panelarrow

What Happens at an Atheist Church?

| 38 Comments

Here’s an interesting phenomenon that’s happening in London as reported by the BBC. But some protest that this is not a church. Still, “A rose by any other name….”

A congregation of more than 300 crowded into the shell of a deconsecrated church to join the celebration on Sunday morning.

Instead of hymns, the non-faithful get to their feet to sing along to Stevie Wonder and Queen songs.

There is a reading from Alice in Wonderland and a power-point presentation from a particle physicist, who explains the origins of antimatter theory.

The audience – overwhelmingly young, white and middle class – appear excited to be part of something new and speak of the void they felt on a Sunday morning when they decided to abandon their Christian faith. Few actively identify themselves as atheists.

“It’s not a church, it’s a congregation of unreligious people.”

[One writer] argues for a new breed of secular therapists to take the place of the priesthood and believes atheism should have its own churches, but adds: “It should never be called that, because ‘atheism’ isn’t an ideology around which anyone could gather. Far better to call it something like cultural humanism.” Read the rest here, then come back and tell me if this is a church.

38 Comments

  1. Not really a “Church” yet, but it’s tending that direction. For now, it’s mostly a club of folks who are dis-enchanted with the notions of traditional worship and are seeking something new, something that sounds more like what they want to hear. That also tends towards a “False Religion” but it won’t really get there unless they codify their doctrine. I would think that if their “Doctrine” ultimately constitutes statements that simply refute Christianity and impose their own “System of beliefs” in place of – then that’s a Religion for sure. That could be defined as the “Religion of Man as God.”

    • I can promise you that, if they did make a doctrine or set of beliefs, it’s doubtful that I would agree with them.

      And, to clarify, no, we don’t see ourselves as God; we don’t have omnipresence or omnipotence or omni-anything.

      Please explain why you think it could be defined as the “Religion of Man as God”?

  2. I have read about these kinds of things, but I’m not interested in joining them.

  3. Oh, and as for your question, no, I don’t think it’s a church. I think it’s an organized gathering, but the word “church”, at least to me, implies religious beliefs. As I don’t view atheism as a religious belief in any possible way, it *can’t* be a church, from my point of view.

  4. “There’s probably no God” – now that’s either faith or stupidity; it surely must be the latter!

    • Eh, I disagree. “There’s probably no God” matches my viewpoint, and it certainly is not faith; it’s based on the evidence around us, and how (in my opinion) that evidence does not support the claims of believers.

      • I stand with Paul!

        For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 ESV)

        So “you” are without excuse!

      • I might be without excuse, but Paul certainly appears to have been wrong.

        If His (i.e., God’s) eternal power and divine nature were actually clearly perceived, there would never be non-believers since the very beginning of humanity.

        But that’s not the case. That’s not reality.

        So, either reality is wrong, or Paul was wrong in his fundraising letter (i.e., epistle to the Romans). The latter seems far more likely.

        Also, I note that people claim that God’s power and nature have been perceived, but they don’t specify exactly what those things are, or how they could be perceived.

        Do you know? If I have perceived these things, why is it that I neither remember nor realize it?

      • Furthermore, what exactly are these things that I’m supposed to be perceiving?

        This is the whole problem with Romans chapter 1. Paul is saying that everyone is a believer, but some people deny the truth in unrighteousness.

        That makes no sense.

        I can promise you, Steve, that I am not a believer. If I believed, I’d have no problem being a believer. Lastly, I’m not an idiot; it is clear that no earthy sin is worth eternity in Hell. There is nothing that I would hold on to if it meant me spending an eternity in Hell.

        If a Muslim said, “all people believe in Allah, and that Mohammed was the final prophet. All people believe this. Some people, like the Christians, just love their sin (i.e., ascribing partners with Allah) soooo much that they deny Mohammed and the Qur’an. They really believe that the Qur’an is written by God, but they won’t admit it.”

        What would your reaction be to this, Steve L.? Because I’m betting it’s the same reaction I have to Paul’s claims in his fundraising letter (i.e., epistle to the Romans).

  5. No, it does not fit the definition of a church. But, it sure sounds like one. Atheists have to start with God in order to argue against him. They can deny him all they want, right up to judgment day, but they’re still breathing his air. It’s like the man who argues against the existence of air. He breathes all the while arguing against it.

    • It’s like the man who argues against the existence of air? Just exactly who would that man be?

