I Was An Atheist Raising Fundamentalist Kids Then I Broke The Cycle Of Religion And So Can You

Posted by Phil Ferguson on December 25th, 2011 – 70 Comments – Posted in Personal Stories, Uncategorized

I have been an atheist since I was 13 but shortly after having kids I spent 5 years pretending to be a christian – a fundamentalist christian.  The kids were going to church and Sunday school every week, sometimes more than once a week.  I was a methodist as a kid and was not worried.  I thought that it would be nice for them to know about religion and never thought that it would take over their minds.  Everyone told them that the crazy was true and I kept silent.  I was an atheist raising fundamentalist kids.  Just a few short years after I stopped pretending they have both come out as atheists.

I have since met several people that have not had the same results.  A good friend of mine is an atheist and his spouse took the kids to church 2-3 times a week.  He wanted to show respect for religion and did not want to cause any trouble.  When he thought that the kids were “old enough” (around 13 and 15).  He decided to talk to the kids about religion.  The kids said that they had been warned about this and refused to listen to him.  My friend was shut down and cut off.  It was too late.

I am so glad that things went better with me and I have been thinking about what was different between my friend’s family and mine.  There were many things I did while the kids were young and I think it helped.

The big question for you is:

Do you think the world would be a better place if more people were non religious?

If you do – what are you doing about it?  It is great to have meetings and share drinks in a bar but, you need to get out there and save people.  You must do something about it.  It can take years to save a 40 or 50 year old from religion but with a kid you may only need a spark.

Yes!  I am suggesting that we free the minds of kids.  Religion has been indoctrinating kids for a very long time and their system of lies is very powerful.  We need to fight back, we need to do a better job, we need to get to the kids!   Use the ideas below to help your kids, grandkids, younger siblings, nieces, nephews, your kid’s friends or your friend’s kids.  If you are afraid to fight religion then you need to recognize it still has a effect on you.  All people deserve respect – bad ideas do not!

Keep in mind your relationship with the kids and / or their families.  Do as much as you can and push the limits but, don’t over do it.  You don’t want the fundies to take away the only sane voice the child may here.

11 ideas to save kids and break the cycle of religion.

11) Blogs – If you know the kids well enough and have their e-mail address or are friends of facebook, you can send them links to blogs.  Try to find a post that is not about religion but is written by a blogger that also takes on religion.  If they like space try something like Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy.  Kids love space and most of his posts are about that.
If they already have questions about religion you can try something from any blogger at Freethought Blogs.com or the Friendly Atheist.  You could also challenge them with a quiz about Easter or Christmas as found at SkepticMoney.  With a little luck they will like the author and go back for more – on their own.

10) Teach them about science and the scientific method in fun ways.  Steve Spangler Science is a company that makes fun science toys and games.  Use them to create a party theme or give them as gifts.   At one party we used these really cool beads that are all white in house lights but turn different colors in the sun or a blacklight.  The kids made friendship bracelets and we talked about UV light from the sun and then had some fun with a black light.  The kids loved it and the learned some cool science.

9) Watch shows like “Evolution” , “The Universe” or  “Planet Earth”.   You can buy, rent or stream.  Make sure they know how the world really works before religion ruins the magic.  Please don’t sit them on the couch and force them to watch it.  Create an environment where they can play in the same room while the shows are on.  Don’t push or they will push back.  Just let it soak in.  Let them associate science with play time.

 

8 ) Encourage the kids to ask questions – lots of questions.  This can take some practice but you can do it.  Use the Socratic Method to help them explore their thoughts.  They must learn that their views will need to stand up to questions – if not then they may want to change them to reflect new information.  As my kids were growing up we would often talk about TV commercials.  I helped them question how the commercials were trying to get them to want something.   The commercials would use music and emotion to control their thoughts and actions – just like church.
7 ) Learn about mythology.  My favorite is Greek and Roman but, you can teach about Norse myth or any other.  My son just won a state wide contest on mythology – Yeah!  You can try books like the one shown on the right for younger kids or you can get movies like Thor, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief or Clash of the Titans (1981 version because the new one sucked).  You can also buy comic books or computer games that feature mythologies (Age of Empires:  mythologies).  As a kid I wondered what happened to all of these gods.  Where did they go?  As we learned more – they were not needed.  The original god of the gaps?

 

6) Watch movies about world history and religion.  The history channel has many good movies about gods.  The movie Agora is a well done big budget film that was not able to find a distributor in the USA.  They were afraid that there might be some protests or that many Americans would just not go to see it.  The movie painted christians in a very poor light  – or as I like to call it – the truth.
Here is the trailer for Agora….

If you want to be more direct you could go with Religulous or The god Who Wasn’t There.

 

5) Listen to “Letting Go of god” by Julia Sweeney.  This two hour monologue is funny yet sensitive.  It is very entertaining and explaining why religion is so silly.  You can get the CD or audio download for about $10.  You can also watch her perform on DVD.  The beauty of this performance is that most christians will laugh along while she makes fun of their religion.  I played this for my kids several years ago.  It just happened to be in the car when we had a 2 hour drive.
A few years ago my son told me that after hearing this, he knew that religion was wrong.  Thank you Julia Sweeney!

 

4) Magic tricks.  Teach them that things are not always what they appear to be.  When faced with an amazing claim later in life the will be more likely to look for the real explanation.  The first time we were in a magic store, my daughter saw a trick that she thought was amazing.  When she found out how it worked it did not seem like magic anymore.  Once you know the magic, it is just a trick.  A very practical lesson.

 

3) Introduce the kids to optical illusion.  Share links to YouTube videos.  They will enjoy the illusions and may even watch a few more.  This is the famous color changing card trick by Richard Wiseman.

They may also like this video that shows how hard it is to pay attention to little details.

There are also many books about optical illusions.  Just like some of the other points above they will have fun while learning that they can be tricked.

2) My kids love YouTube and I’m sure most do.  They can watch what they want when they want on their computer or phone.  If they like the video they will often share it with their friends on facebook or via e-mail.  You can effect more young adults if you send something the is amusing or interests them.  Here are a few of the big names on YouTube…. The Atheist Experience, Evid3nc3, thunderf00t, darkmatter2525, The Thinking Atheist.  There are many other great videos posted by different sources.  There is a great collection of freethought videos here.
Here is the funny Divine Watermelon from the BBC show That Mitchell and Webb Look.

1)  Books!  There are so many books that can help free kids’ minds.  Start with something simple and fun like Daniel Loxton’s new book “Ankylosaur Attack“.  (shown on right)  If that goes well you can try his wonderful book “Evolution:  How We and All Living Things Came to Be.”  Another great book about the world is Dawkins’ new one called “The Magic Of Reality“.  “Bang!:  How We Came To Be” from Michael Rubin is another good choice.  If one or both of the parents are free from religion you could give them Dale McGowan’s “Parenting Beyond Belief”.

If they already have questions you can get them one of the really hard hitting books on atheism: God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, or The God Delusion.  If you want something that they can read in under two hours give them Sam Harris’ “Letter to a Christian Nation”.  If they place all of their faith in Jesus you could try “Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All” by David fitzgerald.  There are so many that I can’t list them all.

Please DO NOT under estimate the power of church programs to suck kids into the madness.  You must take action and help the kids.  If you have other ideas please share them in the comments.
  1. Madison says:

    another good suggestion for older kids (about fifteen or sixteen, and with high intellect) is to read “Sophie’s world” its a thick book, but a good one, it goes into much about alternate philosophy, rather than just Christianity, scientific explanations, great philosophers throughout the ages, even some stuff about space and space travel. great read.

