(RNS) Sunni and Shiite Muslims are at it again in Iraq. Actually, they never stopped, but the recent takeover of the northern part of the country by militants from The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has brought the ages-old Sunni-Shia conflict to the fore again.

Here’s a backgrounder on the conflict so you can sound all smart at water cooler – or wherever people gather to gab about current events these days – on Twitter, Facebook and more.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's flag incorporates the shahada and the seal of Muhammad in its design.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s flag incorporates the shahada and the seal of Muhammad in its design. Public domain image

Q: Who are the Sunnis and who are the Shia?

A: Both are branches of Islam and the adherents of both are Muslims, all bound by the same Quran, the same five pillars of Islam – belief in one God, daily prayer, fasting, charity, and hajj, or pilgrimage. Where they mainly differ is on the question of who should have succeeded the Prophet Muhammad, who founded Islam in 620.

Q: What is at the root of their conflict?

A: Basically, Sunnis and Shiites differ on who should have succeeded Muhammad after his death in 632. Sunnis supported the succession of Abu Bakr, the prophet’s friend; Shiite Muslims felt the rightful successor was the prophet’s son-in-law and cousin, Ali bin Abu Talib.

As The Associated Press Stylebook puts it:

“The schism between Sunni and Shiite stems from the early days of Islam and arguments over Muhammad’s successors as caliph, the spiritual and temporal leader of Muslims during that period. The Shiites wanted the caliphate to descend through Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law. Ali eventually became the fourth caliph, but he was murdered; Ali’s son al-Hussein was massacred with his fighters at Karbala, in what is now Iraq. Shiites consider the later caliphs to be usurpers. The Sunnis no longer have a caliph.”

Sunnis believe Muslim leaders can be elected, or picked, from those qualified for the job. Shiites believe leaders should be direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. So they don’t recognize the same authority in Islam – kind of like the way Catholics and Protestants are all Christians and have the same Bible, but only Catholics recognize the authority of the pope. And like Catholics and Protestants, both Sunnis and Shiites have their own religious holidays, customs and shrines.

Q: Where do they live?

A: In lots of hot-bed places. Syria is a majority-Sunni country, but the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is a close ally of Shiite-dominated Iran (Assad’s Alawite sect is a whole other story). Iraq is majority Shiite, but northern Iraq has a lot of Sunnis, and Sunni rebels have made increasing inroads into the country. Neighboring Iran is majority Shiite, while next-door Saudi Arabia is majority Sunni. Yemen, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Lebanon have significant Shiite minorities. Sunnis make up about 85 percent of the world’s Muslims (including the vast majority of U.S. Muslims). See the problem?

Q: So, if all this happened 1,400 years ago, what are they fighting about?

A: It’s a complicated question that can’t be reduced to a few sentences, but here goes:

Where once the conflict between Sunni and Shiite was religious, now the conflict is more political. In Iraq, the Shiite-dominated army has been seen as a strong-arm of Shiite president Nuri Kemal Al-Maliki and an oppressive force by majority Sunnis in the north. That’s why many have been happy to have the Sunni-dominated ISIS take over the north.

Q: Okay, but all this is taking place on the other side of the world. Why should I care?

A: Because Islam is a global religion, and America has significant strategic and military interests in the region. The number of Muslims is expected to rise by 35 percent in the next 20 years, according to The Pew Research Center, to reach 2.2 billion people.

237 Comments

  1. It gets a lot more contemporary than that. There has been a 3 decade long “Cold War” between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia which has spilled out over Syria and Iraq.

    http://middleeast.about.com/od/iran/tp/Iran-And-Saudi-Arabia-Middle-East-Cold-War.htm
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9122371/armageddon-awaits/

    At one point US forces were fighting proxy militias armed by both parties in Iraq. Another example of how the Middle East Cold War has played out is with Israeli/Palestinian conflicts. Hamas is a proxy force for Iran and Fatah is one for the Arab League (Saudis). This erupted into a Palestinian civil war at one point a few years back.

    A major problem in Iraq is that it is actually a 3 way ethnic/sectarian conflict involving oil. Sunni/Shia/Kurd. Saddamn Hussein’s Sunni led government suppressed Shia religion and politics as possible 5th columnists for Iran. Hussein also embarked on a campaign of genocide against the Kurds. Geographically the Sunnis in Iraq have issues. They are largely clustered in the region of the country without much of the oil fields (towards its center), unlike Shia and Kurdish majority regions. Partition would leave the Iraqi Sunnis in an economic sinkhole in comparison to the others.

      • The Islamic Caliphate is NOT coming together. Sunnis don’t have any established clergy or definition of who should lead. The Shia have a more established hierarchy and would be more likely than the Sunnis at establishing such a Caliphate, except for the fact that the Shia see that role in the Imam who no longer exist (unless the 12th one comes back). In other words, it’s far too complex to happen. When the Turks controlled the Caliphate, it was largely ignored by the rest of the Islamic world, Sunni and Shia alike.

        Disgrace to human dignity?!?!?! You better include those other ‘faiths’ like political ideology, ethnic loyalties, nationalism, economic ideologies, social classes, etc. that humans believe are real but are mere human creations. All of these include faith and belief in things that aren’t really real, but instead only really exist in our heads. We believe they are, and so they are!

      • No. But if you are a non-Muslim living under Muslim controlled government you would have to pay a tax for protection/security. So, Islam is like the mafia in that respect. I see living under strict Islamic control would be much like living under Hitler in Europe had Hiltler prevailed in WW2. Look at Iran, with the Islamic “religious police” beating up on people for minor infringements and banning music, dancing, books and movies, similar to Hitler’s Storm Troopers ransacking homes and neighborhoods and burning books. This whole Islamic jihad that s going on has the same end in sight as did Hitler and his NAZI’s…world domination/control. And Islam is as much a tyranical political system as was Nazism.

  2. Thanks for this article

    The Islamic Caliphate is coming together.
    Everyone get ready.
    Religion is about to become a mortal threat to the world. Again.

    ALL FAITH is a disgrace to human dignity.
    And all religion is a hoax of self-centered assertions
    of the superiority of ONE’S OWN GOD over someone else’s .

    A world of 30,000 religions…and they are all wrong.
    But there will be war over them anyway. :-(

      • @Larry,

        Wrong. Religion is Totalitarianism:
        These Straw-men are NOT examples of Atheism:

        Stalin was a self-appointed intermediary (CZAR) between God and the religion of the state. He demanded FAITH in that religion including the miracles of Lysenko, or death.
        That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

        Pol Pot was a Theravada Buddhist who ‘divined supernatural heaven’ of which he appointed himself leader and demanded allegiance as head of the religion of the state of Cambodia. He was against all education and science. What Atheist ever did that?
        That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

        Hitler and his SS were sworn Catholics and Christians, hailed allegiance to the Fuhrer (father) under ‘God’, demanded faith in the divinity of the Aryan Race and demanded each Nazi wore the belt buckle which read ‘God on our side’ (“Gott Mit Uns”) or God With Us. Hitler’s first peace treaty was the Vatican Koncordat in 1933 where the church swore allegiance to Hitler and Hitler would choose the Bishops for Germany.
        Hitler’s hatred of Jews was founded on the writings of Martin Luther, he declared Christ ‘his model of the great soldier’ fighting against the evil of the Jews. (Mein Kampf) His favorite words of Jesus ended the Parable of the Minas; “Execute them in front of me.” – Jesus(Luke 19:27)
        That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

        Emperor Hirohito, was the cult of the sun god – the sacrificial Kamikazes and the holy war of ‘sacred’ Japan joining the Axis Powers against the infidel America.
        That is not Atheism – it is FAITH

        North Korea is the most religious country on earth.
        Its current leader had a supernatural birth where the birds sang in Korean. All of the subjects must worship the Dear Leader who has supernatural powers or be executed.
        That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

        However, there is no FAITH in the United States Constitution which remains the only godless constitution in the world.

        You show me an example where the non-religious democratic ideals of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Voltaire and Lucretius spiraled into torture, brutality and dictatorship
        and we’ll have a level playing field.

        Don’t slander Atheism.

        • You have reported what men have demanded. Nowhere in Scripture do you find where the true God demanded anything from His faithful, only suggested. Don’t blame God for man’s failure. We were given free-will.

          • @Ronh,

            “Nowhere in Scripture do you find where the true God demanded anything from His faithful, only suggested.”

            WHAT?
            I’m astonished you never heard of the 10 Commandments.
            And I’m astonished that you never heard Jesus command anything.
            And I’m astonished you don’t realize that Jesus VALIDATED ALL 602 stoning laws in the Old Testament – BY FIAT!

            I’m delighted that you acknowledge that I have the option to toss the Bible in the trash.

            But I reject the idea that we have that right thanks to it having been ‘given’ to me.

            One cannot have free will if it is ‘a gift’ from someone who will torture you if you do not accept it in a certain way.
            That is called a SHAKEDOWN worthy of a scene out of THE GODFATHER.

            And yes, I have no choice but to ‘blame’ the religion for injunctions like these:

            “To those who would not have me as their king, bring them to me and execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

            “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! …what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on Earth? No, I tell you, but division.” – Jesus (Luke 12:49-51)

            “Jesus said…Except they repent of their deeds. I will kill those children with death.” (Rev:1:22)

            All of this is evil.
            All religion must be abandoned before the world blows itself up over it.

        • Those men who wrote the Constitution had Faith in their fellow man, and in the basic nature of man to adhere to, obey, and uphold that authoritarian document so that we may become a great society. That is not atheism, that was Faith.

        • For the love of Truth

          If there is no God or person than what is it that could be slandered? If it is the ideals of Atheism that are being slandered than they too must be believed in other words “Faith”. If you intend to imply that the ideas of atheism is sole and exclusive truth now you are in the world of religion and it 30,000 competing ideologies where all truths are not equal. You just chose to follow one that fits your own relativistic view. By the way I agree with you on Jefferson. His writings were contradictory depicting someone who is intelligent but confused, just as his life depicted someone who posed as possessing high character, but really possessing low character. Much like a few leaders and politicians today.

        • You’ve written so much about the word, “faith,” totally lambasting the construct. I would offer only this,: what enables a person (obviously a Westerner who sleeps in a bed rather than on the floor) to rise and place his or her feet on the floor every morning? I will answer that question. One must believe the floor underneath will not move. That belief is “faith.”
          We all believe in SOMEthing.

          • @Jane b,

            The time to believe in something is when you find evidence that it exists.

            There is not reason – nor any virtue – in believing something because some self appointed authority says it is true. In fact, it is your moral imperative to be skeptical of any claim which is unsupported.

          • Jane B makes a good point, and if I may, I would like to add to it a little.

            Faith is not believing in something because others tell you it exists. The Biblical definition of faith is: the belief you have established within yourself- faith is a trust and a personal dedication, not blindly following as the dictionary may define it, but following your heart and trusting in something bigger than oneself. While it may sound fluffy, it is the truth. This doesn’t mean we are intended to never ask questions. In fact, one of the teachings in the Bible is that Christians must not blindly follow, as this makes their loyalty ultimately false or worthless. Questioning is a natural part in establishing one’s faith.

          • “….following your heart and trusting in something bigger than oneself.”

            Yes – the LONGING for the parent.
            Michael Shermer and others have written a lot about this feeling.

            The idea that there is ‘something bigger’ is common in most humans. The explanation for it – though it is not attractive to religious people – is that it comes from evolution.

            This feeling is given to us in infancy along with our brains.
            We are prepared by evolution
            to look for our parents from the moment we are born.

            We are born prepared to love our parents (and they us) – because it is absolutely vital to our survival. We could not survive as a species without this longing for parents.

            We do not stop longing. Many of us still feel these things as adults and we are cultivated by religions to focus this feeling toward ‘a god’ or in many cultures, several gods.

            The truth is harsh. But this ‘God’…is a delusional experience.

            God is the parental longing which has stayed in the brain as an impulse since infancy.

            If you want to put a happier spin on it, you could say the God delusion is a beautiful condition which we must ironically be thankful for. It helped us survive from the beginning of our lives.

            But, like baby teeth and baby hair, we really should allow ourselves to grow out of it and put it in its place.

            God is very likely not a real thing. Which is why hundreds of thousands of them have come and gone from history.

            But worse, the delusion can be very dangerous.
            It is best if we allow ourselves to understand the delusion and to even enjoy what we can of it without dipping into supernatural or dogmatic explanations.

            Science explains it quite well.

        • Luke 19:27

          Atheist max (and other atheists)…

          Jesus is telling the parable of the many talents

          The words you quote are the words of the nobleman….As told by Jesus

          The death Jesus talks of is the SPIRITUAL death all men face
          without Jesus in their life.

          The bible can NOT be understood by those who are spiritually blind.

          • “The bible can NOT be understood by those who are spiritually blind.”

            Then why use it to preach to sinners?

            Your argument about the Nobleman/Jesus should terrify you.
            Not because it is true but because it cannot be true.

          • Exactly!
            1 Cor 2:14 But people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way. (CEB)

          • We spread the gospel of Christ because we were told to by Jesus. After the resurrection, Jesus told the disciples to go in his place and as Christians, we are to follow the same example. We may not be perfect but we are required to spread the gospel.

            John 20:19-23 ESV
            19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

          • I’m so happy that you pointed out Max’s misunderstanding of what was written in Luke 19. although max appears to be a very intelligent and well spoken man he is sadly mistaken. Good for you for pointing out his misquoting

          • @Tom,

            STOP IT!

            “..bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and execute them in front of me.” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

            EVERY INTERPRETATION OF LUKE 19
            SAYS THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS!

            Catholic Christ Notes – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS:
            http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=42&c=19

            BIBLE GATEWAY – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS:
            http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Luke/Controversy-Jerusalem

            BIBLE STUDY TOOLS – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS
            http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/luke/luke-19.html

            MATTHEW HENRY’S COMPLETE COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS
            http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/view.cgi?book=lu&chapter=019

            CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS
            http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2009/06/09/what-does-the-parable-of-the-minas-mean/

            CATHOLIC BIBLE HUB – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS
            http://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/19-27.htm

            THE MOST IMPORTANT INTERPRETATION IS THE ONE PROMINENT CHRISTIANS GAVE IT!!!

            Hitler:
            “I am convinced our Lord Jesus is Soldier for God against Evil”

            “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.”
            -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922

            Tom, your defense of this disgraceful, immoral and pathetic JESUS is 2000 years too late!

        • “The fool says in his heart; “There is no God!””
          -Proverbs 14:1

          If Atheism is not a Religion, then why do you defend as if it were, Max?

          By the way, your summation of history, particularly that of Constitutional History, is in want of scholarship. A cursery examination of the writings of all the Father’s you’ve mentioned, reveal the profoundly religious underpinnings of all the Father’s; be they Deist, Theist or Trinitarian. I don’t know of one Signer of the constitution that held an atheistic view of providence (which is a contradiction of terms and therefore invalid and irrational), which is a term they used frequently in their writings.

          • Here’s how the founders of the Constitution used the word “God”…

            The US Constitution shall be “Godless.”

            And then they enacted it with their signatures.

            No. Atheism is not a religion. And ‘OFF’ is not a TV channel.
            Religion is a fire ruining everything. I’m a fireman trying to put it out.

        • Umm…, no mention of “China” in your comment and China has/was/is an “Atheistic” state !

          No “religion” yet “China” has “murdered” more people than “all” your statistics” mentioned above ?

          Roughly 80 – 100 million deaths in the name of “Atheism” !

          Even “today” athiest China goes out of its way to “murder” anyone of any faith, and “anyone” else who differs with/from their philosophy! !!

          HOW “CONVENIENT” TO LEAVE THIS OUT ???

          “HYPOCRITE” !!!!!!!

        • @AtheistMax: Speaking from a Christian perspective, I appreciate your examples of how faith was misused to torture and kill millions of people but none of these leaders served the true God. In the end, they created their own god or made themselves god. They twisted God’s truth in some cases. As far as your quotes from Jesus, he is authoritatively speaking of the judgment due those who reject the true God through parable which I know you do not necessarily believe in. Jesus came to give life and to give us salvation from God’s wrath which is his judgment on evil and disobedient people. Of course his message was going to cause division and he knew this and the rejection he would receive. Jesus paid the price for our sins but he was will to discuss in the parables the judgment due for man’s sin and that can be definitely unsettling.

          • @William A

            “none of these leaders served the true God”

            This is known as the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

            By the way, You cannot find a true Christian – did you know that?
            It is actually not possible to be a Christian according to Jesus.
            One of those thing that Christians like to ignore.

          • @William A,

            I have a hard time understanding how Hitler did not serve the true God.
            Jesus was an absolutist. He did not accept any deviations from his philosophy.

            His parable of the Minas is a shocker because Jesus tells a very harsh lesson to those who go against the Nobleman (Jesus) and Jesus is so clearly adamant that the Good people (HIS SERVANTS) MUST be separated from the bad people (ANYBODY ELSE):

            “bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their KING and execute them in front of me.” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

            Who but the JEWS fit that description perfectly?
            Followed by atheists, Hindus, Homosexuals…etc..

            It is very easy to argue that Hitler was indeed doing the work ‘of the Lord’ which is what he said he was doing all along.

        • I’m an atheist, but I also want to see truth and not convince myself something is there when it isn’t. What you’re doing is trying to find any tiny shred of connection to religion and then put the spot light on it and use that tiny reference to religion as proof of every woe in this world being at the hand of religion. You also take things at face value. You think because Catholics and Protestants were involved in Hitler’s regime that the issue was a religious one? Because Kamakazi’s looked at historical Japanese myth, you think they were fighting a religious war? I guess you must assume whenever a Canadian soldier goes into war, and a priest or rabbi or imam stands before the troops and says a prayer as a means to calm the men before they fight, that it must somehow be a religious war? This is taking things too literally. If I looked at the world with your rigid thinking, then the German Democratic Republic would have been a democratic country even though it was really a communist regime. Or the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea – aka North Korea – would have to be democratic just because its name says so. Or the Christian Socialist Party in Germany must be socialist and to the left of politics just because the world ‘socialist’ is in its name. Or the Socialist Democratic Party in Portugal must then be socialist just because the name ‘socialist’ is in its name. In the Netherlands when we say “God Save the King”, it does not mean that we believe in god. It’s a historical phrase and part of our cultural heritage. When in The Netherlands and Denmark or England people – including atheists – go to a church mass on Christmas, it’s not because we believe in god, but because we want to partake in a part of our cultural heritage and hear Christmas music. This world is a bit more complex than the simple view you’ve seem to have created out of it.

        • @Athiest Max ………….. Such black and white rigid thinking!!! I see this rigid view of the world from many Americans. Maybe it’s the result of a mind that only speaks one language and cannot fathom that things are not so rigid, but are rather fluid.

