Why did Dan Barker leave Christianity for atheism?

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

Unbelievable’s  radio show featured a discussion with former Christian Dan Barker, the founder and co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The MP3 file is here. (60 minutes)

I thought that I would make some general comments about why I think that many people leave the Christian faith, and what you should be careful of in order to avoid following in Dan Barker’s footsteps, specifically.

Basically, there are four major reasons why people leave Christianity.

  1. They want to do something immoral with impunity. This type of person wants to do something immoral that is forbidden by Christianity, like pre-marital sex or getting drunk in clubs with friends. They dump Christianity in order to have freedom to seek happiness in this life.
  2. They want to make decisions based on their emotions, rather than wisdom. This type of person thinks that God’s job is to save them when they act irresponsibly. When God disappoints them by not make their recklessness “work out”, they leave the faith.
  3. They want to be loved by people, not by God. This type of person thinks that Christianity is a tool that they can use to become popular. When they first try to articulate the gospel in public, they find that people don’t like them as much, and they feel bad about offending people with exclusive truth claims that they cannot back up using logic and evidence. So, they water down Christianity to get along with non-Christians. Finally, they jettison Christianity completely. This happens to a lot of young Christians the moment they hit college / university.
  4. They don’t want to learn to defend their faith. This type of person is asked questions by skeptics that they cannot answer. Usually this happens when people go to university after growing up in the shelter of the Church. The questions and peer pressure make them feel stupid. Rather than investigate Christianity to see if it’s true, they drop it, so they can be thought of as part of the “smart” crowd.

Now listen to the discussion and see if you can identify some of these factors from Barker’s own carefully-prepared words. He is trying very hard to make himself look honest and moderate, because he wants Christians to be sympathetic with his story and his motives for leaving Christianity. But I think that there is enough in his statements to construct a different hypothesis of why he left Christianity.

I’ve grouped the data by risk factor. Some of this is my interpretation of his real motivations, based on my experience dealing with former-Christians.

Non-rational, emotional approach to Christianity

  • he was raised in a devout Christian family where he probably wouldn’t have faced skeptical questions
  • he converted to Christianity at age 15 as a result of a religious experience, not a serious investigation
  • his idea of God was probably idealized and uninformed, e.g. – a loving God who wants us to be happy
  • he wandered around from church to church preaching, with no fixed address or source of income
  • he earned money by collecting “love offerings” from churches where he performed his music
  • he wrote Christian songs and Christian musicals, but nothing substantive on apologetics and theology
  • he worked in three churches known for being anti-intellectual and fundamentalist
  • there’s no evidence that of any deep study of philosophy, science and history during this time

Desire to gain acceptance from non-Christians

  • he began to notice that some people were uncomfortable with sin and Hell
  • he began to avoid preaching about sin and Hell in order to make these people comfortable
  • he watered-down the gospel to focus on helping people to be happy in this life
  • his manic approach to Christian ministry was challenged by the “real life” needs of his growing family
  • he met liberal pastors while performing his music in their churches
  • he found it difficult to disagree with them because they seemed to be “good” people
  • he watered down his message further in order to appeal to people across the theological spectrum

Ignorance of Christian apologetics

  • he began to think that if there are many different views of religion, then no view can be correct
  • he was not intellectually capable of using logic and evidence to test these competing claims to see which was true
  • he decided to instead re-interpret Christian truth claims as non-rational opinions, so they could all be “valid”
  • he became a theological liberal, abandoning theism for an impersonal “ground of being”
  • he embraced religious pluralism, the view that all religions are non-rational and make no testable truth claims
  • he began to see God as a “metaphor” whose purpose is to make people have a sense of meaning and purpose
  • he jettisoned God completely and focused more on helping people find meaning and morality apart from God
  • seems to think that religion is about having a “great life”, and felt that you can have a “great life” without religion
  • seems to think that religion is about being “good”, and felt that you can be “good” without religion
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what to do instead of letting them do anything they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what is true, instead of letting them believe whatever they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them that God will hold them accountable for their beliefs and actions

So what do I think happened?

Barker was generating an income from donations from churches where he entertained them. Gradually, his family grew to the point where conservative churches were not enough to support him. He had to change his message to appeal to liberal churches in order to cast a wider net.

