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‘Joyous atheists’: the ultimate oxymoron?

The phrase strikes a tinny note against this Catholic’s lexical eardrum

By on Monday, 2 August 2010

‘Joyous atheists’: the ultimate oxymoron?

If you are a book reviewer, you sometimes have the slightly hollow feeling that you are ringing the changes in the phrases and adjectives you use. To increase this sense of merely peddling breathless clichés, a friend has kindly sent me a list of adjectives that a reviewer must avoid at all costs.

They are: gripping, poignant, compelling, nuanced, lyrical, tour de force, readable, haunting, deceptively simple, rollicking, fully realised, page-turner, sweeping, riveting, unflinching, powerful, timely and unputdownable.

Well. I plead guilty to having employed the words ‘poignant’, ‘haunting’ and ‘powerful’ – though now that I am conscious of their tainted provenance I do try to find ways of not using them. You would never catch me using the others – unless of course, I were pushed for time, feeling lazy, had stopped bothering about standards or was hoping the reviews editor was asleep.

Two other popular adjectives of recent vintage which I steadfastly avoid are ‘raunchy’ and ‘edgy’. I understand ‘raunchy’ is generally used in the context of elderly women writing explicitly about the pleasures of extra-marital sex – as in the ‘raunchy’ novels of the late (elderly) Mary Wesley. I have never read any of her writings on the grounds that life is short and I suspect I would find them a trifle too ‘raunchy’. I would rather return to Jane Austen (I am re-reading Persuasion at the moment at the behest of my local Book Club) who is exquisitely ‘un-raunchy’.

I never liked the word ‘edgy’ because I saw it thrown about all over the place; then I read the sorry saga of the Jonathan Ross- and-Russell Brand kind of ‘edgy’ humour and the even more sorry spectacle of the BBC defending them on the grounds that the public enjoyed this kind of ‘edgy’ fun – and I sent the word forever to the gulag of my lexicon. (I note that fellow-blogger Stuart Reid used it recently, but I remain unrepentant.)

A word I might use sometime, even though it is also thrown about too often, is ‘feisty’. It seems to be only used about women and has a certain plucky charm to it. Sarah Palin is seriously ‘feisty’ – even if she is not a suitable candidate for the US presidency – so I do not ‘refudiate’ it (to quote a word minted recently by Ms Palin).

I also like the sound of the word ‘apotropaic’, though it is not easy to find a way of using it often; it has an added frisson for me because Christopher Hitchens used it in his Memoir. If only his Twitter fans would imitate their master and touch up their vocabulary.

Just as ‘feisty’ can only be used about women, ‘oleaginous’ can only be used of men. Men ‘greasy’, women ‘plucky’; sounds about right.

To conclude with a phrase: I heard the expression ‘joyous atheists’ the other day and it struck a tinny note against my lexical eardrum. Indeed I refudiate it on the grounds it is an oxymoron. ‘Joyous’ has spiritual connotations and atheists have rejected the life of the spirit. They can of course be ‘happy’ – a word that is much lower in the hierarchy of the emotions.

You can be either ‘joyous’ or an ‘atheist’; you cannot be both. Discuss.

  • Anna Johnstone

    You are an imbecile. The only thing atheists lack is a belief in god. I can't be bothered to argue with the rest of that rubbish you wrote so we shall leave at that.

  • Squints

    If being happy means that I have to convince myself that I'm superior to others because they don't exactly believe as I do, then I guess I'm a curmudgeon atheist.

  • Riddles

    First off joy is not a spiritual thing, anyone can experience joy, it is simply happiness. Secondly, atheists are people who do not believe in a god, thats it. The word does not define anything else about the person. There are millions of spiritual atheists who believe in various supernatural things, just not gods.

    Lastly, as an atheist I have experienced joy. I have no belief in any god and do not need one to be joyous.

    Your argument is invalid, this article is clearly a bad attempt to try to stir up debate when really you have nothing.

  • Weston Lockley

    Since we're in insult mode: You can't be much of a christian if that is all you've got.

    I, as an Atheist, am aware that we don't have all the answers. Books are filled, the Internet is abuzz with people arguing back and forth this question. Greater minds than ours are still debating the question whether the universe had a beginning or not.

