Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Faith debate between former atheist and current one.

This began as a conversation. I am documenting it as I had intended to write on the matter, and so these are like notes for me
Monday at 12:16 · · ·

    • David Daniel Ball Rob Forsyth is generous ..
      Monday at 13:34 ·

    • Caiphen Martini I guess this sign can be erected because we are generally a secular country. Do we really want to be like Saudi Arabia and only have one perspective allowed?
      Monday at 22:47 · · 1 person
    • David Daniel Ball Caiphen, I would love to use those same words in so many other similar situations .. because the issue isn't of censorship. Anyone is allowed to publicly express their sentiments, but if they say something loudly that is monumentally stupid and divisive and serves no purpose other than to be trouble and they do so inappropriately then they can expect a proportionate response in Australia. Not in Saudi Arabia.
      Yesterday at 07:33 ·
    • Caiphen Martini
      I assume you have no problem is saying Jesus is God incarnate. That is your belief by faith.
      A Muslim believes that Jesus is prophet, that is their belief by faith.
      I have no problem in you expressing yourself as I also don't mind with a Muslim.
      To say their expression is monumentally stupid is rather offensive to them as you would find it offensive if I were to say the same about your expression of faith.

      Christianity should be no more esteemed than any other belief.

      Yesterday at 09:38 via ·
    • David Daniel Ball
      Except it isn't a statement of faith. My assertion of the monumentally stupid is the placing of a sign in a public thoroughfare in a largely secular neighborhood canvassing religious issues in a singular way.
      It is designed to surprise and disappoint and not to challenge in a satisfying way. It is disingenuous to compare it with the sharing of faith in Arab nations as it isn't the same. I have no problems politely telling Islamic apologists of my God. That would be a fair challenge.
      Yesterday at 09:44 ·

    • Caiphen Martini David. You said,'It is designed to surprise and disappoint and not to challenge in a satisfying way.' What is the christian belief in an eternally burning hell then? I find a image of a man bing tortured to death on a cross pretty disappointing too, and how many of those images are there in a secular neighbourhood?
      Yesterday at 16:18 via ·
    • David Daniel Ball
      Caiphen, cheap shot. Jesus was innocent of charges levelled against him. He was tortured and crucified and he died. And on the third day he rose from the dead. Most right thinking people are revolted at the way he died.
      But Christians worship God, giving thanks for the resurrection, because through it, we who have rejected God in our lives are reconciled with him, and are able to share eternity with Him. I was raised as an atheist and the crucifixion left me cold, knowing that people are tortured to this day. But what convicted me was the night at Gethsemanie .. where Jesus begged for another way, but willingly undertook the path. I don't think a loving person could fail to be moved by that.
      Yesterday at 19:39 ·
    • Caiphen Martini Some people regard Jesus being a prophet of Allah very moving too. You expect respect for your expressions of faith, they do too. Without being offensive, from the perspective of an atheist who thinks both religions have been disproven scientifically, Christianity is the side being intolerant.
      23 hours ago ·
    • Caiphen Martini David- Would you like to join me as a friend on FB? I started a conversation between Scott and I about Evolution v Creationism, it'll be good if you have a look and joined the conversation. Perhaps we can also talk about the evidence of Jesus actually existing historically.
It is sad for the world that Obama is so weak
The Iranian regime is determined to acquire a nuclear bomb. This is a messianic regime that truly believes it is their duty to Allah to destroy Israel and America. They believe it is their calling to bring about and to create the needed circumstances for the reappearance of the last Islamic Messiah.
3 hours ago · · ·
    • Caiphen Martini Didn't Jesus tell us to 'turn the other cheek'?
      2 hours ago ·
    • David Daniel Ball Um, do you have a direction with that quote, or just like the sound of it? How does that apply to this by your reasoning? Because I just don't see it ..
  • Caiphen Martini I wrote this to create a conversation, not to be insulted with sarcasm. Also with your slow understanding, I'll finish the conversation before it begins.
    10 hours ago ·
  • David Daniel Ball That wasn't sarcasm. The quote regarding turning the other cheek is not relevant to this. Are we to accept nuclear weapons in the hands of people who execute people and rarely provide a pretext? Are we talking about some religious divide? Are we saying that all people should have nuclear weapons? Are we saying that it is nothing that would ever be used and so we are secure? Jesus' quote is not a call for the faithful to lie with the devil. But government is secular, and the issue isn't about religion .. so where does it apply?
Caiphen Martini
I'm on the computer at work. Sounds like you have a lack of faith? Isn't God omnipotent, she can do whatever she likes. Why bother try to disarm another country? Turn the other cheek. What else could Xpistos have meant?