  2. Hank Fox says:

    For some of the older kids, I like to think my book “Red Neck, Blue Collar, Atheist: Simple Thoughts About Reason, Gods & Faith” would be a good starting point in how to be a freethinker. Each chapter is a quickly-read independent essay, written in simple language and rich with metaphors. For instance, one chapter talks about how easy it is to show that Batman is a fictional character, and draws an inference to the existence of gods. Another talks about justice, and shows why science is better than superstition. Yet another talks about personal freedom, and the necessity of reason. There are chapters on morality, reason, science, and even the future of humans on planet Earth.

    http://www.amazon.com/Red-Neck-Blue-Collar-Atheist/dp/0615429904/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1293031199&sr=8-1

  3. Another Byte on the Web says:

    I would say that Carl Sagan books are still good and relevant today. I read Billions and Billions when I was 12, and it was an eye opener. Demon haunted world is also another great option.

  4. Stan says:

    It is not surprising that there are no books on logic here. I think there are two reasons for that: first, logic is based on axioms which are incontrovertibly and incorrigibly true, meaning that absolutes do exist; second, logic leads inexorably away from Atheism, as the fallacies inherent to Atheism are found and faced.

    There is a third reason as well. Atheists seem to think that by declaring “ain’t no god”, every subsequent thing that proceeds from their mind is logical, and needs no disciplined analysis. For a group who declares themselves logical and rational, their reasons are anything but.

    Another reason is substitutionary religious belief in science, without any attempt to understand the limitations of science and the axioms which are its foundation. Induction and deduction are contingent, and Philosophical Materialism is in no way deducible from actual science.

    It is inherently valid to reject all parts of one’s worldview in order to discover what, if anything is truth. But going to a “default” category without analyzing that category is a logical and rational error. There is every reason to start with a belief or non-belief in logic and its axioms before building a worldview, especially one that declares that it is true that there is no truth.

  5. Stan says:

    It is not surprising that there are no books on logic here. I think there are several basic reasons for that: first, logic is based on axioms which are incontrovertibly and incorrigibly true, meaning that absolutes do exist; second, logic leads inexorably away from Atheism, as the fallacies inherent to Atheism are found and faced.

    There is a third reason as well. Atheists seem to think that by declaring “ain’t no god”, every subsequent thing that proceeds from their mind is logical, and needs no disciplined analysis. For a group who declares themselves logical and rational, their reasons are anything but.

    Another reason is substitutionary religious belief in science, without any attempt to understand the limitations of science and the axioms which are its foundation. Induction and deduction are contingent, and Philosophical Materialism is in no way deducible from actual science.

    It is inherently valid to reject all parts of one’s worldview in order to discover what, if anything is truth. But going to a “default” category without analyzing that category is a logical and rational error. There is every reason to start with a belief or non-belief in logic and its axioms before building a worldview, especially one that declares that it is true that there is no truth.

  6. Hank Fox says:

    Stan: ” …logic leads inexorably away from Atheism, as the fallacies inherent to Atheism are found and faced.”

    Stan, that was about all I understood in what you said. And I have to disagree with it. Suggest one or two “fallacies inherent to Atheism”?

    Where’s the fallacy in declaring that you don’t accept fantastic, overblown stories easily shown to be myths?

  7. Human Ape says:

    All these suggestions are very nice (especially the science stuff) but wouldn’t it be enough to just tell the young person “God is just another word for magic, and only superstitious idiots believe in magic. Don’t be an idiot.”

  8. John Phillips, FCD says:

    Stan, actually I came to my atheism in a CoW college just into my teens. Ironically, because in our RE class, which was more comparative religions than religious education, we read, examined and discussed the books and tenets of all the major religions in considerable detail. Not only is each individual book filled with contradictions and inconsistencies but each contradicts the other in major ways. Thus, logically, they couldn’t all be right and it wasn’t far to go to seeing that none were right. So logic actually demonstrated for me the inherent fallacies in all religion.

    Admittedly, while I had gone to Sunday school as a child and enjoyed it and even sat on the Chapel’s set fawr (big seat) for a couple of years and I still remember our pastor with a great deal of affection, a truly good man, our independent denomination stressed deeds over words, I myself was never more than xian lite. Thus it was no big deal when I realised that it was largely hogwash with some good bits thrown, e.g. the golden rule etc. Unfortunately, for anyone who has read the bible fully, more than once in my case, alongside the hogwash and good bits there is just as much, if not more, downright badness and most of it ordered by that god character and almost invariably for the pettiest reasons.

    As to science, as the only method we have found to accurately model the real world, it is just icing on the cake of life and the knowlege it gives us adds to the wonder with which we can view the universe. Don’t you think it a rather delicious irony that it is science, not religious faith, that enables you to write that excuse of an apologetic via the Internet.

  9. Jane Marple says:

    What puzzles me is why an atheist would send their children to church in the first place. Why should we pretend to have ‘respect’ for religion to the extent that we expose our children to their indoctrination? It’s perfectly possible to teach children about religion without teaching them religion.

  10. Anteprepro says:

    Stan sez, in the comment so nice, he posted it twice: “logic leads inexorably away from Atheism, as the fallacies inherent to Atheism are found and faced.”

    Oh yeah. All those fallacious atheist arguments. Damn, you’ve got us. We should take our ball and go home now that Stan says, without backing his claim up at all, that Capital “A” Atheism is based on fallacies.

    And then Stan sez: “Atheists seem to think that by declaring “ain’t no god”, every subsequent thing that proceeds from their mind is logical, and needs no disciplined analysis. For a group who declares themselves logical and rational, their reasons are anything but.”

    Oh Stan. Such a typical godbot. Weren’t you just talking about logic and fallacies? Think for one minute: Even if that first quoted sentence is true, how is that a “reason” to be an atheist? If the “reason” you are talking about is the author’s supposed “reasons” for not including a book on logic, then why are you, while pretending to be the advocate of Logic, putting words in other people’s mouths based on minimal evidence and lambasting them for how illogical they sound?

    Stan sez: “Another reason is substitutionary religious belief in science, without any attempt to understand the limitations of science and the axioms which are its foundation. ”

    And Stan doesn’t seem to understand that, despite the limitations of science, science is pretty much the only reliable way of determining new facts about the real world. It is methodological induction. It is the only the currently available means by which we can reliably determine the factuality of premises to make sound deductive arguments. Your bluster changes none of these facts.

    And Stan ends with: “especially one that declares that it is true that there is no truth”

    And who actually believes that there is no truth? You do know that straw man arguments are a form of fallacy, right Logic Man?

  11. Stan says:

    Hank,
    I’m sorry you didn’t understand. Here are few points concerning the part you did understand:

    1. False: “I can know that there is no cause for material existence which is greater than anything found in material existence.” (Category Error)

    2. False: “I can know that there is no existence beyond the mass/energy, space/time existence to which we humans are limited.” (Category Error)

    3. False: “Science has no limits and is therefore the only source of knowledge.” (Failure to comprehend Material limitations of science, and the other types of knowledge commonly in use).

    4. It is false to reject [P] yet claim that you have no belief concerning [P]. (Claim doesn’t match action)

    5. It is false to reject logical claims of first cause deductions based solely on rejection of ecclesiasticism. (Fallacy of Guilt by Association, and Black and White Fallacy)

    6. False: “Theists must show material evidence that there is non-material existence.” (Category Error)

    7. False: “Atheism is based on evidence and logic but needs neither for support in order to reject the existence of non-material dimensions because Atheism need not adhere to the Burden of Rebuttal.” (Special Pleading)

    8. False: “Atheism is not a religion, despite having religious content, beliefs concerning deity, and the propensity to evangelize, and demand that government be limited to their worldview regarding religion.

