Stuff Atheists Say: You’re Almost an Atheist

By Timothy Fox

We at FreeThinking Ministries are dedicated to answering the biggest objections to Christianity. We respect sincere skeptics and seekers and understand that everyone has doubts. We do too at times. If there’s a certain obstacle that is keeping you from faith, we want to help remove it. Responding to objections is mandatory to the Christ-follower: “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Many times, it’s that last part that makes all the difference: “do it with gentleness and respect.” We don’t ever want to come across as arrogant or disrespectful but we do what we do because we think that Christianity is true and we want you to think so also.

But this series, Stuff Atheists Say, isn’t about the good objections; it’s about the bad ones. Things that need to go away for good. Many things skeptics and atheists say aren’t really arguments; they’re meant to mock and ridicule, to smugly derail a conversation and make you feel stupid in the process. You know, the kind of thing you find on social media or hear from a certain famous British comedian.

So we’re going through the worst of the worst and ending them once and for all. But enough talk. Let’s get started:

Bad “argument” #1: You’re almost an atheist

This “argument” goes like this: “You believe in one god and deny thousands of other gods. I just go one god further and deny the existence of all of them. So you’re almost an atheist.”

Or you may hear it worded like this: “You’re an atheist towards thousands of other gods; I’m an atheist towards all of them.”

The first thing you need to notice is that this is not an argument against the existence of God. It offers no evidence and puts forth no objection. This statement is about you. What you think and believe, how you label yourself. But it is not about God and whether or not He actually exists.

Second, theist and atheist are specific terms. Regarding the second phrasing of the slogan, you can’t be theist towards some gods and atheist towards others. That’s not how the words work. It’s like saying someone who doesn’t eat chicken is a vegetarian towards chicken. Ever heard anyone say that? Me neither.

To believe in at least one god makes you some form of a theist; to believe in no gods at all makes you an atheist. By definition. There are no degrees orpercentages of theism, that if I believe in one god I’m less theist than someone who believes in two. The difference isn’t between one or many; it’s between zero and one. Let’s look at an analogy that will further show how ridiculous this statement is:

How many women do you think there are in the world? Let’s just say one billion. Out of those one billion women, I’m only married to one of them. So does that mean I’m almost single? No, that’s stupid. Married is married and single is single. Whether I’m married to one or twenty women, it doesn’t matter. I’m married. It’s binary: 1 or 0. Sure, if it’s the night before my wedding, you could say I’m almost married, if you mean that I will be married soon. But that’s in regard to time, not degrees of married-ness. And that’s not what the argument is trying to do. It’s making a fraction or a percentage of theism as if that’s meaningful in the discussion, which it isn’t. It’s ridiculous. So don’t fall for it.

Conclusion

Yes, I only believe in one God, but that’s because I think the God of the Bible is the one true God who exists. I’m not picking gods randomly from a hat, as if one is just as reasonable as another. I believe in a creator God, a personal First Cause who designed life, the universe and everything and is the standard of objective morals and values. I believe Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, vindicating His claims to be God and placing his seal of approval on the Old Testament as well as the men who would go on and write the New.

In case you haven’t gotten it yet, let me make it perfectly clear: I am not almost an atheist. I am a Christian theist.

Please understand that I’m not calling atheists stupid. I’m saying some things atheists say are stupid, such as the “almost an atheist” slogan. It needs to die. Now, if you have an honest objection to theism, feel free to raise it in the comments and we would love the opportunity to discuss it for you. But if it isn’t, I’ll add it to my list of Stuff Atheists Say.

Visit Timothy Fox’s website: Free Thinking Ministries

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62 replies
  1. Darrin Butters says:

    Hi Timothy
    When I mention “stuff Christians say” to me in my comments to these articles, this site has always been quick to require sources and actual quotes before the point is considered valid. Should you be held to these same standards?

    You seem to be taking a Richard Dawkins quote: “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” misrepresenting it, and then attacking that misrepresentation.

    You rightly say it’s not an argument, but then criticize it as being a bad argument.
    The point is that you yourself find insufficient reason and evidence to believe in the thousands of other gods on offer. We (atheists and Christians) share that point of view.

    “The difference isn’t between one or many; it’s between zero and one.” This is a false dichotomy.

    It is between zero and one, but for EVERY proposed god. You wouldn’t need to specify yourself as a Christian Theist if this weren’t the case.

    The opposite of married is not “single”, it’s NOT married. The opposite of belief in one god is NONbelief in that one god. So you are a Christian theist and a Hindu atheist.

    Darrin

    Reply
    • Onyeke says:

      I believe in God and that He is the Supreme One. I also believe there are other gods, many of whom are falsely claimed to be supreme. This I think is the position of many like me who are not atheists.

