We continue now, as we examine more of Pastor Mike's inexhaustible store of codswallop concerning atheism, which he is desperately seeking to box in as a "religion" or "belief system".
They didn't have tithing, but there are plenty of things for sale. And, let's not forget to mention how they seek donations to help cover the costs of promoting atheism, paying speakers, renting facilities, etc.
Well, duh! Obviously if any organization - even the Shriners, are to have a communal life (some of the time, as with meetings, conferences),then money must be paid. This is not yet a free society, after all. Conferences in distant cities therefore require speakers be paid, hotels booked, the whole nine yards.
Again, the egregious mistake of Mike and his ilk is in portraying this as some sinister evidence of a cult or "religion" when ANY group that meets, or has some social dimension, will do the same thing. What, he expects all atheists to remain hermits because he never wants to see us? Would he be supremely happy if we all climbed into caves, and remained there? I suppose he would. Then there'd be virtually no one to prick his fantasy world balloons.
But as social beings, humans - ALL humans- have the right (not mention the natural inclination) to meet, and greet and exchange news. This doesn't mean anything over and above the social aspect, and it is disgusting for my brother to deliberately read more into it in order to make a specious point. Come on, Mike, do better than that!
He also complains:
I think it rather ironic that those who are against religion so much, are in actuality so religious themselves.
No, we are not, we are HUMANS ourselves. Being social (meetings, conferences etc.) is a dimension of humanity, not religiosity. Humans possess a social nature based on which it is antithetical (to health, including mental) to remain as loners. And if you had more than a grain of sense and education you'd know that. (Ok, at least admit it). But again, these are the sort of disgraceful tactics we have come to expect from Mike and his cult members liek Rene. Obfuscate, conflate, dodge and then repeat.
He goes on:
"Unfortunately, the atheists have gathered around non-belief and want that non-belief promoted in society. All I have to say is, eternity is a long time to be wrong."
Once more, employing specious tactics. Mike knows no better. No atheists "gather" around non-belief, because being discredal we do not need to actively cling to a negative belief to make our case. We simply invoke laws of probability to show how withering tiny in likelihood your world view is.
As far as a "long time to be wrong in eternity" - once more we behold the hidden threat ('Believe or your butt's gonna burn!'). This is all fundies know, because they are unable to make their case through reason or logical argument. But it doesn't matter. To us, integrity counts for more than fear. And all the resort to Pascal's Wagers (any form) in the world, will not deter us.
Rather than act as weenies who have to cop to a belief to save our "eternal hides" --we ask instead: What kind of a God is it that has to have 'yes-men' in order to prosper? Who find it more critical that humans cop to beliefs in him, merely to save their butts?
If I were any type of real God, I would rather burn to smithereens anyone or anythign that copped to a belief merely to get cozy with me in an afterlife.
But evidently Pastor Mike's god is such a cowardly little weasel, so insecure, that he must have a court of yes-men. Never mind they are not invested in real beliefs or aceptance!
Let us continue:
"Atheism is, essentially, a negative position. It is not believing in a god, or actively believing there is no God, or choosing to not exercise any belief or non-belief concerning God, etc. Which ever flavor is given to atheism, it is a negative position. "
As before this discloses a basic, fundamental misunderstanding of the issue. If the believers do not get this part right, then we may be sure there is little else they will get correct. (Or we may assume they are just having at us, playing little games with no serious intent)
The claim is that atheism denotes a "negative position" e.g. "not believing in a god, or actively believing there is no God". But the goodly pastor misses the point (not to mention the mark!)
Let me put this simply so even a sixth grader can get it: IN WHICH "GOD" DO WE NOT BELIEVE???
Up to now neither you nor your underling have graced us with: a) a basic definition of your God, or b) the necessary and sufficent conditions for its existence. Having not done this, it is impossible to posit a single or uniform "belief" or "non-belief" postion. It is like insisting I am an "anti-elvist" because I don't accept the claim for elves, or I am an anti-astrologist because I don't accept the claim that any configuration of stars guides our destinies. In other words, there is NO denial or active disbelief action required if something is a priori disposed of by the fact its claimants haven't shown existence.