    9. False: Atheism has no ethic or morality attached to it, yet claim that “Atheists are good without God”. (internally contradictory: non-coherent)

    10. False: “Since there are demonstrable myths, then all references to non-material existence are declared to be myths by association” (Fallacy of Guilt by Association)

    These are just a few, there are more if you wish.
    Stan

  12. Stan says:

    John Phillips says,
    “Don’t you think it a rather delicious irony that it is science, not religious faith, that enables you to write that excuse of an apologetic via the Internet.”

    I think it is an irony that Atheists believe that technology is due to a worldview. But technology is actually the product of rational thought, logic including Boolean, and the existence of minds which are non-determinate agents. There is nothing about the concept of a first cause as a rational agent which precludes rational thought. Technology is not dependent upon Atheism as a worldview; Atheism is merely a denial and nothing more. Denialism and skepticism are not producers of knowledge, they are Materialist driven and anti-knowledge, based on the ideology of Philosophical Materialism.

  13. Stan says:

    Sorry about the double posting, my router bound up and had to be reset, and I thought that the first copy didn’t go through. I can’t see a way to delete one either, or I would.

  14. Anteprepro says:

    Stan:
    By contrast,
    We can’t determine the opposite of 1 by induction (which is what the argument from first cause does).
    We can’t know that the opposite of 1 is the case (With some exceptions, but it is similarly a category error to conclude that the “existence” of abstractions or cognition are sufficient to believe in a non-material realm where purely non-material entities can exist)
    3 is a straw man, again.
    The only time I see people bring up “ecclesiasticism” to refute First Cause arguments is to show that a “First Cause” is insufficient to believe in the Biblical God specifically.
    For number 6, God is proposed to have effects on material reality, therefore material evidence should be available for that particular immaterial thing.
    For number 8: religion- “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, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” Whereas atheism is simply lack of belief “creation of a supernatural agency or agencies”. The other parts of this, relevant to truly consider atheism a religion, come from wherever the individual atheist pleases.
    9 isn’t that hard: Atheists are good by the moral standards of society and/or other religions.
    10 is a straw-man. Previous myths and their similarities to current religions are reasons to be skeptical of current religion but are never presented as sufficient to refute them.

    Also: ” But technology is actually the product of rational thought, logic including Boolean, and the existence of minds which are non-determinate agents.”

    Yes, technology is the product of rational thought and logic. Specifically, the scientific method. Which is the entire point John was making and which you epically ignored to blast atheism as “denialism” (despite the fact that, unlike science denialism, atheism denies something that hasn’t been ever successfully established as true. Attempt at Guilt by Association?)

    Try harder, Logic Man.

  15. Hank Fox says:

    Stan:

    I get it that you have some knowledge of logic and logical errors, and I respect that. HOWEVER … you’re using it with a predetermined mindset that amounts to prejudice. In other words, your logic is based on a slightly less than logical foundation. And therefore proceeds to illogical conclusions.

    For instance: “Science has no limits and is therefore the only source of knowledge.”

    Who says that? Nobody. Anybody who understands science knows that the admission of vast unknowns is a foundational part of it. Those who respect the power of science even make jokes about those who use science as some sort of bludgeon of certainty.

    But those vast unknowns are not expected to fly in the face of already-knowns, things so well supported they require substantial evidence of contrary fact before they may usefully be doubted.

    “Atheism is not a religion, blah, blah, blah …”

    Can you even conceive of non-religion? I suspect not.

    One of the pitfalls of logic is that it is based on language … which is itself not a finely-honed tool for dealing with concepts of certainty. I don’t know if this error has a formal name, but you are making it, and making it without knowing it.

    For instance: Behind all of this, as is so common in those submerged in religious thinking from an early age, there is this certainty that there MUST be some sort of God, that it is unthinkable that there cannot be. Insistence that the very fact of human unknowns opens the door to that God is … well, it implies that the person isn’t thinking very carefully about the subject, logic training or not.

    I think there are plenty of things greater than me. Hey, I’m a cowboy. I ride horses, which are bigger and stronger than me – and even smarter than me when it comes to finding their way in the woods.

    But does that “greater than” equal “god.” Can we EVER say that it does? No. The very concept of God came from somewhere, has some origin in human history, and unless you’re sure that someone, somewhere, sometime, had direct communication with one or more god-things, you cannot assert that anything is known, or even knowable, about the supposed thing the word implies. The word itself is suspect. Which means that a rejection of the god-concept, by any and all, must either be accepted or not-accepted (your choice), but cannot itself be definitively REJECTED … because there is a complete lack of evidence for the something-or-other suggest to be behind the word. There is no evidential basis for active rejection of unbelief.

    In other words, rejection of belief in the supernatural must be an acceptable, logical turn of mind. You can’t just say “this doesn’t work” because you are thereby asserting that there MUST BE something supernatural. The necessity of doubt itself proves you mistaken.

    Anyway, I’m not going into all the rest of the stuff you’ve thrown at me. The phrase “Gish Gallop” comes to mind, and I don’t have the time to engage in it.

  16. Stan says:

    anteprepro says,
    “And Stan doesn’t seem to understand that, despite the limitations of science, science is pretty much the only reliable way of determining new facts about the real world.”

    This comment presupposes knowledge that real = material only.

    It is methodological induction. It is the only the currently available means by which we can reliably determine the factuality of premises to make sound deductive arguments.”

    Science is highly contingent as is shown by the evidentiary assault by CERN on Einstein’s speed limit = C. The validity of argument, and the truth-value of premises are contingent

    “Your bluster changes none of these facts.”

    Your idea that those are “facts” and therefore presumably “truth” is unwarranted as the arbiter of the validity of knowledge. Science is probabilistic, only. It produces temporary, probabilistic factoids, never truth. Simple deduction from temporary factoids is a valid technique for science, but it does not in any manner prove the non-existence of either other dimensions or rational entities which might be there. Theism, in its basic statements, does not claim “truth” either; but it’s deductive format is correct and its conclusion is unassailable by either disciplined logic, nor by material-bound science. The choice not to believe in the probability of a first cause is therefore not a science-based conclusion, it is a personal judgment without material evidence that the Theist deduction is is false.

    And Stan ends with: “especially one that declares that it is true that there is no truth”

    “And who actually believes that there is no truth? You do know that straw man arguments are a form of fallacy, right Logic Man?”

    If you do believe that absolute truth exists, you are in a minority of Atheists. The existence of absolutes necessitates the next step, which is the Atheist favorite, “What is the source of [R]” which in this case, R = absolutes. That issue is easily debated in favor of Theism.

    The charge of Straw Man is without merit; many Atheists believe that Atheism necessitates the lack of absolutes. Your conclusion that no one does is unwarranted, because it excludes what is probably a majority of Atheist philosophers and their Atheist apologetics.

  17. Anteprepro says:

    Should be “we can’t know the opposite of 2 is the case”, not 1.

  18. Ariaflame says:

    Stan: What a lot of codswallop. I am a scientist and I know there are limits to science in that there are areas where we do not have the technology or means to measure things. This does NOT equate to ‘god did it!’

    Atheists can be good without any god. They might not necessarily be, but they are not prevented from being so merely by being atheists.

    What exact religious content is contained in the worldview of an atheist?

    You are the one twisting logic to try and justify your presuppositions. I feel no need to fall back on the existence of any putative supernatural creature to explain anything in the world. You might be too scared to face the world without that emotional security blanket, but others of us feel no need for such childish things.

  19. Hank Fox says:

    Argh:

    ” … suggestED to be behind the word.”

  20. evandrofisico says:

    @Stan,
    logic is based on axioms which are incontrovertibly and incorrigibly true, meaning that absolutes do exist;

    I don’t know how much math and logic you studied, but if you tried to keep reading on the subject, you probably have heard about Kurk Gödel’s “incompleteness theorems”, which proposes that any complex axiomatic system (and I consider most religious set of dogmas and ideas to be quite complex) is either complete or self consistent. That means that except for very simple sets of axioms, it is very hard, if not impossible, to prove any conclusion to be absolute truth.