He seems to have thought that Christianity is about having his needs met and being liked by others. I think he wanted to feel good and to make people feel good with his preaching and singing. But Christianity is not a feel-good religion. It’s not a tool to make people like you. He seems to have become aware that the exclusive claims of Christianity made other people feel offended, so he cut them out. Christian apologists learn how to provide evidence for claims that non-Christians find offensive or hard to believe, but Dan hadn’t studied philosophy, science or history so he couldn’t defend it. It’s hard to speak unpopular truths when you have nothing to back it up except your music composing. Eventually, Dan just quit making the truth claims entirely.

I also think money was a factor. It seems to me that it would have hurt his career and reduced his invitations from liberal churches if he had kept up teaching biblical Christianity. In order to appeal to a wider audience, (like many Christian singers do – e.g. – Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, etc.), he would have felt pressured to water down the unpleasant parts of his preaching and singing. Lacking apologetics skill, he instead abandoned his message. He needed to account for his family’s needs and “real life”, and exclusive truth claims and Hell-talk would have reduced his ability to do that. It seems to me that he should have scaled back his extreme schedule of preaching and singing, and instead gotten a steady job so that he could afford “real life” and a family without being pressured into altering his message. The Christian life requires a certain amount of wisdom that Dan did not have.

Life isn’t a fairy tale. God isn’t there to reward risky behavior. We need to be more shrewd about financial matters so that we have the ability to not care about what people think of us. Look at this blog. I work all day as a senior software engineer with two degrees in computer science, so that I don’t have to rely on donations. Additionally, I save most of what I make in case a tragedy strikes. Since I am financially secure, I can say what I think, and disregard anyone who wants me to change my message because they are offended. Becoming a Christian isn’t a license to behave irrationally and immaturely with money. For some people, (like William Lane Craig), stepping out in faith works. But if it doesn’t work, it’s better to retreat and re-trench, rather than to compromise your message for money.

I actually met someone like Dan Barker recently. She grew up in an anti-intellectual hippy Christian home. Her mother came from a good family, and decided on a whim to marry a non-Christian. Like Barker, the family exalted feelings and irrational expectations of miracles from God for “fearless” acts. She got herself into trouble with alcohol and promiscuity in her 20s, by making emotional decisions and mixing with the wrong crowd. Her way of fixing this was to fly off on a one-year missions trip, wrecking her resume and finances. Now, she is in her late 30s, unmarried, and literally blaming Jesus for putting too many demands on her that she doesn’t have time for, e.g – morning quiet time. This causes her to feel guilty, and make her want to reject Christianity. She had no intellectual conception of basic core doctrines like God’s existence or Jesus’ resurrection, which might have acted as a bulwark against her emotions. When I explained to her how I had structured my education and career so that I could have an influence without testing God, she seemed bored and said that I was too “fearful”.

This is apparently widespread, especially among anti-intellectual denominations. Another ex-Pentecostal atheist woman I heard about from people who knew her when she was young decided to drop out of college to travel around North America doing pro-life work. When she found herself penniless, unmarried and without children in her mid-30s, she decided to have a baby out of wedlock. The government will pay for it, she said. Rather than trying to justify this decision as a Christian, she blamed God for not making her madness “work out”. She is now an atheist, because God did not reward her decision to live fearlessly for him with a husband and children. It was all God’s fault. There is a whole subculture within Christianity, where the pursuit of fun and thrills can be masked with pious language, and all talk of prudence and restraint is seen as cowardice and lack of faith.

The Christian life requires a certain level of intelligence, a certain level of practical wisdom, and a certain level of self-control and discipline. Make sure that you don’t walk away from God because of your own bad choices.

39 thoughts on “Why did Dan Barker leave Christianity for atheism?”

  1. Good thoughts. An old pastor once told me that, “we could have faith that God would protect us if we stood out in the middle of the interstate, but, wisdom would not guide us that way. Be wise in how you rely on God’s intervention.” Sovereignty put this world together, with its rules, all God’s way. We have to obey them, as He directed, to know that our way is His.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I’ve witnessed a number of people who want to retain (perceived) autonomy over their lives, although the factors listed do play a role in that decision. Some of these people sought counsel from their church leaders, and when the counsel was opposite to their own will and desires, they turned their backs on the church and therefore the Lord. Later, they communicated offence at the counsel they received. Jesus said some salient things like, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34).
      Many people like the idea of being saved, but not the aspect of surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives. Thus, he is not their King and they have not entered the kingdom of God (i.e. been born again of the Spirit). There are of course those who have, but then fall away. Our walk is a daily one of seeking God’s will rather than our will. Someone has said that taking up our cross is the intersection of God’s will and our will, and we have to choose. Either self or Jesus Christ is on the throne of our lives – that is the crux of the matter.
      Another factor is that I have noticed that discipleship and the teaching of sound Biblical doctrine and hermeneutics is lacking in many churches, along with good expository teaching.