    I, as an Atheist, can live with that. I don't need stories to give me false answers… just to have answers.

    “As a Christian I can explain that scenario quite well since it is well-documented in Scripture and well-supported by Tradition.”

    What you're saying is: “I don't know either whether the universe began at some time or whether it always existed… so, poof: a god did it.”

    You, as a christian, can't explain anything and are just pushing the problem ahead of you. By your own admission your so called god can't have always existed. So someone or something must have created her/it/him. Who? Ad infinitum.

    Nothing gives you the right, and in fact it is sheer arrogance, from your position of ignorance and relying on Bronze Age storybooks, to think you know better than all those scientists who are saying “We don't know yet. We're investigating.”

  • WarWeasle

    Wow. Way to demonize us. Jesus would be proud of you.

  • Riddles

    Clearly you are not an atheist and have no idea as to what one is as actual atheists can see flaw after flaw in your statement.

    Atheists are people who don't have a belief in a god, thats it, nothing more. they can however belief many other things. They can still be spiritual. The “theist” in atheist means “god”, it does not mean spirituality

  • thefreedictionaryDotCom

    joyous [ˈdʒɔɪəs]
    1. having a happy nature or mood
    2. joyful
    joyously adv
    joyousness n

    Note that the word “spiritual” is not included in the definition.

  • Riddles

    No matter how much someone perceives something to be real, when someone does not accept that, they are not “ignorant of a reality”. Reality is that which is real, not the imagined world of someone who cannot prove it.

    Since you cannot prove that the supernatural even exists there is no logical reason to assume it does. Not believing someone when they say there is a god is not being ignorant

  • thekibosh

    So you're in a mathematics course, and the prof poses a very difficult problem, one to which he himself has yet to find a solution. The class is working hard to solve it. You raise your hand and say proudly, “The answer is exactly 3!” The prof asks you to prove your work. You look at him quizzically and reply, “That's unnecessary, as I have an answer while the rest of the class continues to work. Having an answer is better than not having one. Therefore, I'm right!”

  • Wat


  • GoodNewsAtheism

    Heh, this from a religion that treats joy as its worst enemy. They demand that sex be only about procreation, and that if one peripherally experiences pleasure while having sex, they are to seek penance. They demand that if you love the wrong person, believe the wrong things, enjoy yourself the wrong way (especially if it's pleasuring yourself sexually), you are to be ashamed and you must apologize to the priest so that he can apologize to God on your behalf.

    A “joyous atheist” may be an oxymoron, but a “joyous Catholic” is a heretic.

  • Jay

    Refudiate??? Really? You expect to be taken seriously when you imitate the ignorant foibles of a woman who has shown herself to be the biggest political joke of our time?


    Did I forget to mention that I am a joyous atheist?

    You make assumptions and then come to conclusions based on those ill thought out assumptions.

    Very poorly concieved article.

  • Conundri

    Not so long ago, mankind thought that everything was made of earth, air, water, and fire. People didn't used to be very good at understanding the world. It's no surprise then that “Spirit” comes from the latin word “spiritus” which means breath. That's right “The spirit has departed” is basically “he's stopped breathing, he's dead Jim”. That's the nice thing about science, it helps us to understand our world better, to describe things better, and to create better models of reality, so we can make decisions and take actions that are also better. So now, instead of waiting around for the “spirit to come back to the body”, we can do CPR, and save a life.

    I could also follow with “Christian's can't experience true Joy or Happiness, because their Happiness and Joy is based on mythological fictions.” Of course you can be joyous or happy about real things, like stuff that happens to your family and friends, just like an atheist (if you can focus on reality long enough). Also , things that are outside of reality (like the supernatural, visions, gods, hallucinations from recreational drugs, fictions, myths, you name it) are just that, not real.

