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Does Atheism Poison Everything? Debate Between David Berlinski and Christopher Hitchens

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The debate is happening today, Sept. 7th, at the Fixed Point Foundation.

Our next debate features famed atheist Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and Dr. David Berlinski, author of The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.  The question being debated: What are the implications of a purely secular society?  It promises to be a formidable clash of titans.  In addition to being highly entertaining and witty, these two men have a serious message they want to communicate.

The Does Religion Poison Everything? Debate begins at 7 p.m., September 7.

The luncheon, reception, and debate all take place at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel:

For those of us who cannot make the debate, the DVD can be ordered here.

Dr. Berliski is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute.

David Berlinski describes himself as “a secular Jew and an agnostic.”  He has written a number of books on mathematics, but he is best known for his appearance in the Ben Stein film “Expelled” as well as for his irreverent assault upon the New Atheists in his book, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.  Mr. Berlinski, whose immediate family was saved during the Holocaust by the “American Schindler” Varian Fry, resides in Paris.  He possesses a Ph.D. from Princeton University and formerly taught philosophy and mathematics at Stanford University and the University of Paris.

Christopher Hitchens, an atheist and polemicist, is best known for his controversial book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and, most recently, for his memoir, Hitch 22, which has been on The New York Times Best Seller List since its release last month.  Hitchens has been a columnist for The Atlantic, Slate, and Vanity Fair, and has debated his views around the English-speaking world.  Hitchens is one of the so-called “New Atheists”, along with other notables like Richard Dawkins.

The way this entire debate is framed is wrong. atheism too is a religion just like any other and is based on faith, moreso I would say than traditional religion, although its adherents are still in denial of the fact. It's time Theists and anyone arguiing against atheism - and especially this anti-intellectual breed of new atheism - started addressing this belief system as such. atheists need to be put on the defensive of this because quite frankly, their dishonesty has gotten a little too tiresome. Special pleading fallacies galore! Once this is done, then the question woul dbe "Which religion is most poisonous/destructive?" Thereafter an honest discussion may resume. above
Zeroseven--you may wish to pick up Augustine's Confessions. He, too, struggled with the idea of what God is made of if he's not made of matter. This, in fact, was one of the core ideas that kept him from becoming a Christian in the first place. But once he started reading Plotinus and being exposed to Platonic philosophy--breaking his materialism--he found Christianity much more plausible. And he then realized that to ask what God is "made of" is something like a category confusion. It is also what is wrong with asking what the soul is 'made of' in philosophy of mind. We're trying to explain their composition via insufficient categories and analogies. If materialism is true then all that exists is matter and anything that exists is made of matter. So we want to find out the 'stuff' something is made of. But non-material entities are not made of 'stuff.' To be made of 'stuff' just is to be material. God and souls are not made of stuff; they have parts (i.e. mind, will, emotions) but these are inseparable. Anyways, thought it'd be interesting to read the spiritual autobiography of a very intelligent man, like yourself, who came to Christianity after struggling with the very question you posed. Hope it helps! tmolloy
Which must one accept first: Jesus' sacrifice? Quantum mechanics? The evidence for Design? critter
Zeroseven, Being made in the image of God -- comes from the start of the book of Genesis. God made man "in His image". It means we are made in His likeness. We share His attributes. We are a reflection of His nature. However, we are also distant in all these things, by which I mean that we not gods, or even close to being gods, but we are poor reflections of the divine. So, for example: within the trinity there is pure love between the Father/Son/Spirit. Likewise there is love between a father/mother/children. There is submission Father to Son, and there is submission husband to wife to children. Our inward groans for eternity and abhorrence of death are there because God is eternal and He has placed eternity in our hearts. Humans were not created to live to die, but rather to live eternally as God is eternal. God is a God of Justice, and humans reflect that in our desires for justice. There are obviously many more pieces of the image that could be added, but you get the idea... NZer
Sorry, that was for UB not UP zeroseven
