home
RSS
October 13th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Hitchens brothers debate if civilization can survive without God

Editor's Note: CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor Eric Marrapodi files this report from Washington, DC.

Brothers Christopher and Peter Hitchens squared off Tuesday in a debate over whether civilization can survive without God. Christopher, the older of the two, is a renowned atheist thinker and author. Peter, the lesser known of the two, is a practicing Christian and also a well-regarded author.

Christopher Hitchens is going through a very public battle with cancer, a subject that came up often during the debate. Michael Cromartie from the Ethics and Public Policy Center, moderated the debate and mentioned Christopher, who lives in the District of Columbia, was attending in between doctor appointments. Peter Hitchens had flown in from England specifically for the lunchtime debate.

Christopher Hitchens arrived with a white straw Panama hat. Beneath the hat he has no hair, lost from cancer treatments. Though noticeably thinner, Hitchens did not seem to suffer any intellectual consequences from his treatment.

He argued civilization could survive without God and in many cases is surviving without God.

“There used to be a word which could be used unironically,” he said. “People meant what they said when they said the word Christendom. There was a Christian world. Partly evolved, partly carved out by the sword, partly defended by the sword, giving way and expanding at times. But it was a meaningful name for a community of belief and value that endured for many, many centuries. It had many splendors to its name, but it’s all gone now.”

He said that today, in “huge parts of what we might call the industrialized modern world, tens of millions of people live in a post-religious society. It’s hard to argue that they lead conspicuously less civilized lives than their predecessor generations.”

He added, “I don’t think it’s really true to say that we live less civilized a life than those of our predecessors, who believed there was a genuine religious authority who spoke with power.”

To further his point he added examples from his own life of interacting with people of faith.

“If you go around the provincial halls and public theaters as I do, whenever I can, and engage in belief and the believers you’ll find to an extraordinary extent an ethical humanism with a vague spiritual content. It’s extremely commonplace.”

He specifically pointed to two American examples: Reform Judaism and self-described American “cafeteria Catholics” who pick and choose aspects of their faith they find appealing. That, he argued, proved God, and to a larger extent organized religion, are unnecessary to continuing civilization.

His brother Peter took the opposite side. He was quick to clarify later in the event he was arguing from the perspective of Christianity and not from the perspective of all religions.

In Peter Hitchens’ remarks he described his time as a journalist covering the fall of Mogadishu and the crumbling of his boyhood neighborhood in England to roving thugs. He said both examples showed a massive decline of civilization, and he said the civilization we see today could disappear.

“The behavior of human beings towards one another has sunk to levels not far from the Stone Age,” he said.

In addressing his specific boyhood neighborhood, he asked, “How has this decline come about in civilization?”

“Well I think it has come about, a least partly, and I’m not a single-cause type of person, but at least partly there is no longer in the hearts of the English people the restraints of the Christian religion that used to prevent this type of behavior. I think it would be completely idle to image the two things are not related.”

He continued and drew a parallel to his argument with American and British society. “The extraordinary combination which you in this country and I in mine used to enjoy, and may for some time continue, of liberty and order, seem to me to only occur where people take into their hearts the very, very, powerful messages of self-restraint without mutual advantage, which is central to the Christian religion.”

While the two were on opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to the role and place of God in civilization, they did find unique common ground on Christopher Hitchens' cancer.

During the question-and-answer session, NPR Religion Correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty asked Christopher about the prayers of support he had received from Christians.

Hitchens responded, “Obviously expressions of solidarity are welcome and very touching to me. And whatever form they take.”

But he continued, “I do resent, always have resented, the thought it should in some way be assumed now that you [with a potentially fatal illness] may be terrified, or that is to say, miserable. Or as it might be depressed. Surely now it would be the ideal time to abandon the principles of a lifetime. I’ve always thought this to be a rather repulsive approach.”

His brother Peter jumped in right after in a show of support and said, “I also think it would be quite grotesque to imagine someone would have to get cancer to see the merits of religion. It’s just an absurd idea. I don’t know why anyone imagines it should be certain.”