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  2. I think that a fifth reason could be added, although it doesn’t necessarily apply to Barker. Somewhere along the way, these ex-Christians were badly hurt by other believers, or the Church, or perhaps because God allowed something terribly painful to touch their lives (death of a child, spousal betrayal, etc.). Then along comes Satan, who whispers that if God were really all-loving and all-powerful, He would never have let this tragedy touch one of His children. When the Christian listens to this slander, he begins to rebel against God, even to the point of denying His existence, and his character begins to disintegrate. This is why it is so crucially important that we come to know God AS HE IS, and that He works ALL things together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

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  3. I thoroughly enjoy your posts. You’re absolutely right; Dan had a very shallow and immature faith, much like his protege Jerry DeWitt. They were both ill-prepared to serve Christ, and decided to serve Satan in order to win fame and fortune. You may not be aware of this, but Dan met his future wife on the Oprah Winfrey (before she became famous) local show in Chicago. Annie Laurie Gaylor and her mother were evangelists for atheism long before she met Dan. I believe they formed the FFRF as an income generator, after they were married. They prey on schools and local governments, threatening to sue and usually forcing a settlement which is tantamount to extortion.
    It seems that it’s cheaper to capitulate and pay than to stand on principle. Anyway, these hardcore advocates for atheism are so blind they don’t see the miracle when it happens right before their very eyes.
    http://www.southernprose.com/2015/09/29/atheists-and-miracles/

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  4. Simple enough, why did he go out from us? Because he never belonged to us, for if he had belonged to us, he would have remained with us.
    Dan has the same problem as all false believers, unbelief! He finally just showed his true colors.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s kind of a dirty laundry that we don’t really air: Christian musicians including Christian worship leaders/members of the Christian worship band may actually have some of the worst theology.

    I’ve been in some churches that they had several excellent musicians — but some of these musicians have been non-Christians and/or have had terrible theology. (Some churches pay their Sunday worship leaders and I haven’t heard too many tests of orthodoxy applied.)

    And I agree with Caroline.

    I do think that many don’t want a boss over them or they would rather be their own boss (I do think at the heart of WK’s #1 and hedonism is the issue over “Who is boss of your life?” — is it you or is it that Jewish carpenter?)

    I think I would summarize WK’s #2 as “a false Gospel/a false Christianity” (I think I would also add “wrong expectations of God” there), #3 as “People-pleasing”, and #4 as “intellectual sloth/laziness.”

    I guess the #5 above as suggested by Mark: trauma / painful experience, hurt by other believers, even I might suggest absent / weak / absentee / missing / abusive father figures…

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  6. In many churches the worship team can be carnal. It tends to favour the artsy type person in much of music that is about feeling with little thought to back what goes on.

    Christians rarely care as long as the worship team sounds good, who cares much about what the musician is actually like and if they are trying to live a Christian life

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I ran into a guy at my wife’s former church (in very secular/liberal New England) who was really great. He had a M.Div. and did college ministry and happened to be a solid musician and music writer. His worship songs were thoughtfully composed and theologically well-balanced.

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        1. When properly presented, Christian music can break down barriers in ways almost nothing else can. I have found this to be true in my own music ministry leading worship services.

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  7. Wanna know why we stop believing in gods? Its really quite simple. Its because we realize that gods are man-made superstitions invented by ancient shepherds who didn’t know any better. Thats why. It isn’t because we learned about the big bang or biology or dinosaurs in the Cretaceous. It wasn’t because of a bad experience or wanting to smoke some crack. Its because we realized that your indoctrinated superstition is a product of when and where you were born. Mexico 500BC? Polytheist. Feudal Japan? Shinto. 1955 Lebanon? Muslim. Thus, your belief is not only a human idea – its also accidental – a function of Time, Geography and Circumstance.

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      1. “Immorality requires that you not believe in God.”

