The War On Christmas Season Has Begun.

Every year about this time, there are Christians in the U. S. who complain because they cannot use public property to market their faith.

An interesting conflict in the news these past years is in Santa Monica, CA.  There have been manger scenes in a city park for years.  Atheists wanted to present displays, so the City awarded spaces by drawing.  Nonbelievers put up secular displays such as quotes from Thomas Jefferson debunking religion.  Some were awarded spots but put displayed nothing.

Now, the City has decided not to allow any displays.  Carolers can sing in the park and those who want to display mangers scenes can do so on private property.  The Christians do not think this is fair and are going to court.

This saga has much in common with what Freethinkers have experienced here in Fargo. The Ten Commandments monument has been displayed for 5o years on public property.  We requested the right to place a monument next to it with a secular message.  The decision was a Christian monument is OK,  a secular one is not.  Our case is still working its way through the courts.  I think we will win ultimately.

In Santa Monica, Christians are saying use of public property to market their message is exercising free speech.  Using it for a secular message is not.

The “war on Christimas” is a teaching moment about free speech for our country.  The problem for some Christians is free speech applies to everyone.

P. S. Since this was written a court has ruled in favor of the City of Santa Monica and no displays will be allowed.

68 Responses

  1. Henry

    Jon: “The War on Christmas Season Has Begun.”

    Jon, perhaps you are proud to be the local grinch. Try all you want, your efforts do not affect me.

  2. Jared

    Henry, I don’t see how you can call Jon a Grinch. He didn’t attack anyone for displaying their own messages. He never said you couldn’t celebrate Christmas the way you choose. From your line of thinking as a Christian, you automatically assume he is attacking you by supporting Secularism. We all should be allowed to share our beliefs equally.

    Keep spreading the Gospel Jon 😉

    1. Henry

      “Keep spreading the Gospel Jon”

      And the atheists/secularists/agnostics say atheism is not a religion.

      At this rate, atheism will become the law of the land, the established religion (“gospel”). Their creed will dominate government.

      Again, all this does not affect me.

      1. entech

        Good one Henry, well spotted. Keep it up one day you will actually belief that not accepting your religion is a religion in itself. You will believe it instead of just having as creationist dogma.

        Given that the vast majority of Americans, are Christian with a huge proportion believing the second coming will be in the next fifty years. Your talk of atheism taking over is nonsense – to use another of your creationist mantras, this one usually applied to evolution “There is not enough time” at any rate. 😈

        1. Henry

          You are letting your compadre down. He thinks they will ultimately win. You are saying they won’t in America. If Jon is right, and you are wrong, atheism will be the rule of the land, the established “gospel”. I find that to be a little hypocritical for the atheism promoters.

          1. entech

            The word gospel derives from the Old English g?d-spell, meaning “good news” or “glad tidings”.
            Apparently a word for word translation from the Greek euangelion or good message, which also gives rise to the Latin version evangelium and from the latin to English Evangelism.

            Now if you want to equate the spread of atheism with spreading the good word that is your prerogative. If you think atheism is a formal system and want to say atheism is a belief I am forced to agree. In your scriptural interpretation of the world and your idea that atheism is a system, then here is my belief – I believe you are wrong.

          2. Henry

            The word “gospel” as used in this thread was not introduced by me, but rather one of Jon’s adherents in an earlier comment. Thus, I have used quotes around it so as one could not be confused. Unfortunately, you got confused. I know what the gospel is.

          3. entech

            OK I am trying to hard sorry wrong again.
            But it was first introduce as “Keep spreading the Gospel Jon 😉 “

          4. Stan

            Entech, “Given that the vast majority of Americans, are Christian with a huge proportion believing the second coming will be in the next fifty years.”

            Would you care to provide a link for a “huge proportion”? Or did you pull that out of your hat?

          5. entech

            Stan. Pew Survey says 41% of Americans believe that the second coming will happen by 2050. But from what I else I have seen that is a “probably come back by 2050” – so a breakdown is that 23% say definitely and 18% probably.

