October 16th, 2013
03:20 PM ET
What Oprah gets wrong about atheism
(CNN) - To some, Oprah Winfrey appears to have an almost godlike status. Her talents are well recognized, and her endorsement can turn almost any product into an overnight bestseller.
This godlike perception is fitting, since in recent years Winfrey’s work has increasingly emphasized spirituality, including programs like her own "Super Soul Sunday."
But what happens when an atheist enters the mix?
A few days ago Winfrey interviewed long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad on Super Soul Sunday. Nyad identified herself as an atheist who experiences awe and wonder at the natural world and humanity.
Nyad, 64, who swam from Cuba to Key West last month, said “I can stand at the beach’s edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist, go on down the line, and weep with the beauty of this universe and be moved by all of humanity — all the billions of people who have lived before us, who have loved and hurt.”
Winfrey responded, “Well I don’t call you an atheist then.”
Winfrey went on, “I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder and the mystery then that is what God is… It’s not a bearded guy in the sky.”
Nyad clarified that she doesn’t use the word God because it implies a “presence… a creator or an overseer.”
Winfrey’s response may have been well intended, but it erased Nyad’s atheist identity and suggested something entirely untrue and, to many atheists like me, offensive: that atheists don’t experience awe and wonder.
MORE ON CNN: Diana Nyad completes historic Cuba-to-Florida swim
The exchange between Winfrey and Nyad reminds me of a conversation I once had with a Catholic scholar.
The professor once asked me: “When I talk about God, I mean love and justice and reconciliation, not a man in the sky. You talk about love and justice and reconciliation. Why can’t you just call that God?”
I replied: “Why must you call that God? Why not just call it what it is: love and justice and reconciliation?”
Though we started off with this disagreement, we came to better understand one another’s points of view through patient, honest dialogue.
Conversations like that are greatly needed today, as atheists are broadly misunderstood.
MORE ON CNN: Behold, the six types of atheists
When I visit college and university campuses around the United States, I frequently ask students what words are commonly associated with atheists. Their responses nearly always include words like “negative,” “selfish,” “nihilistic” and “closed-minded.”
When I ask how many of them actually have a relationship with an atheist, few raise their hands.
Relationships can be transformative. The Pew Research Center found that among the 14% of Americans who changed their mind from opposing same-sex marriage to supporting it in the last decade, the top reason given was having “friends, family, acquaintances who are gay/lesbian.”
Knowing someone of a different identity can increase understanding. This has been true for me as a queer person and as an atheist. I have met people who initially think I can’t actually be an atheist when they learn that I experience awe and am committed to service and social justice.
But when I explain that atheism is central to my worldview — that I am in awe of the natural world and that I believe it is up to human beings, instead of a divine force, to strive to address our problems — they often better understand my views, even if we don’t agree.
While theists can learn by listening to atheists more, atheists themselves can foster greater understanding by not just emphasizing the “no” of atheism — our disagreement over the existence of any gods — but also the “yes” of atheism and secular humanism, which recognizes the amazing potential within human beings.
Carl Sagan, the agnostic astronomer and author, would have agreed with Nyad’s claim that you can be an atheist, agnostic or nonreligious person and consider yourself “spiritual.”
As Sagan wrote in "The Demon-Haunted World,":
"When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.”
Nyad told Winfrey that she feels a similar sense of awe:
“I think you can be an atheist who doesn’t believe in an overarching being who created all of this and sees over it,” she said. “But there’s spirituality because we human beings, and we animals, and maybe even we plants, but certainly the ocean and the moon and the stars, we all live with something that is cherished and we feel the treasure of it.”
MORE ON CNN: 'Atheist' isn’t a dirty word, congresswoman
I experience that same awe when I see people of different beliefs coming together across lines of religious difference to recognize that we are all human — that we all love and hurt.
Perhaps Winfrey, who could use her influence to shatter stereotypes about atheists rather than reinforce them, would have benefited from listening to Nyad just a bit more closely and from talking to more atheists about awe and wonder.
I know many who would be up to the task.