      Atheists only have to start with the fact that there are believers in God, to be clear. We don’t argue against Him, we argue against the beliefs of the believers.

    • You’re right Richard, I hate Thor deniers, they can argue against the God of Thunder all they want but every time they hear thunder outside they have to admit that… that’s the guy right there making all that noise. I mean didn’t you SEE the Avengers movie? What more proof do you need? =)

      • Bro, I’m sure you are not saying that Thor is your ultimate source of knowledge. But, for argument sake, can you base your understanding of what truth is on him? Does your god answer prayer? Does your god provide for you? Does your god love you?

        I have great assurance with certainty that God of the Bible is you he says he is because it’s the truth.

      • Every time you hear thunder you hear Thor’s anger.

        My God Odin promised to get rid of the Frost Giants. You don’t see any Frost Giants around, now do you? Therefore his existence is proven.

        “I have great assurance with certainty that God of the Bible is you he says he is because it’s the truth.”

        Circular reasoning is circular.

      • I think Mark said it best, Richard… thunder happens all the time. What more proof do you need? Everyone hears thunder, and Thor is the God of Thunder. You don’t need fancy logic games for that, the proof is in the thunder boom bro, Thor doesn’t have to love anyone, that’s for your fellow man to do, Thor just makes thunder, and smites people with lightning on occasion, which is tame compared to this hell place you guys keep going on about. =)

  6. So the biggest difference really is that in one people celebrate the wonders and accomplishments of our own flawed, limited and finite species and in the other they celebrate the meager accomplishments of a supposedly perfect and all powerful God.

    Sound about right?

    Here’s what I never got about “Christian church” and “worship services”. A God that wants and requires worship certainly isn’t worthy of it and a god that is worthy of worship and praise certainly wouldn’t want or need it.

    • Not my thing, but I wouldn’t call it a church or religion. Do they tell those who don’t believe what they believe that they’ll be punished eternally? Do they deny others rights they claim for themselves? That’s a religion; that’s a church.

    • Bro, I don’t agree with your assessment of who God is. Because without God you couldn’t anything. Tell me one thing you know and how you know it?

      • “Because without God you couldn’t anything. ”

        I don’t agree with your claims cause it makes no sense.

        Please try again.

      • Hi Richard,

        I’ll say again: it appears that you, like Eric H. and Sye T. are conflating “know anything” and “know anything for 100% certainty”. As I said before, there’s a difference.

        But to answer your question, I know that 1+1=2 because I’ve worked out the mathematical proof that supports that claim.

      • I agree with Nohm. Sye’s argument is a perfect example of sophistry.

        To save you a trip to the dictionary sophistry is the use of fallacious arguments, especially when used with the goal of deception. The specific fallacy Sye abuses in that “argument” is the one called circular reasoning.

        The problem he refuses to admit is that his circular argument are ones that can be simply dismissed outright. The argument pretends to be it’s own “evidence” which reduces it to nothing more than a claim. Claims are not evidence. Claims submitted without evidence can and should be dismissed without evidence.

        Now Sye has even admitted that presuppositional apologetics is circular. Good! That means he knows it’s fallacious and doesn’t hold water. So why does he use it? Because to the untrained thinker a circular argument is a vicious cycle that can be used very quickly and easily to trick someone into granting a point. It’s dishonest. He may or may not know it or admit it to himself, but it is dishonest.

        The foundation of a solid world view (and I hate that term) is to minimize assumptions in your reasoning. The problem is that ALL world views have at their foundation an assumption. I openly admit that even about my own “world view”.

        I admit that my foundational assumption is that reality is not a simulation. Reality is in and of itself real. I have no way to prove reality is not a simulation but no one can prove (at least currently) that it is a simulation.

        After that I build everything else on evidence. When I find an error in the structure, of my world view, I tear down everything above it (if needed) and repair it as best as possible with arguments that support the evidence as error free as possible.

        At this point in my building, I will sum it up thusly: To me it would be far more likely that I am completely wrong about every single one of my positions about evolution, cosmology, mathematics, biology, and my own name than I am wrong about my one position about your God’s existence. The evidence against your God is simply that overwhelming. Sure. There may be flaws in the structure of my world view, but it is far more solid than any single or collection of arguments than you could ever hope to produce for your God’s existence.

