First Atheist Church Opens in London

The first atheist church has opened in London, and it serves as yet another reminder of three important facts connected … Continued

The first atheist church has opened in London, and it serves as yet another reminder of three important facts connected to the ongoing cultural struggle between many believers and non-believers. First, principled atheism is as much a faith as is theism; no matter how much many atheists would have us believe otherwise. Second, the human longing for community transcends the often bitter divides about where to find it and how to celebrate it. Third, like most so-called firsts in the world of faith and no-faith, this one is not really new.

Very few, if any, ideas or institutions are truly new. Virtually everything that we celebrate as new has its roots in something else, and that is especially true when it comes to religion. For example, before there was Christmas, there was Hanukkah. And before there was Hanukkah there were yet older celebrations of light in the midst of darkness – some Greco-Roman and others Zoroastrian. Of course, each of these traditions is unique, but none simply fell from the sky as fully formed novelties. Each emerged from a context which included predecessors which they both mirrored and altered, and the same can be said for this “first” atheist church.

While there may be no precedent for this kind of church in England, Americans have been playing with idea of church without God for generations. Perhaps best known, and most durable, among these experiments is the Society for Ethical Culture. Founded in 1877 by Felix Adler, the society did not actively embrace atheism. It simply pursued “deed over creed” and assumed that both theist and atheist beliefs were entirely personal and largely irrelevant.

That the society was founded not only by a Jew, but by the son of noted Reform rabbi Samuel Adler, also fits within a tradition in which arguing against the very right of God to be God goes back to the Genesis story of Abraham. Not to mention the fact that according to recent studies of the American spiritual landscape, Jews are the most highly secularized religious group in the nation. They would eschew the term religious, but functionally, that is what it is. They are part of a community of meaning, values and practice which draws on a shared past and identifies with a collective present and future.

Like their predecessors, the newly founded atheist church of England, seeks to create meaning and offer a sense of belonging for those who lack what one of its founders describes as “the good stuff of religion.” They see no reason why “theological disagreement” should keep people from enjoying that so-called good stuff, and especially in a world where decisions about worship are made increasingly based on what works for the worshipper, not based on some pre-existing theology or creed, that seems like a more than reasonable claim.

In fact, while I am not at all sure that a monthly meeting arranged by a performance artist and a comedian, as is the case in England, will be able to deliver all that they promise, successful spiritual ventures have started with far crazier stories. Not to mention that to recognize the power of no God, is not so different from recognizing the power of some newly identified God or prophet, which is the founding story of pretty much every faith tradition.

And it is for placing itself on the same continuum as theistic systems, that I am most grateful to the founders of this new church. The decision to believe or to disbelieve is just that, a faith claim. Nobody can know for sure when it comes to finite beings making claims about either existence of non-existence of the infinite. But, as this new church reminds us, we can see more of ourselves in each other than we often do.

In recognizing that we all make the decision to believe or not for a variety of reasons, with some going back and forth about exactly where they stand on that issue, we can recognize that both faith and non-faith are personal journeys which seek both communities of affirmation and the possibility of finding greater purpose and meaning in our lives. Perhaps it is because we are so very alike, we believers and non-believers, that some of us fight so hard to distinguish ourselves from each other. Perhaps.

About

Brad Hirschfield An acclaimed author, lecturer, rabbi, and commentator on religion, society and pop culture, Brad Hirschfield offers a unique perspective on the American spiritual landscape and political and social trends to audiences nationwide.
  • tim_anderson44

    What? If atheism is a faith, then is “not playing football” a sport?

    Atheism is the natural state of a human being before one’s mind is infected with a religious upbringing. No one – absolute NO ONE – ever conceived of a “God” or figured out the tenets of an established religion on his/her own. Religion is a myth passed down through the generations. As people gain knowledge and start thinking for themselves, people are re-embracing the natural state of Atheism to which they were born.

  • hebaber

    The “good stuff” of religion is the metaphysics and liturgy. Ethics and moral behavior is the bad stuff–the hard stuff, the unpleasant stuff. Aestehtics is the job, the thrill the fun. Ditch the ethics, the “meaning” and the “community”: give me an aesthetic acid trip, the woo-woo, the thrill.