Chris Stedman is the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard University, coordinator of humanist life for the Yale Humanist Community and author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious.
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.
People should be allowed to belive what they want as long as the belief doesn't hurt others.
no one disagrees.
i don't know it looks like many people disagree....
wannabe scientists who ridicule you for having faith
extremist religious people who tell you that you'll suffer eternity in hell
Too often Christians use their hypocrisy to deny rights to others.
ridicule is not the same as telling people what they CAN and CANNOT believe and further enforcing that. Americans, whether atheist of religious do support the freedom to believe whatever you want. Just don't expect automatic respect because you believe in fairies.
... or result ina whole slew of misleading billboards along public streets where innocent children travel.
The word "atheist" simply means "not a theist". There are only two possibilities. Either you are a theist or you are not a theist. If you are not a theist, then you are an atheist.
Do not confuse "atheist" with "anti-theist". An anti-theist is somebody who declares religion to be wrong. An "atheist" is simply somebody who has not declared religion to be true. The difference may seem subtle, but it's important.
Therefore there is no "agnostic" third position. An agnostic has not decided religion is true, he either thinks it is unknowable or has not yet made up his mind. Therefore he has not become a theist or an anti-theist. Therefore he is an atheist. He is also an a-anti-theist.
So you cannot make any other categorizations about atheists. They are a catch-all for everybody who is not a theist. That's a pretty extremely pluralistic group that includes people who have never even been exposed to the concept of religion.
Theists (all of them, I claim) are incapable of proving that any gods actually exist.
Therefore they all are (or should be, if honest, at the very least) agnostics.
The big issue, albeit a semantic one, is that atheists and theists define "proof" very differently. Theists make a non-falsifiable argument and call it proof, while atheists use a more scientific method for determining reality from fantasy. It makes these types of arguments incredibly complicated, because everyone means something different when they use words like "faith", "proof", "spirituality" and "belief".
The differences between theists and atheists are more than just belief in god or lack of belief in god. We have completely different philosophies for how to interpret truth.
Everytime I hear or read this discussion, I can see who is the Godless person, and it is not the atheist. Tell me that, if there is a God, he would deny an afterlife to a person who lives a good and just life, and accept a person who has led an evil life, and at the last moment begs forgiveness. Be good, just and caring, and let time give you the answer.
There's your problem right there. There is none who are good. Sure, on a man-to-man level. But God's standard is much higher. He demands perfection. And none of us are that. We've all sinned and become corrupt. That's why we need a Savior ... someone to pay the fine for us.
He demands perfection.
You have no idea what he demands or what his standards are. Seems ridiculous that God would demand perfection from us, when he's created us in such a way that leaves perfection impossible to attain.
So you feel that if two people thousands of years ago offended your god, that everybody since that day should be considered guilty of the same crime and be held accountable and punished?
"You have no idea what he demands or what his standards are."
Yes I do. He told us what He demands and what His standards are in the Bible.
"Seems ridiculous that God would demand perfection from us, when he's created us in such a way that leaves perfection impossible to attain."
Actually, He made man perfect. We willing corrupt and sin ourselves.
"So you feel that if two people thousands of years ago offended your god, that everybody since that day should be considered guilty of the same crime and be held accountable and punished?"
You and I are not guilty of the same crime as Adam ... we have our own sins to answer for.
Topher, is that me?
He made man perfect. We willing corrupt and sin ourselves
You've been told this before. But, since you are severely cognitively challenged, and I'm sensitive to people with special needs, I'll repeat: If God made man "perfect", then man would never sin in the first place. Assuming "sin" is a mistake, perfect beings cannot sin. Perfect beings don't make mistakes.
You can repeat your stance all day long, but you're wrong. We were perfect and with a free will. Without free will, you wouldn't have love and you'd just have "robots." So since they had free will the opportunity to sin is absolutely fair.
Do animals go to heaven Topher?
"Do animals go to heaven Topher?"
We don't know, but it would seem like no. Animals def. don't have the coverage of Christ's sacrifice.