          First of all, Hitler’s beef with the Jews was not religious. It was ethnic. He abused theories of evolution about the European races being better evolved and more fit, especially the Germans, and thus justified in fighting unfit nations and dominating them. His ideas, such as sterilization, were used by many countries in Europe and the USA at that time under the concept that the population must be kept fit by removing those who could produce children and continue to make the population unfit.

          ‘Gott mit Uns’ does not mean a war is a religious war. In the Netherlands we often say ‘God Save the King’. Atheists say it all the time. Not because we believe in god, but because it is a tradition handed down to us for centuries. ‘Gott mit Uns’ was used not only by the Nazis, but used in wars long before that. It was natural when the ‘tribe’ or ‘nation’ went to battle, they evoked notions of king, god, and country. You take it far too literal.

          North Korea isn’t about religion. It’s about finding justification why a tyrant deserves to rule with absolute power. You find an excuse, some kind, to justify it. A mandate from heaven, from a higher power, is a good excuse. Doesn’t mean people believe it. In a brutal state people won’t dare question the logic of it. They will learn to publicly endorse it or else face the brutal consequences.

          And again, atheists partake in many religious traditions because it is part of our culture. We are not detached from the society around us, our society’s history, or our heritage. Go to any Lutheran church in Denmark on Christmas. You will see its seats packed with standing-room only in the back because of all the atheists who are thronging to the churches to hear the Christmas carols. It’s their way of getting in touch with their culture, their roots, their heritage. But in your rigid black and white world, Atheist Max, you would simply write them all off as religious fanatics.

          • markfarr22,

            “The world is more complex than you are making it”

            I shot my son with the first century equivalent of an AK-47 after torturing him with something much worse than water boarding and I did this for your personal benefit.
            If you don’t believe me I’ll do worse things to you forever in Hell.
            - Yahweh

            And…
            The world will be much less complicated when we abandon this sort of inexplicable nonsense.

        • Atheism is slander. Atheists argue with negative logic and expect to be believed. Impossible, because negative logic is illogical. If the smartest individuals account for only 2% of all knowledge, don’t you suppose you could find God, Yahweh, in the remaining 98% of knowledge? Put a different way you would have to be all knowing, omniscient, to be able to prove there is no God. The God of the Bible, the Creator, has said , “Only a fool has said in his own heart that there is no God.” Please re-consider your position. We all have a choice but we are without excuse if we deny the existence of God. God has said that He has revealed Himself to us in all creation, the heavens and the stars. This has nothing to do with religion but everything to do with our spirituality. Sorry, but I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.

          • @Earl,

            Atheism = ‘I DO NOT BELIEVE IN A GOD’

            That is all it is!
            Don’t imagine that it is more than it is.
            I do not claim that God is impossible only that I see absolutely no reason to believe in it.

            It does not take FAITH to disbelieve.
            If it did, you would be working very hard right now to disbelieve in ZEUS, APHRODITE, ISIS, OSIRIS, ALLAH ETC……

            Don’t say stupid things like “It takes faith to disbelieve” !
            That is a child talking.

      • Name the atheistic ones. As far as I know the only one who comes close is Stalin but even he was an altar boy and later a Seminarian of the Orthodox Church so…I think he wavered from belief and non-beleif according to wikipedia. In any case, it takes religion to get the masses in the mood to do real destruction. Religion is needed for totalitarianism to function. George Orwell said that and I agree.

        • Jim Grossmann

          It’s true that no one has killed in the name of atheism per se, but by the same token, no one has killed in the name of theism per se either.

          Killing in the name of religion always takes place in the name of some specific religious movement.

          It is therefore perfectly fair for theists to point out that there have been specific officially atheist movements have killed many people as well.

      • Re: “And atheistic totalitarian governments never killed anybody, right Max?”

        And fervent religionism has given us … what … ? Crusades, Inquisitions, the Shi’ite/Sunni rift, the September 11, 2001 attacks … ?

        What part of any of that … or lots of other things I could have named … has proven useful to humanity?

        Feel free to answer that question if you have the courage to try. In the meantime I will conclude — quite rationally — that religion hasn’t made humanity any better than it would have been without it. Therefore it’s not wrong to wonder if we might not be better off without it.

    • You are the extreme of self centered faith. A religion of one who worships the god of himself. It’s no different. It’s just the ultimate in ridiculousness, especially given that you will deny any of this blatantly obvious reality is true. You sad little god.

      •  “I too have made a wee little book, from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus. it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. a more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus…”

        -Thomas Jefferson

        • @God,

          I LOVE IT when Christians bring up Thomas Jefferson
          as their defender of their faith. Politicians can usually be counted on to pander to their public somewhat and as such it is extraordinary
          how much of Christianity Thomas Jefferson rejected even though he gave it a few flowery quotes.

          If you have read Thomas Jefferson Bible (it is a mere pamphlet)
          you will discover that our greatest president
          REJECTED ALL THAT CHRISTIANS HOLD DEAR:

          Baptism
          Tithing
          The 10 Commandments
          The Resurrection
          Communion
          Vicarious Redemption
          Transubstantiation
          The Trinity
          The Virgin Mother
          ANY Miracles
          ANY Healings
          The Virgin Birth
          The Christmas Myth
          The Wise Men
          The Sacraments
          ALL OF THE God CLAIMS!

          In other words he liked the story of the Good Samaritan
          and stories which re-enforced JESUS’ endless redundancies around THE GOLDEN RULE, which pre-dated Jesus by several centuries.

          He reduced the Bible to nothing more than a pamphlet.

          Meanwhile Thomas Jefferson was clearly disgusted by those who preached and believed in the DIVINITY of Jesus:

          “On the dogmas of religon, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.”
          – Thomas Jefferson, to Carey, 1816

          “In every country and in every age, the preacher has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”

          -Thomas Jefferson

          “Question with boldness the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”

          -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

          And you have shown only
          obedience and fear – the very things
          which rightly disgusted the great THOMAS JEFFERSON.

          • It was Jefferson who sought to send military to the middle east because he was aware of extreme Islam. You wish to ban love too, Trojan war was over a woman. Point being, religion or not there will be wars. The fact that an athiest is on this cite, confirms my belief that believer or not, religion moves people to act.

          • AtheistMax, that response was a thing of beauty.

            Obviously God [with the marmoset avatar] missed the irony of Jefferson’s quote.*

            *That was assuming it was a genuine quote, which we can’t. Too many fundies use phony quotations ala David Barton for such things to ever be taken at face value.

          • Im an atheist, your an anti-theist.
            Seriously Hitler wasn’t motivated by religious faith…The biographer John Toland noted Hitler’s anticlericalism, but considered him still in “good standing” with the Church by 1941, while historians such as Ian Kershaw, Joachim Fest and Alan Bullock agree that Hitler was anti-Christian – a view evidenced by sources such as the Goebbels Diaries, the memoirs of Speer, and the transcripts edited by Martin Bormann contained within Hitler’s Table Talk. Goebbels wrote in 1941 that Hitler “hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity.” Many historians have come to the conclusion that Hitler’s long term aim was the eradication of Christianity in Germany.

            You Atheist Max are a lot more like Hitler then the average theist.

          • @Joande,

            I am a lover of the US Constitutional freedoms including the establishment clause – it is not possible for my position to be fascist.

            I’m against religion because IT IS the FASCISM of the dictator. Not just the tool but the means by which people like Hitler rise to power.
            Any defense of religion which invokes Hitler is shameful and unlettered.

          • ATHEIST MAX – you are one heckuva convincing slammer of religion.
            Religion can be so baffling and difficult to argue against. It really takes focus to realize that religion is not only nonsense but it is very carefully designed over hundreds of years to resist thoughtful analysis.

            But keep going. We need to examine religion and challenge these claims.

          • As a Christian, I do not turn to any other human to bolster my belief. I believe what I believe and do not care what you believe. My belief in Jesus Christ gives me peace and other’s belief in something or someone else surely gives them peace. So let’s all stop arguing about this and trying to force our particular beliefs on someone else. It seems to me War is the result of someone trying to force their own beliefs on another.

          • Thomas Jefferson is definitely not one to point out as a great defender or believer of the Christian faith. Regardless, the U.S. was founded on Judeo-Christian principles but not as a religious state or theocracy.

        • @Wizzal

          “It was Jefferson who sought to send military to the middle east because he was aware of extreme Islam.”

          Your history is crap.

          Jefferson wanted to send troops to North Africa to avoid paying tributes on ships going into the Mediterranean. The Middle East at the time was the Ottoman Empire. We were friendly with them at the time.

          Extreme Islam (as something divorced from nationalism), is a modern creation. Dating back to the ancient period of the 1970′s. Getting a big boost when the collapse of the USSR stopped funding international terror movements.

          “Trojan war was over a woman.”

          You never read The Iliad either.

          The Trojan War was about Helen of Troy’s brother in law trying to make a foreign conquest. Helen’s abduction was a pretext and a recruiting slogan. Homer was clear about the mendacious nature of the reasons for the war. Even the unfairly maligned filmed abridgment “Troy” with Brad Pitt made that clear.

          • I am a lover of the US Constitutional freedoms including the establishment clause – it is not possible for my position to be fascist.

            How can you state that you are a lover of Constitutional freedoms when you hate and wish vanishing of one of the very things it protects. Confused or double-talk?

          • @Don,

            No.
            The US Constitution will be true and right forever.
            As long as it guarantees religious freedom.

            Religions are temporary. And there are thousands of them.
            You will ALWAYS have the right to pick a religion for yourself to follow in the USA.

            Because the US Constitution is forever.
            Unless someone removes the Establishment Clause which separates church and state.

            Then you and I are both screwed.
            Someone else will be picking your religion for you – and me.

      • @God,

        JESUS – I WILL DISMEMBER PEOPLE WITH A SWORD

        “The master shall cut him to pieces” – Jesus (Luke 12) JESUS describes what he intends to do to his own enemies, whoever they may be.

        JESUS – EXECUTE MY ENEMIES FOR ME

        “..bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King, and execute them in front of me.” (Luke 19:27)

        JESUS – YOU SHOULD DROWN THEM

        “Drown him with a millstone” (Matt 18:6),

        JESUS – YOU MUST JUDGE HARSHLY

        “Judge [them] unworthy…remove your blessings of PEACE” (Matt 10:13)

        JESUS – I SHALL BURN THE WORLD

        “I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints! I am impatient to bring..DIVISION.” (Luke 12:49-51)

        JESUS – HATE THOSE WHO LOVE YOU MOST

        “Hate your parents…hate your life”(Luke 14:26)

        • Matthew Brazil

          @Atheist Max

          You do know that hyperbole is often used as a rhetorical tool, yes?

          ““The master shall cut him to pieces” – Jesus (Luke 12) JESUS describes what he intends to do to his own enemies, whoever they may be.” A parable comparing the fates of the faithful and the unfaithful, where the former is a studious servant, and the latter are wicked servants.

          ““..bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King, and execute them in front of me.” (Luke 19:27)” Again, part of the parable, and also foreshadowing the imminent physical doom of Jewish Jerusalem’s destruction within the coming century.

          ““Drown him with a millstone” (Matt 18:6),” EXTREME cherry-picking; part of a passage where Jesus is telling that it would BETTER for a man to drown himself with a millstone than to lead an innocent child to sin.

          ““Judge [them] unworthy…remove your blessings of PEACE” (Matt 10:13)” Jesus is speaking to His disciples and is commissioning them to preach. If their message is received, all well and good. If not, then they move on and leave all traces of them behind (the proverbial ‘shaking the dust off their feet’). So, if said household that they lodged in was spiritually worthy, then the disciple would provide a blessing on it (their peace); if not, they would retract their blessing (their peace).

          ““I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints! I am impatient to bring..DIVISION.” (Luke 12:49-51)” The contemporary Jewish view of the Messiah was that he would reestablish Israel as a kingdom, driving out the Romans and reasserting Jewish supremacy over their promised lands. Christ rejected this view, telling His disciples and followers that He was not here to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel (“My kingdom is not of this world”); furthermore, that His teachings would be rejected by the world and those of the world.

          ““Hate your parents…hate your life”(Luke 14:26)” Another use of hyperbole to get the message across, in particular with how Christ, in the very next verse, says that whoever could not carry their own cross and walk with him could NOT be a disciple. Indeed, he is not calling for hatred of the people themselves, but is saying that your relationship with them is secondary to your relationship with God (Matthew 12:50: “For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”)

          Oh, and just for the record: Hell was not built for us. It is a state of total separation from God. Being made in His image, the agony of experiencing that separation will be indescribable. So no, it is not a place that God has created, but rather is a prison of our own design.

          • @Matthew Brazil,

            Yes. And who can trust a book of hyperbole?
            Here is more hyperbole:

            “He is risen”
            “Whatever you ask I will do it for you”
            “seek and ye shall find”
            “And many saints rose from the dead”
            “he put his hand in his side”
            “I come not to bring peace” but “blessed are the peacemakers”

            I dismiss the bible because it its injunctions are evil and its claims are not true.

            Your argument dismisses the bible for its distortion and embroidering.

            Welcome to Atheism.

          • @Matthew Brazil,

            By the way, Hell WAS created by God

            “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7)

            Jesus says “eat of my body” and “Be baptized and believe” or “Be condemned to Hell” (John 6:53-54)(Mark 16:16).

            So its purpose is for “condemnation” for those who do not

          • And so the embattled Muslims, both Shiia & Sunni, are Godless, in Hell. In spite of their protestations otherwise, they are in “a prison of their own design” as you so aptly put it. They cannot see beyond their own passions and are therefore doomed..

            “A pox on all their houses.” A few good lessons, here & there but who really wants to join up?

          • The Bible is not just a book of hyperbole. Many people want the Bible to be a book of short prescriptions and proscriptions similar to The Analects of Confucius or think it is just a book of myths and fairytales. But in addition to Proverbs, the Scriptures contain historical narratives, parables, lists, poems, songs, instructions, commands, prophecies — many kinds of text, each of which must be read in the way appropriate to its nature. You wouldn’t read a court order the same way you would read a newspaper, but disbelievers can’t seem to help reading Leviticus, the Sermon on the Mount, Parables, and Revelation in the same way — and then accusing believers of “simplistic” or “literal” interpretation!

            There is more than enough proof of the resurrection (science is not the only way to prove something) and God’s working or blessings and chastising in a believer’s life. We trust the word of God because we find it to be true and I encourage you not to just “cherry pick” scriptures but to read all of the text of a book and understand the context before using them for criticisms.

          • @William A,

            you said, “I encourage you not to just “cherry pick” scriptures”
            Please don’t be ridiculous.

            Blessed are the Peacemakers – Jesus
            I come not to bring Peace but a sword – Jesus

            Forgive enemies – Jesus
            Execute enemies – Jesus

            HOW DO YOU PROCEED WITHOUT MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF?

            “Cigarettes are bad for you.” – Jesus
            “Cigarettes are good for you.” – Jesus

            You can’t have it both ways.
            Either Cherry Pick from Jesus
            or throw out the whole bible (which is a far better solution)

        • Maaaaxxxxx….stop using Luke 19 as a crutch. You are not understanding that those words are not Jesus’s words. They are of a man who is a king. You seem to be so intelligent and so well spoken, yet you continue to misquote parts of the Bible!

          • @rebecca,

            STOP THINKING YOU ARE ‘CORRECTING’ ME.

            This is the Catholic analysis regarding Luke 19.

            “Commentary on Luke 19:11-27:
            “This parable is like that of the talents, Matthew 25. Those that are called to Christ, he furnishes with gifts needful for their business; and from those to whom he gives power, he expects service. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal, 1 Corinthians 12:7. And as every one has received the gift, so let him minister the same, 1 Peter 4:10.”
            “The account required, resembles that in the parable of the talents; and the PUNISHMENT OF THE ENEMIES of Christ, as well as of false professors, is shown. The principal difference is, that the pound given to each seems to point out the gift of the gospel, which is the same to all who hear it; but the talents, distributed more or less, seem to mean that God gives different capacities and advantages to men, by which this one gift of the gospel may be differently improved.”
            -MATTHEW HENRY

            “Commentary on Luke 19:28-40:
            “Christ has dominion over all creatures, and may use them as he pleases. He has all men’s hearts both under his eye and in his hand. Christ’s triumphs, and his disciples’ joyful praises, vex proud Pharisees, who are enemies to him and to his kingdom. But Christ, as he despises the contempt of the proud, so he accepts the praises of the humble. Pharisees would silence the praises of Christ, but they cannot; for as God can out of stones raise up children unto Abraham, and turn the stony heart to himself, so he can bring praise out of the mouths of children. And what will be the feelings of men when the Lord returns in glory to judge the world”
            - MATTHEW HENRY

            ALL CHRISTIAN COMMENTARIES
            AGREE THAT THE PARABLE OF THE 10 MINAS (LUKE 19)
            THE NOBLEMAN
            IS
            AN
            AVATAR
            OF

            JESUS!!!

            Have I corrected you enough, yet?

            “Execute Them!” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

          • @Jojo,

            “you have chosen to not use faith…you will not be able to see”

            I agree with you.
            The Bible makes no sense without faith.
            But then, faith does not make sense either. It is a will to lurch motivated by one’s fear and confusion over these ‘authoritative’ texts.
            Faith is a highly sophisticated, polished bauble – a trick of the mind.
            Allow me to demonstrate.

            THE TRICK OF FAITH – HOW THE TRICK WORKS:

            Suppose
            I have a butter knife on the table. It is just me and the knife.

            Now an AUTHORITY comes along and claims IT IS GOOD TO BELIEVE that the knife is actually not a knife but a spoon (for some reason).

            I look at the knife and I know it is not a spoon.
            I CANNOT believe that it is a spoon.

            But the instruction to see it AS a spoon can be followed
            once I’m told it is a good* thing to believe “IN THE BELIEF” that it is a spoon.

            Once I have decided, “to believe in belief”, this changes everything – it introduces a fresh concept! And now I can connect the dots.

            I can CLAIM
            the knife to be a spoon even though I know it is not.
            MY NATURAL, strong inner drive TO DO THE GOOD THING will force me to see the VIRTUOUS spoon yet it is only a knife.

            And this is faith.

            Faith is a magic trick and it works only with an AUTHORITY
            that tells you “belief in a belief” is a good thing.

            Because people will almost always do the good thing if they are presented with the choice – they will unwittingly LEARN TO LIE.

            FAITH is an ancient philosophy of unthought
            which celebrates its lack of thought.

            I call it the “faith trick”
            and it is the dangerous move which suspends all critical thinking. The ‘belief in belief’ is the ‘faith trick’ against critical thought.

            - ATHEIST MAX

          • @Jojo,

            Yes FAITH exploits the natural goodness in people by CO-OPTING their fear and confusion about life and uncertainty and hands it to an imagined Authority.

            If God existed he would save us from Faith.

          • No religion please

            Actually love, it’s evidence not faith as every time those feet have moved from their bed the floor has been there. Pretty simple example to refute can you come up with something a little trickier or is intellectual curiosity a bit much for you?

