Does atheism entail nihilism?

I had a three part debate with an atheist who goes by the name Club Schadenfreude (clubschadenfreude). The main topics debated were atheism and subjective morality as well as the Bible and slavery.

Part one: “Does atheism entail nihilism?

Part two: “Village atheist du jour: clubschadenfreude

Part three: “A censured Bible for slaves


[Atheist questioner:] You accuse the second question, I believe, of caricaturing Christians, and I believe that you’ve committed the same crime towards atheists. From your presentation, it seems that you’re making us all out to be a bunch of nihilists. Kind of like the guys from The Big Lebowski. And in the end I would be forced to say that a lot of our morals are not based on this idea of, sort of, you know, humanity being insignificant in the end. And this accusation of speciesism is, you know, I don’t really think that such a concept necessarily has to exist. My question to you is based on, you know, my beliefs that, you know, our morals are informed, are based on our feelings, our relationships to the people around us, our empathy for our fellow human beings. How is that less valid somehow than some belief in an absolute moral system posed by God?

[William Lane Craig:] Alright, it seems to me that the view you just expressed is the view that you said I was caricaturing atheists with. Namely that our moral values are based in our feelings, our relationships with other people, things of that [nature]. I don’t think I caricatured atheists.

In fact, what I’m arguing is that atheists should be nihilists, not that they are nihilists. As I said to the previous questioner, I don’t think anybody can really live like a nihilist. Even Nietzsche couldn’t. But I think that the atheist should be a nihilist given his worldview.

Why? Well, because if morality is just based in feelings, and relationships with other people, and the way we were raised, you know, by our parents in society, then it’s all relative. Someone who has different feelings, who was raised in a different society, might have a vastly different set of values and moral duties. Therefore, it’s not objective; it’s purely subjective. And really, it’s just the result of human sociobiological conditioning.

So it seems to me that the view you expressed is exactly the view that I’m saying atheists ought to hold to.

[Atheist questioner:] In light of that, my question is more along the lines of, why is that such an unacceptable thing? In one of your YouTube videos, you were talking about a position, I think, that was the difference between something being intellectually defensible and emotionally defensible. If these values and all provide us with the complete fulfillment that maybe the acceptance of absolute morals would provide a religious person, then why are these so indefensible, so unacceptable?

[William Lane Craig:] Well, I think I would say two things there as to why I think it’s unacceptable. First, it would be because it’s false. That is to say, I’m convinced that there really are objective moral duties and values. That is, that the Holocaust is not just something that is wrong relative to Western democratic standards, but right for the Nazis. So that if the Nazis had won WW2, and everybody believed the Holocaust was good, on that atheistic view, then it really would have been good. That to me is morally unconscionable. I think that’s just false. I think there are objective moral values and duties. So that’s the first reason I would say this is unacceptable: it’s just false.

The second reason is because it leads to a worldview which is, I think, unlivable. It’s incapable of being lived consistently and happily. You cannot live consistently and happily as though moral values and duties are just the results of feelings and subjective impressions. You’re going to want to say, for example, that apartheid was really wrong. That the killing fields of Cambodia were really wrong. And you can’t do that if it’s just based in feelings.

So those would be the two reasons, I think, that it’s unacceptable: because it’s false, that’s fundamental, and then the second one would be it’s unlivable.

[This atheist gets it.]

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8 thoughts on “Does atheism entail nihilism?

  1. It’s always curious when a theist tries to convince atheists that they should be nihilists. Happily, most of us are too humane to be that. I am more than happy to have a morality that is subjective and a meaning for life that I’ve come up with on my own. No god or Christian who thinks he has the one true Christianity is needed at all. And that is what seems to upset Christians most: the existence of people who are happy and content without them.

    Christians often claim that they have some source of objective morality, their god. This is problem since Christians don’t agree on what this god wants. In that none of you can show that your version is the one true version of Christianity, there is no reason to believe any of you. We also have the problem that the bible has this god doing reprehensible things like genocide, supporting slavery, commanding that families kill members that disagree about religion, etc. Now, hopefully, you would find such actions horrible if they were done by a human. But Christians have no problem accepting those actions from their god.

    This indicates a subjective morality, that the actions are not innately bad or good, it depends on who does them. This ends up being no more than a might equals right morality. . .

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    • clubschadenfreude

      It’s always curious when a theist tries to convince atheists that they should be nihilists.

      1. Not just theists. There are many intelligent atheist scholars themselves who say atheism entails nihilism and/or whose works strongly imply atheism entails nihilism. For example, take David Benatar and his works.

