I was indeed flattered that you took the time to “critically” examine an article of mine: “In God we trust?”
Unfortunately I found your “criticism” rather shallow, a wrong interpretation and wanting in logical construction. However, I have a few spare minutes and I will use them to point out some of your more obvious evaluative errors.
While we are on the ‘unfortunate’ theme, ‘that’ word springs to mind concerning your self- description. “I’m a Calvinist Presbyterian–not because of Calvin” – I have to assume by this, that you have disowned the lovely John because of his somewhat maniacal views on the odd topic or two. Good on you for that. I may be presumptuous but I expect that you do not accept how Calvin was a type of Christian now almost universally rejected. Along with other socially repugnant proposals he endorsed the concept of everyone being tainted by the fall of Adam and therefore was destined for eternal torment in Hell. A few redeemed would enjoy everlasting bliss in Heaven
However, I am still left wondering, because the religious seem to pick and choose (of course I mean indoctrinated as children) in what they do and do not believe in, whether you are fundamentalist in nature and therefore reject the idea of evolution, or you do not.
For the purpose of this exercise, I will assume you have fallen prey to the anti-scientific notion of a few thousand-year old Earth.
In any reply, could you please let me know if this is true?
If you had read my article with an open mind, you may have come to the understanding that I was not discussing the ill effects of tyrants on the world, but the effects of religion (all religions) on the minds of its adherents and thus the world.
Tyrants are as tyrants are, and we expect no better of them. The popular perception of religions is that better is anticipated as they are all following the supposed word of a supposed “God”. When it comes to being sucked in by tyrants or religions, humanity seems to excel itself in mental submission to the irrational and the superstitious.
Everything that I write on these matters is aimed at people making better social and political decisions based on evidence, reason and compassion. Your letter shows very little of any of these worthy attributes.
“Before Nicholls can legitimately propose a rejection of God as a solution, he needs to show that his solution works. It does not.”
The above is interesting, especially as you are either from Australia or the USA. Both countries have removed, to a large extent, “God” from the political and educational systems. Far more so than, let’s take the other extreme, Afghanistan and similar. Concentrating on Australia and Afghanistan should be self explanatory enough, even for you.
It makes little difference the route taken to arrive at Australia’s or Afghanistan’s present political and social situation except to say I know the one I prefer. That we have had to fight tooth and nail (and still do to a large degree) against the absurdities of Christianity to get here and remain here, in our present form, should not be forgotten. What freedoms has Christianity brought about? Freedom from pain? Christians opposed anaesthetics. They opposed freeing the slaves, they opposed giving women the vote, and they still reject women being given equal rights and opportunities. The Church endorsed the Feudal System and built the magnificent cathedrals with peasant labour and the peasants lived in hovels.
Australia is the most secularly run democracy on the planet – it is also one of the finest to live in because of that. It irks me and other freethinkers, that the Tim’s of the world would use the freedoms given to them by this system to be constantly attempting to send us back to the Dark Ages (where religion was in total control) and into a state of Theocratic rule. The boundless supply of evidence against such obvious stupidity does not seem to deter those who have been taught to be too frightened to think for themselves.
That you try to marry the then non-democratic, tyrannical and militaristic and forced “god-less” society of the Soviet Union with a freely chosen stance of Atheism in a democratic society does show up your incompetence of thought. The same can be said for the tyrannical and brutal goings on in China, which included the Catholic (to you, the enemy – to me, the religious) Chiang Kai-shek. You equate Atheism with violence but Buddhism is very close to being Atheistic and is amongst the most non-violent religions.
The numbers game you play is really not worthy of reply but it would have been nice if you included all the deaths and suffering of all the religions since humanity stepped out of the trees. It may have been not to ingenuous to also include the numbers of people that your “God” has indiscriminately killed and maimed through earthquakes, fires, floods (and I do not mean Noachian), genetic abnormalities and pathogens and the like. Was it eighteen million people killed at the turn of last century by flu? Was it a quarter of Europe wiped out by plagues? Are thirty million people now dead and or dying from HIV/aids? And so on and so forth. Quite an all-powerful “God”, not to mention all-loving??? Our fault though, we are sinners and we deserve such treatment for just being human? That is very rational and compassionate, no! We certainly cannot “match the efficiency of the murderous madness of” the creator, now can we.
You mention bloodthirsty dictators, “Lenin, Stalin, Marx, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and Mao Tse Tung” but selectively and conveniently leave out the Catholics, Adolf Hitler, the religious Germany that was responsible for the holocaust and the deaths of 20 million Soviets and some millions of the Allies, General Franco, Pinochet, England’s only dictator – Cromwell, Marcos, etc. I must make mention of the Christian President of the USA. Instead of bombing the crap out of Afghanistan, should he not be following the advice of Matt:18. 21-22. Let me save you from looking it up:
Then Peter came up and said to him “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
Well, all I can say is, that that is the real Christianity in action. It boils down to the interpretation of the interpreter, no.
By the way, you also fail to mention the tyranny of around half of the human race by religious men; women.
The numbers of mainly women that were killed in Inquisitions is unknown to us (it may be known to the Vatican) but it is significantly more than the 60,000 you state. We may go into this in a later communication. Suffice to say, why do we not kill witches today when the Bible says “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exod.22:18)? Have Christians taken upon themselves to ignore God or is this the result of reason rejecting God?
At this stage Tim, I think I need to define what an Atheist is: An Atheist is one whom recognises that there is no empirical or other credible scientific evidence for the existence of “God(s), the supernatural, “souls” or Unicorns etc. and therefore as thinking rational-capable beings, we can make no rules about that which is only evolutionary produced and generationally continued imaginary hopes, fears and aspirations.
In the following, we see where you are really coming form:
“And to top it all off, Nicholls makes the laughable claim that if we only were more open-minded and taught our children to have multiple sex partners–of both genders and at the same time–,abort any resulting babies and masturbate and participate in anal sex and distribute condoms on top of that, western society would be that much better off.”
If you read the article with an open mind, you may have seen where I was really coming from. Society does not need your sexual guilt trip to be better off. Your rules about these things have psychological implications for mental and physical health and you have no right to try and force them onto other humans, especially since they were brewed in the pot of long ago ignorance. I am not advocating what people should do sexually, only that they do not harm others in doing it. Maybe this is why your own mind has let go of its rational safety belt.
It is a dangerous admission of an ignorance of human nature to promote unachievable abstinence in relation to sexual activity and foolhardy in the extreme to deny a fully comprehensive education in this area.
The interesting thing about all this is that I would wish you no harm in you believing what you will. But, to brainwash mentally defenceless children with it, as though it is a truth, and adult sanctioned, is the greatest crime you can commit against your own species. Why should I or anyone else believe your religious interpretation of the world? Why should I not believe one of the many other interpretations that are around and have been since the getting down from the trees?
There are literally thousands of fear and reward belief systems and the only way to see if any one of them is correct is with the use of reason. Atheists have done this and that is why they are Atheists, because none of them hold up under critical scientific scrutiny.
To expect the world to be run on the hearsay of ancient scrit and the feelings of a few is nowhere near a reasonable proposition.
The next time you engineer something, don’t use rationality and the rules of logic, but build it by the use of feelings (faith and belief) and old theories. Let me know though, for it may be a bridge I may cross or an aircraft I may fly in. That I would not avail myself of such a bridge or aircraft would “add up to me”, and I would suggest, also to you.
If I have left anything out of this refutation that you may consider as important, please include it in your next communiqué.
By David Nicholls