Part IV : Explaining and refuting religions

(Part I - Part II - Part III)

About miracles

The Fatima miracle

The saints

Another text I wrote on the subject (the miracles of Evangelics and Penticostals)

Other people could make the same observation (here are 2 examples I could find)

More Evidence against divine guidance or revelation

References on Scientific Illiteracy

follow the links

The religious mind

"So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence"
Bertrand Russell
Whatever they would pretend to think in theory, the practical situation is that, very often and especially when some connection with religious issues is at stakes, religious people hate intelligence and intelligent people. They systematically mistake intelligence with pride (except for their own theologians, of course) and condemn it as a mortal sin, while they (or some of them, or somehow) systematically consider themselves infinitely higher than anyone who thinks different than them, no matter the difference of intelligence. They practice their own totally unjustified pride (the pride of being the kings of stupidity and humility) and condemn any others claims of knowledge no matter how justified.

Now, we mentioned above the direct observation of how terrible are humans at democracy: that they naturally develop wrong views (and especially paranoid views) in political issues, at least in the USA today despite all the wonderful available means for spreading and debating information, while most people went to school where they learned to read, write and other things; while there is internet, and people live in one of the most peaceful and prosperous contexts that ever happened.
Given such observations, and the proliferation of creeds and myths at that time (see below), can anyone offer any argument of why the f**k should we expect the first Christian communities 19 centuries ago, to have been significantly wiser, more objective and reliable than this about what could have happened to some Jesus that lived some decades before in a country they didn't visit, given the a troubled political context (oppression of Israel by the Roman empire...), and while this Jesus was not mentioned by any historian outside their own community of devout believers ?
What's special with the Christian God ? That he is a God of Love ? That was not even new, as there already were Venus (in Roman mythology) and Aphrodite (in the Greek one). But Christians arguing this are missing the fact that once more closely examined, their God is absolutely not a God of Love, by the way He sends to hell all those who have the honesty to not believe in Him without evidence. (see an analysis of the Christian God's characters)

No, in fact, one of the special features of both Christian and Hebrew conceptions of God as opposed to other myths of that time, that (among other causes) contributes to their better success, was their intolerance and sectarianism, and that they had a more well-defined credo. Christians were especially paranoid against any differing creeds from their own, which they condemned as either idolatry or heresy, following the recommendations of Jesus (such as "He that is not with me is against me", one of the main principles of paranoia).

They were more or less ready to ignore the evidence (anyway hard to get) for keeping the belief that Jesus revelation was the only source of truth.
For example, consider:

Christianity vs science

The Greeks started developing science, including a heliocentric model.
Then Christians came and absurdly gave themselves the credit for the scientific accomplishments of ancient Greeks.

"Justin had, like others, the idea that the Greek philosophers had derived, if not borrowed, the most essential elements of truth found in their teaching from the Hebrew Bible. Thus he does not scruple to declare that Socrates and Heraclitus were Christians (Apol., i. 46, ii. 10). His aim, of course, is to emphasize the absolute significance of Christ, so that all that ever existed of virtue and truth may be referred to him" (Wikipedia)

while they later altogether destroyed much of the existing knowledge outside their own sources and ignored their own responsibility in doing so:

"The Athenian schools of philosophy were closed down by the Christian emperor Justinian in 529 CE. After that followed the Dark Ages in Christian Europe, in which works of the ancient Greeks were lost, and from which it took Europe a thousand years to recover. Fraudulently, no blame is attached to Christianity for this. "

(Again, remember about Hypatia)

In all the Middle Ages, the Church controlled the educational institutions, not letting people be educated by Christianity and not tolerating the intellectual productions of non-Christians, to give themselves credit for all cultural and intellectual productions. Giving no credit to a Pagan heliocentrist author of the 5th century.
Still today, Christians keep mocking anyone who dares to draw the attention to the evidence of all the bad things done by Christians and churches in history, under the excuse that, by definition, anything wrong should not be counted as Christian but as due to human sin and revolt against God (after having presented things the other way round), because Jesus is love, oh yeah.
They regularly claim Christianity to be science-friendly just because it happened to be dominating at the time and place where science emerged, as if this coexistence meant causality (when and only they like to believe and claim it so in order to present Christianity as the source of all good), but without caring to check any detail.
Meanwhile, allied with colonialist practices, Christian missionaries they kept destroying the ancestral cultures and knowledge of other peoples in the rest of the world, by telling these people that their rituals and practices were bad and should be abandoned.

And still recently, some Catholic officials consider that the Inquisition had a more scientific attitude than Galileo at the time of his trial (the Spanish Jesuit Juan Bertran in a colloquium on Galileo in 1991, while the general conclusion from the Church commission reexamining the file of the trial was rather unclear, according to Ciel&Espace magazine, that had a reliable source for this report but lost it after). Yeah, the Church has definitely always been on the side of science (as they imagine it)...

Let us check the contents of the intended speech of the Pope Benedict XVI for January 2008 at La Sapienza University, that was cancelled because of a petition against him (based on his quotation of Feyerabend who had considered Bellarmin more scientific than Galileo, but which Ratzinger did not himself approve - anyway the Catholics make the serious mistake to quote worthless opinions of modern philosophers, failing to notice that the opinions of most modern philosophers have no sort of significance or credibility in the scientific community). Putting aside all the wooden language, here are some of its significant claims:
« He sees a criterion of this reasonableness [of religious doctrines on ethical reasoning] in, among other things, the fact that that such doctrines are derived from a responsible and well grounded tradition, in which over a long span of time sufficiently strong arguments have been developed in support of the respective doctrines. It seems important to me that this statement recognises that experience and demonstration over the course of generations, the historical backdrop of human wisdom, are also a sign of their reasonableness and their lasting significance. In the face of an a-historical form of reason that seeks to construct itself in an exclusively a-historical rationality, the wisdom of humanity as such—the wisdom of the great religious traditions—should be viewed as a reality that cannot be cast with impunity into the trash bin of the history of ideas.
The pope speaks as the representative of a believing community, in which throughout the centuries of its existence a specific life wisdom has matured; he speaks as the representative of a community that holds within itself a treasury of ethical understanding and experience, which is important for all of humanity. In this sense, he speaks as the representative of a form of ethical reasoning.»

Is he serious ? What sort of idiot ignoring the historic reality is he trying to convince with such lies ? The Catholic Church has a long tradition of mass murdering everybody who does not agree with them, which was the drive of the development and stabilization of their moral reasoning. Still nowadays the Catholic morality system is quite foolish and wrong, with their wrong management of "charity" by Mother Teresa, their traditional homophobia, their unbalanced system of values obsessed with faithfulness in marriage but doing noting (except prayers) for the good unhappy singles; their approving good intelligent men and beautiful girls to commit joining their orders and having no descent, degrading the genetic heritage of the human species; their short-sightedness in charitable works with no political and economic understanding and perspective (well it may be seen as wise and fortunate that they don't raise their methodological foolishness into political and economical mismanagement but...); their way to condemn and forbid contraception and sterilization (but also artificial insemination), remaining blind to the overpopulation problem, thus sacralizing the blind forces of nature and forbidding people from questioning and correcting them, disregarding the disasters this may sometimes lead to... I do not care here to reach any sort exhaustivity in the list of flaws in the Catholic morality system; others have already worked on it. According to Bertrand Russell, "the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world. "
So, the fact of inheriting from a long tradition of believing nonsense, acting foolishly and spreading wrong values, does not make Christianity a respectable source of ethical reasoning. Fortunately, the experience of reality, education and better information, is progressively providing humanity more evidence, wisdom and experience of the fact that the Christian ethical heritage is so wrong and only worthy of being cast into the trash bin of the history of ideas.
Let's continue with his speech:
« Indeed History has shown that many of the things that theologians have said in the course of time or that Church authorities have put in practice have been proven false and today they confuse us. But it is equally true that the history of the saints and the history of the humanism that has developed on the basis of the Christian faith are proof of the truth of this faith in its essential core, making it something that public reason needs. Of course, much of what theology and faith say can only be appropriated from within the faith and thus cannot be seen as a need for those to whom this faith remains inaccessible. It is true however that the message of the Christian faith is never only a "comprehensive religious doctrine" in Rawls’ terms, but that it is instead a force that purifies reason itself, further helping the latter to be itself. »

He does not fear to contradict himself, with a first sentence refuting the conclusion of the pseudo-argument coming next. Then, the latter (and that wrongly called "proof") are just blind faith articles not supported by anything, nor that even cares to check itself in front of effective observations (especially the presence of saints and humanism developed in other religions with cores incompatible with the Christian one, in other parts of the world out of the reach of the extermination by the Inquisition), and are anyway of no weight as compared to other natural conditions of rationality: intelligence and study...

«On the basis of its origins the Christian message should always encourage the search of the truth and thus be a force against the pressures exerted by power and interests
As usual, of 2 things one: either someone cares to seek the truth unbiased by power and interest, or does not; but the Pope's call for this is just wishful thinking that does not help. The same call could be done by anone else as well (as easily and as inefficiently), with no need of Christian faith or any other mythological belief whatsoever.
But... what about the Christian tradition of polluting and distorting reason and truth for the instrumental power of converting people, and the self-interest of keeping faith, based on the assumption that this is God's will that we should follow to please Him and for our own salvation ?

« The danger faced by the Western world, just to mention the latter, is that mankind, given its great knowledge and power, might give up on the question of the truth»
Uh, why would a greater knowledge and power would lead to such a consequence ? Why would wealth and comfort with high living standards make it harder to focus on unbiased truth and knowledge than would misery, discomfort and emergency ? and why call it a "danger" as if was awaiting us like a black hole awaiting humanity to collectively fall in there with no possible return (just like the Church traditionally frightens people with images of hell to convert people) ?

«a danger that philosophy, feeling incapable of fulfilling its task, might degenerate into positivism, a danger that theology and the message it has for reason might be confined to the private sphere of a group more or less big.»
What positivism ? If it is about coming to the side of reason and the methods of scientific knowledge and progress, this would precisely be the way for philosophy to fulfill its task. And the more the foolish and sterile nonsense will be confined, the better it will be.
« If however reason, concerned about its supposed purity, fails to hear the great message that comes from the Christian faith and the understanding it brings, it will dry up like a tree with roots cut off from the water that gives it life. (...) [the Pope] must again and always invite reason to seek out truth, goodness and God, and on this path urge it to see the useful lights that emerged during the history of the Christian faith and perceive Jesus Christ as the light that illuminates history and helps find the way towards the future.»

This claim is but an article of blind faith, a damn lie contrary to the evidence of facts (which the Pope visibly has no fucking care of), and a false advertising (ridiculing any claim of Christianity to be a religion of humility, and to have anything to do with the truth). I understand that such creeds might be inseparable from the core of Christian faith, as they are more or less equivalent to John 15, so that it would be nearly impossible for a Christian to stop believing this lie and still stay Christian. However, this claim by the Pope precisely is an illustration of the fact that Christian faith leads people to believe lies and to violate the rules of reason.

So, even if the initial argument for refusing the Pope to make its speech may have been technically incorrect, the examination of the contents of the intended speech finally confirms that it has nothing to do in a place of knowledge and reason.

Many historical examples can be given, but it is not even necessary to refer to history, because debates are still ongoing, and many living cases can be observed and understood of how Christians think and behave, how twisted is their reasoning and how they reach and keep conclusions disconnected from reality and sane reasoning, so that similar behavior from their "spiritual fathers" is largely sufficient to explain how Christianity could start based on fraud or delusion in the first place.