      2. Take Quentin Smith’s paper “Moral Realism and Infinite Spacetime Imply Moral Nihilism”.

      3. Alex Rosenberg’s The Atheist’s Guide to Reality is another example. For example, in chapter 5, Rosenberg argues “we have to be nihilists about the purpose of things in general, about the purpose of biological life in particular, and the purpose of life in general”. Indeed, Rosenberg continues, as far as morality is concerned “Anything goes”. Logically, that does entail moral nihilism: if it’s true “anything goes” as far as morality, then that would include psychopathic or sociopathic amorality, which is quite arguably nihilistic.

      4. On a more popular if naive front, take this Kurzgesagt video “Optimistic nihilism“. Perhaps Kurzgesagt’s “optimistic nihilism” is roughly equivalent with your “non-nihilistic humane atheism”, but Kurzgesagt nevertheless terms it nihilism. I guess that’s a debate you can take up with Kurzgesagt.

      Happily, most of us are too humane to be that.

      That’s precisely what Craig has said above. There are many atheists who are better than their atheism. There are many atheists who live “humane” lives. There are many atheists who are moral people, though (as Craig argues) that’s intellectually inconsistent with the implications of their atheism.

      I am more than happy to have a morality that is subjective and a meaning for life that I’ve come up with on my own.

      1. If both morality and meaning in life are subjective, then there’s nothing objectively immoral about a serial killer like Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer who finds “happiness” and “meaning” in life in murdering people. If both morality and meaning are subjective, then no one is bound by any particular morality. Like you say, they’re free to come up with any morality they choose on their own. That includes murder, rape, cannibalism, pederasty, whatever.

      2. Take Peter Singer’s arguments. For instance, Singer has argued there’s no reason to save a human baby instead of a beloved pet dog if one is only able to save either the baby or the dog in a burning house. Judging by the infanticide stuff, it seems states like VA are attempting to move in this direction. NY state has already moved in this direction.

      No god or Christian who thinks he has the one true Christianity is needed at all. And that is what seems to upset Christians most: the existence of people who are happy and content without them.

      1. I can’t speak for all Christians, but I can speak for myself as a Christian. Atheists don’t personally upset me. That’s in part because I don’t personally know most atheists in the world so I couldn’t get upset at them even I wanted to. (Well, unless we’re talking about atheists like Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot. These tyrants didn’t do anything to me, but they did horrible things to relatives of friends or acquaintances I know. Of course, the same could be said about many religious people like jihadi Muslims or Catholic inquisitors.) Anyway, the atheists I do know are either friends or acquaintances; I get along with all of them as far as I’m aware.

      2. It seems to me many atheists in America and other secular Western nations (e.g. Canada, UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark) indirectly depend on Judeo-Christian beliefs and values for their “humaneness”. By contrast, there have been many atheists in modern China and Asia, as well as throughout history, who have very different moral compunctions, who aren’t humane in the way a Western atheist would generally regard as humane, and who in fact are often inhumane.

      3. My main issue is a lot of atheists are intellectually naive or ignorant at best.

      Christians often claim that they have some source of objective morality, their god. This is problem since Christians don’t agree on what this god wants.

      1. That’s a common refrain I hear from, say, Catholics. Many Catholics argue that Protestants can’t know anything in the Bible because there are thousands of denominations all of whom have a different interpretation of the Bible.

      2. However, the truth is the Bible is perspicuous (certainly in its core) to those who honestly attempt to read it just like they might read, say, Dante or Shakespeare. Or Julius Caesar or Josephus or Thucydides or Tacitus if you prefer non-fiction. A reader would have to grapple with the historical, cultural, linguistic, textual, and other relevant considerations of the time period in which the work was written, but even people today can understand Dante, Shakespeare, The Gallic Wars, The Jewish Wars, The Antiquities of the Jews, The Histories, The Annals, The History of the Peloponnesian War, and so on. Certainly some questions and mysteries remain, but for the most part the core story is lucid to modern readers. The Bible is not all that different in terms of its perspecuity to modern readers. The core story and teachings of the Bible are clear and understandable to modern readers who attempt to read it like they would read Josephus or Thucydides – even if they don’t believe anything in the Bible.

      In that none of you can show that your version is the one true version of Christianity, there is no reason to believe any of you.

      1. That’s a funny inference to make. It’d be like saying, there are different versions of how Julius Caesar was assassinated, none of which can show their version is the true version of how Julius Caesar was assassinated, therefore there is no reason to believe Julius Caesar was assassinated!

      However, historians make arguments for their “version” of how Julius Caesar was assassinated. So I could go with the arguments I find most intellectually convincing for how Julius Caesar was assassinated.

      2. As I’ve suggested, it would be far better to try to read and understand the Bible on its own terms to see what it says. In principle, that’s not any different than trying to read an ancient text like the texts I mentioned above.

      We also have the problem that the bible has this god doing reprehensible things like genocide, supporting slavery, commanding that families kill members that disagree about religion, etc. Now, hopefully, you would find such actions horrible if they were done by a human. But Christians have no problem accepting those actions from their god.