  • Rongoklunk

    It’s not as if religious people choose which religion makes the most sense to them, It’s not as if they sample other ideas, including nonbelief and other religions. They don’t. They usually end up believing whatever mom and pop (and the local community) tell them is the one true religion.

    That’s why Muslims are Muslims, and Mormons are Mormons, and Catholics are Catholics, and Evangelicals are Evangelicals, and Hindus are Hindus. Of course – there will be the odd exception; the Catholic who changes to Evangelical, or the Mormon who changes to Southern Baptist, but generally people believe what they were raised to believe.
    Atheists can be folks who were raised that way, or people who question and eventually leave their religion.and become nonbelievers. In this modern world it becomes harder and harder to believe in invisible flying thingies, and a heaven up in the clouds. It’s just the kind of thing that folks WISH was true, even though it’s actually preposterous. It pays to question what you were raised to believe. Truth is more important than any religion, every time.

  • ThomasBaum

    tim_anderson44

    You wrote, “What? If atheism is a faith, then is “not playing football” a sport?”

    Seems to me that the sport of not playing football, that is watching it, is much more prevalent at least here in the USA.

    You also wrote, “No one – absolute NO ONE – ever conceived of a “God” or figured out the tenets of an established religion on his/her own.”

    Since you said that a human did NOT, your emphasis, than are you implying or flat out saying that it was God?

    You then wrote, “As people gain knowledge and start thinking for themselves, people are re-embracing the natural state of Atheism to which they were born.”

    How do you know what the “natural state” is when someone is born or did you just declare this to be a “fact”?

    Some, not all, embrace atheism and some of those some embrace it with a fervor bordering on fanaticism and they seem to be the mirror image of some theists.

  • Rongoklunk

    Why is it that religious folks want to believe that atheism is as much a faith as belief in a god is? What if we said “OK, OK atheism is a faith if it makes you feel batter.”

    Now, where do we go from there? We can’t knock religion for being a faith, because atheism is too. So what’s changed?

    Well, atheism isn’t about the supernatural while religion IS.

    Atheists don’t have to believe in a magic godfella who lives in the sky, religious folks DO.

    Atheists don’t have to posit an afterlife, religious folks DO.

    Atheists don’t talk to their fingers and pretend they’re talking to the creator of the universe. Religious folks DO.

    Atheists believe in science rather than myth. Christians go for the myth. And atheists believe that gods are man made while Christians think they’re real.

    So let religious folks believe that atheism is a faith if it makes them feel better. In reality it’s a lack of faith in the patently absurd beliefs of the religiously gullible.

  • Secular1

    “First, principled atheism is as much a faith as is theism; no matter how much many atheists would have us believe otherwise.” Now supposing that I say I have faith that a creature exists on eart called “GishMashTish”. I am certain much better than 99.99999% of teh world population does not believe in such an animal. Would then I br correct is claiming that for all you AgismashTishists it is as much a matter of faith on your part as it is on my part to be a GishMashTishist? If you think it is a matter of faith on your part, then we can start the conversation.

  • Gimlet Eye

    In ancient Athens St.Paul commented on a monument “to an unknown god” – looks like these loons propose to go one better with a “church” to no god. What could go wrong?

  • Gimlet Eye

    When will YOU start thinking, champ?

  • ThomasBaum

    Rongoklunk

    You wrote, “Atheists believe in science rather than myth.”

    Science is merely the study of the known and knowable physical universe in both the micro and macro directions, what exactly does believing in science mean?

    Science isn’t about believing, it is about discovering the discoverable aspects of our physical reality.

    To imply that science is the exclusive domain of atheists is absurd.

    One thing that your post does point out is that anyone looking down on a fellow human being seems to be more of a human thing rather than a theist or atheist thing, seeing as it is not confined to either group.

  • SimonTemplar

    First, your single testimony regarding Gish does not compare to the countless people over thousands of years of human history who have claimed to encounter God.

    Secondly, theists (at least Christian theists) have always maintained that ours is a position of faith. So, what is your point.

  • SimonTemplar

    “It’s not as if religious people choose which religion makes the most sense…”

    “That’s why Muslims are Muslims, and Mormons are Mormons, and Catholics are Catholics, and Evangelicals are Evangelicals, and Hindus are Hindus.”