For example, we can see today that even quite intelligent people prefer to deny the evidence of facts in order to keep their faith: "Creationists aren't stupid":
"my friend the Young Earth Creationist is one of the smartest people I know (...) Lots of the leaders of the creationist movement have advanced degrees, up to and including Ph.D.s. It takes a lot of work and at least minimal intelligence to achieve that academic level. (...) No, these people aren't stupid. They're wrong on the facts, they're willfully blind to dissenting information in many cases, they are as capable of lying and distortion and mistaken ideas as anyone, but they're not necessarily idiots (...) The thought that someone who's as smart as you could come to a conclusion that's so clearly wrong is frightening. (...) In some respects the greatest strengths of a smart person become subverted, "turned to the Dark Side" as it were, marshaled to protect an idea that should have been shot down by them at the very beginning. But the very fact of their intelligence is what makes disabusing them of the wrong idea so difficult. (...)
He has looked at all the evidence, and has decided that the Bible is more reliable than any scientific evidence that could ever be found. He decided this because the consequences to his faith if that is not true would be catastrophic, and he is unwilling to have his faith destroyed. He has no use for Christians who do not believe Genesis is literal truth, because in his mind the logical and theological difficulties posed thereby far outweigh the difficulties posed by science to the young earth theory.
He's looked at the evidence, weighed the damage each position would take on his faith, and has decided to go with the explanation that poses the least risk to his religious beliefs. "

Similarly, from that site:

"But what's really going on is that these Christian defenders have become experts at deceiving themselves first. They are therefore deceiving others because they are deceiving themselves."

As Richard Feynman warned:

Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.

Religion as a meme

More precisely, the point is not that they would have any bad intention of deceiving themselves (on the contrary they are still quite sincere in themselves, and dedicated to trust and serve their God), but that they have been misled to undertake this quest for methodological self-delusion by the Christian doctrine, without being aware that this is what they were doing.
Still, such an accusation is very serious and very paradoxical (as it is so contrary to the idea that religious people have of their own faith), so that it cannot be made lightly.

So I'm not making it lightly. Like many other people (and independently of them), I have myself a long experience, first with Christian faith for nearly a decade, then, after my deconversion, with attempts at discussions with Christians from diverse origins (evangelic, baptist, pentecostal, catholic, orthodox...). Thus, I'm not trying to build up any easy excuse to dismiss other views which I would not properly understand. Rather, it is a remarkably faithful and explanatory synthetic expression of the main trends and characters emerging from a huge an long accumulation of detailed observations and verifications of how Christian faith works, and what makes it resist so strongly, out of a first-hand and extensive experience I got of it while I initially did all my best to try defending it.
All this remarkable set of understandings fell on me quite unexpectedly soon after my deconversion, as an wonderfully more coherent and solid understanding of life, than any impression of understanding I ever had when I was Christian. Such a discovery cannot be a mere fancy. However, to get it, quite a deal of intelligence (which I had separately trained on other issues) was involved in this process, first in the background of my mind behind my faith, progressively eroding its foundations until its collapse, then in a fully conscious way thereafter. You know, as scientific understanding can be described: the ability to understand some complex realities as clearly and reliably as other people (less clever or with less training) understand simpler ones. Because, while much clearer in some ways, this understanding of the falsity of Christianity is also more complex and paradoxical in some other ways, than Christian faith itself.

One of the main paradoxical aspects, a trend underlying most specific observations necessary to explain the situation, is an expanding discrepancy produced by the Christian doctrine, between the deepest characters of Christians in themselves (pure, sincere, well-intended, caring for the truth...) and the real global effect of how they behave and think in practice (their wrong attitudes, terribly disconnected from reality, from any reasonable chance of detecting and correcting their own mistakes, and of understanding people of different opinions), while one of their very deep creeds is that no such a discrepancy is possible or even thinkable. In a few words (and ironically as they were supposedly uttered by Jesus on the cross), they don't know what they are doing.

This can be rather well described metaphorically by the Chinese Room thought experiment (that was initially developed as a thought experiment about artificial intelligence under the hypothesis that it can pass the Turing Test) :

"if a machine can convincingly simulate an intelligent conversation, does it necessarily understand ? In the experiment, Searle imagines himself in a room acting as a computer by manually executing a program that convincingly simulates the behavior of a native Chinese speaker. People outside the room slide Chinese characters under the door and Searle, to whom "Chinese writing is just so many meaningless squiggles", is able to create sensible replies, in Chinese, by following the instructions of the program; that is, by moving papers around. The question arises whether Searle can be said to understand Chinese"

Here, the role of the program manual is played by the Bible, or more generally by all implicit or explicit elements of religious teachings that religious people happened to receive. It does not assume AI to pass the Turing test, as this program's purpose is not to emulate human intelligence, but on the contrary, to emulate stupidity, produce intellectual blindness and dishonesty, and practice mental manipulation - while remaining very far away from any awareness of the fact that the rules they are following and worshiping as God's thoughts and ways, are the very methods of blindness, dishonesty and mental manipulation (just like they cannot notice that their description of God's characters is the very definition of madness).

They religiously follow these instructions with all their heart, as they imagine that this is the way God wants them to think and act. And they notice that, in "mysterious" ways, "it works": their faith articles seem to be confirmed in their life, by means they don't really understand. This happens because these instructions are not just random instructions, they have special "miraculous" properties that make them resist to many experiences of life and discussions.
What they did not get, though, is that the remarkable properties of their doctrine, that makes it resist, are of a sort largely disconnected from the question of its truth, but are rather about leading its followers to obsessively root this doctrine in themselves, and disabling them from most chances or abilities they might otherwise naturally have, to notice its falsity and to consequently reject it.
In short, the Christian doctrine is largely unfalsifiable. Not that it would not say anything about observables, but the few claims somehow observable it may contain are either never seriously tested (for whatever excuse), or even when contrary evidences exist, they have little chance to change the believers'minds anyway.

In practice, this makes any attempt at serious debate with Christians quite distasteful, or even mentally toxic. In a way or another, such attempts usually deviate far away from any sane reason (chances of genuine progression). Somehow, most Christians lost the sense of reason (disregarding whether they officially follow or reject reason). Instead of genuine arguments, they either use lots of fallacies or come down to personal attacks (usually under the disguise of the highest love of the universe, of course, such as "I will pray for you so that Jesus reveals Himself to you"). And of course, they systematically manage to make their opponents feel guilty for the failure of the discussion (or at least spread a heavy impression in this way, so that non-Christians need quite a solid roots in evidences for not being destabilized).

But this is "not their fault", and the irrationality at stakes is not something that Christians have "in themselves". Somehow, and from their own viewpoint, their behavior is quite rational. Every single reaction they have, is a reaction that is "rationally justified" relatively to the context of the rest of their thoughts and experiences. The situation can be metaphorically described as a mental labyrinth they would be lost in. Every single step they make in this labyrinth is "justified" by the necessity of following a wall or choosing the way which looks better; but without both a global map of the labyrinth and a genuine global analysis of its properties, they have no clue which destination their way is really heading them to. And remaining blind to its global properties, is something they are proud of, by pretending that keeping one's mind simple would be wiser than developing any global theoretical analysis.
Indeed, a crucial aspect of their doctrine, is the praise of mental simplicity: it is a complex arbitrary doctrine which takes time and mental effort to "learn" and follow, but condemns complex thinking. It leads them to follow complex strategical behavior, but to deny the existence and to scorn and reject all attempt to understand the real features and consequences of the mental strategy they are following. They claim to have a spiritual experience of relationship with God, but that this and their faith, are "not a matter of argument". The problem is: if their "life with God" was really not a matter of argument and of mental processes, they should not have the indecency of so deeply (though unconsciously) rooting their persuading power on their systematic exploitation and worsening of the weaknesses (fallibility) of human reasoning, as they are actually doing (unwillingly, as a collateral damage of their holy trust to God, probably).

Let us explain and refute their "argument" how they praise simple thinking (while ignoring the complexity of their own doctrine). They argue that human errors are a fruit of the activity of the human mind. Based on this, they accuse their own intellectual activity of being generally guilty of any error they might make, and assume that the solution to stop making errors, would be to stop thinking altogether.
However, in doing so they fail to understand the real structure of truth and error, how can errors be avoided. The truth can be approached by checking, strengthening and correcting thoughts, not by stopping them.

Let us explain this by comparison with computer science. Errors in thoughts are like bugs or viruses, that make a computer work badly. So, if your computer has bugs and you switch it off, of course errors will stop occurring; but desirable workings will stop too. Then if you restart your computer, it is possible that some errors that had been produced during some process will be deleted and some clean new approach will come. However, if the errors were in the program, or have been added to a new version of a program; or if a virus came to install itself into the operating system of your computer, then switching off your computer will not help: anyway the error or virus will reoccur as soon as the computer will be on and using the piece of program involved. In order to really get rid of this, you would need some other special program with the special ability to tell the difference between the virus and the operating system, to be able to only delete the former and restore a correct version of the latter; or if it is a bug, you may need a skilled programmer to examine the program, understand what it meant to do, and rewrite the defective piece of code so as to obtain a properly working program instead of the defective one. But if you don't have any developed skill, then you have no way to tell where the error comes from and how to correct it.

All you might possibly do is to get some patch or program from an external source that will make the needed correction in your computer. But this can help only if this external source is safe. On the other hand, if you have no clue how to know whether some chosen external source is trustworthy or not, then this "help" offer might as well be a trick to make you install a new virus to your computer. Then your last chance to tell what source is right, would be by trying, if only you have the resources and abilities to correctly proceed such a thing.

But the malicious scenario is the one occurring with Christianity: it tells you to shut down your own discernment, and to trust with blind faith, follow and reshape your mind after, a new doctrine arbitrarily given to you, in such a way to make it very hard to get rid of it later even though no evidence ever supports it.

Now, how could a doctrine with such "miraculously awful" properties have appeared in the first place ?
If it ever was a fruit of consciously deliberate design, either by a supernatural revelation or any guru, then the source of such a revelation could definitely not be divine (as a decent God would never have made up such a bad joke that would mislead us so deeply), but might rather have been diabolical, and anyway bad intended.
However, no such an explanation is necessary, as a much more plausible natural explanation is available, whose expected outcome fits rather well with observation: meme theory. This is the equivalent of the Darwinist understanding of viruses, with doctrines in the role of viruses, and minds in the role of hosts.

Just like some evolved viruses, religions like Christianity developed the skill to attack their host's immune response (ability and willingness to question their faith) in addition to incentives at keeping and spreading it.
Some may object that such a Darwinist explanation of Christianity requires a time period for the progressive development of what would be explained in this way, while the Christian revelation was a unique event.
But, let's check things in details:

The origins of Christianity

One of the usual Christian apologetic arguments, is to challenge others to explain the creation and widespread success of Christianity without God's intervention. They think, why would the first Christians report the story of Jesus in the way they did, and then why would so many people believe in it in the way they do, if it was false ?

In fact, many people, especially ex-Christians, already explained these things a lot of times, but... most Christians still have no clue about this, mostly because... they are not interested. They prefer to lazily believe that it is an open challenge they have put and that nobody can answer it, disregarding how many million people already did it.

To this "challenge" the answer is simple: there is just no surprise. The natural forces of human thought and culture as we know them, largely suffice to explain it all. Okay, this answer needs a few developments to clarify some details.

