The Atheist Paradox

Why do most atheists, who claim to be repulsed by religion, tend to be so well-versed in the the Old Testament of the Bible? More so than the average…Christian?

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38 comments

  1. the skeptical teenager

    Because those of us who are well versed in the old testament (and new testament) often become atheists because of their reading of the bible, and they know its full of completely wacky stories which are not possible in the world we see today. By reading the scriptures, you can have your eyes opened to some of the strange, retarded, weird things which some people are astounded to find out that people ACTUALLY believe in. Knowing your bible passages can also help as an atheist in anti-theistical debates, where showing that the bible is full of sexism, derogatory words, racism, homophobia, immoral killing and incest helps to show the immorality of the bible, and how it is one of the most immoral pieces of literature known to man.

    • synapticcohesion

      “Knowing your bible passages can also help as an atheist in anti-theistical debates, where showing that the bible is full of sexism, derogatory words, racism, homophobia, immoral killing and incest helps to show the immorality of the bible, and how it is one of the most immoral pieces of literature known to man.”

      Yes that is true–if you intentionally misrepresent and misinterpret passages in the Bible.

      • the skeptical teenager

        You don’t have to misinterpret it, there are many many many passages in the bible (upward of 300) which are contradictory, and just as many which promote immoral actions such as bigotry, polygamy, murder, slander, rape and other such immoral things.

  2. americansecularist

    I can’t speak for atheists, but as a non-atheist secular humanist, I’d have to say that we should always want to know more and understand more about the world around us, our society, our history, our culture. One of the attractions of fundamentalism is that you can be intellectually lazy – someone else has already answered all the questions for you. You don’t need to read the Bible if you’re a Muslim, or the Koran if you’re a Christian – someone has already figured out that the other guy’s book is just a bunch of lies. Now you can busy yourself in the accumulation of material wealth, without having to think about life’s bigger questions.

    Those who are reflective want to know where ideas come from – it’s a shame that Christians don’t examine the source of their own beliefs as closely as they should. But it’s also a shame that there’s a lack of intellectual curiosity in general in most of the church-going group.

      • americansecularist

        Of course – and thanks. I’ve read a couple of your posts, and you’ve got some great insights. I think a lot of people from a variety of backgrounds are really taking a second look at their systems of belief, whatever they may be.

    • synapticcohesion

      “Those who are reflective want to know where ideas come from – it’s a shame that Christians don’t examine the source of their own beliefs as closely as they should.”

      I agree that many don’t. And many get pulled in by charlatans and shysters that pervert Christian values (many who claim to have Christ-like powers) and encourage them to worship, as you mentioned, “material wealth” and other more worldly values.

  3. Scott Shifferd Jr.

    myatheistlife,

    Is this your case to speculate about Hitler and how he was supported by the Catholic church (and more so the atheist Mussolini), to recognize how the founding fathers believed the Created and human rights are self-evident, that the God of Bible allows people to unintentionally harm themselves and other because they do evil, and to reject the Bible via interpreted Bibles (i.e. 1 Sam. 15:3 where death is the same word as the death of Adam and Eve)? We would accept all of this for what? For racist and anti-woman Darwin and to overlook Hitler being a Darwinist? Should we also overlook Stalin, Mao, and Mussolini who make Catholics look innocent in compare? Should we recognize these men as the typical atheist with their usually agenda just as you mischaractize so-called “Christians” and bible writers?

    Yet, the Bible calls me including you to weigh the source evidence of Jesus of Nazareth and judge whether He is the Messiah or that His Apostles and scribes are false witnesses. As the Bible says and referred to by the US Constitution (3.3), the standard historical evidence are at least 2 or 3 primary sources. This is the case that Jesus made (John 5). How else would we believe a police report or an affidavit and prove the recent history of past days and weeks in court? Only laziness and disregard would pass over the most influential historical person ever. Be a just judge and weigh the evidence.

    “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”

    Can you hear the avarice and the sordid of life of John’s epistle?

