Arguments with Theists

These are mostly (all?) from posts to alt.atheism.moderated

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From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Final Judgement!!!!
Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 22:39:27 +1000

In article
(mikey) writes:

>  Suppose you die, and much to your surprise you find that 
>(gulp) you still have some sort of coherence/consciousness.  Then you
>realize that, lo and behold, there really is a final judgement, and 
>even if you didn't think there was one, you're still invited.  And 
>suppose God puts you on the stand and is entirely disinterested in your
>(former?) atheism, but asks you if you lived a life that was worth
>living--or, he might ask you if you contributed all that you feel you 
>were able to the human race, or whatever.  My question is this:  As an
>atheist, (it could _just_ as pertinently be asked of a theist, of course)
>do you live your life such that you could honestly answer this question
>in the affirmative?

Personally I think I could justify my life to such a being.  I just hope that 
he is as rational as I am.  I would like to point out though that I live my 
life in this manner because I think it best, not because I am worried about 
what a deity might think about it after I am dead.

As an aside, this sure doesn't sound like what the usual Xtian god(s) would do 
does it?

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Lithium now working...
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 1994 23:17:33 +1000

In article (Jeremy
Stallard) writes:

>        It's sad that you believe so and haven't tried to find out
>otherwise.  I have experienced answers to prayers given through the Holy
>Ghost, as have millions of other people.  To say he doesn't exist
>because you haven't found him is to say Africa doesn't exist because you
>haven't been there.  

Either that or Africa doesn't drop out of the sky and invade people's minds 
bringing bliss and revelation like God supposedly does in selected cases. Also 
any reputable travel agent in the world could book me a flight there.

>        Also to say he is lying because he talks to others and not to
>you is as good of an argument as saying John Doe doesn't exist because
>you haven't talked to him.

If I really wanted/needed to, I could look up JD in the phone book, or hire a 
private detective to find him, and I could talk to him, even if he didn't want 
to talk to me (until he got a court injunction).

>        While you haven't had any experiences (apparently) to talk/meet
>him doesn't mean that others haven't.  

None of these other persons' experiences differ in a material way from 
talking/meeting ghosts, invisible pink unicorns, or any other internal mental 
abberation, as far as I can tell.

>        Try finding out for yourself sometime.

I did, but there was no answer. Either God doesn't give a shit about me or he 
doesn't exist.  I picked the simpler explanation.

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Religious speech by US president Clinton
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 1994 05:05:52 GMT

In article <32tou2$>
(Ken Arromdee) writes:
>Subject: CLINTON: 1994-08-14 President Remarks at Full Gospel AME Church 
>                           THE WHITE HOUSE
>                       REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
>                        DURING CHURCH SERVICES
>                     Full Gospel AME Zion Church
>                        Temple Hills, Maryland
[text snipped]

Well, as an atheist I don't have much to complain about here. The president 
was using this church service as a vehicle to deliver his message about his 
crime bill, which in my opinion is not a religious issue.

While he mentions God a bit, especially towards the end, I see that as a valid 
attempt to "speak to the audience" which after all is a congregation at a 
Christian church service. There wasn't any attempt at preaching or 

Except for the God parts, I found the "sermon" inspiring. It's just too bad 
that he says the same things all politicians say about the subject of crime 
and punishment, and it's too bad that nothing ever changes as a result.

And speaking as a Canadian, I would welcome some of those sentiments in my own 

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Proofs of God
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 1994 04:49:38 GMT

In article <332u74$> (Bill Ray)

>You are not
>qualified to question the plans of God.

Yes I am.

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Proofs of God
Date: 15 Sep 1994 09:35:14 +0100 (Bill Ray) writes:

>Before you go off half-cocked, remember that eternal damnation is
>an interpretation of scripture, and not clear in its reading.

Why the hell did God leave such an important point unclear? So we can guess 
what our punishment will be, or be forced to believe someone else who claims 
to be inspired?

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Proofs of God
Date: 15 Sep 1994 09:35:21 +0100

In article <352hpc$> (Bill Ray)

>TreeShrew ( wrote:
>: 1) Talk to people instead of leave them in ignorance, bickering over what
>: my opinions are

>He did, both before and after the fall.  Sin continued.  Beyond that,
>you would assume that He could have done a better job in communication,
>but that is just a theory without any hope of proof.

No it isn't, an omnipotent god is obviously capable of communication 
technology that is the equal of, and indeed superior to that which exists 
today.  By definition an omnipotent god MUST be capable of communicating 
clearly and succintly to any human at any time, if he wished.

>: 2) Warn all victims of injustice of impending danger or existing deceit

>Thus removing the possibility of such evil.  This world would have
>goodness forced upon it, rather than being good by choice.  God could
>have created robots, He prefered free-willed beings.

Unfortunately that leaves a lot of innocent humans being harmed unjustly. 
Victims of free-willed but evil people don't have the free will to avoid such 
harm. Sounds nasty to me.

>: 5) Allow for unlimited resources (there are various ways this could be
>: done...from making a flat Earth infinite in extent, to allowing
>: teleportation to an infinite number of livable worlds)

>Hardly an improvement from an ethical point of view.  Some of the
>most vile and evil people in history have had essentially unlimited
>resources.  Yet they conspired to hurt people in an effort to gain
>even more.

However unlimited resources would alleviate a lot of the suffering going on 
and to come in the near future. Those who will suffer the most in the upcoming 
global catastrophes are not those who have a direct hand in causing them.

>: Of
>: course, if there really were a God, all of the above would have been done
>: already.:-) R.C.

>I assume the last line was humor.

That's what the smiley means.

