There is talk about circulating a book about atheism in secondary  schools.It follows Michael Gove giving copies of the King James’ Bible ,freely to schools.  It’s called the “Young Atheist’s  Handbook”.  It has already been freely distributed to schools in the UK by the Humanist Society.What is there to be afraid of?  Well it seems that a Free Presbyterian minister , David McElveen has some problem with young people making informed choices about  life , god and the universe. He was on the radio saying so.You’d imagine that if a person had a  “faith” in an unknown being in the first place , that that very belief would be enough for him. Not so. This minister is in favour of censorship. He doesn’t want this book to be circulated at all. He has an obvious  fear of atheism and a humanist approach, as though it is an affront to some “kingly” god sitting on some golden throne …somewhere “out there”.

 He came up with a series of puerile arguments based on the Bible’s reading that  God created Heaven and Earth. You’d imagine that someone in the 21st century, given all the scientific discoveries at hand, who taught about the existence of a god and never had to produce proof for his theory would be viewed at best, as an eccentric and at worst ,a crackpot. The same minister has major problems with Darwinism and the theory of evolution. The minister’s style of delivery is that quiet passive /agressive approach, in that he  alone sees himself as  soley equipped to communicate with us as  very small awe -struck unknowing children, and anyone else contributing to the debate  is a poor deluded non- believer. It’s certainly a better approach than the hellfire and brimstone, fear-mongering of the past , but it is nontheless still an affront to rationalism.He may speak quietly but the wonder is that the man is even listened to in this 21st century.

 The sad truth is that he is avidly listened to by a  worryingly large plethora of people in Northern Ireland .Some of our government ministers have managed to bring these eccentric beliefs in to the very heart of our legislation. We have in our midst believers in  a wholly unproveable Creationist myth . A belief that  proposes that the earth is 6000 years old,  in face of scientific knowledge that it is in fact billions of years old

. The lady proposing the introduction of the book was asked on air ,what she thought would happen to her at death, as if the fear of death would also produce a fear of a medieval  Hell and a divine punishment in her . She simply answered that when her brain and senses  shut down she would cease to exist except in the memory of her friends and family. That sounds about right to me , when you consider the  graves , bones and dust of the millions  gone before us ,that we tramp over in our daily lives…in a constantly recycling, contained  universe  of  cosmically blown stardust.

 The belief in religions and gods as a balm for the human fear of death is one thing. To ban another view that there may well be a  much more simple believable  story, right before our eyes, is wrong.

The simple human story that we are born.We live  and then we die.

 We can look around us and see the mess on earth that warring religious factions have wrought as they cleave to these ancient fears and seperatist  beliefs.How can this  simple proposal to think that we human beings are  in  fact , all the very same and that the only thing dividing us  is our own irrational fears.

 Surely that should be taught in schools .


  1. David Glackin July 31, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    Excellent piece of writing, though I fear the logical simple points of rational thought will be drowned out by the deluge of rage against it.
    For all their believe in an all seeing, all powerful God, some people are very protective of him/her and they feel it is their given duty to intervene on God’s behalf. May God protect from their onslaught

  2. Paddy everton July 31, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    The “opium of the masses” is as effective today as it ever was. The mcIlveens of this world wittingly or unwittingly assist in the maintenance of inequality by dividing the very people that should be challanging the status quo and calling for change. We need to educate the coming generations to question and challenge what is wrong in society and I for one welcome anything that helps bring this about.

  3. dedeideoprofundis July 31, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    when her brain and senses shut down she would cease to exist except in the memory of her friends and family

    But whatabout her soul, PaddyO, whatabout her soul?

    • Paddy everton August 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      To answer that one, I suppose you would have to believe in the existence of a soul and I don’t. I believe that the concept of heaven and hell in the afterlife is unsupported by any evidence whatsoever. We have the capacity to create a better life now for humanity. The role of organised religion throughout history has been to distract the people from dealing with daily oppression and exploitation by creating an imaginary vision of an afterlife that is free of want and misery. Why can’t we create that now? Why wait till we die?

  4. Baldybapthebarber August 1, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Hi Harry an interesting piece. I’m with you when you say “What is there to be afraid of?” It’s totally healthy to have alternative opinions available to all our young people.

    I myself am a 32 year old Catholic and someone who growing up in my 20s drifted from my faith quite considerably. I began questioned the whole thing, “Does God Exist?”. During this period I did a lot of soul searching if you’ll excuse the pun; I read atheist books (Dawkins work mainly) watched atheist videos online detailing and explaining the folly of believing in God etc. And I did all this in a bid to understand how the business of God really stacks up from a rational and logical standpoint.

    I would describe those years of searching and of studying atheism and theism, as difficult for me, but long story short that period of questioning and searching actually lead me back to my faith with a renewed vigour and strength. So for me I would definitely agree that there is absolutely nothing to fear from atheism or humanism. If it wasn’t for that initial period of doubt and questioning and my ability to access alternative material on worldviews I wouldn’t be where I am now. You see for me it was the intellectual thing; I thought to believe in God meant you had to leave your brain outside the church door if you will! However, When I read counter arguments to the Atheist worldview, I was struck by the power of the philosophical thought that went into them and logical strength of the same.