      • @GOD,

        You said, “You are the extreme of self-centered faith.”
        That is foolish nonsense.
        I have no belief in god and faith is particularly evil.

        “You Sad little God”

        Again, I have no gods. My morality is superior to yours, that is true. But that is because my morality is based on something more ancient, more effective and better proven than your god’s morality.

        Now let’s consider you:

        1. You have self-subjected yourself to be the slave of a woman-hating, slave-loving, totalitarian dictator named God who tells you that you “know nothing” and that “you are unworthy.”

        2. This God of yours claims to have turned himself into his own son and mercilessly tortured and shot up that son even to the point of ripping into his flesh. This God panders to your profound vanity and selfishness by telling you he conducted this horror against his son JUST FOR YOUR PERSONAL BENEFIT so that you can be SAVED from the HELL he built for you provided that YOU agree to believe in this extraordinary accomplishment. IF you do not believe in God’s amazing gift of ripping up his son for your benefit HE will do much worse things to you.

        3. Your Dictator threatens you with eternal damnation for the slightest screw-up (the way is narrow) and denies you all lines of inquiry, he denies you use of the brain he gave you to think, and he forbids countless wonders on earth in return for a promise of spending eternity with him – and you have ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE that he exists and a profound TONNAGE of evidence that he does not exist.

        And you feel sad for…ME?
        Put on your big boy pants and talk like a grown up, good grief.

        • Regarding your statement “Religion is Totalitarianism”
          I disagree. Religion is not Totalitarianism. Religion is used by Totalitarian governments. Its just like saying a gun is evil. A gun is not evil but it can e used for evil. I agree with many of your points, but I wouldn’t say “Religion is Totalitarianism”. However I do agree that Religion is obviously exclusive by definition and that makes it very easy for governments to control people.

          • @Jon,

            Thanks, but let’s unpack this a bit.

            Totalitarianism is Total control. The idea that you are owned by another power from birth to death. Your actions – and even your thoughts are monitored for the slightest slip up.

            Religion owns you at birth with Original sin, designs a plan for your entire life which includes “correcting” that sin with Salvation of some kind. The process includes thought crime where the God can read your thoughts (‘though shalt not covet’ is a thought crime) and then you are released only at Death. And with religion the ownership continues even after death in ‘hell’ or ‘heaven’, either way, your life is completely ‘owned’ by a God or those acting as god.

            Religion then, is Total.

            George Orwell put it perfectly:

            “A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible. But since, in practice, no one is infallible, it is frequently necessary to rearrange past events in order to show that this or that mistake was not made, or that this or that imaginary triumph actually happened.”
            ― George Orwell, Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 2 My Country Right or Left 1940 – 1943

            Religion shouldn’t only be rejected.
            It should creep people out!

          • As far as hell is concerned, the Bible teaches that hell was created for Satan and his angels. God did not create hell for us nor does He send us there. He is not an unfair, biased deity who shows favor on people who behave the best and everyone else gets to go to hell. We have been given enough free will within His sovereignty to choose how we live our lives. Do we live a life based on our own base wants and needs or the live a life through God for others?

          • “Believe or be condemned” – Jesus

            This is not free will.
            This is coercion of THE GODFATHER variety.

    • It’s not about religion. It’s about power. They just use religion as a front

      Btw, you seem to have put in a tremendous amount of time and research into defending your atheist views. Honestly after reading all the responses it seems very negative to me. You don’t seem like a very happy person. I’m truly sorry you have the time to do this and I hope that you can find some human contact. I think this will make you a happier person. Thinking about you…

      • All religion is a front for giving socially acceptable gloss to what you want to do. This is why Max considers it evil. It excuses way too much wicked, malicious ad dangerous actions to be trusted.

        Btw cut the “athiests must be sad and crazy” shtick. It’s just condescending passive aggressive lashing out on your part. You don’t know a damn thing about Max but want to feel somehow superior to him. You want an excuse to dismiss him out of hand instead of bothering to understand what he says.

        How would you feel if I suggested you stop being such an ignoramus and think for yourself. Maybe try hanging around role outside your Christian funds bubble and inform yourself about te word around you.

        You feel insulted right? You think I am just going to write off your reactions as some brainwashed fool, right?

        Maybe now you can be about more civil. You act in a condescending manner, you can expect the same.

        Are we on the same age here.

        • Thanks, as usual Larry.
          As you well know, I had a very Christian life and was fully committed to Jesus. Love was the glue of my faith.
          These Christians don’t realize the vast majority of us Atheists were true believers – once upon a time.

          And they do not know how absolutely relieved and happy
          life can be as an Atheist! :-)

          • Max help me understand, if you would allow me that knowledge. If you are not comfortable then that is fine but here it goes:

            You said that you were once a Christian and that love was your glue? What caused you to lose that love, or maybe better what took that love away?

            What made you believe and what may your believe leave?

            I am truly interested in these thoughts. For me, it started simply from a science approach. I was not Christian and did not believe in religion at all. I am 52 years old and after 30 years of science and study and trying to understand the “Single Moment” concept, I could find no scientific explanation that could justify years of science I had believed in. Don’t get me wrong, I still study science and have strong belief in most of the theories but as a result of knowledge learned, I had no choice but to give validity to the possibility of creation and that lead me to a belief in God as creator. Still working on how that all fits into a religious life-style as I am not there yet but the simple belief that this is all by design, through my studies, cannot be denied and is the most plausible root.

          • @Don,

            No problem.
            Short version: I grew up in a big close Catholic family. Priests came to the house on Sunday for dinner all the time. Lots of incredible love and compassion – lots of prayer. A wonderful childhood and Jesus was always there (or so I thought).

            Then 9/11 and the attacks on NY by people of ‘faith’ forced me to question the argument for Allah.

            Why Allah? I needed to learn for myself what the religion of Islam was about so I could make sense of how people could behave so horribly in the name of God.

            In the course of that research I discovered that ‘faith’ in Jesus was based on the same LEAP that Muslims used to believe in Allah. It took another 5 years before I had the stunning, earth-shattering moment when I realized God isn’t real.
            More books followed and I learned that we pass on these beliefs mostly for emotional reasons connected to our love for our families and a feeling of loyalty.

            Religion is simply not something most people want to spend to much time thinking about. It took 9/11 to get me to do the in depth research.

            I had loved Jesus so much, loved communion and the people at church – I had raised my kids in the church.
            I ignored the nagging doubts in the background:

            Why is the Old Testament so disgusting?
            Why did Jesus have to spill his blood?
            Why is it important to ‘eat’ the body?
            Why is it important to not ask questions?
            etc..

            If you know what love is, you know that Hell is impossible. A loving God cannot create such a thing.
            And if Hell is impossible a ‘Savior’ from Hell makes no sense.
            And that is how it really fell apart for me.

            50+ books later I NOW know why I believed in a God.
            The science of belief is well studied. And I also learned where morality comes from – it turns out God has nothing to do with it.

            Christianity is immoral for many reasons but at the top of the list is this notion that a person can be sent to infinite torture for a finite crime. That is not love.

            I most certainly cannot live without love. It is the thing that makes life worth living. That and curiosity – which religion also forbids.
            So it was either religion or love. I chose love.

            And it has been great ever since. And I’m not alone.
            There are millions of Atheists who pursued these questions
            - for love.

          • Max,

            I read your posts further down so my response here speaks to some of that also. I am glad you understand that a Christian is supposed to submit themselves to God totally. Since He created us, He sets the rules and we were given enough free will to obey or disobey. God knowing our thoughts speaks to His sovereignty and having all power over His creation. He is a holy God that knows no sin in His being and that all sin is to be judged. You can choose to be your own god and run your life the way you want to but it is written in Rom 14:11 “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” and in Philippians 2:10 “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and under the earth,”. Even the demons acknowledged Jesus as having authority over them as He is the son of God. The evil that God allows on this earth at the time is temporary in order to achieve a greater and lasting good as Romans 8:28 states “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
            I read your testimony and see that you were a practicing Catholic for a long time and I am sorry to see that you were taught not to question and use reason. You have many valid questions as many other Christians have had over the centuries and there are many good books on answering the questions of suffering, evil, faith, etc. but there is also plenty of bad teaching and control that has made many turn away from God as you have. Prayer is not a way to control God and we don’t always get the answer we want, or exactly what we ask for and that is a whole other discussion to have. Our focus as Christians should always be more about building a more intimate relationship with Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit that can be achieved. It is the Spirit of God that empowers our belief as well as gives us the ability to practice righteousness, endure suffering, give us comfort when there is tragedy, love and forgive our enemies, etc. I am saying this because many people have ended up merely practicing a faith/religion and never really had a true relationship with Christ. After being misled and ”going through the motions” one can come out dissatisfied and unbelieving. Ultimately, faith in God requires a trust in Him beyond the physical evidence and it is empowered by the Holy Spirit, not just on our own power. There are real testimonies of prayer working in believer’s lives and miracles that have occurred across the centuries but there are always going to be the skeptics as well as the fakers. I am seen a growth in my own daughters brain disappear while in the womb. It was there and the doctors were worried. We prayed and it was gone. There have been other times where God didn’t answer my prayers but I can say in hindsight that I have seen Him put me in better situations and at times allowed me to go through some suffering where I ended up trusting Him even more. Not a brainwashing but a real faith. I am an engineer and I still continue to investigate the world scientifically but I know science doesn’t have all the answers either and I know that God doesn’t owe us all of the answers right now as well. Science and philosophy used to try and understand the world that God made and now it is out to prove that our brains create God and/or our need for God and that we just need to be enlightened about it.

          • @William A,

            You said,
            “Ultimately, faith in God requires a trust in Him beyond the physical evidence and it is empowered by the Holy Spirit…”

            Yes.
            I agreed with that at one time.
            Until I realized it cannot be true. Change a few words and you have justified the unthinking of the Islamic suicide bombers who believe they are doing the work of the Lord:

            “Ultimately, faith in Allah requires a trust in Him beyond the physical evidence and it is empowered by the al-Ruh al-Quds”

            The Quran supports this completely,

            “The Holy Spirit has brought the Revelation from thy Lord in Truth, in order to strengthen those who believe, and as a Guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims.”
            — Qur’an, sura 16 (An-Nahl), ayat 102

            The suspension of evidence cannot be good if it justifies mindlessness.
            So, not only do I NOT believe in a god.
            We must all recognize that religion is dangerous.
            It is time to put away these dangerous toys. The price is too high.

            And there is no argument for sanity in religion.

        • @Larry……….. any ideology is meant to do that! People can milk religion, they can milk political ideologies, social causes, etc. In an atheist world, we’d still be taking advantage of each other and competing with each other for resources, power and control.

      • @Christina73,

        “It’s not about religion. It’s about power. They just use religion as a front.”

        I rest my case.
        Religion is nothing but incitement to violence.

    • The Islamic Caliphate is NOT coming together. Sunnis don’t have any established clergy or definition of who should lead. The Shia have a more established hierarchy and would be more likely than the Sunnis at establishing such a Caliphate, except for the fact that the Shia see that role in the Imam who no longer exist (unless the 12th one comes back). In other words, it’s far too complex to happen. When the Turks controlled the Caliphate, it was largely ignored by the rest of the Islamic world, Sunni and Shia alike.

      Disgrace to human dignity?!?!?! You better include those other ‘faiths’ like political ideology, ethnic loyalties, nationalism, economic ideologies, social classes, etc. that humans believe are real but are mere human creations. All of these include faith and belief in things that aren’t really real, but instead only really exist in our heads. We believe they are, and so they are!

    • Sorry, but you don’t see Christians these days as suicide bombers, beheading their opponents, or flying planes into populated buildings. And there has been no war waged by Christians (and don’t say the West equates to Christianity..it doesn’t) for religious reasons since the Crusades.

      • @PC,

        HOLY NONSENSE BATMAN!
        TRY 45 MILLION KILLED BY CHRISTIANS
        IN THE 1800′s in the TAIPING REBELLION!

        “…you don’t see Christians…as suicide bombers, beheading their opponents, or flying planes into populated buildings.”

        RIGHT!
        CHRISTIANS PREFER GAS CHAMBERS AND MACHETES !!!
        HAVE YOU READ NO NEWS IN 100 YEARS?

        “..There has been no war waged by Christians…for religious reasons since the Crusades.”
        WHAT?? REALLY ??

        RWANDA GENOCIDE
        800,000 people KILLED BY CATHOLICS – MANY KILLERS WERE PRIESTS AND NUNS.

        500 MILLION PEOPLE HAVE DIED
        at the hands of Christians.


        War on Aids – 20 Million Dead – Catholics obstructed condoms over a 20 year period through their clinics as women begged to be saved from their husbands (“Aids is bad but condoms are worse” – the Pope)


        Spanish Inquisitions – 200,000 dead (Catholic Fascists)

        The Crusades (1095 c.e. -1291 c.e.) 2 Million dead – Catholics
        Anti-Semitism – 5 millions dead over 2000 years excluding the Holocaust

        Witch Hunts – 500,000 dead

        Ireland – 600,000 dead (Catholic vs. Protestant)

        Rwanda 1994 (Catholic Facists killed 1,000,000 with machetes)

        Taipeng Rebellion in China (1850 – 1864) 45 million dead (Christian Fascists)
        Boznia-Herzegovina (Catholic Facists)

        The Ivory Coast civil wars (Catholic Facists)

        Franco, the Spanish Civil War (Catholic Facists)

        Cypriat War (Catholics)

        East Timor civil war

        Sri Lankan civil war

        Syria vs. Israel

        Kashmir civil war

        Chechnya civil war

        Sudan

        Thirty Years War (Protestants VS. Catholics)

        WW1 – War of Christendom (37 Million dead)

        WW2 Nazi Anti-Semitism, “Gott Mit Uns” Axis powers – 50 Million dead

        Albigensian Crusade, 1208-49
        Algeria, 1992-
        Baha’is, 1848-54
        Bosnia, 1992-95
        Boxer Rebellion, 1899-1901

        Constantinian Empire & Christian Romans, 30-313 CE
        Croatia, 1991-92
        English Civil War, 1642-46
        Huguenot Wars, 1562-1598
        India, 1992-2002
        India: Suttee & Thugs
        Indo-Pakistani Partition, 1947

        Iran, Islamic Republic, 1979-

        Iraq, Shiites, 1991-92

        Jews, 1348

        Jonestown, 1978

        Lebanon 1860 / 1975-92
        Molucca Is., 1999-
        Mongolia, 1937-39

        Northern Ireland, 1974-98

        Russian pogroms 1905-06 / 1917-22

        St. Bartholemew Massacre, 1572

        Shang China, ca. 1300-1050 BCE

        Shimabara Revolt, Japan 1637-38

        Sikh uprising, India, 1984-91

        Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1834
        Tudor England

        Vietnam, 1800s

        OTHER Witch Hunts, 1400-1800
        Xhosa, 1857

        Arab Outbreak, 7th Century CE

        Arab-Israeli Wars, 1948-

        Al Qaeda, 1993-

        Dutch Revolt, 1566-1609

        Nigeria, 1990s, 2000s

        If you add up all of the lives that were lost
        in the name of one religion or another,
        IT IS close to One Billion.
        800,000,000 people dead JUST BECAUSE OF RELIGION.

        500,000,000 attributable SPECIFICALLY to Christianity alone.

        Yet God doesn’t appear to exist,
        nor does he seem to take a side in
        ANY OF these battles.

        For shame!

        • Max, I have honestly never had the privilege to see such information presented so eloquently, factually, and logically. It truly brings a smile to my face to not only see someone who shares the same views as I, but presented in such a clear and concise manner, without losing control. You sir, represent the coming change of the guard. Once people put down the bible and pick up a textbook, the world will have so many more opportunities to understand itself.

          • Jocelyn Fanger

            To Daniel–

            Putting down the bible and picking up a textbook–is about the same as just picking up a DIFFERENT bible. You think Science has all the answers? You might recall that the best science of its day held that the Earth was flat, that bloodletting cured disease, etc. How will folks 100 years from now view some of today’s “scientific beliefs”? There is just too much in our lives that science cannot explain–cancer remission and other “miraculous” cures being just one small area. . . .By the way, dismissing something (i.e., religion) just because you don’t understand it is NOT very “scientific.”

          • @Jocelyn Fanger,

            This comment of yours is pure insolence:

            “There is just too much in our lives that science cannot explain–cancer remission and other “miraculous” cures being just one small area..”

            Good grief.
            When your loved one needs an ambulance you will do the same as the rest of us – HOPE THAT HE GETS GOOD MEDICAL ATTENTION AT A HOSPITAL.

            If what you said were true, ambulances would drive up to churches instead of hospitals.

            Shameful, dishonest nonsense is what you are offering.

        • Jocelyn Fanger

          To Atheist Max–

          You might want to cut back on caffeine. . . .Your position on religion is so crystal clear and apparently ingrained that IMHO it’s a waste of time to attempt to discuss any other possible positions.

          However, I WILL take exception to your atrocity “documentation” and attempt to claim “800,000,000 dead JUST BECAUSE OF RELIGION.” [caps yours]

          Due to space and time constraints, I can’t possibly address here every one of your unsubstantiated claims, so I’ll focus on one: Rwanda, 1994.
          You write in one place:

          “RWANDA GENOCIDE 800,000 people KILLED BY CATHOLICS – MANY KILLERS WERE PRIESTS AND NUNS.”

          And in another place:

          “Rwanda 1994 (Catholic Facists [sic] killed 1,000,000 with machetes)”

          Well, you have to be referring to the same atrocity both times, but you give two widely different death totals. Further, you claim that ALL the deaths are attributable to Catholics, some to priests and nuns. Although I agree that some deaths can be linked to the complicity of a “handful” (word used by The New York Times’ Marc Lacey, 12/14/2006) of clergy from Catholic and other denominations, your claim that the ENTIRE genocide was done by “Catholic fascists” is utterly preposterous on its face. You might want to do some research on the heroic clergy who, at great risk to themselves, protected the Tutsis. You will also find that the bulk of media reporting described the genocide as ‘ethnic,” NOT “religious.”

          • @Jocelyn Fanger,

            Point taken on Rwanda: The first number of 800,000 is closer to the true figure. I guess it warms your religious cockles a bit that it wasn’t exactly 1,000,000 dead and that this rounded number is too offensive whereas the 800,000 seems more morally legitimate?

            All you need to know about RWANDA is that the massacre was done by Catholics Hutus who decided that Tutsis were of the devil.
            All you need to know about Rwanda is that it is the MOST CATHOLIC of all the countries in africa. And yet this doctrine of Jesus does not terrify you, though it has been used by Christians for centuries:

            “BRING TO ME THOSE ENEMIES OF MINE WHO WOULD NOT HAVE ME AS THEIR KING AND EXECUTE THEM IN FRONT OF ME.” – JESUS (LUKE 19:27)

            Don’t bore me with your exegesis of the Parable of the Minas (luke 19) because the important message here is that Jesus was too incompetent to know that his words would be used to destroy millions upon millions of innocents such as the 45 million who died in the Taiping Rebellion only a couple of hundred years ago.

