Sunday, 5 September 2010

Born again or peer pressure?

I was in first year college when a group of senior students invited me and my close group of ‘first year’ friends to a picnic at the end of what they called the ‘ragging season’. The spiel they gave was that they wanted to get to know us better, to bury the hatchet and become friends. It sounded like quite an offer considering that this could be an opportunity to finally live out Nehru’s words of ‘where the mind is without fear and the head is held high’, for till then most of us, barring the few madmen like me, were living like African slaves in the midst of Klu Klux Klan territory. The deal was simple. The seniors would pick us up on the following Sunday morning, drive us out to their friend’s farm house, spend the day ‘getting to know each other’ and have some fun feasting on biriyani. For those of you who have gone through college in a land away from home, you would know that the bait of a biriyani is irresistible.

Came Sunday morning and our bunch walked toward the designated pick up spot and lo and behold stood a big bus that could fit forty people in it. We soon realized there were other freshers invited to the same do. This was going to be bigger than we thought. Before long we set off from there to the farm house. Being new to Bangalore, my only gauge to finding out how far we were then venturing was based on the dwindling traffic count and on the width of the roads getting narrower. The last fifteen minutes of the journey was on unmettled roads with no other vehicle in sight. We were soon in the middle of nowhere. When the bus finally stopped, the sight that greeted us was another surprise. There were five more buses like the one we travelled in already parked at the venue. It was only on entering the farm house that we realized the magnitude of what we had gotten ourselves into and we were subjected to our final jolt on reading the banner that welcomed us – ‘The Jesus Retreat’

We had been lured to a religious camp with the promise of biriyani. We were now no different from the donkey that followed the carrot at the end of a stick, which again is not very different from those who wait to die and go to heaven. We were fools stuck in the middle of nowhere in an era with no cell phones or GPS devices. There was no access to public transport, heck there was no road, our itinerary was decided and we had no escape. That day I saw things I had never seen before. There were people crying asking forgiveness for sins, jumping around possessed by the spirit, experiencing the spirit knock illnesses out of them, dunking themselves in water (baptism) being born again and so on. The last time I had seen something like that was at a trance party where everyone was stoned on acid and grass. Though they’d protest to classify the former as ‘sacred’, the emotions I saw at both the events were exactly the same – psychotic.

Years later, I saw glimpses of a similar event on the facebook wall of a pastor. Pictures of people being lured to a farmhouse with the offer of a picnic suddenly interspersed with the pastor standing in the middle of a swimming pool dipping people in it in the name of baptism. It’s herd mentality and peer pressure at its best. I responded and here is the story –

Adithya wrote on the Pastor's page:

Wow Pastor .. and all it took was a swimming pool :) I presume its some sort of club .. and surprised they didnt have a problem with people dipping themselves fully clothed .. must let others know that pool is now dirty :) Been busy but got to research on the 'Discovery Institute' that you keep referring to.. looks like they are a bunch of jokers no one in the scientific community takes seriously ..

CM Pop: Sorry, this somehow rubs me the wrong way. I don't mind discussion... even when one seems to be completely determined to make sure they do not see Truth, but to belittle another's faith simply to amuse oneself is immature and amazingly annoying to me tonight. As a general rule I have a good sense of humor and like to cause trouble along with the next guy, but you seem to be a pest. You quote others in order to sound credible but even the sources are laughable. I realize that this is a conversation that has been kept ongoing much because of other people that are reading along. You are not in search of Truth, you are merely on a quest to hear yourself wax eloquent on a topic of which you know nothing about. Contrary to popular belief Christians are not meat heads, air heads or closed minded. Makes me want to barf the way people have run around trying to find you sources that you would deem appropriate/credible. Who died and made you God? Oh wait... forgot He doesn't exist. Just a heads up... you can deny the existence of something as adamantly as you want, but that doesn't make it so. Reminds me of my 3 year old who covers her eyes and tells me that I can't see her. Fortunately, she'll grow out of that.

CS Pop: Amen. I agree. Well put CM Pop.

Adithya: Ouch :) Pop sisters... awfully touchy here arent we? :)) .. CM Pop, I did not see a pic of you taking a dip so how were you involved? Guess you are already invested in the faith. Were you & your sister the ones who paid for it .. probably by donating to the Pastor's church who organised it? Its fun to hang around and herd people like cattle into a ranch whilst initiating them into your cult.. isnt it? :)

Lets get certain things in perspective. Belittling ridiculous rituals is one way of maintaining sanity, for such rituals cannot be viewed with seriousness. People who call this out are not merely amusing themselves but also educating the undecided bystanders that there are those who view such rituals as being utterly hilarious and juvenile. Though I cannot deny that it is quite amusing to watch grownups indulging in activity that best befit children trying to form groups to play softball... I find it cute :)

In addition to that .. I think it is the duty of every third party observer to belittle another's faith. If one were to respect another's faith just because it would it would hurt the other's feelings, we would have to condone rituals like 'head hunting' in Papua New Guinea or Female Genital Mutilation (where they cut out the clitoris of young girls) among certain populations of Muslims .. there are many more. Your ritual of dunking people in the pool might be benign but its as ridiculous.

Why dont you just keep doing it and people like me will keep ridiculing it .. let the faith stand the test. There are others, the bystanders, the fence sitters, the undecided who too are reading this.. let them choose which perspective is right. Let me turn your words back on you, 'you can claim the existence of something as adamantly as you want, but that doesn't make it so' either... You see your approach is wrong.. one should not believe in things without seeing them.. my 10 month old pushes the curtain out of the way when I try to hide behind it.. thats the curiosity you should strive to acquire. The universe is far more breathtaking than the stupid concept of god made it..

Having said all this it does not matter if it sounds 'amazingly annoying' to you. Where is the question of discussion when you have already made up your mind about your so called 'Truth'? You hold up a fairytale book and claim that is evidence.. reality doesn't work that way. I have no issues with you. The Pastor had invited me to come have discussions with him and here I am. My views are addressed to him but should you choose to interact with me, be prepared for the reality I fling back at you.

CS Pop: Oh, I am quite astounded by your ignorance and lack of tact. For you to compare something so sacred as a baptism to barbaric customs such as genital mutilation or head hunting shows just how ridiculous your thought process is.

CM Pop: Don't bother CS Pop, his tactics are that of a 5 year old and do not deserve response$. People do not understand not because they can't but because they won't. One day "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess"... my only regret is that a lot of people will be sad that they purposely blinded themselves. Look at it this way... if one of us is wrong it will be a whole lot better to be us than him. Reality? Surely you jest. You wouldn't know reality if it walked up and slapped you. Just hope the worst you get is a slap. For the record, the only thing paid for at this event was lunch... do you also object to lunch? Or perhaps you just to refuse to believe it exists.

CM Pop: Btw, just wanted to let you know that the behavior your 10 month old is displaying is something that all children do. It is part of Jean Piaget's observations in childhood psychology. Your child is showing their understanding of "object permanence". He/she now understands that just because you can't see something doesn't mean it isn't there... it still continues to exist.

DNE: Matthew 7 comes to mind...

TSC: Yes, J, he can find the truth and go to the Father, just like we did if he wants to.

And if he doesn't, who cares? To tell you the truth, I do. Not that there's much you or I can do about it, but we can remember that but for the mercy of God, we could be just as hostile to God as he is. I'm not going to argue with him, just for the sake of arguing, but he's a human being created by God in God's image, whether or not he acknowledges it. It's not right to treat him otherwise.

CM Pop: Funny, I can't see any of J's comments... Did you block and unfriend me J? Weird. Anyway, TSC, you are correct. It does matter very much and it is sad. Sometimes I think even as Christians we do the same thing... We live as though He doesn't exist when selfish desires and agenda cloud our vision of what is truly important. Thanks for speaking up.

DNE: Hmmm, maybe the comments were removed CM Pop. They were there but are now gone. At least TSC made reference to them so you know they were there!

CM Pop: Oh well, doesn't really matter if I get to read them or not. Just thought it was odd since I can usually see J. Not a big deal. How are you my cute, trouble making sister? Rainy and gray up here. I love rainy days!