First, let us recall previous remarks about general features of reality, psychology and the supernatural, that can generally contribute to Christian beliefs without being any genuine evidence for them:
This made it natural that some creeds developed, but does not specify which one - in fact, determinations of creeds are not very specific indeed, as many sorts of creeds developed in parallel, both inside and outside Christianity, but there are some trends partially determining the contents of creeds, as we shall explain.

At the time of the beginnings of Christianity, there were many competing religions and sects. There were already before and after, and there are still now (again, we still have the living case of India full of incarnated gods). (But that time was especially favorable, because of the horrors taking place under the Roman empire, and the Essenes have announced the coming of the Messiah following a biblical prophecy, thus stimulating the raise of many Messiahs). So, why did so many people believe in other things, if not because they were also true ??
Did they worship other Gods and spread other faiths just for joking ?

Finally, one of the creeds had to take over the religious space. But if people had it so wrong when joining other faiths, why should we suddenly trust them unquestionably just because they reached a consensus ? (They did not reach their consensus easily, by the way: a lot of artificial standardization work had to be operated at a sort of political level.)
If Christians believe there would be a problem for Christianity to be believed unless it was true, then how doesn't this argument put themselves in trouble in the face of the existence of any other similarly implausible belief at all ?

But the fact is that Christianity did progressively emerge and evolve along centuries from a preexisting mixture of mythologies: the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Enoch... if the people of that time were not gullible, why did those stories had any success at all ?

Origins of the monastic and other aspects of Christianity can be found in the Essene.

A version of the Beatitudes can be found before the supposed time of Jesus among the Dead Sea Scrolls. More similitudes can be found between those manuscripts from just before the supposed time of Jesus life, and the New testaments, such as in the vocabulary.
The philosophical work of Philon of Alexandria born 25 BC could also contribute to the mixing of philosophical and religious sources, from which Christianity emerged - but he made no mention of Jesus either.
Menahem, another Messiah, was also reported as suffering and resurrected before Jesus.

As explained in the Argument from locality:

«A religion which strongly reflects the beliefs of its time is more likely to be a product of its time than of revelation. If a given religion was purely the invention of human beings, we would expect that that religion would bear similarities to its culture of origin. On the other hand, a transcendent or all-knowing deity, or even one that was merely far wiser than human beings, would not be limited by what was known or believed at the time he dispensed a revelation, but could provide new information of which people were not previously aware and which did not correspond to any concepts in their experience. However, when we examine religions, we find that the former and not the latter situation invariably applies.

Christianity, again, is a perfect example of this. The theology of this religion blends apocalyptic fears, Jewish monotheistic ideals, Greek ethical philosophy, and the worship practices and beliefs of the mystery cults at precisely the time when those things were mixing at a cosmopolitan crossroads of the Roman Empire. Granted, God could decide to reveal his wisdom to humanity at a time and place when it would exactly resemble a syncretistic fusion of the prevailing theologies of the day. However, all else being equal, the principle of Occam's Razor should lead us to conclude that it is nothing more than that. Positing a deity is an extra assumption that is not necessary and gives no additional explanatory power to any attempt to explain the origins of the Christian religion.

Another way in which this aspect of the Argument from Locality applies is in regard to those religious tenets which state beliefs and approve practices that were widely agreed upon at the time, but that today are recognized to be false or morally wrong. One particularly glaring example is the way the Christian and Jewish scriptures both implicitly and explicitly approve of the practices of human slavery and the institutional inequality of women. Likewise, these writings show no special insight into the workings of the universe other than what was widely known to the people of their time, and make many mistakes common to those who lived in that era - for example, the belief that mental illness and physical disability were caused by demon possession. Again, under the Argument from Locality this is exactly what we should expect: these religions, being the product of those time periods, cannot be expected to show knowledge advanced beyond what the people of those periods possessed.
Believers may argue why God set up the world in just the one way we would expect it to be if he did not exist, but for a freethinker, the conclusion is obvious.»

In the second century, Celsus criticized Christians for being a lawless infamous movement, revolted against institutions, proud of their bad reputation (= the very definition of paranoia), that created their texts as absurd myths and modified them in response to criticisms.

We won't enter here in much historical details on the emergence of Christianity (moreover, this couldn't be so fair as the Church had the power to rewrite history), but just make a few remarks.

Christian apologists told stories of massive martyrdom, that were probably made up, to try to convince people of the truth of Christianity, because, well, it would be hard to imagine people dying for a lie. But as usual, the truth does not matter: what matters is to tell these stories and other stories because it helps people to believe, and as "Jesus is the truth", whatever helps to believe in Jesus can be hold as truth.

There was no point to persecute people for their faith, as Romans were quite tolerant (unlike Christians) but even if many Christians were killed, so what ? If Christianity was really a mental and social plague (as it has long been so, and is somehow still now) then it can be understandable and not so wrong to kill them. Churches did massively kill heretics and members of other creeds.

Even if being killed for one's faith was evidence of truth, then every other faith except the Christian one should be considered right for that reason. Still now we have a famous example of a very pious, calm and thoughtful man who dedicated his life and took the risk to die for following what he saw as God's will - and he was indeed finally martyred for his faith : Osama bin Laden. If the Christian apologetic argument (which has indeed been an important pillar of the world's christianization, even if now forgotten) that (martyrdom = theological infallibility) was true, then we should conclude that bin Laden was indeed theologically right. But if we admit that this is a wrong argument, then it appears that the historical success of Christianity was based on fallacy and no truth.

How Christianity and other spiritualities oppose reason

We said, the real question of how some doctrine relates to reason, is not about whether members believe that their position agrees with reason, or believe that they have arguments or evidence on their side (anyway, any belief has to somehow see itself as rational in order to resist) but about how rational their thought really is:

Spiritualities often claim to agree with science as they accept the discoveries of science ( that the Earth is round and orbits the Sun in one year, etc).
They may even argue for their agreement with science, by the presence of scientists among them.
But a good scientist in one field can eventually remain clueless in another field. So in particular someone can as well be a scientist in one field and believe nonsense in religious issues, for lack of the chance to get aware of the relevant information or arguments, and/or train one's use of reason to a sufficient extent.

Others just despise science and reason, identified with many evils in the world. Or when science contradicts their dogmas, they may dismiss it as not being science, or as an illegitimate attempt by scientists to apply the scientific method in areas where it should not apply; and will offer instead their own "science" and/or put forward "higher" ways to the truth (by seemingly logical spiritual teachings pseudo-arguing for the existence of such "higher ways"; or, in the case of Darwinism, their "creation science").

But both seemingly opposite attitudes have in common their deep opposition to science: in the way of thinking.

First, many spiritual people who claim to accept science in its own field, don't understand deeply enough what are the possible accomplishments of reason. In their view, reason looks like something "well-known" and "limited", with no more potential but with its complete set of possible outcomes that could be checked from their favorite ancient archives of preachers and apologists of the past, or any official source. This view may naively seem quite plausible, however it is radically refuted by history, which showed that the real dramatic breakthroughs have come from science very efficiently in a rather short period of time, long after millenia when billions of people wastefully dedicated their life to religions (as well Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism), that had dismissed that way as limited and claimed to be themselves the way infinitely beyond it (remember : insanity is to continuously repeat the same thing and expect it to bring a different result).
They seem to often miss the fact that reason is a lively and very demanding discipline, where few skilled people can still discover things that millions of "ordinary people" could miss. They think that either their own reason is more reliable (who wouldn't have this impression ?), or more in agreement with God, or that they have a better method than reason for seeking the truth.

Their thoughts and teachings, which seem logical to them (and thus undeniable), are in fact only pseudo-logical and completely flawed, and turn out to be worthless and misleading. It feels and tastes like logic but it turns out to have no logical value if analyzed in a more mature, rational, scientific way. It only seems logical in the eyes of the ignorant, unscientific people (people who did not have the chance to think scientifically with the proper arguments in the issue involved, even if they may be scientists in some subject).

And, just like every science is a very hard rational work, it may also also be a very hard rational work to explain what is fallacious in many spiritual teachings; and psychological obstacles are so strong. Every time an argument or evidence is raised to show the absurdity of a spiritual claim, spiritual people will have in mind other pseudo-arguments for dismissing it. They have in mind so many "arguments" for them while ignoring the extent of opposite arguments and refutations (it even often happens that spiritual people are basing every sentence they spell, on many hard, deeply wrong but strongly believed hidden assumptions, in such a way it is even hopeless to ever try pointing out what are these false hidden assumptions and how it can even be conceivable to disagree with them), so that opposite views seem absurd to them, they will dismiss rationalists as morons, and assume that science would be but a religion among others.
The problem is, for each pseudo-argument they would raise, or wrong hidden assumption they base their replies on, it would take a huge lot of work to explain their mistake, because... spiritual people have so big troubles to understand things properly, making it necessary to re-explain every basic deduction or consideration from the start (including much of the "primary school" evidences that rational peope see as obvious and common sense, that they wouldn't like to bother re-explaining). Usually, the discussion never goes nearly far and deep enough for leading to any worthy result. This why, usually, rational people have not the patience explaining things in the necessary extents, and do not waste more time in such a debate which they see as flawed, absurdly tedious, unfair and hopeless; especially when facing people who are not interested to understand whatever explanation that is adressed to them; who won't have the patience to carefully read an understand it all, because they also have faith that "arguments don't matter" (as if there could be anything else than arguments to discuss and seek the truth), and that their divine mission is not to understand another viewpoint but to pray and obey God in order to convert as many people as they can.

Somehow, it is right for rational people to refuse playing in this mess that many "spiritual people" call a "try of dialogue" but is not really worth of being called so: these tries of debates, in the way these "spiritual people" want to lead them, are in fact no truly meaningful debates but only playfields where these "spiritual people" spend a happy time scorning and turning to ridicule any decent truth, any sane reason; praising others as having a "good heart" only if they naively hear and trust their favorite doctrine and finally convert, but will accuse them of being heard-hearted and close-minded otherwise - but will usually not admit any symmetry of roles here, and will instead mock, condemn as an act of intolerance or an horrible sin against God, any attempt by people of other viewpoints to try explaining themselves and criticize one's preaches - even sometimes condemning as a worse sin the fact of having solid evidence for disagreeing (being ready to justify one's view), rather than just admitting one's own view to be futile arbitrary choice.
Meanwhile, Christians view themselves as the champions of humility... because their definition of humility consists in trusting the Bible, no matter any contrary evidence (more precisely, their definition of humility consists in avoiding at all cost, the pride of considering themselves able to discover any truth which was not written there).
Such conditions of "debate" are quite despairing.

So they somehow rely on a sort of arguments, but only those that seem to agree with their views (no matter how fallacious they are, anyway they are good whenever they "give the right conclusion"), but will blindly dismiss any opposite argument which they assume to be fallacious just because it is "against God" (more precisely against what they assume to be the divine revelation), thus identified with human error, according to their definitions.

Examples of absurdities, fallacies and debate troubles with Christianity

Let us give some examples of usual Christian fallacies (among many; by the way, no fallacy at all should be tolerable from the part of an ideology that claims to represent the divine infallible truth above human mistakes):

The "No True Scotsman" fallacy

Let us recall this fallacy:
Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the "Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again." Hamish is shocked and declares that "No Scotsman would do such a thing." The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again and this time finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, "No true Scotsman would do such a thing."

