5 Things Christian Parents Must Do to Raise Godly Children in a Secular World

By Natasha Crain

In the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at several Christian conferences and churches on the importance of parents teaching their kids apologetics (how to make a case for and defend the truth of the Christian faith). When I speak, I often begin by asking the following two questions.

First, I ask parents, “How many of you have come here already knowing that our world is becoming very secular and that your child’s faith is likely to be challenged in some way because of it?”

5 Things Christian Parents Must Do to Raise Godly Children in a Secular World

One hundred percent of the hands go up…every time.

Second, I ask parents, “How many of you would go to the next step of saying you’re confident that you know specifically what those big faith challenges are, how to effectively address them with your kids, and how that translates into parenting responsibilities on a day-to-day basis?”

Zero percent of the hands go up…every time.

As I’ve blogged about Christian parenting for the last four years, I’ve had the opportunity to hear from hundreds of parents. This gap between 1) knowing our secular world will influence our kids’ faith and 2) understanding what exactly that means for parents, is nearly universal. And it often leads to fear and frustration—parents know there’s a problem but they don’t know the solution.

It’s that gap that led me to write Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith(released in March). I wanted to help parents identify and understand 40 of the most important faith challenges they need to discuss with their kids so those challenges no longer feel ambiguous and unmanageable. But even once parents gain this critical understanding, the question remains: How does this translate into parental responsibilities?

Here are five key things to consider.

  1. Parents must commit to continually deepening their understanding of Christianity.

In a secular world, kids will frequently encounter challenges to their faith—especially from vocal atheists. Atheists are often well prepared to lay out their arguments against God and Christianity in particular. Unfortunately, many Christian parents are not equally prepared to teach their kids the case for the truth of Christianity and how to defend their beliefs. Questions like the following are critically important for kids to understand today, but few parents are equipped to proactively address them: What evidence is there for the existence of God? Why would a good God allow evil and suffering? How can a loving God send people to hell? Is faith in God the opposite of reason? What are the historical facts of the resurrection that nearly every scholar agrees on? How can Christians believe miracles are even possible? How do we know the Bible we have today says what the authors originally wrote? Does the Bible support slavery, rape, and human sacrifice (as skeptics allege)?

In the past, when society was at least more nominally Christian, parents may have been able to avoid addressing the more difficult questions of faith with their kids (not that they should have!). But today’s challenges require much more from faithful Christian parents. We must learn what the big challenges are, equip ourselves to engage with them, and commit to continually deepening our understanding of our faith so we can guide our kids accordingly.

      2. Parents must intentionally make “spiritual space” in their home.

It’s not enough to deepen your own understanding of Christianity, of course. Somehow you have to transfer that understanding to your kids, and that transfer requires carefully set aside time. The kinds of faith conversations we need to be having with our kids today (like the questions listed in point 1) are simply not going to happen in a meaningful way unless you make spiritual space for them. By spiritual space, I mean dedicated time for your family to engage together in growing your understanding of and relationship with God. There’s no reason such a time shouldn’t be scheduled just like all the other (less important) activities in your life. If you’re not currently doing this, start with just 30 minutes per week. That’s reasonable for any family, and you can always work up from there.

  1. Parents must study the Bible with their kids. Really.

Even if you know Bible study is important, statistics show you’re probably not doing it: Fewer than 1 in 10 Christian families study the Bible together in a given week. If your kids perceive that you’ve effectively relegated the Bible to the backburner of relevancy, they’ll have little reason to see it as the authoritative book Christians claim it to be. It’s absolutely pointless to talk about the Bible being God’s Word if you’re not treating it as such.

Meanwhile, the Bible is a favorite attack point of skeptics and our kids will have ample opportunity to hear how it’s an ancient, irrelevant book filled with inaccuracies and contradictions. If you’re not regularly studying the Bible with your kids, there’s a good chance they’ll eventually stop caring what it has to say. (See my article, Don’t Expect Your Kids to Care What the Bible Says Unless You’ve Given Them Reason to Believe It’s True, for more on this.)

  1. Parents must proactively and regularly ask their kids what questions they have about faith.

In a secular world, where kids are constantly hearing competing worldviews, questions are guaranteed to continually arise. But there are many reasons kids may never actually ask them—they have too many other things going on, they’re afraid of your reaction, or they are simply not interested enough to bring them up.

In our house, we’ve implemented a scheduled “questions night” to help with this. You can read about how to start your own in my article, How to Get Your Kids to Ask More Questions about Their Faith.

  1. Parents must ask their kids the tough questions they don’t think to ask.

If you regularly encourage your kids to ask questions about faith (see point 4), you’ll have lots of great conversations. But many questions that are important for kids to understand in preparation for the secular world they’ll encounter are ones that might never cross their mind to ask. For example, most kids don’t think to ask how we know the Bible we have today says what the authors originally wrote. But that doesn’t mean they won’t almost certainly encounter skeptics who tell them the Bible is completely untrustworthy for that reason. Just as we don’t wait for our kids to ask questions about World War II before deciding when, what, and how to teach them about it, we shouldn’t wait until our kids encounter challenges before we address them. They’ll undoubtedly hear about these topics from skeptics at some point, so there’s no reason they shouldn’t hear about them from us first.

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67 replies
  1. David says:

    “Does the Bible support slavery, rape, and human sacrifice (as skeptics allege)?” If it doesn’t, why does it look so much like it does? Why do you have to spend so much time and ink trying to prove that it really doesn’t. It ABSOLUTELY does.

    Reply
    • Travis says:

      David –

      I enjoy having conversations with people about their beliefs and it sounds like you have some verses in the Bible that you feel condone slavery, rape, and human sacrifice. I am wondering which particular verses you are referring to so we can look at them in context and see if that is the case. I know as it refers to slavery as far as I have found, the Bible discusses indentured servitude to pay off debts the person owed and many times the servants chose to stay even after they had paid off their debts and were given the option to leave because they could continue to work and help take care of their families, etc. This is not like the race-based slavery we are familiar with in American history. You may have some other verses that I am not aware of though.

      Reply
        • Brian says:

          Toby,

          I have read Exodus 21:1-11. No, I don’t believe it is moral to own people as property. I do believe that it is moral to own people as servants (i.e. employ them). This is what the text seems to be talking about. Are there some weird things in there? Absolutely. The piercing the ear with an awl is a little out there to me, but this is by the choice of the servant. How about purchasing someone’s daughter in order to pay off a debt? Again, not my cut of tea, but in ancient cultures, this was common practice. What this text does is provide the woman rights by which she must be treated.

          If you have a specific issue, let’s talk about specifics, within the cultural context and see what plays out.

          Reply
          • David says:

            Brian, “(i.e. employ them)?” What a joke. I guess you’ve read Copan or someone else shoveling the same rubbish. I guess you are satisfied with Copan’s appalling comparison of Israelite chattel slavery to the owning of professional basketball players today. This is pure apologetic nonsense. Unbelievably offensive.

            However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live around you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your sons as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the sons of Israel, your fellow countrymen, you shall not rule over one another severely. (Lev 25:44-46) Sounds like chattel slavery to me. You may purchase foreigners (adult and child alike)? You may hand down to descendants as property? You may treat severely? How do you get “indentured servitude/employment” out of this passage?

          • toby says:

            An employer doesn’t own his employees. They have a contract that either can end at any time. That’s a hideous way to think about employment.

          • Mick says:

            Brian I agree . Is God a Moral Monster is a combination of apologetic views based on a collection of theologians who have studied the texts and culture of those times . To suggest Copan was stating facts is a miss representation that David presents . Speaking to Biblical issues and attempting to miss represent the author’s writing is unfortunate here . But it is not honest at best a mistake .

        • Mick says:

          I think the problem here is we are reading the Bible in the context of today , not when it was written . When the scriptures on slavery were written , slavery was considered normal . The basic method of living and economics . The scriptures speak to treating each slave fairly, which at the time was not done . The fact that slaves had the right to fair treatment was something in itself as revolutionary thinking . The same can even be said in Jesus time when women were in the midst of the happenings and ministry . At that time suggesting women had a role in ministry was not considered appropriate , this actually promotes my belief in the accuracy of the Bible , for if it was trying to gain favor of readers only it would have left out the fair treatment of women and slaves . Good book ” Is God a Moral Monster” Good read and gives many insights to these kinds of questions . Explains the cultures involved at the time , and more .

          Reply
          • toby says:

            The scriptures speak to treating each slave fairly, which at the time was not done . The fact that slaves had the right to fair treatment was something in itself as revolutionary thinking.
            And how do you know this?

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Mick, you should read Thom Stark’s response to that book, ‘Is God A Moral Compromiser’. He debunks many of its claims.

            By the way, instead of giving rules regarding slavery, why didn’t God just say ‘Thou shalt not keep slaves’? It would, if nothing else, have stopped slavers in the 19th century being able to quote the bible to justify their trade.

          • David says:

            Right Mick, Copan’s book is a “good read”. You’re pretty easily convinced. Copan’s book is nothing but apologetic spin, deception, victim blaming, obfuscation, half truths, reinterpretations, propaganda and harmonizations. It contains little attempt to honestly deal with the straight forward meaning of the texts. It’s worse than bad. I imagine Mr. Copan has extensive training in biblical exegesis. Sadly, “Moral Monster” is primarily eisegesis. Read Stark Mick. Don’t be afraid, you can do it.

          • David says:

            Mick, what about the verses on slavery that I quoted below? Don’t just say I’m wrong. Walk us through the verses and show why I’m wrong. Especially this one Mick.

