Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Common Misconceptions Part Three - Atheism Is A Religion

I've heard this claim and have seen it debunked so many times that I now highly suspect that proponents of this misconception are willfully ignorant about the definition of both religion and atheism. A closely related tactic of denigrating atheism is to equate atheism to religious fundamentalism. I'd like to add my humble thoughts to the swirling cauldron of discussion on this issue.

First of all, I don't really understand the point of accusing atheism of being a religion. Are you saying that since atheism is a religion that atheists are not permitted to critique "other" religions? How does this follow? Not only do all three mainstream monotheistic religions condemn each other as apostates, but all three themselves harbor their own violent infighting. Consider the conflicts between Orthodox/Reform Jews, Protestants/Catholics and Sunnis/Shi'as. Obviously this line of thinking is fallacious. Some people will then argue that the atheist utilizes just as much faith as their own religious convictions. In other words, atheists believe in things without sufficient evidence just as much as the religious. This is profoundly untrue and I will explain why. First, lets look at the definitions of both religion and atheism.

Religion is defined as a set of beliefs concerning the nature, and purpose of universe, esp. when as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances and often containing a moral code governing the affairs of human conduct. A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of people or a sect.

Atheism is defined as disbelief in the existence of a god or gods.

Now, I grant that a philosophy does not have to be inherently theistic to be a religion. Certain sects of Hinduism and Buddhism as well as lesser known religions like Jainism do not believe in any gods. What makes these worldviews religious is not their particular stance on theism, but rather their fundamental sets of beliefs and practices with moral codes governing their conduct.

But what about atheism? Isn't atheism a "worldview" with "sets of beliefs?"

As the definition clearly states, the answer is no. Atheism is simply an assertion of what someone does not believe, not what they do believe or what they assert to be true. An atheist can be a genocidal communist (as Stalin certainly was) or an atheist can be a devout Jain. Atheism denotes no political affiliation, moral code, or philosophical disposition. An atheist can be a student of Ayn Rand or equally a student of Immanuel Kant. And everywhere in between. Are you beginning to see why that is simply not religion?

This is why, although I'm perfectly comfortable with the term atheist, I rather prefer the descriptor of pearlist. By subscribing to Pearlism, I am making a positive assertion about what I believe, namely in physical evidence and reasoned logic.

But aren't most pearlists atheists?

Well, yes they are. By my lights I do not see how they could not be. But this question is ignoring the distinction of terms I am laboring to make for your own sake. Correlation is warranted. But to make the terms synonymous would be an error.

But what about people like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens who go around promoting atheism? What makes them different than fundamentalist evangelists? Aren't they atheist "prophets"?

We'll get to fundamentalism in a moment. What makes people like Dawkins and Hitchens different from evangelicals is that their claims can be supported by verifiable evidence. Further, they are not claiming that if you dissent from their (again, evidence based) version of reality that you will suffer for it. True, the world may suffer for it presently, but you are not personally destined for eternal damnation. Richard Dawkins has written truly remarkable books about Darwinian evolution. These books are vastly thorough, providing evidence upon evidence upon evidence for the wonderful explanation of the diversity of life, and yet people still accuse him of having the same faith of a Christian. This is willful ignorance and total nonsense. They are not prophets because they do not claim divine inspiration from invisible agents.

Now, to this issue of atheists being the same as religious fundamentalists. I'm just curious, what would a non-fundamentalist atheist be? Would it be a person who only half-way rejects the god hypothesis? What fundamental sets of beliefs would the fundamentalist atheist be reverting to in his/her proclamations? Just as an evangelical fundamentalist hearkens back to a literal interpretation of the Bible, does the atheist fundamentalist refer back to "literal" interpretations of Bertrand Russell or Mark Twain or Epicurus? Of course not. You see here we run into the same issue of category description as we did with religion.

Okay, that makes sense. But isn't an atheist still utilizing faith to believe in things they cannot observe like the big bang or love or whatever?

No. The big bang is observable by studying the Doppler Effect of the stars in the rapidly expanding universe. Love (and morality and many emotions) are easily observed in fMRI experiments monitoring brain activity in human beings. We understand the chemicals involved in pleasure (like dopamine) and understand the parts of the brain that are particularly wired for certain emotions. It is the opposite of faith to reserve judgment until sufficient evidence is in. It is the opposite of faith to change previously accepted ideas in light of new and convincing data (Pluto is not a planet, the Universe is expanding, etc.) It is the opposite of faith to desire answers to questions.

