Category Archives: Preaching, Witnessing and Arguing with Christians

Christian Billboards Atheists Should Make

Note 1: These are all actual quotes taken from the Bible word for word.

Note 2: These quotes would make good refrigerator magnets as well. 

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ." Ephesians 6:5 "Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished of the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property." "Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you like with them." Genesis 19:8 "Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church." 1 Corinthians 14:34-38 "Then I heard the Lord say to the other men, 'Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all - old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin your task right here at the Temple.' So they began by killing the old men in front of the temple." Ezekiel 9:5-7 "Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head." Leviticus 20:9 I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel - slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. The Lord has Spoken!" 1 Kings 14:10-11 "From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. 'Get our of here, baldy!' they said. 'Get out of here, baldy!' He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys." 2 Kings 2:23-24 "If two Israelite men get into a fight and the wife of one tries to rescue her husband by grabbing the testicles of the other man, you must cut off her hand. Show her no pity." Deuteronomy 25:11-12 "Suppose two people take a dispute to court, and the judges declare that one is right and the other is wrong. If the person in the wrong is sentenced to be flogged, the judge must command him to lie down and be eaten in his presence with the number of lashes appropriate to the crime. But never give more than forty lashes; more than forty lashes would publicly humiliate your neighbor." Deuteronomy 25:1-3 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; restraining her lis like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand." Proverbs 27:15-16 "If a priest's daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire." Leviticus 21:9 "You must not offer to the Lord an animal whose testicles are bruised, crushed, torn or cut." "If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death - the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man's wife." Deuteronomy 22:23-24

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15 Mind Control Techniques Both Churches And Cults Use

Too Long; Didn’t Read: Watch the video below or read this list about cults and then think about how much of what they said applies to normal church services and doctrine.

 

 

1. Mandatory, regular attendance

 

Picture of a church attendance/donation board commonly placed in the foyer of small American churches

 

Mind control techniques and hypnosis don’t last forever. Perpetual manipulation requires perpetual renewal. That’s why Coca~Cola won’t let you turn around without seeing a Coca~Cola billboard. Of course, no cult could send their followers to basic training every single week for a full re-indoctrination, but they don’t have to; all they need is one hour a week for refresher training.

 

2. Big, fancy, majestic buildings

 

Picture of the interior of an elaborate, expensive, mesmerizing church

 

A Catholic once told me that the reason Catholic churches are so majestic is it helped illiterate peasants understand the majesty of the Lord. Even if that were the intention (which I’m sure it wasn’t), the reality is that churches are artistic masterpieces meticulously designed to overwhelm the senses and make the viewer feel euphoric and humbled. Just standing in an empty cathedral can put you in a trance state.

If you’re surrounded by images of people who made bigger sacrifices than you to the in-group and were justly rewarded then you’ll feel pressure to conform with their ideology without anyone having to say a word to you. Also, your instinctively going to transfer your awe and respect for the building to the building’s owner or spokesperson.

 

3. Hierarchical leadership

 

Diagram of the Mormon church hierarchy pyramid from to to bottom: First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General officers, Quorum of The Seventy, Presiding Bishopric?

 

Every cult has a hierarchical leadership structure because the point of having a cult is to have followers who will revere the leaders and give them all their money. Cult leaders get people to follow them by claiming to be envoys of God. Every church does this.

Many churches won’t allow you to officially join until you undergo a ritual that symbolically changes you from a member of the lost, miserable outsiders into a saved, superior member of the in-crowd. But you’ll only be allowed to be a follower at the servile end of the pyramid-shaped authority structure. The only way to become a leader is to either start your own cult or work your way up the ranks. This stacks the ranks with true believers who will defend the leader and give his social authority legitimacy.

 

4. Charismatic leaders

 

 

The biggest red flag you might be involved with a cult is if the organization revolves around a professional charismatic leader. When you go to church you’ll sit down and listen to a charismatic marketer give a 45-minute infomercial. Even if everyone from the preacher to the congregation has the best intentions, the end result is the same. Poor people are swindled out of their money, and the charismatic leader gets to live like a demigod surrounded by obedient followers.

 

5. Trance stimulation

 

 

When you enter your ornate church on Sunday morning, one of the first things you’ll do is sing hymns with the congregation. The majestic music, combined with the majestic building and the thrill of performing an action in unison with other members of the in-crowd will work you into a trance state that will make you susceptible to hypnosis. If you’re singing about being willfully obedient then you’re just hypnotizing yourself, and you’re hypnotizing the people standing around you listening to you sing about the virtue of willful obedience, servitude, sacrifice, and faith. Even if that’s not the intent, that’s the outcome. Even if you don’t know it’s happening, it’s happening. Even if everyone was forewarned and knew it was happening it would still work on some of the participants.

 

6. Repetitive drills and consequences for nonconformity

 

 

In addition to singing, a good cult would require its victims to perform rote physical drills like marching, dancing, kneeling or clapping. The moment you participate in a drill you’re being obedient. You didn’t just kneel or march or clap. You followed an order without thinking about it, and the more you do that the more likely you are to do it again. Eventually, the charismatic leader won’t be asking you to do calisthenics. He’ll be asking for money or a favor. What’s more interesting than that though. If you can get a group of people used to following your orders and acting in unison you can eventually give the whole group an order, and they’ll act in unison. That would give you the power to tell a group of people to go build a house or go burn a house down.

 

7. Separating the in-crowd from the non-believers

 

Photo of a real sign in front of a church that says, "All non-believers go to Hell including Gandhi, the Dali Lama, and especially Tom Cruise."