Nothing arrogant about you, is there gopher?
If you are so incredibly sure you are going to be with jeebus, what are you doing down here?
Why not take your place at the foot of jeebus, satisfying him in a very special way?
Oh year, that "coward" thing again
You don't know if animals go to heaven? Topher the answer is that there is no such place, other than in deluded minds, as heaven. There I answered a conundrum for you.
You don't know if animals go to heaven? Topher the answer is that there is no such place, other than in deluded minds, as heaven. There I answered a con.undrum for you.
You don't know if animals go to heaven? Topher the answer is that there is no such place, other than in deluded minds, as heaven. There I answered a con.un.drum for you.
since they had free will the opportunity to sin is absolutely fair.
Any being that makes a mistake is not "perfect". Maybe you're just using your own definition of the word perfect, which stands to reason. Next time you say anything here that makes sense will be the first.
And so once again it comes down to the integrity of the bible. You have much more faith in the bible than I am able to muster.
God so badly misjudged how man would turn out that the second person he created messed up so badly that God inflicted the most severe punishment in the history of the world.
God's design for children was so defective that the very first child murdered the second child.
Then, after hundreds or thousands of years, God looked at all the people he had created in the world and only found 8 that weren't defective. Or did he create man knowing all this would occur?
Fortunately, God didn't have to report to Donald Trump.
How could that be if god is omniscient?
He either screwed the pooch on this
He is a vindictive pr1ck
give the nature of his follower "gopher", the latter seems much more reasonable
Gopher: Fvck you and your self-loathing drivel
Your god is a vindictive, petty pr1ck and you are nothing but a bloviating, snivelling sycophant
Make some more empty proxy threats
Allowing someone else to take the punishment you feel you deserve is an act of cowardice
You not only flock to it, you fvcking brag about it
I agree but that will never stop our Topher, where would we be without our doofus.
OKfine: I know it won't stop our bloviating coward, but I want to do this
Gopher....you are a coward, and your god is a punk
get back on your knees, slaveboy
I've heard exactly the same sentiment expressed at the church my wife belongs to. And I think its ridiculous. If Christians believe that to be so, then isn't God basically running the cruelest possible scam on all of humanity?
"Yes, there's a heaven. I [God] don't really care how much effort you put into being decent people, how you live your life or any of that. Sure there were the 10 Commandments, but that was Old Testament Stuff. Ever since Jesus came and did his thing, none of that will ever be good enough. The only way to get admission to heaven is by joining the Jesus Christ fanclub – so here's your eternal damnation, here's your free will, and here's your get-out-of-hell-free card. If you want it..."
Can animals, mammals, display love, can they learn, can they think, and can they accept jesus christ as their saviour like the poor pathetic human that you are? Do animals of all types have original sin because the talking snake fvcked everything up for all the rest? So many questions for the crazies, so few answers.
If there is a god don't you think he knows much much more than you and may have reasons you just don't understand? I'm not saying there is or isn't a god because i really don't know and neither does anyone else. However if there is he would be too smart for us to question.
What if there was a god and it wasn't all that bright. Maybe universes are all little failed experiments.
That would explain why I have an appendix.
It might also explain why an alligator has a better immune system than us.
Why would god have to be smarter than us? Why couldn't it be a semi-blind demi-urge following a pattern even it doesn't understand (kind of like us but pooping universes).
I'm only half-kidding here. The concept of "god" is nebulous at best, which is one of the reasons it can't be disproved (other than the obvious).
If there is a God, wouldn't He set the rules on how to get into heaven? Of course.
"Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
God doesn't want anyone to go to hell. He wants everyone to repent and accept Jesus. (2 Peter 3:9)
If you don't accept Jesus, you won't be allowed in. If you accept Jesus, you'll be justified by Him and allowed into heaven ,but you'll still be judged for the life you lead while on earth.
"What does John 14:6 mean?"
– signed, a human being that GOD CREATED, but placed in an area of the WORLD THAT HE ALSO CREATED where christianity doesn't exist, and God has not provided means for his creations to learn of it.