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: The Fall
Date: 15 Sep 1994 09:35:28 +0100

In article <351l3m$> sean@stingray.sun_dad (Sean
McCollister) writes:

>The fact that God "created the joint" in no way implies that he is
>responsible for the mess we have made of it.  Is the homebuilder
>responsible if the homebuyer destroys the house?  Is it General Motors'
>fault if I don't follow the maintenance schedule on my car, fail to
>change the oil, and the engine breaks down?  Your theory of
>responsibility makes no sense when applied to anything else; why should
>I accept it when you apply it to God?

Because theists all claim that God created us, loves us, slaughtered his 
only begotten son for us and is deeply concerned with our well-being and 
salvation.  There are a few simple things God could do to ensure that, 
presumably with no effort, but it just doesn't happen.

God (in Christian theory at least) is responsible for his creation in a way 
that makes no sense when applied to inanimate objects created by human 

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Evidence, biochemistry and god
Date: 15 Sep 1994 09:35:37 +0100

In article <352i8o$> (Bill Ray)

>Dan Diaz (bl275@cleveland.Freenet.Edu) wrote:
>: In the end, my faith collapsed under the weight of superior arguments on
>: the atheistic side.  The scales fell from my eyes, and I was un-born again.
>: Life has been much more fulfilling since that July of three years ago.

>If have read the writers of which you speak, and others.  Your faith
>fell, but not due to superior arguments.  My condolences.

Well I guess some people are better equipped to recognize superior arguments 
than others. My condolences.

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: No subject supplied
Date: 17 Sep 1994 22:42:56 +0100

In article <359hc3$> (Staffords)

>Just because God does not exist physically does not mean it has no effect 
>on our universe.  How about that huge statue of Christ on the mountain 
>near Rio de Janeiro?  How do you think it got there?  Because God 
>motivated certain people to do it.  That's a measureable effect.  

Wow, that means the ancient Egyptians' panoply of weird gods exists too! 
Obviously they inspired the building of the pyramids, which are larger 
and have lasted much longer than any Christian monument.

By your reasoning all the gods in human history exist, at least to the extent 
that they were able to inspire people to build large and lasting monuments to 

BTW, who are the gods of the World Trade Centre, the CN Tower, and the Channel 

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: The Fall
Date: Mon, 19 Sep 1994 02:21:42 GMT

In article <35d26l$> (Bill Ray)

>randall g ( wrote:

>: God (in Christian theory at least) is responsible for his creation ...

>The above statement is a claim without basis.  You have, by
>virtue of your own authority, placed a responsibility upon 
>God.  Christian theory is that God gave man a choice, the
>wisdom to properly make that choice and the responsibility
>of dealing with the consequences of that choice.  Afterwards,
>through grace, He established a new means of dealing with
>those consequences other than eternal death.  Man screwed up.
>You cannot, by sheer audacity, place a responsibility upon

Others have recently argued in this forum, successfully I believe, that an 
omnipototent and omniscient god (like the usual Christian one) who is 
postulated to have created this universe and everything in it MUST bear some 
level of responsibility for its development.  There are just too many innocent 
victims being hurt by natural and human (free-willed) causes.

It is not my authority that places this responsibility on God's shoulders, for 
I obviously do not possess that level of authority.  If I did, things would be 

The fact that God is apparently choosing to disregard this responsibility is 
what seems to bother many of us.  Did God just set the initial conditions, and 
allow the universe's development in time to wind down like clockwork according 
to the laws of science?  This leads to the "detectable effect" argument, and 
the uselessness of the god proposition in that case.

If it is audacity to suggest that God is responsible for his innocent victims 
when he could easily prevent them then God is not moral in my opinion.  I 
cannot accept that a creator who is infinitely powerful and infinitely good 
would behave in this way.

If when I die it turns out that the Christian god exists after all, I will ask 
him these questions.  That is, if I get the chance.  Apparently he doesn't 
usually like it when people ask them.  If that is audacity and causes me to be 
damned to eternal torment, then so be it.

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: God Rocks Refuted
Date: Wed, 21 Sep 1994 23:22:11 +1000

In article <35l51r$> (MILLIGAN,JOHN)

>Lisa, By your very arguments, god is not omnipotent.  If there is _anything_ 
>he cannot do he is not omnipotent.  If he cannot create self-contradictory 
>objects then he is not omnipotent.  If he is omnipotent then he is not
>constrained by our logic rules and again is not omnipotent since he can then
>create said object. 

Perhaps God _can_ create a square circle. He just hasn't left one lying around 
for us to look at.

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Existence of God. . .
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 1994 05:34:43 GMT

In article <35s74n$> (Bill Ray)

>The problem with orthodox Christianity is that it has
>not always been under the control of CHristians.

Well who has been controlling Christianity? And if Christians had managed to 
be in control all this time how might Christianity differ today?

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Chapter 7: The Trilemma - Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?
Date: 25 Sep 1994 15:16:17 +0100

In article <35v40c$>
(Jeroen J-W Tiggelman) writes:

>In article <35oauu$>, Randy Parsons  wrote:

>>Why doesn't Gawd just show up and say 'Tada!  Here I am!'  Certainly a 
>>Gawd can do that, right?  Then again, maybe Gawd ain't.

>God knows you'd dream up some logical explanation why that would not constitute
>proof, so what would be the point? :)-=

Nonsense.  This point has been discussed many times in this forum.  There are 
plenty of things that a god could do to demonstrate his existence to the 
satisfaction of rational atheists everywhere.

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Help: Quote needed
Date: 29 Sep 1994 11:15:18 +0100

In article <361phv$> Matt Bishop 

>In article <35usbe$>,
>Bill Ray  wrote:

>>Christians are called to be the salt and light to their
>>community, to call into question decisions which are
>>contrary to the will of God.  

