, the God of Christianity is true love as fundamental to Himself. Mohammed rejected the Trinity, and fear is the dominant feature of the Muslim, rather than love. In the Eastern religions, personality is lost in the Ground of collective Being. In Materialism, there is no ultimate answer for our personality. Thus, for morality to exist, there must be someone behind it. Morality is purely personal. Truth is purely personal. Where does the atheist stand on the absolute necessity of justice and love and morality in this world if in the end it is simply a chemical existence?

Why then the suffering and death and hate and cruelty in our existence if God is love and He made the world/reality? Great question. The scriptures contend that God is radically distinct from the creation. The creation has death and destruction, not an expression of God. In the creation, His divine power and divine nature are revealed, but He is not part of the creation. Sin entered the world. God is not its author. He is sovereign over evil, or He wouldn’t be God. We know that Orthodoxy claims that there is personality behind Evil, yet that personality is bound to move only where the particular providence of God allows. This is an ancient argument, “why evil?” but our limited perspective cannot exhaustively contain the mysterious purposes of God in history. We do know that God commands that believers avoid evil and that they are warned to be on their guard from it. We also know that we are told to simply resist the Evil One and he will flee. In the Last Days, it is the archangel, Michael, who defeats Satan, not God directly. The “B” team, if you will. So, evil will one day, in space and time, be no more. Admittedly, there are mysteries here.

But life is full of mystery. Have you traveled the globe extensively to find God absent? I doubt that you have. I know that you haven’t left the planet. Maybe He’s out there. How can you, a mere fragile man, dependent upon daily food and sleep and shelter be so confident that we are alone? And if we are alone, how dare you make any moral judgment.

I contend that your world of atheism is arbitrary and meaningless. In your world, you are meaningless. Yet, in my world, you and I have value because the personal God of the Universe has fashioned us to be in relationship with Him.

If for some reason the future finds my faith, on which I’ve constructed my entire being to be false, and then I will die like a dog and simply cease to exist. At least I’ve constructed a pattern of behavior where I function in a system of charity, forgiveness and self-denial for the material and psychological benefit of others. My existence would ultimately still be meaningless. If I’m right, I will inherit the Eternal Kingdom and be in a glorified body in the New Heaven and the New Earth with restored, perfect fellowship with my fellow Saints.

If you are right, then you die like a dog and simply cease to exist. Yet, if you are wrong, you risk being eternally separated from the personal God who freely offers ultimate meaning and peace through faith in Christ.

If the atom is our only related element, then emotions and morals and opinions and beliefs are mere illusion. They have no foundation in the universe, no reality.

You say that you were once a Christian. I say that, theologically, that is impossible. Either you are a Christian and are in serious sin and denial of your true state, or you had an experience with legalism, masquerading as Biblical Christianity, and you have rejected what you see as an intolerant, provincial morality-based system. I believe the later to be the case. You’ve actually never been exposed to the true faith or else you would see the rational errors in your rather pedestrian atheism. I know. I was once there, too. In my ignorance and pride I created my own reality in my head, living arbitrarily, synthesizing what I wanted to from a universalistic amalgamation of shallow studies. But God had mercy, and in His perfect love, He came near and opened my eyes, eyes that had tried to reject Him at many turns.

If you are His, my friend, you will not escape Him. He will drag you down and smother you with His compassion. Yet, if you openly parade around and foolishly claim that He is a stupid idea based on foolishly minded humanity and you encourage others to slander Him, you risk being destroyed. Though He will take no pleasure in it, it will be a moral necessity because He is perfect justice. The Law will find you guilty, deserving eternal death.

Consider this. In the privacy of own home, quietly pray that He reveal Himself to you. Ask for mercy, not miraculous signs. Ask that your heart be humbled. If He’s there, He will not deny you. If He’s not, you’ve simply played a game in a chemical, material experience with no meaning, so nothing is lost.

But, if I’m right, everything is to gain.

Response to Clay #002:

I wanted to start off by saying that I couldn’t agree more with your assertion that we, as a social species, do not discuss eternal matters in depth enough. Perhaps if we did there would be more skepticism in the world today. When I say skepticism, I do not mean to the point of total dismissal – but to the point of not taking things told to us without questioning sources and evidence. I mean Skepticism to the point of conducting our own investigations and verifying what people tell us to the best of our abilities. As the founder of the Mobile Atheist & Skeptic Alliance (MASA) I discuss these matters often and in great depth. Let me assure you that I am not about converting people. It is not my intention to convert people to atheism. Specifically because there is nothing to convert people to – there are no beliefs involved with atheism (as discussed in my previous message to you).

As a Constitutionalist I respect your right to have any opinion and your right to believe in any god or gods as you see fit. However, I do not necessarily respect your views. While that may seem harsh – it is the lifeblood of the Constitution as it stands. You have the right to believe what you want – but you do not have the right to have those beliefs respected. I hope this makes sense and does not come across as insulting, as that is not my intent. Simply put; I respect your right to believe in God – but I do not respect the belief in God.

You said, “…the Bible is a reliable source” based on the science of Textual Criticism and generally accepted criteria of creditable historical narrative. You further emphasized the historical narrative from antiquity. You then asserted that those whom aver that the Bible as not being a reliable source rely on something “new” as of the 18th Century and the introduction of Kantianism.

Let me assure you, that while Kant had some fine ideas, he is not the ultimate authority. Each of us, as individuals, is our own ultimate authority. When I first started reading and studying the Bible I had no idea who Kant was and I had never been exposed to Biblical criticism. As I was studying the Bible I realized the errors myself – I understood the verses instead of just reading them. I saw past the “faith in no errors” and viewed the scripture as what it is; an error-filled mythological account with some historical insignificata contained therein.

For every error in the Bible there has only been rationalization of that error and feeble attempts to justify those errors. Interpretation of the Bible has caused the formation of over 3,500 Christian sects alone – not including Old Testament Judaism and its sects. The Bible is not meant to be interpreted – it was written as a literal word, at least according to Biblical scholars.

Jesus himself insists that the Bible is without errors,

John 10:35 (KJV)

“If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.”

So what happens if errors are identified in the Bible? How important is inerrancy to Christendom and Biblicists?

In his book Basic Theology, Charles Ryrie, a professor at the Dallas Theological Seminary, addressed inerrancy by writing,

RYRIE: “Can one be a biblicist and deny inerrancy? Not if the Bible teaches its own inerrancy… If the Bible contains some errors, no matter how few or many, how can one be sure that his understanding of Christ is correct? … Even if the errors are in supposedly “minor” matters, any error opens the Bible to suspicion on other points that may not be so “minor”. If inerrancy fails, other doctrines will fail, too.”

If inerrancy fails then core beliefs of Christianity come into question. If Genesis is discounted then the entire concept of Original Sin disappears. When Original Sin disappears then the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was in vain in dying “for our sins”. If the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was in vain then the identity of Christianity dies a slow death. Death finally comes when the Resurrection itself comes under fire when inerrancy fails. It is a historical fact that a less than total view of inerrancy among Christians has, at a minimum, resulted in a denial of some or all of the miracles of the Bible.

Apologist Clark Pinnock says in his book A Defense of Biblical Infallibility that,

PINNOCK: “The surrender of biblical infallibility would be a disastrous mistake having deadly effects upon the church of God and its theology.”

Apologist Professor Gleason Archer in his book A Survey of the Old Testament says,

ARCHER: “If this written revelation contains mistakes, then it can hardly fulfill its intended purpose, that is, to convey to man in a reliable way the will of God for his salvation. Why is this so? Because a demonstrated mistake in one part gives rise to the possibility that there may be mistakes in other parts of the Bible. If the Bible turns out to be a mixture of truth and error then it becomes a book like any other book.”

His point is simply, how do you know what is true or not? Every book contains some amount of truth, even if it is nothing more than the author’s name and publisher. Harold Lindsell in his book The Battle for the Bible says,

CLAY: “I contend that embracing a doctrine of an errant Scripture will lead to disaster down the road. It will result in the loss of missionary outreach. It will quench missionary passion. It will lull congregations to sleep and undermine their belief in the full orbed truth of the Bible.”

Even if we knew that only 10% was in error… which 10%? How do we know that what we are reading is not part of that 10%?

I think I’ve established the importance of inerrancy and how it affects not just the Bible but Christianity as a whole. What makes the claim of biblical inerrancy even more “suicidal” is the history of the Bible itself and how it was “formed”. In the book The Light of Reason, Schmuel Golding states,

CLAY: “First the NT was not written by any of the disciples of Jesus not by persons who even lived in that era. … When the church fathers compiled the NT in the year 397, they collected all the writings they could find and managed them as they pleased. They decided by vote which of the books out of the collections they had made should be the word of God and which should not. They rejected several, they voted others to be doubtful, and those books which had a majority of votes were voted to be the word of God.”

The three paragraphs below contain a serious error. I am leaving the error on the site so people can see it and be informed. The quote from Sisson’s book is out of context. The quote does in fact exist in Sisson’s book, but he is using it to quote a “myth” and then goes on to argue that it is not the case at all. While scholars may disagree with Sisson’s assessment, the quote is obviously unfair and incorrect to list here. My apologies to Mr. Sisson for taking his quote out of context. My apologies to readers for passing on incorrect information. I would like to thank Mr. Avery and Mr. Pearse for their diligent work in notifying me of this error. Your efforts are greatly appreciated gentlemen!

Imagine what the Bible would look like today if voting had gone differently? In the year 325, Constantine (a non-baptized Pagan) convened the Council of Nicea to settle disputes in the Church. The council changed Jesus from man to God in the flesh, they changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and the Passover was changed to Easter. So what does this say about the Bible? It says that MEN, not god, composed the Bible. Apologist Richard Sisson, in his book, Answering Christianity’s Most Puzzling Questions (Volume 1), states,

SISSON: “In fact, after the death of Jesus a whole flood of books that claimed to be inspired appeared … Disputes over which ones were true were so intense that the debate continued for centuries. Finally in the fourth century a group of church leaders called a council and took a vote. The 66 books that comprised our cherished Bible were declared to be Scripture by a vote of 568 to 563.”

568 to 563? If 5 people had voted differently the Bible would be nothing like it is today. You would be reading books that you had never heard of – or perhaps there wouldn’t even be a Bible. What happened to the books that are mentioned in the Old Testament? The Book of the Wars of the Lord is mentioned in Number 21. Joshua 10:13 mentions the Book of Jasher. First Chronicles mentions the Book of Nathan and Gad while Second Chronicles mentions the Book of Acts of Solomon. Where did they go? Why were they not chosen? Were they deemed by vote to not be the word of God? If that is so – then why do books they deemed the word of God mention those books?

End of error

What happened to the extra books from the New Testament era? Books like the Gospels according to Hebrews, Judas Iscariot, Peter, Marcion, Matthias, Eve, and Philip. The Acts of Peter, Book of Judgment by Peter, Hymn of Christ, Magical Book by Christ, and the Letter to Peter and Paul by Christ. If a letter BY Christ didn’t make the cut one has to wonder what criteria these men were using to influence votes. These books have become collectively known as the Apocrypha. Fundamentalist and apologist Josh McDowell has an answer in his book Evidence That Demands A Verdict, “They abound in historical and geographical inaccuracies and anachronisms.”

Apologist E. M. Blaiklock in his book Jesus Christ, Man or Myth says,

BLAIKLOCK: “…the wildly extravagant stories found in the so-called Apocryphal gospels.”

Bottom line is these books were kept out because they did not have the political alliance behind them that the others did. And the others only had a five-point edge. How different the Bible would be today if the Apocryphal gospels had been included. I am often asked to look at the original Bible to verify accuracy and errors (blaming translations on errors). What original Bible? There was/is no original Bible. Even today NO original writings exist. So the next time you pick up the Bible think to yourself, “this is a book of writings that was put together by a group of men who read some ancient manuscripts that purportedly are accurate representation of the originals, which no longer exist.”

The Fundamentalist book Biblical Criticism states,

BIBLICAL CRICITISM: “For over 1,400 years the NT was copied by hand and the copyists, the scribes, made every conceivable error as well at times intentionally altering the text. Such errors and alterations survived in various ways with a basic tendency to accumulate. Scribes seldom left out anything lest the omit something inspired. There are now in existence, extant, in whole or in part, 5,338 Greek manuscripts as well as hundreds of copies of ancient translations, not counting over 8,000 copies of the Latin Vulgate.”

And the kicker? Not a single two are 100% alike. There are over 200,000 variants in some 5,000 manuscripts. Then come the versions that are derivative of these variants. Fundamentalists often like to say that the variants do not affect the material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice. But is that true? Perhaps an example would be pertinent here. Let’s take Second Timothy 3:16:

  • NIV: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
  • NASB: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.
  • KJV: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
  • DARBY: Every scripture [is] divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
  • YLT: …every Writing [is] God-breathed, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for setting aright, for instruction that [is] in righteousness.
  • WE: All that is written in the holy writings comes from the Spirit of God. The holy writings are good for these things: to teach people, to show them when they are wrong, to make them see what is right, to teach them to do what is right.

Talk about variations and versions! On to other things…

You mentioned that I should “bathe myself” in Orthodox approaches before I wave my atheistic banner so boldly. You specifically mention the Ontological, Cosmological, and Teleological arguments. Let me assure you that I have done so. All three arguments fail and offer no rational reason to believe in God as a reality. We know that a belief in god is a psychological necessity for humanity – that is not in dispute. Attempting to rationalize that necessity to make one feel better is not very scientific at all.

You seem to associate love with morality. This is often used as a defense in Christianity to justify Christ’s love and the love one feels for Christ. Love is an emotion that is often associated with the release of dopamine in the brain. The poet Madonna insists upon what atheists “believe” but she obviously knows not what atheism is or is not. Again, as stated in my previous message, atheism is not a belief. While some atheists may have beliefs, atheism itself is not a belief. She would have been more accurate to say evolutionists – but still there is that word belief to confuse the issue. If you ask me if I believe in evolution then I will answer neither yes nor no. That is similar to the question, “do you still beat your wife?” Either yes or no will result in a trapped mouse. Children are asked if they “believe” in the Tooth Fairy. I don’t “believe” in evolution… I KNOW evolution based on current evidence, data, etc.

She states,

POET MADONNA: “To speak of morality, love, language, communication, creativity… these are meaningless if we are simply matter. Anything precious simply doesn’t exist in a purely material world.”

This is, of course, absolutely ridiculous and reeks of emotionalism and speculative pop psychology. Human beings have a conscious and a propensity to care. To want and offer love. We are social animals – and social skills such as love, kindness, friendship, etc., are extensions of our social behavior. Other emotions are directly linked to our evolutionary instincts of flight or fight (anger, fear, etc.)

What I find amazing is that even after my initial message addressing what atheism is you still insist that, “For the atheist, there is no good, no bad. If this life is just a social construct created by man, evolving along with his chemical evolution as a means of keeping social order and restraining chaos in his devised system, then all of life is temporary. Justice, love, good and bad are arbitrary. Nothing stands behind anything except complex chemistry. How dare you, an atheist, ever make an absolute moral judgment!”

I dare make an absolute moral judgment based on my experience as a human being with a conscience and propensity to care. A human being with self-awareness whom knows how it feels when I am treated a certain way. If someone steals from me it makes me sad. It is this knowledge of my emotions, my self-awareness, which leads me to the conclusion that stealing is immoral because I didn’t feel good when someone did it to me. The Ten Commandments are not original. They were stolen from Hammurabi’s Code, which was written almost 1,000 years before the Ten Commandments.

Your arguments for morality are vehemently arrogant and presumptuous. Especially considering the incredible immorality displayed in the Bible. Does a murdering lunatic have the right to dictate morality? Would you let a murderer dictate morality to you? If you answered no… you better change gods really quick. Divine Right of Rule was left behind after the Feudal System crumbled. You also seem to be confusing morality with emotionalism in several cases. Emotionalism may cause us to override our internal and learned morality – but they are separate.

From this point there are several paragraphs of religious rhetoric that I skipped over.

CLAY: “Have you traveled the globe extensively to find God absent? I doubt that you have.”

You would doubt incorrectly. I have traveled all over Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas. If God is in outer space, as you speculated, then what was the point of the Tower of Babel? A simple arrow fired from a tower was enough to anger God and confuse languages. Imagine what rockets and the Space Shuttle will do! But wait – they have already escaped Earth’s atmosphere and pierced the heavens far beyond what a simple arrow could ever accomplish. And what did God do to retaliate against mankind when we pierced the heavens with our “technological” arrows? Nothing. God is not in outer space… he simply is nonexistent.

CLAY: “How can you, a mere fragile man, dependent upon daily food and sleep and shelter be so confident that we are alone?”

And you? How can you, a mere fragile man, dependent upon daily food and sleep and shelter be so confident that we are not alone? How can you be so sure that God is not an extraterrestrial race from Planet X? How can you be so sure that God is not a creator that created the universe and kept on walking – to never care what you or I do?

CLAY: “And if we are alone, how dare you make any moral judgment.”

And if we’re not alone how dare you make any moral judgment? To tell me that I am immoral because I do not believe in your God is a moral judgment. According to you morality is God-given. So what makes you, a simple man, capable of making such a judgment of morality? I dare to make moral judgments based on my experience in this world and by what I have learned through said experiences.

You then go into a version of Pascal’s Wager. I must admit that at first I thought I was in for a good debate, but up until this point you have only recited already defeated arguments. I expected better from you. You said, “If you are right, then you die like a dog and simply cease to exist. Yet, if you are wrong, you risk being eternally separated from the personal God who freely offers ultimate meaning and peace through faith in Christ.”

This question comes from the root of Pascal’s Wager. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and inventor – but he is well known for his religious argument called “Pascal’s Wager”. Pascal was looking for a way to convert his friends to his sect of the Roman Catholic Church called Jansenism. He devised an argument that he thought was foolproof and that would cause instant conversion to his religious beliefs. Amazingly, many theists today still think this argument is foolproof. Simply put, Pascal’s Wager goes something along these lines:

  • Either the believer or the nonbeliever will be correct – one of them has to be wrong.
  • If you are a believer and you are correct – then you will be rewarded with eternal life.
  • If you are a nonbeliever and you are correct – then you will die and nothing will happen.
  • If you are a believer and you are wrong – then will you will die and nothing will happen.
  • If you are a nonbeliever and you are wrong – then you will be punished with eternal damnation in the pits of hell.
  • Therefore, if you are a believer you have a chance of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven – even if you are wrong – you still have a chance of being right. If you are a nonbeliever you have zero chance. So why not be a believer? Just in case the believers are right?

Pascal’s Wager does not work – contrary to the persistent belief of some theists. Replace God with Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy and re-read the wager… does it still sound okay to you?

First, the non-believer must forsake truth in order to be a believer. Should I stop searching for knowledge and forsake the truth for a “chance” that I might be wrong? The sky is blue – that’s the truth. Should I forsake that truth because a religion says the sky is green and that if I’m wrong I could spend an eternity in hell? I’ll stick to the truthful blue sky, thank you.

Second, the wager does not specify which god to believe in. Do I believe in Zeus, Osiris, Jupiter, Allah, Jesus Christ, Mother Earth, Ra, or UFO’s? To which god to I sacrifice the truth in order to have a chance… just in case? Which sect of the Christian cult do I choose to follow? Do I choose Pascal’s Jansenism or do I go with the Jehovah’s Witnesses? Do I choose the Baptists, Mormons, Catholics, or Lutherans? Choices, choices, choices… there are over 3,500 sects of the Christian cult – each believing differently – which one will be right. Should they all sacrifice their beliefs for others… just in case?

Third the wager says we should believe something solely for the prospective reward. Should we sacrifice knowledge and truth for rewards? What happens if a religion offers a better version of Heaven and worse version of Hell? Should I leave Christianity for that one? If you we so afraid of being wrong – shouldn’t we be looking for the best Heaven out there? An example will probably illustrate this better.