You really don't believe that crap do you, do you, just saying?
Not necessarily. There could be a god and he didn't create the universe. There could be a god and he isn't the one in the bible. There's a thousand other possibles that include the concept of "god" and don't point to Yahweh.
Dan Dennett gets a warm reception at Cal Tech. In his talk, Dr. Dennett talks about "belief in belief"; how religious belief evolved, how the end-result was sometimes a product of planning, and sometimes not. Dr. Dennett is a professor and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University.
(YouTube published: 4/24/13)
Tufts is a religious school and therefore BS. Thanks for stopping by.
was a bowl of stupid. Dennett is, after all, known to be one of the four horsemen of modern atheism.
He was educated at Oxford, not Tufts. Do they have school prayers at Tufts? That would be telling.
Well at least we know what the 'final' was for Stedman's students.
The problem is that atheists are the only ones that consider God a bearded white guy. No spiritual person I know sees God in that way. But Atheists always comment on the bearded white guy as a way to try and marginalize someone else's beliefs. Hey, if it makes them feel better about their own beliefs then so be it.
umm... Michelangelo might disagree
The bible says we are created in god's image. That means he looks like a human, at least according to the Christian story.
Ever hear of Michelangelo?
The problem atheists don't have is seeing god.
The problem the religious have is NOT seeing god, and therefore having to make up so many different fairy stories about what they'd like to see. Or worse, listening to so many wealthy religious leaders telling them what they missed seeing.
Do you deny the existence of the wind, gravity, and all other things that you can't see?
wind and gravity are testable and observable.
What are you, 7? Do you believe I have an invisible unicorn that carries my purse to work for me? Gravity and wind are obviously observable. They can be proven in experiments and those experiments can be repeated by anyone.
If you could see this mysterious "something" to which you refer, you wouldn't need faith.
The whole point of faith is that you have despite not having the subject of your faith proved to you. The second the subject of your faith is proved to you, you can no longer have faith.
That's convenient – rely on a particular image of this version of "god" for so long, which by the way is depicted this way on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, until people start realizing it's nothing more than another version of Santa, then simply move the goal posts by suddenly claiming "Huh? We never believed THAT!"
The first sign of wisdom is admitting you don't know anything.
It's not about doing good deeds, living a moral life, helping out, giving to charity, or treating your neighbor as yourself, although the bible teaches all these things in order to give us a better understanding of who God is, and the image in which we were made. Yes, all these things we should do, but you're missing the big picture. This is about the spiritual condition of humanity in its fallen state, and our need to be cleansed from sin and re-connected to our Source, who is God, through the sacrifice and atonement completed at the cross by Jesus Christ. No matter how "good" we think we are, none of our good works can cover up our sin problem, and that is the "soul" purpose of God's plan for mankind throughout the scriptures. Seek Him with all your heart, and you will find your answer. None of us can provide that to you. It's a decision you must make on your own. Have faith and seek Him, and you will discover your proof.
You've been bad because you are human(although you are created in his image).
But don't worry he will forgive you. Or send you to hell. But that's your choice. Choose wisely.
"Cake or death?"
Oh we are well aware that your religion is a dictatorship. You've been indoctrinated that you are bad by nature and need to serve your totalitarian master to be good. It's like North Korea. Enjoy that life...
Again, I heard the same basic thing from a muslim.
How should I know which heaven to go to?
the bible teaches all these things in order to give us a better understanding of who God is
The bible is not God's autobiography. When you read the bible, you are given an understanding of who God is, but only according to the human beings who wrote it. They don't have any more understanding of God, than any follower of any other religion.
"This is about the spiritual condition of humanity in its fallen state..."
I see subjectivity. No absolute / objective / moral "truths", though.
Can you demonstrate that type of truth?