        Nope. This may shock you, but many Christians are immoral.

        So let me understand your argument. You’re saying that atheists know that there is a god but just pretend not to (or ignore the obvious evidence) because they just love sinnin’ so much?

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        1. The issue is the ontological foundation of morality. When Christians discuss morality, we are discussing God’s objective plan for human behavior, which he has authority to decide because he is the Creator and Designer of the universe and us.
          When atheists discuss morality, there is no objective design, and no accountability to the designer. There is not even free will to make moral choices, as Sam Harris admits. What atheists are discussing when they discuss morality are just individual preferences and social conventions. Conventions that vary by time and place. On atheism, no set of conventions is morally superior than any other, objectively speaking. Morality is arbitrary, because there is no design.
          This view is standard atheism, echoed by Richard Dawkins, Michael Ruse, etc. “No evil and no good” Dawkins says. “Morality is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes”. Morality is seen as an accident of “Time, Geography and Circumstance”.
          And this is why you see Christians like William Wilberforce ending slavery by arguing for human rights from the Bible, while atheists like Stalin starve and murder millions of people. Today, you see Christians championing the right to life of the u born, whole atheists like Dawkins promote abortion and even infanticide.
          Morality is nonsense to atheists. It’s just not ratiobly grounded anywhere in their materiistic worldview. When the pressure’s on, atheists dump morality like a hot potato. Atheists living in a society founded on Judeo-Christian values might appreciate morality in order to get along, but when they have power to escape judgment for sin, they act like Harvey Weinstein. That’s what’s rational in a universe where there is no objective standard, no objective human rights, no free will, no life after death.

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          1. When atheists discuss morality, there is no objective design

            Correct. I see no evidence of objective morality or design. But you do? Show me.

            I predict that you’ll provide examples of either universally felt morality or viscerally felt morality. Yes, those do indeed exist. But there’s nothing objective about them. Look up “morality” in the dictionary and you’ll see nothing about objective anything.

            There is not even free will to make moral choices, as Sam Harris admits

            You’ll have to take that up with him. I don’t make that argument.

            Conventions that vary by time and place.

            Yes, moral conventions do vary by time and place. In the Old Testament, for example, slavery is regulated. In the West today, it is prohibited. There’s just one change.

            And this is why you see Christians like William Wilberforce ending slavery by arguing for human rights from the Bible

            Yes, and?

            MLK also used the Bible to argue for civil rights. Unfortunately, slavery and not-civil rights are both what the OT shows God being OK with.

            If Christianity were clearly against slavery, it would’ve been eliminated when it was the religion of the Roman Empire.

            Oh, yeah—and Jesus would’ve made clear his objection to it.

            while atheists like Stalin starve and murder millions of people.

            What if Stalin had been a knitter? Or worse—what if he (shudder!) collected porcelain figurines! Would you then be attributing one of those as the cause of his bad policies? If not, then why atheism. Show me in the Atheist Bible where it encourages murder.

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          2. “I see no evidence of objective morality or design. But you do? Show me.”

            Your issue is apparently evidence rather than objectivity. It isn’t that you lack evidence but that you’ve rejected it.

            Before anyone can show anything, we must ask “What would constitute evidence [of the divine]?”

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          3. I’ve no idea what you’re trying to say. It sounds to me like a claim that objective morality exists has been made. I’d like evidence. That’s a fair demand, right?

            I don’t see what the divine has to do with it. If we agree that objective morality exists, then we can wonder if God is necessary. But we’re still stuck on that first question.

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        2. Bob Seidensticker: “It sounds to me like a claim that objective morality exists has been made. I’d like evidence. That’s a fair demand, right?”

          The claim that objective morality exists was indeed made:

          Wintery Knight: “The issue is the ontological foundation of morality. When Christians discuss morality, we are discussing God’s objective plan for human behavior, which he has authority to decide because he is the Creator and Designer of the universe and us.”

          Thus the claim must be backed up by evidence for God. So I will ask again: what, in your mind, could or would constitute evidence of God? I’ve read (and written on) some of your work where you examine the evidence and then summarily dismiss it (e.g. “…things that have no evidence, like the supernatural”). In this very thread you said “I see no evidence of objective morality or design.” If you’ve already decided that no evidence exists, then there is nothing to gain by answering your questions, as you’re not asking them in good faith.

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          1. Thus the claim must be backed up by evidence for God.

