Well hello yourself! :-}
>> I just read through your entire online book. I found a great number of your arguments fascinating and compelling (and, I'm currently reading Richard Dawkson's "The GOD Delusion").
I didn't write the online book, I'm just a forum member here, though I'll respond. Unfortunately, it's difficult to contact the owner of the site at times, so I can't say how much of what you wrote will get passed along. Reality sucks!
Side note: As for RD or any of the other justifiably popular atheist authors, I'm a fan of them and generally agree with what they say, I do not agree with all of what they say. RD on memes; interesting but not a hard science like Biology. Christopher Hitchens; the Iraq war was a mistake yet he's still a proponent. ... to name a couple.
>> I am prepared to count myself as a number of the "non-believers"--and, for the record, as a teenager I'd considered entering the Roman Catholic priesthood!
Former RCC member here. I stopped taking the supernaturalism and superstition seriously when I was 10-12 years old then just called myself 'Catholic' because I thought that nobody seriously believed any of that nonsense; that they were just stories and that only very old, pre-teenaged kids, and the stupid thought that they were not fiction. It wasn't till I went to college that I realized that there were some people who really did think that god(s) existed -- and these people were not stupid -- and that was quite a shock!
(My early deconversion was so much of a non-issue that I can't tell you when exactly it happened or what I was doing at the time -- though I did remember making a crude wooden cross at one point.)
As for you being a teenager that doesn't matter much. You can be 50 and an idiot ... or 13 and wise, atheist or theist. If you join the forums here, I suggest that you do not mention your age and let your words do the work for you. Some people will dismiss what you say or treat you differently if you tell them you are young.
>> Suggestion for your site: while i find a great deal of good stuff in your site, I also found a great deal of repetition. I understand that part of your reason for repetition is (I assume) to "get through" the granite-hard resistance to reason that many religious individuals have, but you might consider paring down *some* of the content for ease of reading.
Sounds reasonable. I haven't done a review of the on-site text in quite a while, so I can't comment.
>> I've also got a tid bit I came up with after reading Dawkson's very brief analysis of Pascal's Wager ("would you rather live as if there is a god and be wrong, or live as if there is *not* a god and be wrong?"). While Dawkson had some unique perspectives on this train of thought, and
he came up with some ideas i'd already come up with, it occurred to me that this Wager is truly a contradiction. Allow me to explain:
>> The Wager, which many Christians I know (and am related to) believe heartily and use as an "argument" for a god, makes an assumption: if you live as if there is no god, you will not be "good".
That's true and insightful. I did a mocking story based on this idea quite a while ago;
'Sinful Baby' story (play format)http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum/index.php?topic=18721.msg454852#msg454852
What the Christians are saying is quite silly, but it makes sense to them because they haven't anything else before.
Hitchens covers this a bit. I don't have a quote handy, but I'll be glad to dig one up if you ask. If I remember correctly, he said something like 'the Jews were not killing themselves and raping everything in sight before Moses came down with the tablets the 10 Commandments were engraved on so they had morals'. Additionally, since we know that human beings are a species that is at a minimum of 100,000 years old (possibly 200,000 years old or more), the question is why did the god Yahweh/El/Elohim/... wait 96,500 years to send Moses and 98,000 years to send Jesus to provide this moral guide? It's nonsense and insulting. (His speeches tend to repeat a bit, so if you've heard a few of them you likely know what he says.)
Additionally, the morals that the religious people have (Christians included) are largely secular. They should thank society at large -- religious people and non-religious people -- for the morals that they do follow.
This is seen clearly when the immoral and nonsensical parts of the Bible are ignored by the Christians.
How to integrate this into the online book, I don't know ... but I agree something like it should be inserted to address your comments!
>> That it's the existance of God--a parent watching you and keeping score--that motivates you to be good. So, humans, under this wager, have an inherent mean (evil?) streak. But were we not created in God's image and likeness? It is wholely contradictory to believe in this Wager and to believe in the teachings of the Bible at the same time.
I frequently say something like this to the Christians (and Muslims) who make these claims;
*** 'Well, if you need to have the threat of punishment from a god to keep you from killing, stealing from other people, and raping them -- then by all means keep your religion.' ***
>> Thanks for your time--and "preach" on!!
I will pass this along, though; Since I came to these forums, I thought that the Christians had a stronger case for what they claim to be true ... even if it was still not very convincing to me personally.
Now, after talking with them and reading what their greatest minds have presented as support for Christianity, I have to say I am shocked how poorly it is supported.
The bulk of the conversations start out with thin arguments for the Christian position and quickly degenerate to asserting that the Christian god exists -- and ignoring any requests that they back up that assertion.
I've never gotten a reasonable response to the following;
I do not ask for much, only the same question that Elijah asked the followers of Baal when he asked that they produce evidence that their god exists;
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened."
28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.
29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1 Kings 18:27-29;&version=31;
If it is OK for the Christians (and the Jews and the Muslims) to demand that other people produce direct and unambiguous evidence for the gods that they believe in, it is also acceptable for non-Christians (including atheists) to do the same.
(Side note: Baal used to be a god in the pantheon of gods that the people that became the Jews used to worship along with El ('God').)
Edit: Fixed the biblegateway.com link. Will repost the link to ensure that it is relayed in mail in a moment.]