            However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live around you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your sons as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the sons of Israel, your fellow countrymen, you shall not rule over one another severely. (Lev 25:44-46) This is chattel slavery. You may purchase foreigners (adult and child alike)? You may hand them down to your descendants as property? You may treat them severely? Tell me how this is not EXACTLY like the slavery of the antebellum South in America. Mick the truth is that neither you nor I think that what the bible has to say about slavery is moral. The only difference between us is that I accept that it’s wrong and say so, you lie for it.

      • David says:

        Hey Travis,
        Your understanding of the slavery texts in the old testament suffer from the same error contained in Copan’s book “Moral Monster”. Actually, I don’t think that Copan commits an “error”. More appropriately I think, having extensive knowledge of the bible, he intentionally conflates the two types of servanthood in the OT in an effort to make the chattel slavery problem seem to disappear. I think obfuscation is the appropriate word for what Copan attempts to do.
        There were two types of “servant hood” in ancient Israel. There was indentured servitude that the Israelites practiced among themselves and there was chattel slavery that they practiced toward foreigners. I can quote you chapter and verse but Thom Stark’s thorough refutation of Copan’s book is much more informative. You can find a free Kindle version of it by Googling “Is God A Moral Compromiser?”.

        That said here are a few, undeniable in my opinion, examples of OT texts that clearly demonstrate that chattel slavery was practiced, with Yahweh’s sanction, in the ancient Israel.
        When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, (then dies) he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property [literally, “his money”]. (Exod 21:20-21). Sounds like chattel slavery to me.

        How about this one?
        However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live around you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your sons as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the sons of Israel, your fellow countrymen, you shall not rule over one another severely. (Lev 25:44-46) Sounds like chattel slavery to me. You may purchase foreigners (adult and child alike)? You may hand down to descendants as property? You may treat severely?

        How about this passage? Not exactly slavery but contains the same basic components. More like kidnapping and sex slavery.
        When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her. (Deut. 21:10-14) If you notice a beautiful woman that you are attracted to? Does this present any problem to your thinking Travis? I thought the Canaanites were under the ban and could not be taken as captives, let alone sex slaves. And then, after you have soiled her sexually, if you are not satisfied with her, you can toss her out but you can’t sell her? Wow, does the problem with this require any further comment?
        See Stark

        Reply
        • Mick says:

          David if you are not satisfied with her you can toss her out ? How would this align up with the other scriptures on fairness for instance ? I think your picking and choosing out of context of the general theme here . At this time remember if a person injured your business or ability to maintain a farm say by injuring your livestock , you actually injure that person and family members . If what you say is true , why is the Traditions and values of this culture so supportive of equality , freedom and treating others with respect and fairness ? What you saying is illogical . The cultures that promote the best places on this earth for freedom are based on Biblical precepts , not despite them .

          Reply
        • Travis says:

          Wow! Where do I start? You see time after time where God will keep his hand from destroying a civilization in the OT. He will wait until their sin reaches a certain measure before intervening. Now I know this gets into the problem of evil which is not the topic of discussion, but follow me here.

          We ask why so much evil and suffering in the world if God is so good and loving, yet when God does intervene like in Sodom and Gomorrah and the Canaanites, then people are upset and judge the way God did it. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

          Now back to slavery, I find it interesting that people like William Wilberforce actually used the Bible to help abolish slavery and that as far as the population in the United States, African Americans are probably the group that is the largest percentage Christian. Considering our nation’s horrible history with slavery, there is no way that if that book condoned slavery they would believe it.

          The fact is Christianity is the only worldview where people have value. If you look at just about any other worldview, you will find where one group is valued over another. This includes atheism.

          Now to the verses mentioned, I think this was for conduct of indentured servants or citizens captured in warfare and trade with neighboring lands. You are neglecting all the verses about treating aliens and foreigners with respect in the OT, which was unheard of in the surrounding cultures. God in the OT puts strict guidelines and conduct on these situations, which were much harsher in the surrounding cultures. Whether we like them or not is irrelevant. The fact is we do not know the culture, customs and what possibly needed to take place to keep a rebellion from happening. Not once in the Bible does it speak of race-based slavery in a positive way, and it prohibits the kidnapping of anyone, not just Jews – Exodus 21:16.

          My thoughts and this is pure speculation is that God revealed what needed to be revealed at that time to bring the Messiah. The thing is the story wasn’t finished and you see God’s people messing up time and time again in the OT (and the New). This thing was never meant just for the Jews, it was meant for everyone. Jesus came to set everything straight and he upped the ante for everyone (ex: Matt. 5:27-30)

          Like I said before the Christian worldview is the only one where everyone has value. You cannot argue that from a Muslim, Hindu or Atheist standpoint.

          Reply
          • David says:

            Travis you said, “Wow, where do I start”. I have an idea, start right here, where I asked you to start in the first place. Please explain to me what this passage of scripture is talking about if not chattel slavery.
            However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live around you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your sons as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the sons of Israel, your fellow countrymen, you shall not rule over one another severely. (Lev 25:44-46) Do words mean anything to you Travis? Do you feel the freedom to ignore the meaning of words? Do you feel free to deny the meaning of words to defend Yahweh? I think you do. This is chattel slavery. It says you may purchase foreigners (adult and child alike). It says you may hand them down to your descendants as PROPERTY. It says you may treat them severely. And this is not just people “messing up”. You added that yourself, with Paul Copan’s help I fear. The text nowhere says that OT slavery was the result of someone’s screw up. Let me personalize it for you Travis. Thus says Yahweh, “David, you may purchase Travis’ wife and children. You may pass them on to your children as an inheritance. You may beat them if they don’t comply with your commands. Just don’t beat them so severely that they die immediately. They need to live for a few days after the beating for you to avoid guilt in the matter.” Does this sound ok with you Travis? I’m good with it if you are. Please stop with your apologetic dodges and harmonizations. Please tell me why this is not a problem for you.
            And Travis I know you like to make a big deal of Wilberforce and his actions but you are totally ignoring the fact that his political/moral/religious opponents, those who believed slavery was god ordained, got the rationalization for their position from THE BIBLE. If you deny this you are just dishonest. There are source documents from 19th century theologians/preachers FAITHFULLY interpreting the biblical texts in support of slavery. Wilberforce had to make a supra-biblical argument from inference to condemn slavery. There is absolutely NO consistent, explicit condemnation of slavery in the bible. And I am as shocked as you are when it comes to the fact that any African American man or woman would become a Christian. Had Jesus said a single word regarding the evils of slavery they might not have suffered the centuries of terror to which they were subjected. I have to believe they have just never really thought critically about the matter.
            You also said, “You are neglecting all the verses about treating aliens and foreigners with respect in the OT, which was unheard of in the surrounding cultures. God in the OT puts strict guidelines and conduct on these situations, which were much harsher in the surrounding cultures.” Travis, you are ignoring the fact that the OT is of composite nature and reflects a variety of conflicting viewpoints on many subjects? This fact only further compounds your problem of trying to harmonize it.
            Are you also one of the sophists complicit in the ridiculous propaganda that the law of Moses was “very” progressive for it’s time and reflected many improvements over the ethics of the moral codes of Israel’s neighbors? Please, please, please say yes! Because in doing so you will expose yourself as the kind of apologist that has not really examined this claim. Please claim that the law of Moses is far superior to say, the Hammurabi Code. Please. I love it when uninformed acolytes ignorantly repeat the deceptions preached from America’s conservative, evangelical pulpits. Please affirm that the Law of Moses was progressive.
            You also said, “Like I said before the Christian worldview is the only one where everyone has value. You cannot argue that from a Muslim, Hindu or Atheist standpoint.” This is pure ignorance Travis. Here’s a scenario for your “superior” worldview. According to the bible almost every human ever conceived and born to woman will burn in hell forever. Does this, to you, reflect a situation where everyone is valued? What if I am the poor child born in Bagdad to radical Muslim parents that convince me, at 14 years of age, to strap a bomb to myself and kill dozens of people in a market? Not only did I waste my life and destroy the lives of others because of the situation into which I was born, god is also going to send me to hell and punish me forever because I didn’t have the willpower to resist one of the strongest urges known to man. That being, the desire for the approval of one’s parents/family/clan. Additionally, this loving god you rave about created all of these billions of poor creatures knowing that most of them would suffer in hell forever. Finally, he did all of this creating so he could ransom a thin sliver of the created pie for his remnant to satisfy a need that your doctrine says he does not have. Travis, you are not making any arguments here. You are just making claims. Please make an argument based on the texts of scripture. Your unsupported attempts at harmonization are maddening. I know you are a Christian and it’s very tempting to just be dogmatic but I think it’s fair for me to ask you to apply some logic here. I haven’t said anything that is illogical. Maybe distasteful to you but not illogical.

