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Showing 1-25 of 156 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Jun 2007 23:16:40 BDT
Many of the above reviewers seem to aspiring to some form of supposed intelligence, only held by those 'enlightened' enough to be so cynical, so cold and so callous to not only reject religion but to actively seek to put it down.

I would advise those seeking true enlightenment, both spiritually and intellectually, to read one of the many books written by followers and understanders of both science and religion. After all, Einstein himself said that without each other, both of these vast and enthralling subjects are lame.

To associate 'reason, intellect and logic' solely with the atheist standpoint, one whose greatest and most famous follower blames religion for all of the World's evils is, surely, to display a clear lack of intellect and rationality.

It will be a great day when atheists begin to understand that science and religion are not incompatible. Perhaps they should ask Steven Hawking? Or maybe they'd rather stick with the somewhat less well informed opinions of individuals like Ricky Gervais.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2007 08:43:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Jun 2007 10:17:57 BDT
While I'm not sure anyone is saying that ridding the world of religion will generate world peace, many atheists do suggest this, and in this regard I think you are right. We should remember that human nature is to fight for your (perceived) right, and whether that is done in the name of religion or for some other reason, it will continue as long as mankind exists. The real arguement is whether the irradication of all religion would make the world a more peaceful place. Most atheists believe it would.

However, where I do differ from your position is over the positive relationship between religion and science. The problem I have with this is that religion and science have different goals. Science is the unbiased pursuit of the understanding of the universe, but unfortunately for religion, the word "unbiased" can never be used. All religions, by definition, have their own agenda, and hence impartiality (in the scientific sense) is impossible from a religious perspective. Also I think you should be careful when quoting famous scientists to lend weight to your arguements. Many eminent scientists have made reference to God when discussing their work, and many go on to regret using the word "God" because religious groups took it out of context. Famously Eistein said "God doesn't play dice", which was immediately adopted by religious groups as proof that he had some kind of belief in God. So widespread became this misconception that he felt it necessary to make the following statement "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.". And for clarity, Einstein's use of the work "religious" is not pertaining to any belief in a supernatural being.

Finally, I don't think it is fair to call anyone who writes against religion "callous". Surely if religious leaders are allowed to express opinions on whatever they like, then the same rules should apply to everyone else. After all, couldn't the teaching of religious beliefs in schools to people too young to be able to make a balanced judgement and informed choice, be regarded as callous?

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2007 17:53:10 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Jun 2007 18:05:14 BDT
I am not referring to atheists in general as callous. I am referring to atheists who seek to crush the concept of religion in a ruthless and brainless manner callous.

My point was not that Einstein was deeply religious or indeed religious at all. My point was that Einstein, Hawking and many more eminent scientists and vastly intelligent individuals do not quash the concept of the existence of God or "a" god.

It would be fair to say that Dawkins, as a biologist, has a far shallower understanding of the "scientific" proofs and refutations of God's existence than the majority of physicists who believe in the existence of a higher being.

As a liberal Christian I feel that I speak for myself and many others in saying that I have no particular agenda; I believe in God, the resurrection and the principle that I should act accordingly (i.e. live my life with love, respect, honesty and hope). I am completely open minded regarding science and- partly due to my acceptance that thousands of people have a greater scientific understanding than I do- I dispute no credible and established scientific theory that comes my way.

The idea that the removal of faith would somehow make the World more peaceful seems, to me, utterly ridiculous. The key and fundamental principles of all major religions are, as above, love, repect, honesty and hope. The fact that a disproportionately prominent minority of "religious" individuals appear to completely ignore these concepts shows nothing more than the fact that they are not truly religious.

In a World without hope, where we see each other as nothing more than organisms, our feelings as nothing more than reproductive impulses and lack a source from which to derive any morals, the baser and sordid side of human nature would rule. This would not be a more peaceful World.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jun 2007 08:53:07 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 Jun 2007 14:15:41 BDT
I think it was clear in my response that I did not think that you were calling all atheists callous. As I said, I don't think it is fair to say that anyone who writes against religion should be called callous. Just becasue putting forward an arguement contrary to the beliefs that some people hold dearly may have some negative influence on their lives, is not a good reason to withold debate (I presume that is what you meant by callous). Of course atheist writings can, and often do upset many people of faith, but to be honest it is impossible to challenge any deeply-held beliefs whether they be religious or otherwise without upsetting some people. In my experience the people I have known who were once deeply religious but eventually rejected that faith for a more atheistic position, are all very positive about the change it has made to them and their lives. Atheistic writings often had a large part in this process, so in that sense NOT presenting arguements against religion would have a negative impact on these peoples' lives. To write, or not to write about atheism, that is the question (apologies for the cliche).

All I am saying is that with regard to belief, many Atheists and Christians have one thing in common; they think that if everyone held their beliefs then we would all be much happier. That's why Christians and Atheists write books about their beliefs. So then why is it that Christians think it is OK to berrate atheist writings as callous?