The event was put on by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It was billed as a conversation between the brothers and the press. As a result, no winner of the debate was announced.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity

soundoff (671 Responses)
  1. Kenrick Benjamin

    Some of us ask the question if their is a God why is the world like this. The bible tells us that God sent his only begotten son that who soever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Don't get me wrong they are manny good people in the world. But let me ask this question, how manny of us have never lied, never past judgement, love our enemies, never commit adultery or fornication.....etc....etc. Yet still we ask the question why is the world like this and in turn blame God, did he not tell you what is required for an everlasting(good)life. We do what we please and when we are face with the consequences find some one to blame other than ourselves. Then we cry out to GOD and if our issue is not resolve. we question his existence. Ask your self this question how many of us has truly believe. My answer is 0 and this is the honest truth.

    October 13, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  2. Christopher Lirette

    I think civilization would fall apart without a God, and here is why.

    If there were no God, I personally would have no reason to follow the laws of man. I become a law to myself, and you can guarantee that I wouldn't live my life following anybody, because no one is worthy of it. Our government, the governments of man are a joke.

    There would be absolutely nothing holding me back from doing whatever the heck I wanted. And, once everyone else in the world would see that there is no God, and no accountability everyone else would follow suit. The only countries, and governments that would survive are those that could repress the human spirit with fear, and intimidation, and even those would crumble before long.

    The human spirit is naturally rebellious. Look at a baby, a child, or a teenager. We would have no reason to teach them morals or code of conduct. Because what is the use? Stealing, killing, looting, etc. don't become concrete wrongs anymore. They just become a different route that I could take to my own happiness. They might be wrong in the other eyes of man, but that doesn't mean I have to follow his rules. This simple understanding would devolve the human race back to that of this simple fact. I want it, and the only thing that matters is you, and I am stronger so its mine.

    No amount of human philosophy, or learning can change that fact.

    October 13, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
    • Doug

      Okay, don't follow the laws of man. I'll be there to watch you dangle from a rope by your neck.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
    • nord

      Then I'll ask the question again: Why are atheists sent to jail at less than half the national average?

      October 13, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • brad

      Ever heard the quote "Law is against human nature." ? If we could be depended upon to behave in a civil manner to each other, we wouldn't need laws. Good point, Christopher.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • dt

      Who are you kidding??? Jesus guarantees just what you talk about. Ultimate forgiveness for all transgressions is the norm. Oh and I HIGHLY doubt you have never sinned.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • IceT

      If you only follow laws out of fear of God you are one scary person and in need of psychological intervention. Morals, ethical behavior and treating each other as you'd like to be treated is "human nature" and quite natural. I assure you they have existed long before any of the current religion's claim on them.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • DarthWoo

      More and more studies are showing that animals of all kinds do have moral compasses to some extent. In one interesting experiment, rats were provided food that, if taken, would cause a shock to neighboring rats. After a sufficient amount of times witnessing this, the majority of the rats did not take the food that caused the shocks to their neighbors, even if they were visibly hungry. Mind you that these are just mere rodents, and there have been studies on far more complicated mammals. While this may discourage some people from wanting to eat meat, it does show that morality and ethics are far from exclusive to humanity. Will the argument then change to that some deity has instilled morality into the animals, and that they are acting only out of a wish to get into animal afterlife paradise?

      October 13, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Christopher: Don't you follow the laws of man now? Or are you writing this from your prison cell or as you swiftly jump from train to train while you're on the lam?

      October 13, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
    • Inyourdreams

      @ Nord
      That is a shocking statistic. Do you mean to say that almost half of the folk in jail are athiest. I suppose the other half are agnostic.

      October 13, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  3. ABC's

    @ david johnson
    Prove God exist? That is simple. Take a look at any house. Ask yourself, "How did that get there? Do you say.' That building just came about out of thin air." No logic, reason and your own understanding will tell you 'that building was designed by an architect." The architect gave the blueprints to the tradesmen such as steelworkers, plumbers, electricians,etc to do the actual building work. How much more so when we contrast that home with the Earth, mans 'Home', and that tells that it was intelligently designed by a Master Architect. Does not that sound reasonable, logical?

    October 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
    • Jon

      It sure does, but no one will ever know unless they die first...Maybe someone should kill a bunch of atheists in a horrific way and see what they say right as they die, you know, make it all 'scientifical' for them. Then for the next test someone kills a bunch of Christians in a horrific way and get their death data as well....Then we can compre the data and see who thinks they are going to heaven or just gonna fade away.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
    • Doug

      I can meet the architect of my house.... Well, I did in the past, but he's died since then. I can still find his grave, I bet. More than i can say about your supposed architect. The truth is, you don't know why this planet is here, nor why we can live on it, any more than anyone else. You have an idea, but nothing more.