    • myatheistlife

      Your first paragraph is so wrong that it hurts my head to just read it. You do not read the original holy text. You must read an interpreted bible. Social Darwinism and eugenics is a perversion of the understanding of evolution and not what Darwin taught. It’s typical of ignorant religious folk to try to use this as an argument when it is more than clear that they have no understanding at all in this regard. Equality for women and blacks was not provided by your holy text, it was your holy text which promotes the oppression of women and slaves.
      http://www.alternet.org/story/154466/15_bible_texts_reveal_why_gods_own_party_is_at_war_with_women__
      http://atheism.about.com/library/weekly/aa112598.htm

      Your failure to read and comprehend my argument regarding Hitler is evidence that you are not going to even try to understand what others say to you. You will simply argue your own ignorance and claim it wisdom because you think that is what your holy book says. You need to read. Read a lot. Read your Bible with open eyes. Take some classes or something. Try to understand what people are saying before you trot out tired, worn out cherry picked quotes and ideas from a book you have probably never read fully.

      And when I judge your Jesus and this holy text and find them completely lacking in evidence and consistency and that they are complete failures to convince me of anything but the ability of humans to fool themselves into believing anything they want…. when I do this you condemn me and tell me that I’m wrong because you *want* to believe in fairy tales rather than look at the facts and truth and accept them. Your Jesus was not the first nor the last false prophet. He is simply one in a very long line of false prophets and liars…. if he existed at all.

      And finally, I would advise that you stop drinking coffee or whatever it is that got you so ‘tweaked’ here…
      The claim that Jesus is/was the word is symbolism and not fact. It is a claim that cannot be proven by yourself or any apologist. Regarding your Jesus, you have in no way been witness to his life, not with your ears, eyes, or hands. As for your holy texts… they are just books. Poorly written books. Fairy tales which have no power and convey no power upon anyone. To claim anything else requires proof. Proof that you don’t have. If you had such proof you would have used it before now and all the world would know … but you don’t. It’s just a superstition, a story.

  4. myatheistlife

    For me, it’s not what I want to learn about so much as it is the fact that apologists keep quoting it to backup their wild ass assertions. The big three, the Abrahamic faiths, all include the books of Moses and it is there we can quickly see what is wrong with all their holy texts. They fail because of these books, then continue with their fail all on their own. The old testament of the Christian Bible is and has been used to oppress various peoples. It is a violent depraved text used to justify political movements, bigotry, and many other social ills. I know it because I was raised reading it. My anti-theism came later. My interest in it continues for the reasons stated: to stay abreast of current political events it is necessary to understand the motivations of those who desire to oppress and beguile. Our children must be protected from this stuff and if you don’t know it you cannot recognize it to prevent its insertion into general society.

  5. NotAScientist

    Because it’s interesting. And for those of us atheists who live in America, a large portion of the population claims to believe most or all of it is true. So reading the Bible helps us understand those people. Also, for good or ill, a lot of western literature references the Bible. And to understand that properly, you should read the Bible.

  6. tearmatt

    It’s the worlds biggest best seller! Atheists are just as fashion lead as religious people. God is a really odd fellow. letting the twin towers happen only to kick start more killing? the earthquakes? cancer? children being abused by perverts? why doesnt he stop these things? If I stood by and watched someone get murdered yet I could do something to stop it, would I stop it?? Of course I would!!!! All this pain slips though this gods fingers, and then he sends you to this bad place full of fire and pain if you do things wrong… God should be in hell, all that power and he does nothing… blind faith…………? really??

    • Scott Shifferd Jr.

      Having free-will, we chose death, hate, and evil, and therefore destruction. Should God bless us for such? Paradise still exists, but not here. Yet, we believe in human rights. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Virtues either evolved from nothing, were invented by someone, or is eternal. Yet, love cannot exist without personality to possess it, which excludes evolving or invented virtues. Such eternal virtue personified is God eternal. God is love. Love did not these evil things. Those who neglected love brought these evils upon themselves.

      You are right that the ones who cause these things should be in Hell (cf. Matt. 13:37-43).

      • myatheistlife

        Scott, your god is love? I suppose it’s all right there in the book of Joshua, right? Where was your omniscient deity when the snake moved into the garden? Who played tricks on Abraham and Job? Who? The god of Abraham is not love, he is a jealous god, a just god (justice does not happen out of love), and an angry god. He is not all powerful either. He could simply have told everyone on earth to be good… no, drowning them was a much better idea. Even then he chose wrong. Scant years later he had to mess with the Babylonians to stop that tower. Seems your god gets involved quite often in stopping towers.