            Someone made the claim that objective morality exists. I want evidence of this remarkable claim. I’ve seen none.

            So I will ask again: what, in your mind, could or would constitute evidence of God?

            By curious luck, I’m in the middle of a long series of posts responding to this very thing. These are some of the problems that you need to sweep away for me to accept that God exists:
            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/02/25-reasons-dont-live-world-god/

            In this very thread you said “I see no evidence of objective morality or design.”

            You correctly quoted me. And my statement stands. Or are you saying that I’m in error in making that statement? I can’t imagine what you could possibly find objectionable.

            Given that, I impatiently await evidence for objective morality.

            If you’ve already decided that no evidence exists, then there is nothing to gain by answering your questions

            And yet I haven’t decided no evidence exists, have I? I’m simply making clear that I’ve seen none and whoever claims objective morality has the burden of proof. I’m awaiting the evidence.

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          2. “And yet I haven’t decided no evidence exists, have I? I’m simply making clear that I’ve seen none and whoever claims objective morality has the burden of proof.”

            On March 18, 2017, you said “These apologists are apparently quite comfortable with things that have no precedent (and far too comfortable with things that have no evidence, like the supernatural).” At that link you said “Christianity’s goal is instead to convince people to believe in a story that has no evidence.”

            You are not asking for scientific evidence. This is why, rather than testable hypothesis testing and really using the scientific method, you insist on an absurd God-of-the-gaps explanation (“crowdsourced miracle”). But Christians don’t believe in a God-of-the-gaps God, so we will not be providing you such an explanation. Ever. We are quite willing to provide you scientific, philosophical, sociological and historical evidence, but it’s clear that you’ve already made up your mind.

            Your definition of evidence is purely subjective, based on whatever you personally find convincing. It’s subjective opinion, to which you are fully entitled. In order to provide you evidence, we must know what data would count as evidence that could convince you. So far as I can tell, this is absolutely nothing other than a demand for a God-of-the-gaps explanation.

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          3. But Christians don’t believe in a God-of-the-gaps God, so we will not be providing you such an explanation. Ever.

            I don’t see what God of the gaps issue you’re talking about.
            What I’m talking about is evidence for objective morality. Or rather, the lack of any.
            Ball’s in your court.

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          4. “I don’t see what God of the gaps issue you’re talking about. What I’m talking about is evidence for objective morality. Or rather, the lack of any.

            You don’t see why your “crowdsourced miracle” is god-of-the-gaps? Well of course you do, it is self-evident. There is no god-of-the-gaps evidence of objective morality.

            “Ball’s in your court.”

            Very funny. WK has already presented you with evidence. Whenever you’re ready to be serious, I’m sure you’ll finally get a serious, snark-free reply. In any case, I wrote a short reply to some of your “25 reasons” post on my blog (if you are interested).

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          5. You don’t see why your “crowdsourced miracle” is god-of-the-gaps?

            No, sorry.

            There is no god-of-the-gaps evidence of objective morality.

            Uh, OK. I’m not really following.

            “Ball’s in your court.”
            Very funny. WK has already presented you with evidence.

            I’ve seen absolutely none. Could you point it out? Maybe just copy from earlier comments.

            Whenever you’re ready to be serious, I’m sure you’ll finally get a serious, snark-free reply.

            I’m sure I won’t. (Oh—I know! That’ll be because I’m just not being serious.)

            In any case, I wrote a short reply to some of your “25 reasons” post on my blog (if you are interested).

            Where is that? Can you provide a link?

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          6. I think we’re done with Bob now. No futher comments will be approved because he is repeating himself.

            In the comments I made above, I linked to evidence for the absolute origin or the universe from nothing from the American Physical Society and NASA, and the cosmic fine-tuning from a Cambridge University Press book authored by two astrophysicists. His responses to these scientific facts were speculative: quantum mechanics and the multiverse. I explained how quantum mechanics cannot be the answer to the origin of the universe, and I explained how there is no scientific evidence for the multiverse. Bob bases his entire worldview on speculations, but denies the evidence for a cosmic beginning and for cosmic fine-tuning. He has not produced a single piece of experimental evidence for the quantum gravity model, or for the multiverse. I am not interested in breathless speculations that contain the words “if correct” or “maybe”. I want a five sigma confidence level, and that’s what we have in the evidence for a cosmic origin and the cosmic fine-tuning. A speculation is good enough for an atheist. Going strictly on points, I won the exchange on God and science 2 to 0. Origin of the universe and fine-tuning. I also mentioned the origin of life and habitability, and he had no answer to that. I could have brought up the Cambrian explosion, and that would have been 5 to 0. Bob’s only response to the scientific evidence was to speculate, and I shot down his speculations in every case with experimental evidence from mainstream scientific sources.