DNE: rainy here to sweetie. Though the sun is really trying to peek out. I am a rainy day girl too!

MH: It is a pity that a human being has to look at a 10 month old child as nothing mere of a biological mutation of a lower genetic lifeform without also looking at them as an animal with absolutely no purpose for life, but to merely exist. I'm sure you cannot love your animal beast of a child, because, well, love is not physically evident as being seen, but only felt. And emotions cannot possibly be real because we cannot witness them with our eyes and are simply an illusion of the mind, sort of like faith, right? "one should not believe in things without seeing them" You are simply an accident that just happened, basically. Tsk, tsk. What a pathetic way to view life that was given to us by a Higher Authority. Have you recently checked for insects on your child's scalp to eat? Or are we too sophisticated for that today? And why is that? It is because we were made apart from animal. I believe everyone knows that it is appointed and destined for man to die once, and then face judgement. We will all give an account for every action and deed. Can one truthfully say that this thought has never entered your conscious or subconscious minds?

CM Pop: I seem to have stirred up a hornets nest.


Adithya: It is nice to be in the midst of members of a cult. Do you realize that all those who have been responding are those who are heavily entrenched in this deluded belief? Imagine realizing that you wasted all your life chasing a lie :)

You aren’t able to see J’s comments because he is a racist and the Pastor removed his comments when he realized this. Here is what he wrote, "Pastor, why are you waisting your time on this idiot. He looks like a muslim any way, let him burn. He made his decision, let him burn. He'll never see or feel what we have expierienced. He will never know the truth. And if he wants to, let him find it himself. He can go to the father, just like we did. And if he doesn't, who cares……………… We need to get you a superman shirt, I guy ridicules the church and you stand up for him. It doesnt get any better then that."

@J: I think muslims are as deluded as every other religion is. The rest of your words just sound like a guy who is stoned .. I am not interested in experiencing your delusion.

@CS Pop: Spare me the holier than thou attitude. I am indeed trivializing your ‘sacred’ baptism for the stupid ritual that it is. I presume you would define barbaric as an act that can result in bodily harm; maybe I can guide you to a list of people who lost their lives in this ‘sacred’ baptism of yours… let us then come to a conclusion of whose thought process is ridiculous.

@CM Pop: Don’t pat yourself on the back.. ‘hornets nest’ Lol :))) When reason and logic is not on your side, you resort to sarcasm :) You are sore because my ‘tactics’ are disastrous for justifying your juvenile delusions .. I should not have expected better from someone like you, especially the capacity to posses the intelligence to understand reason. My dear, if this is your style of responding to reason I can pay you back with the same coin.

“People do not understand not because they can't but because they won't” Absolutely right.. therefore my conclusion on you should be that you understand that you are stupid in your god delusion but wont accept it..

“Look at it this way... if one of us is wrong it will be a whole lot better to be us than him” .. this argument is called ‘Pascal’s wager’ .. meaning, it’s a safer bet to believe in a god, coz if there is one then you are safe, otherwise you don’t loose anything anyway :) .. a sort of ‘god will reward you for believing in him’, stand :) Maybe you are right.. maybe there is a god.. but you would still lead a happier life if you bet on his not existing, than if you bet on his existing and therefore squander your precious time on worshipping him, fasting for him, sacrificing for him and dunking in the pool for him.

On the lunch.. no I don’t object to a free meal, especially when you can get a full house on it where you can sell your snake oil… try feeding people who are starving and with no kickbacks in mind like hoping they join your cult by dunking in a pool.. it will give you more satisfaction to be selfless.

“Reality? Surely you jest. You wouldn't know reality if it walked up and slapped you”. Are you implying that staying deluded will save you from the slap? For the record, the definition of reality is, ‘the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or may be thought to be’… your fear psychosis of a divine watchman checking your every move and expecting you to surrender/bow/worship him is called paranoia not reality.

On the topic of "object permanence", Jean Piaget observed that, ‘it is through touching and handling objects that infants develop object permanence’. Don’t twist his observation to suit your delusion. If the child has never touched an object the child does not believe it exists.. you and your likes on the other hand will believe in the existence of an entity called god merely because a third party insists it exists..

@DNE: Before you quote Matthew 7 consider this… John, chapter 5, verse 22 says, "For the Father judges no man but has committed all judgment to the Son" (meaning Jesus himself is the judge). Jesus then contradicts himself by saying, "I judge no man" (John 8:15) and "I did not come to judge the world (John 12:47)." Jesus then says, "You (disciples) shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28). Unfortunately, this contradicts Jesus' original warning to them: "Not to judge, lest you be judged (Matthew 7:1)." .. Jesus to me sounds quite deluded and undecided.. I wouldn’t take the words literally :)

@TSC: Drop your superiority attitude. It makes me laugh. Your so called truth is just that.. ‘your truth’ .. it is not independently verifiable. It is for this reason that a rationalist would call it a delusion. In the modern would people who hallucinate things like going to ‘the father’ are usually put on drugs to get a hold of reality so spare me the nonsense.

@MH: I don’t look at a 10 month old that way at all… you need to get an education to understand how people like me view children. A child is the product of the passion between two individuals devoid of the interference from any supernatural watchdog. Its quite magical what I experience about a child.. I am not tied to a stupid creation story :) Incidentally from a moral stand point even if your god were true, the derogatory reference you made about ‘cannot love your animal beast’ would apply to this god.. for that is what your god is… a murderous, blood thirsty beast. I think it is far more pathetic to think that some higher supernatural entity created us for no apparent reason except probably for his entertainment.. all he is bothered about is trying to watch your every move and ensure that you bow to him and accept him as being the almighty creator who will burn you in hell for eternity if you refuse to surrender.. your god is full of love alright .. love for himself. Tsk tsk tsk…

TSC: Adi, you're long-winded (or would that be long-worded?), but despite your proliferation of words, you have yet to present a reasoned case for the non-existence of God.

I don't know why you think I have a superiority attitude. In fact, it seems to me that I have a higher view of you - a human being created by God in God's image - than you have of yourself - a human being ...
well, I'm not sure what your view of yourself is...

Which leads me to make an observation. Not only have you not presented a reasoned argument for the non-existence of God, you haven't responded to other points and questions I've raised here either.

(1) I posted an article in which I made the point that atheism is not based on reason or science but is the result of a faith choice made apart from reason and science. You said you were reading through the material I presented and would come back. I presumed you meant that you would respond to the points presented, but you haven't done that yet. Either you're still going through the material and references or you've abandoned the pursuit.

(2) You suggested I expand my education and you recommended a YouTube channel called "Thunderfoot." I asked you to point me to the one or two videos you found most persuasive so that I could watch them. You haven't done that either.

What you have done is engage in mockery of people who hold a different view from yours. You're certainly free to do that, but the longer you do so, the weaker your case appears. So I invite you to make your best case for the non-existence of God. Until you do so, I maintain that you've simply made a faith choice to disbelieve.

CM Pop: Took a few days to get all that together did it, Adi? Proverbs 26:4 comes to mind.

CM Pop: Btw, my apologies for J's comment. None of us are more deserving of God's grace than another. He loves me no more than he loves you. You too are precious.

Pastor: I see your heart, CM Pop, in apologizing for J, but in fact it doesn't make sense to do so. J is simply a mirrored image of Adi's extreme faith only on the other end of the spectrum. Adi is bombastic; a mocker, a propagator of deadly ignorance who is getting his jollies ridiculing believers everywhere. J's response, whether we like it or not, is purely Adi reaping what he is sowing. As believers in a gracious God, we need to live above reciprocating ignorance but you can no more apologize for J's reaction than you can for poverty in the world.

CM Pop: The only problem is that Adi, not a believer, has no reason to respond in a way that a Christian should. J... who calls himself a Christian is called to a higher standard. I am not surprised or even shocked by Adi's statments, but we should be different. Just because I can't rid the world of poverty does not mean that I cannot be truly sorry for it. Heaven help us if God did not bestow enough grace so that we all truly did reap what we have sown.