    You are so absolutely wrong about this. First, a Muslim is a Muslim and a Hindu is a Hindu. An evangelical Christian is no a Muslim. But do you seriously believe that there are no Christians in countries which are predominantly Muslim or Hindu? Are there no Hindu’s or Muslims in this traditionally Christian country? There are no Christian converts in homes that were traditionally Muslim and visa versa?

    You have to be joking.

  • itsthedax

    I like this idea and I hope that it catches on here in the US. There’s no reason that the theists should have all the tax breaks. It’s time for atheists to get a chance to exploit the tax codes!

    And a church such as this will be very useful as a base of operations for the war on christmas!

  • edbyronadams

    If there is a schism between the metaphysics and ethical behavior, your metaphysics are wrong.

  • H-Bomb

    Rather than re-writing what has already been exhaustively explained, I’ll paste from the dang about.com article on this subject.

    This claim that atheism requires faith relies upon the erroneous assumption that all propositions are created equal and, because some cannot be conclusively proven, then therefore none can be conclusively disproven. So, it is argued, the proposition “God exists” cannot be disproven.

    But not all propositions are created equal. It is true that some cannot be disproven – for example, the claim “a black swan exists” cannot be disproven. To do so would require examining every spot in the universe to make sure that such a swan did not exist, and that simply isn’t possible.

    Other propositions, however, can be disproven – and conclusively. There are two ways to do this. The first is to see if the proposition leads to a logical contradiction; if so, then the proposition must be false. Examples of this would be “a married bachelor exists” or “a square circle exists.” Both of these propositions entail logical contradictions – pointing this out is the same as disproving them.

    If someone claims the existence of a god, the existence of which entails logical contradictions, then that god can be disproven the same way. Many atheological arguments do exactly that – for example they argue that an omnipotent and omniscient god cannot exist because those qualities lead to logical contradictition: if so, then the proposition must be false. Examples of this would be “a married bachelor exists” or “a square circle exists.” Both of these propositions entail logical contradictions – pointing this out is the same as disproving them.

    Claiming that atheists “cannot prove that God does not exist” often relies upon the misunderstanding that atheists claim “God does not exist” and should prove this. In reality, atheists merely fail to accept the theists’ claim “God exists” and, hence, the initial burden of proof lies with the believer.

  • techtakular

    “atheism is as much a faith as is theism;” No, just no. Religion was the first in the worst ways in which we tried to understand the world. Most atheists and other freethinkers want none of that, as it has a horrible track record.

  • SimonTemplar

    Of course, you would have to prove that omnipotence and omniscience necessarily lead to contradictions.

    But overall, you are talking OLD school atheism. The NEW atheists most definitely assert “God does not exist.” Just read through their posts in OnFaith for evidence of this.

    But I also wonder if you are merely redefining atheism as agnosticism. To claim that atheists simply do not accept the thesis that God exists suggest that they are not ruling out the possibility. This means they simply don’t know, which sounds like agnosticism to me. Or are atheists trying to co-opt agnostics into their camp by redefining agnosticism as the new atheism?

    Maybe they are just 2 denominations of this new Church of Atheism movement.

  • SimonTemplar

    Tax exempt atheists? You know what has been said about a house divided against itself.

  • slowe111

    “principled atheism is as much a faith as is theism”. you just don’t get it !!. Atheists disdain using the method of faith to know something. faith is not a virtue. Faith is cheating to reach an emotional goal. It is unworthy of modern humans. I find faith embarassing. I do not have or want a faith. Period.

  • Hyperborean

    Since I don’t see any responses to this, I’ll take it upon myself.

    If a being is omniscient, it knows everything. If it is omnipotent, it has the power to do anything. If it is omniscient, it knows everything that it will do, and therefore doesn’t have the power to do otherwise, so it is not omnipotent. If it has the power to do other than what it knows it will do, it is not omniscient.

    There are two “flavors” of atheism, agnosticism, and theism. Each can be divided into “strong” and “weak”. Strong atheism says “There is no possible way there can be a god.” Weak atheism says “A god may be possible, but until I see evidence I choose not to believe in any.” Strong agnosticism says “We can never know if there is a god.” Weak agnosticism says “It is possible to know if there is a god, but the evidence for each side is equally compelling.” Strong theism says “It is impossible for there not to be a god.” Weak theism says “It is possible that no god exists, but I choose to believe in a god.”

    Does this help?