    There is a leading Christian apologist called Dr William Lane Craig (doctorates in Philosophy and Theology) who’s work I admire tremendously, you may be aware of his work if not be sure to check him out

    With regards the rest of your article there are one or two other points I’d like to pick you up on. You point out that “He came up with a series of puerile arguments based on the Bible’s reading that God created Heaven and Earth. You’d imagine that someone in the 21st century, given all the scientific discoveries at hand, who taught about the existence of a god and never had to produce proof for his theory would be viewed at best, as an eccentric and at worst ,a crackpot. The same minister has major problems with Darwinism and the theory of evolution.”

    Well just for balance not all Christians hold this particular opinion, now I know this wasn’t really you’re point but I’m just mentioning it incase anyone reads your blog and assumes all Christians do. Speaking from a Catholic point of view I read an article recently from titled “What Scientific Evidence is there of God’s Existence?” it states:

    “Science is concerned with the material universe and its ‘law-like’ behaviour. Catholic Christians believe that God created the universe and continues to hold it in being, i.e. without God’s existence the universe cannot exist, so we should expect an interweaving harmony between science and doctrine, just as there is between reason and faith. This has always been the emphasis of the Church: she does not insist on belief regardless of whether it seems to make sense or fit in with other forms of knowledge. Moreover the Catholic tradition has always affirmed the importance of learning from physical observation.”

    A great example of this, I believe, is the evidence based argument that Dr W L Craig wrote titled “Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ” read it here a fascinating piece of work. In addition I for one am of the opinion that theists have nothing at all to fear from science. The document from faith. Org also goes on to state, (which I think is important in the dichotomy of discussion of which we are in):

    “Discussion of the existence of God is a philosophical question, so one has to be careful in one’s arguments. God is not material, He is pure Spirit. Therefore, there can be no physical ‘experiment’ to prove or disprove God’s existence. However, the ‘laws’ of physics, the interrelatedness of being within matter that lies at the heart of all natural science…”

    The other point I’d like to discuss with you is where you say “ The belief in religions and gods as a balm for the human fear of death is one thing. To ban another view that there may well be a much more simple believable story, right before our eyes, is wrong.” What I’d like to discuss here is the part of the statement where you say that it is “…much more simple…” That in my experience is a naïve statement to make, for these questions are extremely important to the vast majority of humanity and questions that humanity has struggled with for millennia. These things are far from simple, and anyone who thinks so then I’d challenge them to counter, very simply, the plethora of philosophical arguments for theism.

    On the whole I agree largely with your article – having the freedom to explore differing worldviews is very important and I add my voice to your call for all worldviews to be available to students.

    God Bless.

    • paddykool August 1, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

      Hi Baldy….I think your response was excellent. I tackle some of your points within the other reply but I have to say plainly that the human’s belief in a god is wholly make believe. There are reasons for it of course and I suppose if we studied how a religion develops from mankind’s earliest times and is continually evolved from worshipping the sun ..the stars…the planets….the sacrificial side of it and what that meant to beings who were in thrall to what they saw as forces controlling their lives…their weather…their very food and survival. You can see how the idea of a god is based on a heiracy…a sort of lord …or a heavenly leader of sorts.
      There is no real evidence that there is need of a creator or if there is a heavenly plane other than one we have dreamed or imagined.There simply is no evidence of anything else other than the world we exist and die in.We do know that it is not a “solid” world of course…but a gathering of atoms in varying densities that we all swim through like fish in water.We think we are solid beings but we are collections of atoms of the same stardust that was blasted from the sun and rained on jthe earth .Only in that sense are we ghostly “souls”
      What we think of as minds and souls are constructs of our brains.When our brain begins to shut off each sense shuts off until our connection to the world switches off as well.Then we gate truly dead.That is the very same process that happens to your pet cat.Because we are the top predator on earth we are also vain enough to think we are just that bit more special than any other blood and bone creature.We are not.We don’t worry about our little cat having a soul or having a place in heaven.That’s because we think we are made for better things.We see ourselves as the favourites in all creation. We’ve told ourselves this many times over while we slaughter and hunt everything that moves.
      The truth is we are animals who have developed into omnivores.with grand ideas about ourselves.We see ourselves as somehow surviving our deaths unlike …say ….an elephant or a dolphin.We’ve told ourselves that unlike them….we’ll have another “life” beyond our normal span ….Well..why should that be true?

      • BaldyBapTheBarber August 2, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

        See that’s why I like atheists, forget about them oul agnostics!! No; theism and A-theism is where the action is.

        Thank you for your reply PK or should I say Harry? No matter thank you for engaging HarryKool. I love the way you write PK especially on the political side of Jude’s blog, there’s a great flow to your writing which I admire. However with your 2 contributions, 1 above and 1 below, to me anyhow, it seems they are written for the atheist converted. They’re loaded with great atheist sound bytes and examples of how religion is bad for society, that no doubt will have the atheist readers salivating; I can almost hear them cheering “good on ya PK give it to them oul theists”.