You’re with a real estate agent looking at houses. Along comes Mr. Pascal from another agency that tells you, “If you send all your money to my agency, I will get you the best house in the world. Is it worth not sending me your money – what if I’m right… what if you really can get that house just on the money you have already?” Mr. Pascal has no pictures of this awesome house, he has no address, he has no detailed description of the house… all he can offer you is, “if you’re wrong you’ll miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime.”

So you give all your money to Mr. Pascal and wait… and wait… and wait… and wait. And the house never shows up. When you turn Mr. Pascal into the authorities for fraud they tell you that no one has EVER received the house that Mr. Pascal is selling – but billions of people have sent him all their money… just in case he was right. So ask yourself… would you give Mr. Pascal your money – just in case he was right?

I’m definitely not afraid of being wrong. I’m not wasting my time on Sunday going to church… just in case. I’m not wasting 10% of my hard-earned money on tithes… just in case. I’m not wasting precious time on prayer and other silly religious rituals… just in case. I’d rather take my chances on being wrong than sacrifice truth, logic, rationality, critical thinking, and knowledge.

From here you go into the “no such thing as an ex-Christian” because a true Christian would never leave the faith. How arrogant that sounds. I was able to see the errors of Christianity and the Bible when I was in the seventh grade. I find it incredibly ironic that I found the truth as a pre-teen and yet there are grown adults out there that are still as gullible as when they were five and believed in Santa Clause.

Well… I must admit that I am impressed. In a single letter you have managed to use almost every single Christian tactic there is. Usually they don’t come at me all at once like that. All of your “arguments” have been countered and reduced to ashes by others far more qualified than I. I countered these arguments from the seventh grade and on. I have been an atheist for sixteen years. For a powerful God… he sure is impotent.

Clay Rebuttal #003:

You have entered the Christian theological realm of the doctrines of “effectual calling” and of the “creation mandate” as commonly known in ecclesiastical jargon under the subject of God’s sovereignty in the discipline of systematic theology. I will be glad to touch on these perspectives.

If you will be patient, not suggesting that you are impatient, I will respond in time.

In the meantime, please formulate why, as an atheist, do you purport such a keen sense of morality and such staunch opinions if you say you believe in nothing? If there is no God, then there is no transcendent standard by which we gauge behavior, agreed? How do you then tell me that my behavior is right/wrong/good/bad? Was Hitler just acting out events in time, or was he behind something with a motive that we can criticize as wrong? Why was he condemned? Was his condemnation justified? What is justice? How do you know?

I must know how you respond before I can understand from where you begin your thinking. While I am very willing to take as long as need be in our tennis match, you must play by the same rules, namely basic non-contradiction and reason as defined by the weight of Western thought. Again, I am not chastening you…yet. You simply need to explain to me why you go on living without sliding into the modernist vague and aimless sentimentalism…”because I feel this and that…”

Response to Clay #003:

CLAY: “In the meantime, please formulate why, as an atheist, do you purport such a keen sense of morality and such staunch opinions if you say you believe in nothing?”

You are the second person to ask me this question (obviously not verbatim) today.

To understand humanity and the morality thereof you need to understand the cycles of society behavior and establishment. For example, I can answer your question as an individual, as a member of the human race (humanity), or as a member of many societies. These societies are:

  • Immediate Family Society (spouse & offspring).
  • Extended Family Society (all other relatives).
  • Neighborhood Society (surrounding homes).
  • Cultural Society (religion, sex, gender, activities, hobbies, etc).
  • Village/Town/City Society.
  • State Society.
  • Country Society.
  • World Society.

Each of us plays a different role in each of those societies. Within each major category of society are mini-societies that we participate in both directly and indirectly. As a member of each society – we are required to justify ourselves to said societies. Take away the society – and the need for justification (or morality – which is a higher form of justification) goes away.

Now since I obviously know where you are going with this let me first establish some requirement on the subject of “God is required for morality”.

What morals have your God dictated to you? Remember that laws of worship have nothing to do with morality – so “have no idols before me” is not a moral issue. Also remember that laws of justice have nothing to do with established morality – so stoning someone to death for adultery is not a moral issue. The adultery is the moral issue and not the punishment. Also remember that laws are not morality, either. So “eat no pork” is not a moral issue – it is a law. Please write down every moral established by your God.

The reason I ask this is because before you can assert that there can be no morality without belief in a God you must prove several issues:

  1. There can be morality with the belief in God.
  2. God is a good moral role model.
  3. God does not promote, condone, endorse, or sanctify immorality.
  4. God defines morality and the morals thereof clearly and concisely.
  5. God adheres to his definition of morality and the morals thereof.

Once you have done that then you can begin to assert that there can be no morality without belief in a God. Once you assert it – you’ll have to prove it. You will have to prove that atheistic religions (such as Buddhism) are immoral. Or you will have to prove that atheistic beliefs derive their morality from God.

CLAY: “If there is no God, then there is no transcendent standard by which we gauge behavior, agreed?”

If a standard is transcendent then how can we gauge it in the first place? God or no god is irrelevant at that point.

CLAY: “How do you then tell me that my behavior is right/wrong/good/bad?”

See above.

CLAY: “Was Hitler just acting out events in time, or was he behind something with a motive that we can criticize as wrong?”

“Acting out events in time” insinuates a fate – which of course thrashes free will. Hitler was a paranoid schizophrenic Christian who hated anyone and everyone that wasn’t like him (even thought he was technically a Jew). Hitler was immoral because society viewed him as immoral based on our societal views and acceptance of right and wrong. Whether those views were influenced by people religious beliefs is irrelevant because none of the aforementioned criteria have been met.

CLAY: “You simply need to explain to me why you go on living without sliding into the modernist vague and aimless sentimentalism…”because I feel this and that.”

I have to admit that this question has become rather tedious in answering it because of the assumption that morality required a God. The key word is assumption – because morality with a God has not been proven nor have any of the other criteria been met.

I had the un-privilege of meeting an exceptionally rude, obnoxious, and pushy Southern Baptist the other day that just went on and on and on with the same rhetoric I normally hear but with more “fervor”. After all, the Southern Baptist has a quota to meet in order to get into Heaven, you see. Anyway, the conversation began to turn ugly and he became rather insulting when he realized he wasn’t “having his way” with me. To end the conversation (at this point I was annoyed, irritated, and a little angry) I asked him two questions;

If you die will you go to Heaven and sit by your “father’s” side? [an emphatic yes with exaggerated head bobs from the SoBap]

Then what’s the point of living? [the conversation ended and he walked away]

Clay Rebuttal #004:

Well, where to begin? I call this a “lob” return in our tennis, an overarching, slowly developing response.

I first want to say that a “game” is truly not my intention in these discussions. Far from it. If it were trivia, fine. But I take this development in my life, discussing eternal matters over the Internet with an avowed atheist whom I do not know, with extreme concern for I believe that human souls hang in the balance. This is not a debate with you in my mind. Rather, it is a discussion where I hope to present faithfully a consistent epistemology, a theory of knowledge, based on the logical development of my subjects from the position of orthodox Christianity. I hope both sides will openly consider the position of the other logically.

As an orthodox Christian, not “Orthodox” in the Eastern Church sense, I hold to a certain epistemology that claims to maintain that Christianity is consistent with reality. It explains reality in the three basic areas of understanding, namely philosophy, history and science. There are topics within these categories that demand logical discussion inside of their discipline. For instance, under philosophy I include epistemology, logic, the mind, ethics (under which I include ontology and the philosophy of religion), skepticism, and truth. Areas of knowledge would be perception, memory, induction, and a priori.

Then there is the second category, history. Here I include higher criticism and textual criticism.

Last, there is science where I include evolution, biology, and physics. I hope that you agree.

So often, these conversations cannot happen because atheists and theists don’t share the same epistemology and the result is that we categorically differ on all areas of this discussion. Further, to jump from ethics to historical criticism to feelings, as I believe your eight-page response to me included, confuses the discussion. Let’s keep the disciplines intact.

I begin by relaying a certain sadness. Your level of intensity and your commitment to your position overwhelms me. I respect it, but genuinely wonder if Christianity will ever get a fair shake with you.

That said, you seem intelligent, but I must say clearly that I will only enter this discussion if you and I are willing to learn from each other, seeking truth, not showing off our intellectual muscles…which, for both of us, are not too developed. Your commitment must be towards genuinely working through these disciplines. I will not allow emotional content to overshadow these discussions. If so, I don’t see us going anywhere.

In this vein, let me apologize for your recent Baptist altercation. Hopefully, his motives were good, i.e., concern for your soul as he faithfully bore witness to the Gospel of Grace. Evangelism is a Christian command, though in his zeal, he may have not “loved his neighbor as himself.” Of course, orthodoxy has no tolerance for “winning points” with God, as you said, by such conversations. If that was his motive, he is ignorant of the Gospel. His duty as a Christian is to proclaim the Gospel in love, leaving the Holy Spirit to affect your heart. Again, there is no room for name-calling or emotionalism. A Christian’s confidence is in God, not himself. His duty is to be transformed by the renewing of his mind as he humbly submits to the will of God, even in these three areas of discussion. Your Baptist friend would benefit by this conversation.

Mr. Scott, we have some common ground according to our words so far: morality and conscience, which puzzles me given your materialist epistemology. Other than that, we don’t have much. I say this because our base commitment, our central philosophy (epistemology), has to affect every sphere of our three categories. Your materialist atheism, and my Christian orthodoxy, penetrate and move throughout our own discussions of philosophy, history and science. You realize that we separate from one another through every sphere, thus this is a difficult task.

The presuppositions of most people today, and I am including you here, include: (1) an ideological presupposition that man is the measure of all things and that human reason must be entirely autonomous; (2) the methodological assumption that the “scientific” method is the only valid means for ascertaining truth; and (3) an assumption of attitude that there is no knowable “absolute” truth, but that “truth” is always relative to the knower. Would you agree?

But if one desires to know the Bible’s message on its own terms, taking it for what it says about itself, then one cannot use these presuppositions. They are incompatible with the Scriptures, which presuppose that God, not man, measures all things, that human reason is dependent and cannot penetrate to the very bottom of things, but that ultimate and absolute truth is knowable, by way of personal relationship. Thus my former letter concerning Ultimate Personality behind reality. With regard to method, the Scriptures claim that things do not always work the same way, and that some events have non-earthly or supernatural causes. Now if these claims are true, then it is inappropriate to apply to Scripture a modernist, naturalistic, “scientific” approach which assumes in advance that there is no supernatural intervention, that the “system is closed.” In essence, one cannot evaluate the Bible’s claims to truth by using methods that assume in advance that these claims are impossible.

I attribute my understanding of this effect through the academic writings of Cornelius VanTil in his work, A Christian Theory of Knowledge and a more popular work, Let the Reader Understand, by Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton. Though VanTil’s work is a dense one, it best describes our landscape here, especially my presuppositions as they relate to your philosophy. I suggest these works to your study if you truly want to see where orthodoxy begins its epistemology. It does not begin with your discussion of inerrancy. I believe inerrancy is a valid position, but I do not begin with it.

Christian J. P. Moreland and Atheist Kai Nielsen attempted our discussion (a much better job!) in 1988 in their work, Does God Exist? I suggest you also have this book available for your adherents and detractors, both. It would be most fair. It calls for us all to be totally honest, in our motives and passions and calls us to look at all evidence on both sides, not focusing on only one side or on only part of the evidence. I will let them exhaust our details for the sake of time and discipline. They cover all the ground that we don’t need to fumble through, as I’m afraid we both would. Obviously, their conclusions will probably not move many Christians toward atheism or visa versa, but those on the fence will probably move one way or another. It is really a fine work.

Thus, I’m not going to go line by line down your eight pages. Rather I’m going to ask the overarching question, “Why are you so committed to your position and why are you so bent on trashing Christianity?” I’m just curious. What happened?

Secondly, you seem greatly influenced by the Graf/Wellhausen theory, the higher critical school. Those gentlemen gave it their best shot, but in so doing they made grand assumptions, imposing an evolutionary theory upon Israelite religion. They extracted biblical history and rearranged it. They separated sources. Now, I am aware that this position is well accepted in the liberal world (I grew up under its influence), but Donald Guthrie and William Albright, to name two contemporary critics, have proved conclusively that the higher critical school is inconsistent with both history and archeology, respectively. Guthrie proves that the “late” theory of the New Testament writings is false while Albright went out and dug up evidence that the Old Testament was written by who it claims to be written by. Granted, Albright’s work isn’t exhaustive, but it’s darn convincing. You must make their historic criticism and scientific discoveries known to your debates and you must acknowledge their discoveries in your own arguments.

Lastly, an interesting work for your camp: I suggest Jonathan Dancy’s Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology. By no means a Christian work, Dancy’s book correctly presents the status of 20th Century secular knowledge. It concludes that, ultimately, modernism has nothing to stand on. You should read this work, as your Society wants to be circumspect.

I say all this for one reason, namely, that the Christian theory of knowledge has just as much right to be accepted in the arena of ideas as yours. You cannot look down your nose at my position or me. Saying that my “God is impotent” and words like “gullible” when attributed to my belief system is juvenile and emotional, and it’s harmful to our discussion. When you were in 7th grade and you made your decision to be an atheist, a decision, which I suggest, wasn’t that sophisticated given your age, I would expect such comments. But given the true landscape of this discussion in the academy, let’s leave such brashness alone.

Mr. Scott, I say that your worldview will collapse in on itself. I say this because you have belief, a component of the theory of knowledge, the theory of justification, inconsistent with your beginning materialist, closed system philosophy. I say that your whole approach to epistemology won’t hold up. Why? For one, you say that “we are each our own ultimate authority”. How can this be and we still maintain a common foundation of truth, logic, and theory of knowledge? People whom carry this to its logical conclusion are in jail or committed or dead. Do you really believe this?

Secondly, to call the Bible “an error-filled mythological account with some historical insignificata” is an emotional value judgment that doesn’t sound rational. You have overstatements and rationalizations and sweeping statements that I don’t follow. Your saying that “there are no beliefs involved with atheism” commits you to a worldview, a commitment from which you depart in your approach, as evidenced by your free admission to hold conscience and morality. I believe that you have borrowed some capital from Western Theism, particularly Judeo-Christianity.

Further, some potpourri: you are aware, for instance, that the Resurrection doesn’t depend upon inerrancy? Also, you misunderstand Gleason Archer. He’s an excellent scholar, and I’m glad you mention him, but he sees no arguments with the “autographs.” Another; Christianity doesn’t rely on councils. Councils can provide good insight and summarize positions, but they are not authoritative. More, I say that, as mentioned earlier in a discussion of textual criticism, Golding’s argument is poo-poo and has been proved wrong by Guthrie, just to name one. For a correct orthodox presentation of the canon, I suggest The Origin of the Bible, edited by Philip W. Comfort, a collection of essays dealing with many biblical formulation issues.

Are you really serious about me following your reasoning when you freely admit, “we know that a belief in god is a psychological necessary for humanity” – a devastating admission! Rationalizing the necessity is science and scientific. More, your traveling “the globe extensively to find God absent” is consistent with your assertion of the psychological necessity. But the final “God is not in outer space…he simply is nonexistent”…this is belief and it has no basis in observation. Please. And for the record, God’s anger at those who built the Tower of Babel was not because they tried to fling arrows but was based on their trying to be God, their desire to be autonomous from Him, much like the atheistic position.

Of particular note, I am disturbed by your popular belief in the theory of evolution, a philosophically flawed “theory.” Your argument must admit that this is still theory as no transitional forms are documented, no answer for biogenesis exists, and the second law of thermodynamics has not been reversed. Evolution has no explanation of what mechanism results in the transitions, what causes the shifts. Darwin’s Black Box admits that biology is so complex that modern science cannot explain its complexity. Darwin on Trial, though written by a lawyer and not a scientist, exposes the theory further, regardless of Johnson’s academic discipline. Even Gould’s “Monster Mechanisms” had to be devised to replace the missing transitional forms. Your marriage to this position hinders your intellect and blinds you from the evidence…or lack thereof.

Mr. Scott, I don’t know where we go from here. I believe that there are valid, scholarly responses to every one of your questions concerning Christianity. Maybe you have been digesting the wrong sources? There sure are some out there! But I think it’s more than your sources. I think that Atheism is intellectually appealing to you because you choose it to be. You probably chose your position before you entered the argument. You cannot choose Atheism based on its intellectual appeal for there is none. And, I contend that I believe in Christianity on the same basis as you do Atheism that is by faith. Before all the evidence for all my questions was in, I submitted myself to Christianity.

As a former agnostic who grew up in Christian liberalism and higher criticism, I feel that I understand much of your position, your dissatisfaction with the Church to which you’ve been exposed, to Christians who haven’t extended intellectual arguments to you or who did not love you, and shallow or incomplete arguments for the truth claims of the Bible. Christians are often the worst example of Christian teaching, but not all are. A Christian’s only personal comparison is to be made with Jesus, from whom every one of us falls woefully short. Let Christ be the example. Our goal as Christians is, after all, to become more and more like him and less like our sinful selves.

The Christian Gospel is one of Grace, of hearts being metaphysically changed from “stone” to “flesh” by God and God alone in an “open system” of communication and providence. We say He’s there because we say we see with the mind’s eye. We see love though we can’t measure it. We see language though we cannot scientifically explain it. We are God’s work, both as creatures and as developing beings for no good reason other than for His Glory and our enjoyment. A Christian has no moral high ground over another human. In my heart and mind, I have no moral superiority over you. Only Jesus Christ does, and it is His life that compels us to witness to His Truth. After all, we say that He is that Truth. It is also He who calls us to investigate His world as we dig through philosophy, history and science. Again, maybe your Baptist friend needs to be reminded of all this.

I cannot argue you to this conclusion, for it is not within my power to do so, only God’s, but I can define logical arguments that reasonably show that Christianity is not the foolish mistake you unfairly present it to be. History is replete with excellent Christian minds, from Augustine to Anselm to Aquinas, to name three foundational contributors. Have you read Augustine’s Confessions? You are missing a wonder if fail to do so. In his work, you face one of the world’s brightest minds and most honest hearts. Your broad sweeps against Christian theism should be reserved in the face of such philosophical discovery. But there are many others, men who were brilliant, men who gave us the patterns from which we consciously or subconsciously approach our modern world. And they were ancient Christian apologists. Are you saying that they were foolish in their conclusions? Am I? For I, like they, have banked my entire life on the Truth of the Bible and the reality that a Triune Personal God stands behind eternity. The stakes are high. Let’s stop the games.

Ball’s in your court.

Response to Clay #004:

It seems that you are offended by some of my views on theism and more particularly Christianity. Let me assure you now that I will not dilute my views to appease to someone’s sensitivity regarding their theistic beliefs – just as I expect the same of you (and you came through). I’m sorry you find some of my views offensive – but I will not apologize for my views on theism. If my last response invoked this response from you then more than likely this response will cause you to terminate our discussion. If you wish to conclude this discussion because of this problem then that is okay by me. I will not hold it against you nor think any less of you. The choice is yours at this point. For now I will assume that you wish to continue and I will address your last rebuttal.

CLAY: “It explains reality in the three basic areas of understanding, namely philosophy, history and science. … I hope that you agree.”

Yes, I can agree with that. While I might nit-pick at the sub-categorization – I can agree with that premise.

CLAY: “I begin by relaying certain sadness. Your level of intensity and your commitment to your position overwhelms me. I respect it, but genuinely wonder if Christianity will ever get a fair shake with you.”

I’m not sure what you mean by a “fair shake” or why you feel any sadness for me. I can only assume that your sadness is from the Christian basis of “Christ denial”. I have heard of Christ yet deny him – so I am destined for hell because the only way to heaven is through Christ. Besides the obvious question of what happened to all the people that died before Christ was identified? Did they go to hell because they did not know Christ? Do stillborn children, mentally retarded, feral children, and lost tribes go to hell because they have never heard of Christ?