>It's amazing, isn't it, how people who know and understand the Will
>of God always seem to discover that it conforms to their own 
>personal prejudices. Guess we really are made in His image after all...

I think it's the other way around.  Gods tend to reinforce our attitudes and 
prejudices because gods are all created in our own minds.

A god's primary function is to confirm for us deeply held beliefs that we 
can't let go of, even in the face of overwhealming evidence.  When you are 
totally and absolutely convinced of something fundamentally unreasonable it 
helps to believe you have divine guidance.

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Things to ponder
Date: 29 Sep 1994 11:15:33 +0100

In article <> phil spoor 

>1) for the atheists:  It is very easy to criticize the logical foundations of
>   Christianity, but with what shall we replace it?  You don't replace
>   something with nothing.

Well there's your problem right there. You are making the assumption that you 
cannot replace something with nothing, if that something is belief in the 
supernatural. However, there are many people who have successfully replaced 
"belief in Christianity" with "a lack of belief in Christianity".

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: God and detectability
Date: 2 Oct 1994 21:02:55 +0100

In article <364e39$>, Rondo Keele wrote:
> Antoon Pardon ( wrote:
> : My question now is how am I going to distinguish between 
> : a real experience and something akin to a (selfinduced)
> : dream.
> If you are a Catholic, you will so distinguish by the standards
> appropriate to Catholicism, etc., etc.		

If that was the case I could imagine two chaps (sorry, not necessarily 
male) having the same wild mystical experience in completely different 
places. Person A gets revered as a god or a son of a god or a prophet 
or something. Person B in a different culture is thrown in a mental 
institution or killed outright.

Did Person B get possessed by the wrong god? Did some god possess the 
wrong person?

Now I know it's not likely that the exact same mystical experience will 
happen to two different humans, but I think enough similarity exists in 
much mystical experience that my example is hypothetically possible.

One religion's sacred dream is another religion's insanity.

Sounds like a bunch of unco-ordinated deities, all struggling for control 
of more human souls (or whatever); actually waging war with each other 
through their human puppets. May the strongest god win!

randall g

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Deistic reflections
Date: 13 Oct 1994 10:15:38 +0100

In article <37gln9$>, Jim Kalb wrote:
> (TreeShrew) writes:
> >Why say anything more than "this theory accounts for the observations?" 
> >No value judgment need be involved--it is a statement of fact, a 
> >conclusion arrived at by comparing a theory's predictions to actual 
> >observations, and if they correspond, you have truth.
> The theory "quantum mechanics is true, subject to the supervening 
> principle that after 1995 U-235 will be non-radioactive on Bill 
> Clinton's birthday" accounts for observations, and its predictions have 
> been repeatedly confirmed.  Nonetheless, no one accepts it.

Of course nobody accepts it. You have fallen afoul of Occam's razor. Say we 
have two competing theories, both of which account for all known facts and 

1. Quantum mechanics is true (i am avoiding the "what is truth?" question and 
using your terminology).

2. Quantum mechanics is true, subject to [ ... an extraordinary conclusion, 
unsupported by fact and observation, which would be nearly impossible by the 
rules of theory 1 ... ].

Most would pick theory 1 as most likely at this point.

Here's another example:

1. The universe exists more or less as we observe it.

2. The universe exists more or less as we observe it, with the addition of the 
undetectible and unfathomable deity figure from Western mythology.

> If you give me a concise theory that works I can turn it into a 
> complicated theory that makes the same predictions.

You call that an argument? We could play that game for a long time. Sounds 
like you are claiming that all possible theories are true, or that none of 
them can be.

That's why we have to pick the BEST theory out of many. Otherwise there can be 
no way to understand reality, in which case this discussion really is moot.

randall g

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Disproving the Christian God (Again) [Was "Re: Futility of This 
Date: 19 Oct 1994 13:41:06 +0100

In article <37u31f$>, Bill Ray wrote:
> I love my children.  Yet I don't do everything you might
> consider good or necessary for them.  Does this present a
> prima facie case that I don't love them, or that we disagree
> on how best to raise my children?

You're going to have to stop comparing yourself with your god. I think we can
all agree that you are neither omnipotent nor omnibenevolent. Without meaning
to doubt your good intentions, if you fail to be a perfect parent, it is
because you are not capable of such perfection.

If you were capable of protecting your children from all harmful accidents,
and doing "everything good or necessary for them", you would probably do so.
If you had the power but did not do so, how would you feel about that?

Then you would be in the same position as your god.

> Given the choice between the God who created us and you,
> I would have to defer to His judgement.  You will need a
> more convincing argument than "He fails to meet my definition
> of benevolent" to undermine the moral authority of God.

Feel free to defer to His judgement. Unfortunately His judgement is less than
clear to me. What I have understood of it so far is that it is childish,
irresponsible and vengeful, not to mention entirely unscientific and irrational.
I would prefer to be judged by my all too human peers. At least we can
use reason and agree on what constitutes justice.

If God is not benevolent in the way we usually understand the word, 
what is the point of belief in Him?

And you are going to need a more convincing argument than "God moves in 
mysterious ways" to support the moral authority of god.


From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Subjectivity relative to Objectivity
Date: 20 Oct 1994 11:35:36 +0100

In article , Alex P. Danforth Quayle
> > But athiests have no church to provide them doctrine.  So each athiest
> > decides for himself.
> Hmm... "atheists have no church..."  I'll have to think about that one.

Don't think for too long. You won't find one. Honest.

> If atheism is "absence of theism," then wouldn't each "atheist" holding
> this definition have *some* view of reality which is in congruence with
> all other atheists?

A philosophical similarity of views of reality does not a religion make.

> More specifically, as far as the subject-object relation deals with God,
> what is the view of this relation shared by all?  Why is "this" particular
> one chosen?