            YOU CARE ABOUT EVIDENCE? WHY START NOW?

            And while you are counting up my numbers and holding me to a standard of clarity on my claims, would you be so kind as to
            hold yourself to the same standard?

            How about clarifying exactly where is your evidence for YOUR claims?

            Where is your proof that Jesus turns into a cracker at transubstantiation?
            Where is your proof that eating Jesus is good for people?
            Where is your proof that the Trinity is something more than an empty claim?
            Where is your proof of the resurrection? Where are the third parties who validate the words put in the gospels?
            Where is the evidence that dozens of zombies crawled out of the ground and rose up when Jesus died on a cross (if that even happened)

            HOW DARE YOU CALL ON ME
            TO JUSTIFY MY EVIDENCE
            WHEN YOU DISGORGE
            NOTHING BUT EMPTY CLAIMS AND ASSERTIONS UPON THE REST OF US?

            “KILL THE UNBELIEVERS” – Yahweh

            Where is your evidence that Killing unbelievers is good for humanity?
            You have none!
            Yet you defend this monster. Along with his claims.
            This nonsense cannot be used safely – and it should not be tolerated anymore.

            Shame on you.

          • Jamie Townsend

            Excellent rebuttal, Atheist Max. I’ve said this on another thread, but you could convince the Pope himself to be an Atheist. Maybe he reads RNS? :-)

    • Jocelyn Fanger

      To Atheist Max–

      “ALL FAITH is a disgrace to human dignity. And all religion is a hoax of self-centered assertions of the superiority of ONE’S OWN GOD over someone else’s. . . .A world of 30,000 religions…and they are all wrong.”

      Let’s see if I’ve got this straight. . . .Adherents of ALL of the world’s religions “are all wrong.” BUT: Mercifully, we have Max, The One with The Right Vision–and His statements just COULDN’T POSSIBLY be some of those vile, “self-centered assertions of the superiority” of His own positions. . . .Praise Max! I believe! (Hey, let me know where to send my donations.)

      • @Jocelyn Fanger,

        Yes,. I’ll go so far out ON A LIMB
        as to say my moral position is completely superior
        to the positions of

        the Taliban, Al Queda, Zionism, Alyat Al Faquii, KKK, Hamas, Hezbollah
        The Catholic League, Pedophile Preists, Hindu Caste System, etc…

        Yes, I base my morality NOT ON FAITH as they do (which is exactly the problem with their morality) but on secular humanism which has been repeatedly demonstrated with evidence (not faith) to be morally superior to all of the religions of the world.

        Faith remains the most disgraceful of human inventions.

        • Robert Thompson

          Atheist Max, give up. You are so right but… the christians are lost.
          Religious people give a moral pass to other religious people. Everybody is better than the atheist according to them. But when they need help, medicine, decent laws, police, fireman… they always count on it that people will leave their religion off the table! because we unbelievers are rational and we don’t make up a bunch of crap to connect dots that don’t exist. Religoin is for suckers but you won’t convince them.

  3. And if the ISIS forces are able to extend their control over significant portions of Iraq, we will soon see a growing collaboration between the U.S and Iran – another political “strange bedfellows” scenario.

    • Or with any luck we can back the Kurdish forces over there. They have always been friendly to the US and they were able to check ISIS expansion in the northern part of Iraq. At least those guys were our “bedfellows” from the start.

      http://online.wsj.com/articles/kurdish-fighters-mobilize-to-stop-threat-of-islamist-militants-1402530282

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/12/how-battle-ready-isis-iraqi-army-peshmerga

  4. Happy, fulfilled Non-believer

    @Atheist Max thank you for the compelling and logical rhetoric. Your insight has not fallen on deaf ears! Hopefully more people will eventually wake up and smell the coffee. Knowledge and open-mindedness is the only cure for ignorance, hate, and fear

  5. Thank you Atheist Max! You indeed speak the truth.I have always maintained that religion is the prime cause of all the horrors that this world has endured for centuries. Thank you.

  6. Orwell is your God Athiest Max, you believe soul heartedly in the texts and teachings of this one man. You praise his name even. That sounds exactly how religions start.

    • Don’t knock Orwell. My guess is you are only vaguely familiar with his satiric novel 1984 (but probably did not read it).

      The man was a brilliant writer who spoke of the killing of idealism by extremists. You can see the slow death of youthful enthusiasm unfolding in “A Homage to Catalonia”. [great read, good oral history too]

      Orwell is the LAST writer one can associate with cultish devotion. His works are cynical to such ideas. Disillusionment drips from his works.

    • To read a book is not to worship its author!
      Good grief.

      Orwell can’t be a god to me because I do not believe in Gods.
      I worship no man.

      The definition of a fool is one who thinks they know enough – that others can teach them nothing. But I open my mind to knowledge. You apparently closed yours and have decided that reading a book is the same as ‘worship’.

  7. Jane Barsumian

    It takes a belief in something
    beyond oneself just to get out of bed in the morning, even if it is just that the floor will be there- under one’s feet. This is FAITH! Everyone has faith in SOMEthing!

    • Faith is the most worthless form of belief. Belief in the absence of evidence. I do not require faith to get up in the morning. To te best of my knowledge and evidence, the floor beneath me when I went to sleep will be there when I wake up under most circumstances.

      A belief in something is not a priori belief in something lacking evidence or objective proof. Faith is a subset of belief. Not the other way around.

  8. @Atheist Max You are brilliant! I remember long ago, in the early days of cable, watching a horribly produced show documenting some religious convention. There was a discussion between a Catholic priest and an atheist. The atheist said to the Catholic priest, “The only difference between you and me is you deny 9,999 religions, and I deny 10,000.”

  9. Be warned, brothers and sisters. The most terrible weapon is the mind of a brilliant madman. ;-) Logic is avery very small portion of the brain, and can take one in descending spirals of consciousness. In this conversation, look to who is the prosecutor. The stone thrower. Who guided the conversation away from the subject at hand.

    • The Sunni Shia divide is still the subject.
      Each side argues that the other version of Islam is not true! Those are the stone throwers. :-(

      So the conversation has not been taken off topic at all.
      What good is religion if stone throwing is what it leads to?
      It is absolutely relevant.

  10. Athiest Max and others, please stop to consider that this thread is an interesting duplication of the Sunni -Shiiite conflict. Athiest Max condemns religion as a pointless struggle for one God being the right God over another, while failing to see that he is just as domineering with his views of No God. All religions are not wrong, in fact perhaps there is at least a small or large grain of rightness in every religion. What is missing is not the banishment of God or religion, what is missing is respect and tolerance and love, even if you are different.

    • @Joanna,

      You said, “what is missing is respect, tolerance and love”

      Then why defend religion? The point of the entire discussion is how to avoid this relentless hateful circle:

      Islam says to non Muslims: “Slay the infidels wherever you find them” (SURAH)
      Jews say to non Jews: “We are the chosen – the land is ours” (Old Testament)
      Christian say to non-believers: “You are of the devil until you repent” (New Testament)

      I’m simply fed up with the brain rot which defends this hateful evil
      And pretends the ‘respect, tolerance and love’ will be found in this garbage.

      Stop pretending the seeds of love exist in this nonsense.

      Humanism, Atheism and the abandonment of religion
      has led to more peaceful, educated cultures wherever it has been tried –

      The only hope for the world is to abandon this FEARFUL, primitive insolent trash that is called religion.

      • I feel sorry for you……..you read words and miss meanings…….you seem to judge everyone on the basis of your own knowledge. You seem intelligent, but have no understanding of intent.

        • @R E T,

          You are the victim. Not me.

          “I shot my son with the first century’s version of an AK47 and I did it just for your personal benefit. If you don’t believe me I’ll do worse things to you.” – Yahweh.

          Of course you are the tragic victim of this warmonger.
          Who could respect this? Who can believe it?
          It is nonsense.

          And by adopting ‘faith’ as you do despite the lack of evidence for Yahweh,
          you support the ‘faith’ of the Muslims who no evidence for Allah either.

          • How can people keep following and fighting over their ” religion” when it’s all bull. I agree with you that too many people have died because of religious beliefs or the lack of it.
            How cam we open people’s eyes?

          • @Pat Tyler,

            I hear you, man.
            It is insane for so many people to still be attached to this nonsense.

            I’m pointing out the BS wherever I see it, whenever I see it.
            Religion is pure garbage.

            “I tortured and shot up my son for your personal benefit – if you don’t believe me I’ll do worse things to you.” – Yahweh.

            Complete, utter garbage. Church is a social meeting place where nobody wants to think about how stupid it all is but they get to see their friends and go through the motions.

            Don’t fall for it! Keep yourself sane.

      • @AtheistMax I fully agree with all of your statements. It is more reasonable to replace religion with an understanding of scale and perspective, all of which is observable. The majority of society has not accepted the fact that the brain is riddled with assumptions and constraints when it comes to explaining the universe… that being: we ASSUME our brain’s logical structure is equivalent to how the universe actually operates, and we are constrained by living in the 4D universe.

        To be more precise at what I am getting at, let’s picture this example for a moment: A logical explanation to our thought process is that our consciousness is merely a series of complicated algorithms that are influenced by physical factors and time, and that a new thought is preceded by the other and that one thought can not exist without influence from the previous one. It is a collection of ideas and never really a single entity as it would in a 5D world, but more as just noise within space and time. Simply – this is because right now we live in a 4-D universe, at least that is what our brains interpret it as. Now, what if another interpretation of my consciousness exists, but it is impossible for me to understand because the idea is outside of my plane of existence (in other words it does not exist in our 4D realm)? In this case, while this idea seems truly illogical to the brain unless proven with physical evidence, it does not necessarily mean that alternate explanations do not exist.. explanations that we may never even understand. Our brains have laws and codes that may be unbreakable unless tampered with.

        Once we reach this endpoint – my understanding is that we should not draw conclusions that lie outside of our observable perspective – the perspective that flows with the objects being affected by the fourth variable- time. To provide a different context that would influence my explanation for a consciousness as I wrote above… What if the universe is currently moving back and forth through time and all events in the future have already occurred, but our brains can only experience this phenomena in a sequential step-by-step manner… (all of the energy of these occurrences exists in our universe but our brain animates this energy into a kinetic visual perspective because it would make no sense to us, and because we live in a 4D universe memory is the only way to keep track of where we are on the time line) Is this a disability that we possess? I don’t know this for certain, but the possibility exists unless proven wrong. I could create some God based off this idea and believe in it… but I have no idea if I am right yet.

        You hear a lot of people saying that ‘God has a plan for all of us.’ Essentially what they are saying is that the 5th dimension exists in parallel with the 4th.. yet they have no way of explaining this because we do not have the ability to experience events in the past nor future. Where is the logic/What is the point in holding a perspective your brain can not access. The only evidence is a book created thousands of years ago by individuals who were particularly intelligent with their right brains and did not possess the materials and know-how to utilize their left. Its more of a creative story if anything. I mean let’s be real here… no matter how much marijuana I smoked – I would never be able to think of a more lavish story than the bible.

        My point is that instead of believing in unobservable ideas… let’s continue our quest for observable knowledge – because it is our only ability unless proven otherwise. We have a short life-span and a powerful brain… why indoctrinate ideas that prohibit us from thinking of new ones? This leads to conflict and violence – something I do not think is a good thing for our planet any longer.

  11. Dear Atheist Max,

    How great it is to hear a clear voice of reason crying out in the darkness! To paraphrase Galileo, “God did not give man the power of reason only to forbid its use in matters of faith.” And, forbidding its use is a key message of almost all religions.

    Of the thousand religions in the world, they can not all be right, but they can all be wrong!

    • Thanks, Al Weiss, fellow traveler in reality and kindred ‘soul’.
      Though I don’t believe we have souls , I’m happy to use man-made words for man made terms of art!

    • Christianity WAS the same thing, but hence the word ‘was’. Since the 18th and 19th centuries, European governments have ripped the power from the churches. In the 18th century and before, the churches held great power, held great amounts of land (land was the main source of revenue), and a number of kingdoms, duchies and city states were ruled by ecclesiastical bishop-princes. Back then, the churches and the states competed against each other for power. In some fights, the secular noblemen got the upper hand, in others the ecclesiastics got the upper hand.

      Secularization, first institutionalized following the French Revolutions, stripped the churches of their legal powers, their lands, their sources of revenue, and their privileges. It destroyed the power of the churches as a rival force to the state (nationalism grew after that). The states won supremacy over the churches, and the churches have been weakened ever since. Before, the churches got their revenue from their own sources (lands, members, etc.) and did with it as they liked. Today, in many European countries, the states give the money to the churches or allows them to receive money. German church taxes are exactly that. The state (the German version of the IRS) collects the tax money owed by church members to their churches. It is a symbol of the state’s supremacy over the churches and a means to check their wealth.

      Islamic countries today are going through many similar things as Christian Europeans went through. But it’s ideologically driven to compare what is happening with Islam today with today’s Christianity or Judaism.

      • I have one question for the aesthete’s,, Considering all the physical man made objects in this world today…..from going to the moon (I’m a retired Apollo engineer) to the simplest needs of our everyday life, obviously require the intelligence of human man made devices..How can one believe that the most complex, intelligent animals (man) on this earth not require a creator?

        • Bob,

          Make the argument.
          So far all you are saying is you that you don’t know.
          Therefore you know…it must be a god?

          How many gods? One? Ten?
          That is an argument from ignorance.

          The same science (empirical evidence) which enabled such things as Apollo moon landings has shown that complex things evolve from simple things. Human brains are complex now but they started out ridiculously simple millions of years ago. We know this.

          It isn’t rocket science.

          • Christian Toby

            Max,

            If (and in your mind a big IF) someone could prove to you that God existed, would you believe in Him?

            My guess would be no.

            If so, read Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that demands a verdict.” If not, that’s fine too. That’s called free choice. I’m surprised you’re not advocating that, but it seems all tenants “freedom” go out the window when it comes to Christianity especially.

            Also know that the “church” moved away from what it was supposed to be and was. The Hellenistic views that became the church are far from what Jesus taught. Including, I believe and am still researching, an unending conscious torture in the fires of Hell.

            Don’t tout our Constitution and then say your goal is to eradicate religion. “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

          • @Christian Toby,

            Of course, my answer is yes. (why would you suspect me to say no?)
            If someone proved to me that god existed I would be happy to believe in it.
            I am ALWAYS ready to examine any demonstration that god is real.
            Until then, however, it is my opinion that god is very unlikely and not to be believed.

            I’m also confident that religion is unnecessary and dangerous until such time as god can be confirmed.

          • Christian Toby

            @max

            Read Keller’s “The Reason for God”. The fIrst chapter addresses almost everything you have brought up. I’ll even buy it and send it to you.

          • @Christian Toby,
            Thanks for the offer but I read Keller’s book in March when a friend gave it to me thinking it would be persuasive. It isn’t. In fact it is a classic example of delusional thinking.

            Two of its weakest arguments: Suffering is not an argument for a god. Skepticism is not about ‘believing’ in non-belief. These are childish approaches to the broad claims of religion and they remind me of C.S. Lewis who was a very weak thinker.

            Science has explained why people believe in gods by doing something religion won’t do – science has provided evidence.

          • Christian Toby

            If religions explain how we came to be, then isn’t evolution a religion? The shear odds off life being able to form on this planet the way it did are astounding. Let alone the genetic information in one strand of DNA. DNA is so complex that is like saying that when I throw a grenade at the ground that a perfectly written and bound dictionary will appear. Explosions do not create order like is seen in our universe. And where did that explosion come from?

              If you get to 1/1050, the event could not have happened even once in 15 billion-years. After studying the complexity of a protein molecule, Dr. Morowitz concluded that the probability of life occurring by chance is 1/10236. 1/10236 takes into account all the atoms in the universe, and the chance that the right ones came together just once to form a protein molecule.

            He said “The universe would have to be trillions of years older, and trillions of times larger, for a protein molecule to have occurred by random chance.”

            What about the first law of thermodynamics that says matter and energy cannot be either created or destroyed? Have you ever tried to make something out of nothing?

            What about morals? They aren’t explained by simple chemical reactions and gene mutations. The Russian novelist and evolutionist Dotoevsky said that if evolution is correct all things are permissible. All things are not permissible.

            Science is theory which take faith. If I’m not asking you to give up your faith, why would you ask me to? Horrible things were done to people in the name of science, just as religion. I cannot justify the atrocities committed by the “church” just as I cannot by others that have committed them not in the name of a god or religion. But to ask that everyone give up a fundamental belief just because you don’t believe it, is not right and not Constitutional.

            No one can prove anything. Especially in a relationship, which is what God wants to have with us. I can’t prove to you that I live my wife, although I do, no matter what. It’s an experience and you can’t prove experiences.

            The most notable experience that I’ve had with God was praying and feeling someone’s hand on my shoulder right until the end of the prayer. The prior I was praying with turned the prayer to me instead of my friend that I went to pray about. One of the guys told me, someone who’s father left even before I was born, something that cut through everything: You are my son and of you I am proud. At that moment I felt two other hand placed on my shoulder and felt like someone taller than me was standing right behind me (I’m 5’10″…so not too far fetched). I turned around right after the prayer, right after the hands left my shoulder and no one was there in the sanctuary but me and the two guys in front of me that each had one hand on each of my shoulders. Science can’t disprove that experience just like I can’t prove it scientifically. But I can tell you it happened. And at that point I knew God was real.

            Here’s a site that has some information from my pov. I’m sure that you will pick it apart and define me as stupid or simplistic. I’m fine with you thinking that and will pray to the God that I believe in for you. I only hope that God speaks to you and you’re willing to listen.
            https://www.creationism.org/heinze/SciEvidGodLife.htm#04DidTimePerfMiracle

          • @Christian Toby,

            NO!

            1. “If religions explain how we came to be, then isn’t evolution a religion?”
            No. Religion is a claim that something is true without regard to evidence.
            Evolution is entirely comprised of evidence.

            2. “The shear odds off life being able to form on this planet the way it did are astounding. Let alone the genetic information in one strand of DNA.”
            Your lack of knowledge is nothing special.
            It is not ‘I don’t know therefor I know it must be God’
            Evidence shows DNA started
            as RNA which is very simple. Complexity is a result
            of environment. Please learn some science.

            3. “Explosions do not create order like is seen in our universe. And where did that explosion come from?”
            The fact that I cannot answer this
            does not mean that ONE God exists
            or ten Gods or 50 gods.
            nor does it help me understand
            why it cares about what
            food I eat on Friday.
            Explosions are chemical reactions. It isn’t complicated at all.

            4. “If you get to 1/1050, the event could not have happened even once in 15 billion-years.”
            Not knowing the answer to a question
            is not the same as ‘knowing the answer’!
            As in: “I DON’T KNOW, I KNOW IT MUST BE GOD!”
            I don’t know if God did it or not
            but it is ridiculous to claim this
            is evidence of a god. It is rather evidence
            of an interesting unanswered question.
            Besides – which god would this point to? Again, nothing but
            empty claims and speculations.