Pastor: All you have said is true, but once again you are holding J to a presumed standard, an ideal of Christian propriety that is not reflective of his station in life. Christianity is not "one size fits all." It is a collection of believers living at various levels of faith and righteousness, maintaining a relationship with a truth giving God and hopefully progressing toward an ultimate unity. If you don't like J's volatile reaction you need to address that with J not apologize to Adi. You could have made the same point to Adi by eliminating your first sentence and subtracted the inflammatory edge.

SBM: Hey Adi. I finally watched those videos links you gave me on the other thread here in the Pastor's page. You can see my response there.

In regards to this thread, one of your statements stood out to me and I quote it here:

"Imagine realizing that you wasted all your life chasing a lie :)"

I just wanted to tell you that I actually don't have to imagine that. I have already gotten to the point of realizing I wasted almost all my life chasing a lie.

SC: This whole conversation makes my heart ache.

Adithya: @TSC – It is the duty of the one who makes the claim to provide evidence. You make the extraordinary claim for the existence of a god so please provide the equally extraordinary evidence required to prove his/her/its existence. All I am doing is saying that you are lying by laying claims to absolutely natural occurrences as being acts of a god. BTW it is logically impossible to provide evidence for the non-existence of anything let alone a god. For instance there is no way that you can disprove that Santa Claus does not exist. However if I cry out hopelessly like you do with your case of a god, that Santa Claus too does exist then the onus to prove his existence would be on me. I can in the mean time engage you in endless circular arguments about the existence of Santa Claus all based on conviction but that is stupid and your claims on god are just that. Do you understand the logic now?

I accused you of expressing a superior attitude because of the words you used in communicating with J implying quite snobbishly that you are on higher ground. Go back and read it. I actually have a far greater valuation of myself than your ridiculous assumptions.. so once again spare me the superiority attitude.

As for your article in the Christian magazine published by the Fellowship of St. James.. I was sincerely hoping that you wouldn’t rake it up. I spent a good lot of my time going through your article and all the supporting material to come away with utter dismay. I really thought you were writing something serious especially the way you lured me with words that sounded like you were neutral and objective. Here are my conflicts:

[1].I read Gary Wolf’s article directly on the Wired magazine website and heard his podcast on the same article. The article is a willful mischaracterization of his interviewees. He starts by inventing derogatory words like how the creationists do, he coins ‘New Atheism’ to slot militant atheists like Dawkins. Wolf like all the Vatican and the creationists I have seen is highly intimidated by intelligent debaters like Dawkins. Wolf's religious bias is displayed in his disrespect toward everyone except an evangelical priest. “Pastor Matthew offers a gift to his flock. They sow their seeds, and he blesses them. It is a direct exchange.” That the pastor’s blessings are being bestowed on members who support the pastor financially by offering donations seem harmless to him but rationalists see this direct exchange otherwise. This is not an analysis of Wolf’s article so I will stop with so much but if you so wish I can gladly point out his inflammatory statements that mislead the reader.

[2].With regard to your references to the Time magazine article. You paint a picture of utter conflict between Dawkins and Collins. Your interpretation is quite selective, choosing to edit the whole picture and present points that seem to suggest support for your case. You claim that Collins stated that science and god can coexist. He answers in the negative to a similar question but the question on god and science coexisting was never posed or answered. That is ‘quote mining’. You choose to describe Collins’ actions in grand words and downplay Dawkins’ a behavior I noted through the article while making references in support for your case. The concluding words Collins uses in the Time Magazine interview sums up the situation well. He is not in conflict with Dawkins. (,9171,1555132-1,00.html)

Let me not continue dissecting your article. The point I make is that your article with its misinformation amounts to contempt. As a writer you have a right to write what you wish. You wanted to know my opinion and my opinion is that your article is sad. I wanted to ignore it.

[3].I directed you to a channel. The choice to educate yourself with it is your choice. Like how I read not just your article but even those that you had made reference to, I suggest you see each and every one of his videos. Asking me to point out one or two videos is pointless.

To assume that I have made a ‘faith choice to disbelieve’ is a sad reminder of how religious folk like you have not even understood the basics of people who ridicule you. Atheism is the lack of belief. It is not a religion like yours. ‘New Atheism’, ‘Evolutionism’, ‘Darwinism’ and the likes are pejorative words the likes of you use in total ignorance. Get it clear.. my stand is a lack of faith.

Pastor: Poor Adi. Still swimming in a sea of honey and declaring there are no bees. The onus is on you to disprove God because the vast majority of the world sees Him, acknowledges His existence, and can see His design all around them. There is no greater faith required by any religion than the faith that atheism requires of its followers.

Adithya: @The Pastor - I can see the bees ;)
SBM: Adi, you say your stand is a lack of faith. Is it only a lack of faith in a creator or a lack of faith in everything in general?

TSC: Whew ... now I detect a hornet's nest. If your stand is a lack of faith, Adi,wouldn't that make you an agnostic? Perhaps you and I define the terms differently, but I define atheism as the assertion that God does not exist. Or the belief that God does not exist. But you're right - it's a stretch to provide evidence for the non-existence of anything. That's one of the reasons why I suggest atheism is a faith choice made apart from reason or science. Agnosticism - that would be a different matter.

You seem not to like the fact that Gary Wolf coined the term New Atheism, but I wasn't aware of any religious sympathies on his part. He's certainly never stated any in any of his writings that I've read. Personally, I never thought of New Atheism, Evolutionism, or Darwinism as pejorative terms. I just thought they were descriptive lablels someone came up with. I'm not sure why you have an averse reaction to them.

There really is a conflict between Collins and Dawkins. Collins believes there is a God and identifies himself as a Christian. Dawkins believes there isn't a God and identifies himself as an atheist. Collins goes into more detail in his book, The Language of God, but you don't have to read his book to get that. It was clearly stated in the article, although I don't know why you might pull out that part of the article for contention.

Of course I present the points that support my case. That's the reason for writing the article in the first place. The question is whether I've presented facts and sound resasons to support the points or not. I think I've presented facts and used them the make a pretty decent argument. Atheism is a personal, philosophical choice made apart from reason or science.

And I think I understand the basics okay. The fact that you resort to ridicule, I'm afraid, only indicates that you've stopped reasoning and are reacting out of emotion.

I can offer you three lines of evidence for the existence of God. I'll be back with them.

TSC: “Where is the evidence for the existence of God?” I suggest to you that you already have evidence in three forms, all of them observable realities to be reckoned with:

1. The Universe. A vast, extraordinary universe exists, the pondering of which only reveals how small and inconsequential we are in comparison. Moreover, there is self-replicating life on at least one planet in that universe. Life!
2. Moral law. Your conscience tells you right from wrong. Not only are you conscious of right and wrong, you’re conscious of your own existence. There’s right and wrong, there’s reason, there’s consciousness, self-awareness, and intelligence.
3. Witnesses. People who believe in God and have come to know him personally have spoken to you about him.

The question to consider is, which worldview better explains the existence of an extraordinary universe, life, moral law, human consciousness, even something as everyday as your love for your child? The atheistic worldview offers one set of explanations for the existence of those realities – a rather paltry one I suggest, while the theistic worldview says God is the author and architect of them.

People choose differently and they’re free to do so. You say that to believe in a Supreme Being amounts to delusion, and you dismiss them as cultists. You’re free to do so, but I just don’t see that the Pastor or I or the other people on here really speak like deluded, brainwashed cultists.

Adi, it’s not my goal to convert you to my way of thinking, but I submit to you, again, that either God is or he isn’t. But I also suggest to you that he IS based on evidence you have already seen, known, and heard. Evidence exists outside you, inside you, and my friend, it speaks to you personally through people like the Pastor, me, and others. What you do with it is your responsibility.

BP: "...the vast majority of the world sees him, acknowledges his existence..." The same can be said of children in the case of santa claus. But at some point, even children at an early age are able to discern myth from reality despite being coerced by their parents (with some degree of remorse) that the legend of santa is indeed fact. But with each generation, the myth of santa claus is perpetuated. Most of what is currently held sacred is not sacred for any other reason other than it was thought sacred yesterday. 