    Lastly, I can't count how many people over the millenia have been killed as heretics, blasphemers, etc. or the number of wars and wrongs perpetrated in the name of religion. I can say that these kinds of problems come directly from Faith in Ideologies (be they religious, political, social, economic or otherwise) that allow people to take actions while disregarding the real consequences. Yes, Mao's Great Leap Forward didn't go so well. Then again, the white man coming to America brought disease and sickness that killed plenty of native americans. This is why it is always important to evaluate our actions, and never to place 100% confidence in an ideaology, without question. Skepticism is far more virtuous than Faith. Building on Faith is building without a foundation, it's unsubstantiated, lacking evidence, lacking sound reasoning. This is why there are so many denominations and why the religious struggle so much with their faith, because unlike the bible's claims of faith being substance for things we can't see, faith can't be seen because it lacks substance.

  • Mark

    Have you considered the possibility that the atheists that you meet are only joyless when they are around you?

  • Conundri

    We don't trust our own thoghts to be true, any one of us could be mistaken. That is why science requires repeatability and the ability for something to be verified by someone else. How we treat other people matters because other people also interact with us. Don't want to be tortured and killed, don't torture and kill. Thankfully Christians finally appear to have learned this one in the last hundred or so years. The “laws of logic” as you call them are also known as “axioms” they are simple observational truths about reality. You may have noticed some important words there, like observed and reality. That last is the same as the morality question. I personally don't like trying to survive all alone, by myself in the wilderness. I care about other people and they care about me so that we can work together and we can all live more comfortable, happier, more joyous lives. If they have a real problem, i help them with it, instead of condemning them and telling them their sickness comes from some hidden sin, or giving them a bible they can't eat. We work together constructively to make our shared reality a nicer place. I know Christians like to be separate from the world and reality, but the rest of us work together in a positive way because this is what we've got. If you want to squander this life, hoping that your time rotting in the ground will be better, have at it.

  • Once more

    I was going to comment that this was simply stupid – joyous has no spiritual connotations, unless you choose to associate them. However, after a quick glance through the other articles here I can see that this level of idiocy is merely par for the course. It is ever the religious solution to create a straw man, burn him and claim victory.

  • shoosh

    You are, once again, trying to make statements about what all atheists believe. We don't have as much in common with eachother as, say, Christians; in fact the only thing we share is lack of belief in gods. So to state that we ALL believe in the multiverse hypothesis is categorically wrong. There are many, many theories about what came before the singularity, whether it was in fact a singularity, and so on. In fact, the multiverse theory that you seem to think I believe in is rather controversial in the scientific community. The debate is ongoing, and I really believe that “I don't know (yet)” is a perfectly valid answer. It certainly beats just making stuff up, anyway.

    My advice — stop trying to say “all atheists believe X”. We don't have anything in common, so it is impossible to make such a statement and have it hold even for a majority. There is no doctrine. There is no dogma. That's your department.

  • Conundri

    And the answers to all of those arguments can be found in REALITY. Not outside reality in myth, the supernatural, and fiction of religions. As a philosophical system, my basic axioms are Existence is Reality, Reality is Truth. While naturalism isn't proven, there is observable evidence of the reality around us, which is far more than can be said for anything outside of reality.

    The argument from Magic/Miracles? Really?

    The argument from degrees of perfection? You do realize that Plato's ideals were suited uniquely to a pantheon, because some ideals are in opposition and can't be represented simultaneously, like the god of war and the goddess of peace. Even the christian god(s) suffer from this problem of ideals with multiple personalities being required to have a Father of Justing and a Son of Forgiveness…

    The argument from design? Do a google search for Human Chromosome 2.

    The argument from Truth? Reality is Truth. God is not real.

    Some of these are really tired worn out old tripe.

  • shoosh

    I'm going to express my belief that you are probably a kind, rational person at heart. To do that I turn the other cheek to your sanctimony, your condescension and your self-centeredness that you put on display here, and return only help, explanations and facts. That is what you deserve as a person, and that is how I like to be treated, even by people like you.

    So to start, theists don't have a monopoly on the word “Joy” any more than Republicans have a monopoly on the word “patriotism”. I'm sorry that you were taught an incorrect meaning of “Joy”, as you seem to think I am incapable of experiencing it. All I can tell you is that I am an atheist, have been since I came out of the womb, and my life is full of joy and awe at the fantastic universe that I have found myself in. I love living, and there is no “black spot” in my heart where your god is supposed to be. I am a whole person, without religion. So are you. We're just different.