        I can  come back with examples of how atheism is bad for society: Dr Bill Craig in his book On Guard notes that Many atheist philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus have argued that if God does not exist then life is absurd. That is to say that life has no ultimate meaning, value , or purpose. If life really ends at the grave then it really doesn’t matter weather you live as a Stalin or a Mother Teresa. As Fyordor Dostoyevsky put it: ” If there is no immortality … Then all things are permitted.”

        Dr Bill Craig also notes that  Richard Wrumbrand a pastor who was tortured for his faith in the communist soviet prisons reported that:

        “The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe when man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil. There is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The communist torturers often said “There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish ” I have heard one torturer even say, “I thank God, in whom I don’t believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart” He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflicted on prisoners”

        Another example using Bill Craig’s book is where he cites Richard Dawkins assessment of human worth ” There is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil no good, nothing but pointless indifference… We are machines for propagating DNA… Its every living object’s sole reason for being”. Dr Craig points out that to accept this as atheistic truth then it must be pointed out to the atheist that “To kill someone or to love someone is morally equivalent. For in a universe without God, good and evil do not exist – there is only the bare, valueless fact of existence, and there is no one to say you are right and I am wrong”

        You say that all the worlds troubles comes from belief in God. I was a little shocked at that assessment Pk, you need big shoulders for the burden of proof on that one. As a Catholic I’d like to balance your assessment and note some of good things the Catholic Church has done and continues to do:

        “1) Our family is made up of every race.
        World Fact Book

        2) We are young and old, See below:
        The Pew Forum: U.S. Religious Landscape Survey

        3) Rich and poor, men and women
        The Pew Forum: U.S. Religious Landscape Survey

        4) sinners and saints.
        St. Augustine: Sermon 38 on the New Testament

        5) Our family has spanned the centuries
        See the US Census Bureau fact page above for geographical distribution of Catholics; see for info on the 2000-year span of Catholic history.

        6) With God‟s grace, we started hospitals to care for the sick.
        Catholic Encyclopedia

        7) We establish orphanages, and help the poor.
        Catholic Encyclopedia

        8) We are the largest charitable organization
        on the planet, bringing relief and comfort to those in need.
        Just Catholic Charities, Food for the Poor, Catholic Relief Services, St. Jude’s, and America’s Second Harvest alone total $5,570,000,000, which is greater than #1 on the list for America. Keep going down

        9) We educate more children than any other scholarly or religious institution.

        10) We developed the Scientific method – Source: From How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Dr. Thomas Woods, page 94
        See also:
        Notable Catholic scientists:

        11) …and laws of evidence
        Source: From How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Dr. Thomas Woods, page 187

        12) We founded the college (university) system.
        The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Universities,” Edward A. Pace,
        Ibid., “Schools: in the Church,” Wilfrid Ryan, Philippe Perrier, Michael Maher, Andrew Murphy, William
        Turner and J.A. Burns,

        13) We defend the dignity of all human life,
        and uphold marriage and family.
        Sources: Vatican
        Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

        And while this is all fine and dandy it doesn’t really answer the question. And the killer for me is that both of our replies are our subjective opinions on the question of Gods existence. They don’t prove Gods existence either way. There is no logical construct and analysis to really try and answer the question. And this is where logic comes in!

        I don’t claim to be able to prove Gods existence with logic but what I try my best to do is to show, through logic, that believe in God is more plausibly true than false.

        I’ll leave you with this logically airtight arguement to mull over. You say that “There is no real evidence that there is need of a creator…” well many believe there is. Dr Craig again –

        “I believe that God’s existence best explains a wide range of the data of human experience. Let me briefly mention eight such cases.

        1. God is the best explanation why anything at all exists.

        Suppose you were hiking through the forest and came upon a ball lying on the ground. You would naturally wonder how it came to be there. If your hiking buddy said to you, “Forget about it! It just exists!” you would think he was either joking or just wanted you to keep moving. No one would take seriously the idea that the ball just exists without any explanation. Now notice than merely increasing the size of the ball until it becomes coextensive with the universe does nothing to either provide, or remove the need for, an explanation of its existence.

        So what is the explanation of the existence of the universe (by ‘the universe’ I mean all of spacetime reality)? The explanation of the universe can lie only in a transcendent reality beyond it – beyond space and time – the existence of which transcendent reality is metaphysically necessary (otherwise its existence would also need explaining). Now there is only one way I can think of to get a contingent entity like the universe from a necessarily existing cause, and that is if the cause is an agent who can freely choose to create the contingent reality. It therefore follows that the best explanation of the existence of the contingent universe is a transcendent personal being – which is what everybody means by ‘God’.

        We can summarize this reasoning as follows:

        1. Every contingent thing has an explanation of its existence.

        2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is a transcendent, personal being.

        3. The universe is a contingent thing.

        4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence.

        5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe is a transcendent, personal being.

        – which is what everybody means by ‘God’.”