But this thread has become so meandering that I just wanted to go back and ask the question....really? A swimming pool? People come to this emotional, life-altering (and bizarre) conclusion that they must be ritualistically dipped in water to "join the club" (not unlike fraternity hazing if you ask me) and it takes place in a swimming pool? When my kids go swimming at the rec center, is there secretly some pastor hiding in the bushes claiming to have baptized them? But I suppose that's no more creepy than eating the body of Christ in the form of a cracker and drinking his blood. Someone behaving in such a manner all alone would be considered stark raving mad. But when a bunch of people partake in such practice together, following along for generations, I suppose the vast majority of the world is susceptible to collectively acknowledge just about anything if it is sold with conviction.


Adithya: @TSC - The word agnostic is not a religious stance. Over the years the word is being increasingly used to denote a category that denies the existence of god as described in all religions (like the god of the bible) but is unsure about the existence of some supernatural power. The use of the word 'Agnostic' originally is in the sense of noncommittal.. therefore an agnostic would still have to take a side.. an Agnostic theist or an Agnostic atheist. Agnostic atheists are atheistic because they do not believe in the existence of any deity as described in any holy book, and agnostic because they do not claim to know that a deity does not exist.. they take the stand of till proven otherwise, it is considered non-existent. It is more logical on the lines of 'innocent until proven guilty'... it also signifies that such atheists are open to the concept but reject it only because there is no proof and that should they be given proof they will accept it.

I belong to this category that is open to the possibility but is dead sure that the god as explained by the Christians (or any other religion) does not exist. If there is a god it is beyond the comprehension of your likes. In the face of the fact that there is absolutely no evidence either scientific or reason based, for the existence of a god till date (because all religious claims can be explained by natural phenomenon not requiring the interference of any supernatural entity), I am a staunch atheist. A faith based choice is one that is made in the positive despite the absence of evidence, like how the religious folk choose to believe in a god despite the absence of evidence of any god activity. Atheism on the other hand is a lack of belief in a supernatural entity due to the absence of evidence.

Having said this I should respond to your claims of evidence made in your subsequent post which I argue is explainable by science as a natural phenomenon. I shall come to that. Let me proceed in the order you wrote and come to your statement on Gary Wolf before that. The terms ‘New Atheism’, ‘Evolutionism’, or ‘Darwinism’ have been coined by creationists and other religious groups not by scientists or atheists. The purpose of coining such terms has been with the sole aim of portraying people who are atheists and people who agree with evolution, as being members of some cult like yours. Do not equate us with you all. Our understanding of the world comes from what is being observed and not from what is written in some book. Use of such words against us is the equivalent of calling an African American a ‘Nigger’. How would you like it if we started referring to you all as ‘Delutionists’?

You made references to the Time Magazine interview (God vs. Science) in support of your stand ‘atheism is not based on reason or science but is the result of a faith choice made apart from reason and science’. I have already covered this misunderstanding of yours in an earlier paragraph. On the question of conflict between the two - That Collins is god believer as opposed to Dawkins is the basis for the interview. Go and read how Collins ends the interview. Collins has no conflict on the scientific platform with Dawkins. The pricking point is Dawkins’ refusal to let Collins creep the god factor into science. Collins is of the opinion that all the unanswered areas are the work of a supernatural, but Dawkins disallows the claim saying that they are merely ‘yet to be discovered’. Mind you Collins is not anti-evolution, so you creationists must use his name with caution. “The question is whether I've presented facts and sound resasons to support the points or not. I think I've presented facts and used them the make a pretty decent argument” – You have distorted the facts in the interview to make it appear as support for your stance and your reasoning is based on the distorted facts, therefore your argument is sad.

The main difference between you and me is the fact that I openly ridicule faith based on a holy book whereas you try to make a mockery of science by distorting the facts. Your idea of reasoning is to try and fit scientific findings like a square peg in the round hole of your religious book.. what does not fit is being branded in the negative. There is ample evidence in support of evolution, age of the earth etc. but since such findings belittle your book you resort to the behavior I accuse you of.

Adithya: @TSC - Now let’s tackle the 3 points that you present as evidence:

1. The Universe: The reasons for your inconsequential feeling and the existence of life are observations not proof of a god. The rising of the sun was considered as one such proof till we found out otherwise. Scientists are working on it so be patient and don’t jump the gun to credit the observed, as evidence of a creator. The answer could be something as simple as the rising of the sun.

2. Moral law: The concepts of right and wrong are relative to societies. In your country a woman who wears clothes that reveal her face, hands and feet in public is doing nothing immoral however in Taliban society she would be put to death. However there are universal concepts of right and wrong, for instance the act of murder is universally wrong. This is not because some god has declared it to be wrong but because it is a behavior that is undesirable within society. Murder is wrong only because it is an act that you would not wish done onto you. This is also the reason why christians today cherry pick and shy away for verses like Exodus 21:15. Even though god asked you to kill children who disobeyed parents you don’t. The morality is inherent in you because those who practiced behavior that went against harmony died/were killed by others in the tribe and did not reproduce to pass on such behavior, and that my dear is the realm of evolution. There is no right and wrong, only desirable and undesirable acts. Desirable acts are those you like to do and like done onto you and undesirable the other way around. Consciousness/self awareness and intelligence are a result of the activity inside your skull. We are not the only animals that posses it. Incidentally morality too is not a quality isolated to humans .. look at a school of piranhas for instance.. they gang up to eat prey with utter ferocity but never attack each other.

3. Witnesses: So have people who have seen ghosts, UFOs and little children who have seen Santa Claus. That is why rationalists are sure that what you are experiencing is a delusion. FMRI scans on people experiencing god can demonstrate how this is just abnormal brain activity that can be reproduced in healthy individuals using drugs or direct electrical stimulation of the brain.

The atheistic world view is not the opposite of your world view. It is a view that offers a far better explanation to the ‘existence of an extraordinary universe, life, moral law, human consciousness, even something as everyday as your love for your child’. The view is not paltry in any sense of the word. It is far more fascinating than a simplistic view that a supernatural creator is responsible. Your view is a dead end and should people through the ages have accepted that as an answer, we would never have made any of the advances of the modern world. The earth would have been the center of the universe and it would have been flat. It is but for those who challenged the holy books that we are what we are today as a society. From a period in time where everyone on the planet was deluded about a god we have reached a point where one third of the world scoffs at the idea. Give it sometime and reason and science will prevail spelling an end to irrational religious belief.

Consider how you chose to end your message – “Adi, it’s not my goal to convert you to my way of thinking, but I submit to you, again, that either God is or he isn’t”. We have been on this road before. There could be many more possibilities in addition to god is or isn’t.. could be god as you know it isn’t but as is known to the African tribes is, or we could be experiments of a far more advanced alien race or we could be a giant toy land in Santa Claus’ backyard.. it could be anything… but looking at the observable universe and the evidence available the most probable truth is as is seen by the atheist.
Pastor: Point of Fact, Adi: Francis Collins IS a creationist. He happens to fall into the category of Theistic Evolutionist.

I appreciate both of your posts above. Though I may not agree with much of what you said, I found your response to be honest, thoughtful and far less vitriolic then usual. So, if nothing else comes of these exchanges, maybe we are all learning to behave a little better than when we started.

There are other things I would like to address such as the misinterpretation of Exodus 21:15 (He who strikes his father or mother shall surely be put to death) within the context of the old law versus the paradigm of grace ushered in by Christ, but that will have to wait. I have other emails to answer in a very short amount of time.

By the way, how is it you speak and write so fluently in English? You are native to India, born and raised there?

Pastor: BP, let me explain the pool. We do have baptistries available to us but first, I prefer outdoor baptisms in lakes or rivers as they tend to follow more literally the example of Christ when He was baptized in the Jordan River by John. Second, the pool you see in the pictures is on the beautiful property of a couple in our church who graciously invited us down for a day of baptisms, picnic, cook out, games and music. I chose to do it there to honor this couple because of their extraordinary journey in faith. I won't go into detail in this public forum but suffice it to say, they have endured hardships before meeting one another that included violent abuse, sexual abuse, threats on their lives, family estrangement, abject poverty, and the like. As each of them came to Christ and eventually found one another, they have married and built a beautiful life, a life of such change and blessing centered in their faith in God. I wanted to do the baptism there to honor what genuine faith produces. It was one of the best days of the summer for everybody accept the 80 or so (store bought) chickens that were slow cooked over a barbeque pit on a rotating rack.

