Is Atheism True? Debate, 2nd Round, 3rd Post

Second round, third 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, I do understand the Christian doctrine of salvation quite well. The problem is, it is simply a variation on a theme, as I stated earlier. Christians are rewarded with salvation for correct belief. It is also believed that with correct belief, will come correct behavior. Yet, once correct belief is obtained, the Christian is offered forgiveness for sins (incorrect behavior), the forgiveness is guaranteed for correct belief. It is an interesting cycle, but not unlike the benefits offered by other theistic systems, there is reward for correct belief, punishment for incorrect belief.
    1. Don't pat yourself on the back too soon. You may know some of the general ideas of Christian soteriology (doctrine of salvation), but you fail to understand it. We are not "rewarded" because of our belief. It isn't a crap shoot and if you happen to believe right, you "win"! Quite wrong. Faith is the means by which God has declared that we are justified before Him (Rom. 5:1 - based on the sacrifice of God the Son on the cross). Believing is granted to us (Phil. 1:29) and is the work of God (John 6:28-29) not of man (John 1:12-13), because those who are appointed to eternal life believe (Acts 13:48). You seem to be thinking that this "faith" thing is merely an intellectual notion invented by Christians and if we guess it right, we get to go to heaven. Far from it.
  2. You see, this does indeed enforce my point that such theistic systems of reward are outgrowths of societies, and not of god or gods. There are common elements in all theistic systems. The aspect of reward and punishment for correct belief and behavior is one of these. The idea of reward for and punishment for correct and incorrect behavior is also strong in all societies. This was discussed in a bit more detail in other responses, so I wont get into it again here.
    1. Since you were wrong about Christian soteriology, your point is not made concerning Christian theism. It might be made concerning all other systems, but not for Christianity.
    2. Since I have studied and taught on various soteriological religions systems and compared them to Christianity for more than 22 years and since I have a Masters of Divinity, I hope that you would accept the notion that I am more qualified than you to discuss this issue concerning Christian soteriology.

      Therefore, to sum up: there are only two religions in all the world: Christianity and all the others. How is that? Only Christianity has a grace alone based system. All other religious systems have a grace and/or works based system. Only in Christianity is salvation a completely free gift given to the one who believes in Christ (alone) who cannot earn it in any way -- and even that faith is given by God.

      I strongly suggest that if you want to debate soteriology with me, that we start another discussion. I would, however, agree with you that the other belief systems are all false and that the majority, if not all, are social constructs that may or may not be derived through societal descent from the ancient original faith (Garden of Eden). This would be another conversation.

  3. I also find it interesting that you feel the need to deny any link between the Christian version of reward for good behavior and that of other theistic systems. Instead, you attempt to distance yourself from the others. This is an excellent example of Christianity (as other theistic systems do) as holding itself separate and superior to other theistic systems. Which leads us into the next point.
    1. I did not deny that there are conceptual links or commonalities between Christianity and other religions. So, please don't assert what I do not believe or have not stated. I have simply said that Christianity alone is true and that all other belief systems are false. I certainly hope you did not think I would be trying to prove the god of Islam true, or that pantheism is true, etc. Of course I wouldn't do that. A quick look at CARM will convince you that I stand in opposition to other belief systems. Therefore, you should focus on the Christian concept of God.
    2. Also, you must realize that Christianity, by definition, says that all other systems are false. It is not that it is "superior" the way you apparently try and connect it with arrogance. It is simply that it is true and saying so doesn't mean we are superior or arrogant in attitude. It is superior because it is true. Jesus, who claimed to be God in flesh (John 8:24, 58; 10:30-33; Exod. 3:14, cf, John 20:28; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:6,8), said that He was the only way to God the Father (John 14:6; Matt. 11:27). We Christians believe Him.

      Furthermore, Christianity teaches a Trinitarian God which all other religious systems do not (contra modalism, tritheism, etc). Christianity teaches salvation by grace through faith alone, which all other religious systems do not. Though there are similarities in other systems, Christianity is unique in its scope, evidence, soteriology, and theology.

      Again, what has this to do with supporting atheism?

  4. I have been careful to point out that in this discussion Im addressing all theistic and polytheistic systems, of which Christianity is only one. The original topic of discussion was the evidence for atheism, not the evidence against a particular theistic system. Yet you state: 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.

    You also state: "? 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.

    1. Nice logic -- on the surface. But it misses some vital information. Pride in a person is something God does not want. The attitude of arrogant superiority in a person is not what God wants, either. But, that does not change the fact that Christianity is, by nature, superior to all other systems -- since it alone represents the true God as manifested in Christ. Being true, it is therefore superior by nature, but that does not mean that it is inconsistent with itself since being true does not mean that those who believe it is superior are being prideful. Pride is something in people. Christianity is the historical revelation and manifestation of Jesus who claimed to be God, walked on water, healed people, rose from the dead, etc. This occurred in history. For me to say it is true and to believe it is true over all other systems does not make me arrogant anymore than you, an atheist, believe that your atheism is true, and therefore superior, over all religious systems.

