Is Atheism True? Debate, 2nd Round, 2nd Post

Second round, second post with response

The original post by the atheist was in standard paragraph form. I have numbered the atheist's paragraphs and adopted an outline format to allow ease of response. The atheist's posts appear in black text. My responses follow each paragraph and are in green.

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  1. Actually, no, the question is best stated as it was. The vast majority of religions are based on a particular god or gods. The beliefs surrounding this being or beings and the worship of it form religions. Though some religions are not theistic or polytheistic in nature, the majority of them are. Take Buddhism for example. There are both polytheistic and non-theistic versions of Buddhism. Christianity is another interesting example. Combines with various African polytheistic religions, it has become part of the base for such religions as Santa Ria and Voodun.

    All theistic and polytheistic systems offer the believer some form of salvation or forgiveness for sins; Christianity if far from unique on the idea of salvation or forgiveness. The Christian version is simply a variation on an ancient theistic theme.
    According to the ancient Greek and Roman polytheistic system, those who had right behavior would end up in the Elysian Fields or some other pleasant place for eternity after death. Those who offended the gods by breaking the rules or for wrong belief could be punished in any number of ways in the after life. Hinduism offers release from the cycle of reincarnation and life suffering for the souls learning its lessons on these things and attainment of Nirvana. Buddhism offers release from suffering for acknowledging the causes of suffering and for growing beyond the need for them. Islam offers their version of heaven to believers who keep the faith and forgiveness of their sins from Allah. Judaism holds that those who keep the faith and try to lead good lives will go to heaven and that Jehovah can forgive their transgressions if he so chooses. It is the same with all theistic systems. Proper behavior and belief is rewarded, improper behavior, sins or offenses against the deity and others can be forgiven if the deity or deities so chooses. Those committing these sins or offensives are also punished if not forgiven.

    1. I raised the initial point only as a minor comment. It isn't a big deal. However, I would like to mention that your understanding of Christian salvation is "sorely lacking." Christianity teaches salvation by grace through faith and not by faith and/or grace combined with works which is what all other belief systems teach. This is a huge difference. Furthermore, this does not help your position that atheism is true. It only demonstrates that you do not understand Christian soteriology (doctrine of salvation).
  2. Not really, look at your own religion. It teaches that it is the only one true faith, the only one true way to salvation. The Christian religion actively seeks to convert those of other beliefs to their one true Religion with the claim that proper Christian belief is the only way they can obtain salvation. The Christian religion teaches that it is superior to other belief systems, and that its believers hold with a superior belief system.

    It is the same with other theistic systems, take Islam for example; it considers itself the one true religion, though acknowledges people of the book, the Christians and Jews, as having the right basic idea about god. There is also a school of thought within Islam that even a godless heathen atheist like me can be forgiven by Allah and obtain heaven. Though aggressively or even actively seeking of new recruits is fairly limited to a few theistic systems, each systems holds the belief that it is somehow superior or more correct to all if not most of the other systems.

    1. I stated that when you said religions as a whole offer "A sense of superiority over non-believers" that it is your opinion. Are you stating that this is not your opinion but an "objective fact"? Christianity does teach that it is true and that all others are false, but within Christianity, superiority is pride and pride is considered a sin in Christianity. So, you are asserting a quality to Christianity that is inconsistent with its tenets. This also shows that you do not understand Christianity -- at least in this aspect.

      I do not know the hearts of the people in other systems so I cannot say if they are, as a whole, harboring attitudes of superiority. But, I can say that in my heart, I hold no such attitude towards unbelievers. Also, the Christians I know do not speak of their faith with an air of superiority. Rather, they are grateful they have been saved by grace through faith and want the same for others.

      Finally, to respond to my statement that your statement was an opinion with "not really" is more subjectivity. Let's not get into an argument about opinions. Why don't we try and stick to the facts?

