The Archetypal Atheist

Why doesn’t Satan throw in the towel? He’s a seraph, so he must know better than any other sort of creature ever could that God is doomed to crush him, and that he himself is doomed to fail. Why does he then keep roaming the world seeking the ruin of souls? Why doesn’t he save himself the trouble?

When Lucifer turns from God, he ipso facto turns from Reality, and from Truth. From that moment he is incapable of apprehending the fullness of Truth. This means that he cannot apprehend God as properly God. He cannot see God for who he really is. He can see God, to be sure, and can remember his own prelapsarian life. But he can interpret his memories of perfect virtue and his present experiences of God only under the aspect of his turn from Truth; which is to say, only under the aspect of a purblind, partial, distorted image of Reality. It is a flat image, that has lost the dimension of ultimacy – of God’s eternity, omnipotence, omniscience, ubiquity, and so forth. It no longer exists for him; it is to him a meaningless notion, a nullity. Satan sees that God is powerful, but does not understand what it means that God is omnipotent.

He therefore cannot believe that God – God properly so called, the God of whom the Philosophers, Israel, the Church and her prophets, apostles, saints and mystics all speak – actually exists. Satan simply, honestly does not see that he has a King. He sees God, but does not register the fact of the righteousness of God’s reign. He sees God as a tyrant, no greater in principle than he is, whom he could usurp, and would.

He is an atheist.

So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness. All that remains to him then is himself, looking out upon nothing. And he takes this solitude as basic to being. So is he an unwitting solipsist. And so sophistical a solipsist is he, that no contravening item can penetrate to his awareness.

He is, in short, deluded – and cannot understand that this is so.

You can’t turn to a Light that you can’t see (except by accident). So Satan can’t turn back to God. He sees nothing there to turn back to. He and his minions literally can’t see God, or the Good. They see only perversions of the Good, and of God; and it is to these perversions that they adhere, and abhere. They seek the Less than Optimal, mistaking it for the Optimal; they are idolaters. Presumably they are honest errants, honest idolaters. They cannot turn from their moral course, because they cannot see that there is any other sort of course open to them. As with the Truth and the Light, the Way for them is nonexistent.

Satan cannot turn back.

In this he is unlike men. Men inherit a turn from Reality as Original Sin, to be sure; this is the Body of Death. That Body obscures Reality, so that men see it only as through a glass, and darkly. Even to apprehend its existence, they need experience or education or training. This they seek by their nature, which was first made (like those of all creatures) for and toward God. But men are far less scient than angels, and have a much harder time attaining certainty about anything. It behooves them if they want to live then to be ever doubtful, to fret and worry always whether they have got things wrong after all. Men are so constituted in their biological essences as never to be able to choose irrevocably while they yet live. All their dogmas are held provisionally, and are subject to change depending on further developments. Men can therefore amend their policies, and do. They can at every moment of their lives turn from one path to another, diametrically opposite path.

This turn is presumably available to Lucifer too, ontologically; it is prevented to him only epistemologically. His phenomenal life is devoid of enchantment; for him, there is no musical aspect to being, nor for that matter any ultimately rational aspect to it, no Rational Ultimate. Reality is for him essentially unintelligible; for in turning from Reality and Truth, you turn from all that is intelligible toward what is not; toward chaos and non-being. Turning from the Good himself, and from Reality per se, you turn effectually away from moral realism, and become a radical moral skeptic. You turn finally also from causal power, ergo from actuality: for the efficacious use of power depends upon its apt application to Reality as it is in itself. So, Satan is dwindling toward the zero of action, toward his tomb of icy immobility.

Satan does not throw in the towel, then, because his certainty in the competence of his science blinds him both to its incompetence and to the fact of his error. Being blind to the Real Good he is alive exclusively to a False Good, and seeks it. He seeks for all creatures – i.e., for his own environment of actual entities, his own world of which he is the ruler – a radical freedom from what he sees as the unjust strictures of fantastic religious cults whose object is strictly illusory, and whose acts and works are therefore insane and evil.

It goes like this, then:

  1. The comprehension of seraphic science leads to overconfidence – to Pride. Thanks to his comprehension, the seraph has no true reason to feel any doubt in his own powers of apprehension or knowledge or understanding.
  2. But even comprehensive science cannot see what is not – it cannot see or a fortiori concretely or vividly understand evil or disorder ex ante – cannot see what it is like to be wicked, as compared to what it is like to be virtuous. Ex ante, an evil option will seem to it morally indifferent, and will seem to pose no danger.
  3. The innocent seraphic conscience is therefore ignorant of evil. Only ex post can any creaturely agent fully understand the character of what it has done.
  4. But even having Fallen, the seraph never does fully understand what he has done as evil. He never can. He is stuck in his ignorance. Talk about a clever silly!
  5. Having Fallen, the seraph is not disabused of his Pride, for he is ignorant thereof. The Prideful seraph has no idea that he is ignorant of anything; his Pride seems therefore to him, honestly, quite apt, as also do all his acts. He has no notion that he is Proud. He does not know that he does not know what he does not know.
  6. The Truth, then, the Good, the Beautiful, the Real, and the Potent are to the Fallen seraph utterly invisible. He sees only their perversions, and mistakes them for the genuine articles.
  7. Even after his Fall, then, the seraph does not apprehend it as such. It seems to him rather only a natural and unremarkable development of his life as it first came to him.
  8. I.e., the Fallen seraph does not understand evil as evil. It looks OK to him. He does not mind his suffering, because he knows no better. His life is normal to him. To what other might he compare it?

So only the seraphim who have not Fallen, and who can observe the squalid lives of their adversaries, can understand evil concretely. Because it is a depravation of good, evil can be understood only from the perspective of that good.

271 thoughts on “The Archetypal Atheist

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  2. Kristor, I have always found demons puzzling; I appreciate this post.

    Would you please remark about Satan’s appearing as an angel of light? How is this possible? I get the deception bit (father of lies) — but how could such a depraved creature even ape appearing good? How can a mind with such a perverted understanding of the good mimic it effectively enough to dupe creatures less perverse?

    Apologies if you have answered this before — the question continues to bother me.

    • That a thing is destined to complete ruin does not mean that all its beauties and virtues are already utterly depraved. If they were, then its very being would be utterly depraved; it would be just gone.

      Lots of Hollywood stars are beautiful, and damned.

      The vision at the root of the post when I first wrote it was of a wonderfully beautiful and powerful and intelligent being who had – perhaps quite innocently – turned away from the Source of his being to regard instead only his own being, thus losing sight of the Real, and becoming the ultimate exemplar of what Proph calls spiritual autism. In thus turning away from Truth, he would not necessarily lose all his powers and virtues. He would lose some, to be sure; you can’t form your acts according to error without vitiating them. But many would perdure, as poor Marilyn’s great beauty lasted through all her misadventures, right up to her death. So would Lucifer proceed onward from his first great error, as outwardly unscathed as a beautiful Maserati that is headed toward a cliff but has not yet reached the precipice.

      Lots of atheists are like this. They are perfectly nice, competent, intelligent folks, who when it comes to spiritual things are as it were tone deaf. They talk of God as if he were a thing among other things, and nothing more. Point out this category error to them, and 99 times out of 100 the information will go right through them, like a neutrino through butter. They’ll interpret theism under the terms of atheism – the only terms they have – and so naturally they won’t be able to get anywhere with the notion. It will seem just nuts to them. They *just won’t be able to see what theism is about.*

      I think Lucifer must be in the same boat.

      It is I think a grave error to think that sin is ugly. No one would feel tempted by it if this were so. But it is a commonplace of our arts to depict evil as horrible, hideous, diseased, malformed, monstrous (e.g., the orcs in Jackson’s Ring movies, or the bad guys in the Mad Max movies). It is all that, inwardly; but it looks beautiful on the outside, at least for a time.

      Think then also of Liberalism, Marxism, Libertarianism. They are all incredibly beautiful visions. Damned, but beautiful.

      • In other words sin is tantamount to rot from the inside a slow breakdown of beauty. So that beauty is retained for a time before the ugliness shows ultimately as a result.

        Evil is not an instant transition to ugliness but a slow decay of the beautiful until it finally shows externally as such.

        Sin is not immediately ugly but it will manifest as ugliness over time.

      • Exactly. A beautiful woman recently infected with HIV is still beautiful.

        Likewise, a week’s gluttony won’t much change the outward appearance of Adonis.

        Great beauty *seems* impervious to sin. Indeed, it seems to ennoble the sin, and to make the sin itself look as beautiful as the beauty who sins.

        So all the teenage girls imitate the Hollywood starlets.

      • Milton would surely agree with infowarrior1 (February 23, 2016 at 9:10 AM) about the breakdown of beauty. Milton’s Satan is clearly shocked, but not daunted by the failure of his rebellion. He and his followers, however, are slowly degrading. They are also becoming more acclimatized to their fallen state, almost learning to enjoy it.

        I wonder what Milton’s Satan would say about this thread. His arguments are not particularly philosophical, but run more typically to straightforward appeals to pride.

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  4. There are many reasons a sentient being might persist in a hopeless cause. In Satan’s case it might be rage. It’s a sort of cold rage, like that of the man who has decided to take vengeance on the world by killing as many people as he can before the police shoot him. He knows he is doomed in the end, but vengeance is the sweetest way to pass the time between now and then. We call the devils rebel angels, and it is the very nature of rebellion that it does not require the prospect of victory for justification. In fact, we all know the strange glamor of the idea of going down fighting for a good but lost cause. The devils are wrong about their cause, but their desperate fight is hardly unintelligible. If I conceived a burning hatred for a man of vast power, my understanding that I could not defeat him would in no way quench my desire to do him harm.

    • Sure. But notice that those motivations are all intelligible to us because they arise in our controversies with other creatures – “the world” or “a man of vast power.” In all such controversies, we are all doomed to failure at the last. None of us can beat the world. Mortal life per se is a doomed struggle. Yet it makes sense to struggle on so long as one is struggling for something noble, and so long as one’s adversaries are as creatures likewise limited, thus conceivably surmountable.

      [Such is the eschatological perspective of the pagan North: at Ragnarok, even the gods will all die, in the hopeless, glorious fight against evil and death. A seldom-remembered post script to the story of that day: two human children, the boy Leif and the girl Leifthrasir (Life and Life’s Urge) take shelter from the battle within the body of Yggdrasil, the world tree that is the context and structure of all worlds. After the conflict is over, they emerge into a new, fresh world, green and splendid, there to begin humanity again. Their survival means that the cause of men and the Aesir is not, after all, completely lost.]

      If you think of God as more or less a man of vast power, then can you conceive of rebelling against him. But I don’t think this conception is possible if you are thinking properly about God. How do you rebel against the Ground of Being? Only by construing him as something less. That misconstruction is what I am suggesting Lucifer might have fallen into, so deeply that he cannot get out, because he cannot any longer see that there is a Way out, or even that there is such a thing as an out.

      • Yes – and the fancy name of the misconstruction is “deconstruction.” It’s almost as sophisticated as jazz.

      • Hah! Yes. And even more seductive. To misconstrue the Real is in effect to dissemble (whether witly, or not), and so to disassemble in such a way that life cannot be put back together again. Not by us, anyway. Fortunately for us, we have help from someone who can.

      • I don’t know if every human heart contains a will to destruction, but we don’t have to look far for evidence that many do. There is, or at least can be, a violent hatred of beauty, truth and virtue. Think of the vandal, the malicious rumor monger, the man who delights in debauching the innocent. These are people who feel diminished by things that are greater than they are. They do not feel honored to live in a world in which there is art, knowledge and goodness, they feel ashamed of their own deficiencies and are determined to bring the world down to their level. This is the Satanic impulse because Satan could not bear the thought of a being that is higher than himself–a being more beautiful, more truthful, more good. Some of us bring this nasty streak under control, many of us hide it (even from ourselves), but all of us know the impulse to tear people down. We have all been guilty, and one time or another, of belittling other people to make ourselves appear BIG. I suspect Satan was/is motivated by this sort of envy, and that envy is the mother of the will to destruction.

      • To be sure. Even choirboys are subject to such feelings, and do such things. I know; I was one. Please God, may I be forgiven. Heavens: this discussion is bringing back to my recollection sins from my childhood that I had completely forgotten in making my adult confessions. They are far, far worse than the sins I have been lately worried about lately committing. Yikes.

        Returning to the subject at hand, recall that Lucifer is a seraph. There are no sorts of beings greater than his, other than God. True, the seraphim who did not Fall are greater than he – not essentially, however, but happenstantially, and thanks to his Fall from their perfection of the seraphic nature. But as with God, their true character is obscured to his sight by his turn from the Reality of what God is: the Ultimate. Having turned from the Truth about the Good, he would not apprehend the Holy Seraphim as superior to him on account of his defects, but rather as deluded fools, serving a deluded, illegitimate King of Heaven, who is a seraph no better than Lucifer.

        If Lucifer is so messed up that he thinks he is just as good and potent a being as St. Michael and YHWH – or even more so, as being unlike them clear on what’s what, and on what therefore really matters – then he is not going to have an inferiority complex in respect to you and me, or St. John or St. Thomas, or even in respect to Jesus of Nazareth. Who thinks he is already the biggest thing in the universe won’t feel envy or hatred of us lesser beings.

        This confusion on his part about who YHWH is in relation to him is the only way I can make sense of his attempts at Jesus in the Wilderness. Knowing that Jesus is YHWH, you’d have to be an idiot to think you had a shot at tempting him. Lucifer is no fool. So he must be terribly confused by his atheism. He must not know.

        So confused is he, that he might even think of all he is doing to us as a valiant attempt to get us to see the reality that he sees so clearly. He wants us, too, to turn away from the illusory Light we go on about, because to do so is more sane, more rational, more realistic, and thus in the end better for everyone. Like Dawkins, he just wants to help. He sees himself as the Bringer of the True Light, and of the Light of Truth. He wants to enlighten all men. Like Christopher Hitchens, he is angry at those who would persuade us away from his sensible, rational point of view, and sees them as evil. So, e.g., he attacks the Church the same way that he attacked the Body of the Lord in the Judean desert: not out of spite or envy, but in what seems to him to be righteous indignation.

        Think about it: *everyone* who attacks Christianity thinks he is rescuing his fellow man from the coils of an insane evil. Like Peter Singer, *all* of them are willing to accept the necessity to that project of some inevitable collateral damage, even if (in this refined age) only to “clumps of tissue” or to low men – “bitter clingers” and their ilk. It’s a pity, but you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

        PS: Lucifer is brilliant. Technically, however, he is, precisely, an idiot. The term originally indicated one who had rejected the patrimonial cult of the polis, had therefore spurned its sacrifices and refused participation in its commensal feasts. I.e., a rebel, a loner, an outcast. To reject the cult is to reject the divine authority of its divus; is in effect to argue that as directed to a god that is no god, the worship of the cult is idolatrous, and foolish. It is, in the eyes of the cult, to be an atheist, and a traitor to the city. It is also therefore to be ignorant of the gods, disrespectful to them, thus terribly foolish. Idiots were bad luck, and were exiled as scapegoats.

      • I’m seeing Satan as more spiteful than anything else. He doesn’t think he is equal to God or Jesus; in fact he knows he’s not, and that throws him into a rage. His attacks us because God loves us and hurting us is the only way Satan can hurt God. It’s akin to the second best athlete in a high school slashing the tires on the car of the best athlete. He doesn’t do it because he thinks he is really the best, but because he knows he is really the second best. I understand that God is not simply a better angel, but his qualitative superiority is, for Satan, even more infuriating.

      • That’s one of the traditional theories. I’ve never been able to make sense of it. If Lucifer knew who God is, then he would know that trying to hurt God by hurting us is sort of like the second best athlete in school thinking that by slashing some tires he could hurt the Andromeda Galaxy. If Lucifer were clear on the categories, I can’t see how – bearing in mind his panoptic seraphic intelligence – he could possibly commit that sort of category error. It’s a really idiotic error.

        Having made it, I can see how Lucifer would then be full of spite. But without the category error, the spite makes no more sense to me than resentment I might feel toward the Andromeda Galaxy.

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  7. As an atheist, I do like to point out that you’ve done a great job at bearing false witnesses against me by making up such hilarious lies about what you think an atheist must be.

    How does it work that Satan can believe in this god to rebel against this god and believe it doesn’t exist at the same time? And how does it work when these entities repeatedly hang out with each other?

    • Get over yourself. No one here is talking about you. It’s not about you.

      Having turned away from Truth himself – having, that is to say, rebelled against God – Lucifer has lost the understanding of the category of God. So while he encounters God at every turn, he cannot truly recognize what God is. He cannot see the Truth as Truth, even though it is right there in front of him, plain as day.

      This is why he thinks he has a shot at overthrowing God. It’s an absurd notion, but he’s totally committed to it.

      It’s the archetypal case of being so enamored of your precious theory that you cannot see how the contradictory data contradict it, instead *seeing* that they support it. If you don’t believe there is such a thing as deities, you won’t be able to interpret the acts or effects of deities as such and continue to operate within your paradigm. Nor will you be able to think about them properly, because you’ll be forced by your paradigm to interpret them as something other than what they are, even conceptually.

      • Errum, sorry, but no. An atheist doesn’t believe in the gods. Satan not only “believes” in the gods but is part of them. Satan wanted to be equal…. so the story goes.

        I’ll give you 100 points for mindless stupidity, though.

      • This is getting tangled up in equivocal usage of the verb “to believe.” An atheist believes there is no such being as God – that the referent “God” signifies nothing independent of the stories people have made up about “God.” They say that God is a fictional character, like Tom Sawyer or Paul Bunyan. Satan is not this sort of atheist. Satan believes that there is a being who pretends to be God, and who makes all sorts of rules, promises and claims that he has no right to make. Satan thinks God is an impostor.

        This takes us to Mr. Zande’s misunderstanding of Satan, who is no more a part of the gods than Mr. Zande or I. Satan is, in Christian theology, a creature, just like any other creature. He is a spiritual being, but he is a contingent spiritual being. As such he is dependent on a necessary spiritual being, which is to say God. This makes him mad as hell, so to speak.

        Satan is by all accounts a clever angel, so we must suppose that he knows it would be impossible for him to be equal to what God claims to be. Satan knows he is contingent. So his gambit is to say that God is the same as me, not I am the same as God. There’s a difference here, and this is why Kristor is justified in referring to Satan as an atheist.

      • Since this is addressed to me, I’ll take the liberty of approving this comment on Kristor’s post.

        I don’t think you want to go where you are going since you’ve just added to the ranks of atheists a multitude of mindless morons who are too stupid or lazy to form a belief one way or the other. Atheism has always denoted an apology or justification for a lack of belief in God. What you describe isn’t even agnosticism or skepticism, since these are also apologies or justifications for a lack of belief in God. Back in the the seventeenth century, when people took these debates more seriously, Christian writers drew a distinction between “practical atheists” and “speculative atheists.” The former were “godless” in the sense that their actions betrayed no “fear of God.” They were mostly bad men. A speculative atheist produced arguments to defend his opinion, and often led a decent and sober life.

      • Oh, I’ll go there. Atheism is one thing, and one thing only: the absence of belief in the gods. Please try and get that straight. A-theism is content free. That, of course, doesn’t stop apologists, such as yourself, painting fabulous pantomimes of what you think atheists should be.

        And again, to claim Satan (your god’s one-time “favourite” being) as an atheist is so spectacularly dumb it’s hilarious.

      • This makes atheism a very motley club, since there are any number of reasons a person may lack belief in God. It also means that we must come up with another name for the sub-species of atheist who advance, or at least are prepared to advance, arguments to defend their absence of belief. Do you have a suggestion? Principled atheists? Rational atheists? Intentional atheists?

        Another problem with your capacious definition is that it takes in a good many theists, most of whom do not consciously believe in God, or even act as if they believe in God, 24/7

      • If we follow usage rather than etymology, an anti-theist is hostile to theism, believes it should be destroyed, and makes some effort (however small) to destroy it. Not all people in the category for which I need a name are anti-theists. Many are in fact, friendly to religion because they value its function in society. If anti theists are simply atheists prepared to justify their lack of belief, what do we call hostile anti-theist atheists?

