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John Lennon’s Imagine encapsulates so many modern objections to religion

When people stop believing in heaven they often create hell on earth

By on Monday, 13 August 2012

London Olympic Games - Day 16

Last night, watching the Olympic closing ceremony, like millions of others , I heard a digitally remastered John Lennon singing Imagine. The song was familiar, but the words took me by surprise.  These words encapsulate so many of the modern objections to religion and faith, that it seems a good idea to present a few counter-arguments.

To “live for today” is precisely what we all do, all of us, believers and not. Christians do not neglect present exigencies just because they believe there is a afterlife. Rather, the call of eternal life makes this world more, not less important. To claim that Christians do not care about today, so wrapped up are they in what is to come, is to confuse Christianity with millenarian cultists, which is what we are not.

Heaven and hell, by the way, are not places – they are states. Heaven is the state of seeing the Beatific vision; hell is the state of being utterly cut off from God. The idea of these being places either above or below us is persistent, and has its roots in Classical literature, but is certainly not taught by the Church.
Again, the nation-state may well engage in war with other states, but it is important to realise that the nation exists to defend and protect its citizens. Anarchy, in the classical meaning of the word, is envisioned as some sort of utopia, but in practice, where the state withers away, anarchy of the most non-benign type succeeds. Look at Somalia today. Look at Lebanon in the time of its civil war. Look at England under King Stephen. The withering away of the state does not lead to peace – but the complete opposite.

As for religion withering away and leading to peace – have a look at some of the avowedly atheist states of the twentieth century: Albania, the People’s Republic of China, and the Soviet Union. No rational person would ever choose to live in such a society.

What about “no possessions”, then? Property is theft? “No need for greed and hunger”? Is this really saying that all poverty and hunger is caused by people selfishly hoarding the world’s resources? Funnily enough it is at this point that John Lennon says something that Catholics may recognise. The Church teaches:

In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labour, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men.

So, Lennon is onto something here, though he is wrong to see property as creating hunger, when ownership of property should in fact guarantee a minimum of prosperity – and in fact the greatest famines of the twentieth century were caused by collectivisation in the Soviet Union and China.

As for the brotherhood of man, that is a Christian idea, but as my old RE teacher told me, it is only possible under the Fatherhood of God. Generally speaking, when people imagine there is no heaven and no hell, and no God, they start doing the most beastly things to each other, and creating not Utopia, but Hell on earth.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    When dealing with rank foolishness, it’s extremely easy to make rational objections.

  • karlf

    Your notions of these ancient people is bizarre. It’s not so long ago that belief in witchcraft was commonplace among European Christians – and it still is in Africa.
    St.Paul believed Adam was a historical figure(I’m not arguing with what it says in the Bible) – and so did Jesus!
    We are evolved animals with all the baggage that comes with that (the evidence is indisputable). God is not. People doing good things does not equate to being made in the image of God (I’m sure your dog behaves nicely and is affectionate towards you).
    Think!

  • scary goat

    Deary me, you really are a fish out of water.  I guess it’s safer to rant about religion in here than where you actually are.  Some people make the strangest lifestyle choices.
     
    http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/egypts-rate-of-female-mutilation-drops-to-66#full

    I found this article, so no not every Egyptian girl is done.  I must admit the rates reported are higher than I thought, maybe because all the Egyptian women I know are from educated backgrounds and none of them have been done. I do know it is more common in Sudan and Somalia and I have known women from these countries who have had it done.

    I lived in Jordan for a long time, where the practice is unknown, as it is in many muslim countries.  It is not a religious practice, rather a cultural one.

    As for “barbaric” I did not find life in Jordan at all barbaric.  Half my family are Jordanian and they are very civilised thank you.  My children are also well educated and living stable lives….but that doesn’t prevent me from worrying as I still have other children who are young and the cultural environment here also has its barbarities.  The drink culture and sexual freedom just for starters.