  • HappyGodlessGuy

    Same as annonymous. Atheist and happy. I think God people are unhappy because they fail to truly live as their mind wants to. True happiness is Neitzche esk. Not a false bible

  • Anthony

    Ok you admit that what atheists share is a lack of belief in God. Now lack of belief in God is lack of belief in a creator of the universe, and therefore lack of belief that the universe was created. So what atheists have in common is a lack belief that the universe was created.

    Now the universe exists and its existence demands an explanation, since without an explanation the universe would not exist. By lacking belief that the universe was created, atheists MUST hold the belief that the universe was not created. They cannot lack belief in both because that would mean denying the existence of the universe. What atheists have in common therefore is a belief that the universe was not created.

    Clearly whether the universe was created or not are both equally unfalsifiable hypotheses. Why do atheists choose to believe one unfalsifiable hypothesis over the other when there is an equal lack of evidence for both?

  • Jon143324

    Does a priest experience joy when he molests a kid?

  • Weston Lockley

    Dear Madam,

    Why is it that so many Christians, and especially so many Catholics, are so harsh, judgmental and, well, frankly, unhappy?

    Haven't you read this piece over before submitting it? Haven't you noticed its acerbic, condescending tone? Haven't you noticed the callous way in which you insult a very, very large group of people?

    I wonder what your definition of the word joyful is. Is this piece joyful? Joyful hate? Joyful condescension? Are you joyfully feeling superior?

    Don't you think that if your religion were really joyful, people would flock to you? Wouldn't they come running towards you, asking, nay, begging “Please, tell me, what is the source of your joyfulness? Please, tell me your secret. Instruct me how I can become as joyful as you are.”

    Do they, dear Madam? Do they really?

    Over the last years, more than 34 million people have turned their backs to organized religion in the US alone. How can they give up that ethereal joy of which you non-atheists are the sole possessors?

    By their fruits you shall know them. Or, more prosaically and less religiously put, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You only have to look at your emptying churches. You only have to listen to the howls of derision and ridicule reverberating throughout the world when the pope has issued yet another statement that defies, literally, belief in all the meanings of the word. You only have to feel the almost palpable distastefulness that surrounds your priesthood.

    Your lack of love, Madam, is only surpassed by your arrogant hatefulness.

    I understand, Madam, that you were preaching to the choir. Like any group of enablers they will undoubtedly applaud you. Cherish them, because their numbers are dwindling by the day. Alas for you, the Dark Ages are over and when you insult people, even when it is in the name of your god, even when you are a Catholic, you are going to get some answers. Not all of which might please you.

    You have been sowing bitter seeds.

    What kind of harvest do you think you will reap?

    PS: You also fail at linguistics. Look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary. At least since the early seventeenth century the word has been used with a secular meaning.

    Why am I not surprised a Catholic is lagging a few centuries behind?

  • thekibosh

    FYI Everyone, Anthony up there edited out a sizable portion of his initial post.

  • Anthony

    Did I? Where?

  • shoosh

    > Now lack of belief in God is lack of belief in a creator of the universe

    Is it? Theists consider “god” and “creator of the universe” to be synonymous, one and the same person. From an outsider's perspective I can't make that assumption. Have you considered religions in which there is/are god(s), any number of whom are said to have created the universe? What about religions that don't have a creation myth, but they do have god or gods?

    > So what atheists have in common is a lack belief that the universe was created.

    You keep putting words in my mouth. I said exactly what I said and no more. Atheists do not believe in gods, full stop. That's it. No addenda, interpretations or assumptions about other myths we may or may not believe in. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

    Since the rest of your response is built on that flawed assumption I can't really comment on the remaining two paragraphs.

  • Weston Lockley

    “Clearly whether the universe was created or not are both equally unfalsifiable hypotheses. Why do atheists choose to believe one unfalsifiable hypothesis over the other when there is an equal lack of evidence for both?”

    You're correct in as far as they are both unfalsifiable hypotheses.

    They are however not equally likely or plausible.