And what will answer our questions? Will God? Has God seriously ever answered any of your questions without you assigning agency to some vague bible verse or emotional sleight of hand? I doubt it. Science can answer some of our questions. Not all of them. Not even most of them. But physical evidence and reasoned logic have been outrunning religion for centuries. And they will continue to do so. At any rate, I'd rather know 0.0000001% of what is true rather than believe in 100% of unverifiable mythology.

Yours in reason,

Clint Wells


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Clint. I always enjoy your writing.

While it may be technically true that "atheism" as a technical term does not entail a "set of beliefs about nature and morality," you would be hard-pressed to separate atheism in its existential sense from such a broad definition of religion/worldview.

It also seems like you are indirectly promoting the "Flew Thesis" concerning the presumption of atheism. Flew has obviously abandoned his thesis. Philosophically, I think it is dead as well.

Also, the Hitchens-Dawkins "verificationist" epistemology is able to be classified as a religion since it inevitably connects itself to a metaphysical framework and ethical plausability structures.

Unfortunately, "verificationism" has fallen on hard times in the academy (except in the hard sciences). It is being revived in a non-academic, "steet level" form in this "new atheism" of Dawkins-Harris-Hitchens.

Thanks again, Clint!

Clint Wells said...

Anthony Flew's conversion to deism is an interesting issue. Did you know that he passed away a few months ago?

I don't believe a worldview can be constructed from an assertion of a particular disbelief. If I were to say that I don't believe in anything then that would indeed be a nihilistic worldview. However, not believing in gods, or elves or fairys for that matter, cannot logically be used to build an entire worldview.

This is exemplified by the fact that two polar opposite worldviews like Jainism and Stalinism are both atheistic.

I believe the presumption of atheism is perfectly reasonable. The Christian maintains a presumption of atheism in regards to all other gods on offer. Do Christians investigate the claims of Islam or Hinduism or Zeus or Odin or Ishtar? Of course they don't. In fact, the Romans used to call Christians atheists because they only worshiped one god. I just take it one god further.

I'm quite interesting in hearing your examples of how Dawkins' epistemology is connected to a metaphysical framework.

You consider the works of Richard Dawkins to be "non-academic"? Wow. What Dawkins have you read?

Clint Wells said...


prin said...

Is there a difference between a disbelief in God and a belief that there is no God?

It is the opposite of faith to reserve judgment until sufficient evidence is in.
How many people actually seek the evidence? Take evolution. How many people actually know what happened? How many have read every book, experimented themselves and finally come to the conclusion that evolution must be the way things occurred? And how many know absolutely nothing of evolution yet have complete confidence that that was how we developed?

Add to that how so much of science is based on a sort of platform of prior human knowledge rather than from scratch, thereby creating a "faith" situation also, and much of science becomes trusting in the other scientists- i.e. having faith in them.

Is it a blind faith? Not always. But neither is a spiritual faith either. *shrugs*

Clint Wells said...

Prin - There is only a difference if you are using the latter phrasing to establish a worldview based on that "belief." I personally find it laborious to consider all the things I reject as "beliefs in their nonexistence."

Presumably you do not believe in Santa Claus. Do you consider that a belief in the non-existence of Santa Claus? I tend to view beliefs as positive assertions, not rejections of claims.

As far as evolution goes I am becoming more and more convinced that hardly anybody knows what the hell it is, which is really unfortunate. As someone with a biology degree, surely you know that not only is evolution central to the field of biology, but its also a truly breathtaking and wonderful explanation for the diversity of life. There is no reason for someone to take evolution on "faith." The data is in and continues to come in and is thankfully easily accessible in the marketplace of ideas.

I understand your bigger comment about faith. But I think that's a pop culture misuse of the word. In some sense I suppose I could say that I have faith in my lover or in scientists. But it's not the same really because my lover has given me very good reasons to believe that she loves me. Scientists present their work in peer review journals.

I'm going to adopt you *shrugs* thing if you don't mind. I like it.


montrosse said...

Faith is simply defined as taking the word of someone else who was there.

I take it on faith that the guys who wrote the Bible weren't making stuff up. Its no different than someone reading a medical journal and trusting that the writer is telling the truth.

Clint Wells said...

Montrosse - there are several things wrong with your comment.

1. Your definition of faith is over simplified. Presumably you would believe the eye witness testimony of
someone who had a demonstrable track record for telling the truth (evidence) over a stranger or someone with a track record of being dishonest. Therefore, your description of faith fails. The book of Hebrews defines faith as the belief in things unseen. I'm fine with that definition.