    By the way, I lived in Jordan through the first Gulf war.  I have seen quite a few horrors of my own. Do you consider the US coalition’s invasion of Iraq to be a religious war?  It was not.  It was for political reasons and control of resources.  And do you know who opposed the war in Iraq?  The Catholic Church. As mentioned by someone else here, the problem with Israel is not primarily religious, it is about territory.  Before the creation of the State of Israel, Jews lived comfortably in Jordan side by side with the Christians and Muslims. Incidentally, many Jordanian muslims send their children to Catholic schools because of the quality of education provided.  

    The rise in Islamic militancy is related to Western intervention.  It is a normal human behaviour when faced with aggression to find bonding factors to hold the group or society together, and religion is one of the obvious bonding factors when faced with an “us and them” situation.  This can be seen even in school children.  Children who normally bicker among themselves, when there is a threat from a youngster from a different school to beat someone up, suddenly the whole school unites to protect their own from the outsider. Much damage has been done in the Middle East and Christians are one minority group who are suffering because of this. 

    You seem to be a very angry person and are directing all your anger at religion in general. I am sorry that you  are having bad experiences in Egypt, but that does not make your experience universal, nor does it make religion in general the cause of all the worlds ills.  As a Catholic I can certainly find some faults in Islamic thinking, but I find your condemnation of all things religious both Christian and muslim to be very reactionary, for want of a better word, and your insistance that war is caused by religion is poorly researched. 

    I really can’t help wondering why such an anti-religious person would put herself in such a traditionally religious culture. And you call my views madness.  Very strange.
     

  • sally wilton

    to go back to the statistics you have found, the report says girls aged 10 to 14 total 66%.  So since they always  have the operation at 13 years of age, which I have already informed  you of,  then then half of that number still have the operation ahead of them. sudan is no higher in number since, as I have already said, it is all Muslim girls that are cut.   I really do know much more about this than you do as I have an Egytian husband whose mother and former wife had been cut and knows first hand what the consequences of this terrible operation are and how families go about it.  I therefore find you quite patronising and offensive in your tone, especially since you are implying that I am somehow suffering from some sort of anxiety or anger, which I am not.   I think you are enormously rude but am sure you have come to  realise this from your lack of friends. Yes all religion is a blight on the world without exception.  I have brought up just one matter which is an abomination of women in the highest degree in the name of an invisible god and that is something most people would be very concerned about if they live with those people. I certainly don’t have bad experiences in Egypt, I am very well off and can stay in 5 star hotels when the air conditioning stops working, but, I am concerned for the people there who are poor, hungry and heading for disaster because of their faith and the rigid rules that surround it. You know nothing about me and the work both me and my husband  do in Egypt but despite that have an excessively haughty attitude which i cannot imagine does anything to further your RC cause and makes me very happy I am no longer a member of that bunch of hypocrites.  I am out of here, so don’t bother replying. 

  • JabbaPapa

    It’s not a “debating point” if you present it as fact, as you did.

    But then I never expected any intellectual honesty from you in the first place, did I.

  • JabbaPapa

    I therefore find you quite patronising and offensive in your tone, especially since you are implying that I am somehow suffering from some sort of anxiety or anger, which I am not.   I think you are enormously rude but am sure you have come to realise this from your lack of friends. Yes all religion is a blight on the world without exception.

    !!!!!!!!!!

    What a preposterous and evil-minded little diatribe !!!

    What on Earth is it that motivates these sorts of people to go onto Catholic sites and vent their religious hatred on complete strangers like this ???

  • JabbaPapa

    Evidence-free nonsense.

  • JabbaPapa

    karlf :

    What’s your point here? That thought is supernatural?

    My point was about Free Will, not thought. Free Will is an attribute of the Soul, and is therefore supernatural yes.

    Thought is a physical process that is inside the world, but nevertheless transcendental, and it engages the Free Will and the Soul.

    Most of its characteristics are nevertheless material in nature — though its motivations transcend this materialism.

  • JabbaPapa

    karlf :

    Your
    notions of these ancient people is bizarre. It’s not so long ago that
    belief in witchcraft was commonplace among European Christians – and it
    still is in Africa.

    Totally irrelevant.