  2. Fred Abramowitz says:

    5 Things Christian Parents Must Do to Raise Godly Children in a Secular World
    So, you rationalize a being who is the epitome of good and you want your children to emulate him, that is, to grow up trying to be like him. Here are the five essential elements you say are need to make this happen. A priori, you have rejected all other beliefs and, to guide your children in the godly way, you have divined these courses of action. You are the god and your children are your clay.
    1. Parents must commit to continually deepening their understanding of Christianity. This is a strategy for parents of any religion and even of atheists. Learn about what you believe. Use dogma at every opportunity to help ward off doubts and keep little minds occupied doing something other than thinking about possibilities.
    2. Parents must intentionally make “spiritual space” in their home. Infuse the idea of magic and the possibilities of miracles in every aspect of daily life. Pray to an imaginary god. Invoke blessings of angels. See the imaginary hand of god affecting everything. Explain how we imperfect humans are utterly dependent on things we cannot possibly understand just to get along.
    3. Parents must study the Bible with their kids. Really. Memorization is best. Keep a stick nearby as an incentive. You read, they listen. They read, you indoctrinate. Do not get into discussions of meaning or origins. Such redaction has broken the faith of many, even of many seminarians. Just stick with the dogmatic, rote and repetitive. Hymns work great. Though the music conveys no information, the feelings can be used to manipulate young, impressionable minds. Inculcate the idea that a child must turn to the Bible for every question. The Muslims do the same thing, who stress that the only safe place is in a mosque, which by definition is devoid of devils and jins. Don’t worry that it is also devoid of truthful reason and innovation.
    4. Parents must proactively and regularly ask their kids what questions they have about faith. Parents should be continuously examining evaluating their kids looking for doubt and waywardness. Again, the stick should be kept hidden, otherwise the kids will be fearful of expressing their true feelings. Faith must be stressed as more vital to life than science. Your mantra: reason without evidence trumps reason supported by evidence. If successful, people should be abjectly fearful of losing their faith. Use any kind of fear tactic you can, like threatening hell fire and being alone without brothers, sister and granny, who will be in heaven. Do not get trapped into any discussion how or why brothers, sisters and granny would be okay in Heaven without you.
    5. Parents must ask their kids the tough questions they don’t think to ask. Accept only the proscribed answers. Thoughts are telling. If necessary explain that homosexuality is the worst kind of sin. Explain that every thought is evaluated by God and could result in a person missing out on Heaven. Masturbation must be dealt with an iron hand, not allowed ever, in any form. Make sure you ask your kids the names of all their friends and evaluate their parents and life choices. Steer your kids away from anyone who does not believe like you. In fact, the only ones to trust are of only your church. And, of your church, only your family should be completely trusted. Keep probing with deep, uncomfortable questions. Consider waterboarding if necessary. The reward could be worth it.

    Reply
    • Travis says:

      Fred –

      It sounds like you have run into some people who have twisted what the Bible teaches, some who have probably been jerks to you or loved ones and you have witnessed judgment and ridicule over relationship. People who are scared to converse with the world because they are afraid of the world and running into people and ideas that run counter to their beliefs. I want to apologize for that misrepresentation of what Christianity is, because a lot of what you named, I have seen (minus keeping the stick nearby and the waterboarding . .ha! ). It isn’t Biblical though, it is a twisted version of what the Bible teaches. There is no doubt we have people misrepresenting Christ and if what you described above were an accurate picture of Christianity, I wouldn’t want anything to do with it either.

      Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “If necessary explain that homosexuality is the worst kind of sin. Masturbation must be dealt with an iron hand, not allowed ever, in any form.”

      This is a likely way to lose your kids. For the first, people just aren’t buying that any more. It’s like telling kids that marijuana is the same as crack cocaine – they then try a spliff or have a friend smoke one, and they see that it’s actually pretty mild. After that they don’t believe anything you say about drugs. Likewise, you try to make out that gay people are like pedophiles – then your kids find out that one of their friends is gay, and that nothing they do is anything like raping a child. Then they’ll figure you’re out of touch and are more influenced by dogma than knowledge.

      As for masturbation – it’s natural, they’ll do it, and you won’t stop them, nor should you. Making out that it’s something shameful will just erect another barrier between you and your children.

      Reply
    • Nelson Perez says:

      Study the life of Christ and it will tell you the most effective way to reach anyone for the Kingdom. Many Atheists and enemies of Christianity come to a personal relationship with God when doing a careful investigation for the resurrection. C.S. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Lee Strobel and Paul were all adult skeptics when they became followers of Christ. So your argument of indoctrinating little children is false. The same silly argument can be said of secular parents. No comparison between Christianity and it’s founder and Islam and it’s founder should ever be made, it’s not even close. Instead of making ridiculous remarks use the mind you have and make a careful study of these things. Think about it, are we a cosmic accident (mathematically impossible) or made in the Image of a God who loves you and wants to reveal himself to you in a personal relationship.

      Reply
  3. Dan says:

    There is no claim of the existence of a deity that can withstand the rigor of scientific method. Actually, to the best of my knowledge, none of them can. Scientific method has, up to this point, produced the best results in understanding reality, making predictions, and driving results. Claims of the existence of the Judaeo-Christian God can not go beyond the step of being a hypothesis and thus fails scientific rigor. I know the argument can be made that science isn’t perfect and it can be wrong. To which I would say that you’re right, but if you understand scientific method you understand that it allows for uncertainty and it is understood that what is held as fact (a scientific theory) is tentative and can possibly be disproved by further evidence. In this manner the process allows for corrections. This is something that belief in a deity lacks. Belief in a deity, at this point, requires an ignorance of the data related to the topic at hand and requires that the Judaeo-Christian God be credit as the causality of an event based on spurious correlation. This is the largest issue with belief in a deity and ultimately the reason religion will be increasingly abandoned. Frankly, science produces better results, is far more logical, and can be substantiate with real world evidence. People only need to see nonbelievers produce better results using their method of thinking and understanding of the world and people will doubt their religious world view. Science is continuously demystifying our understanding of the Universe and soon the deities of this world will have, few if any gaps to run to.

    On the issue of teaching the children the Bible on a regular basis and having them read it, I totally encourage that. In fact I think they should read the whole thing and do careful analysis and apply the rules of logic to that analysis. In the end it will drive more people away than it will keep. I was once devoutly religious and I spend much time being a good Christian and studying the Bible in depth. I went to amazing resources that discussed Bible interpretation and followed the “Christian scientists” and the evidence they provided for why God was real and the Judaeo-Christian God was the one true god. The more I studied the more I realized the story was full of holes and I had to suspend logic to believe.

    The thing religion has going for it is the fear of loss of social position. This is a huge issue for many people when it comes to resolving their doubt and deciding if they even want to see the argument and evidence the other side has. My experience, which I have a fair amount of, including an academic study I conducted for an undergraduate research conference that touched on this issue, have shown that the fear of losing one’s social position will bias their view of opposing information. Not only are they unlikely to analyze and consider the other sides evidence and argument, they are more likely to double down on their position through the course of defending it, even when they clearly have no ground to stand on. This is referred to a “Belief Perseverance” and is a well documented phenomena. So, the greatest weapon in the religious arsenal is creating an accepting and loving social circle for the child so they have greater incentive to reject any line of thinking that may cause them to fall out of favor with that group. The second best weapon is making sure that Christian children gain no significant understanding of scientific method and rules of logic. If they learn either they will be conflicted in most cases and the greater the understanding the greater the odds they will abandon their faith. That is all very hard in a world where they are exposed to the internet and an increasingly secular society . Take a look at the turmoil in the JW community as a result of members having access to the internet and using it against the expressed order of the Church.

    Reply
    • Travis says:

      Dan –

      I can’t agree with you more that our children should use logic and science and know why they believe what they believe. What I find though is that the more we dive into it, we find that materialistic atheism has far more holes that theism. I am not speaking of the Christian God now, let’s take that off the table for a minute. I am just speaking of theistic God – one that created and sustains the universe. I work with youth all the time and they don’t know why they believe what they believe and I pose questions and points to them like you stated above and they do not know what to do with that. So I can’t agree with you more that our youth need to use more science and logic. I also converse with atheists as well and absolutely enjoy talking about this stuff and am always open to listening to viewpoints and having conversation. I find though that you say that science can’t disprove God so it irrelevant, but I what I find is that science and logic have been ripping massive holes into atheistic materialism and that is why many agnostics like Thomas Nagel are abandoning it.

      As far as social circles, you said you did some undergraduate work, well in my courses I found that most of my college classmates as well as professors were either atheists or agnostics and that is not uncommon on most college campuses. So I believe that argument could go the same for the atheist that runs in academic circles where there is largely a liberal, atheistic or at least agnostic sentiment. In fact I believe that is why many youth give up their belief in God when they go to college. They have not used logic and science and studied why they believe what they believe and they go off to a liberal/atheistic environment where it is not “cool” to be “religious” or be confident that there is a God and they may be called called a “bigot” if their views are not inline with the majority, etc. and the pressure can cause them to abandon their faith for acceptance from their peer group.

      Reply
      • David says:

        Travis, let’s agree that neither theism nor atheism have strong explanatory value. Deism seems most likely to me. Turek and Hitchens did a fairly good job of convincing me of this. Would you also agree that an intolerant, right wing, conservative evangelical Christian and a vitriolic atheist have this in common, both are indoctrinated and neither is well educated. In my opinion the statement below is descriptive of both.

        “The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it. The intelligent person hesitates, ponders, wavers. The unintelligent never wavers, never hesitates. Where the wise will whisper, the fool simply declares from the housetops.” – Osho

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          Depends on the atheist, David, but atheism itself doesn’t entail a dogmatic position – it doesn’t even necessitate a conviction that no God exits. It simply means one lacks belief. “I don’t know” is perfectly consistent with atheism. If you don’t know, then you don’t believe, and therefore are an atheist. It’s fine to answer “I don’t know” when it comes to the origin of the universe. I don’t see that deism has explanatory power as it just moves the question back a step.

          Note to both Travis and Dan – agnostic and atheist are not points on the same scale. A person can be an agnostic atheist. Agnostic refers what you know (and what you hold that it is possible to know), while atheist refers to what you believe.

          Reply
          • David says:

            That’s a good point Andy. I was thinking of the type of atheist that won’t even consider evidence that “might” seem to point to a supernatural force.

