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Book Plunge: Atheist Universe

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  • Book Plunge: Atheist Universe

    How bad can an atheist book be?

    -‐-------

    Is there any reason in the atheist universe? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
    I get email subscriptions for Kindle books on sale and I saw David Mills’s Atheist Universe for sale. It sells itself as the thinking person’s answer to Christian fundamentalism. Those who can’t do, obviously teach.

    I really strive to be open when I read different books and be as fair as I can. I have said a number of Christian apologetics books are no good. If I see good points in an atheist book, I will point that out. Your book is not automatically good because it’s Christian or bad because it’s not. The same holds in this case.

    No. This book has thus far found a number of other reasons to be bad.

    The first chapter is an interview Mills had with someone who I didn’t see named. Unfortunately, whoever it was gave a lot of softball questions. On the other hand, Mills could have sought them out for that reason. Who knows?

    I wasn’t too long into this book before it was so bad I was sharing the quotes on Facebook.

    So let’s start with one question asked. Why don’t you believe in God? In that answer, we find this gem:

    Indeed I’ve written three full-length books devoted to thrashing out these arguments myself in great detail. But I now believe that it is a perfectly acceptable philosophical position to dismiss the god idea as being self-evidently ridiculous as Darrow quipped. Christians instantly disregard the Greek gods as being figments of an overactive imagination, and so I view the Christian god in the same way that the Christians view the Greek gods.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 28). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    In this, Mills treats all forms of theism as the same. I reject the Greek gods because none of them are ultimate. They are all dependent beings that depend on something else for their existing and are pretty much just superhuman beings. This is not at all like the deity in all three monotheistic faiths. Mills rejects them because they are gods.

    But to answer your question directly, I am an atheist because no more evidence supports the Christian god than supports the Greek or Roman gods. There is no evidence that God—as portrayed by any religion—exists.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 28). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    Which is frankly a nonsense statement. You can say there is insufficient evidence for the Christian God. You can say you don’t find it convincing. To say there is no evidence means that all the people out there who believe in the Christian God, including brilliant intellectual minds, do so without any reason whatsoever.

    It’s fairly easy to demonstrably prove that the Genesis accounts of Adam and Eve, and Noah’s worldwide deluge, are fables. It’s easier to prove these stories false because, unlike the notion of God, the Creation account and Noah’s flood are scientifically testable. Science may explore human origins and the geologic history of Earth. In this regard, science has incontrovertibly proven that the Book of Genesis is utter mythology. So while, on esoteric philosophical grounds, I hesitate to claim absolute proof of a god’s nonexistence, I will claim proof that the Bible is not “The Word of God” because much of it has been shown by science to be false.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 28-29). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    Perhaps if you went with a literalistic YEC interpretation and even then, I know some YECs who I am sure could give Mills a run for his money in a debate.

    Remember that the rules of logic dictate that the burden of proof falls upon the affirmative position: that a god does exist.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 29). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    Actually, they don’t What is the reality is that whoever makes the claim has the burden to prove it. Suppose I was unable to convince Mills that God exists. It does not follow from that that God does not exist. What follows is I didn’t have good reasons to believe or Mills is not following an argument properly for whatever reason. If I do show up and say “God exists” it is my burden to demonstrate that. If you show up and say “Christianity is false”, it is your burden to show that.

    We should recognize that all children are born as atheists. There is no child born with a religious belief.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 29). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    Actually, there are studies that have been done that seem to indicate children instinctively find purpose and design in places. Also, children are not born knowing their multiplication tables or the laws of physics. So what?

    The interviewer later asks how the universe could have been created without God. The response?

    Leaving aside your presumptuous use of the word “created”—that line of reasoning is known as the Aquinas cosmological argument. Thomas Aquinas, who lived during the 13th century, argued that everything needs a cause to account for its existence. Aquinas believed that if we regress backward in time through an unbroken chain of causation, then we would eventually arrive at the cause of the universe itself. Aquinas argued that this “First Cause” could be nothing other than God Himself.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 29-30). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    Well, Aquinas didn’t say anything about backward in time. He actually didn’t think the universe having a beginning could be established by reason alone. He even wrote a small book arguing against that notion. Other than that, what could possibly go wrong here with Mills’s argument?

    Many of you probably know where this is going and are waiting for it.

    This so-called “First Cause” argument, however, is a textbook illustration of ad hoc reasoning. For if “everything needs a cause to account for its existence,” then we are forced to address the question of who or what created God? If God always existed, and therefore needs no causal explanation, then the original premise of the cosmological argument—that everything needs a cause—has been shown to be erroneous: something can exist without a cause. If everything except God requires a cause, then the “First Cause” argument becomes ad hoc [i.e., inconsistent and prejudicially applied] and is thus logically impermissible. If we can suppose that God always existed—and thus requires no causal explanation—then we can suppose instead that the mass-energy comprising our universe always existed and thus requires no causal explanation. Many people, including some atheists and agnostics, misinterpret Big Bang theory as proposing that mass-energy popped into existence ex nihilo [i.e., out of nothing] before the universe began its current expansion. This something-from-nothing belief is not only false, but flagrantly violates the law of the conservation of mass-energy.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 30). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    There is not a single defender of the cosmological argument that has ever put forward such a thing, and by defender, I mean someone who knows the literature well, not Pastor Steve down at your local Baptist Church. Aquinas would want Mills to explain the actualizing of potential in the universe to which Mills would likely give a blank stare and say the typical atheist quip about word salad. Then, Mills goes and repeats the other false notion about the argument.

    But let me summarize by saying that the “First Cause” argument not only begs the question logically and is scientifically bankrupt, it also fails to address which god is supposedly proven existent by the argument! In other words, Zeus or Allah has just as much claim to being the “First Cause” as does Jehovah or Jesus.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 30-31). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    And?

    The first cause argument is not meant to prove which God does exist. It’s meant to prove that some God does exist. Mills is faulting an argument for not proving what it was never meant to prove in the first place.

    How about beauty and order? How is that explained?

    There is some degree of beauty and order within Nature. But each year, Nature also cruelly victimizes millions of perfectly innocent men, women and children through natural disasters:

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 31). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    But is there beauty and order? How does that get explained? Christians have a ready explanation for the cruelty we see. We live in a fallen world. You can think that’s a cop-out, but it is fully consistent and an essential part of the Christian claim on reality.

    Christians are masters of selective observation—or “counting the hits and ignoring the misses.” Anything Christians perceive as attractive or orderly is counted as evidence for God’s existence. But anything Nature offers that is grotesque or in disarray is never counted against God’s existence. Any theological conclusions based upon such selective observation are therefore meaningless.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 31). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    It appears there’s only one master here of selective observation. Mills has brought up all the cruelty and said “No God”, but the beauty is not explained at all. He needs to explain both. Christians freely admit the problem of evil and have written numerous theodicies explaining it. Has Mills written something on what Chesterton called “The Problem of Pleasure”?

    On another question he says:

    Atheism is synonymous with freedom and freedom of thought, which, in my opinion, are highly positive and desirable.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 33). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    It’s hard to say how they are synonymous since some atheists say that on atheism, you have no free-will. You’re just matter in motion and doing what the matter in you has to do. On that, I agree with them. As for my Christianity, I do value freedom of thought and freedom in general and think God provides for both of those.

    Then he is asked about a sort of Pascal’s Wager question:

    That argument is known as Pascal’s Wager, because it was first articulated by Blaise Pascal, a 17th-century French philosopher. There are several fallacies in the argument. But the most obvious is that the same argument can be applied to any religion—not just to Christianity. For example, I could say that, since we have everything to gain and nothing to lose by converting to Islam, we should all become Muslims. Or since we have everything to gain and nothing to lose by being Hindu, we should all adopt Hinduism. Christians never stop to consider that they are in just as much danger of going to the Muslim hell as I, an atheist, am in danger of going to the Christian hell. Pascal’s Wager is also flawed in its premise that a person has everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by converting to a religion. The fact is that, whether we like it or not, our earthly life is the only life we’re ever going to experience. If we sacrifice this one life in doormat subservience to a nonexistent god, then we have lost everything!

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 33-34). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    It’s a shame this is the one argument Pascal seems to be remembered for the most. Everyone should go and read the whole of Pensees and hear his other thoughts. Not only this, but I don’t understand Mills’s reasoning at the end. How have we lost everything? After all, if atheism is true, you’re not going to be kicking yourself in an afterdeath wishing you had lived differently.

    In talking about Christians, he says:

    No wonder His followers are so intolerant. They are only following Jesus’ declarations that anyone who disagrees with their religious beliefs deserves eternal incineration.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 34-35). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    Well first off, many Christians like myself don’t believe Hell is a fiery torture chamber. Also, Christian societies are by and large extremely tolerant. Let Mills go to a Muslim country and see how well he does arguing that there is no Allah or arguing in favor of the LGBTQ+ community.

    There is more in just this first chapter. When we return to it, we will start looking at the historical Jesus and what Mills has to say.

    Brace yourselves.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters
    (And I affirm the virgin birth)
    Last edited by Apologiaphoenix; 01-17-2024, 03:15 PM.

  • #2
    Part 2

    ----------

    Did Jesus exist? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
    This book sells itself as a thinking person’s response. Right now, I’m wondering when the thinking person is going to start responding. Mills’s book is full of cliches and straw men that should be seen as an embarrassment to the atheist community.

    So let’s get back into it and brace ourselves for what’s coming.

    So how about the simple question of if Jesus even existed:

    Probably not. If He did actually live, then He was almost certainly illiterate, since He left no writings of his own—at least none that we know about. At the time that He supposedly lived, however, most people were illiterate, so I don’t mean to be critical of Him on this point. I too would have been illiterate. But it is curious to ponder an illiterate God.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 35). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    If the answer to if he was illiterate is “Most people were” then you might as well say everyone was illiterate. Was Socrates illiterate? He didn’t write anything, but most people were so he probably was. Was Seneca illiterate? Well, we have some writings of him, but most people were illiterate so he probably was and these were by someone else. Why not?