UP: "In other words, I bet you’d say that such higher-level emergent phenomena can only come about by means of significant periods of variation and selection." Not necessarily. I am open to the possibility of artificial intelligence reaching that level. But I guess that will be the result of evolution in that our brains evolved. The thing is, we know of nothing, other than evolution, that is capable of producing something as complex as the brain. Those things you mention in paragraphs 2 and 3 come from human beings. We invented them. Its not a great leap to see that properties emerge from different arrangements of atoms. Hydrogen and Oxygen are nothing like water in the individual states to use a trivial and cliched example. I am sorry if you find those questions juvenile. I guess they are from a theological perspective (and yes I am a theological juvenile) but I am generally curious as to what God is if he is not matter. zeroseven
Graham you state: 'You dont sound too sceptical in your acceptance of the supernatural.' And Graham since quantum mechanics blatantly defy our concepts of time and space, yet is the foundation of the space-time in which we reside, just where should I draw this line between natural and supernatural that you feel should be so obvious to me??? bornagain77
Zero at #18, Glad to see you were clever enough to pick up on the satire. ;) But while we are on the topic of there being nothing but matter, I have some questions for you. From what corner of the periodic table does justice come from? It does come from matter, does it not? Or, is it like other such phenomena? Is it an emergent property of matter? Can it not come from the same repeatable chemistry we see in all other things? Or is it the same chemistry, but so complex we don’t yet know how it happens? Surely it only happens after millennia of evolution. Deep time, slowly instilling into matter a vital something which leads to the eventual emergence of the semiotic gemstones like music, meaning, language, and even justice. I would bet you’d be quite defensive to the idea that it could happen without evolution. In other words, I bet you’d say that such higher-level emergent phenomena can only come about by means of significant periods of variation and selection. This would seem to make the observation of semiotic systems inside the genome rather difficult for you - given that such a system was necessary prior to the onset of evolution as we know it. In any case, you are completely correct; few people want to live their lives as if atoms are all there is. In fact, that particular position is vocally reviled by both theist and atheist alike. The problem here is that the atheists are the central figures in promoting the idea that matter is all there is (except, of course, for all those non-material things they rename and smuggle back in to make their worldview intellectually tolerable). As for your other questions to me, I apologize, but with the exception of perhaps one of them, I find them too juvenile to answer. Upright BiPed
07: Why will no-one answer my question about what it means that we are “made in the image of God”? The problem is that we are not made in the image of God. We are born in the image of Adam, as we are told in Gen 5:3 (see also Rom. 5:12ff.). You can be born again, and regain what Adam lost, which is the very life of God. To be in God's image means that God himself lives in you and your life becomes an expression of His life. riddick
To bornagain77: You dont sound too sceptical in your acceptance of the supernatural. Graham
07, The "?????" are words written in Hebrew, which does not translate into this format. CannuckianYankee
07, Re: Image of God, I give you the following from Bible.org: http://bible.org/netbible/index.htm (Click on reference note # 49 for Genesis 1:26). "The two prepositions translated 'in' and 'according to' have overlapping fields of meaning and in this context seem to be virtually equivalent. In 5:3 they are reversed with the two words. The word ????? (tselem, 'image') is used frequently of statues, models, and images – replicas (see D. J. A. Clines, 'The Etymology of Hebrew selem,' JNSL 3 [1974]: 19-25). The word ??????? (dÿmut, 'likeness') is an abstract noun; its verbal root means 'to be like; to resemble.' In the Book of Genesis the two terms describe human beings who in some way reflect the form and the function of the creator. The form is more likely stressing the spiritual rather than the physical. The 'image of God' would be the God-given mental and spiritual capacities that enable people to relate to God and to serve him by ruling over the created order as his earthly vice-regents." CannuckianYankee
zeroseven, Whether you believe it or not, this actually is a picture of Almighty God as He appeared in human form: The Shroud of Turin is one of the most scientifically scrutinized artifacts in recorded history. Through a rigid process of elimination, through all materialistic possibilities, it becomes crystal clear; the way in which the photographic negative, and uniquely three dimensional, image of the man on the Shroud of Turin had to be imprinted was 'supernatural' in its process. The Turin Shroud - Comparing Image And Photographic Negative - interactive webpage (Of note: The finding that the image on the Shroud is indeed a photographic negative is still as much a mystery today as when it was first discovered by Secondo Pia in 1898.) http://www.shroud.com/shrdface.htm Shroud Of Turin's Unique 3 Dimensionality - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041182 There is a deeper correlation to being made in God's image by the fact that we can transform raw material by implementing functional information on it, very similar to how God has created life on earth. bornagain77