2. By the logic of your definition of
faith you are saying that you trust the bible because a. The writters were there and b. Why would they make stuff up?

Are you aware that most of the books in the New Testament were not written by eye witnesses? Are you aware that the manuscripts we have are copies of copies of copies of copies hundreds of years removed from, again, the non eye witness original??

There are many many reasons why the refiners of the bible would make up it's contents. I challenge you to read Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman.

3. People are utilizing faith by trusting medical journals? You obviously are not aware of how articles are submitted in medical peer review journals. First of all, all scientists go through great lengths to make sure their articles survive falsification before publishing. That is because publishing articles with shitty science will ruin your academic
career. Scientific peer review is intense with it's scrutiny.

Secondly, the information contained in medical
journals can be investigated independently. No faith is required at all.


montrosse said...

In answer to your example, how would I indeed know that X person had a "demonstrable track record of being honest?"

Who could I trust to provide me with reliable information about person X's trustworthiness? Would my faith not shift then from person X to person Y (or method Y)?

On the flip side perhaps it is easier to catch someone in a lie and indeed I would not trust someone who lied often, but the point here is not to argue over what I would normally trust. It is to establish the logical issue of faith.

I know you have had a history with the Christian church. Do you suppose there is anyone living or dead who has never lied? Can you honestly say that you KNOW anyone who will always tell you the truth, whether or not it is important? What do you trust when making that assessment?

Clint Wells said...

Montrose - You said:

...how would I know that X person had a demonstrable record of being honest?"

By demonstrable I mean able to demonstrate with evidence. When you meet people and begin to form relationships you constantly weigh evidence for why you should trust them. You don't just give random strangers the keys to your house or supervision over your children. The people in your life that you trust (not have faith in) are people who give you good reasons to trust them everyday. Examples of this would be if someone says they are going to do something and DOES it. Or say your lover is late coming home because they either got a speeding ticket or were picking up dinner. Well, you could easily verify the existence of the ticket and the food. This is how trust is created. Can we agree on this?

As your definition for faith stands, it is not logical.

Do I think that someone in the history of humanity has never lied? Of course not. Do I know anyone who will always tell the truth? Well, I can't know that but I would make an educated guess and say no, of course not.

What do I trust when making that assessment? Evidence. People lie. All the time. That is why, as a responsible human being, you must view the world and your relationships with a healthy amount of skepticism. It only bolsters my point that trust in someone is based on evidence and not faith.

Anonymous said...


This is "Anonymous 1", btw. :-)

I made the comment that a worldview usually stems from the atheist proposition "existentially." I suppose it is possible for one to have a disconnected affirmation of the atheist proposition from the rest of one's worldview, incoherent it may perhaps be. I was merely speaking of the existential phenomena.

The "presumption of atheism" thesis (again, rejected by the one who termed the thesis) is directly connected to a particular epistemology. Most Darwinians in their epistemology are verificationists, which certainly has a bearing on there metaphysics. Take David Hume for an example. His verificationism led him to belief that induction (a presupposition in modern science) could not be measured or "known" though he still wished to believe it was there. Still, his metaphysic was one of skepticism in which the world does not properly communicate details in an empirical fashion that we would otherwise wish to believe.

An important question is this...what makes the presumption of atheism more tenable than the presumption of theism? The answer one would give is that of verificationism. But why presume such an epistemology over another which would presume theism at the outset? How do we judge a more virtuous epistemology?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and my comment about Dawkins non-academic writing...

I am referring to the entire "new atheism" movement in general. Their writings against religion are very non-academic. Dawkins is academic when talking his own field, but his material on religion, philosophy, and theistic arguments have been shown to be sub-par. There are plenty of other non-theists who are better equipped to handle the professional philosophers of religion (Craig, Moreland, etc.).

Being non-academic isn't an insult either. The Hitchens-Wilson debate on DVD is fun to watch, though it is non-academic.

Clint Wells said...

Anon 1 - Existential phenomenon? Huh? Calling atheism a worldview is like calling non-stamp collecting a hobby. It's that simple.

Just because the originator of a thesis rejects the thesis that does not make it untrue. Consider the lie that creationists attempt to spread about Darwin's deathbed rejection of evolution (Wow, creationists lying to purport their biases? no!). Even IF Darwin had made this confession it would not,in any way, invalidate the fact of evolution.

"But why presume such an epistemology over another which would presume theism at the outset? How do we judge a more virtuous epistemology?"