 

It’s common practice for cults to tell their recruits that the world can be divided into two kinds of people: those who are inside the group and those who are outside the group. The people inside the group are always saved and admirable. The people outside the group are always lost, unworthy and detestable.

If you believe this, then you’ll base your identity on your affiliation with the group, and you won’t want to spend time with people whose clearer perception of reality could endanger your faith in the group.

 

8. The call to action is to entrench yourself in the group and base your life on its doctrine.

 

 

Church can be a lot of fun, and you can experience a lot of genuine moments of happiness with the people you love, but the Sunday morning agenda always centers around the sermon. The point of the sermon is to deliver a message, and the message is that you need to base your self-worth on your membership in the group and demonstrate obedience to the group’s ideology. You’re told this will bring you closer to God. Mostly it brings you closer to the group and the offering plate.

 

9. The charismatic leader manipulates your emotions

 

 

Charismatic leaders will try to mesmerize you with the way they dress and talk. They guilt trip you. They make impossible promises and horrific threats. They get the crowd worked up into a vulnerable, irrational frenzy right before they deliver an ultimatum.

 

10. You’re pressured to take your commitment to the next level

 

 

The point of every cult service is to build up to the moment where the charismatic leader makes a call to action. The call for action is to either give money, take your commitment to the cult to the next level, humiliate yourself or at least honor those who do. This is brazen manipulation, and it works. Creepy cults leaders know that, and quaint suburban pastors know that.

 

11. You’re encouraged to confess, humiliate yourself and mimic others

 

 

If a cult leader can convince his flock that he has more spiritual authority than them and they are unworthy in the eyes of God, then his control over them is almost guaranteed, Then the followers will have total trust in their leader when he tells them that the only path to salvation is to do whatever the cult asks of them.

The more guilty a cult leader can make their followers feel, the more righteous it will make them look. When followers confess and fall to their knees in front of others, it makes the experience more real for the confessor and the audience.

 

12. You’re asked for money, and your worth is tied to the amount of money you give

 

 

Most church leaders don’t expect every member of the congregation to devote their lives to the church like a hardcore cult. Many preachers are happy if they can just get everyone to put money in the collection plate every week. That’s as unethical as selling people fake lottery tickets.

If anyone asks you for money…they probably just want your money. If they demand money from you and threaten you and your family for not paying up, then you’re can be even more sure they just want your money. If the person asking you for money is wearing a suit that cost more money than what you’re wearing…then don’t give that person any more money.

 

13. You’re encouraged to socialize with the in-crowd

 

 

The most effective way to control the minds of a group of followers would be to lock them in an isolated compound together where the charismatic leader could control every aspect of their lives like the military does to its members. In suburbia that’s just not possible. So the trick is to keep your in-group together as much as possible and get them to willfully ostracize themselves from the rest of society as much as possible.

I’m not saying that if you hang out with your bowling buddies when you’re not bowling then that means you’re forming a cult. But when a charismatic leader organizes constant events that keep his donors together… you can predict the outcome.

 

14. Using self-study, indoctrination techniques and policing your peers in your own time

 

The amount of Coca~Cola advertisements you’ve seen in your life attests to how quickly the effects of manipulation can fade and thus how important it is to constantly top-up your message in your victim’s short-term memory. One way television commercials do this is by getting a jingle stuck in your head. If you walk around all day repeating the advertiser’s custom-designed message in your head then you’re doing the advertiser’s job of reminding you of the message.

Churches tell you to read the Bible constantly and to fill your house with Biblically themed merchandise. If they can get you to eat, sleep and breathe church doctrine, then you’ll become your own snake oil salesman. Then you’ll do the charismatic leader’s job of manipulating you for him. If you police your peers, then you’ll practically force people to keep giving the cult money and obedience.

 

15. Recruitment

 

 

Cults need a constant stream of new victims in order to finance the charismatic leader’s lifestyle. So…if you run into an organization that is constantly having recruitment drives to get people to come listen to an infomercial where they’re asked to give money at the end…don’t go there. You know what’s going to happen, and it only ends well for the charismatic leader…assuming he doesn’t get too drunk on power and do something crazy.

 

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21 Reasons It’s Impossible To Argue With Christians

1. Christians are close-minded.

This sounds insulting at first, but hear me out. Christianity demands its believers have faith. To have faith is to believe in your preconceived conclusion no matter what. Faith is the very definition of being closed-minded.

A good Christian isn’t supposed to consider divergent (aka heretical or blasphemous) points of view. So when a Christian tries to debate me I have to be suspicious as to whether or not they’re really trying to have an open-minded debate or simply trying to blindly argue against my position.

In my experience, the Christians I have debated never had any intention of considering my point of view. They just wanted to tear me down so they could feel secure in their dogma and hopefully convert me.

It’s not unfair to say “Christians are closed-minded,” because believing in Christianity doesn’t require passive faith in the absence of evidence. Believing in Christianity requires active denial of evidence that proves you’re wrong. The next 20 items on this list are ways Christians use logical fallacies and cognitive dissonance to sidestep the evidence that Christianity is mythology.

Belief in Christianity isn’t one of those issues where everyone gets to believe what they want and everyone else should respect that. Christianity deserves no more reverence or patience than the mythologies Pacific Islanders made up thousands of years ago. Jesus is no more the savior of mankind than Maui is the hero who pulled New Zealand out of the sea with a fishing pole. Believing either of those stories requires one to deny mountains of evidence. So yes, it’s an accurate generalization to say that Christians are close-minded.