NZer: How would your conversion be understood in a material-only universe? In a material-only universe nothing of any significance can be understood or makes any sense. Playing the sceptic, do conversions like this happen in other religions? How so then? How does the Christian explain this? I'm not sure about others' conversions because I have only experienced my own. People convert to all kinds of things, including tree worship, with, I'm sure, the utmost sincerity and passion. When Jesus was asked about how to detect false prophets He said that we can know them by their fruits. The fruits of Judeo-Christianity have been unparalleled in all history, and they include the scientific method. People like Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. could never experience this conversion unless they humbled themselves, as you did, right? Therefore the chances of them "finding God" are next to impossible, because their hearts are really in control of their minds, right? I didn't find God, He found me. One doesn't find that which is not lost. I was lost, not God. And, yes, the humility thing is important. Pride is the sin of all sins -- and I'm one of the worst offenders -- from which I could not possibly rescue myself. That's why we all need redemption, to be rescued from ourselves. GilDodgen
link fix: Uncertainty Principle - The "Non-Particle" Basis Of Reality - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109172/uncertainty_principle_the_non_particle_basis_of_reality/ http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109172 bornagain77
zeroseven, Indeed let's not denigrate the atom, but let's also fully understand that they are not 'materialistic' in the least, and would not even exist in the first place without the Mind Of God! notes: It has been known since the discovery of quantum mechanics itself, early last century, that the universe is indeed 'Mental', as is illustrated by this quote from Max Planck. "As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter." Max Planck - The Father Of Quantum Mechanics - (Of Note: Max Planck was a devout Christian, which is not surprising when you realize practically every, if not every, founder of each major branch of modern science also 'just so happened' to have a deep Christian connection.) "Atoms are not things" Werner Heisenberg "Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it." Niels Bohr Uncertainty Principle - The 'Uncertain Non-Particle' Basis Of Material Reality - video and article http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109172 http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-uncertainty/ The Electron - The Supernatural Basis of Reality - video http://www.tangle.com/view_video?viewkey=922bb17d122f4b8e5995 What blows most people away, when they first encounter quantum mechanics, is the quantum foundation of our material reality blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. Most people consider defying time and space to be a 'miraculous & supernatural' event. I know I certainly do! This 'miraculous & supernatural' foundation for our physical reality can easily be illuminated by the famous 'double slit' experiment. (It should be noted the double slit experiment was originally devised, in 1801, by a Christian named Thomas Young). Though I've listed this preceding video before, it is well worth revisiting it here: Dr. Quantum - Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4096579 This following site offers more of a formal refutation of materialism: Why Quantum Theory Does Not Support Materialism - By Bruce L Gordon: Excerpt: Because quantum theory is thought to provide the bedrock for our scientific understanding of physical reality, it is to this theory that the materialist inevitably appeals in support of his worldview. But having fled to science in search of a safe haven for his doctrines, the materialist instead finds that quantum theory in fact dissolves and defeats his materialist understanding of the world. http://www.4truth.net/site/c.hiKXLbPNLrF/b.2904125/k.E94E/Why_Quantum_Theory_Does_Not_Support_Materialism.htm The following articles show that even atoms (Ions) are subject to teleportation: Of note: An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups Excerpt: In fact, copying isn't quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable - it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can't 'clone' a quantum state. In principle, however, the 'copy' can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,, http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/Issues/2004/October/beammeup.asp Atom takes a quantum leap - 2009 Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been 'teleported' over a distance of a metre.,,, "What you're moving is information, not the actual atoms," says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2171769/posts bornagain77
UB; "We want to exist in a state of sober understanding, assured that we do not partake of any illusions of meaning, value, justice, good, evil, or any of the other ancient ramblings of fools." This, sorry, is nonsense. I do not know anyone who wishes to exist in that state. I am heartily sick of being told there is no meaning in my life because I don't believe in a god. I assume that quote is Dawkins, who is not a hero of mine. But I can't find any fault with the quote. By the way, is God made of atoms? Why will no-one answer my question about what it means that we are "made in the image of God". I assume this means God looks like a human being? zeroseven
Why the reduction to atoms all the time? (Not just you, it’s very common here). You want to reduce a fine bottle of Bordeaux or a the Mona Lisa to “just atoms”? What’s that about?