      Reply
    • Bill says:

      Respectfully,

      Do you think Dawkins’ reasoning forms the basis of a valid objection to Christianity? Let’s look closely at what he said.

      “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”

      The quote seems to imply that since we agree that many gods (other than the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible) have been worshipped over the course of many centuries, and since Christians and atheists BOTH do not believe in the existence of said gods, that Christians should reconsider their belief in the God of the Bible, because, after all, if humanity has been wrong so many times before, how can Christians be certain that what they believe is true?

      I find fault with that line of reasoning on many levels. First, it could also be applied to the atheist. How can the atheist know that what they believe is true? The first error that new-atheists like Dawkins make all the time is that they ASSUME that the reason all of those gods were proven to be false, is that there is no God… as if science had already disproven (far from it) His existence. Why make that assumption? Why not consider the possibility that the reason all of those other gods are so easily proven to be false, is because there is only ONE God?

      The second problem with this quote, is that it seems to imply that since we don’t have reasons to believe that myriad other gods exist, that there is no good reason to think the God of the Bible exists. This is also a terrible argument. This is just a repackaging of the Santa Claus/ Easter Bunny line of reasoning that goes a little something like this…

      Isn’t believing in God a little like believing in Santa Claus since you are beleiving in someone without proof of their existence? No… the reason we don’t believe in Santa Claus is not because there is an absence of evidence FOR the existence of Santa Clause, but rather that there is a mountain of evidence against His existence. There is no flying reindeer colony or giant toy factory at the North Pole etc… In the same way, we have very good reasons to disbelieve in the many false gods that have been worshipped, but conversely, we don’t have ANY good reasons to think tjat the Christian God doesn’t exist. There are also VERY good reasons to think that He does exist.

      So in conclusion… Dawkins quote is not based on sound logic and should not be used by atheists as a basis for defending their position.

      Reply
  2. John B. Moore says:

    The point of this atheist argument is that the Christian God seems no different from all the myriad other gods. You have to address this key point, or else the atheists will keep on using this argument. Don’t miss the point! You have to explain why the Christian God is a whole different nature than Zeus and Odin etc.

    Reply
    • John Guidone says:

      John, There are numerous available books and articles written as to why the Christian God is different and believed to be the one true God by Christian theists and apologists. It appears you are employing intellectual dishonesty in asking your question and drawing a comparison to Zeus. If you had said Buddha or Mohammed, then your point could be taken a bit more seriously and if you truly haven’t already read what the difference is. You have now supplied the writer with another category of stuff atheists say.

      Reply
    • Rob Hatch says:

      Then why not ask that question, instead of coming across as an arrogant jerk who is trying to derail any conversation? There’s a perfectly reasonable answer to that question, but if someone puts it this way, the conversation goes nowhere.

      Reply
    • Elijah says:

      It is because the Christian God is omnipresent, and created the universe. There is a lot of difference between gods and God.

      Reply
  3. Tom Rafferty says:

    You miss the main point of the “almost an atheist” argument. A Christian rejects ALL other religions but accepts Christianity. Why? In most cases, it is because of indoctrination. The statement from an atheist to a Christian that “I only belief in one less God than you” is designed to get the Christian to THINK about why he or she rejects the others but accepts Christianity. If the Christian really gets this intent of the question, the seeds of critical thinking are planted, and he/she should see that perhaps more investigation is in order. Why is this important? Because, objectively all religions are probably human attempts for comfort and to explain a harmful reality.

    Reply
    • Abrondon Jones says:

      Well stated, Tom. but the mirror of critical thinking could also be turned on your last sentence, as under atheism reality cannot be described as harmful. Value judgments are illusory, and even the idea of anything being objective must also be an illusion. But the concept of illusion itself is also troubling under an atheistic reality, because who or what is being fooled? Combinations of dead atoms inexplicably constrained by blind laws of physics of random origins fooling other combinations of dead atoms? And to what end?

      A further problem is that for anything to be known as objectively true would require that the laws of logic are universal, abstract, and invariant, since if the laws of logic could have been otherwise or might be different elsewhere in the universe it would seem to follow that nothing is truly knowable. I’m not sure atheism can justify those criteria. But atheism, like all world views, is a claim to knowledge. Both atheism and theism rely on universal, abstract, and invariant truths to make claims to knowledge, but only theism has a justification for those truths, namely God.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “But atheism, like all world views, is a claim to knowledge”

        No, it’s a belief position. It makes no knowledge claims at all, it simply refers to a belief position on the existence of God.

        “For anything to be known as objectively true would require that the laws of logic are universal, abstract, and invariant”

        If that is the case then the existence of God is irrelevant – if the laws of logic couldn’t have been any other way then you’re saying this is the way they would be with or without a God.