      There have been plenty of reasonable responses to both of your allegations, i.e., the Bible supposedly espousing genocide and slavery. Refer to the works of scholars like Christopher Wright, Paul Copan, even William Lane Craig though I don’t necessarily entirely agree, and several others.

      This indicates a subjective morality, that the actions are not innately bad or good, it depends on who does them. This ends up being no more than a might equals right morality. . .

      Given you yourself said “I am more than happy to have a morality that is subjective and a meaning for life that I’ve come up with on my own”, then you can’t conclude that the God of the Bible did “reprehensible things” at least not in any objective sense. You can’t conclude that genocide and slavery are morally “reprehensible” in any objective sense.

      At best, you can only conclude genocide and slavery are “reprehensible” to you, on a personal subjective moral basis. You’re guided by your 21st century Western secular or humanistic atheistic ethics, but why is your 21st century Western secular or humanistic atheistic ethics the standard of comparison? It’s not, for there is no moral standard given your atheism.

      So you can’t say genocide and slavery are objectively wrong let alone morally “reprehensible”. At most, you can say you don’t like genocide or slavery. That’d just be like saying you don’t like Pepsi, you prefer Coke. However, all this amounts to is a difference in taste, not a difference in objective morality.

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    • 1. So who are these “many intelligent atheist scholars” who say this, dude? And I have no idea who David Benatar is. From a google search he seems to be a rather strange person who thinks that it’s bad to exist. He might be a nihilist but he is not every atheist. And he certainly doesn’t seem terribly “intelligent”, since he doesn’t take his own opinion seriously and commit suicide. One outlier does not make “many”.
      2. As usual, it seems that people try to change the definition of words. So what if one person want to play pretend that nihilism really doesn’t mean nihilism. Everyone else knows what it actually means. And humanism isn’t nihilism, no matter how very hard you try.
      3. Hmm, again we have one atheist who makes claims that somehow atheists “have” to be nihilists. Nope, not at all. That he chooses to be one doesn’t make the rest of us nihilists. Again, I had no idea who he was until you mentioned him. It always is amusing when Christians think atheists all follow some one or other. We don’t. All we agree on is that there is no reason to have belief in gods. Again, we know that atheism doesn’t support “anything goes”. Most of us atheists are just as moral and often more moral than Christians, many of whom do say “Anything that God wants goes” even though they find the actions of this god horrible if done by a human.
      4. Again, it seems that you, and WLC, conflate atheism with nihilism, and only because you desperately need something to find wrong about atheism. You can’t stand that atheists are happy and contented and humane without you or your version of your god. And again, you have yet to show how nihilism is required by atheists. Your need to believe so doesn’t make it true. What you’ve done is created a strawman to attack since you have nothing else.
      5. Yep, it is possible that mentally ill people do find happiness and meaning in such acts. Happily, the vast majority doesn’t, and we control those who do. What we do know, if the bible is true, is that your god finds happiness and meaning in murdering human beings. Now, is this okay with you?
      6. I’m curious, if atheists don’t upset you, then why do you make false claims about us? And of course you had to try the nonsense about Stalin, etc. What is the same about all murderous dictators is megalomania, not atheism or religious belief. I can point to Christians who have done as bad or worse then Stalin, et all. Are you okay with blaming their religion for what they did?
      7. It’s great to see Christians insist that each other aren’t Christians. I got to see a lot of anti-catholic hatred when growing up. And you still haven’t shown that your version of Christianity is the right one. It’s a “common refrain” since it’s true.
      To claim that the bible is an account “clearly expressed and easily understood”, well, that’s very funny since again, none of you can agree on what it says or means. Each Christian has their own magic decoder ring that they want to claim I the one true way to interpret the bible. And you can’t even convince each other that you are right. You’ve all made your religion in your own images. I was a Presbyterian so I know this very well.
      You use the usual nonsense of trying to claim that anyone reads the bible and who doesn’t agree with you is dishonest. Of course, you can’t show that your version is the right one. And Tacitus, non-fiction? It shows that you haven’t read all of Tacitus. Or do you want to agree with Tacitus that Vespasian could do miracles? Now, I’m guessing that you want to pretend that Tacitus is purely non-fiction since you think Tacitus supports the claim of existence of Jesus Christ. That is not the case. Tacitus does mention Christians and what they believed and that this JC was executed; that’s it, no magic, no resurrected being. And if you want to claim that a mention of believers and what they believed constitutes evidence to prove the existence of a god, then we can say that any mention of any believers of any god is then proof that those gods are as real as yours. Are you willing to agree?

      What I find great about your admission that the various histories are indeed histories albeit with some magic claims, is that this destroys the common Christian claim that there is no more evidence for Julius Caesar than there is for Jesus Christ, so Julius Caesar must not have existed if Jesus Christ didn’t exist. We still have the problem that Christians don’t agree, and if you don’t’ agree, you try to claim that each other aren’t Christians at all. I’ll enjoy pointing the problem out when the next Christian makes that claim.