    St.Paul believed Adam was a historical figure(I’m not arguing with what it says in the Bible) – and so did Jesus!

    Concerning Paul, the prevailing scientific theory at the time was that the world was generally static, and Paul, not being a scientist himself, had exactly zero reason to doubt that theory.

    Concerning Jesus, you’re just making things up out of thin air. Jesus said exactly nothing about Adam. The closest he gets is when He describes God as having created life/mankind “male and female”.

    We
    are evolved animals with all the baggage that comes with that (the
    evidence is indisputable). God is not. People doing good things does not
    equate to being made in the image of God (I’m sure your dog behaves
    nicely and is affectionate towards you).Think!

    I, for one, do not actually own a dog :-)

    This is all completely irrelevant.

    I do not understand why you are conflating ethics with metaphysics and the question of the origins — not that it’s impossible to do so, but I’m afraid that “I’m sure your dog behaves
    nicely and is affectionate towards you
    ” doesn’t exactly pull off the trick of demonstrating any such holistic interconnectedness of whatever atheistic values you’re attempting to promote here.

  • americanusnovus

    Interesting thoughts, however I disagree with your reading Thomas on a few points.  I thought Thomas was using heat and the hot as an analogy for the subsistent, and that he had already determined the incorporeality of the soul earlier in the corpus.  The use of heat does not have to do with the concept of heat, but rather that  Aquinas thought that heat was an effect differing from its cause in that the hot was actual and subsistent and heat was not.

    Your noting of Thomas’ lack of distinction between the intellect and the form is precisely where I have my trouble:  maybe I rely too heavily on Aristotle and assume that Thomas follows him here, but if the intellect knows forms then mustn’t it be formal itself?  And if the intellect and the soul are the same thing, then wouldn’t the soul and the form be the same, or at least intimately related?  I think you could also argue based on the form being the principle of actuality and the actuality of man being intellectual.  You see my point?  Right now I’m mainly interested in hashing out what exactly Thomas thinks before delving into whether its correct or not/reasonable or not.

    Iª q. 75 a. 5 arg. 1 Are you saying the Latin transcript is faulty or the translation?  B/c “materia” is ALMOST always used by Thomas for “matter” and “substantia” for “substance”.  If you are saying  the Latin is materia but it should be translated as substance, I’d like to see a more detailed historical/philosophical argument why we should translate it that way in this instance.

    And you seem to imply that Thomism and Aristotelianism aren’t compatible, or that Thomas sets out to destroy Aristotle in some way (a can of worms, I know)?

    Reading your final quotes, I found them confusing b/c it seemed like you were agreeing with them, even though they’re objections and Thomas satisfactorily answers them.  Is your main point that Thomas thinks the soul and the form can’t be the same b/c the soul has a spiritual substance and the form has no substance? 

    I can’t agree with your final conclusion b/c of what  Aristotle lays out in the Posterior Analytics and the way in which men know through universals.  While the substance of lapis is certainly necessary to draw a universal understanding of it (since men have to sense things in order to know), what the intellect finally comprehends is its form through the universal (although of course lapis is a particular).  I think we may hit a wall b/c I get the feeling you don’t adhere to Aristotelism, while I do and see no trouble between being a good Aristotelian and a Thomist.  But that’s another discussion.  I’d be interested to read your replies to my points.  (And I  appreciate the quoting of Thomas in Latin – something not often seen in a comment box)

  • Acleron

    The problem with your argument is the inconsistency of reading what you are moaning about and of the evidence.

    1) I wasn’t saying that Hitler definitely was a catholic or a christian but that his actions and words precludes him from being an atheist. He had unevidenced beliefs such as you. But apart from trying to disassociate yourself from Hitler because the world has a consensus about him he had a catholic education and derived a justification for his actions against the jews from christian teachings. 