I know this sounds harsh, but that’s only because the truth hurts. You don’t have to take my word for it. Anyone can put Christianity to the test. As long as they don’t hide behind logical fallacies and mental gymnastics, they can discover for themselves the Bible doesn’t hold up.

Real photo of a sign in front of a church that says, "Don't be so open-minded your brains fall out."

 2. Christians don’t play by the rules of logic.

The sane way to think is to analyze the facts in front of you and try to find meaningful and consistent connections in the data to draw consistently reproducible conclusion from. Then, once you’ve come to a conclusion, you should be eager to test it against new evidence to see if it still holds up. If it doesn’t, you should update your conclusion until new evidence disproves that conclusion in part or in whole. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. If both members of a debate do that, then two people can start with opposing conclusions, analyze the data and agree on a reasonably objective conclusion.

Christians start from the assumption that the Bible is fact and look for evidence to support that conclusion. There’s no point having a debate with someone who doesn’t question their own data or objectively analyze their opponent’s data. It’s even more pointless to argue with someone who reverse-engineers fantasy data to negate actual, empirical data.

Creationism is full of examples of reverse engineered fantasy data. You can’t win a debate with a creationist because your hands are tied with reason and evidence while creationists have free reign to make up unverifiable data on the fly. They can even use data that is objectively, empirically false, and they all they have to say to back it up is, “No. You’re wrong,” whereas a scientific thinker will have to use the scientific method to prove they’re right.

Cooking evidence to support your preconceived conclusion gives you a powerful advantage in an argument. Since you’re not bound by the rules of logic, you can say anything you want, twist anything how you want it, and makes excuses to dismiss actual logic or evidence. After having a number of Christians use this style of debate against me I’ve become extremely hesitant to debate Christians because it’s unfair, unproductive, immoral and insulting.

The Scientific method says, "Here are the facts. What conclusions can we draw from them?" The Creationist method says, "Here's the conclusion. what facts can we find to support it?"

3. There’s a good chance they’ll use hearsay and/or dubious sources to back up their claims. 

Even when I was a Christian attending an overpriced Christian university I recognized that half the statistics and secondary sources my Christian brethren quoted were unreliable. So I was very hesitant to use Christian literature to back up my arguments.

Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I’ve argued against Christians who quote statistics and facts from unverified and unverifiable sources, which is effectively the same as just making up the data on their own. Two people can’t have a productive argument when one of them is using made up data.

Similarly, Christians will often use subjective experiences to back up their argument. For instance, they’ll say, “I prayed that I would get better from a disease, and I did. So Jesus must have healed me.” or “I survived a car wreck, and it surprised the doctors in the emergency room.” or “I felt a strong heavenly presence once. So Jesus must be real.” These are all examples of basing decisions on emotional experiences, and attributing divine intervention to secular events… especially in cases where doctors saved someone’s life using scientific principles. I can’t use reason and evidence to argue a point against someone who uses subjective emotions to make decisions that ignore facts.

4. Christians will make stuff up and interpret scriptures however is convenient.

If you ask a Christian how an all loving god could fill the books of Exodus and Leviticus with barbaric rules such as when it’s okay to beat your slaves and when you should kill your children they’ll quote Mathew 5:17 ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Then they’ll say, “See, that passage erases all the laws of the Old Testament… except the ones we want to keep, like the Ten Commandments.”

This passage could mean that modern people don’t have to follow all the barbaric and inconvenient laws in the Old Testament, but nobody really knows that for sure. At the end of the day, Christians just interpret this passage however is convenient for them and declare dogmatically that they’re unquestionably right.

I told a Christian once that the Bible was chauvinistic. He got offended and said that wasn’t true. So I pointed out 1 Corinthians 14:34 “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” The Christian laughed and said, “No, no, no. Paul was only directing that comment to a single group of unruly woman at the church he was writing to.” Maybe, but there’s no way to back that claim up. That was just a convenient argument he, or someone else, made up and accepted as fact.

A lot of times Christians’ arguments sound reasonable, especially when they deliver them so confidently, but a lot of times, when you scratch the surface, you’ll find they can’t back their arguments up, because they’re just convenient excuses someone invented.

5. The Bible is true because it says so.

How do Christians know the Bible is true? Because the Bible says so, or at least it implies it. You can’t argue with that. It’s logic proof. It’s sanity proof. There’s no point arguing with someone who can always prove that they’re right by pointing at a piece of paper that says they’re right. So why argue at all when I’ve lost the argument before I’ve even started?

Picture of a circle of words that say, "The Bible is true because the bible says the Bible is true..."

6. Every Christian is an expert. Every non-Christian needs to study more.

It doesn’t matter how long I was a Christian, how many times I read the Bible, how many books I’ve read about the Bible and ancient Middle Eastern culture or how logical my observations on the Bible are. Nor does it matter how little any given Christian understands the Bible. In my experience with debating Christians, it doesn’t matter what I say or how much supporting evidence I give, because most of my arguments have ended with them saying, “I don’t know the rebuttals to your arguments, but I know you’re wrong, because if you really understood the Bible, you’d believe it. So you need to go back and study the Bible more.”

If I respond, “Maybe you don’t understand the Bible,” they’ll just say, “No, you don’t. Pray to God, and He’ll show you the truth.” There’s no amount of evidence I could find to prove the Bible is mythology, because as long as I don’t believe in its divinity, I’ll always be unqualified to debate it.