        You sound like someone that has never read your holy text with an open mind and a critical eye. It’s incredibly difficult to determine if your god is the so called Satan, or some other miscreant. We have no way to know since not one person alive has ever seen your deity. When Moses came off the mount, the Jews were worshipping other gods in their pantheon so your deity, YHWH, got all pissed off and wrote some more laws. No sense in coming down and showing himself to all … no, just send down a crazy old warlord and have him write some crap on stone tablets and call it a day.

        You also need to do a bit more studying on the founders of the USA. Deism does not support your god or your holy text. If you think the deists who help found the USA were god fearing Christians you are wrong, there were simply in fear of Christians so had to write the documents to exclude none and include all. The very words you claim support your Christianity as part of the founding of the USA are there to prevent good Christians from killing other Christians in the USA. That was the purpose, that no single religion had rule, that all religions would have peace, and that the government makes no claim as to which, if any, religion is right.

      • synapticcohesion

        Fascinating how you can tell us that we cannot say that Hitler was not a true Christian and was obviously just posturing for political purposes, yet you can claim that our founding fathers were…posturing for political purposes.

      • myatheistlife

        synapticohesion, I never told you or anyone that Hitler was not a true Christian. All I ever posited was that you can’t call Hitler evil if he was a Christian and objective morality exists. I have reiterated many times that objective morality does not exist and that I personally find no fault with thinking that both Hitler and Joshua (and his god) are morally bad. The Jeffersonian Bible is an example of the reasons to believe the founding fathers as deists and not Christians. Jesus’ raising from the dead is an essential part of the Christian doctrine. Without that you fail to be Christian. At the time, there weren’t 80 kinds of translations, just the one. Jefferson cut out all the miracles and felt it a much better, more believable book. Jesus without the miracles is… well, not a god. As well as this there is evidence that these founding fathers were deists and that their aim was to protect the weak from the stronger killing in the name of gods, that all beliefs might prosper or not as their adherents would allow. Also, at the time, the word agnostic was not available to them and the concept was not in the public sphere as now.

        From wikipedia as an example of why the founding fathers of the USA would not be want to use the word atheist other than to insult a person:
        “The first open denial of the existence of God and avowal of atheism since classical times may be that of Paul Baron d’Holbach (1723–1789) in his 1770 work, The System of Nature. D’Holbach was a Parisian social figure who conducted a famous salon widely attended by many intellectual notables of the day, including Denis Diderot, Jean Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Adam Smith, and Benjamin Franklin. Nevertheless, his book was published under a pseudonym, and was banned and publicly burned by the Executioner.”

        There is plenty of other evidence to suggest that the USA founding fathers were not founding a Christian nation, and even the treaty with Tripoli flatly denies that the USA was founded as a Christian nation.

        To compare my views on the two topics is comparing apples and bricks. To misquote me while you do this is simply poor form.

      • synapticcohesion

        You said that I can’t use the “no true Scotsman” argument. Well you cannot use the same argument to say that the founding fathers were not “true Christians.”

        “While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
        –The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.

        “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
        –Adams wrote this on June 28, 1813, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.

        “I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.”
        –The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, p. 385.

        John Hancock
        1st Signer of the Declaration of Independence

        “Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
        –History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

      • synapticcohesion

        Samuel Adams
        Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Father of the American Revolution

        “And as it is our duty to extend our wishes to the happiness of the great family of man, I conceive that we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world that the rod of tyrants may be broken to pieces, and the oppressed made free again; that wars may cease in all the earth, and that the confusions that are and have been among nations may be overruled by promoting and speedily bringing on that holy and happy period when the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and all people everywhere willingly bow to the sceptre of Him who is Prince of Peace.”
        –As Governor of Massachusetts, Proclamation of a Day of Fast, March 20, 1797.

        James Madison
        4th U.S. President

        “Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.”
        –America’s Providential History, p. 93.

        Benjamin Rush
        Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Ratifier of the U.S. Constitution

        “The gospel of Jesus Christ prescribes the wisest rules for just conduct in every situation of life. Happy they who are enabled to obey them in all situations!”
        –The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush, pp. 165-166.