And, YES, after the baptisms were over there was a cannonball joke! A believer will never be able to convey to an unbelieving mind the power and pleasure of the fellowship of those who have received the salvation of Christ. Baptism is not about joining a church or a denomination or a club. Baptism is an individual decision to make a public profession of a personal acceptance of the sacrifice Christ made for us on the cross. It is our way of identifying with His death, burial and resurrection. We are laid down as a symbol of death, buried beneath the waters, and raised to a new life as we are lifted from the waters. It is a beautiful symbol, whether you are a believer or not, and certainly should be respected for the devotion that accompanies it, not mocked, as by some, out of ignorance.

TSC: Adi, if you call me a delusionist, I'll let it roll off. I've been called worse - by one of my own daughters, as a matter of fact.

A few responses; the rest I'll leave as is:
The Pastor already mentioned it, but the New Testament sheds light on a lot of the Old Testament directives. There are biblical explanations for why I haven't stoned my children.

"There is no right and wrong, only desirable and undesirable acts." That would indicate that my writings aren't wrong. They're merely undesirable to your way of thinking.

" Give it sometime and reason and science will prevail" It appears that you have faith that scientific advancement will confirm your atheistic worldview. I don't. We hold different beliefs and adhere to different faiths.

Feel free to ignore this, but for the benefit of anyone else following this thread, here's an article I wrote which identifies three observable facts of life that science used to believe it could adequately explain, but scientific advancement caused those explanations to look less and less plausible.

And finally, for BP: Your comment reminded me of this Somebody sent it to me a while back, and I think I laughed till I cried. Enjoy.

Adithya: @The Pastor - In his 2006 book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Collins considers scientific discoveries an "opportunity to worship." In his book Collins examines and subsequently rejects creationism and intelligent design.

SBM: Great aticle TSC. It provides information that can be verified elsewhere; which I will take the time to investigate.

TSC: Perhaps we're using the terms differently, Pastor, but Adi's right. Collins isn't a creationist. Actually his stance with respect to evolution is quite similar to Dawkins's. I pointed that out in that article, but Adi seems to have missed it.
Thanks SBM.

Adithya: @TSC - I should have just stopped reading when you started referring to evolution with the derogatory term 'darwinism' but I continued.. I stopped reading your article any further when I reached this point, "Naturalism, as a worldview, says that nature or matter is all there is; the supernatural does not exist or, if it does, is entirely irrelevant to life in the natural realm. Johnson deftly pointed out that naturalism is not a scientifically deduced fact but rather a philosophical presupposition." I want you to realize that you distort facts terribly.. If you must write, research properly and present your points with the truth. 

To the first part of that paragraph, the 'Naturalism' you describe is 'Metaphysical Naturalism' also called 'Ontological Naturalism' or 'Philosophical Naturalism' .. this has nothing to do with science... this is just one example of how you blatantly lie to support your nonsense.

To the second part of your paragraph, 'Johnson deftly pointed...', note how you shower people who speak on your behalf with embellishments like 'deftly' to describe their work. You seriously believe that a mere professor of law, a born again christian has the authority to speak on matters he cant even fathom .. someday when you are in hospital you should get a surgery done by your local plumber to understand how stupid your certifications are.

Adithya: @TSC - I havent missed anything. I pointed out The Pastor's misunderstanding of what Collins' stand is .. not The Pastor's fault really because people like you write ridiculous articles that mask the truth to make it appear like they are speaking on your behalf. You never once in any article mentioned that Collins is not a creationist

Pastor: Again, Adi, you are obviously not an academic and have little understanding of logic and reason as it relates to academia. You speak of specialists as the only credible voice in fields that are studied by academics of varying specialties. Academia is more interrelated than your black and white examples.

TSC, I sent my copy of Collin's "Language of God" to my father so I cannot verify the truth of your and Adi's position about creationism. If I am wrong and he is not creation inclined, I will admit it and withdraw my last post. You will see that I have made only one reference to Collins and his book in all of the exchanges between me and Adi and Sajith. This is primarily due to the fact that I found Collin's conversion to be a bit suspect with his continued loyalties to evolutionary absurdities. I did go down to North Carolina and visit with the man who "led Collins to the Lord" and found him to be strange in faith as well. I stand by the statement, however, that he is a theistic evolutionist, because ultimately it is the only category by which we can understand his eclectic faith.

BP: Adi -- Very well said on the Universe, Moral Law, and Witnesses conversation.

Adithya: @The Pastor - I am not going to flaunt my degrees like you so ridiculously tried to flash your titles conferred on you by a mere theology school... How condescending of you it is to assume that people whose native tongue isn't English may be viewed with surprise? There are those in India who will speak your language better than you.. this query of yours just exposes your ignorance of the real world. How is it obvious to you that I am not an academic? On what grounds do you claim that I have little understanding of logic and reason relating to academia?

You want me to be wrong so you can sell your snake oil. You want me to be wrong so you seem credible in imparting advice on matters that you dont have any authority over. For instance, you are a theologian who dabbles in psychology and you want people to believe that you are someone who is qualified to do so.. I'm calling your bullshit. You are not a specialist and you should stick to talking only about your book.. let the experts of the respective areas handle the rest. Stay out of it Pastor.. you are doing more damage than you can imagine.

SBM: Are you suggesting that you are an expert Adi? I find that interesting, considering you left your chosen field of engineering (which is truly a shame, because you clearly are very educated) to become a self-employed actor.
Adithya: @SBM - I claim no such thing but I open my mouth if and only if I have evidence to support my claim. I do extensive research on any topic that I speak on and should I be shown that I am wrong I very graciously step down and accept the knowledge with humility. I am also hungry for truth and am not shy of accepting that I am wrong if I am presented with the evidence.. a trait I have never observed among religious folk who are sunk deep into their faith. My stand is never one of faith.. I do not believe because of conviction but because of evidence and evidence alone.

I dont think the world will miss me much by my not pursuing a career as an engineer. India produces limitless numbers of engineers every year... I am pursuing my dream.. there is only one life.. its now or never.

Pastor: Adi I'm going to start calling you "Septic" because you are so full of crap. I have never once flaunted any degrees on here, nor have I tried to sell myself as an expert in any of the fields you mentioned. Neither was I condescending about your fluency, that was a sincere question and a recognition that you speak my native language well and I don't speak yours at all.

The grounds on which I make my claims about your lack of academic prowess is that you separate and compartmentalize academic fields as though they are unrelated and require different acumen in order for someone to speak with authority. Should I consider your claims about the non-existence of God irrelevant and without veracity because you don't have a theological degree?

TSC: From "The most significant difference between the two scientists is not that one believes in biblical creation and the other in Darwinian evolution. Both affirm Darwinism. The salient distinction is that Collins allows for the possibility of God, whereas Dawkins does not." I thought that was fairly clear.

Other than that clarification, I don't see any basis on which to respond to your criticisms. By which standard do you presume to tell me how I should write? By an objective standard of right and wrong that actually exists in reality or by the relative standard which says there is no right and wrong, only desirable and undesirable acts?

TSC: Pastor, I think you and I are just using the terms differently. I would also consider him a theistic evolutionist. Just not a creationist.

SBM: Thank you for clarifying Adi. 

I also like to research topics that interest me and am always seeking the truth. We are probably more alike than you care to admit. (I am not an engineer, more of a technician, and have worked around engineers for a long time)

I would sincerely like to see your evidence. Perhaps I've missed it in all of your diatribes?

Adithya: @The Pastor - Let me refresh your memory:Pastor wrote - "I do not sell anything and my livelihood is acquired as much in the secular business world as it is in my pastoral role. The income I receive for ministry is for working with people; relationships, marriages, addicts, troubled children, the needy, the sick, and those who are simply lost in life".Adi wrote - "The sad part is that he really thinks he is qualified for such a job.. he thinks his snake oil really works. These people who study theology are of the opinion that they have the authority to practice serious subjects like psychology and counseling".The Pastor further wrote - " work in psychology and counseling is the result of my advanced education in those fields not some presumption that I should be accepted as an authority because I am a pastor".