Does the spreading of the Gospel become “good” or “bad” with this knowledge? If the denial of Christ after knowledge of Christ is obtained results in eternal damnation then is not the very spreading of the knowledge of Christ condemning people to hell? As apologist and Biblicist Kenneth Boa states in his book I’m Glad You Asked (page 146),

BOA: “These concerns have led some people to the conclusion that those who have never heard about Christ will escape the judgment of God. If this is true, then Christian missionaries are not only wasting their lives but may be doing great harm by preaching the gospel to those who are unaware of Christ, they have brought people from a state of innocence to a state of moral culpability if they do not respond. This would mean that passages such as the Great Commission (at the end of Matthew, in which Jesus tells people to go unto all the world and preach the gospel) make no sense at all. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ should have been kept a secret.”

R. C. Sproul addresses the same problem in his book Reasons To Believe (page 50),

SPROUL: “Since the native is not guilty of this we ought to let him alone. In fact, letting him alone would be the most helpful and redemptive thing we could do for him. If we go to the native and inform him of Christ we place his soul in eternal jeopardy. For now he knows of Christ, and if he refuses to respond to Him he can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse. Hence, the best service we can render is silence.”

I was a Christian early in my life so by Christian biblical standards I am already damned to hell because I have “rejected” Christ. So by this standard when I tell someone that I am ex-Christian they should make no effort to convert me because, by the very standards that forces them to spread the gospel in the first place, it is too late for me. So was the Baptist that confronted me really doing good, as you suggested? What if I had never heard of Christ until that point? I would, based on the interpretation of some, be comfortable in the non-knowledge that I would ultimately escape God’s judgment just as the stillborn, child, and mentally retarded are. Of course the lack of God’s judgment for “ignorance of Jesus” is only an interpretation because there is no scripture to back that up. The scripture clearly states that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. As Robert Mounce says in his book Answers to Questions About the Bible (page 173),

MOUNCE: “If there is some third alternative, we know nothing of it from Scripture. The specter of a new-born babe suffering eternal punishment is entirely unacceptable in a moral universe.”

While it may be morally repugnant in a moral society – it is certainly not unacceptable from the scriptural point of view. The Bible does not allow for exceptions when in John 14:6 it states, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, NO man cometh to the Father but by me.” It doesn’t say some men, most men, a few men, or even men and women. It says no man leaving no exceptions to the rule. So while the above arguments by Mounce, Boa, and Sproul sound feasible and morally correct – they are not supported by scripture.

By the sixth or seventh grade I had become somewhat of an atheist. Looking back on that part of my life I think it is probably more accurate to say that I had become agnostic. It was not until my late teens and early twenties that I fully understood my atheism and had a firmer grasp on why I had arrived at that conclusion. By my mid-twenties I had looked into almost every religion there is (there are a lot of them out there). Also during my mid-twenties I decided to come out of the closet when I realized that I could care less what everyone thought of my atheism. I was a closet atheist because I feared retaliation from the theistic community and from my family.

To this day there are still members of my family that refuse to talk to me because of my atheism. Earlier in my life that would have upset me – now I realize that it is their loss – not mine. My wife’s parents blame me for her atheism. What they fail to realize is that my wife was already agnostic when I met her but she was afraid to tell her parents. I would not have married her if I thought she were a devout Christian. I would not have placed either of us in the position of having to compromise our views and philosophies. While it could have been avoided for a while – sooner or later children would have forced the issue. Whomever “caved” would have held some resentment toward the other and created a gap in the marriage.

CLAY: “Your commitment must be towards genuinely working through these disciplines. I will not allow emotional content to overshadow these discussions. If so, I don’t see us going anywhere.”

Please elaborate on what you mean by “genuinely working through these disciplines.” I can assure you that I am not an emotional person. I live my life by logic and reasoning. It is for this reason that I was a mass casualty coordinator for a hospital – because I didn’t let emotions dictate my life and was able to use quick critical thinking to get us out of situations.

CLAY: “His duty as a Christian is to proclaim the Gospel in love, leaving the Holy Spirit to affect your heart. Again, there is no room for name-calling or emotionalism.”

Is it possible to convey the message of Christ without emotionalism? If one has truly accepted Christ as their savior then they convey a sense of emotionalism. Whether that emotionalism is elation, excitement, enthusiasm, or glee – the emotions are there. It is for this reason that I do not argue with the “power” of faith. Faith can be very powerful for those that believe on faith. That is why so many become offended when the very foundation of their faith is called into question.

CLAY: “Mr. Scott, we have some common ground according to our words so far: morality and conscience, which puzzles me given your materialist epistemology.”

Why do my views on morality and conscience puzzle you so? What is your definition of a materialist? I want to ensure that when the word materialist is used that we are saying and meaning the same thing.

CLAY: “Your materialist atheism, and my Christian orthodoxy, penetrate and move throughout our own discussions of philosophy, history and science. You realize that we separate from one another through every sphere, thus this is a difficult task.”

Very rarely are discussions of philosophy, science, and history easy. That is what makes them so intriguing in the first place. I have found that most of the time the discussions end in a stalemate. When it comes right down to it, all facts, evidence, and data aside, faith (or lack thereof) is what is left. And faith is a very powerful ideology, as I’m sure you can attest to. It is that very power of faith that usually prevents these discussions from extending over a prolonged period of time.

CLAY: “An ideological presupposition that man is the measure of all things and that human reason must be entirely autonomous.”

While many assume that man is the measure of all things – I do not. I think it is typically egotistical of mankind to assume such. While I base a lot of my personal philosophy on my person, as a member of mankind, that does not make me the “center of the universe”. What we have to realize is that philosophy, science, and theology are centered on man because we are the creators of those practices. We base reality on our perception of reality. It is for that very reason that science never states much with 100% certainty unless they are specific about the reality of that statement. The laws of physics are good examples. They are laws because it is understood that those laws are based on the reality of our physics, in this reality we call the universe. Should that reality change – so to might those laws of physics.

CLAY: “The methodological assumption that the “scientific” method is the only valid means for ascertaining truth.”

I will agree with that statement. I’m glad you put the word scientific in quotations. While science, as an “entity” provides great tools and resources – there are other means of ascertaining the “truth”. We don’t need science to tell us the sky appears to be blue. We can see for ourselves the sky appears to be blue. What we need science for is to tell us why the sky appears to be blue. Science tells us that the sky is not actually blue – it is every color except blue. Blue is the color that the sky reflects and the sky’s true color is every color in the light spectrum that is absorbed other than blue. So by claiming that the sky is blue, as most people, do – are we speaking the truth? Or are we speaking what we perceive based on our own reality?

CLAY: “An assumption of attitude that there is no knowable “absolute” truth, but that “truth” is always relative to the knower.”

I think the statement that there is no knowable absolute truth is more of a theistic or agnostic view, wouldn’t you? While “truth” is relative to the viewer based on their reality – we can know the truth based on that reality. Should that reality change then the truth will also change.

CLAY: “But if one desires to know the Bible’s message on its own terms, taking it for what it says about itself, then one cannot use these presuppositions. They are incompatible with the Scriptures, which presuppose that God, not man, measures all things, that human reason is dependent and cannot penetrate to the very bottom of things, but that ultimate and absolute truth is knowable, by way of personal relationship. Now if these claims are true, then it is inappropriate to apply to Scripture a modernist, naturalistic, “scientific” approach which assumes in advance that there is no supernatural intervention, that the “system is closed.” In essence, one cannot evaluate the Bible’s claims to truth by using methods that assume in advance that these claims are impossible.”

It is not necessary to evaluate the claims of supernaturalism in the Bible. If the Bible is to convey, as a God-breathed work, a doctrine of inerrancy, then it must be inerrant and sound. It is not inerrant and it is not sound. The claims made in the Bible are brought into question not necessarily because of their supernatural nature – but because the very thing that makes these claims is filled with errors, contradictions, and inconsistencies. If the Bible were 100% accurate with zero errors, no inconsistencies, and not a single contradiction then the claims of supernaturalism would perhaps be perceived with less skepticism.

In other words – there is obviously no way to prove if a god does or does not exist. We can look at the definitions of a god and through logic, philosophy, reasoning, scientific data, and evidence begin to break down those definitions and ultimately show said defined god as having a higher probability of non-existence. So when the Bible says god performed a supernatural event there is no way to prove either way if god exists in the first place, and if he does if that supernatural event actually occurred. But when the source of the account is erroneous then the likelihood and probability of said events and event creator decrease.

For example, the Christian God is defined by the act of the Global Flood. Since evidence shows that this global flood never occurred then the likelihood and probability of the defined Christian God decreases. While the Christian God has not been completely ruled out by this evidence – his likelihood and probability of existence has decreased.

You have taken the long way around the statement I hear a lot to the effect of, “It requires an infallible critic to question the existence of God or declare that the Bible contains errors.” Biblicist Clark Pinnock is a huge proponent of critics needing to be infallible themselves – to be equal to God. In other words, by those standards, one cannot criticize the Bible or question God unless they are infallible themselves. It takes someone whom is omniscient to say that God does not exist with certainty. As I stated before – it is not about certainty. It is about likelihood and probability.

The obvious mistake in this line of reasoning is that it assumes the very point in dispute. Because one alleges supernaturalism, omniscience, or inerrancy does not mean it is so. Biblicists assert the Bible is infallible and inerrant – and have yet to prove so. Christian philosophers assert that God is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, et al – and have yet to prove so. If the Bible were indeed infallible and contained no errors then the assertion of requiring infallibility before criticism might hold some water. The Bible and the defined parameters of the Christian God are errant and therefore subject to the materialistic criticism of skeptics and scholars.

CLAY: “I suggest these works to your study if you truly want to see where orthodoxy begins its epistemology. It does not begin with your discussion of inerrancy. I believe inerrancy is a valid position, but I do not begin with it.”

If inerrancy is truly secondary then one’s faith or belief is irrelevant, is it not? Does it really matter if one goes to Christ, Mohammed, or Buddha? Does it really matter if one goes to God, Allah, Jupiter, Thor, Osiris, or Ra? If I am looking for a God then I expect the writings of that God to be inerrant. If a God is not powerful enough to make his sacred text 100% accurate then what good is he? I should base my decision on god on better criteria at that point. Which belief has the best heaven? Which belief has the easiest rules to follow? Which belief has the easiest hell to endure (just in case I muff it up)? Which belief fits my current lifestyle the best (this explains the 3500 plus sects of Christianity)? I think inerrancy plays a larger role then you would suggest.

For Christianity the basis is the Resurrection of Christ. If, through identification of errancy, it is shown that the accounts of the Resurrection are contradictory (as they have been), then the very foundation of Christianity is lost. If errancy is identified in Genesis and the accounts of Adam and Eve then the very foundation of Original Sin comes into question. And if Original Sin is eradicated then Christ died for naught and he becomes irrelevant to the Christian doctrine.

CLAY: “Thus, I’m not going to go line by line down your eight pages. Rather I’m going to ask the overarching question, “Why are you so committed to your position and why are you so bent on trashing Christianity?” I’m just curious. What happened?”

I am committed to my position because it is the most logical position there is. I am committed to my position because I have researched almost every religion on this planet and found that all are irrationally based and do not warrant my beliefs. Instead of seeing God in nature – I see nature in nature. Instead of praying to God in times of crisis I tell myself to get off my arse and do something about it. Instead of thanking God for my accomplishments I congratulate myself on a job well done. I have not seen any gods nor have I seen any evidence that insinuates that said gods even exist. I completely understand the reasons why people need religion and do not hold it against them. I simply do not have those reasons and therefore do not need religion.

I’m not bent on trashing Christianity. I am bent on protecting my personal freedoms from Christianity. I would be just as happy to sit on my couch and watch TLC and Discovery Channel all day long. Christianity has become an issue to me through no choice of my own. Christianity is attempting to put prayer in my children’s classroom. Christianity is attempting to hand the Ten Commandments in my children’s school and my city’s courthouse. Christianity is attempting to place its assumed higher morality upon me through legislation. Christianity is abusing the very thing that protects its followers – the Constitution of the United States (COTUS). As a Constitutionalist I am flabbergasted at the recent abuse of the Amendments by Christianity. Should others and I sit back and watch Christianity take control of this country and turn it into a Theocracy?

Non-Christians should be gravely concerned over recent developments in this country. The Christian movement is threatening the personal freedoms that are dictated and protected by the COTUS. While obviously not all Christians are involved and many are against this latest movement – who will make a stand? Who will protect our constitutional rights from those that abuse the very substance of what gives them their freedoms? Who will stand up at the PTA meeting and argue against the implementation of school prayer? I will.

I would rather sit at home and not have to be politically active. I would rather shut my web page down and not worry about Christians calling me a Satanist because their preacher told them that atheists are in league with Satan. I would rather go about my life and not feel threatened by “Bible Thumpers”. I would rather sleep in on Saturday and not have Jehovah’s Witnesses’ come to my door at seven in the morning. I would rather not receive evil glares because I am a known atheist. I would rather not have to defend my position of atheism every time I turn around. I would prefer to not get fired by my Christian boss because I’m an atheist.

Christianity is a “target” because it has made itself a target. One need only look at the Southern Baptist Convention and their recent attacks on Muslims, Hindus, and Jews for support of this. One need only look at Election 2000 to see the changing face of religionist politics and the move of the Christian religious right. The COTUS protects the Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Wicca, Shaman, and Atheist from a Theocracy and from suffering through the hypocrisy of Christendom in the public classroom.

Regarding your concerns over “what happened” (or more pointedly, “why are you an atheist?”) I can only say that it is not that complicated. To avoid regurgitation I’ll post my reply to this question from my web page. Keep in mind that my web page was designed to keep it simple for all visitors. If you need any further elaboration then please do not hesitate to ask for it.

ATHEISM AWARENESS: “Usually when I am asked this question people are looking for a sign that I was driven away from religion because of a psychological event or some traumatic time that I associated with the church, religion, or god. It’s not that complicated, though. I don’t hate god because someone close to me died or anything else like that. I would have to believe in a god in order to hate that god.

There are people out there that claim to be atheists because of emotional or psychological reasons (associated with a traumatic event). I call them “emotional atheists”. If you hate a god – then you at least have some belief (however miniscule) that the god exists in the first place. Seems kind of futile to hate something that you supposedly don’t believe in. To me, emotional atheists are not really atheists by all technical means of the definition. Many emotional atheists end up becoming “logical atheists.”

I am an atheist because theism cannot and does not provide the answers that I seek. Basic Humanities teaches us that as human beings we have needs. Physical, emotional, and psychological needs.

Our physical needs include the need for food, water, and shelter.

Our emotional needs include the need to feel loved, needed, and have a social circle.

Our psychological needs include the need to leave our mark on society (from writing a book to graffiti), the desire to know the origins of fear, the need for explanations, and the drive to answer a few questions:

  • “Why am I here?”
  • “Where did I come from?”
  • What is the purpose of life?”

Man has tried many ways to take care of these psychological needs. Then one day someone came up with a “silver platter” answer that took care of everything in one sweep… a god. Didn’t matter what god it was. The point is the god answered those questions and quenched the psychological thirst of early man.

Shamanism is the oldest known “organized” religion in the world (approx. 27000-years-old). But man has been inventing explanations to help eradicate his fears longer than that.

Even the Romans and the Greeks needed peace through knowing – and they chose the path of gods – and lots of them. Everything had a god. They explained the things they were afraid of and the things they loved. Mothers would tell their children, “Don’t be afraid of the lightning my child, it is only Zeus moving around in the clouds.” Gods like Jupiter, Zeus, Mars, Nimrod, Mithras, Horus, Osiris, and Thor explained away fears in a simple way.

There was one other thing those invented gods did. They created positions of power and an infrastructure within the societies that believed in those gods. Suddenly the societies needed someone to explain the behavior of gods and to appease the gods when they were mad. They needed someone who could communicate with the gods and whom had knowledge of appropriate actions and sacrifices to keep the gods happy. And the priest was born…

Theism, in my view, is just too silly. It is too abracadabra, hocus pocus, and shazam! Instead of intelligently looking for the answers to those psychological needs – people just grab the easy answer off the religious silver platter. No thank you – you can keep your silver platter answers. I will not take the road more traveled and forsake my intelligent, rational, and critical thought. I will not forsake the search of truth for a psychological crutch.

I’m sure that calling theism a psychological crutch has upset a few people. Let me assure you that it is not a bad thing (usually). In the society in which we live most humans beings need theistic beliefs or some form of elevated spirituality. Could you imagine the psychological disaster we would face if the foundation of religion were stripped from under the feet of worshipers tomorrow? I’d rather not deal with that issue. Most people need a form of spirituality. There are, as I’m sure most people know, many forms of spiritualism without gods. These non-theistic religions and spiritualities resolve the same psychological needs but eliminate the following of an imaginary being that controls the lives of theists.

Why do you think that the church resists science so fervently? Why do you think the church called scientists witches and wizards in history past? Why does the church say that atheists are in league with Satan? Why do you think the church says that if you do not have faith and question god that he will punish you? Why does the church need to instill fear into the people? Because fear keeps a flock in line and keeps the flock members from thinking on his or her own.

I am an atheist because I refuse to take the silver platter answers that the religions of the world dish out. I will travel the road less traveled and find the answers on my own. I will investigate all possibilities and intelligently eliminate those that are irrational.”

CLAY: “Secondly, you seem greatly influenced by the Graf/Wellhausen theory, the higher critical school.”

They did not influence me at all. They make grand assumptions on the History of Israel based upon the very thing that I find erroneous. And it is actually the Graf/Wellhausen hypothesis (not theory) because it has not met any criterion to be called a theory.

I arrive at my own conclusions and conduct my own research. My views are my own and no one else’s. While others may have arrived at the same conclusions that I have – I do the research myself and make my own choices.

CLAY: “You must make their historic criticism and scientific discoveries known to your debates and you must acknowledge their discoveries in your own arguments.”

Since I consider most of Graf and Wellhausen’s work presumptuous I’m not really concerned about any of what their critics have to say. I have read some of Albright’s work and find most of his rationalizations and justifications rather ludicrous at best. He has a tendency, just like those that he accuse (Graf/Wellhausen) of re-writing the scripture to suit his fancy. He displays the typically characteristic style of apologists of not adhering to the same standards they impose upon the critics of the Bible. The say the Bible is error free then when an error is obvious they blame it on copyists. They say not to interpret the Bible that it should be literal but when a contradiction is presented they interpret their way out of it.

While epistemology is wonderful philosophical endeavor I’m not much of a proponent. I don’t need anyone to tell me how I should arrive at my knowledge and what my knowledge means. I look at what is available and I make my own conclusions. No single person influences me.

CLAY: “I say all this for one reason, namely, that the Christian theory of knowledge has just as much right to be accepted in the arena of ideas as yours.”

What exactly is the Christian theory of knowledge? Epistemology does not necessarily equate to Christian thought. Epistemology is simply a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity. Any specific association to Christianity is self-assigned. Why does the Christian feel a necessity to formulate a theory of knowledge that they can “call their own”? Knowledge is knowledge – why is there a need for separation?

CLAY: “You cannot look down your nose at my position or me. Saying that my “God is impotent” and words like “gullible” when attributed to my belief system is juvenile and emotional, and it’s harmful to our discussion.”

Those are my views and you only find them “juvenile” because they do not agree with your views. The Christian God, if he exists, is impotent and not worthy of worship. Where is God? If he’s really there why have the biblical miracles disappeared? Why does he not reveal himself? When debating the issue of faith a while ago with some fellow atheists we concluded that atheism does require some element of faith. It takes an element of faith to say with 100% certainty that a god cannot exist. The god in particular that we were discussing is the impotent God that created the universe then walked away and could care less about what happened. It was jokingly said that a great Supreme Being was walking along one day and had a bit of flatulence. This incredible Big Bang of methane created the known universe. He then went on to his universal sofa, popped a beer, and is watching cosmic soap operas. We affectionately call him the Universal God of Flatulence and Sofa-Sitting, or UGFSS for short.