This fallacy is used by Christians in different ways:
So, what is a true Christian, finally ? The truth is that, Christians themselves don't have any clue what may really be the difference between a true and a false Christian. Often, as an act of "humility" they would say "only God knows" who is so, while they would not take the risk to judge anybody in this way by themselves. Nevertheless they have a strong faith in the idea that this undefinable difference must be something essential, so that, in front of any circumstance that would not oblige them to politely abstain from such a judgement, this gives them an easy automatic method to blindly dismiss (explain away) without any further examination, so many observations that they otherwise could not account for.

"Did you receive Jesus in your heart ?"

This is the next fallacy used to justify the one above, asked by Christians in reply to former Christians trying to explain their testimony of discovery of the falsity of the Christian faith they previously had.
Indeed this tricky "question" has the dialectic power of killing the chance of meaningful dialogue, by making it unpractical for deconverts to express their viewpoint, forcing the discussion into a false dichotomy.
Indeed, the answer "yes" would by itself imply that Jesus exists and can be received in one's life, and thus that Christianity would be in fact true true; the answer "no" would produce the impression that the person is not sincere and/or not qualified to make an informed opinion on the subject.
Of course, this "proof by dichotomy" is fallacious, as it ignores a third option: that nobody ever received a real Jesus in their life because Jesus does not even exist. Of course, the trick that makes this third option apparently hard to put forward, is the existence of all these thousands of people witnessing to have Jesus in their life. So how to explain these testimonies if Jesus does not exist ?

This requires to consider all those "witnesses" of Jesus in their lives, as highly delusional. Such a position might seem awkward, bold and somehow quite insulting towards these testimonies, their sincerity and other "qualities".
However, if considered more closely, there is no oddness in this position at all.
First because the Christian doctrine is itself even more deeply and unfairly insulting towards even more people (all those of another opinion, sometimes including other branches of Christianity, by its way of considering them sinners, revolted against God and deserving eternal hell (okay, not all Christians think that way, I know... especially today's Catholics, away from the violent intolerance often practiced by their Catholic church before modern times).
Second, because of the overwhelming independent evidence of the highly delusional state of mind of most of these Jesus friends, either in their denial of the scientific evidence on the age of the Earth, or in many other aspects of how they think and argue.

There is another problem, from the ambiguity of the phrase "receive Jesus in your life": who is supposed to be the actor of this decision, and responsible for its accomplishment ? Is that the person, or is that Jesus ? This ambiguity is again a source of fallacy by unfalsifiability. In a way, any disbeliever can always trivially be judged guilty of not having received Jesus, merely based on the observation of this disbelief, no matter the experience. Either by saying that he was not serious trying enough (no matter how dramatically devout his tries were). Or, if he tried really much, by saying that this was a mistake because he relied on his own efforts towards God instead of letting him come. Anyway, there has never been and will never be any clear method to follow with the insurance that it will bring God in one's life (and it is quite easy for Christians to produce all the best excuses for this fact). But this contradicts the other claim, that Jesus generously opens the way to heaven to anybody under condition of faith (or whatever you call the condition), and that this condition (whatever it is) is itself open to be followed and satisfied by anybody without discrimination.

Thus, Christianity wastes large parts of the lives of many people who tried to "receive Jesus" but did not "succeed", were deprived of the promised fulfillment, and then are again hurt (feeling guilty) by the false but unanswerable accusations made by Christians. Thus the victim-blaming machiavellian process, which turn the state of victim of a terrible disappointment and waste of dedication produced by the lies of Christianity, into an a guilt.

But there are also former Christians who lived the full experience of "receiving Jesus in their life" before discovering that this was mere delusion. (This series of videos also addresses other points). Here are other interesting cases.

So, what is this "relationship with Jesus", finally ? It is nothing but the relationship with the belief that the "belief in Jesus" is synonymous with "relationship with Jesus", despite the lack of evidence to support this claim.
Well, eventually, together with the real or inflated presence of some other "signs" such as a more or less mystical "feeling of presence", the observation of some strange coincidences and narrow-minded "help from destiny", some healing...

The arguments by absurdity - how the mere fact of being wrong suffices to confirm to them that they are right

There is a sort of upside-down argument used by some Christians, that is, if a belief is absurd, then it must be true.
Namely, it is the claim that nobody can believe in Jesus by one's own force, unless God gave him the grace to (because the Bible says so !).
So: if you happen to start believing something just blindly and stupidly for no clear reason, then you can take this as a sign of divine infallibility. What is that ?
The logic goes as follows:
  1. I claim that 2+2=5, or that @#$%^&.
  2. There is no rational explanation to 1.
  3. What has no rational explanation is a miracle, a mystery of God beyond human intelligence.
  4. If anyone finds it foolish, well, this just confirms what God revealed to us in 1 Corinthians 1: this is the expectable impression towards divine wisdom.
  5. Thus 1. proves that the spirit of God revealed itself to me.
  6. Whoever disagrees, show that the spirit of God did not reveal itself to him as he revealed itself to me.
  7. He thus does not know God and is not qualified to judge the value of a divine revelation such as 1.
Another usual argument by absurdity ("I am wrong, therefore I am right") goes through the reference to the supreme value of humility: telling nonsense leads to be continuously humiliated by contrary evidence, and humiliation is a virtue, therefore telling nonsense is a sign of virtue and must be praised; while the rational person that cared to perfectly discern the truth and avoid making any mistake is displaying his ego and "want of being right", and thus is a horrible sinner.
Indeed, I have the experience that every time Christians tried to defend the plausibility and defensibility of their views, it turns out to prove the exact opposite of what they think it proves. Indeed, it is always so amazing: what the hell could succeed to delude them enough to make them mistake this devastatingly blind and stupid shit they are saying, for a defensible argument ? Or at least, say, for a respectable reply (as they so often refuse to enter arguments and debate, under the excuse that arguments and debates are irrelevant and cannot properly express and defend their view, as if their conviction was ever based on anything else than arguments) ?
In front of devastating blindness and stupidity, I am logically forced to react and notice how stupid this is. But my reaction usually reinforces their conviction and their refusal to take me seriously. They mistake my reaction as an impulsive one (one based on feeling and emotions, disregarding that they themselves call for a faith based on feelings and emotion), ignoring that it is in fact based on years of experience and very careful examination behind me, where I already had so many opportunities to reliably check the worthiness of what they are saying now.
And they say : please come back to the discussion when you have calmed down. But the truth is that I am basically and naturally an extremeley calm, careful and shy person; Christians have already so deeply abused my natural willingness to trust, my shyness and my patience by teaching me their nonsense which I devotedly listened to and tried to believe and to follow for so many years, much more than they can imagine. But too much nonsense is too much nonsense, and I am not responsible for the devastating blindness and stupidity of the replies they are making. If they want me to "calm down" and stop these reactions of noticing how devastatingly blind and indefensible their position is, it's up to them to stop getting on my nerves by the pride of their foolishness, to come to reason: to stop defensing the indefensible, to stop fucking up all possible chances of mutual understanding by their unfair psychological pressure, their unanswerable fallacies, their way of spoiling the debate by stupid replies (like it takes half a second for a baby to splash and make something dirty requiring hours of work to clean it up), their many unfalsifiability tricks and their insulting judgements towards the idiot sinner that has nothing to do with me but that their God revealed to them I was. Otherwise they are expecting me to pretend something (the respectability of their position) which I clearly know to be false, which is not something I can humanly do.

Does this confirm 1 Corinthians 1, that divine wisdom seems foolish to human reason ? Well, the truth is that, while Christians do admit from experience the fact that their position often seems foolish to non-believers, they have no clue themselves why it is so, as they perceive their own position as quite reasonable, and, I would even say, very dull, very boring, very standard, and very normal, so that they cannot see what makes others disagree with them and perceive the Christian doctrine as so foolish (they assume it should be some sort of foolishness or aggressivity or human error, but they have no clue of the effective explanation). Only some (informed or clever or with some sorts of common sense...) non-Christians, are aware of a number of aspects of what is wrong with Christianity, and how foolish it is. Thus, it is the non-Christian understanding, that is more revealing, goes beyond the Christian one, and encompasses more extraordinary things.

The "God is sovereign" and "infinitely above human thoughts" argument

It is the argument that says: it does not matter how odd the religious teachings may turn to seem, either in themselves or as compared to experience, anyway God knows why things are so, he cares for everything and we have no authority to contradict him, so we must trust the teaching anyway.
It does not matter how much the experience contradicts the Christian claim that God and the Biblical doctrine are holy and do anything for perfection. It suffices to say that complains its falsity is using his own human thinking abilities and expected God to do one's human will and obey one's thoughts, while
God's wisdom and purposes are infinitely above all this.
The point is that, Christians have no clue, first of how serious, wise and justified were the disappointed expectations of non-Christians and former Christians: anyway it suffices to put forward the claim that the really wise, divine standards on the ultimate purposes, criteria of observations and expectations from God, are infinitely harder than whatever was done. But, in fact, while they put an infinite burden on the standard of wisdom (infinitely above whatever was tried whatever it may have been) of what they require their contradictors to have for daring to criticize the Bible or what God did for them, they allow for themselves very low standards of wisdom when it comes to see God's goodness and praise Him for something.
In fact, as explained above (in the section "More evidence against theism") ALL the millions of motives for praising God perpetually put forward by Christian, as evidences of His intervention and His infinite goodness and wisdom above human thought, have always been extremely selfish, short-sighted, narrow-minded, contradictory, sometimes pointless (such as winning a sport competition), often just sectarian (the success to convert many people to "save their souls"), and even sometimes completely irresponsible (such as putting more people on Earth to worsen the devastating overpopulation) - and the world is still going wrong in many ways despite these numerous interventions (done for purposes far better than our own, probably), as if there could be no way for an infinitely wise God above human thoughts, to do the good more efficiently - while science could.

The faith syllogism

We can describe faith by the following syllogism:

Whatever God says is true
God says X
Therefore X is true

Now consider another syllogism:

Any application of a syllogism is a rational act
Faith is the application of a syllogism
Therefore faith is a rational act

Interestingly, Christians are usually fond of applying the former syllogism, but not the latter. Why ? Maybe because faith would be an irrational syllogism ?
Indeed, there seems to be a consensus among both believers and non-believers, that faith is not a rational act. There must be some reason why. If it is not fully rational to accept the conclusion "X is true" of this syllogism, it should be because at least one of both premises is not sure. But which one ?
For disbelievers, the situation is clear: usually, they reject the conclusion by disagreeing with the premise "God says X". For example, Christians disagree with a claim in the Koran by considering it to not be God's word; and atheists and most other non-Christians disbelieve the Bible by considering it to be of fallible human origin, not from God.

However, Christians have another viewpoint on faith and doubt. For them, disbelief is evil because it is an act of distrust against God; and each of the internal struggles they may face, is focused on the heroism of trusting God against all evidence. But in order for the trust to someone to be at stakes when dealing with some question, it must be a priori well-established that this person is indeed the author of the considered claim. All the stakes of the exercise of faith, in Christian's eyes, is about trusting God. They can't figure out any other possible way of disagreeing with the Bible, than by calling God a liar, which seems not morally defensible.
But in this way, they just have the wrong analysis of the opposite view. Indeed, disbelievers don't distrust God at all, they just consider the Bible to not be God's word - and there should be nothing wrong in doing so, in lack of any evidence why the Bible should be considered as God's word. This way, disbelief in any sacred book, is never any real distrust against God.