7. Non-Christians take every passage out of context.

No matter what passage you pick out of the Bible to criticize, Christians tend to dismiss you by saying, “You’re taking that passage out of context.” It doesn’t matter how qualified the Christian is to interpret that passage. It doesn’t matter how many passages before and after the verse in question you include in the argument. It doesn’t matter how cut and dry the message in the passage is. If I debate passages in the Bible with a Christian, there’s a good chance they’re going to tell me I took it out of context, and there’s no argument I can use to prove to them that my stance has any validity because they assume that my lack of faith is proof of lack of understanding.

Photo of Exodus 21-22 highlighted in a Bible, "If a man beats his male or female lsave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two since the slave is his property." With the caption, "Go ahead and tell me I'm taking it out of context."

8.The Bible contradicts itself.

Whenever I try to point out to Christians how absurd the Bible is, they prove I don’t understand the passages in question and am taking them out of context by quoting other passages that contradict the ones I bring up. Then they’ll say, “See. You’re wrong.” Call me crazy, but I believe the 63, 779 documented contradictions in the Bible, make it less credible and impossible to debate.

9. The Old Testament is obsolete…except when its the word of God.

As I mentioned earlier, if you quote an illogical or absurd passage from the Old Testament there’s a good chance the Christian you’re talking to will wipe away thousands of years of their own religious history and thousands of pages of their religious book by saying the Old Testament doesn’t count, because Jesus made it obsolete.

Therefore, non-Christians can’t introduce any passage from the Old Testament into an argument. However, if a Christian ever needs to quote a passage from the Old Testament to prove a point, then any passage they choose will automatically become the unerring and eternal word of God and would be blasphemous to question.

10. The Bible is the word of God…except when it’s not.

Christians tend to use another, similar technique on the Old and New Testament alike. If they like a passage in the Bible they’ll simply say it’s the unerring and eternal word of God and that it’s blasphemous to question it. However, any passages they don’t like, they’ll dismiss by saying that fallible humans acted as God’s pen to write the Bible. So you have to take that into consideration and use prayer, reason and common sense to determine which parts you have to listen to.

I’ve had several Christians tell me that the Bible never even hinted that it was unerring or that you have to have complete faith in it. It’s extremely frustrating to argue with someone who can constantly pick and choose which of the statements made in their premise are open to argument. It’s enough to make me extremely hesitant to debate Christians.

11. Everything is a metaphor…when it’s convenient.

Try telling a Christian that you can’t live in the belly of a whale for 3 days. Long hair doesn’t give you magical powers. There was never a talking snake in a magic garden passing out magic fruit to mammals with no belly buttons. Nobody saw God and Satan taking juvenile bets on Job’s faith. Donkeys don’t talk. The world wasn’t flooded, and two of every animal didn’t fit on one boat for forty days.

Christians tend to sidestep these absurdities by saying, “That wasn’t meant to be taken literally. That was a metaphor.” But if they want to take any of those, or any other passage, literally, then will, and I can’t prove that they’re wrong. You can’t argue with someone who can dismiss any of their own premises as a metaphor.

And another thing, if everything in the Bible is a metaphor, then maybe the story of Jesus was just a metaphor too.

12. Christianity is a moving target

Every point I’ve made about how Christians argue is wrong, and every criticism I have about Christianity is wrong… to someone. That’s because the Bible never explicitly states what Christianity is, and no two Christians will agree 100% on every aspect of Christianity. I can’t say, “This belief of Christianity is illogical and absurd,” because some Christian out there will say, “That’s not what true Christians believe.” If I say, “A lot of Christians believe it.” They can say, “Well, they’re not true Christians.” And

Every Christian has to use the No True Scotsman argument eventually because there are no true Christians. There’s just a bunch of people projecting their own cultural values into a foreign, obsolete book they’ll never understand.

When you go into a debate with a Christian you have no idea how they define Christianity. So you have no idea what they’ll claim or dismiss. It doesn’t matter how accepted the beliefs you’re arguing against are, if you say Christianity is anything other than exactly what they believe it is, then they’ll shoot you down for not understanding what Christianity really is. So fighting Christianity is like fighting a shape-shifting ghost with multiple personality disorders who is in denial.

13. If all else fails, you’re going to hell and/or you’re a fool.

Psalm 14:1 states,  “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.”

1 Corinthians 2:14 states, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” or

1 Corinthians 3:19 states “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.”

If you’re a non-Christian, it doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are about the textual or historical context in the Bible. Your point of view is invalid, because why would a Christian listen to a Hell-bound servant of Satan? By Biblical standards, they shouldn’t. The Bible says to have faith and put Satan behind them.

It’s circular logic to say that any criticism of the Bible is foolish because the Bible says that any criticisms of the Bible are foolish. Not only that, but these passages teach Christians that losing an argument proves you’re right. That’s logic-proof. It’s impossible to debate someone if the premise of their argument is that you and all your evidence are automatically invalid.

Photo of a real sign in front of a church that says, "A free thinker is Satan's slave."

14. Faith and reason are apples and oranges.

Back a Christian into a corner with enough facts and logic, and they’ll eventually resort to sidestepping reality by saying that faith/religion fills a void that logic/science can’t.

The idea is that logic and science can only take you so far in understanding this giant, bizarre universe we’ve all found ourselves stranded in; and when those tools fail, faith/religion pick up the trail and fill in the gaps. Therefore, you can not and should not tread on the domain of religion, because it’s exempt from logical criticisms.

