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The Forum > Article Comments > 'A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists' reviewed > Comments

'A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists' reviewed : Comments

By Graham Young, published 9/4/2009

Book review 'A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists' by David Myers is well worth a read, if only for the interesting facts that it turns up.

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There is not an anti-Christian crusade, it is a movement asking for freedom from religion, et al. And, witnessing the endless cesspool of irrational religious violence that plagues the world, who can blame us?

The author accuses Dawkins and Hitchens of judging faith by vulgar caricatures. This is nonsense. As Richard Dawkins explicitly stated in "The God Delusion", these are not whacked-out fringe beliefs, these are mainstream, commonly-held religious views.

Perhaps there are first-year theology students wincing, but first-year theology students are very much in the minority. From the pulpits, in the mosques and madrassas, and in the street, the voices of religious fanaticism are loud and clear.

It's interesting that C. S. Lewis figures so prominently in your review; yes, he could be a very persuasive debater, but for someone who was trained in logic he was also capable of making some appallingly bad arguments. His "liar, lunatic or Lord" argument is a sterling case in point.
Posted by Clownfish, Thursday, 9 April 2009 9:55:42 AM
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clownfish beat me to it. graham, this is not anti-christian. this is not about you. your beliefs don't garner that much respect.

and clownfish is right, that this is not about "vulgar caricatures of religious faith". barney schwartz just wrote of a survey suggesting that 54% of australians believe jesus rose from the dead. i don't know if that would "make a first year theology student wince", but it sure got a shudder out of me.

the trouble with the "non-vulgar" christans at OLO is that they seldom state clearly or coherently what they DO believe. (e.g. what does GY believe? i haven't a clue). it becomes a matter of "you don't/can't/won't understand". well, it's true, we other guys don't understand. but that is your responsibility, not ours.

it's up to you. if you guys want your hugely implausible beliefs to be respected, if you claim membership of some non-vulgar version of religious belief, the onus is upon you to state clearly what you believe, and why. if you don't, if you repeatedly fail or decline to do so, it is only natural to treat such beliefs with contempt. you may have faith in your god, but you are giving no reason for a non-believer to have faith in you.
Posted by bushbasher, Thursday, 9 April 2009 10:38:43 AM
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Epicurus on "God":

"Is he willing to prevent evil but not able? Then is he impotent.
Is he able but not willing? Then is he malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"

Quoted in one of the books that you deem "intellectually and philosophically impoverished" - try reading them and you'll discover which one I refer to.

Answer Epicurus' conundrum and then perhaps we can have a logical conversation about all this.
Posted by bitey, Thursday, 9 April 2009 10:44:10 AM
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You almost lost me @ "These are intellectually and philosophically impoverished books", but I pushed on. These books serve their purpose well, they hold a mirror up to faith, we can't help it if you don't like what you see.
To expand on what Clownfish said the more liberal elements of religious faiths ( I'm not picking out Christianity here) are to busy attacking agnostics and atheist that they haven't notice what the inmates are doing. The more scholarly member of the faithful may have moved on from a simple view of their religion but the masses havenít. This is a charge the Christian are happy to level at Islam for instance, but not recognise it in themselves.

The fact is there is no solid evidence for the supernatural, Why are Christians convinced by the arguments against Australian dreamtime stories or The Norse Gods, the evidence against their faith is the same. These are beliefs that were once held to be true. This goes to the heart of the matter. The religious donít seem to understand just how silly their beliefs looks to an agnostic or Atheist. When the religious say that the non religious donít understand their religion enough to comprehend the arguments. Iím reminded of a star trekker who has studied all the shows, knows the line off by heart, spends hours talking to fellow trekkies about warp drives and replicators. These people know star trek but in the end who cares itís just a story
Posted by Kenny, Thursday, 9 April 2009 10:46:03 AM
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I also noted the Lewis comparison and felt it was rather unfair.

Despite what one may describe as the flaws in his methodology Lewis was, after all, one of the giants in his field.

Also he was writing at a time that Christianity was still a dominate paradigm and where those who would, nowadays, declare themselves as unbelievers were still at least paying lip service to this dominant construct.

Both he, and the much-neglected Dorothy L. Sayers were also professional writers whose secular books are classic in their field. They were not writing against a strident background of a population pre-disposed to to argue against them. Their role was to illuminate rather than to defend to a dominant base of sceptics and Atheists.

Its a little like comparing Virginia Andrews to Virginia Woolf.

The seemingly diffident approach of an author cognisant of current world-views may have been the result of a pragmatic decision to approach 'slowlee, slowlee' and gamble on at least some consideration rather than outright condemnation?
Posted by Romany, Thursday, 9 April 2009 10:54:18 AM
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With dogmatic edicts emanating from the guardians of Christianity to abhorrent practices against women in fundamentalist Islam and inhuman behaviour by Zionists towards Palestinians,theologists have only got themselves to blame for the mass departure of believers from their folds..The sheep have moved on and it's the shepherds who are lost.
Posted by maracas1, Thursday, 9 April 2009 11:07:14 AM
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