  • ThomasBaum

    H-Bomb

    You wrote, “But not all propositions are created equal. It is true that some cannot be disproven – for example, the claim “a black swan exists” cannot be disproven.”

    But it can be proven, if it is true, by the finding of a black swan.

    You also wrote, “Many atheological arguments do exactly that – for example they argue that an omnipotent and omniscient god cannot exist because those qualities lead to logical contradictition: if so, then the proposition must be false.”

    Could this “logical contradiction” be that we, at least some of us, think/believe that anything beyond our comprehension or ability to conceive of is beyond the possibility of being?

    You then wrote, “In reality, atheists merely fail to accept the theists’ claim “God exists” and, hence, the initial burden of proof lies with the believer.”

    Just as there are many different beliefs among theists, there are many among atheists including some who don’t just “merely fail to accept” but clearly “believe” that there is no God, god or gods.

    Seems as if you can speak of your own beliefs or non-beliefs on this subject with some validity but you are wrong, just by reading other posts one can see, in stating what you have stated.

  • ThomasBaum

    slowe111

    You wrote, “Atheists disdain using the method of faith to know something. faith is not a virtue. Faith is cheating to reach an emotional goal. It is unworthy of modern humans. I find faith embarassing. I do not have or want a faith. Period.”

    Do you really believe that all atheists believe this or are you stating this as a “fact”?

    If you are stating this as a “fact”, just how did you come upon this “fact”?

  • itsthedax

    Why would a government treat an atheist church be treated differently than any other church?

  • Liz Peppin

    Atheism is a faith like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

  • SimonTemplar

    @hyperborean: your definition of omnipotence seems to be limited to tasks which God can perform. The concept is much more broad than that. See Thomas P. Flint and Alfred J. Freddoso’s “Maximal Power”

  • SimonTemplar

    It shouldn’t. I was just pointing out the self-contradictory nature of atheists (always complaining about the tax exempt status of the church) starting their own church to get tax exempt status. I think the atheist church SHOULD be tax exempt.

  • itsthedax

    Absolutely.

    And the atheist churches should also be allocated equal space at religious displays, so their messages can be displayed alongside nativity scenes.

    And, since atheists would be a recognized religion, creationism would be absolutely forbidden in public school curruculae, as it would infringe on the religious freedom of atheists.

    Public and political assemblies, such as congress and town council meetings that begin with prayers would be required to have atheist ministers on a representational basis.

    Yep, I’m definitely on board with those christians who maintain that atheism is a religion. I can’t think of anything that would serve atheists better..

  • FuchuBH

    ThomasBaum- not to step on slowe111′s toes, but I am an atheist, and he expresses the notion of faith accurately, if a bit sternly.

    As an atheist, in principle, all I say (and can say), is that there is no proof for god, and no indication in nature for there to be one. But as person who enjoys lively debate, I may at times exceed that point, and take the offensive, so to speak, against religionists. It doesn’t make me a bad person, or a poor debater, just a person… Just like the religious who overstate their case.

    Agnosticism is the method of requiring proof to consider something a fact. Atheists require proof for god. It is that simple. Faith is antithetical to proof, and is rightly ridiculed if presented as evidence.

  • FuchuBH

    Hyperborean- Your definitions are wildly inaccurate. First of all, agnosticism is not comparable to theism and atheism. You may have wanted to include antitheism, though. The position that religion is actively bad.

    Agnosticism is merely a methodology, applicable to any subject. One needs proof to ascertain if some idea is a fact or not, that is all.

    All atheists are agnostic. They require proof of god, in this case. None being evident, they take the position that it has not been proven, and not worthy of the designation “fact”. If they are a bit over ambitious in their argument, it does not make them zealots, because their position is based on evidence, rather than faith.

    The simplest understanding is that a person may be unsure ( in fact, MUST be unsure) if god exists as a factual point. But they absolutely cannot be unsure they BELIEVE god exists. (the inaccurate definition of an agnostic). If one is not sure they believe in god, they clearly don’t believe.

  • FuchuBH

    Plus all the great holidays… Thomas Paine and Mark Twain’s birthdays…

  • Who Is Jesus?

    “That the society was founded not only by a Jew, but by the son of noted Reform rabbi Samuel Adler”

    If thats true, call it “The First Aethieist Synogague” Not a Church. Your anti-Christ propoganda and confusion are glaring. Repent of your sins, the Life of Jesus Christ should be the focus of this civilization.