          • Travis says:

            Andy –

            I am glad you brought that up. An agnostic atheist once posed it to me this way: gnostic means to know
            agnostic means to not know
            theist-means believes in God
            atheist- does not believe in God

            I think no one can be a 100% certain on either side of the coin. We had a great conversation for about 2 hours and he said I was an agnostic theist. Meaning I believe in God, but cannot and do not claim to know with 100% certainty. He as an agnostic atheist, believes there is no god but cannot and does not claim to know with 100% certainty. I had never heard those two terms together, agnostic theist, but I embraced it and love conversing with people of different beliefs. It is unfortunate there are too many barriers (many times by the church) for conversations like this to take place.

          • TGM says:

            Unfortunately, many theists don’t see it this way. Turek, all of the CrossExamined contingent (as far as I can tell), and numerous others do not make the same distinction between agnostic and atheist. Instead they adopt a linear scale such as Dawkins’s 0-7 metric where agnosticism is a shade of atheism. To them, atheism is ‘the belief that god does not exist’ which many atheists would call ‘strong atheism’.

            Tactically, this is a smart position for a theist to take because it demands that atheists shoulder some burden of proof. But a thoughtful atheist would resist taking a strong position under most circumstances for the very simple reason that it requires an atheist to define ‘god’ in order to make any further argument, which makes no sense. Any atheist who tried to defend this position would risk standing on straw men the whole time. Theists don’t seem to appreciate this, perhaps because they already think they know what god is.

            I’m still waiting for someone to define god in coherently.

          • TGM says:

            ahem… or I could catch my typo quicker. That last line should read…

            ‘I’m still waiting for someone to define god coherently.’

        • Travis says:

          I think Deism fails on scientific terms because I believe we have seen evidence where something supernatural or outside of nature has intervened in several instances, such as the Cambrian Explosion where we see a huge jump in complexity and structure in organisms with no transitional intermediates during the Cambrian.

          I think you will have to define your terms as it comes to the intolerant, right wing, conservative, etc. . . I feel like if a person is uncompromising in their values and what they stand for, yet willing to have a conversation with another and listen and be open to and respect the ideas of another, they can fit the description of the person above if they are living the way they should as a Christian, however there are not enough people who walk this thing out.
          As far as intolerance, unfortunately that term has lost it’s true value, because people use it to refer to when a person disagrees with a certain behavior. A person is intolerant if they don’t celebrate homosexual behavior for instance, however that would actually make someone tolerant if they can disagree with the behavior, but still accept and appreciate the person and show them love. You can only tolerate something you disagree with, if you do not disagree with it then there is no reason to be tolerant, you just agree with them.

          Now I agree that a person is intolerant if they condemn the person and cannot accept them as a human being and degrade them just because they disagree with their ideas, behaviors, etc, that’s not Biblical and it’s not Christianity. However, I know we see many Christians do it . . . like I said above, there are not enough people walking this thing out.

          Also, I would be careful quoting Osho. He actually felt that our LGBT brothers and sisters should be isolated from the rest of greater society and has been quoted saying that homosexuals are not even human and have fallen from dignity. . . .that is absolutely wrong and complete nonsense.

          Reply
          • David says:

            Then Osho’s stance on homosexuality affirms the truth of his quote. Sad for him.

            Travis, have you chosen just to move on from the slavery issue and not respond?

          • Travis says:

            David – Sorry I missed this post for some reason and have been busy today and for some reason now that I see it, it will not let me reply to your original message so I will just post it here. Let’s take it in context starting Leviticus 25:35. 35 Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. (Notice how it says like a sojourner or stranger these are foreigners and aliens to the land. What is God telling them to do? Take in your fellow Jews just like I have told you to take care of strangers and foreigners. Not to enslave them.) Let’s keep going. 36 Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that your countryman may live with you. 37 You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. (Don’t cheat people or try to gain from them)
            39 ‘If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you shall not subject him to a slave’s service. 40 He shall be with you as a hired man, as if he were a sojourner; he shall serve with you until the year of jubilee. (Now this is big, notice the word sojourner here . . .remember that is our foreigners, aliens in the land etc. and God says do not use them (your fellow countrymen or Jews) as a slave, but as a hired hand just like you would a sojourner. This means they were not practicing chattel slavery. You did not read back far enough, but let’s keep going.) He shall then go out from you, he and his sons with him, and shall go back to his family, that he may return to the property of his forefathers. 42 For they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt; they are not to be sold in a slave sale. 43 You shall not rule over him with severity, but are to revere your God. 44 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. 45 Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. (To me, in the context of what has been said above about foreigners and aliens, this sounds to me that any people who have committed themselves to lifetime bond servanthood due to economic hardships could be acquired and that is the only way a Jew was to acquire a lifetime bondservant, unless that person after Jubilee decided to be a lifetime bondservant) 46 You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. (Meaning just because you die does not mean that their contract with you expires) But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another. (Meaning I am not condoning this as a practice, let’s keep going) 47 ‘Now if the means of a stranger or of a sojourner with you becomes sufficient, and a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to him as to sell himself to a stranger who is sojourning with you, or to the descendants of a stranger’s family, 48 then he shall have redemption right after he has been sold. (Now note, this means a Jew could be owned by a foreigner, alien, etc. There is no way in chattel slavery that the master can ever become the slave and the slave can become the master, but this is exactly what this verse is telling us. Again, it is all based around economic hardship and working off debts.) Again, Exodus 21:16 claims that no one can be kidnapped or taken against their will to be a bondservant. “He who kidnaps a man (not just a Jew), whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” Exodus 21:16 Also, “If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye and if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on the account of his tooth.” Exodus 21:26-27 To me this is basically saying 2 things: 1. the debt has been paid and they now do not owe you or their lender and 2. you have lost your right to have hired help if you have let your temper go as to harm them to that degree.

            Also for good measure I will throw in Deuteronomy 23:15 “You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.” Again, context is everything, we can’t be cherrypicking verses. I may be out of pocket, but I am really enjoying the conversation David. I appreciate your time and you are bringing up some great points for discussion.

      • Dan says:

        First, I apologize for any typos in my last post or any in this reply. I’m doing this from a phone.

        Travis, you may be right in many circumstances where a believer abandons belief in college. The idea of trying to maintain social position or avoid rejection from a social group impacts everyone to one extent or another. The degree in which this impacts a person varies. Yet there are those people that for various reasons are able to overcome that. For instance, I don’t have particularly strong ties to any social group and I value discovering truth over maintaining social position. If evidence should cause me to modify my stance I really don’t lose much socially by openly admitting it. I don’t hold most relationships to be of high value though. I want to clarify that statement by saying, they do have value but not enough to significantly bias me.

        This simply means that both atheist and theist camps deal with the same issue in regards to social position.

        Even with that issue in mind, college should be teaching academic honesty, logic, unbiased research methods,etc. Learning these principles teaches one how to think critically and honestly as best as one can. It is this type of thinking that opens the door to changing any view point one has, whether the topic is religion or not. That is supposed to be part of the college experience, challenging one’s own view point.

        I can’t speak for every college or every college classroom, but I was never indoctrinated into atheism and never witnessed that occur with anyone else. I’ve also never seen a believer punished for their belief in any way. My college has a large and varied amount of religious students. They were my sample for my study. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, and I would openly condemn it if I did see it.

        “Bigot” is losing its meaning from incorrect overuse. This is the same as “misogyny and racist.” Bigotry isn’t simply just disagreeing, it is knowingly disenfranchised another group of people for being who they are, when not harming anyone else, because one disagrees with or looks down upon some aspect of their being. I think many religions create fertile ground for bigotry to grow. In the case of Christianity there exists interpretations of scripture that inspire bigotry against gays and women for instance. Though, keeping objective relativism in mind, I’m sure they don’t see it that way.

        This is in response to other comments, atheism is not a belief system. Atheism, like theism exists on a spectrum of certainty. I am an agnostic atheist. I don’t believe a god exists because I see know evidence for it and I see no logical extrapolation if data that can satisfactorily point to one. My experience is, that many atheist share that view point. So in my case I have taken a neutral stance that says. I don’t know either way, but if you bring enough definitive evidence either way, I’ll modify my position. Gnostic Atheism is just as indefensible as theism. You can’t disprove a negative and as it goes there doesn’t appear to be anyway to disprove the claim of a supernatural being, so there is no way to be certain one doesn’t exist.

        Reply
        • Travis says:

          Well said Dan. When I was doing my graduate work it seemed that though there was no hostility towards me, there was towards the Christian worldview. There would just be little comments made here or there about belief in God. Here I am in a masters program, where and obviously education and intellect are held in high regard. What I find though is that any ideas that involve God, supernatural, etc. were discredited as ridiculous, nonsense, unintelligent and looked down upon.

          Many times and I am not saying this applies to you but what this called for is what Francis Schaeffer referred to as the upper and lower story. Imagine a two-story on the lower story you have all the stuff your worldview accounts for things that are easily observable, but then there are many things that your worldview does not account for, these are counted as superstition, wishful thinking, educated people know better.

          For instance, the materialistic atheist (including the agnostic atheist) typically says God, free will, consciousness, the soul are all in that upper story.