  21. Naomi says:

    I have an easier way.

    “Johnnny, do you remember how we told you Santa Claus was real, but he really wasn’t? Well, it’s the same thing with God”.

  22. Anteprepro says:

    ” Science is probabilistic, only. It produces temporary, probabilistic factoids, never truth.”

    False. It is probabilistic and approximates truth. The fact that it never produces absolute truth is irrelevant to anyone with a sense of perspective.

    “Theism, in its basic statements, does not claim “truth” either”

    Bullshit.

    “The choice not to believe in the probability of a first cause is therefore not a science-based conclusion”

    There is a science-based reason to not believe in the first cause. It is that the Big Bang is a supernatural-free explanation of that first cause. And there is also a logic-based reason to not believe in the first cause argument: because it is insufficient to even prove deism, let alone theism, let alone Christianity. There is no reason to believe that a supernatural first cause, even if granted as supernatural, is also a supernatural entity of any kind.

    “If you do believe that absolute truth exists, you are in a minority of Atheists”

    Truth =/= Absolute truth. You are insufferably bad at being a pedant. In order to beat your chest about how great you are at logic, you need to actually show that you reach a 7th grade level at reading the own shit you write.

    But, anyway, at least somewhat to your credit, I do believe that absolute truth exists: It is what is true about nature itself. It is a property of nature, and it is independent of our current understanding of it. It is not necessary for there to be an Absolute Giver in order for such an “absolute” truth to exist. All that it requires is a limited human understanding and a world that actually exists.

  23. Hank Fox says:

    Anteprepro … FUCK, that was good.

    Thank you; very well said.

  24. Stan says:

    Hank says,

    ”Who says that? Nobody.”

    That is incorrect; many Atheists have said that. You are making a universal statement with no evidence for support. Much of Atheism is just that, declaration of universals without any evidentiary support for their declaration.

    ”Those who respect the power of science even make jokes about those who use science as some sort of bludgeon of certainty.”

    This statement contradicts the one above: some do make that statement. I try to show how and why it is correct. I see that your approach is ridicule.

    ”Can you even conceive of non-religion? I suspect not.”

    Non-religion is empirically demonstrable: the governments of the Soviet Union, China, etc. The rapidly failing government of the EU. Etc, etc.

    ”One of the pitfalls of logic is that it is based on language … which is itself not a finely-honed tool for dealing with concepts of certainty. I don’t know if this error has a formal name, but you are making it, and making it without knowing it.”

    This is a common error made by the enemies of logic. Language is derived as a logical use of symbols for orderly, rational, non-chaotic communication; logic is not equal to language, nor does language precede the existence of rationality. On the contrary, language depends on logic in order for communication be rational. It is not conceivable even probabilistically that language could arise without prior existence of logic to be used for communication.

    And again, Science is not “certain”, and basic, raw, Theism makes no claims of absolute certainty, it presents a probabilistic deduction. There is confusion here concerning what Theism posits; it posits a clear, simple and valid deduction which is based on material observations, and is clearly designated probabilistic. Again, Theism is not to be confused with ecclesiasticism.

    ”For instance: Behind all of this, as is so common in those submerged in religious thinking from an early age, there is this certainty that there MUST be some sort of God, that it is unthinkable that there cannot be. Insistence that the very fact of human unknowns opens the door to that God is … well, it implies that the person isn’t thinking very carefully about the subject, logic training or not.”

    You have here deduced that the existence of non-rational thought means that all thought outside your own is non-rational. The thoughts you list here as certain are not rational, but that has no bearing on the existence of a first cause, which is deduced from material “knowns” as they are referred to here.

    ”I think there are plenty of things greater than me. Hey, I’m a cowboy. I ride horses, which are bigger and stronger than me – and even smarter than me when it comes to finding their way in the woods.

    But does that “greater than” equal “god.” Can we EVER say that it does? No.”
    You are not addressing the Theist argument by creating a materialist analogy. Your conclusion is not addressing it with any actual evidence regarding the existence in question.

    The very concept of God came from somewhere, has some origin in human history, and unless you’re sure that someone, somewhere, sometime, had direct communication with one or more god-things, you cannot assert that anything is known, or even knowable, about the supposed thing the word implies.”

    Your assertion about the source of Theism is withut any material proof; it is a tenet of your belief system which is not demonstrably factual: according to you, “it MUST be true”.

    You have not proven that deductions from material existence cannot show logically some of the necessary characteristics for a creating force for the universe. Your presumption that the only possible knowledge of a non-material existence is that of a prior contact with a deity is not sustainable, unless rationality is also denied.

    ”The word itself is suspect. Which means that a rejection of the god-concept, by any and all, must either be accepted or not-accepted (your choice), but cannot itself be definitively REJECTED … because there is a complete lack of evidence for the something-or-other suggest to be behind the word. There is no evidential basis for active rejection of unbelief.
    ”In other words, rejection of belief in the supernatural must be an acceptable, logical turn of mind. You can’t just say “this doesn’t work” because you are thereby asserting that there MUST BE something supernatural. The necessity of doubt itself proves you mistaken..”

    “The necessity of doubt” only extends to the assessment of evidence; after analyzing the data which you accumulate, then doubt gives way to rational evaluation and either accepting and rejecting based on analysis of evidence. The Atheist cannot accumulate his own evidence due to the Category Error of his demand. The Category Error of requiring material evidence for non-material entities fails to give the Atheist any positive evidence of his own on which to reject. So the Atheist rejects using a Category Error as his basis, not the demonstration of positive evidence in his favor.

    ”Anyway, I’m not going into all the rest of the stuff you’ve thrown at me. The phrase “Gish Gallop” comes to mind, and I don’t have the time to engage in it.”

    Yes, when Atheists ask for something but get something back which they don’t care to think about or refute, the charge of “Gish Gallop” is the ticket out.

    Well, OK. I’m leaving too. Back to my own blog

    Adios.
    Stan

  25. Hank Fox says:

    Stan, heh.

    “Yes, when Atheists ask for something but get something back which they don’t care to think about or refute, the charge of “Gish Gallop” is the ticket out.”

    What was that about “declaration of universals without any evidentiary support”?

    You snippy little scalawag. :P

  26. Stan says:

    Evandrofisco says,

    ” False. It is probabilistic and approximates truth.”

    Not the case, of course. It approximates what we can know at any given time and with current technology. Subsequent technology (a la CERN) can overturn previous “approximate truths” such as the speed limit of light (a la Einstein). The use of science for “truths” to place in one’s worldview is not likely to produce actual Truth.

    ” except for very simple sets of axioms, it is very hard, if not impossible, to prove any conclusion to be absolute truth.”

    Yes, that’s my point. Logic is based on very simple sets of axioms: the First Principles and several other axioms which underlie science.

    ” “Theism, in its basic statements, does not claim “truth” either”
    Bullshit.”

    Bullshit is not an argument. Basic, raw theism is merely a deduction made based on observable material aspects of the universe.

    ” There is a science-based reason to not believe in the first cause. It is that the Big Bang is a supernatural-free explanation of that first cause.”

    The Big Bang is an effect, not a cause. What caused the Big Bang, which occurred without the materialist laws of physics or the dimensions we now inhabit?

    ” And there is also a logic-based reason to not believe in the first cause argument: because it is insufficient to even prove deism, let alone theism, let alone Christianity. There is no reason to believe that a supernatural first cause, even if granted as supernatural, is also a supernatural entity of any kind.”
    You have no evidence and no logical refutation here. “No reason” is a universal statement which is not sustainable unless you refute the deduction. And “no reason” is not a reason.