The more virtuous epistemology is the one that identifies with observable reality the most. In the case of theism, there is virtually no correlation with observable reality, which is why most theists claim that God is OUTSIDE of reality and space and time. Unmeasurable, unbound, etc.

Further, if one adopts the presumption of theism, then their work is ahead of them to identify the nature of the deity (Jesus, Allah, Zeus, Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc.). Whereas the presumption of atheism effectively rejects all god hypotheses with consistent uniformity.

"Dawkins'... material on religion, philosophy, and theistic arguments have been shown to be sub-par."

I have not seen this. I'm not saying it isn't true. Anywhere you can point me on this issue?

Dawkins has several books on evolution that are specifically to counter creationist/theistic philosophy. These books include The Selfish Gene, Climbing Mount Improbable, The Blind Watchmaker, The Ancestors Tale and The Greatest Show on Earth. As an evolutionary biologist, I think you would be hard pressed to consider these works "non-academic."

I like that Collision movie, too.

Reed Barrow said...

It annoys me that the burden of proof is on us. It should be: "You came up with the idea. Why do you believe it?" I could tell you I've got superpowers, but you can't go up to people saying "Prove I can't fly." They'd go: "What do you mean 'Prove you can't fly'? Prove you can!"
-Ricky Gervais

bruce said...

here's a few legit people that think the new atheism is without scholarly rigor:


here's an article and book critical of his take on darwin


you can also find critique in Alisdair MacIntyre's newest book God, Philosophy, Universities - not necessarily about Dawkins per se, but of the intellectual vapidity of the new atheist movement, especially when compared to the giants of atheism of yesteryear in philosophy (nietschze, russell, etc).

Clint Wells said...

Bruce - I was unable to access your link to the economist as I am not a subscriber.

I read your first article and based on our few conversations I can clearly see why you like it.

Let's just take a moment to familiarize ourselves with a few of the objects of Hart's vitriolic diatribe.

1. Richard Dawkins - evolutionary biologist, ethologist, former Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University and a fellow of New College, Oxford.

2. Victor Stenger - Particle physicist specializing in quantum mechanics and cosmology as well as a best selling author on religion, atheism and pseudoscience.

3. Christopher Hitchens - world renowned journalist and columnist for the most rigorous publications in the world as well as an accomplished author and biographer. He was voted one of the top 100 public intellectuals.

4. Daniel Dennett - Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, Professor at Tufts University and a widely acknowledged expert on the philosophy of mind, science, biology as well as cognitive science in general.

5. A.C. Grayling - Professor of Philosphy at Birkbeck, University of London and fellow of St. Anne's College, Oxford. Has an MA and DPhil from Oxford.

6. Michael Shermer - MA in experimental psychology as well as a DPhil from the Claremont Graduate University in the History of Science.

7. Laura Purdy - PHd in Philosphy from Stanford University. Professor of Philosophy at Wells College, NY. Renowned bioethicist.

8. Adèle Mercier - multiple Masters degrees and PHDs in Philosophy and Linguistics.

Why did I just take all of that time to pool together these folks' credentials? Because here is what Hurt is able to say about all of them in a marginally short article: Intellectually and morally trivial, shallow, insufferable, vapid, lacking courage, moral intelligence and thoughtfulness, boorishly arrogant, banal, wantonly incurious (wow!), absurdly optimistic, intellectually unserious and indolent.

That's right. You attain all of those incredible credentials by championing indolence.

Now, I haven't read the book he is talking about. But to make these kinds of accusations in such a sweeping, grandiose way should cause any thinking person to proceed with extreme caution. Hurt actually has the audacity to accuse these people of parading an "air of authority" with "reckless self-confidence." Wow. Having read over sixty books that could be loosely classified as New Atheism (its a dumb category) I have to say, this article is by far the douchiest out of all of them. Even more so than Christopher Hitchens, and frankly that is remarkable.

Clint Wells said...

One of the more astounding moments of this article is when Hart actually criticizes these thinkers for having "baseless presuppositions." So, let me get this straight. Appealing to naturalism because it, as a model, most succinctly corresponds with observable reality is a "baseless presupposition" while believing in an invisible and improvable floating god isn't? Am I missing something here? FAIL.

I love how Hart congratulates himself for reading books. He even self-righteously boasts that he read them all objectively and without prejudice. Is that so? I find it pretty fucking hard to believe that he read all of those books without prejudice while doing research for his book entitled, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies. FACE PALM.

