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Posted by on Apr 30, 2013 in Blog, Politics | 5 comments

Counterpoint 1 — To Dr. Arthur Reber’s Comments on Religion (Evolution)

 

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Writer’s Note:  What follows is my response to Dr. Arthur Reber’s comments posted at his website on Monday, April 29th.  To read Dr. Reber’s commentary in full, please click here:  “We Can’t Forget Evolution”

 

Dr. Arthur Reber is correct.  We can’t forget evolution.  And we won’t.

Yet for all the wit and persuasiveness of Reber’s argument which he terms “a different framework for viewing religion,” he leaps to what I surmize are erroneous conclusions, many of which leave me both unsatisfied and unconvinced.

In his essay, Reber cites compelling (his supporters might insist — irrefutable) evidence from the field of cultural anthropology which suggests all societies — from ancient to contemporary and those in between — have embraced one form of religion or another.  He insists by the shear volume of these numbers and the “universality” of religious belief, we “have to acknowledge the powerful role is plays in people’s lives.”

Let’s begin by taking several quotes (hopefully none out of context) from Reber’s thoughtful essay, which I believe warrant additional comment and clarification from quite a different perspective:

1.  “….horrible acts can be carried out without a God.  Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot slaughtered millions under secular banners.”

First. let’s begin with the easiest distortion to refute.  Frankly, I’m surprised Reber would allude to gross historical oversimplifications to support his hypothesis on the sometimes vital role religion plays in totalitarianism.  Many of the 20th Century’s most evil regimes would never have come to power nor thrived were it not for religion — aided by cooperation with religious authorities as well as the nationalistic and ideological fervor of citizens of faith.  Whether it be Mussolini’s outright creation of The Vatican (state) via the Lateran Treaty of 1929 or Hitler signing his infamous Concordat with the Catholic Church in 1937, two of Europe’s most detestable societies weren’t simply enabled by church passivity.  In fact, they were bolstered by those who believed in fighting a “Christian cause,” particularly in the struggle against Bolshevism.

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Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Blog, Essays | 12 comments

Hell Bent on a Holy Mission

 

Dictionary Series - Religion: atheism

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Everyone’s an Atheist

We are all atheists. 

That’s right.  Every single person on earth is an atheist.

Should you doubt this, allow me to prove it to you.  Let’s conduct a short trial.

Since mankind first began walking upright, thousands of different gods have been worshiped.  From cavemen to astronauts, we’ve prayed to every conceivable object we fail to fully understand — from the sun and stars to animals and ancient myths.  Most religions faded away a long time ago.  Some belief systems were never even documented.  But somehow, hundreds of religions still survive to this day — each with a different concept of what “god” means to its followers.

For the sake of argument, let’s agree on a conservative estimate.  Let’s say that 1,000 different gods have existed since the origin of man.  The actual number is likely far greater.  But we’ll keep this simple.

Here’s my question:  Of the 1,000 gods that have been around since history began, how many were truly divine?  Go ahead.  Take your best guess.

If forced to answer, most people would likely reply — just one.  Most people believe in one god.  Not two.  Not five.  Not one hundred.  You not only reject 999 alternative gods, you perceive most religions other than your own to be ludicrous.  You might even be appalled by the practices of many of these other belief systems.

Well, welcome to the club.  By definition, you are an atheist.  You thoroughly dismiss the vast majority of mankind’s fictional gods.  Accordingly, this now makes the difference between us purely numerical.  You reject 999 gods.  I reject 1,000.

Wouldn’t this make us far more in agreement than the sum of our differences?

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