            5. He said “The universe would have to be trillions of years older, and trillions of times larger, for a protein molecule to have occurred by random chance.”
            NONSENSE!
            Again – science answers this.
            ALL OF THE ELEMENTS in existence were created by stars
            which died. This includes what makes proteins.
            We have evidence of this happening right now.
            Don’t tell me there is a mystery where there are no mysteries.

            6. “What about the first law of thermodynamics that says matter and energy cannot be either created or destroyed?”
            This is only true in a closed system – there is no evidence that the
            cosmos is closed at all! Good grief.

            7. “Have you ever tried to make something out of nothing?”
            My abilities are too limited for that question and so are yours!
            Laurence Krauss, however, has written the latest book
            on this subject called “A Universe from Nothing” and it
            explains all of this with hard evidence. Yes- the cosmos appears
            to have been created out of nothing because there
            is no such thing as nothing and there never was.

            8. “What about morals? They aren’t explained by simple chemical reactions and gene mutations. The Russian novelist and evolutionist Dotoevsky said that if evolution is correct all things are permissible. All things are not permissible.”
            WRONG again!
            Morality originates with evolutionary biology. All the
            studies have been done. We developed a sense of fairness
            in our cultural, social societies over millions of years and all
            primates show this feature of morality. The Golden Rule
            therefore predates religions by millions of years!

            9. “Science is theory which take faith.”
            This is disgusting and the truly immoral comment
            of your list. Science is measuring through observations.
            There is no ‘faith’ involved at all – and if you
            can’t understand this you are simply uneducated. Which explains many
            of your questions.

            10.” If I’m not asking you to give up your faith, why would you ask me to….But to ask that everyone give up a fundamental belief just because you don’t believe it, is not right and not Constitutional.”
            Ridiculous.
            You have a right to your beliefs. Go ahead. Believe whatever
            you want!
            But you do not have a right to project your
            beliefs onto mine – THROUGH OUR LAWS and that is the point of contention!
            Separation of church and state must be absolutely held up!
            You don’t want’ to be forced to be Jewish – and You don’t want me to force
            you to be Atheist – so keep your religion to yourself and we will all be happy.
            Separation of church and state is being attacked by religious bullies and I
            roundly reject wrecking that separation!

            11. “No one can prove anything. Especially in a relationship, which is what God wants to have with us. I can’t prove to you that I live my wife, although I do, no matter what. It’s an experience and you can’t prove experiences.
            Nonsense.
            Of course many things can be proven
            to the satisfaction of MOST PEOPLE.
            If you want philosophy you will not find it in religion.

            12. “The most notable experience that I’ve had with God was praying and feeling someone’s hand on my shoulder right until the end of the prayer.”
            Delusional nonsense.
            There is no reason why a Muslim’s experience is
            inferior to that and every reason to believe they too are
            delusional with infantile motives of early childhood’s search
            for a parent. It is nothing more than biology.

            13. “The prior I was praying with turned the prayer to me instead of my friend that I went to pray about. One of the guys told me, someone who’s father left even before I was born, something that cut through everything: You are my son and of you I am proud. At that moment I felt two other hand placed on my shoulder and felt like someone taller than me was standing right behind me (I’m 5’10″…so not too far fetched). I turned around right after the prayer, right after the hands left my shoulder and no one was there in the sanctuary but me and the two guys in front of me that each had one hand on each of my shoulders. Science can’t disprove that experience just like I can’t prove it scientifically. But I can tell you it happened. And at that point I knew God was real.
            And it was entirely delusional.
            And there is no value in discussing personal ‘visions’ and no
            reason to believe in them. You offer nothing more than
            a hallucination – this is not evidence of anything more than
            a hallucination.

            14. “Here’s a site that has some information from my pov. I’m sure that you will pick it apart and define me as stupid or simplistic. I’m fine with you thinking that and will pray to the God that I believe in for you. I only hope that God speaks to you and you’re willing to listen.
            https://www.creationism.org/heinze/SciEvidGodLife.htm#04DidTimePerfMiracle”
            Your rejection
            of Science and observation
            is shocking and lazy.
            You have not pursued the questions
            you ask with any effort at all.
            I checked out your link and it is embarrassing.
            If you are having trouble reading about science
            please check out some easy science websites. Just google
            SCIENCE MADE EASY
            OR
            EVOLUTION IN SIMPLE LANGUAGE.

            Religion is dying out across much of the world because the internet has answered many
            important questions. There is no reason to be ignorant of science in this
            modern era.

          • Christian Toby

            Religion is not dying out all over the world. It’s actually flourishing, but in places that you would deem intellectually beneath you as you have me. So I’m a delusional, uneducated, hallucinating, nonsensical simpleton. Oh I forgot lazy and apparently illiterate too. That’s not divisive at all. I actually agree with you that there should be a separation of church and state, but your comments that religion should be eradicated support that you believe I should not have the right to my beliefs.

            Didn’t Dawkins say that God couldn’t exist because he finds the beginning of time? If there was a beginning of time there has to be a beginning with nothing.

            As for the changes of it happening. If the Bible clearly explains and is consistent with science that God said let there be light and the big bang, which in my “simplistic uneducated” mind it is, then there is an explanation. Red “God’s Universe” by someone way smarter than me and you too. And I’m not uneducated as you would like to think. My masters thesis was on biological predispositions to anti-social behaviors. I know how to “read science” and I know when science doesn’t explain everything. I also know and am willing to be persecuted for my beliefs (or as you would say hallucinating over simple minded archaic superstitions), mostly because a book written over two thousand years ago, about a man that completely changed history, told me this would happen.

            I really think that Jesus could stand right in front of you and you would write it off as a hallucination. I hope that when that time comes you don’t because I can see your story being a great testimony. Just like the other people who actively fight Christianity and then became Christians, but I guess their ivy league educations failed them, because you are obviously intellectually superior.

          • Christian Toby

            Dawkins found*

            chances* of it happening

            actively fought*

            Just clearing those typos up, so I dint look even LESS uneducated.

          • Toby
            Quit while you still can, you are making Max’s point clearer and clearer. If religion makes you feel safer and whole, then go on believing, but don’t get upset when reality hits you you head on.

          • “I really think that Jesus could stand right in front of you and you would write it off as a hallucination.”

            Let him try it. I was Christian for 44 years. I saw a few hallucinations of my own. A few prayers which at the time I was certain were answered by a god.

            But it isn’t real.

            Your emotional appeal to faith is a sign that you are running out of gas in your own religion tank.

            There is no good reason to follow a religion or to believe in a god.
            There is a lot of evidence that it is extremely harmful to do so.

            Most people behave much better without it.

          • Christian Toby

            No an emotional appeal is not running out of gas. How else do you describe a relationship than with emotions. There is a ton of historical and archaeological evidence supporting the Bible, especially when it comes to Jesus. But I guess that’s not science. Archaeology is just hallucinations also. Good job shutting down any opposition with intolerance. Have fun trying to eradicate religion in such a tolerant and understanding way.

          • @Christian Toby,

            4+4=8 is not an emotional appeal.
            Hydrogen and Oxygen makes water. This is not emotional appeal.
            Water at 0 degrees Celsius is ICE. This is not an emotional appeal.

            “Eat of my body and believe” or “Be condemned” – Jesus
            This is an emotional appeal and it is immoral.
            It is not free will. It is instead an offer you ‘cannot refuse’ worthy of The Godfather!

          • Christian Toby

            And by the way, the reason 4+4=8 is because man created it. It didn’t come out of nothing. Something intelligent devised mathematics like the universe. 4+4=8 didn’t exist until sometime created it…not a discovery, a creation just like us. Thanks for helping prove that point.

          • @Christian Toby,

            No – it is YOU who prove MY point!
            Only man’s observations, man’s mathematics and man’s analysis are of value.

            There is no evidence that a sky leprechaun is in charge of any of it!

          • “That’s not divisive at all.”

            You are rejecting evidence. You are separating yourself from civilization
            and arguing in favor of fairy dust.

            You are the divider. You are the one removing yourself from information.
            Not me!

          • Christian Toby

            This is the bigoted, intolerant view that you are trying to eradicate, though bigotry and intolerance. All of you that have changed your beliefs because of comments posted on an article about intolerance. The above ranting of Atheist Max show you the type of intolerant society today is here. “You can have your beliefs, as long as I agree with them.”

          • @Christian Toby,

            Bigoted?
            Wrong again!

            You have the right to believe in magic fairies who forbid the eating of green vegetables.
            But don’t YOU force ME to believe in those fairies!
            AND DON’T FORCE ME TO AVOID GREEN VEGETABLES because your fairies told you I needed to obey them!!

          • Christian Toby

            @Max

            I’d like to know when I, the person that your most offensive tone has been directed toward, ever said that you have to believe the way I do. I’m pretty sure that is what your saying though. I haven’t called YOU uneducated. I haven’t called you an assualt on human dignity or shameful. But YOU have directed that at me. I’m not trying to change your mind our judge you in any of the ways you are doing to me. But I am not going to stand by and let someone say that religion should be eradicated and not respond. Religion will not be eradicated and honestly you should be happy that people like me give you that right to do it. Because if you were in the country I am right now and said about me the things that you have (but even about God, just me) you wouldn’t be saying much anymore. And I know you’ll blame that on religion too, but it’s about how YOU talk to people, nothing about religion. Have fun on your ivory tower while my religion and others like it take care of the people that Darwinism say should die…survival of the fittest right.

          • @Christian Toby,

            Your parochialism is breath-taking. Do you read any news?

            Christians ARE on the march to shove their positions on the rest of us.

            To use government to push Christian ideas on “all Americans, even non-believers” (Truth Ministries) and to promote church doctrine
            across American law.

            “America stands at a defining moment,” Lou Sheldon, founder of the Christian Traditional Values Coalition. “The only comparison is our battle for American Independence!”

            So Right-wing Evangelicals like ‘Truth In Action Ministries’,
            spend millions of dollars a year on causes like these:
            Corporate religion enforcement OVER THE RIGHTS OF THE EMPLOYEES!
            HOBBY LOBBY!

            State Legalized Murder of Doctors – South Dakota
            Mandatory Trans-vaginal probes – Virginia Legislature

            PREACHING of the Bible IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS –
            Blocking even married people from family planning service – Texas, Kansas, Alabama, Louisiana
            Obstruction of prescriptions – Illinois, Washington

            Discrimination as religious choice -Arizona (SB-1062)

            Anti-Gay laws – Texas

            Anti-women’s rights laws – Texas, Louisina, Virginia

            Biased Counseling laws – South Dakota
            Creationism to replace Science Education: 12 States
            These groups are even working against our U.S Constitution – which already preserves everyone’s religious freedom.

            Religious people don’t understand
            how and why the separation of CHURCH AND STATE preserves their own religious freedom yet
            THROUGH THEIR CHURCHES THEY ARE FUNDING ITS DEMISE!

            And in their ignorance,
            these Christians are going to wreck
            all of our freedoms. Unless the rest of resist.

            YOUR IGNORANCE IS THE PROBLEM.

          • @Christian Toby,

            Wow! You are not only ignorant of the US constitution and its godlessness
            but you have quite a nerve.

            “Religion will not be eradicated….you should be happy that people like me give you that right to do it.”

            It is ME who gives YOU the right to your religion, pal.
            Not the other way around!
            America is NON RELIGIOUS. Your right to your religion ends the minute you force it on me.

          • @Christian Toby,

            You are either willfully ignoring Jefferson or you are not paying any attention to what you write.

            Thomas Jefferson was pointing out that as long as Government does not force religion onto people and does not ALLOW RELIGION TO FORCE ITSELF onto people – religion is harmless. It “neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

            You are also putting words in my mouth.
            Religion MUST BE ABANDONED – i never said ‘eradicated’ – good grief!

            Belief in god and prayer is deeply, profoundly foolish.

  12. Matthew Brazil

    @Atheist Max

    “He is risen” Hyperbole to you, maybe. The Mystery of the Resurrection, to Christians.

    “Whatever you ask I will do it for you” If a child asks his father for something harmful, for something that would ultimately harm the child, is it not a great act of love for the father to say ‘no’? Then how much more is the love of God, who knows us more intimately than we know ourselves? This is why the whole ‘prosperity gospel’ marketed by Joel Osteen and his ilk has been so ruinous to many, who treat passages like this as a blank check with no strings attached. If Iwere to ask for something ultimately ruinous from God and are denied it, then why should I be sad?

    ““seek and ye shall find” is in the same vein as above.

    ““And many saints rose from the dead”” Not only a fulfillment of a prophetic vision documented in Ezekiel 37, but also a fulfillment of Jewish expectations of bodily resurrection. Given Christ’s teachings on resurrection and Matthew’s target audience – his fellow Jews – this passage is not too surprising. How exactly it occurred (what was the balance of natural/supernatural going on, and so on), one can only speculate.

    ““he put his hand in his side”” How is this hyperbole? Jesus had a hole in His side because His body was pierced on the Cross by a spear.

    ““I come not to bring peace” but “blessed are the peacemakers”” You think this is contradictory? As I said before for the former, Jesus is telling His followers not to expect a peaceful reception to His teachings (understandable: the Gospel is contrary to the ways of the world). However, being creations of God, we can only know true peace by coming into communion with Him. Hence, those who follow the teachings of Christ and do their utmost to spread the Gospel are “peacemakers”, even if they’re aware that many will not receive them with “peace”.

    ““I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” You look into the original Hebrew and realize that, rather than moral evil, it is referring to natural disasters and calamities (as the Jewish people and many other peoples throughout the ages associated catastrophes of nature to the ‘evils’ of the nation, and that’s the sense your particular translation is using it). It is an acknowledgement that all things fall under the purview of God, and that His Will is present throughout all of time and space, through good times and bad; we but have to choose to follow it.

    “Jesus says “eat of my body” and “Be baptized and believe” or “Be condemned to Hell” (John 6:53-54)(Mark 16:16). ”

    Well, since “none may come to the Father” except through Jesus, this is a simple statement of fact. We are all condemned to die a physical death, are we not? Then likewise are those who reject Salvation condemned to a Hell of their own design; for God, infinitely forgiving of a penitent sinner, cannot abide by those who refuse to reject their own sin. For we have the freedom to choose God or to reject Him; what you call ‘Hell’ is not some torture complex where God gleefully casts down those who do not embrace Him, but rather the logical consequence of what awaits those who are made in the image and likeness of God and yet STILL reject Him.

    You claim that my argument is one that embroiders and distorts, but you have only cherry-picked passages and pulled them out of the context and times in which they were written. Furthermore, you seem to ignore the interwoven nature of Scripture, how it relates to different parts of itself, and the like; it would be as if I were to condemn a book to the junk heap after reading only a few pages of a single chapter!

    I’m sorry to say that I cannot accept your invitation to atheism; I don’t have enough faith for it.

    • @Matthew Brazil,

      Your position is immoral and it is an assault on human dignity.
      I have done the homework.

      Let’s just take one piece:

      You said — “Whatever you ask I will do it for you” If a child asks his father for something harmful, for something that would ultimately harm the child, is it not a great act of love for the father to say ‘no’?”

      I was a faithful Christian for 44 years – I taught some Bible study at my church so I know your arguments very well.

      Long ago I did believe Jesus was speaking literally because the Gospels claim the only impediment to the effectiveness of any prayer is the strength of one’s faith.
      Here are at least 11 explicit claims:

      “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified….” (John 14:13)

      “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:2)

      “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22)

      “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7)

      “Therefore I say unto you, what things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24)

      “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)

      “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” (Mark 11:23)

      “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6)

      “Whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (John 5:14-15)

      “…I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them.” (Matthew 18:19)

      “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17)

      And so on…

      One doesn’t need to be a fundamentalist
      to see Jesus is being literal.
      But the consequences of believing this nonsense are NOT BENIGN!.

      To blame poor results of a prayer
      on one’s faithlessness AS JESUS SCOLDS, is cruel twice; first because He supposedly required so little faith to begin with (the size of a mustard seed being sufficient), and second because failed prayer can add to human desperation at precisely the wrong time in a person’s life.

      Also, “Seek and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7) is a sinister adjunct!

      Of course all prayers will work perfectly if one sneakily asserts that God’s will is behind ANY outcome; as in, “God knew what you needed, and it was not what you asked for”!!!
      Then why tell me to pray SPECIFICALLY for it, Jesus?

      FURTHERMORE, here is a short list of particulars
      for which Jesus has had a 100% FAILURE rate
      in 2000 years of human history:

      There is no reliable record of a prayer:

      Reversing the loss of a leg, arm, finger or toe
      Reversing a single case of Polio
      Reversing Aggressive Child Leukemia
      Reversing a single case of Tay-sach’s Disease
      Reversing a single case of Lupus
      Reversing a case of ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease
      Reversing a case of Smallpox
      Reversing a case of the Plague
      Reversing the death of a child
      Reversing the death of a grandparent
      Reversing the death of a pet
      Reversing the death of anyone outside of a bible story
      Reversing blindness outside of a bible story
      Stopping a natural disaster outside of a bible story
      Turning water into something else outside of a bible story
      Reversing skin diseases outside of a bible story
      Ending the Mets losing streaks
      Reversing the spread of Nuclear Weapons
      Reversing a case of Malaria
      Reversing a stroke
      Reversing MRSA Bacterial Evolution
      stopping earthquakes
      halting Tsunamis
      halting mass killings
      stopping car accidents
      ending child rape
      ending hunger
      curing the common cold
      Etc.

      “Whatever” answer Jesus has given
      to these prayers IT IS INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM NOT ANSWERING!!!
      No amount of faith seems to matter.

      I’ve done the homework which you have failed to do yourself
      in your unquestioning cave of fear.

      Jesus’ repeated promise, “Whatever you ask, I will do it”
      IS NOT TRUE
      no matter how it is interpreted.

      As such it is cruel and immoral
      to preach it and cruel to defend it!
      It is beneath the dignity of any human to believe this garbage.

      • @Atheist Max
        - that is the best smack down of prayer I have ever seen. And you have proven again that god can’t touch your arguments. I would love to see a cogent counter argument but I can’t even see a way to approach it even for the fun of it. That list of prayer’s failures is so obvious it is just indefensible.

      • Matthew Brazil

        You rail against prayer with the same ferocity of those who cannot reconcile the existence of evil with the existence of an omnipotent God. That Christ will do what his prayed for in His name is more than just ‘believing really hard’, as you seem to claim.

        To be in line with His Will is the goal, even if the journey our prayer takes us does not make sense. You rail against Jesus by saying ‘then why tell me to ask for it at all?’; I reiterate my point about a loving father: if a child were to ask for something harmful, is the father obliged to give it to you?

