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Reasons for apostasy. Aids for empathy. A study in questioning from the atheist daughter of a Baptist preacher.



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Ravi and the Moral Lawgiver[s]

Some time ago I was speaking at a university in England, when a rather exasperated person in the audience made his attack upon God.
“There cannot possibly be a God,” he said, “with all the evil and suffering that exists in the world!”
I asked, “When you say there is such a thing as evil, are you not assuming that there is such a thing as good?”
“Of course,” he retorted.
“But when you assume there is such a thing as good, are you not also assuming that there is such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to distinguish between good and evil?”
“I suppose so,” came the hesitant and much softer reply.
“If, then, there is a moral law,” I said, “you must also posit a moral law giver. But that is who you are trying to disprove and not prove. If there is no transcendent moral law giver, there is no absolute moral law. If there is no moral law, there really is no good. If there is no good there is no evil. I am not sure what your question is!”
                            Ravi Zacharias

My father has always considered Ravi Zacharias to be one of the pre-eminent Biblical apologists. We used to listen to his sermons in the kitchen on the radio on Sunday mornings before church. When I was a child, this tale (which Ravi has been telling for at least 8 years) proved for me that there was a God.
When I stopped believing, my dad used this “proof” to question my unbelief. At the time, I did not have an answer. Now, I would re-tell the story:

Some time ago, I was speaking at a university in England, when a person in the audience made an attack upon God.
"There cannot possibly be an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient God," she said, "with all the evil and suffering that exists in the world."
I asked, “When you say there is such a thing as evil, are you not assuming that there is such a thing as good?”
"Of course," she replied.
"But when you assume there is such a thing as good, are you not also assuming that there is such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to distinguish between good and evil?"
"If you would like to call it that," she replied, patiently.
"If, then, there is a moral law," I said, "you must also posit a moral law giver. If there is no moral law giver - "
"Wait," she interrupted. "I posit moral lawgivers. You yourself speak of ‘the morals of the culture/of the time’ when defending actions of the Old Testament. Would you say that God has changed moral laws with the time? Does God change his mind? The fact is that what we consider moral today is vastly different from what was considered moral 100, 1000, 10000 years ago. The reason our morals have changed is because human beings are slowly figuring out what works and what does not work in forming functional, lasting relationships and communities. So yes, I suggest that there are some universal morals, but no, I do not posit a moral lawgiver. We are all moral lawgivers, and always have been, and will continue to be.

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(Source: contemplatingmadness)

Reblogged from leon-nova with 19 notes | Permalink

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are  never going to die because they are never going to be born. The  potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in  fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia.  Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats,  scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible  people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual  people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our  ordinariness, that are here.The present moves from the past to  the future, like a tiny spotlight, inching its way along a gigantic  ruler of time. Everything behind the spotlight is in darkness, the  darkness of the dead past. Everything ahead of the spotlight is in the  darkness of the unknown future. The odds of your century being the one  in the spotlight are the same as the odds that a penny, tossed down at  random, will land on a particular ant crawling somewhere along the road  from New York to San Francisco. In other words, it is overwhelmingly  probable that you are dead.In spite of these odds, you will  notice that you are, as a matter of fact, alive. People whom the  spotlight has already passed over, and people whom the spotlight has not  reached, are in no position to read a book.After sleeping  through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a  sumptuous planet, sparkling with colour, bountiful with life. Within  decades we must close our eyes again. Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened  way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the  universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer  when I am asked - as I am surprisingly often - why I bother to get up  in the mornings. To put it the other way round, isn’t it sad to go to  your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a  thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the  world and rejoicing to be a part of it?

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

The present moves from the past to the future, like a tiny spotlight, inching its way along a gigantic ruler of time. Everything behind the spotlight is in darkness, the darkness of the dead past. Everything ahead of the spotlight is in the darkness of the unknown future. The odds of your century being the one in the spotlight are the same as the odds that a penny, tossed down at random, will land on a particular ant crawling somewhere along the road from New York to San Francisco. In other words, it is overwhelmingly probable that you are dead.

In spite of these odds, you will notice that you are, as a matter of fact, alive. People whom the spotlight has already passed over, and people whom the spotlight has not reached, are in no position to read a book.

After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with colour, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked - as I am surprisingly often - why I bother to get up in the mornings. To put it the other way round, isn’t it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be a part of it?

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"There really is nothing to fear in fantasy unless you are afraid of the freedom of uncertainty. This is why it’s hard for me to imagine that anyone who likes science can dislike fantasy. Both are based so profoundly on the admission of uncertainty, the welcoming acceptance of unanswered questions. Of course the scientist seeks to ask how things are the way they are, not to imagine how they might be otherwise. But are the two operations opposed, or related? We can’t question reality directly, only by questioning our conventions, our belief, our orthodoxy, our construction of reality. All Galileo said, all Darwin said, was, “It doesn’t have to be the way we thought it was.”"

Ursula K. Le Guin, from her blog entry It Doesn’t Have To Be the Way It Is

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This is a great basic explanation of evolutionary process and effects. Click to see the rest of artist Darryl Cunningham’s panels in this series.

This is a great basic explanation of evolutionary process and effects. Click to see the rest of artist Darryl Cunningham’s panels in this series.

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"‎If someone else is allowed to marry their same-sex partner, the anti-gay marriage advocate is affected in no way, oppressed in no way, their right to hold those beliefs is violated in no way. Just as orthodox Jews aren’t victims of oppression when other people are allowed to legally watch television and use electric appliances on Saturday. Just as Muslims aren’t victims of oppression when other people are allowed to legally purchase alcohol. Just as Hindus aren’t victims of oppression when other people are legally allowed to eat beef."

Ask An Atheist (via bloodfleshbones)

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(Source: thethinkingatheist.com)

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"Is not the Church to-day a masculine hierarchy, with a female constituency, which holds woman in Bible lands in silence and in subjection? No institution in modern civilization is so tyrannical and so unjust to woman as is the Christian Church. It demands everything from her and gives her nothing in return."

Josephine K. Henry -  (Statement, The Woman’s Bible, 1898)

Reblogged from atheismfuckyeah with 15 notes | Permalink