Are atheists smarter and humbler?

In a study of 63 individual studies, 53 showed less religiosity among the more intelligent participants.

What should we make of a recent study that, like earlier ones, says atheists are more intelligent than religious believers? This latest is really a study of 63 individual studies, in which 53 showed less religiosity among the more intelligent participants. Hmmm. Most atheists, myself included, have a skeptical nature and want to delve deeper into such studies—even when they put us in a favorable light.

For instance, how was intelligence defined and measured? Intelligence was defined in this study as the capacity for analytical thought, problem solving, and the understanding of complex ideas. The studies, which included a life-long analysis of the beliefs of 1,500 gifted children with IQs over 135, showed fewer religious believers among the gifted than in the overall population. Additional studies corroborated that religiosity tends to decrease with increased educational level. For example, only 7 percent of the members in the National Academy of Sciences believe in a personal god.

You could argue that the studies might be flawed for a variety of reasons, which include ignoring emotional intelligence and other worthwhile qualities that can contribute to a high quality of life. However, religion aside, I think most people believe that scientists (and even mathematicians) are smart. The clich , “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out,” means you can do it even if you’re not that smart.

But I’d rather let others discuss the relationship between religiosity and intelligence.

I’m more interested in perceived character flaws of atheists, perhaps related to intelligence. Some atheists come across as arrogant and smug when they gratuitously criticize and even mock religious beliefs, occasionally quoting ludicrous biblical passages to those who don’t interpret the Bible literally. Yet I can make a case for ardent atheists being more humble and open to change than religious fundamentalists, illustrated by the T-shirt phrase: “Will Convert for Evidence.” Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous atheist, supported a bus ad campaign with the relatively humble slogan, “There’s probably no God.” I’ve yet to see a comparable religious ad that says “There’s probably a God.”

Which of the following sounds more arrogant?

Worldview 1. I know God created the entire universe just for the benefit of humans. He watches me constantly and cares about everything I say and do. I know how He wants me and everyone else to behave and believe. He is perfect and just, which is why we face an eternity of either bliss or torture, depending on whether or not we believe in Him.

Worldview 2. We’re the product of millions of years of evolution. Most species are extinct, as humans will eventually be. I hope to make a positive difference because it’s the right thing to do, not because of future rewards or punishments in an afterlife. When I don’t know something, which is often, I say, “I don’t know.”

As to humility, who’s the most humble person ever? Moses. How do I know? The Bible tells me so. In fact, Moses himself in Numbers 12:3 informs us he is. Some skeptics will question whether bragging about humility is an oxymoron, but here’s a justification for Moses’ claim, beginning with a joke.

A scientist is called to testify as an expert witness. The judge asks him about his credentials, and the scientist says, “I’m the most brilliant, respected, and articulate scientist in the world.” When a friend later asks why he was so boastful, the scientist replies, “After all, I was under oath.” Since Moses was under God’s oath, he was required to tell the biblical truth about his humility. In fact (actually fiction), the Five Books of Moses were supposedly dictated by God to Moses, so Moses had no choice about how to write it all down, including his humility and even a description of his own death.

There’s no credible evidence that Moses existed, let alone a God with whom he conversed. But some preachers and religious leaders also claim a direct link to God, which give them the authority to always “know” the absolute Truth with a capital “T,” as they confidently decree everything that God expects of us. Yes, we might all occasionally need an arrogance check, but such preachers are far from Snow White. Perhaps they should be asking “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the most arrogant one of all?”

Image courtesy of Atheist Bus Canada.

About

Herb Silverman Herb Silverman is founder and President Emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America, author of “Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt,” and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Charleston.
  • inreasonitrust

    Whether the answer is YES or NO, the fact of the matter is that “THERE IS NO GOD.”
    There is no God, if “Atheists are smarter and humbler.”
    There is no God, if “Religious people are smarter and humbler.”

  • leibowde84

    I am an open minded person, but you claiming that you are positive that there is no God is just as silly as someone claiming that there definitely is one. Face it, buddy. We really don’t know either way. As Plato explained, we could all just be in a Matrix like situation where everything we perceive is placed there by some higher being. Who knows? The point is, no one does. That’s why belief is not fact.

  • DC-NYC-ATL-Lady

    This article should have been titled “Not Only That, but We’re Also More Humble Than You!” : by, an Atheist.