  • FuchuBH

    Simon, it is almost certain that more people in history have not claimed a god experience than have, and those that have have massively divergent claims. But that is beside the point.

    This example shows that to be PRO-any god, it requires faith. Non-belief requires none. In fact, exercising faith of non-belief in every single deity would be far too taxing.

  • SimonTemplar

    FBH, I like your definition of atheism/agnosticism.

  • SimonTemplar

    If someone who has never seen a stamp stated that they don’t believe stamp collectors exist, then THAT is a type of faith analogous to atheism.

  • SimonTemplar

    I disagree with slow111′s definition of faith. He says the goal of faith is an emotional one yet his definition is full of emotion.

    Faith is trust. Everyone lives by faith every day in many areas of life. Marriage is in large part dependent on faith (trust) in the ability of one’s spouse to be faithful.

    NO ONE goes through life with every decision they make firmly grounded in absolute, verifiable, falsifiable, empirically tested fact.

  • SimonTemplar

    I wouldn’t go THAT far dax, but nice try anyway.

    Equal space in religious displays? Sure. Lets just hope that in the future atheists have the public relations good-sense to do it without trying to spoil the larger part of the population’s enjoyment of other holidays. No one like is when someone feels the need to tear someone else down in order to lift up themselves.

    Creationism does not infringe on anyone’s freedom of religion. It may challenge their own ideas by way of offering an alternative viewpoint but that is a different thing all together. You don’t have the right to not be exposed to other ideas after all.

    Atheists ministers? Sure. I presume they would be silent since they believe they have no one to whom they might offer a prayer. I suppose they could offer some statement of good will like, “Live long and prosper,” or something.

  • SimonTemplar

    Belief in God does require faith. No theist would correctly suggest otherwise. The New Testament makes this clear in several places. However, some faiths are founded on better evidence than others. The evidence may not be what would satisfy every tenant of the empirical method. Most of the evidence is of the historical and or textual variety and mostly non-repeatable events. Some of it is a matter of philosophical argumentation. But for atheists to say that there is NO evidence is pure dishonesty. They may rightly say they don’t accept the evidence or find it unconvincing. They may say some other philosophical argument appeals to them more than the Christian argument. But these decisions on the part of atheists that are largely based in the realm of subjective preference (faith – faith in their own set of evidence).

    To the first point, I’m certain more people have claimed to have encounters with God than have claimed to have encounters with Secular’s proposed “GishMasTish.”

  • ThomasBaum

    As far as “Atheists disdain using the method of faith to know something”, faith is believing something not necessarily knowing something, also what exactly is “the method of faith”?

    I have said many times to many people that the words “know” and “believe” have different meanings even tho there seem to be quite a few that interchange these words as if they mean the same thing.

    I find it rather “human” when some, not all, atheists speak of theists having a “holier or better than thou” attitude when if they would look in the mirror, honestly, they would see themselves as the mirror image of what they are speaking.

    Just as there are many theists with many different thoughts and beliefs concerning theism, there are many different atheists with many different thoughts and beliefs, yes beliefs, concerning just how they categorize their atheism and for one to make a “blanket” statement concerning atheists, such as slowe111 made, is inaccurate.

    His statement actually seems more about being anti-theist than about atheism.

  • ThomasBaum

    Creationism was brought up and I looked up the definition and it is:
    noun
    1. the doctrine that matter and all things were created, substantially as they now exist, by an omnipotent Creator, and not gradually evolved or developed.

    2. ( sometimes initial capital letter ) the doctrine that the true story of the creation of the universe is as it is recounted in the Bible, especially in the first chapter of Genesis.

    3. the doctrine that God immediately creates out of nothing a new human soul for each individual born.

    Something that has been pointed out at other times on these posts but needs to be pointed out again, many, who believe that God created everything, do not necessarily believe in this very limited way of looking at creation contrary to what some would have others believe.

  • ThomasBaum

    Sometimes God “rewards”, for lack of a better word, faith with a personal revelation of some sort.

    As far as “evidence”, better or otherwise, what are you talking about?

    Once there is “evidence” (knowledge), wouldn’t faith (belief) be changed, so to speak?

    Concerning God, there are many things I believe only a few things that I know.