  3. Please remember, as I noted in my introductory statement that when I refer to god or gods, Im not specifically referring to the Christian version of god. There are many other such systems out there and in any discussion of the validity of atheism they must all be equally considered. Though I realize that the majority of the audience for this debate is Christian in belief, they must realize that the Christian version of god is not the only version being discussed. It is just one of a number of theistic and polytheistic systems.
    1. If you are going to debate me, you should debate the issue of the Christian God that I believe since I would side with you in stating that all the "other gods" are not true and non-existent. I do that all the time in debates; that is, I constantly refute the false teachings of other belief systems.
  4. [Note: Her response here is a large one. Instead of responding at the end of her large response, I will break her response into paragraph points. Therefore, points 4-11 are really one final response.]
    First, Id like to note that so far in your responses you have only acknowledged the existence of one concept of god, the Christian one. Notice your capitalization of god every time you use the word. I am fairly certain that when you do this you are not referring to Zeus, Allah or Krishna. Interestingly enough, this emphasizes my points that belief in a particular concept of god offers not only a group identity to the believer, but a feeling of superiority over other theistic belief systems and those that hold them. So far you have not acknowledged any god concept but the Christian concept, which you yourself hold.
    1. You must realize that it is not logically necessary that when people believe in a god or gods as part of social structuring, that it does not require that their god(s) do not exist. We would need a better criteria to judge then than of people existing in a social construct.
    2. Also, you are correct. Of course, I will only acknowledge that one God exists. What do you think I am going to do, argue that all kinds of gods exist? Not at all. I openly believe that all other gods beside the Christian God are false and non-existent. Since you know that I am a Christian, that should not be a surprise to you. It would be self contradictory for me to try and defend the idea that gods exist.
  5. Im glad to see that we agree on the point that human beings seem to have an innate need to form social bonds. What we disagree on are the reasons for this need. Its significance to the concepts of god held by individuals. Including how this affects their relationship to the social group the individual interacts with.
    1. We may disagree on some of the reasons for social bonds and agree on others. My objection is that you tend to categorize religious belief (including Christianity) as a means to account for peoples' theistic beliefs and then try and imply that social needs explains why we have theistic beliefs. At best you only have an opinion since you cannot prove any relationship to God's existence or not based upon this idea.

      But, this is a dead end point to pursue since it is outside the scope of my expertise and yours -- unless you are an expert in social science focusing on religion. Oddly enough, my bachelors degree is in social science and I have a Masters of Divinity -- and you don't see me making such claims. Nevertheless, you may choose to hold on to the peoples' need for social construct as an explanation for their belief in god(s) that you believe do not exist. Though I would agree with you to a point that their social structure is probably the source of their belief in a god(s) that are not real, it does not mean that the Christian God is not real -- and that is what I am defending.
      But, the fact that such social needs exist could just as easily be explained by asserting that because we are made in God's image, we then seek for God and form social constructs to meet that need, however erroneous they may become. The sword cuts both ways. Since I can offer a counter theory to yours that is just as possible, your point is almost useless in "proving" atheism true.

  6. You note that you disagree with the idea of atheism as the default position. Stating that there is no way to know if infants hold a concept of god or not. Simply stating there is no way to know does nothing to really further the idea that belief in god is hardwired into us at birth and that something other than the human need for social interaction is at work. What is interesting is that the idea of being hard wired to a concept of god would completely negate the idea of free will that so many god concepts require. So that, at the very least eliminates those concepts from the question of the existence of god. (Giving us that many more evidences for atheism, x god does not exist, y god does not exist, z god does not exist and so on)
    1. Exactly, since there is no way to know, then you shouldn't claim the default position, should you?

      This isn't a discussion on free will. But, having the natural tendency to pursue the God who created us does not mean we have no "free will" - which you have not defined. Nevertheless, we are free only as far as our nature permits us to be free. We are not free to be independent of what we are ontologically. Since all people have wills and can make choices consistent with their knowledge and abilities, they have free will.
      Now, in your next paragraph, number 7 below, you mention that people are "born with an innate need to form social bonds and relationships..." Innate means "possessed at birth", or "possessed as a basic and essential characteristic." That sounds like "hardwiring." If that is the case, then why have you not brought this up as support that we have no free will? You are quick to attempt to show an inconsistency in "hardwired for God" and "free will" but then fail to continue with your logic in your very next paragraph. You are being very inconsistent and, in my opinion, your bias is showing yet again.

      Does having innate tendencies mean we have no free will? Of course not. You must understand that we cannot violate our own natures and that we can only choose what we can choose, what we can be conceptually aware of, and, to a certain extent, what we are able to desire. So, for you to say that being hardwired to believe in God would "completely negate" the idea of free will is a conclusion that does not follow from the premise. In other words, it is completely fallacious -- otherwise you wouldn't use the principle in your next paragraph.

  7. I stand by the idea that human beings are not born with a concept of god or gods. Instead, what they are born with an innate need to form social bonds and relationships with other human beings. God concepts are something learned from the social group in which the child is raised. (Though there are some interesting variations on these learned themes, which I will hopefully get into later)
    1. The issue here is not if they have a "concept" of God since a concept implies cognition. You maintain that the default position of a human is atheism. If you define atheism as the belief there is no God, then that is wrong. If you define atheism as an unawareness of God, you may be right. If you define atheism as a "lack of belief" in God, and if belief is defined as cognitive effort, then you'd be right. But, atheists, you as an example, don't "lack belief." They demonstrate that they believe there is no God when they actively reject and attempt to refute theistic evidences.