    Fortunately, for once, the interviewer had a pushback that was decent. What about secular references to Jesus?

    And as per usual, Mills gave a reply that shows his ignorance on the topic.

    You’re correct that there are secular historical references to Jesus. For example, Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Seutonius, Pliny, and Justin Martyr all make reference to “Christ” or “Jesus Christ” in their historical accounts. But there is one monumental flaw in this argument: Not one of these secular writers was born until decades after Jesus’ alleged crucifixion. Thus, none of these writers could possibly provide firsthand knowledge of anything having to do with the life of Jesus. Their historical references to Jesus do provide evidence that the Christ legend was extant during the period in which they wrote. But that’s about it. Moreover, many of these secular sources who allude, decades afterward, to the life of Jesus also detail the lives and folklore of numerous other “miracle workers” completely apart from Jesus. Tales of mystical hocus-pocus were widespread in the ancient world and were incorporated into the holy books of many different religions. Such credulity naturally provided fertile ground for the acceptance and growth of Christianity as well.

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 35-36). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    Don’t tell Mills that the overwhelming majority in the ancient world if not everything was written “decades after” the events took place. The majority of biographies of great people could even be written well over a century after they lived and are still considered valid. As for miracle-workers, Mills doesn’t give us any names. Note that many such miracle-workers would have been looked at with disdain by the elites of the time. Naturally, this leads to the idea of ancient people were stupid.

    Reading Mills’s book, it looks like more modern people actually are.

    The interviewer asks about contemporary references.

    There is not a single reference to a “Jesus” or to “Jesus Christ” written by any secular source who lived during the years in which Christ supposedly walked the earth. To me, this fact is very revealing, since these years represent one of the most thoroughly documented periods of antiquity. Wouldn’t Jesus’ miracles have drawn the attention of hundreds of contemporary writers and record-keepers? Why is there no mention at all of Jesus’ existence? Why is there no historical record of Herod’s alleged Slaughter of the Innocents [plagiarized directly from Exodus] or of Matthew’s assertion that, following Jesus’ death, living corpses from nearby cemeteries were strolling the streets of Jerusalem? Were these “facts” too humdrum to be noted by historians of the day? To summarize my position on the “historical” Jesus, I once wrote a poem:

    Today some say that Jesus died,

    And still remains quite dead.

    But these who speak have surely lied.

    The real truth is, instead, T

    hat Jesus Christ, Whose blood was spilled,

    Is no corpse, I insist!

    For how could someone have been killed,

    Who never did exist?

    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 36-37). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

    Somehow, I doubt there will soon be poetry seminars for Mills’s work.

    As I have said in an earlier post, contrary to Mills’s thinking, Jesus was not worth talking about in His time. Mills says this is the most documented time, but gives no basis for that. I’m not saying he’s wrong, but he gives me no reason to think he’s right. The slaughter of the innocents would likely kill a dozen infants at most, hardly the most telling instance of Herod’s life. As for the rising of the saints, even if taken literally, it would likely be dismissed by anyone who wasn’t there.

    At this point, even the interviewer doesn’t think he’s being fair and asks about someone like George Washington’s existence. Hardly a good parallel. Washington lived in a time where literacy was far more common and writing was less expensive. Better parallels could be people like Hannibal or Queen Boudica. Mills is right to point out the far better resources we have for Washington, but then he also says Washington has no miracles to his name. Naturally, this comes out. Dismiss all ancient claims of miracles and then say miracles have never happened. Really easy to do.

    The interviewer then asks who moved the stone from Jesus’s tomb, which seems to me like a profoundly ignorant question to ask if the person you are talking to says He never even existed, to which Mills lists all the events he doesn’t believe in involving Jesus. Not really much new to cover.

    And with that, we will be done as the historical Jesus is not the theme from now on, and we are still just in the first chapter.

    I would like to say the worst is behind us, but with atheist books, you never know.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters
    (And I affirm the virgin birth)


    Did Jesus exist? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. This book sells itself as a thinking person’s response. Right now, I’m wondering when the thinking person is going to start responding. Mills’s book is full of cliches and straw men that should be seen as an embarrassment to the atheist community. So … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 2

    Comment


    • #3
      Part 3

      ‐-------------

      Is God a loving God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
      Okay. I suspect we can wrap up this first chapter today so let’s dig in.

      The Bible does indeed say that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). It also says that “Love is not jealous” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Then we are told that “I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). “God is love” when He is not torturing billions of non-Christians in Hell or ordering the Israelites to “keep the virgins for yourselves” but massacre all the innocent men, women and male children in the confiscated Promised Land (Numbers 31:18).

      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 44). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

      I have addressed the question of jealousy in another post. As for Numbers 31, that has also been addressed. Ultimately, Mills just keeps having emotional arguments. It’s basically “God does stuff I don’t like so He doesn’t exist.”

      While it is unfair to hold Christianity responsible for perversions of its teachings, it is nonetheless indisputable that, historically, more people have been slaughtered in the name of the Christian religion than for any reason connected to atheism. For 1500 years, the Christian Church systematically operated torture chambers throughout Europe. Torture was the rule, not the exception. Next to the Bible, the most influential and venerated book in Christian history was the Malleus Maleficarum [Hammer of Witches], which was a step-by-step tutorial in how to torture “witches” and “sorcerers.”

      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 48). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

      It is unfair to hold Christianity responsible for the perversion of its teachings, but I’m going to do it anyway!

      Naturally, there is no historical information for any of this. Mills gives no names of these people who were tortured for anything related to atheism. As for the Malleus Maleficarum being the most venerated and influential book in Christianity apart from the Bible, I would love to see the data for that. I would much more expect something like the Summa Theologica, Pilgrim’s Progress, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, The Imitation of Christ, or in our time, Mere Christianity.

      Aside from the wholesale extermination of “witches,” the Christian Church fought bitterly throughout its history—and is still fighting today—to impede scientific progress. Galileo, remember, was nearly put to death by the Church for constructing his telescope and discovering the moons of Jupiter.

      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 48). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

      I can’t think of a single medieval historian who would go with this. I recommend again reading Tim O’Neill on this, especially this one. Galileo was not near being put to death for inventing a telescope and discovering Jupiter’s moons. The Catholic Church had its own telescope and heavily invested in astronomy.

      The ancient Greeks and Egyptians, for example, made amazing scientific discoveries and wrote detailed scientific analyses that the Christian Church later destroyed and suppressed for centuries.

      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 49). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

      Again, it is not said where this happened. The Christian church was the one who was preserving these writings. If they were destroyed, how does Mills know about them? If they were suppressed, when were they no longer suppressed and rediscovered? He also says elsewhere here that the church didn’t allow cadavers to be studied, and again, you can find more on that here.

      Ethical disputes between atheists and Christians almost invariably center around malum prohibitum conduct—usually sexual conduct. The atheist would argue that two consenting, unmarried adults who used proper disease and pregnancy prevention could engage in sexual intercourse without being “unethical” or “immoral.” The Christian, however, would necessarily label this sexual tryst as “wrong” because it was prohibited, supposedly, by God.

      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 54). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

      I would say it is wrong for a number of social reasons I have gone into in this blog. It’s not just “God says no.” Mills needs to read some books on Christian ethics where we actually make arguments beyond Scripture says it, I believe it, that settles it. Mills later says he was a Christian for a time, and his mindset is still really the same. His loyalty is all that changed.

      I frequently hear this [C. S. Lewis-inspired] reasoning from Christians, but the argument is entirely definitional rather than substantive. Murder, by definition, is an unjustified killing. Of course everyone agrees that an unjustified killing is wrong. We’re simply agreeing that an unjustified killing is unjustified. But what constitutes an unjustified killing? Here, we’ll face heated debate. Is abortion murder or a sometimes-prudent medical procedure? Is euthanasia murder or a humane and compassionate way to end pointless suffering? Is the death penalty a state-sponsored murder, or justice served? Like many Americans, I’m pro-choice, pro-euthanasia and anti-death-penalty, but few Christians agree with these positions. So where’s our “common conscience”? It exists only by wordplay.

      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 55). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

      And that is a great question. What does constitute an unjustified killing? Anotner one is, what does it even mean to say something is justified or unjustified? That already assumes a moral background and an objective idea of good and evil. Looking at his political views, I do find it interesting Mills wants to kill the innocent often, but to let the guilty live. Also, why is it that when “God kills the children” in Numbers 31, that’s awful, but when a mother wants to do it to the child in her womb, that’s her moral right?

      Mills is then asked about the Shroud of Turin.

      You have cited a perfect illustration of how religious belief absolutely paralyzes the critical reasoning of Christian apologists and Creation “scientists.” Back in 1988, the Shroud was tested in three separate laboratories using radiocarbon dating techniques. All three laboratories, in Arizona, Oxford and Zurich, reported independently that the Shroud dates back only to the Middle Ages. This radiometric timeframe for the Shroud’s origin coincides precisely with the first historical references to the Shroud, which likewise first appear during the Middle Ages. Any rational person would therefore conclude that the Shroud had its origins during the Middle Ages, not during the time of Christ.

      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 58-59). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

      And goes on to say:

      For example, a team of Creation “scientists” in Colorado Springs, Colorado, claims that all of the radiocarbon tests performed on the Shroud were inaccurate because the Shroud was once in close proximity to a neighborhood fire!

      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 59). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

      Mills is sadly revealing great ignorance here. The Shroud was involved in a fire and was reconstructed to an extent. The case for the lab tests also has several questions and reading any Shroud expert would tell you this. Finally, Mills says nothing about what really caused the image on the Shroud and not only that, but the other effects of it, like the negative images that couldn’t have been done back in that time.

      Mills sadly has become a perfect example of how atheist “reasoning” leads him to reject real study on a subject.

      During the early days of Christianity, believers tried to persuade the ruling authorities to establish a legal holiday to commemorate Jesus’ birth. But the governing authorities refused. So the Christians decided that “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” and thereafter celebrated Jesus’ birth on an already-established holiday: the Winter Solstice, December 25th.