On its own, this argument sounds nice. It ties up the universe in a pretty package with a nice bow on top. In reality, this argument is meaningless. Remember that religion is merely an expression of a primitive society’s cultural values. So faith in religion is not a transcendental experience. It’s just refusing to think about what you’ve been told. Choosing faith over logic is ultimately just choosing ignorance over awareness.

So yes, faith and logic are separate languages, but faith is the language of insanity. Math is the language of science, and logic is the language of sanity. Since  I don’t have the psychiatric training to communicate effectively with people who demonize sanity, I can’t debate Christians about the difference between their antiquated delusions and scientific reality.

"Faith is belief without evidence and reason; coincidentally that's also the definition of delusion." Richard Dawkins

 15. What would we argue about anyway?

Christianity is mythology, and every single page of the Bible contains evidence to support this conclusion. Debating individual passages in the Bible is like debating individual passages in Mein Kampf. Even Hitler was right about a few things. That doesn’t mean I’m joining the Third Reich. (Fun fact, do you know what the First Reich was? The Holy Roman Empire.)

The only debate I could possibly have with a Christian would be me trying to convince them they’ve accidentally based their life on an embarrassing mythology, while my Christian opponent would try to convince me to ignore all the glaring evidence in the Bible that reveals it as a primitive culture’s mythology. Well, I’m not going to abandon reason, and Christians aren’t going to abandon their faith over the course of a debate. So we really don’t have much to discuss anyway.

16. Why would I argue about a book you don’t completely believe in or follow yourself?

As pointed out in reason #10, every self-proclaimed Christian believes Christianity is something different. But if we can’t agree on anything else about Christianity I have to assume that being a Christian means being Christ-like. Being a Christian means asking yourself, “What would Jesus do?” and then actually doing what Jesus would do.

This raises the question, what did Jesus do? Jesus gave away everything he owned and devoted his life to helping people in need and publicly advocating forgiveness, acceptance, and love. By that definition, I’ve never met a single Christian in my entire life. Not even close.

All the Christians I’ve met make up for their lack of walking the walk by talking louder and meaner. If you’re not going to walk the walk then I don’t want to hear you talk the talk. Don’t tell me I need to devote my life to a cause you won’t devote yours too. Even without living like Christ, Christians don’t even believe in the Bible.

As pointed out in reason #10, before I can have a discussion with a Christian I have to establish all the passages you’ve dismissed as being metaphors or obsolete until the only teachings in the Bible left for you to follow are the ones that coincide with your modern cultural values, and we already share most of those. Don’t tell me to take a step backward when you’re already an apostate yourself.

17. When all else fails they just shout.

If you read enough arguments between Christians and non-believers on the internet you’ll see Christians who, unable to make a logical argument, will just type something like, “JESUS IS LORD!” as if it were fact. Shouting that your conclusion is right and walking away doesn’t prove you’re right. It’s not even good witnessing. What it does do is make you look like a lunatic and underscore the fact that you have no real argument to make.

18…. or they’ll accuse you of being judgmental

Christian mythology drives people insane, makes them immoral and ruins society. Those are strong words, but they’re true. Christian mythology is crippling humanity. I don’t say this to be mean. I say it because I value humanity, and I want every single human to fulfill their potential, but humanity can’t fulfill its potential as long as it’s being crippled by Christian mythology.

I don’t say these things because I’m a smug, condescending, judgmental jerk who enjoys tearing down other people just to see them hurt. I hate the insanity that Christian mythology plagues humanity with, but I don’t hate the Christian who has been brainwashed and driven insane by it.

Criticizing the obvious flaws in Christian mythology is like pointing out the broccoli in a friend’s teeth. It’s constructive criticism. To say it’s doing Christians a favor is an understatement. I’m trying to save Christians from wasting their lives and bringing the rest of humanity down with them.

But since Christian mythology exploits brainwashing techniques that shut down your ability to reason, when I try to tell my fellow human beings the truth and set them free, they respond that I’m just being judgmental, and I think I’m better than everyone else, and I should just let people have the right to believe what they want to believe. And they’ll say this completely ignoring the fact that the premise of their belief system says that I’m such a terrible person that I deserve to burn for eternity, and every Christian is obligated to cram their beliefs down my throat for the rest of my life.

Cartoon of a Christian screaming, "Blind idiot! Rat fink! Pervert! Commie! Blasphemer! Immoral creep and scum of the Earth!," while beating an Atheist with a cross. The Atheist takes the cross and is about to break it over his own knee as the Christian screams, "Hey, Let's have a little respect here!"

19. Even when Christians admit defeat they still refuse to admit that they’re wrong.

You can overwhelm a Christian with evidence and arguments supporting the conclusion that Christianity is mythology, and even after they’ve been completely proven wrong they’ll still say something like, “I don’t care if I’m wrong. I don’t care if nothing I’m saying makes sense and it contradicts a million facts. I feel safe as a Christian. My beliefs help me get through life, and as long as that doesn’t hurt anybody then you should let me go on living my life even if it’s not true.”

It’s disheartening to show someone the light and have them look straight at it and say, “Nah, I’d rather continue living a white lie.” As Jesus put it, it’s like throwing pearls to swine. Jesus himself said not to bother wasting your time trying to enlighten those who have chosen to embrace ignorance. Granted, I still argue with Christians sometimes in the hopes that even though I’m almost guaranteed to lose the argument, I may still be able to plant a seed of doubt that will blossom later.