    This is a very strange article…the author asserts that the religious find atheists smug and arrogant, and then uses a very smug and arrogant tone to refute that point by asserting that religious people are actually the arrogant ones. Talk about defeating your own argument but being so high on yourself, you don’t even notice.

    Anyway. Someone below already made the point that generalizing doesn’t do anyone any good, particularly relative to this question. But if I were trying to make the point that I think the author was trying to make, I’d probably do it by saying “yeah, we’ve definitely got some arrogant people in our ranks, but my experience is that most of us aren’t really interested in getting into these kinds of arguments on any sort of regular basis.” Would’ve been a lot more humble than this piece, in my opinion.

  • efavorite

    I thought he was going for humor, not humility

  • leibowde84

    I mean, simply thinking about the theology of each, atheism is a lot more humble. It does not purport to know anything that is unknowable. Whereas, Christianity for example, consider that Jesus is the only way to salvation … thus, it is necessary that those who don’t believe in Jesus and don’t consider him to be divine are somehow worse off. And them being worse off isn’t even limited to this world, it includes the impossibility of a pleasurable after-life. They hide behind the idea that “this is what Jesus told us, so it’s not our fault.” But, that is merely circular logic, using your hypothesis to prove your argument, and it is a “slap in the face” to those who don’t see Jesus as being divine. In other words, it is inappropriate to use words that, to even the best historical and religious minds, may or may not have been spoken by Jesus in order to condemn others. Unless your faith is truly personal in that you don’t have the mistaken belief that those who don’t share the same system of belief as you will be doomed for eternity, you are arrogant.

    Atheists, on the other hand, simply claim to know what can be known. The rest, to most at least, is not worth thinking about, as it is undiscoverable. Thus, by definition, they are open to changes in knowledge (or beliefs to be more accurately, as most scientific “knowledge” is based on some assumptions) thru scientific progress. In other words, they are opened minded and, thus, less judgmental, making them, by definition at least, far less “arrogant.”

  • Dave Brown 709

    When discussing issues of faith among believers and unbelievers, it is best to keep one fundamental precept in mind: “Faith is accepting something as true in the absence of evidence thereof.”

    If one party says, “I am open to changing my mind with evidence,” and the other says “I don’t need any evidence. I just KNOW.”, these two world views are in such contrast that it is impossible to have a meaningful conversation. Either you anchor your thinking via an evidence based world view or you do not. Most scientists embrace the former.

    Some might even suggest that it is that that makes them smarter.

  • leibowde84

    For example, I am a Christian. I have a close relationship with God and Jesus, but I also understand as an intelligent, thinking person that scripture is man-made and, most likely, filled with man-made mistakes in interpretation. I certainly don’t see belief in anything to be necessary in order to achieve a pleasurable after-life or a fulfilling life here. It would take a lot more than the words of an imperfect man 2000 years ago who, again most likely, never even met Jesus (as it is agreed to be more likely that the Gospels were not written by the apostles) to change my mind.

  • leibowde84

    I wholeheartedly, and respectfully disagree. All it takes is an open mind and the realization that all scripture is man-made and, thus, necessarily prone to error. You must also look at your faith objectively, not in terms of physical proof, but value. How does it impact your life? How does it give you fulfillment? How is your Church beneficial to society?

    Those that have the mistaken belief that everyone not in-tune with their own belief system is lesser or worse-off than them are hopelessly lost. But most are not that cruel.

  • nitrat

    “…some preachers and religious leaders also claim a direct link to God…”

    Didn’t almost every GOP candidate in 2012 say that God had told them to run?

  • Louise10

    And yet God’s plan apparently was to put a Democrat in office.

  • Rongoklunk

    Whether there is a god or not – is not a fifty-fifty proposition, as whether or not there are unicorns is not a fifty-fifty proposition, or whether or not Santa exists is not a fifty-fifty proposition. Like Santa, God defies everything we know about reality. Anything supernatural defies commonsense. Nobody ever saw or experienced anything supernatural, so why on earth believe it? God is in the same category as ghosts are; almost certainly a character of the imagination.

  • pelicanwatchcb1

    God seems to have a sense of humor. I wonder if the GOPers got his little joke.

  • pelicanwatchcb1

    God is all seeing, all knowing, infinitely wise and just. And he made us in his image!
    Wow! It really is hard to be humble when you put it that way.