      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 60). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

      No information is given on this. Also, the Winter Solstice was not celebrated on December 25th ever. There is no looking at any source talking about the data on the birth of Christ.

      Easter is likewise a Christian hijacking of an ancient pagan holiday, the Vernal Equinox, a day when darkness and light are equally divided. Even today, the date of Easter is set each year by calculating the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21st, the Vernal Equinox.

      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 61). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

      And again, we go the other way. Easter is more based on Passover than anything else. Of course, you can’t count on Mills to actually study this. He just believes whatever he’s read as long as it argues against Christianity.

      Christian Fundamentalists have been devilishly successful in their propaganda campaign that all communists are atheists, and all atheists are communists. But these “facts” are altogether erroneous. First, I strongly challenge the assumption that communism is a truly atheistic philosophy. It seems to me that the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent god of Christianity is simply replaced by the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent god of the State. Under the communist system, the State is supposedly all-wise, all-good and all-powerful. Communism is therefore just as nutty as religion in its unrealistic, utopian fantasies and pie-in-the-sky promises.

      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 63). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

      Communism is a truly atheistic philosophy. They persecuted religion for a reason dynamiting many churches. But hey, they supposedly act religious in what they do, so it’s not atheism, it’s religion.

      I would say this is a perversion of atheism, but is it? What in atheism says you cannot do XYZ to your neighbor? All atheism says is there is no God. If there is no God, then how does killing your neighbor go against that? Sure, atheists can be fine and moral people, but is it because they are atheists? Nothing in atheism requires it. I contend still it’s because they have a thoroughly Christian background they don’t realize.

      So finally, that’s the end of chapter 1.

      We’ll continue next time.

      In Christ,
      Nick Peters
      (And I affirm the virgin birth)
      Is God a loving God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. Okay. I suspect we can wrap up this first chapter today so let’s dig in. The Bible does indeed say that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). It also says that “Love is not jealous” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Then we are … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 3

      Comment


      • #4
        Part 4

        ----------------

        How did the universe come to be? Let's plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

        At the start, Mills is asking if the origin of the universe is natural or supernatural. The problem is, he never defines these terms. As readers of this blog know, I have a great problem with this kind of classification. If natural becomes just whatever happens if there is no outside interference, the fact that there is any kind of order I find to be something that needs to be explained.

        This starts with the discovery of the background radiation that led to the Big Bang Theory. What is not said is that at the start, many atheistic scientists were opposed to the idea of the Big Bang Theory. After all, if the universe had a beginning, then that would lead to the idea that it had a beginner. It's a wonder why Mills never mentions this.

        He does at least quote the philosopher Mortimer Adler with this great question of "Why is there something rather than nothing?" Unfortunately, from here, he goes on to the first cause argument. Again, he gets it wrong:
        The traditional First Cause argument goes as follows: We observe in the universe a Law of Cause-Effect. Everything requires a cause to account for its existence. Each cause, in turn, is itself an effect that demands a preceding causal antecedent. If, therefore, we regress indefinitely through this chain of causation, we would ultimately arrive at a First Cause, to Whom we give the name “God.” Historically, secular-minded philosophers countered the First Cause argument by asking, “What caused God?” When churchmen responded that “God always existed,” secularists usually offered two points of rebuttal: 1) If we can suppose that God always existed, then why not suppose instead that physical matter always existed? After all, this non-supernatural assumption is far simpler than presupposing a highly complex series of Divine Creation miracles; 2) The ecclesiastical argument—that God always existed—contradicts the original premise of the First Cause argument—that the “Law of Cause-Effect” can be consistently applied. If everything except God is governed by the “Law of Cause-Effect,” then the First Cause argument becomes ad hoc and therefore logically impermissible. In other words, we’re right back where we started, having advanced neither our logical arguments nor our understanding of universal causation.

        Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 68-69). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

        Historically, no secular-minded people argued this way against the church because no one in the church argued that way at all. Of course, Mills doesn't cite a single person who made this argument. As to why it couldn't be physical matter, a theist could accept that matter could be eternal, but still need a cause because in Thomistic philosophy, it is matter and thus inherently has potential. Whatever is ultimate has to be pure actuality.

        It's interesting that he next refers to the work of Newton and Mendel. There is no mention that Newton was a theist, though a Unitarian one, or that Mendel was a Christian monk. This is important since Mills consistently treats faith as an impediment to science, when if anything, it was a boon to it.

        Mills goes on to say:
        Likewise, it is absurd to state that the laws of physics, which are likewise written accounts of human observation, cause the outcome of the observed phenomena. Creationists loathe to admit that physical laws are human in origin.

        Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 70). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

        I am unsure what Mills means here when he says that physical laws are human in origin. If he means their reality, then they are not human in origin in the sense that these laws existed before any human discovered them. If he means the formulation of them, then they are definitely human in origin, with the understanding that they are discovered. I don't know of any one who is a "creationist" who is "loathe" to state that.

        By the way, this is something consistent in the book. Mills never defines what a creationist is. For instance, I am someone who is open to evolution and have no problem with an old Earth or the Big Bang Theory, yet by Mills's standards, I think I would be seen as a creationist. Yet at other times, he speaks of creationists as people who necessarily believe in a young-Earth.

        So when the term comes up, I am unsure what he means.

        So what about Adler's question? Mills returns to it saying:
        Adler’s question, however—“Why is there something, rather than nothing?”—assumes that there is supposed to be nothing: that the “natural” state of the universe is nonexistence. The fact that there obviously is something, then, is viewed by Adler as a miracle requiring a supernatural explanation. The perceived “mystery” of Adler’s question lies, not in a supernatural answer, but in his presumptive formulation of the question itself. Adler’s question is similar to presuming that grass is supposed to be red, then claiming that its undeniably green color is evidence that a Divine miracle has occurred. From a scientific perspective, though, the question is: Why shouldn’t there be something rather than nothing? What law of science claims that the universe is not supposed to exist, or that nonexistence is the “natural” condition of the universe? There is no such law. On the contrary, the law of the conservation of mass-energy leads to a radically different conclusion: that the mass-energy which now constitutes our universe always existed, though the universe, as we observe it today, did indeed have a beginning at the Big Bang.

        Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 75-76). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

        No. Adler's question is the correct one. Why is there something that a law can even apply to? Science only works once there is something, but for the question of what would happen otherwise, it has nothing to say. Mills is not beginning to even attempt the metaphysical question of existence. It is quite likely, he has no clue about such a question.

        Later on, Mills gives us this gem:
        Many pre-Renaissance scholars thought it was common sense that the Earth was flat and motionless.

        Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 79). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

        It is not a shock that Mills cites no such scholars. There are two good reasons. First, Mills hasn't done any historical research and just believes atheist arguments on faith. The second is that these scholars don't exist.

        Now to get to a point I made prior, order in the universe is something that needs to be explained. Why is there a consistency between A and B? Why is it when I put a glass of water in the microwave and turn it on for half an hour, that it gets hot? Why does it not get cold or turn to diamonds or gain sentience?

        If at the root of the universe there is chaos and accidents with no order at its origin or start, then why should we expect order to show up in it? Why should I expect an accidental universe to be orderly? Mills never answers this.

        At this point, I am not surprised.

        In Christ,
        Nick Peters
        (And I affirm the virgin birth)
        How did the universe come to be? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. At the start, Mills is asking if the origin of the universe is natural or supernatural. The problem is, he never defines these terms. As readers of this blog know, I have a great problem with this kind of … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 4

        Comment


        • #5
          Part 5

          -----------------

          Is there design in the universe? Let's plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

          Mills in this chapter is going to take on intelligent design. Since I'm not an advocate of the movement, it really doesn't matter to me, but I do want to point out bad arguments he makes along the way. Let's get started.
          The most charitable comment available is that the “First Cause” argument begs the question (i.e., If God created the universe, then who created God? If God always existed, then why couldn’t the mass-energy of the universe have always existed?). A less charitable comment might be that the “First Cause” argument reflects ignorance of the scientific method, in that theological philosophizing is offered as a substitute for independent, empirical verification of one’s scientific conclusions.

          Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 83). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

          Yes. It has already been dealt with. I just wanted to point out he says it again.
          Unaware of biological evolution, medieval man considered the complexity of his own anatomy to be evidence of Divine Creation. The wider the gaps in scientific understanding, the greater the historical need for a miracle-working “God of the Gaps.” Why does it rain? God makes it rain. Why does the wind blow? God makes the wind blow. Why is the sky blue? God made the sky blue. Why does the sun shine? God makes the sun shine.

          Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 85). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

          I challenge Mills to show me where these medieval men said this. On the contrary, they were constantly trying to find explanations for why the universe worked how it did. They knew ultimately, God was behind it, but they wanted to discover His methodologies as a way to bring glory to Him. This wasn't God of the Gaps! They were trying to fill in the gaps!

          Naturally, Mills will point to the way that nature is destructive as well as beautiful, but medieval men knew this. Modern Christians also know this. Constant theodicies have been written. Even if hypothetically, they all failed, thus far in my reading, Mills has not bothered to interact with a single one of them.

          The reality is Mills and the Christian both have something to explain. The problem is Mills puts the onus on the Christian when the Christian has a ready reason available. Either the world fell when Adam and Eve fell, or God created it not perfect knowing that Adam and Eve would fall anyway.

          What Mills has to explain is what Chesterton called the problem of pleasure. if the universe is at its root just random chaos, then why do we find such beauty and order in so many places? Wouldn't we expect to find more chaos instead? Christianity has to explain how evil entered the world, which is part and parcel of the Christian story. Atheism has to explain how beauty, goodness, and order came from the exact opposite via pure accident. (Even assuming those things being objectively real can somehow be explained on atheism.)

          Mercifully, this is a short chapter. We won't be as lucky with the others.

