Reasons 1 - 10
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Author:  Chris OConnor [ Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Reasons 1 - 10

Reasons 1 - 10

Please use this thread for discussing Reasons 1 - 10:

1. My god is obvious.

2. Almost everybody on Earth is religious.

3. Faith is a good thing.

4. Archaeological discoveries prove that my god exists.

5. Only my god can make me feel significant.

6. Atheism is just another religion.

7. Evolution is bad.

8. Our world is too beautiful to be an accident.

9. My god created the universe.

10. Believing in my god makes me happy.

Author:  Penelope [ Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:58 pm ]
Post subject: 

1. My god is obvious.

No - certainly not obvious - there are many tragedies in life which make it appear that a benign being can not possibly exist.

2. Almost everybody on Earth is religious.

In history men do seem to have religion throughout the earth, but with the growth of scientific knowledge, this is less so.

3. Faith is a good thing.

Faith is necessary to some people, neither a good nor a bad thing....just necessary, otherwise, one would be so full of fear, one would not be able to function.

4. Archaeological discoveries prove that my god exists.

Archaeological discoveries only prove that religion has existed....

5. Only my god can make me feel significant.

Because one is conscious, one knows one is significant, but not necessarily important.

6. Atheism is just another religion.

Atheism is just another way of being....or looking at life....None of us really know what it is all about. It is just as wrong of an atheist to claim that there is absolutely no such thing as God as it is to claim to know that there is. We cannot absolutely know....we cannot prove either.

7. Evolution is bad.

Evolution is a way of looking at what has happened - neither good nor bad.

8. Our world is too beautiful to be an accident.

Our World is very beautiful.....but very cruel and in many ways corrupt.

9. My god created the universe.

How can we say that something which science seems to say is infinite has ever been created? Created means a beginning....and therefore an end.

10. Believing in my god makes me happy.

Believing in no beginning and no end makes me feel 'satisfied', but sometimes I am happy and sometimes unhappy. This is just the human dilemma

Author:  Flyboy [ Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:14 pm ]
Post subject:  A few opening comments about the first couple of reasons

Number one, were I to attempt something of this scope I would be meticulously careful with my facts. Mr. Harrison alludes to Islam and Christianity in his first chapter stating that if the "Gods" of those huge religions were so self evident why are there so many dis-believers in each.

To begin with the God of Abraham IS the God of both Islam and Christianity. If one looks back through history it becomes apparent that The Jews, the Muslims, and the Christians ALL worship the same God. The divergence occurred at the birth of Christ and six hundred years later at the visions of Muhammad. Virtually everyone on the planet that believes in a single God believes in the same one.

Author:  Flyboy [ Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:17 pm ]
Post subject: 

Secondly, any premise that attempts to explain God in terms of our reality is trying to mix apples and oranges. God could no more be OF this universe than a carpenter could be a part of the house he just built. The carpenter having finished his creation could then go into the house but that would not make him a part of the house itself. Proof, as we know it, is of the senses or of science and the God we worship has to stand outside of that universe or how could he be God. What proof of the senses would a skeptic accept?

Another glaring issue that jumps out at me is in Mr. Harrison's book is his continuous over simplification of issues that are anything but simple.

He maligns faith as the antithesis of critical thinking instead of considering that not everything in this universe falls within in the purview and abilities of the human mind.

Author:  Penelope [ Mon Jul 21, 2008 2:23 pm ]
Post subject: 

Flyboy said:
The divergence occurred at the birth of Christ and six hundred years later at the visions of Muhammad. Virtually everyone on the planet that believes in a single God believes in the same one.

I think that perhaps the first divergence was when Abraham begat Ishmael by the Egyptian servant girl, and then begat Isaac by his wife Sarah. God, in Genesis, is reputed to have said that he would make great nations rise from both of these sons of Abraham. So the Arabs came from Ishmael and the Jews came from Isaac and according to Genesis, God said, that these two races would always be at war until the end of time.

And they certainly are...

Author:  hegel1066 [ Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Believe it or not, this is only for the preface and Ch. 1:

From the inception of the book, Mr. Harrison seems to delineate his strawman: an uneducated, uncritical person who rarely if ever questions the historical roots and narrative arches of their own faith. I joined partially because I saw that this was one of the next selections on the reading list, and I chose to play the role of apologist, since Chris O'Connor apprised me that most people here are either atheists or agnostics. I refuse, however, to defend the non-thinker.