        Reply
    • John Guidone says:

      Similar to John Moore’s comment with a spin. The you’re almost a atheist, theist, polytheist etc. whatever is not an argument and does not foster critical thinking. They are meaningless assertions and a form of red herring type fallacy ( clouding the issue/ misdirection) which does not advance the pursuit of seeking or discovering the truth of a worldview or validity of the worldview’s truth claims.

      Reply
    • Louie says:

      Tom: I think its great that people ruffle feathers, and make others defend their position. Do you really have to ask why a Christian rejects all other religions? What is the most important commandment? Jesus himself tells us that it is to love God with your whole heart, soul and mind. That means God, not all gods.

      Reply
    • Shannon R Gerdel says:

      Tom,

      With all due respect, I disagree with you. The idea and the statement you made:

      “A Christian rejects ALL other religions but accepts Christianity. Why? In most cases, it is because of indoctrination.”

      The more people I meet, the more I realize that most people are Christians because of an experience, not indoctrination. I can see why it seems that way to you, but most of us, even if we were raised in a church, didn’t come to know Christ because our parents told us we had to. We made a conscious decision to follow Christ due to an experience. An experience can’t be indoctrinated.

      If the idea that people become indoctrinated was true, then we wouldn’t see young men and willing to just walk away from their alleged faith once they leave the home.

      Just my personal opinion, doesn’t mean a thing.

      Reply
  4. David says:

    Stuff Christians Say: God’s ways are higher than ours. I’m not saying Chritians are stupid, I’m just saying some of the things they say are stupid. Using this dodge to excuse themselves from explaining such biblical atrocities as the Caananite genocides needs to end. And by the way, you’re not just almost an athiest, your almost a polytheist too. If Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one how does the son sit at the right hand of the father? Confusing. This too must be a mystery.

    Reply
    • John Guidone says:

      Atheists choose to believe in self , science and have been known to worship other humans as idols while rejecting a supernatural higher transcending power. As God replacements then one could say you are almost a theist, we just believe in one eternal perfect being who is the first cause. (see the authors conclusion in his post)

      Reply
    • Louie says:

      Why do you believe that God killed all the caananites? Were you there? Do you believe the part where God kills thousands of Isrealites too?

      Reply
      • toby says:

        I believe your good book says that your god killed the entire world in a flood except for a family with a zoo on a boat.

        Reply
      • David says:

        Oh, no Louie, I don’t believe any of it. I just get tired of Christians telling me I should. And by the way, does it in your mind somehow make it better if god is an equal opportunity genocidal maniac? You seem to imply that god also killing Israelites kind of balances the scales.

        Reply
        • Norm says:

          Re: “. . .by the way, does it in your mind somehow make it better if god is an equal opportunity genocidal maniac?”

          Does God, if he exists and created life, have the right to take life? Would he, if he is the source of moral absolutes, have the right to judge immoral behavior of the people he created?

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            Well when someone kills their child we don’t tend to give them a free pass because they ‘created their son/daughter’s life’. So by that logic I’d say no on the ‘right to take life’ argument.

            Regarding moral absolutes, by definition if they’re absolutes – objectively true – then they can’t be subject to a particular being. Either they exist independently of anything else or, if they have a being as their source, they aren’t actually absolutes.

            Finally, if you think you can judge the moral character of, say, Allah – and certainly William Lane Craig does, unfavourably – then surely we can also judge the moral character of the Christian God.

          • Beck says:

            Obviously God “killing” someone is different than a mom and dad killing their child. Maybe a better thought experiment for you would be like a man creating a vacuum cleaner, surely that man has the right to destroy it.
            An important note to consider is that God doesn’t “kill” someone in the sense.You think (permanently) they simply go to another plane of existence so another way to think of it is (if you still want to use parents and children) if parents move the child to the time out room.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Beck: “Maybe a better thought experiment for you would be like a man creating a vacuum cleaner, surely that man has the right to destroy it”

            If that cleaner could think and feel, experience pain and fear, then I would say the man would have substantial obligations to that machine.

            I think the analogy to a parent and their children was pretty good actually. We’re comparing humans and humans, rather than humans and a piece of metal and plastic.

            And you’re analogy of the ‘time-out’ room is lacking somewhat if some of those people went to hell. The time out room is so the kids can calm down and think about what they’ve done before returning to the rest of the house. It’s not a place they stay in permanent punishment.

          • Beck says:

            For your first part I would point out to you that even when you gave the vacuum those attributes you didn’t say he shouldn’t be able to do it, and in the end even when you don’t give it those attributes to you they really aren’t that different because they(people and vacuums) are both just a complex arrangement of atoms.