      Just like I have an idea that you're crazy because you think some invisible non-existent being created this planet. Doesn't mean that I am right, but it's what I think.

      God is what you make it, but stop trying to make it a supernatural being. That's just unrealistic. Energy, I can buy that. I have energy, use energy, convert energy, transfer energy. I can manipulate energy. If you want to believe in a god, let it be a more realistic one. One that doesn't demand your wallet for your soul.

      But, as the wiccan saying goes, "Do what you like so long as you harm none".(I am not a wiccan, but as with all things in this world, i find what works, and what doesn't. Keep what works, discard the rest.)

      October 13, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      ABC's, your argument is circular, the next logical question would be "who or what created the thing that created the universe. If everything needs a creator and by extension a purpose then you must conclude that God needs a creator and by extension a purpose. Do you see the beginning of a regressive loop? Consequently, if God doesn't need a creator or purpose then it is just as likely that the universe doesn't need one either.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • dt

      Ah what a perfect correlation. I live in a house built by something, therefore the planet I live on must have been built by something. Kinda like a bird builds a nest, therefore a giant must build the tree... or whatever. Irrational metaphors are all the rave on here today. I live in a house, therefore god exists. Lol. Oh man that was a good one. Common. Be serious. I mean if that were even remotely logical, what is the deal with the rest of the near universe having no life? Like, epic fail god. Maybe all of the other planets got foreclosed on.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
    • IceT

      When God builds my house I will believe.

      October 13, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
  4. Doug

    God – Santa for adults who know Santa isn't real, but haven't been told God isn't real either.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
    • Jon

      Dude, where have you been? Santa is REAL. They show evidence of him flying on radar every year on my local news station.
      Pffft. Amateur.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      You have pretty much summarized "The Science of Superst-ition" – belief in the supernatural is simply childish thinking that has not been discarded.

      October 13, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  5. Charlie Everett WA.

    It's historically baseless to presume there would be no civilization without religion. Here are some highly successful civilizations whose laws came from human kings: Code of Hammurabi (1780 BCE) as an extension of the Sumerian Family Law where the temple acted as a "welfare system" that could ransom hostages and support poor farmers during bad seasons; the Mesopotamian Akkadian Code (2250 BCE) that dealt with slaves, marriages-dowries, and merchandise transaction; the Code of the Assura (1075 BCE); and the Egyptian Precepts of Ptah-Hotep (2200 BCE). These laws dealt with commercial and domestic issues alike, including marriage, adoption, land ownership, and recognition of social betters. In other words, all aspects of social cohesion. The "gods" were called upon in challenges that exceeded the king's power, such as victory in battle, a fertile harvest, or an off-shore wind to launch 1000 ships.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  6. john2345

    Agree with Colin
    Look at the middle east for example. Poor kids have nothing to do because everything is sand. All they have is religion. So some radical comes along..twists the word of their religion..and tells them to kill in the name of their god...
    damm if I had no education and nothing to do...that would sound like fun to me to

    October 13, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  7. Brian Thetford

    Ahhh the argument of the age. One that never tires, and continues to carry on through out the ages. Here is the problem with this wonderful argument. It can never be won by either side. Does God exist? no? prove it. You can't. Does God exist? yes? prove it. You can't. So we end up with countless hours wasted on why one side is right and the other is wrong, when all it really comes down to is....well that is what I think. We will all find out one day who is right. Until then here is a little food for thought. If you are an Atheist, what harm comes from people not thinking like you do? Isn't the joke on them if you are right? For the Christians, here is a thought, Christ sent the apostles out and instructed them to offer the good news, and if it was rejected then move on. Shake the dust form your sandals as you leave I believe is the way he put it. To sit and reason over a point that will never be proven is of little use to you, to me, or to this world. It is about faith, faith in a God, of faith in no God. I am fairly sure that both sides of the argument tout compassion, and love for one another as tenants of their respective faith, so why is it when the two get together do you seldom see those qualities on display?

    October 13, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • tony

      Because use those who believe in gods desperately have a need to groom not merely their own children to have the same beliefs, but also the children of others. That way their insanity is supported by an ongoing group insanity, rather than causing them to be isolated and come to rational doubt and fear.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
    • Jon

      Funny Tony, you are doing the exact same thing you deplore right now...only with the atheist twist...

      October 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      "Because use those who believe in gods desperately have a need to groom not merely their own children to have the same beliefs, but also the children of others."