Hundreds of millions of years of life on Earth boiling down to a belief in something that happened 2000 years ago makes so sense to me, and never will.
and yet that view of "mankind in a fallen state" is detrimental and negative. What's worse, it goes against are natural problem solving abilities. I agree with you that this philosophy of fallen mankind is the essence of Christianity. That's why I consider it such a detrimental philosophy. Only through problem solving can we live meaningful lives. Christians say "Why problem solve when Jesus will die for my sins and solve problems for me?" That's a bad philosophy, and argue all you want, that is the viewpoint of Christianity.
I wonder if Pprah knows what a rich person's chance of entering the kingdom of heaven is, like a camel getting thru the eye of a needle I believe. She best give her money away, I'll take it
Oprah that is
Do you actually know what that means..."a camel passing the eye of the needle?"
I think it means it's gonna be darn tough, I know all the bible study folks want to intepret it to suit themself, and I've heard them try to say it's not what it sounds like, but to me it means next to impossible, I mean you either take the bible at it's word or you don't. Personally I think bunch of fairy tales and I'm not even an atheist
Jesus was a crazy homeless person. Crazy people say so called profound things all the time. But that doesn't mean anything. Dying for someone else's sins? That's a human sacrifice and that's barbaric. That's not a message of love. Dying on a cross for someone else's sins: That's a moral atrocity, not a message of love or hope. I can't believe so few people can't use reasoning skills to see this
well guys Jesus and his father are on facebook and he will grant you a miracle if you share his post, there that proves it!!! HA
It would take a miracle to get me back on facebook in the first place, so you may have a point.
when I see those post and some others I consider getting off too, but, my family is scattered around the country and we keep in frequent touch that way, since we have different work hours etc. easier than playing phone tag
"words are commonly associated with atheists. Their responses nearly always include words like “negative,” “selfish,” “nihilistic” and “closed-minded.”"
Huh I would have answered: Intelligent, Rational, Logical, Scientific, Humane, Open-Minded, and Positive.
You forgot "honest"
Hostile. Trolling. Closed-minded. Bigoted. Ponytails.
I know you are but what am I?
i just think "Person who doesn't believe in a god"
saying that Atheists make you think of rationality indicates you think believers are irrational, which is closed-minded.
Believers are, by definition, irrational. In order to believe in god you must have faith, since there is no proof. Believing something that is demonstrably untrue is irrational.
how does that make anyone close minded? Religion is irrational, that's not an opinion it's a fact. World Trade Center, Holocaust, suicide bombers, genocide, crusades, wars in Europe, all these irrational conflicts centered around religion. That pretty much sums it up.
If there was one thing I could get religious people to understand about Atheism that they currently don't, it's that we aren't offended simply because you happen to believe something we don't....
....we are offended when people, even people like Oprah, make childish statements and claims that because every so often our beliefs about the world and existence happen to overlap means that we Atheists OBVIOUSLY really believe in "god" after all because to the believer those rare similarities in belief don't mean common ground....they mean "SEE, you are one of us no matter what!"
“negative,” “selfish,” “nihilistic” and “closed-minded.”"
Are you? Well, that's too bad. We'll pray for you to receive something in the mail. Unless you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant. Then you're screwed.
Goes both ways.
No, actually it doesn't.
Atheists believe that even religious people can be good people, despite what they believe.
Religious people don't believe Atheists can be good people, BECAUSE of what we DON'T believe.
I'm offended that I'm forced to live in a society where religion dominates the financial corner rather than science. Seeing as how we are a capitalist based society, money is the key to living. And ironically, religion gobbles up more income. Think about all the costs involved in building elaborate churches, temples, etc that are only used a few hours a week. I see a lot more churches than science labs. Pathetic that the dumb rule, but that is what Plato saw as the issue with democracy.
Have any of you considered that Oprah could be a master of saying stuff that makes her audience feel good?
Is it possible that wanted to put a possitive spin on his lack of belief just to let the viewers at home smile??
I am positive that was the case.
However it still puts her, as a leader in American media, in the position of spreading an offensive misconception. It would be like if she'd asked a Muslim whether they'd heard of Jesus and when they said yes, responded with "See? You are actually Christian!" Just because aspects of spirituality overlap doesn't mean you can subsume people into whichever spirituality you like better. I am spiritual, I feel awe in the face of this unimaginable large universe and amazingly varied planet, but I don't believe in god. That offends a lot of people, and instead of facing that fact and opening her audience's minds to what we really do think, she perpetuated the misconception that in order to be atheist, you must have no spirituality at all.