        These are just words, so we shouldn’t get too excited over just what word we use. Our aim should be a vocabulary that reflects the relevant categories and minimizes confusion. Etymologically godless and atheist mean the same thing, but I’d suggest we take advantage of the fact we have two words and use them to name two types. The godless man lives his life with little or no thought of God. The atheist does so with some sort of intellectual justification. The anti-theist does this with an intellectual justification and a political purpose.

      • Sounds reasonable, although “godless” assumes a god (which would be an incorrect assumption), and I disagree with the political attachment to anti-theism. Yes, secularism has a very strong political vein, although a theist can also be a secularist, and I’d hazard to guess most are. Very, very few theists desire to live in a theocracy. You are however aware, aren’t you, that this comment demonstrates that the post is wrong… which was my point.

      • I can appreciate that the idea must seem outlandishly crazy to you. But that’s only because you don’t understand it. Your comments at least indicate that it is going right over your head.

        Let me try to explain. Say that this was a universe where all the “supernatural” beings – gods, angels, devas, witches, elves, you name it – were entirely natural. In that world, it could conceivably remain an open question even to some of the high gods – contingent creatures, all of them – whether there was such a thing as God, properly so called (eternal, necessary, omnipotent, and so forth). Say that a bunch of the gods were hanging out together over at Odin’s House in Asgard, drinking and talking. In that universe, Lucifer and Loki could argue to the others that YHWH was just another god, “no better than the rest of us.” Michael, Zeus and Odin would see that Loki and Lucifer were befuddled in their thinking by a category error. They could try to explain that, while YHWH did indeed appear as a seraph, there was more to him than that; that YHWH is the god who is God. But so long as Loki and Lucifer remained in the grip of their category error about what “God” properly means, these explanations would all sound to them like special pleading. They wouldn’t get it. The friendly arguments of Michael, Odin and Zeus would go right over their heads.

      • I literally do not how to proceed with someone so willfully (albeit hilariously) ignorant as you. To get this wrong shows a level of intellectual (and personal) ineptitude that is simply staggering.

      • Waving your arms and spluttering insults cuts no ice around here. It smells like rank sophomoric incomprehension; like philosophical bankruptcy and defeat. If you’ve got arguments, let’s hear them. If you don’t, we’ll all see that, as you say, you *just don’t understand.*

      • Why shouldn’t I continue? You’ve given no arguments that “Lucifer is an atheist” is false. All you’ve done is tell me how stupid and ignorant and inept I am. Which is stupid, ignorant, and inept. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, though, and presume first that you are capable of philosophical discourse, second that you are capable of learning, third that you are interested to learn of and correct your lacunae, and last that once you figure out what it is we are talking about around here you’ll have something intelligent to say.

        You’ve asked a question that indicates both your ignorance of some basic ideas presupposed by the post and by our comments upon it, and your interest in correcting that ignorance. So I’ll answer.

        Lucifer rebels against what he takes to be just another seraph, essentially like himself. He somehow can’t see that YHWH is the only god who is God.

        It is not widely known these days even among educated Christians and Jews that in the earliest layers of the OT, YHWH is a seraph – i.e., a high god (there are many lesser ranks of gods or angels) – who in his seraphic nature is just like the other high gods, of whom there are quite a few. YHWH differs however from the other seraphim in a crucial respect: of them all, he is the only begotten son of El Elyon, the Most High God, the Eternal One, God the Father, by whom all things – *all things*, including all the seraphim – are made. So, of all the seraphim, YHWH is the only one who is not a creature, but is rather eternal, omnipotent, and so forth, just like El Elyon. He never came into being, like the other seraphim; he is eternal. The rest of the seraphim are Sons of God, too, but by adoption rather than by nature.

        This understanding of YHWH as the only seraph who is the naturally begotten son of El Elyon is not repudiated by later layers of the OT, or by the Christian revelation, but rather clarified and elaborated. At Nicea in 325, the Church spelled out the doctrine that Israel had been groping toward for 2,000 years: that while they are different persons, YHWH and El Elyon are the same substantial being (a needful distinction, because by definition there can be only one substantial being that is ultimate).

        Now, I may of course be quite wrong in this suggestion of mine that, thanks to his turn from El Elyon, Lucifer is somehow thenceforth oblivious of the nature (ergo, apparently, also of the fact) of El Elyon – as human atheists seem usually to be oblivious of the Category of the Ultimate (ergo of the possible reality of a member of that Category) – thus of the substantial identity of YHWH and El Elyon, thus of YHWH’s omnipotence, eternity, and so forth. There may be some other explanation of Lucifer’s hopeless, stupid, ignorant, inept rebellion. But I haven’t been able to come up with one, yet.

      • YHWH was one of the 70 sons of El, correct… A lowly pantheon god who usurped his father by marrying his mother…. at the behest, of course, of 7th Century BCE Judean priests. Not sure where you get the idea that Lucifer was part of that mix, the character doesn’t pop up in either Canaanite or Ugarit theologies, and I’m really not sure how Christians would view your reinterpretation of the story. Christians are pretty headstrong when it comes to the whole monotheism thing. 😉

      • Christians are pretty clear on the vast ontological difference between God and angels, so they would not be troubled at the idea that God appears in the created order as a seraph any more than they are troubled that he does so as a man.

        Lucifer is the serpent in Eden. Seraphim appear (at least to humans) as fiery serpents; dragons. This is why the serpent Moses raised up on his staff in the desert is a type of YHWH: Jesus. [Cherubim appear to humans as griffins, while Thrones seem to appear as wheels within wheels.]

        This is the first I have heard of the notion that YHWH usurped El Elyon by marrying his wife. Sounds like something the Gnostics came up with. There were to be sure such myths abroad in the ancient Near East, but it would seem more likely from a plain reading of the OT that it is the story of an Israelite recovery (again and again) from the error of thinking that YHWH was no different than the other ba’alim.

        Almost all the most ancient religions understand that there is a High God, a God above all gods, who created them all, and who is categorically different from them: a Tao. This seems to be a basic aspect of the original religion of man. It is obvious that a god can’t marry the Tao, or rebel against it, or usurp it. But men seem to forget this all the time.

      • No, not Gnostic’s, rather Judean’s (Judah) themselves. At two 7th Century BCE sites (Kuntilet Ajrud and Khirbet el-Kom) Hebrew inscriptions were found that read ‘YHWH and his Asherah’, ‘YHWH Shomron and his Asherah’, and, ‘YHWH Teman and his Asherah.’

        Asherah was, of course, El’s wife, and Yhwh’s mother.

      • Ah, yes, Asherah: Ishtar, Eostre, goddess of the dawn and Virgin Queen of Heaven: Easter, the Woman Clothed with the Sun, the Daughter of Zion, Jerusalem the Blest, Tower of Migdala upon whom the Dove descends, and often therefore, like the other gods, mistakenly worshipped by men who grope at the truth fully and personally revealed only to Israel, and only by Israel to the other nations.

        Her human incarnation is the Theotokos, and in virtue of John’s adoption by YHWH as his brother, she is the mother by adoption of the Church, who is Israel.

        Notice that those inscriptions you adduce do not indicate that YHWH married Asherah, but that she is his. Of course she is his: as you say, she is his mother!

        That YHWH should have an angelic mother is no more odd than that Jesus – who is YHWH, the Logos that informs all things (so that they have each the forms that make them just what they are) – should have a human mother. Having a creaturely mother seems to be the sort of thing God does. And why not? He is omnipotent, after all. What’s to stop him?

        That Asherah belongs to YHWH does not mean that she does not belong to El Elyon, or that YHWH somehow took her from El Elyon; for as Israel has been shown, and has lately realized and testified, YHWH and El Elyon are the same being.

        It can be confusing, to be sure, for Israel is YHWH’s Bride. But it becomes clear when we remember that Mary is not herself Israel, but rather the *mother* of Israel. Jesus does not marry Mary, but rather his adoptive sister, the Church, who is not naturally descended from his mother, and who is by nature quite different from him.

        Keeping these relationships straight is tricky, but important. If you lose sight of them, you can begin to think that Asherah poses some sort of dire challenge to Christian theology, when really she’s right there in the Credo, and in the Bible. Asherah is a stumbling block for Christians only when they err to think of YHWH or El Elyon as mere gods, like her, or vice versa. Not a trivial danger! An error all too understandable! But, nevertheless, an error. This is why her ikons can rightly stand with those of the other saints and angels in God’s holy Temple, but no temples can be rightly raised to her.

      • That YHWH should have an angelic mother is no more odd than that Jesus

        Are you sure you want to call yourself “Christian”? I mean, seriously, your interpretation (opinions, really) are pure heresy. Christian theology states Yhwh is an uncreated aseitic being. It’s a nonsense claim, of course, it can’t be rationally defended without desperate mental gymnastics, but that is where their heads are at.

      • That YHWH is uncreate does not mean that, in his human instantiation, he cannot have a creaturely mother. This is basic Christology; like I say, it’s right in the Credo. If he can appear in the created order in one way, there would seem to be no reason he could not appear in others. I grant that most Christians never get around to thinking about this sort of thing, but that’s neither here nor there. Neither do most of them ever think much about the notion of theosis – of, that is to say, the deification of the saints – but this too is standard stuff, right in the Credo.

      • @ JMSmith

        On the one hand you say, “Strong minded atheists are not uncommon in these parts, and they are welcome so long as they stay on topic and refrain from scurrility.”

        (Scurrilous OED: Making or spreading scandalous claims about someone with the intention of damaging their reputation)

        On the other hand you say to John, “you’ve just added to the ranks of atheists a multitude of mindless morons who are too stupid or lazy to form a belief one way or the other.” You categorize those who do not believe

        So you’re saying you’re a mindless moron too stupid or lazy to form a belief about the different gods of Cinteteo?

        The absence of a belief is the default and, as John so adroitly pointed out, is content-free. That’s why not forming any beliefs one way or another in Cinteteo is not a reflection on you or your character. You have no compelling reasons to think such a belief is necessary or even worthy of consideration without such reasons. Ditto for me and a veritable host of humanity about your specific theistic beliefs. My lack of belief is not a reflection of me or my character.

        Anti-theism is a position I hold for compelling reasons and not out of ignorance.

        Because religious belief is the mother ship of faith-based thinking (a subject that houses a host of faith-based assumptions, assertions, attributions, and presumptions) that makes all kinds of empirical claims about reality but disallows it the right to arbitrate these claims (that is to say, without empirical support to demonstrate increased likelihood or probability), I think your beliefs are wholly your own and should be represented as such and not privileged outside of you and your life. But what is the case is that faith-based communities do spend considerable effort affecting the public domain to pernicious effect. The same pernicious effects are true for any subject that utilizes faith-based thinking to justify it and gains privilege in the public domain… from so-called alternative medicine and therapies to the denialism arena. Faith-based beliefs are a product of broken thinking and support for them a product of foolishness, credulity, and gullibility.

      • I didn’t say that all people who do not form a belief one way or the other are too stupid or lazy to do so. I said that some non-trivial number of those who do not form a belief one way or the other do so because they are stupid and/or lazy. “High church” atheists and agnostics, who have arrived at their opinions after some sort of reasoning, normally seek to dissociate themselves from this sort of “low church” atheist and agnostic.” They do this because they wish to present atheism as the “thinking man’s opinion” and the “low church” contains a great many men who are not conspicuous for thinking.

        Absence of a belief in the supernatural is not the default, since only a tiny minority of humankind throughout history has taken this view. Formation of religious beliefs is natural to the human intellect, which is not to say universal or indefeasible. These beliefs may be utterly false, but they occur naturally in most people, like hair on top of the head or five fingers on a hand.

        I don’t doubt that you can offer reasons for your anti-theistic beliefs. Obviously they are not “compelling” in the sense of a mathematical demonstration, since they fail to move a great many people who, by all other measures, are as rational as you are.

      • @JMSmith

        Nice try. I said “The absence of a belief is the default.”

        You change that to read, the “Absence of a belief in the supernatural is not the default.”

        That’s not what I said and that’s not what I meant. I was speaking of the absence of a belief (an absence with which you claim is not so when it comes to atheism).

        You’re speaking of the human propensity of assigning agency (which we do all the time, getting mad at our car or some other inanimate machine when it doesn’t work properly). These terms are not synonyms.

        The first is an absence, which goes back to John’s correct point. Your rendition is about hypothetical agencies being assigned by people to create an explanatory model (I dance, it rains, I must have awesome supernatural powers ’cause I don’t know how I make that happen but I do because, well, because it rains after I dance, you see so there must be something to my dancing)… a model that just so happens to require a multidimensional reality that somehow interacts with our own to cause the effects selected but of which we can know nothing about any link directly… which is oh so very, very handy for those who wish to assign divine properties to some divine and controlling agency and then, when asked for the rain-dance link, seek regress (defining something in terms of itself) in nebulous metaphysics and axiomatic reasoning.

      • You are welcome to assert that absence of belief is the default position, but your assertion would seem to be undercut by your example of the rain dance. The human mind forms beliefs naturally, often with little or no reason, because humans don’t like to say “I don’t know.” When the choice is between a crazy theory and no theory, most people will take the crazy theory. This is why modern skepticism is an accomplishment. I mean this not as a simple term of praise, but as a term denoting struggle against human nature, or what you call the default position. The default position for humans is credulity.

      • It’s most curious that you, Kristor, insist that “no one here” is talking about me since there is the author, you, who claims to be speaking about me when claims to know all about atheists and then proceeds to lie about atheists. I am sure that you are upset that someone dares to doubt you and then shows that your claims are false.

        You have no evidence you have any “truth”, Kristor, and you show that you rely on lies and strawmen arguments to attack atheists. You rely on sad and disproven falsehoods about atheists made up by theists. No, Kristor, I am not rebelling against the truth, since the truth shows that your claims are false. I also am not rebelling against your version of the Christian god, since that would imply it actually exists, something that you cannot show to be true. I am also not a nihilist, that lovely word that TrueChristians try to use in their attempts to bear false witness against others. I do wonder about a Christian who so vigorously ignores his bible when he intentionally chooses to ignore its god’s commands to not lie, including Romans 3 where it says that your god hates those who lies *for* it.

        Lucifer doesn’t exist either and so your claims about it not knowing what the “category of God” is makes no more sense than saying that the fairies don’t understand the category of leprechauns. Please do explain what the “category of god” is. It seems nothing more than something you’ve made up.

        You, like so many TrueChrisitans, try to claim that you and only you know what God “really” is, and of course TrueChristians don’t agree and have no evidence to support their claims. You want to claim that only you know “truth” but of course can’t show that either or show that someone doesn’t have truth, other than baselessly claiming everyone but you is wrong. Many theists, including Christians, claim that their god is “right there” in front of everyone but funny how none of you can actually support this claims; all of you having the exact same evidence: none. You might want to consider how you can show your god is the one “right there” and that it is not Allah, the Wiccan Goddess, Aten, the Great Spirit of the indigenous peoples of North America, etc. Shucks Kristor, why aren’t you a Muslim since any believer will say that the evidence for their god is “right there”? What excuses will you offer?

        Oh and Lucifer aka Satan aka the Devil, has no problem in working with this god and this god with Satan, so it seems that your fantasy that this entity is only concerned in overthrowing this god is wrong or at least just one more contradiction in the bible. We have bets made in Job, the intentional help that the Devil gives God to make its masochist fantasy come to fruition (per the bible, the only reason Judas turns JC in is because the debbil made him do it), and then then God and Satan work together in corrupting good honest believers after they live under the rule of JC himself for an aeon for one more bit of war and destruction (Revelation 19-21 is great). Funny how this god intentionally lets the serpent back into the garden.

        I’m more than happy to see your “contradictory data” that you claim shows that your god exists. I do advise you to consider your claims and ask yourself if any believer could use your claims as well as you. If they can, then you have the added responsibility to show how only your god exists and no other gods do. Show that it is the only creator of the universe, the greatest entity ever able to be conceived by humans, etc.

        I do love how you appear to think that big words will make your false claims any more believable. No, Kristor, I don’t believe in your baseless claims because facts don’t support them. It is not magic aka gods that heals people, it is the very hard won information that humans have discovered. It is not gods that save people from disasters, it is planning, the work of rescuers and often just plain luck which also results in plenty of people dying and being harmed in disasters. You make a priori assumptions that your god is the actor in such events and you have no evidence for it, just like a Muslim has no evidence that it is Allah answering prayers or the Wiccan Goddess that is powering spells. Your claims fail just like theirs.

        My paradigm is reality. You operate within it and accept it too when you use the benefits of the sciences. You use the same sciences that show your claims to be no more than nonsense. You are, as most theists are, a hypocrite.

      • Mr. Schadenfreude, I repeat: this is not about you, except insofar as in your own mind you make it about you. In writing the post, I was not even thinking about human atheists. I did not mention them at all. I was thinking only about Lucifer.

        Don’t get so worked up over the notion that I think you might be like Lucifer in some way. Remember that, as a Christian, I think that I – and all Christians other than saints and martyrs – are like Lucifer, too: rebels, all of us. I don’t think I’m any better than atheists.

        Your points against theism are all quite weak, and have all been answered. Not in this thread, of course. But I’m not going to reprise for you here the arguments that support philosophical theism. There are thousands of books that do. You should try reading the Summa Theologica with an open mind. What I mean is, you should try reading with the presumption that so far you have failed to understand theism or its arguments; that you don’t yet know how to think about these things properly.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        It’s a fascinating thing. The atheists who have commented here give every appearance that they *completely fail to see* what theists are talking about, and aim all their arguments at flying spaghetti monsters instead of the God of theism. They are not even in the same conversation as the theists. We explain this basic distinction to them again and again, and still they *just don’t get it.*

        You really couldn’t ask for a better example of how Lucifer’s failure to recognize the vast ontological difference between himself and YHWH might work in practice. Like Lucifer, the atheists here are not unintelligent. Like him, they are not ignorant of the world and its operations. Still they are completely in the dark. Like him, they persist in thinking the conversation is all about gods, and *do not even recognize* that it is about God. The Category of the Ultimate does not appear to exist in their intellectual toolkit. Nor do they seem to recognize this deficit, or to understand it as such. So they seem to have no way of understanding what we are saying to them.

        It’s as if seeing them cursing and sweating, manhandling a nut with a screwdriver, you offered them your wrench, and they said, “Can’t you see that a hammer is the wrong tool for this job?”

        Amazing.

      • It’s hilarious to see you claim that you weren’t even “thinking of human atheists” when you have gone to such trouble to define Lucifer as an atheist when he can’t possibly be. Again, K, how does it work to call Lucifer an atheist when he supposedly knows this god exists and hangs out with it? You also do such a nice job of using all of the sad lies told by Christians about human atheists so, no, I don’t believe you at all.

        I don’t care if you consider me like Lucifer , I do like to point out that you make the same false claims about atheists and you certainly are confused with the definition of atheist. All Christians don’t agree with you, K. I know, I was one (now cue the false claims that I can’t have been). So your attempt to speak for all Christians is no more than amusing.

        If my points are all “quite weak”, then surely you can rebut them. But I see that you cannot. Lots of claims you can but surprise, not one actual word and promises of “sometime”. Lots of words typed but not one bit that can show I’m wrong. I’ve read the Summa Theologica and I did read it with an open mind. Aquinas is quite a fellow and funny how not all Christians agree with him (Christians can’t even agree if the events in the bible are literal or metaphor, hell and heaven literal or metaphor, when the Sabbath is, etc). He makes that argument that his god is the only creator, but unsurprisingly, the argument works for any creator god at all, and lots of non-Christians use it just like he does. The problem is that Aquinas has no more evidence that his god is the creator than a Muslim, a Wiccan, a Shintoist, etc. He also does that great excuse that no one can understand God, which certainly puts to lie the claims made by Christians that they do understand god, and they know it is good, it is love, etc. I’ve also read St. Augustine (always interesting that children are damned to hell), Lewis, Craig, and many more apologists.

        It’s great to see you tell me that I should read these books by assuming you are right when you baselessly claim that I have “failed to understand theism or its arguments” or that I “don’t yet know how to think about these things properly”. All of this can be summed up as “Mr. Schadenfreude, you have to agree with me before you read anything else because I’m right and everyone else is wrong for true and for honest!”

        Evidence of this, K? Plenty of Christians say you are wrong in your interpretation of your religion and do not think about these things “properly”, so why should I think you are right when you make such claims?