            If you imagine that I am sitting on my hat, you might be right about my information. Been watching too much Youtube perhaps. Wrong two posts in a row, hopefully more a tendency to exaggerate rather than deliberate distortion.
            So the huge proportion is an exaggeration in general terms but the figure does approach 60% of white evangelicals (white is the terminology in the survey).


          6. Wanna B Sure

            If you watch TV, you would think virtually all are in the threatingly immediate school. (Dispensationalists primarily). Which would be the ” 60% white evangelicals.”( An inacurate term, due to the fact that most Black Christians (especially in the south)(Baptists, AG, etc. subscribe to the same eschatology). It is a mix. Whatever it is, it is a percentage of a percentage. If you turned the TV off, and actually went to church, most people wouldn’t even hear of the “50 year” speculation, and that is all it is–speculation. In the meantime it is an opportunity to sell more books, stock up on rice and beans to last the last 3 1/2 years before the final event.

          7. Stan

            Since Catholics are the largest cohesive group and probably 95% will not claim a 50 year end of the world, you can bring that number further. Our feeling is that it could happen at any time, and since it could happen to you personally in the next 5 minutes then to speculate is folly.

            Be right with the Lord at all times, you will not have time to change your mind if it does happen.

          8. Stan

            Funny that I have visited homes of Muslims and Buddhists as Santa Claus at their request. I explained that I would like to tell the children the Christmas Story of the birth of Christ and had no problems.

          9. entech

            Stan, that survey showed 57% of Catholics said it would probably/definitely not happen (by 2050), so a lot less thought it was immanent.

            Not knowing the questions asked, the sample size or how they were chosen the figures are a only a rough indication, even the questions leading up to the second coming question could influence the way the answer is given. A lot of these polls end up as nothing better than speculation, Pew seem to cover a wide range of topics and the raw data is available to the public, indications are that there is little bias.

          10. Stan

            I have been polled several times. As the questions went on I could see them herding me to the answers they wanted to hear I asked that the interview stop, to destroy all data and that they register a complaint from me on the viability of the poll.

            Our Newspaper will run “scientific” polls just to get clicks on the website, since the add revenue is drying up on the print version.

          11. entech

            Don’t know if you ever got a British TV program called ‘Yes Minister”, it was a very funny sitcom about the relationship between government ministers and permanent public servants (they use to be called civil servants but were discovered to be neither civil nor to offer any service).
            One episode the senior was explaining to the junior how questions could lead to the answer you want, he started asking about youth and education standards, uncouth behaviour, lack of discipline and so on, of course the answers were frequently yes and the question following “do you think they should learn more self discipline”, “yes”, was “Do you favour the reintroduction of national service”, brilliant acting you could see the junior practically swallowing his tongue trying to not say “yes”. (national service was compulsory military service, started in WWII but continued until 1960)

  3. entech

    It goes on everywhere.
    Here there are schools that are told they cannot have nativity stories because children that are not believers might be offended, I half agree, but essentially in a country where the majority religious view and long standing tradition has a Christmas play of some kind it should be viewed as a custom and a lesson in tolerance.
    In the school my wife used to teach at the majority of students were immigrants, it came in waves, Vietnamese and Turkish, Hmong and more recently, since she left African. That school always tried to help the children grow into the local ways without losing the best of their original culture. As well as the nativity you would have the lunar New Year, the story behind Ramadan and some of the animist beliefs.
    With the parents there, in good natured amusement at why the little Turkish daughter would want to be an angel in a nativity scene, with some of the wise men literally coming from the east and a few ‘Nubians’ thrown in I think it is a good thing. Look forward to seeing a black Mary one day, at least more realistic than a simpering blue eyed, curly haired blonde. Mutual tolerance and understanding can only come from this, so I do support those that say the ban is political correctness gone wrong.

    Compare this to forced indoctrination in schools. Perhaps I exagerate but the schools have religious instruction by volunteers, all from one group the leader of which has be heard to say “our jobs is to create little desciples” but claim they do not proselityse. With government funding increasing for this, but budget restraints on maintenace and teachers.