It's interesting to note that in his entire rant he never makes a cohesive argument for theism. He claims that god is the "transcendent fullness of actuality." I can't think of a more meaningless placeholder description for a non-thought. He criticizes the argument of infinite regression (an argument heralded by Bertrand Russell who you, Bruce, apparently think was a way better philosopher), as outdated and then actually has the balls to make an argument from contingency? Half-baked Aquinas is probably the most boring argument for theism ever developed. It has been debunked for CENTURIES.

Aside from learning that he is a conceited dick, all Hart taught me was that he doesn't fully understand the "new atheists." He has no intelligible explanation for god, which for the cagillionth time, is his burden to prove. His explanation for god actually reminded me a lot of your response several months ago when I asked you why you believed in god. It literally made no sense.

You have anything better than this guy? Also, I'm just curious what "new atheism" books you have read. I've actually taken the time to read several responses to the new atheism (Ravi Zacharias, Tim Keller, Vox Day, etc.). I'm still waiting to encounter someone who has taken the time themselves to read these books.

Clint Wells said...

I don't know why I occasionally refer to him as "Hurt." Probably because he hurts my brains. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh snap!

bruce said...

I've not read but a shred of new atheism, but neither do i go around critizing it. I have read a tremendous amount of secular academic philosophy, including many books that are specifically talking about problems in belief in theism. I can promise though that i would not read the new atheist equivalent of tim keller, ravi zacharias, or vox day and boast that i'd taken them seriously.

i don't really have a dog in the new atheist fight, but i was perusing and you asked for authors so i gave a few, i've seen a lot more, most of them written by professional philosophers along the lines of 'these new atheist may know lots about science but they don't seem to know much about philosophy'. The economist article (about the group) was basically the same critique as the Hart article and was written by a secular non-christian. it's not like it's only the crazy religionist who are saying this. it's coming from the secular middle (just like the critiques against religious fundamentalism are coming from the secular middle and may they keep coming).

The MacIntyre book - now that is a different animal. If you want to seriously engage this stuff on both sides you've got to be willing to get down and dirty with academics on both sides.

I'll hand it to Dawkins for going toe to toe with McGrath. McGrath is a serious thinker. I'd love to seem him take on MacIntyre, who is beyond a serious thinker, he's one of the most respected philosophers in the world, formerly an atheist marxist and now a thomistic catholic, and tremendously respected by much of his field including the atheists.

One of the telling things about Russell, is that for all his vitriol, he got on well with the other side. The other side didn't listen to his characterizations of their position (or he there's) and say 'that's not what i believe'.

The Hitchens stuff i've read and seen and even some of the Dawkins stuff - a lot of it i don't think is fair to the way I see the world. Same goes for Ravi Zacharias and Van Til to a lesser degree and even a lesser degree, but still true, John Frame. they're sort of hacks, people that preach to the choir, or more likely in a better light cheerleaders for their side (at least RZ) - or more cynically Catcher in the Rye.

If you want to take all this in seriously, which is awesome and i'm all for honest inquiry, jumping into the verbal pissing match going on between the non-academic left and the non-academic right is pointless. Those guys are all talking past each other and neither are taking each other seriously and often their back is to the opposition and they're simply talking to their own side.

But serious debate still exists in the world i guess that's what i'm getting at.

my position i wrote a few months ago isn't hard, it's just the opposite of what you believe. you're espousing that you want to understand so that you can believe or assent to a worldview, be it religious or non-religious or pearlist. i think it works the exact opposite, i think i believe so that i can understand. we have a fundamental disagreement about the order of belief. all that will convince, so far as i understand it, me is that if there is so much outside contradictory data coming in that i can't hold my belief in good faith any longer. all that i think will ever push you over to 'my side' if you will is if you get to a point where you become hopeless that you'll understand anything, so to speak.

all of this stuff is always more complicated than it appears to be on the surface though.

Clint Wells said...

Bruce - I see your point.

I don't want to understand so that I can believe. I want to understand so that I can know. Big difference.

Outside contradictory data? What is the inside data? The bible? Your feelings? What would have to be presented to you to stop believing in God?

I actually do like Alister McGrath. I've read some of his work and seen some of his debates. Other theists who have impressed me recently were Willaim Lane Craig and John Lennox.

bruce said...

and that's another issue - this whole concept of 'knowledge'. i don't think it's nearly simple as you're making it out to be. I'd love to hear your thoughts after interacting with some hardcore epistemology, or better, epistemology as it relates to science. i've recommended this before, but Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolution would really challenge you i think. Kuhn's an atheist dissatisfied with the concept of certainty used by the scientific community. God forbid you ever discover Derrida.