          In Christ,
          Nick Peters
          (And I affirm the virgin birth)
          Is there design in the universe? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. Mills in this chapter is going to take on intelligent design. Since I’m not an advocate of the movement, it really doesn’t matter to me, but I do want to point out bad arguments he makes along the way. Let’s … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 5

          Comment


          • #6
            Part 6

            ----------------



            Is there order in the universe? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

            We move on now to chapter 4. Again, Mills has the problem of not citing any sources. He just makes grand pronouncements about what these people thought without citing any of these people. In the first case, he pictures in ancient Greece a hunter firing an arrow.
            Citizens of ancient Greece were quite perplexed by the observed flight of such an arrow. Which god, they wondered, kept the arrow moving toward the target? The bow obviously provided the initial propulsion, but once out of direct, physical contact with the bow, why didn’t the arrow instantly fall to earth? Which god, they pondered, kept the arrow aloft, at least temporarily? Which supernatural Being was responsible for the arrow’s continued forward motion?

            Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 87-88). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

            Someone wanting to really show what the Greeks thought would have cited ancient sources. There were more than enough philosophers that could have been mentioned. Nope. Not a one. Mills can’t be bothered to actually document his claim. It was just “God did it” until Newton came along and science finally saved us.

            Of course, this relates to “creationism.”
            Creationists argue that the regularity and predictability of planetary orbits are evidence of supernatural governance of the universe. In other words, creationists believe, in direct opposition to Newton’s first law, that constancy and regularity of motion are evidence not only of an external force, but of a supernatural external force. I submit to you that this creationist claim—of a miraculous Power guiding the planets—is identical in every sense to the ancient Greek belief in god-propelled arrows or god-assisted plunges to the bottom of a cliff. Let us recall that “regularity or constancy of motion denotes the absence of an external force.” If gods are unnecessary to explain the continued motion of a hunter’s arrow, then the gods are unnecessary to explain the continued motion of celestial objects. If gods are unnecessary to explain the hunter’s downward plunge off a cliff, then they are unnecessary to explain other gravitational fields as well. For, as Isaac Newton discovered, the same gravity that pulls an apple (or a hunter) to the ground is the same gravity that holds the moon and planets in their orbits. There is no difference—except perhaps to those who, for emotional reasons, strive to see miraculous visions and omens in the night sky.

            Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 92). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

            Call Oz. Someone took their straw man.

            First off, saying that planetary order is explained by God does not mean we cannot understand scientifically how He does it. That does not oppose Newton at all. Mills is really arguing against an Islamic understanding where God is the direct cause of everything going on, whereas most Christians have no problem with God using secondary means to bring about order in the universe.

            Second, the idea of no God being necessary is really begging the question. How do we know we don’t need a God to establish order and maintain it? Well, we have our universe and we can explain it just fine scientifically. And how do you know God isn’t a reality in this universe? Because we can explain it scientifically.

            I contend that the fact that we can explain the universe scientifically actually does show that there is an orderer behind the universe. If the universe is a brute fact that is an accident, why should we expect any order? Why should there be any consistency?
            Creationists of Fundamentalist persuasion disagree vehemently that planetary motion is a wholly natural phenomenon. It’s far more intriguing and emotionally inspiring for them to believe in “Divine Watchmakers” than to accept the mundane, mathematical explanations of science. A minority of creationists, however, raise few, if any, objections to the conclusions drawn thus far in this chapter. This minority will readily accept that inertia and gravitation are not supernatural forces, and that routine planetary motion is simply the merging of gravity with inertia. Put another way, a small group of creationists do accept (in this instance, at least) the scientific principle known as Ockham’s Razor, which states that the simplest reasonable explanation is usually the most accurate.

            Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 93). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

            I know many creationists and I have never met one who would have a problem with this. Of course, Mills doesn’t cite any of them. I still don’t know then who these people are he is arguing against.

            Later, Mills talks abotu Kepler:
            It is interesting to note here that Kepler was a deeply religious man, striving for years to prove his theory of “Divine Geometry” in which the planets moved in perfect circles around the sun. Finally, Kepler was forced to abandon his theory because the observed motion of the planets contradicted the theory’s predictions. Three hundred years later, “modern” creationism still maintains that the solar system obeys Divine Geometry.

            Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 96-97). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

            Mills should not study medieval science if he doesn’t want to realize that the majority of scientists were deeply religious men. As for this theory of divine geometry today, again, who are these creationists? Also, the system that was set up of divine geometry was not from the religious originally, but from people like Ptolemy. This was the best theory at the time and it did work in predicting where the planets would be.
            Creationism maintains that God created Earth primarily as a home for mankind. For what purpose, then, did God create the other planets and stars? Creationists sometimes respond that God created the heavens to attest His majesty and to provide man with a beautiful night sky. Such an argument—already highly dubious—disintegrates further when we consider that all planets and stars visible to the naked eye are located within our own Milky Way galaxy. Of what benefit to mankind are the other hundred-billion galaxies?

            Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 98). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

            The problem with this kind of thing is that Mills raises the questions, but he never seeks any answers. There are plenty of scientific minds in Christianity that can address this. Mills doesn’t bother. It’s saying “I don’t know, therefore there isn’t a reason.” It’s strange since these are the same people who say science is all about exploring the questions.

            He also talks about how some people used Hawking’s A Brief History of Time to show Hawking was arguing for the idea of a divine creator. In great irony, Mills says:
            Science illiteracy is so ubiquitous, and religious dogma so firmly ingrained, that legions cannot read a well-written science book without hallucinating the supernatural on every page.

            Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 101-102). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

            And many atheists cannot read any data that disagrees with them and are highly illiterate of the views they argue against. (Just off the top of my head, imagine if someone can’t get the first cause argument even right!) Does the public need to learn how to read science books well? Yes, but sadly that’s because the public largely needs to learn how to read ALL books well. Mills does not set a good example in that he speaks on material that anyone who has done reading on the subject can see he is uninformed on.

            Finally, in summing up all his data, what does Mills say?
            Why do I find these obscure facts so convincing? Because these are the facts that we would expect to observe if the solar system formed naturally.

            Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 102). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

            To which I wonder how does anything form naturally from nothing? If something is eternal, how does it continue in existence? It is as if MIlls takes this as a given to be formed naturally. The problem is we don’t have any other universes, at least ones we have access to, that we can do a comparison of, and if theism is true, those universes would also find their existing based on God.

            Next time, we will discuss life on Earth.

            In Christ,
            Nick Peters
            (And I affirm the virgin birth)
            Is there order in the universe? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. We move on now to chapter 4. Again, Mills has the problem of not citing any sources. He just makes grand pronouncements about what these people thought without citing any of these people. In the first case, he pictures in … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 6

            Comment


            • #7
              Part 7

              --------------------

              What about evolution? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

              Well we all knew this was coming. Evolution has to show up. There are Christians and atheists both who think it’s either evolution or Christianity. If you prove one, you disprove the other. Both of them see this then as an essential battle.

              I disagree with both of them. I don’t have a problem with evolution, but I also don’t argue for it either. I definitely still have some questions, but they’re not hills I’m willing to die on. Yet somehow, I’m sure I’d still be considered a creationist by Mills.

              Anyway, after a long description of evolution in history, he does start talking about these people he calls creationists who he has never really defined.
              Creationism’s most sacred doctrine is that God created all lifeforms, including man, during a single, brief period known as “Creation Week.” Dinosaurs and human beings walked the earth simultaneously, as did gorillas and trilobites. All animal “kinds” are the same age, give or take a few days.

              Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 118). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

              Well, considering that for most of Christian history we had no idea dinosaurs even existed, much like everyone else, it’s hard to see how this is a most sacred doctrine. Also, there’s no interaction with any Christian history to see how it has been interpreted. Granted, a work like Kyle Greenwood’s Since The Beginning was not out yet, but the data was still there had Mills bothered to look for it. Had he done such, he would have found a multitude of ways to interpret the creation account including length. Augustine in his work on a Literal Interpretation of Genesis even said everything was done instantaneously such that the whole week took place in one moment.

              When talking about the Cambrian explosion, he tells us it took place 570 million years ago instead of 6,000 like creationism demands. This again is the problem. There are all different kinds of creationists. Some would say the Earth is 6,000 years old. Some might say 10,000. Others would go with the majority scientific opinion and say 4.5 billion years ago. Mills makes no differentiation.

              Later, he says:
              Creationists, however, view scientific debate and disagreement as signs of weakness. Creationism therefore ridicules open-mindedness and scoffs at the free exchange of ideas so essential to a democratic society and to the scientific method itself. To question one’s own opinion is sinful for the creationist, who is not permitted the luxury of healthy skepticism. All contrary opinion is instantly dismissed as foolishness, because the Lord Thy God has spoken.

              Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 122). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

              What’s so amusing to me about this is this is what I find internet atheists doing. I have offered numerous atheists a link to Andrew Loke’s book on the resurrection of Jesus. This book is certainly an excellent scholarly look at the resurrection, but there’s one great reason I offer it. On Kindle, it’s free. 100%. If you have one, you can get it right now. If you want to read Kindle on your computer, you can do that for free as well. Thus, I am essentially saying “Here’s a free book on the topic you can read and discuss.”

              How many atheists have taken me up on this offer to date? Zero. If I present any book, it usually just gets pushed aside and ignored. Meanwhile, if someone tells me about such a book, I will usually see if I can get it for cheap on Kindle and barring that, I will go to the library and order it if possible.

              I have no problem with healthy skepticism. It’s the atheists I meet who do.
              Hundreds of books have detailed at length the now-legendary Miller-Urey experiment performed at the University of Chicago in 1953. As a brief summary: Stanley Miller and Harold Urey found that amino acids—the building blocks of cell proteins—form readily from a mixture of ammonia, methane, water and hydrogen gas, all of which were present in abundance on the primordial Earth. In other words, Miller and Urey discovered that the molecules of life naturally assemble themselves from a few basic, easily available ingredients. The origin of life required only organic molecules, water and, most importantly, millions of years to develop. Moreover, in the late 1990s, scientists discovered that life can occur and thrive in conditions previously thought to be completely inhospitable to biological systems—such as in near-boiling hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, or in poison methane ice.

              Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 123-124). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

              It’s my understanding that nowadays, people really question if Miller and Urey had their science right as to if this was what the early Earth was like. Now keep in mind, I am not saying this is a defeater for evolution. It’s just my asking if Mills is really presenting the data accurately?
              On a separate branch of the evolutionary tree, Archaeopteryx, part reptile and part bird, is the perfect example of macro-evolution in action. Archaeopteryx was first unearthed in Bavaria in 1860. When paleontologists later realized what they had discovered, creationists became so distraught that they accused the paleontologists of gluing bird feathers on a reptile fossil. After several additional fossils of Archaeopteryx were recovered, creationists refrained from embarrassing themselves again.

              Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 126). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

              No cases are cited, but even so, if this was what really happened, can anyone blame skepticism, something Mills just championed? After all, there have been hoaxes done in the world of fossils. Not only that, but Mills ignores that the noted creationist Fred Hoyle was also skeptical of Archaeopteryx and….wait….Fred Hoyle wasn’t a creationist? He was an atheist?

              Oh.

              Well, he’s not a creationist so he gets a free pass.

              Keep in mind, I don’t read in this area so this came up with just a brief web search. Did Mills even bother to do something like that to see if anyone else was skeptical of the find? Apparently not.

              Odd after he was just telling us of the virtues of healthy skepticism and all that. I guess that only goes one way. I have a saying for atheists like Mills. They honor reason with their lips, but their heads are far from it.

              When we get to what he says about the flood story:
              The story of Noah’s Ark was adapted by the Hebrews from an earlier Babylonian myth called the Epic of Gilgamesh . In many respects, the Babylonian flood story—which is older than the biblical tale—is virtually identical to the biblical clone, but describes different gods and ark-building characters.

              Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 132). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

              Sure. They’re the same. Just minor differences like one is polytheistic and one is monotheistic. One has a vessel that could survive a flood and one doesn’t. One has the water flooding the Earth in 6 days and receding in one while the other has 40 days and nights and a much more reasonable time for the waters to recede. One has the hero getting immortality at the end and the other has the hero getting drunk and shamed. One has the gods swarming around a sacrifice for food and the other has the one God making a covenant.

              But other than that, they’re totally the same! I mean, they both have a flood! It reminds me of how G.K. Chesterton said you might as well think it’s the same story as the baptism of Jesus by John since both of them involve people going underwater.

              But hey, at least Mills has an astute scholarly source for the idea that Christianity borrowed from everyone:
              As Robert Ingersoll has noted, “There is nothing new or original in Christianity. Its maxims, miracles and mistakes, its doctrines, sacraments and ceremonies, were all borrowed.”

              Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 133). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

              We are talking top-notch scholarship here, folks.
              I realize that, to some, my position may appear extremist. Some readers may think that I’m just as rigid and literal-minded as the creationists—though on the opposite end of the philosophical spectrum. Nonetheless I believe that clarity should be the highest goal of science writing.

              Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 134). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

              Well, yes. He is. If Mills believed in clarity, perhaps he should have defined his terms. The irony is thick with this one.

              Next time, we’ll see what he has to say about Genesis.

              In Christ,
              Nick Peters
              (And I affirm the virgin birth)
              What about evolution? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. Well we all knew this was coming. Evolution has to show up. There are Christians and atheists both who think it’s either evolution or Christianity. If you prove one, you disprove the other. Both of them see this then as an essential battle. … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 7

              Comment


              • #8
                Was Albert Schweitzer a mythicist?

                -------------

                Did Schweitzer deny that Jesus existed? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

                This is going to be a sidebar. Throughout the book, Mills has snippets from other people throughout history making brief statements in favor of his atheism/skepticism. This is a common one from Albert Schweitzer that many people misuse.
                “There is nothing more
                negative than the result
                of the critical study of the
                life of Jesus. The Jesus
                of Nazareth who came
                forward publicly as the
                Messiah, who preached the
                Kingdom of God, who
                founded the Kingdom of
                Heaven upon earth, and
                died to give his work its
                final consecration, never
                had any existence.” —ALBERT SCHWEITZER
                (1875-1965), French physician,
                philosopher and humanitarian,
                in The Quest of the
                Historical Jesus

                Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 143). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                As it turns out though, this is what he says:
                THOSE WHO ARE FOND OF TALKING ABOUT NEGATIVE THEOLOGY CAN FIND their account here. There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the Life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give His work its final consecration, never had any existence. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology in an historical garb.

                Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus (p. 259). Kindle Edition.

                The problem is if anyone ever bothers to read the book, they will find Schweitzer is not saying Jesus never existed. He is saying that a Jesus like this is a Jesus of imagination as the historical Jesus was not like this at all. Schweitzer will often speak of the historical Jesus as opposed to Jesus as seen by many of his time.

                What we can learn from this overall is that Mills, like too many atheists, has just taken a snippet of something, presumed it means what he thinks it means, and ran with it. He did not bother to go and check and see what Schweitzer said in the text. There are too many Christians that simply believe everything that is told to them as long as it agrees with them. There are conservatives who do this in politics. There are leftists who do this in politics.

                Also, atheists are quite prone to do this as well. This is not something that is a problem of any one belief system. This is a human problem. Hence, I encourage you to question what disagrees with you definitely, but also question what does agree with you. Try to verify everything that you can. If you are unsure, it is acceptable I think to go on Facebook and share it with the disclaimer that you have not verified it and if anyone knows more, please let you know. In this case, you are not sharing it as a fact, but as a quesiton.

                If you will search this blog you will find many posts where I have taken down false claims made against people that I disagree with such as here and here and here. Truth should matter to all of us. We should not only care that our views are presented right, but we should make sure our opponents are treated right as well and not misrepresented. To take down a false view is to take down a straw man.

                Mills is someone who does not do research at all. He is someone who balks at “creationists” who don’t understand science commenting on it, but he comments on numerous things he doesn’t understand. If it is his area that he cares about, it is wrong, but if it is areas he thinks are nonsense, it is okay.

                Don’t be like Mills. Be a thinking person.

                In Christ,
                Nick Peters
                (And I affirm the virgin birth)
                Did Schweitzer deny that Jesus existed? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. This is going to be a sidebar. Throughout the book, Mills has snippets from other people throughout history making brief statements in favor of his atheism/skepticism. This is a common one from Albert Schweitzer that many people misuse. “There is … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 8

                Comment


                • #9
                  Part 9

                  --------------

                  Can Genesis be reconciled with modern science? Let's plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

                  I was pleased to go through this chapter and find that Mills regularly interacted with the Christian scholarship holding the opinion he disagreed with. He cited sources regularly, took them seriously and......yeah. We all know that didn't happen!

                  So how does Mills start?
                  The New Testament books of Matthew and Luke then continue the genealogy from David to Jesus, again specifying the age at which each male descendant “begat” the next generation. Since we have a fixed “historical” time period for Jesus’ birth, creationists thereby calculate that the heavens and Earth were created by God in the year 4004 B.C. Earth, therefore, is only 6000 years old by the biblical chronology.

                  Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 137). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                  No. Earth is 6,000 years old according to Bishop Ussher's chronology. We've learned a lot about biblical genealogies since then, but what does new information have to do with Mills? It would be awful to read the latest and best scholarship on the matter. One wonders what Mills would think if I judged modern science by the beliefs of scientists 300+ years ago. Sure. Like Biblical scholars and historians, they had some things right, but they had some things wrong as well.

                  Again also, this term comes up of creationists. At some points, Mills would seem to think someone like me is a creationist, but I sure don't hold to the Earth being 6,000 years old. Not even all YECs hold 6,000 years as some go for 10,000 years.

                  He also says some creationists say that if the Earth is this young, then evolution is a fraud. On that, they are right, at least in the macro sense. Macroevolution is definitely a fraud then. The problem is what he says after this:
                  They echo the sentiments of St. Thomas Aquinas, who believed that any discord between science and Scripture was due to errors of science, rather than errors of Scripture.

                  Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 137). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                  Aquinas wrote around 80 books or so in his lifetime. Mills just throws out a claim and gives no reference whatsoever to it. To be sure also, I asked some other friends who are also Thomists if they could recognize any such reference. We all knew of no place where Aquinas said this and we also agreed he would be hesitant to disagree with Augustine who said:
                  “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.

                  “Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion [1 Timothy 1.7].” (The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Book 1 Chapter 19 Paragraph 39)

                  Note this also. There is a reference to that. I don't pull Mills's technique of saying "This guy said this. Just trust me on it!" If anyone wants to see what Augustine said, that's where you go.

                  One creationist he does interact with is R.L. Wysong. While I don't agree with Wysong's claims on the speed of light, granting Mills represents them accurate, a huge thing to grant, I do find it odd that one criticism Mills has is Wysong is a veterinarian. I find this odd because I tried to find Mills's academic credentials and I couldn't find any, and yet Mills wants to speak on science, philosophy, history, and Biblical studies, and have us take him seriously.

                  Moving on, Mills says:
                  Today, some creationists are abandoning their long-held belief in a 6000-year-old Earth. Why this abrupt reversal of opinion? Were startling new chapters suddenly discovered in the Book of Genesis? Did Moses appear in a miraculous vision, revising his previous chronology, and teaching the geological history of an ancient Earth? No. The change of heart among some creationists is due to the fact that modern scientific research has shown the Genesis chronology to be nothing short of ridiculous.

                  Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 142). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                  Actually, this is false. There had always been discussions on the age of the Earth. It can be granted to Mills that Since the Beginning was not in print when he wrote this book, but the information that Greenwood cites in his work was available. (My copy is back in Tennessee so I am unable to cite the references here.) Mills just assumes that a fundamentalist reading has always been the held reading.
                  More-liberal-minded creationists, however, strive mightily to disassociate themselves from the conservative Fundamentalists. These non-literalists often refuse to call themselves “creationists,” even though they believe in God as the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the Earth. This non-literalist group believes in an ancient Earth and in macro (large-scale) evolution. They believe that Genesis and modern science may be successfully reconciled. The primary difference between the literalists and the non-literalists is this: The literalists distort science to make it harmonize with Genesis. The non-literalists distort Genesis to make it harmonize with science.