Otherwise, anyone can write any book and claim this is God's word, and anyone who disagrees should be condemned as an ennemy of God, no matter the evidence, because God's view is above all human view so that no human can be qualified to argue against God's view.

This is a particular instance of a more general type of fallacy that consists in drawing the attention on the wrong parts of a reasoning: when a conclusion depends on several premises and deductions, there may be several ways in which it might be wrong, depending on which premise or deduction is at fault. A misleading feeling of reliability can be produced by focusing on some parts of the reasoning, giving the impression that these parts are right and the conclusion must thus be accepted, while in fact the biggest errors are in other overlooked parts of the reasoning, so that the conclusion is false while the points of focus would be in themselves acceptable.

Moreover (as I once read in some web site I forgot), we might even argue against the reliability of the premise "whatever God says is true". Indeed, if God's ways are not our ways, who are we, mere humans, to require God to only say the truth ? If God would consider it right to lie to us, after all, He is sovereign and more qualified than us to judge if it's right to do so. Our request that He should only tell us the truth, is a mere human desire, no more justified than so many other human requests that were as or more justified, but for which, whenever they don't happened to be satisfied, are automatically accused by the Christian propaganda to have been mere "impure human wishes" and God's ways are above our ways and cannot be questioned based on human wishes (no matter the absence of any clue how the dissatisfaction of the request might be of any good).

Moreover, ifever some Christian would like to come and pretend that "of course" saying the truth is a moral necessity and that a benevolent and competent God must necessarily always tell us the truth, I'd like to ask: are you serious ? Maybe you are, but I'd be quite interested to see some more serious care for the truth in this world...

Indeed, while the care for the truth officially seems agreed on in words by a large majority, the unofficial reality practiced by the same majority is often quite different. Look here and then come back and try to pretend again that "of course" you consider it an absolute moral duty to regularly say the truth (with no more that obvious and dramatic cases of exceptions). Okay, maybe you will. But then you'll have a lot of work ahead until you convince the rest of Christians about it.
about 40% of American adults tell public opinion pollsters that they attend religious services weekly. However, when nose counters actually try to verify this number, they find that about half of Americans lie about church attendance. Only about 20% actually go. Canadian statistics are similar: about 20% say they go; 10% do go.
17% of American adults say that they tithe -- i.e. they give 10 to 13% of their income to their church. Only 3% actually do.

Problem: if it is right for God to tell us the dirty truth of all the bad things He thinks of us (that we are horrible sinners deserving hell..) even unsupported by any evidence that we would be as bad as that, why is it always considered so wrong from our part to tell the dirty truth about many evils that can be found in the ways of this "God" so described, when this can be supported by overwhelming evidence ?

Not to mention the underlying anthropocentric hubris in the expectation that the divine truth would be expressible in human language, and easily enough understandable and acceptable by large numbers.

All this, of course, under the assumption that there would exist a decently wise God able to send us a message, which we refuted earlier.

The incompleteness theorem

Another way how Christians and other spiritual people can be experts at deceiving themselves, is by putting forward this "argument" from modern science: Gödel's incompleteness theorem, which would be telling that "reason has limits" (I once read this, though the expression must have been slightly different as I can't find the page back this way).

As this "argument" is claimed and believed by many people, I'll give here a detailed reply (based on my familiarity with the foundations of maths), completing what I already explained about this in Part II (section "Examples of false reasonings").

In the eyes of many, a claim such as "The incompleteness theorem says that reason has limits" may sound like a reasonable claim and a well-established fact. However, it is definitely not so in the eyes of anyone really familiar with the foundations of mathematics.
First, because the phrase "reason has limits" does not have any a priori well-defined meaning. Second, because whatever interpretation of this phrase is NOT what the incompleteness theorem says.
All it says, is that in any fixed formal system for mathematics, there is a claim that says "this claim is unprovable" (in the same system), and this claim is finally proven equivalent to "this formal system is consistent" (has no contradiction), making its consistence equivalent to the unprovability of this consistence inside the same theory. So, working inside some system somehow assumes that it is consistent (otherwise we would be doing nonsense) but this assumption cannot be included as an explicit "known" claim inside the system; if we do, we are switching to another system. But indeed this switch to the next system is what is naturally operated by reason during this study of the incompleteness theorem itself.
Thus, the "formally undecidable" claim that the incompleteness theorem considered, is being decided by reason (provided that we stay among formal systems which are rationally justifiable as a correct representation of some mathematical world with the true set of natural numbers). Thus the example provided, is indeed an example undecided by the formal system but it is not an example of what reason could not decide.

Admittedly, this systematic existence of examples of truths not formally provable, does strongly suggest that there should also exist other examples of mathematical claims that reason cannot decide by any means (though Gödel himself thought otherwise). But these are not the same examples, so that any claim that "the incompleteness theorem says" some truths are not accessible by reason, is technically false.

Moreover, the existence of mathematical claims that reason cannot decide, does not mean that "reason has limits" in the sense that religious nuts usually make use of this phrase. This way they mean that reason leads nowhere and we should stop using it and instead follow irrational ways to decide the truth on issues where we did not even try to use reason yet.
Such an all too common anti-rationalist position is definitely not supported, either by the incompleteness theorem, nor by the admission of the existence of rationally undecidable mathematical claims.

Instead, the situation in mathematics is that an infinite (but a priori unknown) list of rationally decidable claims, coexists with the infinite list of other claims (rationally undecidable). The undecidable claims do not prevent us from resolving more and more decidable ones as we keep working. Thus, in fact and as the experience of scientific discoveries has proven in many ways, reason can proceed its search for truth and keep greatly succeeding at it further and further without limits, as well in mathematics as in other fields.
Finally, this "argument" against reason, has nothing to really do with mathematics, but is a mere excuse fully produced by the ignorance or stupidity of "spiritual people" to falsely "justify" their ignorance and stupidity, their decision to proudly ignore and despise the knowledge of more intelligent people that may have already provided closed evidence against their articles of faith.
While, what is the incompleteness theorem, in fact ? It is a very fascinating work of though, that can be very interesting for people to exerciser their thinking abilities, make wonderful discoveries with it and play with paradoxes. What do religious people usually make of it ? They keep ignoring it, interpret it as something very dull and normal, an apology of mental laziness, an excuse to stop exercising one's thought. The exact opposite of what it really is.

Now, is there a more correct way to use the incompleteness theorem in the religious debate ?
Yes, there is.
A reformulation of the theorem is : "If a formal system claims to be itself consistent, then it is inconsistent".

But we do face a formal system that claims to be itself consistent. Even if it may not be explicit in the Biblical axioms, we can find many Christians who, merely based on them, come to have a strong faith they forcefully put forward, that from their biblical viewpoint, it is absolutely sure that the Biblical doctrine is compatible with reason, with no contradiction, and that nobody can ever refute it.

So, the incompleteness theorem says, since the biblical doctrine leads to the claim that it is itself consistent, this leads to the consequence that it is inconsistent.
Okay, while less incorrect than the previous case, this new use of the incompleteness is still not really correct, because... the Biblical doctrine is not exactly a formal system with which the proof of the incompleteness can proceed.
However, we are not far from it, as (experience showed me that) this doctrine is much more formal (more automated and less imaginative) than the proper use of reason anyway (despite its claim to the contrary).

Moving targets

(I forgot the reference of an argument in some web site, that Christianity behaves as a moving target when in front of scientists, apologists define their religion by rational arguments for the existence of some pointless abstract God as first cause in order to avoid criticism; then in their community they define it by much louder claims).

Someone commented about Islam - but the situation with Christianity is usually the same:
"The Muslim experts are very good in debating by giving us the moving targets to hit and hence confusing the debaters. By not sticking to the point and by constantly shifting the poles and the surface beneath the challenger’s feet and on top of that adding the covertly or overtly aggressive behaviors, they do not reason with the challenger but leaves him confused, dumb folded and repelled. It is a psychological theory of covert aggressive behavior – the behavior demonstrated by the non-reasoning and fixed thinking minds"

There is no consistency in the Christian viewpoint. While claiming to be the fixed and absolute truth, the effective contents of this truth is continuously redefined (while staying blind to the fact that it is redefined) so as to adapt to the piece of evidence and the debater in front of them.

In front of the ones (during sermons and when preaching to naive people), religious people are absolutists: they claim they have the absolute unshakable truth that nobody can refute.
But as soon a someone dares to come with a serious, strong opposite conviction and evidence against their views, they suddenly become absolute relativists, crying for tolerance towards the diversity of personal views and feelings, blindly but strongly denying any possible ability for any human (except themselves) to have any reliable evidence about any religious issue whatsoever.
Regularly I received requests of debates from Christians who, at the beginning of the discussion, claimed to have the indefectible light of God with them infinitely above my views, and the absolutely strongest evidence against my views; and at the end of the discussion, picture themselves as the kings of humility, with the moral superiority of admitting their lack of any clue of what might be the right replies to my arguments (where their conception of the "right reply" has somehow finally more to do with how powerfully it can delude me into being personally impressed or touched by God's grace, than with whether it would have anything to do with the truth); instead, they put forward their unshakable faith in the existence of better Christian apologists, either with a deeper guidance from God's spirit in managing conversations and making favorable impressions, or stronger rational abilities, that should be able to refute whatever arguments I might have - or just that I must not being serious by not having read those apologetic books, no matter whether the reference is specified or not. But this is usual. It is the unquestionable dogma of religious people that they have the exclusivity of access to the Absolute Truth, and that the rest of the world outside their own faith, is ultimately the world of absolute relativism made up of vain arbitrary opinions with no legitimate right to claim to discover any reliable truth whenever it contradicts dogmas. Eventually relying on the postmodernist gross misinterpretation of Popper's scientificity criterion as if it was saying that there is no reliable truth in science (while on the contrary it explains why and how science is the one way to trustworthy, reliable truths : that it is because science methodically adapts its claims to reality rather that holds them against it).

As someone else experienced:
"I get angry when believers say at the beginning of an argument that their belief is based on reason and evidence, and at the end of the argument say things like, "It just seems that way to me," or, "I feel it in my heart"... as if that were a clincher. I mean, couldn't they have said that at the beginning of the argument, and not wasted my fucking time? My time is valuable and increasingly limited, and I have better things to do with it than debating with people who pretend to care about evidence and reason but ultimately don't."

Another example is the usual way in which Christians pretend to have evidences of the historical reality of Jesus, put that claim in the titles of books and articles, but when we read the contents we see that they have no evidence whatsoever, but they are merely reviewing their favorite historical details, those which are pleasant for them because they do not show any obvious contradiction (in their eyes) between Jesus'life and historical data. But in fact this does not prove anything, and ignores contrary evidence that can be obtained by other considerations. Anyway there is no surprise of some appearance of consistency with history at first sight, because of course, the Gospels were precisely designed for this.

Other aspects of continuous redefinitions of Christianity's absolute truths : regular announcements of the end of the world; witch hunting, crusades and censorship finally no more part of Christianity; promises of God's blessings continuously turned into preaches of acceptance of the burden we are in as "God is testing our faith"; the division of Christianity into countless variations each claiming to be the one true version and dismissing any evidence against Christianity as reaching the wrong target (without any serious consideration of how different it is); we previously mentioned about geocentrism and creationism.