Is X is the centre of your faith or are you favouring rationality like me? If you are, why don't you continue the process and become an atheist? With the use of the Scientific Method, the ultimate form of rational thought, there is only 1 conclusion. If I'm wrong about this, show me.

Now I'll say this, since you are a Mathematics Major. Come on and abandon this faith nonsense. We know there is no equivalent to science. We also know the bible condemns the scientific method in its condemnation of Thomas. The bible is an enemy of human reason.
  • David Daniel Ball
    I may be wrong, that is a given, but then so may you. And it may be that neither of us has the right of it, but it is difficult to see how both may be right. But then perhaps we are both right and wrong in varying aspects. I am not trying to be insulting but to show the breadth of considerations. There are things I accept as an article of faith, but I suspect they are not what you anticipate. I have faith in God, that the world exists and that it will eventually end. I have faith in God, and believe that I am saved because of Jesus' sacrifice. I believe I am supposed to proclaim the word of God. I came to embrace Christianity having been raised as an atheist who didn't believe God was possible. My reasons for embracing God are rational. There is a spiritual dimension that took me many years to discover. I embrace that too.
    3 hours ago ·
  • David Daniel Ball The scientific Method does not proclude God and I am happy to discuss why .. later today.
    3 hours ago ·
  • Caiphen Martini Start a new thread on my wall. We'll discuss it.
Caiphen Martini 01 June at 17:34 Reply Report
Freethought in the light of the sun - a blog on atheism, science, philosophy, current events and the hypocrisy of the religious right.

The Baffling Era of Religious Suicide-Massacres

By James A. Haught

Osama bin Laden achieved a remarkable feat: He mobilized the power of religion to spur devout young men to kill themselves in order to murder defenseless strangers. Grotesquely, the suicide-killers felt they were performing holy acts that would please God and assure them martyr rewards in paradise.

The annals of faith-based killing are long: human sacrifice, the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch-hunts, Reformation wars, drowning of Anabaptists, jihads, pogroms against Jews, China's Taiping Rebellion, Mexico's Cristero War, and many modern ethnic conflicts fueled by "religious tribalism." A new phase was led by bin Laden, who orchestrated the 21st-century phenomenon of Islamic suicide-bombing. Mercifully, his personal chapter ended when Navy Seals stormed his Asian hideout on May 1.

The modern Islamic "cult of death" - the worst menace of current times - baffles most Westerners. Logical minds cannot comprehend why idealistic young men, and a few women, volunteer to sacrifice their lives to slaughter unsuspecting, unarmed folks. It makes no sense. Pundit Anthony Lewis wrote: "There is no way to reason with people who think they will go directly to heaven if they kill Americans." Columnist William Safire said the volunteers do it because their "normal survival instinct is replaced with a pseudo-religious fantasy of a killer's self-martyrdom leading to an eternity in paradise surrounded by adoring virgins." Columnist David Brooks wrote that the bizarre phenomenon is "about massacring people while in a state of spiritual loftiness."

These fanatics lack normal empathy for fellow humans. While in foreign lands or amid dissimilar ethnic groups, they don't see surrounding families as affectionate mothers, fathers and children, but as "infidels" deserving death. If the suicide-killers ever acquire nuclear devices, the unthinkable will be upon humanity.

The raid that ended bin Laden culminated a three-decade saga of "blowback." Inadvertently, the Reagan-Bush White House in the 1980s unwittingly helped ignite the Muslim terror movement that now hurts America. Here's the record:

In the late 1970s, radical reformers seized power in Afghanistan and created a Western-style government that began educating girls. Horrified, Muslim extremists and armed tribes rebelled. One of the rebel leaders was warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an extremist known for throwing acid on unveiled schoolgirls while he was in college.