                  Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 142-143). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                  Yet in all of this, Mills has not gone through the text of Genesis. He has not made any attempt to explain how it should be read. All he is saying is "Anyone who doesn't read it in way X is wrong." One may disagree with readings of others who do not hold to a YEC position, but one should at least see what they say and how they explain the text.

                  That is, if one really cares about truth. Mills doesn't, so not a shock that he doesn't do this.
                  Generally speaking, religious-minded individuals know little about science. And science-minded individuals know even less about the Bible. With each camp sadly uninformed about the other, reconciliation seems possible and desirable to both sides. In reality, agreement is possible only by (1) perverting science, as the Fundamentalists do, or by (2) perverting the Book of Genesis, as the non-literalists do.

                  Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 143-144). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                  Yes, everyone. Science-minded individuals, of whom I am sure Mills will include himself, are uninformed about the Bible, but Mills is the exception! He will tell you what the Bible really means! It would be a delight to see what Mills would say in a debate with someone like John Lennox or Hugh Ross.
                  1. The non-literalists believe that Earth is much older than 6000 years. To rationalize their belief in an ancient Earth, non-literalists claim that the Genesis genealogies contain “errors of omission.” In other words, the genealogies are only partial lists, overlooking many intermediate generations between Adam and Jesus. When Scripture says, for example, that “Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber,” that really means that Salah lived thirty years and begat Eber’s grandfather or great, great, great, grandfather. When the “missing” generations are added to the chronology, the date of Creation drifts further into the past. To me, such a position is absolutely mind-boggling. How can we believe (A) that Genesis is the Inspired, Perfect, Holy, Infallible Word of God, while simultaneously believing (B) that the Genesis genealogies should be disregarded because they contain “errors of omission”? Was God in a forgetful mood when He “inspired” Genesis? Creationist Henry Clarence Thiessen, suggesting that the Genesis genealogies may be overlooked, writes that “a study of the various [other] biblical genealogies indicates that they are incomplete and contain omissions.”

                  Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 144-145). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                  After all, the only way you can do a genealogy is the way modern people do. The genealogies do have omissions in them. That's not because they're "errors." It's because of the way genealogies were done in the past. As said though, Mills is not interested in this kind of thinking or research.

                  From this, he gets to saying:
                  So the non-literalist argument goes like this: We believe that the Genesis genealogies may be unreliable since other biblical genealogies are also unreliable.

                  Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 145). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                  But we aren't saying they are unreliable. They are reliable for the purpose for which they were written and the time as well. Mills is imposing a modern standard on the genealogies that is foreign to the text.
                  When viewed in isolation, the Genesis genealogies themselves posit no miraculous events or supernatural Beings. If we cannot interpret these mundane genealogies literally, then we cannot interpret anything in the Bible literally. These same creationists, however, demand that we interpret literally the existence of God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost, the Devil, Angels, Heaven and Hell. All miraculous events portrayed in the Bible are likewise to be interpreted in a strictly literal sense: Jesus literally turned water into wine—literally cast out demons—literally walked on the Sea of Galilee—literally placed a magic curse on a fig tree—literally rose from the dead. Apparently, it’s only the Genesis genealogies that we are supposed to interpret metaphorically.

                  Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 147-148). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                  But saying the genealogies were done differently is not saying they were metaphorical. No. These were real people in a real time and a real place.
                  Let us remember that a young Earth was always posited by religious leaders throughout the entire history of Christianity. No medieval priest ever asserted that Genesis described a 4.5-billion-year-old Earth. No ancient church document ever claimed that Adam and Eve lived hundreds of millions of years ago. And no pre-Renaissance missionary ever preached a sermon about “omissions” or “time gaps” in the Genesis genealogies. If creationists now wish to abandon their historical position and acquiesce to an ancient Earth, then I applaud their progress. But it is a farce to maintain that Genesis never really demanded a young Earth since the genealogies were always intended as metaphors.

                  Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 148). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                  Of course, Mills gives no citations for any of this. There is no indication he has looked at church history. There is no mention of creedal statements or anything of the sort. It is just asserted. Also, I contend that no one could tell the age of the Earth from Genesis because that was not the point of Genesis.

                  Mills then goes on to list other "problems" in the text, such as the existence of unicorns. He lists all the references, but fails to mention that this is just how the KJV translated it. There is no Hebrew word for unicorn. Many translations now speak of it as the auroch instead. What Mills would need to show is that the Hebrew word meant unicorn. This, he does not do.

                  The same can apply to dragons, which can often refer to a great serpent or a sea monster or even a venomous snake. The word for cockatrice also refers to a serpent. Satyrs most likely refers to hairy goats.
                  I also find it revealing that, in the newer, modern-language translations of the Bible, these ridiculous passages of Scripture have been dishonestly excised, rewritten or edited beyond recognition from their original translation in the King James. So not only are the Great Pretenders forsaking long-honored and long-held Christian beliefs, but the Bible itself, under their supervision, appears to be experiencing a quiet, behind-the-scenes, Hollywood makeover as well.

                  Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 150). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                  Yes. Because the way the KJV translated it was the way the church for all those years always understood the text. It would be horrible for Mills to go back and just try to figure out what the original words meant. If you go and look up the words on BlueLetterBible.com, you are doing more research than Mills did.
                  Because religious doctrines are supposedly ordained of God, the religious adherent cannot easily question the teachings of his chosen church, even when those teachings are provably false. The scientist, on the other hand, is most rewarded when he proves the conventional wisdom wrong and revolutionizes our understanding of the universe.

                  Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 155). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                  On the contrary, I happen to love it when Christians start questioning the church. Meanwhile, go out as a scientist and start questioning climate change or at least humans causing climate change and see what happens to you. Go out and say "Maybe the Intelligent Design crowd has a point" and see what happens to you. Scientists often have their own groups that do not welcome any questioning. (After Covid, we can speak a lot about any scientist who dared say that Covid was made in a lab.)

                  Mills is fooling himself if he thinks any majority really likes to be questioned.

                  The fun continues next time as we talk about miracles.

                  In Christ,
                  Nick Peters
                  (And I affirm the virgin birth)


                  Can Genesis be reconciled with modern science? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. I was pleased to go through this chapter and find that Mills regularly interacted with the Christian scholarship holding the opinion he disagreed with. He cited sources regularly, took them seriously and……yeah. We all know that didn’t happen! So … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 9

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Part 10

                    -----------------

                    What about miracles? Let's plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

                    It's nice to know that Mills at least began this chapter with a joke.
                    If you have read, even casually, the six preceding chapters of this book, then you have become somewhat of an expert on the arguments for, and against, the Bible’s reliability and Divine inspiration. You are therefore better informed than most Christians on these issues of science and theology. You are also more knowledgeable than 90 percent of the professional clergy in America, who know a lot about preaching the Gospel, but little about proving the Gospel.

                    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 156). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                    Because nothing says being knowledgable about the material such as refusing to interact with major sources in defense of that material. Sadly, the part about 90% of the clergy could be true. One of my hopes doing this blog is to reverse those numbers.

                    From here, Mills goes on to talk about the miracles a Christian notices in his daily life.
                    Foremost among these daily “miracles” is the “comforting presence of the Holy Ghost.” Christians claim that external or scientific proof of God’s existence is for them unnecessary, because the Holy Ghost bears witness in their hearts that He is real and that the Bible is God’s Word. Christians pity the “fools” and “lost souls” who reject religious dogma because these skeptics fail to appreciate and to experience for themselves the self-evident proof that God provides through His “Inner Comforter.”

                    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 157). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                    There's a reason I've never supported Bill Craig's fifth argument for God. It's easy to knock down or mock. If Mills ever saw this blog, he can look through other posts of mine where I have told Christians to regularly not base their attitudes on feelings or think that God is speaking to them through feelings. This is not to say that there are no emotions in our Christian walk, but that they are not the guiding force.
                    Aside from feeling God’s presence, the most common “miracle of Christian perception” is having one’s prayers answered by God, or otherwise witnessing God’s direct intervention into the natural course of human events. For example, church congregations often pray for the swift recovery of a sick or hospitalized individual. If this bedfast individual later recuperates, the church boastfully attributes his recovery to their miracle-working God. If, instead, the afflicted person dies, this sad outcome is literally never counted as evidence against God’s existence or against God’s ability to answer prayer. The disappointment is stoically accepted as “God’s will” or as a purely natural event irrelevant to theological debate. “It was simply his time to go.”

                    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 159). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                    Does Mills expect a universe where every prayer will be answered yes? Just watch Bruce Almighty to see what happens in that case. Sometimes He answers yes and sometimes no. If a miracle does happen though, that does count as evidence of God's existing. As for evil, I would be glad to talk with Mills about evil any time. I have a number of approaches I use for that, many are on this blog.

                    However, there are a number of times prayers are answered that I think is not just coincidence. Consider what is happening in the Muslim world as many Muslims are becoming Christians after prayers and visions of Jesus. The thing with events like this is for Mills, every single one of them has to be a coincidence. For me, just one is positive data. Who has more at stake?

                    Mills refers to John Glenn seeing Earth from space and speaking of its beauty and saying "There has to be a God."
                    But I also recall vividly that, at the very moment Glenn uttered his oft-repeated words about a Creator, the Shuttle was flying over Central America, where Hurricane Mitch had just destroyed the infrastructures of five entire nations. Thousands of people had just been killed and hundreds of thousands left homeless. Government officials calculated that it would take 30 years to rebuild. But none of my Christian email correspondents said a thing to me about the carnage and catastrophic damage wrought by the storm, which was raging only 200 miles beneath Glenn and the Shuttle. I hesitate to emphasize the negative. But, here again, Glenn’s “vision of God” was based on selective observation. If Glenn’s family had just been wiped out by the storm, I doubt that he would have voiced such an idyllic view of Nature. So whenever Christians point out to me that many intelligent people believe in God, I agree wholeheartedly. But I, in turn, point out that the empirical observations made by these intelligent individuals, though usually accurate, are frequently selectively employed.