With regard to Einstein and Hawking and the fact that they have not quashed the concept of of the existence of (a) "God", then I'm afraid that arguement is pretty weak. Even Richard Dawkins who you go on to debunk as a mere biologist, does not completely exclude the possibility of the existance of (a) God. In his book "The God Delusion" he clearly says that he cannot exclude the possibility that their may be a higher being (just that he thinks it is very unlikely). And for the record, it is not fair to say that just becasue he is a biologist Dawkins is less well qualified to comment on the existance of god. Maybe he hasn't read all the material available to physicists, but biology is full of similar debate that the physicists you hold in such high regard are equally unaware of, so does that mean they should be similarly rejected?

Regarding agenda, I wasn't saying that you personally have an agenda, but that religions, by definition, do. Your original statement was that religion and science should co-operate. All I was saying was that the aim of science is to understand everything and the aim of most religions is to preach the word of their God. Maybe you personally do not have the desire to convert everyone to your beliefs, but that is the aim of most religious leaders. I'm not saying that religious people shouldn't work in science, they should, and do. I'm just saying that their religion should have no bearing on their work.

Regarding religion and peace: Just becasue the key fundamental principles of any religion are positive characteristics, it doesn't mean that without religion we would have no moral code. The idea that without religion we would just revert to basic animal instincts is simply wrong, and has been disproven by a number of well-conducted and well-respected studies into the relationship between morals and religious belief. If what you say is true wouldn't our prisons full of atheists?

Yes it is a minority of religious people that perform violent acts in the name of God, but this is, in part, because religions and thier sacred texts are interpretable. Do you believe that every word of the bible is true? Adam and Eve, the earth being only a few thousand years old etc etc. I am guessing not. So then you have decided which parts of your religious text you believe, you are interpreting it to suit yourself. This is what the vast majority of followers of the major religions do. And so, because the religious texts can be selectively read, then anyone can take what they like from them. Religious leaders have a long and sordid history of abusing the faith of their followers to meet their own aims. As we all know, it still happens today. Without religion and these flawed texts it would be much harder for groups of people to be persecuted, or to feel persecuted, and for individuals to manipulate others for ther own ends. I believe these things contribute to disharmony in our world, so I conclude that religion has a hand in SOME of the violence we see, and that without religion these specific acts would not occur.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jun 2007 22:21:39 BDT
I find your argument about our prisons' inhabitance fairly strange. I would be very surprised if anything more than a miniscule proportion of prisoners in our country are religious. I would, by the same token, not be surprised at all to find that many of the successfully reformed criminals in our country are so because of faith.

I also find it strange that you argue that the existence of faith when performing scientific research presents an obstructive agenda, but doing so with an atheistic agenda doesn't. As the evidence for and against God is about 50/50, the only fair stance must surely be that of an open minded agnostic?

You're right, many Christians, Muslims etc do form their own interpretations of their faiths' respective religious texts and teachings. However, for Christians there are a set of 'defining' guidelines- albeit loose ones- which as far as I know state than one must believe in the resurrection (the divinity of Jesus) and believe in God and the Holy Spirit (who, together with Jesus, form the single Holy Trinity). The rest, as you say, is down to how you see things.

There may well be many enthralling and deeply intellectual debates within biology. The fact remains, however, that the beginning of the Universe is studied by phycisists. It isn't studied by Biologists in anything like the same level of detail. The beginning of the Universe is the key event which usually divides liberal Christians and atheists. Therefore physicists have a greater understanding of the likelihood of God's existence.

Regarding your earlier point, if atheists are right about the non-existence of God then Chritians, having led a happy and inoffensive existence will be none the worse off. If Christians are right, think of the somewhat larger implications for those who do not share their beliefs. Now think why it is more justifiable for Chritians, assuming they are right, to preach Christianity than for atheists, assuming they are right, to preach atheism.

Again, I feel that you are right in saying that it is very hard to challenge deeply-held beliefs. However, for those who have not decided either way atheism presents a negative to Christianity's positive.

I think you misunderstand me in interpreting what I said as an idea that humans would revert to an animalistic society in the absence of religion. I'm sure atheists have a fairly respectable moral code. Their moral code would, though (and I am vaguely familiar with Dawkins' rather self-obsessedly created set of 'new' commandments), by nature be one of greater selfishness and less moral responsibility.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jun 2007 16:41:53 BDT
My point about prisons was that if religion is the best way to decree morals then our prisons (where our society decides amoral people should go) should have a disproportionately high number of people who are atheistic. For example, if as you suggest, atheists in general are more selfish, then they would more inclined to steal, rape, murder etc. But they aren't, and as I said before, this has been well documented. You should take a look at this site where the federal bureau of prisons statistics are presented on religious affiliation of inmates. About 80% Christian and 0.21% atheist (atheism represents about 8-16% of the general population). Hence there is no evidence that atheists are any less moral than theists, in fact they appear to be less inclined to commit crime.