    Compare: There is an evil cow in orbit around the moon, who with her malignant teats sent destructive rays that caused hurricane Katrina. Or there is not. Equally falsifiable, NOT equally likely or plausible.

    Actually it boils down to Occam's razor. Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. Or: If you hear the clatter of hooves and you are not in Africa, think horses, not zebras.

    There is absolutely no need to introduce outlandish concepts like “invisible pink unicorns created the world by accident when they bumped into each other”. Which is another unfalsifiable hypotheses.

    And you certainly can't do what you are doing: “We don't know, so it has to be pink unicorns.”

    Furthermore, your last sentence can be turned against you: “Why do non-atheists choose to believe…”

  • Weston Lockley

    Let me try again:

    “Now the universe exists and its existence demands an explanation, since without an explanation the universe would not exist.”

    Let's, for argument's sake, concede this point.

    “By lacking belief that the universe was created, atheists MUST hold the belief that the universe was not created. They cannot lack belief in both because that would mean denying the existence of the universe.”

    Eh… no. To begin with: the fact that there has to be an explanation, doesn't mean that we necessarily have to know just what that explanation is. So: yes, we can lack belief in both. We can say: “Sorry, we haven't enough data to decide the question.” But: most Atheists will indeed say that there is no reason to suppose the universe was created. Because there just isn't.

    “Clearly whether the universe was created or not are both equally unfalsifiable hypotheses.”

    We've made quite some progress.

    You no longer assert that there is absolute proof for a god. You have conceded that the creation of the universe is an unfalsifiable hypotheses. There could be a creator, or not. Neither position can be proven, you say.

    You are now no longer a Catholic. You are an Agnostic. (Some mean Atheists call Agnostics Atheists without balls, but I strongly disapprove of that definition.)

    You see what a little bit of logic can do?

  • Crushed by a heel

    Prostration before a Cross is a more joyful experience than anything atheism offers. Atheism is the most miserable existence possible. If atheism is all there is then we really are doomed. Are we really accidents waiting to happen? Really ? What joy!

  • Trisbreya-N-DiesaStoneclave

    First of all it's “To be or no to be”, secondly a great many of your sentences are bland and make no sense what so ever. Saying atheists cannot feel joy is like saying religious people cannot think for themselves. It's not impossible but the nature of religion(all religion, I'm not picking on just one) makes it extremely difficult. If you caught my meaning there that if atheists are not joyous it's because of religion, give yourself a pat on the back.

    You must have missed the comment earlier about atheists and spirituality. Spirituality is not reserved for those with religion. The same for beliefs(although my motto is that it's better to have ideas than beliefs, Kevin Smith's Dogma if anyone wants to know). More to the point there is nothing about a god or religion in the definition of joyous(also pointed out in other comments).

    You assume that atheism is synonymous with “communist/socialist dictators and regimes”. In fact many religious people seem to like to link atheism with communism, as you said “materialism' and all sorts of nasty things. I don't think I have the room to point out the rather obvious flaws in this line of thinking(topic for another day) . As it seems you enjoy making assumptions you know what they say about that: it makes an ASS out of U and MPTIONS. This being said I would like to respond in more depth to what you've said.

    Just because something is explained does not make it any less effective or important. For example your statement that, because brain chemistry explains feelings such as freedom, the feeling is made worthless was very wrong. Just because I know why I feel love for someone does not make the feeling any less intense and certainly does not dull the JOY I feel in their company.

    Neither does knowing things diminish my wonder. Being an atheist myself I happen to think there are many things not yet explained and the more I learn the more I wonder about what I don't know. Learning more about the way the things work(whether it be in the world or the Universe at large)I happen to feel a great deal of satisfaction and JOY.

    Being of a curious nature I'm open to the existence of all sorts of things, but to actually believe(yes I know I'm breaking my own rule there :p)in something I need solid proof. Which brings us to the entire reason we're here. I, like all atheists, have a single thing which so radically separates me from you and has been the cause of so much turmoil. I don't believe in one god, or any for that matter. I see no reason why this should serve to shock and offend religious people so. It's quite simple I have seen no evidence to convince me that any god exists. In fact I'm more likely to believe in the existence of ghosts, due to the fact that I've seen more evidence of their existence. I don't mean to offend anyone by saying this but it is my truth as much as your god is your truth.