        • paddykool August 3, 2014 at 9:03 am #

          Well you know …oh thanks for the complimentary words Baldy. A pat on the back is never a waste……My little granddaughter has kept me well away from the keypad this past day or so….
          The thing about not believing in gods is that it doesn’t mean that you don’t believe in a common morality or that life is a waste of time.The fact is …from an atheist’s point of view , we’re already all living in that particular state of grace .It’s just that the atheists see it as the whole beautiful story of their lives , whereas the believer in god …just wants a wee bit more….an extension , if you like …and maybe one that will put their fears to rest and let them have another go that lasts forever .
          Now at this point we could stop and have a discussion about how “forever” works and what that might mean .It could mean that what we on earth accept as the big nuclear clock of the sun that spins out our days will cease to spin so that “time ” stops and is no longer available. That might mean “forever heaven ” for instance .It’s one way to look at things . How does that compare to what you know and enjoy about the only thing you know about on earth…your very “life”? What do you really know about any other kind of “living”
          That inter-reaction with your family and friends …your lovers and the favourite things you love to do ..the things you love to eat , drink and enjoy.The music and books that make your life so worthwhile .The sports you might like to watch .The poetry or the cycle ride you may enjoy. If you didn’t enjoy those things anymore , would your life have much value for you? Would it be any fun?Those things you already know about , right? Some people with infirmities already struggle with those questions. You’ll see it more so when the electricity driving the brain and body of a loved one goes awry and dementia begins to destroy their brain and personality before your eyes. They will know little of the process as their senses fail but you’ll find yourself wishing them an easier exit.
          You know the way you like to get away for a week on holiday , but you like to get back home to your own bed at the end of it .You sigh with relief when you sink between those familiar sheets..What if your life went on forever ? Would you be screaming to be let off the hook and allowed to die? Like the vampire who lives forever but loses all his friends and lovers to death.. and then finds life an endless monotony…a sentence to serve rather than a joy to live..That’s one way to look at it from a perspective of everything we know … What if you lived with your family in the Gaza strip by some happenstance of birth? You might wish for a better “heaven” …anywhere….
          For most of us though, we can savour every moment of our earthly span. It can be a glorious world to wake into daily.The birds singing in the dawn . The sun shining.The winds blowing the trees . The bees buzzing and the sting of that first cup of tea. We can enjoy that .We can love it , in fact .Every moment of it can be savoured .It is not worthless .In fact , because we know that our time is finite . …We’ve watched our parents die .We’ve watched our grandparents and some friends die. We know we will die too.That alone can make each moment with them all …precious.we don’t need to be told that there is a magical way to extend that. Our given life should be enough but it is in the nature of us to want it to last longer …to extend youth by pills, potions and surgery . Some people have even tried being frozen for a future resurrection.
          To believe that without a belief in a god we would all be made immoral doesn’t really stand up either . That ‘s like a pretence . Build a god just in case , even if it doesn’t exist we’ll have to invent one to keep the people under control? Well that’s hardly an argument for the reality of a god’s existence is it? Even with a “god” men will still be immoral. Even with civic laws in place , man will be immoral. They are only checks and balances . The old saw is that locks are to keep honest men out .The dishonest ones will simply break the door down. Morality is something that has to be learned and taught for the civic good and no other reason.Even with lots of religion we’re still all killing each other so it’s hardly an argument either.
          I’m not saying that churches have not done human good .They have as organised charities. .There are lots of moral people who have been brought up and educated in the churches.There are also those who haven’t, of course, who have used it for their equally nefarious ends. .Do you think they could not have been taught morality outside of the fantastical story that believers in god are told. They couldn’t be taught what is right and what is wrong for a stable society? Of course they could. The morality is very human To say that they need to believe in made-up super being to make moral choices does not follow. People do good works for reasons of altruism too. You don’t need to believe in a god to give your seat on the bus to someone more infirm than yourself .You just need a little commonsense and goodwill to do that. You need to be unselfish.You need to be thoughtful.There are plenty who wouldn’t even say “Good morning.” They just have never been taught common courtesies. That’s all.
          You speak of the universe as if if it needs a human reason to exist.Why should it ?What if it just is… ? Humans might need an explanation for the reason it exists but that is in their own curiousity .The same curiousity that makes them the striving creatures that they are. The curiousity that drives art and science. You’ll see that curiousity in your pets or in chimpanzees too.
          The fact is that everything we know could easily be the only tiny anamoly …the smallest piece of time …in an unfthomly large ocean of the stuff. We like to think that there may be other equally curious and developing creatures in the vastness of space that we can reach out to too but that is not necessarily so . We might all exist…everything…. as a tiny speck …in a tiny window of time…a mistake if you like…that will simply dissappear in a blink… and be gone for ever…beyond any human notion of time .Even if we had alien brothers out there they could exist billions of years apart from us .. maybe devoid of our human curiosity that makes us want to conquer space.never to meet ..and die out ….. The whole thing is so vast and dead to life ,that if and when we , inquiring little animals …..go for good…not another being will have a single thought about any of it ever again….ever! The insects jogged along for a billion years without any thought of a god …Then we came along for a while…the insects may still exist when we go again….We haven’t been here that long anyway.
          Everything you or I knew about god has been taught to us by our parents and schools from a young malleable age so it is no wonder that we have this stuff in our brains .It is not what all other children are taught throughout our planet, although many are.No human on earth knows anything about a god .Humans have made the whole idea of a leader up from their imaginations , just as they’ve made up all the other stories. Throughout the ages the story is altered to the mores and fashions of the current societies . so we get ideas like heaven and hell…limbo …all those wonderful ideas .We get god as a benevolent father who invented us for his pleasure .Then when we set to killing each other , instead of blaming the instigator of all this , we are grafted a “free will” so that we alone can take responsibility for our own actions. God doesn’t get the blame .You have to ask yourself though…why would a very omniptent creature …being or whatever …have any need to invent any of this ..You’d think that existing in your very “Godhood” would be enough for anyone…wouldn’t you? Just like life on earth should be enough for any of us if we opened our eyes to its beauties.

