Atheists Don’t Keep No Secrets

We Freethinkers are in the middle of our annual conference.  I just have a few minutes to jot down something that I’m wondering about.

Last night was the BIG debate.  The President of Minnesota Atheists debated with a fine debater from Northwest College, formerly Northwest Bible College, in Minneapolis.  They had debated before and have developed a debate format that is polite but also very informative of the two positions.

One of the striking things I took from it was how often the Christian side has to resort to, “That is yet to be revealed” , “That is not ours to know” and “The mystery is part of the faith.”

These come from questions, many from the audience, like “Why does God keep hiding?” and “Why does God allow tragedies and suffering?”

The atheist does not have to dodge such questions because the truth as the atheist sees it does not have been hidden.  Instead of, for example, saying the origin of the universe was caused by someone we know is there but will not show or reveal himself, the atheist can merely say truthly he does not know.

When Christopher Hitchens, the atheist, is asked, “If it turns out there is a God when you die, what will you say to him?”

Hichens says, “I’ll ask him why he did not make himself known?”

 

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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22 Responses to Atheists Don’t Keep No Secrets

  1. Henry says:

    “The atheist does not have to dodge such questions….”

    I disagree. As was discussed last night concerning the Big Bang, where is there an atheist explanation for where did matter come from prior to Big Bang? That information is kept secret by the atheist (they don’t know). Their expectation is however that the Christian be omnipotent.

    True to the title of this thread using the double negative, the proper interpretation by canceling the negatives is that Atheists Keep Secrets.

  2. Bob says:

    I think a big part of the religious mind’s frustration with atheists being okay with not knowing, is their fear of hell. If it weren’t for the religious mind’s fear that they might not get to go to the heaven they were promised if they are good enough, and to be with their god they’ve been brainwashed to love without even being allowed to examine if they should love or not, then they would be more open and comforatable with not knowing things like what happened if anything before the big expansion.

    I can well remember from long ago, after a brainwashed childhood, of comtemplating for the first time what it would mean to not believe in an afterlife. And there was fear. Fear of hell, fear of everything I thought of as the construct of my reality being lost. For a short while I made myself not think of that, and stayed religious. Then I started to get angry. Angry that the bible didn’t make sense, historically, morally, or socially. Then I really got angry. That anger allowed me to not be afraid of the bible’s wicked evil threat of hell if I don’t conform, and being a stubborn cuss, I started to find emense great peace in the idea of being free of all dogmas, religions, and supernaturalism. And after a few very empowered decades of godlessness, I could never be imprisoned by supernaturalism again. I feel genuine compassion for those who are. Its very sad.

  3. entech says:

    Jon, I promised myself I would ignore Henry, But, I must agree the use of the double negative, even though I thought it was intended as a humorous comment on certain thought patterns, was wrong.
    But, he reverts to type immediately and equates an honest statement of ‘I don’t know’ as keeping secrets.
    Christians are not expected to be omnipotent but they do claim that their god is.

    • Henry says:

      “Christians are not expected to be omnipotent”

      Sure they are. The sentiment I picked up from the atheist crowd last night was the Christian should have known the answers to their questions, and anger was present when he indicated he didn’t know. One of the questioners admitted to being emotionally troubled and seemingly wanted the Christian to publicly counsel her. He wisely avoided that trap. Much emotion was directed at the Christian by some of the atheists.

      I also noted last night how many of the atheist questioners were tripping over themselves to grab the microphone first, and many of the same, time after time, misquoted the Christian. He correctly said, “I didn’t say that.” Of course they wouldn’t accept that, and demanded him to read back off of his notes, which he kindly obliged them. Of course, they were wrong.

      The other interesting thing was the long-winded questions most of the atheists had. They went on and on for five minutes with no real direction. The Christian kindly asked them for their question after their five minute rambling monologue. He was very gracious.

      • entech says:

        Interesting answer but you neglect to address how it applies to “equates an honest statement of ‘I don’t know’ as keeping secrets” which was the real point.

        • Henry says:

          Quite simply, the Christian’s answer of “I don’t know” was equated to him (or Christians) keeping secrets by this thread. Mr. Lindgren provided me the point of reference. Sorry I digressed.

          • entech says:

            “The atheist does not have to dodge such questions because the truth as the atheist sees it does not have been hidden. Instead of, for example, saying the origin of the universe was caused by someone we know is there but will not show or reveal himself, the atheist can merely say truthly he does not know.”
            This actually reads as the opposite to me – it is the atheist that says “I don’t know” not the Christian(s).
            As to the title, as you pointed out it is a double negative and therefore senseless except, as I interpret it, as an attempt at humour. As in something like “youse can trust me, I don’t got no secrets”, or a simple slip of the pen.