    I do get offensive when religious people start blaming all the worlds problems on others. Do not talk about morality when religion has been the cause of so much suffering and war. The belief in god(s) has been the cause of many wars, and even when religion is not directly responsible it's still there to inflame things. My best proof that religion is in fact responsible for misery is that not only do religions fight those who choose not believe in god(s), they also viciously fight those who believe in a different god or more than one. So don't put up incorrect/false data in an attempt to blame all the world's problems on those who don't believe. Because when horrible things happen religion will always point the finger on whoever they want to get rid of or whoever is most convenient(in WW2 the Jews were both unwanted and convenient)but will never take responsibility.

    On a final note, two last things to address. Firstly, Hitler was a christian and the church sanctified and indeed glorified his crusade against the Jews because they believed that the the Jews killed “Jesus”. The Nazi's were indeed christian, and the swastika was actually a stolen hindu symbol twisted into a symbol of hatred, so you have to wonder who the originally intended scapegoat was. So don't go pointing the finger at atheists and if you don't believe me look it up. Secondly, you're beating a dead mule with the whole abortion thing. It's not a baby and can feel nothing until the second trimester. If it were up to most christians and catholics every sperm a man ejaculated would be a baby(because “every sperm is sacred” XD). Besides if you are a male I strongly urge you to keep your nose out of the abortion “issue”. It's not an issue for men seeing as it does not concern your bodies. If men ever become physically capable of conceiving, carrying and giving birth to babies, then and only then will it become your issue. In certain situations abortion can be justified even for those who believe it's wrong, examples: a woman becomes pregnant from rape or incest, the pregnancy is putting the mother's life at risk or the mother has AIDS.

    War, slavery, hatred, fear, injustice, ignorance, shame, denial, pain, lies. That is the fruit of religion.

  • tobe or nottobe

    This is the self-defeating conclusion of atheism…..

    I am not saying that atheists (materialists, naturalists) don't use reason and therefore do not come to true conclusions about science or how we treat other people, or that they cannot form laws of logic or “axioms”, or even make “good” moral choices, what I am arguing is that what the naturalist – atheistic worldview cannot account for is the reliability of the human mind and therefore, cannot account for the successes of science. If pure thoughts are mere “excretions of the brain”, then we have no reason to trust them and knowledge is impossible.

    “If my mental processes are determined wholly by motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” British evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane and atheist

    Surely you can see the conclusions this draws….

    – it does not matter how you treat other people
    –it does not matter whether you want to be tortured or not…what if some else wants to torture you…after all his thoughts and desires are only natural secretions from his brain, therefore whether he tortures you or not is without moral quality
    –so what if lots of people test the same theses over and over until they come to similar conclusions….its just their brains excreting
    –also, why should anyone care if you like or dislike trying to survive all alone…it does not matter according to this world view.

    The fact that you care about other people, that you think and reason and are successful at it is evidence that your mental processes are not determined wholly by the motion of atoms in your brains.

    Because you use reason to make your arguments, you know that knowledge is possible. You claim to champion science “knowledge” and you assume the reliability of human reason every day of your life. You desire to be rational. But the materialist world view constantly forces the atheist in the direction of irrationality. It reduces the mind to brain chemistry and his beliefs , knowledge, and truth to brain states that may turn out to be illusions.

  • spitz

    “You can be either ‘joyous’ or an ‘atheist’; you cannot be both. “

    Ignoring questioning the definition for a moment, if the condition this claim is made on is based on joy having spiritual connotations, then it is false.

    If there is no life of the spirit, then a Catholic cannot experience joy. They could only mistakenly think they were experiencing it.

    Likewise, if there is a life of the spirit, an atheist could potentially experience something derived from it. They simply would not recognize it as spiritual. Furthermore, atheism is merely a position on the existence of gods; if we are getting pedantic about definitions then it doesn't make sense to loosen up on atheism and say it is “rejecting the life of the spirit.”

  • tobe or nottobe

    “The Kalam fallacy can be used to prove Zeus made the world.”