And yeah.. I am full of crap. Thanks Pastor
Adithya: Lol.. 'theistic evolutionist' .. what will you creationists come up with next? 'holy rapist', 'moralistic murderer'????

Pastor: Where did I flaunt degrees in that?? You were saying that I am unqualified to do the work I do because I am a religious zealot not a trained professional and I answered by telling you that I am trained. Again, I have not flaunted degrees in front of anybody, so, you are still full of crap.

Pastor: BTW, Theistic Evolutionists is an old term accepted by Christian and secularists alike, not just religious vernacular.

Adithya: @The Pastor - I accused you of flashing your titles .. 'trained professional' my foot! "Theistic Evolutionists is an old term accepted by Christian and secularists alike" ... really? what is it that you imply by 'Secularists' and which individuals are you referring to?

Pastor: Theistic Evolutionist first was being used in the late 19th century. It has been accepted by the National Center for Science Education and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; both anti-creationist institutions and the second, militantly so.

TSC: Actually Pastor, the NCSE is militantly anti-creationist too, to the point where they've actively suppressed information that conflicts with their preferred worldview. I wrote on it last year too.

Adithya: @TSC - ".......they've actively suppressed information that conflicts with their preferred worldview" .. correction. 'they've actively disallowed creationist claims that conflicts with the scientific worldview' .. scientific organisations dont sit around a table and decide on a preference .. if a claim does not stand the test of science they throw it out the window, there is no 'suppression'

TSC: correction: They have allowed a metaphysical presupposition of materialism to constrain their science. It is one thing to say, "The natural world is all that can be scientifically examined." It is another thing to say, "The natural world is all there is."

Adithya: @TSC - metaphysics has no voice in science just as much as santa clause has no voice in court.. science is not a matter of philosophy. You are distorting facts again..

TSC: Exactly. Metaphysics has no place in science. That is why the proclamation that "The natural world is all that exists." falls outside the realm of science.

Adithya: @TSC - " They have allowed a metaphysical presupposition of materialism to constrain their science" - so what was those string of words? Metaphysics is nonsense like religion .. either what is observed can be explained by science OR if not explainable today, is being investigated and will be explained in due course

Adithya: BTW Science speaks on matters that is observed .. are there UFOs or god? Maybe there is.. but there is absolutely no evidence for their existence till date.. the conflict with religion is their stupid belief that what is observed is the work of the unobserved god

TSC: Adi, at this point there are three lines of dialogue between you and me that are unresolved. I’m not willing to start another until we resolve them.

(1) I have put forth the statement that either God is or he isn’t. In other words, either there is a God or there isn’t. You responded with this:

"There are too many holes in your argument TSC .. you try to portray your case in a format that sounds logical but your examples are fallacies. What you are offering is a modified form of ‘Pascal’s Wager’. You are forcing a question whose answers are limited and these questions are based on certain assumptions. The problem with this sort of argument is that it merely touches on whose assumption is correct.. it does not address the question at all. For instance:

You ask, “The pivotal question is, what is actually true? Is there or is there not a God?” … “There is a god/there isn’t a god … One and only one of those statements is true.”

Not necessarily. Both the statements could be wrong. You need to add more options. It could be that god as is taught to the children by the hulking pastor and his likes is wrong. To the question, ‘who made us all?’, the answer could be different gods for different parts.. like in a factory assembly line each part of us could have been made by a different god and then finally the stork put us together and delivered us to our parents.. possibilities are endless, so the answer is not just ‘is there or is there not a god’. "

I clarified what I meant when I said either there is a God or there isn’t:

"I'm talking about a self-existing, transcendent, omnipotent God, the scope of whose being is so huge and magnificent that you and I, mere humans, can only begin to grasp it, who created the entire universe, including you, me, and everyone else participating in this conversation. A God who, as I mentioned before, exists regardless of whether anyone acknowledges him or not."

That clarification didn’t particularly call for a response, and you didn’t give one. That was fine, but then I put forth the same statement in a later thread and you responded with the same diversion:

"We have been on this road before. There could be many more possibilities in addition to god is or isn’t.. could be god as you know it isn’t but as is known to the African tribes is, or we could be experiments of a far more advanced alien race or we could be a giant toy land in Santa Claus’ backyard.. it could be anything… but looking at the observable universe and the evidence available the most probable truth is as is seen by the atheist."

Yes, we had been down that road before, but you either ignored or missed the most recent intersection where I clarified what I meant. You identify yourself as a staunch atheist, so I find it odd that you refuse to accept my simple dichotomy. “Either God exists or he doesn’t.” I don’t know why you reject it, but I want to come to a point of resolution before picking up another point of contention. So either accept that my simple statement as a reasonable statement of fact or clarify so we can have a reasoned understanding of one another.

(2) I put forward the suggestion that an objective moral law exists. You rejected that and said that the concepts of right and wrong are relative. "There is no right and wrong, only desirable and undesirable acts." Then you subsequently told me what was wrong with my article. I asked you which standard of right and wrong you were applying, an objective standard of right and wrong that actually exists in reality or the relative standard which says there is no right and wrong, only desirable and undesirable acts. You haven’t answered that question. I need to know which standard you’re applying when you tell me I’m wrong before picking up another line of discussion.

(3) This may be insignificant, but then again maybe it’s not. I mentioned in passing to the Pastor that I had pointed out Francis Collins commitment to evolution and that you apparently missed it. You shot back, “I haven’t missed anything.” I pulled out three sentences from the article to show where the point was made. Now either you actually did miss it or I’m a poor communicator. It’s not a big deal if you did miss it, except that you haven’t acknowledged my clarification at all. That causes me to think we’re simply not communicating well.

I’m not interested in pursuing another point of contention until we come to a resolution of the first two hanging threads, particularly the second one. To resolve the third would be nice, but it’s not necessary. The second one - that's necessary.

@TSC – Points that you want resolved:

[1] ‘Either god is or he isn’t’ - This was the simplest of all confusions and that is why I did not elaborate while poking holes.. I presumed you would understand with the implications alone.. obviously that hasn’t worked so let me attempt explaining with examples.

To begin with I do not see any evidence of a creator, but should I allow this bizarre argument from your end there would still be numerous assumptions to be made to arrive at your conclusion of a single god. The issue you raise is not a ‘dichotomy’ but should actually be a ‘polychotomy’ leading to utter confusion. For instance, imagine we come across a human corpse and the aim now is to deduce how the person died. Applying your form of reasoning would sound like this, ‘Either a murderer is or a murderer isnt’ .. here's the problem. Notice that you wouldn’t have given space for numerous other possibilities like the cause of death might be the involvement of more than one murderer or the cause of death could be an accident or the cause of death could be an illness or the cause of death could be suicide.. It is unwise to jump to the conclusion that since we see a human corpse there exists just one of two possibilities - murderer exists or no murderer does not exist.

Now re-read what you meant/clarified - "I'm talking about a self-existing, transcendent, omnipotent God,……………" *SINGULAR???*– a very impoverished assumption. Apply the understanding from the corpse example to your belief, a belief that what you observe requires the need for creation .. even if I do permit you to that delusion you would still have the multitudes of other possibilities as has been explained already. Your understanding is based ONLY on what you have been taught since childhood and that is the reason you can only present a ‘Dichotomy’.

[2] ‘I asked you which standard of right and wrong you were applying, an objective standard of right and wrong that actually exists in reality or the relative standard which says there is no right and wrong, only desirable and undesirable acts’ – You are attempting to portray that there exists different standards of right and wrong – ‘objective’ and ‘relative’. This is a very poor attempt at trying to fit in your belief that there is someone framing laws of right and wrong. Right and wrong is always relative. There are acts that one would like done onto themselves (desirable acts or as you might want to call it ‘right’) and acts that one would NOT like done onto themselves (undesirable acts or as you might want to call it ‘wrong’). Therefore there is no ‘Objective Moral Law’ only a sense of desirable or undesirable acts that evolved with societies through the ages.