Well, most atheists would agree that "God" does not exist. This view is
chosen because it is the simplest and most obvious one, with the least
inherent contradictions and best predictability and reproducibility.


From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Things that make you go HMMMMMMM?
Date: 20 Oct 1994 11:35:40 +0100

In article <37mkrs$>, Bill Ray wrote:
>James N Englehart ( wrote:

>: Why did God allow for over 16 million Jews to die?
> Ask Him.  I do not have to answer for God.  But if you read the
> Bible, you will see that God regularly brought judgement upon
> His people, and that physical death is not the worst thing that
> can happen to His people.  Your query shows a limited understanding
> of the basics of the old and new testament.

Yes, you should have realized that God has been doing this sort of thing
to His people through all of history. God's Plan for us all allows for 
arbitrary and drastic punishment to be inflicted upon the innocent.
The Bible does not make it clear why, and He has yet to explain this to 
Bill or myself.

> : What about the dinosaurs? 
> Recognize that not every accepts the common beliefs about
> dinosaurs (save the flames, I state facts, whether you choose
> to accept them or not).  In fact, does any history, anywhere
> speak of these creatures.  Since they obviously predated man
> by many years, of what significance is there in an absence of
> mention.

Although if He *had* mentioned any of it in the Bible, your argument 
would be a lot stronger now. If there was even ONE thing in the GB the
writer couldn't have known any other way. Christians should be able to
say "Look, the cure for cancer is here in the Bible!"

> As far as your judgment of His (Jesus') actions, perhaps you
> can explain to Him on the judgement day how you are more
> qualified to judge than is He.

Bill, I think you are beginning to lose patience. I know you haven't 
managed to convert anyone here yet, and it's not for lack of trying. 
Unfortunately for your argument, threats of eternal damnation are
unlikely to carry much weight in this forum.

You'd probably have more success knocking on doors! .

> Try this explanation
> on for size.  The early Christians misunderstood and believed
> that Jesus' return would be very soon.

Oops. It's too bad Jesus couldn't have been a little more clear on
this point. I wonder how many people would have believed in him as 
the Messiah if he had (more truthfully) said: "I am going to die for
your sins, spend three days in hell, return to earth alive, and be
carried up to heaven not to return for *** AT LEAST ONE THOUSAND

> Please, this is beneath the normal high standards of this group.

Yea, shut yer cakehole.

> Bill Ray
> : -Nudd
randall g

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: AIDS is NO sin (was: Re: Disproving the Christian God (Again))
Date: 23 Oct 1994 15:55:28 -0000

In article <388h0l$>, Torben Amtoft wrote:
> Point 1: had humans been sinless, AIDS would not have spread
>      that rapidly (and perhaps not even spread at all).
So if humans were sinless, AIDS would have spread through the population 
somewhat slower than it has? Obviously you cannot show that it would not have 
spread at all. Does that make it more appropriate as a punishment, even though 
clearly innocent civilians are injured in the process?

> Point 2: many people have got AIDS without their own faults,
>      but due to other people sinning.
Oh great, a god that allows us to be doomed by another's sins. This is the sort 
of unjustified and arbitrary punishment that keeps us from believing in the 
bugger in the first place.

> If you are interested in finding out what Jesus says about
> the relationship between sins and disasters, take a
> look at Luke 13, 1-5.
Here's what it says:
"Now there were some present at that very season who told home of the Galileans, 
whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered and said 
unto them, Think ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, 
because they have suffered these things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, 
ye shall all in like manner perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in 
Siloam fell, and killed them, think ye that they were offenders above all the 
men that dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, excepth ye repent, ye shall 
likewise perish."  Bible, Luke 13, 1-5

Come on Torben, this doesn't make any sense. It seems to say something like: 
"There were 18 people killed by a falling structure, but they were just ordinary 
working joes, nobody special, but just like everyone else, they must have 
REPENTED or they perish (into whatever hell Jesus usually talked about)."

If anything, it implies that there is no relation between sin and disaster, or 
that those 18 individuals deserved perishing for unexplained reasons.
Or did you quote the wrong verses?

> You totally misinterpret my points, such that they fit into
> your stereotype picture about how Christians think. 
> Unless you give me an apology, 
Apology? For what, questioning the basis of your mythological faith?

> I don't think there is any point in carrying on this discussion.
Sure there's a point; I like to see Christians squirm (or not respond at all) 
when presented with facts. Feel free to vanish.

randall g

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: It makes me mad when... (Prayer in schools)
Date: 23 Oct 1994 15:55:21 -0000

In article <387k3s$ltc@nntp.Stanford.EDU>, Alan Dale Brown wrote:

[ Alan, one small thing, could you put a blank line or two between your
reponses and the next quoted text? That would make it a lot easier to read. ]

> I'm a pretty moderate Christian - I have
> a certain amount of respect for people of other religions - I always
> perk up, listen and ask whenever I meet someone of a different religion.  

Why is that? Personally, I have a certain amount of intellectual curiosity when 
meeting someone with an unusual religious belief. But don't you think they're 
wrong; indeed, that their immortal souls are in serious jeopardy? Does this 
"certain amount of respect" include believing that they can somehow achieve 
salvation in their own ways? Do you think that there is some way that they can 
avoid eternal damnation through sincerity of (incorrect) belief? Will God save 
any of those who believed in the wrong deity?

Or do you perk up, listen and ask even though you know they are wrong and 

> Subjected to silence?  Sorry, I didn't know it was so offensive.  Would
> a Moment of Loudness be preferred?

I think the point is No Moment At All. Given that the only reason for the Moment 
in the first place is to satisfy the fundamentalist Christians. How many other 
religious groups (Jews, Muslims, Satanists, pagans, whatever) are lobbying for 
their own Moments?