        In short, I don’t have all the answers and I don’t need the ability to answer everything so say this, but I can without any reservation say with sigma-7 certainty that the God of the bible is a myth and has never existed outside human imagination in any way. I say that with the exact same certainty as I can tell you that 2+2=4.

  7. Its pretty much a gathering that does not believe in anything. A social club that really does not require anything from its members. Maybe they should call themselves universalists or something…

    • Actually, I would bet that the individuals believe in a variety of things, it’s just that there’s no requirement that any of those beliefs are shared.

  8. Bro Hunter, I can understand why you hate the term world view and I disagree with your assessment that the truth claim for Christianity is viciously circular reasoning. There is no getting around using circular reasoning when it comes to an ultimate worldview. It’s unavoidable and it’s not necessarily fallacious. Ultimate authority cannot be proved by anything else or it wouldn’t be ultimate. It must use itself or it wouldn’t be ultimate. But, there is an argument that is viciously circular and it is called the infinite regress. When a is supported by b and b is supported by c and so on. This is a vicious circular reasoning.

    How do you know that your world view is true?

    • Richard, first I am not your “bro”.

      My world view is not circular. It more like a wall built brick by brick with bricks of evidence.

      Any world view built on the bible is circular by definition therefore untenable.

      By world view is true as it is built on scientific fact.

  9. Bro, In logical reasoning there cannot be contradictions. There cannot be arbitrariness, nor can one be irrational. There are no contradictions in the Bible. The Quran contradicts itself because in one point it affirms the Gospels and in the other it denies that Jesus was buried for three days then rose again. Here we see a clear contradiction.

    Your claim for truth is that you have worked it out mathematically.

    How do you know that 1+1=2 will not change in the future?

    As a Christian, God has promised that he will maintain things in a steady state. Gen. 8:22. That’s how we can do science. I know this for certain.

    It’s my ultimate proof.

    • “How do you know that 1+1=2 will not change in the future?”

      Because it can’t without a fundamental change in the laws of the universe. If that is the case, then 1 != 1 and the laws of logic will be fundamentally changed. This can’t happen. A will always = A.

      If you are rejecting our reality because you somehow think that integer 1+ integer 1 will not aways end with integer 2, then your world view is not even founded on sand, but a fundamental misunderstanding of reality.

      “There are no contradictions in the bible.”

      Don’t try to be funny. You aren’t very good at it. The bible is overflowing with contradictions. That you don’t realize that is evidence you have either some cognitive dissidence going on or are ignorant of the bible’s contents.

      Try reading the “gospels” congruently side by side. They are chock full of contradictions that you must use assumptions (and never evidence) to resolve.

      Genesis 8:22 is demonstrably wrong on many levels.

      “As long as the earth endures,
      seedtime and harvest,
      cold and heat,
      summer and winter,
      day and night
      will never cease.”

      1) Tidal lock: The moon and sun’s gravity are slowly slowing the rotation of the earth just as the gravity of the earth and sun have slowed the rotation of the moon so that only one side faces the earth. The earth’s rotation will eventually slow so much that one one side of the earth will face the sun. Day and Night will cease. It is unavoidable. When that happens, say bye bye to the harvest, summer and winter as well.

      2) The sun will burn out. That is a fact. It’s supply of hydrogen fuel is about 50% exhausted already. In about 1 billion years, the sun will have grown about 10% as the battle between the heat generated pressure and mass generated gravity changes. It will sterilize the earth. The earth will exist, but say bye to the seed time and harvest. There will be nothing to plant and no one to plant it.

      So. Your “ultimate proof” is ultimate fail because you have built your “proof” on a worldview that is completely untenable and incongruent with all known evidence and fact.

      And Genesis 8:22 is *not* how we can do science.

      I am not “borrowing” logic from your God. In fact it’s the other way around. Your worldview abhors reason and logic. But you use the logic that man crafted to understand the world and try to use it as a blunt object to prove your bible. It can’t be used to prove correct something that is demonstrably wrong.

      Logic is *man’s* creation. Not your God’s creation. Sorry.

      • Mr. Hunter, I’m sorry you don’t like me calling you Bro. You see we are made in God’s image…so you are my brother. Genesis 1:26. But, since I’m to treat others as I would want to be treated I won’t…

        Now, since God created all things means creation belongs to him. He can do with it anything he wants to. He is not under any obligation to it.

        Because of his promise to continue things in a steady state we can do science and math and physics and all the other scientific disciplines.