        For example, you do the common claim that only you know the “right” God, again something Christians don’t agree on (cue no true scotsman argument here). Evidence of this, K? Show that your god merely exists. Yes, you can use the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, but at best those argue for a “god” not yours at all and offer no support for the baseless claims of the bible. You have created a fantasy that you and only you understand things, but again you have no more evidence than the next Christian or next theist. You want to pretend you are a special snowflake that knows a secret, nothing more. There is no category of the ultimate nor do you have any tool at all. But please do show that this category exists and that your version of your god exists. I’ll be waiting.

        Each theist claims they have the “wrench”. The problem is that they can’t show that there is a bolt to loosen.

      • I’m getting a lot of laughs out of your stuff, too. But it would be a lot funnier if it wasn’t so painfully pathetic.

        I didn’t go to any trouble to define Satan as an atheist. It was a passing comment, a tangent.

        I’ve already explained in this thread how it can make sense to characterize Satan as an atheist. Go read those explanations, and you’ll have a shot at figuring out what’s being discussed here.

        Sad lies Christians tell about atheists? I haven’t even been talking about atheists, except to say that I don’t think they are much like Satan, that I think they are wicked like me and almost all other men (although not, particularly, on account of their atheism, which is rather a symptom than a cause), and that they want everyone to think that while they reject gods, they don’t disbelieve in them. Are those lies? Would you insist rather that atheists are a lot like Satan, that they are more wicked than most men, and that they think gods don’t exist?

        Laughable.

        I don’t care if you consider me like Lucifer …

        I don’t! That’s the pathetic thing. You guys are taking umbrage at something I have repeatedly denied. And you won’t take “yes” for an answer! It’s such a complete tell of your tortured inner state.

        The *only* respect in which a human atheist might be like Lucifer solely on account of his atheism is … their common lack of belief in the Eternal One.

        What false claims have I made about atheists?

        All Christians don’t agree with you, K.

        So what? What difference does that make? We are not talking about Christianity, we are talking about theism. Can’t you keep these things straight?

        It is irrelevant that “all Christians don’t agree with me.” It’s also false: I’m a Christian, and I agree with me, so it can’t be true that all Christians don’t agree with me. Learn to write.

        You’ve read the Summa. Amazing! Good for you! How did you manage to learn so little from it?

        Again, we are not talking about whether or not Christianity is true. Indeed, we are not even talking about whether theism is true. All we are talking about is whether it works to think that Satan might persist in his hopeless rebellion because he has somehow managed to forget what his God is. Can’t you stay on topic?

        I’m not going to rewrite the Summa for you in a comment thread. Nor am I going to recapitulate the whole saga of philosophical theism, from Heraclitus on. Sorry. No time. Just go read the stuff again, under the presumption that you got it wrong the first time.

        Tell you what I will do, though: I’ll demolish an actual argument that you make. Give me an argument, any argument you’ve got contra theism, and I’ll happily rip it to shreds. So far, you have done nothing of the sort; no arguments, just incoherent spluttering.

        What I won’t do for you is spend the next three weeks demolishing *all* the arguments against theism. Just give me your best, knock down argument, and I’ll gut it and serve it to you cold.

        … you do (sic) the common claim that only you know the “right” God …

        Really? Where? When did I say that? I have said nothing of the sort. You’re being unbelievably sloppy. Is it because you are so worked up and emotional about this? Calm down, man, think, *think.*

        Show that your god merely exists. Yes, you can use the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, but at best those argue for a “god” not yours at all …

        Again – duh – the existence of God is not the subject of this thread. The truth of Christianity is not the subject of this thread. I love the ontological argument, but – like any person familiar with theology – I don’t think for a moment that it proves the existence of the God of Christianity. It proves only that a God such as the Christian God – i.e., maximally perfect along all dimensions of perfection – necessarily exists.

        You have created a fantasy that you and only you understand things …

        No, I have formed the definite conviction that I understand a lot of things better than you. Funny thing is, the more I come to understand, the more I understand how little I understand. Same for you? Thought not. You’ve got it all totally nailed down, right? Good for you; good luck with that.

        There is no category of the ultimate nor do you have any tool at all. But please do show that this category exists and that your version of your god exists. I’ll be waiting.

        Do you really doubt that there is such a thing as mathematical infinity? I mean, gosh; the ultimate is logically implicit in any finite quantity along any dimension whatever. Do you also disbelieve in the Principle of Noncontradiction?

        As to showing that God exists, again, that is not the subject of this thread. It is crazy of you to expect that I should demonstrate every truth of theism in order to talk about any of them. Just Google this string: “Argument Kristor Orthosphere.” That should do you for a start.

      • Oh my, so a post called “The Archetypical Atheist” and your direct claims “He [lucifer] is an atheist.” plus paragraphs trying to establish this supposed fact using the common Christian claims about atheists, have now mysteriously become “was a passing comment, a tangent.” I do again wonder what exactly you think the word atheist means and now what the word archetypical means. Atheist means someone who does not believe in a god, period. An archetype is “: the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies : prototype; also : a perfect example” So, you have gone to a lot of work trying to that Lucifer/Satan is an atheist, which he cannot be (how does one rebel against something you are sure doesn’t exist?) and that you claim that Lucifer/Satan is the original model or perfect example of an atheist, which again, this entity cannot be.

        You have tried to compare L/S to an atheist and have failed since the word atheist doesn’t mean what you want it to. Since this is the case, the only reason to mention L/S in the same statement as atheism is to try to make an equivalency, atheism equals evil. You then proceed to claim that L/S also has the same attributes that Christians, consistently and falsely, claim human atheists have, the usual claims of nihilism. So, yep, I’ve read those explanations and I do have a great shot at showing that your claims are false.

        You now claim “I haven’t even been talking about atheists, except to say that I don’t think they are much like Satan…” Hmmm, now how does that work with your very own words “He[Lucifer/Satan] is an atheist.” Someone who doesn’t believe in God, when L/S must if one believes the bible. Perhaps we shouldn’t do that, K? You have claimed that to be an atheist is to be wicked, so you’ve already done that, I don’t have to at all. I do wonder why you need to deny what you’ve done so badly.

        I do see now that you want to claim that human atheists aren’t people who disbelieve in God. Indeed, you seem to think you are psychic and know what they “really” believe. This is a common Christian claim, that people really do honest agree with them even if they are sure they do not. That’s the need for some Christians for external validation. The mere existence of atheists terrifies these Christians because our, and my, existence shows that their claims aren’t true and there is reason to doubt something that many Christians have invested with their self-worth. Sorry to break your bubble, but I am quite certain that there are no gods, not even yours. So, yes, your repeated claims that eveyrone agrees with you that there is a god is a lie. This sentence is great “Would you insist rather that atheists are a lot like Satan, that they are more wicked than most men, and that they think gods don’t exist?” Nice attempt at presenting your claims as if they are inseparable . One doesn’t have to be harmful to humanity *and* disbelieve that gods exist. One can be beneficial to humanity and disbelieve in gods.

        Again, you claim you somehow now don’t compare L/S to atheists, when you claim “He is an atheist” and then proceed to list all of the baseless claims that Christians make about atheists, that we’re nihilsts, etc. How does that work, K? I know you’ve repeatedly denied what you have said. I also have read over your blog and can see that you use these sad claims about what atheists are throughout it, so much for your claim that “only” respect you have claimed that human atheists and L/S share is “common lack of belief in he Eternal One”. Funny how the bible shows that L/S believe in the Christian god quite a lot, and that your claims that it doesn’t “their common lack of belief in the Eternal One“ fail. It’s always curious on how some Christians decide to rewrite the bible. What lies have you told about atheists? Let’s see:

        “He is an atheist. So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness.” We get the same from your other posts

        “But as meaningless, ergo stupid, they cannot hold it very long.”

        “He is an atheist. But this leaves him in the same basic predicament as the ancient gnostics, for if there is no God, then there is no divinely created or therefore sanctioned order out there to begin with. For the gnostic, the order of this world is either evil or, in the case of the atheist, entirely adventitious, which is to say, random and meaningless.”

        “For the atheist gnostic, there is no safe harbor anywhere in life. Yet we are so made as to want purity and righteousness, and to feel their lack as a painful defect of existence. We cannot rest until we reach a place worthy of rest. But in a wholly bad or meaningless universe, there can be no such place.”

        All nonsense, and all repeated in your claim of an archetypical atheist. Again, no idea why you find it necessary to deny what you’ve done.

        Like many theists, you must make up false claims in order to pretend that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is somehow less than you, is sad, angry, rebellious, meaningless, nihilistic, etc. The reality is that we’re just like you and that frightens you because it means your claims are wrong.

        Hmm, you ask “so what” when I point out that all Christians don’t agree with you and you have claimed that they do. Well, that shows that your claims are false and you aren’t the TrueChristian you’d like everyone to believe (your “about” page is all full of that). It seems rather important for someone who claims to follow a religion which god really hates people who make false claims. Now, you show that your reading comprehension is little better than your knowledge of word defintions. Here’s what you said: “Remember that, as a Christian, I think that I – and all Christians other than saints and martyrs – are like Lucifer, too: rebels, all of us. I don’t think I’m any better than atheists.”

        And what I said in response “All Christians don’t agree with you, K. I know, I was one (now cue the false claims that I can’t have been). So your attempt to speak for all Christians is no more than amusing.”

        You made the claim that all Christians agree with you and I have pointed out that they do not. Christians do not agree that all humans are rebels. Christians agree on precious little such as what hell is, what heaven is, what this god “really” wants, was the flood a metaphor or a literal event, was creation a metaphor or a literal event, is the devil real or not?

        It’s great fun to see you now backpedalling on how important it is to read the Summa. I learned a great deal from it. I learned that a human can make up many things, and that the claims have no basis in reality. Again, poor ol’ K, you want me to have an a priori belief that the Summa is the truth, and there is no reason to. You just want me to agree with you because you need external validation.

        For someone who complains about staying on topic, it’s great fun to watch you do your best to avoid addressing my points. We are talking about your claim that satan is the “archetypical atheist”, and your strange confusion about what an atheist actually is. You have claimed that atheists are “rebels”, beause you need to make believe everyone “really” believes in your god because you need to think everyone agrees with you. It’s rather silly to watch you claim that somehow Satan forgot what God is. How would this work, K, when Satan believes in this god, and per your bible, constantly works with it?

        Again, this Satan believes in this god, so surprise, he isn’t an atheist. He may be forgetful, God may be impotent so he has no reason to think this god so impressive, but nothing about atheism here.

        I know you won’t rewrite the Summa. As it stands, there is no reason to think you’ve ever read it or know what it says. It appears that you mentioned it to try to scare the atheist away, and when it became apparent I have read it, you now run away. Poor thing, you have no time? Hmmm so how long did it take to write out 893 words of excuse?

        I’ve already offered you plenty of arguments already. Please do “demolish” one of those, K. As a coward will, you try to claim that anything you can’t address is “incoherent sputtering”. But I’ll be more than happy to give you as much rope as you’d like to hang yourself. There is nothing to show that your god exists. The best you have are arguments e.g. cosmological, teleological, ontological, etc, and they depend on an a priori premise that there has to be a god which cannot be shown to be needed. They also present a vague god that fits no definition of god that any religion offers or theist worships. That being said: Why should I believe that the Christian god exists when it cannot be shown to exist any more than any other god? I’m going to predict you’ll just call this “incoherent sputtering” again, showing that you cannot “demolish” anything.

        K, you have said only you know the right god. You claim that no other chrisitans are correct, that “gnostics” aren’t correct. You now seem to be playing the common Christian game of trying to claim you haven’t said something, trying to hide behind the skirts of literalism. Indeed, your title of your blog “orthosphere” is based on the claim that only you and you alone have the “orthodox”: “Ortho: Right, correct, straight. As in orthodoxy (right teaching), orthogonal (literally, right-sided; thus, right angled; so, perpendicular, independent) and orthognomon (right knowledge, right indicator (as of a carpenter’s square or a sundial)).” Thanks so much for posting the definition!) version of Christianity and its god. For claiming that Satan forgot what God was, it seems you forgot what you wrote.

        You’ve made false claims about atheists and your religion in your blog post and in your responses. Your whining about staying on topic is nothing more than the Christian who has realized that his claims don’t work and who doesn’t like that pointed out. A discussion about the existence of God is quite germane to a blog post that lies about atheists, can’t get the correct definition of atheism straight, and that makes claims that the existence of this god is somehow obvious, to the point that anyone who denies it is evil or damned or some mythical nonsense.

        Still nothing to show that you understand anything better than anyone else, including the definition of the term atheist. The tired old saw that “the more I understand, the more I understand how little I know” is the refuge of a Christian who has no evidence for his claims, trying to claim that his god is really and truly out there under a rock somewhere. Nope, I don’t have anything totally nailed down, but nice try to create a strawman to attack.

        Your “category of the ultimate” is not mathematical infinity. We know what that is and how it works. Please do define “category of the ultimate”. The law of non-contradiction is not a ‘category of the infinite”, it is the logic that two contradictory statements can’t be true at the same time. You know, like saying that “no one will be held accountable for his ancestors sins” and “everyone will be held accountable for his ancestor sins”, a great contradiction in the bible. Again, for someone who whines about changing topics, why did you mention the law of noncontradiction? Was it to sound all important and sciency?

        I’ve asked you to show that your god exists. It should be easy and there should be no need to demonstrate every apologists argument. The simple fact that you cannot do this shows that there is no “truth of theism” at all.

      • No time for or interest in dealing with this copious rambling incoherent disgorgement right now, or maybe ever. I’m pretty sure I’ve already answered all its points in other comments of this thread, and don’t want to take the time to repeat myself bootlessly.

        I’ve already indicated how you can find some of the arguments I’ve proposed for God’s existence, so you can go graze over in those posts and chew on what you find there.

        You’ve given no arguments. You’ve made points, but offered no arguments. Try to cast an argument in the form of a series of true premises, ending in a conclusion that follows from them validly. Then, we’ll see what to make of it.

      • It is a sloppy, poorly written, rambling, clumsy, rude and incoherent rant – more a tantrum than an essay.

        It would be easy to correct its errors, if there were not so very many of them. Mucking out is not a highly technical task, but Mr. Schadenfreude’s comment is the Augean Stables.

        It repeats points that have already been discussed here. Like I said, I’m pretty sure I’ve answered all its points on this thread already. It makes no sense to answer them again.

        If Mr. Schadenfreude is such a Titan of reason, it should be easy for him to set forth a single argument in good form. I’m looking forward to reading what he has to offer.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        PS: it just now occurred to me that Mr. Schadenfreude might possibly think that what I’m asking for is an argument that shows that something of the ilk of the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn’t exist. I am not. I’m asking for an argument that God – the Eternal One, the necessary ground and source of all being – does not exist.

      • Kristor, how does it work that Lucifer rebelled against God (thus believing in it) and at the same time you claim that Lucifer is an atheist, someone who doesn’t believe in God at all?

        It appears that you either have no idea what these words mean or that you are just trying to claim that atheists are “evil”.

      • Nowhere have I suggested that atheists are particularly evil; this seems to be a worry that atheists have about themselves. If the shoe fits, wear it. But own it as your own, and not something I sold you: the post was not about atheists at all, but about Lucifer.

        It appears either that you have not bothered to read my explanations, or that you are too obtuse to have understood them. Go do your homework, beginning with the recognition that so far you have totally failed to understand anything that you have read of what I have written, then report back.

      • Hmmm, let’s see what you’ve said Kristor:

        He therefore cannot believe that God – God properly so called, the God of whom the Philosophers, Israel, the Church and her prophets, apostles, saints and mystics all speak – actually exists. Satan simply, honestly does not see that he has a King. He sees God, but does not register the fact of the righteousness of God’s reign. He sees God as a tyrant, no greater in principle than he is, whom he could usurp, and would.

        He is an atheist.

        So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness. All that remains to him then is himself, looking out upon nothing. And he takes this solitude as basic to being. So is he an unwitting solipsist. And so sophistical a solipsist is he, that no contravening item can penetrate to his awareness.

        It’s quite amusing to see you trying to run away from what you have said. You have said that Lucifer is an atheist and that certain attributes are what atheist have. I do wonder, do you think your god is so stupid that you can lie like this and expect it to believe that?

        It’s also great to see you try to claim that I don’t understand you when that is not the case at all. I have indeed read your explanations and your claims of what an atheist supposed is. I am always pleased to see a TrueChristian resort to such nonsense. It’s very easy to whine that I haven’t understood you properly when you don’t like being caught being a liar.

        Again, how does it work that Lucifer is supposedly an atheist “one who believes that there is no deity” when this entity does believe that this god exists, rebels against it, gambles with it, sits and chats with Jesus on a magic mountain, and who is intentionally released by this god to intentionally corrupt more humans who have been living as Christians under the governing of Jesus Christ, son of God?

      • You have said that Lucifer is an atheist and that certain attributes are what atheist (sic) have.

        No. You can’t even read the quote that you *just quoted!* Incredible. I didn’t say that “certain attributes are what atheist (sic) have.” I talked about *Satan.* Not “atheists.” Gosh. How utterly pathetic.

        It’s also great to see you try to claim that I don’t understand you when that is not the case at all. I have indeed read your explanations and your claims of what an atheist supposed (sic) is.

        No, you haven’t. You’ve supplied them from your own fevered imagination. Hell, man, your complete failure to understand what I have written is – as we have just seen – painfully obvious. I feel sorry for you, I really do. You make yourself look a fool.

        Again, how does it work that Lucifer is supposedly an atheist “one who believes that there is no deity” when this entity does believe that this god exists, rebels against it, gambles with it, sits and chats with Jesus on a magic mountain, and who is intentionally released by this god to intentionally corrupt more humans who have been living as Christians under the governing (sic) of Jesus Christ, son of God?

        Pathetic. Deeply, deeply sad. How can you have missed the point so completely? Read through the thread again, carefully; maybe you’ll piece it together this time.

      • No. You can’t even read the quote that you *just quoted!* Incredible. I didn’t say that “certain attributes are what atheist (sic) have.” I talked about *Satan.* Not “atheists.” Gosh. How utterly pathetic.

        Hmmm and this what you said:

        He therefore cannot believe that God – God properly so called, the God of whom the Philosophers, Israel, the Church and her prophets, apostles, saints and mystics all speak – actually exists. Satan simply, honestly does not see that he has a King. He sees God, but does not register the fact of the righteousness of God’s reign. He sees God as a tyrant, no greater in principle than he is, whom he could usurp, and would.

        He is an atheist.

        So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness. All that remains to him then is himself, looking out upon nothing. And he takes this solitude as basic to being. So is he an unwitting solipsist. And so sophistical a solipsist is he, that no contravening item can penetrate to his awareness.

        Again, K, how is Lucifer an atheist, someone who has no belief in God/deity? when Lucifer acknowledges this god/deity and acknowledges that Jesus Christ is the son of God/God?

        I’ve pointed out where you’ve made false claims about atheists. I shall do so again, and we can see that they aren’t in my imagination at all but right in your blog:

        He is an atheist. So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness.

        We get the same from your other posts “But as meaningless, ergo stupid, they cannot hold it very long.”

        He is an atheist. But this leaves him in the same basic predicament as the ancient gnostics, for if there is no God, then there is no divinely created or therefore sanctioned order out there to begin with. For the gnostic, the order of this world is either evil or, in the case of the atheist, entirely adventitious, which is to say, random and meaningless.

        For the atheist gnostic, there is no safe harbor anywhere in life. Yet we are so made as to want purity and righteousness, and to feel their lack as a painful defect of existence. We cannot rest until we reach a place worthy of rest. But in a wholly bad or meaningless universe, there can be no such place.

        I didn’t address everything in this post. Anything you want me to address please ask.

      • You are working yourself up about something that is not real. In thinking that I have in this thread been criticizing atheists as such, you are employing the fallacy of affirming the consequent, interpreting what I have written more or less as follows:

        1. The nominalist, nihilist demons are atheists.
        2. Some men, such as Club Schadenfreude, are atheist.
        3. Such atheist men are demonic, nominalist, and nihilist.