            For the second part all analogies are going ng to be slightly lacking, but in the end it comes down to beginning philosophy I believe God is going to be a perfect judge and you dont. (If my statements are difficult to understand or non sensical I apologize it is too difficult to proof read on my phone)

            BTW I’ve alway been curious…did you get that name from “Bioshock”?

          • Andy Ryan says:

            ” you didn’t say he shouldn’t be able to do it”

            OK, I’ll say it now – if you create sentient life then you have responsibilities towards it including not killing it.

            “even when you don’t give it those attributes to you they really aren’t that different because they(people and vacuums) are both just a complex arrangement of atoms.”

            What do you mean by ‘just’? How does that make something less just because it’s made of atoms? And yes they’re completely different – surely only a sociopath doesn’t see the difference between a sentient being and a non-sentient one? I’m sure that’s not you.

            “in the end it comes down to beginning philosophy I believe God is going to be a perfect judge and you don’t.”

            This strikes me as similar to ‘my country right or wrong’, or ‘If the President does it then by definition it isn’t illegal’. If someone present me with a character doing something that seems awful to me, and I’m told that the character is a perfect judge then I’ve got three options:

            1) The character isn’t a perfect judge – he’s doing something awful because he’s awful
            2) The account isn’t true – the character didn’t do that thing
            3) My own judgement is off.

            Now option 3 could be true here, but then if I can’t trust my own judgement then the whole ‘argument from morality’ falls apart.

            “Bioshock”

            No, I was Christened Andrew Ryan!

          • Beck says:

            “if you create sentient life then you have responsibilities towards it including not killing it.”

            That’s just your opinion based on your philosophical starting point though, and that’s all I’m trying to get at. My main focus is just to show that its rather futile to argue these things because philosophical starting points is all its about.
            ” 3) My own judgement is off.

            Now option 3 could be true here, but then if I can’t trust my own judgement then the whole ‘argument from morality’ falls apart.”
            I think this point is important so can you elaborate on what “argument from reality” means to you.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “That’s just your opinion based on your philosophical starting point though”

            Sure, but equally so is “If God created men he should be able to kill them”. And further, I’d say my opinion is one that most Christians accept in other situations. Many (most?) Christians reject “It’s her baby” as a justification for abortion. Though I guess you’d say that was because ultimately the baby was created by God, not the mother. That aside, we accept that owning a pet or being a parent involves responsibilities – it’s not just ‘The boss gets to say what goes, whatever’.

            “I think this point is important so can you elaborate on what “argument from morality” means to you.”

            When Christians make the argument from morality, a key part of their argument is that we all accept certain things are wrong, like the holocaust. Apologists will say “If there’s no God then you can’t say the holocaust was wrong”. They’re appealing to my sense of right and wrong about certain things. If I can’t trust the revulsion I feel over biblical genocide, then why should my revulsion over the holocaust be evidence for God?

          • Beck says:

            You have my position rightwhen you said “Though I guess you’d say that was because ultimately the baby was created by God,”. Even if you don’t think I’m logical I would at least like people to see I’m logically consistent. As for what you said about “argument from morality” I would completely agree, I actually believe that as one of the poorest arguments in the arsenal (don’t tell anyone I said that) 😉

            That being said I would go with option 3, but that’s because I trust what I believe to be God’s judgement over my own.

        • Louie says:

          No more tired than Christians do of you telling us we shouldn’t. If it bothers you so much, then I question why you’d even come to this site.

          Reply
      • Gloria says:

        if that is your belief then we should not believe anything unless we were there to witness it. Don’t read a newspaper or article in a magazine and believe it if you did not personally witness it.

        Reply
        • Louie says:

          You missed the point. The point I was trying to make is that he seems to believe without question that God killed all the canaanites. Was he there for the canaanite part and not the rest of biblical history? Why believe that, and not the part where he split the red sea and that Jesus is God? If you believe all that then you realize that everything is all His, and He can do whatever he wants with it, whether it hurts your feelings or not.

          Reply
    • Juan says:

      As a Christian, I don’t have a problem with Joseph killing the Canaanites and neither do you, David. I don’t have a problem with it because God told him to. You, as an atheist, don’t have a problem with it because THE UNIVERSE JUST DOESN’T CARE!!!

      Reply
  5. Andy Ryan says:

    I’m not sure I’ve ever heard this argument framed as ‘You’re almost an atheist’. What I have heard is people saying “We both reject the existence of thousands of Gods, I just go one further than you”. It’s a shame that the author doesn’t link to any examples of atheists making the argument he actually attacks.

    “It’s like saying someone who doesn’t eat chicken is a vegetarian towards chicken. Ever heard anyone say that? Me neither.”

    Yet you’d know what they meant if they said it. Some people say: “I don’t eat meat for ethical reasons but I do eat fish”. If such a person then said: “Hey, why don’t YOU also eat fish, what’s wrong with you?”, then I think it would be fair enough to reply: “Well, think of all the reasons you have against eating chicken, beef, lamb etc, and you’ll have a clue why I don’t eat fish”.