Oprah is very accomplished at convincing people she has accomplished something, when in actuality, she has made 0 innovations or contributions and is nothing more than a motivational speaker. Of course she's religious! You think she knows anything about science? She thinks anyone with a Dr. in their name is smart, hence, Dr. Phil.
I don't think anyone on Earth, including Oprah, can actually decipher what she was saying. I loathe this kind of discourse.
“Everybody is an atheist in saying that there is a god – from Ra to Shiva – in which he does not believe. All that the serious and objective atheist does is to take the next step and to say that there is just one more god to disbelieve in.”
An atheist has more faith than any believer in any other religion. Simply because they are betting their eternity on there NOT being a greater being....because, if there is, they will have a very unhappy eternity.
Try getting one of them to admit that they have more faith than the most devout Christian...see what happens. However, by the definition of faith, it's true.
No it isn't true.
DO you need faith to NOT believe in Leprechauns or unicorns?
Do you need faith to NOT believe in the tooth fairy?
No , faith is what is needed when you ignore logic and reason.
Logic and reason are great to understand our natural world. But what if there is more to this world than our senses tell us?
With logic and reason you cannot have faith. Faith goes against it.
For a robot.
Then we will never know about it because we won't be able to detect it.
“I strongly believe in the existence of God, based on intuition, observations, logic, and also scientific knowledge.”
“Science, with its experiments and logic, tries to understand the order or structure of the universe. Religion, with its theological inspiration and reflection, tries to understand the purpose or meaning of the universe. These two are cross-related. Purpose implies structure, and structure ought somehow to be interpretable in terms of purpose.”
–Charles Hard Townes, who received the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for his fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics.
you don't understand.
you don't need faith to not believe. You do need faith to believe discard the possibility that unicorns exist and to say they do NOT exist.
So an atheist doesn't need to have faith to not believe in God. But those who believe in the absence of God do require faith.
It is true. All human beings use faith. I did as an atheist. I would not admit that, because I didn't realize it. My mistake was where I was placing my faith.
Not a mistake, a choice.
The choice was a mistake.
per your edit, i know understand what you meant
I am an atheist, but I have to disagree with you. I think you may be trying, like Oprah, to define atheism through the lens of theism.
Theists see faith as a very valuable currency, so in order to argue that atheism is alright (or better), you aim to prove that atheists have plenty of faith. The problem is that faith is a completely valueless currency to an atheist.
Faith is defined as "complete trust or belief in something, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof." Seeing as atheists are constantly calling for proof, it doesn't make sense to say that atheists have faith. I am not "betting my eternity" because there is no proof that eternity exists for me. I take it for granted than my consciousness will end in about fifty years, sooner if I am unlucky. My lack of belief in god is, again, based on a lack of proof, not any kind of faith. It is also based on a lack of necessity: I think some people may believe in a god because it fulfills a need in their lives, and I'm fulfilling that need another way. I don't need to believe in god or an afterlife to be happy or contribute to the world, so I just don't. I make no judgement on those who do, as long as they leave me in peace.
I can see what you are trying to say- that atheists have "faith" that they will not burn in hell because of our lack of belief. But that isn't the way I see it at all, and I think we all need to be careful not to start talking about atheism in the language of theists just for the sake of some better PR.
That being said, I appreciate the ability to have an honest discussion about what atheists think (notice I don't say "believe"!)
"I take it for granted than my consciousness will end in about fifty years, sooner if I am unlucky."
'I take it for granted' implies a belief without proof or evidence. And it is your belief because if it were not true you would be 'unlucky'. All the decisions you have made derive from your faith that you might be one of the lucky ones. If you were unlucky, and your life ended tomorrow, would you forsake all these decisions? Is it more likely that you are lucky or unlucky? (If you can answer the last question then you should patent your method and sell it for millions!)
