Sunday School

Sunday School May 5th 2019

This topic contains 22 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 6 months, 4 weeks ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 23 total)
  • Author
  • #26158

    The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom annual report.

    I think this atheist group in Florida is doing a great job but they will need a bigger boat soon. It is for the greater good when people break the taboo of atheism and help others to think freely.

    I think we need to also thank right-wing evangelicals for helping people to see the light. Mike is thinking about the most tremendous God ever.

    I wonder if there is any correlation between the locations of where these reviewers live and levels of religiosity.

    Humanists in Britain are not happy with the BBC and its religious programming bias. I hope Professor Alice Roberts will be able to sway them.

    A rabbi on Faux News admits that not all atheists are potential mass murderers.  Maybe some Christians are though? Anti-Muslim hate is driven by politics and not by faith says this survey. Yeah right, faith has nothing to do with it.

    A man in India has his atheism revoked by the State.

    Here’s a first! A Christian pastor is accused of financial corruption and running a slave cult.

    The Catholic Church in New York asks forgiveness for 115 of its pedophiles members instead of hanging its collective head in shame and closing down for good.

    The National Day of Prayer Is Illegal, but Courts won’t hear any challenges.

    Do you consider this a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?

    Can you find any faults in this article on “new atheism”?

    In Defense of Disbelief: An Anti-Creed.

    This weeks’ Woo: The Cult of Chiropractors make no bones about treating concussion.

    Climate Change: The deniers in Congress. Don’t bother expecting them to change their minds.

    9 questions we atheists keep getting asked. Pete Buttigieg, are you listening?

    On finding god on a mushroom trip. All I found were good people to spend some time with because it’s the journey and not the trip that counts.

    A new study finds that the Universe is younger and expanding faster than we understood.

    An ancient jawbone collected by a monk has been identified as the first Denisovan discovered outside of Siberia.

    Could you ever be determined enough to live without Free Will? What if the algorithms behind our online digital experiences precede the essence of who we think we are?

    Long Read: Growing up in a cult.

    This week I am reading this book: Hacking Darwin.

    Some photographs taken last week.

    While you are waiting for the kettle to boil…..

    Coffee Break Video: Seeing the Beginning of Time. Hannah Gadsby – shares three ideas and three contradictions. Or not.  Julia Sweeney on the gifts of not believing in god.


    Have a great week everyone!!
    It’s not easy to change world views. Faith has its own momentum and belief is comfortable. To restructure reality is traumatic and scary. That is why many intelligent people continue to believe: unbelief is an unknown.

    Dan Barker.



    Thanks, Reg!


    The “anti-creed” post on disbelief is good.


    Simon Paynton

    Can you find any faults in this article on “new atheism”?

    I basically have a lot of sympathy for the author, Professor Habadi’s point of view that the Four Horsemen demonstrate only a shallow and ill-informed understanding of religion.  He is wrong to say that they only pick on Islam, however, the Four Horsemen sure don’t like Islam, it’s true.

    But this is where he loses the plot in my opinion, and descends into frothy-mouthed raving:

    In other words, it is quite clear from the writings of the “four horsemen” that “new atheism” has little to do with atheism or any serious intellectual examination of the belief in God and everything to do with hatred and power.

    It is, in fact, the twin brother of the rabid Christian conservatism which currently feeds the Trump administration’s destructive policies at home and abroad – minus all the biblical references.

    Etc.  This second half is just nonsense.  I presume he’s reacting emotionally because he’s stung by all the criticisms of Islam – and maybe he has a sneaky feeling that there is some substance to some of them.


    Simon Paynton

    In Defense of Disbelief: An Anti-Creed.

    I like this guy: he says this:

    Hoping to be proved wrong,

    I think that morality is a mind-body problem (under his definition), but I’m sure it’s not the only mind-body problem.



    The free will article is a major disappointment. For two big reasons. First, once again, it’s widdled down to “I don’t know how a deterministic universe would allow free will” which is a pretty typical argument. Which is okay, more or less, though a standard “We don’t know” would be a lot more intellectually honest than “I just can’t see how it is possible even though we don’t know what consciousness really is or how it works nor how the brains feedback loops work and to what extent the brain works with feedback loops, strange loops and levels of freedom and multiple theories which she has totally neglected to read or consider (or at least summarily dismiss in her blog).