Despite refutations on these points as well as so many absurd claims on individual cases (that heretics or deconverts rejected God or are possessed by daemons and should be burnt...), Christians keep holding the Bible and their Bible-based faith as the only possible source of truth on other issues.

Distorting and playing with facts

Some Christians today would dismiss the above idea that the Jesus story with all its miracles could be mere invention (no matter that it is just a little extrapolation from a view of a very knowledgeable Christian, mentioned above), as crazy and insulting towards the honesty of the first Christians. However, what's the problem to suspect the first Christians of having done this way essentially the same thing that some of today's Christians are very proud of doing in the name of the spiritual highs of symbolism ?
Indeed, in a forum discussion (in French) about my remarks on the physical plausibility of some given stories of miracles, I observed Christians and other very spiritual people dismiss this question as unspiritual, insisting that God can't be found by this sort of physical analysis, and that to find meaning in life we should rather take great care to feed our relationship with for God by focusing on the highly symbolic value of stories and what Jesus meant beyond these miracles.
Then I replied the following:
The object of my analysis was not to discuss whether the tales of (some famous tale writer) may have some moral or educative value, and even less whether today's scientific knowledge can add or subtract anything to this value
The questions was to seek hints about a question, not about feelings on the sense of life, poetry and morality, but on a matter of lowly factual, material truth: is the story of Jesus anything more than a nice fairy tale to make us dream, we simple humans, but something really of the kind that it claims to be: the witness of a real fact, both historical and theological, a real incarnation on Earth of a divine entity that came to fulfill a unique, crucial and solemn mission in the universe, including: exclusive teachings revealed by the true God, the Creator of the Universe (just that!!! the whole Universe with its billions light years wide, its billions years old and who knows how long a future), and a redeemer sacrifice that would change forever the eternal fate of billions of souls !!!
What are we trying to discuss, then ? Dreams or reality ??
When reading some, it looks like they explicitly put the values of dream above all care for reality. That they call us to seek God in dreams, considering He can be found there and only there. They seem to consider that in a story of an incarnated God, it no more matters whether this incarnation is factual or invented, as it would seem, according to them, that we can as well (and even better) "meet God" by telling ourselves a nice tale that tells about a completely imaginary incarnated God, rather than to seek whether such an adventure could really, factually happen. In such conditions, the move of believing in the reality of such a story by caring to forget the possibly totally virtual character of its origins, is perceived as a spiritually positive value that helps people to meet God. By the force of caring for spiritual and symbolic values as much more essential than lowly factual concerns, claims on the latter end up to be completely blurred and shifting, until finally no more reliable trace remains of any possible initial facts.
The aim of my study is not to seek for which can be the most melodious poem in my ears with a better power to "bring me closer to God". My goal is to seek the truth, and even if somehow ideally we might expect that "God is truth" (ifever He could be reached somehow), I consider that practices of factual distortions, even arguably useful as a help to "meet God", cannot be a sane basis for discerning any divine truth.
All this, because life is not a dream but a reality, and, with the misfortune of being more serious, rigorous and deeply seeking than the average people in my quest for God and truth, I dare to have the horribly elitist will to care whether the information that comes to me (and to other serious people like me) about a claimed cosmic and solemn event where the Creator of the Universe would have come, acted and given us some revelations, information that claims to tell about a divine, absolute, revealed truth infinitely above human thoughts and errors... really is more reliable than the mere fruit of a collective fancy of a stupid humanity, that can only be moved by overly childish, naive and inconsistent fancies that would fit them and have the best power to delude them into the feeling of being "with God".
But, ifever the gospel writers had just invented a story of Jesus with all its miracles to better share what they saw as the most highly spiritual message, considering how in the past, the idea of a factual reality of this story has heavily served the geopolitical victory of Christianism that smashed on its way any other religion or culture by force of massacres of heretics, this is a serious phenomenon that it would be irresponsible to take lightly: a phenomenon that powerfully managed to mislead us about what is the absolute Truth of God and His wisdom infinitely above our human thoughts.
So, I don't care how spiritual is my study. My goal was to come back to the facts and which hypothesis can have been closest to the lowly factual reality. Could the Jesus miracles be real.

"I don't force you to believe"

Whenever they are facing strong contradiction, Christian preachers put forward the claim that they are anyway not intending to "force" anyone to believe, as if such an attitude gave them some moral superiority over anybody else.
Their view in this point can be described by the equations:

Rational evidence = force = brutality = sin

No evidence = no force = kindness (respect of freedom) = moral superiority (humility)

A similar fallacy (or another aspect of the same one), is the claim that "Everyone is free to join my religion" because "God loves all people, without exclusion". No force inwards, no force outwards. This pictures any movement of conversion or deconversion as a matter of choice, of taste. But if all opinions are a matter of choice and taste, then there is no such a thing as a reliable truth or evidence, or is there ?

At first sight, the above identifications might seem to go through. However, if we consider things more closely, it turns out that things are rather the other way round.
Indeed, who on Earth really desires (needs) to be mistaken ? Seriously, if you go and make a poll on the question: "On essential issues such as what is there after death, is there a true religion and which one, and what actions are right or wrong, would you prefer to know the truth or to be mistaken ?", people would answer that they prefer to know the truth, wouldn't they ? Isn't it normal to complete the concept of freedom into a concept of "genuine freedom" defined as "informed freedom" ? If the freedom of choosing what to buy, normally requires the correct information on what the merchandise is worth, how could a "freedom of belief" properly mean anything without the correct information on whether the belief is true or false ?
Thus, ifever there can be a reliable way to know the truth, which option is more respectful of people's freedom: to let them know about it, or to hide it from them ? Why do people usually assume that the respect of people's freedom and needs consists in letting whatever religious doctrine spread and recruit followers without contradiction ? Yeah, still an instance of the "Our Opinion on an Issue Is Based on How It's Worded" trouble mentioned above.

But, whenever a reliable evidence could be found of what is the truth on some issue, the most liberal attitude should be to publish this evidence so as to give people the opportunity to know the truth, and free them from the risk of being mistaken (ifever they are interested in evidences), shouldn't it ?

Well, such would be my opinion in theory. However, I must admit when I see some online debates, I feel sometimes amazed to see how some people behave all as if they did want to stay mistaken. It need not have anything to do with religion, for example in a discussion about modern physics, some made claims which they qualify as a very expression of a "critical mind" and high "epistemology", but that are a mere position of misunderstanding. But they would keep to their foolish position, no matter the ridicule and refutations they are facing, which they will reject as some sort of "dogmatism" (having no problem to call "dogmatic" or mock in other ways, the statement of some consensual meaning or character of the theories of modern physics, even outside the measurement problem in quantum physics, just because it does not fit their current understanding)...

Now, there is a misunderstanding about the use of the scarecrow word "force". If there is a reliable evidence for something, we might say people are forced to agree. However, is that really "force" ? No, that's logic.
However, there is a subtle difference that needs to be made between genuine and flawed arguments, between logic and mental manipulation.
Sometimes, it may happen that an argument seems reliable while its conclusion is false, and it can be very hard to guess where the error might be. Indeed it's a problem. But then it should be possible for some more clever person, or who has another experience, to point out where the error is. The explanation may take work to explain and understand, but ultimately, if only enough work and intelligence is dedicated, it should be possible to find out who is right, or maybe that there is no decisive evidence yet.

So this can be a difficult problem, however it would hardly make any sense to just reduce the opposition as an opposition between "force" and "openness". It is much more subtle than this. Ultimately, the consequences are that the truth probably freeds people while error probably harms them, but you can't properly discern the right way that leads to the right destination, by a caricatural description of how "forceful" or "open" each side of a debate may feel.

Indeed, the problem of the distinction between proper logic and flawed arguments, has its own laws that hardly have anything to do with how "forceful" or "open" a position may feel, especially in the eyes of those who don't yet have a lot of knowledge and experience of how proper logic works, what the risks of mistakes can look like and how they can be avoided.

Indeed, whenever someone discovered some very clear and reliable evidences for something, then he reaches certainty on the issue, so that his behavior may be seen as "forceful" and "dogmatic" by other people who have no clue yet about these evidences. Is "2+2=4" a dogma ? In the eyes of those who cannot count, it may sound so.

Then, is the question of openness in debates. In order for an open meaningful debate to possibly happen, precise arguments must be provided by each side. Without any candidate of reliable evidence on either side, what the hell could the debate be about ? "I don't know anything but I want to talk about it and explain how good it is to think like me and why you need to do so"?
If no argument can be made clear and reliable, how the hell could any convergence happen on whether or not some pseudo-argument is valid ? Wouldn't each person's view remain a matter of taste on whether they like to see it so ? Wouldn't the debate be doomed to remain vain and sterile ? Why the f**k would any reasonable person waste one's time in such ways ?
Well, I understand that it on some issues, is not always possible to find absolute evidence (for example, for the consistency of ZF set theory there is "good philosophical evidence" that is not formal proof). However, it is a duty to try to develop the most reliable evidence we can, in order to make debates meaningful.

Finally, the true identifications are:
Rational evidence
= chance of meaningful debate, mutual understanding and reliable discovery of the truth
= intellectual honesty = source of freedom
No clear evidence = impossibilty of meaningful debate
= sticking conversation to waste of time and personal attacks (for lack of anything else to say)
= doom to stay in illusion and error

Then, apart from the fact that the slogan of "letting people free to believe what they like" is a stupid nonsense, what collateral damages can it produce ?
  1. It provides an arbitrary feeling of moral superiority over "others" behaviors, "those who would want to force their belief upon you", so that "hey listen to me I'm better than those who would behave that way", as if there ever existed anybody that tried to use "force" to try converting people
  2. In front of someone who claims to know contrary evidence, this slogan is used to kill the debate and prevent it from happening: if all belief is a matter of taste, personality and arbitrary choice, and is not the effect of any necessity of facts and reliable evidence, why should we waste any time arguing about evidence ? There is nothing to understand about why others think differently: it's just their arbitrary choice. In these conditions, there is no room for trying to really understand each other anymore (what could happen, what piece of evidence, could lead someone to deconvert or not convert). So, believers of false doctrines with flawed or absent arguments, can use this slogan to cowardly flee any debate with serious contradictors, but meanwhile they would keep looking for naive people that may listen to their doctrine for lack of any clue of what's wrong with it; they may claim then that this doctrine is God's ultimate and undeniable truth, no matter that there may be indeed people who did find reliable evidence that this doctrine is false. But, someone who keeps teaching something to whoever may listen while systematically keeping a blind eye on contrary evidence that others may have, is just a damn liar, or is he ?

Psychological pressure

Now, if the notion of "forcing people to believe" would hardly make any sense to be taken literally (because "force" and "belief" do not refer to the same type of reality, and work quite differently), let us explain how it may still somehow occur, how we might say that some people do have a behavior of "forcing" others to join their belief - even if they forcefully and sincerely reject this accusation of trying to force people to agree with them, as this is not their conscious will (but only, perhaps, some collateral damage produced by the holiness of their attitude where they are so highly into, far above human senses, that it becomes disconnected from the concrete reality of their behavior).

Some of these means may be called "psychological pressure"
Example: to persuade people that the Earth is flat, or at least demonize the claim that it is ball-like, you just need to consider that the claim of the ball-like shape of the Earth, is an act of hatred and persecution against the Flat Earth Society, its members, their freedom of consciousness, and also against God who had the goodness to come to Earth and die on the cross to reveal us His word which describes the Earth as flat.
Indeed, according to Wikipedia,
"After Rowbotham's death, Lady Elizabeth Blount created the Universal Zetetic Society in 1893 in England and created a journal called Earth not a Globe Review, which sold for twopence, as well as one called Earth which only lasted from 1901 to 1904. She held that the Bible was the unquestionable authority on the natural world and argued that one could not be a Christian and believe the Earth to be a globe."