  • nkri401

    There are many things we don’t know; that we don’t know does not mean ipso facto it could be a fact.

    i.e.

    We don’t know if tooth fairy is real.
    However, there are no sighting of tooth fairy “in person”.
    The definition of a tooth fairy is logically inconsistent.
    Ergo, tooth fairy most likely does not exist in biological form.

    Further, there are other mythological creatures that are invented by human imagination.
    So, the accepted theory is that tooth fairy is another mythological creature invented by human imagination.

    See? That was easy…

  • SimonTemplar

    So, like Moses, Mr. Silverman declares that atheists are more humble and then goes the extra mile in stating that they are smarter as well.

    You would think that someone possessing so much intelligence would be able to see the irony in that.

  • edwills

    Simon, someone as smart as you should see the difference between a question (in the title of the article) and a statement. Silverman commented about studies that say atheists are smarter, and even gave reasons the studies might be flawed. He didn’t say that atheists in general are humble, just that they are more humble than the kind of Christians who claim they talk to God and received the absolute truth from God.

  • Rongoklunk

    “A knowledge of the true age of the earth and of the fossil record makes it impossible for any balanced intellect to believe in the literal truth of every part of the Bible in the way fundamentalists do. And if some of the Bible is manifestly wrong, why should any of the rest of it be accepted automatically?”

    Francis Crick, Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist and co-discoverer of DNA’s structure, in “What Mad Pursuit”.

  • Rongoklunk

    “The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it rests on nothing; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing.”

    Thomas Paine American Revolutionary hero, from “The Age of Reason”.

  • Rongoklunk

    “It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously.
    I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs – no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

    Albert Einstein, from “Religion And Science’. Quoted in Atheist Universe, by David Mills.

  • Rongoklunk

    “Belief, thus, in the supernatural, great as are the services which it rendered in the early stages of human development, cannot be considered to be any longer required, either for enabling us to know what is right and wrong in social morality, or for supplying us with motives to do right and to abstain from wrong.”

    John Stuart Mill, from The Utility of Religion, quoted in Atheist Universe, by David Mills.

  • nkri401

    A technical quibble, if I may…

    Worldview 1 seems more of a juvenile attitude like “crying daddy, daddy” or “my dad drives bigger truck than your dad”, rather than being arrogant. Though, I suppose juvenile attitude can be rather arrogant in the sense of insolence.

  • SimonTemplar

    “…I believe as a Christian because I believe that God had a plan to create creatures with whom he could have fellowship, in whom he could inspire [the] moral law, in whom he could infuse the soul, and who he would give free will as a gift for us to make decisions about our own behavior, a gift which we oftentimes utilize to do the wrong thing.” –Francis Collins, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute

  • edwills

    An adult who says he knows God and what God wants of all of us is both acting as a juvenile and is also arrogant.

  • PhillyJimi1

    Simon, he gave facts to back up his claim. But he also stated that “You could argue that the studies might be flawed for a variety of reasons, which include ignoring emotional intelligence and other worthwhile qualities that can contribute to a high quality of life.” Sounds kind of humble to me.

    The real irony is you don’t counter his claims with any facts. Well that is easy because religion has no facts just unsupported magical claims from a 2000 year old book.

  • leibowde84

    The idea of Santa Clause is extremely different than the idea of God. Unlike Santa, God is said to inhabit an alternate realm. It is not up in the sky, or sitting on clouds … it is merely in an alternate plain of reality. Thus, conveniently enough, natural, physical laws need not apply. Santa, on the other hand, supposedly lives in a real place here on earth in this plain of existence, so the laws of this planet would exist .. thus, he becomes a kind of super hero.

    God is said to be not-understandable for this fact. There is no use trying (although some conservatives claim that they actually understand what God wants simply by reading the Bible … which I think is utter nonsense).

  • leibowde84

    Agreed.

  • leibowde84

    Even Jesus said that we are never to use “the Word” to condemn others.

  • leibowde84

    Proof that there is merit behind both views.

  • hoppingmadtoad

    What the heck is ” humble ” ? Is there really any good consensus as to what that term means ?

  • ThomasBaum

    “the Word” happens to be LOVE.

  • ThomasBaum

    I don’t quite know what “humble” is either but false humility sticks out like a sore thumb quite often.