          • BaldyBapTheBarber August 3, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

            Hey PK I know how it is with distractions; I’ve a toddler and and newborn to juggle haha, but hey I wouldn’t have it any other way!

            I think you might have misunderstood my point with regards to Atheism and morals, and as this is a very important and delicate  subject to get across I think I’ll have to lean on parts Dr Craig’s essay “What difference does it make if God exists?” to clarify what I mean when I say that in a life without God then meaning, value and purpose are ultimately human illusions. They are just in our heads. So if we are to believe that atheism is true then life is objectively meaningless, valueless, and purposeless, no matter what we believe to the contrary. All that which you have so beautifully “penned” above, objectively speaking, doesn’t matter.

            Now, not for one second am I implying that Atheists lead sad meaningless lives, that you have no values or that atheists lead immoral lives, that atheists don’t have any purpose for living. Not at all old bean!!! I would like to stress that a life without these beliefs would be unbearable. However, and this is the kernel of what I’m saying; given atheism, these things which every human holds dear, these beliefs are all subjective illusions: it’s all in our heads it the mere appearance of meaning, value and purpose, even though objectively speaking there really isn’t any. So if God doesn’t exist then ultimately our lives our meaningless, valueless and purposeless despite how desperately we cling to the illusion to the contrary.

            To further underscore the absurdity of life without God I think it’s clear that the only thing an atheist can do is face life and live it bravely. But the atheist is left with a problem here, for to live life consistently then you can’t really be happy; it’s impossible to live life without giving it value meaning and purpose, but to give it so, then you are fooling yourself and therefore living inconsistently.

            Dr Bill Craig uses Francis Shaeffer to explain the point well:

            “Modern man, says Schaeffer, resides in a two-storey universe. In the lower storey is the finite world without God; here life is abserd as we have seen. In the upper storey are meaning, value and purpose. Now modern man lives in the lower storey because he believes there is no God. But he cannot live happily in such a absurd world: therefore, he continually makes leaps of faith into the upper storey to affirm meaning, value and purpose, even though he has no right to, since he does not believe in God”

            Dr Craig sums it up the 3 areas ; MEANING – he uses the example of philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, while understanding the absurdity of life he chose to give meaning by following Marxism. He says “now this is totally inconsistent. It is inconsistent to say life is objectively absurd and then to say you can crest meaning for your life. If life really is absurd then you’re trapped in the lower storey. To try to create meaning in life represents a leap to the upper storey. But Sartre has no basis for this leap. Sartres program is actually an exercise in self-delusion.”

            VALUE OF LIFE: “…atheistic humanists are totally inconsistent in affirming the traditional values of love and brotherhood. Camus has been rightly criticised for inconsistently holding both to the absurdity of life and the ethics of human love and brotherhood. The view that there are no values is logically incompatible with affirming the values of love and brotherhood”

            PURPOSE OF LIFE – “The only way most people who deny purpose in life live happily is either by making up some purpose – which amounts to self-delusion, as we saw with Sartre – or by not carrying their views to it’s logical conclusions. The temptation to invest one’s own petty plans and projects with objective significance and thereby to find some purpose to one’s life is almost irresistible.”

            Concluding Dr Craig says “This is the dreadful verdict pronounced over modern man. In order to survive he must live in self-deception”

        • Jude Collins August 3, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

          I admire several things about your comment, Baldybap (although I object on principle to your self-description, having a vested interest…): (i) It is very usual to see criticism of religious faith, rare to see defence of religious faith; (ii) Your argument is nothing if not thorough; (iv) you quote sources for your opinion (although the name Bill Craig makes me think along political rather than religious lines); (iv) Like Paddy/HarryKool, you are able to disagree in a civilized, even cheerful way. How refreshing. Maith thú.

          • BaldyBapTheBarber August 3, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

            Jude just remember that baldness is a MANS disease, never forget that my fine friend. Thank you for your kind words means a lot to me coming from your good self.

            PS I’m not really bald! 🙂

        • Francis D August 6, 2014 at 3:45 am #

          Baldy Bap, with all due respect, PKool’s enquiries as to whether a Deity exists or not, nor whether Religion et al can in any denomination come to negate, nor reject such a premuse, has feck all to do with whether PK is Harry or Paddy!!!
          On this forum we discuss as equals. PK I respect, and whether he is not a Catholic means abdolutely damn all.
          To andwer your assumptiond, with all due respect,-I myself am a devout Atheist, lapse Catholic, free thinker I believe. I despise the Orange Order as the are divisive and have victimised the cimmunity from which I have cone from. This is not digressing from the issue, and my Atheist Republican affiliations lie fully with all Kindred Brethren who despise Supremisism and elites. PK, has made cogent points on the ecistential craving for Identity that adherents to the various denominations to Chrisendom and elsewhere in Ireland seej sanctuary in their quest for order they seek. I am Irish. As Thomas Paine wanted on two continents, to be buried by slaves,-omitted in the grandios all men are created equal lie that therTea Party et al sell.