Such mujahideen (holy warriors) were on the brink of toppling the new Afghan government when the Soviet Union sent its Red Army in 1979 to suppress the uprising. Globally, the Cold War was seething. To damage the Soviets, the Reagan administration secretly sent the CIA to arm, train and pay the rebel tribes to kill Russians. Hekmatyar's group got millions of U.S. dollars.

Meanwhile, ardent young Muslims from many lands rushed to Afghanistan to join the "holy war." One was Osama bin Laden, 17th son of a rich Saudi contractor who had a dozen wives. A pious Wahhabi Muslim, bin Laden used his wealth to recruit and pay fighters.

The combined CIA-zealot resistance worked. The Russians were driven out and Afghanistan's modern government was crushed. Warlords like Hekmatyar took over, but soon fought among each other. Then an Islamic student group, the Taliban, seized control and created a cruel theocracy that stoned women to death and inflicted other extreme Puritanical strictures.

Covertly, bin Laden assembled numerous former Afghan volunteers into a shadowy international network, al-Qaida, dedicated to waging jihad (holy war) against the West. His suicidal operatives helped kill U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993, blow up two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, and bomb the USS Cole in 2000.

Bin Laden issued a fatwa (sacred edict) calling on "every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions wherever he finds them and whenever he can." He was indicted by U.S. authorities and put on international "most wanted" lists.

Then 19 al-Qaida suicide volunteers perpetrated the historic atrocity of Sept. 11, 2001, when they hijacked airliners and crashed them into U.S. landmarks, killing 3,000 Americans. It was the most horrifying day in the memory of most U.S. residents.

The holy killers left behind a testament they had shared among themselves, saying they were doing it for God: "Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty," they assured each other, "and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, 'Come hither, friend of God.' They have dressed in their most beautiful clothing."

Idiocy. Infantilism. It's sickening to realize that 3,000 unsuspecting Americans died because of this adolescent male fantasy. To believe that God wants mass murder is lunacy. As famed British biologist Richard Dawkins wrote:

"The 19 men of 9/11 - having washed, perfumed themselves and shaved their whole bodies in preparation for the martyr's paradise - believed they were performing the highest religious duty. By the lights of their religion, they were as good as it is possible to be. They were not poor, downtrodden, oppressed or psychotic; they were well-educated, sane and well-balanced, and, as they thought, supremely good. But they were religious, and that provided all the justification they needed to murder and destroy."

The mastermind of this crackpottery is dead in a hail of Navy Seals' gunfire. But the suicide-martyr phenomenon he fostered probably will continue impelling idealistic young men to sacrifice their lives in massacres.

Bin Laden wasn't the sole creator of the Islamic cult of death. His Egyptian partner, Ayman al-Zawahiri, pioneered it in the 1990s. Since then, many far-flung Muslim extremist groups adopted suicide-bombing - often using it on fellow Muslims of opposing sects, or against disapproved Islamic governments. Some researchers list as many as 17,000 Muslim terror attacks since the 9/11 horror, with a total body count beyond 60,000 victims. That's an average of five murder missions per day - so many that news media ignore smaller assaults. The phenomenon has a boundless supply of righteous-feeling volunteers eager to throw away their lives to kill for God and their faith.

As Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg said: "For good people to do evil things, it takes religion."

(Haught is editor of West Virginia's largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette, and is author of two books on religious violence: Holy Horrors: An Illustrated History of Religious Murder and Madness, and Holy Hatred: Religious Conflicts of the '90s.)