To know anyone is to have an encounter with that person and get to know them. Obviously, you have never met God Almighty Johovah because when you do, you will absolutely know His majestic presence. He says, Call upon me, the Lord, and I will hear and answer.
Do you have a moment to talk about The Force?
You will open the door....
You will listen....
Well, bring him on over for some cribbage on sunday and we'll chat.
He would probably appreciate it if you at least spelled his name correctly
Richard Dawkins is a joke. He rights pop science for atheist fan boys who drool.
Try literacy. It's good for you.
homeschooled, eh? you kids are so batshit when you're homeschooled. The real world is waiting to slap you silly.
it's shocking that something so stupid can come from someone so intelligent.
Ask Jimmy Swaggart about this. He is one of our "God" experts.
They're DELUDED. They're FOOLS.
What they say has no value.
Yeah...they're the worst aren't they....wait ...who are we talking about?
'They' Richard. It is THEM.
The bas.tards that keep killing Kenny.
Kenny is dead?!? Say it isn't so!!! "Oh no Mr. Bill! It's Sluggoooooooooo!!!"
I am not smart enough to prove there is a God. I just like the Christian belief that a God/Man Jesus chose to sacrifice his life for the sins of others so that they might be saved. It's just a great story and so I choose to believe it. If I'm mistaken it won't hurt anyone. But if I'm right, there's quite a payoff. Just seems like a good gamble to take.
Actually, it's WAY better than that Bible piece of crap, full of lies and outright untruths.
It also doesn't contradict itself like the Bible does.
yes, the bible would be rejected by any editor these days. "a contradictory, fanciful, confused mess of a book" they would say.
This is another tired repeti.tion of Pascal's Wager - thoroughly refuted since the 17th century (where have you been?)
- What if the real "God" is Allah, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl, or any of the other of thousands which have been dreamed up over the centuries? Some of them are very jealous and vengeful and will relegate you to nasty places for not worshiping them. You'd better cover your butt by believing in ALL of them and fulfill their wishes and demands.
- What if the real "God" prefers those who use logic and reason and punishes you as a silly sycophant?
- What if the real "God" detests those who believe something just to cover their butts in eternity?
How would God, if real, feel about you 'playing the odds' on His existence?
So many live by Pascals wager...what a shame.
Quetzlcoatl will be very angry when you see him.
so if a man said he'd pay you a million dollars to believe that there was a pink pony flying around the moon, you'd really believe it?
believe or don't believe, but do it because all the evidence proves it to you ... don't be so lame!
Yeah, well the problem there is that how do you know that you're believing in the right god? There have been, literally, thousands of them. Many of them with consequences if you don't follow them and pay more attention to another one.
smart guy, Chuck. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We know His presence and by faith believe and trust in God Almighty.
How can Athiests say there is no God, when they have never encountered Him and given Him a chance to show His power in their lives.
Fact, no one has experienced death and has come back to tell us what it is really like. So, how can a person (Athiest) say there is no God. They don't know for sure. They just want to think for whatever reason that there is no God. But one day they will find out and they will be shocked.
What if you pick the wrong god and the real god hates people that believe in false gods and sentences them to an eternity of pain? That's quite a downside.
What if god uses the bible to pick out the really dumb people so that he can send them to hell?
"How can Athiests say there is no God, when they have never encountered Him"
That kind of answers itself, doesn't it?
Forgive the snarky answer, but I make a point of respecting other people's beliefs even if I don't believe them myself. I ask only for the same. You believe that your "have encountered him", I strongly believe that I haven't despite really trying. We're different, that's all. It doesn't make you better than me or vice-versa. Atheists have morals, love other people and see the wonder in the world just like you do. Its time that we be respected for our lack of beliefs without trying to make us out to be broken or amoral.
I don't agree that it explains itself. Many things are learned and believed because someone leads us to the truth that we did not discover on our own.