        And even from the circumstances of calamity and evil, where the sorrows of human depravity and natural disaster are manifest, good can arise. In a given scenario, God’s Divine Will may be for me to pick choice A. But if I in my sinfulness decide (for we have free will) to pick choice B (or any of the countless others), God’s Will continues to act, for me to pick choice B-A. However, through free will, I can once again choose to reject God.

        For all choices and for all events, God has a Will set for all of us; the purpose of prayer is to get in line with that Will.

        Throughout this entire thread, your overarching theme has been the rejection of faith as one of the chief evils of humanity, that only by rejecting faith can humanity be set free, as it were.

        To which I ask you: can you truly claim to be utterly without faith? Is there no thing – no theorem, no statement, no axiom – that you can claim on faith?

        • “if a child were to ask for something harmful, is the father obliged to give it to you?”

          YES!
          IF HE SAYS THAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR EXISTENCE!
          “TO PLEASE MY FATHER IN HEAVEN!!!”

          You have not defended Jesus. You prove his disgusting, immoral claims are pure incoherence!

          “Is there no thing – no theorem, no statement, no axiom – that you can claim on faith?”

          NOTHING!
          I trust the gasoline at the gas station because it worked before.
          I trust gravity because it is worked before.
          I trust my father’s word because she has been honest before.
          I trust my dentist because she has done excellent work before.
          I trust my car because it functioned before.

          I REJECT FAITH COMPLETELY. TRUST IS TO BE EARNED!
          How dare anyone suggest otherwise!?

          No grow person should accept a truckload of claims without any evidence of it EVER WORKING BEFORE.
          It is infantile.

          • Matthew Brazil

            Atheist Max, you’re letting your emotions get the best of you.

            “YES! IF HE SAYS THAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR EXISTENCE! “TO PLEASE MY FATHER IN HEAVEN!!!”” How does this follow from anything that I have said? With this sentence, you equate my hypothetical of ‘a child asking something harmful of his father’ with ‘pleasing our Father in Heaven’. Where in the annals of Christianity would you find any school of thought that implies praying to be in line with God’s Will to be harmful?

            And even though you claim to have faith in nothing, a deeper examination would reveal otherwise. Your fundamental defense is that of experience, of an established trend.

            Gasoline is a man-made product, but you implicitly accept the word of the gas station that it is indeed fit for use. You know nothing of the people who supply it to you, or those who grade it. The gasoline you pump today is different from that you will pump next week.

            Gravity is an unseen force, determinable only by its effects.

            Your father is human, like you and I. Would a single lie told at any point in your father’s past invalidate the trend? Or would you still maintain belief that he is a fundamentally honest person?

            Likewise for the dentist, who is also human. Given that there are good and bad dentists, one can assign a probability of quality to your dentist. Supposing that someone else had a bad experience with your dentist, does that invalidate your good experiences with your dentist?

            The example of the car is actually the most puzzling one, given how many mechanics make a living fixing people’s cars. You know your car works, but that trend cannot extend indefinitely into the future.

            Furthermore, human experience is inherently limited. Given any event, any collection of ‘N’ people will likely have ‘N’ different reactions to it. As a hypothetical, let’s take 9/11, which you brought up earlier as the catalyst for your falling away from the Christian faith; let’s assume that that very same tragedy was the catalyst for some other person to become a Christian (a fair assumption that at least one such person does indeed exist). Your experiences are on the very opposite ends of the continuum; who is right? Yours? Who says? By what metric?

            Can you quantify something such as ‘hope’, or ‘fear’, or ‘devotion’, or ‘inspiration’? The collective sum of human experiences will give you many different takes on subjects such as ‘beauty’, ‘love’, and the origin of life itself; how does your metric of ‘it works, therefore I believe in it’ apply to such things?

            The very fact that there exist people with mental illnesses and physical disorders lays waste to your metric of experience! If you were blind, would color cease to have meaning? If your brain were wired in some fashion that made you believe you were Napoleon Bonaparte, would it be true because your experiences say that it must be so?

            Even mathematics itself has this limitation! Consider the Incompleteness Theorem proven by Kurt Godel in 1931: Given ANY set of axioms about the natural numbers that is consistent (i.e. if you can derive the statement A from these axioms, you cannot also derive Not-A from these same axioms), it cannot be complete. In other words, for any consistent axiomatic theory of arithmetic, there exists some TRUE statement about the natural numbers that cannot be proven from these axioms!

            Dig deep enough into the causal chain, and you will arrive at a point where you say ‘just because’. Dig deep enough into your experiences, and you will find a point where you MUST say ‘I believe that this will happen just because’, if for no other reason than because the singular human experience is inherently limited without an external frame of reference.

            Your passion is something to be admired though! I wish my faith were as strong as yours.

        • “if a child were to ask for something harmful, is the father obliged to give it to you?”

          YES!
          IF HE SAYS THAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR EXISTENCE!
          “TO PLEASE MY FATHER IN HEAVEN!!!”

          You have not defended Jesus.
          You prove his disgusting, immoral claims are pure incoherence!

          “Is there no thing – no theorem, no statement, no axiom – that you can claim on faith?”

          NOTHING.
          I trust the gasoline at the gas station because it worked before.
          I trust gravity because it is worked before.
          I trust my father’s word because he has been honest before.
          I trust my dentist because she has done excellent work before.
          I trust my car because it functioned before.

          I REJECT FAITH COMPLETELY. TRUST IS TO BE EARNED!
          How dare anyone suggest otherwise!?

          No grown person should ever accept a truckload of claims
          without any evidence of it EVER WORKING BEFORE.
          It is infantile.

      • The sad thing is that diseases like polio are starting to make a return, and sadly because many anti-vaccinationists who are growing in large numbers among Liberals and Democrats in the USA. Being Liberal and a Democrat is an ideology, and as all ideologies do, they rely on belief as their basis. Too many Conservatives and Republicans in the USA reject the consensus of scientists on global warming and evolution, and too many Liberals and Democrats in the USA now reject the consensus of scientists on vaccinations or even GMO crops. There are two tribes in the USA: one Republican and one Democrat. And both these tribes have formed their tribal identities, tribal markings and tribal ideologies.

  13. Sister Geraldine Marie

    There are so many contradictory and just plain untrue statements made by “Atheist Max” that it would take a small book to refute all of them! Fortunately, many such books, large and small, already exist if only Max and his crowd would just read them with open minds. Not every person who believes is a hypocrite, just as I’m sure there are many atheists who truly hold to their position honestly, if mistakenly.

    Thomas Jefferson was far from being “our greatest President!” He writes that he believes “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence, but just can’t bring himself to free his slaves because he needed money for his books, art treasures, building projects and so on, so he bought and sold slaves to get what he wanted. He was a secular humanist (except of course, for owning slaves) and not a Christian. He particularly didn’t like the miracles in the Gospels, because then he would have to believe that Yeshua [Jesus] was the “Son of God”, a Roman title, by the way, not a Hebrew one! And he would then have to obey Him. Mr. Jefferson was a god unto himself, so he wasn’t about to do THAT! He was a hypocrite in the absolute meaning of the word out of his own writings! The real contribution he made to this country was belief in a free press.

    • @Sister Geraldine Marie,

      Oh, that is rich.

      YOUR God who commanded slavery – Yahweh – is somehow absolved from the slave trade YOU and HE defend?

      “you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you…also their children..You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a PERMANENT INHERITANCE. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.” (Leviticus 25:44-46)

      Your GOD created the Southern Baptist Church by the FOX NEWS VERSION of 1800s big money politics – and they resisted all efforts to end slavery because YOUR GOD would not bend!

      THE LORD SAYS, BE A GOOD SLAVE. DON’T RUN TO FREEDOM!
      “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.” (1 Peter 2:18)

      Shame on you.

  14. Sister Geraldine Marie

    Au contraire, Max (Did you know Jefferson liked everything FRENCH?): So, shame on you for not looking at context and culture!

    You don’t know “my” God, so please do not presume you do!

    • @Sister,

      you said, “You don’t know “my” God, so please do not presume you do!”

      The usual dodge.
      Yahweh of the Bible is clear about who he is. I know him: A monster.
      Jesus is clear about who he is. I know him: Another monster.

      If you have constructed a god of peace that would not be Jesus or Yahweh.
      “I come to bring fire to the earth” – Jesus

      Love? That is not Jesus or Yahweh
      Condemnation to eternal Hell is not love.

      Tolerance? not Jesus or Yahweh
      “They are dogs” – Jesus

      Anti-slavery? Not Jesus or yahweh.

      Anti-rape? Not Jesus or Yahweh.
      The Lord said, “but save FOR YOURSELVES every girl who has never slept with a man.” (Numbers 31:18)

      Anti-genocide? Not Jesus or Yahweh.
      “Buy a sword” – Jesus
      “Kill them all” – Yahweh.

      You construct a god
      in your head that you find perfect and true.
      And it is completely imaginary. Not the one of the Bible.

      I don’t like to confront religious people, but if you are against
      separation of church and state
      I must protest. I have no respect for faith and less for those who won’t respect my right to say so.

      • Helpful article. Thank you!

        @ Atheist Max

        What are you doing? The tedium of your banter is nauseating. You have spent all this time and effort on bashing theism when the article on which your are commenting specifically states, “Where once the conflict between Sunni and Shiite was religious, now the conflict is more POLITICAL.”

        There are people dying today. Fathers. Sons. Brothers. Whatever their beliefs or lack thereof. For the sake of all that is good, let’s keep our eye on the ball.

        Friendly observation: You sure seem to have a lot of hatred for a God you believe doesn’t exist.

        Time, not arguments, will tell. Death will prove us all right or wrong.

        Oh, and try to remember, for the benefit of all atheists – It is better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

        • @Just Me,

          Friendly observations:

          1. I don’t hate God. There is no god to hate.
          It is faith and religion that I hate in the same way a fireman hates ARSON.
          Religion is an insidious toy and the Shia/Sunni divide shows nobody should play with it.

          2. The Shia and Sunni divide is religious. If there were no religion there would be nothing for them to be fighting about. Want to help them? Help the world abandon religion.

          3. Your support of Christian FAITH is a FULL endorsement for Muslim Faith and Zionist Faith and Al Queda Faith. That is the why your support of your own FAITH is part of the problem. FAITH is a disgrace to human intellect and dignity.

          4. Being silent did nothing for those accused of Witchcraft.
          I won’t be silent.

          • my belief…Perception is truth in the eye of the perceiver, and religion is merely a shared perception.

            Their is no such thing as absolute truth, even in science there are observations which hold for time until disproved by a later observation,

          • Atheist Max,
            Religion just got a big black eye from some of what you said here.
            You suddenly make it seem rather obvious to me that something is very wrong with religion. Just don’t ask me to pin down exactly what it is.

            I like to think God wants us all to have peace. But then it is weirdly obvious that we would have peace if God was looking over this situation. It doesn’t make sense that there needs to be all this violence first.

          • Point 2 is only partly true.

            The one thing about the Middle East is its history is a lot more complicated than what can be explained by religion. The differences between Sunni and Shia in Iraq is regional and ethnic as well.
            If not for where the oil fields are located in comparison to those divisions, British and later Saddam’s “divide and rule” methods of keeping control, there wouldn’t be so much fighting there.

            Its really a 3 way fight with the Kurds in there as well. Kurds are mostly Sunni but they identify more with their ethnic group than religious ones. Mostly due to the genocidal actions of Saddam Hussein (technically a co-religionist).

            Without religion, they would still be killing themselves over there. But without religion we would see the causes much more clearly. Without the kind of pat generalization religion brings to our perception of it. Religion muddies the waters.

          • @Larry,

            I agree with your statement that without religion they still would have things to fight about.

            Wars can be caused by Feuds under monarchies.
            Wars can be caused by a need for resources.

            But only religion, with “God on our side” does war become infinitely worse and the conclusion is delayed.

            I think the Sunni/Shia divide looks more like a Theocratic Feud over competing dogmas (like the 30 years war in Christianity).
            Needless.

            Instead of distributing and collectivizing the social interests and power for the greater good with a DEMOCRATIC system,
            The Maliki Government continued the very ancient theocratic feud and now ISIS is hitting back. Again.

            With God, all things are impossible.

          • @Atheist Max……You take things so much at face value! The Shia and Sunni divide started as a religious divide, but after 1,500 years it’s no longer about theology or who should rule Islam. It has evolved into a whole new identity.

            Look at European history! 300 years ago religious affiliation was very important. Not because the average peasant had any clue about theology or religion, but because identity was based on religious affiliation. Back then, the Dutch-speaking Catholics felt closer to French-speaking Catholics than they did to Dutch-speaking Protestants, and were very content being in Belgium. Today, religious identity is no longer our primary unifying force. Instead, it is language and culture. Now, the Dutch-speaking Flemish in Belgium (Catholics) are pushing for independence from French-speaking dominated Belgium, or possibly even possible union with The Netherlands (predominately Protestant). What is driving the Flemish? Religion has nothing to do with it. Europeans started to identify themselves on nationalistic/ethnic lines in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Ethnicity has little to do with it, because colonialism has brought in huge immigrant groups. Linguistics has a lot to do with it, because the Flemish identify closer with their linguist cousins in NL. Money has the biggest part to do with it. The French-speaking Walloon region in Belgium is economically poorer, but politically they dominate the country. The Flemish-speaking part of the country is richer, produces more tax revenue, but more of that money benefits the Walloons than it does the Flemish.

            Does the complexity of this world help you to understand that your simple and black/white view isn’t appropriate to understanding the true picture of things?

          • @Larry……that is so true. The allies of (Shia) Hezbollah in Lebanon are one of the largest Christian militant groups (the Phalangists). The reasons are that the Shia and Christians have a bigger enemy, namely the Sunni militant groups. The Christians militant groups often cooperate with Israel, yet are often allies to Hezbollah. The Druze, who are really small, have to be flexible enough to work with all groups.

            Remember the Palestinian terrorist groups back in the 1970s and 1980s that hijacked a number of planes? They were largely made up of Palestinian Muslim and Christian Communist terrorists who were fighting against Israel. The leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, George Habash, was a Marxist and an Orthodox Christian Palestinian. Wadih Haddad and Nayef Hawatmeh were also Orthodox Christian Marxist terrorists fighting Israel. There were also many Muslims Marxists fighting Israel as well.

            Here comes the BIG QUESTION: Does the religious background of a person have to be the cause of their actions?!?!?!?!? If an atheist Palestinian Arab Marxist hailing from an Orthodox Christian Arab family commits an act of terrorism, could it possibly be because he hates the Israeli occupation of Palestine, or must it be because he is Christian?!?!?!? Everyone here overlooks the fact that religion is not the only identity people carry, nor is it the only cause for a person’s actions!

        • Just me, you do not speak for the benefit of all atheists. Max has presented more factual information than you can muster in a life time. Get off your moral high horse because it’s pointed in the wrong direction.

  15. @Atheist Max

    Do you have any sort of online following?

    I have never seen this argument put together as well as you have done here. The way you presented the case makes it appear very clear for anyone to understand. I want to know if you have any kind of page yourself, or can at least lead me to some of your sources, as I feel there’s much I can learn from them.

    While I consider myself an agnostic as opposed to an atheist, I disagree with nothing you have stated here. If the whole world could see just what you posted, I think it would sway many opinions.

    • @Anon,

      Glad you are finding something of value in what I share here.

      I have been studying religion for years and what concerns me is the profound damage that religion is doing to the world.

      Though I am not panicked, America is increasingly threatened somewhat by the collusion of a powerful right wing oligarchy merging with religious fundamentalism.

      I am driven to protect the wall which separates church and state.
      That includes protection of religious freedom. I am not trying to outlaw religion – only to persuade more unbelievers to speak out
      and for others to abandon religion on their own.

      A huge drop off in religious belief worldwide would be extremely constructive.
      The secular movement is a healthy trend.

      The grave danger to the world is the high acceptance of eschatological armageddon; the End-Times idea that God must blow up the world to save souls. Too many people (and politicians) worldwide embrace this ridiculous suicidal philosophy.
      It puts us all in danger.

      There are wonderful alternatives.

      A very small sampling of my sources for these insights
      are a lifetime of books, debates, articles and even RNS itself:

      A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
      Illiad and the Odessey – Homer
      Dante’s Inferno
      Paradise Lost – Milton
      The Egyptian Book of the Dead
      The Holy Quran (English Translation)
      The Hadith,
      The Surrah
      Aesops Fables
      The Holy Bible – King James
      The Jerusalem Bible
      The Magic of Reality – Richard Dawkins
      The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible
      The Skeptic’s Annotated Quran
      The 12 Caesars
      Gilgamesh
      The God Delusion – Dawkins
      Gospel of Judas – Bart Ehrman
      Misquoting Jesus – Bart Ehrman
      The Rights of Man – Thomas Paine
      Origin of the Species – Darwin
      A Brief History of Time – Hawking
      Godless – Dan Barker
      Breaking the Spell – Daniel Dennett
      Letter to a Christian Nation – Sam Harris
      Why We Believe – Micheal Shermer
      The God Virus – Darryl Ray
      A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson
      Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – William Shirer
      The Killer Angels – Michael Shaara
      God is Not Great, How Religion Poisons Everything – Christopher Hitchens
      The Missionary Position – Christopher Hitchens
      Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire – Gibbons
      Life After Faith – Jerry DeWitt
      Cosmos – Carl Sagan
      The Demon Haunted World – Carl Sagan

        • @Is,

          No. You haven’t ‘been there.’
          Religion is a disgrace and it must be abandoned.

          I’ve been an Atheist for a long time but I was silent
          As politicians like Sarah Palin preached “JESUS”
          And Rick Perry publicly prayed for rain for Texas.

          For too long the atheists have been silent.

          This country is an embarrassment for its profound ignorance and its problem is THE INFECTION OF RELIGION which is now
          destroying our economy, our middle class and our science research.

          Religion is the problem and if a few people wake up to that fact my few posts would have been worth it.

          • So what, should be massacre people who hold onto religion just as the French Revolution put thousands of priests, monks and nuns to their deaths during the French Revolution?!?!?!? (By the way, the French revolutionaries killed them largley because they wanted to eliminate any rival powers to the Revolution).

            Religion exists as a tool, just like political ideologies, cultures, languages, economic ideologies, social classes, ethnic loyalties, etc. exist.

            Should we eliminate all religion? Should we eliminate all languages except for English so there are no linguistic conflicts to fight about? Should we eliminate all nationalities and ethnicities so there are no ethnic conflicts to fight about? Should we eliminate all political parties so there are no political ideologies to fight about? Should we eliminate all working professions so there are no class issues to fight about? Should we eliminate all differences among humans and make all humans the same so we have nothing left to fight about?

          • @Markfarr,

            “should we massacre religious people?”

            Disgusting, immoral thought!
            I am clearly against Cancer, not the cancer victims!
            The objective is to live and let live – INSTEAD OF KILLINGS.

            Religion must be abandoned. It is dedicated to massacres! It is the tool of the executioner!