20. Sometimes their arguments just don’t make sense.

Rarely, but sometimes, you’ll argue with a Christian and they’ll say something like, “God is one, and we know the one because all are one! Those who are not of that which is will be without when the lamb of Judea shows his face within, and there will be no argument then!” I’ll argue with more rational, eloquent Christians, but someone who speaks in fanatical prose can’t be reasoned with, and experience has taught me not to try.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an Atheist by scripture." Thomas Paine

21. The smarter the Christian, the better they are at reverse engineering excuses to justify their preconceived conclusion.

There are many extremely intelligent people who believe in Christianity and can give you extremely well thought-out explanations for all the hard questions the Bible raises, but no matter how convincing those explanations sound, they’re reverse-engineered to support a preconceived conclusion.

It would take a Christian thousands, if not millions of words to answer the Bible’s hard questions, but a skeptic can explain every single one of those questions in just four words, “The Bible is mythology.” You can find evidence of it on every page of the Bible, and it answers all of the Bible’s hard questions completely, succinctly, elegant, and in a way the conforms to humanity’s collective scientific understanding of the observable universe.

Christians have to spend thousands of words on their explanations because they have to reverse engineer their way around evidence that conflicts with their preconceived conclusion. The smarter the Christian, the better mental gymnastics they can do.

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10 Tips To Being A Better Christian Witness On The Internet

Picture of Liam Neeson from the movie, "Taken," above the words, "I don't know who you are, but I will find you... and I will preach to you."

 

1. Don’t be mean.

Long before the Internet was invented Gandhi said, “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I don’t know if the disconnect between Christ and Christians has gotten worse since the invention of the Internet or it has just become more apparent. Either way, Christians have earned a reputation on the Internet for being sarcastic, petty, condescending and spiteful (to say the least).

It’s mind-boggling that this even has to be pointed out, but being mean isn’t going to convince anybody to join your group or accept your ideology. It’s going to accomplish the opposite. It’s going to build resentment for your group and close people’s minds to your message.

2. Know your theology.

Before the invention of the internet, you might have been able to defend Christianity without going to seminary. However, with the amount of information freely available to anyone able to type a keyword into a search engine, every twelve-year-old can argue on a doctoral degree. Then again, you never know who you’re talking to on the Internet. There are a lot of atheists who understand the Bible better than a lot of Christians. It doesn’t take many apologetic mistakes to destroy your witness. So if you’re going to profess your beliefs on an open forum, you’d better know what you’re talking about or you’re going to get torn to shreds and the only thing you’ll convince anybody of is that Christians don’t even understand their own religion.

3. Pick and choose your battles.

Non-Christians don’t believe in Creationism. They do believe in evolution. They also believe that Creationism is a monument to illogical thinking. Regardless of what you believe, the reality is that harping on evolution is going to cause people to dismiss you almost immediately. Maybe the Bible says homosexuality is bad. Maybe it was taken out of context. It doesn’t matter. The reality is that a lot of people see gay rights as equivalent to women’s rights and anti-gay propaganda as the same as racist propaganda. Regardless of what you believe, the reality is that harping on homosexuals is going to cause people to dismiss you as a close-minded bigot almost immediately. And these issues are irrelevant to your purposes anyway. The most important message is love. So preach love and acceptance like Jesus did or you’re not worth listening to anyway.

4. Understand the difference between arguing the existence of God and the validity of the Bible as God’s word.

Even though there’s no difference to you, there is to everyone else. Proving the Bible is true would prove that God exists, but proving God exists wouldn’t necessarily prove the Bible is true. At any rate, you can’t prove God exists using the scientific method, which is the atheist’s measuring stick for truth. So theological debates about the existence of God are practically guaranteed to be a waste of time. Focus on studying and sharing the Bible instead, but don’t try to use the Bible as proof that God exists. Regardless of what you believe, it won’t work.

5. Don’t copy and paste huge articles.

This is the age of Twitter and 5 minute YouTube videos. The only thing that moves faster than life is information. Very few people read long articles. If you want to convince somebody of something you need to do it quickly and poignantly. Posting huge articles is a waste of everybody’s time. Plus, when somebody with a handle like “SilverSurferExtreme1989” posts a doctoral level essay it’s obvious that he plagiarized it. That means he doesn’t know enough to hold a conversation on his own, and he’s lying by passively taking credit for someone else’s work. For both reasons, he’s not worth listening to.

6. Use proper grammar, and ditch the emoticons.

If your message isn’t valuable enough to express using proper grammar then people are going to assume it isn’t worth listening to. Also, if you fill your messages with funny little emoticons people are going to assume that your message is meant for children and not meant to be taken seriously by adults.

7. Don’t tell people they’re going to Hell.

Imagine if an atheist came up to you and shouted in your face, “IF YOU WON’T STOP BELIEVING IN GOD THEN FUCK YOU.” That might have even happened to you before. If it did, how did it make you feel? Did it change your mind or close it to their message? Because when you tell nonbelievers they’re going to Hell, all they hear is, “I represent a hateful ideology that you need to stay as far away from as possible.”

8. Don’t just bust into a forum or thread and shout, “The Bible is the word of God. Praise Jesus,” and leave it at that. Similarly, don’t just bust into a forum or thread and shout, “Your arguments are stupid. You’re all wrong. God is great,” and leave it at that.

While your enthusiasm and courage are bound to impress the choir, it does absolutely nothing for unbelievers. To them it just makes you look like a fanatic who has nothing of substance to relate. This kind of witnessing will only push people farther away.

9. If you don’t have an answer to a tough question, don’t tell people, “You just have to have faith.”

From their point of view, no, they don’t just have to have faith. From their point of view, you just have to have an answer. “You just have to have faith.” is code for, “I don’t know.” You may as well have just said, “There’s no point in listening to me because I don’t know what I’m talking about, and my ideology isn’t even important enough to me to take the time to understand.”