      As I said before, even if "lack of belief" is the default position of an infant, it in no way supports the idea that atheism is true, that there is no God. Remember, the default position of infants regarding airplanes is "lack of belief," but that doesn't mean airplanes aren't real.

  8. Concepts of god or gods are simply outgrowths of the societies in which we live. When the leaders of that society cannot provide the answers, then the society simply goes looking higher up the chain of command. It decides there must be some other being or beings who controls that which the society cannot. God or gods are very simply, the ultimate pack alphas.
    1. Really? Is that all concepts of God are? How do you know that concepts of god(s) are "simply outgrowths of the societies in which we live"? Can you prove it or do you believe it on faith? The problem is that you continue to proceed from the assumption that atheism is true in order to prove that atheism is true; that is called "begging the question." In so doing you are not establishing the validity of atheism and you are not being logical.

      Furthermore, you don't even address the concept that there might be a God who originated the idea of God and that the belief in God has taken different derivative forms throughout history which have then taken different shapes in different societies. This also demonstrates your selectivity in the analysis of your hypotheses to explain the existence of God concepts.

      Therefore, your comments here are useless. They do not validate atheism since they are simply unsubstantiated opinions based on the unproven assumption that atheism is true.

  9. Now, some excellent evidence to support the idea of god as the ultimate pack alpha is the tendency of new theistic systems or variations on old theistic systems to form according to social pressures and changes. A few examples: Buddhism (though not strictly theistic in nature) Christianity and the split between Protestant and Catholic Christians, Islam, and the variations in Islam. Were these truly the result of divine revelation or social pressures?
    1. It is obvious that you like to theorize about social norms and extrapolate that God doesn't exist If, just if, you could establish that the "alpha" theory of yours is correct, and I am not saying it is, it would mean that you have shown that some cultures use religion to accomplish social order. But that is not evidence that atheism is true since it doesn't demonstrate that all such theistic systems are false.
  10. Matt, you make the statement: Nevertheless, your position could also apply to cats, dogs, plants, birds, rocks, water, and dirt, since the "default" position of these things would be non-belief as well. This would demonstrate that your definition of atheism (in relation to the default position issue) might be lacking and need refining -- unless you want to include cow manure, electricity, rocket fuel, and moon dust as members of the atheist party. These are actually non-sequetors. Unless of course, you wish to state that cow manure, dogs, cats, plants rocks, water, rocket fuel and the like are capable of cognitive thought as human beings are. That would be an argument for another debate.
    You also make the statement: For example, babies don't actively "believe" in airplanes when they are born. But it does not mean airplanes aren't real. Again, you seem to be completely misunderstanding what I have stated. A baby learns about airplanes because it lives in a society that uses or has some concept of airplanes. Just as what child learns about god or gods is dependant on the society in which they live.
    1. You continue to fail to back up your statements. You say I committed non-sequiturs. Okay, tell me logically how I am illogical. In your definition of atheism above, you did not mention that it requires consciousness. You said "Theism is the belief that god or gods exist; atheism is the opposite of that. Atheism simply means without theism, without a belief in the existence of god or gods." Okay, if atheism means that you are without a belief in god or gods, then a rock qualifies as does water and dirt since they too are "without belief." My point was that you need to refine your definition of atheism so that inanimate things are excluded. If you want, I'd be happy to help you do this.
  11. You then state: The fact that people become believers in things as they grow older does not invalidate the object of belief. This is another misunderstanding of the points Ive been making. You agreed above that belief itself is not evidence for the existence of something. I never stated anything about belief in something such as a god being evidence against it, but that belief itself was not evidence in favor of it. Take for example your statement above that most people believe in some form of god. (I assume here your capitalization of the word god means you are referring to the Christian god, and not the other versions of god or gods. Which in itself is a misstatement of fact. The majority of people do not believe in the Christian god) Simply because a large number of people believe in god does not make the existence of that god or gods fact. Belief itself is not evidence.
    1. To clarify yet again: I do not agree that "belief itself is not evidence of the existence of something." I said that belief in God does not prove that God exists. You are not quite hearing what I am saying in this regard and are trying to read too much into my statement. I would go so far as to say that belief in itself is not proof that there is a God, but it may be evidence for Him. That is another discussion.

Conclusion:

At this point it seems we are simply debating about things that aren't precisely relevant to the topic "Is atheism true?" You have not proven your assumption. You have merely offered unsubstantiated opinions and made a few logic errors.

 

 

 

 
 
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