            We’ve already seen that Bob denies objective morality, which means that he doesn’t think anything is objectively wrong, including slaver, the Holocaust, mass murder, adultery, infanticide, etc. He can express preferences one way or the other, but he cannot say that any of these things are morally wrong. And he admitted that.

            So in summary, Bob is a science-denying fideist, who has no rational basis for moral values or moral duties. And this is the mainstream atheist view, and I cited leading atheists to substantiate that. I also gave the example of Matt Dillahunty being unable to deny obvious moral evils like the Holocaust, and that’s in his own words. Bob is in the same boat, lacking objective morality.

            Given that I have disproved atheism, it is reasonable to ask why people become atheists. I cited psychological motivations from leading atheists, as well as evidence of immorality in their personal lives. Not all atheists match this hypothesis, but I think the majority do.

            Liked by 1 person

          7. “Uh, OK. I’m not really following.”

            This isn’t my blog and I’ve tested the patience of our host long enough. I doubt anyone is particularly interested in a boring discussion of God-of-the-gaps, especially considering you recently wrote about it on September 11, 2017. Regardless, a comment section is not the appropriate place to discuss such things.

            “Can you provide a link?”

            On WordPress you just click the person’s name at the top of their comment. There is no need for me to link spam.

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    1. Randy, if you are correct, then your lack of belief is not only a human idea, it is also accidental – a function of Time, Geography and Circumstance.

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      1. Mark: You seem to be saying that someone in Yemen or Pakistan is a Muslim, not because that’s the correct religion, but just because that was a trait of the culture they grew up in. And ditto for the Christian growing up in America. Do I have it right?

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        1. Bob, people’s beliefs need to be in line with evidence, regardless of where they are born. For example, the origin of the universe. In order to be in line with the origin of the universe, which is evidenced by 5 different lines of scientific evidence, one must be a theist.

          Here are two of them:
          https://winteryknight.com/2017/10/25/how-the-discovery-of-the-cosmic-microwave-background-radiation-falsified-atheism-4/

          https://winteryknight.com/2017/10/26/how-the-wmap-satellite-confirmed-nucleosynthesis-predictions-and-falsified-atheism-5/

          To think that the entire physical universe popped into being, uncaused, out of absolute nothing is irrational.

          Also irrational, is to claim that all moral values and duties are arbitrary based on time and geography, and then complain about slavery. What atheism means, with respect to morality, is that the affirmation and denial of EVERY moral claim is equally valid, because moral claims do not refer to anything objective in an accidental universe. That is why Matt Dillahunty, when asked whether the Holocaust was morally wrong, declined to answer the question. He has to decline to answer EVERY moral question, no matter how obvious the correct answer is. That is because on atheism, morality is nonsense.

          See:
          https://winteryknight.com/2017/07/16/matt-dillahunty-debates-david-robertson-on-atheism-morality-and-evil-4/

          Perhaps citing some famous atheists would help:

          “The position of the modern evolutionist is that humans have an awareness of morality because such an awareness of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate when someone says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory.”
          (Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 262-269).

          “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
          ― Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

          And, if you look at the personal lives of atheists like Richard Carrier, Lawrence Krauss, etc. you will find that they do indeed act consistently with their state view that morality is nonsense:

          https://winteryknight.com/2018/03/08/atheist-lawrence-krauss-offers-the-best-argument-against-christianity/

          https://winteryknight.com/2017/09/24/atheist-richard-carrier-who-divorced-his-wife-to-go-polyamorous-seeks-new-sex-partner-2/

          Basically, if you’re the kind of person who cares about science and morality, then you’re a theist. But if penis rules your worldview, you’re an atheist, and just spout self-contradictory nonsense at a 3rd grade level. Belief in Santa Claus is fine for a child, but there has to be a little more effort put into worldview consistency the older you get.