  • ThomasBaum

    Guess that all it would take is to think/believe this and then to take an honest look in the mirror.

  • ThomasBaum

    Dave Brown 709

    You wrote, “Either you anchor your thinking via an evidence based world view or you do not. Most scientists embrace the former.”

    I don’t know if “Most scientists” wish to “box” themselves into thinking that “that which we can perceive is all that there can be” or not but I would say that there are many scientists that don’t confuse the Creator with creation, science is the study of creation.

    For those that do not believe in a Creator, science is the study of that which we can perceive thru our physical senses and mental capabilities.

    For those that do believe in a Creator, science is the study of that which we can perceive thru our physical senses and mental capabilities.

    I believe very strongly that no one will ever “prove” that God Is, I believe that only God can “prove” that God Is.

  • Catken1

    No, simply proof that intelligent people can believe either – though given what otherwise intelligent people can believe if conditioned from childhood to such belief, that doesn’t say much.
    Crick provides evidence for his beliefs – Collins merely an assertion of belief. Crick has the fossil record and evidence of the age of the earth from known rates of radioactive decay – where is Collins’ evidence of his God, his God’s plan, or the existence of the soul?

  • persiflage

    ‘A samurai once asked Zen Master Hakuin where he would go after he died. Hakuin answered ‘How am I supposed to know?’ ‘How do you not know? You’re a Zen master!’ exclaimed the samurai. ‘Yes, but not a dead one,’ Hakuin answered.’

    Living in the moment is the only real option that we have. The rest is second-hand news. .

  • itsthedax

    Here’s the thing: When a religionist says he believes in god, that’s actually not a true statement on his part. What he’s actually saying is that his particular interpretation of his religion is the One True Faith. A christian does not believe in Vishnu, Ahura Mazda, or a wiccan goddess, any more than a practitioner of another religion believes in the trinity.

  • nkri401

    The “humble” that most atheist feel is that just the appreciation of the reality (sun rise e.g.) as it is no more and no less AND not as is it should be according to any holy scripture. This is not a false humility as a Pharisees may feign.

    Peace.

  • nkri401

    Mr. Baum,

    Peace and Pax…

    “the Word” happens to be LOVE.” so sayth you.

    What do you say when this love says I need to “kill you” so that your soul can be saved??

  • Rongoklunk

    You talk to God – it’s called praying.
    God talks to you – it’s called schizophrenia.

    Thomas Szasz, Psychiatrist and writer.

  • Catken1

    To be fair, ThomasBaum does not seem to be the kind of Christian who favors killing anyone, and if I am not mistaken, believes that all souls are saved. Am I right, sir?

  • leibowde84

    God, by definition, cannot be proven, as God inhabits an alternate plane not subject to the natural laws of our physical world. Asking to prove God’s existence is an unfair proposition. That’s the point, though. There is no reason to prove it … as it is a personal belief (which, I agree, isn’t respected by a large number of religious people). The reasoning for a belief in God has nothing to do with proof or logic. It has to do with faith, which, contrary to your own belief, provides a great deal of comfort and “good” for a lot of people with it.

    Now, I agree, there are a lot of people out there so stubborn that they won’t even admit that there is absolutely no tangible proof for the existence of God … it is all completely subjective and speculative. But, that doesn’t bother most believers, as it is not important. There is no need for proof, as proof would defeat the entire purpose. As long as a belief helps someone, it has merit. When it becomes a separating factor between yourself and others, it is dangerous.

  • leibowde84

    You know that a religious person is full of it when they spew Bible passages at you to prove that God exists. It is a clear sign that they have a very miniscule understanding of their own faith. It drives me crazy!

  • SimonTemplar

    According to your logic, we should not trust that we have a truthful understanding of conditions on the surface of the moon. After all, we only have second hand information given to us from the men who, it is claimed, went to the moon and came back to tell us about it. Amazingly, there are those today who dismiss the claims of the Apollo astronauts that they were actually on the moon. Even in our modern day, in the teeth of photography and film footage and rock sample evidence, such skeptics find a way to dismiss an event that happened a mere 40+ years ago.

    Christianity claims that Jesus DID die and rise from the dead to tell us where we go after we die. Such is the testimony of the people who followed him. Many dismiss their testimony and say they have good reason. I believe there is better reason to believe their testimony. Like the astronauts, they were there when it happened, we were not.