    2) Your church’s history includes some right monsters such as Torquemada, you have already tried to dismiss his monstrous crimes as ‘minor’. He was responsible for 2000 deaths in his misbegotten lifetime and terrorised countless others. He also was anti-semitic but the Inquisition could only murder catholics so his answer was to forcibly convert jews and then kill them for heresy. Now the question is, he was a monster, he killed catholics, he killed jews, so apart from the  scale of the crime he was pretty similar to Hitler so why is there no disowning of Torquemada? Where is the vast outpouring of ‘scholarly work’ showing that the Inquisition couldn’t have been catholic or christian?

  • Acleron

    Read the definition Jabba. Get something right for a change. 

    Just because you have been indoctrinated to believe nonsense does not mean that because anyone else shows you are wrong or disagrees with you that they are also full of doctrine.

    There are no books teaching atheists that abortion is ok, there is no childhood indoctrination, there isn’t even a consensus among atheists. However, there is plenty of discussion and that discussion is meaningful because all aspects can be considered. That is the immense advantage of not having to strain our evidence and logic to fit out of date rules from an old book.

    So your example to prove I was espousing doctrine went disastrously wrong for you. But rather than stand up like a man and just say you are wrong, you accuse me of dishonesty. Pathetic and I’m glad to say not the standard of most catholics.

  • scary goat

     Bye :-)

  • scary goat

    I don’t think she liked me! :-(
    Oh well. :-D

  • Kevin

    Heaven and hell, by the way, are not places…. The idea of these being places…is certainly not taught by the Church.

    I do not believe this is correct. The Apostle’s Creed states, “creator of heaven and earth”, as well as “ascended into heaven”.

    The Catholic Encyclopaedia has the following on the subject:
    “Hence there seems to be no sufficient reason for attributing a metaphorical sense to those numerous utterances of the Bible which suggest a definite dwelling-place of the blessed. Theologians, therefore, generally hold that the heaven of the blessed is a special place with definite limits. Naturally, this place is held to exist, not within the earth, but, in accordance with the expressions of Scripture, without and beyond its limits. All further details regarding its locality are quite uncertain. The Church has decided nothing on this subject.”

  • JabbaPapa

    however I disagree with your reading Thomas on a few points.  I thought
    Thomas was using heat and the hot as an analogy for the subsistent, and
    that he had already determined the incorporeality of the soul earlier in
    the corpus.

    Oh — no worries, you’re right about that ; but I’m actually disagreeing with Aquinas on this particular point.

    (and no, that wouldn’t be an “analogy”, but an example)

    Your noting of Thomas’ lack of distinction between the intellect and the
    form is precisely where I have my trouble:  maybe I rely too heavily on
    Aristotle and assume that Thomas follows him here

    It’s most certainly possible you’re relying too much on Aristotle — there are 1800 years of philosophical development between Aristotle and Aquinas, including in the Byzantine and Alexandrian philosophical traditions that never lost sight of the Athenian tradition in the same way that Latin Europe mostly did — except that the works of those Byzantine and Alexandrian philosophers did in fact inform Western Philosophy throughout that entire period.

    I think one’s reading of Aquinas needs to be done in the light of the terms of debate as it had been defined by Duns Scotus and William of Ockham ; and the broader disagreements between the Oxonian and Sorbonne schools of thought that they belonged to ; as these questions had been set into place by such as Origen, Maimonides, Averroes, and various of the contemplative 10th-12th century Christian mystics of the Latin Church who also happened to be not too shabby at philosophy as a sideline.

    The questions that Aquinas is responding to take shape in the basic intellectual dichotomy of “Aristotle versus Plato” ; BUT they were qustions as formulated from within and therefore as informed by Aquinas’ contemporary intellectual environment, which was itself informed by the above-mentioned debates, dichotomies, and disagreements.

    One of the reasons why Aquinas is so marvellous as a source is because his encyclopaedic approach has integrated many of these threeads of thought as discussions and questions in his own works — but again, precisely because of that, one should be very wary of reading him in any overly-conclusive manner, as he is always careful himself to balance the pro with the contra.

    Iª q. 75 a. 5 arg. 1 Are you saying the Latin transcript is faulty or
    the translation?  B/c “materia” is ALMOST always used by Thomas for
    “matter” and “substantia” for “substance”.  If you are saying  the Latin
    is materia but it should be translated as substance, I’d like to see a
    more detailed historical/philosophical argument why we should translate
    it that way in this instance.