        But for the sake of argument, if evolution is correct how could you expect that things won’t change. Why will the future be like the past? Now, saying something is because it has always been that way is a circular reasoning. (The sky is blue because it’s blue.)

        And I totally disagree with your understanding that laws of logic are by human convention. If the laws of logic were conventional then rational debate would be impossible.

        The question is why are there laws that are unchanging and universal in the first place? If evolution is correct than would there be universal unchanging standards?

        Lastly, I don’t agree with your understanding that there are contradictions in the Bible. Because God cannot deny himself and he does not lie. But again, for arguments sake, what in your worldview would make contradictions wrong? Especially if it adds to my survival.

      • Hi Richard,

        Now, since God created all things means creation belongs to him. He can do with it anything he wants to. He is not under any obligation to it.

        That’s… not a very positive statement. But it’s neither here nor there for me.

        Because of his promise to continue things in a steady state we can do science and math and physics and all the other scientific disciplines.

        I guess that’s one way of looking at it.

        Although, that means if He was to go back on His promise and change things, then we wouldn’t be able to do science. In other words, it’s up to His whim.

        Fortunately, I don’t believe in that.

        But for the sake of argument, if evolution is correct how could you expect that things won’t change.

        Short answer 1: Because you don’t understand what evolution is.

        Short answer 2: Because that’s not related to evolution. Evolution describes how life diversifies; it doesn’t describe how the Earth changes, or how the solar system changes, or how F=ma works, and so on.

        Evolution describes how life changes, not how acceleration works or how friction works or… and so on.

        Why will the future be like the past?

        If you’re talking about universal constants, it’s because there isn’t a reason we can see that would change them. If you’re talking about anything else, it depends on the context. There are many things that have changed from the past, and there are many things that have not.

        At best, we “reasonably assume” that universal constants won’t change, but I wouldn’t say that our minds are closed to it.

        Science tries to explain reality; it does not go with what it prefers.

        Now, saying something is because it has always been that way is a circular reasoning. (The sky is blue because it’s blue.)

        I wouldn’t expect a scientist to answer in that way, and certainly not regarding the color of the sky; there is an understood reason why the sky looks blue.

        And I totally disagree with your understanding that laws of logic are by human convention.

        I would say that that was expected.

        If the laws of logic were conventional then rational debate would be impossible.

        You have not demonstrated this claim to be true. Also, I think you’re equivocating on the word “conventional” here. No one is claiming that logic is up to the whim of the individual; quite the opposite, in fact.

        The question is why are there laws that are unchanging and universal in the first place?

        That is a long explanation; is there a reason why you don’t choose to research this from a scientific source?

        The short answer (and I understand this isn’t a great answer) is: because things are the way they are; if they were different, then they’d be different.

        If evolution is correct than would there be universal unchanging standards?

        Evolution has nothing to do with “universal unchanging standards”. Universal “unchanging standards” (not the word I would use; I prefer “constants”) would exist with or without evolution.

        I would encourage you that, if you plan to fight against evolution, you first learn exactly what it is you’re fighting against.

        Lastly, I don’t agree with your understanding that there are contradictions in the Bible.

        A fundamentalist Christian doesn’t agree that there are contradictions in the Bible? Shocked, I am. 😉

        It’s expected that you wouldn’t agree, Richard. This is why I don’t go into that subject often with fundamentalists. But please understand that many people, including Christians, think that there are contradictions.

        Because God cannot deny himself and he does not lie.

        Not all people (some Christians included) think that God “wrote” the Bible; some Christians think it was written by men and merely “inspired” by God, which allows for mistakes.

        But again, for arguments sake, what in your worldview would make contradictions wrong?

        What in our worldview would prevent contradictions from being wrong? They’re “wrong” because they’re illogical. “Wrong” in this context means “doesn’t work correctly”; it’s not “morally wrong”.

        Especially if it adds to my survival.

        This statement only makes sense if evolution is what you think it is, but what you think it is is incorrect. Populations evolve, not individuals, and “adds to my survival” is hardly the only important part of natural selection (hint: reproduction is pretty important, also).

        Be well.

      • 1) I find the idea of being created in your God’s image rather insulting.

        2) We are not directly related and you are not my “brother” in anything.

        “I’m to treat others as I would want to be treated I won’t…”

        I treat people the way they want to be treated. That’s even better.

        “Now, since God created all things means creation belongs to him. He can do with it anything he wants to. He is not under any obligation to it.”