Now, go back and read my next to last blog entry: 'Rene Says: God Is...God Is....God Is....and you will find the basic ontological principles for providing support for an existent.
Even in our extended e-mail debates this is something you singularly avoided so it isn't suprising you'd resort to it again now.
So again, the point is not what definition atheism has, but what BRAND of god belief (in theism) you are proferring and whether or not it is substantial or insubstantial (like elves and fairies).
This is important because even within Christianity many many types of deity are accepted. Without a definition and ontological basis offered, we cannot be sure of which of those we are supposed to be "negative" about.
For example, Catholics subscribe to a triune deity. The necessary condition is that aseity be the basis for each Person (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) in the Tinity. The sufficient condition is that each Person can act independently but be relational (in its divine attributes) to each of the others.
One can then invoke a pro-nay position in terms of acceptance. The Catholics have fulfilled their duty in other words.
So have the Christian Universalists, those of the assorted Religious Science groups, Christian Science, Unity and Unitarians.
Thus, their deity exists as a universal presence in the universe BUT without personality. Thus, the necessary condition for its existence is a non-contingent energy that is incorruptible (e.g. Dirac vacuum state) and the sufficient condition is that it is a mediating consciousness which can enfold human consciousness at a higher dimensional level.
Again, the conditions are fufilled for anyone to invoke or use a pro-con position in response.
Even Christian Socinians have fulfilled their duty. (Their deity being limited by the most percipient consciousness available in the universe at any one time)
BUT you all (evangelicals) have not. And you expect us to take your seriously when you continue to avoid providing the goods? When all we can conclude from these tactics is that you have a comic deity? As opposed to a cosmic deity/
The Pastor reels on:
"In discussions with atheists, I don't hear any evidence for the validity of atheism."
Again, there does not have to be such when the deity claimants haven't delivered the basic for their entity. The con-position (intellectual) only needs validation when the claimant side has already fulfilled its obligations for an ontological claim. That is, they have given us an operational definition and also the n-s conditions for its existence, that we may discriminate from all other possible existents of the same generic mold ("Gods").
Until such time, you cannot say atheism is not providing "evidence for its validity". The reason being YOU all must present the positive basis for your deity's validity first. Further, the onus is on you to prove it (or at minimum provide the n-s conditions for it) not on us to disprove it.
"There are no "proofs" that God does not exist in atheist circles; at least, none that I have heard --"
Nor will you, because as I have repeated 1001 times already, it is logically impossible to prove a negative. This is something learned in Logic 101 but something obviously lacking in your education.
Let me repeat this again in the (faint) hope it will finally sink in: The positive claimant is the one who has the burden of substantiating his proof for his claim. It is not the burden of the con-position to "prove" an entity does not exist.
Obviously, because any madman can make any insane claim and then defy me to 'disprove it'. For example, he can claim giant invisible ten dimensional spiders are taking over the Earth. Then shout: "disprove it". Obviously I can't. But that does not mean there are really ten dimensional spiders taking over the world. Only that logic has its limits in terms of "proving negatives".
"especially since you can't prove a negative regarding God's existence. "
Well, the Pastor seems to finally get that proving a negative is impossible. So why then continue to insist we do that? Obviously because it's the only game he knows, and the only one he can play...given he's averse to providing support for his claim via n-s conditions, or definitions.
The Pastor spiels on:
"Of course, that isn't to say that atheists haven't attempted to offer some proofs that God does not exist. But their attempted proofs are invariably insufficient."
WHAT "proofs"? Where? Provide them! Sources and citations, authors? NO atheist I know has attempted that.
What we have done is to invoke the basic laws of probability to show your claimed deity is either redundant or inconsistent (in terms of its claimed properties) with actually observed actions in the world. Perhaps the best and most succinct clarification of this was offered by Philosopher Alan Watts, in his 'The Wisdom of Insecurity':
"The modern scientist is not so naive as to deny God because he cannot be found in a telescope or under a scalpel, or in a test tube.
He has merely noted that the idea of God is logically unnecessary. It does not help him to explain anything, e.g. supernovas, or to make verifiable predictions"
In other words, the *idea* is redundant.
Maybe Pastor Mike can look that word up in a proper dictionary before he comments again! We certainly don't want to see him get more and more "redundant" in his replies!