    The translation.

    There is only one reason why it should be translated in this particular instance as “substance” not “matter” — that is because the meaning of the word “matter” has shifted so far away, in the past 100 years or so, from anything that Aquinas could possibly have intended in his use of the word that it would be a mistranslation, in this particular case, to translate it literally, because he is NOT referring to any kind of physical matter whatsoever. If you’re uncomfortable with “substance” for the reasons provided, that’s reasonable too — in which case, use a third word, such as fabric or actuality instead.

    My underlying point is that by translating “materia” as “matter” in this particular paragraph, some faulty philosophical readings of the paragraph would seem likely to be inevitable.

    I would OTOH imagine that most instances where Aquinas uses “materia” are not going to be anywhere near so problematic.

    And you seem to imply that Thomism and Aristotelianism aren’t
    compatible, or that Thomas sets out to destroy Aristotle in some way (a
    can of worms, I know)?

    Well — ultimately, they aren’t !!!

    (not that Aquinas sets out to “destroy” Aristotle, he’s simply using Aristotle’s works as a part of his corpus of study)

    As I can already see that you’re aware of, this does boil back down to the question of the universals again …

    The existing mediaeval reinterpretations of Plato and Aristotle (that Aquinas had access to) were not fully compatible with either Plato or Aristotle, insofar as they concerned the question of the location of truth.

    The Emanatist position held that our perceptions regard material objects only, which themselves are imbued severally, independently, and uniquely, each in particular, with the underlying divine truth therefore viewed as immanent to physical reality itself ; the Inductionist position was that our perceptions regard the truth itself, as it is if you like “projected” into reality from the transcendental source of all things, as a light projects onto a reflective surface. The first position developed directly into modern nominalism, whilst the second forms the basis of Islamic philosophy.

    Neither of these theories is fuly compatible with Aristotle, because Aristotle viewed the truth as being located in the combination of reality and thought that we call language ; nor even with Plato, who viewed truth as being located outside of human perception entirely.

    Aquinas insofar as he criticises both of these positions necessarily criticises both their differences with the original Greek thinking ; *and* the underlying Greek philosophical concepts themselves, for not properly addressing the actuality nor unicity of Truth in and with God — In initium erat Verbum.

    This concept of the unicity of truth cannot be reconciled with Aristotle’s language-centred views, nor Plato’s radical transcendentalism, nor with either the Emanatist nor the Inductionist models of thought — ultimately, because all four of these models falsely position truth as being fundamentally unavailable to the philosopher ; which is fine as a general rule of thumb, but it doesn’t cut the mustard in either theology, the philosophy of language, or even in epistemology as a specialist discipline.

    From a more contemporary 21C POV, Aquinas could be viewed as being incompatible with Aristotle in exactly the same way that Catholic Philosophy is incompatible with Relativism.

    My final comments do not generally proceed from Aquinas at all, they are just some personal commentary on questions raised by him — no need to delve too deeply into them if you don’t care to.

    Concerning the quarrel of the universals — if you’ve any French, I’d reccommend Alain de Libera :
    La Querelle des Universaux: De Platon a la Fin du Moyen Age
    .

    The thing about the Aristotelian theory of meaning is that it’s incompatible with the Sausurian school of linguistics, as well as with much of late mediaeval to modern grammar and language analysis.

    Aristotle has a binary structure of concept (universal/particular) and object — whereas in most modern grammar and in Saussurian linguistics, there is a ternary structure of Referend, Signifier, Signified.

    Whether the Signified is a Universal or a Particular will depend mainly on particular circumstances in particular discussions, not on existing philosophical imperatives.

    The question of the Universals therefore shifts entirely into one of how do multiple people become aware of any universal concepts, given the lack of any universal Referends ?

    Or of any shared concepts whatsoever ?