Where I agree with you is that in some cases religion has had a positive impact on some criminals in their reformation. However, I never said that religion is only ever bad, just that ON BALANCE it is. By the same thinking you have to admit that some criminals reform without religious intervention. So one has to ask the question how did these individuals reform without religion as a moral compass? Or is it possible that religion is not required for moral guidance? I don't doubt that many good things are done in the name of religion, but you can't deny that many heinous things have and are being perpetrated under its guise. How many crimes are committed in the name of atheism?

I have never said that the existence of faith in an individual is an obstructive agenda to scientific research. Read my 12th June post "I'm not saying that religious people shouldn't work in science, they should, and do. I'm just saying that their religion should have no bearing on their work.". I am saying that I disagree with your suggestion that religion and science should work together. These are two very different statements. In support of my position let's take for example research into contraception. Infamously the Catholic church became involved in "research" into whether or not condoms protected against the transmission of HIV. They concluded that it didn't (believe it or not). Now call me cynical but is it just a coincidence that this " scientific finding" helps them in their religious agenda to stop people from using contraception?

Can you give me a positive example of how religion can contribute to modern scientific research? Also, just to satisfy my curiosity could you provide the quotations/references of Einstein and Hawking where they support your position. I'm struggling to find them and am keen to see what they say.

On the whole I look upon Atheism as the only logical position AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME. Of course I cannot absolutely exclude the possibility that a God exists and so my belief is not immovable. But all the "evidence" I have come across that claims to prove God's existence has not convinced me. But this is not to say that I would reject it if there was something that absolutely proved that God did exist. I am open to that possibility. I think you would find that many atheists are of the same thinking. This means that if I did some research that discovered absolute proof that, let's say `Allah' is the one true God and that the Christian God did not exist, then I would have to accept it and make the world aware of it, because my mind is open enough to do so. I don't think you would find many Christians doing the same thing. And by the way, if Allah is God then by following Christianity you will be banished to hell. See you there mate.

To be completely honest with you, all the things that you say Christianity allows you to do ("live my life with love, respect, honesty and hope") are among the same ideals as I have, and I wish everyone had. But for me Christianity, and the Bible in particular, are not the means through which this can happen. Maybe, nor is atheism, but at least by giving an individual the ability to make up their own minds about the important questions of life, in a society that has its own rationally defined morals, we are freeing them from religious prejudice and segregation.

It is the combination of the interpretation of religious texts and their claim to be the absolute word of God that is the most damaging facet of the major religions. By admitting that one can take what one likes from the bible (eg whether homosexuality is good or bad) you agree that anyone can do whatever they like and claim it is decreed by God. I argue that by rejecting these religious texts we free our society from God-decreed acts performed by humans.

Just as a final point of note, by saying "As the evidence for and against God is about 50/50, the only fair stance must surely be that of an open minded agnostic?", you have just contradicted your original argument that science and religion can work together. I'll not even ask you how you come by the 50/50 claim either.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jun 2007 18:03:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Jun 2007 18:04:24 BDT
Find me some evidence that suggests otherwise. You really seem to have missed the point. Perhaps you should refer to my first post before misquoting it...I merely said that 'science and religion are not incompatible'. This is true.

Read 'A Brief History of Time' by Stephen Hawking, and then let me know what you think his views regarding God (not religion) are in his conclusion. I have already paraphrased Einstein's most famous comment regarding religion. Although he later defended his lack of any real religious allegiance, it would be fair to say that this was basically an angry reaction to the amount of religious groups who tried to use his statement as an endorsement.

Christians may interpret the Bible differently, admittedly to perhaps suit themselves in some cases; but we are only human. To adopt an atheistic stance removes any moral responsibility whatsoever. I would say that the "rationally defined morals" in our society are largely evolved from basic religious beliefs and are also present due to a basic human intuition of right and wrong. You may ask what gave us this intuition? Well I think you could predict my answer. You refer to prisoners as 'amoral'...but the very fact that this is not the right word (immoral is), suggests that perhaps humans have something more about them. Animals are amoral.

Your statistics seem to me rather dubious. A "skeptical site that looks at the facts about frauds, fakes, fools, and flim-flam" is perhaps not the best place to find neutral and objective statistics (especially about a subject as cynically targeted as religion). If you think that most prisoners are actually religious people then I would question who gave you your PhD!

And as for an example of how religion aids scientific research...well my local church recently raised thousands of pounds for cancer research UK. So there's a pretty basic example for you. It's a shame that we haven't rid ourselves of God-decreed acts such as these isn't it.

Just one more thing. I was wondering where or what atheists get any kind of "hope" from?