As to what it would take to get me to 'not believe' from inside the system. Certainly tons of internal contradiction, but let's be honest, a system that's been being criticised for 2000 years, and has still weathered the storm so to speak of modernism, post-modernism, the scientism of the 1800's, communism, fascism, multiple schisms and heresies, and on on - it's not like someone's going to come out with some new argument to make the christian world jump ship. it's also not like i haven't rubbed up against this stuff for the last 12 years or more.

i think the fall away from belief would be terribly personal, tragic events, loss, divorce, death, failure - and especially sin and guilt. that's what i mean when i say outside, not being able to able to reconcile my beliefs and my experience in some way. even that the church would say (rightly i would say now, but not then of course) that i've been deceived or deceived myself. but i think that's what losing faith looks like more often than not, or at least would for me. of course i also currently hold the completely irreconcilable position that i 'can't' fall away. (insert clint laughing hysterically here).

i'm very comfortable with the seemingly irrencilable issues with xtianity (for ex God's omnipotenence and omnibenevolance). I'm not saying i can explain them away, i'm comfortable with my inability to do so.

i'm curious how cognizant you are of the irreconcilable issues with pearlism or scientism as it was once known or better rationalism of the sort you now espouse?

Clint Wells said...

I'll check that first book out. As far as the whole, "you can't really know anything" argument, I find that pretty lame. Perhaps all scientific claims are inductive and are therefore never fully true, just highly probable.

1. Every day to date gravity has held true.
2. Gravity will hold tomorrow.

Is this fully true? Well, no. Is it most probable. Yes. If we cannot trust the scientific method as the most reasonable system of creating models that correspond to reality, then what can we trust? God? No one knows what the fuck god is. There is no consensus whatsoever.

A system that has been criticized for 2000 years?

First of all just because something is around for 2000 years doesn't make it more likely to be true. Judaism has been around longer. Does that make it truer? Of course not.

Secondly, perhaps you forgot about the Inquisition. You know that lovely program of MURDERING and TORTURING anyone who dissented from the church.

No Bruce, your church does not credit for the last 2000 years of "surviving scrutiny" when it bullied its way throughoutt all of history until the age of enlightenment. I'll give you that it has survived the last 350 years. But barely. Physical evidence and reasoned logic has stopped the mouth of religion in regards to miracles and the supernatural.

First God was over the mountains. Well, we went over the mountains and nothing was there. Then God was on the tops of the mountains. When we went to the mountains, no god. Then he was in space. Ah, yes. Space. Then Galileo looked into a telescope and saw the moons of Jupiter instead of a god. Now where is god? Oh. Outside of the observable universe (contrary to the holy books) somewhere in the quantum. Science will lay waste to that theory as well. Not only have you convinced yourself that God is untestable, but you've also convinced yourself that EVERYTHING is untestable. This is dangerous indeed.

Clint Wells said...

i'm very comfortable with the seemingly irrencilable issues with xtianity (for ex God's omnipotenence and omnibenevolance). I'm not saying i can explain them away, i'm comfortable with my inability to do so.

Are theologians working on figuring this out? Or are you all just waiting to die before any of this makes sense?

I'll pose this question to you yet again.

What version of Christianity do you believe in and WHY do you believe it is the ultimate truth?

bruce said...

have i not responded to this several times only to have it dismissed as meaningless and then deleted at the next blog rework so that i can't simply cut and paste?

can you access my last long written explanation?

if not my one sentence answer is i believe in the God of the historic church, explicated in the creeds, especially the Nicene Creed (photius notwithstanding), and held fast to by the traditions of the church.

Clint Wells said...

Bruce - Give me a break, broseph. I have only deleted my blog one time. To my knowledge you have only explained why you believe in god one time. Perhaps you are confusing me with BTM.

I have my blog backed up. If I have that would you like me to post it here?

I apologize if you felt dismissed. I do find it curious though that if you get 10 people in a room who believe the same list of things you just mentioned (especially if you omit a belief in the Bible's infallibility) and ask them who ro what GOD is, you will get remarkably different answers. Does this alarm you?

bruce said...

no doesn't alarm me at all. and yes please do post the old post.

it doesn't alarm because i don't think it matters in the big picture and neither does biblical inerrancy (infallibility being a different concept). inerrancy is a very american protestant problem, it's not even part of the conversation in the rest of the world.

bruce said...

this is interesting, from per caritatem, a blog i regularly read on philosophy and theology -


a good read on the order of belief, anselm's argument from ontology and the various critiques of it.