  4. Paul

    Henry … Jon’s comments should not affect you … that’s the whole point, eh? He has his view, and you have yours …that’s the nature of democracy and we should all respect that. I happen to share Jon’s views … doesn’t make me right or wrong … but we can all live and learn from each other.

    A good discussion thus far.

  5. Ron

    You said: “In Santa Monica, Christians are saying use of public property to market their message is exercising free speech. Using it for a secular message is not.”

    No, they’re not saying that all, as proven by what you wrote in your own second paragraph. They apparently didn’t go to the courts to fight the secular displays when the city allowed for them a few years ago. Rather, they are now going to the courts for the right to display, period. capisce?

    Your attempt at spindoctoring is elementary at best.

    1. Ron 4:12 Rereading the article I have to concede you have a point. There was an earlier article that had more complaints about atheists. The attached article has a quote that said more or less “the atheists won because they knew how to play the game. The courts should understant how the atheists play the game.” He was complaining, then, that the atheists were there. My thought when reading it the first time is he doesn’t want the atheists to display.

      I believe you are correct, however, his case in court was about free speech. Anyway, it’s all over. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Michael Ross

    “Every year about this time, there are Christians in the U. S. who complain because they cannot use public property to market their faith.”

    And why can’t we? You use the public schools to market yours.

  7. Let private citizens’s and churchs’ lawns be filed with the testimony to the birth of Christ! It is not even an issue if done this way. But what will Atheists do if they have no one to sue, criticize, file lawsuits againts or complain about? Atheists can cease promoting their self-centered “religion” also.

    1. Wanna B Sure

      They could sue for driving distractions, and make it a safety issue. I wouldn’t recommend strobe lights in the signs on the lawn.

  8. Good one “Wanna Be Sure”..suing for strobe lights and traffic distractions.

    STOP THE PRESSES! I just had a brilliant idea for Christmas Displays in Public Places! After reading a morning article about the tempest in the Santa Monica teapot, I have the perfect design for a Christmas display in Public Places.
    Let there be a huge display of gaudy wrapped boxes and other containers…with lots of cheap shiny ribbons and other wrapping gee-gaws; let there be Food Galore…the richer the better and the highest cholesterol- criminal- foods….let there be mounds of FRUITCAKES (which would sit there for the next year)..let there be heaps of new flatline TVs…let there be displays of electronic toys like newest cell phones and all that is needed to Twitter, Tweet orText. Let there be wrecked cars from fender benders on icy streets and intersections. Let there be needle-less fir trees waiting for a match, let there be broken Christmas toys and broken ornaments, burned out candles and heaps of crumpled Christmas wrapping paper that has been thrown down in the frantic opening of presents; let there be heaps of leftover candy canes and boxes of chocolate covered cherries, let there be discarded Christmas neckties and ugly sweaters.
    You can readily see what a wonderful public display this would make in our Crass Commericalized so- called …………………. season.
    Let the displays be set up. Let the fun begin.
    And may the Red River Freethinkwers lead the charge in setting up such a display —–hopefully on the lawn of the Fargo City Hall so that it could cover up the Ten Commandents monument.

        1. Wanna 3:09 “last page of the Christmas Carol..”

          I just looked at it and it said, “God Bless Us, Every One.”

          The only line I remembered was “Bah Humbug”.

          I guess they’re both OK. Just depends. : )

    1. Wanna B Sure

      Or—–If Christians celebrated the Christ-mass in the more reverential, thankful manner,( preferred), (quietly at home, church, etc.) they wouldn’t be so “in your face”. Those of non-belief might think the so called “rapture” had occured. I’m thinking there would be at least a short flurry of calls, texts, and tweets asking “where’d they go?” It could quietly start on black Friday, and a resounding silence on Christmas Day. Their visual absence would be louder then their presence. The business community, banks, and economists would also take notice. Just saying.

  9. Michael Ross gets a large gold star on his chart for his observation that Athiests get their agenda broadcast in public schools. Proof Posivtive” read the texts they use now. No wonder there are so many Home Schoolers who want to protect their children from Atheistic propaganda in public schools.