[3] You cant imagine how I feel having to clarify this to you. It is ridiculous that I am having to waste my time typing a response to such nonsense. Firstly you did not need to come back with a clarification because I had responded to the Pastor’s unfounded claim that Collins is a creationist.. you should have left it at that. I had not in any of the earlier messages stated that you ‘TSC’ have claimed Collins is creationist. However I used your unnecessary input to highlight that the fact that your article conveniently misleads the reader. Now read the three sentences you pulled out of the article - “The most significant difference between the two scientists is not that one believes in biblical creation and the other in Darwinian evolution. Both affirm Darwinism. The salient distinction is that Collins allows for the possibility of God, whereas Dawkins does not." Hmmm.. If anyone who knows English can read the first two sentences and tell me that it does not conflict with each other I am prepared to chop my fingers off and never type a word again. You say Collins believes in biblical creation and affirms Evolution? On the one hand you say he believes in creationism and in the very next sentence you state the exact opposite! Either you are incompetent or you are willfully misleading your readers. You are not a poor communicator, you are very good communicator of lies. I think you should stop writing TSC .. all I have ever seen in any of your writing is conformation bias.

When in communication with you, I choose not to acknowledge your so called ‘clarification’ it is because I think what you have written is utter nonsense. You portray the image of being someone who is presenting a case but as has been shown you resort to confusing the reader with meaningless words.

TSC: Actually, Adi, it is you who are attempting to portray that there exist different standards of right and wrong. I asserted that there is one standard. You objected and said there is no one standard determining right and wrong. You seem not understand that in adhering to a relative standard of right and wrong you are completely undercutting the grounds upon which you presume to tell me I'm wrong. 

I see no point in further dialogue with you until you do.
Pastor: Is premeditated, unprovoked murder wrong or undesirable? On what basis, Adi, can you claim either position? When I called you "Septic" and said you were full of crap I wasn't simply being insulting, that was just a bonus. I was being literal. Your atheistic fanaticism is crap. Your constant use of terms like "liar," "snake oil," and "bullshit" are crap. Your limited view of biological sciences, your lack of recognition of philosophy and theology in the discussion of origins, your erroneous assertions concerning Biblical texts and Christian denominations, all crap. You are a perfect example of an individual who is lost in their thinking, lost in their senses, lost in basic proprieties, and lost in hope. Your whole worldview is crap that gives birth to contempt and the rest of us have to simply endure the profound ignorance of it all.

Adithya: @TSC - "You seem not understand that in adhering to a relative standard of right and wrong you are completely undercutting the grounds upon which you presume to tell me I'm wrong" - This is another wonderful example of how you misrepresent a fact. I argue and accuse you of being wrong in areas that concern your reference to 'facts' and logical reasoning NOT in areas concerning morality. You offer analysis on scientific matters by misrepresenting facts and argue with fallacies. Unlike in the case of morality, science is absolute, it does not change.Therefore my dear TSC, I can point out when you are wrong and I continue to stand on solid ground. 

However, the unresolved question is, how long do you propose to continue writing articles that blatantly mislead the readers by willfully withholding valid information (like in the case of Collins) or for instance the lie you propounded by defining 'Metaphysical naturalism' and claiming that it was science? (I can provide more examples from your articles if you wish). If you really want to speak on morality, you should first start by cleaning your act, for if I were you, I would be ashamed to lie to gullible readers who might not have had the time to verify your claims.

@The Pastor - Yes Pastor, murder in any form is undesirable. I can claim this position on the simple fact that it is not an act that anyone would want done onto themselves. Its that simple. There is or never has ever been a requirement for anyone (like your imaginary god) to state that as a law.

'Atheistic Fanaticism' is an oxymoron. What you are doing is confusing passion for truth with blind assertion of belief. I respect people who value inquiry that is not adverse to the risks and dangers of actually discovering something unexpected and sometimes realizing that the foundations you spent your whole life building is completely wrong. You my dear Pastor, dont do that. As a clergyman, you are like a used car salesman. Both try to sell something and neither can be trusted for that reason... I on the other hand have nothing to sell. You detest me because I cry out loud and disrupt your sales pitch AND I do that because your sales pitch is based on lies. Lies about scientific discoveries and blatant discounting of facts that prove your belief is nonsense.

There is no point in you whining. Go ahead and make as many claims as you want on origins from your perspective of philosophy and theology .. no one gives a crap, but should you make stupid claims to gain credibility for your fictitious story, like your young earth theory and the biblical creation story, which dabbles in the territory of science, then be prepared to watch me blow the cover on your 'snake oil'. As for 'erroneous assertions concerning Biblical texts', all you can really do is insist that I have interpreted the text wrong. In any case I invite you to debate the specific texts, that you so claim, I have 'erroneously asserted'.

To your last point. My worldview is one based on investigating truth as is observed and it also views everyone as equals .. yours is a world filled with christians, many varieties of christians, other religions and a belief based purely on a book that calls for obedience and absolute belief without questioning.. which worldview promotes contempt? which is crap?

Pastor: I do not detest you, Adi, nor am I selling anything. Once again, I do not feel the responsibility of convincing people of anything, that is the Holy Spirit's job. My job is simple; I am required to speak of only those things which are revealed by God as absolute truth. The things that I believe you too will believe one day, the only question is, will you believe them before it is too late?

You speak of blind faith a lot. A Christian worldview has little to do with blind faith and a lot to do with analysis, observation, examination, and fact. Here's a great example of the Scriptures having advanced insight into undiscovered scientific truth. 2650 years before the average man was capable of going much deeper in the water than 30 feet, Jonah, the prophet who was thrown into a raging sea was able to describe mountains, valleys and streams beneath the ocean surface, something that would have sounded ridiculous 2600 generations following. The census taken during the birth of Christ is another good example. Luke 2:2 used to be an embarrassment to well-studied Christians because there was no historical record of a census at the time of Christ's birth under Quirinius when he was governing Syria. Lo and behold, in a twentieth century archeological dig we found records that detailed 2 census' taken under Quirinius and the first was exactly when Christ was born.

I have dozens of these factoids I can share but you get the point. It is not that we Christians are blindly committed to "a book." It is that we have discovered the revealed truth of a living God, a order and plan written thousands of years ago that jives with contemporary science, and profoundly convincing prophecies (hundreds of them) that were known to be written 400, 600, 900, and even 4500 years before they were fulfilled to a "T". Not like Nostradamus's general statements that people bend into their ideas of fulfillment, but prophecy fulfilled to the finest detail.

To convince a true believer that there is no God would be like trying to convince a mother she has no child. It is the same matter of certainty based on living proof.

TSC: Adi, as I understand you, this summarizes your beliefs:

There is no such thing as a Supreme Being or a Creator/God. The universe is self-existing.
There is no such thing as an objective standard of right and wrong. There are only desirable and undesirable acts.
Science is absolute, it does not change, and it is the sole means of discovering truth.

For the sake of defining where we differ, here’s what I believe:

There is a Supreme Being Creator God. He is self-existing, and the universe is his creation.
There is an objective standard of right and wrong.
Truth is absolute. It does not change. Science is one way to discover truth.

This certainly doesn’t capture the totality of our different beliefs, but I believe it hones in on the basic points of disagreement. If I have incorrectly stated your beliefs, I’m open to correction.

Unless you have a correction to your beliefs as I’ve just articulated them, I am content to leave it at having identified the points of disagreement, and I’m going to excuse myself from this thread. If for some reason you want to pick up some point of discussion with me, you can always send me a facebook message. I also have a blog where you can hit me with anything you want to on an array of subjects, not just atheism.

I've enjoyed to discussion,
Adithya: @The Pastor - Illogical nonsense all over again.. "To convince a true believer that there is no God would be like trying to convince a mother she has no child" .. No Pastor.. its like telling someone who had a wet dream that what they experienced was not real sex. My example here is better for in the case of god and the wet dream both are hallucinations of the mind.. the mother and child bond however is real so correct yourself. You and TSC brought forward your so called 'proofs' .. I have taken your pants off on them.. address those before raking up new claims.. 