> Where did you get that idea, that I thought I was infallible?  Did I give you
> the impression that I was infallible?  I'm flattered you would think such
> a thing, but sorry, no, I'm fallible.  Fallible, fallible, fallible.

Not all Christians admit that around here. By the way, so am I.

> I own a copy of the Koran (correction: translation of the Koran), and I've 
> tried to wade through it, but it's a bit tedious.

Do you think it is any more tedious than the Bible?

> How would I react to 
> my (hypothetical) kids being taught it?  I guess I wouldn't mind, as long 
> they weren't hassled for being different.

I think you'd scream blue murder if the teacher was trying to convince them that 
it is the *Absolute Truth*, and that *Allah* is *God* and *Mohammed* is his 

> And Christianity (certainly my understanding of Christianity) is qualitatively
> different from Islam (it's not nearly so legalistic).  

We agree that Christianity and Islam differ qualitatively. One could argue, 
though, that Christianity has affected our legal system to an extent comparable 
to the way Islam has affected the legal systems of Islamic countries.

Don't get me wrong, I prefer the legal system here to that in a strictly Islamic 
country. However, there is always the worry that Christianity could subvert the 
Constition (Bill of Rights here in Canada) to the point of establishing a 
religious theocracy. Have you read "A Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood?

randall g

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: It makes me mad when... (Prayer in schools)
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 1994 10:42:35 +1000

In article <38elqh$8p@nntp.Stanford.EDU>, Alan Dale Brown wrote:
> In article <>, randall g wrote:

> Atheists are picky about the format of their postings, aren't they?  I've
> posted a number of other places dozens of times, and nobody's ever
> complained before this newsgroup.
I didn't mean to sound too complaining here. My newsreader displays 
responses/quoted text in similar colours, and when they are all bunched together
from one thought to the next it makes a mess o characters on the screen. Also, I
think that if a post gives a clean and uncluttered first impression it stands a 
better chance of getting read (and isn't that the point?). Anyway, thanks for 
doing it.

>>Does this 
>>"certain amount of respect" include believing that they can somehow achieve 
>>salvation in their own ways? Do you think that there is some way that they can
>>avoid eternal damnation through sincerity of (incorrect) belief? Will God save
>>any of those who believed in the wrong deity?
> My interest in Christianity is more focussed on how we should live our lives
> and treat each other, rather than on the afterlife.  I don't believe in the
> infallibility of the Bible, and I am not certain about what happens to
> anybody after they die - I have my hopes.
You don't believe in the infallibility of the Bible? You are not certain what 
happens after we die? This isn't quite the same Christianity I grew up with.
Does you pastor know this? It sounds like you are approaching agnosticism, or 
Unitarianism. Is this common amongst Christians (at least, is it common for them
to admit it)?

> I know the most straightforward
> interpretation of certain verses in the Bible indicate that all non-believers
> will go to Hell, but there are other ways of interpreting them, -I don't know,
> God'll do what God'll do.  My interest in evangelism is limited to telling
> people who are interested about my faith.
A healthier attitude to have, I think. I wish all Christians (and other theists)
shared it.

> My interest in other religions is based on simple curiosity, and an interest
> in how religion solves the problem of human co-operation.
I would be more interested in religion if it actually did "solve" such problems.
Unfortunately there are far too many glaring examples of religion doing just the
When strife occured for centuries in the Middle East, it was primarily religious
conflict. Now that we are withing striking distance of lasting peace there it is
not religion or gods that are the motivating factor. Indeed, it is the deeply 
religious who are trying to sabotage the peace effort.
I didn't hear King Hussein, Yitzak Rabin, or Bill C congratulate God for his 
help when they signed the peace treaty and ended the war between Israel and 

Attempting to lead a life that emulates Jesus' may indeed make someone a better 
person, or at least keep them from the worst criminal behaviour (and 
consequently out of my face). But it hasn't had much good effect on the global 

> Maybe because it's the most aggressively evangelical Christians who are
> interested in posting here.  Did you ever consider that your sample
> might be skewed?  And pretty much every Christian I know realizes they're
> fallible; it's just that some of them are particularly defensive when it
> comes to defending the reliability of their beliefs.
I didn't mean to imply that they all thought they were infallible, or perfect or
anything. Indeed, they are usually very quick, almost happy, to declare that 
they are sinners, just like us atheists and all other humans. However, they sure
are convinced they are on the True Path, and that they are slated for eternal 
bliss and everyone else isn't.

There is another force skewing the sample of Christians here. Just having the 
knowledge and facilities to correspond on an internet newsgroup shows (I 
believe) a higher than typical level of intelligence, or at least education. 
Having the additional ability to write thoughtfully enough to get past the 
moderator supports this.

So we have an interesting (and probably quite unusual) sort of Christian here: 
both intelligent and evangelical. Although it's interesting that a Christian 
should need to feel defensive - shouldn't the Truth be obvious to all?

> >Do you think [ the Koran ] is any more tedious than the Bible?
> >
> For the most part, yes, quite a bit more. [ snip examples ]. Have you looked
> into the Koran?

No I haven't, nor do I care to, so I'll take your word for it.

> >I think you'd scream blue murder if the teacher was trying to convince them
> >it is the *Absolute Truth*, and that *Allah* is *God* and *Mohammed* is his 
> >prophet.
> Please don't tell me what I think.  If I lived in an Islamic country, I would
> expect the teacher to teach such things, and, as a result, would probably
> put my kid into some sort of private/American school.  I wouldn't scream
> anything.
I didn't mean that to be taken literally. Of course you wouldn't "scream" out 
loud. I was just making the point (slightly sarcastically) that you wouldn't 
appreciate your kids being taught a different faith (than yours) as if it were 
true. I too would remove my children from a school where Islam, or Christianity 
or any other theism, was being shoved down their throats.