    The point is that if you ask Christians why they don’t believe in Allah, Zeus, Ganesh etc, their reasons are generally pretty similar to the reasons atheists have for not believing in the Christian God.

    However, I avoid this argument myself and I can sum up why much quicker than the long article above. A theist might have concluded that there has to be a God, and then they concluded it is the Christian God. This would be similar to concluding JFK was shot and then deducing a culprit. It would be silly in the latter case for someone else to say “I don’t think anyone shot him – we both reject billions of people as being the culprit, I believe one fewer people shot JFK than you did”.

    Reply
  6. Michael White says:

    “The point is that if you ask Christians why they don’t believe in Allah, Zeus, Ganesh etc, their reasons are generally pretty similar to the reasons atheists have for not believing in the Christian God.”

    Andy, would you mind clarifying as to what these reasons might be? Specifically, what are some of the reasons that Christians give, in your experience, for “why they don’t believe in Allah, Zeus, Ganesh etc,” and what are “the reasons atheists have for not believing in the Christian God?” Thanks much!

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Michael, how’s about you try answering my questions on the other thread first. You’re long on questions, short on acknowledging when your questions are answered and even shorter on answering other people’s questions.

      Thanks much!

      Reply
  7. Michael White says:

    “Michael, how’s about you try answering my questions on the other thread first. You’re long on questions, short on acknowledging when your questions are answered and even shorter on answering other people’s questions.”

    Andy, this is a different thread, a different conversation. As far as I know, I have as much right to interact here as you and I will do so as I see fit. If you do not want to engage me, that is your prerogative.

    However, let’s get the facts straight. You failed to answer my first question, relating to your presuppositional biases, and my second question, as to your view of truth (truth, by the way, is not utterly homogeneous as you would have us believe), on the “Investigating Easter: Were the Disciples Fooled by an Imposter?” thread, your claims to the contrary not withstanding.

    You followed that up with a couple of unwarranted insults, implying that my motives and methods are suspect, with your assertion that “Michael, you’re trying to drag me down a rabbit hole,” and your comparison of me to “that huckster lawyer in The Simpsons.” Then, after claiming that “People who have solid evidence on their side don’t tend to need a philosophical debate on the nature of truth,” (which I suppose means that *you* feel that *you* do not need justify *your* view of truth, in the context of a conversation about truth), you demanded that I supply *you* with “strong evidence for the supernatural” with the thoughtful caveat that you would “consider it.”

    Now, in this thread, you have refused my simple request for clarification of one of your unsupported assertions and been rude about it to boot.

    Seriously? I’m long on questions and short on everything else? I have asked you a grand total of three questions in two threads, which, in essence, are: (1) “How can *one* (I am substituting “one” here so that you do not mistakenly think that I am accusing you of something) conclude a supernatural cause to an observed effect if *one* rules out the supernatural, in advance?” (and, so we’re clear, I am not interested in whether you think you did this or not); (2) What is your view of truth? (i.e., What is truth and how do you know it?), and; (3) Could you clarify your claim that “…if you ask Christians why they don’t believe in Allah, Zeus, Ganesh etc, their reasons are generally pretty similar to the reasons atheists have for not believing in the Christian God” by providing some representative examples? You have failed to address any of the three. In fact, you have made no real effort to engage in any meaningful way, whatsoever.

    Now, as I stated in the other thread, I can certainly understand why you don’t want to answer my questions. But your failure in this respect is hardly my responsibility, no matter how strenuously you claim otherwise. Furthermore, your accusations regarding my motivations, methods, and behavior are not only unfounded and inappropriate, but also disingenuous.

    The problem here is not me and my questions, rather, it’s your bankrupt worldview, of which, you need to repent. Repent and turn to the God that you know exists, the God who created you and gives you life each day, even as you rail against Him. I am not your enemy, Andy. I am praying for you.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “You failed to answer my first question”

      No, I answered it. And you didn’t answer mine. When you’re ready to answer I will happily further the discussion with you.

      “The problem here is not me and my questions, rather, it’s your bankrupt worldview, of which, you need to repent”

      Michael, I forgive you for your presumptuousness for claiming to know my worldview and your rudeness too. Please have a good day.

      Reply
  8. Michael White says:

    “Michael, I forgive you for your presumptuousness for claiming to know my worldview and your rudeness too.”

    Andy, I am not trying to be rude. I am, however, trying to get your attention.

    This is not a game. It’s about souls and their disposition in eternity. People are perishing in sin daily thanks to vain conceit and clever arguments. And, unfortunately, they are destined for Hell. “For the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23) and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). Finally, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murders and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death,” (Revelation 21:8).