About the burden of search: active atheists are usually more knowledgeable about religions, than religious people themselves. Either because this knowledge led them to deconversion after they were Christians, or because the arguments by believers that have excessive study requirements on the other part, led them to do this study, in order to provide replies.

As remarked there:
"I'm angry that I have to know more about their fucking religion than the believers do.
...when believers treat any criticism of their religion -- i.e., pointing out that their religion is a hypothesis about the world and a philosophy of it, and asking it to stand up on its own in the marketplace of ideas -- as insulting and intolerant.
...when Christians in the United States -- members of the single most powerful and influential religious group in the country, in the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world -- act like beleaguered victims, martyrs being thrown to the lions all over again, whenever anyone criticizes them or they don't get their way.

So, the problem that they don't understand, is, if they want their position to be respected, it's up to them to opt for a position that deserves respect; it's not the fault of others if they criticize and even condemn a position that is not defensible (because it is blind and disrespectful against more knowledgeable people). The problem is, the question of which position is defensible and deserves respect, can be very hard to discern: anyone having any position thinks that this position is true and thus deserves respect...

Let me mention an experience trying to with a Christian in a team trying to evangelize people in the streets (he was probably evangelical, but I had a similar experience with a Mormon).
He said something like: it is pointless to try arguing because the depth of the issue is not a matter of argument, but a matter of God's power coming to your life (and of course, as usual, stupidly repeating the old empty buzzword that "Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with God"). So, yes, this is power that he's talking about.

Now, is this power real, what does it make ?
In the experience of trying to talk with this guy, I must admit there really is some overwhelming power in his life, and a power that he is bringing to his conversation.
Here is how this overwhelming power feels:
In conversations, like a bulldozer, he smashes all possible chances of meaningful dialogue and mutual understanding, under the blinding radiations of his divine serenity. This powerfully makes things feel in some way, as if they were completely different from whatever they are in reality - not letting any sufficient room (time, attention) for the other one to explain himself.
This force of blindness and distortion of feelings, has the power to make conversations go completely crazy. This does not leave any decent chance to behave sanely, rationally and humanly when dialectically interacting with such a natural disaster.
Even though this person is totally sincere, this behavior acts as a provocation. This makes the other part go mad and angry at trying to deal with this natural disaster, and makes it feel as if it was their fault (bad character, "lack of spirituality"...), as if the true origin of the clash was not the provocation by this powerfully unshakable "divine serenity" that does not let any room for meaningful debates and human understanding.

If Christians wanted to behave decently as concerns the search for truth (I mean, to be really, methodologically decent, not just to fool themselves into feeling that they are behaving decently just because they have a feeling of honesty in their heart, as they usually do), they would no more go and bother people with their divine serenity and other such provocative personal pressures on people to convert. Instead, they would go and examine the deep logic and structure of the arguments (now rather by Internet, where there could be more decent room for such careful study and meaningful debates between opposite sides, if only it was better worked on...).

Debating problems and consequences

Apologetic treaties

Now, what about the cases of lengthy arguments and proofs they think they have, with their apologetic treaties ?

Indeed, many times I read here or there, claims by Christians that reason supports their position, and that all skeptical arguments have been flatly refuted.
The problem is, who is the judge ?
The fact is, what they claim to be arguments on their side and refutations of skeptical arguments, are only accepted by themselves as such. They only succeed to convince themselves that they have arguments, because they wanted to believe that they had arguments in the first place (and anyway they assumed whatever supports their side must be true because the truth is named Jesus), so that anything they might say or hear that pleases their faith and gives them an impression of being an argument, is automatically accepted as an evidence on their side.

So, to please their faith in the idea that they have arguments and that the rejection of Christianity is indefensible, they sometimes publish, buy and praise books that are supposed to be "addressed to skeptics" and to provide them the evidence for Christianity. Examples are "Mere Christianity" by Lewis, and "The Reason for God" by Keller.

In fact all their evidence may be completely flawed, ridiculous and refuted for whoever is aware of the real contents of the debate, they just won't or can't figure out. All they care is to comfort themselves in their faith and the vague impression that it is correct, and thus that anyone who keeps disagreeing must be ignorant, stupid or stubborn.

They are ignoring the real terms of the debate, as their arguments develop from a very naive viewpoint (something that is being "born again" ;-), discovering the universe disregarding the experience and arguments developed by skeptics.
Or sometimes they do, but happen to stick to wrong references. It is such a pity that some authors have been reputed as a reference of criticism of Christianity, while they focus on wrong arguments and only give a sketch of the right ones.
For example, Nietzsche has been taken as a reference among philosophers but most of his arguments are of poor value.
Some other mention some abstract and general arguments against the existence of God or of miracles, that are not clear either.

But in fact there are many more, and much more serious, arguments and testimonies against Christianity.
Before the Internet era, it may have been more understandable that Christians kept their faith because they did not have the chance to know about refutations, or because the attempts at criticism they saw were weak.
But now with Internet, lots of evidence against Christianity are widely available to all. It just require a little bit of care and intellectual honesty and sanity to go and read it and understand it. However unfortunately, many Christians won't do it, mainly because they are unaware that such refutations exist and deserve to be read. How would they guess so ? Why would they spend time reading positions that they believe to be wrong ? They would consider this care as ungodly and not good for their "spiritual growth with Christ".

Well of course, things are not perfect. Everyone contributes in a way or another, and it is difficult to gather everything in a big systematic way to put everything into order, insist on the strongest points and avoid the weak or debatable ones.
It is especially difficult to focus on the points that the reader needs to see first in order to discover a failure in his own system of fallacies that will be relatively easier for him to understand and admit without covering it by another fallacy.
Especially because this differs from a reader to another.

You can find on the web many arguments, evidence against Christianity, and criticisms of the apologetic books, as the world is very big and the deconverts are very many.
Some examples of criticism of "Mere Christianity" quickly coming by a little web search: Mere assertions - pages at - rationalresponders - Daylight Atheism - the world wide rant. However, a remark needs to be made : among many good arguments, some atheists try to argue for moral relativism. However it is very important to understand that there are positions of moral realism (saying that morality makes objective sense) outside Christianity (even among atheists), and there are even many arguments showing that Christian morality is no decent morality at all, thus defeating the relevance of any argument for moral absolutism as if it could bring any support to Christianity - see more comments on how Christianity is evil.
(for example, Greta Christina wrote " I get angry when they trot out the same old "Atheism is a nihilistic philosophy, with no joy or meaning to life and no basis for morality or ethics"... when if they spent ten minutes in the atheist blogosphere, they would discover countless atheists who experience great joy and meaning in their lives, and are intensely concerned about right and wrong.")
See also my own (non-christian) metaphysical and other notes for moral realism.

His famous trilemma, "Lord, Liar, or Lunatic", has also been debunked in many web sites - even Christian ones
Just like with the famous argument from martyrs where fallible Christians as those of the early Church, suddenly must be considered infallible as soon as it comes to the accidental event that they are facing death threat and keep their faith in front of it (while the way heretics did not suddenly convert in front of the mass massacres they were victims of by the Inquisition, should not be counted as evidence for the truth of heretical views).
Here Christians suddenly forget that things are not either black or white but good-willing humans can be fallible, whenever the assumed dilemma that things must be either black or white, is the convenient assumption to support Christianity (assuming that if there is anything good with Christianity then it must be all good and divine perfection). But the same Christians would dismiss the remarks that the early Church made so horrible massacres in God's name, by proudly putting forward the claim that it is normal and right for the early Church to have done the stupidest and most horrible things in God's name (even worse things than had ever been done before) and to have completely rebuilt the story of the life and messages of Jesus (when facing evidence of its inaccuracy, while in other circumstances they would deny any imperfection) and to have mistaken the legendary accounts of creation in Genesis and other old testament tales as factual truth) because they are mere fallible humans unable of divine perfection, and as such should not be expected and held responsible to do anything right. Similarly, absolute uncurable human fallibility is always put forward by Christians to blindly dismiss any skeptical position and claim of evidence against Christianity - even without examination of the clarity and reliablity of those evidences.

Criticisms of "the reason for God" can be easily found too, and show that this book is not what it claims to be: it does not contain serious argument, but assumes as much as it claims to show, and just has faith in its own arguments. It has not much clue about what is reason, what is an argument, how do skeptics think, why they don't buy Christianity, and what problems need to be addressed.
A funny positive review : "Keller serves up a compelling and reasonable apologetic for today’s postmodern doubters and skeptics". Well of course if Christians can't even make the difference between postmodernism and rationality, then this confirms they just have no clue on the nature of rationality, and leaves no wonder about their degree of illusion and the worthlessness of their review.

I also started reading and commenting on an apologetic book written by a high-level physicist.

Something symptomatic about the Christian belief that such books would be solid intelligent arguments addressed to skeptics and that should more or less convince them, is that they usually believe this without even having made a web search to check if skeptics ever already checked and debunked these books. This shows how this Christian pretense to care for reason and have arguments on their side, is but one more way for them to practice blind faith that does not stand any decent rationality standards.

What is ironical with their claim of having rational arguments, of saying that reason supports their doctrine, that reason and faith are compatible, and to try to convince skeptics, is that they are proving the exact contrary of what they think, by showing (to the knowledgeable reader) how flawed is their way of thinking. Their very way of showing how they support flawed arguments that they mistake for genuine arguments (by praising books of direly flawed arguments and raising them as best-sellers), just confirms the rational reader that faith is stupid and incompatible with reason. For example, the very title of the book "The Reason for God" is already illogical and corrupted with concerns to "please God" by faith, rather make logically meaningful claims as opposed to what the contrary view really is (as atheists have never had any personal opposition against a God who they think does not exist ! and even the existence of God does not imply the Christian doctrine, as other concepts of God may be considered, which this author ignores). Why bother reading the rest ?

For example, see: the asymmetry of conversion (the observation that conversions to Christianity are nearly always from naive people without prior knowledge of the skeptical arguments, while there are many more deconverts among people who made long biblical studies, including pastors and priests).

Deconversion from Christianity often happens as a sort of amazing discovery. Not a striking discovery, but the resulting effect of a large accumulation of clues which are little discoveries. These seem very new and totally unexpected, because until then, as Christians, these clues are totally ignored, as if they were never discovered. Not that they really were never discovered, but these discoveries were only made and could be told by people that, well, usually cannot be found in church anymore, and do even less has a say during sunday sermons there, so that, well, do such ungodly people exist at all ? As in Christian vocabulary, the word "testimony" means "testimony of faith in Christ or life with Christ", how can any other testimony be a worthy testimony at all ?

The result is that many of the Christians who turn out to deconvert, do it by rediscovering these evidences themselves, and have the impression that these are very new insights that were not heard of before. So they feel a duty to go and write down their discoveries in details, in hope to enlighten they former "brothers in Christ", expecting that they would be serious in checking and understanding this, because, well, for so many years together, it all looked like they were among the most serious and honest truth seekers of the world, surely interested with any genuine discovery.
Then, what a shock it is to discover that it is absolutely not the case. And that, instead of reacting seriously and honestly to consider the evidence, Christians just blindly accuse the deconverts of all the evil of the world.