        “Christianity is the only true and perfect religion, and that in proportion as mankind adopts its principles and obeys its precepts, they will be wise and happy.”
        –Essays, Literary, Moral, and Philosophical, published in 1798.

        “I know there is an objection among many people to teaching children doctrines of any kind, because they are liable to be controverted. But let us not be wiser than our Maker.

        If moral precepts alone could have reformed mankind, the mission of the Son of God into all the world would have been unnecessary. The perfect morality of the gospel rests upon the doctrine which, though often controverted has never been refuted: I mean the vicarious life and death of the Son of God.”
        –Essays, Literary, Moral, and Philosophical, published in 1798.

      • synapticcohesion

        As far as the question about the founding fathers giving glory to God–they often do. But what you don’t realize that there is a time and place to do so. To use God’s name in vain and at every opportunity is considered to just that–vain and disrespectful. You turn what is sacred and meaningful into something base and profane.

      • myatheistlife

        I’ll grant that I can see your point about ‘no true scotsman’ argument. My argument was if he was a Christian and there is no reason to argue that he was not, then the rest. If his acts make him not a Christian, then was Joshua a Christian, or at least ardent follower of YHWH? The water gets muddier here with the question of the Constitution being based on Christian principles. If this were to be true, it was not based on all of them, and the ones that it was based on are available from other sources that need not include Christianity. The argument that it must have been because the founding fathers were Christian just simply doesn’t hold up in the light of historical record. An example of the argument can be found here: http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html

        While you may feel this is incorrect, and mincing words, I ask this: if Christians claim that breathing air is a Christian thing to do would it make me a Christian to not stop breathing? For Christians to claim that the principles which the constitution were founded up on were uniquely Christian they would need to show that such were not available elsewhere. As they were available elsewhere and freely so, it is incumbent upon the apologist to show that they were specifically taken from the Christian doctrine. I believe you will have an impossible task with this. Hitler claimed to be a Christian, the church supported him. This is not arguable. The Constitution fails to mention god, Jesus, Christ etc. … not one mention. When, please tell us, has any Christian failed to give all the glory to their god? That in itself is not a valid argument, but it does indicate that the framers went to great lengths to NOT seem a Christian nation. Religion is mentioned only in as much as government shall not establish a religion. If the surrounding facts seem murky to you, the lack of mention of gods and Christianity in the Constitution should make the intent of their work very clear.

        So while I may see your point, I do not capitulate the argument for the reasons stated.

      • synapticcohesion

        To me, it seems as though any posturing of the founding fathers was for non-Christians. Behind the scenes and in their writings is when you get to hear their candid Christian viewpoints.

        “Hitler claimed to be a Christian, the church supported him. This is not arguable. The Constitution fails to mention god, Jesus, Christ etc. … not one mention. When, please tell us, has any Christian failed to give all the glory to their god?”

        Hitler was supported by the Catholic church–rife with all kinds of controversies and scandals all their own. It proves nothing. And atheists are right there to claim how intolerant Christians are when it comes to homosexuality. Well you can’t have it both ways. Hitler openly went to homosexual exhibits and there were many homosexuals in the Nazi ranks. Is he still a Christian? You can’t have it both ways–Christians as homophobic bigots AND as homosexual/homosexual friendly mass murderers.

        You might was well say any person off the street is a Christian who calls themselves such as decides to have a weekly human sacrifice. And don’t forget–when someone decides to call themselves and “atheist,” build an atheist temple for all atheists to gather and also make a sacrifice–you better not question this atheist either. Who cares if he’s making it look like a cult/religion–he an his atheist following maintains that they have no god/gods! If you allow just anyone to redefine Christianity and throw out the basic tenets at a whim, you better be prepared to make the same allowance for anyone wanting to redefine what it is to be an atheist–no matter how ridiculous.