    I genuinely care about you, Andy. You may not believe me, but it’s true. I care enough to tell you the truth, even though you find it offensive. I am not your enemy. Rather, I may be be the best friend you’ve ever had.

    I have not presumed anything. I never claimed to know your worldview. I have, however, read enough of your posts on this blog to know what your worldview is not. You deny Almighty God, the uncreated Creator and Sustainer of all things outside His own being. You deny the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, God come to earth in human flesh to die for the sins of His people. You are, therefore, an unbeliever and must hold an unbeliever’s worldview.

    The Word of God states that, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’” (Psalms 14:1) and that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in the person of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:2-3). So, according to God’s revealed Word, the unbeliever is a fool who possesses no real wisdom or knowledge. In other words, the unbeliever’s worldview is bankrupt. Hence, your worldview is bankrupt, Andy. This is not my view; it is God’s view.

    I understand that you will find this offensive. I found it offensive, too, before God, in His mercy, granted me repentance and faith.

    Today is Good Friday, Andy. This is the day that Christians commemorate the death of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

    He is rich in mercy. Turn to Him. Ask Him to grant you repentance and faith. Ask Him to save you from your sins. I am praying for you.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      I don’t find it offensive, Michael, I just don’t think you’re right.

      Any God who sends people to hell for not believing in Him is not a God worth worshipping. And I’d say the same about an Islamic God who sent YOU to hell for not believing in Allah.

      Reply
    • TGM says:

      ‘But God demonstrates His own love toward us…’

      Nothing that you quoted resembles love, Michael. For my own part, I would never abandon anyone I love to eternal torment or isolation, even if they did reject me. But that is what you claim your god does. Perhaps this god should go back to his own holy pamphlet and reread 1 Corinthians instead of Revelations.

      Reply
  9. Michael White says:

    “Any God who sends people to hell for not believing in Him is not a God worth worshipping.”

    No one goes to Hell for not worshiping God, Andy. They go to Hell for their sin. “For the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23).

    And we have all sinned. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).

    That’s why we need a savior. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8).

    There is only one God, Andy, and He is completely unique and other than us. Today is Easter, the day that Christians commemorate the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, whereby He proved that He is God and, in so doing, defeated sin and death. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).

    Ask Him to grant you repentance and faith, Andy. I am praying for you. Happy Easter!

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Michael, the bible makes it pretty clear that not believing is the unforgivable sin, so my point stands.

      You pray for me, I’ll think for you. Happy Eostre.

      Reply
    • TGM says:

      Honestly Michael, asking me to describe love in this context is sophomoric. I don’t have to produce a universally satisfying, comprehensive definition of love to declare that love is NOT torture and/or eternal abandonment. And I can say with confidence that nearly everyone would agree, such that this requires no further justification.

      But let me try this description of love. Cited from your own resource materials, you’ll surely find it acceptable…
      4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (From the NIV, which may not be your preferred version, but is close enough)

      ‘Always protects’ and ‘keeps no record of wrongs’ are particularly interesting here. Notice, too, the use of the unconditional ‘ALWAYS’

      So we have this…
      A) 1 Corinthians (god approved) tells us that love ‘always protects’ is ‘not easily angered’ ‘perseveres’ and ‘keeps no record of wrongs’
      B) Romans 5:8 (also god approved), tells us that he loves us.
      C) Thus, by this god’s own definition of love, he does not keep score, always protects us, always perseveres, etc.

      Your Conclusion…
      D) We’re going to be abandoned and/or tortured for all eternity by someone who loves us.

      Care to reconsider?

      Reply
      • toby says:

        Honestly Michael, asking me to describe love in this context is sophomoric.

        I’ve come to think of this as the apologist’s retreat. It’s like they bring their queen out in a game of chess and then when things look shaky they pull it back behind the pawns to safety. I think we could call this “philosophical dilution” or maybe coin a new fallacy. The “fallacy of dilution”. When your position is questioned to the point you either don’t know how to respond or your philosophy has no answer, you step back and toss it into the large sea of “philosophy” and hope the question gets diluted away or drowns by picking at definitions and minutiae.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          Toby, I call it ‘Going Meta’. If they fail to demonstrate their position using evidence, they’ll turn to meta questions about what ‘truth’ or ‘evidence’ even mean in the first place. This is what presuppositional apologetics seems to be for – to argue that God is needed to even make logical arguments. It’s a pretty desperate strategy, and a sign that all their other arguments have failed.

          Reply
          • toby says:

            Nice. I think that’s entirely what the moral argument is. When in doubt . . . ask or tell them they can’t define good and try to derail the conversation. Which it often does.