    ”Truth =/= Absolute truth. You are insufferably bad at being a pedant. In order to beat your chest about how great you are at logic, you need to actually show that you reach a 7th grade level at reading the own shit you write.”

    Speaking in terms of logic, including Boolean logic, there is only one kind of truth; it contains no falseness, no nn-truth. The Atheist propensity to redefine things in order to satisfy their needs for an out to release themselves from logic seems to be at play here. By redefining truth to include non-truth, you have destroyed the value of the use of the term “truth” in any conversation you have. In your world, truth can contain falseness. And the degrees of falseness within your redefined “truth” are unknown and unknowable to anyone who talks to you.

    ” But, anyway, at least somewhat to your credit, I do believe that absolute truth exists: It is what is true about nature itself. It is a property of nature, and it is independent of our current understanding of it. It is not necessary for there to be an Absolute Giver in order for such an “absolute” truth to exist. All that it requires is a limited human understanding and a world that actually exists.”

    And yet many Atheist skeptics claim that sensory inputs are likely to provide us with delusions: hence the general idea that there is no absolute knowledge or absolutes in general.

    Well, since I don’t wish to befuddle anyone with Gishing, and because I have to get other things done,

    Adios.

    You are welcome to visit at atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com

  27. Hank Fox says:

    Stan … I’m guessing you’re about 22 to 25, something like that? And that you took college classes in logic within the past 2 years?

  28. Anteprepro says:

    Thanks, Hank. Your reply was pretty damn good as well :)

    On that note, there isn’t a specific term I’ve found that deals with the problem of language in dealing with logic, but there are a category of fallacies called Verbal Fallacies that specifically result from difficulties in language. Examples are equivocation, connotation fallacies (deliberately substituting a direct quote with a word with a negative association), arguments by innuendo, and the fallacies of composition (Christians are smart, therefore Christianity is smart) and division (Christianity is good, therefore Christians are good). These arguments will seem logical at face value, but only if you just look at the words and not at the sleight of hand involved.

    Stan sez: “Much of Atheism is just that, declaration of universals without any evidentiary support for their declaration”

    And Stan has claimed that Theism, by contrast, is not. Not a declaration of universals. Not without evidentiary support. The fact that he has provided no reasons to believe either of these things is indicative of absolutely nothing. Also: The first cause argument remains insufficient to justify theism, because theism purports to believe in an interventionist supernatural entity.

    ” logic is not equal to language, nor does language precede the existence of rationality. On the contrary, language depends on logic in order for communication be rational.”

    Logic, as it is actually used outside of mathematics, relies on language. Imprecision and idiosyncrasies in language lead to easy pitfalls in the layman’s use of logic.

    “You have not proven that deductions from material existence cannot show logically some of the necessary characteristics for a creating force for the universe.”

    Big Bang, fuckwit.

    “Your presumption that the only possible knowledge of a non-material existence is that of a prior contact with a deity is not sustainable, unless rationality is also denied.”

    We await your case for systematically and reliably obtaining knowledge of the non-material.

    ” The Atheist cannot accumulate his own evidence due to the Category Error of his demand.”

    You realize that there are no good arguments for God, even without specific demands for material evidence, right? Virtually all of them are fallacious, even without straw-manning them. And that you’ve fucking already admitted that the First Cause argument uses material evidence, so you’ve already shot your Category Error complaint in the fucking foot?

    What a fucking waste of brain cells.

  29. Stan says:

    Hank calls me on a universal. You’re right Hank. Only a sizeable portion of Atheists call Gishing when they can’t handle the arguments. Sorry for the error.

  30. Anteprepro says:

    Stan sez: “Subsequent technology (a la CERN) can overturn previous “approximate truths” such as the speed limit of light (a la Einstein).”

    Approximate (adjective) truth is not what I said. I said “approximates (v) truth”. Subsequent technology rarely ever “overturns” previous approximation, as much as pushing them a little past what they already were, closer to “absolute” truth.

    “Basic, raw theism is merely a deduction made based on observable material aspects of the universe”

    I think you’ve mistaken theism for deism. Deism posits a god that intervenes (via miracles). Unless you have “observable material aspects of the universe” that I don’t have, I don’t think that you can pretend that it fits that bill.

    “The Big Bang is an effect, not a cause. What caused the Big Bang, which occurred without the materialist laws of physics or the dimensions we now inhabit?”

    The Big Bang, according to relativity, was the start of both space and time. The Big Bang is the first cause and there is no possible way that it could be caused with no time preceding it in which it could be caused.

    ““No reason” is a universal statement which is not sustainable unless you refute the deduction”

    What the fuck are you on about? I am saying that the First Cause argument argues for a supernatural First Cause. There is nothing about a First Cause that logically entails that is something resembling conscious. What the fuck is wrong with you?

    “The Atheist propensity to redefine things in order to satisfy their needs for an out to release themselves from logic seems to be at play here”

    Your attempt to pretend that the word “absolute” in the term “absolute truth” is completely irrelevant is entertaining. Why even include the adjective at all if there were only one definition of truth? That’s the key point, you intractable idiot: That the word “truth” has many different meanings, even in philosophy. You can’t say, “well, truth is only absolute in Boolean logic” without showing my fucking point: That there are other meanings to it, depending on what interpretation you are using as a reference.

    “And yet many Atheist skeptics claim that sensory inputs are likely to provide us with delusions: hence the general idea that there is no absolute knowledge or absolutes in general.”

    This is profoundly stupid. Absolute truth exists =/= We possess that absolute truth. I didn’t even suggest that we could actually obtain that absolute truth, ever. Hence why I believe that science is the best, most reliable method of obtaining information despite noting it doesn’t obtain absolute truth: Because it gets as close to it as we could hope to any given point in time.

    You seem to know about logic and nothing else (hence your propensity to bloviate about straw-men and your blind spots pertaining to scientific facts). It sometimes helps to know facts about the real world if you’re going to try to use logic to try to grapple with it. I suggest trying to think more deeply about these matters, try to deal with them more slowly, calmly, and thoroughly in your own mind. Try to work on avoiding the kind of sloppy mistakes you’ve made here today.

  31. Hank Fox says:

    Some of us call “Gishing” when the arguments are fast and unsupported, and delivered with such shotgun rapidity that no refutation is possible.

    Part of this is that you can toss out a hundred little arguments, each of which takes careful analysis and the construction of a counter-argument, and … hell, who has that much time? Gishers depend on that fact alone for the victory they end up feeling.

    But overall, you sound young, you sound goddy, you sound smugly and even offensively convinced that you have to be right and everybody else has to be wrong. And you couch it all in this impenetrable, jargonistic “logic,” which in your hands is not a tool of understanding but a shrieking attack on everything and everybody who doesn’t instantly agree with you. Which itself hints at Gishing — the deliberate unwillingness to engage the human others in the argument, and to thereby show yourself superior and unanswerable.

    Heh. Speaking just for myself, what I’ve seen here does not make me want to follow you over to your entire website devoted to this type of argument.

    This does not mean that I absolutely do not want to understand these contrary points of view. It just means that I don’t want to get it from … well, someone like you, for instance.

  32. Anteprepro says:

    Hank: “Part of this is that you can toss out a hundred little arguments, each of which takes careful analysis and the construction of a counter-argument, and … hell, who has that much time? ”

    Well, I do, on occasion :P For as long as doing so entertains me.

    I mentioned verbal fallacies earlier, you mentioned Gish Gallops and jargon. Well, funny enough, a combination of Gish Galloping with an air of authority and intensive jargon happens to be a form of verbal fallacy: Proof by intimidation or Proof by verbosity. Though, I should note this, just in case someone goes out there trying to dismiss people because of this fallacy (not unlike Stan has done here, actually): The argument from fallacy (they used a fallacy, therefore the conclusion is false) is also a fallacy.