    However, that’s not as disappointing as what comes next in the comment section. Several readers very rightly call her out for wanting to “eat the whole cake but still have leftovers” in which she reduces (to some extent) the illusion of choice down to inevitability and the clock work of the universe, and yet she still uses language like “decision” and in the comment section “responsibility” as though they are meaningful. No. You either have free will along with the ability to make meaningful choices, decisions and be responsible for it or you don’t. It’s all inevitable or not. And she dismisses every single challenge made about this as though there is a difference between making decisions vs choices. As though somehow one defies inevitability and the clock work of the universe and the other doesn’t, yet, not even a sentence over how. But the responsibility is ultimately the worst of their highly simplistic dismissal and their hypocrisy. If nothing could have changed the outcome, if nothing could have happened otherwise, then why would anyone be responsible for any action.  We complain that Christians just ignore our arguments when we say: “God hardened his heart and then punished him for it…that’s unfair” or “God made someone that way and punished them for it” or for the radical ones “God determined everything ahead of time but punishes you for it” etc. And yet in a clock work universe, somehow, magically, responsibility is meaningful. These people have just transferred the explainable from decision to responsibility. Decisions are an illusion however, without any logical or rational explanation or just because I say so, responsibility is still meaningful. Disappointing.


    Simon Paynton

    I like Greta Christina’s article “‘How can you be moral?’: Here are 9 questions you don’t need to ask an atheist“.  I would take slight issue with this:

    we evolved with some core moral values wired into our brains: caring about fairness, caring about loyalty, caring when others are harmed.

    Loyalty is something that people feel when others are good to them.  It’s responsibility that matters – a sense of responsibility to behave kindly and fairly, i.e. cooperatively.


    People can remain loyal to an individual (the tribal chieftain or an unfaithful spouse) and also remain loyal to the groups they belong to even if they think that they have been unfairly treated by the group.

    We did evolve with these “moral” traits hardwired into us.  They are a useful survival mechanism for the group. Most atheists would understand this and that there is little need to spend time teaching what is self-evident to most of us. It does appear though that it is special knowledge to theists, especially those that have little or no understanding of Evolution.


    Simon Paynton

    People can remain loyal to an individual (the tribal chieftain or an unfaithful spouse) and also remain loyal to the groups they belong to even if they think that they have been unfairly treated by the group.

    I think this represents the two sides of the coin of dependence – loyalty and affection on the one hand, towards the person or group we depend on; and the need we have also of the person or group.

    They are a useful survival mechanism for the group.

    The group, but also, each other, and therefore, ultimately, ourselves.  I think that any discussion of morality has to be ultimately grounded in self-interest.  But since we’re interdependent, our self-interest translates into additional concern for others’ well-being and fair treatment.


    Simon Paynton

    A Christian said to me, thriving is good because God made it so.  I said, ethical thriving is good because we say it is.

    Why is something good?  Even if you believe in God, I don’t see any grounds for choosing the first option over the second – it’s unnecessary.


    Simon Paynton

    Here’s a first! A Christian pastor is accused of financial corruption and running a slave cult.

    This would be almost humorous if it wasn’t so terrible.  The pastor is a text-book narcissist in my opinion.

    But a religion can’t be held responsible for bad apples like him.  He violated every sacred precept in the Abrahamic faiths, while ruining people to feed his greed.

    However, there is a possibility, for other reasons, that religion is a corrupting influence in itself.  Why so many paedophile priests, in particular?  This situation is far from rare in any profession dealing with children.

    I am not sure if religion is bound to corrupt in certain unique ways.  I guess the worst one is thinking that God is on one’s side, so “anything I choose to do is justified”.


    But a religion can’t be held responsible for bad apples like him….

    There are no shortage of bad apples. Do not eat any of the apples in the orchard of religions for religion poisons everything. Yes, religion is a corrupting influence for it is based on myths and lies. There are no gods to tend to the trees.


    Simon Paynton

    Do not eat any of the apples in the orchard of religions for religion poisons everything.

    It’s also a force for promoting deep integrity, and that’s what it does much of the time.

    I have come across some difficulties though.  The biggest one I’ve seen in the UK (which seems to be somewhat different from the US and Irish situations) is passive aggression.  On the one hand, an immature Christian might be wary of criticising somebody because it’s “un-Christian” to do so.  On the other, you might get accused of all sorts in an underhand way.  This suppressed aggression is not nice to see.

    That’s the only real complaint I’ve had cause to make, and it doesn’t apply to all by any means.  In the UK we don’t have religion trying to take control of government politics, and politicians are seen as weirdos if they say they are religious, so they don’t say it.

    If a Christian (say) has it in them to be mature and robust, and able to make legitimate criticisms to people, then this problem goes away.



    It’s also a force for promoting deep integrity

    I don’t think that religion is that force, however I will grant that for some a “higher power” has been a good placeholder. Specifically we can look at the US founding fathers who used  “god” as universal grantor of the Bill of Rights. Most of them detested organized religions and powerful government and set up the US Constitution with checks and balances (including the separation of church and state) that would render the government unable to achieve the tyranny that usually resulted from all other forms of government.

    It was a cop out, to assign a deity as an overseer but they were at a loss on how to achieve authority. All they ever knew was popes, queens and kings. Conservative are the defenders of the constitution (look at how leftists will so easily trash the right to free speech- just for political correctness) however 250 years later the conservatives are still hung up on this god nonsense.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 23 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.