Mr. Harrison says explicitly in the forward, "Most Christians I have encountered in the world, for example, don't give much though to the works of St. Thomas Aquinas or C. S. Lewis." (p.13). If that's the case, then I would argue that you've been talking to the wrong Christians, that you've been lead to believe Christianity is a religion of accepting lemmings just based on your experience. As a Christian of an admittedly highly liberal and heterodox tradition, I refuse to let the name of Christianity be co-opted by dogmatists, creationists, those who would refuse the scientific advancements that prove much of the Bible false. He goes on to say, "If any gods are real, I sincerely want to know them." (p. 19.) If you want to know them, Mr. Harrison, I politely suggest that you make yourself a student of comparative religion and religious history. (It seems to a great extent that you have already done this.) If you wish to "know" them to any greater extent, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed

Author:  madelinegauthier [ Sat Jul 26, 2008 9:19 am ]
Post subject:  A reply to Penelope's Post

I think when you stated that people can't find God to be obvious to them just because of tragedies, you may have failed to consider contrasting reasoning. What I mean to say is that there are a great number of people who do feel the God they worship is obvious to them, in spite of all the horrors of this world. I think by saying what you did, you're failing to take into consideration what many believe, and what many have pondered and studied for years.

I suppose these are just my thoughts... I only want to present another point of view on that subject, and to defend that way of thinking.

Author:  hegel1066 [ Sat Jul 26, 2008 10:00 am ]
Post subject:  Reply to Madeline:


I did not mention anywhere that, because of tragic earthly events, that God can or should seem more or less apparent to people.

It seemed fairly apparent to me that the author, when he used the word "obvious" was speaking of sensorily obvious - immediately perceptible with one of the five senses. I'm not sure I know many people that can honest say (literally) that they SEE God, or SMELL God, or can TOUCH God...

Of course, what you can do is *intuit* God's immediate presence. That's all well and good. But intuition doesn't seem like one of the sensing means that the author is speaking of.

-John (hegel1066)

Author:  Penelope [ Sat Jul 26, 2008 1:13 pm ]
Post subject: 

Madeline quoted something I had said, and Hegel answered and took responsibility....thank you Hegel.

I have encountered spirituality - an intuition or a sense of 'the Presence' various times during my life. Sometimes on joyous occasions - at the birth of my daughter for instance.

My first child died at birth....and then I also had a sense of the presence...just upholding me.

How can we explain this? Just that in times of sorrow, it is upholding and in times of gives us a 'transcendent expression' of our joy. These are my own poor words....not borrowed or plagiarised....but, of course, we can always be dubbed delusional.....

We can only attempt to be truthful and be prepared for the ridicule. xxx

Author:  hegel1066 [ Sat Jul 26, 2008 2:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Penelope:

Penelope -

You're right. It is sometimes in joyous exultation and ponderous meditation that we feel an intuited presence, which, for me, is both a part of me and separate from me.

I'm sorry to hear of your tragic loss. When I was four years old, my mother experienced the same thing, and I remember her walking around our house, half-disoriented, half-stultified for weeks thereafter.

And again, you are right that it "holds us up." One of my favorite theologians, the existentialist Protestant Paul Tillich, says that God is "the Ultimate Ground of Being" - the psychic and emotional sieve that all of human has to make due with. A lot of people point to the idea that physiological phenomenon can account for feelings of exultation and joy - a rush of endorphines, say. As if that made the feeling any less tangible.

Your "poor words" - our poor words - are all that we can offer in hortatory praise to This Cosmic Chorus of voices. And if anyone ever ridicules you for your conclusions, feel sorry that they haven't reached some of deeper, meaningful conclusions that you obviously alread have.

-John (hegel1066)

Author:  hegel1066 [ Sun Jul 27, 2008 1:24 am ]
Post subject:  Review of Chapter 3: "Faith Is a Good Thing":