  10. Michael White says:

    “Michael, the bible makes it pretty clear that not believing is the unforgivable sin, so my point stands.”

    Your understanding on this critical issue is simply wrong. According to the Word of God, there is one unforgivable sin, and Matthew 12:31-32 makes it crystal clear that failure to worship God is not it:

    “Therefore, I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”

    So, actually, your point does not stand. Rather, it fails outright. Honestly, you really should make an effort to better understand what you criticize so vigorously. Perhaps, actually read the Bible? That would be a good place to start.

    As for thinking, in general, I would like to know how you account for logic, reason, induction, morality, and consciousness (the foundations of human thought, if you will) within your atheistic worldview. And, regarding your worldview, I will let you speak for yourself:

    “I’m an atheist, and nothing screams inside me that this is wrong. I don’t believe I’m here because a God wanted to put me here, but that doesn’t mean there are no answers to ‘Why?’”
    (Andy Ryan, March 7, 2016, Comment #2, “The Forbidden Fruit of Atheism; What question they cannot ask?”,
    http://crossexamined.org/the-forbidden-fruit-of-atheism-what-question-they-cannot-ask/).

    Finally, your mockery not withstanding, I will continue to pray for you, Andy. With respect to you thinking for me, however, I rather hope that you will attempt to do some better thinking for yourself, instead.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Michael, that quote from me wasn’t answering the question ‘What is your worldview’, and it doesn’t sum up my worldview. And denying the existing of God can certainly be interpreted as blasphemy, so I disagree that you refute my point. Certainly many apologists state that non believers go to hell – you seem to be implying it by constantly telling me that I’m the subject of your prayers.

      Can you give me an example of something specific that you think you need God to account for, and then can you explain exactly how a God can account for it. Eg, by logic do you mean how do I account for the fact that A=A? If so, why does that need accounting for? A, by definition, =A. What else do you think it should equal? That’s a self-accounted for rule. And as I already explained, I don’t think a God can explain or account for morality anyway.

      Reply
  11. Michael White says:

    “Honestly Michael, asking me to describe love in this context is sophomoric.”

    Well, that’s one opinion. I am guessing that you are an atheist, TGM. If I am wrong, please let me know.

    In the meantime, I certainly appreciate the picture of love that you provided, though I wouldn’t call it a definition, per se. You gave a brief accounting of what *human* love looks like in a Biblical worldview, for which, the Christian can give warrant. However, my point was really more along the lines of “How do you account for love in an atheistic worldview?”

    And, what’s with the moral indignation? For the Christian, God is the very standard of morality. However, in order for you to judge God, *you* become the standard of morality? Why should I accept that? Moreover, I’d be interested to know how you get morality, at all, given an atheistic worldview?

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “For the Christian, God is the very standard of morality”

      You’re judging God to be the standard of morality. You’re still relying on your own judgment or reasoning to reach that assessment. If your own judgment cannot be trusted, how can we say that you’re right about God being the standard of morality?

      And Euthyphro’s Dilemma still strikes me as an undefeated argument against Divine Command Theory, so ‘God is the standard’ doesn’t bring theists any closer than atheists to accounting for morality.

      Reply
    • TGM says:

      ”I am guessing that you are an atheist, TGM. If I am wrong, please let me know.”

      Michael, my worldview is actually not relevant here (see below). I do happen to characterize myself as an atheist, but please understand that atheism is not my worldview. Atheism is solely my position on the question of whether I have sufficient reason to accept theistic claims (which I don’t, ergo… atheist). My worldview incorporates atheism, but is not itself atheism. Is your worldview properly characterized as ”Allah denier”? Same thing.

      ”However, my point was really more along the lines of “How do you account for love in an atheistic worldview?”

      Andy and Toby (thanks guys!) already explained why I dismissed the question as you asked it. But here is another reason… I did not need to deny a deity in order to demonstrate your fallacy. In this regard, my position is god-neutral. A loving god, by your own god-approved definition of love, cannot abandon or torture anyone for eternity. Yet you claim he does. I reject this, and said so.

      “How do you account for love in an atheistic worldview?”

      Well, there is a cascade of biochemical events that result in pleasurable neurological feedback. We give it the name: ‘love’. Sure, the experiences and duties of love are complicated, but we don’t need to shuffle off to philosophical navel-gazing land to have this discussion.

      “You gave a brief accounting of what *human* love looks like in a Biblical worldview…“

      So my citation is human love and yours is god’s love? Do you know what special pleading is?

      “Moreover, I’d be interested to know how you get morality, at all, given an atheistic worldview?“

      Actually I am withholding my decision on the existence of morality – for now. I often waver between “morality is a subjective human construction“ and “objective morality exists, but is an emergent feature of genetic and cultural evolution.“

      “what’s with the moral indignation?“

      I would not claim it’s _moral_ indignation, but yeah… I get angry when condescended to by people suggesting that those who share my beliefs will be tortured, and deserve it.