          That agnostic atheist I spoke with was a great guy, very nice, but his worldview could not account for many things we see in reality, so he claimed we have no free will, we just think we do, but when pressed he wanted to change the subject and said he hates talking about free will. We were recording our talk, because he is a prominent atheist and posts many videos etc. and he even said we can’t be sure the recorder we were recording with was actually there in front of us. To me this is absolutely crazy, that you stick to a worldview so much that when your experience and evidence tells you otherwise you discount it, based on your presuppositions and what your worldview dictates to you. He stuck with this, we can’t know anything position which many atheists do, but I believe that a denier in one set of beliefs is a true believer in a another set. I have never met an atheist that just “lacks a belief”, because they believe firmly in materialistic atheism and its tenets. However they never follow its consequences. They have to sneak in concepts and values that their worldview does not account for. I can show you well-known and prominent atheist describing how their worldview does not account for reality as they experience it so they steal from theism. Again, I am not saying you are of this camp, but I see this far more with atheists than with theists, partially I think this is because the theistic worldview does not discount aspects of reality before examining the evidence.

          Reply
  4. Travis says:

    David – Sorry I missed this post for some reason and have been busy today and for some reason now that I see it, it will not let me reply to your original message so I will just post it here. Let’s take it in context starting Leviticus 25:35. 35 Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. (Notice how it says like a sojourner or stranger these are foreigners and aliens to the land. What is God telling them to do? Take in your fellow Jews just like I have told you to take care of strangers and foreigners. Not to enslave them.) Let’s keep going. 36 Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that your countryman may live with you. 37 You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. (Don’t cheat people or try to gain from them)
    39 ‘If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you shall not subject him to a slave’s service. 40 He shall be with you as a hired man, as if he were a sojourner; he shall serve with you until the year of jubilee. (Now this is big, notice the word sojourner here . . .remember that is our foreigners, aliens in the land etc. and God says do not use them (your fellow countrymen or Jews) as a slave, but as a hired hand just like you would a sojourner. This means they were not practicing chattel slavery. You did not read back far enough, but let’s keep going.) He shall then go out from you, he and his sons with him, and shall go back to his family, that he may return to the property of his forefathers. 42 For they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt; they are not to be sold in a slave sale. 43 You shall not rule over him with severity, but are to revere your God. 44 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. 45 Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. (To me, in the context of what has been said above about foreigners and aliens, this sounds to me that any people who have committed themselves to lifetime bond servanthood due to economic hardships could be acquired and that is the only way a Jew was to acquire a lifetime bondservant, unless that person after Jubilee decided to be a lifetime bondservant) 46 You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. (Meaning just because you die does not mean that their contract with you expires) But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another. (Meaning I am not condoning this as a practice, let’s keep going) 47 ‘Now if the means of a stranger or of a sojourner with you becomes sufficient, and a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to him as to sell himself to a stranger who is sojourning with you, or to the descendants of a stranger’s family, 48 then he shall have redemption right after he has been sold. (Now note, this means a Jew could be owned by a foreigner, alien, etc. There is no way in chattel slavery that the master can ever become the slave and the slave can become the master, but this is exactly what this verse is telling us. Again, it is all based around economic hardship and working off debts.) Again, Exodus 21:16 claims that no one can be kidnapped or taken against their will to be a bondservant. “He who kidnaps a man (not just a Jew), whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” Exodus 21:16 Also, “If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye and if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on the account of his tooth.” Exodus 21:26-27 To me this is basically saying 2 things: 1. the debt has been paid and they now do not owe you or their lender and 2. you have lost your right to have hired help if you have let your temper go as to harm them to that degree.

    Also for good measure I will throw in Deuteronomy 23:15 “You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.” Again, context is everything, we can’t be cherrypicking verses. I may be out of pocket, but I am really enjoying the conversation David. I appreciate your time and you are bringing up some great points for discussion.

    Reply
    • David says:

      Travis, you really should get a copy of Copan’s “Moral Monster” and Stark’s, “Moral Compromiser?” and read them side by side. You may not agree with Stark’s arguments but I think they are far superior to Copan’s and you will have a better idea of where I stand on the issue of morally questionable OT texts.

      Reply
  5. David says:

    Travis, I agree that you can’t cherry pick. I also feel passionately that you cannot conflate two categories of “servants” because accepting that two categories actually exist is detrimental to your argument and makes Yahweh look bad. In Lev. 25 verse 39-43 set some guidelines for Israelite (fellow country men) servants and verse 44-46 show clearly how Israelite servants and foreign servants (slaves) differ from one another. These verses say, “39 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves (sell THEMSELVES) to you, do not make them work as slaves (Do not make them work as SLAVES, this certainly implies that there is a different standard for the way you may make a hired worker work and the way you may make a slave work). 40 They are to be treated as hired workers (not SLAVE, but HIRED WORKERS) or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly (do not rule over them ruthlessly), but fear your God.”
    Then the distinction is made starting in verse 44, “44 “‘Your male and female slaves (not those of your fellow country men who have agreed to work for you as a bond servant to pay off a debt or to provide for their families because they have fallen on hard times) are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves (you may buy, doesn’t say anything about them selling themselves to you and the text calls them slaves indicating a distinction between them and the “servants” described in verses 39-43). 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans (children/offspring) born in your country, and they will become your property (property, no where in verses 39-43 does the text refer to fellow Israelites as property). 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life (slaves for life, no provision here for releasing them in the year of jubilee), but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly (again the text reminds them not to confuse the two categories and mistakenly think they can treat fellow country men ruthlessly/severely as slaves are treated).
    This seems very clear to me Travis: Israelite = worker, not slave, you don’t go buy him, he sells himself to you, not property, not for life, not to be handed down as an inheritance, released in the year of jubilee, not treated ruthlessly. Foreigner = does not sell himself to you but is purchased, treated as slaves not hired workers, permanent property, may make them slaves for life, can be handed down to your offspring as property, may be treated ruthlessly. How can you deny the distinction that is drawn in these verses?
    And you have a serious problem defending the verses on indentured servitude/slavery in Exodus chapter 21. Verses 2-6 have some disturbing components of chattel slavery and verses 7-11 clearly indicate that young women could be sold as a sex slaves.
    I don’t know about you Travis but I have a daughter and I would never use her as a bargaining chip to clear up a debt or as collateral for a loan. Are you telling me that you have no problem with these verses?

    Reply
    • Travis says:

      David again you are forgetting context and the beginning of this section at the beginning of Lev. 25:35. You are ignoring all that I stated above, God is not condoning this behavior, he is saying if it takes place this is how it is to be handled. It is very clear that any mistreatment, which I described above is to go punished and that NO person is to be kidnapped and the penalty is death and that a foreigner can own an Israelite as a slave. You are right, there are different “privileges” for God’s chosen people in the OT. There were also harsh consequences for disobedience on the Israelites. I think because of these verses you want to discredit the entire Bible. You can continue to argue these verses and we can argue about semantics all day. There is no doubt slavery is wrong of any sort and like I said above in an earlier discussion, who is to say God was not revealing what needed to be revealed at that time.

      I want to jump back to your earlier posts and mine about value and humanity and your criticism of God sending us to hell.

      “Either humans have real value or they don’t.   Either someone has a purpose for existing in this universe, or he does not.  Self-inflicted purpose in a universe governed only by hapless chance is nothing more than a delusion.  Being composed of protons, electrons, and neutrons, a human being is made up of exactly the same mass and energy as a brick, or a floating cloud of hydrogen drifting in the upper stratosphere on a lifeless moon circling around an unknown planet in a distant galaxy.  If a human is to have more value than a brick or a gas cloud, and I am talking about real value, not made-up value, then that value must come from without, not within.” Christie Hunter

      I believe you said you were more of a deist, if I remember correctly because you know materialistic atheism fails on its own merits. But I think there is evidence that something, not necessarily “Yahweh” has intervened with the natural order as I posted above and deism postulates that there is a god that created the universe but then left and does not interact with the universe. Also, as far as evil done in the world, there has been far more bloodshed under atheist regimes than any other. That is because according to atheism whatever society decides is right because there is no objective right or wrong. If that is the case an atheist cannot say that Nazi Germany was wrong for killing 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, after all that is what their society was deciding was right and best. We all know that this is absolutely asinine, what the Nazi’s did was wrong, but the atheist has no way to objectively refute this from their worldview. Because according to their worldview there are no objective moral values, it is all a matter of preference, but none of them live this way, every atheist I have met lives inconsistently with their worldview.

      Let’s discuss hell for a minute. God does not send anyone anywhere, sin does. You see, hell is separation from God. God is not going to force anyone into heaven against their will. There are many people that do not want God on earth and would not want God in heaven. They want to be god and they do not want to bow their knee to a creator. God has revealed His existence through creation and His word. Romans 1:20 tells us we know this through the created and ordered universe and I believe that the more we learn through science, the more this is confirmed. Even studies at Yale and other universities have confirmed that children, even children who grow up in atheist homes believe in a god, they actually have to be talked out of it by their parents.

      I look at the weight of evidence for and against a god of any sort and from what I have found (and this is my interpretation of the data) there is far more evidence for a theistic God than any other. This narrows it down to Islam, Judaism and Christianity. I feel that the evidence strongly supports Christianity.