          • Henry says:

            “This actually reads as the opposite to me – it is the atheist that says “I don’t know” not the Christian(s).”

            Jon’s post reads that way. However, I heard on numerous occasion the Christian to have said, “I don’t know.” The Christian also pointed out scripture (i.e. evil comma vs. evil period, meaning the stroy is yet to be told as why God allows evil). As far as the secret withheld, that is withheld by the scriptures, not the Christian. Jon implicitly attributed the secret withheld to the Christian, while making the claim that the “atheists don’t keep no secrets”. Therefore, I elected to use Jon’s point of reference and considered the “don’t know” response as keeping a secret by the atheist.

            For the record, I believe Jon chose to use the double negative to provide emphasis or humor much like I use “that there” or “you boys sure do…” I couldn’t resist the opening it provided (sorry Jon).

            Entech, I have the benefit of having an English brother-in-law. We get along great, and it has provided some great insight, one being the English being much more direct than we Americans. It took him several years to get our humor. He is now up to speed after having to hang around our clan.

      • entech says:

        Was the show televised or did you actually attend in person? Obviously at half a world away I can only go by the words on the page. I have, rarely, been to meetings and conference type things and read the newspapers or seen television reports and I sometimes think that they went to a different event! So assuming you were there your account and the account of one of the freethinkers would be more than a little different, from the point of view of a truly independent observer you would both be describing different events.
        Although I like to flatter myself that I am close to independent, I must admit it is as likely to be truly independent as it would be to meet a green unicorn.

        • Henry says:

          The word “unicorn” was uttered that night.

          I attended in person. I don’t know if it was televised. I didn’t see any cameras, although I would think NDSU likely has the technology to record embedded right in the room without being overtly visible.

        • entech says:

          Of course, unicorn is an old standby among the sceptical lot.
          Innocent this time just trying to think of something unlikely, perhaps just leaving it at “truly” independent expresses the idea all on its own.

          • Henry says:

            Ironically, the word “unicorn” was uttered by the Christian in humor. I also have to note the Christian was quite humerous, the audience laughing with regularity, mostly due to the Christian’s intended humor, not from laughing at him in derision.

          • entech says:

            Good to hear, amongst the best I have seen for a good mixture of angry debate and humour and good nature, if you can imagine the combination, have between Christopher Hitchens and Schmuley Boteach don’t agree to strongly with either but they are very entertaining, and (perhaps not by coincidence) both well selling authors.

            If my calculations are any where like real you will have recently had breakfast, I have had supper, so goodnight and thank you.
            David

          • Henry says:

            Normally that would be the case in regards to breakfast. I am not normal. I have been up for four hours now.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          entech 12:28 I think Henry is correct about some of the atheists present–some asked long convoluted and aggressive questions of the Christian debater. He was gracious and pleasant. But, I could not get much of a fix on what he really believed. Maybe Henry figured it out. He disavowed literalism. When argued into a tight place he slipped out by saying it has not yet been revealed and so on. I came away with the possible conclusion he is an emerging faith Christian. He seemed to have little interest in sin or hell.

          I think the debate might have been video taped. Much of the Conference was video taped. That being the case, I think it will be available at redriverfreethinkers.org eventually. The quality will not be great, of course.

          • Henry says:

            Jon, I must say you were a gracious host for opening the debate up to the public.

            Jon, I don’t know if I figured anything out. Was sin and hell part of the format? I can’t remember that it was. The Christian was a pastor from the EFree church. My understanding is they acknowledge the concept of sin and hell. As far as a literalist, are there any out there?

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 2:54 Thank you, Henry. You are certainly correct, the Evangelical Free Church, and Northwestern would be at the forefront of sin and hell believers. But, this gentelman seemed to veer away. I was not in the room for all the event so I may not be correct.

            I have to say the Christian debater, whose just now I’ve forgotten just now, was a most gracious young man. August, the atheist debater, persuaded him to come up here from Minneapolis. He asked for only $200, barely enough, I would guess, to cover his expenses. He helped to provide a packed audience an overview of the world’s great questions.

            I understand the two have debated before in the Minneapolis area and seem to have settled on a format people enjoy.

  4. Kevin says:

    One of my favorite says of all time is………..”that just dont make no sense at all.” and it has been a very popular phrase at work. Many things “just dont make no sense at all” We try to figure out why something broke, why it worked this way or why it worked that way…I started the phrase, “that just dont make no sense at tall” and it has been used on an almost daily basis…many things in life make no sense at all. What we see, what we believe….just is not always what we know. I have been told before though that “would you believe that 95% of the stuff you have been told is in reality a lie? I do believe this……..everyone is up to making their choices…..you can make any choice in your life you wish, but you and only you have to live with every choice you make!

  5. DEFINITION OF UTTER FUTILITY: debating anything about God with an athiest.

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