      And yes, dude, you to say it would be better to read the bible and understand it on its “own terms.” All Christians say that they do this. Who are we to believe since you all come up with different interpretations? The bible says that any baptized believer in Christ as savior will be able to do the same miracles as Christ. In that none of you can do this, why should anyone believe you?

      For all you claim that there are “plenty of reasonable responses” to my “allegations, you present none of them. It’s always telling when a Christian wants me to read hundreds of books when he hopes something in them will convince me. That is throwing poop at a wall and hoping some of it sticks. I’m not interested in anyone else’s excuses. I want to know why you follow a being claimed to be genocidal, for slavery, commanding family members murder each other, etc. Is it nothing more than you think that your god can do anything it wants? Then again, it is nothing more than might equals right, something a Nazi would say about Hitler.

      It’s great fun to see you invent something that says I can’t judge someone if I have a subjective morality. Of course I can judge them because I have a standard. Will that standard change? Maybe, maybe not. I am quite happy to say that a being that supports genocide, that supports slavery, that supports murder is evil. That you refuse to is your problem, and I’m happy to judge you too against my standards. I don’t’ need to do anything in an “objective sense”. That’s all that you have, and you are stuck worshipping an evil being.

      Yep, all of those harmful things are reprehensible to me. And to the bulk of humanity. Are you proud to be the outlier who doesn’t find those things reprehensible, like a member of ISIS? I wouldn’t be.

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    • 1. So who are these “many intelligent atheist scholars” who say this, dude? And I have no idea who David Benatar is. From a google search he seems to be a rather strange person who thinks that it’s bad to exist. He might be a nihilist but he is not every atheist. And he certainly doesn’t seem terribly “intelligent”, since he doesn’t take his own opinion seriously and commit suicide. One outlier does not make “many”.

      1. Benatar is an accomplished professor of philosophy from Cape Town, South Africa. He’s also an atheist who argues for nihilism.

      2. The fact that you don’t know who he is reflects your own ignorance.

      3. Keep in mind I was responding to your claim that it’s theists who try to “convince atheists that they should be nihilists”. My point was there are likewise atheists who argue atheism implies nihilism. In fact, I only needed a single counterexample, but I gave more than one. I cited several respected scholars who argue such, viz. David Benatar, Quentin Smith, Alex Rosenberg. Another that comes to mind is Michael Ruse. There are plenty of others. Just Google.

      2. As usual, it seems that people try to change the definition of words. So what if one person want to play pretend that nihilism really doesn’t mean nihilism. Everyone else knows what it actually means. And humanism isn’t nihilism, no matter how very hard you try.

      1. I didn’t change any definition of words. I just go by what atheists say. Indeed, I just went by what you said. Sorry you don’t like that I hold you to your own words!

      2. I never said humanism is nihilism (or vice versa). You need to brush up on your basic reading comprehension.

      3. Hmm, again we have one atheist who makes claims that somehow atheists “have” to be nihilists. Nope, not at all. That he chooses to be one doesn’t make the rest of us nihilists. Again, I had no idea who he was until you mentioned him. It always is amusing when Christians think atheists all follow some one or other. We don’t. All we agree on is that there is no reason to have belief in gods. Again, we know that atheism doesn’t support “anything goes”. Most of us atheists are just as moral and often more moral than Christians, many of whom do say “Anything that God wants goes” even though they find the actions of this god horrible if done by a human.

      1. Again, the fact that you don’t know who they are says nothing about them but speaks volumes about your own ignorance.

      2. Again, you suffer from a lack of basic reading comprehension. I already stated that there are atheists who are moral.

      3. The question isn’t whether atheists are moral. Rather the question is why atheists should be moral given a godless universe.

      4. Although I originally responded to you on your own grounds, the actual issue isn’t the number of atheists who are nihilists vs. the number of atheists who are humanists (or whatever). No, the actual issue is the argument: is it arguable that atheism entails or implies nihilism? It only takes a single sound and valid argument to make the case that atheism could entail or imply nihilism. After all, truth isn’t decided by majority vote.

      4. Again, it seems that you, and WLC, conflate atheism with nihilism, and only because you desperately need something to find wrong about atheism. You can’t stand that atheists are happy and contented and humane without you or your version of your god. And again, you have yet to show how nihilism is required by atheists. Your need to believe so doesn’t make it true. What you’ve done is created a strawman to attack since you have nothing else.

      1. You keep making assertions, but you don’t provide arguments or counter-arguments. For example, if I’ve made a strawman, then you would need to show how I’ve done so.