  33. Stan says:

    ” And Stan has claimed that Theism, by contrast, is not. Not a declaration of universals.”

    Correct.

    ” The first cause argument remains insufficient to justify theism, because theism purports to believe in an interventionist supernatural entity.”

    Actually it posits that a cause which is an agent that can create [X] can also modify or interfere with [X] if it chooses. It’s a second deduction, after establishing a causal agent.

    ” Logic, as it is actually used outside of mathematics, relies on language. Imprecision and idiosyncrasies in language lead to easy pitfalls in the layman’s use of logic.”

    That does not invalidate logic itself, nor its use in validating the premises within a worldview.

    ” Big Bang, fuckwit.”

    The Big Bang is an effect, not a cause. Your confusion and pejorative are acknowledged as the level of your thinking.

    ” We await your case for systematically and reliably obtaining knowledge of the non-material.”

    Pretty sure I already did that. Here it is again:

    A cause for the universe is posited to be an agent possessing the ability to accomplish the creation of the universe and everything in it, thereby being presumed to have those capacities or access to those capacities for itself.

    ” You realize that there are no good arguments for God, even without specific demands for material evidence, right? Virtually all of them are fallacious, even without straw-manning them.”


    Demonstrate the fallacy of the first cause presumption.

    ”And that you’ve fucking already admitted that the First Cause argument uses material evidence, so you’ve already shot your Category Error complaint in the fucking foot?

    ”Yes I have agreed that logic is based on axioms which are based on observations of the characteristics of the universe: The First Principles. Assuming that these are valid is the first requirement of logic. Then logical deduction is presumed to be a probabilistic tool useful for making the deduction shown above.

    “What a fucking waste of brain cells.”

    The presumption that ridicule works is not valid for everyone. I have shown the logic, which has not been refuted. Perhaps it will be, but I doubt it because Atheists in general do not understand or use logic. I’m sure that some can and do, but I have yet to encounter them and their positive case for their worldview.

    The Atheist claim of being evidence-based and logical cannot be shown to be the case. It is far more common for the use of words like “fuckwit” than it is for actual reasoned logical argumentation from Atheists. My experience is that it is most common for expletives to result from a request for material evidence and fallacy free logic to support the Atheist worldview. I suggest that Atheists actually study logic and its axioms, and only then make their case. Very few take that suggestion.

  34. Stan says:

    I really am out of here now.

  35. Phil says:

    @ Fox and @Anteprepro,
    Thank you for trying to explain things to Stan. I do not have the stomach for such verbosity.

    @stan,
    Thank you for showing that there is nothing to support the existence of god – other than verbal masturbation disguised as a “logic” argument. If you have some evidence try again.

    All other readers, I would love to hear of other ideas that can be used to help free young minds.

  36. Aquaria says:

    Good riddance to fucking stupidity.

  37. Hank Fox says:

    I used to have that much time, but now … no. Just had my Dad die, and I’m more conscious now of the limits on human time and energy. (In fact, I’m transcribing some notes from my reaction to his death in another application; I’m only here just to take a break.)

    BTW, Anteprepro, I wrote a book: Red Neck, Blue Collar, Atheist: Simple Thoughts About Reason, Gods & Faith.

    The book was written based on the idea that most atheist books answer the WHY of atheism — why religion doesn’t work. I wanted a book that addressed the HOW of it.

    This is my armchair philosopher (pronounced “doofus”) approach to understanding how to think like an atheist. How to understand morality, justice, god-stories, so much more, as a reasoning person.

    Mainly, I wanted to make the point that you can be a confident atheist without a college degree, or advanced training in logic. Because after all, the vast majority of arguments on the other side are laughably simple, and the only reason they’re accepted at all is because of historical precedence and a murderous application.

    For instance: “If there’s no God, why not just rob and rape whenever the mood strikes you?” … is an argument that presupposes that human beings are innately evil, and the ONLY thing holding them back from leaping on every woman that passes by is the threat of eternal torment. Meaning the person advancing this argument is blithely unaware of human compassion, respect for others, or even simple shyness. It’s so stupid an assertion that it’s laughable and scary at the same time. But it’s also a serious Christian argument I’ve had tossed at me probably a hundred times.

    Anyway, the book has gotten several glowing reviews at Amazon. Hint, hint.

    And nice chatting with you. I’m on Facebook as Hank Fox. https://www.facebook.com/hankfox

  38. Owlmirror says:

    [[The Big Bang is an effect, not a cause. What caused the Big Bang, which occurred without the materialist laws of physics or the dimensions we now inhabit?]]

    You’re begging the question that the Big Bang occurred without “materialist laws of physics or dimensions we now inhabit”.

    Cosmologists do not posit that all the laws of physics began with the Big Bang, nor that “dimensions” began with the Big Bang (it would be very strange if they did, since a dimension is a geometric concept).

  39. Stevarious says:

    All this tedious rhetoric that Alan is spewing boils down to one simple fact: There is no actual material evidence for his supernatural beliefs, and therefore he must indulge in an extremely complicated rationalization for why he doesn’t need material evidence for his supernatural beliefs.

    Any god for which there is no material evidence for to demonstrate it’s existence, does not (as far as we can tell) affect the material world in a measurable manner. The material world is the only world that we, as humans, are demonstrably capable of interacting with. Therefore you are arguing for the existence of a being that is indistinguishable from imaginary mental constructs and/or nothing at all.

    Just like all the other religions!

    (If I’m wrong here, please demonstrate the means by which you can prove that your deity has affected the material world without resorting to an argument from ignorance, or demonstrate how you are able to interact with a world other than the material one in a manner distinguishable from fantasy or delusion. Because that’s what your assertions require – if you cannot demonstrate one of these two things, then not only are you incapable of convincing your average atheist, but unjustified in your own beliefs.)

  40. Hank Fox says:

    Phil, my book is written from a doofus-layman point of view, with a lot of very simple language and some cool metaphors. I’ve often thought it would make a good read for young people on the cusp of a decision for one side or the other.

    For instance, in a chapter titled “Batman Almighty,” I counter the charge that you can’t prove a negative, which is one of the goddy arguments against atheism, by showing how you can absolutely prove that Batman does not exist, cannot exist. And I relate it to other fictional / mythological figures, including gods.

    Another chapter deals with morality, making the point that not only is is possible to be good without gods, but that goddiness easily and often gets in the way of goodness.

    Another deals with how you know what’s real, and whether this is all happening in your head.

    As I say above, it’s been well-reviewed. Even Greta Christina gave it a wow review.

  41. Hank Fox says:

    ” … not only is IT possible …”

  42. Anteprepro says:

    Your double standards regarding a vague, non-universal claiming theism and an absolutist, universal claiming atheism are noted, Stan.

    “Actually it posits that a cause which is an agent that can create [X] can also modify or interfere with [X] if it chooses. It’s a second deduction, after establishing a causal agent.”

    And how is this conclusion based on the idea of causality or on material evidence?

    “That does not invalidate logic itself, nor its use in validating the premises within a worldview.”

    No. It explains why so many people do it wrong.

    “The Big Bang is an effect, not a cause.”

    A claim for which you have no evidence.

    “A cause for the universe is posited to be an agent possessing the ability to accomplish the creation of the universe and everything in it, thereby being presumed to have those capacities or access to those capacities for itself.”

    That doesn’t actually answer my question. How about this key one, which you have failed to address: Why does the cause need to be a conscious agent? Where is the logical argument for this.

    “Demonstrate the fallacy of the first cause presumption.”