      • myatheistlife

        Wow, That was awesome.
        “To me, it seems as though …..”
        This is a good way to start a personal opinion. Like I said, the Constitution itself shows NO signs of being a Christian document. Any idea that it is based on Christian ideals needs to show that these ideals are uniquely Christian. No one has been able to do this yet, nor will they. We can go back through history looking at documents which outline the ideals incorporated into the Constitution and see that these were not at all uniquely Christian. In fact, history shows us that Christians (among other religious cults) were more often than not wont to violate such principles as are enshrined in the US Constitution, just as Christians today are vociferously against equality… you know, one of those inalienable rights. You know the ones I’m talking about right… the rights that the creator endowed us with? It’s probably pointless to point out such things to you. You have not seemed eager to see a point of view that is not your own.

        “You might was well say any person off the street is a Christian who calls themselves such as decides to have a weekly human sacrifice.” See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations
        No non-believer has to redefine Christianity, it has so many definitions that we cannot keep count as it is. One key doctrinal issue is Jesus’ resurrection. Every sect which claims the OT of the Christian Bible is true is by doctrine intolerant of homosexuality, and every sect which insists that the OT doesn’t count any more is making up their own version of Christianity since their 10 commandments are in the OT and Jesus himself said the OT is not deprecated. This doesn’t stop Christians from being homosexuals, nor does it stop homosexuals from wanting to be Christians. I’m willing to bet that your sect does not decry Jesus’ words as lies when he said not one letter of the old law will be changed until heaven and Earth have passed away. (as a side note, it’s interesting that some translations hint that heaven can pass away – isn’t that supposed to be for ever?)

        You should not need a reminder that atheism is a single issue – non belief in gods. It defines nothing else, is not a religion, is not a creed, is not a world view. Of course there are wacky atheists, even crazy ones. I don’t have to claim them as one of my group any more than I have to claim people who wear green shirts. We have nothing in common except a lack of belief in gods. None of us are obligated to any particular world view, never mind to agree on key doctrinal points of view. Christians, on the other hand, do not have such lee way. They have signed up to the same doctrine, the same world view, the same laws – with some minor points of disagreement. Trying to compare atheism as a religion is foolish, at best.

        You continue to miss my point with the Hitler argument. sigh
        Perhaps you’ll reread it and try to understand what I opined, instead of simply taking offence and trying blindly to defend your beliefs while looking silly in the process.

        Be.

      • synapticcohesion

        ““To me, it seems as though …..”
        This is a good way to start a personal opinion.”

        It is a personal opinion. And am honest enough to admit it. The reason why I began that is is because I can’t say if the founding fathers were posturing at all; but if they were, it was clearly to non-Christians.

        “Christians, on the other hand, do not have such lee way. They have signed up to the same doctrine, the same world view, the same laws – with some minor points of disagreement.”

        Exactly–SAME original doctrine. If it strays from that, it is not Christianity. If it says “my mass murder is righteous” instead of “thou shalt not kill,” then it is not Christianity. It it promotes and covers up immoral and unlawful acts, then it is a crime network; it is not Christianity. Yes, I agree that MINOR changes and variations in rituals may be trivial, but there are clear violations that are not trivial.

      • myatheistlife

        So where, then, do you stand on the issue of stoning those that work on the Sabbath? Eating pork? What about children who curse their parents? and what qualifies as a curse? Can we Americans take Canadians as slaves?

        These are not flippant questions. If one is to believe what the Christian Bible actually says, you should have a position on these issues and others which should be in conflict with the US Constitution if you are a ‘true Christian’ … unless of course you think that the Bible has to be interpreted and you don’t interpret it the way others do.

        I’ll go out on a limb and guess that you don’t go about stoning people who work on the Sabbath, right? So, is that straying far enough from the original doctrine to no longer be a Christian? There are many parallels between Hitler’s actions and those of Joshua… what did Hitler do that was straying from the god of Abraham’s plan that makes him not a true Christian?

      • the skeptical teenager

        I can’t put them all here, but here is a short list, and a website which is dedicated to this issue. Timothy 1 12:11-12 states that women shall remain quiet, and are not permitted to educate a man. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of a few hookers and turned a lady to sand for looking behind her during the destruction. Children are mauled and killed by bears for calling Elisha bald. There are two creation stories listed in Genesis. That’s just a few of the evil actions commited by god and his followers, for my evil atrocities and contradictions, visit skepticsannotatedbible.com, they have thousands of contradictions, evils and incorrectness from the bible highlighted and commented on.

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