  • tobe or nottobe

    “I just said that the Kalam fallacy can be used to prove Zeus created the world in the same manner as it is used to prove Yahweh did. “

  • tobe or nottobe

    Why do you use the terms sanctimony, condescension and self-centered-ness to describe me? I am merely asking the atheist to be honest in his “beliefs”.

    The thing is you and I both “know” that an atheist can experience “joy” and (not sure why republicans are mentioned). that he can love living….That is the point…you are a “person”. You are a “who”. You are not an it!

  • AtheistRE

    Really like your picture of 'Staying Power' for your Catholic News. Probably why your priest like little boys right?

  • Jenova Exs

    Oh I have a better Oxymoron. Catholic Virgin. After all, your religious followers has the highest abortions rates.

  • Anthony

    Whether the universe was created or not is equally likely because each hypothesis is an alternative cause of a real event and each is equally unfalsifiable.. One of the two must have occurred because the end product of either occurence is a universe which is real. You have no means of falsifying one hypothesis or the other and therefore you have no means of saying which is more likely than the other.

    Your cow analogy enters the realm of fantasy and is therefore irrelevant. Better to stick to the likely causes of real events.

  • shoosh

    > Why do you use the terms sanctimony, condescension and self-centered-ness to describe me?

    Claiming that you have access to some emotion (“Joy”, in this case) that others do not because of your beliefs is condescending and self-centered. The only emotions you have direct knowledge of are your own. Who are you to say that my experience of the same emotion — which you know nothing about — is any less intense, or any less “real”?

    Discussing the truth or non-truth of a statement is useful; it is possible to come to an agreement because both parties can talk about the facts. Discussing somebody else's emotions, and claiming that your experience of X is “real” and the other person's experience of X is not, is pointless, null, not useful, and annoying.

    > I am merely asking the atheist to be honest in his “beliefs”.

    Hey, thanks for the passive-aggressive quotation marks. You really put me in my place!

    See, here is another instance in which you claim that your experience of an emotion is “factual” — if you consider the word “honest” to mean something like “truthful” — while mine is not. Do you see the condescension here? How do you think it feels to be on the receiving end of that?

    > The thing is you and I both “know” that an atheist can experience “joy”

    You are contradicting your original post, in which you said that REAL atheists admit that they don't experience joy. Go read it again, I'll wait.

    > not sure why republicans are mentioned

    It was an example, illustrating how one group can claim a linguistic monopoly on a given word. Reps campaign on the unspoken assumption that they are the REAL “patriots”, those other guys must be the opposite, i.e. they “hate America”. Just like you claiming that only Catholics experience real “Joy”. It was a bad example on my part; mixing politics in a discussion like this is counterproductive.

  • Weston Lockley

    “Better to stick to the likely causes of real events.”

    Absolutely. That was my point. Inventing an all powerful being out of nothing to solve problems we don't have an answer for as yet enters the realm of fantasy and is therefore irrelevant. That applies whether you want to explain thunder and rain, both according to some ancient book the personal handiwork of a god, or to the origin of the universe.

    You understood Occam's razor. Congratulations.

  • tobe or nottobe

    An atheist can experience joy despite his belief in a material only world without God, precisely because there is a God and ergo the atheist is a person, a who, and not an it. And that person, the atheist has value…in fact in the Christian mind, he has infinite value because he is created in the image and likeness of God. Just because he does not believe that does not negate these facts.

    If you want to be a prophet for Atheism you must take Atheism to its dreary end. There is only the physical world….and when a body thinks, it is only the brain excreting….there is no person, there is no who, there is no value, there is only an it. There cannot even be a why to it existing. That is what I mean by honesty. Faith and Reason are not mutually exclusive…but Atheism and Reason are. In fact, the end of Atheism is to kill Reason. If the brain is only excreting, then Reason is dead according to this worldview.

  • tobe or nottobe

    “Existence is Reality, Reality is Truth.”

    Really…that's what Christianity says too….God IS…in fact that is his name: I AM WHAT AM.

  • tobe or nottobe

    Wow! Are there any Catholics that have read this article? ; )

  • More able to reason than you.