  5. Francis D August 1, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    Excellent Peice….a clear counter narrative to the chronic irrationalism of the Zealous Bible brigade. Counter views where Reason and enlightenment are Rubbished openly by those with Political Power however, is very problematic and indeed dangerous. Whether it is the Israelis who believe that the deeds to the Holy Lands lie in the Bible thus justifying Racist Zionist Ethnic Cleansing and Expansion, or the edicts of extreme Sharia as used by ISIS et al to persecute the unbelievers and prosecute their kin as co-defendants, or our own Orange Order here in Ireland with their doctrines decrying the apostasy of Papish Worship and Rome, to our Catholic Church, quietly hiding behind fudging arguments to avoid contest

    • BaldyBapTheBarber August 1, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

      Hello there Francis D, I concur with most of your comment but can you clarify your last statement re “our Catholic Church, quietly hiding behind fudging arguments to avoid contest”

      What are the arguments you assert they are fudging and what is the contest? 

  6. Francis D August 1, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    …………..opposition by the Catholic Church to integrated education, when the accumulative price of Religious dogmatism is added in Ireland and beyond, it is a Tax on humanity much to high for our Peoples to pay, hostages to ignorance and irrationalism, then lets employ our town cryers to extoll the virtues of this counter narrative, one that makes Sense.

    • BaldyBapTheBarber August 1, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

      Are you asserting that belief in God makes you ignorant and irrational?

      • Francis D August 4, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

        Sorry for my delay in replying Baldybap…No, I have my own views on Religion, but would not rubbish someones individual belief in a deity. That is a matter for them. The line however I draw is with the divisiveness and dogma propagated by Religion itself. I believe it has such an overall detrimental effect in our World, that it must stand the rigours of intense scrutiny to Justify its adverse effects on the Peoples of this Earth. I have respect for the individual, but contempt for the institutions that use it as a means of social control and division.

  7. paddykool August 1, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    Well , that would depend on whether or not you had one of those , I suppose….

    • paddykool August 2, 2014 at 7:58 am #

      This was for dedeideoprofundis !!

  8. paddykool August 1, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    This is surely a bad time to get into a debate like this , given that I am in the throes of a visitation of a very important person in the shape of my little grand daughter. She is currently consuming all of the household’s available time. But…here goes….
    Obviously there is no evidence required for a faith in a supreme being, yet civilizations build laws and structures around the fear of cosmic reprisal, or otherwise, at life’s end. ”Faith” being an insurance policy that is never cashed in. It is the perfect use of fear. Humans are compliant in it. Some people need their gods whether they exist or not. The problem is that all of our world troubles have their core in these fantasies .None more so than in Ireland.
    So-called followers of the peacemaker ,Jesus,[ a Jewish man who claimed to be the Son of a mysterious other worldly being ,somewhere “out there”], on all sides, have no problem dispensing with their beliefs of forgiveness and embracing a more extreme set of revenge beliefs from an even earlier time, when it suits their agenda. The legacy of the Christian Crusades still resound throughout the world. Damn it , humans love revenge. …..we love to divide our selves like football team supporters and…. rage .That is what it looks like from outside.Them and Us. Time and change appear to be no obstacle to carrying out this revenge. A traveller from another universe, coming upon this behaviour would be mystified if such a thing was possible.
    Evidence of anything “other-worldly” remain unseen. Angels and other-worldly saints are believed to inhabit a “heaven”. Cathedrals are raised to better scrape the skies. Religious ceremony becomes theatre, dressed in elaborate costumes Without gods to believe in any more, their associated other-worldly beings, souls ghosts , spirits ,devils, Faeries, goblins, and all the rest, fade away….including religious beliefs. Many of these fantastical creatures already disappeared with the introduction of electric light and television largely ended the story-telling tradition that brought all these ideas..
    Without the mystery we are left with just our brute selves staring at the stars and making up stories to gossip and gull ourselves with.
    So everything we are brought up to know as truth is built on moving sands[silicon]. We live and we die. We are arrogant, deluded and vain enough to believe that we are somehow special, chosen beings , bowing before a benevolent god while taking instruction and solace from his/her representatives on our planet’s surface. If god is our” imaginative invention” and in effect does not really exist …. We are not going any further…. [full stop]….There is no new place “out there”, “up there”, “down there”, in another heavenly, dreamy , cloudy parallel zone, where everyone we have ever known and loved will greet us after death,…where every beast we have ever eaten will be revived…..alive and ready to be eaten all over again.[or maybe not……maybe we’ll not need to eat or breathe. We’ll just sit about on clouds being nice forever …and never get bored!]
    As far as we know we are very small and very alone in a vast emptiness of space. Our planet can seem pretty interesting and beautiful depending on the fortunes of birth and our individual places in the scheme of things. Alternatively it can be a misery, a barbarity of hopelessness and slavery.
    Why do we have a problem with dying at the end of our lives.? , Being buried, or being dug up and displayed in a future museum… it’s alright for 3000 year old mummies. They’re Egyptian after all and they’ve no friend or family, all these years later, to complain about the violation of their graves… afterlife or heaven involved in that scenario…
    Then we talk about a “spiritual” life afterwards or a spiritual world which co-exists alongside what we think is our “solid” physical world. We just keep making this stuff up. If there was a heaven who’s ever going to be able to describe it, anyway? The reality that we do not want to accept is that everybody and everything on earth dies ,and never comes back , while the remaining creatures walk over their dust and plants grow over and through them. We don’t want to believe any of that of course. Instead we’d rather tell ourselves any old nonsense. In the past we even wrote it down in weighty books, which a very few were privy to, and copied, for succeeding generations of innocent, naive children to imbibe with their mother’s indulgence .Most could not read until relatively recent times and many still do not, so they were instructed by those that could. Indoctrinated, you might say