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jun 2007 17:03:09 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Jun 2007 17:04:51 BDT
So that's how it works is it? You make a statement and if it cannot be disproved, then it must be right. Very scientific. Anyway, I'll bite...... When it comes to "evidence", proof for the non-existence of anything is impossible. This is pretty universally accepted. So let me start by saying that the total amount of evidence for the non-existence of God is ZERO. Yes, there is absolutely no proof that God doesn't exist. So unless you disagree with this, the only way your 50/50 statistic can be right is if you agree there is no evidence for the existence of God. Is that what you meant by 50/50?

I have read Steven Hawking's "A Brief History of Time", but admittedly it was some time ago. I'll have another look when I get the chance. I don't recall any part where he says religion and science are not incompatible. Maybe you could give me the exact quote that supports your position. He does consider the possible involvement of (a) God in the creation of the universe, but that is just simple open-mindedness, not the application of any religious belief. As I said earlier, the majority of atheists also do not absolutely exclude the possibility of there being a God because of the reasons I started this posting with. Any scientist that completely excludes a theory that has no absolute proof against it is not a true scientist. So in absence of any evidence against God's existence one has to look for evidence FOR his existence. Any inquisitive individual can do so by analysing the texts that his believers say contains his sacred word. I've done it, and you've done it. The difference between us is that while we have both decided to reject parts of the Bible as untrue, I have decided that I cannot accept that any other part of it as truth without evidence to support its claims. Isn't that a logical approach?

I'm sorry for misquoting you. I thought that by saying science and religion were not incompatible, you meant that they are in some way compatible. So, to clarify my mis-interpretation, can you explain how the two statements "science and religion are not incompatible" and "the only fair stance must surely be that of an open minded agnostic?" do not contradict each other.

Doesn't the example of the catholic church saying that condoms don't protect from HIV transmission show how religion and science are incompatible?

As I have said before, I don't deny that good is done in the name of religion and by religious people. It has, and is. But does this undo any of the wrongs done in the name of religion? By that same logic, is it ok for me to beat somebody up if I have just put £10 into a charity collection box?

The prisoners' faiths statistics I presented are not mine. As far as I can see the research was conducted by government officials. Anyway, are you saying that the data should be rejected just because they are on a web-site whose philosophy you disagree with? That doesn't sound like a very objective approach to the matter to me. The source of the research is made clear, therefore if anyone wants to investigate its authenticity, they can. Also, as my PhD had nothing to do with the religious beliefs of prisoners, so I don't see how my understanding of those statistics has any reflection on my being awarded it. Unless you are calling into question my intellect in general, in which case I think you should lobby for that question to be compulsory for all PhD vivas (but only pass the students that agree with you).

I don't need any form of theistic or atheistic philosophy to give me hope. Why should I? For example; by studying hard at school I live in the hope that I will be able to get a good job where I can earn money for myself and be of productive use to others. By loving my children and showing them care and consideration I hope they will learn to treat others in the same way. By trying to help my friends when they need me I hope I make their lives better and that they would help me when I needed it. By voting for a particular political party I hope that they will be elected and so hope that my country and the world may be a better place....... I could go on. But "hope" has many definitions, if this does not answer your question, then maybe you could give me a definition of hope in the context you mean.

Thanks for correcting my mis-use of the word "amoral". Indeed "immoral" is the better word (although that doesn't change the thrust of the argument). If you would allow me to reciprocate; you are wrong about animals as they are not amoral. The morality of many social animals is well documented. A good article that summarises this is in the New York Times, see (you will need to register - free). I hope that is a reputable enough publisher for you to at least to consider the claims as warranting further investigation. Do I need to ask how these animals got their morals in the absence of religion?

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jun 2007 20:23:33 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Jun 2007 20:29:07 BDT
Alissa1989 says:
Hello Dr Tatham,

I was interested to see your statement that 'all the "evidence" that I have come across that claims to prove God's existence has not convinced me. But that is not to say that I would reject it if there was something that absolutely proved God did exist.'

Absolute proof is hard to come by in everyday life. When studying philosophy I was taught that we cannot even be certain of things that most people take for granted, such as the existence of other minds or that the sun will rise tomorrow. 'Good-enough' proof is what we generally use in making decisions.

According to the Bible, God desires our freely given love and trust. If we had absolute proof of his existence, wouldn't most people submit to him out of fear? Whereas if his existence was not obvious to all, but there was enough evidence to convince those who went looking for him, he would gain some real relationships. This seems to me to be the situation that exists.

I was an agnostic till the age of 27, when I came across a book that indicated that Christianity might not be intellectual suicide, as I had rather thoughtlessly assumed. ('Mere Christianity', by C S Lewis.) After three years' careful enquiry, I decided the evidence for God's existence and for the truth of the Bible was good enough and became a Christian.

I recently discovered Lee Strobel's books, describing a similar journey to my own. Except that he started off as an atheist and only started looking into Christianity when his atheist wife became a Christian, in order to convince her she was wrong. They will give you the evidence that he found, if you are interested. ('The Case for Christ', 'The Case for Faith' (answering common objections to Christianity), and 'The Case for a Creator'.)

I hope that is helpful.