James A Haught is a writer for the uber left wing liberal Charleston Gazette and has been associated with that paper for more than fifty years, and so I am disappointed at this offering because it suggests lack of professionalism on many levels.
One gets it that Haught doesn't like religion and lays the blame of many ills at religion's doorstep. This is illustrated with his final quote of Steven Weinberg's "For good people to do evil things, it takes religion."
Haught illustrates his position by naming many diverse things as religious. The annals of faith-based killing are long: human sacrifice, the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch-hunts, Reformation wars, drowning of Anabaptists, jihads, pogroms against Jews, China's Taiping Rebellion, Mexico's Cristero War, and many modern ethnic conflicts fueled by "religious tribalism."
But what does it say for their understanding of religion when they ignore the secular aspects of those very activities? Are those activities not based on a rationalist belief of promoting a tribe through self sacrifice or dominance?
This carries on from a discussion on my wall. I also have postings on notes etc etc. This is J John, the guy who convicted me back in '85 but that is all just background and noise. I promised to give my rational arguments and so I will begin here.
Testimony of David Daniel Ball. Many thanks to the inspiration of May Wa Leng, Jesus Family Centre of Cabramatta and many others not mentioned. Many thanks t...
    • David Daniel Ball I recognise I may be wrong, and promise you I have been. It will take me a while to get to my point, I apologise. FB has this annoying habit with paragraph breaks .. but enough of my whinge. I was raised as an atheist. I did not believe in God even being possible. I had numerous proofs that he wasn't possible. I knew enough about science that the world was older than six thousand years and understood the science to show the universe was many billions of years old too. The universe is a big place and the Earth is small and not very special. I knew God was not possible because logically he could not exist. The idea of infinite knowledge and infinite power is absurd. Can God build a bridge so large he couldn't cross over it? If not why not? If so then he isn't God, by logic, right?
      19 minutes ago ·
    • David Daniel Ball I also knew that miracles were outrageous and sometimes silly. God raised Jesus from the dead. No one had ever been raised from the dead before. Except for those that had been. And for those that are today. And isn't Science clever, being able to 'save' people but not showing a preference for faithful ones. It was before I studied History and Philosophy of Science at Sydney University, but I was confronted with the truth that Science did not disprove God. I get it that science was able to show what God wasn't, but it didn't shed light on who God is. There are many clever people who have devoted their whole lives to the faith and they didn't have problems with the concept of God even though every time they turned on a light, watched TV or boiled some water you would have thought they could see holes in their faith and have Science rise in its supremacy. Except the words used in science, the very definitions to do with what can be observed, weren't relevant or a disproof of the existence of God.
      11 minutes ago ·
    • David Daniel Ball A miracle is no less a miracle for being explained in scientific terms. Some miracles can be explained and yet are not repeatable experiments. Like the toddler which froze solid when falling through an ice lake, and was revived and thrived without defect in Canada a few years ago. But that isn't a proof of faith either. Faith is not easier to prove than science is able to disprove God. It wouldn't matter to me but for the fact it did. I was convinced there was no God when my sister begged my mother to let her die. And my mother said she believed she would be reincarnated .. I was so angry with my mother for lying to my dying sister when neither of us believed in the religious. But not being able to prove faith and not being able to disprove God didn't seem to matter too much.
      3 minutes ago ·
    • David Daniel Ball But then I was challenged to consider that God was possible. And accepting that God was possible, I was asked to consider what that meant for the world? As an atheist I understood how the world worked without God, the evidence was all around me. But if God existed and yet the world was the way it was, why was that so? It is a thought experiment I will go through later this evening or tomorrow morning .. I have to go to work .. ;D
  • Caiphen Martini
    I'm sorry about your bad experiences. All I can say is that we've all had bad experiences, others sometimes more than us and vice versa. You don't have to turn to the supernatural to get your life together. There are many secular activities/institutions you can turn to for help. You know what? The nicest people that I know are infidels just like me, the medical student you met at Uni still would have been just as great if she were an atheist. Now to the point. Since we are talking about personal testimony, I was brought up a fundie Xian and was born again until I was in my 30's. Then something happened, I took my horse goggles off and discovered the world of science is far greater. I actually found Xianity to be nothing but a business, just there are some good people in it that make a difference just like there are atheists who make a difference.

    As you know David, personal testimomies don't hold any credibility. The scientific method please or you're just wasting my time. This reasoning may work on someone in the church, but not me.
I accept your decision. I would note that the argument I provided was based on rationalism, not personal testimony. I will carry on this blog, however and structure my arguments.