    That is why that when someone writes on here, “When I have ‘proof’ that there is a God then I will believe in God”, I find it a rather absurd statement.

  • Hyperborean

    @SimonTemplar, I hadn’t seen that paper before, but though it is interesting, I disagree fundamentally with too many of its claims to either agree with their conclusion or try to refute them all here. They try to re-define omnipotence in order to make it consistent with the qualities they want to claim for a god, but I don’t find their “intuitive” points at all prima facie obvious. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on the definition of omnipotence : )

    @FuchuBH- Anti-theism would not fall anywhere on the list I gave. It is an ethical position, and I was describing epistemological positions. Perhaps this confusion is why you find my definitions “wildly inaccurate”.

    Speaking of positions, you’re right that agnosticism can be applied to any subject, but clearly the debate here is about theology, so I described it in context. That being said, it is an epistemelogical position, not a method. Some atheists are agnostic, not all. I know several “strong” atheists. They are not zealots, nor did I describe them as such, they simply hold that the concept of god (defined as All-knowing, powerful and good) is logically impossible, and the natural evidence is sufficient that they can claim with certainty that there is no god.

    As a weak atheist myself, I disagree philosophically with those individuals, and agree with you that one must be unsure, but to deny that it is a possible philosophical position is absurd. You’ll also notice that I never said “believe” when defining agnostics, so I’m not sure why you emphasize it. Again, agnosticism is epistemological, a position about what can be known.

  • itsthedax

    So, Simon: You want public schools to teach that science is a matter of viewpoint?

    And, you want public school teachers to tell the children of atheists (and presumably the children of buddhists and hindus) that their parents a wrong, and that the world was created as described in genesis?

  • itsthedax

    Thank you, Thomas, for illustrating why creationism must never be taught in public school science classes.

  • SimonTemplar

    I’m sorry dax but WHO brought up teaching Creationism in science classes in the context of this conversation? It wasn’t ME.

    You made the claim that creationism infringes on the religious freedoms of others. A peculiar claim since creationism is a belief within the Christian religion. So exactly how this religious belief infringes on religious freedom is escaping me.

    TB was kind enough to define creationism, though I don’t see that the definition changes anything in the context of this discussion.

    Does viewpoint matter when discussing science? Well, I think you know very well that scientific results have to be interpreted. Some branches of science leave more room for interpretation than others. Anthropology is one such branch.

    I suppose you don’t mind teachers telling the children of Christian families that THEIR parents beliefs are wrong (as is often done in public schools)? But that bit about telling children their parents are wrong is all you. I simply said that exposure to other viewpoints does not infringe on anyone’s freedoms.

  • SimonTemplar

    I understand you point TB but we are not likely to have 100% of our beliefs, scientific claims, whatever, supported by undeniable, overwhelming evidence. So even in those areas in which we claim to “know” something based on a lot of evidence we are exercising some degree of faith. I’m sure someone will chime in to tell me something of which they are 100% certain but I’m sure you see my point here.

    The Book of Daniel purports to contain saying of Daniel which are prophetic information given to Daniel by God. If it could be proven that such prophecies were written before their fulfillment this would be a type of evidence FOR the existence of God. Some scholars have argued against the veracity of that book and some have argued in favor of it’s veracity. I find the arguments in favor to be stronger than the arguments against. Consequently, I see the prophecies in Daniel (along with the evidence supporting the book’s veracity) as evidence FOR God’s existence.

  • Rongoklunk

    Why is it you religious guys are so desperate to justify your supernatural beliefs – that you refuse to even consider that maybe – just maybe – there is no God? Is it the end of the world if God is just a figment of the imagination and not real? Really. Isn’t TRUTH more important than wishful thinking? I mean what if there is no God? Isn’t it better to know the truth than to believe what would seem to be a myth.
    They say it’s easy to be persuaded to believe that which you want to believe. So why not look beyond that belief. There’s no evidence that gods exist, and a ton of evidence that man himself invented every one of them. If that’s reality why not face it?
    Now that we understand from science how life began and evolved over eons of time we no longer need gods. Gods were what the ancients in their total ignorance imagined were responsible for everything. But we now know otherwise. Scientists today are writing books about it, from Stephen Hawking’s “The Grand Design” and Richard Dawkins’ “The Magic of Reality” to “God;The Failed Hypothesis” by Victor Stenger.
    The Magic of Reality is outstanding. In 250 pages he destroys many myths and explains them in scientific terms. The magic is reality itself. It is far greater without a god than with one.