That's a great question Zero, I just can't think of a single reason why you would ask it. The reduction is because if there are only atoms, then there are only atoms. We want to exist in a state of sober understanding, assured that we do not partake of any illusions of meaning, value, justice, good, evil, or any of the other ancient ramblings of fools. These things simply do not lend themselves to the quantification and scrutiny which is necessary for existence. They are for the weak-minded. We have no desire to pretend otherwise, and there is no objective foundation to make such a claim. We should realize this and move our species beyond them without any further argument. We want to recede into the sanctity of our trusted intellect where we can be assured that the universe is instead a most-obvious reality of "pitiless indifference" To quote a cherished Authority: "In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference." Upright BiPed
SteveB, Well I must say, atoms taste very good when they are made into a chocolate cake. Atoms are truly amazing things. From stars to you. I wish you wouldn't denigrate them. zeroseven
How would your conversion be understood in a material-only universe? It would have to be reduced to psychology and ultimately to atoms, right?
Absolutely. If we assume a material-only universe, Gil’s been completely hornswoggled. His story is no more meaningful than the fizzy sensation “experienced” by the baking soda and vinegar when they interact with each other. But of course you realize that we can’t stop there. Gil, me, you and everything else that we might call personally or experientially meaningful ultimately reduces to atoms blindly obeying natural law. If I may, a "play the skeptic" question for you: How consistently do you live with these presuppositions? The care you feel for friends or family? The meaning you derive from your work or relationships? The importance with which you view yourself or your loved ones? In a material-only universe, all of it is, as you say, "ultimately atoms." And nothing more. On the other hand, if you treat such things as if they do have meaning, as if they are valuable, as if such personal and interpersonal experiences matter, you end up living in a state in which you must deny the very presuppositions you have just asserted--presuppositions that are fundamental and non-negotiable to atheistic naturalism. My own view is that the atheist has to move in one of two directions: either treat such instances of meaningless atoms and chemistry as if they truly are meaningless (and I have yet to meet the person who can do this), or re-examine the presuppositions that define them as such. Thanks for your time. -sb SteveB
NZer; Why the reduction to atoms all the time? (Not just you, it's very common here). You want to reduce a fine bottle of Bordeaux or a the Mona Lisa to "just atoms"? What's that about? zeroseven
Gil, That's a good testimony. I too was an atheist when I was very young, and converted to the truth of Christ at 18. Many of the atheists' arguments I see here, such as "Who created God" and "Religion is just a crutch" I myself made when I was in elementary school, which is partly why I can't take the arguments seriously, and don't understand why grown men and women are still making them. But eventually (thank God) I grew up, and came to a knowledge of the truth. Clive Hayden
I’m convinced that my conversion experience was rigged. It involved a confluence of many events and key people, all timed and orchestrated with precision. I believe it was intelligently designed. During those few weeks, after having discovered who C.S. Lewis was, I was rummaging through one of many of our bookshelves and found Mere Christianity. It had been lying in wait for a decade, having been given to my wife by a Christian friend to give to me. At that time, I ignored it, never opened it, and promptly forgot all about it. It was thus that I discovered an incredibly rich intellectual as well as spiritual tradition within Christianity, one that I had never even imagined existed. And, of course, Michael Denton’s book, within a matter of hours, thoroughly dismantled the creation myth of my former religion of atheism -- Darwinism -- and launched me into the ID movement. Within a matter of a few weeks my atheism lay in tatters, never to be resurrected. GilDodgen
Hitchens is to be commended for enduring the hardship of traveling to Birminbham in his condition. The man truly showed courage. It aounds as fhough Berlinski, aho is not a tfheist, did well at defending theism. I hope the transcript for this debate is ereleased soon. CannuckianYankee
Here is a article on last nights Hitchens, Berlinski debate: Atheist author Christopher Hitchens energetic in debate at Birmingham Sheraton http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/09/atheist_author_christopher_hit_1.html bornagain77