PS It's 18 years since I changed my worldview, and since then I have become more confident of my new one.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jun 2007 21:27:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Dec 2007 15:39:19 GMT
Dr. Mabuse says:
Why are people so obsessed with religion and icons? The fact is that we lifeforms on this planet are extremely lucky to exist. No-one 'created' us and no-one is 'taking care' of us. Our lifetimes are not long here and the existence of man will not be a great deal longer. There are no other planets like this one that can sustain such lives. Enjoy the fact that you are living your life and stop looking for answers that you will never find. I feel really sorry for the people that destroy other peoples rights to live because they don't share their religious stupidity. What sad lives you really live. You think that you're 'enlightened' but in actual fact you're plainly insane. Snap out of it while you've still got the chance! I'm not an atheist by the way, I'm totally anti-theist and I enjoy my 'freedom' and will continue to do so until my life ends! And yes I do understand that they'll be no-one waiting for me to give me a hug and show me the way forward. But it won't matter because I'll be dead anyway!

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jun 2007 22:55:08 BDT
Hi Alissa,

Thanks for the input of a new view.

You are absolutely right. Absolute proof is difficult to come by, but for me the degree of acceptable doubt relating to any piece of evidence is proportional to the magnitude of the implication of the assertion. So for a question as important as "is there a God", I'm looking for some pretty good proof. Whereas I'd be happy to accept that David Beckham wears his wife's underwear if "The Sun" says it is true.

I find your point about fear quite confusing. If God doesn't want to use fear as a tactic to recruit us to Christianity, then why does the bible threaten us to and eternity in hell if we don't accept him?

Also what kind of being thinks he will only have real relationships with people who unconditionally love him? Don't you have meaningful relationships with people who don't love you?

Thanks for the book recommendations, I'll keep an eye out for the C. S. Lewis' book.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Jun 2007 16:14:09 BDT
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In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jun 2007 11:04:33 BDT
Dr. Mabuse says:
Mr Tozer, 'For instance do you think a dog attacking a child is immoral or amoral?' And you say that my comments made you laugh? A dog is neither moral, immoral or amoral. It's a dog and I have not yet come across a dog who debates such issues. I think you'll find that it would be the 'owner of the dog' that is responsible for such values (a human).

You believe yourself to be intelligent? It's best to ask others how they would judge you rather than arrive at your own conclusion. The world is full of self proclaimed intelligent people, that's why there is so much conflict everywhere.

'I can't quite remember any exact quotations from Hawking's book.' Yes, I've met quite a few people like you who quote references from books that they have never read, but try to impress everyone with. Concluding chapter? Dust jacket, or maybe on the back of the book? You nip down to Waterstones and have a look and make some notes.

'I was merely saying that you can't seriously believe that most prisoners are religious in any real sense.' Is that because you feel that only intelligent people (like yourself?) can be religious. So what does 'religious in any real sense' mean?

Articulation is one thing, intelligence is another. Don't get them mixed up.

I suggest that you stop taking yourself too seriously before you spontaneously combust. Or maybe that would be God's will?

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jun 2007 21:33:14 BDT
Alissa1989 says:
Hi Dr Tatham,

(In reverse order:)

It's not that he will only have real relationships with people who love him, but that he hopes for love relationships, and those are more likely to develop from 'real' relationships - with people who want to know him - than from people being driven to approach him by fear.

The way I see it, and the Bible tells it: first God loves all human beings and hopes they will love him back. That's why he caused them to exist. Then he gives them indications of his existence and tries to draw them to himself. Some respond and start looking for him. The ones who read (or hear) the Bible discover that he has warned of the danger that they're in, of being cut off from him forever - hell - because their wrongdoing has caused a separation between them and him. And that he has provided an escape route for them at immense cost to himself, by dying on the cross to take the penalty for their wrongdoing. He doesn't want anyone to go to hell. 'He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.' (2 Peter 3:9.)

Any seeker who takes the escape route, by putting his trust in Jesus and deciding to follow him, will come into a personal relationship with God. That always seems to lead to loving him. It did with me. When I became a Christian, it was just like falling in love. And my relationship with him is still what brings me the most happiness (though since then I have got married and had two lovely children).

I think you could find some pretty good proof of God's existence. For instance, have you looked at the kalam argument ('The Case for a Creator', ch 5), fulfilled prophecies in the Bible and the odds against all of them coming true by chance (eg 'The Case for Faith'
p 131, 'The Case for Christ' p 183), transformed lives after conversion to Christianity (eg 'TCF Faith' p 256) or the evidence for the resurrection (eg 'TCF Christ' chapters 11-14)? Lee Strobel has a website at It has short video clips on 'Investigating God'. I haven't looked at them yet but you might find something interesting.