  • Rongoklunk

    Two hundred years ago we’d all be religious. But so much has changed since then belief in a skygod in this modern world is silly. Scientists will tell you that.
    We know so much today that previous generations were totally ignorant of. And in ancient times gods were thought to be everywhere all the time. But we now know the ancients got it wrong. There were no gods outside of their imaginations. We now refer to them as mythical. They had no actual existence.
    If God existed all he’d have to do is just show himself. What a difference that would make. Atheists would no longer exist. But we all know he won’t because he never has. And deep down we know why that is don’t we? It’s because he’s imaginary of course. Only the indoctrinated believe otherwise.

  • Rongoklunk

    I wouldn’t mind checking out an atheist place of nonworship, just to chat about reality and how it boggles the mind, and talk about how this fantastic universe is all the more fantastic “because” there are no gods. And we could laugh at man’s need for a big skydaddy watching over them, and his desperation to never die but live forever in the sky. If that’s not wishful thinking WHAT IS?
    But I get this done in a cozy cafe just a block away, so who needs a church – which would give me the creeps anyway.

  • FuchuBH

    As for evidence, I would just suggest the basic rules of science. (if you can’t accept the scientific method, there really is no common ground on which to debate ). Simply, is it testable, measurable, and /or repeatable? I have a great deal of respect for people who feel they have had unique spiritual, or let’s say numismatic, experiences, but I doubt many of those experiences, if any, meet those criteria. And if they don’t, but still people maintain it as evidence, they are eschewing science, and should remain within the realm of mythology.

    As for prophesies, any number of these can be retrofitted with ease. I can’t honestly accept these as anything approaching evidence, without significant independent corroboration.

  • SimonTemplar

    I agree with your statement here, FBH, for the most part. Biblical prophecies, however, are more specific than you might at first think. I would say they are very specific. Most were written to the people of that time, in that culture, so you have to research a little to get the perspective of the recipients, but it is very doable.

    Biblical evidences, prophecy included, is testable and measurable. It, like anything we find in anthropology, is likely not repeatable. One would not argue that anthropology is not a science.

    I did not bring up anything pertaining to spiritual experiences as a type of evidence. However, if someone claims to have heard from God, and they say God gave them a prophecy one can simply verify that that prophecy comes true for independent corroboration. If it does, one has cause to ponder. If not, then it is not from God.

  • SimonTemplar

    It should be abundantly clear by not that many theists, myself included, are familiar with the arguments from your side. We are not convinced. Further, we find the arguments from our side to be MORE convincing.

  • Sadetec

    If someone had never seen a stamp, they are unlikely to be pondering on the existence of collectors for it.

  • aforeignaccent

    Seems like they could jave avoided problems by not calling it a church….seems more like a club to me….why look for arguements and criticism ?

  • Joel Hardman

    Concluding that god doesn’t exist is very different than concluding stamps don’t exist. God is posited to have many properties that are not present anywhere in nature. God has been said to be responsible for many natural phenomena that were subsequently shown to be purely natural. Stamps are fairly mundane things the existence of which wouldn’t require exceptions to our understanding of nature.

  • SimonTemplar

    I did not postulate the non-existence of stamps. I offered the idea os someone doubting the existence of stamp collectors simply because they had never seen a stamp. All in response to a poorly chosen analogy by Ms. Peppin.

  • Frequent Wind

    What? The author never called the Society for Ethical Culture a church, he called it a society.

  • Frequent Wind

    God shows himself to me every day. The fact that I can’t prove this to proves that it’s a matter of faith, not scientific proof.

  • ThomasBaum

    Joel Hardman

    You wrote, “God has been said to be responsible for many natural phenomena that were subsequently shown to be purely natural.”

    Many people that believe in God believe that God created everything including that which is “purely natural” but don’t believe that God is a puppetmaster.

    Seems that at least some of those that do not believe in God sure do have a very cartoony “conception” of the God that they do not believe in.

  • ThomasBaum

    Rongoklunk

    You wrote, “Two hundred years ago we’d all be religious.”

    Why would we all be religious if this were two hundred years ago since not all were religious in the real two hundred years ago?