      Is this not the goal of almost every group in society. "I want you to think like me so that your children will think like me in that way we can "bred out" those that think like us"

      October 13, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • brad

      Brian, you're a sane man.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  8. Mark from Middle River

    Raison – Bit of a melt down there?

    "You are really plssing me off, Mark. Why the [expletive] are you doing this? Why are you being such a [expletive] Did I plss you off with my other responses or something? What the heII is wrong with you???"

    Raison, kid... In my years of life just as many others have witnessed if a person gets rattled to such as extent as you did then they and their argument were not too stable from the get go. I am sorry that such a comparison caused you to go off a deep end but maybe that is something you need to look inside yourself. Maybe even look towards others here on your side of the aisle. Dave Johnson or Frogist I would highly recommend. They are, of course often wrong , but at the same time I have seen stability in their post here from the other side that I can offer a stable view into their reasonings. Pure hatred and as you say "scorn" ...and you did not say individuals , will eat you alive or make you more open to strapping a bomb to your chest or something worst. Do not let these things fester. Squash them from within Raison. I pray you one day find peace, if not through God then through your own self.

    Peace kid .

    PS Raison : "Everybody cut everybody cut, Everybody cut everybody cut, Everybody cut everybody cut
    Everybody everybody cut footloose"

    October 13, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
    • Raison

      @Mark

      Since you seem unable or unwilling to explain yourself and your vile and sleazy attack upon me, I guess you proved me right beyond a reasonable doubt.

      As with your co-worker Frogist, I am disgusted that you felt the need to do this, but I guess the money was too good to pass up, eh?

      My opinion of you is as low as it can go. If this was your aim, you succeeded, for I have done nothing to you to warrant such an attack.

      My reaction was pretty normal, considering that we had been polite to each other in the past. To attack someone who has done you no wrong is the act of a ....well, let's just say it's pretty obvious.

      You s-u-c-k big-time, as do your employers (who they are I can pretty well guess) and anyone who acts like you have done to me. You have no shame. What that means to you I can only guess, for I have stood against people like you my whole life.

      Don't ever speak to me again, you sad example of what can happen to a human being.....you aren't worth talking to.

      October 13, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  9. elgeevz

    What I have never been able to understand is why God didn't just take an extra day or two and create an honest, decent man right from the start.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • Inyourdreams

      Perhaps you would have been right for the part.

      October 13, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  10. leo

    And LP, it will not be us that get those answers, nor will they happen in our lifetime. I came to peace with that a long time ago.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
    • leo

      For those interested, I am a Secular Humanist. Look up the term if you want to know more about a life stance that really renders all of this questioning irrelevant.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
  11. IceT

    Religious indoctrination of children from birth is a form of child abuse. We give our children Santa, Easter bunny & the Tooth fairy and reveal the truth when a child matures and logically questions them. Logical deduction prevents them from continuing to believe on their own, but many force the continued belief in God on them out of their own indoctrinated fear.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • Spearwielder

      Sorry, IceT, but that argument seems flimsy. If we assume we all start as largely blank slates, isn't *all* teaching of children indoctrination? Parents teach their children to believe all kinds of things, whether that's a particular religion, beliefs about healthy living, beliefs in one political stance or another, beliefs in the value of the dollar or some other measure of success, etc.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
    • DarthWoo

      Spearwielder, those things you listed are a far cry from the religious indoctrination teaching that the children are somehow superior to anyone who doesn't believe in the same things, and that any of their friends who don't believe in the same thing are going to burn in hellfire for all eternity, no matter how good they are and how good of a friend they are. And that's just one example. I've no doubt that most people would take exception to a parent teaching their children that their skin color makes them better at all things than those people of a different skin color, and that their skin color justifies them in doing whatever they want to those of other colors.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
    • IceT

      Spearwielder ... no need to apologize. What is taught needs to stand up to logical scrutiny. Your example of politics is a good one & is based more on emotion (usually) than say mathmatics, but yet it must stand up to questioning. If it can't it needs to fall aside & be replaced with another concept.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • Jon

      Am I reading that you think parents should raise their children how YOU want them to be raised? Arrogant at best...
      Your "logic" is irrelevant in regards to someone elses offspring. How about I come over and kick your favorite pet cat because I don't think you are kicking it enough? Yes, it is absurd logic that I would come to kick your favorite pet cat (or that you even have a cat). Which is just as absurd as you thinking you know what is best for my children and I don't.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
    • IceT

      Jon ... Interpreting my opinion as a personal attack is a very telling reaction. I agree my comment could feel a bit arrogant, but I stand by my belief just as I'm sure you do as well.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
    • Inyourdreams

      Misleading your children to believe in falsehoods that can hurt them is wrong, including bad religion. But leading them to believe in the truth is always good. Make sure you know that what you are telling them is true because you will be held accountable because of them.