      This is one of the problems I have with your argumentation: you say things that are not logically necessary and then proceed to build your case on these alleged points. This is why you are not convincing in your defense of atheism.

  5. Your statements above emphasize the point Ive been making about particular theistic systems offering its adherents a sense of superiority over other theistic systems. You plainly state that your theistic system teaches that all other theistic systems are false and that you spend a great deal of time point this out to people. Though you admit that it is true, you feel your theistic system is superior to other theistic systems. You are also seem to be highly uncomfortable with the term superior, and attempt to distance your theistic beliefs from it. Claiming that such feelings of superiority are against them. Yet, you go on to dismiss all other theistic systems out of hand as incorrect. Your own reaction to my points emphasizes their accuracy better than I could.
    1. Just for clarification, I am not averse to the word "superior." Christianity is superior to all other religions since it alone reveals the true God. This is, of course, a totally different debate dealing with the validity of Christianity. Remember, the debate is on whether or not atheism is true.
  6. I also find it interesting that you agree with some of my points, namely that theistic belief systems are an outgrowth the human need to form social groups. It is very interesting that you will admit that is a very likely explanation for all theistic systems (the ones you refer to as false), making an exception for your own. Again, this reinforces many of the points Ive made previously.
    1. Please read my posts more carefully. I did not say that "theistic belief systems are an outgrowth [of] the human need to form social groups." If I said that, then that would mean that Christianity is nothing more than an outgrowth of social groups which I do not believe and I would be inconsistent, wouldn't I? Can you please find anyplace in our debate where I made such a statement that you claim I made?
    2. Furthermore, I would certainly be illogical to defend the existence of other gods, wouldn't I? There are none. There is only one. Of course, I will only defend the Christian God and I will be happy to join you in refuting other religious systems. (Or, you can join me in doing so.) But, the issue that you are not grasping is that asserting that various religious systems exist as by-products or derivations of social constructs does not negate the possibility of God's existence. At best, if what you said was true (about non-Christian systems), it would only demonstrate that those systems are false, which is exactly what Christianity would claim -- and that does not invalidate Christianity.

      But, my point to you earlier was this: It is not a logical proof that God does not exist if you theorize that all religions are mere social constructs. This is why: 1) A social construct may be the result of a derivative reality of an actual truth descending through different societies (i.e., Garden of Eden). 2) You have not reasonably established that all religions are merely social constructs. 3) You should be tackling the Christian theistic idea since I agree with you about that all other gods do not exist.