          Here is a nice academic book on the fine-tuning evidence, published in Cambridge University Press, by two astrophysicists:

          And a blog post describing one of the instances of fine-tuning from one of the authors of that book:
          https://winteryknight.com/2017/01/08/luke-barnes-discusses-the-fine-tuning-of-the-fine-structure-constant-2/

          Why don’t you read that book, and then bound your worldview according to the scientific evidence we have RIGHT NOW.

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          1. people’s beliefs need to be in line with evidence, regardless of where they are born.

            Agreed. And yet individual belief correlates with the aggregate belief in society. Religious belief is a cultural thing.

            To think that the entire physical universe popped into being, uncaused, out of absolute nothing is irrational.

            The Copenhagen Interpretation of QM says that some quantum events have no cause. Since the universe was quantum sized at the beginning of Cosmic Inflation, it might have come into being without a cause.

            I don’t know what the “out of absolute nothing” means. Show me some source that says this is what cosmologists say (besides Christian apologetic sources, which, I’ll agree, say this all the time).

            Also irrational, is to claim that all moral values and duties are arbitrary based on time and geography

            I don’t say they’re arbitrary; I say I’ve seen no evidence that they’re objective. Show me.

            and then complain about slavery.

            I’ll happily complain about slavery. One doesn’t need objective morality to do so (look up “morality” if you disagree).

            What atheism means, with respect to morality, is that the affirmation and denial of EVERY moral claim is equally valid

            Said no atheist ever. Since your portrayal of atheists doesn’t match real atheists, I think you need to go back and recheck your math.

            Or is this where you say, “Yeah, but atheists act inconsistently with their beliefs”? I love that argument.

            That is because on atheism, morality is nonsense.

            Nope. Ask for a dictionary for Christmas.

            Perhaps citing some famous atheists would help:

            No, I’m almost certain it won’t. You do know that I’m not bound by what another atheists says, right? I’ll happily disagree as necessary.

            This is a tangent, but I wonder why Christians use quotes so much to make arguments. I only do so when someone has the expertise or authority to state something in a way that me (an amateur) can’t. But again, that’s a tangent.

            Basically, if you’re the kind of person who cares about science and morality, then you’re a theist. But if penis rules your worldview, you’re an atheist, and just spout self-contradictory nonsense at a 3rd grade level. Belief in Santa Claus is fine for a child, but there has to be a little more effort put into worldview consistency the older you get.

            Wow. Is this the obligatory ad hominem portion of the comment.

            Uh . . . Merry Christmas to you, too, I guess.

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          2. Perhaps before replying, it might be a good idea to explain the overall worldview of atheism. People typically become atheists in their teens, following some sort of disappointment with their fathers, or disappointment with God. It happens long before they ever get serious about the scientific evidence I mentioned, such as the cosmic microwave background radiation, the light element abundances, the cosmic fine-tuning, etc.

            For example, famous atheist biologist Lewis Wolpert abandoned God when he asked God to help him find his cricket bat, and God didn’t:
            http://www.truefreethinker.com/articles/atheists-who-positively-affirm-god%E2%80%99s-non-existencewithout-evidence-course

            In my office, I know two people who were raised as Christians in married homes who dumped Christianity the minute they reached college. It’s not just the availability of free sex and alcohol that convinced them. It was the positive burden of having to be public about chastity, sobriety, exclusivity about salvation, evangelism, etc. in a hostile environment. They gave up because they couldn’t be bothered to be faithful to God as moral law-giver in the face of so much temptation to have fun and be free of moral constraints. Christianity is hard, and it requires a certain level of intellectual ability and practicality. People like Dan Barker, who are intellectually deficient people-pleasers and impractical at basic finances are just too weak to do the job, and that’s why they quit. It was too hard.

            Today, what I see among atheists adds on to that early choice to dispense with God and the demands of a relationship with God. They add on nonsensical speculations like quantum mechanics being an explanation for the origin of the universe, while just denying well-supported scientific evidence that disagrees with their penis-driven worldview. That’s why in debates, you will hear atheists outright denying the standard cosmology and the fine-tuning in favor of untestable speculations about invisible entities.

            Let’s see how this is done:

            Theist: the scientific evidence for the origin of the universe
            Atheist: quantum mechanics!
            Theist: Quantum mechanics only works when there is a quantum vacuum, and the particles that appear in the vacuum require a cause (sparking the vacuum), the duration of virtual particles is short-lived and inversely proportional to mass, and the quantum vacuum is not nothing – it would have to exist in space outside the universe which is untestable and unknowable
            Atheist: … I deny all that science and I’ll blindly hope for my fairy vacuum anyway! And now, back to slutting!