    -Infers “law” of causality based on events within universe. Applies it to the universe itself.
    -Suggests that the first cause is supernatural based on argument from incredulity (inability to imagine a natural, self-sufficient first cause).
    -Engages in special pleading by allowing supernatural creators to be uncaused/self-created.
    -Used to leap to the conclusion that supernatural creator is a benevolent omnipotent interventionist singular deity resembling the Christian God, when there is no reason to assume that it is an entity, that it has infinite power, that there is intervention beyond point of creation, that it is “good”, or that only one single entity responsible.

    Your response to my “shot yourself in the foot” is completely beside the point. You didn’t claim that logic itself was based on empirical observation, you said that the First Cause argument specifically was supported by empirical observation.

    “I have shown the logic”

    No. You have thoughtlessly regurgitated the first cause argument over and over, and displayed distortions of atheist positions to use as a punching bag, while demonstrating what an inept buffoon you are at actually dealing with people pointing out that you don’t have a leg to stand on.

    “I doubt it because [Christians] in general do not understand or use logic. I’m sure that some can and do, but I have yet to encounter them and their positive case for their worldview.”

    Fixed it. It is far more accurate that way. There would be no atheist debates if the religionists could actually present a compelling case for their beliefs. The fact that there is no positive case for atheism is a necessary consequence of the fact that atheism is a negative case: That there is no half-way decent case for the existence of gods, therefore there is no reason to believe in the existence of gods. This is sufficient reason to not believe in any other entity for which there is no positive case for. The fact that theists believe it isn’t so for atheism is either massive cognitive dissonance or a testament to their gullibility.

    ” It is far more common for the use of words like “fuckwit” than it is for actual reasoned logical argumentation from Atheists. ”

    Fuck you too. I’ve shown why virtually everything you’ve said is wrong, and even amongst the cursing, I’ve actually addressed what you’ve said. Which far more than what I can say of you. What is ruder: Calling somebody stupid while still addressing what they say, or refraining from insults while completely distorting what they’ve said? The fact that you apparently believe the former is more rude is where we truly differ. I much prefer intellectual honesty to feigned civility. I prefer to address what you say, and occasionally express just how frustrating it is to see such dross from someone presenting themselves as intelligent. You prefer to pretend that you’ve made a point and thump your chest about how superior you because you never directly insulted anyone. Yeah, you’re the better person here.

  43. Owlmirror says:

    [[The Big Bang, according to relativity, was the start of both space and time. The Big Bang is the first cause and there is no possible way that it could be caused with no time preceding it in which it could be caused.]]

    This goes too far. Cosmologists do not all agree that time and space began with the Big Bang — only that the Big Bang marks where we start counting off time for our universe, and the space of our universe began to expand.

  44. Anteprepro says:

    Heh, thanks Hank. I’m not on Facebook personally, but I may check out that book of yours. It sounds rather unique.

  45. Anteprepro says:

    “This goes too far. Cosmologists do not all agree that time and space began with the Big Bang — only that the Big Bang marks where we start counting off time for our universe, and the space of our universe began to expand.”

    Fair enough. I thought that is was a consensus view extrapolated from principles in relativity, but I may just be misremembering, the consensus may have changed, or it may have always been a minority position. Consider it retracted.

  46. JD says:

    Let me get this straight…you lied to people for several years.

    But NOW you are telling the truth about why you are an atheist?

    How do we know you aren’t lying about your reasons? Maybe you just want to have an excuse to do drugs or screw around or whatever.

    I am not saying that is the case, but I am saying thay since you are an admitted liar I think you are a waste of time, whether you are an atheist or anything else.

    So long.

  47. Phil says:

    @JD,
    Yes! I lied. I thought that was very clear. For 5 years I let people think that I was a Missouri synod lutheran.
    How do you know I am not lying now? Dunno? Not really sure that I care what you think.

    Wait…. I get a free pass on drugs if I say I’m an atheist. Damn, I must have missed that page of the atheist manual.

    So long JD you will be missed – but, thanks for the drug tip!

  48. chemicalscum says:

    Stan,

    Bertrand Russell was one of the most influential logicians of the twentieth century. He was also one of its most prominent atheists. While I think it is useful for children to understand Russell’s paradox in set theory (I myself learned about this paradox as a school kid) I don’t think it necessary for them to read his Principia Mathematica, though I would encourage them to if they felt they were were intellectually ready for it, I think it is far more important for everyone children, adults and especially you Stan, to read his Why I Am Not a Christian:

    http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/russell0.htm

    I wonderful enlightening read.

  49. MadScientist says:

    I’d point the kids to the comments here and tell them that religion will turn them into idiots like Stan. That’ll scare the fear of hell out of them.

  50. LG says:

    one trick more: play with them. Falacies and jokes have something in common: they look logical and absurd at the same time. I made my kid’s toy chat with each other and say stupid things in the form of falcies (“Did you know that because before 11 o’clock its forbidden to curse, after eleven it´s compulsory?”) My kid is 14 know, and still a christian, but I hope someday he drop religion.

  51. Nicoline says:

    Great post, but I think it’s a bit much for teens to be given “Letter to a Christian Nation” as something they could read in under two hours. I mean, they *could*, but they wouldn’t understand it. I know I had to read it more than once to grasp it fully and explore the footnotes, and I’m *long* past my teen years :-)

  52. Jenna says:

    That’s not the truth about the film Agora. It wasn’t in American theaters because it failed to be picked up by distributors due to fears of recouping the budget and poor reviews outside of Spain. I don’t know how you jumped to conclusions that distribution companies are concerned with anything besides money. You stated they were afraid of protests but in fact Vatican representatives were consulted for the film.

  53. Greg says:

    The brick testament is an interesting resource for bible study…. just wanted to share

  54. Ubi Dubium says:

    I can think of a couple more.

    Field Trips! Every church, especially the Fundie ones, says they are really special and unique. Arm your kids against this, by taking them on visits to many different places of worship. As research. I’ve told my kids, “You are going to have to live in a world full of people who believe this stuff, so the more you understand about it, the better you can deal with them” If they object that it’s boring, tell them they are going there to be spies. And the most important part: the discussion afterwards, talking about what they saw, and how it compares to the other churches they have seen. The UU’s have a class for 7th graders called “Neighboring Faiths” which is a whole year of studying world religions and taking field trips, I recommend it.

    And – Teach Sunday School! (I know this sounds nuts, bear with me). I had already vaccinated my two kids against the nonsense pretty well, but how to reach other kids? Most churches won’t let a skeptic near their kids, but the abovementioned UU will. So I signed up to teach RE for the 6th graders. (That’s a good age for this, when they can really start thinking about things.) I don’t come blazing in there saying “Religion is bad!”, the leadership wouldn’t go for that, but I work critical thinking skills into my lesson plans. By the end of the year, the kids should all have some good tools for their “Baloney Detectors”. This has gone so well that they let me teach a class on Cognitive Biases for the Teens over the summer. UU has quite a few skeptics and atheists, but there is also a really big “woo-factor” there, with all the new-agey types, so I think I’m in a place where I can really do some good.

  55. John R says:

    Get the kids “Brain Games” or find it on TV. This was a three-part series about illusions, observation, and memory that wil floor the kids with what they see and open their minds to the idea that what they see or hear (or what they ‘think’ they see or hear) is often far from the truth.

  56. Craig says:

    Agora was released to theaters in the US. I saw it at a Landmark theater in Denver.

  57. Phil says:

    @ Craig
    Agora did show is a few American theaters. You are correct. On its biggest weekend it was on 17 screens. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1186830/business
    @Jenna
    What did I say about Agora that is not true?
    1) You said that they had trouble with getting a distributor….That seems to agree with what I said in the post…”The movie Agora is a well done big budget film that was not able to find a distributor in the USA”

    2) You said it was over fears of recouping the budget – what budget? The movie budget – that was already paid by the production company. If you mean the distribution costs then we still agree. I indicated that they were afraid that Americans would not go see it.

