The Athiest Argument

Discussion in 'Faith and Religion' started by Minuteman, Jun 4, 2012.


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  1. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    This quoted from our most vocal resident atheist.

    "engaging with reason as a means of attempting to discover what is true, rather than rely on authority, or the revelations of this or that cleric or this or that scriptural text."

    This sums up very well the atheists view of the religious. ( I am editing this after review as many atheists, the generality of the original statement is not valid)It also happens to be the exact same argument, in essence, as that of most liberals. Not implying any direct correlation just an interesting factoid.

    The crux of the argument is that to believe differently than they do you simply aren't intelligent enough to understand. "If you were as smart as I am you would agree with me". You see this in liberal media quite blatantly. The inference is that they are somehow more enlightened, more educated, more of a free thinker than those poor fools who succumb to other beliefs. Be it conservatism or religion.

    If you only did your own thinking. They somehow believe that all people of faith are blindly following whatever preacher or priest, believing without questioning. Accepting what they are told and not researching it for themselves.

    Just look at how the liberal media portrays the Tea Party movement or conservatives in general. Redneck bubba's, uneducated hicks from the sticks. They just don't know any better. Clinging to their bibles and their guns.

    When in fact it is quite the opposite. The snobbish elitists, be it atheists or liberals completely fail to grasp the concept that it is their own vanity and ego that prohibits them from seeing the truth. They cannot see the forest for the trees. The further you get into intelligent research, the more immersed you become in scientific, factual study, the more you begin to see the truth. The more aware you become. But that doesn't happen with the blind who believe that they posses the truth, the knowledge, and the intelligence that they believe to be lacking in those who don't follow their beliefs. Show an atheist undeniable scientific proof of creationism and they simply ignore it, scoff at it, and refuse to believe it. They counter with "show me the proof" but then insist "that's not the truth" if it conflicts with their beliefs.

    History is rife with examples of the very brightest, smartest, scientific minds coming to face the conclusion that there must be a God. Many who have set out to disprove his existence have become his most ardent defenders. This idea that if you only "engage with reason" you will see the truth is a sham. It keeps so many from ever breaking out of their self imposed mold. They are the ones with the closed minds, they are the ones deluded and confused, and they are the last to see it. But we of faith see that this is a favorite tactic of the enemy from time immemorial. To confuse the wise with their own wisdom, to blind those who believe they see so clearly. God says about this generation that "their wisdom will come to naught".

    To argue that only the uneducated or those who are easily deluded believe in God is to deny history. Here are just a few "wise" men who also believed in God. And I left out those before the 1800's. Just for the sake of argument that they were coerced in their beliefs. Learned men like Copernicus, Descartes's, Isaac Newton to name just a few.

    Here are some more modern scholars who didn't let their "intelligence" get in the way.


    Gregor Mendel (1822–1884) Augustinian Abbot who was the "father of modern genetics" for his study of the inheritance of traits in pea plants.

    James Dwight Dana (1813–1895) A geologist, mineralogist, and zoologist. He received the Copley Medal, Wollaston Medal, and the Clarke Medal. He also wrote a book titled Science and the Bible and his faith has been described as "both orthodox and intense."

    Louis Pasteur (1822–1895) Inventor of the pasteurization method, a French chemist and microbiologist. He also solved the mysteries of rabies, anthrax, chicken cholera, and silkworm diseases, and contributed to the development of the first vaccines.

    Lord Kelvin (1824–1907) He gave a famous address to the Christian Evidence Society. In science he won the Copley Medal, the Royal Medal, and was important in Thermodynamics

    Georg Cantor (1845–1918) Lutheran who wrote on religious topics and had an interest in Medieval theology. Revolutionized the mathematical notion of infinity by the introduction of set theory.

    Dmitri Egorov (1869–1931) Russian mathematician who made significant contributions to the broader areas of differential geometry. He was an Imiaslavie who defended religion during the Soviet era. In 1930 the Soviets arrested and imprisoned him as a "religious sectarian." He died of a hunger strike in protest.


    Max Planck (1858–1947) He won the 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics and is considered the founder of Quantum mechanics. He had been raised an observant Lutheran and was an elder in his church from 1920 to his death. In 1937 he delivered the lecture, "Religion and Natural Science", stating that both religion and science require a belief in God.

    Edward Arthur Milne (1896–1950) British astrophysicist and mathematician who proposed the Milne model and had a Moon crater named for him. In addition he won several awards including the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. His last book was Modern Cosmology and the Christian Idea of God.