  • persiflage

    ‘According to your logic, we should not trust that we have a truthful understanding of conditions on the surface of the moon.’

    On the contrary, but we don’t employ what we know about the moon in our everyday decisions and general perceptions of the world around us. Science is a system of knowledge, and uses facts based on structured observation and established methodologies in order to validate theorems and make predictions.

    Ordinary people seldom pay much attention to what science has to say about the physical world – instead, we trust our own cumulative experience to get through the day. Devoting vast amounts of time and thought to ancient, unsubstantiated superstitions does not help one get through the day, unless you count the emotional boost that folks can get from the religion-based placebo effect. People go through life holding a wide assortment of false and erroneous beliefs because all the facts are seldom available. As a wise poster once said, why bother with beliefs that aren’t tested on a daily basis?

    Conversely, religious beliefs super-imposed on our understanding of the world can also have a debilitating affect…….because religion fails to provide a satisfactory explanation for much of anything that might happen due to chance and random good or bad luck. The reason is simple – the physical world simply cannot be fathomed through beliefs in an invisible, non-physical world populated by supernatural beings. The two concepts are not compatible. Who needs the distraction?

    I don’t equate the testimony of science-trained astronauts with the alleged observations of assorted unidentified humans that supposedly lived 2000 years ago.

  • nkri401

    Devoutly religious person tend to be also good at false equivalence, it seems to me.

  • ThomasBaum

    Catken1

    If you are asking me, of course all are saved, I am not saying that some don’t take a detour to the netherworld but Jesus “won” the “keys” to the netherworld and will use these in due time, God’s Time.

    God is not the loser god that so, so many that believe in God think/believe God to be and sadder, much sadder to say that many want God to be.

    Believing in something does not make it so, not believing in something does not make it not so, the simple truth is that something is true just because it is true, belief or non-belief has absolutely nothing to do with something being true whether on the natural or supernatural level.

  • ThomasBaum

    nkri401

    You wrote, “Mr. Baum,

    Peace and Pax…

    “the Word” happens to be LOVE.” so sayth you.”

    Actually, when I met Dad, Who Is referred to as God the Father, I realized that the saying “God Is Love” is quite literal in that God Is a Being of Love, Love is not an attribute of God but Is God’s Very Being.

    When I met Dad, God the Father, He didn’t sayth anything to me, He didn’t have to.

    By the way, even tho God-Incarnate was a Male, God is neither a Male, a Female nor an It but I use the masculine, in this case He, pronoun for the simple reason that pronouns can come in handy to use even if they are not accurate.

  • ThomasBaum

    Just as having a “holier than thou” attitude seems to be more of a people thing as opposed to a religious thing so does false humility.

    Pretty much the only difference between believers and non-believers is that one group thinks/believes that there is more than meets the eye, so to speak, and the other group doesn’t.

    From both “groups” there are those that look down on others and those that look at the other person, with a different view of things, as another human being.

  • ThomasBaum

    persiflage

    You wrote, “Devoting vast amounts of time and thought to ancient, unsubstantiated superstitions does not help one get through the day, unless you count the emotional boost that folks can get from the religion-based placebo effect.”

    How do you know that it is just a “religion-based placebo effect”?

    Do you have scientific evidence to back up this claim or is merely your belief and/or opinion?

    You also wrote, “As a wise poster once said, why bother with beliefs that aren’t tested on a daily basis?”

    Or for that matter, why should one let themself be bothered that someone else thinks/believes differently than they do?

    You then wrote, “The reason is simple – the physical world simply cannot be fathomed through beliefs in an invisible, non-physical world populated by supernatural beings. The two concepts are not compatible.”

    Do you think/believe that they “are not compatible” because you say so, because you can not wrap your mind around it or just because it is your opinion?

  • larryclyons

    christ promised to rid the world of wickedness.

    Odin promised to rid the world of the Frost Giants.

    Seen any Frost Giants lately?

  • larryclyons

    OK is he is all seeing, all knowing, infinitely wise and just, then please explain this:

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?

    Epicurus
    341 BC – 270 BC

  • persiflage

    ‘Do you have scientific evidence to back up this claim or is merely your belief and/or opinion?’