    The suggestion in Saussurian linguistics is that there is a transcendental quality to language, whereby any meaning is greater than the sum of its parts — this can be seen in the difference between a sentence provided with no context nor framework (Did you see what the cat just did ?) and those that are significantly couched in a framework of the real.

    Which is not incompatible with Aquinas ; despite being incompatible with Aristotle :-)

  • JabbaPapa

    his answer was to forcibly convert jews and then kill them for heresy

    wrong — the Inquisitions only targetted *false* converts from Judaism to Christianity, ie people who were pretending to be Christians in public, but in private were something else entirely.

    Y’know, like that Hitler chappy some hundreds of years later.

    The Inquisitions had no authority whatsoever over any non-Christians, and they were courts of Church Law, not forced conversion campaigns.

  • JabbaPapa

    Lack of honesty is not the same thing as dishonesty, obviously.

    You’re clearly less indoctrinated than most of the atheist trolls infesting this forum lately, but you’re utterly mistaken in your fanciful claims that atrheism lacks doctrines, and that your own atheism is therefore free of such doctrines.

    There isn’t a single system of philosophy in existence that isn’t founded on a body of doctrines.

    Oh and “no childhood indoctrination” — puh-lease give me a break !!!

    In fact, millions of children worldwide have been raised up by their parents to become atheists.

  • karlf

    making decisions about our actions (what you call free will) is no more supernatural than any other thought. Chimpanzees, Orang Utans and other apes are shown to be self concious creatures and would make similar decisions within their everyday lives.

  • karlf

     So are you indoctrinated to think that Kindoki witchcraft is based on fantasy?? Think what you you are saying Jabba.

  • karlf

     Maybe if you’d read the preceding comments you’d understand what I was on about. But thanks at least for conceding that the authors of the New Testament believed in Adam and Eve as historical figures – centuries of theologising can’t cover that up

  • JabbaPapa

    But thanks at least for conceding that the authors of the New Testament believed in Adam and Eve as historical figures

    When offering reading “advice” to others, you’d better make d*mn sure you don’t understand the exact opposite of what other people write.

    Which part of “Jesus said exactly nothing about Adam [and Eve]” did you fail to understand ???

  • karlf

    I wasn’t referring to that bit jabs – but are your sure he didn’t??

  • JabbaPapa

    making decisions about our actions (what you call free will) is no more supernatural than any other thought

    This suggestion is not demonstrable, ergo it’s not even a theory.

    And no, NOT all decision-making engages the Free Will for starters, you’re trying to generalise the conversation out of all recognition with what I wrote.

    Selfr-awareness isn’t even demonstrable, scientifically, in humans — which leads some of the more nincompoopish atheist philosophers to deny its existence altogether — so you haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell demonstrating it in any other species.

  • karlf

    Really? Demonstrate your supernatural thoughts then Jabba. I think you’ll take on any old nonsense to support your agenda.

  • JabbaPapa

    I have no opinions whatsoever concerning Kindoki witchcraft, this is the first time I’ve ever heard about it, so that it would seem to be a practical impossibility for me to have received any indoctrinations concerning such a practice, if it should indeed exist.

  • Slaveryisnotfreedom

    Do not pity or wonder for those who are good without God, and there are many of us; instead, you might want to reconsider the character of those who need God in order to be good, and fear those who cannot be good even with Him.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3QGK364Q6EYPU7P3VM45CHF2PA Anthony Edwards

     It’s a supposition, based on the evidence which is that paulpriest is here, on the internet, with the time to read and judge you and I.  I suspect that paulpriest has not done anything at all to promote peace, as he is here promoting divisiveness.  As for Lennon, his history is quite visible from age 15 on to his death.  It only takes a cursory amount of research to see what he has done – excluding his music – for poor people and for peace.  For instance, the fall of Communism in Russia (peacefully) can be directly attributed to a love of Beatles music.  Individually, he has promoted many causes, even inventing the ‘love-in’ which is a form of peaceful protest – which Lennon promoted.  Here’s a fantastic counter-question.  How successful was Jesus at promoting peace?  I submit that he was not.  Not even a little.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3QGK364Q6EYPU7P3VM45CHF2PA Anthony Edwards

     Then God is a petty child who needs others to validate his existence.  In this event, he is no worthy god at all.