    3) Poor reviews outside of Spain. What does the “Quality” of a movie have to do with it getting a distributor in the US? Have you gone to a theater lately? Please explain the possible connection. Also…. here is the review by the New York Times (I think they are outside of Spain) http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/05/28/movies/28agora.html
    It was a Critic’s Pick!

    4) “I don’t know how you jumped to conclusions that distribution companies are concerned with anything besides money.” I didn’t! see point 2 above. If no one goes and sees the movie – the distributor will not make money.

    5) “You stated they were afraid of protests but in fact Vatican representatives were consulted for the film.” I have to admit that I have no information on a vatican consultation but I did not discuss that in the post so – no disagreement there. However, a few seconds on the Google did find a story at the catholic news agency that calls the film “Anti-Christian” and discusses the protests in Spain.

    so…. please do tell what part do you think was untrue?

  58. DC says:

    Would it be such a bad world if everyone followed the teachings of Jesus?

  59. DC says:

    Would it be such a bad world if everyone followed the teachings of Jesus in their entirety?

  60. Phil says:

    @DC,
    You asked….”Would it be such a bad world if everyone followed the teachings of Jesus in their entirety?”
    Not sure…. Which one of the 30,000 versions of christianity would be the correct one? Where can one find a complete list of Jesus’ teachings?
    Would it include these teachings….
    – Make family members hate each other – Matt 10:34
    – Families torn apart – Matt 10:21
    – All The evil rules in the old testament – Matt 5:17
    – Condemn entire cites to death for not liking his preaching – Matt 11:20
    – Speak only in parable so no one can understand – Matt 13:10-15
    – child abuse – Matt 15:4-7
    – Killing disobedient children – Mark 7:9
    – Killing animals but putting devils in them – Mark 5:12
    – Killing fruit trees that are out of season – Mark 11:13
    – Beating slaves (slavery OK!) – Luke 12:47

    I think I want to change my answer… It would be a very bad world.

  61. Ben Finney says:

    If everyone followed the teachings of Jesus in Christian scripture, we would be undoing a great deal of social progress, and we would not like the result.

    Here are some of the things that must be included if we are to follow what Christian scripture presents as the teachings of Jesus:

    Cut off one’s own body parts (Matthew 18:8).
    Neglect one’s family, friends, all obligations (Matthew 10:37, 19:29).
    Kill people in front of Jesus (Luke 19:27).
    Be indifferent to human slavery (many of Jesus’s parables, where he speaks of slavery with indifference and never condemns it).

    I think much of our social progress comes in part *because* we learn to ignore the bad things religious leaders like Jesus say.

  62. Anteprepro says:

    I’m pretty sure we have a country filled with a majority of people claiming to follow the teachings of Jesus, and yet America is worse off then similarly privileged countries who are less devout. We have a world where 30% claim to follow Jesus’s teachings, and yet there is still war and still crime perpetuated by these people. We have a world where the majority of Europe has been majority Christianity throughout most of the last two millennia. And yet Europe still has an excessively violent and oppressive history.

    Either these Christian individuals and largely nations have failed to actually be Christian (thus making virtually every previous attempt at following Jesus’s teachings a failure, which doesn’t reflect well on the viability of said teachings), or Christ’s teachings are awful even when successfully followed. Make your choice, DC.

  63. Samantha says:

    This is just the devil at work!

  64. Joe says:

    I create an environment of wonder and inquiry in the house. Beyond just having books in the house like those on evolution and primatology, etc, I read a lot and they see it is part of my day. National Geographic and Scientific American magazines are in the house. We watch many nature shows (kids are young so the visuals work well) and shows on space. We have a membership to the local science center. We visit zoos and look for animals in the tide pools at the beach. All of these things are positive and fun and they promote inquiry and demand some critical thinking.

    However, I do have religious texts on my bookshelf too. It is just they are with books of their kind… philosophy & mythology. I won’t deny those things exist. When asked about things like Jesus or god I simply say,”Some people believe…” and then answer the question. I am sure to note what I believe as well and why (when needed)… and end with a question, “What do you think?”

    Another thing I like to do is when they tell me they want something from, say, the other room, I ask them if they should wish for it or get up and get it… they always get up. Now, I never say “pray” but the lesson is taught, I believe, with the word “wish.”

  65. Phil says:

    @joe,
    Some great stuff there and a few things to add to my list. Thanks for the great comment.

  66. s a says:

    When we were six, my mother started reading Bullfinch’s Mythology to me and my brother every morning. Then it was classic fairy tales, then classic science fiction. Our bookshelves had at least one book of most of the religions. When we were 10, she said she thought it might be good for us to try organized religion for awhile. We both said “No!” and that was that.

  67. Armand787 says:

    I don’t know of an atheist who can knowingly send his/her kids to the church/mosque/synagogues etc. Were you dumb or something? It’s almost like: “Alright kids spiderman doesn’t exist but hey let’s go and buy spiderman suits so that we can throw webs at the criminals and rid the world of evil”

    Meanwhile I got the dvd of PBS’s Evolution Documentary listed in the article above and I’m watching it now! I also ordered Richard Dawkin’s Evidence For Evolution and have already got God Delusion and Stephen Hawkin’s The Grand Design

  68. John Phillips, FCD says:

    Just got back to this after forgetting about it, xmas and all that :)

    Anyway, Stan, please explain to me how you get from my writing;

    “Don’t you think it a rather delicious irony that it is science, not religious faith, that enables you to write that excuse of an apologetic via the Internet”

    to you writing;

    “I think it is an irony that Atheists believe that technology is due to a worldview.”

    Where did I equate atheism with technology. All I did was, with a limited example, show how that every gain of the modern world, better health/longer life, the tool that allows your electron wasting screeds here etc, is not the result of religious faith, but of science and the scientific method. In fact, if religion, all the Abrahamic ones at least, had their way we would still be in the middle ages or even further back.

    Plus, atheism isn’t per se a denial of god simply the logical (there’s that word again) conclusion based on the complete lack of evidence for god/s, none, nada, zilch. I also find it ironic that believers try to ‘tar’ atheists as a kind of faith based believer, implying that faith based beliefs are bad or wrong. We know, why do you think we are against it, even the more, on the surface at least, moderate kinds. Thousands of years and a multitude of religions and not a single useful piece of evidence for their gods. The very best that anyone can posit without evidence is a deist god who might have been the first cause but then left well alone. Colour me unimpressed.

    BTW, constantly claiming we are illogical while basically posting a presuppositionalism variant and semantic and logical gymnastics, earns you neither respect nor a continued hearing. After a while, it is simply another boring apologeticist. When you have evidence beyond semantics and logic twisting for your god, come back to us. Until then, you only deserve the Courtier’s reply.

    Why do I get the bad smell of a WLC fan about this one.

  69. Duncan says:

    I really think you’re overestimating the persuasive powers of this religion malarkey. We (my brother and I) were raised without mention of religion until the age 5 so when it did raise its head in the form of ‘optional’ weekly services at our ‘non-denominational’ primary school it was just one story amongst many and given no more credence than the world of Ghostbusters or the Teenage Mutant Turtles. I still remember being quite amazed to learn (some time in my teens) that there were people who actually, genuinely believed these things. You don’t need to force your kids to watch Agora on repeat for them to find the idea that Zeus (or whatever) manifested himself as a Middle Eastern magician to have himself executed to make up for the fact that a patently mythological woman eat an apple given to her by a talking stake to be utterly risible. The idea that someone could base their life around such absurdities I find truly astonishing; but this much is true – unless religion gets them early enough they’ll never fall for such nonsense.

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