It is my view that religion is an issue of gullibility. If you find that statement to be “emotional”, then so be it. I make that statement (and have that view) because of all the research I have done and what I have encountered in my lifetime. As I stated before I have no intention of watering down my views in order to appease the sensitivity of others. For example, let’s look at some of the things you have said:

CLAY: “I respect it, but genuinely wonder if Christianity will ever get a fair shake with you.”

You assume that Christianity deserves a “fair shake” at me in the first place.

CLAY: “Hopefully, his motives were good, i.e., concern for your soul as he faithfully bore witness to the Gospel of Grace.”

You make the fatal mistake that so many Christians have made (and why they have become targets) – that people actually want to hear the Gospel. You assume that my soul is in jeopardy and needs concern. Guilty until proven innocent?

CLAY: “Mr. Scott, I say that your worldview will collapse in on itself.”

Gee… thanks.

CLAY: “People whom carry this to its logical conclusion are in jail or committed or dead. Do you really believe this?”

So my atheistic views are criminal?

CLAY: “You cannot choose Atheism based on its intellectual appeal for there is none.”

Just as much of a personal conclusion as I made regarding theism to be for the gullible and a psychological need.

CLAY: “Your marriage to this position hinders your intellect and blinds you from the evidence…or lack thereof.”

Funny, exactly what I said about creationism.

Are we not both doing the same thing? Are we not both present our personal views and ideas?

CLAY: “Mr. Scott, I say that your worldview will collapse in on itself. I say this because you have belief, a component of the theory of knowledge, the theory of justification, inconsistent with your beginning materialist, closed system philosophy.”

Why do you assume that my philosophy is materialistic and closed?

CLAY: “I say that your whole approach to epistemology won’t hold up. Why? For one, you say that “we are each our own ultimate authority”. How can this be and we still maintain a common foundation of truth, logic, and theory of knowledge? People whom carry this to its logical conclusion are in jail or committed or dead. Do you really believe this?”

My approach to epistemology has held up rather well and continues to hold up. I said that we are each our own ultimate authority because there is no God above us. But we are social animals and, as I indicated in the response to you about morality, those societies justify morality and sustain morality. By doing so also establish other standards such as science, religion, philosophy, etc.

I do not “believe” that. I have come to that conclusion based on what I have seen and done.

CLAY: “Secondly, to call the Bible “an error-filled mythological account with some historical insignificata” is an emotional value judgment that doesn’t sound rational.”

Of course it sounds emotional and judgmental to you – it is attacking the very foundation of your faith and placing you on the defensive. My statement about the Bible is accurate. The Bible is full of errors, contradictions, and inconsistencies. There are numerous mythological accounts in the Bible. There is some historical insignificata (such as the names of cities and actual historical characters). Therefore, the statement of “an error-filled mythological account with some historical insignificata,” is an accurate statement.

In my view to read the Bible and walk away without seeing the errors, inconsistencies, and contradictions and denying the evidence to the contrary is a betrayal of intellectual integrity and is not rational. Each of us has come to the same conclusion – that each other are irrational. We’ve made a lot of progress here, haven’t we?

CLAY: “Your saying that “there are no beliefs involved with atheism” commits you to a worldview, a commitment from which you depart in your approach, as evidenced by your free admission to hold conscience and morality.”

You’re really having a hard time understanding what atheism is. Atheism is nothing more than the lack of belief in a god and supernatural beings. That’s it. That is the only thing that ties atheists together is the lack of belief in a god. There are no beliefs involved with atheism. That does not imply that an atheist cannot have beliefs. It means that atheism is not about beliefs – but the lack thereof – when regarding gods and supernatural beings.

Atheism does not commit me or any other atheists to a worldview. There are atheists that do have a worldview – but it does not ride hand-in-hand with atheism.

I have beliefs (not many, though). If you ask me if I “believe in” something I will more than likely tell you no. People “believe” in God, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. Belief is a very potent word and insinuates a lot when used. I have come to many conclusions about life, morality, science, theology, philosophy, et al based on what I have researched, learned, experienced, seen, etc. I can say that I believe in the Constitution. I can say that I believe in Capitalism. But when I say those things I’m not really talking about a “belief”, per say, but more of an understanding and acceptance. I am saying that I appreciate and acknowledge those things and have come to the conclusion that they deserve my support. It’s just easier to say I believe in them.

I know atheists that believe in UFOs. I know atheists that believe in ghosts. I know atheist that believe in astrology. The only thing that ties them together is the lack of belief regarding gods and supernatural beings.

CLAY: “I believe that you have borrowed some capital from Western Theism, particularly Judeo- Christianity.”

Since I was a Christian in my early years – that is highly likely. But it is also irrelevant to the issue.

CLAY: “Further, some potpourri: you are aware, for instance, that the Resurrection doesn’t depend upon inerrancy?”

Then why are apologists, Biblicists, and fundamentalists so keen on defending it and proving inerrancy? Because if the Resurrection fails then so does the very foundation of Christianity. If Christ was not resurrected then what’s the point? That shows he was a man and not the Son of God. The Resurrection is extremely dependant upon inerrancy.

CLAY: “Another; Christianity doesn’t rely on councils. Councils can provide good insight and summarize positions, but they are not authoritative.”

It was the Council of Nicea that formulated and introduced the Triune God that you claim to follow. Had the Council decided to keep Jesus as a man instead of God in the Flesh you would be worshiping a Bi-God instead of a Trinity. The Creed of Nicea is still recited to this day. While modern councils may be nothing more than a political show of arms – the councils of ancient times built the very stage that you dance upon – and even choreographed your moves.

CLAY: “More, I say that, as mentioned earlier in a discussion of textual criticism, Golding’s argument is pooh-pooh and has been proved wrong by Guthrie, just to name one.”

Guthrie has not proved Golding to be wrong. Guthrie has simply presented his views and used what I guess you would call the Christian Theory of Knowledge to “reduce” Golding’s argument. While Guthrie’s arguments sound formidable they are nothing more than wanton rationalizations and justifications that amount to nothing more than personal opinion. You can go to hundreds of Christian archives and retrieve the same information that Golding presents. The information is historical and documented in a letter by Alexander to his home. Arius and the Arians documented the events leading up to the Council and the events afterwards because of the exile of Arius (as he disagreed with the founding of the Trinity).

CLAY: “Are you really serious about me following your reasoning when you freely admit, “we know that a belief in god is a psychological necessary for humanity” – a devastating admission!”

Yes I am serious. I take this issue very seriously. Take any Humanities class and this information is discussed. I also covered the subject in minor detail when I posted from my web page earlier. Scientists have also identified a part of the brain associated with religious thought – lovingly called the God Module. This is not something to be ashamed of nor is it mean to berate. I am simply stating what I know and what my view is.

CLAY: “But the final “God is not in outer space…he simply is nonexistent”…this is belief and it has no basis in observation.”

On the contrary it has everything to do with observation. I cannot smell God. I cannot hear God. I cannot taste God. I cannot see God. I cannot touch God. There is evidence against the very definitions of the Christian God and almost every other defined God. There is only one god that when I say it doesn’t exist requires faith – and that is the UGFSS. It is my observations that have led me to the conclusion (not belief) that God does not exist. The likelihood and probability of specifically the Christian God existing are less than 1%.

CLAY: “Of particular note, I am disturbed by your popular belief in the theory of evolution, a philosophically flawed “theory.””

So it’s okay for you to feel “disturbed” by my “belief” in a theory that you consider to be flawed but when I assert that religion is a psychological necessity and there are many flaws of the Bible it is juvenile and full of emotionalism? I feel so much better knowing that.

Since you have made that statement I’m going to assume that your knowledge of the evolutionary facts and supporting theory are elementary at best. To look at Biblical creation and evolution side by side and still choose creationism is to forsake one’s intellectual integrity. There is simply no comparison whatsoever.

CLAY: “Your argument must admit that this is still theory as no transitional forms are documented.”

Incorrect. There are multitudes of transitional fossils. What type of transitionals are you looking for? Are you looking for the elusive cat-dog or fish-lizard?

CLAY: “No answer for biogenesis exists.”

Incorrect.

CLAY: “The second law of thermodynamics has not been reversed.”

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics does not apply to life. Nor does it contradict the evolutionary or cosmological theories. This statement clearly shows a misunderstanding of the Laws of Thermodynamics and especially the 2nd Law. I have been debating a hardcore creationist that has conceded the fact that the 2nd Law does not conflict with evolutionary theory. He could not deny the formulas and evidence and still maintain his intellectual integrity. You can read the debate at Atheism Awareness.

Each of your “arguments” against evolutionary fact and theory have been addressed and shown to be invalid. I suggest you look further into the issue. A good place to start is the Talk Origins Archive.

I don’t want to get into another Evolution vs. Creationism debate here. I’ve already got a very long one going that is VERY involved and detailed. I also have a simplified one with a “beginner”. That doesn’t even include my numerous debates on the Forums and at local events.

CLAY: “Maybe you have been digesting the wrong sources?”

If you consider sources like William Arndt, Harold Lindsell, Charles Ryrie, James Boice, James Packer, Clark Pinnock, Gleason Archer, Josh McDowell, Don Stewart, Richard Sisson, David O’Brien, Maurice Baucaille, E. M. Blaiklock, Norman Ward, Peter Ruckman, Vernon McGee, Norman Geisler, Oscar Culmann, Robert Mounce, Dwight Pentecost, M. R. DeHaan, Henry Morris, Martin Clark, James Sire, R. C. Sproul, Kenneth Boa, and Larry Moody (to name a few) to be the wrong sources for the Christian perspective – then sure.

CLAY: “I think that Atheism is intellectually appealing to you because you choose it to be.”

Atheism is intellectually appealing to me because I refuse to forsake my intellectual integrity and forsake truth for mythology. You bet I choose it to be.

CLAY: “A Christian’s only personal comparison is to be made with Jesus, from whom every one of us falls woefully short. Let Christ be the example. Our goal as Christians is, after all, to become more and more like him and less like our sinful selves.”

Too bad Jesus wasn’t a very good moral example himself.

CLAY: “A Christian has no moral high ground over another human.”

If only you can convince the rest of Christianity about this. If only the conversion process and the corruption by missionaries would cease at the realization of that very statement.

CLAY: “In my heart and mind, I have no moral superiority over you. Only Jesus Christ does, and it is His life that compels us to witness to His Truth.”

Jesus has no moral superiority over me, either. He was just as corrupt as the next Tom, Dick, and Harry. It’s in the Bible – but most Christians refuse to see it. There are accounts in the Bible that place Jesus in a not-so-perfect position of immorality. If you have to ask me to give you the scriptures then you have not really read the Bible or you have subconsciously overlooked these passages in order to maintain your faith and deny your intellectual integrity.

CLAY: “I cannot argue you to this conclusion, for it is not within my power to do so, only God’s, but I can define logical arguments that reasonably show that Christianity is not the foolish mistake you unfairly present it to be.”

You have yet to do so. Christianity will ultimately fall among the other religions in the theistic graveyard. It won’t be long before Yahweh and Jesus are sitting next to Jupiter, Zeus, Thor, Ares, Ra, Horus, Mithras, and Mother Earth. To be discussed in a High School mythology class. Even as we speak Christianity is on the decline and non-theistic spiritualism is on the rise. It is only in the United States were the gullibility remains so high. Religiously speaking we are ranked next to Bangladesh when it comes to our views on science. We are the only industrialized nation that still has a large population that believes in literal creationism. We are a culture of gullibility. From Christianity to Astronomy to Psychic Hot Lines. It’s an intellectual shame and rather embarrassing. The British have no concept of fundamentalism and don’t understand what is going on over here. It’s rather ironic don’t you think, that Americans are fleeing for England to escape religious persecution?

CLAY: “History is replete with excellent Christian minds, from Augustine to Anselm to Aquinas, to name three foundational contributors.”

History is also replete with excellent Atheist minds, Muslim minds, Hindu minds, Jewish minds, etc. Just because there were wise Christians does not make Christianity any truer.

CLAY: “Have you read Augustine’s Confessions?”

I live 15 minutes from St. Augustine, Florida. Every bookstore down there sold his works. I’ve read Confessions and The Literal Meaning of Genesis.

CLAY: “But there are many others, men who were brilliant, men who gave us the patterns from which we consciously or subconsciously approach our modern world. And they were ancient Christian apologists. Are you saying that they were foolish in their conclusions?”

Their acts and achievement were not necessarily foolish. I don’t condemn the works of Isaac Newton and his contributions to physics just because he was a deist. His belief in a god, as a deist, was foolish – but at least he was intellectually honest with himself and admitted the faults in Christianity. His faith had a major grip on him though and he could not shake it. So he adopted a deistic view and left Christianity behind him. I think most Christians would be amazed to find out just how many people they claim were Christians were actually deists or Unitarians.

CLAY: “Am I? For I, like they, have banked my entire life on the Truth of the Bible and the reality that a Triune Personal God stands behind eternity. The stakes are high. Let’s stop the games.”

Since you have gagged me from presenting my opinions and views because you find them juvenile then I guess I cannot answer that question. But what the hell… Yes. I find your belief in the Triune God of Christianity to be foolish and a break in your intellectual integrity.

The stakes are only high in your view because you consider yourself eternally damned to the pits of hell unless you follow the teachings of your God and bow before him in submissiveness. You’ve mentioned several times my “attacking Christianity”. Christianity does not stand by itself (it just has the loudest mouth in the group). Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Shamanism, African Religions, Gnosticism, Hasidism, Jainism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, North American Indian Religions, Protestantism, Quakerism, Catholicism, Seventh-Day Adventism, Shakers, Sikhism, Sufism, Tantrism, Taoism, and Zen all stand next to Christianity in the booth of psychological necessity.

I never heard back from Clay.

Debate 002: Ben and Blair debate depression and God

Ben Rebuttal #001:

This is a reply to the comments you have made below which were forwarded to me by a friend of mine who thought I might have something so say in response. I would appreciate it if you would take the time to read what I have written.

BLAIR: “Prayer and God do not cure depression…”

First thing: Yes they do, I am living proof of this fact, since without God’s miraculous healing I would probably have committed suicide several years ago.

BLAIR: “…or rebuild your house after a tornado.”

I find your analogy here to be quite ridiculous and thus non – comparable.

BLAIR: “How many times have people been told to pray to help them through times of depression?”

Many I should hope, all I can say is that it worked for me.

BLAIR: “We know (a.k.a. it’s been proven) that depression is a chemical imbalance in the body…”

There are many different kinds of depression, which can be psychological as well as biological. My depression was triggered by a very traumatic and upsetting experience, which I was going through at the time, however it was NOT caused by a chemical imbalance.

BLAIR: “…and can never be cured by prayer.”

YES IT CAN. I WAS 100% CURED OF DEPRESSION THROUGH PRAYER AND FAITH HEALING AND THIS WAS AFTER I HAD BEEN SUFFERING FROM IT SEVERELY FOR 7-8 YEARS.

BLAIR: “It takes drugs and therapy to cure depression.”

Depression can NEVER be COMPLETELY cured by taking drugs and having therapy unless God does something.

BLAIR: “Prayer may help as a form of therapy but will not cure depression.”

YES IT WILL.

BLAIR: “How many people theists owe loved ones an apology for not getting them proper medical treatment of depression?”

Why should someone who is suffering from depression (and believes in God) apologize to their loved ones for not getting themselves proper medical treatment? Clearly you have not suffered from depression yourself, because if you had then you would know the extreme feelings of helplessness, which depressed people go through. Their mentality is that no one can help me and no one can make it go away, therefore a logical conclusion to make would be that taking drugs and having therapy will not help me either.

BLAIR: “How many people have committed suicide because theism blinded them to the medical treatment of depression and other diseases?”

None, I should think.


Response to Ben #001:

BEN: “First thing: Yes they do, I am living proof of this fact, since without God’s miraculous healing I would probably have committed suicide several years ago.”

As a society we tend to over use the word depression. When we are sad we say we are depressed when we are really just sad. There is a difference between feeling depressed (sad) and clinical depression. You may have been sad and your prayer gave you the strength and confidence to carry on and come out of your sadness – but you were not clinically depressed.

BEN: “I find your analogy here to be quite ridiculous and thus non – comparable.”

Actually I’m glad you pointed this out. An important part of that paragraph was left out. I went from one thought process to another without expanding on the first thought. The point behind this was attributing acts of nature to God and thanking God for sparing your life but killing your neighbor. Prayer does not re-build a house after a tornado. Prayer and faith may give you the strength and courage to continue on after the tornado and re-build your house – but it doesn’t re-build your house for you. This also works the same with clinical depression. Prayer and faith may give you the strength and courage to continue but it will not cure the clinical depression.

BEN: “Many I should hope, all I can say is that it worked for me.”

Prayer helped you out of a time of sadness – not clinical depression. The point I was trying to make is that instead of telling people to pray for their depression get them the medical treatment they need to cure it – because prayer will not cure clinical depression.

BEN: “There are many different kinds of depression, which can be psychological as well as biological. My depression was triggered by a very traumatic and upsetting experience, which I was going through at the time, however it was NOT caused by a chemical imbalance.”

As I said before we abuse the word depression. A traumatic and upsetting experience happened in your life that caused sadness and you felt depressed. But you were not suffering from clinical depression. There’s a big difference between the two.

Let’s take a look at the kids of “depression”:

Normal Depressed Mood & Grief:

This is a natural reaction to losses in life. It typically involves sadness, lethargy, and in some serious cases, despair, anger, insomnia, poor appetite or weight gain, obsessive thoughts about the lost person, and terrible guilt about relationship problems with the lost person. This is a normal reaction because people eventually recover. If you lose a baseball game you may take a couple of days to bounce back. After you lose a job you may take a month to bounce back. After you lose a loved you may take a year to bounce back. But you bounce back. A lot of times therapy (from a psychologist, meditation, prayer, faith, etc.) will help resolve this normal grief period more quickly because the therapy provides courage and strength to make it through the period of grief. If the symptoms persist then the sufferer may have crossed the line into clinical depression, causing a chemical imbalance in the body. A physician should be consulted immediately. Normal depressed mood and grief presume a triggering life event.

This is not clinical depression but has the capacity to become clinical depression if no resolved. Once it becomes clinical depression the assistance of a physician is required.

Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood:

Life is full of changes. Coping with them can be difficult. Many people feel overwhelmed and “crazy” for a while. Then they get things under control. If they don’t, and they become persistently gloomy, angry, and unable to cope, it’s most likely adjustment disorder with depressed mood. Adjustment disorder with depressed mood presumes a triggering life event — the change you have to adjust to.

This is not clinical depression and normally does not escalate into clinical depression. If the rare event happens and it becomes clinical depression the assistance of a physician is required.

Mild Depression (Dysthymia):

Dysthymia (pronounced dis-THIM-ee-uh) involves chronic depressed mood, poor self-esteem, and low-level symptoms of major depression (see below). “People with mild depression can still function, but they’re sad sacks,” says San Francisco psychiatrist Michael Freeman, M.D. “They consider themselves losers.”

Dysthymia may or may not have a triggering life event. Quite often, there is nothing to blame it on — no loss or life change. This can be confusing for both the person affected, and their loved ones. But just as you can catch a cold seemingly out of nowhere, you can also slip into Dysthymia for no apparent reason.

This is not clinical depression and is easily treatable with methods in raising the self-esteem. Acceptance into a fellowship often raises the self-esteem of individuals because they feel accepted. Prayer itself has not been shown to help with this disorder – on the flip side prayer has been shown to make this worse because the patient dwells on their problem in prayer and low self-esteem persists. Patients that become active in church group and become an integral part of the fellowship show faster signs of recovery – just as patients that join other groups also show speedier recovery. If left unabated this has the ability to become clinical depression by altering the chemistry of the body – at which point a physician’s assistance becomes necessary.

Major Depression:

When people say “seriously depressed,” this is what they mean. Major depression often causes despair and hopelessness so profound that the person loses interest in life, becomes incapable of feeling pleasure and sexual arousal, and may be unable to get out of bed or eat for days at a time. But this illness may also cause other symptoms not easily recognized as depression: weight loss or gain; anxiety, irritability, or agitation; chronic indecisiveness; or sleep disturbances (insomnia or sleeping all the time). In other words, you can suffer a major depression and not feel blue.