            Theist: the scientific evidence for the fine-tuning of the universe
            Atheist: the multiverse!
            Theist: the multiverse exists outside of this universe and so it’s untestable and speculative, it has never been confirmed by experimental evidence, unlike the many examples of the fine-tuning
            Atheist: … I deny all that science and I’ll blindly hope for my fairy multiverse anyway! And now, back to slutting!

            Theist: the origin of the first replicating organism in the very short period of time following the Hadean era
            Atheist: aliens!
            Theist: we don’t have any independent evidence of aliens, and aliens are improbable given unlikelihood of habitable planets even in a universe this large
            Atheist: … I deny all that science and I’ll blindly hope for my fairy aliens anyway! And now, back to slutting!

            And so on with the other scientific evidences. Atheism isn’t a worldview that one adopts because of scientific evidence. One adopts it as a childish fit of rebellion, and then one just goes on through life denying scientific evidence, and accepting speculative atheistic fairy tales in the teeth of contradictory evidence. This isn’t an adult worldview, it’s just immoral children trying to participate in an adult conversation about truth by interrupting with unfounded speculations. Atheists have a penis-driven worldview, and they will say anything, however untrue, in order to evade the demands of the moral law.

            Regarding the slavery, mass murders, etc. there is no way on atheism to affirm anything as right or wrong, since, as we have heard from your own lips, there is no objective morality on atheism. And what that means is that on an atheistic worldview, slavery is fine for societies that adopt it in certain geographies and times, and fine for those that don’t adopt it. Atheists have no objective standard that stands above all times and all places, so they can’t make moral judgments. They just express their personal preferences, and they admit that anyone holding to the opposite views is AS RATIONALLY JUSTIFIED to hold the opposite view. There is no deciding what is really right or wrong, because moral practices are arbitrary and there is no objective standard. And this suits atheists just fine, because jettisoning morality is a feature, not a bug. There is no atheist out there who has a sincere desire for morality to be objective and incumbent.

            Consider the famous agnostic Aldous Huxley:

            “I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantegous to themselves… For myself, the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.” —
            (Aldous Huxley in Ends and Means, 1937)

            And atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel:

            I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”
            (”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)

            So what you’re looking at with atheism is someone who denies objective morality to pursue pleasure without accountability, and someone who denies scientific evidence in favor of invisible, untestable speculations. This is not a truth-focused worldview, it’s a slut-focused worldview. (See the personal lives of Richard Carrier, Lawrence Krauss, etc.) The immorality comes first, and then the evasions and speculations come after in order to keep it going in the face of evidence.

            Regarding the universe coming into being from nothing, this is just the standard theory of cosmology right now. The origin from nothing is required because the hot big bang model has space itself having a beginning at t = 0. No space at the moment of creation means that no matter exists, hence nothing. This is only controversial in atheist quarters where the equivalent of flat-Earthism is taken seriously as a response to mainstream cosmology. It’s easy to just deny science and then demand evidence if all you are doing is hiding yourself among people who agree with you, and that’s what atheists do.

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  8. And ditto for the atheist raised by his/her atheist parents in the West. It’s a classic example of the Genetic Fallacy. HOW we learn what we believe (parents, culture, etc.) has no bearing on whether or not said beliefs are TRUE.

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  9. With regard to Bob’s request (demand?) for evidence of objective moral values, I submit to him as Exhibit A his own article:http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/02/25-reasons-dont-live-world-god/.
    I’ve read this article and it’s filled with moral pronouncements. To name a few: slavery is wrong, as is discrimination against gays, blocking stem cell research, unnecessary suffering, restricting abortion rights, etc. etc.
    Bob must really believe that all of the above are really, objectively WRONG. Otherwise, all he is saying is that he doesn’t LIKE them. I don’t LIKE chocolate ice cream, but that doesn’t make it EVIL. It’s just a description of my personal preference. It says nothing about the ice cream itself. Is Bob saying he doesn’t LIKE slavery, but it’s OK if I have slaves? If not (and I think not), then his own conscience is telling him that objective moral values do indeed exist. And that’s all the evidence anybody should need.

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