> >One could argue, 
> >though, that Christianity has affected our legal system to an
> >extent comparable to the way Islam has affected the legal systems
> >of Islamic countries.
> I was referring to "religious legalism", an entirely different topic. Islam
> says salvation is achieved through works (I think it's typical for a Muslim
> to believe a Christian *could* achieve salvation - there are some verses in
> the Koran that speak well of Christians and Jews, other verses that
> don't speak nearly so well of them.)  Christianity believes salvation
> is achieved solely through faith, although a number of morals are defined
> through Christianity.
Point taken. This is an interesting distinction.

> >However, there is always the worry that Christianity could subvert the 
> >Constition (Bill of Rights here in Canada) to the point of establishing a 
> >religious theocracy. 
> There is a teeny-tiny movement in the  U.S. to establish a theocracy.
Let's hope it remains teeny-tiny. They pobably wouldn't like your belief system 
any more than mine.

Thanks for taking the time to respond. Bill and Torben never do.

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Subjectivity relative to Objectivity
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 1994 10:46:13 +1000

In article , Alex wrote:
> > In article , wrote:
> >
> > > Hmm... "atheists have no church..."  I'll have to think about that one.
> > Don't think for too long. You won't find one. Honest.
> Really?  Even with all the atheist groups there are?  I'm sure
> that atheist organizations exist, just like anarchist groups(!)
> exist.  To me, a church is just another social organization, albeit a 
> unique one.

Sorry, you've simply got this one wrong. My old student dictionary defines 
church as "1. a building esp for Christian public worship 2. the whole body of 
Christians 3. public divine worship". Atheists by definition worship nothing, 
even when they meet socially. Do you use the word "church" to refer to a bunch 
of anarchists or stamp collectors or cat lovers getting together? You have 
obviously been reading this forum; do you think what we do here is "attending 

Also, I don't think most church-goers would agree with your definition of church

> An *organization* of philosophically similar views does a "religion"
> (or church) make.  I am trying to find this characteristic of atheists
> and atheism itself, which leads to organization.
Wrong again, see above. There is some organization, of course, because we enjoy 
discussing the philosophy together, or with those Christians who can remain 
civil. But there is simply no *divine* *worship* going on.

> > Well, most atheists would agree that "God" does not exist. This view is
> > chosen because it is the simplest and most obvious one, with the least
> > inherent contradictions and best predictability and reproducibility.
> Hmm...  I get a lot of flames from alt.atheism, telling me that atheism
> is just "no belief in gods."  I was almost ready to believe them until
> you said "most atheists would agree that 'God' does not exist."  Maybe I
> am misunderstanding you?

Atheists do vary a bit on this one, which is why I said "most". Perhaps I should
have more accurately said "All atheists would agree that there is no basis for 
belief in any sort of supernatural deity, and consequently do not exhibit said 
belief". You didn't question my reasons for this choice so I assume you 
understand it.

Personally I think most atheists actually think there is no god, judging mostly 
by the posts in this forum; though I have no numbers and I could be wrong. 
(Also, I don't attend any atheist churches so I get no feedback that way). 
However, you can be called an atheist if you simply lack belief, without the 
positive assertion that gods don't exist. Check the FAQ on strong vs weak 
atheism if you want a more in depth explanation; though you seem to have grasped
this one pretty well.

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Antihumanism and Christianity
Date: 28 Nov 1994 12:31:25 -0000

In article <>, 
> An all-loving god (and I consider all-loving-ness to be one of the
> three essential attributes of I AM, along with omnipotence and
> omniscience)

How does all-loving-ness differ from a combination of omnipotence and 

Assuming you mean something like "100% completely loving", how can it be 
possible in a universe where god exists, but allows bad things to happen?

> would love both the Jobs and the Abrahams infinately.
> Certainly, my finite mind cannot make comparisons.

It's too bad none of us can comprehend inifinite concepts. And it's too bad 
that gods only exist there.

> If Mr. Ray is
> suggesting that God gets angry when we question him, then I must
> respectfully disagree.

I usually disagree a little less respectfully, but go on.

> I believe that God gets angry when we 
> willfully turn away from Him, but quickly forgives us if or when
> we turn towards Him.

Well if we have the free will to turn towards and away from him, then his 
reaction towards us is not free. Can god choose not to forgive us each time 
we turn to him? If we have free will, then He certainly doesn't. Obviously 
if he has free will, then We don't.

If we don't have free will, this whole discussion is moot, and my fate is 
already known and decided, no matter what I believe.

> Asking questions implies a desire for greater
> knowledge.  Insofar as God's greatest delight is our seeking after
> Him, questioning and even objecting to God are 'Good' things.

Can I object to god and have him consider it to be a Good Thing?
If so, is my disbelief Good enough to get me into Heaven?

Others have objected to God.
Job was not an atheist, he believed in God to the point of having visions of 
Him, and conversations. He objected to God. He was apparently punished 
severely. Apparently he was punished worse than I, as an athiest, will 
likely ever be. What do I have to worry about?

Now if you say that I will be punished more than Job after my death, then 
disbelief is not a good thing.

> I suggest that God may allow 
> 'bad' or unpleasant (or downright horrific) things to happen either 
> to avoid violating someone's 'free-will' or to make someone 'better' 
> (ie, more like God).  

Well you'd better come up with good explanations for these things or you 
won't have a hope of convincing anyone. Keep trying. No theist has 
adequately explained this away.