      October 13, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
  12. Glorifundel

    "seem to me to only occur where people take into their hearts the very, very, powerful messages of self-restraint without mutual advantage, which is central to the Christian religion."

    They make no mention that self-restraint without mutual advantage is not an exclusively religious principle. To state that without religion society will decline, and then mention that the decline is due to a concept which is not innately religious seems to be an empty argument.

    As an example you could say that we as Americans are getting fatter because of our lack of self restraint. To then state that you can only gain that self restraint (in order to lose weight) is to turn to religion would be a very silly claim. Although someone can in fact use religion as a tool to help them gain restraint and apply it to their eating habits, that does not exclude other ways in which to engender that behavior, like simply becoming aware of ones own behavior and then modifying that behavior to suit their goals (which is an entirely possible, and entirely un-religious method).

    So at least in this case this argument seems to be empty to me.

    I wish them both the best, and in particular I hope that Christopher makes a full recovery.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  13. Joe

    Basically sums it up: http://www.godisimaginary.com. Nothing else to really say at this point.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  14. Gilberto Paniagua

    It does not matter if you're a muslin or a catholic or an atheist, it is all in the idea. Humans have created hundreds of gods since we came to exist, yet the idea of a god is the same in all cases. It's always mind over matter, if you don't mind it doesn't matter.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • Inyourdreams

      It doesn't matter unless there really is a God. If that is the case, we should find the time to investigate the matter seriously.

      October 13, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  15. Blaqb0x

    "The behavior of human beings towards one another has sunk to levels not far from the Stone Age". Wow didn't know that! So countries in the Stone age donated billions of dollars to region wide disasters, disease prevention, education, and infrastructure projects.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
    • Todd

      To say that society does not respect each other would be an understatement.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
  16. Colin

    Can civilization exist without God? Hmmm, well, assuming you mean the Judeo-Christian god, we did so quite sufficiently for the entire existence of our species up until about 2,500 years ago. Most parts of the Wrold who do not believe in the J-C god still do ok. If you mean any god whatsoever, we atheists seem to do ok.

    No, the World does not need its gods, ghosts or goblins anymore. It needs science and education.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • Jon

      Goblins use science and education to build airships that travel from Under City to Durotar in a jiffy....
      Stop hating on goblins.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
    • Inyourdreams

      Civilization would certainly exist without anyone believing in God or following God's laws or going to church; however the Universe itself would cease to exist without God, so it's a moot point.

      October 13, 2010 at 10:58 pm |
  17. autom

    If you were dying of cancer, and someone said "I'll wish on a falling star for you", would you be insulted?

    October 13, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
    • Jon

      Dying of cancer has to suck. I'd take all the help I could get.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  18. Jon

    ...ignorant, arrogant humans thinking they are the highest form of life in the universe...
    Hail The Dark Lord Zenu.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
  19. BNorris

    Raison,
    You suggest that because God hasn't appeared, and by that I assume you mean that God hasn't been seen anywhere, that God doesn't exist. Are you suggesting that if God can't be percieved empirically, He doesn't exist?

    October 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
    • dt

      Yes.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • Jon

      Has anyone ever seen an actual black hole with their own jhuman eyes? So I guess we just have to take someone elses word on that as well...?

      October 13, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • Duncan

      No one has seen the tooth fairy to my knowledge.. should we automatically assume (s)he exists regardless of the lack of any evidence..

      October 13, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
    • Colin

      No, taking "someone's word for it" is never sufficient reason to believe in a fact. That is what religions do. We believe in black holes because the indirect evidence of their existence is strong and consistence with physics theories.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • dt

      We do not "believe in black holes". We know of areas with certain traits like having no light and drawing other things closer. We extrapolate that something is causing it. We cannot see a black hole because it also traps light. In the case of religion, no such evidence exists to justify a super powerful creator of the universe. When they invent a microscope that can see an atom and it has "God made this" written on it. Come talk to me.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
    • Jon

      A scientist is no better than a TV preacher in this debate.