      2. Again, I’m just going off of your words. If there’s a problem, then perhaps the problem is with your words.

      3. It’s amusing you think I “desperately need to find something wrong about atheism”. There’s nothing “desperate” about it. It’s not like what you do or don’t do affects me in any way. I don’t even know who you are irl. Rather, I’m just making arguments, stating facts, etc. It’s a plain fact that there are problems with atheism as espoused by many atheists. That’s all there is to it. So I don’t (nor could I) take any of this personally.

      4. That’s nice for you that you’re a happy atheist. Of course, ignorance is often bliss.

      5. Yep, it is possible that mentally ill people do find happiness and meaning in such acts. Happily, the vast majority doesn’t, and we control those who do. What we do know, if the bible is true, is that your god finds happiness and meaning in murdering human beings. Now, is this okay with you?

      1. Given your atheism, all mental illness amounts to is a majority vs. minority condition. Like the color of hair or eyes. Psychopaths and sociopaths are in the minority of the human population, but that doesn’t imply that they’re mentally ill, given your atheism. For instance, if “the vast majority” of the human population happened to be psychopaths or sociopaths, then psychopathology or sociopathology would be the norm, while the “humane” could arguably be considered “mentally ill” by the vast majority of humanity.

      2. Again, you keep making assertions, but where does it say in the Bible that the God of the Bible “finds happiness and meaning in murdering human beings”?

      3. In fact, one of the ten commandments prohibits murdering people. And I’ve already referred you to scholars on the issue of alleged “genocide” in the Bible.

      6. I’m curious, if atheists don’t upset you, then why do you make false claims about us? And of course you had to try the nonsense about Stalin, etc. What is the same about all murderous dictators is megalomania, not atheism or religious belief. I can point to Christians who have done as bad or worse then Stalin, et all. Are you okay with blaming their religion for what they did?

      1. Once again, you need to show how I’ve made “false claims about” atheists rather than simply asserting it.

      2. Once again, you suffer from a deficiency in basic reading comprehension. I myself pointed out before you did that professing Christians can do “horrible” things when I said “the same could be said about many religious people like jihadi Muslims or Catholic inquisitors”.

      3. Given your atheism, what’s wrong with an individual being a “megalomaniac”? In addition, these evil men were quite arguably driven by their atheism. In fact, the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer admitted as much when he said: “If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing.” (Source: Jeffrey Dahmer interview with Stone Phillips, Dateline NBC, November 29, 1994.) Why is Dahmer’s atheism wrong while your atheism is right? Indeed, you yourself said morality is ultimately subjective.

      7. It’s great to see Christians insist that each other aren’t Christians. I got to see a lot of anti-catholic hatred when growing up. And you still haven’t shown that your version of Christianity is the right one. It’s a “common refrain” since it’s true. To claim that the bible is an account “clearly expressed and easily understood”, well, that’s very funny since again, none of you can agree on what it says or means. Each Christian has their own magic decoder ring that they want to claim I the one true way to interpret the bible. And you can’t even convince each other that you are right. You’ve all made your religion in your own images. I was a Presbyterian so I know this very well.

      You’re just repeating what you said earlier…but with more emotion this time. I don’t see an actual counter-argument to my point.

      You use the usual nonsense of trying to claim that anyone reads the bible and who doesn’t agree with you is dishonest.

      I never claimed that. For example, they could be ignorant instead.

      Of course, you can’t show that your version is the right one. And Tacitus, non-fiction? It shows that you haven’t read all of Tacitus. Or do you want to agree with Tacitus that Vespasian could do miracles? Now, I’m guessing that you want to pretend that Tacitus is purely non-fiction since you think Tacitus supports the claim of existence of Jesus Christ. That is not the case. Tacitus does mention Christians and what they believed and that this JC was executed; that’s it, no magic, no resurrected being. And if you want to claim that a mention of believers and what they believed constitutes evidence to prove the existence of a god, then we can say that any mention of any believers of any god is then proof that those gods are as real as yours. Are you willing to agree?

      1. It’s getting tiresome how poor your basic reading comprehension is. My point was never that whole of Tacitus is perfectly reliable, without biases, etc. Rather my point is that to understand the Bible a person would have to invest the time and effort to study the Bible like they would strive to study Tacitus or Thucydides or other ancient texts. Heck, I even mentioned obvious fictional literature like the works of Dante and Shakespeare, not because I happen to think these works are true, but because my point was about making the effort to study an older or ancient text on its own terms.

      2. All this should be glaringly obvious to any reasonable person, but the irony is you’re blinded by your bias against Christianity, even as you attempt to imply I’m biased. The (again obvious) truth is everyone is biased to some degree, but the point is some attempt to overcome their biases, while others rail on in their biases like you do.