        &
        “Because of his promise to continue things in a steady state we can do science and math and physics and all the other scientific disciplines.”

        As that has yet to be demonstrated and you offer no evidence to support those claims, I dismiss both without evidence.

        “But for the sake of argument, if evolution is correct how could you expect that things won’t change. Why will the future be like the past? ”

        Evolution IS true wether you like it or believe it or not. But evolution has nothing to do with physics or logic. So you have offered up a red herring… I have no intention to feast on it.

        “Now, saying something is because it has always been that way is a circular reasoning. (The sky is blue because it’s blue.)

        The sky is blue because it’s blue is not circular reasoning. It’s actually a tautology. Two totally separate and distinct things.

        “And I totally disagree with your understanding that laws of logic are by human convention. If the laws of logic were conventional then rational debate would be impossible.”

        Your claim is again offered without evidence and is dismissed the same way.

        “The question is why are there laws that are unchanging and universal in the first place? If evolution is correct than would there be universal unchanging standards?”

        Evolution speaks ONLY to the diversity of species. Nothing else. It doesn’t speak to any universal laws or the like. It is perfectly clear to me that your understanding of what you call evolution isn’t what science calls evolution.

        “Lastly, I don’t agree with your understanding that there are contradictions in the Bible.”

        That you don’t agree doesn’t change the fact that the bible is chock full of contradictions that can’t be reconciled without inventing explanations based on exactly *zero* evidence.

        “Because God cannot deny himself and he does not lie.”

        Why? Because the bible says it? Yeah. That’s the text book definition of circular reasoning.

        “But again, for arguments sake, what in your worldview would make contradictions wrong? Especially if it adds to my survival.”

        It’s not that contradictions are wrong, but that contradictions can’t exist by definition. You can’t have a circular square. You can’t have a married bachelor. What I suspect you are referring to is misinformation. Misinformation spreads distrust and doesn’t aid survival of social species. Again your understanding of evolution is fatally wrong. When you speak about what you think evolution is, you aren’t. You are abusing a straw-man.

  10. Bro, making sense in my worldview makes sense. Because God is logical and consistent. Fact is we couldn’t have a logical conversation if he wasn’t logical.

    What in your worldview requires you to be logical? When you use logic you are borrowing from God.

    • Hi Richard,

      Fact is we couldn’t have a logical conversation if he wasn’t logical.

      You have not demonstrated that this assertion of yours is “fact”.

      When you use logic you are borrowing from God.

      You have not demonstrated this claim to be true.

    • Is the Eric Hovind/Sye Ten argument the last/best argument now? Can the bar be lowered any further?

      • I’ve just noticed that Ray Comfort, the Living Waters group and its fans have all jumped on board with it relatively recently.

        The thing that probably annoys me the most about it is that there’s a genuinely interesting question in there, but that’s not the point of the little game that Sye is running with.

      • I’m not really surprised they’d be doing it really. Steve, how long before you’re making videos asking people if its impossible for God to exist and discussing the laws of absolutes? A little heads up would be nice so that the refutations to those arguments can be made ready. =)

  11. Nohm, man you sure like to use words alot. Circular reasoning is when you affirm the they your trying to prove by the thing your trying to prove. The sky is blue because it’s blue is circular reasoning. By the way, have you ever considered why we are able to have a logical discussion in the first place. The reason is because the universe is understandable. The universe being understandable is necessary pre-condition for intelligibility.

    • Hi Richard,

      Before I respond, I think you’re mixing up some of what I wrote with some of what Mark Hunter wrote.

      The sky is blue because it’s blue is circular reasoning.

      Actually, as Mark Hunter wrote, that’s a tautology, and not circular reasoning.

      Tautology == the Bible is true because it’s true.

      Circular reasoning == the Bible is true because God doesn’t lie. How do I know God doesn’t lie? Because it says so in the Bible.

      Do you see the difference?

      By the way, have you ever considered why we are able to have a logical discussion in the first place.

      Absolutely; it is a pretty deep philosophical question.

      The reason is because the universe is understandable. The universe being understandable is necessary pre-condition for intelligibility.

      Okay, for the sake of discussion, I’ll agree with this (although I think the answer is far more involved than you’re making it out to be… entire books have been written on this subject).

      Why is God necessary for an understandable universe?

    • What would a universe that isn’t understandable look like Richard?

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.