10. Don’t tell people to read the Bible or pray to God for answers.

If a Muslim told you to read the Koran or pray to Allah, would that convert you? No. Absolutely, positively not. Non-Christians aren’t going to go to the Bible or God for answers. They’re going to go to you. It’s your responsibility to provide them with guidance. If you need to tell people to read the Bible or pray to God you may as well just tell them, “There’s no point in listening to me because I don’t know what I’m talking about, and my ideology isn’t even important enough to me to take the time to understand.”

 

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Reason vs faith: part 2

"Faith is belief without evidence and reason; coincidentally that's also the definition of delusion." Richard Dawkins

To have faith is to accept an answer to a question without ever asking the question yourself. Since you didn’t ask the question, you couldn’t have come up with the answer yourself. This implies that someone else gave you the answer. So faith is believing someone else’s answer to a question without asking the question yourself or checking the other person’s answer.

Many people say this is a virtue… in certain circumstances. Nobody says faith is always a virtue. Always trusting other people’s answers is literally the definition of gullibility. Anyone, even the religious leaders in your community would tell you to be skeptical if your mechanic charged you $500 to fill up your tire fluid. Anyone would expect you to be skeptical about a TV dinner that claims to be “low fat.” It’s common sense to be skeptical about that late night infomercial of an amazing new product that does everything. Nobody has sympathy for the fools who fell for those Nigerian inheritance scams. Don’t buy a time machine on Ebay. Don’t accept money orders on Craigslist. And don’t take pills to increase your penis size. Everyone knows the value of skepticism because skepticism is the path to truth and your armor against foolishness and manipulation.

But there are some things we believe it’s good to walk into blind. Off the top of my head the three big ones are religion, patriotism, and cultural norms. You’ll go to hell if you question (what’s advertised as) God’s word. To be unpatriotic is to be ungrateful. Cultural practices such as marriage are fundamental cornerstones of society and are bigger than the individual and thus the individual doesn’t have the right to question them…or so we’re led to believe.

Ask yourself honestly, what’s the fundamental difference between a TV dinner and God, an infomercial and patriotism, an E-mail forward and marriage? Why do we value distrusting one and yet value trusting the other?

The answer: Pressure. That’s all

The force that drives people to faith isn’t a desire for truth. It isn’t courage. It’s nothing virtuous. People put faith in select ideologies because other people convinced them they it was in their best interest. You’ll never find someone with faith in something who wasn’t intimidated and/or coaxed with candy land promises by another human being to suspend reason in regards to that select ideology. Nobody would come up with the idea on their own that it’s ever virtuous not to think. In fact, if you ask people of faith why they believe it’s so important to have faith in God, government, or culture I guarantee you’re not going to get an articulate, coherent, perfectly logical explanation. Remember, they started with their conclusion. They skipped the coming up with a reason part. And until they’ve been challenged to explain their reason they never had the motivation to reverse engineer a reason.

There are people out there who base the most important decisions in their lives on the belief that it’s immoral to question your beliefs and they don’t even know why they believe that. That’s not virtue. That’s insanity.

It’s also slavery. As I said earlier, everyone who has faith in a belief does so because another person coerced them to. You’ll notice that the person doing the coercing always has something to gain from the other person’s blind faith. And by something I mean money and power. And the person of faith always loses their independence of thought…the defining quality that separates humans from wild animals, our spark of divinity, the greatest source of meaning in our miraculous, irreplaceable, infinitely valuable, fleeting lives. In my last blog I said that faith is for the weak. Upon further reflection I’d like to change that statement. Faith is what makes you weak. And anyone who cripples you is not doing you a favor.

But the social implications of faith aren’t the only reasons why it’s immoral. Let’s dig deeper into the fundamental logic behind faith.

Faith is dogmatic belief in the answer to a question. The reason you’re told you’re supposed to show unwavering support for that answer is because that answer is supposed to be the truth. Thus faith is supposed to defend truth. However, if the answer you’re defending is in fact the truth then it doesn’t need blind faith to defend it because the truth will pass any test of reason, evidence, study, etc. If you’re so sure your answer is true then the best way to shut up the skeptics is to demand that they put your answer to the test, and your confidence will vindicate itself when the truth stands the test. At any rate, it’s hypocritical to claim that your answer is true but refuse to put it to the test of truth. That doesn’t indicate trust in your answer. That indicates that you lack the faith that your answer will pass the test of truth.

And what do you really have to lose by testing the object of your faith? If it loses the test of truth then you’ve gained a truer perception of reality by debunking your false perception. If it passes the test then your confidence is strengthened. It’s a win/win situation. However, if you refuse to put the object of your faith to the test and continue to believe in it all your life even though it would fail the test of truth then you’ve sold out your life for nothing. You’ve made a fool of yourself and squandered the gift of existence.

The pursuit of faith is at odds with the pursuit of truth and knowledge. Faith is insanity. Faith is slavery. Faith is ignorance, and ignorance is the root of all that kills.

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Reason vs faith: part 1

"The division between faith and reason is a half-measure, till it is frankly admitted that faith has to do with fiction, and reason with fact." Leslie Stephen

You almost never see a religious conversation end with someone saying, “That’s a good point. I never thought about that. You win. I’m going to change my beliefs now. Thank you.”