    E. T. Whittaker (1873–1956) Converted to Catholicism in 1930 and member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. His 1946 Donnellan Lecture was entitled on Space and Spirit. Theories of the Universe and the Arguments for the Existence of God. He also received the Copley Medal and had written on Mathematical physics before conversion

    Georges Lemaître (1894–1966) Roman Catholic priest who was first to propose the Big Bang theory. (Sheldon Cooper would be aghast)

    William G. Pollard (1911–1989) Anglican priest who wrote Physicist and Christian. In addition he worked on the Manhattan Project and for years served as the executive director of Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies.

    Sir Robert Boyd (1922–2004) A pioneer in British space science who was Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society. He lectured on faith being a founder of the "Research Scientists' Christian Fellowship" and an important member of its predecessor Christians in Science. He was connected to the University College London

    C. F. von Weizsäcker
    (1912–2007) German nuclear physicist who is the co-discoverer of the Bethe-Weizsäcker formula. His The Relevance of Science: Creation and Cosmogony concerned Christian and moral impacts of science. He headed the Max Planck Society from 1970 to 1980. After that he retired to be a Christian pacifist.

    Stanley Jaki
    (1924–2009) Benedictine priest and Distinguished Professor of Physics at Seton Hall University, New Jersey, who won a Templeton Prize and advocated the idea modern science could only have arisen in a Christian society

    Charles Hard Townes
    (born 1915) In 1964 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics and in 1966 he wrote The Convergence of Science and Religion

    Freeman Dyson
    (born 1923) He has won the Lorentz Medal, the Max Planck Medal, and the Lewis Thomas Prize. He also ranked 25th in The 2005 Global Intellectuals Poll. He has won the Templeton Prize and delivered one of the Gifford Lectures

    Christopher Isham
    (born 1944)Theoretical physicist who developed HPO formalism. He teaches at Imperial College London. In addition to being a physicist, he is a philosopher and theologian.

    Henry F. Schaefer, III
    (born 1944) He wrote Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? ISBN 0-9742975-0-X and is a signatory of A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism. He was awarded the American Chemical Society Award in Pure Chemistry in 1979

    Robert T. Bakker
    (born 1945) Paleontologist who was a figure in the "dinosaur Renaissance" and known for the theory some dinosaurs were Warm-blooded. He is also a Pentecostal preacher who advocates theistic evolution and has written on religion.

    Kenneth R. Miller
    (born 1948)Biology professor at Brown University who wrote Finding Darwin's God ISBN 0-06-093049-7

    Francis Collins
    (born 1950) He is the current director of the National Institutes of Health and former director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute. He has also written on religious matters in articles and in Faith and the Human Genome he states the importance to him of "the literal and historical Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which is the cornerstone of what I believe." He wrote the book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

    Jennifer Wiseman She is Chief of the Laboratory for Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. In addition she is a co-discoverer of 114P/Wiseman-Skiff. In religion is a Fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation and on June 16, 2010 became the new director for the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion.

    And that is just a miniscule sampling

    So it would appear that many of the worlds most intelligent people in history have indeed "engaged in reason and discovered the truth".

    And they all think that Chelloveck is full of ****! ;)
     
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  2. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    I see avowed Atheists and religious enthusiasts to be two sides of the same coin. Both have an absolute conviction on a subject, of which neither have the ability to comprehend.

    I don't mean to be personally insulting to anyone, but if indeed there is an omnipotent, omniscient creator, outside of time and space, capable of creating a universe so immense that it has no discernible boundaries, then he's a little out of our paygrade. If we can't even yet understand his creation, there seems to be a bit of hubris in claiming to understand the creator.

    I don't see a problem with anyone being spiritual, and highly intelligent at the same time. I do wonder though at the ability of scientists to put away the scientific method, when it comes to the most important question in their existence, and embrace a revealed religion like Christianity.

    I certainly wouldn't claim that you can't find the proof of God (whoever or whatever he is) in his awe-inspiring creations; but connecting that proof to the Judao-Christian God is another matter entirely. Yahweh, Yahevey, Jehovah, or however you want to pronounce his name, is a revealed God; revealed to only certain people, in a certain culture, a very long time ago. Those revelations were written down and compiled into the Jewish Tanakh and, later, the Christian Bible.

    To most, the fact that the these books were written in "ancient" times lends credibility to them. To me, it does not. The society which constructed the earliest of these texts considered slavery and genocide to be a normal part of life. To me, that speaks of an ignorant, undeveloped society. These are not the people I'm going to seek out when looking for an explanation of an omnipotent creator.

    If someone came to my door today, that I knew and trusted, and told me that God had spoken to him, and that he wanted me to help him spread the word of his revelations; I'd advise him to get back on his medications. Why on earth would I give more credence to the revelations of people from another culture and time, when I find that culture to ignorant and backward, and when those revelations have been translated and edited countless times by others? Boggles my mind how anyone can get onboard with that; but, different strokes for different folks.
     