    You also wrote, “If God existed all he’d have to do is just show himself.”

    I am not saying that God has but God maybe has “shown” Himself to you but you just did not recognize God, irregardless, God not “showing” Himself to you, if true, is only “proof” of one thing and that would be that God has not shown Himself to you not “proof ” that there is no God.

    I have said many times that only God can provide “proof” that God Is and God will provide that “proof” in due time, God’s Time.

  • antnj81

    why would you make fun of people that believe in God at your athiest church? They aren’t laughing at you from their church about how egomaniacal and pushy athiests get with their views. It just seems a little immature to make a church just so you can rip on others that don’t bow before you for being so “enlightened”.

  • antnj81

    science is a visual based study, which is limited when providing emphatic truths regarding the past. There is a lot that science must implement faith-like hypotheses on in order to link some tangible evidence back to the origins of the world.

    Look it up: The dictionary defitinion of the word, faith, is “Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” …That SAID-”something” is science, ergo atheists do have faith in science.

  • antnj81

    What athiest never seem to understand is that faith is a process. No one just woke up one day and said, “I all of a sudden believe in God”. Most of us have already considered the possibility that maybe there is no God and through some considering based on things in our lives, personal feelings, experience and whatnot, we have come to believe. Sciene – which athiests hold on a golden pedestal – is limited and the type of “science” that obnoxious athiests use to denounce God is a joke. Here’s why: the foundation for true scientific method is based on visual observation and tangible evidence; those are two factors that, anyone who knows anything about science will insist, must not be negated. With said, since time travel is not a reality, all science involving God’s existance is nullified by it’s own laws. Guesses apon guesses and hypotheses, with little to no evidence, are no more NOT true science than somone who goes through the motions of going to church every sunday is actually a person of TRUE faith. Scienctists have failed to provide adequate conclusive evidence that God does not exist; athiests tend to impose the laws, that apply to science, on our faith, when you will be the first to claim that they are two opposite things. In my opinion, it seems that athiests chose to refute any evidence of God because it seems to be, in their mind, a plausible means to evade accountability. Also, science seems to have a major chip on it’s shoulders from the dark ages as well as understanding it’s limited means to observe God the way they want to, so they try to just write it off. All the smug passive-agressive comments and mocking isn’t fooling anyone; I don’t believe in certain things, but I don’t need to mock it.

    a lot of athiests seem really pushy, but why? I mean, If we all die and nothing happens anyway, who cares if you were right? …nobody wins because we will cease exist. But if we’re right and there is a God that we will all be judged by and accountable to… :/

  • antnj81

    sorry for the grammatical errors, I worte that from my phone :P

  • antnj81

    if science were perfect and answered every single question about life, our universe, God, and the start of our existance flawlessly, then it wouldn’t be considered by most to be a faith.

  • SimonTemplar

    I type on a keypad but I may as well be wearing mittens for all the typos that get my me.

  • ThomasBaum

    Hyperborean

    You wrote, “I know several “strong” atheists. They are not zealots, nor did I describe them as such, they simply hold that the concept of god (defined as All-knowing, powerful and good) is logically impossible, and the natural evidence is sufficient that they can claim with certainty that there is no god.”

    So since “they” can not “conceive” of God being All-knowing, powerful and good, would you say that “they” conceive of themselves as being omniscient, at least on this particular subject, to declare it impossible seeing as you say “that they can claim with certainty that there is no god”?

    I think that it is kind of interesting that some of those that do not believe in God sure do seem to attribute to themselves god-like qualities.

  • ThomasBaum

    antnj81

    You wrote, “Also, science seems to have a major chip on it’s shoulders from the dark ages as well as understanding it’s limited means to observe God the way they want to, so they try to just write it off.”

    It isn’t science that “seems to have a major chip on it’s shoulders” but some scientists, not all and I would venture a guess and say not even a majority, and also some that seem to elevate science into a “religion” rather than looking at science as the study of the physical environment, micro and macro, which includes us.

    At least some of this, it seems, has come in response to those that tried to cram God, at least their “conception” of God, down other people’s throats.

    You then wrote, “But if we’re right and there is a God that we will all be judged by and accountable to… :/”

    Ever thought that God has a Plan and has had a Plan since before creation, and that God’s Plan is unfolding before our very eyes and that God’s Plan truly is “Good News for ALL people”?

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