        The conclusion does not follow from the premises. From the fact that demons are x, y and z, and that you are z, it does not follow that you are x and y. There are lots of different sorts of beings that could be atheist, without being either nominalist or nihilist. I grant that nominalism and nihilism are easier to credit if one is atheist, but Friar William of Ockham, e.g., was both a nominalist and a devout Christian; and many Hindus are nihilists – in the sense that they are acosmists – and theists (taking Brahman as the sole real). So, honest, you can stop worrying that I have tarred you with the same brush as Lucifer.

        You quote me correctly as saying of atheists in general:

        For the [atheist], the order of this world is … entirely adventitious, which is to say, random and meaningless.

        For the [atheist], there is no safe harbor anywhere in life. Yet we are so made as to want purity and righteousness, and to feel their lack as a painful defect of existence. We cannot rest until we reach a place worthy of rest. But in a wholly [meaningless universe], there can be no such place.

        But notice that this is not a criticism of atheists, but just a description of their metaphysical and moral predicament, as (if they are honest, thorough and careful, like Nietzsche) they must reckon it.

        I have already, many times in this thread, made clear what I meant by calling Lucifer an atheist, to wit: that he does not believe that there is an Eternal One, or therefore recognize the Eternal One as such. The lack of belief in the Eternal One is the important aspect of atheism. By comparison with that literally infinite matter, it just doesn’t signify whether or not one believes in Thor or Hermes.

      • I am not “working myself up”, though I am sure you hope this is the case since this false claim is apparently offered by you to discount my points, which are quite real. You have claimed that Satan is an atheist ““He [lucifer] is an atheist.” You have then said “So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist.” The term “so”, in this context, means “therefore, consequently”(so defined by merriam-website.com) e.g. He is an atheist, therefore he is a nominalist and a nihilist. “ This is what you have claimed; let me show it in a tautology

        1. He [lucifer] is an atheist. So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist.” Aka “All atheists are nominalists and nihilists”
        2. Club Schadenfreude (that’s my blog, not me. The screen name is Velkyn) is an atheist
        3. Velkyn(and all atheists) is a nominalists and nihilists.

        Which is a false conclusion since it is based on a false premise. And it belies your claim “From the fact that demons are x, y and z, and that you are z, it does not follow that you are x and y.” since you are claiming that atheists are indeed “x and y”. I will grant perhaps you didn’t mean to write it that way, but that’s how it reads based on what english words mean. I was curious on what a nominalist was, and it is either someone who follows the philosophy that universal concepts don’t exist or that abstract objects don’t exist. I’m curious how this applies to either atheists or the character Satan.

        I know I am correct in quoting you. Your claims are a criticism of atheism in that they aren’t true and they are something you’ve invented. It is not a description of any predicament since that predicament doesn’t exist. I love how you want to claim that atheists aren’t “honest” if they don’t agree with you and supposedly Nietzsche (who wasn’t the simplistic nihilist as theists would claim, and did speak out against nihilsm, you may want to read his works).

        Atheists are honest (at least about atheism) and they don’t agree with theists who want to pretend that no one but they are correct. Alas for your false claims, atheists have plenty of safe harbors in life: family, friends, home, love, etc. Many, if not most, atheists don’t find life random and meaningless and if they do find it this way, it is not because of the lack of belief in a god causes this. Again, some atheists may be nihilists, but not all atheists are nihilists nor do they have to be.

        There is also no evidence for your claim that “we” by which I assume you mean humans, are “made as to want purity and righteousness”. But as always you are welcome to support this claim. I find nothing painful in the lack of some human’s claim that there is some “purity and righteousness” in what they’ve invented when they want to pretend some magical being agrees with them. Many theists want to hope that atheists, and believers of other religions, feel this way, but it’s a fantasy invented to make them feel special and support their hope that anyone but them is miserable.

        Atheism means lacking belief in a god. Lucifer cannot have this attitude since per the bible, he knew this god, knew what it could do, believed in this god and rebelled against this god anyway, not some invented “not God” as you’ve tried to claim. This would point to one of two things: that the bible is wrong in the story it tells which contradicts yours, or that the bible is wrong in claiming that this god is some omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent (some Christians add omnibenevolent) entity and Satan knew something that the bible wasn’t telling.

        You may have meant what you said, but that isn’t atheism; you never had to use that term and you used it incorrectly. Considering your other posts, the only reason that you did use that term appears to be to cast mud at atheists by comparing them to Satan. There is no evidence for your “eternal one” or any claims of “literally infinite matter”, so atheism does apply to your god as much as it does to Thor or Hermes. No evidence of God or god, conclusion: atheism.

      • Velkyn, thanks for this valiant attempt. Most of it unfortunately is not coherent or accurate enough to warrant a response. For example:

        Your claims are a criticism of atheism in that they aren’t true and they are something you’ve invented.

        This sentence is incoherent. Whether a statement is a criticism depends not at all on whether it is true or false, or on whether it is invented. A statement can be false and invented, and still qualify as a criticism. For example, I could say, “Tom Bertonneau is poorly qualified to evaluate science fiction, for he knows nothing about Scandinavian languages.” Not only is this statement false – Tom knows a ton about science fiction and is a scholar of Scandinavian languages – and invented (I just came up with it), but it is also nonsense (competence to evaluate science fiction and at Scandinavian languages have nothing to do with each other). Yet it is a criticism nonetheless.

        Much of your long comment suffers from this sort of defect. It would take a long, long time for me to fisk all of it, and my doing so would only embarrass you, so I shan’t inflict that upon you or our readers.

        I will however comment on the syllogism you have offered, and the text that surrounds it. I have cleaned it up a bit for clarity and syntax; I trust that you will see that I have not thereby distorted it:

        This is what you have claimed; let me show it in a tautology:

        1. He [Lucifer] is an atheist. So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. In other words, “All atheists are nominalists and nihilists.”
        2. Velkyn is an atheist.
        3. Velkyn, and all atheists, are nominalists and nihilists.

        Which is a false conclusion, since it is based on a false premise. And it belies your claim “From the fact that demons are x, y and z, and that you are z, it does not follow that you are x and y.” since you are claiming that atheists are indeed “x and y.” I will grant perhaps you didn’t mean to write it that way, but that’s how it reads based on what English words mean.

        The first premise of the syllogism mushes together two quite distinct statements. To say “Lucifer is x, y and z” is not equivalent to saying “All atheists are x, y, and z.” Why? Because “Lucifer” denotes something quite different than “all atheists.” I hope I don’t have to explain that difference, but that it is immediately clear to you, in the same way that it is no doubt clear to you that “Rover” and “all dogs” do not both refer to the same thing.

        Notice then that “all atheists are nominalists and nihilists” appears both in your first premise and in your conclusion. This means that as you’ve written it, your syllogism is circular. The conclusion is nothing but a restatement of a proposition that appears in the first premise. That’s probably why it seems tautological to you.

        Let’s clean up the syllogism a bit, to correct that error:

        1. As atheist, Lucifer is ipso facto nominalist, and nihilist.
        2. Velkyn is atheist.
        3. Velkyn, and all atheists, are nominalist and nihilist.

        Much better. But notice now that the conclusion does not follow from the premises. This is so not, as you suggest, because one of the premises is false. Whether a conclusion follows from premises does not depend on whether the premises are true, but upon the structure of the relations picked out by the premises. The first premise tells us that Lucifer is atheist, and that this is the reason he is also nominalist and nihilist. But the syllogism gives us no warrant for thinking that this must be so for other atheists. Perhaps there are atheists that are not nominalists. I bet that’s true! After all, you are atheist, and until you just now learned about nominalism you simply *couldn’t* have been a nominalist. Right? And as you say, Nietzsche was atheist but not nihilist.

        So from the fact that Lucifer happens to be atheist, nominalist and nihilist, we really can’t conclude that other atheists agree with him about universals and values. They might, they might not.

        Let’s clean up the syllogism a bit more, to correct this error:

        1. Atheists are ipso facto nominalist and nihilist.
        2. Velkyn is an atheist.
        3. Velkyn, and all atheists, are nominalists and nihilists.

        OK! Now we have a valid syllogism! The conclusion follows from the premises, so that if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. We know that the second premise is true. But as we saw just a moment ago, the first premise appears to be false: the atheist Velkyn does not seem to be nominalist, and the atheist Nietzsche does not seem to be nihilist. So, while the argument is well-formed, the conclusion is false. Nevertheless if I said anything like the first premise, I implied the conclusion.

        I didn’t say anything like the first premise. I did not say that to be atheist is ipso facto to be nominalist and nihilist. It may be; I have a hunch that it is; but I have not demonstrated that it is, and given the cases of Velkyn and Nietzsche, it looks like it might not be. In any case, what I actually said is that *Lucifer* is all three of those things. About everyone else, I was silent.

        Hope that all helps.

        I still await your syllogism demonstrating that God does not exist. Actually, it needn’t even be yours.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~

        PS: If Lucifer were atheist, and bad, that in itself would not make atheism bad. Lucifer is a seraph, and bad; that does not entail that being a seraph is bad. Likewise he’s a person, an intellect, a spirit, and that doesn’t make those things bad.

        See how this works?

      • hmmm. “Velkyn, thanks for this valiant attempt. Most of it unfortunately is not coherent or accurate enough to warrant a response”

        Funny how you can’t actually support those claims. I’ll be back to address you fully later. But a thanks already to you for showing that you have done your best to take my words out of context. A shame that you find you have to do that, but I do understand that’s all you have left.

      • It’s just false that I took any of your words out of context. Either you are not reading properly, or you are not thinking properly about what you’ve read, or you are not writing clearly about what you’ve thought, or all three. I urge you again: be more deliberate and careful with all these operations than you have so far been, lest you further embarrass yourself.

      • Keep digging that hole, K. Again, not afraid of being embarrassed at all. It’s up to you to show why I should be. It’s quite easy to try to frighten me, isn’t it, rather than to actually support your claims, right?

      • Thanks for taking my words out of context, K. It’s much easier to argue against something you’ve made up rather than what I’ve said, isn’t it? It’s is a great bit of evidence that your claims are false and that there is no reason to find a Christian anything special. My sentences are quite coherent if actually read in context and not what you have again made up.

        Yes, it would take quite a long time for you to “fisk” anything, including my comments since they are not easily shown to be wrong, and you’ve again offered an excuse of why poor ol’ Kristor just doesn’t have time to do anything he claims he can do so easily. I don’t mind being embarrassed at all, Kristor, so your second excuse fails too. Please do show me how wrong I am.

        It’s great for you falsely rewrite what I have said to attack that strawman you’ve invented and not what I wrote. Thank you for being such an excellent coward and liar. You have distorted what I have said. It’s a pity that you so bad at making things up and that you make other Christians look bad. There are indeed honest Christians out there; you are not one. You do serve as a great example of a Christian who doesn’t respect his religion any more than I do.

        Thanks for admitting that Nietzche wasn’t a nihilist. I do wonder why you claimed he was “But notice that this is not a criticism of atheists, but just a description of their metaphysical and moral predicament, as (if they are honest, thorough and careful, like Nietzsche) they must reckon it.”

        I have shown that you did say that to be an atheist was to be an nominalist and a nihilist. You may deny it, but that alas doesn’t make the evidence go away. “““He [lucifer] is an atheist.” You have then said “So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist.” The term “so”, in this context, means “therefore, consequently”(so defined by merriam-website.com) e.g. He is an atheist, therefore he is a nominalist and a nihilist. “ Let’s see what happens when we use the term you like to use. “He is an atheist. Ipso factor is he a nominalist and a nihilist.” Ipso facto: by that very fact or act : as an inevitable result” – merriam-webster.com

        This is just great “Nevertheless if I said anything like the first premise, I implied the conclusion.
        I didn’t say anything like the first premise. I did not say that to be atheist is ipso facto to be nominalist and nihilist. It may be; I have a hunch that it is; but I have not demonstrated that it is, and given the cases of Velkyn and Nietzsche, it looks like it might not be. In any case, what I actually said is that *Lucifer* is all three of those things. About everyone else, I was silent.” Wow, nice excuse! Thanks for supporting my points.

        I don’t need a syllogism to show that your god doesn’t exist. I just need to point to the facts that: you have no evidence for any of the essential events of the bible and you have no evidence that an intelligent magical being is needed for the creation of reality. You have no more evidence than any other theists, theists whom you claim are wrong. As always, you are always welcome to show this evidence.

        And PS: you’ve already claimed that atheism is bad. And I hate to break it to you, Lucifer is no more real than Darth Vader. Both are bad, neither exist. See how that works? : )

      • Another farrago of incoherent incomprehension. Velkyn, I responded at length and in great substantive detail to two sections of your last emission of that sort. From this latest spew of invective, it is evident that you simply did not understand it.

        You’ve completely missed the point of my analysis of the syllogism you offered. My work on it was wasted on you. This is why it is a poor use of my time to analyze all of your rhetorical points in the same sort of detail: this stuff just seems to go over your head. You appear to be sorely out of your depth.

        I’ll tell you what. I’ll sweeten my deal. If you can offer a syllogism that you think demonstrates the nonexistence of the Eternal One (it needn’t be of your own devising, you can obtain it anywhere you like); then not only will I gut it and serve it to you cold, but I’ll go ahead and fisk one of your long angry comments, point by point.

        It’s not that I’m afraid of doing so, see, or that I can’t. Indeed, I find the prospect rather alluring. Fisking inane arguments is like eating Doritos: easy, fun, and (indulged in too much) enervating. It takes self-discipline for me to resist the temptation of obliterating every single one of your points. But there is always real, hard intellectual work to be done elsewhere, that will teach me something, and it’s to that I should be attending. Fisking your stuff will tend to make me intellectually flabby.

        Let it be understood, then, that I now sweeten the deal by throwing in the detailed fisking you crave only in order to increase your inducement to offer us the real meat: the syllogism. Should be easy for you, much easier than writing out these long, long comments. Just three to five lines; simple.

        One last thing: watch it with the insults. They make you look weak, and puerile, a loser. I’m not saying you are those things, only that when you stoop to insults, that’s how they make you look.

        Personal insults also violate our comments policy. I’ll let the insults in your last comment slide, but be warned: if there are more, the comments that contain them will never appear. You might want to save your work on future comments before hitting the “submit” button, in case that happens, so as not to lose it altogether.

      • Thanks again for making false claims about what I have written, K. Again it appears that you’ve found it far easier to make them than actually address what I have said. Unfortunately for your claims, my writings show that I understood your post quite well and was able to respond to it. It’s great to see you claim that you won’t address my post and then you address my post. Just how does that work, with my posts being so supposedly incoherent but then you show that they are coherent because you think you can address them?

        You did not analyze my syllogism, by your own admission you rewrote it. You did your best to reinvent it to fit what you wanted it to say. Your work was not wasted, it was simply unneeded and done for your own benefit. It’s wonderful to see you again trying to claim that since I don’t agree with you and accept your attempts to misrepresent me, that I must be “out of my depth” and that “this stuff just seems to go over your head”.

        Again, K, no syllogism needed to show that your god doesn’t exist. No need for logic games to do this at all; we have the facts that show your claim are false. I see you really want me to show a syllogism, and why this is so important, I have no idea, other than perhaps you think you can rewrite it to misrepresent it. Again, K, there is no evidence for the essential events of the bible, there is no evidence that a magical being is required for the creation of reality. You have no more evidence than any other theists, theists whom you claim are wrong. You are always welcome to show what evidence you have. You might also want to show that Lucifer/Satan exists, was a seraph and explain how you came to that conclusion. It seems that the naming of angels and their qualities have little to do with the bible and lots with what human invented later. Enochian magic and such does into lots of detail about imaginary beings.

        Hmmm, still more paragraphs of excuses and prating about how wonderful you are and how you are going to “fisk” one of my comments real soon now. It’s also great fun to see you accuse me of making insults when you write this “One last thing: watch it with the insults They make you look weak, and puerile, a loser. I’m not saying you are those things, only that when you stoop to insults, that’s how they make you look.” I’m curious, where did I insult you, K? Please show that and do be sure to make the distinction between a supported accusation and baseless insult. And if insulting someone makes one “look weak, and puerile a loser”, what does that make you with your attempts to call me weak, puerile and a loser with no evidence of such things at all?

        I always save my work since it is much easier to compose in a word processor and then paste it as a comment. I have had much experience commenting on theist blogs and many remove posts that dare to show that their claims are wrong. I do appreciate that you have not done so but I do not trust that you will not do so at some point.

      • Velkyn, I don’t mind fisking a short comment such as your last, because in it you make only a few points, so I can cover them quickly. Your long ones, though, are a different matter. In both of them (I think there have been only two such) you make many, many errors of reading, comprehension, rhetoric, or basic logic in each paragraph. In the nature of things, it takes longer to explain and correct such errors than to make them, so the cost/benefit ratio of fisking those long comments is much higher. Especially when the benefit to your understanding of the corrections I offer you seems to be nil.

        You did not analyze my syllogism, by your own admission you rewrote it. You did your best to reinvent it to fit what you wanted it to say.

        For Pete’s sake, Velkyn, all I did to “rewrite” your syllogism as you presented it was to correct the syntax (e.g., capitalizing “Lucifer”) and to remove irrelevant stuff (i.e., changing “Club Schadenfreude (that’s my blog, not me. The screen name is Velkyn) is an atheist” to “Velkyn is an atheist.”). I did then rewrite it a couple times so as to correct its various logical fallacies. The end result was the syllogism you had apparently intended to write, but in valid form. All I did then was show that one of the premises of that valid argument is false.

        Evidently that whole discussion of your syllogism went right over your head.

        Again, K, no syllogism needed to show that your god doesn’t exist. No need for logic games to do this at all; we have the facts that show your claim are false.

        What are these facts that show that the Eternal One does not exist? Your mention of facts indicates that you don’t understand what we are talking about. I’m not asking you for evidence that there is no such thing as Zeus or Thor, or anything of their sort. That wouldn’t be fair. That would be like asking you for evidence that there exists nowhere in the cosmos a unicorn. The only way you could provide such evidence – or rather, prove that there was none – would be to look everywhere that evidence might be found, an incompletable task.

        Fortunately you don’t have to go to that trouble with the Eternal One. All you have to do is show that he is logically impossible.

        I see you really want me to show a syllogism, and why this is so important, I have no idea …

        Evidently so. Well, I’ll give you a lesson, so that from now on you’ll have an idea – or, at least, no excuse for not having one. A logical demonstration is the only way to show that the Eternal One does not exist. Because they are true or false of all empirical results whatever, metaphysical propositions are not amenable to empirical tests, except insofar as they contradict phenomena as such. So if you have no syllogism demonstrating that there is no Eternal One – that, in other words, there is no necessary being, that a necessary being is impossible – you have nothing.

        Again, K, there is no evidence for the essential events of the Bible, there is no evidence that a magical being is required for the creation of reality.

        These are unsupported assertions. You’ve offered no arguments of any kind in their defense. But then, we simply haven’t been talking either about demonstrating that the Bible is veracious or whether the Eternal One is required for the creation of reality. Those just haven’t been subjects of this thread. Why are you even raising them?

        I’m curious, where did I insult you, K? Please show that and do be sure to make the distinction between a supported accusation and baseless insult.

        You wrote:

        Thank you for being such an excellent coward and liar.

        That’s a personal insult. It assaults my character, rather than my arguments.

        And if insulting someone makes one “look weak, and puerile a loser”, what does that make you with your attempts to call me weak, puerile and a loser with no evidence of such things at all?

        I didn’t call *you* weak, puerile, and a loser. I told you that your use of insults such as the one I have just cited makes you *look* that way. I was even careful to tell you, in that very sentence (which you have now quoted back to me) that I was not characterizing you.

        Please do a better job of keeping track of this stuff. It’s tiresome to correct such silly oversights.

      • Because they are true or false of all empirical results whatever, metaphysical propositions are not amenable to empirical tests, except insofar as they contradict phenomena as such.

        In scientific lingo, empiricism emphasizes “evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.

        So… why the natural world? Paraphrasing Wikipedia with my own clarifications in brackets), because one of the epistemological tenets (of the scientific method) is that sensory experience creates knowledge… that knowledge is based on experience and that that knowledge is tentative and probabilistic and subject to continued revision and falsification (a key feature, which means we have to have access to a world that can produce a falsifiable result). The scientific method, including experiments and validated measurement tools, guides empirical research (a necessary means to gaining independent sensory data which can be know to any of us… independent, that is, of our individual wishes. This is usually shown by various properties of matter consistently and reliably affected by the experimental variable).