      Cheers!

      Reply
  12. Michael White says:

    “I think we could call this “philosophical dilution” or maybe coin a new fallacy. The “fallacy of dilution”.”

    How do you get a logical fallacy out of a request for clarification, Toby? That’s ambitious. And how do you have any discourse, whatsoever, without philosophy?

    Your disdain for the notion of examining philosophical foundations is telling. The only decent reason I can imagine that one would be unwilling to examine and justify his philosophical foundations, in the context of a discussion on matters of philosophy (i.e., worldviews) is that those foundations are known to be unsound.

    Call it fear. Now, this sort of reason typically masquerades as any number of transparent excuses, ad hominem attacks, verbal gymnastics, cries of foul, and the like, but, in the end, it boils down to desperation at being called to defend an indefensible position. I suppose I would be afraid, too.

    Reply
    • toby says:

      And how do you have any discourse, whatsoever, without philosophy?
      See what you did there? This is a recognizable and common pattern often associated with these types of discussions where when footing gets tricky a participant retreats from difficult questions or points by devolving into “how do you know that?” questions or making the “you have no basis for that” comments. Here is another one where you say that everything is philosophy so you can accuse people of being ignorant of or disliking philosophy.

      Your disdain for the notion of examining philosophical foundations is telling. The only decent reason I can imagine that one would be unwilling to examine and justify his philosophical foundations, in the context of a discussion on matters of philosophy (i.e., worldviews) is that those foundations are known to be unsound.
      My disdain is for keeping to the subject at hand and changing it when convenient to “foundations”.

      Call it fear. Now, this sort of reason typically masquerades as any number of transparent excuses, ad hominem attacks, verbal gymnastics, cries of foul, and the like, but, in the end, it boils down to desperation at being called to defend an indefensible position. I suppose I would be afraid, too.
      You don’t consider this an ad hominem attack? Basically calling someone a coward and desperate fool?

      Reply
  13. Michael White says:

    “Toby, I call it ‘Going Meta’. If they fail to demonstrate their position using evidence, they’ll turn to meta questions about what ‘truth’ or ‘evidence’ even mean in the first place.”

    “When in doubt . . . ask or tell them they can’t define good and try to derail the conversation.”

    You guys are not getting it. Any discussion of evidence (and truth) presupposes logic, reason, induction, morality, and consciousness, at least. But you guys can’t account for any of those things from your atheistic worldview (foundational assumptions about reality, a.k.a. presuppositions—that’s a worldview). Instead, you complain that I’m not simply *granting* you atheistic reasoning. Complaints, slogans, and clever monikers to imagined thought crimes (of others, I notice you don’t look too carefully at your own “thinking”), that’s all you’ve got. If you could justify your foundations, you would. But, you do not.

    Here’s my question to each of you—“If the God of the Bible were proven to be imminent and true to your satisfaction, would you worship Him?” If your answer is no, then lack of evidence is not the problem.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      ““If the God of the Bible were proven to be imminent and true to your satisfaction, would you worship Him?” If your answer is no, then lack of evidence is not the problem.”

      Is this the God of the Bible that the Westboro Baptist Church worships, who they say ‘Hates f@gs’? Or the one my mother believes in, who doesn’t have a problem with gays? Or the God of the Bible worshipped by 19th Century slavers, who they quoted to justify slavery? Or the God of Wilburforce, who was against slavery?

      There are several thousand sects of Christianity in America alone. Some worship a God who I could admire, many don’t.

      And why would believing in a God automatically mean one should worship him? Would you worship Allah? I wouldn’t.

      “But you guys can’t account for any of those things from your atheistic worldview”

      Who says? I don’t think a God can account for morality, but I don’t try to turn every single discussion of the evidence for a deity into an argument about God and morality. The presuppositionalist does this when they’re losing an argument.

      Reply
    • TGM says:

      “Any discussion of evidence (and truth) presupposes logic, reason, induction, morality, and consciousness, at least.”

      I disagree on this also. The things I need to accept axiomatically are the following:
      1) I exist.
      2) I experience something that is not me.
      3) I can learn something about the “not me”.
      4) I can make predictions about the “not me”.
      I like to think of these as “the universe is playing fair”

      From there, truth, logic, reason, etc. can all be derived through experience.

      Reply
  14. A doubting Christian says:

    What an embarrassing conversation from a Christian perspective. Michael is touchy and defensive, distorts questions without answering them fully and resorts to cries of, ‘I’m praying for you’. Meanwhile the atheists are plesent and seem to be interested in a friendly honest debate. I hope this isn’t Christian apologetics at its finest.

    Reply

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