Very often, major depression strikes without any triggering loss. This can be confusing and frustrating for both the person affected, and their loved ones. We want our illnesses to have clear causes. But many serious diseases do not: diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. That’s how it is with major depression. It’s a serious disease that often develops with no discernible triggering event.

Officially, according to DSM-IV, major depression involves at least two weeks of deep despair and at least four of the following:

  • Sleep problems. Insomnia or sleeping all the time.

  • Appetite problems. Loss of appetite or major weight gain.

  • Lack of energy. Apathy, lethargy, no interest in anything.

  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and/or terrible guilt.

  • Difficulty concentrating or unusual indecisiveness.

  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.

Beyond the almost unbearable misery it causes, the big risk in major depression is suicide. Within five years of suffering a major depression, an estimated 25% of sufferers try to kill themselves. The myth is that people who talk about suicide don’t attempt it. The fact is that many people announce their intention before their suicide attempts. Take any talk of suicide very seriously, and make sure the person gets professional help. Call their doctor immediately, if possible.

This is usually associated with clinical depression. It is important to note that thoughts of suicide are not just associated with major depression. Thoughts of suicide can be associated with any type of depressed feelings or sadness. Major depression is listed as a disease – not a condition. Major depression is a chemical imbalance in the body and requires the use of medication. Because major depression can come and go sufferers are often mislead about cures and causes. Coming out of a major depression does not mean the sufferer is cured. It just means the sufferer is in remission. Without proper drug therapy another episode is likely. With each recurring episode the risk of suicide increases.

Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depression):

About 1% of the American population experiences bipolar disorder annually. This illness involves major depressive episodes alternating with high-energy periods of wildly unrealistic activity. A manic friend might, for example, call at 3 A.M. to announce in all seriousness that she’s flying to Hollywood immediately to marry Robert Redford, and star in his next movie.

Typically, bipolar disorder develops without any clear cause. Treatment usually involves drug therapy. Other therapies are being researched and the cause of Bipolar disorder is still being researched.

Atypical Depression:

“Atypical” means unusual. Instead of feeling unrelenting gloominess and lethargy, a person with this condition might seem deeply depressed for a few days, then fine for a while, or anxious and irritable. Like many other forms of depression, the atypical variety often develops without a triggering event. Recent research has indicated that a chemical imbalance may not be permanent in some people. The research indicates that chemical imbalances may come and go in some people causing “mood swings” or small periods of depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

This condition is often called “winter blues.” A reaction to lack of sunlight in winter, mild or major depression develops in late fall and clears up in early spring. As distance from the equator increases, this condition becomes more common. In the northern hemisphere, December, January, and February are the worst months. This is not clinical depression but is a depressed feeling associated with cloudy skies and rainy days. How many times have we sat in our living rooms on a rainy day and let out a long sigh and felt an overwhelming boredom – often leading to sadness.

Postpartum Depression:

New mothers typically expect to feel overjoyed after giving birth. But because of the enormous hormonal changes of delivery and the challenges of dealing with an infant, some two-thirds of women feel transient sadness. About 10% to 15% become clinically depressed. And about one in 1000 become so severely depressed that they must be hospitalized for their own safety and the safety of their baby.

This is another example of how a period of feeling sad (depressed) can become clinical depression if left unabated or the sufferer cannot “shake” the sadness. The chemical imbalance goes unchecked and becomes permanent – requiring the aid of a physician and drug therapy.

BEN: “YES IT CAN. I WAS 100% CURED OF DEPRESSION THROUGH PRAYER AND FAITH HEALING AND THIS WAS AFTER I HAD BEEN SUFFERING FROM IT SEVERELY FOR 7-8 YEARS.”

If you honestly suffered from clinical depression for 7-8 years without the use of drugs or the aid of a physician then you are still clinically depressed and not cured. Your prayer and faith may help you deal emotionally with your clinical depression (after all, it’s just another form of psychotherapy).

As far as “faith healing” goes there are reasons it appears to work. Prior to exposure there is a buildup of anticipation and anxiety over the faith healing experience. This causes a massive buildup of adrenaline in the body. The adrenaline overrides the chemical imbalance that causes depression and the depression is submissive. The adrenaline override can last for months and sometimes years – especially if the patient is radically involved in the faith healing process. The faith doesn’t cure the depression – the adrenaline from the anticipation and excitement cover the depression up.

If the body is exposed to continuous adrenaline over extended periods of time it can cause a lot of damage to sensitive organs. When the adrenaline finally recedes and the depression is allowed to resurface it is overwhelming – often resulting in suicide or death from some other bodily reaction.

BEN: “Depression can NEVER be COMPLETELY cured by taking drugs and having therapy unless God does something.”

Yes it can. No doctor will prescribe just drugs, obviously. There are other activities help the sufferer overcome different aspects of the depression. The chemical imbalance in the body must be treated with drugs to rectify the imbalance. Feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, phobia, etc. may be helped by other means. But these side treatments help or cure the symptoms – not the source. If you clean away a scab – the wound is still below it. And if you don’t treat the wound with medication – infection can set in or scarring may occur.

Let’s take a look at some of the therapies involved:

Research shows that for mild depression, non-drug therapies are as effective as antidepressant medications. For mild-to-moderate depression, non-drug therapies may be sufficient, but many people also need antidepressant medications. The two often work best together. For moderate-to-severe or severe depression, medications are necessary. But the non-drug therapies can still play a valuable supportive role in treatment.

Have more fun. In mild depression, this often helps. “Happiness requires action,” says psychologist Jennifer James, Ph.D., author of Women and the Blues. Try not to mope. Visit a friend. Have a massage. Get a pet. Redecorate. Take a class. Take a vacation. If nothing feels fun, do things you used to enjoy.

Cognitive therapy. You can’t talk yourself out of depression, but you can stop talking yourself deeper into it. Cognitive therapy — also called cognitive restructuring — teaches people to recognize and correct depressive thinking. If you make a mistake at work, you might think, “I’m hopelessly incompetent,” and slide toward depression. That’s “awful-izing” — a thought distortion that magnifies minor upsets into catastrophes. With cognitive therapy, the reaction changes: “OK, I made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. Fortunately, my boss and co-workers know I don’t make many. And I can fix this one easily.” A National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) study showed that after 16 weeks of cognitive restructuring training, 51 percent of those with mild to moderate depression reported significant improvement. “Cognitive therapy also lends itself to self-help,” Dr. Freeman says.

Exercise. A tremendous amount of research shows that exercise — particularly strenuous aerobic exercise — elevates mood, relieves anxiety, improves appetite, sleep, sexual interest and functioning, and self-esteem. Studies show that it also helps normalize the chemical imbalances in the brain linked to depression, Dr. Stuart Yudofsky says.

Psychotherapy. Long-term Freudian psychoanalysis has been largely replaced by shorter-term “talk therapies.” The NIMH study showed that after 16 weeks of psychotherapy, 55% of those with mild to moderate depression reported significant improvement. Support groups. Depression feels terribly isolating. Support groups show you that you’re not alone. They are particularly helpful for depressions associated with drug or alcohol abuse, which is why Alcoholics Anonymous and the other Anonymous organizations are so popular.

Herbal medicines. Several medicinal herbs have antidepressant effects. The most powerful is St. John’s wart, a natural SSRI and weak MAO inhibitor. In addition, kava-kava, ginkgo, and caffeine can also help.

Dietary supplements. Certain vitamin deficiencies — notably B-6, B-12, C, folic acid, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, biotin, and pantothenic acid — can cause depression.

Acupuncture, aromatherapy, and other alternative treatments. The United Nations World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as effective for mild-to-moderate depression. Other helpful treatments include aromatherapy, massage therapy, music therapy, and meditation.

Photo therapy. Seasonal affective disorder is caused by lack of sunlight in winter. Supplemental artificial light successfully treats it. A half-hour a day in front of a special bright-light appliance lifts the spirits of 60% to 80% of those with winter depression. Another appliance that simulates an earlier dawn may also be beneficial. Antidepressant medication can help as well. So can midwinter tropical vacations. The emotional benefits typically last a week or two after returning north.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). In cases of severe depression where antidepressants prove ineffective, ECT is another option. Once known as “shock therapy,” and given an undeserved bad reputation by the book and movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Dr. Yudofsky says: “When used properly, ECT is safe and effective. Unfortunately, because of fear of electricity, and the inaccurate ways ECT has been portrayed in movies and on television, many people who could be benefit from it don’t consider it.” They should: In severe depression, it helps 80% to 90% of cases.

BEN: “Why should someone who is suffering from depression (and believes in God) apologize to their loved ones for not getting themselves proper medical treatment?”

Brother Fred is a local religious hero of sorts here in Mobile and a recognized religious consultant nationwide. He tells a wonderful story about his wife. His wife was depressed for years. He constantly told her to snap out of it and pray to God to help her out of her depression. For years this went on. A doctor in his congregation told him that his wife needed medical help to cure her depression. Brother Fred reluctantly agreed because he felt that his wife was not putting her heart into her prayer. Six months later Brother Fred’s wife was a completely different person. She remains on the medication to maintain the balance of chemicals in her brain and prevent a relapse into depression. Brother Fred apologized in public to his wife and told everyone that if they felt as if they suffered from depression to seek medical help to be cured. Brother Fred said, “Pray to God not to cure you but pray to God for the doctors to cure you and give you the courage to carry on.”

I know a lot of Christians that are depressed and possibly suffer from the disease of clinical depression. They are told by their spouse or clergy to pray and that God will cure them. For most this will work because they are only depressed and do not suffer from the disease of clinical depression. For a few this will not work and their spouse and clergy owe them an apology for not letting them or telling them to seek the medical help they need.

BEN: “Clearly you have not suffered from depression yourself, because if you had then you would know the extreme feelings of helplessness, which depressed people go through. Their mentality is that no one can help me and no one can make it go away, therefore a logical conclusion to make would be that taking drugs and having therapy will not help me either.”

You presume too much. I have suffered from depression and so have my wife and mother. My wife and mother continue to take medication to keep the chemical balance in their brains regulated. My depression was not clinical depression but just a deep sadness and lethargy. I was able to “snap out of it” with therapy and a change in lifestyle. What does the mentality of “no one can help me so why can drugs” have to do with the actual fact that drugs cure depression? Just because Joe Blow thinks drugs won’t help doesn’t mean they won’t help him. It’s true that nearly 2 out of 3 sufferers of clinical depression do not seek medical help.

Some additional facts about depression:

  • The rate of clinical depression for women is about double that of men; in bipolar disorder, the rates are about the same.

  • There’s a risk for developing depression when there is a family history, of these illnesses, with a somewhat higher risk for those with bipolar disorder. Where a genetic vulnerability exists, onset probably results from a combination of vulnerability and life experience.

  • There are no differences in rates of depression among ethnic/racial groups.

  • Depression often co-occurs with medical, psychiatric, and substance abuse disorders. When this happens, the presence of both illnesses is frequently unrecognized and may lead to serious and unnecessary consequences for patients and families.

  • Estimates for the cost of depression to the Nation in 1990 range from $30-$44 billion. In addition to direct costs, consider the value of millions of lost workdays (estimated to be as high as 200,000,000 days lost each year), impact on productivity due to the nature of the symptoms (e.g., lack of concentration, loss of interest), and the immeasurable disruption to personal and family life.

  • With treatment, up to 80% of those suffering from depression can improve and return to daily activities, usually in a matter of weeks, with treatments generally on an outpatient basis. Unfortunately, nearly 2 out of 3 depressed persons do not seek treatment. In fact, the majority of depressed people are seen initially in primary care setting, where their depression is not diagnosed and its symptoms frequently are inappropriately treated.

  • Depression is Not Grief It is normal to feel sadness after the death of a friend or family member. Indeed, most of us experience great sadness at times in our lives, perhaps from a divorce, moving away from family and friends, losing a job, even losing our good health due to illness. But, most people cope with these losses without becoming clinically depressed. If the sadness or depressed mood continues for a long period of time, the person may be experiencing clinical depression, and should seek professional help.

Causes of Depression:

  • Some types of depression run in families, indicating that a biological vulnerability can be inherited. This seems to be the case with bipolar. Studies of families, in which members of each generation develop bipolar disorder, found that those with the illness have a somewhat different genetic makeup than those who do not get ill. However, the reverse is not true: Not everybody with the genetic makeup that causes vulnerability to bipolar disorder has the illness. Apparently additional factors, possibly a stressful environment, are involved in its onset.

  • Major depression also seems to occur, generation after generation, in some families. However, it can also occur in people who have no family history of depression. Whether inherited or not, major depressive disorder is often associated with having too little or too much of certain neurochemicals.

  • Psychological makeup also plays a role in vulnerability to depression. People who have low self-esteem, who consistently view themselves and the world with pessimism, or who are readily overwhelmed by stress are prone to depression.

  • Biological – People with depression typically have too little or too much of certain brain chemicals, called “neurotransmitters.” Changes in these brain chemicals may cause, or contribute to, clinical depression.

  • Cognitive – People with negative thinking patterns – people who are pessimistic, have low self-esteem, worry too much or feel they have little control over life events – are more likely to develop clinical depression.

  • Genetic – A family history of clinical depression increases the risk for developing the illness. However, clinical depression can also occur in people who have had no family members with depression.

  • Situational – Difficult life events, including the death of a loved one, divorce, financial problems, moving to a new place or significant loss, can contribute to clinical depression.

  • Co-occurring – Clinical depression is more likely to occur along with certain medical illnesses, such as stroke, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and hormonal disorders. This is called “co-occurring depression.” Co-occurring depression should be treated in addition to the physical illness. It is important that you report any depressive symptoms to your doctor.

  • Medications – In addition, some medications for various medical illnesses can actually cause clinical depression. That’s why it is also important to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking.


Ben Rebuttal #002:

Ok then. I have read your reply and would like to say that I was suffering from all forms of depression listed except for bipolar and postpartum depression. I have suffered from normal depression, major depression, seasonal affective disorder, adjustment disorder and whatever else it was that you listed. My point is this: IT HAS GONE!!! I guess you could say I was hanging on for a long time, I guess you could say that I am a pretty tough person on the inside and on top of all that I also had a breakdown. You’d think that someone would notice right? But no one ever did because I learnt to hide it real well. You’d think I would have told someone right? But I couldn’t, the pain went so deep I didn’t know where or how I could start? I thought no one would be able to understand and that they would just think I was a crazy person and shut me away in some mental institution somewhere. And I guess that scared me more than the depression itself did so I learnt to hang on, to close myself off from everyone around me and I became a shell of a human being for those hellacious seven – eight years, I stopped feeling and I shut down permanently. I don’t think it’s funny that I had to cry myself to sleep every night, I don’t think it’s funny that it went on for so long. But when people like you come to me after everything I’ve been through and try to tell me that it wasn’t God who makes me better every single day, then that’s what I just can’t take because by your own opinion I should be dead right now. Do you class major depression as clinical depression? Are the two actually the same thing? Or what about if you’re actually suffering from everything else I stated above at the same time? Is that good enough to be classed as clinical depression? So I had clinical depression and I cried myself to sleep every night wanting to be dead and no one ever noticed and I wasn’t put on medical ‘drugs’ and neither was I at any stage ever hospitalized. I think I’d say that living like that for seven to eight years would just about drive a person insane right? And now? All of a sudden it IS completely gone… just like that? But nothing big, miraculous, phenomenal or god like happened to make it go away. Come on, if I am still depressed and in fact nothing miraculous did happen, then I would say that you’re either talking to a crazy person right now (and my friends can all vouch for me that I am not crazy) or alternatively you’re talking to a dead person. Now which do you think is true? I think it is neither.


Response to Ben #002:

BEN: “I have suffered from normal depression, major depression, seasonal affective disorder, adjustment disorder and whatever else it was that you listed. My point is this: IT HAS GONE!”

At this point I doubt your credibility. To suffer from every form of depression without seeking medical assistance is guaranteed death. The destruction done to your body over a 7-8 year period that you are talking about… you would not have lasted. I think it is necessary to say that I worked at a hospital for four years and responded to psychiatric emergencies on the mental health ward. I’m not just speaking nonsense – I actually have experience with the mentally ill. The physical damage done to a body for that extended amount of time with every form of depression is inconceivable. Why is it inconceivable? If you truly had every form of depression you would be a marvel of medical science – because it has NEVER been documented where a patient has suffered from every kind of depression at one time.

If you were as deep as you claim into depression for a 7-8 year period and you did not seek medical assistance then one of a couple things happened.

First – your chemical imbalance went into remission and you are in fact a bi-polar disorder with extremely long periods of disorder (not uncommon, by the way).

Second – your brain switched modes and reversed the chemical imbalance. This is pretty bad, too. Basically what happens is the brain reverses the chemicals causing the depression to seem to disappear overnight and it is replaced by elation, anxiety, fear, schizophrenia, euphoria, and sometimes hallucinations. Often the other symptoms may result in paranoia or full-blown schizophrenia. The process may take from 1 month to 10 years or more.

Either way – you need to seek medical assistance. If you stick a frog in hot water it will jump out. If you stick a frog in cold water and slowly boil it – the frog will stay in the water and die. You are slowly deteriorating or will sooner or later go back into depression and start the down side of your bi-polar disorder. Seek medical help.

BEN: “But nothing big, miraculous, phenomenal or god like happened to make it go away.”

That is a correct statement.

BEN: “Come on, if I am still depressed and in fact nothing miraculous did happen, then I would say that you’re either talking to a crazy person right now (and my friends can all vouch for me that I am not crazy) or alternatively you’re talking to a dead person.”

I am either talking to a liar/prankster or I am talking to a crazy person just as you suggested. Perhaps you should re-read your paragraph. There is absolutely no sentence structure and you did nothing but ramble on. The whole paragraph sounds delusional and borderline schizophrenic. Your friends can vouch for you all they want – we fail to see change when it happens slowly. Jeffrey Dahlmer’s friends and neighbors never thought he would do what he did – he didn’t seem crazy – they all thought he was normal. I only have three words for you: seek medical help.


Ben Rebuttal #003:

BLAIR: “At this point I doubt your credibility.”

At this point you clearly fail to read the rest of my mail. READ THE REST AND DON’T TAKE WHAT I SAY OUT OF CONTEXT FROM THE REST OF IT.

BLAIR: “To suffer from every form of depression…”

I didn’t say every form of depression, SO DON’T TWIST MY WORDS AROUND.

BLAIR: “…without seeking medical assistance is guaranteed death.”

No it’s not guaranteed at all, I’ll admit I felt very borderline suicidal for a long time and I thought I was going crazy and I had a breakdown, but guess what? I was forced to rely on the measure of faith, which I had already been given by God even before I knew Him and it’s exactly the same measure of faith, which every person who is ever born into this world is given. What you fail to realize here is that there are always some exceptions to every rule, so I guess that I was an exception, because as you rightly say what I went through should have killed me but it didn’t. Now why is this? Because God already knew what was going to happen in my life and that eventually I would be able to come to Him. So by His grace and mercy He saw me through it. Yes I suffered and yes it wasn’t easy but I am telling you now that I am a living, breathing, walking miracle of God.

BLAIR: “The destruction done to your body over a 7-8 year period that you are talking about… you would not have lasted.”

Under normal circumstances, no I wouldn’t have, but God’s love is so mighty and powerful that it can easily defy any pre-assumed default option.

BLAIR: “I think it is necessary to say that I worked at a hospital for four years and responded to psychiatric emergencies on the mental health ward. I’m not just speaking nonsense – I actually have experience with the mentally ill.”

This is of no relevance whatsoever in relation to me.

BLAIR: “The physical damage done to a body for that extended amount of time with every form of depression is inconceivable.”