      Now what about the child that straps a bomb to himself for his religion like you mentioned above and why doesn’t God stop it. First of all this breaks my heart that this happens. I believe God, if He is all-knowing and all loving will be calling to that child. Unfortunately, you are right Muslims do reject and disown family members when they covert from Islam to Christianity, Atheism or any other worldview. I believe that just reaffirms that they have to use this fear of rejection to keep people in their religion. Which many who convert to Islam end up leaving after a few years. What is unfortunate is that they are doing exactly what their religion teaches them to do to the infidels, which is you and me and yet I never hear atheists speak against them. They are literally killing hundreds daily and atheists and christians stay silent. This is out of fear on both sides. The Christian is an easy target, because he is taught to be gracious, even though many including myself fall short at times. The muslim however, will not be gracious and I believe the atheist as well of the christian is fearful of what might happen if they question the teachings of Muhammad . Now I want to be clear I am not saying every muslim wants to kill and hurt non-muslims, but those that do are being consistent with the doctrine and teachings of Islam. I believe Jesus paid a price for everyone (those that believe as well as those that don’t) and though it is hard for a person born into the muslim faith to leave, it is not impossible. I believe the Gospel and missionaries will reach them and convict their hearts and that any child that dies, muslim, jew, atheist will be in the presence of God in heaven, because they were not old enough to make a conscious decision to accept or reject God. If God is all knowing, all loving, and all justice, no one will go to hell that is not supposed to and no one will get into heaven that is not supposed to, but because we have free will, there will be many that know the truth that will willfully reject it.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        The ‘God doesn’t send people to heaven against their will’ argument is nonsensical. I know people who’d love to go to heaven, they just don’t think it exists. It wouldn’t be ‘against their will’ to put them in heaven.

        And the bible clearly says there is no punishment for someone who beats their slave so harshly that they die, as long as it takes longer than two days. You can possibly translate the passage as saying ‘as long as they survive after two days’, but even this allows that the slave can be beaten CLOSE to death with no punishment for the master.

        Finally, it’s not convincing that God could have passed on not just the Ten famous. Commandments but several hundred others, without concern for the mores of the time – these are the rules, like it or lump it! – but when it came to slaves God didn’t want to upset the apple cart by simply saying ‘Don’t own another person’.

        Reply
      • David says:

        Travis, verse 35 is a bit ambiguous when it refers to foreigner and stranger but I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree because, in my opinion, you are still denying the straight forward meaning of verses 39-46. And you didn’t address the verses from Exodus 21.
        And this statement, “who is to say God was not revealing what needed to be revealed at that time” is essentially the same as saying, “well, it’s a mystery”. I refuse to accept the “it’s a mystery”, debate stopper. And it really reflects a sort of moral relativism on your part that you would try to jump off the tracks like that because you can’t adequately explain why god would do something that appears so obviously to be evil. I think “it’s a mystery” should be banned at the very beginning of all discussions about the bible. Have you read Stark? Please do. Read Copan and Stark side by side.
        Also, there are a ton more verses that, in my opinion, discredit the bible. We just haven’t discussed all of them yet.
        Travis, if you discovered tomorrow that there was no god, how would that change your behavior? Would you divorce your wife and start visiting prostitutes? Would you become a drug addict or an alcoholic? Would you start raping your children? Would you go rob a bank and buy a new sports car? Would you murder your neighbor and steal his flatscreen? If you would not do these things, tell me why you wouldn’t. The reason is, we all know from experience, trial and error, that these things are not good for society as a whole and they cause pain and suffering. So your attempt to claim that theists have rightfully laid claim to the only good explanation for moral behavior is weak. And by the way, it wasn’t Yahweh that stepped in and saved the Jews in Nazi Germany. The allies, out of self preservation and kindness toward the Jewish people stepped in and stopped it. And as far as Yahweh was concerned in the matter, he didn’t seem to do a thing to help the Jews. In fact, one of his servants, who I assume you highly esteem, actually contributed to the holocaust. I’m talking about Luther. I know his polemic against the Jews preceded WWII by four hundred years but if you read, “On The Jews And Their Lies” it sounds like a playbook for the Nazis. I believe it played a role.
        You said, “every atheist I have met lives inconsistently with their worldview”. I’m sorry Travis but I think I can honestly say, that every Christian I have ever met, including my self during my Christian decades, “lives inconsistently with their worldview”.
        You said this about Muslims, “I believe that just reaffirms that they have to use this fear of rejection to keep people in their religion”. You haven’t forgotten, have you, that you hold a worldview in which, a supposed loving, beautiful, splendid supernatural being recruits followers and keeps them in the fold with the most hideous fear mongering imaginable. What could be any worse than being eternally tormented? Don’t you see that all the monotheistic religions are fear based? Not just Judaism and Islam, Christianity too. This speaks strongly to me regarding whether or not the bible presents an accurate description of a loving, personal god. No god that we call loving could possibly torture people eternally. I say this because if we are made in god’s image and we wouldn’t torture someone eternally then I don’t think he would either. If we could resurrect Hitler and put him on the fire, it would not be a very long time before even the relatives of those who died at his hands would be begging for mercy on his behalf. We are just built that way. So why is god different?
        I have a lot to say about hell but I have to go right now. Be back later.

        Reply
        • toby says:

          you are still denying the straight forward meaning of verses 39-46. And you didn’t address the verses from Exodus 21.
          I believe you’re running into “when it doubt, the bible is right…because god.” And “we just don’t understand this properly so it’s not a problem.”

          Something obvious that is often missed is the fact that if god were giving people rules to live with that fit within the context of their time and culture, then where is that instruction today? Where are the prophets writing the New New Testament with their personal pipeline to god? They are no where. Because the instant someone tells you that god is speaking through them, giving them additions to the holy book you immediately think, “Nut case” unless of course they’re writing something that you agree with then you think, “harmless nut case.”

          Reply
        • Travis says:

          Hey David, I am going to check out Stark and I have not read Copan’s either so I will check them both out. I agree the “it is a mystery” is a weak argument and I was not trying to go there. I was just saying the Israelites had just come from slavery and there are obvious verses against kidnapping and mistreatment as well as some that are more harsh, including towards their own people for being disobedient. I am definitely not saying that some of these verse are hard to grapple with, but in the context of the whole Bible, OT as well as NT, that is not the underlying theme. Could there be a chance that if there is a “God” that this being reveals what needs to be revealed and intervenes when needed, again like said above to bring the messiah. Again, this is all speculation but who is to say the Israelites did not need to follow the customs of the land (with stricter guidelines and penalties) so they did not get overthrown and right back into forced and kidnapped slavery as an entire people? Again, the story does not end in the Torah, at least not for me. If I was an orthodox Jew, fine we could stay in the OT, but that is not where it ended and I do not believe that is ever where it was intended to end.

          I am still not sure if you are a deist or not because you are arguing from an atheist’s point of view now, which is fine too, just curious? You are absolutely right if I became an atheist tomorrow it would not change my behavior. I am not saying atheists can’t be moral, in fact there are many atheists that will put christians to shame with their moral acts and their kindness. I don’t want to argue this from the Bible since you do not believe in it, but Romans even tells us that the law is written on our hearts, meaning you know right from wrong whether you believe in God or not. My point is that the atheist cannot ground morality or human value and worth for that matter. As C.S. Lewis said, “Without a measuring rod outside of those things being measured, you can do no measuring.” If everything is a matter of opinion and society decides what was best, then you have no grounds to call what Nazi Germany was doing in the 1940s as well as what the Israelites were doing in about 1440 BC as wrong. You can say you do not like it, you would prefer they don’t do that, but there is no grounds for you to call it wrong or evil, after all their society felt it was good for their culture. Now you may say, well we are just far more evolved as a society now. However, we murder roughly 3,000 + humans every day through abortion in the U.S. and many in our society feel this is fine and even celebrate this and package it as “womens’ rights”. I don’t know where you stand on this issue, but I believe it is wrong because we are all made in the image of God and science tells us that the living, growing, human is alive when they kill it.

          As far as our muslim brothers and sister I will just say this, I bet none of the people on this forum are conversing with muslims and condemning their book and that is because of fear. Now to be fair the Christians are equally silent on this issue as well, but many atheists have bombarded this Christian site with their views, which I encourage, but I doubt they are going to muslim sites doing the same.

          As far as the hell, fire and brimstone teaching, I really am trying to change that. I work with youth in the church to get them to examine their worldview as well as others and be comfortable interacting and engaging with people of all different beliefs. I want them to know why they believe what they believe, not believe it out of fear or because that is the “religion” they were born into.

          I can’t agree with you more that Christians do not live consistent with their worldview, if we could we would not need a savior. We do live consistently with reality though, where the atheist does not. Let me explain:

          The atheists claims: free will and consciousness are illusions. Love can be reduced to chemical reactions in the body, that we are essentially moist robots and that we have ancestors in the form of the common fruit fly, the chimpanzee and shower mold. Not because their experience tells them this, but because their worldview tells them this, their experience tells them something very, very different.

          The fact that you and I are able to interact and discuss these things, the fact that you know your daughter has value far more than any of the organisms above and the fact that your love for her is far more than chemical reactions in the body let’s you know there is much more to you both than what atheistic materialism reduces you to and you know this through your experience.

          I would like to end by saying this, I think many people mistake the Gospel, it was never intended to pray a prayer just so you can go to heaven. In fact, the “let’s say a prayer for you to get saved” phenomenon came about within the last 100 years. Jesus never said to pray a prayer to get saved. The problem with this is that you do it out of selfishness or fear, you a pray a prayer for yourself and then stay in the four walls of your house, church, etc. and wait for your reward in heaven and miss out on the life you have right now. That is how many people live, but that is never what it was intended for, man trust me I have probably just as big of a bone to pick with the church as you do, because many, including myself, are not living this thing out the way it was intended, but I am trying. Then people like yourself see this version of Christianity and you do not want any part of it and I can’t blame you.

          Reply
          • TGM says:

            ”…then you have no grounds to call what Nazi Germany was doing in the 1940s as well as what the Israelites were doing in about 1440 BC as wrong.”

            So what?

            Hi Travis. I’m going to posit this question to you as well. Nobody seems to want to answer it. I’ve asked many theists, but, curiously, they ignore this question. Maybe you’ll be different.