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  3. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    Many scientists have, to quote Sheldon Cooper, "ripped back the fabric of the universe to reveal the face of God". I like that.
     
  4. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    Can't help it, I have to post this. it seems apropos to this thread.
    atheism explained.
     
  5. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    I have stated this before in the thread on Morality but it is worth repeating:
    I believe that what created the smell of a rose, the flight of a bee and it's product, the cleansing of water, the nourishment of sunlight is called god and it doesn't matter if god is upper case or lower case because god created, or is life and the forces , chemical, evolutionary, and miracle, that propagates life and challenges evolution and therefore is not cognizant and does not care about my meager opinion of it since I require it to live and have only one choice other than accepting it and that is dying. Life is energy and there-by cannot be destroyed, only altered and stored elsewhere, maybe collectively, maybe scattered as like poles and fueling something we don't understand. Everything else about it smells like man and his vested interests.
    Does this make me blasphemous? Does it make me Agnostic or Atheist? I find my relationship with what I call God much more pragmatic than promises of Salvation for filling the offering plate.


     
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  6. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    @Minuteman: I completely agree with you on liberals and why they are generally Godless. Essentially, they think they are smarter than everyone else and look down their nose at people who are religious (unless they are Muslim

    However, I disagree with with the supportive evidence showing all the smart men who were also Christians as giving support to argument that there is a God. The inference is that, these men were very smart and must have considered whether or not there was a god and arrived at the conclusion there was....so, there must be a god.

    You could probably find an equal number of smart men who were atheists.
     
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  7. Cephus

    Cephus Monkey+++ Founding Member

    I think I'll just continue to believe what I want and you all can do the same !!!!!!
     
  8. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    I don't see a problem with anyone being spiritual, and highly intelligent at the same time. I do wonder though at the ability of scientists to put away the scientific method, when it comes to the most important question in their existence, and embrace a revealed religion like Christianity.

    You are arguing my point here. What makes one think that a scientist would have to "put away the scientific method" in order to embrace Christianity? It is exactly the application of scientific principle and methodology that has led many open minded intellectuals to embrace the revealed truth of Christianity. To assume that one has to put away rational thought and reasoning to accept that which you (people in general, not specifically you Tuli) disagree with is to engage in the very disingenuous argument I put forth above. There are thousands upon thousands of stories throughout history of intellectuals applying those every same scientific principles to arrive at a reasoned conclusion that there is truth to be found in holy writ.

    I don't see a problem with someone being spiritual, but I do see a problem with accepting the TRUTH, as revealed to another, as a "personal truth" with no critical examination. You cannot be a "Christian" or a "Jew" or a "Muslim", or the adherent of any other revealed faith, without embracing another individual's "truth", as it was revealed to them.

    I don't think you can reconcile the obvious differences between the New Testament God and the Old Testament God, without putting aside your reason. For all the same reasons that Bishop Marcion of Sinope put forth the argument (for which he was excommunicated in 144 CE) that Yahweh could not possibly be the same God of Love embraced by Jesus of Nazareth; I also cannot reconcile the disconnect created by a God of Love which destroys his children in a great flood, and chooses one group of his children over another - inciting them to genocidal violence against others of his children.

    Yahweh may have been the God of the Jews, which was all he ever claimed, but he certainly didn't seem to be the loving and caring God of the Amaleks, the Midianites, the Canaanites, the Moabites, the Assyrians, the Benjamites, the Edomites, the Gibeonites, the Makkedahites, the Libnahites, the Lachishites, the Eglonites, the Hebronites, the Debrites, and the Ethiopians. (If I misspelled some of those "ites", forgive me.)

    My sense of reason doesn't allow me to accept both the truth of the Old Testament, and the truth of the New Testament. My reason further doesn't allow me to accept that an omnipotent, omniscient creator could find no better method of communicating his truth to mankind than to pass it to a handful of Jewish prophets and hope that it eventually spreads around the globe.

    To most, the fact that the these books were written in "ancient" times lends credibility to them. To me, it does not. The society which constructed the earliest of these texts considered slavery and genocide to be a normal part of life. To me, that speaks of an ignorant, undeveloped society. Such as the Greeks and the Romans who we derive the very essence of our modern society from? It is upon the enlightened precepts found in the writings of Plato, Socrates, Cicero and the like that our founding fathers concieved the bedrock principles of our republic.