Once again I did not say I suffered from every form of depression, only all the ones you listed with the exception of two. And the fact that I am still here breathing and living is not inconceivable at all because without God’s intervention I would quite easily have killed myself.”

BLAIR: “Why is it inconceivable?”

It’s not, see above.

BLAIR: “If you truly had every form of depression you would be a marvel of medical science…”

Yes, I guess I would be, science calls it unexplainable, and I call it a miracle of God.

BLAIR: “…because it has NEVER been documented where a patient has suffered from every kind of depression at one time.”

  1. Just because it hasn’t been documented doesn’t mean it has never happened.

  2. I did not say that it was every kind of depression, I even listed them for you. READ THE MAIL.

BLAIR: “If you were as deep as you claim into depression for a 7-8 year period and you did not seek medical assistance then one of a couple things happened.

First – your chemical imbalance went into remission and you are in fact a bi-polar disorder with extremely long periods of disorder (not uncommon, by the way).”

My depression began as a result of intense psychological trauma and hence was not triggered by any chemical imbalance.

BLAIR: “Second – your brain switched modes and reversed the chemical imbalance. This is pretty bad, too. Basically what happens is the brain reverses the chemicals causing the depression to seem to disappear overnight and it is replaced by elation, anxiety, fear, schizophrenia, euphoria, and sometimes hallucinations. Often the other symptoms may result in paranoia or full-blows schizophrenia. The process may take from 1 month to 10 years or more.”

I admit I had some of (but not all) these symptoms for a while (especially over a four year period when I was at college) but now once again THEY ARE COMPLETELY GONE!

BLAIR: “Either way – you need to seek medical assistance.”

NO I DON’T, I AM HEALED, AND I NO LONGER HAVE DEPRESSION OR ANY OF THE OTHER SYMPTOMS THAT ARE RELATED TO IT!

BLAIR: “You are slowly deteriorating…”

No I am not, I feel great.

BLAIR: “…or will sooner or later go back into depression and start the down side of your bi-polar disorder.”

NO I WON’T SEE ABOVE FOR REASON WHY.

BLAIR: “Seek medical help.”

I DON’T NEED IT, I AM CURED.

BLAIR: “But nothing big, miraculous, phenomenal or god like happened to make it go away. That is a correct statement.”

Yes it did, of course it did.

BLAIR: “I am either talking to a liar/prankster…”

THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

BLAIR: “…or I am talking to a crazy person just as you suggested.”

THIS IS ALSO NOT THE CASE.

BLAIR: “Perhaps you should re-read your paragraph. There is absolutely no sentence structure and you did nothing but ramble on.”

Why? I made a perfectly legitimate point. Oh! I’m sorry! I didn’t realize you were an experienced teacher of English grammar. No, I made a perfectly good point, which you have not given me a conclusive answer to, is in fact what I did.

BLAIR: “The whole paragraph sounds delusional and borderline schizophrenic.”

Oh please! Don’t insult me now, I have an above average IQ.

BLAIR: “Your friends can vouch for you all they want – we fail to see change when it happens slowly.”

READ MY LIPS! C-O-P O-U-T! IT WAS AN INSTANTANEOUS REACTION AND I SHOULD THINK THERE ARE ABOUT SEVERAL HUNDRED WITNESSES WHO COULD TESTIFY THAT FACT.

BLAIR: “Jeffrey Dahlmer’s friends and neighbors never thought he would do what he did – he didn’t seem crazy – they all thought he was normal.”

Once again this is completely irrelevant to me.

BLAIR: “I only have three words for you: seek medical help.”

Why? You’re the one who pledges insanity not me. You seek it. “IN CHRIST, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE”


Response to Ben #003:

BEN: “At this point you clearly fail to read the rest of my mail. READ THE REST AND DON’T TAKE WHAT I SAY OUT OF CONTEXT FROM THE REST OF IT. I didn’t say every form of depression, SO DON’T TWIST MY WORDS AROUND.”

I took nothing out of context from your rebuttal at all. You said (and I quote), “I have read your reply and would like to say that I was suffering from all forms of depression listed except for bipolar and postpartum depression.” You said you were suffering from all forms of depression except two. I personally think that you also suffer from bi-polar disorder. If you suffered from all forms of depression than you are a medical first – and I doubt that – just as I doubt your credibility (still).

BEN: “…And it’s exactly the same measure of faith, which every person who is ever born into this world is given.”

And you of course have proof that every person is born with faith? You have proof that a 2-month-old baby has just as much faith as you?

BEN: “What you fail to realize here is that there are always some exceptions to every rule, so I guess that I was an exception, because as you rightly say what I went through should have killed me but it didn’t.”

There are not always exceptions to the rules. When exceptions to the rules are identified then the rules were not written correctly. That is the art of science – constantly re-writing the rules to incorporate the “exceptions”. You were no exception. You are still suffering from depression. Your desperate need for faith and the use of that faith have brought you temporarily out of that depressed state. There are three possibilities that exist here. One, you were not clinically depressed but were emotionally weak – and your faith became your mental crutch. Two, you are lying. Three, you still have the chemical imbalance but your mind, because of its need for faith, has altered the chemical imbalance in the other direction – which of course makes you a bi-polar depressive.

BEN: “Under normal circumstances, no I wouldn’t have, but God’s love is so mighty and powerful that it can easily defy any pre-assumed default option.”

If believing that helps you deal with your depression and causes your brain to release opposing chemicals then more power to you. God did not cure your depression – you did by subconsciously altering your chemical imbalance for the need in faith. This is often what happens in “faith healing”. Like the cripple who suddenly walks because a faith healer touched him. There is sudden rush of adrenaline and other hormones in the brain in anticipation of the touch. These chemicals override the brain’s normal chemistry which controls pain and sensory. The cripple walks a few steps on his own adrenaline and chemicals. Unfortunately – when the episode is done there may be emotional trauma because the “cure” was not permanent and often more physical damage is done to the person because they irritate the injury.

BEN: “Yes I suffered and yes it wasn’t easy but I am telling you now that I am a living, breathing, walking miracle of God.”

You can “tell me” all you want to. The fact remains that you have provided no substantial proof to verify your claims. I have already questioned your credibility to that affect. You stated that you suffered from every form of depression except postpartum (which is understandable since you didn’t give birth) and bi-polar (which is questionable at this point). The physical affects of all forms of depression at a single time over an extended period of time would have caused damage to your body and mind.

BEN: [My hospital work] “This is of no relevance whatsoever in relation to me.” [Jeffrey Dahlmer’s friends & family] “Once again this is completely irrelevant to me.”

Why do these have no relation to you? I worked at a hospital where I routinely responded to psychiatric emergencies and other cases on the mental health ward. In other words – I have background experience in dealing with people suffering from depression. The case of Jeffrey Dahlmer’s neighbor’s is relevant to you. The neighbors swore up and down that he was not crazy and that he showed no signs of schizophrenia. And they were right in the fact that he showed no signs of mental illness. 2 out of 5 people suffer from one form of schizophrenia or another – and half of them don’t know it. And out of the ones that do realize what’s going on are adept at hiding it fact from the outside world. Your friends would have no idea if you were crazy or not – so their “vouching for you” is worth nothing. Just because the examples justify my arguments does not make them irrelevant. Should I make every one of your examples and arguments irrelevant?

BEN: “Once again I did not say I suffered from every form of depression, only all the ones you listed with the exception of two.”

I listed ALL forms of depression. And you said, as I quoted you above, that you suffered from all forms except two. One is obvious and the other is questionable at this point.

BEN: “Yes, I guess I would be, science calls it unexplainable, and I call it a miracle of God.”

Since you did not seek medical assistance, there is no proof that you suffered from every form of depression for 7-8 years. Do you even realize how preposterous that sounds? You are saying that you suffered, for 7-8 years, EVERY form of depression (except postpartum and possibly bi-polar). You would have been suffering the equivalent depressive symptoms of 9 or 10 people! You are greatly over-exaggerating to justify your false claims, lying, or suffering from paranoia and mild schizophrenia. And judging by your answers you probably suffer from a mild psychosis.

BEN: “Just because it hasn’t been documented doesn’t mean it has never happened.”

You can say the sky is green all you want – but until you can prove the sky is green – it is still blue. What you are describing is the suffering of one person on the equivalent scale of 9 or 10 people. Like I said before – you are either lying, over-exaggerating, or suffering from paranoia, schizophrenia, or some psychosis.

BEN: “My depression began as a result of intense psychological trauma and hence was not triggered by any chemical imbalance.”

After a psychological trauma what do you think happens in the brain? Quantities of endorphins are released to help you deal with the trauma. These chemicals help to dull your feelings and emotions to better deal with the trauma. Sometimes they backfire by dulling and enhancing the wrong emotions. It is these very same chemicals that cause the hallucination of a near-death-experience (NDE). If the chemicals do not return to normal, guess what, you have clinical depression.

BEN: “I admit I had some of (but not all) these symptoms for a while (especially over a four year period when I was at college) but now once again THEY ARE COMPLETELY GONE!”

So you are now changing your story from had all of them to had some of them? From 7-8 years to just four in college? And as I said before they only appear to be completely gone because of the previous three reasons I gave which explain this phenomenon. Denying these explanations is fine with me. If the belief in God and “healing power” helps you deal with your depression then I am all for it. Whatever helps you deal with it is okay with me. However, I still recommend you seek medical help to have your neurochemicals checked. If you think you’re happy now – wait until they fix your chemical imbalance – then you’ll be so happy you’ll be climbing up the walls.

BEN: “NO I DON’T, I AM HEALED, AND I NO LONGER HAVE DEPRESSION OR ANY OF THE OTHER SYMPTOMS, WHICH ARE RELATED TO IT!”

So you keep saying. And yet you cannot show this to be true one-way or the other. The very answers you give betray you. Denial does not equal cure.

BEN: “Why? I made a perfectly legitimate point.”

You made a perfectly legitimate opinion – but you have yet to make a point or provide any proof to substantiate you claim. Your credibility has been questioned and all you can do is respond with all caps and short simple answers that only go further to prove my point that you suffer from a degree of paranoia, possibly mild schizophrenia, bi-polar depression, and maybe even a degree of psychosis.

BEN: “No, I made a perfectly good point, which you have not given me a conclusive answer to, is in fact what I did.”

Better go back and re-read your responses if you think that you made a point. All you have said is that you suffered from sever depression (elaborated on that a lot) and that God healed you. Where is the perfectly good point in that? Everything you’ve said has just been an extension of that and nothing else. Where is your proof? Where is your evidence? I have given you several conclusive answers based on the information you have provided me. You failure to see that only further illustrates your paranoia and possible schizophrenia. It shows your refusal to see your own illness. It shows you inability to rationalize. It shows that your emotions are still too powerful for you to handle it and that you have only altered the depression with your “faith” – you are not cured – just in an altered state of mind.

BEN: “Oh please! Don’t insult me now; I have an above average IQ.”

Only someone with an emotional problem would feel insulted. A rational human being would defend him or herself and provide the adequate proof or evidence. A rational human being would not provide the emotionally charged answers that you have. And as I’m sure you know – someone’s intelligence has nothing to do with his or her mentality. Some of the smartest people in the world are lunatics. Intelligence and mentality are separate. The average IQ isn’t that high, anyway.

BEN: “READ MY LIPS! C-O-P O-U-T! IT WAS AN INSTANTANEOUS REACTION AND I SHOULD THINK THERE ARE ABOUT SEVERAL HUNDRED WITNESSES WHO COULD TESTIFY THAT FACT.”

What was an instantaneous reaction? What did you react to? This is a highly charged emotional response for such a simple statement as “Your friends can vouch all they want – we fail to see change when it happens slowly.” Why did this comment evoke such strong emotions from you? What do you have to hide? What did you do that has you on the defensive suddenly? Where were you and what did you do that would have several hundred witnesses? And all several hundred of these witnesses can testify to the account that something you did that justifies my argument that you are crazy was actually just an instantaneous reaction? You have walked yourself into a room of mirrors – and all eyes are on you.

So why do I think you are still depressed and mildly schizophrenic. I thought I was going to be engaged in an intelligent debate. Instead all I get is kindergarten tactics and responses, coupled with schizophrenic and emotionally charged answers. Just take a look at your responses in regards to kindergarten tactics and answers:

  • READ THE REST AND DON’T TAKE WHAT I SAY OUT OF CONTEXT FROM THE REST OF IT.

  • …SO DON’T TWIST MY WORDS AROUND.

  • This is of no relevance whatsoever in relation to me.

  • It’s not, see above.

  • …but now once again THEY ARE COMPLETELY GONE!

  • NO I DON’T, I AM HEALED, I NO LONGER HAVE DEPRESSION OR ANY OF THE OTHER SYMPTOMS, WHICH ARE RELATED TO IT!!!

  • No I am not, I feel great.

  • NO I WON’T SEE ABOVE FOR REASON WHY.

  • I DON’T NEED IT, I AM CURED.

  • Yes it did, of course it did.

  • THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

  • THIS IS ALSO NOT THE CASE.

  • Oh! I’m sorry! I didn’t realize you were an experienced teacher of English grammar.

  • Oh please! Don’t insult me now; I have an above average IQ.

  • READ MY LIPS! C-O-P-O-U-T! IT WAS AN INSTANTANEOUS REACTION AND I SHOULD THINK THERE ARE ABOUT SEVERAL HUNDRED WITNESSES WHO COULD TESTIFY THAT FACT.

  • Why? You’re the one who pledges insanity not me. You seek it.

  • “IN CHRIST, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE”

You have shown me absolutely nothing but highly charged emotional responses, paranoia laced rambling, mild schizophrenic phraseology, and the likelihood of some degree of psychosis. Coupled with the possibility of a bi-polar depressive disorder.

Good luck to you Ben. I can only hope that you heed my advice and seek medical help. Look at it this way – if your God cured you of depression and you have no side affects – what do you have to lose by seeing a psychologist? It’s the old Pascal’s Wager in a medical sense!

The last response from Ben was February, 2000: I never received a response from him after my last rebuttal.

Debate 001: Tasha and Blair debate death, agnosticism and the paranormal

Tasha Rebuttal #001:

Your definition of what an agnostic is seems different from what I have read. May I suggest you read more than one dictionary, because terms like these have different definitions.

I am an agnostic. The definition of agnosticism has more than one definition. I will say that I don’t believe I can know if there is a supreme being, period, until I am dead perhaps. I am not waiting around for traffic to clear! I have been agnostic all my life. I found your definition somewhat silly. I am certainly not waiting for “someone” to prove the existence of a “god”, as you said agnostics do in your explanation. What was that about waiting to see which side of the street to clear first? Don’t be ridiculous! I haven’t found your extended definition remotely close to the ones I’ve read. You portray agnostics as people who just can’t make up their mind. I have made up my mind, and feel quite logical in my choice. You should dispel myths in your own department (atheism) and stop spreading misconceptions about agnosticism.


Response to Tasha #001:

TASHA: “May I suggest you read more than one dictionary…”

I have and they were pretty much the same with only minor and insignificant differences and word usage but all conveyed the same meaning. My choice of Webster was because it is the most common and respected dictionary around. Perhaps you should take your complaint of the definition up with Webster?

I’m sorry you find my extended definition silly. I stated from the beginning that I didn’t want people to need a doctorate in philosophy to visit my page. I wanted the page to be understood by anyone that visited it to help dispel any myths surrounding Atheism. One of the myths often held is that there are no true Atheists that we are all Agnostics. I feel that it is very important to separate the two and describe their differences. While the candy store analogy may be silly (that I grant you), it helps to convey the message in easy to understand terms. I do not think the highway median analogy is silly. You stated yourself that “I will say that I don’t believe I can know if there is a Supreme Being, period, until I am dead perhaps.” You are correct. You are standing in the median of the atheism/theism highway declaring “I don’t believe I can know.” Sooner or later you will know one way or the other. You will either know god and cross to the Theism side or you will finally conclude that you know there is no god and cross to the Atheism side. Or you will never know and die in the median.


Tasha Rebuttal #002:Thank you for the response, I would like to reiterate my opinion and share some thoughts on your own. In your description on agnosticism, you give the reader the impression that agnostics are undecided. That is not true of all agnostics, you made a generalization. I am decided, and have no intentions of changing my mind. I have had theists and atheists alike argue with me under the same misguided interpretation of what an agnostic is. Your candy store analogy only promotes more misunderstanding about agnosticism. There is no comparison to be made between hard atheists and agnostics. While I appreciate your attempt to make agnosticism more understandable, I don’t believe you have done that. I think you may want to redefine what agnosticism is on your site, or just ignore the subject altogether by stating simply that agnostics are NOT the same as atheists. The main point of this is that not all agnostics are undecided, and you haven’t given that impression to the reader. As an agnostic, I don’t believe there IS anything to decide. The Webster dictionary’s definition of agnosticism is not in question here; yours is.


Response to Tasha #002:An agnostic is undecided. They are undecided as to whether god exists or not. While you may KNOW that we can never know if he does or not you are still undecided about the existence of a god. Claiming you know that no one can ever know is another way of saying, “I’m undecided”. I think you are misinterpreting the definition of Agnosticism to meet your expectations.

As Douglas E. Krueger states in his book “What is Atheism: A Short Introduction,

“[An Agnostic is] someone who suspends judgment on the matter of god’s existence and other supernatural claims. Some Agnostics believe that there is not enough evidence about whether or not god exists to reach a definitive judgment on the issue. They hold that until such facts are gathered, lest one commit the fallacy of an appeal to ignorance, one should not affirm or deny the existence of such beings”.

In other words, they are undecided about the existence or non-existence of God and clarify this indecision as an issue of knowledge or more accurately, the lack of knowledge.

Until such time that the founder of Agnosticism, Thomas Huxley, decides that the definition should change then I shall leave it as it is. Of course he is dead so I don’t see that happening any time soon since I don’t believe in ghosts or resurrection.


Tasha Rebuttal #003:

BLAIR: “I think you are misinterpreting the definition of agnosticism to meet you expectations.”

How? I don’t see how my own explanation could be excluded from the one you gave by Thomas Huxley. I was simply saying that your analogy was poor, because it has nothing to do with what agnostics are in general, only your idea of what agnostics are. Not all agnostics are waiting to decide, as you said. Agnostics have simply suspended judgment, there is no presumption that they ever will decide. I think you should simply quote Huxley when trying to assert what an agnostic is, because your analogy is incomplete.


Response to Tasha #003:

To avoid generalization should I specify every case of Agnosticism there is? I think that would be redundant. Catering to every minority is what has caused the Politically Correct revolution and the ceaseless stupid litigation in our justice system. However I will get rid of the analogies in the definition and stick to the basics. Is this acceptable?


Tasha Rebuttal #004:

Thank you for changing your definition of agnosticism, it’s appreciated.


Response to Tasha #004:

You’re welcome.


Tasha Rebuttal #005:

Furthermore, while I can certainly understand why you have explained what death is to your children in an effort to spare them confusion, there is one thing I am left to ponder. Do you know where your conscience goes after death? Assuming you are a logical atheist, you will probably admit you do not. Did you tell your daughters about this? Thousands of testimonies from ALL types of people have documented unexplainable (by standard terms) experiences while either clinically dead or in a coma. But that’s somewhat beside the point. Is it not fair to HOPE that part of our being does not end? Could you not extend this hope to your daughters? Can you honestly say you have been dead before? If you would like evidence as to paranormal activity, I can find some links for you. The mind has an immense amount of power, how can you say for certain that such a power ends when our physical beings end? Assuming you understand evolution, isn’t it possible that we are evolved in ways not yet understood? I do not know one way or the other, but I at least hope I go on somehow, simply because I have no other choice but to realize that there are some things I simply cannot know now. Love is a power, hope is a choice.


Response to Tasha #005:

TASHA: “Do you know where your conscience goes after death?”

Conscience or conscious? Conscience is the faculty by which distinctions are made between right and wrong. Conscious is to be mentally aware of one’s inner thoughts and feelings. I am going to assume you meant the conscious since that seems to be more relevant to the rest of your statement. What are the only two species on the planet that have a conscious? Human beings and chimpanzees are the only two species on the planet that have self-awareness. Does the conscious of a chimpanzee continue after death? Do chimpanzees go to Heaven since they are self-aware?