NZer, Thanks for the questions. Here is how I would answer the 3rd. While there is an element of complete mystery at not knowing the mind of God, Christians believe that God seeks out sinners for repentance. We have more evidence of this in societies where there are many Christians than in societies where there are few. However, God's witness can be found throughout the world more in our present time than at any other time in history. Did you know that the number of evangelical Christians in China, for example, is estimated at over 54 million? Yet this is probably a very conservative estimate, as many Christians in China will not state their faith openly. So even China has a Christian witness of roughly 5% of the population. Ok, back to the Christian West: A Christian comes up to you out of the blue and says something specifically evangelical, such as "Jesus loves you." You may not know it, but this may be an example of God using a Christian to reach out to an unbeliever. How many examples of this do you have in your life? I have plenty of them in my own. What Gil is implying is that God used just such circumstances to reach out to him with the gospel. And rather than despising such circumstances and relegating them to haughty Christians interfering with his life, Gil knows now that God used the Narnia video, his friend, Calvary Chapel, etc. as an expression of His love for him. But more importantly, Gil responded. Now Gil did not immediately watch the Narnia video and state: "Egads! now I'm a believer!" He still had questions, and I'm certain that he had plenty of doubts and hardness of heart. I wouldn't say that he humbled his heart, and perhaps he left out part of the story in that regard. But there are certain circumstances in our lives, wherein we are able to evaluate our disbelief with our need for answers. Gil pointed out just what that evaluation was, when he surmised that his children were more than a "bunch of chemistry." Such conclusions do not require a humbling of the heart towards God, but the heart is involved nonetheless. Another possibility is that if Gil's friend started preaching to him prior to his viewing the Narnia video, he might have been annoyed, and not have paid as much attention. So it was the Narnia video perhaps, which first began the softening of a hardened heart towards the gospel. It was all God's work in the supreme knowledge of which circumstance should come first, which led to the softening of the heart, and none of Gil's. I think he would agree with me. If Gil had not responded, do you think that such circumstances would have ceased? I believe they would have continued, personally, and I have experience in my own life of such evangelical and providential circumstances continuing until I finally responded, and even more support to help sustain my faith after I responded. The truly interesting thing is that at the time I did not recognize them as providential circumstances, but looking back, it's clear to me that they were. So I can imagine that people like Hitchens and Dawkins face many circumstances where God is attempting to reach out to them with the gospel. Hitchens, in fact, has a brother of note, who is an evangelical Christian, and it is said that Hitchens knows more about the Christian gospel than a lot of people who claim to be Christians. Dawkins often debates with Christians, and I understand that he has a number of friends who are Christians. Also, while we've been on the subject of Stephen Hawking lately, his first wife was an evangelical Christian. It almost appears as though God in his loving kindness, is surrounding atheists with Christians in order to reach them. I don't think you will find an atheist board on the internet where there is not a Christian chiming in from time to time. The atheist message is particularly provocative towards Christians, perhaps for that very reason - so that Christians will take exception and get involved in the debate in order that the gospel message will not be lost on atheists. This may not be the particular reason why the Christians are on those boards; they may just like a good argument. However, this is not to say that God cannot use such circumstances towards his own purposes. Another observation is that once a person makes the decision to become a Christian, God's "intrusion" increases exponentially. This is because we become much more aware of the providential circumstances, which led to our belief, and these circumstances continue as Christians. There's a passage that we're probably all familiar with in Psalm 23: "Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." I love that passage, because I know it's true in