    1. Demosthenes

      “Atheistic propaganda in public schools” Bahahaha what? I am curious what you call propaganda?

      Squawk some more nutter, this is getting funnier and funnier.

      Tell me how Evolutionary Biology is propaganda?

  10. Michael Ross

    Jon: There used to be a large manger scene in Island Park for many years. Also a smaller one on Broadway. Do you know when they disappeared? Did you have anything to do with their disappearence? Does anyone else know?

    1. Michael 7:02 re: Manger scences in Island Park, Broadway

      I don’t know what happened to those. I recall reading in the paper when I was Mayor that they were being discontiuned. But, I had no contact with anyone about them, I received no complaints. As you probably know, the Park District is an entire separate entity from Fargo City Government. There is also a Downtown Parking Authority that makes many independent decisions about detail. So, those entities may have decided, or, who ever was putting them up decided to discontinue.

      I think there were letters to the editor complaining about them being discontinued.

      You may recall Bonazaville in West Fargo decided to rename their very successful celebration “Holiday” instead of “Christmas”. There were so many complaints about dropping the name “Christmas” they just discontinued the entire event–it is no more.

      1. Henry

        Jon:“they just discontinued the entire event–it is no more.”

        Just another atheist grinch (Tim H.) destroying historical tradition. Again, doesn’t affect me.

        1. Henry 8:35 Who is “Tim H.”? Also, it was not atheists who changed to name, it was Bonanzaville. They decided to drop the event because of complaints from those who wanted “Christmas”. I remember they also said it was not a money maker–but they were doing it as a community service. They wanted people of other religions to identify with it, so they changed the name. Maybe atheists have caused some changes in Christman labels, but that is not one of them.

          1. Henry

            I didn’t say that the atheists were responsible. I said that an atheist grinch (the former director) was responsible. He was the impetus to secularize an institution that formerly ensured the religious heritage story of the upper plains was told.

          2. Henry

            endwreck: “Sounds very Mormon”

            Your ignorance is substantial. You apparently haven’t seen the substantial Burdick Collection. Go lay down by your dish.

          3. Henry

            Jon: “he did not refer to himself as an atheist”

            If he looks like an atheist, swims like an atheist, and quacks like an atheist, then he probably is an atheist.

          4. entech

            Of course I am ignorant, I have no local knowledge at all. Just a comment on the idea that you were the first, that nothing happened before our ancestors invaded the place and forced a false ideology on it.

            But that should be all right, you often speak of things about which your only knowledge comes from creationist dogma.

          5. entech

            Henry 1:53. Just what I said a minute later. Looked at from creationist sun glasses everything not a creationist is an atheist.

          6. entech

            Don’t we both?
            You don’t seem to be able to breath without having something bad to say about “The Atheist”.
            I just think that that is a direct cause of your creationist outlook, not sure if YE or OE, you are a bit circumspect about that one.

  11. entech

    Couple posts on the commercial takeover, the marketeers will take anything anywhere to spread the “good news” about the products, often unneeded but bought anyway.

    That this has spread practically everywhere with little or no knowledge or relevance to the original, is easily demonstrated. In my working days I went to Japan quite regularly, any excuse for sales and promotions there, there is some excuse for getting it wrong, it is one of the least Christian countries with maybe 1%. They celebrate the same mid winter new year as the west and not the lunar new year as China and other neighbours do. As a natural extension to new year they also include Christmas, makes a nice long holiday and another excuse for selling presents.

    Long winded intro to the punch line, I have seen in a department store window a nativity scene, as part of an Easter promotion.

  12. Wanna B Sure

    I would be interested in what if anything those in the non-faith community to during the “holidays”. Certainly, there wouldn’t be a religious element to it, but in the sense of the secular, do they have any celebration or gifting among themselves, (New years) ? What do they do with family, and in particular what and how do they navigate around friends and family that are of the faith? Do they attend family get togethers, reunions, meals, etc? Do they, or some self alienate themselves from any of those activities? Or do they just suffer in silence? I understand that the holidays can be a time of depression for some. Is there any of this among those of non-faith? I do not know. Please be as comprehensive as you can.