Best wishes.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jun 2007 20:51:21 BDT
Lauren says:
I just wanted to say that everyone here seems to be missing the point that there is and never will be any proof for or against the existence of God. That is why belief in "Him" is a matter of faith. Personally, I believe that religious people devalue their faith by claiming there is any proof because the greatest and most amazing thing about religion and belief in God is the fact that it is not based on any facts. It is much more admirable to an objective spectator for someone to believe in God, or anything in fact, which is or can be proved. Faith will never become a science and should never become based on scientific arguments because that takes away the essence of faith itself.

Do other people agree with me or am I just rambling on to myself and not making any sense? And if you don't agree, may I ask you not to make any cheap insults? It's unnecessary and counter-productive.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jun 2007 22:20:04 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 Jun 2007 22:30:21 BDT
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In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2007 08:32:54 BDT
Hi Lauren,

No you are not just rambling. In fact what you are saying is what many of my Christian friends claim to be that case. However, in fact, while many claim they never look for proof of God's existence, they have many reasons that they do actually use as proof without really knowing it. For example, they pray to God for his divine intervention in many matters great and small, and when these matters change they get comfort that this is God answering their prayers. I think you would be hard pushed to find a Christian that doesn't use God's answers to prayers as some kind of affirmation of their beliefs. Also, many religious people often talk about a deeply felt emotion that God is loving them, or is looking over them. Again, in their eyes, this is a form of proof.

I'm no philosopher but I'm not sure that I believe that anyone has faith in anything without some form of (in their eyes) evidence or proof. As Alissa said, we just look for "good enough" proof. Obviously the definition of this differs between individuals and this is why people have differing beliefs.

The problem I have with the idea that Christianity is faith based and not based on evidence or proof is that the Bible and modern Christianity is rich with (so-called) examples of God's intervention in people's lives. If God wants us to love him unconditionally in the absence of evidence then why does he perform miracle cures of sick people? Many Christians use both biblical and modern "miracles" as evidence that God exists.

So if you accept any of these points then my question is this; where does God decide to draw the line with regard to intervention in peoples' lives without corrupting the faith element of Christianity? For example will he only cure Christians with illnesses that could potentially have undergone spontaneous remission in absence of his intervention? Specifically, will he only cure someone with a disease like cancer or M.E./C.F.S that science knows can go into remission without treatment, therefore leaving an element of doubt that can be filled by faith? If this is the case then amputees and other people with physically irreversible disfigurements should be pretty unhappy with God's decision to reject their suffering just because it corrupts his ideals.

CHRISTIAN: God, please cure me. When she was pregnant with me my mum took Thalidomide which affected my development as an embryo, and now I have deformed limbs. I'm bullied at school, I can't play with my friends, and I find it hard to form relationships as people don't look beyond my disfigurement.

GOD: Yeah sorry about that mate, I can't cure you because if I do then that will provide irrefutable proof of my existence and so will undermine the faith element of Christianity. But love me unconditionally and we'll spend the rest of eternity together.

CHRISTIAN: Thanks God. That makes it all better.

I have yet to find a satisfactory answer to these caveats of faith-based religion that doesn't put God in an awkward position. Maybe someone here could offer one.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2007 10:22:58 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Jun 2007 00:10:23 BDT
Dr. Mabuse says:
Mr Tozer

Let me assure you that I was an anti-theist well before Dawkins thought about writing any books on any religious matter. Because I am a 'non-believer', I'm a pig-headed ignoramus that you really don't feel that you have time for am I? What's that make you then sunshine? More importantly why reply?

I am aware of the meaning of amoral, thank you. It can also mean, dishonest, unethical, deceitful and so on. In the context that you used it, a dog attacking a child, it was the wrong term to use. If you are accusing me of having no morals, purely based on the fact that I don't agree with you, then you really are some kind of buffoon.

I don't care whether you've read Hawkings & Dawkins books or not. Use your own ideas and thoughts.

Why would you have to quote books? Quote the bible if you wish, it won't mean that I'll believe it! You're just trying to impress others, just like some 6th Form school kid. "Hey look guys I'm reading Hawkings' 'Brief History of Time', aren't I the clever one. I think I'm beginning to believe in God". "Wow Tozer! Let's all believe what you tell us then shall we?"

'very few truly religious people would commit the type of crime which would be punishable by a prison sentence. Its against our (delusional) beliefs.' Have you read the Old Testament by any chance!!! Killing someone for some bizzare reason, ie being homosexual, is a just cause then is it? The book TELLS people to carry out hineous crimes against mankind!! But then again I'm sure I could judge your particular feelings about such people. I'm sure you'd prefer a more painful way of dealing with them.

There is no more proof against 'God' than there is for him? So let's believe all the garbage written, let's just clutch at straws then shall we? Is there anyone standing behind you at the moment? If there isn't, does that mean that, actually there maybe someone there. I just can't prove it one way or another, ergo I believe there is someone there unless anyone can disprove it? Surely intelligent people, especially scientists, don't believe anything until they or someone else proves it? Then others will try to disprove it. Or should we believe anything and everything that we are told until it may or may not be disproven? According to your reasoning, that should be the case.