        I state all of this to point out why the binary presentation – true or false – by Kristor misrepresents scientific empiricism. Empirical results increase or decrease likelihood and probability of some claim being true or false. It is a reflection of the strength or weakness of adduced evidence towards supporting a particular hypothesis (a claim). This is a really important aspect of the scientific methods we use because it is upon this likelihood that confidence is then increased or decreased in the claim… a confidence commonly misrepresented by theists to be an equivalent kind of ‘faith’ used by believers to inform their hope, trust, and confidence in theistic claims. This is the trick to get around the essential difference in methods: science adduces confidence based on independent strength to reach a reasonable and conditional conclusion whereas religious confidence is imposed on a dependent claim using a false certainty to uphold the a priori claim.

        If a claim cannot be linked between the selected effect and the cause for it, then we are not speaking of evidence. We are speaking of assumption, assertion, and attribution. So when a claim is rationalized to be the case but avoids empiricism as a means to achieve a ‘conclusion’, then we know we are not talking about a ‘conclusion’ at all. We are speaking of just another claim.

        This empirical-free claim cannot produce evidence from reality because it has been severed from it. The supposed result of the metaphysical empirical-free claim is not anything we can consider knowledge because it cannot be presented with evidence independent of the person making the claim from reality. Severed, remember?

        And that’s why metaphysics is not a method we can use to produce knowledge about the reality we share (and claims made to describe it, such as a creative, interactive, interventionist causal God with properties necessary to interact with our world and supposedly available for theists to ‘know’ something about – hence the misrepresentation that people come to their religious faith through evidence). Metaphysics fails to do what it is advertised to do because its method disallows independent verification. It relies on the beliefs of the person using this ‘method’.

        And that’s why the products produced from using these different methods are such compelling evidence against the knowledge value of metaphysics and and for the richness of knowledge value for the empirical. The lack of products from the metaphysical is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the empirical which is itself compelling evidence why they are not compatible but contrary methods. And we can test this: metaphysics has produced zero knowledge about reality (but loads and loads of claims about it, claims of assumptions, assertions, and attributions devoid of any knowledge value) whereas the method that demands empirical evidence has produced gobs and gobs of it.

        And that’s why understanding the essential role of empirical evidence is so important: that’s the only method we have found that produces evidence-adduced knowledge that is applicable to the world we inhabit and not in any way descriptive of some airy-fairy realm of the numinous that miraculously causes effects in this reality. And we can test this, too, by watching the one way recession of religious beliefs away from describing our reality when empirically tested. It’s not empiricism that is somehow the problem (but strangely problematic only when applied to religious claims) but the method used to present religious claims as anything other than made-up, just-so stories of the imagination.

      • Gosh, Tildeb, that’s a terrific comment: serious, extremely well-written, and cogent, too. Thanks for all the work you put into it.

        I am familiar with all its venerable arguments. They may – I think fairly – be boiled down to the following syllogism:

        1. Falsifiable a posteriori sensation is our only true knowledge of reality.
        2. Being a priori intellectual apprehensions, metaphysical propositions are not falsifiable a posteriori (except insofar as they contradict experience (of any sort) per se).
        3. Metaphysical propositions are not true knowledge.

        The first difficulty is that the first premise is controversial. It begs the very question the syllogism would settle. What’s more, it is not itself an empirically verifiable claim; it is itself an a priori claim of just the sort that the syllogism rejects.

        So for that matter are the second premise and the conclusion. The *entire syllogism* is an exercise in metaphysics. Under its own terms, it must therefore be false, or meaningless.

        What is even more, the truth of the second premise – indeed, even the very existence of such things as a priori propositions, whether true or false or meaningless – constitutes a problematic counterexample that falsifies the first premise. If we can know that metaphysical propositions are indeed a priori, and we can know that they are not falsifiable a posteriori (except insofar as they contradict experience per se), *then we can know that at least two metaphysical propositions are true.* That makes the first premise false.

        But, OK, what if we *can’t* know that metaphysical propositions are a priori, or that they are not falsifiable a posteriori? If the first premise is true, that would seem to follow. If the first premise is true, we can’t know *anything* about metaphysical propositions one way or another. In that case, we are metaphysically incapable of knowing that the second premise is true. The conclusion may follow validly, and even be true, but if so we cannot know that it is true. And that is to say that we cannot possibly say for sure that the first premise is true.

        The bottom line: we can’t say that metaphysical propositions are not true knowledge except by asserting the truth of a metaphysical proposition, namely that metaphysical propositions are not true knowledge. That assertion refutes itself.

        None of this, NB, is at all to gainsay empirical knowledge. It is only to indicate that empirical knowledge is not possible except under the presupposition of the truth of a number of metaphysical propositions that are not themselves empirically verifiable.

      • @ Kristor

        The existence and operation of your cell phone is not a syllogism.

        Can you understand why this is the case?

        Now, trying to explain how and why your cell phone works is not furthered by reworking something that demonstrably works – your cell phone – into an axiomatic form of logic. This method is not an explanation of your cell phone and how and why it works.

        You keep doing this switch not to understand examples from reality used to point out real problems with your line of reasoning about it but to switch playing fields altogether… doing exactly what I said would mislead you: using the method of metaphysics as if it describes reality.

        It doesn’t.

        I hate to be the bearer of Bad News, but reality is not a syllogism. A syllogism is a form of deductive reasoning that as you quite correctly point out produces a sequence of reasoning that produces a logical conclusion from its premises. The validity of the argument is not what is true, not what is the case, outside of the form but what is logically deduced within the argument itself. That’s all it does.

        But you keep taking reality and then sticking it into the form of a syllogism… which it isn’t! You do this repeatedly not to find out what is true about reality, not to find out what is the case in reality, but to insert arguments – arguments designed to show adduced evidence from it – into a metaphysical word game you design, that you continue to believe defines and describes reality.

        It doesn’t.

        And this is why syllogisms is not the method of inquiry we call science but a subset of comparing similar units to each other in order to find logical relationships that can then be tested not by another syllogism but by reality itself. Mathematics is a beautiful example of how we do this: by representation.

        You are not doing this. You are substituting a representation of your own wording – the syllogism – to be equivalent to reality (it’s not), equivalent to the sum of evidence offered (it’s not), evidence that seems to accurately describes reality to such a degree that we can build stuff on this understanding that works for everyone everywhere all the time. Like your cell phone.

        So take your syllogism to some cell phone maker and explain to them why your syllogism ‘proves’ their cell phones operate by not by knowledge they have adduced scientifically but by the presuppositions of metaphysical assertions, assumptions, and attributions!

      • Thanks for another truly serious comment, Tildeb. I really appreciate your effort to grapple with this.

        The existence and operation of your cell phone is not a syllogism.

        Can you understand why this is the case?

        Sure. The formalization is not the thing formalized. And of course you are right that it would be nuts to use syllogisms to devise engineering specifications for a cell phone – you could do so, in principle, but they’d be the very devil to read and write, like using Roman numerals for astrophysics, but much more cumbersome. But by the same token, it would be nuts to use empirical tests to determine the truth value of metaphysical propositions.

        I get what you are trying to say here, but it just won’t do. “Metaphysical statements cannot convey knowledge” is a metaphysical proposition (any perfectly general statement about metaphysics is metaphysical). If it is true, it conveys no knowledge. I.e., it conveys no information. It is meaningless. Only meaningful statements can be either true or false. So it simply can’t be true.

      • You are embarrassing yourself, tildeb. Everyone here understands the nature of empiricism, falsifiability, confidence levels, probability, and other such notions. But we also understand (unlike you, apparently) that this admirable superstructure rests on metaphysical foundations. What you espouse is, essentially, Positivism–the doctrine that truths must be either self-evident or empirically demonstrated (confirmed, if you like). The classic (and unanswerable) rejoinder is that Positivism itself is neither self-evident nor empirically demonstrated. This does not mean that Positivism is a matter of “faith” in your sense of “just guessing” or “wishful thinking”. It means that we cannot employ an epistemology to test that epistemology, and there is no experiment that can “prove” the validity of the experimental method.

      • You are embarrassing yourself, tildeb. Everyone here understands the nature of empiricism, falsifiability, confidence levels, probability, and other such notions. But we also understand (unlike you, apparently) that this admirable superstructure rests on metaphysical foundations.

        No it doesn’t. The foundation is what works in reality. This is the problem Plato never tackled, was never able to demonstrate a link between the physical and the metaphysical. This is why he substituted like you guys all kind of philosophical assumptions, assertions, and attributions that simply don;t translate into reality. That’s why there is no place that can shown where ‘forms’ reside, no evidence of properties of these supposed ‘things’.

        That you miss this trivial detail is reason enough for me to take the time to explain why. That you can’t follow the reasoning is not my problem.

      • I love this bit best, that you didn’t supposedly insult me when you said this “this “One last thing: watch it with the insults They make you look weak, and puerile, a loser. I’m not saying you are those things, only that when you stoop to insults, that’s how they make you look.””

        That’s a lovely and classic excuse made by a wannabe bully. Oh, it only makes me “look” that way. Sorry, but you’ve failed. It’s a shame that you don’t even have the honesty to take responsibility for your words. I wonder, do you think you can fool your god so easily or perhaps you don’t think there is a god at all.

        Still more claims on how you are going to “fisk” my comments and now running away from my prior posts to address a shorter one. That’s a great way to avoid actually addressing my points, isn’t it, K? More claims that somehow I am making “many errors” but again, no evidence presented for your false claims. Thank you again for being an excellent example of a TrueChristian.

        You seem to think that your claims need to be accepted by everyone as true with no consideration, and you again falsely try to claim that they only way I can show that I am intelligent is agreeing with you. I understand you well and your supposed “corrections” are nothing more than a man who wants no one to question him. But nice excuse to try to blame me for your failures in actually doing what you keep promising to do.

        The discussion of the syllogism did not go “over my head”. Again, you rewrote it for no reason, and then tried to make believe that there was logical fallacies in it. I wrote what I intended to write, not what you wanted to pretend I did and then attack.

        You ask “what are these facts that the Eternal One does not exist?” It is rather notable that a Christian now says “Eternal One” rather than God. The facts are that there is no evidence that any of the essential events claimed in the Bible ever happened and there is evidence that other things happened e.g. the Noah flood never happened and humans went on doing their thing no matter what year Christians want to claim the flood happened; there is no evidence to support the a priori claim that there needs to be an intelligent creator to form reality and there is evidence that the laws of physics can do so quite fine by themselves. Your god does not exist for the same reasons that Thor and Zeus don’t exist, no evidence. There is no god just as there is no unicorn. It is completely fair to ask for evidence for that which one doubts exists, and I have given it. Someone who makes a claim of existence for something that they have no evidence would indeed find it unfair if someone asked them for it, just like you find it unfair.

        One does not need to look for evidence everywhere to be confident that you god or Thor or Zeus or a unicorn doesn’t exist. One just needs to consider the attributes of the entity that is claimed to exist. Let’s consider your god. It is claimed to be omnipotent, omniscient, omni-present and usually claimed to be omnibenevolent. It is also claimed to have caused certain events which would leave evidence that they happened. You wish to claim that I have to look everywhere; if this is true, then I should be able to always find an omnipresent god.

        There is no evidence for this at all and thus I don’t have to look under every rock in the universe for your god. If this god has done these events as claimed in the bible, I should be able to find evidence of an instantaneous creation of animals as they look like now, this magical flood, the exodus, the earthquake that supposedly happened on a day where the sky was dark in the afternoon and the dead walked, etc. Humans have been desperately looking for thousands of years and have found nothing that they agree on. What we have found is that other things have happened, the various civilizations going on as they have gone on before, geological processes going on with no sudden world wide cataclysmic flood, etc. So, I don’t need to look beyond earth to see your god doesn’t exist.

        Now, if you really do want to say your god is no more than a worm under a rock on Ceti Alpha V, that’s fine with me but that isnt’ the god you claim to worship.

      • Nietzsche was not a nihilist by his own account, since in Nietzsche’s philosophy a “nihilist” is a man who declares the pagan ethos of strength to be “nothing.” This is why Nietzsche describes Christianity as nihilism, and if we take Nietzsche’s perspective we will see that he is right. What we can learn from this is that there are as may nihilisms as there are positive doctrines to deny. Every man who has ever said humbug (or bullshit) is in a sense a nihilist, for he says the content of some proposition is “nothing.” I don’t think this relativized understanding of nihilism is the end of the intellectual line, for some things really are nothing, and others are only said to be nothing, but it should help to take the insult out of the word nihilist.

        I would not object to your calling me a nihilist, since I do in fact believe that many propositions you defend are, in fact, “nothing”–sheer flapdoodle. There’s no need to get angry about this, since you also think I am haunted by phantoms and vain conceits. Obviously Satan’s nihilism is his denial of what he sees as the pretensions of God. If God was, in fact, putting on airs and only pretending to be more than head angel, Satan’s nihilism would be correct. If God is, in fact, an imaginary being, then your nihilism is correct. If worldly power is actually vanity, then the nihilism of Christ is correct.

        We could avoid a lot of pointless quarreling if we stopped reading the word nihilist as an insult, and started understanding that every man appears as a nihilist to all men outside his worldview or belief system. It is pointless for a Christian to accuse an atheist a nihilism, for all this means is that the atheist denies what the Christian affirms. However, it is perfectly proper for a Christian to refer to atheists as nihilists when addressing other Christians, since he is drawing attention to deep disagreements between Christians and atheists.

        Calling a man a nihilist is really just a polite way of saying that he is “full of shit.” On the other hand, the original Nihilists, in nineteenth-century Russia, declared that the entire Russian tradition (religious, political, social, metaphysical) was “full of shit.” The phrase “critical thinking” has been kicked around here lately. This obviously means nihilism–denial of what the majority affirms.

        The only reason a man could object to being called a nihilist would be that he did not, in fact, disagree with his accuser about anything important–that they enjoyed perfect homonoia.

      • In my experience, the term nihilist isn’t an insult, but only offered as such by a certain kind if Christian who has no real idea what the term actually entails. I do find that claiming any singular instant where someone says something is BS as nihilism is an oversimplification.

      • Because you have attacked atheists before, K. Because you have claimed that Satan is an atheist and that is simply wrong. As I have stated, an atheist has no belief in god/gods. Satan certainly believes in this god as per your very own holy book. He believes this god is exactly what is claimed by this book. There is nothing to support your claims, other than your own invented reasons ginned up from thin air.

        To make your point that Satan is a bad guy and resists god, you would have never needed to claim satan was an atheists because that word does not mean what you have tried to claim. But you did, and you went on to claim that atheists are also nihilists and nominalists, words that you have used before in claiming that they are wrong. This is why I am confident in my assessment that you are just one more Christian who wants to attack atheism and atheists by trying to pretend both are evil.

      • I’m not going to explain this stuff to you again. It would be a waste of time; your monomania appears invincible.

        Just search this thread for the string “affirming the consequent” until you find the comment where I explain to Argus the logical fallacy that is leading you astray.

        I take it that you are not going to be able to provide a syllogism demonstrating the impossibility of the Eternal One.

      • Ah, more bearing of false witness against me by you, Kristor. Again, you have invented a syllogism that I did not write and have attacked it, pretending that I did write it. You now have lied about me and “monomania” to create an excuse why you cannot support your claims. A pity how your promises of how wonderful your answers were going to be and how you could “fisk” anything I said have come down to this: nothing at all.

        Again, no need for a syllogism to show that your god doesn’t exist. The facts show that your god doesn’t exist. I am still waiting for your evidence that the essential events of the bible happened aka God caused events, and that you can support your a priori assumption that there needs to be an intelligent actor defined as your god and given attributes in the bible to create the universe. Thank you for using the term “Eternal One” again. That isn’t who you worship, is it, K? That’s God, the deity of the bible, the one who has no evidence to support its existence. You like so many Christians, have retreated to a vague “Eternal One” or “ground of being” because you can’t show that your god exists. You have to strip it of any recognizable attributes since those attributes make your claims vulnerable.

      • Honestly. OK, I’ll spell it out for you.

        1. Demonic persons are atheist.
        2. Velkyn is an atheist.
        3. Velkyn is a demonic person.

        This is the chain of reasoning by which you infer that I impute demonic characteristics to you on account of the fact that you are atheist. The conclusion does not follow from the premises. Notice that the syllogism has the same form as this one:

        1. All fish are mortal.
        2. Socrates is mortal.
        3. Socrates is a fish.

        Get it? Do you see how in both cases, 3 does not follow from the truth of 1 and 2? This is the first lesson of the first class of Logic 101. You are taking umbrage at an inference that cannot possibly take place, except in sloppy or uneducated minds.

        NB: I am not saying that you wrote these syllogisms, or anything like them. I am only explaining the only way you could reason from what I did say – that Lucifer is atheist – to the conclusion that you, being atheist, are peculiarly evil as he is. And I am then explaining that this way of reasoning is logically invalid.

        The facts show that your god doesn’t exist.

        Again: *what* facts? Show us a fact that demonstrates that God does not exist. You’re right that such a fact would render a syllogism demonstrating his impossibility superfluous. So, go ahead, give us the facts that prove he doesn’t exist.

        Understand, now: the only reason I am asking you for a such facts, or for such a syllogism, is that you have tried to jack this thread into a discussion of the existence of God. I’m not going to go along with that. There are other posts on the Orthosphere, lots of them, where God’s existence is the main topic, and where you are welcome to share your thoughts on the subject. But not on this thread. My willingness to entertain a fact or syllogism that you think demonstrates the non-existence of God is a concession to you, as a way of cutting to the chase. Show us your stuff.

        Or, tell you what, I’ll sweeten the deal even more: if you can’t or won’t stand and deliver, just say so, and then even though you haven’t provided any evidence that you’ve got something to back up all your bluster and hand-waving, I will then proceed to a detailed fisking of your lengthier comments on this thread. So now the deal is super sweet for you: I will fisk your long comments on one of three conditions:

        1. You provide a syllogism that you think demonstrates the impossibility of God; or,
        2. You provide facts that you think demonstrate the non-existence of God; or,
        3. You refuse to provide such facts or syllogisms.

        How can you lose? Even better: I’ll do the fisking in a new post, so that it is much more prominently displayed for all the world to see. Bonus, right?

        I promise: if you go with option 3, no one will think you’ve got nothing to offer under option 1 or 2, and are embarrassed to confess your impotence.

        Thank you for using the term “Eternal One” again. That isn’t who you worship, is it, K? That’s God, the deity of the Bible, the one who has no evidence to support its existence. You like so many Christians, have retreated to a vague “Eternal One” or “ground of being” because you can’t show that your god exists.

        “Eternal One” is a standard way of referring to God in Christian philosophical and theological discourse, and in the Bible: Deuteronomy 33:27; 1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 1:8; John 8:58; Genesis 21:33; etc.

        Really, Velkyn. You should google a bit before you shoot your mouth off. There’s no excuse for such ignorance these days.

      • Kristor and Co., you guys are the embodiment of how Christian philosophers (you do consider yourself philosophers, right?) have not only removed yourselves so far from reality that you can no longer even recognise it, but also that you don’t even care. Dr. Maarten Boudry from Ghent University’s Department of Philosopy & Moral Sciences actually tested and proved this back in 2011. The experiment was simple enough: write an utterly nonsensical, anti-Darwin lecture abstract full of theological/philosophical gibberish and submit it to two Christian philosophy conferences, including the Reformational Philosophy Association’s “The Future of Creation Order.”

        Simply put, the abstract made less sense than a poem penned by a stoned buffy-headed marmoset using only a vacuum cleaner as a quill. Astonishingly though, the abstract was accepted without a moment’s hesitation and Boudry’s alter ego, Robert A. Maundy of the fictitious College of the Holy Cross, was slotted in as a speaker at both conferences… invitations he (of course) declined after announcing it all a hoax. Forced then to respond, chairman Gerrit Glas admitted that although the abstract puzzled him a bit, he gave it the benefit of the doubt, stating that postmodern Christian writing’s are “often impenetrable.”

        This is Boudry’s abstract. I suspect all of you would find it thrilling:

        The Paradoxes of Darwinian Disorder.

        Towards an Ontological Reaffirmation of Order and Transcendence.