                    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 162). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                    But if selective vision is wrong for Glenn, it's also wrong for Mills. Mills looks at evil and suffering and says "No God." Glenn sees beauty in the world and says "God." The question is if atheism can give a basis for beauty and order better than theism can give for evil. We easily can. People went against God and chose lesser goods that in turn caused them to do evil in pursuit of a lesser good over a greater one.

                    Mills goes on to say about all this that:
                    Such an undeniably mixed bag would lead an objective observer to conclude that Nature is governed neither by benevolent gods nor by evil demons. Nature simply exists and, irrespective of our desires or best interests, operates through natural law, rather than through mystical or purposeful legerdemain.

                    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 162-163). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                    Yet Lewis spoke about this years ago. If this was really the case, why would people think of an all-good and all-powerful and all-knowing God? That's the last kind of God we would expect. That's probably why so many people for years were polytheists. It made sense.
                    Suppose that I were standing near Kennedy’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery, and the ground suddenly opened up revealing a coffin. I see the casket opening; and a man who looks exactly like John Kennedy sits up and walks away. Even under these bizarre circumstances, it is still more probable that: (a) I am misperceiving what is occurring, or (b) that someone is playing an ingenious trick, or (c) that I am witnessing the filming of a movie, or (d) that I am dreaming, or (e) that the man I saw was not actually John Kennedy, or (f) that someone has slipped me a hallucinogenic drug, or (g) that I have fallen victim to psychosis or (h) that I am completely fabricating this story. Any of these explanations is infinitely more plausible than the assertion that John Kennedy genuinely rose from the dead. These explanations are more plausible even when I claim to be an eyewitness to the event. Whenever miraculous tales are secondhand or, like Scripture, are handed down from generation to generation, the veracity of the original stories is forever untestable and is thus unworthy of serious consideration. A naturalistic explanation—however far-fetched it seems—is invariably more likely to be accurate than a supernatural explanation.

                    Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 164). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                    A valid question to ask Mills at this point would be "What would convince you?" If the answer is "nothing", then Mills's position is not based on evidence. Were that the case, evidence to the contrary would change his mind. It can be thought believers believe because they have a dogma in favor of miracles, but Chesterton turned this on its head years ago in Orthodoxy.
                    “The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them.”

                    And no, in all of this, he doesn't touch the resurrection. He doesn't bother interacting with resources like Craig Keener's Miracles, which was out by then. There is not a single miracle that he really looks at and deals with.

                    Not a shock.

                    In Christ,
                    Nick Peters
                    (And I affirm the virgin birth)


                    What about miracles? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. It’s nice to know that Mills at least began this chapter with a joke. If you have read, even casually, the six preceding chapters of this book, then you have become somewhat of an expert on the arguments for, and against, the Bible’s … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 10

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Part 11

                      ‐----------

                      What about Hell? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
                      It’s not a shock that someone like Mills goes straight to the topic of Hell. One problem is that Mills consistently holds that if you believe in Hell, you believe in a fiery torture chamber. There are a multitude of different views on the topic. There are some who hold that God just annihilates those who reject Him. My own view can be found here if you are interested.

                      So Mills really starts his case this way:

                      Common sense tells us that God would create Hell only if He had a reason to inflict this punishment. In other words, God would not have decided arbitrarily that He would enjoy torturing humans (and fallen angels) and have created a hell on that basis, for this scenario would imply that God behaved sadistically and brought this lake of fire into existence to satisfy his desires to perceive suffering and to hear screams of pain.

                      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 171). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                      In all honesty, aside from the torture chamber idea, this seems reasonable enough. So what reasons does Mills give that would be reasons God could create Hell? First, he clarifies his position further saying:

                      1. God had a reason to create Hell and therefore did so. 2. God had no reason to create Hell, but did so anyway—He just enjoys torturing others. 3. God had no reason to create Hell and therefore did not.

                      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 171-172). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                      Mills lists three reasons for punishment of any kind:

                      1. To establish a precedent that will benefit society, by serving as a deterrent to future offenses; 2. To separate the offender from those individuals whose rights he would violate; 3. To correct the offender for his and others’ benefit.

                      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 172). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                      To this, I have to say that I highly encourage you to read C.S. Lewis’s essay on a humanitarian theory of punishment. Lewis said that he wrote his essay on behalf of the criminal. The criminal must still be treated as a man and Mills ignores the main reason Lewis gives for punishment. If you’re interested, go ahead and read it, but I will save Lewis’s reason for punishment till the end.

                      So in talking about deterrence, Mills says the following:

                      “Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth into life, and few there be that find it.”2 The Christian Church wholeheartedly believes this “Divine” biblical prophecy, which announces that the majority of humanity will follow the wrong road in life and will, as a result, end up in Hell instead of Heaven.

                      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 176-177). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                      MIlls doesn’t bother to look at any contrary ideas on how to interpret this verse. I happen to think it is speaking about the immediate response to Jesus, not the universal one. This applies to Jesus’s own life and the response of His immediate hearers.

                      Speaking of the atonement, Mills says:

                      So Jesus, in effect, became a victim of His own judgment when dying on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice—a blood ritual which Jesus offered to Himself so that He could forgive “sin.”

                      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 180). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                      I’ll just say people who don’t have a clue about the Trinity have no business writing a book against Christianity.

                      A truly benevolent and omnipotent God could simply let bygones be bygones and forgive “sinners” even though they adopted mistaken religious beliefs. If this universal and unconditional forgiveness is impossible for God to bestow, then He is not omnipotent; He is controlled and tossed about by circumstances superseding His authority. If He could forgive all “sinners” unconditionally, but refused, then He is not benevolent.

                      Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 181). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                      But if God does this, then He is saying that something is greater in the universe than His own goodness and that that must be sacrificed for human happiness. It is a form of idolatry. For MIlls, God is just a superman, a really big man. If a man can do this, well God is just one of us except really big so He can do the same.

                      There’s not much to say about separation or rehabilitation, but in all of this, Mills misses the one obvious reason why we punish people. It is the one that Lewis looks at the most.

                      They deserve it.

                      If you punish someone for deterrence, then you are using them as an object to others. You could punish someone who wasn’t even guilty of something as a lesson to others. If you punish to separate, again, you don’t need to be someone who has done something wrong to do this. A tyrant can take you away from your loved ones. As for rehabilitation, how many times are we hearing people being sent into sensitivity training and things of that sort for perceived wrongs? Again, you don’t have to have done anything objectively wrong. Just thinking you have is enough.

                      And what if this is the reason for Hell?

                      That people have done something deserving of punishment and God treats them as people still deserving of punishment?

                      This never occurs to Mills. He sees punishment in functional terms. If so, then the person becomes a means to an end. In the end, Mills’s case for how unbelievers should be treated is actually inhuman.

                      Funny how that works out.

                      In Christ,
                      Nick Peters
                      (And I affirm the virgin birth)


                      What about Hell? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. It’s not a shock that someone like Mills goes straight to the topic of Hell. One problem is that Mills consistently holds that if you believe in Hell, you believe in a fiery torture chamber. There are a multitude of different views on … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 11

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Part 12

                        ----------------

                        Is internet porn a danger? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

                        Up until now, I have considered Mills highly ignorant.

                        Yet when I got to this chapter, that changed.

                        Mills has an attitude that is disgraceful to have and highly misogynistic towards women. I do not make such statements lightly. I do intend to back it.

                        First, why this chapter anyway? Why did he write it? He didn’t just write a chapter about supposedly odd views about sex that Christians have. No. This was about internet porn specifically. This was about men going on the internet with the intention of looking up pictures of women in various stages of undress all the way to completely nude for the purpose of feeding their own lusts and that is okay to Mills. Note I say men specifically since that is the group that Mills focuses on saying girls don’t really have this struggle. Well, they actually do, and a large part of that is because men do as well.

                        So let’s dive in.
                        Is there truly a problem of children’s accessing pornography on the internet? And if there is, shouldn’t we, as adults, strive mightily to prevent impressionable children from viewing sexually oriented material intended solely for adults? The answers to these questions are: (1) There is no problem; and (2) We should not strive to “child-proof” the internet.

                        Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 193). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                        Entirely wrong on both counts. It is extremely hard for women to find men today who are not viewing porn. They are the exception, not the rule, and this is changing the way men think about sex and in turn changing the way women are doing sex and thinking about sex. Men are getting more and more the idea that what they see on the screen is how sex is supposed to be an how women are supposed to look.

                        Those are airbrushed fantasy and put a real woman next to a fantasy and the fantasy will win. I hate saying that because real women I do think are definitely superior because they are real, but fake women can be whatever the man wants them to be. Today, a man’s first sexual encounter won’t be on his wedding night. It will be in front of a computer screen.

                        Yes. We need to child-proof the internet. Minors are passing around nude pictures of themselves that in any other hands would be considered child pornography and a crime. A number of them have committed suicide after said pictures have leaked. Women are suffering in the Instagram generation where they think they have to look like the women on Facebook.

                        But this is just the beginning for Mills.

                        He goes on to talk about how our young men reach sexual maturity in their teen years and then have to wait several years before they can get married. On this, I agree. This is a problem. Our society has set eighteen as if it is some magical number that suddenly makes a boy a man. It doesn’t. There are several boys who are over eighteen and there are several men who are under, though those numbers are greatly increasing on both sides.

                        So Mills says:
                        So economic reality, more than anything else, has crafted our perception that teenage males are “harmed” by sexual preoccupation. Today’s male faces a frustrating gap of approximately ten years between the onset of his sexual maturity and the median marital age. Genetically and hormonally, however, today’s teenage male is unchanged from the day when early teenage copulation was the accepted norm. During this extended gap between puberty and marriage, all teenage males masturbate frequently, and the overwhelming majority of them view pornography as well.