my life. A friend of mine who is a former Jewish believer and Hebrew scholar, taught our Sunday school class that the Hebrew word translated as "follow" is not easily translated into English, and actually means to "pursue with extreme prejudice." In other words, God's loving kindness does not let up on pursuing us. So we may not be completely aware of God's pursuit of us, but if we're not looking for Him, which according to scripture is true of all unbelievers, it may appear that He's not looking for us either. On the other hand, when we claim to have finally found Him, it's really that he was looking for us all along. I can tell you this: I've heard the testimonies of hundreds of Christians, and they all contain the element of God's pursuit of them. I don't know of any Christian who claims that they came to belief all on their own simply by rationalizing their way to faith as if they had all knowledge and wisdom necessary to make such a decision. Which is perhaps why Christians as well as the scriptures caution us not to depend on their own wisdom. It has limits: ""For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe." (1 Cor 1:18-21) I believe Hitchens, Hawking and Dawkins are among the ones this passage addresses. Well it really addresses all of us in our unbelief; because in all our supposed wisdom (and I say "supposed" when we consider the infinite wisdom of our Creator), God is more interested in our hearts - such that even the man or woman with not much wisdom or knowledge relative to most people, could come to know God. Now that's the loving God I believe in - the one who cares as much for the least and pursues them as much he does those who prop themselves up with professed wisdom. It's not that these men are even capable of softening their hearts towards the gospel. Such a thing requires those circumstances in which God acts providentially towards their salvation. That such a providential circumstance has not at the present time occurred, does not imply that it won't. We simply don't know. Therefore, we have no right to judge these men for their unbelief, because we at one time were of the same circumstance, and we came to faith through no work of our own. We can, however, point to the unreasonableness of their unbelief in light of what we can reasonably know to be true. Such admonitions are indeed part of how God approaches those who struggle with doubt. I've been helped immensely by them. So in summation, the message of the cross is foolishness to us when we are in unbelief because we do not perceive it's providential nature towards our salvation. What is required in order for us to perceive the providential nature is faith. However, faith is not something we come to on our own, but through the providence of God. If we could come to salvation on our own, we in effect would not need salvation. We have all the more reason then to appreciate that the gospel is preached. It is evidence that God is pursuing us, and continues to do so. (I realize that this may sound very close to Calvinism, but I'm not really a Calvinist, I'm a Dispensationalist who has slight Calvinist leanings; Which is perhaps good, because at Calvary Chapel, they all seem to be Dispensationalists.) :) Now I ask you this: if after all the providential circumstances that God appears to have provided, and in his wisdom, has placed some such circumstances in order of greatest effect, and has not let up on His loving pursuit of their salvation through faith in Him, these men still do not believe, do you think God has given sufficient witness so that they can believe? I ask this with a heavy heart, as I know that the reasonable answer is "yes." Thanks for your great testimony, Gil. There's a lot there. CannuckianYankee
Nice story Gil. I'm glad you came from darkness to light. Atheism is essential darkness and blindness. A few interesting quotes on atheism:
"Atheism is a disease of the soul before it becomes an error of understanding....."- Plato
The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. - John Adams
"The atheists are for the most part imprudent and misguided scholars who reason badly who, not being able to understand the Creation, the origin of evil, and other difficulties, have recourse to the hypothesis the eternity of things and of inevitability....." - Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary
A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere--'Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,' as Herbert says, 'fine nets and stratagems.' God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous. -- C.S. Lewis