        Robert A. Maundy, College of the Holy Cross, Reno, Nevada

        In the Darwinian perspective, order is not immanent in reality, but it is a self-affirming aspect of reality in so far as it is experienced by situated subjects. However, it is not so much reality that is self-affirming, but the creative order structuring reality which manifests itself to us. Being-whole, as opposed to being-one, underwrites our fundamental sense of locatedness and particularity in the universe. The valuation of order qua meaningful order, rather than order-in-itself, has been thoroughly objectified in the Darwinian worldview. This process of de-contextualization and reification of meaning has ultimately led to the establishment of ‘dis-order’ rather than ‘this-order’. As a result, Darwinian materialism confronts us with an eradication of meaning from the phenomenological experience of reality. Negative theology however suggests a revaluation of disorder as a necessary precondition of order, as that without which order could not be thought of in an orderly fashion. In that sense, dis-order dissolves into the manifestations of order transcending the materialist realm. Indeed, order becomes only transparent qua order in so far as it is situated against a background of chaos and meaninglessness. This binary opposition between order and dis-order, or between order and that which disrupts order, embodies a central paradox of Darwinian thinking. As Whitehead suggests, reality is not composed of disordered material substances, but as serially-ordered events that are experienced in a subjectively meaningful way. The question is not what structures order, but what structure is imposed on our transcendent conception of order. By narrowly focusing on the disorderly state of present-being, or the “incoherence of a primordial multiplicity”, as John Haught put it, Darwinian materialists lose sense of the ultimate order unfolding in the not-yet-being. Contrary to what Dawkins asserts, if we reframe our sense of locatedness of existence within a the space of radical contingency of spiritual destiny, then absolute order reemerges as an ontological possibility. The discourse of dis-order always already incorporates a creative moment that allows the self to transcend the context in which it finds itself, but also to find solace and responsiveness in an absolute Order which both engenders and withholds meaning. Creation is the condition of possibility of discourse which, in turn, evokes itself as presenting creation itself. Darwinian discourse is therefore just an emanation of the absolute discourse of dis-order, and not the other way around, as crude materialists such as Dawkins suggest.

      • What would lead you to identify us with the Reformational Philosophy Association? Neither Kristor nor I are members of that body, nor even part of the Reformed tradition. The heart of your objection to the original post is that atheists were being charged with guilt by association; but here you are blatantly engaged in the same game.

        For your information, academic conferences often accept all submissions, so Dr. Boudry’s hoax is very likely itself a hoax. And Dr. Boudry presumably knows this, so he was probably lying when he set to crowing over the stupidity of the RPA. And he took you in because he told you just what you wanted to hear (funny how that works).

        But, to return to my main point, your charge against “Kristor and Co.” is utterly groundless, so you may be the one with a shaky grip on reality. Cast your beady eye back over the last two hundred comments, and I don’t believe you will find us introducing the red herring of Darwinism. Nor will you find that “Kristor and Co.” have accused the atheists of child molestation, embezzlement, solitary vice, wife-beating, or cruelty to kittens.” No one has called you wicked men or speculated as to the other forms your flat-headed stupidity might take.

        Now I have written a new post, which you are free to read, in which I say Zande and Co. are in many respects the embodiment of how atheist philosophers conduct themselves. They are aggressive (I say brave and dogged), but they are also arrogant and rude. I’m sure there are exceptions, but that is–dare I say it?–the type. The quality that is conspicuously missing is humility, or the great philosophical virtue of acknowledging that you might be wrong.

        This is why the comments by Zande and Co., far from refuting Kristor’s claim, confirm it with iron-clad certainty. Atheists are, in fact, satanic; for what was Satan, if not arrogant and rude

        I realize I’m not writing with the soul of courtesy here, but we are not required to “turn the other cheek” forever.

      • The heart of your objection to the original post is that atheists were being charged with guilt by association

        No. The heart of the objection was your utter and complete failure to use words correctly…. And you inability to admit the error. Nice attempt, however, to create yet another straw man. You’re quite efficient at it.

      • 1. An uncomprehending incorrigible fool is atheist.
        2. John Zande & company are atheist.
        3. John Zande & company are uncomprehending incorrigible fools.

        As should be instantly obvious to any reasonable and literate person, this line of reasoning is invalid. I have already several times explained to the atheists on this thread its fallacy of affirming the consequent. Yet some of them continue to deploy that fallacy, as John Zande has again just done.

        The conclusion of the syllogism I have just furnished as an example of that fallacy does not follow from its premises. It may nevertheless be true.

        Whether or not it is in fact true of any particular atheist would have to be determined on some other basis. Argus, e.g., is evidently not an uncomprehending incorrigible fool. Nor is A.morphous, our loyal atheist commenter.

      • That quite interesting. Let me ask you, K, why did you add the “all” to the second syllogism and leave it out of the first? You do a great job in showing that syllogisms can fail. Thanks for also resorting again to personal attacks in your attempt to claim that no one but perfect minds would agree with you.

        So, again we have what I wrote based on what you claimed (I’ve removed my comment about my name since you found it confusing :

        1.He [lucifer] is an atheist. So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist.” Aka “All atheists are nominalists and nihilists” (in this context so means “therefore, consequently aka as a consequence of” being an atheist) (not true)
        2. Velkyn is an atheist (true)
        3. Velkyn(and all atheists) is a nominalist and nihilist. (not true)

        Then we have your lovely title of this post “The Archetypal Atheist”. You have shown that your claim is false, something that I already knew. The correctness of a syllogism is whether the premises apply or not *and* if the premises are true. The form of the syllogism doesn’t matter. In your first syllogism about “demonic people, if your first premise, that all atheists are nominalists and nihilists, is correct, then the result would be correct, since we both know the second premise is correct. You wrote the second syllogism in a different form. 1. All fish are mortal (True) 2. Socrates is mortal. (True) 3. Therefore, Socrates is a fish (not true). Do you agree that your first syllogism can be written 1. All demonic people are atheist, (not true) 2. Velkyn is an atheist (true). 3. Velkyn is a demonic person (not true)?

        This is Logic 101. It’s also set theory, if all of a set is A, and X is a member of that set, then X is A.

        You have said that my syllogism was wrong and claimed that you rewrote it, and then said what you rewrote was wrong. So, yes, K, you are saying that I wrote something like your syllogisms. It seems again you are afraid of taking responsibility for your own actions. You have claimed this “I am only explaining the only way you could reason from what I did say – that Lucifer is atheist – to the conclusion that you, being atheist, are peculiarly evil as he is.” And guess what your title to your post was? “The Archetypical Atheist”. Hmmm wonder why?

        You seem to be having a problem with the term fact. A fact is “something that has actual existence b : an actual occurrence 5 : a piece of information presented as having objective reality” merriam-webster I have provided facts that demonstrate that your god does not exist and I shall again:” Let’s consider your god. It is claimed to be omnipotent, omniscient, omni-present and usually claimed to be omnibenevolent. It is also claimed to have caused certain events which would leave evidence that they happened. You wish to claim that I have to look everywhere; if this is true, then I should be able to always find an omnipresent god. There is no evidence for this at all and thus I don’t have to look under every rock in the universe for your god. If this god has done these events as claimed in the bible, I should be able to find evidence of an instantaneous creation of animals as they look like now, this magical flood, the exodus, the earthquake that supposedly happened on a day where the sky was dark in the afternoon and the dead walked, etc. Humans have been desperately looking for thousands of years and have found nothing that they agree on. What we have found is that other things have happened, the various civilizations going on as they have gone on before, geological processes going on with no sudden world wide cataclysmic flood, etc. So, I don’t need to look beyond earth to see your god doesn’t exist.” I have provided both positive and negative evidence that the essential events of the bible did not happen. The concept “the essential events of the Bible did not happen” is a fact; there is evidence that other things happened in their place and no evidence at all for them happening at all. These events are claimed by Christians to have been caused by God. If the events did not happen, this indicates that the supposed cause, God, does not exist. We could of course postulate that the bible is simply wrong, the events never happened, and this god did something else entirely. Which would you prefer? Now, to show that my facts are wrong, you need to present evidence that the essential events of the bible did happen and that civilizations of the world didn’t just go on as usual, that the physical processes of the world didn’t just go along as usual.

        For all your protestations of how I have supposedly ‘hijacked’ your thread, you allowed me to post and you participated in the discussion aka “go along with that”. You do seem to have a problem in accepting responsibility for your actions.

        I do not care how much you want to sweeten the deal (which does show that your protestations that I have somehow hijacked the comments are simply false). I have shown evidence and your claims that I have not are simply false. Just because you claim I haven’t, doesn’t make the evidence disappear. We still have your repeated and unfulfilled claims of how you will supposedly “fisk” something and how wonderful it will be. I’ve already provided the facts, and surprise, you keep making excuses and avoiding doing what you claim you’ll be so great at. Since I have provided facts and not refused at all, I’m waiting for the amazing “fisking”. Oh, and not embarrassed at all, K. You seem to think that this is something that I’d be afraid of and keep mentioning it.

        Really, the bible says Eternal One? “John 8: Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” Deut 33 “He subdues the ancient gods, shatters the forces of old;he drove out the enemy before you,and said, “Destroy!” Revelation 1: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
        1 Timothy1: 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. Genesis 21:33 “33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God”.

        You are right and I’m wrong, it’s not uncommon for this god to be referred to as eternal, and even pretty close to “Eternal One” when Abraham says “Everlasting God”. You see, K, it’s not a bad thing to be wrong or to be embarrassed about. One admits it and goes on. So, if myths claim a god is eternal, why should we accept that claim, K? Other gods are claimed to be the same.

      • Let me ask you, K, why did you add the “all” to the second syllogism and leave it out of the first?

        It doesn’t matter. The “all” doesn’t change the validity of either syllogism. Consider:

        1. Fish are mortal.
        2. Socrates is mortal.
        3. Socrates is a fish.

        Deleting “all” from the first premise didn’t change anything. The premises are still just as true as if we had left “all” in the first one, and the conclusion still doesn’t follow from the premises. If we now add “all” to the following syllogism, again we find that it doesn’t matter:

        1. All demonic persons are atheist.
        2. Velkyn is an atheist.
        3. Velkyn is a demonic person.

        The conclusion still doesn’t follow from the premises.

        … in this context “so” means “therefore, consequently…

        No. This has already been explained to you. “So is he” does not mean the same thing as “so he is.” You seem to have some trouble with English, so I shall explain. The “so” in “so he is” does indeed connote a logical or causal relation, as in “he was feeling sick, so he went to the hospital.” The “so” in “so is he,” on the other hand, connotes mere analogy, as in, “Charlemagne was King of the Franks; so was he Holy Roman Emperor.” There is nothing in being King of the Franks that entails being Emperor. But being King of the Franks and being Emperor are alike in some ways.

        This [ is] set theory: if all of a set is A, and X is a member of that set, then X is A.

        Sure. But that X and Y are both members of A does not entail that they are exactly alike. Consider: squares and triangles are both members of the set of polygons, but squares are not triangles. Likewise, if Lucifer is atheist, then both Lucifer and Velkyn are members of the set of atheists, but Velkyn is obviously not a demon.

        The correctness of a syllogism is whether the premises apply or not *and* if the premises are true. The form of the syllogism doesn’t matter.

        No. Velkyn, you are just dead wrong about this. You would do better to drop it. Evidently you do not understand the first thing about logic, so it is not likely that you will be able to furnish a valid syllogism that concludes to the impossibility of God.

        There is no evidence for [your omnipresent God] at all and thus I don’t have to look under every rock in the universe for your god.

        No, sorry, this just doesn’t cut it. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It’s not enough to say that you can’t find evidence that God does exist. What if you are just a lousy detective? What if the evidence is right there under your nose, and you are too dense or ignorant to recognize it for what it is? In order to show empirically that God doesn’t exist, you need to find evidence that contradicts his existence. You need a fact that couldn’t possibly be a fact if God existed.

        I have shown evidence and your claims that I have not are simply false.

        No. You have merely asserted a lack of evidence (that you know about) which might demonstrate that God does exist. You have not provided an iota of evidence that he does not exist. So you don’t have adequate empirical grounds to conclude to his nonexistence. The most that you can say then is that you are ignorant on the matter. To that I would agree.

        Re “the Eternal One:” the terms usually translated as “eternal” in the passages cited are qedem, “afore time,” olam, “forever,” and aionas ton aionon, “ages of ages” They can be translated as “everlasting” without distortion, and are sometimes used to indicate it, because of course what is eternal is – obviously – everlasting, afore time, forever, and unto ages of ages. If you knew anything about the religion of Israel, you would know that Israel in all her dispensations takes YHWH’s identification of himself as “I AM” to indicate his utter transcendence of all temporal circumstances; and that when he identifies himself as Alpha and Omega, she understands him to mean that he is the source and end of all being. Only an eternality could be the source and end of all being and transcend all worldly circumstances.

        But never mind all that. It remains a fact that Christians often refer to God as eternal, and always have. It’s right there in the Nicene Creed, for heaven’s sake: “I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and of all things, visible and invisible.” If God created all things, then one of the things he created is time. He couldn’t have been in time when he created it. He had to have been prior to time (not before it, for before and after are temporal relations); i.e., eternal.

        Hundreds of Christian philosophers and theologians, Fathers, saints, mystics and poets have discoursed upon God’s eternity: Clement, Origen, Tertullian, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Boethius, Palamas, Chrysostom, the Gregories, Eckhart – the list goes on and on (ditto for the Jews, the Muslims, and indeed the pagan philosophers, the Taoists and the theist Hindus). It just won’t do then for you to suggest that in asking you to demonstrate the impossibility of the existence of the Eternal One (either empirically or logically) I am asking you to demonstrate something less or other than the God of Christianity. Indeed, my concern in specifying that you should attack the Eternal One was to ensure that you did not waste your time and mine by trying to demonstrate the nonexistence of some merely contingent divinity like Balder or Gabriel or Aurora, but instead concentrate the fire you intend to demolish the God of the theists on … the God of the theists. Whatever else he is, the God of the theists is the Eternal One.

        If you wanted to defeat theism, it behooved you to defeat theism, and not something less, or other.

        Now, despite all the foregoing, it is clear from the howlers you have uttered in the comment that I have just fisked that you simply do not have the intellectual wherewithal to offer any serious challenge to theism. You don’t understand the very most basic concepts of logic, and you don’t understand the criteria for a conclusive empirical test. You do not therefore have the capacity to understand even the basis of a refusal to provide either a competent syllogism or an adequate empirical counterexample: for, you don’t understand exactly what it is that you would be refusing to provide. You are not therefore competent to accept or to reject the deals I offered you. And that is why I went ahead and fisked this latest comment of yours.

        It is why I conclude also that, unless you surprise me with a degree of cogency you have not as yet displayed, it is a total waste of time to engage with you further on the topic of the truth of theism.

      • I’ll answer you in two parts. I find this the most important.

        I love how you just want to ignore facts. You fail hilariously since you run immediately to the complaint that the absence of evidence isn’t the evidence of absence and try to forget that I did offer positive evidence that your god doesn’t exist and the essential events of the bible didn’t happen, something else did.

        Hmmm, what I were just a lousy detective? Well, thousands of people have been looking for thousands of years and have found no evidence for your god or the essential events of the bible and *have* found evidence that plenty of things happened instead of your myths. No magic flood but many civilizations all over the earth that didn’t notice any magical miles high flood. Christians can’t agree on what date this flood supposedly happened but any date offered, surprise, no evidence. No evidence that the bible exodus occurred, where supposedly hundreds of thousands of people wandered for four decades over a piece of land the size of half of Pennsylvania. Not even one little latrine has been found. The Egyptian kingdoms never lost all of their armies nor did any of their enemies notice that Egypt lost their armies. No one noticed a darkening of the daylight sky on some day that there was a major earthquake and the dead walking the streets of Roman occupied Jerusalem. No one noticed a Roman legion’s worth of Jewish men (plus women and children) leaving Roman-occupied Jerusalem not once but twice.

        You also claim “what if the evidence was right under your nose and you were too dense or ignorant to recognize it for what it is?” Okay, K, what is this evidence? Surely you can point to it and tell me why it is evidence for you claims, right? I’m waiting. I have found evidence that contradicts your god’s existence. You claim your god did the flood, did creation, did the magic of the exodus, did the magic of the crucifiction. Where is the evidence that these things happened? If there is no evidence for these events, why should anyone believe that your god exists to do them? In a similar vein, other religions claim that their gods did various things, that Mohammed rode to Jerusalem on a magic pony and his foot print is on the temple mount, that statues move, drink milk, cure people, etc. Now, I suspect you don’t believe them for the same reason I don’t believe you, no evidence. This is why there is no reason to believe in your god or any other, the facts don’t support it. I do have plenty of facts that couldn’t be facts if your god exists and your myths are true. If the bible is true, then the worldwide miles deep flood occurred, right? That’s what many Christians claim, that this was a literal event. Now, if regular ol’ geological processes went along, and no Noah flood occurred, then this would be impossible if your god existed right? Since we do indeed have evidence that regular geological processes did occur, then your god goes “poof” by your own argument. Thank you so much! It’s also nice to see you try to lie and say that I am ignorant about the matter. I am not.

      • You offered no evidence that God does not exist. All you did is assert that you have not been able to find evidence of the Biblical miracles. That’s a different question. I know it seems like the same question to you, but it just isn’t. Velkyn, take some courses in philosophy. Do, please. It will be fun. And it will make you a much more rational and formidable apologist for atheism. At first, anyway. If you keep at it, and you have any talent for it, you are not unlikely to end up in our camp. As Bacon said:

        It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.

      • Again, K, you can put your fingers in your ears and shut your eyes. That doesn’t make the evidence that I have offered that demonstrates that your god, be it God or Eternal One, doesn’t exist. I’m waiting for you to show my points are wrong and show the evidence that the essential events of the bible happened, which would then support the existence of your god. It’s very interesting that you have been unable to support your god’s existence in any way.

        Pointing out that there is no evidence for the bible claims is exactly the same as pointing out that there is no evidence for your god. I am quite happy to see you can’t support your insistence that they are supposedly not the same. I’ve taken courses in philosophy, so I know already that your claim that taking these courses would somehow support your insistence that the points aren’t the same to be false. But again, please do show how taking courses in philosophy would support your claim that pointing out that there is no evidence for the actions of your god is the same as pointing out that there is evidence for your god. I’ll be waiting. Please do explain why no other civilizations noticed your magic noah flood at any time that Christians want to claim it happened. Please do explain why Egypt’s enemies didn’t notice them losing their armies. Please do explain why there is no evidence for any “exodus” and why no one noticed any of the supposedly massive events for the cruxifiction, K. Surely you can, right?

        Exactly how is one an apologist for atheism? I do not accept the conclusion that there are any gods. You’re an atheist too since you don’t believe in any other gods but your own. So are you an apologist for atheism?

        And surprise Bacon was just one more man who wants to pretend that only theists are good people and the only ones who “really understand”, just like you. Bacon is quite a fellow when he says he’d rather believe in anything that agreed with him, rather than to accept that he was wrong. Not exactly the smartest man in the world. “I HAD rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind.” He also says such a sad thing that he thinks that people must and should suffer because suffering forces people toward his god and he, like you, seems to need external validation. “And lastly, learned times, specially with peace and prosperity; for troubles and adversities do more bow men’s minds to religion.”

        What a disgusting idea, to hope for misery just so one can feel better because other people agree with them.

      • Pointing out that there is no evidence for the bible claims is exactly the same as pointing out that there is no evidence for your god.

        No, it isn’t. That’s a ridiculous statement. You show yourself incapable of basic operations of rationality.

        Look up “apologist.”

        Bacon is usually credited with the scientific method.

      • You have shown yourself unable to show how they are different. I’m waiting, K. Please do go on to show how you are right and I am wrong. If you cannot, then you are simply trying to gainsay me and hope that no one calls you on it.

        Bacon is often credited with the scientific method. Funny how it was used elsewhere before Bacon existed. Bacon’s method is good though. Now when we apply it to your god, your god fails amazingly well. Bacon says that one should make careful observations to gain facts and then be able to derive axioms from the observed generalizations. So, we have the facts that none of the essential events of the bible caused by Go can be shown to have happened and entirely other things did happen, not caused by God. Thousands of years have elapsed with hundreds of people looking and nothing has been found to support the initial claim “God exists”. Therefore, the resultant conclusion is that the god described in the bible, which also makes the claims of the events, does not exist, if there is no evidence to support the fact.