            I consider what the Nazis did to be wrong. This is a subjective opinion. Had I been present and aware in the 1930s I would have fought against them. By your assessment, as a non-believer I have no grounds to call them wrong. I assume you mean ‘objectively wrong’ from your phrasing.

            My question is… so what? What does it matter that I cannot call something objectively wrong? What difference does an objective standard make? And if you’re in an answering mood, please tell me… how do we identify what is right and wrong?

            Thanks!

  6. David says:

    Travis, I’ve often heard apologists say that they believe Christianity is true and provides the worldview with the strongest explanatory power. I find this really hard to understand. I often hear them say that god did thus and so through Jesus which provided the way for reconciliation between god and man. But when I really contemplate the matter I don’t see that Jesus really accomplished anything meaningful. His sacrifice was supposed to satisfy the wrath of god and redeem creation. If this is so, why didn’t it? I mean, under this system, man still has to at least add the appropriate “cognitive” works. He has to believe the right things, confess the right things, profess the right things, etc. Paul, in Romans 5 seemed be headed down a universalist pathway that would have spoken very powerfully to my thinking but then in chapter 9 he seems to undo the thoughts put forth there. I also do not see how Christians can honestly claim that god’s love is unconditional. If man has to do all the things I mentioned above (or, from a reformed viewpoint, has to be lucky enough to be among the elect), plus act the right way to appropriate it, how can you say that Jesus really did anything? God is still really mad, Jesus can save you but only if you believe and do the right things? I don’t think you can get away with even saying salvation is by grace. Paul claims that it is but then continually says, “examine yourselves, if you remain, if you continue, if you endure even unto death”. Jesus even tells us in Matt 7 that some who thought they were on the narrow path actually were not. I’ve heard it my whole life, “in other religions you find man trying to reach up to or find god, in Christianity you see god reaching down and finding man”. This to me is really just apologetic spin. From what I see in the scriptures man has to do a lot of “reaching up” to make this substitutionary atonement thing work.
    Another reason I see this Christian way of god trying to reconcile man to himself as a failure is because of the thin sliver of humanity that will actually benefit from it. If the Cleveland Cavaliers had gone 8-74 this year no one would be claiming that they had a successful season. They would not have held a ticker tape parade to celebrate. We would all rightfully call it an abject failure of a season. So I’m wondering, if the vast majority of all humans will spend eternity in hell, how do you call that a success or a victory? We know from the words attributed to Jesus in Matt 7:13-14, “13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”, that at least 51% of all created beings will go to hell. But that’s a really generous number in my opinion. I have spent more than forty years in the church and I don’t see how much more than a small fraction of even those in the pews meet the criteria for being on the “narrow path”. And I’m not judging others, I’m talking about really good people that make the Christian confession and try to walk it out. When I look back on it I would have to say that I, like most others, was on the broad path. Not because I wasn’t serious about my faith but because I don’t think I came close to meeting the ridiculously high standard described in the bible. I never sold all I had and gave it to the poor and went and followed Jesus. I never remained faithful unto the death. I never gave up my selfish ambitions and went off to Africa to be a missionary, etc., etc. You will probably argue that none of these things is necessary but I think you can make a pretty strong argument from the words of Jesus and Paul that they are. Or at least the heart to do these things is necessary. Back to my point, I think about 99% of all humanity is going to hell under your system. Consider those in your church Travis and tell me I’m off base here. If you are a church leader in any capacity then you really know what I’m talking about here. Even if only 80% or 70% are going to hell how can we frame that as a victory or “good news”? It’s the most horrible news imaginable. I can’t see how this can be framed in a positive light. And how do you, as a Christian, fall in love with a god that has promised to do this to all that don’t bow the knee to him on this side of the grave? How can god say he loves you if he would do this to those you love? How do you fall in love with someone/something that brutal? How do you call it loving. I’ve said in previous blogs that this ability of Christians to fall in love with Yahweh is to me like the religious version of Stockholm Syndrome. Here’s one definition, “feelings of trust or affection felt in certain cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor”. Travis, in this scenario you are the victim. You are under the curse of sin because of the sin of some mythical “first human”. When presented this information by your parents, as a child, more often than not you manage the cognitive dissonance this produces by convincing yourself that this is somehow beautiful because after all the bible says Jesus loves me. Or in some bizarre way this is god being gracious to you, but to me it’s really sick. And what makes this even worse is that god went forward with the creation of man knowing that this would be the case. He knew in advance that man would fall, all would be infected with the curse of sin and most would end up in hell. And to complicate the matter even more, the bible says that god is in need of nothing and is perfectly satisfied within the trinity. So, he did the creating to satisfy a need which he does not have. In my thinking this makes the very act of “creating” an evil act. How can any being be that selfish and brutal? The things I mentioned above and a critical review of what the bible really affirms are the reasons I have rejected the belief system that I held for the majority of my fifty plus years. I don’t really expect this information to change your thinking much. It didn’t change mine for decades. I just think you will benefit from better understanding the perspective of those who have been deeply committed to faith in Christ and then have given up on it.

    Reply
  7. David says:

    Travis, I really don’t have a problem with Christians. Most that I know are very charitable people. 99% of all my family, friends and coworkers are Christians. I’m sure you’re a really nice guy too. My problem is with the bible and the god that it describes.

    Reply
    • Travis says:

      I feel like there is good evidence for theism and the accuracy and reliability of the NT. Whether we like it or not is irrelevant. I also don’t think you understand the Gospel, I am not trying to be disrespectful but I think you are missing the point.

      What I find interesting is that a person can either believe they are made in the image of God and be obedient or they will make a god substitute in their own image.

      “Human beings by their very nature are worshipers. Worship is not something we do; it defines who we are. You cannot divide human beings into those who worship and those who don’t. Everybody worships; it’s just a matter of what, or whom, we serve.” Paul David Tripp

      I find it interesting that there are far more atheists on this christian site than christians. I am showing you where your worldview fails and I hear no objections from anyone. I keep hearing more claims against the Bible. I have yet to hear one refutation, sorry but I do not buy the “I just lack a belief” response. That is intellectually dishonest, because a person who lacks a belief in one set of values is a true believer in another set of values.

      The burden of proof does not rest on my shoulders alone, it rests on yours as well as an atheist. I have been commenting enough to several people on here about their worldview and how it does not account for reality and I have yet to have a response, because 9 times out of 10 atheism is masqueraded as an intellectual argument, but it is more of a matter of the heart. There is some emotional hurt from Christians or others claiming to be Christians or the church in general or they have suffered a loss that leads them to turn away from God, because how can a loving God . . take this person from me or let this happen. The other reason is the fact that some atheists don’t want a God, because it is nice being the most advanced creature on the planet and doing what they want with no moral restraints or any “authority” telling them it is not right, they get to be the authority, they get to be the judge, they get to be g_d.

      I notice you have not answered whether you are a deist or an atheist and I believe this is because you don’t know. You know there is a God, because materialistic atheism fails to explain reality as you know it, you just don’t like the God of Christianity. Fair enough, let’s discuss this and look at some of the alternatives?

      Reply
  8. Travis says:

    TGM- Then it’s all a matter of opinion. Again, you can say you don’t like something or you would prefer it be another way, but you can’t say it is wrong. However we know there are objective moral values. Why is it more honorable for a soldier to jump on a bomb and save his fellow soldiers than escape in an ambush and leave his buddies to die? Everything to help us survive would say get away from danger, get away from pain, but we honor those who give their life for another. This has no societal benefit, you could say less life is lost maybe, but we do not chalk this up to a mathematical bodycount to determine whether it is good, we honor this because we know this is good.

    The shadows prove the sunshine, just like you can’t have shadow without sun, you can’t have evil without good. Evil is the perversion of good, it is knowing things aren’t as they should be. You can’t have evil without good and you can’t have good without God.

    I will give you two quotes or illustrations of the consequences of an atheistic worldview when it comes to evil, the first is a blog post by an atheist, it is a little harsh and blunt, but here it is :

    “[To] all my Atheist friends.

    Let us stop sugar coating it. I know, it’s hard to come out and be blunt with the friendly Theists who frequent sites like this. However in your efforts to “play nice” and “be civil” you actually do them a great disservice.

    We are Atheists. We believe that the Universe is a great uncaused, random accident. All life in the Universe past and future are the results of random chance acting on itself. While we acknowledge concepts like morality, politeness, civility seem to exist, we know they do not. Our highly evolved brains imagine that these things have a cause or a use, and they have in the past, they’ve allowed life to continue on this planet for a short blip of time. But make no mistake: all our dreams, loves, opinions, and desires are figments of our primordial imagination. They are fleeting electrical signals that fire across our synapses for a moment in time. They served some purpose in the past. They got us here. That’s it. All human achievement and plans for the future are the result of some ancient, evolved brain and accompanying chemical reactions that once served a survival purpose. Ex: I’ll marry and nurture children because my genes demand reproduction, I’ll create because creativity served a survival advantage to my ancient ape ancestors, I’ll build cities and laws because this allowed my ape grandfather time and peace to reproduce and protect his genes. My only directive is to obey my genes. Eat, sleep, reproduce, die. That is our bible.

    We deride the Theists for having created myths and holy books. We imagine ourselves superior. But we too imagine there are reasons to obey laws, be polite, protect the weak etc. Rubbish. We are nurturing a new religion, one where we imagine that such conventions have any basis in reality. Have they allowed life to exist? Absolutely. But who cares? Outside of my greedy little gene’s need to reproduce, there is nothing in my world that stops me from killing you and reproducing with your wife. Only the fear that I might be incarcerated and thus be deprived of the opportunity to do the same with the next guy’s wife stops me. Some of my Atheist friends have fooled themselves into acting like the general population. They live in suburban homes, drive Toyota Camrys, attend school plays. But underneath they know the truth. They are a bag of DNA whose only purpose is to make more of themselves. So be nice if you want. Be involved, have polite conversations, be a model citizen. Just be aware that while technically an Atheist, you are an inferior one. You’re just a little bit less evolved, that’s all. When you are ready to join me, let me know, I’ll be reproducing with your wife.