      3. Sure, that’s a pity and a shame, but unsurprising and often even predictable. At least in my experience, the most irrational-minded and prejudiced against Christianity are those who apostatized from Christinaity, especially former Christians who became atheists. And rarely was it because these apostates actually found intelligent reasons against their Christianity, but more often it’s because they came from (at best) well-meaning but poorly educated Christian families, then were bowled over when they heard a college professor make this or that argument against their faith, or they happened upon a populizer like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, or Sam Harris. They’re like the country boy or girl who arrived in the big city for the first time and got overwhelmed by it all. Not saying that’s necessarily the case with you, but there are common themes to many atheist deconversion stories.

      What I find great about your admission that the various histories are indeed histories albeit with some magic claims, is that this destroys the common Christian claim that there is no more evidence for Julius Caesar than there is for Jesus Christ, so Julius Caesar must not have existed if Jesus Christ didn’t exist. We still have the problem that Christians don’t agree, and if you don’t’ agree, you try to claim that each other aren’t Christians at all. I’ll enjoy pointing the problem out when the next Christian makes that claim.

      1. I’ve already pointed out what was wrong with this line of thinking above. Just substitute Julius Caesar for Tacitus.

      2. Actually, there are arguments from the historical reliability of the Bible (short of inerrancy) to central truths of Christianity (e.g. the resurrection of Jesus). Refer to the works of Tim McGrew and Lydia McGrew if you want to see that fleshed out.

      3. Thus far, I haven’t claimed “that each other aren’t Christians at all”.

      And yes, dude, you to say it would be better to read the bible and understand it on its “own terms.” All Christians say that they do this. Who are we to believe since you all come up with different interpretations? The bible says that any baptized believer in Christ as savior will be able to do the same miracles as Christ. In that none of you can do this, why should anyone believe you?

      Well, one good “reason” (not the only reason) anyone should believe one interpretation over another interpretation is because one interpretation is a superior interpretation. How is an intepretation superior? For example, there’s a verse in the Bible that says “there is no God”. Does that mean the Bible teaches atheism? Of course not. In that case, the verse was taken out of cotnext, for the entire verse says: “The fool says in his heart, there is no God.” This is an extremely basic example. But my point is there are some interpretations which are better than other intepretations. That’s true with the Bible in general.

      For all you claim that there are “plenty of reasonable responses” to my “allegations, you present none of them. It’s always telling when a Christian wants me to read hundreds of books when he hopes something in them will convince me. That is throwing poop at a wall and hoping some of it sticks. I’m not interested in anyone else’s excuses.

      1. Again, you’re rich in irony. I have indeed presented reasonable responses, which you allege I haven’t, but the truth is your comments so far are mainly a lot of huffing and puffing with emotion rather than attempting to honestly debate. Well, either that, or you’re just ignorant about a lot of things. And to be fair these aren’t mutually exclusive!

      2. Be that as it may, I didn’t suggest you read “hundreds of books”. That’s a sore exaggeration. However, there’s nothing wrong with recommending books. Especially if the books answer your questions better than I could. Otherwise, you’re just being intellectually lazy, which in turn doesn’t reflect well on your own atheism. Aren’t atheists supposed to be the intellectual superiors of Christians? At least in your case, you haven’t shown much evidence of that.

      I want to know why you follow a being claimed to be genocidal, for slavery, commanding family members murder each other, etc. Is it nothing more than you think that your god can do anything it wants? Then again, it is nothing more than might equals right, something a Nazi would say about Hitler.

      Let’s start with this: since you’re the one alleging the Bible espouses slavery and genocide, cite the relevant verses or passages about slavery or genocide in the Bible and tell me how you’d intepret each of them. Then I can attempt to show you how you’re mistaken. 😉

      It’s great fun to see you invent something that says I can’t judge someone if I have a subjective morality.

      Au contraire! What I said is that if you claim a subjective morality, then you can judge someone subjectively, but not objectively, by which I mean in terms of universal objective moral values (moral realism).

      Of course I can judge them because I have a standard. Will that standard change? Maybe, maybe not.

      1. By definition, a subjective standard can change.

      2. Sure, you can judge someone based on your subjective moral standard. But then they can just as well judge you based on their subjective moral standard. And there’s no one to say which “standard” is better or worse than the other standard. It’s a difference of taste or preference, that’s all.

      I am quite happy to say that a being that supports genocide, that supports slavery, that supports murder is evil. That you refuse to is your problem, and I’m happy to judge you too against my standards. I don’t’ need to do anything in an “objective sense”. That’s all that you have, and you are stuck worshipping an evil being. Yep, all of those harmful things are reprehensible to me. And to the bulk of humanity. Are you proud to be the outlier who doesn’t find those things reprehensible, like a member of ISIS? I wouldn’t be.