Do you know what causes the “tunnel effect” in near death experiences? Air Force and Navy pilots know. They noticed the same “tunnel effect” during high G testing in a centrifuge. The pilots lost consciousness and began to see a tunnel of light and they felt like they were being pulled into it. Scientists quickly began a more dedicated research into the phenomenon and found that during times of unconsciousness and death the brain released hormones as much as ten times as normal. These hormones act like a narcotic to the brain and reduce pain stimuli to the nerve center. It causes the brain to focus in on whatever stimuli are left. This causes a tunnel effect. The effect has also been documented in high stress situations that involved fight or flight. Victims that escaped recalled not being able to hear anything or see anything except what was immediately in front of them. Everything else was blurry. They had a sense of walking down a tunnel and being in “automatic” mode.

TASHA: “Can you honestly say you have been dead before?”

I didn’t say I was dead before. I don’t believe in reincarnation.

TASHA: “Is it not fair to HOPE that part of our being does not end?”

Sure it’s fair to hope. The hope that there is something better when we die allows people to accept their death a lot easier. Is the hope logical and rational? I don’t think it is but that does not make the hope wrong.

TASHA: “…isn’t it possible that we are evolved in ways not yet understood?”

Sure. We still do not completely understand the mechanics of evolution – hence it’s a Theory instead of a Law. That’s the great thing about science – it’s always self-correcting itself and looking for mistakes in previous theory.


Tasha Rebuttal #006:

Re: tunnel effects.

I wasn’t speaking in regards to only tunnel effect. There are several other cases that have nothing to do with it. My point is that you don’t know, you can only theorize. Hope is a way of looking at things, one that offers serenity even to a non-theist. I think the fact that you haven’t allowed your daughters to make their own opinions regarding death is similar to religious parents who pound god into their children’s head. In essence, you are just on the flip side of the coin. While you may know what happens to the physical being after death, you should allow your daughters to understand that we are also conscious beings, and that whether the mind and body are inseparable is unknown. You haven’t addressed this with your daughters it seems, after reading about your discussion with them. And how can you say that hope is not rational or logical? I think any psychologist would say otherwise.

Re: science correcting itself.

Theories about science come from an OPEN mind, meaning open to possibility. Do you think your daughters will have an open mind for scientific theory when you explain things to them in the way that you have? Wouldn’t it be fairer to say, “well, we know what happens to our bodies; they decompose etc—but as far as our conscious minds or emotions, that is unknown, and is of a different nature, and may have it’s own possibilities”. Believe me, children are better off with “I don’t know” than “I THINK we know”, because the truth is you don’t. Thank you for the feedback, I hope to hear more from you.


Response to Tasha #006:

TASHA: “There are several other cases that have nothing to do with it”.

Please elaborate.

I’m not Agnostic so I declare knowledge instead of declaring I will never have the knowledge. I don’t declare that mankind can never have the knowledge of such matters. I know that the conscious (self-awareness) is a function of the brain. When brain activity ceases then so does consciousness. If mankind needs to believe in an afterlife and Heaven to accept death more gracefully and to be at peace then so be it. I will die at peace knowing I lead a successful life and raised two wonderful daughters.

Do you have children? As a parent you cannot let your children make their own decisions about death when they are 4 or 5 years old. They do not have the mental capacity to make that kind of decision. I prefer that my children sleep without nightmares or make decisions about death that are irrational or cause them to fear death. Death is a natural occurrence and they should recognize it as such. Death is not a supernatural event. Had their grandmother not died I wouldn’t have had that discussion until they were older.

I expect my children to make their own decision about God when they reach a mature enough age to make that kind of decision. I will help them in every way possible and give them access to any resource they require. Do you tell your children (if you have them) that you don’t have the knowledge as to whether monsters are under their bed? You tell them that monsters under the bed don’t exist because they are irrational. We KNOW monsters do not exist. Why make separations with God? Why not tell your kids that God is just as pretend as monsters under the bed. They are both irrational and sources of fear.

Hope is a lack of ration or logic. Hope is rational and logical in a sense that it helps to ease pain and suffering and allows humans to accept hardship much easier. However it is a lack of rationalism, reasoning, and logic that cause hope to flourish in the first place. Religion is rational for mankind to create in order to answer the unanswerable but it lacks ration, reason, and logic.

I don’t see how you can say children are better off with “I don’t know”. I don’t tell my children what I think. I tell my children what I know. If I don’t know the answer I tell them “I will find out”. And I will provide the best possible answer I can based on what is currently available and not what may or may not be available. Honesty with a child is better than denying a child that knowledge. When a child asks you a question they are seeking knowledge and expanding their minds. Fill their minds with what you know not with what you don’t. It would NOT be fairer to say “as far as our conscious minds or emotions, that is unknown” because that statement is not true. I know what happens to the brain when we die. It ceases and the conscious ceases with it. There IS NO evidence that the consciousness continues on. There IS evidence that the consciousness ceases.


Tasha rebuttal #007:

I don’t see much need to elaborate, because my only point was that there are unexplained cases, which cannot be disproved.

As far as children are concerned, they don’t have to know one way or the other. I didn’t, regardless of what people said, BELIEVE in anything about death, one way or the other. I simply pondered these different ideas and concluded that I didn’t know. Children don’t HAVE to make any decisions about death, they simply want to know what death is. You can tell them what you know about death as well as what you don’t; that doesn’t create fear. Being afraid of death is a natural instinct. Your claims that heaven is just a place adults made up so they wouldn’t feel bad has some validity, but saying that about something you don’t even know about is silly. You DON’T KNOW, and telling your daughter that you do is lying. Lying about something is never good for your children, especially about a serious issue. If children don’t have the mental capacity to make decisions about death, then why should you explain it to them in such frightening detail at all? I am sorry they lost their grandmother, and you could simply have said that her body is dead. You didn’t have to lie and tell them her whole being was rotting into the ground, when you don’t know that as a fact.

You compare God with monsters under the bed. I find that pretty silly too. There is no good reason for a child to believe monsters are under their beds. So I see no reason against telling them there are none. The reason for a child to hope in a God or afterlife is solely for the purpose of finding comfort in the fact that they do not know, but can still hope. Hope is a way of comforting one’s self when the present is difficult or the future is unknown. There is nothing wrong with it. Hoping for something not yet understood perfectly reasonable. Hope is a way of alleviating grief. Hope is a way of not fearing the unknown. Hope has nothing to do with religion, you are throwing out the baby with the bath water.

You are irrational for one reason, you claim knowledge where you have none; death. Unless you can show how you know that I cease to exist when my body dies, I will continue to find comfort in hope. Hope, in it’s self, is a good thing. No psychologist will argue against a hope in something not yet known. You may choose to believe that there is no afterlife, but you don’t KNOW one way or the other. My friend dies, am I supposed to say, “NO I don’t hope he lives on in some way-that’s being irrational!” It is perfectly logical for me to say, “I don’t know if he lives on, I can only hope”.

Logic is just as good for kids as it is for adults. Not knowing something doesn’t mean one must fear it. You seem to connect the unknown with fear. You are much like those who claim to KNOW God, just on the flip side of the coin. Many atheists would consider your form of disbelief to be irrational. I think you should step out of your own box, just like some religious people should, and welcome yourself to the world of possibility.

I have had such difficult times in my life that the only way to motivate myself was to hope for something better. If it wasn’t for hope I may have lost my sanity. Explain then, why hope is irrational, and how extending hope to your children is irrational


Response to Tasha #007:

TASHA: “I don’t see much need to elaborate, because my only point was that there are unexplained cases which cannot be disproved.”

Why don’t you feel the need to elaborate? Do I not have the chance to find evidence and a scientific cause to the “unexplained” events? Why keep them from me? Are they that easy to explain with scientific reason? Please do not hold back on my account (or yours). I look forward to hearing about these other unexplained cases. The term “other unexplained” does not apply since the first case has been scientifically proven and the source identified to be not of a supernatural origin.

TASHA: “Children don’t HAVE to make any decisions about death, they simply want to know what death is. You can tell them what you know about death as well as what you don’t; that doesn’t create fear.”

You’re right that children don’t have to make decisions about death. Death seems to make that decision for them all the time. I do tell them what I know about death. I do not tell them what I don’t know about death. I know that the consciousness dies along with the brain. The phrase “to lose consciousness” did not come about offhandedly. One can lose consciousness at any given moment because of blunt trauma, shock, fear, extra G forces, medication reactions, or any other number of causes. If we can lose consciousness at any time during our living life why would I say that consciousness extends beyond life?

TASHA: “You DON’T KNOW, and telling your daughter that you do is lying.”

I DO KNOW. I am not lying to my daughters when I tell them what happens at death. I choose to leave the supernatural out of it. Supernatural events are unproven and have no scientific foundation. Why should I fill my children’s brains with a bunch of hocus-pocus and abracadabra? Why do you find the natural processes of death to be “in frightening detail”? Death is not something to be scared of. If I had left out the natural process of death and told them only the hocus-pocus and abracadabra then as you put it I would be lying to them. Why is it lying to say, as you put it, “her whole being is rotting in the ground”. Is there not a corpse under the gravestone that is rotting”? Since I know that consciousness dies with brain activity then I can safely say that she is 100% dead and not a single part of her lives on (except her hair and fingernails which continue to grow). I did not go into “grotesque” details about their grandmother’s death. I explained the natural events surrounding death and elaborated as necessary when additional questions were asked.

TASHA: “You compare God with monsters under the bed. I find that pretty silly too. There is no good reason for a child to believe monsters are under their beds.”

Why do you find monsters irrational and God rational? They are both mythological beings that supposedly dwell in the supernatural realm. Just as there is not good reason for a child to believe there are monsters under their beds there is also no good reason for a child to believe there is an invisible supernatural being in space that controls their lives. I have an easier time believing in monsters then an invisible supernatural being.

TASHA: “The reason for a child to hope in a God or afterlife is solely for the purpose of finding comfort in the fact that they do not know, but can still hope. Hope is a way of comforting one’s self when the present is difficult or the future is unknown.”

Why does hope and God provide solace when there is lack of knowledge? It was lack of knowledge in the first place that prompted humans to invent God(s). There were Gods to explain lightning, thunder, earthquakes, tornadoes, tidal waves, wind, water, and everything else on Earth has had a God assigned to at one time or another by one religion or another. In today’s society we have knowledge of these events and understand why they happen. Why is Zeus no longer worshiped? Because we know there is no God sitting on a cloud throwing lightning bolts down at us.

I agree that hope is a way of comforting oneself in a time of crisis. And I want my children to have hope. I don’t want them to have hope in a supernatural being that doesn’t exist. Let them have hope in their love for each other and the love their family has to give them. Let them have hope in their inner strength and their ability to control their lives and their own destiny. Why tell them that their lives are meaningless because they’re here only to atone for the sins of Adam and that they’re going to hell, anyway? Where’s the hope in that?

TASHA: “Many atheists would consider your form of disbelief to be irrational. I think you should step out of your own box, just like some religious people should, and welcome yourself to the world of possibility.”

I have been out of my box several times and always returned to it. There is no ration, reason, or logic in the supernatural. I could not call myself an Atheist if I didn’t say that all supernatural events were irrational, illogical, and without reason. How can I know that God does not exist then say that Ghosts may exist? That would be irrational of me. Saying that all supernatural events are nothing more than man’s need to explain his presence and purpose and constitute an irrational, illogical, and unreasonable thought process seems to be more rational. I fail to see your point of view on this one.

TASHA: “If it wasn’t for hope I may have lost my sanity.”

The disagreement is not whether hope exists or not. I agree that hope exists. The disagreement is not whether hope is beneficial. I agree that hope is beneficial. Where I disagree is what the foundation of hope should be based upon. During my times of despair during my life I found hope in my loved ones, my ability to change the cause of the despair, and my own inner strength. Why should I place my hope on a foundation of unfounded supernatural beings and events?


Tasha Rebuttal #008:

I will elaborate as best as I can regarding supernatural and unexplainable events.

I have had personal experiences in clairvoyance that has lead me to believe that our minds may have some sort of “supernatural” abilities not scientifically understood. Unfortunately, I don’t research the issue much because it’s so hard to sort through the hocus pocus and real information, but plan to look into it more. I have no REASON to lie about this. I think I can safely say I am a rational person and know the difference between coincidences and what I have experienced. I am very good at comprehension, but I don’t think that can explain being able to describe a perfect stranger in detail on more than one occasion. I have always been interested in occultism, mainly because it acknowledges things that major religions do not. You seem to constantly come back to criticizing Christianity and religion, how convenient. There are other spiritualities, which are quite more open, and also accept the theory of evolution. You may want to investigate these more yourself, they are highly interesting. Many arts born of religion have now become acknowledged as medically beneficial as well as scientifically valid, yet have been around for thousands of years and stemmed from spiritual beliefs. A few of these beliefs I can name, and have been acknowledged as laws by the scientific community. One being; Energy cannot be created or destroyed (reincarnation or Chi); another is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (yin/yang)(Karma, in a way). While these laws don’t assert that reincarnation or Karma is valid, they certainly could be in support of it.

As far as godlike experience upon clinical death, that was merely an example. I found your info about tunnels very interesting, and may be more inclined to think differently in the future with regards to tunnel vision. But many who have been clinically dead come back with knowledge that cannot be explained, much like the clairvoyant experiences I’ve had. If you have ever read about remote viewing, one of the methods to obtain a vision was to impair the senses, called sensory depravation. This is believed to make the subconscious or “sixth sense” stronger. This form of consciousness isn’t well understood, but the scientific community HAS conducted studies indicating that it exists. This is a concept that cannot be explained from any classical scientific perspective, and yet appears to be documented and valid to an extent. It’s classified with the paranormal, and yet is studied widely by psychologists and scientists alike. The fact that there is a part of the human mind that may be capable of such ability upon altering consciousness (like being clinically dead or in a coma too) raises new questions about what consciousness even is. The source of this ability is unfathomable by what science understands to date. These ideas also do raise questions about what death is and what comprises a human being’s mind.

BLAIR: “I DO know. I am not lying when I tell my daughters what happens at death. I choose to leave the supernatural out of it.”

Oh really? Then why did you tell them that heaven is a place people make up? I agree that leaving out the natural process of death would be dishonest as well, but claiming knowledge about why others choose to believe as they do is also dishonest, when you don’t know. You are generalizing again.

BLAIR: “Since I know that consciousness dies with brain activity then I can safely say that she is 100% dead and not a single part of her lives on.”

I wasn’t meaning to imply that she could be living on, I meant that part of her could CONTINUE. Remember, not everything is understood about consciousness anyway, and because of that, we don’t know how her energy (or soul, if you will) is transformed. There could be more to consciousness than mere physical existence, as I explained in my second paragraph. Science does not KNOW all the answers, actually, scientists and parapsychologists seem more open to this than you are.

BLAIR: “Why do you find monsters irrational and god rational?”

Monsters, or being open to the possibility of their existence, would serve no useful purpose that I am aware of, other than to keep kids up scared. Being open to the idea of god as simply a possibility inspires the very type of free thought and debate that makes new discoveries more possible. I never said god was rational, I said the idea of god was not irrational.

I have one thing to say with regards to hope, and I don’t object to your own ideas about how it could be useful. Sometimes, when one questions the purpose of their existence, their identity and how they identify with their world, pure rationalism has no answers. When one decides how to identify themselves and their environment, they must have questions about the nature of that identity. The concept of power comes to mind, and most have the revelation that they are not all-powerful beings, that there is power greater than them. Considering that human beings are considered the most powerful and creative living species, to ponder what greater power exists beyond us is to identify with the power of life. We are conscious, creative beings, is it impossible that the very essence of life too is conscious? To better identify with the essence of life, is it unreasonable to hope so? Hoping and believing are two different things, and I can understand why it could be irrational to BELIEVE such a thing, but not to hope for it. On the contrary, I can see how hoping for such a thing, or at least being open to the possibility, could be beneficial.Face it, there are some things that your inner strength cannot change. There are some things that will cause you despair that you have no power to change. When speaking of hope, one must step outside their own ego, if they realize that they are not all-powerful. Hoping that these things you have no control over are in the hands of a higher power or God is a way of accepting things you cannot change without constantly questioning your own purpose in life. Everyone I know who truly come from the brink of despair were unable to do so without opening their minds to the possibility of a power greater than themselves or believing that it could restore them to sanity. Many of them identify with a conscious higher power. That would mean a god. Some hope that they are a part of this being, thus identifying it as a conscious entity.


Response to Tasha #008:

TASHA: “I have no REASON to lie about this.”

I don’t think you are lying. I do think that what you perceived as a clairvoyant occurrence was not such. There has NEVER been a documented case of clairvoyance or other type of psychic phenomenon that has been proven. Everyone interviewed believed they were telling the truth and given the circumstances it was easy to understand why they had come to the conclusion they had. There’s a theory about dejavu that surfaced within the last 10 years that is quite intriguing. Our brain takes in so much information that it can sometimes be overwhelming (often observed when people are taken from a lack of stimuli environment to the opposite extreme). Dreams are the way in which the brain attempts to sort out these stimuli. The combinations it makes sometimes come to pass. Is this ESP? It’s just coincidence and when you encounter something in your life that is even remotely similar to a dream its dejavu. While it has not been proven it’s at least intriguing. I’m anticipating further research into the Theory.

TASHA: “…but I don’t think being able to describe a perfect stranger in detail on more than one occasion can be explained by that.”

I think it can be explained by coincidence. Horoscopes seem to be right on when you read them. Why is that? Because it’s natural for the human brain to find associations and connections where there are none. By making generalizations the human brain finds a likeness to itself. If you look for coincidences you will find them. This is why predictions and prophecy have failed so miserably. Because they have all been generalizations or made based on common assumptions. This goes beyond Christianity and the “other” religions and spiritual cults that you mentioned. Nothing supernatural or paranormal has EVER been proven. While the supernatural and paranormal make great material for movies, books, documentaries, and flashy Fox-TV shows they can go no further than that.

TASHA: “But many who have been clinically dead come back with knowledge that cannot be explained, much like the clairvoyant experiences I’ve had.”

None of these “gained knowledge” experiences has EVER been proven. Never has one provided specific dates, places, or names. Never has one of their prophecy come true. Each generalizes that they see the end of the world by earthquake, fire, etc. Sounds like someone read a little Nostradamus before they had their “experience”.

TASHA: “One being; Energy cannot be created or destroyed (reincarnation or Chi); another is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (yin/yang)(Karma, in a way). While these laws don’t assert that reincarnation or Karma are valid, they certainly could be in support of it.”

I guess the theory of gravity could support the story of falling angels? With every advanced society, regardless of its foundation (religion, hierarchy, etc.) there are observations made. Sometimes these observations are bogus and other times they are right on. There a many examples of past civilizations that made observations about our universe that were proven later by science to be correct. There is also an equal amount that has been proven to be incorrect.

TASHA: “This form of consciousness isn’t well understood, but the scientific community HAS conducted studies indicating that it exists.”

The last studies I saw on the sixth sense and the use of sensory deprivation showed that there was an increase in brain activity. While this was first attributed to a possible sixth sense it was later revoked. The final thought was that the increase in brain activity was the brain compensating for the lack of stimuli. It’s also important to note that almost all of the test subjects suffered from one form or another of mental illness after the experiment was complete. This ranged from severe phobias to schizophrenia.

TASHA: “Then why did you tell them that heaven is a place people make up …claiming knowledge about why others choose to believe as they do is also dishonest, when you don’t know.”

Heaven is made up. Heaven does not exist. If people need to believe in heaven and hope that there is some form of afterlife to make their death easier then more power to them. I don’t claim to have knowledge about why others specifically choose to believe one way or the other. I do claim to have knowledge about why others generally choose to believe one way or the other. Hence the generalization. If I were to cater to every possible minority it would take volumes. Again I will reiterate that minority catering has cause the politically correct environment that we are now in.