I am however very glad to hear that you have tried to find a reason to believe. I think if more Atheists would admit that they have mode some effort, not just dismissed it out of hand, that they would find people much more interested in thier journey and their opinion. When Atheists speak like it is out of the question, rather than I do not believe it [possibly with even though I tried, I searched, but did not find] then it seems less close-minded.
I know you probably don't want me to pray for you, but I believe I can make something happen for you, even Atheists in general.
Prayer: Many who will read or "hear" this prayer do not believe that God will reach out to them personally. Some have even said they looked, searched, but did not find a reason to believe in God. Others seem to know or realize evidence of God in the smallest of things, and they do truly believe. Events that might go unnoticed or considered to be of little importance to some can make a believer smile knowingly, or even become elated. I thank the Lord every time I pray for rain here in the desert, and then within a few days the rains come. I pray for the rains to go where they are needed most, and hope that they will not continue to deluge areas that do not need the waters. I wonder whether those who are getting too much rain ever ask them to go where they are needed? Please find a moment, a way, to shed the life giving waters of your Love on those who do not believe in a way that they will be able to understand. I know some of their hearts may be hardened, and their minds determined to remain closed, but I know you can find a way. Thank you Lord for your Eternal Patience and Grace and Everlasting Love.
As ever, your humble servant, who has tried to be and do what you told me you would ask of me. So be it!
There now, that didn't hurt, did it? 😉
Thats fine, just please keep it out of politics.
You could believe in Santa too while you're at it, that wouldn't hurt anyone either.
"I frequently ask students what words are commonly associated with atheists. Their responses nearly always include words like “negative,” “selfish,” “nihilistic” and “closed-minded."
Most, if not all of these descriptors are I'm sure coming from people with a religious background. And probably one of, if not THE most ingrained beliefs within any religion is the belief that people who believe differently can't possibly be good people...or at least, not as good as the person who believes this.
Religion and morality are NOT synonymous, but unfortunately that fallacy is perpetuated and passed on from parent to child as the parent subjects their child to the same brainwashing indoctrination they themselves suffered through as a child and who now actually think that what they believe is actually what THEY believe, rather than what somebody else believed and told them they must as well, or else.
And probably one of, if not THE most ingrained beliefs within any religion is the belief that people who believe differently can't possibly be good people...or at least, not as good as the person who believes this."
Misconceptions are rampant whenever we don't study for ourselves what others are preaching/teaching. I have been a Bible believing Christian, for all of my adult life. I have never read or heard that non-beleivers are bad or that non-believers are not as good.The Bible says that ALL (believers/non-believers) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Part of the Christian belief is that non-believers have a different place in eternity. So where did your beliefs about religion and those who practice originate from. We all have something to learn from each other.
The concept of "spreading the word" is the basis for all that is wrong with religion.
If your beliefs dictate to you that you must go around and try to "convert" people to your way of thinking in order to "save" them, your beliefs are inherently starting you off from a foundation of immediately looking down on others and seeing them as things that need to be fixed rather than as fellow humans who should not have to be made to feel guilty just because they don't believe your particular brand of delusion.
The catch-all tactic of "we are all sinners" is also part of this central method of control that religions employ. This way, even when others like me tell you I don't believe in what you call "sin" to begin with, you can still make the same childish claim that I am still a sinner which places me, in your mind, squarely under the umbrella of your beliefs, not mine.
First, how old are your students, what class are you teaching, and where. All that influences the answers you get.
Second, did you ever ask each of them if they had actually ever known an atheist?
The word atheist was created by the Greek Orthodox Church and was used to persecute those who did not believe in the Church's doctrine. It is an insult to be called an athiest just like heretic, blasphemer and infidel. It also connotates that you once believed in Judeo-Christain Mythology and is therefore an inadequate word to describe what non-believers do not believe in.
"The term atheism originated from the Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning "without god(s)", used as a pejorative term applied to those thought to reject the gods worshipped by the larger society." – wikipedia
It's from ancient Greece, well before the Greek Orthodox Church.
Yeah. Wasn't Socrates setanced to death for being atheist (against the greek gods) and "corrupting the youths"?