  • Sieben Stern

    hitler was religious and ‘positive christianity’ was enshrined in nazi doctrine. any few minutes of research could tell you that. they even had ‘gott mit unz’ (god with us) on their belts. he targeted jews to cleanse the faith of the people who killed christ.

     you theists really like to make stuff up, then repeat until you think its a fact, doncha.  

  • http://twitter.com/mike_sandes Mike Sandes

    You indulge in meaningless semantics to prop up a very weak argument. The fact that heaven is not above us and hell not below is trivial. The fact that the threat of hell afflicted by the Catholic church on everyone who doesn’t agree with its superstitions is offensive to intelligent human beings. The fact that catholic religious dogma has done more so sow divisions among mankind than any other concept is to the point. Your comparison of religious and atheist countries is clearly intended to deceive. China (who would want to live there?) boasts the fastest growing christian faith in the World so clearly people who live there want to be christian. Countries that boast the highest HDI (human development Index) Sweden (0.904), Norway (0.943), Denmark (0.895), The Netherlands (0.910) etc. where people do want live have the lowest religiosity. Contrast these with countries with the lowest HDI like Sudan (0.462) where 97% of the population have faith in Islam or Haiti (0.454) where 80% profess to Catholicism.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3QGK364Q6EYPU7P3VM45CHF2PA Anthony Edwards

     It’s only remotely nihilistic to those who believe that a god is the only source of meaning.  The sad thing is that believing something does not automatically make it true.  We Atheists run on odds.  Odds are easy to figure out, and the more we know, the lower the odds are for the supernatural.  I know that I am barking up the wrong tree, and my statement is futile.  You will cling tightly to your belief in an imaginary friend, so much that you will continue to judge other human beings based on that stupidly held belief, but to battle ignorance and idiocy is a noble pursuit and I will continue it as long as I live.  You claim there is no evidence for disbelief, but it is your job to prove and defend what you hypothesize, not the job of the person who doesn’t believe.  In that, I counter that you don’t believe in the hundreds of other gods currently worshiped on Earth.  If a hundred gods don’t exist, how can your one god be correct?  I surmise that it is your desire to be ‘special’ that keeps you on this ‘faith’ of yours.  Secondly, the evidence of non-existence is piling up in every moment.  Let’s forget that Jesus promised to re-appear within the lifetime of his followers, and just go on non-biblical canon.  We have been to space, we have been to the depths of the ocean and found neither Poseidon or a bearded God.  I know that to you this is a simplification of things, but to me it’s not.  Every time we show you that things are not so (for instance that the Earth is not flat, nor is it held up by for pillars) you claim your bible didn’t mean it ‘that way’ until there’s nothing in the bible that can be taken literally – YET the part about gays WAS meant to be taken literally.  Just not the parts that claim something is so, just the parts that claim that something is bad.  Oh yeah, but you can still eat shrimp, wear clothing of more than one thread, no more animal sacrifices, and so on…  So, most people have gone on to become ‘spiritual’, believing in a God, an afterlife, but disbelieving the doctrine and dogma of the bible.  Yet, can anything built on so many wrongs be right?  It started with ancestor worship – a noble desire to immortalize their dead – and moved into polytheism, which further canonized their dead.  At last, it ended up with monotheism (several times before it took) and then became less of a hobby for the poor (like astrology) than a strict rule of law which when denied or disputed led to beheading.  How can someone believe something built on bad ideas?

  • Scott L-G

    This argument always seems to suggest that, deep down, Christians are really rotten people.  I don’t believe that at all, but it seems like they think it of themselves.  They always imagine that if it weren’t for the promise of heaven and threat of hell, people–presumably themselves included–would cut loose and commit all sorts of atrocities, unrestrained by any sense of right and wrong.  Our basic moral values–murder is bad, stealing is wrong, etc.–surely developed from prehistoric social needs and interactions, preceding religious dogma.  When Moses produced the Ten Commandments, those rules weren’t news to anybody.  