    There is no readily accessible evidence to the contrary………otherwise, who could dispute the claims of religion? In the same way, science doesn’t contend with speculations of non-physical causation in a physical world……..the physical laws of nature are there for all to see and experience.

    The ‘magic loom’ of the human brain is both mysterious and impressive, but thus far doesn’t have any supernatural components that we’re aware of……….

  • ThomasBaum

    larryclyons

    Some people believe that we have free will.

    Free will is only free if it is completely free not free “up to a point”.

    The “God” that Epicurus seems to be speaking of would make His “creatures” to be nothing more than puppets on a string, can you not see that?

    Also with free will, wouldn’t there have to be something to choose from?

    I call God, God, because I believe that God created absolutely everything except for God and God even became One of us when the “Second Person” of the Trinity became Incarnate in the Person of Jesus.

    God has had God’s Plan since before creation and God’s Plan will come to Fruition.

    God did create satan and satan is a godwannabe and satan is not only a loser but a poor loser that is “destined” for total defeat even tho many “believers” not only don’t believe this but many don’t even want it to be as long as they get to the “good place”.

    Christianity is not about someone picking up their own personal “get out of hell” card but is about the reconciliation of God and humanity, all of humanity.

  • ThomasBaum

    persiflage

    You wrote, “There is no readily accessible evidence to the contrary………otherwise, who could dispute the claims of religion?”

    If there was “readily accessible evidence” of God, there would be no such thing as faith, would there?

    I think that it is kind of funny when someone says “give me evidence of God and then I will believe”, how could they possibly believe when quite simply they would “know”, would they not?

    You also wrote, “In the same way, science doesn’t contend with speculations of non-physical causation in a physical world……..the physical laws of nature are there for all to see and experience.”

    Science deals with the physical world and tries to come up with that which is scientifically attainable, I understand that and that this is the realm of science, one of the things that I have read of on here recently that I find quite interesting is the “Planck thing” where somewhere back in time there seems to be a point where all of the scientific laws just seem to disappear, do you think that they will, scientifically, come up with an explanation for this?

    You then wrote, “The ‘magic loom’ of the human brain is both mysterious and impressive, but thus far doesn’t have any supernatural components that we’re aware of………. ”

    I don’t know exactly what the “magic loom” of the human brain is but I, personally, don’t believe that there are any supernatural components to it but I do believe that the human brain and the rest of everything came into existence thru the supernatural, namely God.

    Could be that at least part of the “magic loom” is our ability to “figure out” so much and ponder that which we can not figure out.

  • Catken1

    So how do you differ from people who believe wholeheartedly in astrology, or homeopathy, or fairies?

  • Catken1

    Then hopefully, God will understand that He made me to be a person who requires evidence to believe in things.

  • Catken1

    So why does God value faith so much? Why is it a bad idea for us to KNOW?
    I mean, I love my kid. I want a relationship with him. Therefore, I am here for him, directly and visibly, so he KNOWS I’m here. I don’t disappear in order to require him to have faith in my existence or my love for him, I give him daily proof.
    Why not so with God?

  • itsthedax

    Well the difference is, you exist.

  • larryclyons

    So basically what you say is that believe or fry forever. What is the difference between that and some gangland thug coming up to you and saying,
    “Nice little afterlife there. A pity is something should happen to it.”

    No thank you. I prefer this approach:

    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

    ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

  • h5r2

    The difference between believers and non-believers is that one group goes with the available evidence, while the other group prefers having faith. You still haven’t answered Catkin’s question about why faith is such a good thing to have and why a loving God wouldn’t make himself clear to all.

  • leibowde84

    If you have evidence, it is not a belief, it is simply knowing a fact. Belief requires a lack of proof.

  • DRJJJ

    Atheist are plenty smart and curious no doubt, but fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!

  • DRJJJ

    So you’re saying there is no absolute truth? Moral relativity ends in anarchy folks! Loving God and loving others (essential Christian doctrine) -what a horrible world view to promote huh?

  • DRJJJ

    Einstein also said to Time Magazine in his 50s: we’re all like a bunch of little children entering a huge library of millions of books knowing someone must have written those books (referring to the complexity of nature)!

    Einstein also said: Jesus personality pulsates in every word of the New Testament and no myth is filled with such life! Wiki

  • DRJJJ

    We don’t know what dark matter is and yet it makes up 95+% of every universe, so what makes one think we know it all?