      Scientist: "Here look at this rock, it came from another planet. It was dug out of a ravine in TN. Believe me because I'm the scientific authority on the matter. Give me funding to study it." Should I take his word for it? Or should I ask another scientist on his team to examine the rock? He showed me the evidence – it looks like a rock.

      Preacher: "God said give money to the church. It says so in this book that was translated from scrolls found in a cave overseas. Believe me, I'm a man of God." Do I get to see the original scrolls? Or should I ask a deacon in the church if the preacher is lying? They've shown me the evidence, it looks like a book.

      In either case the answer will ALWAYS be biased. There is no God within science, there is no science within God.

      The good news is we all get to find out when we die! Until then, STFU , live and let live....

      October 13, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • Jon

      I'm not arguing for or against anything here dt. Spin it how you like, it is no differen't than a theist pointing at historical material as evidence and saying "trust me, I'm showing you evidence of somethings existence". Also, don't say "we" know as that attempts to include "me". As far as I'm concerned all of you here (theists an atheists alike) are convinced they have all the answers and the other side is completely wrong. In reality that means you all likely have the poorest answers available for me to consider.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • Raison

      @BNorris

      You asked, "You suggest that because God hasn't appeared, and by that I assume you mean that God hasn't been seen anywhere, that God doesn't exist. Are you suggesting that if God can't be percieved empirically, He doesn't exist?"

      I did not suggest that in any way. If there is no empirical evidence, you simply can not use "God" as a basis for any other argument that relies upon "his" existence. I would have thought that obvious, but....eh....!

      Let me make this as clear as I can, so you can understand where I am "coming from" on this issue:

      I do not say that there is a "God", because we can't even begin to determine what sort of evidence would actually be evidence.
      Most people appear to be unable to define their "God" in a way that makes sense in the light of what is known about the universe and about our "consciousness" with which we are to view this evidence.

      Without defining these mysterious attributes of this "God", there is nothing to prove that one exists, for those who desire to prove this amorphous concept as having some substance cannot actually do so, although we could always try some hypothesis and see how well those work....but there really isn't much to hypothesize about.
      Mere assertions will not work, but everything must be put to the "test" and examined with logic, common sense, and reason.

      On the other hand, to prove that some sort of "God" does NOT exist beyond the shadow of a doubt, the question would still hinge on what attributes this disputed "being" actually has – and then, with those in hand, the question would have to be put to someone who had the ability to perceive said attributes in whatever place they were expected to be found – as they would be if the question were in the other direction.

      For example: If this "God" created all dimensions and meta-dimensions, we would need to know what evidence would actually be usable evidence in that case and be able to somehow perceive and test this evidence for accuracy.

      These heretofore unresolved attributes are the biggest stumbling block to gaining any reasonable certainty for either side. This is one of the reasons I am an agnostic evidentialist. I will not say either yea or nay for there is no proof – and there is no proof because determining what that would consist of is the "stumbling block".

      I could have put this together better, and I am sure there are people out there who have already done this, but I am flying by the seat of my pants here.
      Prove me wrong to my satisfaction and I will gladly modify my position.

      The ball is in your court, so to speak, if you are one of those who seek to prove that a "God" exists. Without proof for either side, your side must necessarily go first, for your side thought up this nonsense in the first place, and so the burden of proof is on you and your compatriots who love to spout without proof.

      And before you get on that, "Well, atheists spout without proof too and you're arrogant and rude and worship yourselves, etc, etc. et-a-fcking-cetera!" let me disabuse you of this notion that "atheists" are doing anything but questioning and examining everything in sight to make sure no one gets away with anything, including themselves. Many things about religion can be examined and found to be patently false. Any certainty on their side is because of reasonable amounts of evidence of things that can be proven to be true or false.

      I am pretty tired of this. If your "side" wants to impress the heII out of everyone and pwnd the other side for once, STUDY the methods that are used to determine such things. It is your safest bet.
      Because it really does get old.

      October 13, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  20. Rockdoc

    Rational thought versus fairy tales. Religion, yes, "ruins everything." "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," one of the (very few) things positive that came of "religious" teaching (also voiced by my nursery school teacher).

    October 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
    • Spearwielder

      Religion, yes, "ruins everything."

      LOL.

      See my post above: 98%.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
    • NL

      A word of warning about the 'Golden Rule.' There are folks out there who are into some pretty nasty stuff. Are you sure you would want them to do THOSE things unto you? 😉

      Personally, I don't trust that others will always know what is right for me, know what I mean?

      October 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.