      1. Of course, since you say morality is subjective (“I am more than happy to have a morality that is subjective and a meaning for life that I’ve come up with on my own”), then, from the point of view of a different person or a different culture, the Bible could just as well be the apotheosis of human rights! 🙂

      2. I also find your comment amusing in this sense. As an atheist, you don’t believe in the God of the Bible. You don’t believe the Bible. It might as well be fiction through and through. As such, your complaint is like someone taking personal offense that Thanos is “evil” for snapping his fingers and killing half the life in the universe. But why should you care? Thanos isn’t real in your view. He’s just an imaginary comic book character. Same with God. Your behavior reminds me of something C.S. Lewis once said: “I was at this time living, like so many atheists or antitheists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing.” This is irrational, but here you are.

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    • 1. It’s amusing when you want to claim that the number of actual atheists that aren’t nihilists doesn’t matter. It’s a great tell that you have to ignore evidence because it doesn’t fit what you find you have to believe about atheists. With that evidence, it isn’t arguable at all that atheism entails or implies nihilism. Reality doesn’t support your baseless argument, dude. Atheists should be moral in a “godless universe” because morals help humans and atheists are humans. Surprise we do things that are beneficial to us. Yep, truth isn’t decided by majority vote. That’s something that Christians should remember since the claim that Christianity has to be true because lots of people believe in it fails terribly. You now have that “it only takes a single sound and valid argument to make the case that atheism could entail or imply nihilism”. See that “could”? You have yet to show the relationship, and prove your claim “atheism, the lack of belief in god/s means you have to reject all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless. Again, what in the lack of belief in gods requires that one cannot believe that there is meaning in life? This assumes that the only meaning in life involves this god. Can you show this to be the case? Does this mean that other theists whom you don’t agree with also are nihilists?

      I have shown you have created a strawman atheist. How have I done this? By existing and by showing that you have no argument that atheism must lead to nihilism and that somehow an atheist who does have meaning in her life is somehow not being a “true” atheist. And that is your premise, is it not? And it’s sad that you seem to think that if you refuse to acknowledge my arguments and counter arguments they don’t exist. That you need to claim that it is a “fact” that there is something wrong with atheism as espoused by atheists is funny and that a Christian knows about atheism better than an atheist is downright funny. All you have is an opinion, no fact to be seen.

      No, mental illness is not a majority vs minority condition. But nice try, dude, again you fail with the assumption that my lack of belief in your god somehow means I somehow believe that everything is just opinion and anything goes. We know that there are screw ups from the correctly working brain. It’s not a matter of opinion; we know how it works correctly and we can see when it doesn’t. Again, you seem to need to claim that the lack of belief in a god requires a certain mindset, and that all atheists think the same things. We don’t, but that doesn’t work with your need to declare that there is something “wrong” with atheists. And it’s great to see you trying to avoid your bible and what it indicates. We have a supposedly omnipotent god that commits genocide, commands genocide, approves of slavery, approves of the murder of family members etc. And funny how the author of 1 John says that such things please this god when they are done “Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; 22 and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.” This god is pleased e.g. by such actions. It chooses to do such actions. Now, I’m guessing you’ll make the claim that your god doesn’t want to do these actions, they are somehow forced on him. That doesn’t work with claims of omnipotence.

      Yep, one of the commandments (there are far more than 10) says don’t murder people. And this god constantly requires its believers to murder people. And your god commands genocide in the bible, the annihilation of an entire people. This, a command from your god is exactly that: “ So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left no one remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.” Now, let’s look at the definition of genocide: “Genocide is intentional action to destroy a people (usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group) in whole or in part” So, it isn’t alleged genocide at all, it is genocide if your bible is to be believed. But, dude, please do try to keep lying about your bible.

      Again since you cannot show that atheism must lead to nihilism, you are lying about atheists when you claim that we aren’t doing atheism “right”. AS for my reading comprehension, it’s quite fine, and you seem to suffer from projection. I am not asking you if religious people can cause harm. I am asking you if you are okay with someone claiming that it is belief that is the cause of the horrible actions by Christians, like you are trying to claim that lack of belief is the cause of horrible actions by atheists. Are you?

      You return again to trying to make believe that atheism makes me thing that anything goes. It doesn’t, but thanks for showing that you are trying to lie about atheists again, dude. Why do you think that being an atheist would somehow make me not care about harm? Well, that just leads back to your baseless assertion that atheists simply must be nihilists. Funny how I, an atheist, don’t agree at all with the words of a psychopath, and the majority of us don’t either. I don’t need a magical bogeyman to not want to hurt people. I just don’t want to. It’s a shame that you must since you think that the only thing that is stopping anyone is belief in your god. I’m an atheist who thinks that there is plenty of reason to keep behavior in acceptable ranges because it is beneficial for me and society. I don’t’ have to invent a reason to excuse some need to murder people like Dahmer does. Yep, morality is subjective. I don’t find it acceptable when Dahmer murders and I don’t find it acceptable when your god does the same thing. Now who has the subjective morality, dude?