        The problem is that Bacon lived in a world that did not have the evidene we do, and he wanted to believe in a god, as many people do. He did not put his god to the test of his method, and for good reason, since it fails. Compartmentalization is very common.

      • Still waiting. I’m not wasting my time at all. I’m content to wait right here to watch you be unable to show how you’ve answered my questions. Although, a glass of milk and a piece of pie would be a good snack while I wait.

      • It does matter why you added all to the second syllogism and left it out of the first. Let me show you why: if your claim about Lucifer being an atheist and thus being a nihilist and a nominalist was supposedly only about Lucifer, you would have indicated this. However, you did not. You’ve done a great job at showing that the word “all” isn’t needed to indicate that all of a group is a certain thing and have supported my point that you were indeed talking about all atheists when you were assigning such attributes as nihilism and nominalism to atheists and to Lucifer your “The Archetypal Atheist”.

        Let’s look at all definitions of the term “so”. 1a : in a manner or way indicated or suggested —often used as a substitute for a preceding clause b : in the same manner or way : also c : thus 1 d : then, subsequently 2a : to an indicated or suggested extent or degree b : to a great extent or degree : very, extremely c : to a definite but unspecified extent or degree d : most certainly : indeed e : most decidedly : surely 3 : therefore, consequently – merriam-webster.com

        And what you said “He is an atheist. So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness.”

        Then we can write your claims using the various defintions “He is an atheist. In
        the manner or way suggested, as he is an atheist, is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness.”
        Or “He is an atheist. In the same manner or way, is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness.”
        Or “He is an atheist. Thus is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness.”
        Or “He is an atheist. Then, is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness.”
        Or “He is an atheist. To an indicated/suggested extent or degree, is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness.”
        Or “He is an atheist. To a great degree is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness.”
        Or “He is an atheist. Most certainly is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness.”
        Or “He is an atheist. Therefore, is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness.”

        Now the second one is probably the closest to what you seem to have wanted to say, but the question this version brings up is what is the manner or way that joins the idea of atheist and nominalist/nihilist together? Is it that you wish to claim that atheists turn to “nothingness”? Is this true for atheists? Your explanation isn’t terribly good since you change the verb and its harder to see the problem with trying to claim that your sentences are equal.

        Yep, you ae right, that the fact that X and Y share similarities doesn’t mean that they are exactly alike. However, your argument doesn’t say this; you claimed that Lucifer was the archetypical atheist which means that all atheists must share all traits with this archetype: the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies.

        If I am supposedly “dead wrong” about something, it would be nice for you to show why and not just insist I drop it. It does seem that I’m not dead wrong about it at all and you are terrified by the idea.

        Ah, if your god is outside of time or before time, how does it know when to act? I’ve always wondered this when theists want to make the basless claim that their god is outside of time or “afore time”. There is nothing in the bible that shows that this god is transcendent above time. Indeed, it shows that this god requires time and the actions of humans to do things. What the religion of Israel and Christians claims isn’t quite what the bible actually depicts. You have an assumption that “only an eternality” could be the source of the universe, and it is the same a priori assumption that underlies the claims o theists everywhere. All religions need to claim that their god is indispensable and none of you can show that this is true at all. Every religion must say that “look, the universe is the evidence that *my* god exists” and none of you can show this to be true. It’s hiliarous that you go on and on when I’ve already said I was wrong.

        It’s great to see you appeal to the argument from popularity to try to show your god real. Yep, hundreds of Christians have claimed that their god is real. Hundreds of Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Zoroasterians, Sikhs, Bahais, etc have claimed that their religions are true too. You don’t believe in the gods of the other religions so you are just like me, K. You seem to want to pretend that all of those other religions agree with you and they don’t. It’s the sad attempt by a Christian to claim that everyone agrees with them since they desperately need external validation. The other religions say that Christians are wrong, and that there is no magical savior that eveyrone has to believe in to be “saved”. There is nothing “contingent” about your god, K. That is part and parcel of the assumption that there needs to be a god. Nothing indicates that to be true. Now, if you want to just believe in some “eternal one”, then that’s fine. That just isn’t Christianity.

        Hmmm you do know that Gabriel is an angel right?

        Now, for your claim of fisking, there are quite a few questions and comments that you didn’t answer and you intentionally ignored, the most egregious your claim that I did not show any evidence and facts when I did. Thanks for bearing more false witness against me and making personal attacks as an excuse why you are unable to address my arguments. Again, still no syllogism needed, just the facts. Now, if you would address all of them, rather than cherrypicking, then we could have a discussion.

      • Velkyn, you simply have no idea what you are talking about. I’m not going to waste any more time trying to show you what you’ve got wrong.

        I recommend that you take a course in logic before you try to talk about this stuff with anyone again. Seriously. I’m not trying to be mean or rude, but you just don’t get this stuff, and you don’t get that you don’t get it. You need to learn.

        Godspeed.

      • It’s quite easy to make such a statement, isn’t it, K rather than showing that your claims are true? As I’ve already shown, I know logic quite well. I’m still waiting for you to show your facts that support your claims, K. It’s always good to see a TrueChristian who insists that no one else has any facts, to the point of lying about it, and cannot show any facts of his own to support his claims. You have yet to show that I somehow “don’t get it”. You seem to assume that I must agree with you to “get it” and that isn’t the case at all.

        I don’t think you are mean or rude, K. All I think you are is a Christian who has nothing to support his claims and who is a coward when it comes to taking responsibility for his false claims.

      • No, my friend, you have not shown you understand logic. You have shown the opposite. I’ve explained to you again and again how you are using the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent, and you just don’t get it.

        Sorry, I just can’t afford to waste any more time answering the same objections over and over and over.

        Take a logic class.

      • As I’ve said, K. still waiting for your evidence. And please do show how I was using the “affirming the consequent” fallacy. You certainly did a great job of making up a syllogism that you wanted to claim I wrote, and attacked, but you have yet to address what I actually wrote.

      • I’m sure there are Christians who believe that an accusation of nihilism is a sort of death-ray of withering criticism, but to a man who is one-hundred-percent outside the Christian universe, it cannot be. Such a man believes that Christ is “nothing”–he snaps his fingers at Him–and this is the essence of nihilism. Nietzsche called Christians nihilist because they believe (or at lead profess to believe) that the world is full of vanity–meaning empty promises. If a Christian calls you a nihilist, put up your death-ray deflector shield and read them a couple of key verses from Ecclesiastes. That will soften them up for an understanding that, to a worldly man, Jesus was a nihilist of a very high order.

        The world does not divide into nihilists and non-nihilists, but into people who are correct and mistaken about what is vain and what is real.

        I should add that it is entirely proper of Christians to attaché the scarlet letter of nihilism to atheists. This isn’t preliminary to burning them at the stake, but is a means to make clear the depth of disagreement between Christians and atheists (or at least the depth of disagreement that ought to exist). Nietzsche’s term for crossing from one side to the other is, of course, “transvaluation of values.” The Christian counterpart is “repentance.”

        Yesterday’s gospel reading was the well-known story of the prodigal son, who “comes to his senses” after he as fallen on hard times and been reduced to tending swine. He suddenly sees that the poky old farm where he was raised is a great place, and the prostitutes and playboys with whom he was recently consorting are trash. He undergoes a “transvaluation of values” or repentance. Or, to bring in another analogy suggested by a recent post by Richard Cocks at this site, he turns his head away from the shadows dancing on the walls of the cave. He sees that these shadows are “nothing.”

        Every man who has experienced “enlightenment” becomes in that moment a nihilist. It make no difference whether his enlightenment takes the Christian form of “Praise the Lord, I saw the light,” or the atheist form of disenchantment. Such a man now affirms that “something” is in fact nothing.

      • “I should add that it is entirely proper of Christians to attaché the scarlet letter of nihilism to atheists.”

        I disagree. Nihilsm implies that someone finds no value in anything at all. And that is simply not true for every atheist. One can say one finds no value in religion but that is not being a nihilist as the term has been applied. One could probably say one is nihilistic against religion but there always needs to be a specific idea/item that one finds no value in.

        Enlightenment – having knowledge and understanding is not nihilism, which doesn’t have to knowledge or understanding at all, only a belief that nothing is of value. That seems to be a claim made by someone who wants to validate his opinion.

      • I have encountered this boogyman definition of nihilist; and I dislike it as much as you do. I doubt it is possible for a man to “find no value in anything at all.” If a man were in this condition, he would be too apathetic to tell us about it, as he would be in a state of absolute ennui or indifference. The man who rages against the senseless void perceives no value in the universe, but he rages because he finds value in the notion of value. If he didn’t value value, he wouldn’t bother with raging.

        If there were an absolute nihilist, he would in other words be a perfectly harmless character, since he would see no value in propagating, or even defending, his nihilism. Nihilist are only scary when they are against something they aim to annihilate, and therefore for something they aim to foster. The bomb-throwing nihilist of the cartoons does not deny the value of everything–only of the things at which he throws his bomb.

      • According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

        Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy. While few philosophers would claim to be nihilists, nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history.

        It [became] popularized, however, after its appearance in Ivan Turgenev’s novel Fathers and Sons (1862) where he used “nihilism” to describe the crude scientism espoused by his character Bazarov who preaches a creed of total negation.

        In Russia, nihilism became identified with a loosely organized revolutionary movement (C.1860-1917) that rejected the authority of the state, church, and family. In his early writing, anarchist leader Mikhael Bakunin (1814-1876) composed the notorious entreaty still identified with nihilism: “Let us put our trust in the eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unsearchable and eternally creative source of all life–the passion for destruction is also a creative passion!” (Reaction in Germany, 1842). The movement advocated a social arrangement based on rationalism and materialism as the sole source of knowledge and individual freedom as the highest goal. By rejecting man’s spiritual essence in favor of a solely materialistic one, nihilists denounced God and religious authority as antithetical to freedom. The movement eventually deteriorated into an ethos of subversion, destruction, and anarchy, and by the late 1870s, a nihilist was anyone associated with clandestine political groups advocating terrorism and assassination.

        Nihilism, in fact, can be understood in several different ways. Political Nihilism, as noted, is associated with the belief that the destruction of all existing political, social, and religious order is a prerequisite for any future improvement. Ethical nihilism or moral nihilism rejects the possibility of absolute moral or ethical values. Instead, good and evil are nebulous, and values addressing such are the product of nothing more than social and emotive pressures. Existential nihilism is the notion that life has no intrinsic meaning or value, and it is, no doubt, the most commonly used and understood sense of the word today.

        Among philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche is most often associated with nihilism. For Nietzsche, there is no objective order or structure in the world except what we give it. Penetrating the façades buttressing convictions, the nihilist discovers that all values are baseless and that reason is impotent. “Every belief, every considering something-true,” Nietzsche writes, “is necessarily false because there is simply no true world” (Will to Power [notes from 1883-1888]). For him, nihilism requires a radical repudiation of all imposed values and meaning: “Nihilism is . . . not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one’s shoulder to the plough; one destroys” (Will to Power).

        The caustic strength of nihilism is absolute, Nietzsche argues, and under its withering scrutiny “the highest values devalue themselves. The aim is lacking, and ‘Why’ finds no answer” (Will to Power). Inevitably, nihilism will expose all cherished beliefs and sacrosanct truths as symptoms of a defective Western mythos. This collapse of meaning, relevance, and purpose will be the most destructive force in history, constituting a total assault on reality and nothing less than the greatest crisis of humanity

        Helmut Thielicke wrote that “Nihilism literally has only one truth to declare, namely, that ultimately Nothingness prevails and the world is meaningless” (Nihilism: Its Origin and Nature, with a Christian Answer, 1969). From the nihilist’s perspective, one can conclude that life is completely amoral, a conclusion, Thielicke believes, that motivates such monstrosities as the Nazi reign of terror.

      • All I did was quote a philosopher who has spent a lot of time thinking about nihilism on the subject of nihilism. Comprehend the quote, and then apply what you learn from it however you like. Or fail to comprehend it, and then fail to apply it properly in any way. Up to you.

        Nihilism is interesting, but as you said, it has nothing particularly to do with you, because you are not a nihilist. No one suggested that you were. In fact, I took your assertion that you are an atheist who is not nihilist as a counterexample to the proposition that atheists are nihilists – a proposition I did not and do not espouse.

      • you’ve also shown that your use of the word fails when applied to Satan and atheists. Please do show how this “Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.” and this “Nihilism literally has only one truth to declare, namely, that ultimately Nothingness prevails and the world is meaningless” work with your claims.

      • Well, no; I’ve shown no such thing. Nor have I shown that it *does* work. I have only suggested that it works, although not for atheists, but only for Lucifer.

        Nevertheless it is an interesting question, and I think I’ll try to tackle it in a future post: is Lucifer indeed a strict and total nihilist in virtue of his turn away from the God who is Truth per se, and if so, how does that follow, and how does it work?

      • Hmmmm, here we have you say “Lucifer indeed a strict and total nihilist in virtue of his turn away from the God who is Truth per se, and if so, how does that follow, and how does it work? ”

        and earlier you said “I’m pretty sure that strict nihilism, of any sort, can’t really work for any sort of being.”

        most curious.

      • English is tricky for some, I grant. Words like “work” can work in a number of ways. E.g.: “How does it work for people to do so many things that don’t work?” This can be a way of saying, “How do people manage to do so many unsuccessful things?” Such people are working, in the sense that they are functioning, doing things, etc. But what they are doing is not working, in the sense that, while it is having effects, it is not having the intended effects, or the intended effects are not actually good.

        Likewise it is possible to be a strict and total nihilist, but my hunch is that it can’t work out well, even for a seraph.

        The only humans who completely succeed in carrying an avowed strict and total nihilism into actual practice are those who implement nothingness by killing themselves. Everyone else who *says* he is a nihilist is in fact only nihilist about some things, and not about others. Nihilist suicides do work their nihilism; but as worked, their nihilism cannot be said to have worked for them.

        I have little doubt that Lucifer is a strict nihilist (have not considered whether or not he is a total nihilist – that seems doubtful to me). His nihilism is not working out for him.

      • K, you’ve claimed that Lucifer is a nihilist. You offered no qualifiers. Now you try to claim you didn’t mean what you wrote. As has be stated, there is no way for Lucifer to be an atheist or a nihilist if this entity knows this god as the bible claims and if this entity wants to do what the bible claims. If you wish to claim the bible wrong, then that is fine, but I suspect you don’t want to do that. What you doubt or don’t doubt makes little difference when reality shows what you claim is not true. It’s also curious to watch you try to play word games with the terms total and strict. Please do define what the difference is between a “strict nihilist” and a “total nihilist”. If the bible is correct, Lucifer is not a nihilist at all. If you are correct, well, we’ll have to see what you actually mean with your invented terms.

      • Where in the Bible does it say that Lucifer is not a nihilist? Or that he is a nihilist, for that matter?

        A total nihilist is a nihilist about *everything.* With Nietzsche, he believes that there is no true world, so that every belief is wrong. It’s not a position that is really possible to a sane mind, because it is self-refuting. Lucifer may or may not be sane – that’s an interesting question. But I doubt in any case that he is a total nihilist, because he continues to believe in himself and in his project.

        A strict nihilist acts in strict accordance with his nihilism. If he is a moral nihilist, e.g., he behaves strictly amorally, without ever thinking about the meaning of his acts; for, he repudiates the notion that there is any such meaning.

        By analogy, a man can be a Democrat whether or not he is a total Democrat (agreeing with everything the Party advocates), and whether or not he is a strict Democrat (voting always the straight Party line).

        … there is no way for Lucifer to be an atheist or a nihilist if this entity knows this god as the bible claims and if this entity wants to do what the bible claims.

        Nope. He can be atheist if he doesn’t recognize that he and YHWH (and the other angels) are divine. Finite minds err about things all the time, even about themselves. And he can want to do things even though he doesn’t believe in them. Avowed nihilists want all sorts of things. No such moves I think are quite completely sane – once you’ve started down the path of nihilism, you are at least a bit insane almost by definition – but they are all possible.

      • clubschadenfreude, read it again, slooowwly this time, and think about it for just a sec.: the term “so” in this context *does NOT mean* “therefore,” “consequently.” Let me help you out: “So is he” as opposed to “so he is.”

    • I think Kristor meant existential nihilism, the idea that existence is wholly non-teleological. This would fit most atheists I’ve met and read.

      • For atheist, this may work. For Satan? don’t really see that happening 🙂

        now, if existential nihilism is this “With respect to the universe, existential nihilism posits that a single human or even the entire human species is insignificant, without purpose and unlikely to change in the totality of existence” -Wikipedia

        Then this atheist, me, isn’t a existential nihilist. I have great hope that humans and even one human gives things meaning.

      • I’m pretty sure that strict nihilism, of any sort, can’t really work for any sort of being. Consider the quote from Nietzsche already adduced:

        Every belief, every considering something-true is necessarily false because there is simply no true world.

        Will to Power [notes from 1883-1888]

        This statement asserts its own necessary falsehood. Bit of a problem there.

        Nihilism can – perhaps – work only in the restricted sense of the word that JM Smith suggested.

      • Hmmm, then why did you make this claim:

        “He is an atheist.
        So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness. All that remains to him then is himself, looking out upon nothing”

        No qualifications, no exceptions, you are claiming that Lucifer aka “The Archtypal Atheist” is a nihilist and try to claim that this entity is indeed a strict nihilist.

      • It’s ironic, but this use of the word “nothing” is similar to the way the word is used in the atheist cosmology of Lawrence Krauss. Nothing becomes a kind of thing. One cannot actually look out upon nothing, since nothing would give one nothing to look out upon. As critics of Krauss point out, nothing in philosophy means “not anything at all.” Not anything at all excludes even “blackness,” “blankness,” or the “abyss.” One cannot be conscious of nothing because consciousness is always consciousness of something, even if that something is silence, darkness, emptiness, etc.
        When we say Satan turns from reality and looks out upon “nothing,” I believe we should be understood as saying upon vanity. He is certainly conscious of something, but his perception is false (at least so far as Christians are concerned). The basic reason for this (again, so far as Christians are concerned) is that he has denied the sovereignty of God and thereby decapitated the order of being.
        To an atheist, however, Satan comes to his senses when he decapitates the order of being. He removes from reality that great reality distorter, the notion that the order of being rises into a supernatural domain.

      • To at least this atheist, there is no god or a satan to come to his senses. They are both figures of myth, invented to make sense of reality and both figures are just as silly as fairies and leprechauns.

      • K, you again use one more tedious bit of nonsense Christians run to when confronted by atheism. You want to imagine that no one should tall about your religion other than believers. I do it because I don’t like lies being told about myself and others, and I don’t like when people try to spread false information in order to make them obey and fear such nonsense as the gods of religion. I suspect you talk about other religions because you are sure that they are wrong also, including other versions of Christianity, like you indicate in your “about” page where you are quite certain that only your version of the religion is the “right” one aka “orthodox”.

      • You just aren’t making sense. There’s no point responding to you, because you don’t understand anything I write to you. Just take some philosophy courses.

      • Again, you make a baseless claim that somehow I am not making sense. It’s easy to do that rather than answer my questions and points, isn’t it, K? I’m still waiting for your amazing fisking and showing me how wrong I am. Still waiting for all of that evidence you claim you have to show your god exists and that all of those essential events in the bible that your god supposedly caused happened.

      • You don’t know how to think straight. Naturally therefore you are blind to the fact that you are not thinking straight.

        I’ve already fisked a long comment of yours, and you didn’t even notice. I’ve answered your questions and “objections” repeatedly, and your responses are not responsive. They demonstrate your utter incapacity to think.

        You really should stop. You are embarrassing your side of the dispute.

      • No, K, I do know how to think correctly. You want to pretend that thinking “correctly” means agreeing with you. You have yet to show this to be the case. You have not fisked any of my long comments and you have said yourself that you have only done the short ones.

        I am still waiting for your evidence that your god exists, that the essential events of the bible happened, so that puts to lie your false claims of answering my points and questions. Again, with the attempts to frighten me away by your false claims of embarrassment. Is that all you have?

      • Temporary meaning, not ultimate meaning.

        Ultimate as in not wrestling meaning from existence, like Nietzsche wanted, but believing that existence has intrinsic, objective meaning, as well as a final cause.