Anyway, deconverts will then consider it their duty to write down the evidence they found, that is quite a lot... but often redundant with what other deconverts already wrote since long ago.
So, now on the web, evidence against Christianity accumulates, repeats itself... for not much anyway, because is just adds one more droplet in an ocean of redundant evidence, that other Christians won't bother reading anymore than they bothered reading previous works on the same subject.
To make things worse, Christians keep thinking that atheist arguments are weak, because of illusions such as the assumption that skeptical arguments are just those of Nietzsche, then a look at Nietzsche's arguments shows that they are quite weak, and so they think: if atheists have just that to say, their point is weak.
Indeed, in such a case it would be so.
The problem is that there is a sort of flawed reputation system in the world of academic philosophy, a domination of mediatic bubbles, where, once someone starts being referenced as a great philosopher, then everybody has to repeat this (like the Emperor's new clothes), every other philosopher also has to mention him, and this reputation just amplifies disregarding that basically, the core of that author's arguments was quite weak.

Random examples of sites of former Christians:

Endless Christian/atheist debates

In the way they are usually going, debates between atheists and religious people have no chance to be resolved, because each side really has a clue on the truth that the other does not, and must therefore keep its position for that reason.

Religious people have the clue that we are not just made of matter, that there is a spiritual realm beyond the material one, that this other realm is somehow "more essential" than the material universe directly under hand, especially because we, as conscious beings, deeply belong to this realm;
that the essence of feelings and thus of morality, belongs to consciousness and cannot be found in matter.
That, in principle, material processes alone cannot account for the possibility for conscious existence and morality to make sense.
That there is a life after death where we will come back to this realm, so that this dimension will finally be unfolded, and the sense of the life spent may appear more clearly. That in the spiritual realm there should be some higher minds, some higher level of knowledge, than the one we are familiar with, and that we cannot see in our human form.

Atheists (or at least a number of them) have important clues about how to think properly, what is an evidence and what is not, what is fallacious, how flawed are so many religious or spiritual teachings, both as for their worldview and their morality.

But, one of the misunderstandings of religious people towards atheists, is their assumption that atheism would be incompatible with morality. This assumption is refuted by statistics: in average, atheists are not less moral than others.

This misunderstanding has 2 causes.

The first is the confusion between a principle of existence and a practical knowledge of something (the error of essentialism).
Religious people have a clue why it is possible for morality to make sense. But they fail to notice that this does not help to know its contents. They assume that having this clue would also make them wise to discern which actions would be more moral than others. It does not.

The second is that religious people usually do have some explicit moral teaching to offer (or teaching about the sense of life); atheists usually don't.
But this difference mainly comes from the fact that religious people usually simplify and formalize morality (and the sense of life), and assume or expect its rules to be somehow revealed to us (either by sacred texts, gurus or personal inspiration through prayer); while atheists rather are aware of the complexity of the problem that cannot be reduced in such a way, of the flaws in the candidate rules, and of the absence of such a revelation. Especially, they often know that the right thing to do may depend on context because different contexts can make similar actions lead to different consequences; dependence on context which religious people may confuse with moral relativism.

To better see the flaw of the first argument, let us remember that we have other intuitions made possible by the (real rather than acknowledged) immateriality of the soul : the intuition of our own existence, the reality of our remembered past, and the falsity of solipsism.
Of course, while atheists cannot account for the source of these intuitions in principle (except the observation of their similarity with others), they won't deny their truth in practice.
With morality it's the same (except for some immoral people of course).

Last remarks:
- Mentioning God does not bring anything to the search of the contents of morality, as whatever higher view there can be, cannot contradict the careful calculations that can be independently made out of directly accessible observation (for an earthly outcome, since our fate after death would be God's responsibility, not ours) ; or at least we cannot do better than this anyway. A divine morality needs to fit with the observables, as long as it aims to be a genuine morality. Any other claim would be, by nature, arbitrary and escaping discussion, which is a dangerous way to approach morality; otherwise, a story of a God that wants cruel things, would make it a moral value to be cruel "just because this is what God wants", which is absurd.
- On the very ground where religions pretend to be superior: the "goodness in oneself". Somehow, atheist morality is more authentic than the religious one because it is practiced by its own sake for the welfare of others, rather than for a heavenly reward. This also makes it more authentic in practical terms, as it leaves this morality undistorted by any arbitrary doctrine about biased ways in which religions imagine that actions would be judged by God.

Here is a long list of debates between atheists and theists

Abbé Lemaître and the big bang

Some religious people try to argue for the compatibility between science and religion, by taking the example of the discovery of the big bang theory by the catholic priest Abbé Lemaître.
Indeed there is a similarity between the big bang and the religious idea of the creation of the universe, and there may be a metaphysical reason for it (a metaphysical intuition that the physical universe was born to existence someday).

And we can observe that other (non-christian) physicists of that time were initially reluctant to accept this idea but tried to stay among models of a universe that had always existed, so that the big bang theory was more easily put forward by a Christian.

Indeed, ontological materialism would have been more naturally compatible with the idea of a universe that had always existed, while dualism (the immateriality of the soul) is more naturally compatible with a universe that started.

However, another explanation to the initial reluctance of physicists to consider the big bang, was the very fact of its similarity with Christian theology. That's because this theology is so terribly flawed, that it makes any similar idea suspicious.

Discredit of ideas by pitiful defenders

This is a quite general terrible phenomenon: the difficulty to accept a truth because it is initially put forward by indefensible lobbies (packed with indefensible other ideas).
This phenomenon already contributes to making theist/atheist debates seemingly irreducible (everyone seeing an "essential" flaw in the other's view, is tempted to dismiss it altogether).

There are other examples of discredits to ideas by their being put forward by the wrong people or in the wrong way:
- Ideas of eugenics (application of Darwin theory to humans, care for a progressive selective pressure on the genetic heritage of the human species) were discredited by their misapplication by Nazis (by the way, the Nazi propaganda made use of the Christian doctrine too, so why make the former confusion and not the latter ?)
- Criticism of psychiatry is discredited by the involvement of the Church of Scientology
- The ideas of economic liberalism were discredited by the dire social inequalities and injustices that happened under it
- Any idea of trying to criticize the ongoing economico-political order and looking for an alternative, was later discredited by the failure of Marxism
- Environmentalism and the protection of economic/individual freedoms seem irreconcilable as the proponents of one category of values don't care enough about the other category.
- Many people dislike science, either because of the dull image that education makes of it, or because of the damage to Earth done by it (while it mainly goes through the ability of science to save lives and thus to overpopulate the Earth - should we let people die instead ?)

Why Christianity is evil

Christianity main page

----The next sections are not written yet (mainly headlines and keywords are)--------

The why and the how

Other religions


Criticisms of Buddhism - Buddhism not interested with scientific knowledge

(I forgot the reference of a report of similar troubles of understandings between scientists and Buddhists, that were left aside for proceeding to experiences of neurological observations on the meditation practices - which can be scientifically very interesting, but is not a real dialogue: it only forgets the misunderstanding and does not resolve it. Of course, scientists joining such meetings are more likely to have favorable a priori towards Buddhism, so they are no representative sample of scientific view, and the resulting impression of relative harmony in these meetings, is not the complete view of things).

Spiritual conceptions of knowledge

Religious Belief & Societal Health:
New Study Reveals that Religion Does Not Lead to a Healthier Society

Morality issues that (some) religions usually miss

Karma and fate

Why is the karma law irrelevant
Human dignity ? opposed attitude of science & spirituality wrt fate
Value of freedom and innovation, being part of the great adventure of scientific knowledge = sense of life
How poor is the religious view on the sense of life
How crappy are the holy books in comparison with other litterature or science
Is there a life before death
Is there a life after school
Tolerance: not being victim of other's errors or defects - some may need formal education, others not

Lack of value of miracles: exceptional = worthless for the general case

ancient concept of justice
artificial rain
Religion gives no sense to life because it calls for repetition.
The Christian worldview is that the sense of life consists in managing to believe that there can be no sense of life outside the Christian worldview.

What is chance (fate)
train too late for exam

Part V : Foreseeing and managing the future

Below are headlines of what I once thought of developing. Long later I happened to develop some of such points here :

On humanity's failures to steer itself properly

Work, nature & technology

The nature of work and goal of life is freedom, diversity and innovation

Feynman 1959 "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom"

Reprogramming the outside world
War of the Worlds: The Human Side of Moore's Law
(online education)

Freedom is more than an absence of coercion (truth is more than an absence of mistake)

The choice of letting things the same is arbitrary

Searching for global solutions to personal misfortunes

Global job market and its consequences

Market optimization, the invisible hand

Mais pourquoi faut-il toujours punir ceux qui se développent mieux dans un environnement libre, en leur infligeant cette bureaucratie au prétexte qu'elle serait bonne pour d'autres ?

Why catastrophies cannot help to find the way to the solution.

Autopsy of Marxism

The limits of science-fiction

IT solutions for a better world

Now if you want to know what rational solutions can be found to solve the world's problem, you can check those I developed here. For implementation, no institutional power or democratic mandate is needed, but only the work of a small team of web developers. Unfortunately, I could not even find that since years that I had this idea and I could convince many other rational people about it. And many people are not interested, either because they hate reason and intelligence and prefer to dedicate their life and efforts to their religious values, that is their cult of stupidity; or just because they prefer to obey the system to get a career.

Waligore connections
Implementing trust & fairness to optimize the economy
Putting religions in front of their contradictions
sharing transport & housing
Voting methods

Problms with open source community
(reverse capital risking)

The obsolescence of bureaucracy as opposed to reality, examples...

Carbon tax and other environmental issues

Lomborg = former skeptic

Tuvalu (islands in danger of disappearing)

"Morality" vs peace and environmental protection

Nature should be sacred

Ecology vs. Jesus coming back

Public debt problem

Education financing problem

Geopolitical issues

Bad reputation of the US
Violence of US soldiers
Kosovo, Georgia, Irak
NATO discredit
Injuries in Libya ;
"Six villagers in a field on the outskirts of Benghazi were shot and injured when a US helicopter landed to rescue a crew member from the crashed jet.
The local Libyans who were injured in the rescue mission are currently in hospital. They are the first confirmed casualities of allied operations, almost four days after operations began. (...)
Lindsey Hilsum has been in the hospital where some of the injured were taken. She has spoken to the father of a young boy who expects to have his leg amputated due to a bullet wound.
Gauging the reaction of locals in the area, she said: "the local Libyans do not seem resentful, they still want the coalition forces to keep operating. "(...)
The pilot was rescued by the US helicopter soon after crash landing and opposition rebels recovered the weapons officer, taking "took good care of him" before coalition forces picked him up some time later.

- US political prisoners:

Bradley Manning
Earth First
US=Democracy, so US citizen are responsible for the crimes of the US government

Chinese financial assets and weapons industry

The dating problem

The banana tree
"Ego" and fate
Solutions for dating :
Online dating
Group meetings
Keeping contact
Relational education

Further future


(growth speed is limited - time taken to adapt)

About space exploration (and pseudo-utopias)

Cosmic radiation endangers life in space

The dangers of miserabilism (Harvard justice lessons)
How can mankind keep evolving

Fate of the Earth
Accelerated expansion
Conclusion: the quest for truth is endless - 42

Part I: moral comparison of science and religion - Part II: Explaining reason and science - Part III - Part IV

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