Still, even the most admirable of atheists is nothing more than a moral parasite, living his life based on borrowed ethics. This is why, when pressed, the atheist will often attempt to hide his lack of conviction in his own beliefs behind some poorly formulated utilitarianism, or argue that he acts out of altruistic self-interest. But this is only post-facto rationalization, not reason or rational behavior. -Vox Day
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying that it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too--for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist--in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless--I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality--namely my idea of justice--was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.-- C.S. Lewis
God will not take shelter behind a jugglery of logic or metaphysics. He is neither a schoolman nor theologian, but our Father in Heaven. - George MacDonald
Without God man has no reference point to define himself. 20th century philosophy manifests the chaos of man seeking to understand himself as a creature with dignity while having no reference point for that dignity. --R. C. Sproul
"God is dead" - F. Neitzche "Neitzche is dead" - God
I believe in God as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. --C. S. Lewis
As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. --C. S. Lewis
Forth from his dark and lonely hiding-place, (Portentous sight!) the owlet Atheism, sailing on obscene wings athwart the noon, drops his blue-fringed lids, and holds them close, and hooting at the glorious sun in Heaven, cries out, Where is it? - Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
Here lies an Atheist: All Dressed Up and No Place to Go. Epitaph
I wanted to be an atheist, but I gave it up. They have no holidays. -- Henry Youngman
At any rate this is what happens: Materialism (atheism) necessitates relativism and relativism incapacitates the minds ability to reason correctly -because it generates powerful cognitive dissonance. Borne
Since atheism is itself a poison of both the heart and mind it necessarily poisons everything with heart and mind. Lies do not help, they inevitably require more lies and cause confusion and errors of all kinds. Since atheism has no logical basis whatsoever and the atheist must hold his position by faith alone it is indeed a useless and poisonous view. Borne
Order placed. I can't imagine this not being good. Upright BiPed
Hey Gil, that is very interesting. I have a couple of questions and comments... 1. How would your conversion be understood in a material-only universe? It would have to be reduced to psychology and ultimately to atoms, right? 2. Playing the sceptic, do conversions like this happen in other religions? How so then? How does the Christian explain this? 3. People like Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. could never experience this conversion unless they humbled themselves, as you did, right? Therefore the chances of them "finding God" are next to impossible, because their hearts are really in control of their minds, right? NZer
Gil: If you needed a bible to tell you to love your neighbour, then I worry for you. Im sure you and others have been uplifted by the bible, but its not the only book capable of arousing such feelings. I have been similarly stirred by various works, I dont think I need to quote any particular text. Graham
Awesome testimony Gil! God loves you and so do I. From one "Fundy" to another lol:) IRQ Conflict
At risk of being labeled a religious fanatic who has abandoned all powers of reason, I present the following, written in 1994 at the behest my friend David Pounds, who is mentioned. It was David who recommended that I read Michael Denton's Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. In answer to the question, Does Atheism Poison Everything? -- I can attest to the fact that it does. It poisoned my life, soul, and intellect for 43 years. Readers can take the following as they will. I present it as my experience, which transformed my life, intellect, and soul much for the better. My former atheism was universally and consistently destructive in all three categories. A Christian Testimony March 12, 1994 at age 43 Gil Dodgen All my life I was an atheist, and believed that I was just a complex piece of biochemistry that came about by chance. When my chemical processes shut down at death I would cease to exist and enter eternal oblivion. I had (and have) everything the world has to offer -- a wonderful wife, two beautiful children, a nice home and a job I enjoy -- but somehow, as I grew older, I increasingly sensed that something was missing. I started asking myself, "What is all this for in the end? Is there some purpose behind all this? Are my children nothing more than a bunch of chemistry as well?" Deep inside I knew there had to be more. One day, while shopping in a book store, I ran across a