  • JabbaPapa

    YES

  • JabbaPapa

    ?????????????

    You have an extremely strange understanding of human psychology, IMO.

  • JabbaPapa

    I’m not the one barging onto a website inhabited mainly by people with views contrary to my own and trying to ram my own ideas down their throats.

    ergo, you’re the one with the agenda here, not me.

  • Katekarson

     Ha ha ha ha – you made me laugh so hard! 

  • Katekarson

     what?

  • Katekarson

     More like BS 101…

  • Katekarson

     Stop – you’re killing me!   Water just squirted out of my nose!

  • Katekarson

     paulpriest, you sure have a lot of time on your hands…wish I didn’t to get back to work – you’re god damn funny!

  • scary goat

     If we all tried “thinking for ourselves” based only on our own experience we would still be cave men, lying around with bad tummy aches from eating poisonous berries because we didn’t bother asking someone who had tried them before.  It is the nature of humanity to build on past experience and knowledge.  People do think for themselves…..comparing conflicting ideas, trying to solve problems, or moving on if something is not quite right.  It is our ability for communication and abstract thought which has allowed us to progress.  Written language allows us to preserve more than a few generations by word of mouth.  I think I prefer to take thousands of years of knowledge, wisdom and tradition, history, add in modern scientific knowledge, and personal experience,not to mention google, give it a stir, filter it through my own intellect and THEN I will think for myself. That sounds more reliable to me than relying on sally’s opinion because she says so because that’s how it seems to her. Why do atheists always use this argument?  If you don’t agree with me you are  not capable of thinking for yourself.  I’m guessing each individual atheist discovered evolution all by themselves without referring to Darwin? And all the other bandwagons people jump on.

  • scary goat

    Sally, you are on a Catholic site here. It is more than a little offensive to refer to Jesus and St. Thomas Aquinas grouped in with a bunch of old frauds scamming people.  If you want to insult Jabba, or use terms like sheeple, that’s up to you, and people will make of it what they will, put please have a little consideration for the feelings of others.  You are, after all, a guest here. Some opinions are best kept to yourself.

  • scary goat

     Try this: Jesus is part of the Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Jesus is God incarnate, God in human form.  Jesus looks like us….or do we look like Him? Does that help?

  • JabbaPapa

    We Atheists run on odds.  Odds are easy to figure out, and the more we know, the lower the odds are for the supernatural

    This particular argument is rarely used — probably due to its amazing ineptness.

    probabilities can only be calculated in those cases where all variables are accounted for — but how can you account for any “variables” concerning anything supernatural ?

    Do you have any statistics on angels and demons ?

    If you roll a ball down into a tube which splits into two at some point, you can work out the probability or the odds of it eventually rolling out of either ; but you cannot determine any probabilities nor work out the odds of anything ineffable, by very definition of the word “ineffable”.

    In other words, this is just another self-aggrandizing claim of atheism and atheists, in their desperate attempt to try and con people into believing that atheism is “science-based” — and yes, it’s a con, it’s propaganda, and it’s just doctrine.

  • Acleron


    Do you have any statistics on angels and demons ?’

    Yes, zero of each have ever been reliably observed. Whether you use frequentist or Bayesian statistics, the estimated probability of ever observing either is very low.

  • karlf

    Don’t be silly. You don’t believe in witchcraft, so – YOU MUST BE INDOCTRINATED NOT TO BELIEVE IN WITCHCAFT JABBA! ??

  • karlf

    Man in the image of God pre dates Jesus. Jesus was God in the image of man. derrr!

  • karlf

    I’m not the one claiming to know things – I’m just questioning your claims of knowledge. If there is a God such as the one you believe to exist, obviously I’d want to know about it too. So far however, you claims don’t seem to be faring too well against my probing.

  • JabbaPapa

    What “probing” — you mean your monomaniacal obsession with one or two minor side issues of no importance whatsoever whilst you flounder about in your incomprehension of the answers provided to any of the more central points ?