    1. Wanna 11:01 re Non faith & holidays.

      In general, it seems like nonfaith do just about all those things you mentions, meals, gifts, reunions, etc. There are often children involved so following the customs of their friends is probably high on every parent and grandparent’s program.

      A year of so ago, we had a presentation about this time of year at a Freethinker meeting by a member. He grew up in Garner Ted Armstrong’s church, World Wide Chruch of God. The Armstrongs thought Christmas was some abberation from the truth and condemned celebrating it. So, it was never much of a big deal in his family. When you think about it, there is quite a list of groups who do not celebrate Christmas, Jews, Hindus and so on.

      As for the depression at Christmas one reads about, I haven’t seen it personally in either Christians or Freethinkers so can’t say. I suppose its about the same. I know an American Baptist preacher, mostly retired, who says he always worked so hard at Christmas he was exhausted, the services and talking to depressed members of the chruch. I’ve been close to people with depression, but the Christmas thing was not there.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Yes, on the depression. I have talked with people who could claim depression, but for the most part, it was nostalgia of times past , and loved ones gone, too far removed, or loneliness. The holidays present a time to think of what was. Mostly it was people middle age and beyond. Not really a clinical situation, but a seasonal opportunity.

    2. entech

      A common theme in Britain about depression at Christmas concerns large groups of relatives who spend all year avoiding each other. They are herded together and forced to eat brussel sprouts, a woody green vegetable which they also avoid for the rest of the year.

    1. Demosthenes

      From the article “Christmas and Hanukkah” – ‘Cause according to this guy Jews and Christians are the same……

        1. Demosthenes

          Spoken like a true Christian. I know you may be a little faith blind but where exactly do you see this “Continuity”. Or are you saying you both believe in the supernatural so you are the same?

  13. Dino Gambino

    Atheism does indeed require faith. Faith is just a belief for which there is no proof. Faith doesn’t have to be a whole system of beliefs. any belif at all that one holds without proof qualifies as faith. The universe was either created, or it came into being by itself, without the actions of a living, sentient entity. There is no other possibility, it must be one or the other. Neither position can be “proven” in the scientific sense. Thus, if you claim that there is no creative entity, you are taking the position, without proof, that the universe sprang into existence by itself. This is an unproven belief, a leap of faith.

    1. Dino 5:51 Thanks for coming on the site to comment. Your comments are welcome.

      Your post implies atheists uniformly believe the universe was created by itself, and, thus atheists have faith this is how it happened. Their may be such atheists. More atheists, so it seems to me, say they do not know how the universe was formed. A word they use for themselves is “ignostic”, ignorant of how the universe came into being. They do not have “faith” either is an explanation.

      Scientist Richard Dawkins says included in this question might be a view as to whether of not we will ever know. He thinks we will, eventually, figure out the answers as to how the unviverse was created. If that were to happen, faith on any kind would not be needed. Of course, religious people would still have an out, they could deny it was true as they do for evolution.

    2. entech

      The universe was either created, or it came into being by itself, without the actions of a living, sentient entity. There is no other possibility, it must be one or the other.
      Never mind science how about common sense, why “must”? Why do you create a dichotomy where one does not exist? could it be that this is a short cut into – something from nothing is ridiculous – therefore god – if god, therefore my god and Jesus. Bill Craig has spent a life time going around the world spouting this as a major proof of god. This a good one, no matter how many times it is refuted you can polish it up and bring it out again.
      Even if the argument is accepted that everything was created by an intelligent entity, an entity, which by necessity exists outside of space and time in order to be able to create space and time. There is nothing in the argument that leads to any particular entity, that “the actions of a living, sentient entity” in any way describes or quantifies that entity.

