I just read a brilliant article on the Times’ website:
That the world was created by an invisible deity, that He later impregnated a virgin who then bore a son who was His own father, that we have immortal souls and will live for ever in Heaven if we are good and love Jesus – how can anyone who has even attended high school believe such things? …Â It defies belief. …Â And if something defies belief, a good starting position is not to believe it. That is my position. I am not shocked by the persistence of religious belief in the West because I do not believe it exists. …Â The real test for genuine belief is not what people say, but what they do. To believe something is to be disposed to act upon it. The vast majority of Western Christians fail this test.
I’m not convinced I buy the argument (nor that the author does) — applying logic to the actions of idiots rarely has much predictive value — but it’s certainly worth raising for discussion.Â As with everything written about religion or atheism on high-traffic websites, though, the actual discussion that follows is moronic. The very first comment is this:
The liberals’ belief in man-made ‘global warming’ is just as ‘irrational’ as the traditional religious beliefs that the author decries. There is the same lack of evidence, the high priests like Al Gore, faith over science, proselytization, tithing, scorn of non-believers, etc.
Kevin Finnerty, Atlanta, USA
Relevance is a sin.
I’m a Catholic. My election vote always goes to the candidate most likely to vote for policies that will save unborn lives. Issues such as health care, education and housing are of little significance if the right to life is not accorded to all human beings at all stages of development.
Julia, Manchester, UK
I would say you have issues, but that would be to miscount.
First, just because someone calls themself a Christian, does not mean that they are in fact a Christian…
That’s not a counter-argument; that’s paraphrasing. Those are the first three comments. I find myself wanting to just post all of them. That would take ages, so trust me that the ones I’m ignoring are also great. I mean — just look for Paul from Dallas and also London…Â For reference, Pauls’ logic seems to go like this: assuming A and B leads to a contradcition, therefore the contradiction is true.
But it’s not just Christians who don’t follow through. Determinists continue to talk as if they were “free” to judge the validity of an argument. And atheists aren’t always the self-interested hedonists one might expect from believers in a meaningless universe with only a darwinian moral compass!
JS, Glasgow, UK
JS has failed to get drunk and start a fight, so I’m forced to conclude that he hasn’t followed through on his claim to be from Glasgow. And one might argue that it’s wrong to mock the determinists, because they don’t have a choice but to behave that way.
Fundamentalism and political correctness are pretty much the same thing, dressed up from the same wardrobe as the emperor’s new clothes.
Rick Hepner, Salt Lake City, USA
I have literally no idea what this is supposed to mean.
… Would Mr Whyte still hold to his argument if state and church rejoined and gave him ‘heavenly’ policies with ‘heavenly’ consequences? I doubt it.
Ali, Colchester, Essex
How amazing is that? “Yes, but would you think so if the evidence pointed the other way? Ha, then you can’t really believe it!”. That’s about the most Religion idea I’ve ever heard.
I don’t believe many atheists really believe what they claim to believe. …
I wasn’t aware we claimed to believe anything. I thought that was the point.
Surely this line of argument applies just as surely to atheists. What about the weight of living without a God? Your line of reasoning exposes you as one who does not believe either
David , London,
Oh crap, he’s right. I don’t go to church or recklessly shag prostitutes, so I guess I neither believe in God nor not believe in God. Great, now I’m in an existential quandary. Thanks a lot.
I’m curious – Mr Whyte – what would be your position on all the atheists and agnostics who celebrate Christmas… send cards, give presents, and put up Xmas trees? Are they self-delusional too? Or just cheerfully hypocritical?
Jay, Aberystwyth, Wales
Yeah, and what about the infidels who watch soaps but don’t write to the characters? Hypocrites!
What we truly believe can be politically inexpedient, personally challenging, socially isolating, painfulful or even meaningless, and we are free to ignore it when convenient and profess it when advantageous. And we do. It depends on who we are, where we are and when and who with.
Lars Torders, lowestoft,Â
“The truth can be inconvenient, so it’s okay to just ignore it.” Do you work for the McCain campaign?
This country has struggled for many years with the issue of Tolerance. We’ve moved slowly and painfully towards racial, sexual and cultural tolerance; Because we are an increasingly multicultural society. Yet this article is filled with religious intolerance. Embrace love, not hate. Jesus is love.
Ooh, you almost had it there, but you just had to blow it at the last minute…
Mr. Whyte, your “arguments” seem to me like a poor copy of Richard Dawkins’.Â The question to ask is not ’¦Â ”do foetuses have an ‘immortal soul’ since conception?”Â ’¦ but ’¦Â ’if a foetus is a ‘project’ of human person, do we have the right to dispose of it as though it was a mere ‘thing’?”
Miguel de Servet, Villanueva de Sijena, Spain
These issues are always easier when you phrase them so they don’t make sense.
And as for “if something defies belief, a good starting position is not to believe it,” – well that’s patently ludicrous. If Scientists failed to believe what begin as abstract theories how would it progress? …
Matt, Birmingham, UK
We prove things, you moron. After we’ve done that it’s okay to believe them. “If we didn’t just make shit up, how would we ever progress?”
It’s sad isn’t it.I agree, surely if Christians lived by the Bible,a book promoting peace&hating wrong-doing, then this world would be a very different place.Christians are failures,I think most, including me, would admit that. That’s why Jesus came on the scene…please investigate his life!
Amy, West Bromwich,
We have done and it’s made up. Also, you have clearly never read the Bible.
“The real test for genuine belief is not what people say, but what they do”. This applies to atheists just as much as to religious believers and the new atheists, clinging to the morality of the Sermon on the Mount , and not the morality of the survival of the fittest , abysmally fail the test.
Jamie, London, UK
You know who I hate? It’s those hypocrite mathematicians who don’t base their morality on set theory. Them and Abraham Fleury, San Diego, USA, who can’t tell the word ‘ludicrous’ from the rapper Ludacris.
What “lack of evidence for the central tenets of Christianity”? The conversion of untold numbers of previous “avowed atheists” to Christianity is pretty good evidence. …
Mike T., Roseville, CA, USA
I used to be Catholic. Discuss.
I don’t believe that atheists such as Jamie Whyte really are atheists. He doesn’t live acccording to his beliefs as an atheist. If he did he would not live as if there is right and wrong or that he loves his family or friends or delights in beauty or that his reasoning has any validity.
Kenneth Brownell, London,
I’ve heard “God = Morality” before, and “Jesus = Love”, but I’ve never heard “God = Valid Reasoning”.
Jesus and God are real. Of this I have no doubt. Look at the universe.Look at the trees. Look at the insects. Look at DNA. My word to believe that all of this could possibly spring up from nothing and on its own takes way more faith to believe than believing in God. Search your hearts. God is real.
Buddy, Springfield, United States
I had my DNA sequenced. It went like this: “GTACACAGATTACAGTCTHEREISNOGODTTGACTA”. Personally, I think it’s a message from aliens.
That article truly breaks my heart! how can someone say these things so bluntly, and as if the were all true! Looking into a true Christians heart, you would find SO many wonderful things: love, joy, passion, authenticity, respect, honor. I just do not understand why you would disclaim that!
Allison, Oklahoma City, USA
As an atheist, my heart is just a muscley pump and I am forced to keep that stuff in my brain.