I have an open minded approach of life in general. I certainly won't be reading any books written by any religious scientists (is there such a group?). I'm an anti-theist, if I had my way (which I never will, fortunately for you and your like-thinking minded sheep-followers) I'd outlaw religion!

I may be stupid, I must be to even reply to your pitiable posts. But when it comes to stupidity you well and truly transcend that definition!!

To quote that well known over-used and patronising phrase, 'I don't agree with your views but I'd give my life to defend your rights to say them'. Like hell I would!!

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2007 13:10:17 BDT
G. Moffat says:
During a rather heated debate with a Catholic friend of mine several years ago, I suggested to him that had he been born in Saudi Arabia to parents of Saudi descent it is highly probable that he would be a Muslim. To my surprise, he actually agreed with me and yet his faith in Christianity remained intact, (and no, I wasn't quite expecting it to evaporate in front of my eyes!) and has done to this day. I've got a sneaky feeling that had he not been indoctrinated from a very young age, including attending a faith school, his view of Catholicism/Christianity/religion as a whole would be very different. Over the years I've raised the same point with other friends of various religious beliefs and the response has been mixed, with some agreeing with my point, whilst others have got very upset and accused me of trying to destroy their beliefs. For that, I will make no apology. If a perfectly logical question can `threaten' deeply held belief, what does that say about the `belief' itself?

Just briefly, regarding the question about the dog and the child, surely 'natural' and/or 'instinct' would be more appropriate words to use?

I'm not sure why Mr. Tozer is so rude, (whatever happened to `love thy neighbour') but that aside it would be nice if he could actually respond properly to the specific points raised by Dr. Tatham.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2007 16:58:23 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jul 2007 21:33:42 BDT
CitizenX says:
Stephen Tozer,

You fail to consider the possibility that prisoners reformed by religion are not being sincere. You have no problem assuming religious people in jail are probably not "really" religious, though, because it is against Christian belief (what about other religions?).

This is problematic. Firstly, Christians sin all the time. It is one of the most fundamental parts of Christian belief. So, religious people could easily end up in jail. Secondly, many prisoners reformed and "saved" by the Lord in prison may very well be faking for their parole boards, so you cannot so glibly use that in religion's defence.

Dr. Tatham's point that most people in prison are religious is well-known. This is because most people in society are religious and prison population is a reflection of that demographic. The point is that religious people are NOT less likely to end up in prison. This is clearly wish fulfillment on your part but you may disagree. I do not have the time or inclination to prove it to you. You can do your own reading and research on the matter if you like. I suspect you do not like but I may be wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2007 17:21:08 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jul 2007 21:50:50 BDT
CitizenX says:
Alissa McBride,

The "proofs" of biblical prophecy strengthened my convictions that Christianity is wrong. They are so weak as to be embarrassing. I have had a keen interest in science and sceptical reading for years and have learned some principles of debunking.

Evaluating the so-called prophecies leads one to the inevitable conclusion that Christian writers and redactors of the so-called New Testament had a specific agenda in twisting the Hebrew Bible to their own ends. The Gospels were written specifically to "fulfill" certain "prophecies" and so they are to a large extent self-fulfilling.

The Gospel writers used many techniques to try to give their texts as much authority as possible, and "fulfilling prophecy" was one of them. This is not controversial in biblical studies, either. Read "The Nativity" by Geza Vermes, the leading Jesus scholar of today. (He translated the standard version of the Dead Sea scrolls.) He shows how the nativity gospels of Matthew and Luke were probably added later in order to forge a link between Jesus and the Jewish Messiah of the Hebrew Bible. In doing so they "fulfill" different prophecies, and deeply contradict one another. They cannot agree on who Jesus' grandfather is, or what his link with the House of David is. They cannot agree whether Jesus' parents fled to Egypt (in order to fulfill a Moses-image and prophecy of "he shall come out of Egypt") after his birth or stayed peacefully in Bethlehem. They cannot agree on whether King Herod tried to kill the first-borns or not (the reason Jesus ended up in Egypt like Moses in one gospel but not the other).

Just as an aside: Luke is also deeply and irreconcilably historically inaccurate. The details of King Herod's death, the reign of Quirinius the Roman governor of Syria, and the alleged universal Roman census around the time of Jesus' birth are completely at odds, and direly so. Luke's agenda did not require him to be historically accurate at all, it seems. This also, is not a controversial opinion among scholars of Biblical history and you can read almost anyone on this to realize the depth of Luke's errors.

Matthew and Luke chose different bits of the Hebrew Bible to "fulfill" in order to gain authority and acceptance. So, these fulfillments are actually not fulfillments. The prophecies in the Hebrew Bible do not predict anything in the New Testament, though the New Testament "fulfills" deliberately (and in a contradictory manner) various bits of the Hebrew Bible.