    You make a very good point that we do accept wisdom passed on to us by societies, such as the Greek and Roman, in the areas of philosophy and societal contracts. And I do not claim that the Jewish/Christian/Muslim writings are without merit. I think that the Tanakh, the Bible, and the Qur'an are literary works of art, for the time period in which they were created. I think that there is great wisdom contained within all three. I think that there are intriguing philosophical questions presented by all three. I proudly display all three on my bookshelves, and feel that I am a richer person for having read their contents.

    Here's the big "BUT" though. I do not accept the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero as "the word of God."

    I find Plato's musings on the meaning of life to be enlightening (and I see no better analogy to Christianity vs Agnosticism than Plato's allegory of the cave), I find Aristotle's application of reason to the understanding of nature to be ground breaking for the human species, and I find Cicero's moral philosophy to be greatly thought provoking. I find great wisdom in the writings of the Bible, but I do not find the voice of God in it. I find the voice of man. I find in it the struggles of a long suffering people, trying to come to grips with their spirituality, trying to preserve their history for their later generations, and trying to understand why life kept kicking them in the butt.


    We should revere the works of literary art and wisdom that are the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, and the collected writings of the Bible; but we need to use our sense of reason to sort the wheat from the chaff.

     
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  9. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Great post, Minuteman. :)

    Sometimes I think some Atheists give the rest of us a bad name. Sometimes, they are exactly the type who welcome an assault from religious extremists, too. I like to think a few of us are good-natured enough to see the possibility that nobody has it right yet.

    As an Atheist, I am not the one who points fingers at people specifically in order to justify my own beliefs (or lack thereof). I do not adhere to any mainstream tenet or structure which espouses ignorance or violence. To me, the whole organized religion syndicate (call it what you will) chooses to thump their beliefs on others. Why this is cannot be easily explained without crossing the line a little into unsavory territory. I will do my best not to insult. A person is religious, and that can be a good thing. When people get together and form large groups, it has the potential to be bad -but not necessarily. Groups of religious people can do a lot of good, and they have. Taken to the next level, when these groups form strong ties politically and socially, and if left unchecked...it's often a very bad thing. And to the extreme, if these groups have total immunity and an entire country of their own (Catholic Church for example) to go unpunished and who answers to no one, it's very, very bad. Nightmarish, even.

    This brings us to mass indoctrination and social pressure, to self esteem issues and psychological manipulation. This can be a very long subject.

    Flip side, we have Atheists; they have no doctrine, no structure, no judgement, no policies, no scriptures to adhere to. It's almost frightening to some, it actually is to quite a few. There are all sorts of arguments which arise from the opposing front, such as, "where do you draw your morality?" This is an ever-expanding contradiction since humans may not necessarily require an ancient tome to provide guidance on this subject. We may live our lives and learn as we go. We may have parents who learned from mistakes and passed this information on to their children without reciting holy scripture. We may accept logic and kindness, which aren't copyrights of Jeshua of Nazareth to guide us along the way. And some may find, like I have, that nobody has it all figured out just yet. We are either moving forward, or we stagnate like pond scum. This brings me to my final analysis...

    Religion. Wherever you find it firmly rooted, you will also see a culture which fights and resists change. The greatest proof of this statement is in the field of applied theory and practice: science. From the earliest recorded times, science was heralded as demonic evil, mysterious witchcraft, superstitious speculation, "heresy" (a term coined by the Catholics themselves) -the list goes on. It was only accepted after many centuries of grief and bloodshed, and to this day remains a whirlwind of storms between the devoutly religious and the scientific crowd. Indeed, many scientists are religious -this is not a problem to me. Perhaps this is only the beginning of the many changes we may see in this existence concerning scientific progress and belief systems.

    Finally, I have to say that, as long as a religious belief is maintained on a personal level and not forced upon children or any population, it can do no harm. But, how likely is it for parents to not raise their children to believe what they themselves believe? I was fortunate to have been given the freedom as a child to not be forced to agree with religious perspective. I was not punished for not going to church or reading the bible. I was not told I will burn in hell if I didn't believe what mommy and daddy did. When I became an adult, I then had more freedom to choose my own beliefs. I learned that beliefs can be dangerous, too.

    An individual can be truly great, if they seek greatness in all they do. This means that even an Atheist has the potential to do wonderful things. Be good to each other. ;)
     
  10. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

     
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  11. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    OK...I thought that might be why you were using those references, but it wasn't clear. However, if you incorporate the time period of these men's lives, it was less socially acceptable to admit agnosticism/atheism. Today, there's not much of a backlash for stating this, but back then....it could destroy your life. You have to take the time into account. However, I'm not dismissing what your point is.
     
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  12. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    Minuteman, you are an agreeable fellow to debate with. I thank you for an interesting discussion.