  • DRJJJ

    Did Epicurus really exist? Prove it!

  • DRJJJ

    They expressed their faith which is admirable!! There’s room for one more! Secualrization of church and state sure hasn’t done us any favors-turn on the news! Loving God and loving others-what a horrible world view to promote huh?

  • DRJJJ

    The Dead Sea scrolls didn’t change in 2000 years and included several books of the Bible-how does one explain this and what’s the probability of this happening? Thanks for your honesty!

  • h5r2

    Atheists acknowledge they don’t know it all. Some religious people believe they were given the literal word of God, and they know it all.

  • leibowde84

    Anyone who claims to understand what God thinks is either crazy or sociopathic.

  • ThomasBaum

    larryclyons

    I reprint my post from the 5th at 12:44p

    If you are asking me, of course all are saved, I am not saying that some don’t take a detour to the netherworld but Jesus “won” the “keys” to the netherworld and will use these in due time, God’s Time.

    God is not the loser god that so, so many that believe in God think/believe God to be and sadder, much sadder to say that many want God to be.

    Believing in something does not make it so, not believing in something does not make it not so, the simple truth is that something is true just because it is true, belief or non-belief has absolutely nothing to do with something being true whether on the natural or supernatural level.

    As opposed to what Marcus Aurelius wrote in his Meditations on his thoughts concerning God or god or gods, God, even before creation, came up with God’s Plan that is for ALL, ultimately, to be with God not just those that were virtuous enough.

    This is what the GOOD NEWS is and it sure seems to upset many that believe in God and may even upset some that do not believe in God, at least it does now.

    The ‘good enough news’, that many seem to confuse with the GOOD NEWS, is not good news or even good enough news, it is horrific news.

    By ‘good enough news’, I refer to believing that one personally goes to the ‘good place’ but others go to a place that is beyond terrible and it is forever and ever and ever and ever… .

    Makes me wonder is some that believe this, ever give this any thought

  • ThomasBaum

    I posted this in the wrong spot the first time, sorry about that.

    h5r2

    You wrote, “The difference between believers and non-believers is that one group goes with the available evidence, while the other group prefers having faith.”

    Actually, the non-believers that say that they don’t believe there is a God goes with the evidence available to them, those that say that they know that there is no God have no evidence to back up their “knowing”.

    You then wrote, “You still haven’t answered Catkin’s question about why faith is such a good thing to have and why a loving God wouldn’t make himself clear to all.”

    I have since answered this.

  • BLT5

    Why did Jesus have to “win” or “sacrifice” anything? God’s God, right? He can just metaphorically snap his metaphorical fingers and do ANYTHING, right?

    This idea that “free will” solves the problem of evil — because God wanted us not to be puppets — that’s only superficially appealing. And for two reasons.

    First, because plenty of evils happen without any fault, or even causation, on the part of humans. I mean, hey, there you are, minding your own business, maybe even marvelling at the beauty of creation, and suddenly you get a phone call that your dear 23 year old friend had an aneurysm and died in her bathroom. Or, whoops — you know that 2 year old daughter you love so much? Yeah, looks like she’s got leukemia. Oh well! Or, uh-oh, here’s a tree that just fell on a guy jogging down the sidewalk, and made orphans of his kids. (All of these things have happened. The first happened to me, the second happens all the time, and the third happened to some guy in Mt. Pleasant.) That’s the kind of thing that’s not the fault of humans. That’s just some stupid random awful thing that happens because the universe is deaf and blind to our feelings.

    Second, God is more powerful than evil, right? God isn’t bound by our silly little notions of physics, the law of gravity, the laws of thermodynamics! He MADE those laws! HE’s the one with responsibility here. He made us imperfect, stupid losers with puny little brains and weak bodies, and then he said, “by the way, you’re in charge of your own fate, even though you have hormones that make you act crazy, and I’m going to give a lot of you Down Syndrome or bipolar disorder or schizophrenia so that you can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t, but hey! You better take responsibility for everything, ok? Thanks. Love, God.” An ALL-powerful, ALL-good being wouldn’t act like that. He wouldn’t even allow schizophrenia to exist! It wouldn’t even be possible in his universe! We could be “free” to do whatever but not hurt each other.