    • Francis D August 2, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

      A compelling and enjoyable post written with verve Paddycool. It is hard to be tactful and vague when dealing with theists, and no offence meant to any here. I think however, a moral compass centred on the eclectic, judgemental Scribblibgs of a few oul Racist, homaphobic Sexists, is a questionable centre point to begin with. Someone’s personal beliefs in a spiritual entity who motivates them is certainty up toa person themselves if Iit gives them succour…..Directing, and indoctrinating people with this unqualifiable delusion is wholly a matter that needs addressed and contested as it both causes untold grief and discord, and cannot stand up to scientific or ethical scrutiny as it sows such seeds of strife.

  9. paddykool August 3, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    Francis D :
    I wouldn’t claim to be an expert on theology , mind. I came to my own conclusions in much the same way as I’ve lived the rest of my life .I just figure out how a thing works and get on with it . …Should that be doing a drawing , writing a story, keeping honeybees, playing a guitar, or building a house . What I worked out about god were the simple conclusions that came to me as a fourteen year old boy sitting in the cathedral on a Sunday morning looking around me and listening some fifty odd years ago. I’m not about to put down anyone who needs their religion. Many do . My own dear mother believed in her faith intensely. .
    I have no problem with religious services …weddings and death and the like . I see them as symbolic theatre if you like . We all go through the same stuff in life ….getting born …baptised maybe … communion maybe …confirmation maybe …marriage …death and burial . The church certainly lends a structure to these events to mark out our lives and help us through the worst aspects of something like death. That’s pretty abstract , right? It’s one thing to get involved in a structure like that …say at a friend’s wedding or a funeral ….It’s another thing to believe in every word of the literal poetry you are actually hearing and living through. It’s like believing that everything that is written is actually the whole truth.
    Many see the Bible , for instance , as the word of the one true god . They have no problem dismissing all those other untrue gods that came before this “true one”. What happened to them? We know that the Norse gods continue to live on in our calendars . The days of the week had to be called something…right? Thursday ? Thor’s Day ? Why not ? that’ll keep him happy What about his dad Odin or Wodin? Wednesday will do for him….Freya ? Friday will cover her..okay?
    Thor , Wodin , Saturn and all the rest . All that paganism smothered by a new set of gods God the Father , the Son and the Holy Ghost?
    .They all leave a trace and they are all a changeable feast.We know that early humans offered sacrifice to their gods .All over the earth they were so afraid of the sun that offering something ..maybe a Harvest Offering of fruit and vegetables…sometimes sacrificial humans themselves were offered for the sun’s return. Maybe ceremoniously by cutting out a very beating heart in a great theatrical gesture….Life …the crops ..all depended on it there was fear. You can see how the Jesus story of Sacrifice to the Father gained ground in a context like that.You can see how the offering up of his very body worked in that context. You can also see how that would work on anyone watching that kind of gesture . Turning the idea of a Roman Execution right on its head .Turning it into a gift to the gods.
    That doesn’t mean that any of it is true of course.It’s just good storytelling in the end so why do people make such a song and dance about it?Your guess is as good as mine….if it stacks up…..

  10. Francis D August 4, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Yes Paddykool, the comforting arms embracing the bereaved, and the solice an individual in despair can glean from these mostly affable ceremonies is something certainly that has its impotance. I have found myself in times telling white lies to those who obviously needed badly that reassurance. When you say fourteen, it harkens me back to an encounter where a Relative of mine engaged me in a discussion,-suffering through it my arrogant ardent passion for changing rhe world for the good in this life. I was quite zealous and thorough in Rubbishing his Faith……as an older relative, and an infinitely more sagacious one than I, I forgot myself in my philosophical zeal….it occurred to me when I saw his faith tested, that this had taxed him in a bad way. I didn’t know he was feeling very low but I saw it like a zen cone hitting me over the head as he betrayed a sadness that I had not seen. I learned a very important lesson. Wanting to change the world for the better to make it just and fair, I had lost sight of the person in the absract arguments. I never made this error again.

    If someone however of a secure disposition plays advocate for such divisive dogma as propogated by Religious institutions” then they must stand up to scrutiny. When Religion indocrinates the young in a such a detrimental way as it does, they cannot be allowed to hide behind cosy abstractions as institutions. Individual people with individual ‘Spiritual’ needs is a wholly different matter and compassion and respect should guide all our beings in individual discourse I strongly believe.