    If I seem a little on the edgy side of this topic, it is because I rarely encounter Christians who have an outlook on religion as intelligent as yours. (That says far more about my circle of acquaintances than saying anything about Christianity).

    As I mentioned in the thread on morality, my upbringing was in an unyielding Fundamentalist church, and that "black and white" mentality caused me to begin re-examining my faith early on. By the time I was grown, I could no longer embrace it; but as Guit_fishN alludes to, there is a social element to religion that makes it a difficult thing to shrug off, at least publicly. That social stigma was greater in the past, but it still exists.

    Looking at every family member and friend that you know, and saying "I am at total odds with your religious beliefs" is not an easy thing, and it took me years to be able to do it. Perhaps apostasy isn't punishable by death in the modern Christian community, but the condemnation and pressure to conform is still considerable.

    As you mentioned, you can only relate your personal experiences regarding your Christian faith; and I am likewise bound. I am also bound by years of baggage, in the form of having to defend my own interpretation of Christianity, and my own perspective of the creator, every time the subject arose within my family. After being backed into a corner and attacked repeatedly, any dog gets a little snappy.

    Thanks again for the discourse. I'll shut up now. :D
     
  13. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    To most, the fact that the these books were written in "ancient" times lends credibility to them. To me, it does not. The society which constructed the earliest of these texts considered slavery and genocide to be a normal part of life. To me, that speaks of an ignorant, undeveloped society. Such as the Greeks and the Romans who we derive the very essence of our modern society from? It is upon the enlightened precepts found in the writings of Plato, Socrates, Cicero and the like that our founding fathers concieved the bedrock principles of our republic.

    You make a very good point that we do accept wisdom passed on to us by societies, such as the Greek and Roman, in the areas of philosophy and societal contracts. And I do not claim that the Jewish/Christian/Muslim writings are without merit. I think that the Tanakh, the Bible, and the Qur'an are literary works of art, for the time period in which they were created. I think that there is great wisdom contained within all three. I think that there are intriguing philosophical questions presented by all three. I proudly display all three on my bookshelves, and feel that I am a richer person for having read their contents.

    Here's the big "BUT" though. I do not accept the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero as "the word of God." Neither do I. But I don't consider them ignorant and undeveloped either.

    While no one could seriously regard the three philosophers mentioned above as "ignorant"; they lived within a society unenlightened, by our present day standards. I think those three philosophers would agree with that statement if they could be asked. Aristotle himself, as he hotfooted it out of Athens, was said to have remarked that he didn't intend that the Athenians should sin twice against philosophy (referring to the execution of Socrates).

    I don't necessarily label the authors of the writings which came to be included in the Christian Bible as ignorant; but the societies from which they sprang were certainly unenlightened by modern standards.

    For the record, I consider our own present day society at large to be "ignorant and undeveloped." If an agnostic can pray, then I pray that our current state of social development is not the end result for humanity. Surely, we can do better.
     
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  14. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member


    Amen brother!!!!
     
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  15. Redneck Rebel

    Redneck Rebel Monkey++

    Your circle of acquaintances sounds an awful lot like my own. Minuteman, from what I have seen, is indeed a rarity. My experiences would indicate that most Christians are only Christians because it is the societal norm rather than because of some actual spiritual need/desire. I've got nothing against any religion, it's those who follow blindly without actually seeking out their own answers that get on my nerves. Of course this isn't limited to Christians or followers of any religion really. Just seems that if you are going to self-identify as something you ought know a little something about what you claim to be. Either way, even as a non-Christian Minuteman's posts are worth a read and generally enlightening.
     
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  16. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Excellent point
    Jon.
     
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  17. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King Site Supporter

    I just wanted to comment on the title of the thread. I was unaware of any "atheist argument", since I have yet to meet an atheist who was that interested in converting anyone.

    Personally, I don't think I even qualify as an atheist...since I am not really convinced either way...more of a "don't much care agnostic'.

    I generally share a moral stance with the religious, but don't tie it to any supreme being.
     
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  18. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Monkey+

    My parents were atheists, they taught me to pretend to be a Christian (one of the denominations with minimal requirements) because in their youth it was not a good idea to allow most people to know that you were an atheist.
    Even today the average person would prefer a Muslim in public office over an atheist.
     
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  19. oldawg

    oldawg Monkey+++

    I guess I'm not average but since atheist want to change my mind and Muslims seem to want to kill me for being Methodist I'd rather an atheist hold public office.
     
  20. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Monkey+

    I will usually talk about atheism if asked or attacked, or in a forum such as this.

    I will defend the right of other people to believe as long as they will stand up for my right to not believe.
     
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