The reason this almost never happens is because when you base your beliefs on faith you don’t need proof to justify those beliefs to yourself or anyone else. Well, if someone admits that they don’t care whether or not their conclusions can be proven then it’s futile to try and prove to them that their conclusions are wrong. They’re not going to listen. They’re not supposed to. And if you can manage to draw them into a debate they have free reign to reverse engineer whatever justifications they need to win the argument. They don’t have to follow any rules of logic, problem solving, or scientific discovery. Their only allegiance is to their preconceived beliefs. And even if you were able to defeat all their cooked up arguments and “win” the debate they’ll still be morally obligated to find another way out. Maybe they’ll cordially agree to disagree. Maybe they’ll tell you, “I just have faith.” Or maybe they’ll find a flaw in you personally and use that to dismiss your argument. Whatever the case may be, you can’t convince someone who has faith that their beliefs are wrong no matter how wrong they may in fact be. That’s the point of faith.

You can see how futile a religious debate is. I think the fictional TV character, Dr. House, put it best when he said, “If you could reason with religious people there would be no religious people.”

I’m not saying we shouldn’t keep gathering and publicizing as much evidence as exists that all religions are man-made, mythological, culturally relative, ethnocentric, archaic, illogical cults that do nothing but control the weak minded while exploiting them and holding back society from its natural pursuit of scientific, moral and cultural progress. All the evidence supporting that conclusion should be readily available so people can be forewarned and not fall prey to religious parasites. It’s also good for religious people to hear these things so if they happen to start asking the hard questions and thinking about them objectively they’ll be better prepared to see the truth.

However, to actively engage in debates with religious people about why their conclusions are wrong is generally futile because of their faith. Not to mention…that horse has been beat to death already. Chances are if you’re arguing with someone over 25 you’re not telling them anything they haven’t already heard before.

Therefore, skeptics who wish to continue arguing would be wise to shift the focus of their debates away from debunking particular religious beliefs and more towards debunking the thought process that brought the religious believers to their conclusions: faith.

If we’re going to argue about religion then let’s argue about faith. Is it good or bad? Why or why not? If it is bad then what’s a better way to think and why?

To answer these questions we need to address the fundamentals. Why are beliefs important? To a mature human being the goal of asking a question or engaging in debate should be to arrive at the truth (aka a true belief) because nothing is more important than truth. Truth is vital because it cuts to the heart of the human experience and the meaning of life. Let me sum up the entire saga of life real quick:

We all woke up one day in our childhood and found ourselves marooned in this surreal existence. When we woke up we were lost. So lost in fact that we didn’t even know we were lost. Some of us stayed lost forever and dedicated our entire time here to merely surviving as long as possible and fulfilling our base animalistic desires to satisfaction. To the people locked into that shallow frame of mind I can offer no sympathy or help. However, for those of us who hope to validate our existence the struggle of life is not to get as much money or booty before we die. Our struggle is defined by the search for truth. The goal is to start from a position of complete ignorance and work and think and study reality until we perceive the truth of where we are and how everything works here so we can use that information to deduce why we’re here, what we’re supposed to do now that we’re here, and what the best way to do that is.

People who truly value life and are truly serious about making the most out of life and validating their existence won’t settle for half answers, opinions, or self-serving answers. They want to know the real, provable truth because if you don’t have the truth then you don’t have anything real. Thus, you don’t have anything, at all…period. So to settle for anything less than the truth is to sell out your very life. Let the magnitude of that statement sink in. If your understanding of reality isn’t based on truth then your entire life will be misguided and spent in vain. So when you argue about what is true, understand that the stakes are nothing short of life and death. That’s why truth is important.

Unfortunately, most people have a short sighted understanding of what truth is. Most people just see truth as the correct answer to a question. What they fail to appreciate is that an answer is always the product of a question. Thus, to the extent that it’s important to get the right answer to a question it’s just as important to ask the question correctly. In fact, you could even say that the answer is merely incidental to the question and that truth is more a matter of how you ask than how you answer. See, an answer isn’t self-contained or self-evident. Anytime something is true there’s a reason why, and it’s the reason why that makes the answer true.

Understanding all of that, someone who truly values truth will surely live according to the following maxims: The more important it is to know the correct answer to a question, the more important it is to calculate the answer correctly. And the more you value truth the more proactively, thoroughly and objectively you’ll be motivated to calculate the answers to your questions and question your answers.

If truth is so important, then we have to ask ourselves, what is the most accurate way to find the answer to a question? Luckily for modern humans, our ancestors have been studying the process of answering question for centuries.

Actually, luck has nothing to do with it. Every iota of society’s progress has depended on being able to come to an accurate understanding of how things work. In order to make sense of the universe humans have developed the scientific method of study. And it’s served us reliably in every aspect of our lives we’ve applied it to. And the best part about the scientific method is that it’s open ended. So even if one human fails to take all the variables of a question into consideration, fails to make the necessary logical connections, or even intentionally manipulates his answers the scientific method allows room to correct its answers. Thus, it’s designed to yield a 100% success rate (given enough time).

Despite the fact that the scientific method has proven itself the most reliable method of answer questions by providing us with every advancement in our understanding of the universe we live in which has resulted in every advancement in medicine and technology that has created the modern luxuries we couldn’t imagine living without today…and despite the fact that understanding truth lies at the crux of the meaning of life…and despite the fact that the more important a question is the more important it is to answer the question accurately…it’s widely considered acceptable, and even encouraged, to demonize the scientific method when it comes to analyzing religious beliefs…which are arguably the most important beliefs we need to get right in order to make the most out of life and validate our existence! Of all the questions we need to do the most work on, this is it.

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