Your factoids are the kind that are offered in defense by every religion and there is nothing exclusive to christianity. The Jonah story for instance predates semitic religions .. the same story existed among the Greeks, Romans and Sumerians .. So might the christians have copied knowledge from earlier unrelated civilizations claiming them to be your own? You might be itching to tell me that christianity is the final distillation of other cultures that were confused.. just as your types claim by waving the new testament and distancing yourselves from older texts. If that logic is correct then islam is further distillation of christianity. You are indulging in nothing but conformation bias.. so to your eyes every scientific discovery is like a peg which you need to fit into the gaps of your book's claims.. extinction of dinosaurs to you is proof of Noah's flood despite the fact that it happened millions of years before your estimated event which leads you to the next lie about dating methods being questionable... you just have to fit it in some how by conveniently disregarding the larger facts that decimate claims in your book.

@TSC - "This certainly doesn’t capture the totality of our different beliefs....." Mine is not a belief in your sense of the word. My present understanding will always have to stand the test of science and is open to change should evidence against it be provided. Your 'belief' on the other hand is based on a book and despite evidence that show claims therein to be wrong you continue to withhold them.

Clarifications on your understanding of an atheist stand:
[1]There is no such thing as a Supreme Being or a Creator/God. We dont have all the answers about the universe yet but we are working on it. In the meantime claims offered by religious groups have been tested and no evidence to support their claims have been found.

[2]There is no such thing as an objective standard of right and wrong. There is only a relative standard of right and wrong.

[3]Science is absolute, it does not change, and it is the sole means of discovering truth. 'Scientific discoveries' and claims on science are however scrutinized at all times and are therefore not absolute in the sense that it (discoveries/claims) will be discredited if proved wrong.

Some conflicting thoughts on your stand:
[1] "There is a Supreme Being Creator God. He is self-existing, and the universe is his creation" - If a creator is required to explain the existence of things then the creator too would have required a creator. Its cop-out when you say god is self-existing.. on what grounds can you be so sure?

[2]"There is an objective standard of right and wrong." - Is 'right' right because god said its right or did god say it is 'right' because it was anyway right? For instance, if god had said rape is 'right', would everyone is society be raping each other against the wishes of the victim?

[3]"Truth is absolute. It does not change. Science is one way to discover truth." - What about discoveries in science that prove 'truth' as told to you in the bible to be wrong? I could give you a huge list of 'bible claims debunked' if you so desire.

I am motivated by a desire to scrutinize every claim made by those who offer answers by referring to holy books.. The format in which we communicate here in public I think is far better than personal messages.. it is bound to expand the thinking of everyone reading it.

TSC: Adi, I accept your clarifications, and I’ll call it your stand if that’s what you prefer: 

[1]There is no such thing as a Supreme Being or a Creator/God. We don’t have all the answers about the universe yet but we are working on it.
[2]There is no such thing as an objective standard of right and wrong. There is only a relative standard of right and wrong.
[3]Science is absolute, it does not change, and it is the sole means of discovering truth. 'Scientific discoveries' and claims on science are however scrutinized at all times and are therefore not absolute in the sense that it (discoveries/claims) will be discredited if proved wrong.

I’ll leave my beliefs as I put them before (if you want to call it a stand, that’s fine. I won’t quibble over that):
[1] There is a Supreme Being Creator God. He is self-existing, and the universe is his creation.
[2]There is an objective standard of right and wrong.
[3]Truth is absolute. It does not change. Science is one way to discover truth.

You’ve made a lot of charges, and I’ve overlooked most of them for the purpose of identifying exactly what your stand is and where we differ. Now that we’ve done that, I’m content to leave it at that, and I’m not interested in being an object for your invective any more. You say that you are motivated by a desire to scrutinize every claim made by those who offer answers by referring to holy books, but I haven’t referred to any holy books in my interactions with you.

I’m all for expanding the thinking of anyone who’s interested in expanding their thinking and understanding, so I’m game for any communication, public or personal, when that’s the objective. But at this point, I don’t see that that’s your objective. For one thing, you are presuming to know what I believe and why I believe it. For example, you told me that my belief is based on a book. I’m not aware of any place throughout any of our conversations where I said that or even referred to a book as the basis for my belief. If you can point me to where I’ve said that, I’ll reexamine what I said and perhaps stand corrected. If you’re really interested in expanding your thinking then you’ll at least listen to what someone else says and consider it without presuming to know what they’re going to say or where they’re coming from.

So I am, again, excusing myself from this discussion, hopefully for the last time. If at any point in the future you genuinely want to know what I believe and why I believe it on a particular question or subject, I’m open to having a discussion on it. The forum isn’t important to me, but your intent is.

The names of those who participated have been shortened to initials 


Raveena said...

Lol! I've been invited to many of these but thankfully, I've had the sense to decline the offer.

I hear that some of these things are pretty good though. As in, they talk more about life than God. But then again, the reviews are from religious people who scare me, so I guess it doesn't count.

One thing I did not get though, why did your seniors drag you into this?

Raveena said...

I'm surprised that no one's attacked this piece yet.

Adithya said...

If you got to read the rest of that post where I have included the communications I had had with the faith salesmen, you will agree that the topic has been beaten the s*** out of ;)

The seniors who dragged us to the do were those who lived on the fringes. These guys were shadows as compared to the other seniors who were in the thick of perpetrating atrocities on juniors. Dont ask me why but thats how it was :)

Raveena said...

Ha Ha, You merged the posts.

It's ridiculously long and I've heard enough Christian sermons, thanks a lot, I'm not looking forward to many more.

After having these conversations for years, I've realized their futility, so I shall refrain from having many more of these.

But in defense of all the hypocrisy out there, some of these religious things actually help people who have given up hope and really need something to hold on to.

I would never do it, but lots of people actually find fulfillment in things like these.

Adithya said...

@Raveena - What might interest you are the counter arguments presented in the exchange. I know it is long but it might be worth the read :)

With regard to the second part of your message.. I personally take a stand of equality among everyone and that would mean not brushing others aside on the grounds of 'some people are not as equipped to handle reality as us' .. that would be quite condescending.

We as a society have this bad habit of viewing ourselves as above the rest of society. For instance we have a censor board in cinema who will decide what is ok for the public at large to watch, mindless to the fact that the members on the censor board are also people from the same public but for some reason we must assume they are smarter than us. The irony being, the same public is considered intelligent enough to be able to make a choice in voting someone to power (which is a far more serious issue than movie watching) but are stupid when it comes to comprehending sex or violence.

A rational society provides the same help as does religious societies. There has been discussions on this topic in the post. The positive effects one notices in religion is devoid of submission to blind belief. It is merely an aspect of what we as humans are.

Raveena said...

That's not what I mean, though I'm not surprised that I was misinterpreted. This seems to be a very sensitive topic with most people which is why I don't have these conversations anymore.

My argument mainly is, if someone wants to do it, they should be given the freedom to do it. It is a simple question of choice and nothing else. I am not claiming anyone is "weak" and cannot deal with the world without "God". All I'm saying is, it was stupid that someone dragged you to a retreat because they preach faith and that cannot be forced. So doing what they do is highly hypocritical. But if they want to do whatever they believe in by themselves, they should be allowed to. It's a free country/world afterall.

Adithya said...

@Raveena - I couldn't agree with you more.. People have the right to do what they choose even if it is stupid. Personally I have nothing against those who wish to live a life consumed by blind belief, but when some people associated with such belief sell it to others.. that is when I have a problem.

Raveena said...

Finally, a point of agreement!! *applause*

VYAS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sitaram said...

You can see more of such things from fb account of some pastors i know!/album.php?aid=2025010&id=1428111723&page=3

its not restricted to india, they do it all over the world!

Dissillusioned Caffine Addict said...

An intriguing piece.

I second what Raveena said
"My argument mainly is, if someone wants to do it, they should be given the freedom to do it. It is a simple question of choice and nothing else. I am not claiming anyone is "weak" and cannot deal with the world without "God". All I'm saying is, it was stupid that someone dragged you to a retreat because they preach faith and that cannot be forced. So doing what they do is highly hypocritical. But if they want to do whatever they believe in by themselves, they should be allowed to. It's a free country/world afterall."

Let them be and Let me be me. I just dont what a we who sells their world to me and screws up things....