            I abandoned it. It offers nothing and it takes everything.

            Leave it.
            Dismiss the ‘faithful’ as the jackasses they are.

      • Great list max. I have read and own some books by Bart Ehrman and have studied Christopher Hitchens, Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Darwin, as well a as couple of the other books you mentioned. I have noticed that many people who started to question their faith went to people who were totally against it. I would invite you to read some books by Bart Ehrman’s mentor, Norman Geisler. You can also read Lee Strobel’s series (Case for Christ, Case for Faith, Case for Jesus) where he, as a former atheist, investigated Christianity’s claims as a journalist a came to a belief in Jesus, not the opposite. Also, another former atheist, J. Warner Wallace wrote a wonderful book called “Cold Case Christianity” and he used his detective skills to examine the claims of the gospel. Although I am a believer, I have at least tried to understand atheists such as Sagan, Dawkins, Ehrman, and others. Bart Ehrman’s testimony is not unlike yours as he questioned suffering and why God allowed it. He was once a Christian also. I am encourage you to read some other materials from Christian apologists, some who were once atheists. We do not have to throw out our brains to believe in Jesus. Regardless, I respect the Constitution also but in respecting everyone’s freedoms, we have to temper it with responsibility and really examine the effects of the laws we make have on society. The founders of this country wanted to make sure a particular religion was not established as a national religion, but that didn’t mean that they meant to outlaw God or references to God in our laws, rules, schools, etc. They were by no means shining examples of Christians but we do have the evidence that they were not against belief in God. I appreciate your more respectful discourse as many atheists and Christians resort to name calling and derogatory remarks.

        • @William A,

          Sorry,
          I did not include the HUNDREDS of pro-Christian books I have read
          because I had been asked for my sources of insight into what is wrong with religions.

          My list of Christian books is far longer.
          The pro-Christian books are simply no longer much value.

          Lee Strobel, C.S. Lewis, George Will, The Catholic Notes, etc.. – I have read them all. “Cold Case Christianity” was not convincing.

          You said,
          “The founders of this country wanted to make sure a particular religion was not established as a national religion but that didn’t mean that they meant to outlaw God or references to God in our laws, rules, schools, etc”

          They did not want genuflections to any God as part of the Government. That is where Christianity is going off the rails in recent years and it dangerously threatens our democracy. “In God We Trust” is an obvious and annoying abomination on our money which happened only in the 1950s. But there are far worse infractions to the separation of church and state going on.

          “They were by no means shining examples of Christians”
          Correct, because except for John Jay who was a devout Christian they leaned Deist in public. Interestingly John Jay had fascist leanings – read his ideas on who should not be allowed in the government.

          “we do have the evidence that they were not against belief in God.”
          Neither am I – in regards to your right to do so.
          But they knew Atheism (non-belief) existed in the land and did not want people persecuted for it.
          Atheism is only non-belief. That is all it is. It is not a claim that God is impossible.

          Witch burnings and Dogma were clearly the sort of thing that disgusted the founders. Thomas Jefferson was clear that the Government would not entangle the government in a fight between Christian sects in Danbury, Connecticut.

          Thomas Paine hated religion and its fascist leanings in particular. A century later President Teddy Roosevelt regarded Paine to be “That filthy little atheist” yet we owe our religious freedoms today to Paine most of all.

          As I have said before, I think religion is absolutely ridiculous, inhuman, cruel and argues for brainwashing
          but America MUST RETAIN the right for people to believe in God, pray to God and worship God if they want – while doing so
          OUTSIDE OF GOVERNMENT and NEVER IN A PUBLICLY FUNDED program (schools, etc)

          It is precisely the inhumanity of religion
          which requires that it NOT be part of the Government.

          Don’t force God on me, or any other belief, and we’ll all get along fine.

          Atheists must be free and must be treated equally.
          They rightfully get furious when they aren’t.
          Simple as that.

          • @Athiest Max…………… one thing that amazes me about many people in the USA like yourself is this rigid black and white thinking you have. Human beings have killed and fought over many ideologies. Some of these ideologies are religious ones, others are ethnic or racial, some are political, economical, tribal, etc. And just because words like Shia or Sunni are used, or words like Protestant or Catholic are used, does not mean those involved have a clue about religion. Look at Germany during WWI. The (Protestant) north Germans and the (Catholic) Poles living in the eastern part of Germany came to blows towards the end of the war. The media avoided using terms like ‘German’ or ‘Polish’ because they didn’t want the ethnic Polish minority to view themselves as separate from Germany. So they often referred to them as Protestants (meaning ethnic Germans) vs. Catholics (meaning ethnic Poles). The tensions were political and ethnic tensions, not religious ones! But if you take it at face value as you seem to do, Athiest Max, then it would have to have been a religious fight. The same goes for the Catholics and Protestants of Northern Ireland, a fight that has little to do with religion, but is predominately a struggle between Unionists who wish to remain in the United Kingdom and Irish Republicans who want to join the Republic of Ireland. Most of the Unionists are largely descended from English and Scottish settlers who were Protestant and most of the Irish Republicans are descended from the native Irish who were also Catholic. Should we ignore the truth and the real reason of their fight? Should we instead turn the entire matter into something which it is not, namely a religious conflict, because your simple mind can’t deal with the complexities of the issue?

          • @markfarr22,

            You said, “Human beings have killed and fought over many ideologies.”

            Yes.
            So why protect religion?
            It is the most destructive ideology of them all.

            No other ideology embraces Eschatological Armageddon.
            And no other ideology caused 800,000,000 deaths in the last 2000 years.
            And no other ideology threatens the existence of all life on earth.

            You are swatting mere flies!
            While i’m trying to call attention to an international convulsive religious insurrection brought on by belief in the ‘God of Abraham’.

            It will only be defeated by increasing secularism
            one mind at a time.

        • @William A,

          Besides, I would hardly call Milton’s “Paradise Lost” a work of Atheism! Good grief!

          Much less all those religious texts I referenced. The Bibles and The Quran are not works of Atheism – but reading them almost guarantees you’ll end up Atheist.

          “The 12 Caesars” was written at around the same time as the gospels 100 C.E. and shows alarming similarities describing reality. These people saw the world truly as a sweep of superstitions.

          If you really want to understand how the Gospel writers probably saw reality I can think of no better book than “THE 12 CAESARS.”

          You’ll be an unbeliever in about 10 minutes.

  16. An absolutely fascinating string! I too was raised in faith, but left it at a relatively young age, despite receiving more education therein (many Catholic universities, particularly Jesuit, allow or even encourage thought).

    The basic premise, that religion is at the heart of most (but certainly not all, since humans can be driven by any number of impulses) conflicts, is undeniable. And, while the majority of Max’ analysis is strong, I have to take issue with one thing, from the perspective of logic. That exception is to atheism itself. I feel there can be no logical consistency to something arising from nothing.

    Having said that, however, let me pose some food for thought. And this is by no means the only alternative to the logical “something from nothing” conundrum.

    Imagine that there is, from the perspective of our universe, a “creator.” I challenge anyone to present concrete evidence that he/she/it cares about or is in any way actively involved in what goes on in that creation. It’s as if h/s/I made a marvelous machine and then either was content with having satisfied the intellectual curiosity that drove the project, or simply lost interest in it.

    How else might one rationalize phenomena such as tsunamis or childhood (or any, for that matter) cancer with a “caring” God (capitalized for the sake of others’ sensibilities).

    The main point, however, is that I don’t throw my ideas in anyone else’s face or expect that they should become part of public education or a litmus test for public office, as religionists of all stripes seem so inclined to do.

    • @Dennis,

      You said, ” I have to take issue with one thing, from the perspective of logic. That exception is to atheism itself. I feel there can be no logical consistency to something arising from nothing.”

      Yes. There are extraordinary mysteries. I agree completely.
      How did we get here? (I don’t know)
      Did something start the Cosmos? (I don’t know)
      Or does the Big Bang just keep happening over again every trillion years or so for infinity? (I like to think so, but again, I don’t know and can’t claim it)

      The Atheist is only someone who “does not believe in God”.
      I do not claim that God is impossible! God may exist.
      So I am ALSO Agnostic as in I don’t KNOW if God exists – none the less I do not believe he does.

      I submit that God – if he exists – must forgive me for not believing in him. Because he has given me these tools and it has led me away from belief.
      And he must allow me to use the mind he gave me. Otherwise there is no logic to him giving me a mind at all.

      So I think God is a cultural delusion and we need to wake up from it.

      Were Religion ends Philosophy begins.
      And I embrace Philosophy COMPLETELY.

      I am fascinated to learn more about how extraordinary it is to exist and how it happened.

      • Amazing Atheist Max. You spent many words saying there is no God, then you say God may exist, but you don’t KNOW if God exists, but if God exists then he must forgive you because you used the mind he gave you to reach the conclusion that he doesn’t exist. Are you confused? You have confused me as to what you really believe.

        • @Confused,

          My position is clear.
          I am both Agnostic and Atheist.

          I do not know if God exists.
          But I do not believe it exists.
          I do not claim god is completely impossible, only that I see no reason to believe in it yet.

          Same for Leprechauns.

          I do not know if Leprechauns exist.
          But I do not believe they exist.
          I do not claim Leprechauns are completely impossible, only that I see no reason to believe they do yet.

          It is my opinion, so far, that “there are no Leprechauns.”

          It is my opinion, so far, that “there is no God.”

          ATHEIST = “I do not believe in gods”
          AGNOSTIC = “I not know if a god exists”

          I am therefore an Agnostic and an Atheist.

          • Just as in Europe many people are atheist and Catholic, or atheist and Protestant. I, for example, am an atheist Protestant/Catholic. I do not believe in god. But I am half Dutch, and when I am in The Netherlands I partake in Dutch Protestant traditions (my father’s Catholic tradition and my mother’s Protestant tradition). On Christmas I go to church to partake in a Christmas service, and on Easter I go for an Easter blessing. I don’t do it because I believe in it or god. I do it because it’s a tradition in my family, and my children partake in it as well. It helps them understand their culture and how the present connects to the past. My wife is from Bali. She’s Hindu. She also does not believe in god. But when she and our children visit her family in Indonesia, they partake in religious traditions because those traditions are a part of my wife’s identity.

            Many Jews in the United States have identified themselves as atheists and Jewish. The holidays and traditions that hold their families together aren’t Christian ones, but rather Jewish ones. In the Middle East, especially Lebanon, a person can be an atheist Christian Communist or atheist Muslim Communist. A number of terrorist organizations in Lebanon were full of members who were atheist, Christian/Muslim/Druze and Communist. Their terrorist attacks, however, were not in the name of atheism, Christianity or Communism, but rather in the name of Palestinian freedom or against Israel, against Syria, or against one of the other religious-ethno groups fighting in the country at the time.

  17. @ Atheist Max
    Thank you for taking the time to so eloquently state and debate your opinions.
    Unfortunately, you can’t fix stupid. I think you’re wasting your time.

    @ the believers, you are right, there’s a magical being in the sky that only likes you and not people who disagree with you… Because that’s logical and makes sense. Seriously?
    When I die, if “God” meets me at the gates of Heaven, I will punch him in the nose and go straight to hell.

  18. Well said Mr Brazil but you are in the.position of trying to talk to blinkered believers in their own non belief.

    Just agree to differ. Atheists get very hysterical at any challenge to their rational belief system just like other religions.

    Where is.the evidence for God? Answer I don’t know but equally where is the.evidence of no God? Answer I don’t know.

    But then you will be back to my belief is as follows……..

    Circles and roundabouts with neither side able to listen.

  19. It is a shame that the Sunnis and Shiites can’t respect their difference and work toward the good of their own countries without persecuting each other, regardless of who is in control. They both stem from Allah and Mohammed and have some basic tenets that they all follow. Catholics and Protestants have had their issues in the past and present but at least in the U.S. we respect each other and live respecting the Constitution and the freedoms it provides. The Muslim countries don’t have to become democratic but they should be able to find a better way to function as a whole while respecting their differences.

    • The Sunni and Shia are not fighting over religion. The matter about who would rule Islam was decided 1,500 years ago. Both sides know they are not going to convince the other any more on this matter today than they did 1,500 years ago. Since the early days of Islam, they’ve developed separate identities. Their religious identities have evolved into competing political, cultural and tribal identities. They fight because centuries of fighting have conditioned them to distrust each other. The Arab Shias have become a distinct ethno-religious group with a distinct Shia Arab culture. On top of that, there is a proxy war between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia over who will dominate the Middle East. Now, you throw religious fighters like ISIS into the mix, who are fighting over religion, then it becomes messy. But these situations are always messy and complicated.

  20. People obviously need religion because it has been around for thousands of years and millions people died for it. People need a solution for their suffering and desire peace in their hearts and joy in their lives. Unfortunately, very few people can attain such spiritual enlightenment. Religion is the closest substitute for spirituality. It is for the masses to follow. As long as there is suffering in this world, religion will be there because it gives people hope. Smart people understand it and use it to do evil things.

    • Religion is a tool. An anthropological too. It’s one of the tools that our species uses to form alliances, tribal groups, and to deal with each other socially. We humans can use religion, superstition, laws, norms, morals, values, etc. as a means to regulate behavior or to form social allegiances. Sometimes we rely more heavily one specific ones, at other times we rely more on others. Usually, human societies rely on a mix of all of them. In today’s Western societies, we tend to fear and respect the law and social norms more than anything else. In Sub-Sahara Africa people tend to fear and respect superstition, tribal tradition and religion more.

  21. Well…. I for one have thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread. Living a atheist life I don’t usually get to see first hand how passionate believers and none believers get. My one major gripe with religion is the amount of hatred it spreads in the name of love, I can’t help but to think that if atheists got in on the fighting too none of us would survive to write the next gospels.

    I’m with Max, I don’t know if God exists or not, but I can’t believe that the dinosaurs couldn’t fit on the ark so they drowned!, so I’m batting for the corner saying (s)he probably doesn’t. I can’t reference and cite or even convey myself as well as Max so I won’t try. I’m not sure I want to either.

    The only religious person I know (my brother is a vicar) who hasn’t tried to convert me is the Dalai Lama. He speaks of compassion and acceptance towards others, whatever of their views or culture. If we all held his morals no matter what God you spend your trying to appease at least we could live that life together. But where have his peaceful views got him? In exile while his people are victimised.

    No wonder people fight and die for what they believe, if they don’t they run the risk of a torturous dictatorship. Its a vicious cycle I can’t see ending until the human race does too. Someone will always be stronger and use faith to bully the weak and justify it to themselves.

  22. Firstly, I’m an atheist, and I’m half American and half Dutch, so I have a perspective that isn’t purely American. Secondly, I don’t see religion as the absolute all evil of this world. Religion is a tool that our species uses as a means to form tribal alliances. People have fought in the name of god and religion, but people have also fought in the name of ethnicity and race, language and culture, political ideology, economic ideology, and the list goes on and on. So stop heaping all the blame on religion. By doing that, you’re sparing all those other ideologies that have led to the deaths of thousands and millions.

    Secondly, you can’t take things at face value. Was the German Democratic Republic, a Communist state, democratic merely because the name said so? Is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – North Korea – democratic just because of the name? Is the Christian Socialist Party of Germany a socialist party just because of its name? Is the Social Democratic Party in Portugal a socialist party just because of its name? Names are often not what we may think they are. In that manner, Hitler was not a socialist. The word ‘socialist’ was popular and often used as a means to gain voters without being socialist.

    It’s not always about religion. Ireland’s woes had little to do with religion. The English and Scots who settled in Ireland were Protestant, and the native Irish were Catholic. But they were and are not fighting about religion. They’re fighting about which two groups – ethnic Irish who are also predominately Catholic and ethnic Anglos/Scots who are predominately Protestant – fighting over whether Northern Ireland should join the Republic of Ireland or remain in Great Britain. Of course, not all ethnic Irish (Catholics) or ethnic English/Scots (Protestants) fall into those categories, but the greatest supporters of union with Ireland is the Irish (Catholic) community and the greatest supporters of Britain are those descended from English/Scots (Protestant) planters. Remember, most of these people have the foggiest clue about religion. But religion was one of the identities used in the past to form their present identities.

    The religious wars in Europe started over matters of religion, but quickly moved into ethnic and political wars. The average European peasant had no rights. When their lord became Lutheran, his subjects were obliged to become Lutheran. When wars were fought, the leaders may have rallied around religion, but the masses that were fighting were simply there to loot and plunder. Furthermore, as certain ethnic groups in Europe, such as the Dutch and Swedes, turned Protestant, they formed new political alliances with other Protestants – with the goal of power and land, not faith. Hitler was not a religious person , and religion had nothing to do with his quests. Hitler twisted concepts of evolution, assuming Europeans – especially Germans – were on top of the world imperially because evolution favored European’s as the master race. At that time a number of countries in Europe and the USA were sterilizing people under the concept that by removing certain elements from society, society will be made stronger.

    Lastly, the issues between the Shia and Sunni may have started as a matter of religion, specifically about who was supposed to rule Islam after the death of Mohammed. There is no Calipha and the likelihood of it ever coming back is dim. What Sunni and Shia are fighting over today is tribalism along Shia/Sunni lines. Even more important, the fighting in Iraq is a proxy war between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia competing over dominance in the Middle East.

    • @markfarr22,

      Protestants and Catholics continue to kill each other over “rigid” beliefs.

      Please stop repeating that somehow I “am rigid” for asking them to stop and think. You are being immoral.

  23. The thinking many people on this thread have is way too rigid, and definitely black and white!!! If a man kills his wife and happened to be Jewish or Christian, must his reasons for committing the crime have to be a religious one??????? We humans carry many different identities. We can be many different things at the same time without any of those things being the root of why we do what we do. If an Asian Catholic Philippine business man drives his car into a crowd of people killing them, must it be because he was Catholic???????????????????? Could it not be because he was stressed and depressed or suffered from other issues???????? Quit taking things at face value!!

  24. I came on this site to get a quick overview of the differences between the Sunnis & the Shites after watching “Face the Nation” this morning. I got much more than I bargained for. Now 4 hrs later, after reading through these comments, I feel mentally drained from trying to take this all in. A-Max, Some of the best stuff I’ve ever read. Can’t imagine what it took to gather all of that knowledge and comprehend it so as to speak as well about it as you do. You blew my mind .I am a person of faith but not so much in the traditional way you would expect. I was never a big fan of organized religion. Seemed to me to be a way to be too easily manipulated and some aspects never really made sense to me. All the hatred, violence get doesn’t make sense to me under the watch of a “loving ” God. Lets just say, I’ve had my doubts over the years. MF22 you too. very good stuff.
    I’ve never been much of a reader but you 2 have kept me riveted from the start. I have not read this much in one sitting….ever. I will be bookmarking this page so that I can comeback and try to digest all of this better. Wish you guys had a blog so I could take it in better Excellent stuff guys!! I feel I’ve really had my eyes opened up and the time was well spent. Thank you

    • Clash of the Titans

      MIND BLOWN…what you said re; ATHEIST MAX “Some of the best stuff I’ve ever read…You blew my mind” Yup. Me too. I’m beginning to think I never really challenged my religion. What he is saying is so obviously…well, correct. In recent years my faith has been challenged by many things but in the end if god is this easy to argue against i have to wonder.