                        Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 197-198). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                        In this, there is very little to disagree. It’s his next part that’s the big problem.
                        Again I pose the question: If, throughout the entirety of human history, teenage males were not “jeopardized” by full penile-vaginal intercourse with their teenage partners, how then are today’s teenage males “endangered” by mere photographs of women?

                        Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 198). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                        And this I declare is incredibly misogynistic. Mills says “If a man was involved in a relationship with a woman where he was spending his life with her and siring children with her and raising a family with her, then how is looking at photographs a problem? That is hardly a one-to-one parallel. The former requires that a man be a man. It requires that he take responsibility for a woman he has pledged loyalty and faithfulness to. It requires that he work to provide for her and the children that they will have.

                        Pornography does the exact opposite. It requires that a man not be a man. It does not require the man to take any responsibility. It does not require him to be faithful and loyal to anyone. It does not require him to make any effort to provide for a woman or provide children. The woman in pornography is solely there for the gratification of the man. He doesn’t even have to know her name or anything about her. He doesn’t have to risk himself with her at all.

                        Yet Mills sees these as parallels.

                        Unbelievable.

                        This really tells you how Mills sees women.

                        Pornography causes young men to see women as just bodies and cheapens sex. I am not at all saying women’s bodies are not beautiful. Thank God they are. I am saying you can’t beat the real thing. It is why even as a divorced man I strive to keep myself porn free so that when I remarry, my then wife will know I only have eyes for her and she doesn’t have to compete with a Rolodex of images of nude women in my head.

                        Another sad fact is that if Mills’s view is true, then yes, there is nothing wrong with any of this. There is nothing wrong with anything. There is also nothing right with anything. Things just are. That’s it.

                        Thank God the world is not like that.

                        Thank God women are real and good in their own right and that sex was a gift He created for us to enjoy in the context of a marital relationship.

                        We don’t want a cheap thing like Mills does.

                        In Christ,
                        Nick Peters
                        (And I affirm the virgin birth)
                        Is internet porn a danger? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. Up until now, I have considered Mills highly ignorant. Yet when I got to this chapter, that changed. Mills has an attitude that is disgraceful to have and highly misogynistic towards women. I do not make such statements lightly. I do … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 12

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                        • #13
                          Part 13

                          ---------------------

                          Were the Founding Fathers Christians? Let's plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

                          Imagine if I was telling you what a group of scientists believed, let's say a group of 50+, but I did so by only picking out 3 of them. Suppose I went to the National Academy of Sciences, picked out the scientists that were theists, and then said "See? The NAS is a theistic society." If you think that's ridiculous, you have an idea of what it's like to read David Mills on the founding of America.
                          To the extent that our Founding Fathers had any religious affiliation at all, it was a tepid embracing of the philosophy of Deism, a popular system of thought in the 18th century. Deism is the belief that a supernatural Power originally created the universe but does not currently manage its day-to-day operation or intervene personally into human affairs. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, among many others, held Deist, rather than Christian, religious beliefs. If one dismisses all preconceived historical inaccuracies and Christian propaganda, then an extraordinary and very revealing fact emerges: The two documents upon which our country was actually founded—i.e., the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States—contain not a single word about Christianity, Christian principles, the Bible or Jesus Christ. Neither is there any mention at all of the Ten Commandments, Heaven, Hell or being saved. Not a word! The phrase “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” was a reference to the Deist Creator, rather than the God of Christianity.

                          Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 205). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                          For the former, when people want to talk about the founding fathers not being Christian, you can bet dollars to donuts that they will name the same three people every time. Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and Benjamin Franklin. MIlls finds it odd that the founding documents don't mention explicitly Christian language. He gives us no reason why we should think that they would. The Constitution and Declaration were to be for all people, not just Christians.

                          Yet after saying that these aren't found in these documents he says:
                          Witch burning and mandatory church affiliation, among other factors, led the Founding Fathers to establish a “Wall of Separation between Church and State,” allowing, at each citizen’s discretion, freedom of religion or freedom from religion.

                          Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 206). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                          You know what else isn't found in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution? The Wall of Separation between Church and State. However, that is something golden that obviously all the founders held. There is no mention on how government funds were used to evangelize the Native Americans in the area of the Louisiana Purchase. There is no mention that the wall mention was made to the Danbury Baptist Church to assure them the government would not infringe upon them. There is no mention that after writing that, the very next Sunday Jefferson let worship services take place in the House of Representatives.

                          The other thing you can be sure that will be mentioned is the Treaty of Tripoli.
                          In 1797 the United States ratified the Treaty of Tripoli, which was negotiated by George Washington himself and signed by his successor, John Adams. The treaty declared that “the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Congress unanimously approved the text of this treaty.

                          Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 206). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                          In other words, Mills is following the atheistic script accurately. Cite only the information that agrees with you. Ignore the rest. Never mind that it can be questioned if Article 11 where the phrase shows up even belongs in the treaty or not seeing as we have a version in two languages. There is no mention of the Treaty of Paris which uses explicit Christian language right in the intro in speaking of it being in the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.
                          Modern-day conservative propaganda about the “Christian birth of our nation” is therefore just as erroneous and self-serving as Christian pronouncements about the birth of our universe. In both cases, “men of God” completely ignore the actual evidence at hand and conjure up a fictitious tale. They then spread the myth, along with fabricated evidence, and repeat the myth so frequently that it is soon accepted uncritically by the citizenry.

                          Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 207). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

                          Oh, the irony.

                          But to be fair, have I provided positive evidence so far? Not too much. However, if you want to see a listing of such quotations with their sources, you can go here. Here are some that you can find there.
                          • "From the day of the Declaration, the people of the North American union, and of its constituent states, were associated bodies of civilized men and Christians, in a state of nature, but not of anarchy. They were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of the Gospel, which they nearly all acknowledged as the rules of their conduct. They were bound by the principles which they themselves had proclaimed in the declaration. They were bound by all those tender and endearing sympathies, the absence of which, in the British government and nation, towards them, was the primary cause of the distressing conflict in which they had been precipitated by the headlong rashness and unfeeling insolence of their oppressors. They were bound by all the beneficent laws and institutions, which their forefathers had brought with them from their mother country, not as servitudes but as rights. They were bound by habits of hardy industry, by frugal and hospitable manners, by the general sentiments of social equality, by pure and virtuous morals; and lastly they were bound by the grappling-hooks of common suffering under the scourge of oppression."

                          --------------John Quincy Adams
                          Letter to Mrs. Jane Mecom:
                          "I am so far from thinking that God is not to be worshipped, that I have composed and wrote a whole book of devotions for my own use; and I imagine there are few if any in the world so weak as to imagine, that the little good we can do here can merit so vast a reward hereafter."

                          --------------Benjamin Franklin
                          "I do hereby appoint THURSDAY, the TWENTY-FIRST of NOVEMBER next, to be a day of Public THANKSGIVING, PRAISE, and PRAYER, throughout this Commonwealth; calling on and requesting the ministers and people of every religious denomination, to meet on that day in their respective sanctuaries, that with unanimity and fervor, we may present our unfeigned praises for all the mercies we have received of our Bountiful Creator, who has continued to us the inestimable blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ, blessings not confined to time, but extended to eternity, who has confirmed to us our federal and State constitutions, which secure the enjoyment of our lives, liberties and property, who continues to bless us with a National Government and Administration, whose wisdom, virtue, and firmness have not been circumvented, corrupted or appalled by the arts, seductions, or threats of foreign or domestic foes, but whose patriotic efforts have uniformly and manifestly resulted from an ardent desire to promote the public welfare and happiness, who has not punished our ungrateful murmurs, discontents and other crimes, as He has those of distant nations, by war and its dire effects; but has preserved to us peace, the greatest of national blessings, who has favored us with a Clergy, (with few exceptions,) whose conduct, is influenced by the mild, benign and benevolent principles of the Gospel; and whose example is a constant admonition to such pastors and professors of Christianity, as are too much under the guidance of passion, prejudice, and worldly delusion, Who has enabled us from unavoidable spoliations to derive permanent benefits, by gradually diminishing our dependence on foreign markets, for necessary supplies; by rapidly increasing our manufactures thereof; and by thus preventing in future the plunder of such property by avaricious nations, who has not visited us, as He has other countries, with plague, pestilence or famine; but has kindly preserved to us a great degree of health, and crowned with plenty the labors of our industrious husbandmen, Who has increased the martial ardor and discipline of our militia, and enables us to smile at the menaces of mighty potentates, Who continues to us the due administration of justice, the full and free exercise of our civil religious rights, and the numerous blessing which have resulted from them, Who has prospered in a remarkable degree our Schools, Academies and Colleges; those inestimable sources of public information and happiness, who has protected so great a portion of the property of our merchants, when exposed to the depredations of perfidious governments, Who has granted success to our enterprising fishermen, prospered our ingenious mechanics, and loaded us with His boundless munificence."

                          ---- Elbridge Thomas Gerry
                          I, ------, do profess Faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine Inspiration.

                          ----- George Read
                          "We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism."

                          ----- Benjamin Rush

                          But keep in mind, Mills says this is just fabricating evidence.

                          I can freely acknowledge that Jefferson, Paine, and Franklin did not hold Christian views, perhaps Franklin was the closest.

                          Can Mills accept the others?

                          In Christ,
                          Nick Peters
                          (And I affirm the virgin birth)
                          Were the Founding Fathers Christians? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. Imagine if I was telling you what a group of scientists believed, let’s say a group of 50+, but I did so by only picking out 3 of them. Suppose I went to the National Academy of Sciences, picked out the … Continue reading Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 13

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                          • #14
                            Apologiaphoenix, I realize this may not be the most appropriate thread for this, but since I can't find the Tekton section anymore, I can't help but ask you: whatever happened to J.P. Holding? Is he not going to be posting on TheologyWeb anymore? In any case, he still does apologetics, one way or the other? Etc.

                            Can you help me out with such infos?

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