      Let me quote you here: “However, the truth is the Bible is perspicuous (certainly in its core) to those who honestly attempt to read it just like they might read, say, Dante or Shakespeare. Or Julius Caesar or Josephus or Thucydides or Tacitus if you prefer non-fiction.” So, again, dude, you try to lie. You did call people dishonest who read the bible and don’t agree with you. Funny how you didn’t say anything about ignorance here.

      See above, you claimed that Tacitus was “non-fiction” so yes dude, you did claim that Tacitus is completely reliable. You again lie about my reading comprehension to try to retcon what you’ve said when I showed that it didn’t make sense. But again, nice try to make believe you said something else. Other Christians who disagree with you have invested the same time and effort you have. You want to claim that anyone who does these things would agree with you but that is not the case. This is the same when someone says that the Divine Comedy should be interpreted one way and that another is wrong. As for bias, people can be biased, and yep, people do try to consider their biases and overcome them. To accuse me of not doing so is pretty funny coming from you, dude. Nice to see the lies of irrationality and prejudice too. And great to see you try to insult people’s families when people don’t agree with you. And as for your atheist deconversion stories, they are the typical claims of a Christian who wants to play pretend that atheists have no reasons for concluding that there are no gods. You want to claim that atheists simply follow others, that they thoughtlessly accept claims, that they weren’t taught about Christianity “correctly”, etc. Now, in reality, most atheists have come to the conclusion that there are no gods because there is no evidence for these gods, the same reason you have for not believing in other gods. But that isn’t convenient to your need to demonize atheists.

      It is no surprise that you ignore my questions, dude. The bible is not historically reliable. We have no evidence for the essential events in the bible. We have entirely different events occuring. The very few instances of a possible mention of a historical event, say that babylon captivity, doesn’t make the bible historically reliable. If you want to claim that, then a spiderman comic book is historically reliable since it mentioned the events of 9/11. Do you? The McGrews are hilarious to read for exactly that reason. They also do the wonderful “the details don’t really matter argument” to try to gloss over the contradictions in the bible. And wow, “thus far” huh? No, dude, we get to see you write that unless someone who doesn’t agree with your version of the bible they aren’t honest. So, yes, you have indicated that other Christians aren’t Christians at all.

      You want to claim that your interpretation is “superior”. And so do all other Christians. You want to claim you know the right “context”. So do all other Christians. And again, since none of you can do what Christians are supposed to be able to do, we still have no reason to believe any of you.

      And more lies about me, how expected. Oh well. Keep going, dude.

      Hmm, you want me to cite passages showing your god is genocidal for slavery, etc. Ah, delaying the inevitable, I see. But good to see that you do insist that only your interpretation is the right one. So, let’s try some of these verses. Joshua 10:40 “ So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left no one remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.” And here’s the whole chapter for that pesky context: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+10&version=NRSV The commandments have your god explicitly telling how slavery should work, a strange thing if this god didn’t like slavery. We also have this, your supposedly voices of god saying that freedom should not be pursued: “Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Peter+2&version=NRSV “If anyone secretly entices you—even if it is your brother, your father’s son or[b] your mother’s son, or your own son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your most intimate friend—saying, “Let us go worship other gods,” whom neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 any of the gods of the peoples that are around you, whether near you or far away from you, from one end of the earth to the other, 8 you must not yield to or heed any such persons. Show them no pity or compassion and do not shield them. 9 But you shall surely kill them; your own hand shall be first against them to execute them, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10 Stone them to death for trying to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 11 Then all Israel shall hear and be afraid, and never again do any such wickedness.12 If you hear it said about one of the towns that the LORD your God is giving you to live in, 13 that scoundrels from among you have gone out and led the inhabitants of the town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods,” whom you have not known, 14 then you shall inquire and make a thorough investigation. If the charge is established that such an abhorrent thing has been done among you, 15 you shall put the inhabitants of that town to the sword, utterly destroying it and everything in it—even putting its livestock to the sword.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=deuteronomy+13&version=NRSV

      Yep, I can judge someone subjectively. You do the same thing, dude. Or can you tell me how many people you murdered for working on the sabbath? You want to claim that morals are from your bible but you ignore them when convenient. And hilarious that you want to make believe that there is no difference between moral standards if they are subjective. Wow, but that’s what you get for having the moral foundation of might equals right. And funny how your bible isn’t the apotheosis of human rights. You don’t even think that yourself since you pick and choose what to follow from it.

      Oh and then you use the “but but why are you taking time to talk about my god. You are wasting time that you could be using other places.” As a way to try to get people to sit down and shut up with your crocodile tears of concern. I am discussing your version of your god because I care about the harm that it does. Your fiction does real harm. I’d talk about Thanos the same way if some idiots were excusing their actions by using that story too. As for C.S. Lewis, well, he might have been upset that this god didn’t exist and yep that is irrational. Funny how not all atheists are what Christians falsely claim. And funny how C.S. never explained what these supposed “contradictions” were.

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