You make god look like a clumsy lumbering giant, trodding over some while 
helping and supporting others whom he considers 'better'. There must be a 
better way to improve someone without all the collateral damage, and an all-
loving god ought to know that.

randall g

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Disproving the Christian God (Again)
Date: 6 Dec 1994 21:03:10 -0000

In article <3bdq8o$>, Jonathan Graehl wrote:
> I was just wondering if you would want to live a life in which God
> protected you from all pain.

Damn that would be nice. Lots of babes would be good too.

> It seems that the human mind cannot work
> without pain.  It also seems to me that with a life of all pleasure and
> no pain, there is never a decision to be made, no anxiety over choosing
> immediate pain for future pleasure or vice versa.

If there was a god, and if he had created the universe with all pleasure and 
no pain, I'm sure we would all be used to it. Would anybody really miss the 
pain? I doubt it, unless god builds in an internal desire for pain, which 
would be insatiable in the universe you describe.

> Actually, the type of
> mind I have now [...] is opposed to this sort of existence
> and views it as a death, at the very least it is the end of the life I
> have known and treasure.

Then it's probably a good thing that it's not about to happen. I don't know 
what would happen to me if I didn't get a hangover after drinking tons of 

> Why do you consider receiving a 110 volt
> electrical shock a bad thing, for which God must be faulted?  It seems
> to me that it would be a painful experience of learning, which opens
> the doorway to greater knowledge.

This sounds reasonable when applied to those who live relatively comfortable 
lives, like you and me, or just about anyone else in the first world. We 
suffer some mild day-to-day angst and pain, and get through it.
Builds character. Humans have evolved to deal with it, it's called reality.

There are millions if not billions who have suffered pain to an extent we 
cannot imagine. Born and raised in squalor, faced with a short brutal life 
of grinding poverty, living in shit, with no prospects and no way out, 
reduced to an animal's existence. Millions of others have been tortured and 
killed through no fault of their own. Don't tell me they have benefitted 
from a "learning experience".

> Also, I am EXTREMELY curious as to why you write "Gawd."  What are you
> talking about?  Are you just trying to make some spastic attempt at
> mocking contempt at this very powerful idea?  No matter what you or any
> other unique people feel about God, it is an idea that I respect because
> it is such a very powerful one, and I was just wondering what it is that
> you gain out of misspelling it, unless you are talking about something
> else altogether ...

Yes it is an expression of mocking contempt, but not necessarily aimed at 
you. And it is not spastic, it is well calculated to mildly ridicule a god 
who was not shown that he deserves any particular level of respect. If you 
respect God so much that you are offended by others' lack of respect, it's 
your problem for taking it so seriously.

It may be "an idea you respect" but most of us think you're wrong, and some 
of us think your God deserves to be dissed, after all he's done for us (ie 

> Jonathan Graehl

randall g

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Yet Another Quran Prophecy!
Date: 6 Dec 1994 21:01:41 -0000

In article , Duncan THOMSON 
> (Virk Shakeel) writes:
> > "And We made from water every living thing" [ from the Quran ]
> (2) Doesn't it say somewhere *else* in the Qu'ran that Allah created
>     man from clay, into which he breathed life.  How do you chose
>     which prophesy is the `true' one?

I expect Virk has two choices here: to ignore this other prophecy (or at 
least show that it was quoted wrong) or come up with some convoluted and 
unlikely explanation that somehow fits.

I don't know what kind of a scholar Mohammed was but the basic idea that 
water is the basis of life (however flowery it is put) can't have been that 
uncommon amongst the learned. As has been pointed out more specifically by 
others, the Greeks had thought of that well before Mohammed's time.

There is no reason to think that the Quran or any other old holy religious 
text can't have some accuracy. The level of perfection of a holy book will 
be measured more by what it gets wrong than by what it gets right.

> > What do you think, another lucky guess?

In this case, Virk, the guess may very well have been lucky, if by that you 
mean accurate. Nobody is trying to show that the Quran can't get anything 
right, just that it doesn't say anything that couldn't possibly have been 
known at the time.

randall g

From: (randall g)
Subject: Re: Christ and Horus
Date: 16 Dec 1994 13:20:51 -0000

In an article, Jonathan Rynd wrote:
> In an article, (Jim Whitaker) wrote:
> > All this Hebrew gibberish is a story line.
> I'm sure the Jews will thank you for labeling their entire religion
> "gibberish."

You mean like the Christians usually do? All religion is gibberish, try not 
to take it personally.

randall g

From: (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Weak Atheism                                                                                        
Date: 02/23/95

In article , Vic  Jasin wrote:
> In article <> 
(Mike McAngus) writes:

> Is it me and my own observations that are exceptions or are many strong 
> atheists those who are rebounding from xtian indoctrination?

Perhaps in some cases, but IMO it is not a significant factor, generally.

As a strong atheist, I will throw in my 2c. I was brought up in a Calvinist 
church where my parents didn't try especially hard to observe the doctrine 
preached on Sunday. That hypochrisy became obvious at an early age. While I 
believed in God for many of my early years, it soon became evident that this 
deity was unable to respond to any of my prayers, after having been assured 
that prayer would be effective. Everything I ever observed in the real world 
seemed explainable without God. I was never "indoctrinated" in the 
brainwashing sense; I didn't attend Sunday school - just church services. My 
disbelief in God stemmed from a complete and utter lack of evidence for His 
existence rather that from a backlash to any indoctrination attempts. It 
then evolved into an understanding that the description of "God" that I had 
been taught was in contradiction with the facts available to me and other 
thinking people who made more "sense" than the religious. God's non-
existance came slowly but surely for me.

> I personally ie. the kids of religious finatics, those who have been
> brought through religious education against their will, the loss of
> something or someone that caused an outcry against what was supposed to be
> an all loving and caring God.