In this chapter as in the first, it seems to this reader that the author sets up an easy definition of faith, and then uses that as a scapegoat. Early in the chapter, Mr. Harrison writes, " is belief in a god that is secure and unconcerned with logic or reason." (p. 27). Well, this is only partially correct. The objects of a sophisticated faith do not totally eschew both logic and reason. It is not a responsible faithful act to say, "I don't care what the Einstein's field equations say, I refuse to believe in gravity. I have faith that gravity does not exist." These are not the words of someone of faith; they're the words of a contrarian. Faith is always, in part, answerable to logic and reason: the objects of my faith are all in accord with modern-day science (and, I hasten to add, Einstein's field equations.) The dynamic part of faith, however, does not rest in the ability of its content to be either proven or disproven. Faith is a wooly mix of person, interpersonal, communal, and cultural standards which can't be quantified (or qualified) by reason alone. The author shows that he does not understand this subtlety when he says, "I have faith in many things, too, but not in the existence of gods because there is nothing to base that faith on." (p. 27). Precisely: If you had "something to base that faith on," it would stop being faith and commence being something else: namely, scientific evidence. In short, the objects of faith cannot (or, in my opinion, should not) contradict what we know about the natural world, but the purview of faith is not science and scientific fact: the contents of faith are often those cultural, historical and religious meta-narratives that explain, console, and sometimes leave us in awe.

To contextualize what I mean here, I offer the author to look at a truer and what I would consider more "authentic" form of faith: the faith that can be found in the works of Danish existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. For Kierkegaard, to have faith is to make a trans-rational break with the rational, to connect with something more uncanny (the German here might be translated to Freud's unheimlich). So - and this is the clencher - to truly, and to say with intellectual honesty that you have faith that god exists - you must be uncertain of god's existence. Kierkegaard could never have been a Christian without this tremendous sense of existential angst. To make faith-claims about god without ever having been previously critical of those claims would be making claims in a faith that is not worth having - to borrow from Sartre, might even constitute having "bad faith." It takes no faith to believe in a lamp while it is bathing you in its light. In this same sense, to believe or have faith is to know that you have no perception or apperception of god, but still to believe in its existence. (For anyone interested in Kierkegaard, and especially his work on faith, please see especially "On Fear and Trembling" and "The Sickness Unto Death.")

It was in high school that I first read Kierkegaard, and after a century-and-a-half, he still seems to be to be one of the most profound exigetes of human faith I've yet come in contact with. Since that time, my personal set of religious beliefs have been enhanced with a strong Kierkegaardian fideism that I first got of whiff of on my first read of "On Fear and Trembling," and I cherish over and over again when I pick up anything by him.

Author:  hegel1066 [ Sun Jul 27, 2008 8:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Chapter 4: On the Merits of Archeological Evidence?

I have mentioned in previous posts that no number of natural or physical pieces of evidence could ever produce evidence for god, or evidence that one should believe in a god. No amount of NATURAL evidence can be gathered together to prove the existence of a SUPER-natural god; no amount of physical evidence can be gathered together to prove the existence of a META-physical god. (The etymology here should be a clue, but it seems that if it were a snake, it would have already bitten some people in the face.) (By the way, not all conceptions of god are either supernatural and metaphysical; mine, for example, is neither.) The author seems to realize this, too.

He spends about four pages averring that there has been no archeological evidence for any religious claim, or to support the existence of any god. The tablets of Moroni from the Mormon tradition have never been found. The Shroud of Turin has been found, but, alas, cannot stand up to the carbon-dating that says it dates more from the Middle Ages than from two thousand years ago. Let us then consider a case in, to coin a phrase, counterfactual religious archeology: What if the Shroud were carbon-dated, and were actually two thousand years old? What if the tables of Moroni were discovered in a remote digging site in New York tomorrow? What this any more verify the claims of these religions?

The obvious answer, the only intellectually honest answer is: no, of course it wouldn't. And Mr. Harrison seems to admit this himself in the last two pages of the Chapter Four. If carbon-dating proved that the Shroud really was two thousand years old, was signed by the twelve disciples, and was autographed by Jesus himself, would that bring us any closer in proving true the ascension of Jesus' body? If something bearing the exact Biblical dimensions of Noah's Arc were found, say, at the top of Mount Ararat (where at least one claimant has "discovered Noah's Arc") with documentary evidence of someone named Noah and evidence on the ship that there were a male and female of every type of animal aboard, what would that prove? All it does is prove that someone named Jesus had twelve followers who found his burial shroud important enough to sign and keep in a safe place, and that some animal-obsessed ancient Turk named Noah flirted with navigation, respectively. And that's ALL it would prove.

What, then, precisely, was the purpose of this chapter? It seems as if it might have been to just set up another foil made in scientific ignorance, just to knock it down.