TASHA: “…we don’t know how her energy (or soul, if you will) is transformed.”

We do know how energy is transferred at death. As a cell dies it gives off energy. The energy is absorbed by surrounding cells (be they plant, animal, or inorganic cells is irrelevant). I have often heard of this process referred to jokingly as cellular reincarnation. If energy (or soul as you call it) were to transfer out of the body at death and ascend to a “better place” then this transference would be measurable. Energy can be measured even in the smallest amount. There are a few scientists that are open to this line of thought. These scientists are like the Scully and Moulder of the scientific community. Their work needs to be done but no one wants to acknowledge they’re really there at all. Parapsychology is the investigation of psychic phenomenon as extrasensory perception. Adding the suffix -ist to the end of a title does not make one a scientist. Parapsychology is the investigation of and not the study of psychic phenomenon. Ever notice that most parapsychologists are frowned upon by the rest of the scientific community?

TASHA: “Monsters, or being open to the possibility of their existence, would serve no useful purpose that I am aware of, other than to keep kids up scared.”

Monsters serve a purpose of entertaining us in the movies and providing the backbone to great legends. What purpose does God serve? I can see no useful purpose of having a God other than to keep believers scared of damnation.

TASHA: “There are some things that will cause you despair that you have no power to change.”

Please provide examples. I have racked my brain over this one and can’t think of a single thing that can cause me to despair that I cannot change directly or indirectly.

TASHA: “When speaking of hope, one must step outside their own ego, if they realize that they are not all-powerful.”

On the contrary one must step into their ego to hope. As human beings we are naturally egocentric. It is our ego that causes us to hope in the first place. Our ego dictates that life can’t be meaningless. I amount to more than just a 70-year life span of a few million cells. There has to be an afterlife for me. It’s the ego that feeds these hopes in the first place. It’s not about power but about egocentrism.


Tasha Rebuttal #009:

BLAIR: “I have no REASON to believe you are lying”

No, but you obviously have reason to doubt me, probably because you don’t identify with my type of experience on a personal level.

BLAIR: “I DO think that what you perceived as a clairvoyant was not such”

Again, I can understand why. I had several experiences I thought could be clairvoyant, and pretty much doubted them. I can sometimes “see” a person I have never met before. Sometimes the person I am describing this vision to may be lying about my accuracy. Sometimes I may have a small amount of knowledge about this person I envision, which leads to general details to expand on. It took several events for me to finally believe in my ability. Several years ago, to give an example, a friend and I were on a camping trip. We met two guys one evening. We just hung out briefly and gave no personal information about ourselves other than where we were from. Then one of these guys brought up something about his girlfriend (lets call this guy Bob, since I can’t recall his name). Bob simply said something about his girlfriend getting mad about if he hung out with girls. I then had a vision of this girl. I normally have visions but am either not aware of them until later or I keep them to myself. But at this point I had a feeling that I had a vision of Bob’s girlfriend. The only knowledge I had about Bob was where he was from, that he had a girlfriend, and that she may be jealous. I told Bob his girlfriend had medium brown, slightly permed hair just below the shoulders with bangs. Bob acted amazed and said I was right. He wanted me to go into further detail so that he could actually believe it. I couldn’t believe that I had been so accurate, and so doubted that Bob was telling me the truth about my accuracy. So I asked my friend Join, who was with me, to let Bob describe his girlfriend IN DETAIL to her so that she could also tell me of my accuracy. Join eagerly did this because she was sure that we would all find out Bob was lying and I was just imagining things. Join, by the way, had had no previous knowledge that Bob even had a girlfriend. Must I mention, by the way, that Bob’s friend was also standing there with his mouth hanging open, since he too knew Bob’s girlfriend. I described Bob’s girlfriend in exact detail, from her height (an inch below mine), her preferred outfit, her exact clothing style, her eye color, her body shape (flat buttocks small breasts, thin overall), and some more that I can’t recall. All were amazed. I was accurate. This is one of my much more detailed accurate visions, but I have good reason to believe it was accurate. The main reason I don’t have these visions on a regular basis is because I don’t pay any attention to them. This example I have given is one of a few that I have which have led me to believe in clairvoyance. I was an agnostic all my life, but I do believe in clairvoyance. I do not know if any other paranormal abilities are possible. But my personal experience has given me evidence. I don’t know what my friends think. My mom says she has visions, but I can’t believe her in spite of my own experiences. I understand if you don’t believe in this, but I don’t understand if you close your mind to the possibility of its existence.

Since that time, I have tried to be more aware of my ability, and have tested it with others. Most of the time I am wrong. But once in a while I have a vision that reminds me it’s not all hocus-pocus. I wish I knew what it was that made me accurate, but I haven’t figured it out. I don’t go around constantly testing this ability, so it’s not a matter of chance. I only share my visions if I feel they could be accurate.

As far as documented evidence with regards to the paranormal. Most studies that have been conducted are poor. Actually, the poorer the study the higher likeliness of positive results. I also know that parapsychologists are still developing more accurate ways of testing and that there aren’t many studies that have been conducted so far in a proper way as to show evidence one way or the other. However, the most “scientifically valid” study to date has in fact revealed positive results in testing for psi. It is known as the Ganzfield studies. The results were analyzed in several complex ways taking in several factors. The results from different sites all showed a positive indicator and on average had a score of 0.53. Meaning that psi exists going by their results, but in a VERY low amount. I am going to find the report I spoke of and give the link tomorrow so you can see the accuracy for yourself. It’s a REALLY detailed report from all angles, and was tested by different people in different clinics, a certain percentage skeptics and a certain percent were believers, so the results weren’t as biased, and followed some rigid guidelines. But I agree, this is only the beginning, and it may take knowledge or resources we don’t yet have to conclude actual proof of psychic ability. This will allow people without personal experience in ESP to see overwhelming evidence. If the result was only 0.53%, it was still positive. Many skeptics call this insignificant. I say, it still EXISTS though, whether the numbers are significant in your opinion or not. Proving it is a long struggle, but this study can’t be argued over too much in the way of method. We need more for the sake of definite proof, and to refine testing methods.

re: dejavu

I have heard that dejavu occurs when the neurotransmitters send the same information twice. It is easily understandable in that case why someone would preclude a vision and holds little interest to me.

As far a Nostradamus, I have read all of his prophesies from different translations, and think they are pretty bogus. But one thing I heard of is that he had on a watch when he was buried, and that the watch had a secret inscription on it predicting the exact date his grave would be desecrated. Anyway I haven’t investigated this, but it supposedly happened and the perpetrator went insane with fear. I never said I believed in fortune telling. But there are scientific ways to predict sociologic events and human behaviors. Ever heard of the sun spot theory?

re: astrology

I have studied both Eastern and Western methods, and have only concluded so far that our time of birth indeed dictates certain characteristics, but perhaps astrology is off in many regards, it still inspired a lot of new discoveries about our galaxy. I have been able to know the month and year of someone’s birth after speaking with him or her for ten minutes on about five different occasions. This ability was strengthened by my study of the occult and astrology. I don’t know that these were clairvoyant but haven’t ruled out the possibility that it was a factor.

I know that the scientific community frowns on parapsychology. They used to frown on people who said that earth was round. This type of study is growing and constantly expanding, it’s still trying to earn more credibility.

BLAIR: “What purpose does God serve?”

Or better yet, what purpose WOULD God serve. I think that if the existence of such a God meant an afterlife, most would consider that a worthy purpose. But God, hypothetically speaking, would be THE purpose, obviously. A way to better identify with all that lives consciously.

BLAIR: “There are some things that you have no control over that will cause you despair that you have no power to change”

Want examples? What have you felt despair over? Why did you, if you had the power to change it? For me, my cat dying caused me despair. It was a painful thing for me to lose this pet because I loved it. I had no control over it dying, I had no power to change the fact that it was dead. Yet I felt despair, and could find no way to not feel it. I could have suppressed it, but it would have still existed. It is my choice to hope that my cat lives on in some way that is one of the ways I have lessened my despair.

I can understand why you don’t believe in anything supernatural. The desire to find proof millennium after millennium has created some lies cloaked in a veil of false proof or evidence. We are creative human beings, and again, I say

IF HUMAN BEINGS ARE THE MOST POWERFUL AND CREATIVE LIVING SPECIES, TO PONDER WHAT COULD BE MORE POWERFUL THAN US IS TO PONDER THE POWER OF CREATION. WE ARE NOT ALL-POWERFUL. WE ARE CONSCIOUS, CREATIVE BEINGS, IS IT IMPOSSIBLE THAT WHATEVER CREATED OUR EXISTENCE ISN’T ALSO CONSCIOUS?


Response to Tasha #009:

I appreciate you sharing your story about clairvoyance with everyone. It’s not often that people are willing to admit to having paranormal abilities, much less share a specific story regarding those abilities. I will not patronize you or ridicule you. If you believe you had a clairvoyant experience then that is fine. I think it is important to say that I do not believe in paranormal activity. I will grant you that there are things about the human brain which are yet undiscovered and perhaps science will one day find that the human brain is capable of telepathy or other activities. I have even seen arguments stating that the next step in human evolution is further brain development to include abilities such as those mentioned. I’ll let your story carry the weight that you intended and let the readers decide for themselves.

TASHA: “Most of the time I am wrong. But once in a while I have a vision that reminds me it’s not all hocus-pocus. … I only share my visions if I feel they could be accurate.”

This is the only statement I wanted to make an exact comment on. You yourself admit that most of the time you are wrong. To have a clairvoyant experience that is correct “once in a while” is fair to say with (rather than against) the odds. When I was a kid growing up I swore that I had ESP because of some dreams I had. They dreams were vague but we always found an event to associate them with. If you want yourself to have this ability then you will find coincidences and “once in a whiles” to collaborate your wants. Now I realize that the few dreams I had, spooky as they were, were just that, spooky. I had a few dreams that coincidentally coincided with events within the next few months. Because I wanted to have ESP I found the coincidental connections and used them as “proof” to “further my cause”.

The Ganzfield (German for “whole field”) involve a receiver and sender. The receiver is isolated from the sender and prevented from hearing, smelling, tasting, seeing, or feeling. The receiver has to rely solely on the brain to receive signals from the sender. The sender is placed in another isolated room and watches a video between 20 to 40 minutes in length. The receiver is then brought into the room and shown 4 videos. 1 is the actual video and the other 3 are decoys. Already that’s a 25% guarantee. The results only showed a 34% success rate in guessing the video the sender watched. I wouldn’t call that “positive results” as you did. I’d call that standard odds in guessing. Guessing always places higher than the odds of average. The odds of average would place success at 25%. The odds of guessing would be higher, so the results of 34% are not surprising or positive. The test would have been more conclusive if they had shown the receiver 10 videos. 1 being the actual video and 9 decoy videos.

TASHA: “Ever heard of the sun spot theory?”

I’m going to assume you mean the theory that attempts to correlate the 11-year sun spot cycle to an increase in different activities? The sun spot theory goes along the same lines that crime increases during a full moon. William Stanley Jevons (1835-1882) was a prominent businessman during his time attempted to associate sunspot activity to increased revenue and there are a lot of businessmen today that still believe it. As a Radioman in the U. S. Navy I know all about sun spot activity and the 11-year cycle. The sun plays major havoc with radio communications, especially during the peak cycle. If anyone has something good happen to him or her they attribute it to sun spot activity. If anyone has something bad happen to him or her they attribute it to sun spot activity. Had the good or bad thing happened a year before they would have found something else to attribute it to. Look for coincidence and you will find it.

TASHA: “They used to frown on people who said that earth was round.”

Science as a whole did not frown on people who said the Earth was round. That is a big misconception held by a lot of people, including a few atheists. Almost all scientists and cultures advanced enough to navigate the seas knew the Earth was round (or at least curved) and not flat. The church prevented this information from getting out. Scientists were afraid of the church and went along. Christopher Columbus was harassed by the church and was actually locked in prison by the church for saying the Earth was round. No wonder the rest of the scientist kept quite.

TASHA: “What have you felt despair over? Why did you, if you had the power to change it?”

I have felt despair many times in my life. Each time I was able to alter my life to pull myself out of that despair. I didn’t need hope or faith to get me out. I relied on self-perseverance, self-preservation, love of family, and most importantly my internal strength. If you don’t have an internal strength then you have to turn to an external one or create a pseudo-internal strength such as hope or God.

TASHA: “If human beings are the most powerful and creative living species, to ponder what could be more powerful than ourselves is to ponder the power of creation.”

That’s the underlying problem with humanity as a whole. The need to know we’re not alone. The need to know where we came from and what our purpose in life is. From the dawn of man that question has been asked and a lot of answers have been put on the table. From Zeus to Mother Earth. Why ponder that question at all? When I consider something more powerful than myself I think of volcanoes and plate tectonics. A supreme being or creator never enters the picture. Why does it enter yours?


Tasha rebuttal #010:

Your dreams as a child indeed are understandably interesting. I have never had prophetic dreams and haven’t even referred to them in my rebuttals. I have no argument to present against your statement aboutyour own experiences. I wasn’t speaking about fortune telling, premonitions, or any other type of seeing into the future. Please do not compare my experience to any of these; they have nothing in common.

BLAIR: “Because I wanted to have ESP I found the coincidental connections and used them as “proof” to further my cause.”

Understandably, as do many. I can’t say I’m innocent of this either. However, the example I gave really has nothing to do with coincidental or connections. I wasn’t searching for either, just being open to what my “subconscious” was allowing to surface. I had three witnesses, and the possibility of coincidence was pretty inconceivable. That was only the second actual description of an unseen person I had shared with others; most of my other “visions” were different. As far as being wrong most of the time, I have already said that I only share my visions on occasion, and the detail with which I am accurate, when I am, assures me that the chances for being so detailed in my visions is unexplained by a chance, however slim. As I said I don’t go around testing this all the time, and certainly not on enough occasions to create room for as many accurate readings as I’ve given.

As far as the Ganzfield studies, your analysis is also taken into account in the report, which I have provided a direct link to here PSY1. The methods are far more strict that you have implied, and the results weren’t calculated the way you described. This study is very complex and was done under guidelines approved by the scientific community, as accurately as could be determined.

BLAIR: “If someone has something good happen to them they attribute it to the sunspot activity. Had the good or bad thing happened before they would have found something else to attribute it to. Look for coincidence and you will find it.”

Okay, well, I guess you are speaking about plain old ignorance. I’m sure ignorant people could blame sunspots for their problems, but this isn’t what I was talking about. A thoroughly detailed analysis is available and was conducted by different scientists. Check this ARTICLE , be sure to check out additional links at this page, as this article IS a bit one-sided, if only it’s because the author researched it quite a bit. I’m not arguing with your idea about coincidences, but I think looking for them has been more enlightening than shutting one’s mind to them altogether, hence sunspot theory. It’s just an idea or a superstition until you gather evidence, which is what people like scientists try to do.

Re: round earth, religion, and science

I was trying to provide an example, and I’m sure many things can be blamed on religious ignorance, however, there are more examples. Galileo was considered insane by the religious community AS WELL AS the scientific community when he asserted that the sun was the center of our solar system. That was never proven until about 400 years later. The point is that the scientific community is known to frown on ideas that seem non-provable or hard to believe. That doesn’t mean that these ideas are totally incredible. By the way, not ALL of the scientific community frowns on parapsychology. More accurate testing methods are actually evolving, for studying paranormal activity with the help of scientists.

Re: the power to change things

You have not shown me how or if you were able to change the thing you felt despair over.

BLAIR: “If you don’t have an external strength then you have to create an external one or create a pseudo-external strength such as hope or God.”

Well, if someone is at their bottom and has no self-esteem left, they have no internal strength that they’re aware of. This is why one may search for an outside strength to help them identify with their own.

Hoping is something they do instead of giving up. I have found that my internal strength and love for my family is just one part of my willingness, sometimes it hasn’t been enough. Again, every happy person I’ve ever met relies on more than just their own inner strength, I think it’s because they learned that that isn’t enough in all circumstances. We are not all-powerful, and sometimes must surrender these things we cannot change to the all-powerful. Choosing to hope that power is conscious is a method of confirming what we do have the power to change, and that everything else will be handled for us. Hope is a wonderful and sensible thing in this case, and has worked when nothing else would.

BLAIR: “That’s an underlying problem with humanity as a whole. The need to know we’re not alone. The need to know where we came from and what our purpose in life is.”

Then you are considering an only human trait to be a problem, and that in it’s self is pretty interesting. I think that these cravings for knowledge have a good reason, otherwise we wouldn’t have evolved to have them. Like I said, to ponder what could be more powerful than us is to ponder the power of creation. Denying these desires to know is suppressive and obviously not in the vein of evolution. We are creative, and being open to possibility is necessary for creativity.

BLAIR: “A supreme being or creator never enters the picture, why does it enter yours?”

For the love of possibility, creation, identity, and all that exists. Because I can. Possibility exists, and hope is a motivation to explore possibility.


Response to Tasha #010:

TASHA: “Please do not compare my experience to any of these; they have nothing in common.”

I think they have more in common then you think they do. They are both surrounded by convincing coincidences. There are people today that know of those times and are still convinced I had ESP as a pre-teen. ESP and clairvoyance are both under the parapsychology umbrella. How can you say that clairvoyance isn’t a form of fortune telling? A psychic is a psychic is a psychic, no? You yourself have said on several occasions that you are usually wrong or only match generalities. How can you attribute a couple of detailed hits to clairvoyance? If I predict there’s going to be an earthquake in Los Angeles every morning I wake up I’m going to be pretty accurate on a couple of days but the rest of the time I’m just guessing. Should I then say since I was right on a few times that I have ESP?

You referred me to the article Does Psi Exist? While this page made a wonderful attempt at keeping the Ganzfield study afloat it failed miserably. The results are still 34%, which is expected at guessing. Study patients were in some cases allowed to choose their partners and different facilities were used. Those two items alone corrupted data and took away the control and common denominator. If you don’t have a control (command test facility) then you don’t have accurate data. To be conclusive the study needs to be done again. Did you think about why they tried the total sensory deprivation? Have you ever seen a psychic that uses sensory deprivation to achieve their psychic abilities? Why do parapsychologists seem to think that sensory deprivation is needed? Watching the psi world leads me to believe that sensory deprivation is not required and that psychics can operate under any condition. After all, you didn’t need sensory deprivation at the campsite.

You also referred me to the article SUNSPOT CYCLES AND ACTIVIST STRATEGY. There are a lot of flaws in this report and I consider it to be more glamour and glitz than accurate reporting and a detailed analysis. He was also wrong about a couple of things.

He said:

ARTICLE: “Sunspots are solar explosions which appear as dark blotches on the surface of the sun.”

This is incorrect. Sunspots are areas of electromagnetic field disturbances on the sun. While these disturbances may cause eruptions of solar wind they are not explosions.

He charted sunspot activity all the way back to 1748. How did he come across the sunspot activity for 1748? Does he have a time machine?

He cited events that occurred during heightened sunspot activity. I’m glad he knows his history (at least half of it). What about the events that occurred between those times? Did he intentionally leave out other major events in order to convince the gullible public that sunspot activity does affect the psi of the masses? Surely a scientist of his magnitude would not have done such a thing. He left out a lot of events during the non-heightened sunspot activity periods that are contradictory to his presentation.

Bottom line is his report is flawed, biased, inaccurate, and unable to convince an analytical and scientific mind that he’s proven anything. After reading his presentation skills and use of data I came to the conclusion that the article was written by a fraud pretending to be a scientist/doctor and making a very feeble attempt to make his opinion of sunspot activism known.

TASHA: “The point is that the scientific community is known to frown on ideas that seem non-provable or hard to believe.”

Granted. That’s the whole point about science. You have to prove what is thought to be non-provable. That has yet to be done with parapsychology. Parapsychology hasn’t even come close.

The last response I received from Tasha was on 11/99 and I have not received anything since then.