It doesn't require a personal loss to observe in today's reality that a 
"God" both omni-benevolent and omni-powerful couldn't possibly exist. This 
has been discussed over and over in this newsgroup (to the Nth philosophical 
degree). Besides, a "God" any less powerful than that isn't necessarily 
deserving of worship or even respect. You must give understandable reasons 
why you think "It" would deserve worship.

Certainly those strong atheists posting here are able to back up their 
"belief" with reason and fact. You don't see many posts saying "I was 
disappointed by God as a child because He let my pet dog get smushed by a 
car when I was 6, so now I am an atheist".

> If I am mistaken then what _is_ the most common profile of a strong 
> atheist ?
Rational - Freethinking - Scientific - Undogmatic ... (any others ??)

> And why?
Atheism is the most obvious result of the above combination of 

> >>There is no
> >>evidence for or against the existence of God. 

Well there is definitely no evidence FOR the existance of any particular 

If by "God" you mean the Christian God, there is tons of evidence against 
its existence (this gets rehashed over and over in this newsgroup). If by 
"God" you mean a much less obvious concept, like "the force which created 
our reality but takes no measurable part in the universe's continued 
evolution" then sure, there is no evidence against its existance. So what?

randall g

From: (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Creationism in Canada                                                                               
Date: 03/21/95

This is reprinted from an editorial in the Vancouver Sun, March 18/95:

(background: Abbotsford is a bedroom community near Vancouver, in the Fraser
 Valley, an area known as British Columbia's "Bible Belt")

School balancing act defies science

   "Ignorance is strength," the thought police declared in George Orwell's
political satire "1984", and if there was any truth in such oxymoronic 
double-think, Abbotsford's schools would be turning out a mighty generation
of deep thinkers.
   The Abbotsford school board, guided by an evangelical Christian 
requires teachers to "balance" the theory of evolution by also teaching 
creationism, using materials from fundamentalist sources. Many teachers, 
Vancouver Sun reporter Douglas Todd has found, avoid teaching creationism
by not teaching evolution either.
   So the schools produce students who have been taught nothing about the
origins of life. They have not been told that most scientists - and most 
Christian churches - accept that evolution provides the best explanation
available to fit the known facts and that the theory changes as more facts
come to light.
   Nor have they been told that some Christians believe God literally 
the universe in seven days; that many Christian churches accept the Bible's 
creation story as metaphoric truth, reflecting the state of science at the
time it was written; and that all the world's religions have their own
creation myths, full of startling and delightful parallels, contraditions
and insights.
   Board chair John Sutherland says schools should teach ideas that reflect 
their communities, and Abbotsford has a large evangelical Christian 
The board will review the way its policy is implemented, but it won't change
the policy itself.
   It must be disheartening to be a member of a minority group in a 
that won't tolerate anything outside the orthodox of the majority. But 
publicly funded schools should not be contributing to such an atmosphere.
The Abbotsford board should scrap its policy. Evolution should be taught as
a part of mainstream science. If the board wants creationism taught, it 
provide courses in comparative religion. Parents who want more religious
content for their children can teach them at home, or send them to church
or enrol them in private schools.
   If the board won't change, the education ministry should force it to. If
the ministry won't act, teachers and parents should seek help from the 
or human rights agencies. No religious group should have the right to 
what is taught in our public schools.


Some more background about the Fraser Valley:

A few months ago in Surrey, another Fraser Valley community, a "back-to-
public school was opened. One of the first acts of its council of parents
(led by a well-known local fundie) was to turf several books out of the 
library, on the basis that they were blasphemous, or mentioned witches, or 
promoted "other religions" such as native spirituality. These were books 
are found in all BC school libraries as a matter of course.

More recently the Fraser Valley public library board banned the distribution 
of all free community newspapers in libraries, including Christian ones, 
because one of them, a gay-lesbian paper, was deemed to be inappropriate 
for libraries, and the board knew they couldn't get away with banning just
that one.


I have some comments:

First of all, I am not attempting to open a debate on whether creationism
is correct or not. That subject has been pretty much closed for over a 
years, despite the vigourous attempts of a few fundamentalist so-called
"scientists" to prove it as literal truth. They have failed miserably, 
and anyone with half a brain and an unclogged mind knows it. Besides, there
are newsgroups where this debate already rages on, apparently to continue as
long as there are fundies around who can type.

Second, I was very surprised to learn that this was going on at all,
even in Abbotsford. I guess I assumed that it is no longer allowed to teach
known lies to children in public schools.

The school board chair says "schools should teach ideas that reflect
their communities". While I have no doubt that many in that particular
community believe in literal creationism, do they all? How strongly should
a community believe something that is clearly untrue before those untruths
should become part of the public school curriculum. It seems to me that,
at a minimum, a VAST majority, if not every last person, should believe in 
that untruth before teaching it in public schools. Even then I would 
still argue against it.

There are probably communities in BC where many residents
believe one or more of the following:
 - that white-skinned people are superior, in various ways, to dark-
skinned people
 - that homosexuality is morally very, very wrong if not evil
 - that Japanese cars suck

I could think of plenty more, but why bother? Should any of these be taught 
in their local public schools?


Maybe someone can help answer these questions:

Are they publicly praying in Abbotsford or any other public BC schools?

Does the BC education ministry have a clear policy on school prayer or
teaching creationism? How about the BC Teachers' Federation?

Have the Canadian courts ever made a decision on this topic?

Sometimes I wonder about Canada, what with creationism and book-banning
in schools, bbs/internet operators being shut down for material you can 
buy at the corner store, drastic court-ordered media bans ...
I can't wait till the CRTC starts regulating the Internet (for our own 
good, of course) ...
randall g

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James