  11. paddykool August 4, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Excellent Francis D …As we get a bit older and as life knocks a few corners off our youthful arrogances and that state of invulnerability that we lived in , we tend to develop a little give and take as adults …if we have any sense ……bending …not breaking.I always like the idea that you don’t push the river. We all have different needs but I hate having any views shoved down my throat too.

    Live and let live is what we should aim for but that too means that indoctrination of children in schools should be verboten. That’s why I feel that some lessons about a variety of world religions should be balanced with similar lessons about the arguments against those beliefs.. Morality could easily be taught instead of religion anyway . Civic morality and civic behaviour skills…Religions should really be left to the churches anyway..

  12. paddykool August 4, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    Hi Baldy bap .. I almost missed your last comment …i’m all over the place…’re on a great run there …so….
    I’m not sure we should expect anything from life . I think if we are fortunate enough to have a good one full of joy and the odd heartbreak , we should be grateful for that at the time of dying…If we are compos mentis of course!
    Basically, for a huge numerous tribe of flesh and bone animals, such as we are, straddling the planet ,to even have the capacity to enjoy an existence beyond the brute hunting for food and shelter and basic survival which doesn’t apply to too many other earthly animal species we should be thankful that we’ve reached this grand place in our evolution without worrying too much about an extension on the span. I wonder do dolphins dream of another life . Do gorillas ? i shouldn’t think so. We explai to ourselves that we are the most imaginative species alive . We are certainly the dominant one .The big Predator that has risen above them all…
    There’s a good argument that we all live a life of illusion , of course .Even in the realm of the senses .We all think that the world around us is the same for each of us ..The way we see things or hear things or understand things . The fact is, we are not all the same and because of our chemistry ,each person’s “take” on the world around him, is variable .It took artists like Picasso and Van Gogh to make us look at it with fresh eyes.
    Just as an insect or a dog experiences our planet completely differently than we do .A dog’s hearing, or its sense of smell ,or its eyesight, renders the surrounding world more like a psychedelic trip for that creature than it does for us. The more acute sense of hearing and smell makes a dog experience our planet like an alien from some other universe might. Different layers of perfumes and layers of hearing that we have no notion of.We still think he sees it all like we do , don’t we?
    My honeybees search for blossom using a unique system that connects them to the sun and directs them as if on invisible flight- lines .When they come across the flowers their scouts have directed them to , they see those flowers not like we see them but in another colour spectrum entirely .They can’t see red for example ; there is no red in a bee’s world: but they are super -sensitive to the ultra -violet spectrum which we humans do not see at all.It leads them into the circle of petals like lights on a landing strip or a helicoptor pad. Of course we think intuitively that everything around us is geared up, just for us humans but that’s not so . That’s our illusory minds making it so.That’s our vanity at work.We experience it all through our senses and if some of those senses are damaged or altered for example by hallucinogenic drugs , then the senses bleed into each other and we experience how a colour tastes or what a sound’s colour is…or what colour a sound is for that matter.For one thing, it can make the experience of listening to music a very novel one.!!! . This messing about of the senses sometimes happens when a person has an accident which damages the nervous system.This is known as synesthesia. It is fun for a short period of time but it would not be a pleasant way to live permanently. It would disorientate most of us but surely people living with mental illnesses experience some of that too. People experience all sorts of phenomena, which most of us tend to agree, are not what we’d call the “norm”. People have experienced visions…seen ghosts…miraculous visitations …all perfectly “straight” and unaided by chemical means. Who is to say they can’t also have religious expectations too.If you want a god badly enough …you’ll get one.
    What I am getting at is that our very idea of what “reality” is …is subjective.Each person’s senses experience is ultimately subjective.Despite the fact that language establishes a correspondence between the sensations that each of us have ,could anyone, for example, precisely define what it is to be “in love” or what the colour” blue” looks like? Our lives are lived in abstractions anyway. There are plenty of beautiful people who look in the mirror and can’t see it . Who diet themselves to death in pursuit of a presumed “perfection”.Mind you “beauty” is a subjective thing too.The ideal changes throughout the ages anyway…. even within our own lifetimes.
    Ask yourself why that should be .
    Ask yourself too what kind of a world some poor uneducated person inhabiting a small home in an isolated village ,living three hundred years ago ,when everything around them had supernatural possibilities…all tied into their beliefs of devils , gods , witches, witchcraft , faeries,, heavens and hells and all the other imaginative paraphernalia of that strange and wonderful world. Something like the silicon technology of the twenty first century would have been magical to them. It’s still magical to most of us now …all these smart phones and computing gadgets …and yet we know nothing about any of it and its workings other than that it is made of sand .We experience these new wonders as everyday things but they would be magical at any other time.
    So we can’t really ever all think the same thoughts or have the very same beliefs .Each one of of us struggles to even share the same emotions so we are hardly going to share a belief on the great unknown “existence”….
    I am generally happy with my lot in life and i suppose that directs my thoughts.Sure I’ve had my ups and downs like everyone else but they are not life and death struggles like some others have experienced or are experiencing. Had i been made a slave or been ground down by life’s trials , I may find belief in a better place after death a great solace . I might even believe it could be true..