    Since when does joyous have solely spiritual connotations? Since you saw it in your bible and deemed it a christian word? I would assume that's the case. Joy is joy. Has nothing to do with spirituality. I can be overjoyed at the prospect of my new car being replaced by a space ship, thanks of course go to exibit and pimp my ride. All you're trying to do here is use your 'mastery' of the English language and your vocabulary in an attempt to show that atheists are less happy than theists. Poor attempt, horrible fail, sir. Try not to let your cult steal too much of your mind.

  • David Michie

    Whether tobe is an idiot or not or not can't be determined by a few lines of philosophical apologetics. The thrust of his argument may be weak or even ridiculous ( as if there is a dogmatic theological meaning of joy!) but the statement you quote is certainly not the one that is an example of idiocy.

    As an aside, what is to be gained by atheists (in this case mostly grumpy and not joyful) hanging out at a religious website and tilting at windmills or pursuing white whales? Again, what do you gain?

  • Anthony

    “Inventing an all powerful being out of nothing to solve problems we don't have an answer for as yet enters the realm of fantasy and is therefore irrelevant.”

    Hardly out of nothing. Almost 4000 years of Judeo-Christian Scripture and Tradition refers to a Creator who is spaceless and timeless and who created the universe ex nihilo.

    Please see my post yesterday to Yui Daoren which explains that spacetime is no longer the default background of existence, but is increasingly being viewed itself as a product, together with matter and energy, of a deeper as yet unknown reality which is spaceless and timeless.

    The emergence of spacetime from a timeless and spaceless background is directly consistent with our millennia-old Judeo-Christian Scripture and Tradition, where God fashions creation out of a formless void and where He is described as being eternal, immaterial and ubiquitous.

    The fact that this is absolutely amazing does not surprise me and ought not surprise other believers. It's what we expect. However it should surprise external observers who are honest with themselves and whose hearts are not so hardened as to prevent them from looking at the evidence in an equitable manner.

    And the beauty is that as scientific inquiry advances further, other wonders will be revealed which will confirm even more the veracity of Judeo-Christian teaching. Louis Paster said that a little science distances us from God, and that a lot of science takes us back to Him. The future belongs to the children of God.

  • Anthony

    “Theists consider “god” and “creator of the universe” to be synonymous, one and the same person. From an outsider's perspective I can't make that assumption…….Atheists do not believe in gods, full stop.”

    Can I take it then that you do not lack belief in a creator of the universe?

  • Trisbreya-N-DiesaStoneclave

    I honestly don't understand your argument, or anyone's for that matter. Sometimes it's as if, once a really religious person knows someone is an atheist or of another religion, that person becomes completely alien to the religious person. I'm sure you know people who are atheist or of another religion, maybe you don't know they are but they're there. Talking to that person about anything but religion you might find you have much in common with them. You could even build a deep friendship if the subject of religion never came up, but once you find they are different from from you in that one respect they become alien to you. Someone who you cannot even believe has thoughts feelings and interests, let alone some you share. Is it so difficult to understand someone who does not share your belief in god or does not believe in the same way. I personally don't understand religion, or more specifically the belief in a god. To me it doesn't seem very logical or very intelligent. However that doesn't mean I think all religious people are unintelligent or illogical, many may be, but I know that there are also many intelligent, logical religious people. I also know I can relate to religious people on a personal level just as I would with another atheist. The way I see it religion, disconnects people. It may connect you to others who are of the same religion but as a whole it disconnects and segregates people. Thus causing an inability to relate to and understand others, who may in fact be very much like you. This inability to understand further causes fear, then hatred, then violence. Do you see where I'm going? As an atheist my lack of belief in god(s) causes me no grief, what does cause me grief is the turmoil caused by this small difference in people.

  • Trisbreya-N-DiesaStoneclave

    To be honest as I think I mentioned, I prefer to have ideas instead of beliefs. Not that there's really anything wrong with beliefs, but they tend more often to be killed for than ideas. “That he can love living” hey are you implying that only men are people :P…XD

  • Anthony

    But what you omit to say is that my answer is the scientifically endorsed product of 4000 years of research by millions of people.