-John (hegel1066)

Author:  hegel1066 [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:02 am ]
Post subject:  Atheism Really is a Religion:

In Chapter Five, the author tries to argue against the idea that atheism is a religion. Since his argument left me unconvinced, I will try to argue the other side. First, I will attempt to give an outline of what we call "religion," and then try to show why atheism fits into that mold. By calling atheism a religion, or trying to define it as such, my goal is not to denigrate it or demean its intellectual value. I simply mean that I think that, epistemologically speaking, both knowledge claims are categorically alike.

What is religion? Mr. Harrison cites a rather broad-minded definition popular in cultural anthropology: "religions are behaviors and ideas that are an important part of a culture." (p. 51.) I'm glad that the author included the words "of a culture" into this formulation, because this will be one of the lynchpins in my argument that atheism, in fact, is a religion. This definition indeed is a bit too broad: accepting it would have us believe that ancient Greek pottery, the Industrial Revolution, and the invention of the crossword puzzle are all religious artifacts. We know that religious claims deal with those things that cannot be sensed. So let's change the definition a bit: "Religion is a claim or set of claims about metaphysical premises that have social, cultural, and historical resonance within a society." If this proves unsatisfactory to the reader, we can always consider the definition in Random House's Unabridged Dictionary: "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies ... and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

So when Mr. Harrison says, "for most people, religion includes belief and atheism is, by definition, godless," (p. 51), he's only partially correct. Buddhism is a godless, but we still consider among the world's major religious traditions. Religion is constituted by an acceptance or dismissal of certain metaphysical statements. Let A be the logical claim "god or gods exist." Let ~A be its logical negation. People that believe in god will assert "A." Atheists will assert "~A." The author tries to argue that just because the atheist's religious claim is one of negation, that it's not really religious at all. But its purview (making a decision about the existence of god or gods) is religious, and so therefore is his claim. The believer makes a positive logical affirmation, and the atheist makes a negative one. This is the only difference. In the special case of agnosticism, which is not a religious claim, the person says, "I don't know what to think about A, and will therefore suspend making a judgment." Usually, an agnostic will suspend judgment because they believe they do not know enough about matters to say one way or another. (Again, I point to the etymology: agnosticism comes from the Greek suffix "a" or "ab," meaning without and "gnosis," meaning "knowledge.")

Both of the alternative definitions of religion that I gave at the end of the second paragraph hint at some sort of "societal" or "moral" code that is somehow associated with that religious belief. Let me list some that my own brand of liberal Christianity associates itself with:

- We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.

- We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance.

- We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.

- We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.

- We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.

These sound all like lofty Christian ideals to you, don't they? They seem to me like cultural mores that have been adopted as a way of life over a period of years, and are meant to be perpetuated. They certainly strike me as such. But

Author:  Robert Tulip [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 8:20 am ]
Post subject: 


Thank you very much for your interesting comments on Harrison's book. I have not yet read it but hope to. From your points it seems clear that Harrison is indeed presenting atheism as an alternative religion by arguing that theist belief systems are incoherent. Looking at fifty reasons is bound to dwell on some which are just silly or ignorant. To suggest that lame ideas are essential is a weak form of reasoning, suggesting only that coherent theology suffers by its association with incoherent views. It would be better for Harrison to engage with those reasons which are credible. For example your mention of Tillich's conception of God as the ground of our being is a deeply coherent philosophical theology, but the format of Harrison's book, more polemic than engagement, is not suited to assessment of the merits of thinkers such as Tillich.

I like atheism for its hermeneutics of suspicion, but it leaves a big gap. My reason for believing in God is that humanity is a child of the cosmos and is naturally connected to the cosmic whole. This connection is divine in nature, because the part of the universe that we connect to directly - the visible stars - is a mirror for and path to the eternal and infinite that we define as God. The problem is whether this local part of the universe is in any sense anthropic. Turning this anthropic argument around, and even leaving out any 'strong' argument that the universe loves us, we can ask whether human efforts to be cosmic, to align with the nature of the cosmos, necessarily involve a spiritual and theological dimension.

The cosmos provides the context of ultimate purpose and meaning. This context needs to be conveyed in broad mythic symbols and ideas, such as grace, love and truth, that combine the essence of the universal idea of God towards which we move to restore human integrity.

Author:  Penelope [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:37 am ]
Post subject: 

Hegel quoted and commented:

[quote]"If any gods are real, I sincerely want to know them." (p. 19.) If you want to know them, Mr. Harrison, I politely suggest that you make yourself a student of comparative religion and religious history. (It seems to a great extent that you have already done this.) If you wish to "know" them to any greater extent, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed

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