      An alternative is that the universe has always existed in one form or another. One implication of the expanding universe is that as everything gets further apart the bonds that hold everything together, the “forces” are not enough to overcome the increasing distances between galaxies, solar systems and eventually the nucleus of atoms so that everything breaks down leaving nothing but energy. In a state of nothing but energy neither time nor distance are relevant and the possibility of another singularity, another “big bang” exists ( don’t like the term big bang, if there is no time or space what is exploding and into what does it explode, what bangs). This idea of cyclic universe has its proponents and distracters. Personally I like the model, millions of Hindus like it too, Brahman sleeps, Brahman wakes and gives form and shape to the void, eventually everything returns to the void ready for the next cycle.
      So in the end we have an eternal entity which creates the universe from nothing, or, an eternal universe that changes between matter and energy to give the particular manifestation that we live in and observe and try to explain, neither require faith, whichever is correct is correct independently of what you or I think about it – if you wish to extrapolate this to mean a personal God, one that created this with you in mind, that takes a personal interest in everything you do and is intensely concerned that you believe him to exist, then that requires FAITH, it is coming close to what Kierkegaard said about true faith is not only belief without evidence but belief in spite of contrary evidence.

      There are more theories and speculations than just the two eternal entities. There is one that even suggests that everything just suddenly appeared out of nothing, that one is a bit hard to get your head around. There are many materialist and dualist varieties of thought explaining existence.

      1. dino gambino

        Wow. (entech) You surmise so much about me from such a small snippet. I say it is a common sense notion that the universe was either created, or it was not. The “always existed” option falls into the “not created” box. This dichotomy is not one I created, but seems to be an artifact of the binary nature of human thinking and language. It’s amusing that you suggest I’ve painted all Atheists with broad brush, then you follow that by intimating that I must be connected to Christianity in some way. You’re not “profiling” me, are ya? There are no shortcuts. I’m not concerned with persuasion or proof. I’m here for the mental stimulation. You’re right that our language does not lend itself to ideas like infinity or deriving something from nothing, but I have fun trying. So, If there is some sort of creative entity/energy which somehow brought forth reality, I don’t think it too radical to surmise that this entity embodies/contains the attributes of the creation. This includes all the attributes you and I possess, like Life, Sentience, personality, etc.. Even the eternally cyclical reality does not preclude the possibility that there are entities responsible for organizing the raw materials into stable systems suitable for life implantation. I agree that the Something from nothing notion seems ridiculous, and that the eternal creator entity also evades rationality. I’m ok with that because I accept that the universe is only rational inside of time and space, and that there is a reality outside those attributes. When I use the word faith, it is divorced from any religious connotation. It refers only to any belief for which there is no “scientific” proof. I suppose it possible to have no beliefs at all about our origins, but I’ll wager that’s a rarity. My experience with other “free thinking” sites is that they tend to promote Atheism, not agnosticism. Unless I read it wrong, most atheists state strongly that there is no god. That implies a belief of some kind about the genesis of reality, a belief for which there is no proof. This brings me back to my original statement, atheism requires one to hold unproven beliefs. Just for the record, I don’t subscribe to any conventional religion. My view is best described as agnostic, with deist leanings. Thanks for the response, and thank you Jon for the welcoming greeting.

        1. entech

          Sorry if we started in the wrong direction, I surmise nothing about you, I know nothing about you. My remarks were intended as opposition to the cosmological argument in general and specifically to the idea that atheism is a faith or a religion or anything of that kind, further I will argue against the idea that any of it, if accepted, leads automatically to the God of Christianity generally and the three in one version directly. I would like to say that “blind” so to speak as your post and only looking at it quite superficially i think we could have some thing interesting

          One problem I always have is that the definitions are rarely explicit, I have yet to get any one to accept a common definition of atheist, if I say the early Christians were regarded as atheists by the Roman Empire because they did not believe or accept the gods of the state, no one wants to know.

          At this time I have not read past your first sentence but will answer properly in due course, if my answers appear to com at odd times it is because I live in a different time zone from most on the site, Australia. At this moment it is about 9pm Thurs. for you and 2pm Fri. for me. (ie. I am off for lunch now, explain myself later)

        2. dino 2:32 I’ll jump into your discussion with entech to reply to, “I suppose it possible to have no beliefs at all about the origins, but I’ll wager that’s a rarity.”

          Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion is the most well know person referred to as an atheist of our time. He agrees we do not know, at least not yet, the origin of the universe. Thus, one of many possibilities includes a super natural being. This explanation is no more, nor, any less likely than the many other explanations. I share his view it is unlikely, but still not completely ruled out.

          We generally refer to an “agnostic” as someone who maintains the odds are even between devine creation and other creation. Yet, Dawkins is not without a tiny bit of agnosticism.

          In summary, the origin of the universe is simply not known. I, myself, don’t see that as a “belief”, its simply a statement of fact. My impression is this conclusion is made by millions of people who fall under the generic term of “atheist”, even though it implies that there may be the tiny probability of agnosticism. It doesn’t seem to be to be “a raity”. But maybe I’m not seeing it the same way you do.

    3. entech

      A couple of my definitions, personal views, I don’t want to start with dictionary definitions, this can easily finish up arguing about words and meanings and context etc. A couple do that already. For the sake of conversation these are what I mean when I use a word, feel free to disagree based on what I am saying, but note what I actually mean when I say it.

      Atheist – someone who believes that there are no supernatural entities – gods or creators.
      There is a stronger definition, someone who states categorically that there no …
      I think the second definition is untenable, we have one or two that state that, but even Hitchens, Dennet etc. will not make such a categorical statement – Victor Stenger does but I know of no other.

      Agnostic – someone who believes that whatever exists can be demonstrated to exist. The corollary is that we may not know now, but that that knowledge will become available at some time (maybe even in a very long time).
      There are a couple of varieties people use: we can’t know the answer, and similar: I will believe if shown proof: it cannot be proved either way and so on.

      @ 2:32 am Nov 30:
      Without the qualification of direction I am sorry. It was wrong to answer as if you were some kind of fundamentalist, although if you read my post again I did not mention any specific religion, perhaps mentioning Bill Craig and Kierkegaard could be interpreted that way.
      I don’t think that a cyclic universe, as an energy source has always existed is part of the dichotomy you originally stated either created by a living sentient being, or, sprang into existence by itself. I don’t think the human mind is restricted to an either/or proposition. Even a love struck youth picking petals from a flower must admit (eventually) that it is not only – she loves me/she loves me not – she may be completely neutral to you/completely unaware of your existence.

      I did not intend to suggest any broad brush, and no I am not profiling you. Although I do thank you for your reply, because I was guilty, in my mind, of wrong assumptions.
      1. That you not be heard from again, because
      2. the statement atheism is a faith, or, a religion, or whatever – frequently comes from people with a fundamentalist belief, and
      3. with some exceptions ‘mental stimulation’ is not what they want, because
      4. their minds are already made up and closed.

      Again I apologise.

      I think we can discuss infinity and something from nothing. Because they are hard to define and comprehend doesn’t mean they are just put in a too hard basket (God did it 🙂 ), I too enjoy trying, the hardest thing for me is the notion that infinity can have more than on size 😕 .

      Leap to the end, quite prepared to discuss cosmological questions later, if you like.
      You say experience with “free thinking” sites, those scary quote marks again, is atheism not agnosticism. I think part of this is a matter of definition, this part of the reason I promote the ignostic position, the questions are meaningless unless we are talking about the same thing.
      When I first started responding on this site I often asked why I was classed with “the atheist” (no pluralisation needed, just read it as the vast amorphous they) eventually i accepted the designation, on my terms, I do not believe in the God of most people commenting, I cannot say that either of us is correct.
      Whatever is out there exists independently of you or me, it exists independently of how we name it even of how we define it, it that sense I am a materialist not an idealist or dualist.
      Neither am I agnostic in the usually accepted sense, the question of God or not is beyond our knowledge at the moment, but this does not mean an answer cannot or will not be found, well maybe will not if the human race becomes extinct before the answer is found.

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