      • Christian Toby

        @mind blown and clash

        True faith must be questioned to be true faith. You have to be able to answer the hardest doubts or you can’t have it. I would challenge you to read Keller’s “The Reason for God” also. He answers all of the doubts Max has mostly in the first chapter. Just don’t take what one person puts in the comments on an article and bar your eternity on that. Honestly question God, He can handle it.

  25. Christian Toby

    And as for the hate spread by Christianity, that is not a product of a God that is not simply loving, but IS love, it is a product of flawed people.

    Love requires freedom (free choice). In our world we would call that rape. Forcing an act of love on someone.

    Freedom entails risk. Your parents giving you the car keys for the first time.

    Risk entails responsibility. Your parents tell you not to speed, it’s your choice whether you listen, knowing the consequences.

    Responsibility enables growth. You sped anyway, got a ticket, and grounded. But you now know that obeying traffic laws not only save you money, but also keep you safe. And at some point you realize that your parents told you not to speed because they loved you, which in turn helps you to love and appreciate them more.

    That’s free choice and that is love, not just being loving.

    C.S. Lewis said that the greatest mystery is how God could make a creation completely able to resist Him (paraphrased).

    I have the choice and I’d rather believe (and there’s good evidence for) there’s a God who created us, rather than elements sitting in a primordial cesspool that was struck by lightning causing fusion of chemicals and elements. Neither of the two can be proven, they are both theories with evidence and it takes faith in that evidence to believe in either. Free choice dude. I just made a different decision.

    • @Christian toby,

      So long as you leave your Jesus out of my life, I’m fine.

      Unfortunately Jesus has been shoved into my life that I must continually protest. It is a disgrace to the US Constitution that I must endure a steady barrage of Jesus nonsense in my public square.

      I’ve had enough of Jesus. Keep the Jesus nonsense to yourselves and we will get along fine.

  26. Christian Toby

    Finally, I think this is a statement that anyone could agree with, if they really thought about it. Christians really get in the way of Christianity. Maybe if we started acting more like Christ, Max and other non believers would have a better understanding of what God looks like. Let’s so wagging our fingers at people who don’t believe, let’s point our fingers at ourselves. Planks out of our eyes before the specks in theirs. Whether anyone believes in a God or not is their decision and it’s not my it anyone else’s place to coerce or force them into one. I know there is a God, just like I know I like ice cream. I can’t prove that to anyone, but they could see the evidence. Earnestly (without preconceived ideologies) seek and you’ll find God. It’s up to you what you do then.

  27. Christian Toby

    Or read “God’s universe” by astrophysicist Gingerich (not the loudmouth on Fox News), “The cross of Christ” by John Stott, or “The reason for God” by Tim Keller.

    • Christian Toby, I have read all the major works of literature on Jesus Christ. I was a believer for 44 years.

      “John of the Cross” is a better book than the one you mentioned.

      The problem with the Jesus story is it can only be a blunder. It is obviously rooted in ancient superstitions about human blood sacrifice and it cannot (so far) be made into a rational argument to my satisfaction.

      God became man (Jesus) to absolve man of God’s curse (original sin) by spilling God’s pure blood (the Lamb of God) to redeem humanity. But ONLY if humans believe it to be true. Otherwise the curse remains.

      It is not possible for grown-ups to believe this story if they think about it.
      God is very likely not real.

    • @Christian Toby,

      Religion is:
      “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.”

      No belief in superhuman/supernatural power = no religion.
      That is me.

      Super power requires super evidence and I have seen none.

      • Christian Toby

        @Max

        But that doesn’t fit Hinduism. They only believe in the material world. And Buddhists don’t believe in a personal God, just enlightenment. So could you agree that religion is a set of beliefs that explain what life is all about, who we are, and the most important things we should be doing with or lives?

        • @Christian Toby,

          You are wrong about Hinduism and Buddhism.
          Hinduism involves hundreds of gods. It involves a supernatural realm.
          Buddhism is really a materialist philosophy – but it also may involve the supernatural depending on what sort of Buddhism you are referring to.

          You asked:
          “So could you agree that religion is a set of beliefs that explain what life is all about, who we are, and the most important things we should be doing with or lives?”

          Absolutely not!

          A ‘set of beliefs’ based on evidence is materialism. (That is me.)
          A ‘set of beliefs’ based on non-evidence is faith; Leprechauns and gods – this is you.

          “What Life is all about” and “Who we are” is Philosophy:
          as in The Three Questions:
          “What can we know?
          “What ought we to do?
          “and what can we hope for?”

          Religion is the most expensive and ridiculous of FOSSILIZED PHILOSOPHY.

          Religion is:
          “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.”

          Philosophy is interesting, facile and open-ended.

          Religions are dull, boorish, contradictory, stupid, closed, FINAL and claim to be ABSOLUTELY, SINGULARLY, EXCLUSIVELY TRUE. (ALL 50,000 OF THEM!)

          Religion is ancient, foolish garbage.

  28. …and I always considered myself a deep thinker, great thread! Max, you should be applauded for opening up the diaolgue to such a sensitive topic.

  29. Jamie Townsend

    Atheist Max –
    um…you really have opened my eyes. I can’t really say for certain that I believe in God any more and I’m sort of shocked that a mere comment thread (!!!) would shake me up so much. Sitting here a bit stunned by your points.

  30. Christian Toby

    @max

    And by proof, I’m assuming that you man a material proof that you can touch and see. I won’t be able to do that. My proof is in Heaven seated at the right hand of God. The next time I can “prove” His existence it’ll be too late. And no I’m not using a scare tactic. I don’t believe that God will throw us into an unending land of fire. But I do think that He will honor our choices. Whether that is to be with our apart from Him forever. And in my mind that’s worth it. What do I get from Christianity if I follow it? A life lived for something bigger than myself. A good life, filled with people who live and support me. A life were I’m willing to give my life for my beliefs. I’m okay with that even if it doesn’t make sense to you or other non believers. Sorry I’m tired and don’t want to look up the quote, but “A man never really lives until he finds something worth dying for.”

    • “A man never really lives until he finds something worth dying for.”

      Separation of Church and State is with dying for.
      Faith is a disgrace to human dignity.

  31. Christian Toby

    As for the Gospels, other than all of the evidence in McDowelI’s book and others like it, the fact that first hand witnesses (the disciples) of the resurrected Jesus were willing to spread that news at the cost of their lives (for 11 of them) makes me believe that there’s something to it.

    There ifs plenty of archaeological evidence that supports the Bible and sine of the most “outrageous” claims of it. For example, coral formations at a very plausible place for the Israelite’s crossing that are in the exact same shape of Egyptian chariot wheels from that dynasty. Also, it is a historically proven fact that Jesus lived with the proof outside of the Bible. That coupled with the disciples’ willingness to die for something they knew was true makes me believe. My evidence is historical (again outside the Bible) and in multiple cases scientific (e.g. the coral formations).

    • @Christian Toby,

      The beginning of wisdom is the recognition
      of what science has been able to teach us
      and neither to deny that, as a pastor does in one tone of voice,
      or to claim that it shows how clever God is in another tone of voice!

      Make up your mind.
      Because you are actually you are wrong twice.

      Science is EVIDENCE.
      ALL of the science points to explanations that do not include a God.

      At least have the dignity to accept your religion as a set of of claims on faith.
      Don’t pretend that Science supports fairy dust – it doesn’t!

  32. Watching the world cup I couldn’t help notice all the praying for the match to be “fixed” in favor of one team over another. Does that mean that divine intervention is required, even in sports?

    • Christian Toby

      @alfa

      No it means that no matter how small or insignificant something in our lives is, God cares. But I am happy that I’m nit going to have to hear about soccer for at least another 4 years. Thank God for that!

  33. Christian Toby

    @Max

    Even with the theories you have presented, God is not eliminated. God could still be the initiator of it all. Just because you believe you don’t need Him, doesn’t negate Him being there.

    And say at the end of our lives we die and you’re right. Will it matter as a rotting corpse? No it won’t. There’s no hope at all. But if I’m right, what do I have? A shot at an eternal life with God. And what of this life? Again family and friends that love and care for me and a belief in something that has given me a chance to be happy forever. I’ll take getting criticized by someone (who thinks that they have all of the answers and demeans my beliefs, saying that they want to eradicate them, while also saying they believe in the Constitution, which guarantees my right to freedom of religion) for that. I’m not arguing that science hasn’t made amazing discoveries, but I believe they are just that, discoveries of God (the God of the Bible) that created everything.

    Yeah I’m good with being a “hallucinating, pathetic, uneducated, assault on human intelligence”. I don’t have all off the answers, but I know who does and it’s definitely not you.

    • @Christian Toby,

      “I’ll take getting criticized by someone (who thinks that they have all of the answers and demeans my beliefs…)”

      So proud of yourself aren’t you?

      Yes. I demean the beliefs of the Taliban.
      Yes. I demean the beliefs of Al Queada.
      Yes. I demean the beliefs of Jews who claim land in the name of Yahweh.
      Yes. I demean the beliefs of Muslims who claim land in the name of Allah.
      Yes. I demean the beliefs of Hindus who destroy countless lives with a deeply unfair caste system!
      Yes. I demean the beliefs of the Aztecs who sacrificed children and threw them into volcanoes!

      Yes. I demean fools who believe that killing a man and eating his body will cure them of ‘sins’ like masturbation, ‘sinful’ thoughts, and for eating the wrong sort of food on Friday!

      I demean fools who are convinced beyond any doubts that their faith is the true one!

      I demean fools who happen to think they were born special with special insights and privileges because their parents happened to have the ONE SUPERIOR FAITH which just so happens to be the same one they agree with!

      But Lucky YOU! You were born with that SUPERIOR FAITH and the right version of Christianity and that gives you the right to shove
      your abject, impoverished,
      small-minded, pathetic beliefs on the rest of us!!!

      Your religion is a disgrace to humanity.

      THE PRICE OF RELIGION TO SOCIETY
      Harm to the wider community:

      1. The discouragement of rational, critical thought.
      2. Vilification of homosexuality, resulting in discrimination, parents disowning their children, murder, and suicide.
      3. Women made to be second-class citizens based on religious teachings.
      4. Children growing up to hate and fear science and scientists, because science disproves their parents’ religion – leading to appalling scientific illiteracy.
      5. Tens of thousands tortured and killed as witches (a practice which still continues today).
      6. People aren’t making the most of this life because of belief in an afterlife.
      7. People dying because they believe their faith makes them immune to snake venom, or other lethal aspects of reality.
      8. People dying – and letting their children die – because their religion forbids accepting medical help.
      9. People choked, starved, poisoned, or beaten to death during exorcisms.
      10. Genital mutilation of babies demanded by religious texts.
      11. Psychological and physiological conditions blamed on demons, preventing believers from seeking medical care for themselves and their children.
      12. Shunning. People disowning family members for leaving their religion.
      13. Friendships and romances severed or never started over religious differences.
      14. “Abstinence-only” sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies – often leading to ill-fated “emergency” marriages.
      15. Women having septic abortions—or being forced to have unwanted children they resent—because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.
      16. Censorship (often destructive) of speech, art, books, music, films, poetry, songs, ideas.
      17. The demonization of other religions, e.g. Christianity demonizing Pagans (“They’re devil-worshipers!”)
      18. Children using up the period of their lives when the brain is most receptive to learning new information reading, rereading, and even memorizing religious texts.
      19. People who believe the world is about to end neglect their education, are not financially responsible, and in extreme cases take part in mass suicides.
      20. Long-term environmental issues ignored because of beliefs that the rapture/apocalypse or something will happen soon, so they don’t matter.
      21. Wives told they will be tortured forever if they leave their abusive husbands (and vice versa).
      22. Holy wars – followers of different faiths (or even the same faith) killing each other in the name of their (benevolent, loving and merciful) gods.
      23. The destruction of great works of art considered to be pornographic/blasphemous, and the persecution of the artists.
      24. Slavery condoned by religious texts.
      25. Children traumatized by vivid stories of eternal burning and torture to ensure that they’ll be too frightened to even question religion.
      26. Terminal patients in constant agony who would end their lives if they didn’t believe it would result in eternal torture.
      27. School boards having to spend time and money and resources on the fight to have evolution taught in the schools.
      28. Persecution of “heretics”/scientists, like Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake) and Galileo Galilei.
      29. Blue laws forcing other businesses to stay closed or limit sales, while churches can generate more revenue.
      30. Mayors, senators, and presidents voted into office not because they’re right for the job, but because of their religious beliefs.
      31. Abuse of power, authority and trust by religious leaders (for financial gain or sexual abuse of followers and even children).
      32. People accepting visual and auditory hallucinations unquestioningly as divine, sometimes with fatal results.
      33. Discrimination against atheists, such as laws stating they may not hold public office or testify in court, or in half a dozen countries around the world, laws requiring their execution
      34. Missionaries destroying/converting smaller, “heathen” religions and cultures.
      35. Hardship compounded by the guilt required to reconcile the idea of a fair god with reality (“why is God punishing me? What have I done wrong? Don’t I have enough faith?”).
      36. Human achievements—from skillful surgery to to emergency landings—attributed to gods instead of to the people actually responsible.
      37. Mother Teresa, prolonging the agony of terminal patients and denying them pain relief, so she can offer their suffering as a gift to her god.
      38. Tens of billions annually in the US alone spent to build, maintain, and staff houses of worship.
      39. Grief and horror caused by the belief that dead friends and family members are tortured as punishment for disbelief.
      40. Natural disasters and other tragedies used to claim God is displeased and present demands to avoid similar events (it’s like terrorism, but without having to plan or do anything).

    • This is what your religion STRIPS YOU OF:

      Compulsory Compassion?

      Destroys honest empathy.

      Calming effect of belief in an afterlife?
      
Cheapens this life.

      Religion does good Charity work?
      
 So does Hamas and Al Qaeda.

      Vicarious redemption?

      Validates irresponsibility itself. Immoral nonsense.

      Compulsory Love?
      
Destroys honest, earned, true love.

      Compulsory Forgiveness?

      Destroys respect and responsibility.

      Comfort of God’s care?
      
The Price: Dissociative psychosis; Trying to justify
      and explain the jarring incongruity
      of a loving God and the daily onslaught
      of random suffering.

      “Miracles” happen?

      The Price: The laws of nature cannot be bent
      for only your benefit! if any miracle claims are true then
      ALL must be true as you have disconnected
      critical analysis from ordinary experience.
      All religions are now TRUE. Welcome to madness!

      It gives Meaning to life?

      Perhaps,
      but only as a slave of a higher power who claims
      absolute rule over you. You must give in to the desire to be a slave.

      RELIGION POISONS EVERYTHING.
      IT DESTROYS LIFE.

      You throw away your life when you believe in this disgraceful, horrific nonsense.

      • Thank You ATHEIST MAX. bingo dude….Some people are so thick. Religion is such a problem in the world and it is so obvious. Just look at the Hobby Lobby case alone it is time more people figure a way to get the word out maybe speak

  34. Just wanted to reach out to say thank you to Atheist Max! Agreed, all you desired is to be left alone to learn what may or may not be real but instead ” like a bad umpire injecting himself into a game” the so called faithful DEMAND to be heard! Why do they care if we ” burn in hell ” on the so called judgement day? Are they not busy enough creating mass genocide around the world??

  35. It is a shame when aetheists (such as Max) and others, including well-meaning Christians (and sometimes not so well-meaning “Christians” such as Hitler) misuse the bible either because they don’t understand it, or because it contains words that can be quoted out of context to serve a particular agenda. The latter is what Hitler did, and at the end of the day is no different that what many aetheists do. Either way, it is very clear that Max either (a) doesn’t understand the context of Jesus’s words or (b) doesn’t agree with his words and so deliberately took them out of context or (c) doesn’t care one way or another and is just anti-religion in general.

    I do agree with Max that people will “believe what they want to believe” sometimes without exercising reason or an examination of the evidence. Max’s own words prove this. Despite misquoting Scripture, he doesn’t even have his fact correct regarding the Catholic Church and the holocaust. No doubt there were Catholics and other Christians guilty of atrocities. But after the war Pope Pius was actually praised by the newly formed Jewish state for his actions that led to preserving the lives of anywhere between 700-800K Jewish people. Golda Meir herself praised him. And in fact the head of the Jewish religious order at the time even converted to Catholicism! I am not disputing that people have done bad things in the name of religion (people do bad things in the name of all sorts of things). But to somehow insinuate that Hitler of all people was acting as a representative of the Christian faith is just asinine.

    In summary, in the end Aetheist Max is guilty of the same things he is accusing people of religion of doing, which is believing something simply because they want to. There is so much extra-biblical evidence for Jesus, his existence, claims, and resurrection, that to deny this evidence requires a certain “faith” in and of itself.

    Peace be with you, Max. I hope at least at some point will take a closer look at the evidence that is out there for the question of Jesus.

    • Chris,

      The Bible does not come with operating instructions or A Manual.
      The Bible claims to BE THE OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS and THE MANUAL.

      These are indefensible, irreconsilable claims

      Holy Texts should be stripped of their claimed ‘authority’, abandoned and treated for what they are; interesting ancient literary baubles from distant, ignorant civilizations.

  36. Enlightened & Entertained

    @ Athiest Max

    I think you should write a book and call it Rantings Of A Sky Leprechaun… This would save me the time of reading the 50+ books that you have already read!

    I have struggled with my belief in Christianity since I was a child. I tried to run with it again recently, attending church and classes in the past year, only to find myself more confused then when I started. I am 37 now and feel much better leaving Christan beliefs on the table and walking away. Religion and faith drive people to insanity. I feel much better hearing your arguments against it. Thank you!

    • @E&E,

      Glad you enjoyed it and found a comment or two useful.
      Congratulations on releasing yourself from the sickening bondage of religion – you are 10 years younger than I was so you are off to a good start.

      Religion is an ongoing catastrophe for the world. But every time somebody’s brain cell lights up to that simple, honest fact, the world gets a tiny bit better – and safer for all of us.

      Happy trails.

  37. Max, you have worked so hard on this thread to convince people that believing in God / Bible is a wasted effort. Thank you. Reading this thread has brought back fond memories of when I first stumbled across the late Mr Hitchens.

    People can believe what they like, however one must be prepared for ridicule if one insists in talking nonsense. If the Bible was marketed now as a story book for children it wouldn’t be released, what! Because it’s old it gets special treatment? I was fed a steady diet of Bible for the first 21 years of my life. What woke me up from the guilt ridden propaganda, Darwin. Why would god give animals organs they do not use, or eyes when they can not see. It’s poor design at best, or brain washing children at worst.

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