    I know it’s not PC to speak so bluntly about the ramifications of our beliefs, but in our discussions with Theists we sometimes tip toe around what we really know to be factual. Maybe it’s time we Atheists were a little more truthful and let the chips fall where they may. At least that’s what my genes are telling me to say.”

    Below is commentary from J Warner Wallace about this atheist’s post:

    John bluntly captured the true nature of morality when it is untethered to a transcendent source. Since posting this comment, I’ve been able to peek at John’s life in a very limited way and I’ve had a brief interaction with him. He appears to be a creative, responsible, loving husband and father. In fact, his outward life looks much like the life you and I might lead as Christians. As an atheist, my moral compass was much like that of the Christians I knew. But knowing what is far different than knowing why. I embraced a particular set of moral laws even though I couldn’t account for these laws in a world without a transcendent moral law giver. I typically attributed morality to some form of social or cultural evolution, but as John correctly observes, our selfish genes are not interested in the welfare of others when their personal survival is at stake. Without a true transcendent source for morality (and purpose), skeptics are left trying to invent their own, justifying their subjective moral rules as best they may. In the end, as John rightly observes, they end up “nurturing a new religion” and creating for themselves the very thing they detest.

    When John first posted his comment (and I first started talking about it on my podcast), many of the other atheists who post at CrossExamined were infuriated. Some denied John’s identity as a skeptic and accused him of being a disguised Christian. But in my interaction with John, he told me he was weary of hearing fellow atheists mock their opponents for hypocrisy and ignorance, while pretending they had a definitive answer to the great questions of life. He simply wanted his fellow atheists to be consistent. As it turns out, theism provides the consistent moral foundation missing from John’s atheistic worldview.

    I’ll leave you with a quote from the poster boy of Atheism that just affirms what the atheist blogger said above, however none of you live this way, you have to borrow moral values from a worldview that yours does not account for:

    In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won’t find any rhyme or reason to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.
    – Richard Dawkins, Out of Eden, page 133.

    Reply
    • toby says:

      However we know there are objective moral values. Why is it more honorable for a soldier to jump on a bomb and save his fellow soldiers than escape in an ambush and leave his buddies to die? Everything to help us survive would say get away from danger, get away from pain, but we honor those who give their life for another. This has no societal benefit, you could say less life is lost maybe, but we do not chalk this up to a mathematical bodycount to determine whether it is good, we honor this because we know this is good.
      Yet more proof that theists have no proof for objective morality. “It’s gotta be true because we want it to be or feel it to be, therefore true . . . how can you deny it?!?!”

      Reply
      • Travis says:

        Toby – Did you actually read my post or maybe you are just not understanding my point? Or maybe I am not understanding your point, your response makes no sense. . . Sorry

        Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “I’ll leave you with a quote from the poster boy of Atheism that just affirms what the atheist blogger said above, however none of you live this way, you have to borrow moral values from a worldview that yours does not account for”

      Travis, Dawkins was talking about the universe that we observe and our DNA, not human behaviour. He wasn’t saying that humans weren’t altruistic. In fact if you’d read any of his books rather than just cherry picked quotes on apologist websites, you’d know that he’s discussed altruism a fair bit and the evolutionary origins of it.

      “Why is it more honorable for a soldier to jump on a bomb and save his fellow soldiers … This has no societal benefit”

      Of course it has a societal benefit. One person giving their life to save many in a clan benefits that clan. Venerating those who sacrifice themselves benefits the clan as it encourages others to do the same. Look into game theory, Travis.

      As for that supposed ‘atheist confession’ – we asked Warner at the time to back up that it came from a genuine atheist and not wasn’t just a straw man imagination from a Christian of what he thought atheists thought… and Wallace admitted he had no idea if it was real.

      Reply
      • Travis says:

        We huh, so you guys troll sites? I wish I had a little help here ,but feel I am outnumbered. And no . .Dawkins did not mean that, read the quote in it’s entirety. He also has admitted to aliens possibly starting the first life, with NO EVIDENCE . . . .anything, but God . . . .everything points to something outside the material and we will say aliens or life starts on the back of crystals or any ridiculous claim, just not God.

        And we revere the kind of behavior in the soldier situation, not because it protects our clan. It is because it is the ultimate expression of love for another, which the atheist will claim is just a chemical reaction in the body. . . .sorry but that is absolutely ridiculous if you think we revere and honor that because it protects our clan.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          ” He also has admitted to aliens possibly starting the first life”

          Oh Travis, are you going to repeat every silly creationist canard about Dawkins? That guy from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off asked Dawkins if he could completely rule out that life on Earth was designed, and if there was a circumstance by which it could be possible. Dawkins said, effectively, “Well I guess it could be POSSSIBLE that aliens designed us, but the point is that those aliens in turn would have evolved”.

          And just saying something seems ridiculous to isn’t an argument against it, especially as your alternative involves talking snakes and zombies rising from the dead!

          Reply
    • TGM says:

      Unfortunately Travis, you really did not answer my question. Your answer seems to be that without objective morality right and wrong are just my opinion. That’s just a partial answer, at best. So why does it matter that it’s only just my opinion?

      By the way, if there is an outside standard, then you need to know what that standard is. This is why I asked my other question… how do you know what that standard is? Where is the comprehensive rulebook for every moral dispute? And… if there is no rulebook, but just a set of guidelines, then who gets to interpret these guidelines and isn’t that just a subjective morality?

      Clearly the idea of objective morality is extremely extremely important to theists, but they seem to be unable to explain why. This is passing strange. But any theist unable to address this question should probably reconsider their position on morality.

      Reply
      • Travis says:

        TGM – I attached a website on philosophy that may help with your question and drive home my point better. Feel free to check it out and let me know if you agree or disagree.

        Reply
      • TGM says:

        Really Travis. Rather than answer the straightforward question I asked, you would rather point me to a third party article. In other words, you want me to decide for myself what YOUR opinion is. This is simply astounding. Are you really inviting me to misrepresent you?

        Have it your way.

        I’m not too impressed by the article, but I think most of it is irrelevant in any case. My best guess is that the existence of objective morality is critically important to you because without it, your life would have no meaning. Am I right… your entire self worth is dependent on how some other entity deems you ought to behave?

        This is impoverished, but it’s your life. Do any other theists on this site wish to weigh in or endorse my interpretation?

        Reply
  9. Travis says:

    My atheist friends, I know things can get taken out of context when you cannot see facial expressions, hear tone of voice etc. and I just want to pause to say I am sorry if I have come across as rude or inconsiderate in any of my posts. I feel some responses on this forum have started to go that direction so I just wanted to take a minute to check myself and say that I do not mean any disrespect towards any of you. To be honest I enjoy these conversations and I wish I could speak with you face to face as I feel like conversations can usually go much better that way and you can cover a lot more ground in less time. I just wanted to take a minute to say that and if any of you live in the Dallas area and would like to meet to discuss these things in more detail I would be happy to meet with any of you.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      I’m cool, Travis. I’d happily meet anyone I discuss stuff with here (though I don’t like in America, so it’s unlikely). My rule here is stick to the arguments, meaning I don’t get involved with insults, but equally I don’t put in pleases, thank yous are ‘thanks for the discussion’ much either.

      Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          David, I have children who I care about and I work in financial journalism, so obviously I voted Remain. It’s just a few days after the result and the Leave group have already walked back all their major promises, the economy has tanked, we’ve lost our AAA credit rating, and the pound is in free fall. It’s funny seeing US commenters weighing in on it who know nothing about the situation at all.

          Reply
    • David says:

      Travis,

      Thanks for the invite but I’m not quite ready to accept such an offer. Like you, I live in the Dallas area but as a closet skeptic (along with a few of my deconverted friends). In my local community and occupation it would be social suicide to “come out”. In fact, the fear I experience wondering what would happen if I did so has really sensitized me to the plight of the gay community and the fear under which they live in the Bible Belt.

      Reply
      • Travis says:

        Sorry, I have been gone for a while, been out of town for a funeral.

        Really? I have met with several atheists to discuss their worldview and they have always gone pleasantly, but totally understand if you feel uncomfortable. I am sorry you feel that you will be treated differently by people because you hold an opposing view. See I feel the exact way as you do, but on the opposite, I meet more people aggressive towards the Christian worldview than the atheist worldview, then again I seek you guys out because I feel these conversations need to be had. It just takes so long through typing, especially to multiple posts! 🙂 David, I hope there is a time where you do not feel uncomfortable speaking publicly about what you believe.

        Reply
        • David says:

          Sorry for you loss Travis. I don’t feel uncomfortable discussing my views at all. I do so all the time with friends, my former pastor, etc. But it’s sort of an underground activity. Not really interested in making waves. Neither is my former pastor. And I don’t “feel” I would be treated differently, I “know” I would be treated differently. I’ve seen it happen to others. I just wouldn’t want to meet with a stranger and discover that he lived in my home town. Like I said, my career would fade like a Liberty University professor’s would if he admitted he was an agnostic or an atheist. By the way, I’ll bet there are more than a few skeptics teaching at even the most conservative Christian institutions world-wide. They just can’t admit it because they have grown accustomed to eating and paying their bills.

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