Basically, it is easy to fulfill an alleged "prophecy" of centuries earlier firstly by claiming that the text is indeed a prophecy that has not already been fulfilled or whose time has not already passed, and secondly, by just writing down that it has been fulfilled, which is essentially what happened. Scholars have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the Gospels are not entirely trustworthy on matters of history and so that leaves open a door of doubt in the matter of the "facts" of fulfilled prophecies. The best cure for believing in prophecies of the Christian Bible being fulfilled is to read it under the guidance of biblical scholars and historians, and to read it critically and responsibly, being ever aware of its literature traditions prevailing at the time the passages in question have been written, and of their historical milieu. If you do that you will realize that easy claims of biblical prophecies providing proof of the truth of the Christian Bible are unfounded.

Also, I suggest you read something by rabbis on why the Jewish people do not believe Jesus was the Messiah. They quote prophecies in the Hebrew Bible (what the Christians renamed the Old Testament in a bid to pave the way for their new writings) that prove Jesus was not the Messiah. These proofs are actually better than the Christian ones. They are quite clear, too. The Messiah was supposed to have accomplished certain things and to have had certain characteristics that Jesus most certainly did not fulfill according to what we know of the history of his time.

I suggest you hang on to your faith (belief in something that has no good quality evidence) instead of proofs because properly examined such "proofs" are wholly inadequate to justify belief in the Christian religion. Alternatively, you could read Robin Lane Fox's "The Unauthorized Version", if you would like to understand how the bible as you know it actually came about. A N Wilson is also good in his "Jesus", a biography, on how to appreciate and understand biblical readings. These books are both very respectful of the Christian Bible (as is Geza Vermes' book) and emphasize historically informed and intelligent understanding of these venerable and socially extremely important texts.

I do not wish to be disrespectful, but usually the reasons people are won over by "rational" arguments and proofs for the Christian Bible's truth are no better than the arguments for astrology or homeopathy (which impress an astonishing number of intelligent and educated people). They all make the same logical errors, unfounded assumptions, leaps of irrationality, etc. And usually, they are characterized by a profound ignorance of the subject matter and are poorly read on the subject. They may read much but of bad quality work not respected in the proper academic circles. Evangelical books (for example) on the truth of biblical prophecies are of this simplistic ilk, like Josh McDowell's celebrated, "Evidence That Demands A Verdict". I have hardly ever come across such bad evidence so bravely put forward except perhaps in a treatise taken from a UFO handbook that "proves" the existence of extra-terrestrial visitors and collusion by the same with the government of the United States of America. There is not one biblical prophecy you may care to mention that is unequivocally true or that cannot be interpreted completely differently. The evangelicals say there are over three hundred. Go figure.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2007 19:24:01 BDT
Dr. Mabuse says:
Mr Moffat

I've even heard people retort to such statements as the one you opened up with, with "you're rascist you are!!" That's how short-sighted many people are. It just goes to show how different folk respond to such queries. I totally agree with your view about 'their belief itself'. It just doesn't make sense.

But then, what all these people really want, is to know that 'someone' will be waiting for them at eternity's gate, to lead them on to pastures new. Actually, a bit like when you arrive late for a film showing and the usher/ette leads the way with their torch. When I arrive there, I hope there's some decent films showing or I'm sliding down the pole to hades!

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2007 20:08:09 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 Jun 2007 00:26:07 BDT
Dr. Mabuse says:

I skimmed past your post (sorry).

If people believe in something that cannot be proven, then fine, carry on believing it. It's their choice. What I object to is the amount of time and money that is thrown at such a very dubious subject (religion) and it is impossible to not have it constantly shoved in your face. I get sick of listening to people quoting references from the bible or the qu'ran or any other work of fiction, telling us how we should be behaving. Whilst our religious world leaders are bombing/invading other countries in the name of christianity or blowing themselves up to be able to spend a few nights with some virgins! Sorry to be so flippant but that's what makes me so hacked off with these religious loonies!

Lack of religion may not be the total solution to bring about world peace. But it would certainly bring it a little bit closer!

Like I say, to 'believe' is fine. But keep it to yourselves and maybe sell a few of those religious places. It may even give a little bit of relief to 3rd world countries. But I suppose that's too much to ask!

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jun 2007 22:55:29 BDT
Susan says:
Sorry, your wrong about physicists. I am a member of staff at a UK university Physics dept, I (personally) have never met a religious physicist and i have met a lot. I do agree with you though that war is about more than religion.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jun 2007 00:24:14 BDT
Dr. Mabuse says:
War is about control. Whether it be religion or oil or whatever, ultimately it is about control. The perpetrator will usually be some nutter who believes that god is on their side. Sadly, a large number of people will believe them and if they don't, then they'll just be classed as traitors. Isn't democracy great?

I think that you'll find that the majority of wars are started by religious disagreements. Just ask the Palestinians or anyone in the Middle East or even Northern Ireland I need to go on?
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God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens (Paperback - 2007)
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