cartoon video entitled "The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe." The blurb on the back of the package made it look like a nice story for my five-year-old daughter, and it was only $9.95, so I bought it. One evening my daughter and I lounged on the living room floor and watched the cartoon. At one point the lion gave up his life to an evil witch to spare a child, on whom the witch had a claim. The story of his courage, compassion and unjust death moved me deeply, and his return to life and struggle against evil inspired me. Suddenly I realized that the lion was Jesus Christ. There had been no mention of the allegory on the package, but I knew enough about the life of Jesus from my secular studies to recognize it. In retrospect I realize that Someone had gone to work on my heart as well. I had a friend, Dave Pounds, and I knew that he was a devout Christian. (In fact, he was the only Christian I knew.) We had not seen each other in a long time and I thought the video might make a nice excuse for our families to get together for dinner, so I gave his wife a call. The evening came and we all watched the video. When it came to the death of the lion I started asking Dave questions about how certain parts of the cartoon related to the story of Jesus, and decided that it might be interesting to read about it in the Bible. He went out to his car and gave me one. For the next few weeks I read the New Testament, and began to feel a transformation taking place. I had no idea how much wisdom there was in this book, and how beautiful and inspiring the life of Christ was. I was particularly moved by the story of His death, and His total devotion to God, righteousness and love of His fellow man. How could He forgive His murderers from the cross? His final words were burned into my mind: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." A battle had begun -- an intense mental conflict that lasted a few weeks. I would argue with myself, "This is just a bunch of mythology; you're too smart to believe this. No, this is good, this is true, this is beautiful. There is a God, and He loves you. Jesus died a hideous death for you on the cross." I noticed, however, that once I started reading the Bible the arguing ceased. I would call up Dave to ask questions about what I had read in the Bible, and one evening he prayed for me over the phone, and suggested that I try it myself. Although prayer was a totally foreign concept to me, I felt that somehow I had to give it a try. So, with the greatest sincerity I could muster I knelt in prayer. In Jesus' name I asked God to reveal Himself to me, to bring Christ into my life, to lead me where He wanted me to go. I knew at this point that there was no going back; I just couldn't return to the darkness of my former atheism. But I still lacked the courage of total commitment. I was still in conflict. Then one night I went to a concert at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, California. The master of ceremonies was Warren Duffy, a Christian radio talk show host from whom I had heard about the concert. He asked everyone to do something that they used to do in his church when he was a pastor. He asked us to turn to someone we didn't know, give them a big hug and say, "God loves you and I do too." I turned to the guy standing to my right, and hugged him. He said, "God loves you and I do too." I hesitated just a moment and then said it back to him. The strange thing was, I meant it. At that moment I was overwhelmed with joy and a complete sense of peace, as I felt what I knew was Christ's perfect love overtaking me. It was as though a pair of spiritual eyes, that I didn't even know I had, were opened. Suddenly I understood -- in an indescribable and profoundly spiritual way -- what Christ had done on the cross. As He hung there He was putting His arms around a stranger, saying, "I love you Gil, and my Father who sent me does too." He meant it, and proved it by suffering and dying for me. There was no mistaking it, I had become a Christian, and in silent prayer I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. The battle was over. I have left the dark, cold, depressing, nihilistic depths of atheism, and have been brought into the light, warmth, joy, peace and love of Jesus Christ. The missing piece in my life has been found. I think about my Savior almost always, whether consciously or in the back of my mind. I know that He is with me, even when it might not seem like it. I have new, Christian standards for my life, and although I haven't lived up to all of them, I have Someone on my side to help me work toward these goals. GilDodgen
Oh! I am definitely pre-ordering this! Thanks for the heads up. IRQ Conflict

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