  • BLT5

    … So, God is either not all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing, OR he doesn’t actually exist at all anyway. I think the latter is true. There’s no God — not in any kind of personal sense. (You can call the laws of the universe, or the universe itself, or whatever you want, “God,” but I’m focused on this idea of God-as-being, God the Person.)

    I sort of understand why people find it scary that there might not be a God, and that our mystical big daddy in the sky isn’t there. But really, it doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t take care of you anyway. He lets you get Alzheimers no matter how good a person you are. He gives you a spina bifida baby no matter how much you worship him. He will let you suffer and die in pain and loneliness. That’s just the way life is. So eliminating God from your understanding of the world doesn’t actually change anything. It’s just more accurate. It lets you shift your focus from an imaginary, invisible, impotent friend to what really matters in life.

  • BLT5

    Why does it have to be fear of this Christian/Jewish God? Can’t it be respect of anything more powerful than you — leading to a wise, humble understanding that we are all puny little critters, with brief lifespans, who aren’t at the center of the universe?

  • itsthedax

    Sure there are absolute truths, or at least truths that function in this universe. Gravity is pretty consistent, for example.

    So, you’re saying that anyone who isn’t in your religion is utterly depraved. So much for your christian doctrine of love.

  • itsthedax

    So, fear is the center of your morality? You only act decently because you fear punishment?

    That’s not being virtuous. It’s the hallmark of a sociopath.

  • edwills

    DRJJJ Can you come up with any independent thoughts without quoting the Bible on fear of the lord?

  • Louise10

    Einstein had no belief in a personal God.

  • ThomasBaum

    BLT5

    You asked, “Why does it have to be fear of this Christian/Jewish God? Can’t it be respect of anything more powerful than you — leading to a wise, humble understanding that we are all puny little critters, with brief lifespans, who aren’t at the center of the universe?”

    Actually, “Fear of the Lord” means “reverence and awe”, it has nothing to do with being afraid of God but by listening and reading what some of those that believe in “this Christian/Jewish God” say, one would be hard pressed to even guess at what “Fear of the Lord” actually means.

  • larryclyons

    So what you’re saying JJJ is the equivalent of some gangland thug coming up to you and saying in effect,

    “Nice little afterlife you have here. Pity is something happened to it.”

    No thanks I don’t respond to blackmail.

  • Catken1

    Funny how “refuses to obey DRJJJ’s vision of god slavishly without evidence” = ” saying there’s no absolute truth” in DRJJJ’s mind.
    Absolute truth demands proof, evidence, real substance. Not just assertions that “the world will be less happy if what I believe isn’t true.”
    And you can claim that “loving others” is part of “essential Christian doctrine” when you also stop asserting that “most of my brothers and sisters will burn in eternal, horrific agony at my god’s hands for believing the wrong thing, falling in love with the wrong person, or otherwise breaking one of his arbitrary rules, and that’s OK with me – I’ll keep on kissing their torturer’s rear.” Because that’s not love, and never has been.

  • Catken1

    Then why is belief without proof or evidence a virtue?
    And why is it only a virtue if you pick the “right” thing to have beliefs in? You don’t get points for believing in fairies without evidence, or in the giant invisible pink unicorn orbiting Pluto, or in the existence of alien beings visiting us all in our dreams nightly and giving us instructions on how to win the lottery, and you don’t even get points for believing in the “wrong” vision of God. God wants us to guess right about what concept to have blind faith in – but he’s unwilling to give us any clear evidence. That doesn’t make sense to me, in terms of loving parental behavior.

  • leibowde84

    You are pointing out mistaken human additions to the concept of faith. It is subjective and personal, and its’ value is internal. I don’t know where you get this point system from my comments, but I don’t think that faith alone grants you any “points” with God. And, it certainly doesn’t hurt you if you “choose the wrong religion.” It is merely an internal help in life, which many use as a weapon, and that isn’t right. But there is nothing intrinsically wrong with having faith.

  • barbaranecker

    How do you KNOW you have a “close, personal relationship” with god?

  • barbaranecker

    There are also similarities between Santa & God: God lives in Heaven, a place far beyond our solar system Santa at the North Pole, a place mysteriously invisible to Google Earth; Jesus walked on water, Santa flies through the air in a magic sleigh pulled by eight reindeer (9, if you count Rudolph with the improbably florescent red nose).

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