  7. Now, you bring up that point that possibly mankinds tendency to develop theistic systems could be an outgrowth of their being made in gods image. This is one possible explanation, but very unlikely given the facts. If theistic and polytheistic systems were the outgrowth of then why are their so many variations on them? And why do theistic systems change according to social and economic changes in a society? (I posted some examples earlier on in the debate) If, as you stated, they were a response to being made in gods image then one would assume, god being stable, the theistic systems would also be stable. Yet, they are not. We see many variations on a theme. Even within such systems as Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism. We see systems with one god, and some with more than one god. Unfortunately, unlike the god or gods they are supposedly based on, theistic systems change with the times and with changes in societies.
    1. Why is being made by God an unlikely event "given the facts"? What facts? Saying it is unlikely doesn't make it so.
    2. Furthermore, I will be developing a page on this kind of topic later for CARM, but here's some interesting information that supports my position. China has the most ancient, unbroken society dating back thousands of years. The ancient Chinese character for "sin" is a tree with a snake in it (Garden of Eden). The ancient character for boat is a boat with eight mouths in it (eight people on Noah's Ark). There are more. Is this not evidence of a single original religion in harmony with Christian teaching? If not, how would you explain this? Also, would your atheism allow you to entertain this evidence as being true?
    3. Variations on a theme are all around us. If we only need a car to get around, why are there so many types? Simple, people are different, get confused, develop their own ideas, etc. Variations on the theme of God does not mean that there is no God. It simply means that those variations that are contradictory cannot all be true.
    4. You make an illogical claim that if God is stable, theistic systems would be stable. It is people who are not stable and this can easily account for different theistic systems. If their theistic systems are not based on the true God, then they would not be stable.
      I would acknowledge that theistic systems change as they are influenced by social and environmental pressures. Christianity has even changed in some degrees this way. But, this does not invalidate Christianity since what Christianity has discovered as the essentials do not and have not changed. Those social constructs that Christianity says are adiaphora (non essentials) are even categorized as items that can change (i.e., Rom. 14:1-12). Christianity adapts but its core does not change; that is, its essentials that make it Christian are immutable.
  8. Ill reiterate my points on the atheism as the default position. There is absolutely no evidence to show that theism or polytheism is the default position human beings are born with. There also is no across the board concept of god or gods. Children do not come hard wired with concepts of god, but learn the concepts of god that are prevalent in the societies in which they live. We also have a good deal of evidence to show that human beings are born with an innate need to form social bonds with other human beings. What we do see are social rules and tendencies that repeat through different societies. We also see various theistic systems change according to social pressures as we see these social tendencies change and adept.
    1. I have already addressed this issue earlier. Nevertheless, making the claim that atheism is the default position does nothing for your case since if it is the default position (lack of belief in God), it does not mean that there is no God. As I said, the default position of a child is to not be aware of the existence of airplanes. But, that does not mean that airplanes do not exist. Therefore, claiming that atheism is the default position has no value in supporting the validity of atheism.
  9. The idea that a god or gods would have hard wired human beings to have a tendency to look towards that particular god or gods, or even for a god or gods in general removes the element of free will from the picture. This idea would also pose problems for certain theistic systems. You see, it would mean that someone did not accept a particular concept of god because it was correct, but because they were programmed to do so. Even if it were just to accept some general concept of god. We are also presented with the dilemma, say, perchance, they were never presented with the correct one according to the society in which they lived, and then they would never have the opportunity to hold that correct belief. We see no examples of children being born, well, just knowing one theistic system over another, these things are learned. Therefore, its logical to conclude that no concept of god is hard wired into human beings. That such a thing is learned.
    1. I have already addressed this as well and have shown you that you are not being logical. Does your hard wired-instinct for survival mean you have no free will? Of course not? Or does your hard-wired desire for comfort and safety mean you don't have free will? Again, no. It is simply an illogical statement on your part and to build an argument on it is not logical either. Besides, we are only as free as our nature permits us to be free and we can only make choices consistent with our natures.
    2. As far as people not knowing which religion is right, that is the point of Christian evangelism so that they will know.
    3. Since you are in error about this, it again does not help atheism's case.
  10. In reading the comments of various atheists and theists I have found there are two major differences in their thinking. Theists rarely take their thinking beyond the points they find that support their views. The find something comfortable, something that supports their ideas, and stop there. The atheists Ive encountered take another approach. They tend to take things a step further, asking what the next logical steps in all lines of thinking would be, and if they support the original conclusions. Continuing on from there. One of the things I have noticed in this debate is your tendency to fall back on the same old lines of thinking that you have used over and over again on the message board. Lines of thinking that seem to be very comfortable for you. One excellent example is the term belief and its meaning and usage. Now, I tackled that one in more depth in my response to the first set of points posted above.
    1. To you, it is the atheists who are most logical. Of course, I would expect this from an atheist. However, in my discussions with atheists, I have found the majority to be impolite and illogical in many areas. In fact, I've encountered a great many who are insulting, foul, and utterly arrogant. Of course, this does not mean that atheism is false. But, since you are categorizing theistic thinking, I am recounting atheistic behavior. Either way, what is the relevance to proving that atheism is true?
    2. You make an interesting comment when you say, "One of the things I have noticed in this debate is your tendency to fall back on the same old lines of thinking that you have used over and over again on the message board. Lines of thinking that seem to be very comfortable for you." Well, of course I do that! Do you not use the "same old arguments" in support of atheism and against Christianity? Do you not use arguments you are comfortable with? Logically speaking, using the "same old arguments" does not mean that those arguments are invalid, so why bring it up unless you want to insert into the discussion an air of superiority?
  11. You seem to still be confused about what the term belief actually means. One moment is categorized as something that does not require cognitive action (which seems logically and physically impossible), another moment you use the term as if it represented an object, and the next you use it as if it were some higher form of reasoning.. Would you please take a moment to clarify how you are using the term belief? Or, if youve done so already in response to the post above, please just skip this step. As noted, I outlined in an earlier response how I am using the term and what definitions of belief best fit this debate.
    1. At least you used the word "seem" which means that is possible that I do know what the word "belief" means. Furthermore, to say that I still seem to be confused means that you believe I have been confused about what belief means in our debate. You may think I am confused about it, but I do not believe I am. In fact, I could just as easily say that you seem to still be confused about what belief means. Nevertheless, you simply make unsubstantiated comments here. Please cite concrete examples of my alleged lack of understanding what belief is or please consider retracting your statement.

      I do not want to write a paper on different contexts of the word belief. Instead, why don't you continue with the debate topic and try and demonstrate how atheism is true?

  12. Also, as Ive noted several times, atheism is a term that is derived from the term theism. One cannot examine atheism without also examining theism. As one eliminates theistic explanations, atheism as a logical explanation begins to come more and more to the forefront.

    1. That definitely has some truth to it. However, I have not seen your proof that God is not there. As far as evidence goes, I've address your points. Perhaps you would care to restate briefly what you think your best points are in support of atheism.
    2. Likewise, if someone counters or refutes the alleged atheistic arguments, then theism becomes all the more probable.

 

 

 

 
 
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