        Will anything you know now matter in a billion years? I don’t know any atheists who think so. You could say things matter now, anyone can, but that’s beside the point.

      • Yeah, but in the absence of ultimate meaning, temporary meaning is an empty category; an illusion. You can’t wrest meaning from meaninglessness, any more than you can wrest cash from an empty bank account. If there is no ultimate meaning – as must be so if, as Nietzsche says, there is no true world – then any apprehension of proximal or temporary meaning has no real “cash value,” as William James put it.

      • Just my point. So all atheists are, in a manner of speaking, nihilists, at least of the sort I wrote of above.

      • Yeah, logically that seems to follow. As I have often argued, if there is no omniscient mind, then as Nietzsche saw there is no true world, or ergo any true beliefs. But “there are no true beliefs” can’t – as it says itself – be true (this is why sane minds are revolted by nihilism – why most atheists don’t buy it, and perhaps why Nietzsche went mad after he did). There are true beliefs then, necessarily. There is therefore a true world, ergo an omniscience.

  8. So atheists are atheists because of ignorance and pride turning away from reality so they begin a long, slow slide into depravity because they cannot see the Truth, the Good, the Beautiful, the Real, and the Potent. The only thing lacking from this reasoning is any evidence from reality to link your claims to the effects you assign to atheists.

    Yet you don’t see the circularity of your pernicious reasoning, loaded as it must be by the Truth, the Good, the Beautiful, the Real, and the Potent.

    How very ironic. And sad.

    Looking at the comment policy, I’m surprised you didn’t moderate this post into deletion because it vilifies an entire group of people not based on evidence adduced from reality but imposed on it by your beliefs… beliefs that then assign all these negative characteristics to those who do not believe in some god. This, I’m sorry to say, is the very definition of bigotry that inevitably leads to discrimination, that by poor reasoning skills leads one directly away from the Truth, the Good, the Beautiful, the Real, and the Potent (assuming respect for reality produces a potency for respecting the rest of this list).

    • So atheists are atheists because of ignorance and pride turning away from reality so they begin a long, slow slide into depravity because they cannot see the Truth, the Good, the Beautiful, the Real, and the Potent. The only thing lacking from this reasoning is any evidence from reality to link your claims to the effects you assign to atheists.

      I didn’t assign any effects to atheists. It would seem that you are reading accusations against you and your ilk into texts where they do not appear. Nevertheless, if the shoe fits, go ahead and wear it. But I’ll repeat what I said to Club Schadenfreude: it’s not about you.

      Yet you don’t see the circularity of your pernicious reasoning, loaded as it must be by the Truth, the Good, the Beautiful, the Real, and the Potent.

      You’re right, I don’t see the circularity in arguing that a turn away from recognition of the Perfections (Goodness, Truth, etc.) increases the danger of a slide into imperfection. On the contrary, it seems obviously true, mere common sense. If I repudiate the notion of gravity, so completely that I can’t even conceive of it properly, I’ll be in much more peril when I approach cliffs. Or walk.

      I had not made that argument in this thread, so it is not clear why you bring it up. But I don’t see any circularity in it. You have not shown us where that circularity lies. Can you?

  9. Comments in moderation will almost certainly be approved, once Kristor has a chance to read and approve them. Strong minded atheists are not uncommon in these parts, and they are welcome so long as they stay on topic and refrain from scurrility. You are not being censored and I very much doubt that Kristor is sucking his thumb with the bedclothes thrown over his head.

      • Mr. Smith is one of the editors here, so he can see what’s in moderation. It is not too uncommon for Orthosphere editors to approve comments to posts of other editors, but where comments push the envelope of our commenting policy – as in, e.g., accusing an interlocutor of mindless stupidity – we seem to have settled on a practice of letting the author of the post decide whether to approve them.

      • I write for the Orthosphere, so I have access to the dashboard. Moderation was instated last fall because one commenter was derailing threads with one crank idea. To my knowledge disagreement has never been suppressed.

  10. Archetypal – adj denoting a typical example of something.
    When you call Satan the archetypal atheist, you are just much saying Satan’s views are representative of atheists in general.
    Atheists do not believe in a God.
    Satan does believe in a God, even if he doesn’t fully comprehend God.
    Do you fully comprehend God? If no, does that make you an atheist? If yes… reconsider your answer.

    So, actually, when Tildeb and John tell you what atheism actually means, they are making pertinent points.
    When you refuse the etymology of the word atheism and prefer to use common usage, bad news for you, atheists nearly always mean ‘lacks belief in God’. There are entire blogs dedicated to religious people’s frustrations that this is the common usage. So, really, you’re refusing common usage too. You’re favouring a ‘because I say so’ definition. Which is fine. You’re defining an atheist as someone who knows a God exists and does not fully comprehend that God. That doesn’t describe people who call themselves atheists, or even how most religious people define atheists (because most religious people have the decency to at least let people define their own position).
    I’ll just have to be aware that in your little world, I am not an atheist. In your little world, I don’t even know any atheists. In your little world, atheists may even be mythical creatures. But the rest of us are over here, talking like grown ups.

    • Satan believes that he fully comprehends God, and what he believes he comprehends is a monumental fraud, an impostor, a pretender to the celestial throne. Satan believes God is an angel who is “putting on airs,” has “gotten too big for his britches” and “needs to be taken down a notch.” And it occurs to Satan that if there is going to be an angel sitting in the big chair, his name might as well be Satan. That’s what the War in Heaven was about. It was a attempted coup d’ état, in Heaven, by Satan and the rebel angels.

      Atheists believe that they fully comprehend God, and what they believe they comprehend is a monumental fraud, etc. They believe that God is not an impostor, but a fiction cooked up by priests and princes who wanted to scare people into obedience, or perhaps by weak people as a source of consolation. It is true that they do not believe they are overthrowing an arrogant angel; they believe they are exploding a monstrous myth. And in most cases this is because they have definite ideas about who should be sitting in the big chair. Humanism is clearly analogous to the revolt of Satan and the rebel angels, even if one believes this revolt is nothing but mythology.

      A congenital atheist raised by wolves might simply lack belief in God, but simple lack of belief in God is impossible in a society where there are examples and records of people believing in God. Every real and existing atheist living in society must ask himself why he lacks a belief that other men have, or had, and when he answers that question he no longer simply lacks belief in God. He now believes something about his own lack of belief, and about others’ possession of belief. And this belief is what just about everyone means by the word atheist. In most cases the atheist believes that believers are fools, or dupes, or weaklings, or ignoramuses. In very few cases does he believe that his lack of belief is a simple personal attribute, like lack of hair or lack of interest in football. In most cases he believes it is an accomplishment in which he can take pride

      • “Atheists believe that they fully comprehend God, and what they believe they comprehend is a monumental fraud”
        As an atheist, I can tell you that isn’t true. I know full well I don’t understand what other people claim God is. There is no epistemic way of knowing God.
        What you’re telling me is the different between Satan and religious people is that religious people are willing to surrender their moral autonomy to God (something I’m pretty sure they don’t understand, by definition).
        Atheists don’t align with either of these positions at all.
        And I don’t see that it is a meaningful analogy to compare Satan, who knows their’s a being called God but doesn’t respect God’s authority, with humanists tend not to acknowledge a God and therefore they realise they have to think for themselves about how to operate in the world.
        One is an individual assuming their own authority over a God, another is a group discussion recognising the power of open conversation.

        And don’t think I didn’t notice you just swapping from atheism to humanism without so much as a foreword.

      • This debate has reached the point of diminishing returns on investment, I’m afraid. But I will say one more thing. If atheists are, as you say, simply without belief in God, why are the three (or is it four) of you hammering out comments at the Orthosphere? I am without interest in football, and yet I do not spent time at sports sites explaining myself to football fans, much less ridiculing them. No one is proposing to pick your pocket or break your leg (as Thomas Jefferson put it), so why is it important to you that people like us have a proper appreciation of your position, or should I say absence of a position? When I encounter people talking about something I cannot comprehend–say a couple of physicists talking about quarks–I grow strangely silent, for I have nothing whatever to say about the matter. But when an atheist encounters people talking about something he says he cannot comprehend, he grows garrulous and even vehement. How could simple absence of belief lead to vehemence?

      • What if people at sports theaters were busy saying, Tweeting, blogging and even saying on national television, that people who don’t like sports are all like Hitler?
        Or if scientists were suggesting that people who don’t understand or believe in quarks are inferior human beings…
        Would you have something to say then? It’s not that you’re talking about your religion; it’s that you’re talking about a demographic you don’t belong to, and I do. And if you’re wrong and insulting about the demographic I belong to (and — I can’t stress this enough — you don’t) I think it’s perfectly understandable why I might want to respond.

      • Until they threaten to pick my pocket or break my leg, what they say, Tweet or blog is immaterial to me. You do recognize the allusion to Jefferson’s defense of freedom of conscience, don’t you? By the way, I grew up and have spent my whole life around scientists. They do think that people who don’t understand or believe in quarks are inferior human beings, and in one respect they are right.

        Why are atheists so thin-skinned? Your tribe is all smirks and high fives when it comes to cracking jokes about the Pope’s hat or Flying Spaghetti Monsters, but when the tables turn you cry “why is everybody always picking on us?” I ask this as a serious question. Why do atheists expect their beliefs (including the risible belief that they are defined by “no belief”) to be treated courteously, when mockery and ridicule have been the principal tools of atheist evangelism for three thousand years?

        I don’t think that all atheists are wicked men, and nothing in Kristor’s argument for Satan as the archetypal atheist implies they are (unless you are incredibly thin-skinned), but I don’t think thy can complain of intemperate language when they so frequently say that men who are not atheists are deluded fools.

      • Well, I *do* think that all atheists are wicked men. Like me, and you. But they are not particularly wicked – in many ways, I am a greater unbeliever than any atheist, and have less excuse – nor do I think them wicked on account of their atheism.

      • What characterization? Be precise and quote my words. Don’t say that my words generally hurt your feelings. I’ve read a substantial amount of classical atheist literature, and atheists do put in a showing on this site from time to time, so I do have some basis for an opinion as to the general nature of their attitude and conduct (always acknowledging that NAAALT).

      • Well, let’s make sure we understand my accusation, first. You seemed insistent that the charge was one of your causing me offence. It is not. The charge is one of you (and Kristor) being wrong about atheists. Here’s a list of things you’ve said in this thread that are wrong:

        (1) “Atheists believe that they fully comprehend God”

        (2) “what they believe they comprehend is a monumental fraud”

        (3) “in most cases this is because they have definite ideas about who should be sitting in the big chair”

        (4) “Humanism is clearly analogous to the revolt of Satan and the rebel angels” (not just wrong, but also irrelevant)

        (5)”simple lack of belief in God is impossible in a society where there are examples and records of people believing in God” (‘so strange that society would be so convinced on so little evidence…’)

        (6) “and when he answers that question [‘why does he lack belief in a God?’] he no longer simply lacks belief in God” (not strictly ‘wrong about atheists’, more ‘wrong about some of the philosophy that underpins discussions relating to atheism’)

        (7) “And this belief [an understanding of why one lacks belief in a God] is what just about everyone means by the word atheist” (Again, not strictly ‘wrong about atheists’, as the claim isn’t about atheists, it’s about people who use the word “atheist”. But the “this” is undefined. There’s a lot of reasons why someone might be an atheist: unconvincing evidence, poorly defined concept of God, evidence to the contrary of God. And they all lead to different positions: agnosticism, ignosticism and gnostic atheist. Some people have solely moral objections — I’m not convinced that’s rational, but it is the case that some people do that. So, how can “this” be what people mean when they say “atheist”, when “this” is so extraordinarily undefined?)

        (8) “But when an atheist encounters people talking about something he says he cannot comprehend, he grows garrulous and even vehement. How could simple absence of belief lead to vehemence?” (Again, not strictly being wrong about atheists — not right, either. But certainly wrong about this conversation. The conversation is one of accusation and misrepresentation levelled at atheists, to which — would you believe? — atheists set to correct you.)

        (9) “Why are atheists so thin-skinned?”

        (10) “Your tribe…”

        (11) “… is all smirks and high fives when it comes to cracking jokes about the Pope’s hat or Flying Spaghetti Monsters…”

        (12) “… but when the tables turn you cry “why is everybody always picking on us?””

        (13) “when mockery and ridicule have been the principal tools of atheist evangelism for three thousand years?” (Oh, how we ridiculed the religious establishment as if persecuted and murdered the atheists. Oh, how we were outspoken at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known no persecution for being an atheist in my time, but even the slightest understanding of history on this issue reveals you’re talking about of the wrong sphincter.)

        (14) “nothing in Kristor’s argument for Satan as the archetypal atheist implies they are [wicked]” (I’m serious, learn the definition of archetypal.)

        (15)”Don’t say that my words generally hurt your feelings” (Was never the point. Was only ever raised by you.)

        (16) “you guys suffer from a weird persecution complex” (We’re correcting you. You’re wrong. We’re not correcting you because we’re offended — although American atheists have every right to be — but because you and the OP are wrong. Sorry if holding you to an intellectual standard puts your back up. Perhaps we should just assume that you’re incapable of learning and partake in the condescension of low-expectations. You certainly seem deserving of it.)

        (17) “non-belief is no bar to social or economic advancement” (Except politics. It’s explicitly in state legislature that atheists cannot hold office in some states.)

        (18) “Atheists should be shown the civility they exhibit” (What, like making the effort to understand the other side? I don’t know if you noticed, but I made effort to actually understand the position being presented in this post. You haven’t bothered even to understand the use of the word “archetypal”. So, actually, are you saying you’re treating me with the level of respect you want from me? Because that would be me lowering my standards, not the other way around.)

        (19) “I don’t think thy can complain of intemperate language” (not the accusation I’m making. I’m accusing the OP of using the wrong language, and you of misrepresenting atheists. To claim Satan is the archetypal atheist is a very specific claim that the OP is now denying is being made.)

        I also find it interesting that you’ve had such a unanimously different experience with scientists.
        I also find it interesting that when someone takes the time to write a post about something that have a poor understanding of, that they would then rail so hard against being educated about the issue. ‘Oh, why are you so sensitive?!’ Well, sorry for assuming that anyone would care to have nuance and accuracy involved in a topic they seem to care enough about write a post on. Am I the unreasonable one here? OP made something public, that was wrong, and has been corrected, and as opposed to giving a damn about intellectual integrity, you’ve simply questioned the character of the people who looked to address the question of intellectual integrity.

        I mean, if that’s the kind of place you’re running here, so be it.

      • Are you the archetype of atheism? Is that it? What’s true of you is true of atheism, and what’s not true of you is not. Maybe you are a sort of protestant atheist, asserting a priesthood (if you’ll excuse the expression) of the self. We get plenty of that in Christianity, too—some old guy with his Bible who has decided that he, himself, is the definition of Christianity.

        Atheism has been around for thousands of years—if Kristor is right, since the beginning of time. It has its sects and its schisms, its schools and its creeds. You are a part of that mix, but you’re not the whole shebang.

        To the extent I can make out your position, you are evidentialists in the manner of Bertrand Russell—maybe you should call yourself Russelite Atheists. Your beef is with the Nietzscheans—they are giving you a bad name.

      • JMSmith asks If atheists are, as you say, simply without belief in God, why are the three (or is it four) of you hammering out comments at the Orthosphere? (snip)… why is it important to you that people like us have a proper appreciation of your position, or should I say absence of a position?

        Because this topic is about atheism (a topic about which you seem you “cannot comprehend”… about which you still have a fair bit to say “about the matter”. But (to use your own words) when a theist encounters people talking about something he says he cannot comprehend (what atheist says he cannot comprehend the theist’s position?), he grows garrulous and even vehement. How could simple assertion of belief lead to vehemence?

        We respond in kind because you’re equating atheism with ignorance, a lack of concern for what’s true, for Beauty, Truth, Justice, and so on. All your associations paint the atheist in such a negative light and then you marvel that some of us may take exception to your incorrect assumptions, your incorrect characterizations, your incorrect presumptions about states of knowledge and our profound respect for reality to arbitrate claims made about it. You require correction and who better than those you are attempting to describe?

      • As I just wrote to Allallt, you guys suffer from a weird persecution complex. Maybe you live in some hollow in the Ozarks and have been shunned by respectable society; more likely you have alienated your family; and so you personally have suffered some degree of persecution. I’m sorry about that, and if I had any say in the matter, I’d tell those persecuting Christians to leave you in peace. But in most parts of the modern U.S., unobstreperous non-belief is no bar to social or economic advancement. If you make yourself a nuisance (as atheists [and Christians] sometimes do), there may be reprisals, but these are for the nuisance-making as much as the atheism.

        Again, as I wrote to Allallt, if your are concerned with civility, you will have to do something about atheists equating religious belief with ignorance, superstition, credulity, or lack of concern with Truth or Justice. Maybe if you showed a little more respect for our “profound respect for reality” (however mistaken we may be), you might find respect reciprocated.

        It’s not especially Christian of me, but I think we live in a tit for tat world. Atheists should be shown the civility they exhibit.

      • @ JMSmith,

        You’ve got to be kidding! You’re actually trying to play Blame The Victim card here. Your negative associations to atheism and, by extension, the character of atheists as a group.

        Let’s review why you think Satan is an atheist, shall we?

        Satan “therefore cannot believe that God – God properly so called, the God of whom the Philosophers, Israel, the Church and her prophets, apostles, saints and mystics all speak – actually exists. Satan simply, honestly does not see that he has a King. He sees God, but does not register the fact of the righteousness of God’s reign. He sees God as a tyrant, no greater in principle than he is, whom he could usurp, and would.

        He is an atheist.”

        Look how you categorize non belief… entirely aimed at your presumption that you PROPERLY understand what this object, namely God, is and that non believers do not because they cannot ‘see’. And the cost continues to rise, as well: apparently, atheists also cannot ‘see’ the Truth, the Good, the Beautiful, the Real, and the Potent.

        Good grief.

        Be that as it may, you don’t stop identifying negative characteristics to what you think non belief in your God is and you continue to heap on atheists:

        “So is he a nominalist, and a nihilist. For, having turned from Reality, he has turned to nothingness. All that remains to him then is himself, looking out upon nothing. And he takes this solitude as basic to being. So is he an unwitting solipsist. And so sophistical a solipsist is he, that no contravening item can penetrate to his awareness.

        He is, in short, deluded – and cannot understand that this is so.”

        No, here’s the point. By offering a RESPONSE to this litany of bigoted abuse, you then come back with a ‘tit-for-tat’ reason why atheists supposedly deserve this characterization: because we dare to RESPOND with pointed criticism! That’s the quintessential blame-the-victim gambit… you’re completely innocent of heaping abuse on atheists and atheism because our responses to it magically caused you to write the OP!

        And you expect reasonable people to buy into what you’re peddling, as if this steaming northern product of a south-facing male bovine is somehow sophisticated? Even if as an atheist I cannot ‘see’ what you think I ‘properly’ should see, let me assure you there’s nothing wrong with my sense of smell. And, having spent time around defecating cattle, I know exactly what this OP smells like and have correctly identified it with what it is.

      • Kristor and I are not the same guy, although I think what he has written is essentially correct. Indeed I think what he has written would be accepted as essentially correct by most atheists, with the understanding that Satan is a mythological character and not a living spirit. One of the first free-thought newspapers published in the U.S. was called Lucifer: the Lightbearer,” its main purpose being to diffuse the darkness of religious bigotry. Nietzsche’s most accessible book is called The Antichrist, the title referring to Nietzsche himself. Modern Satanists are not devil worshipers, since they don’t believe there are spiritual beings of any sort, but they identify with Satan in the story of the War in Heaven (which they regard as a myth, of course). Robert Taylor is largely forgotten nowadays, but in the early nineteenth century he was a well-know firebrand and despiser of religion. The book he published was called The Devil’s Pulpit. I could go on, but a great many atheists have admired Satan/Lucifer as a hero, and have seen in his revolt an archetype of their own revolt.

        You are, I trust, aware that the largest publisher of atheist books in the US is called Prometheus Press, and that Prometheus and Satan are more or less the same figure when viewed mythologically.

        I understand that your sect of atheism (atheism does have sects) denies that it is in revolt, and so does not admire or lionize Satan, but you have no more right to speak for all atheists than I do. Your sect does’t own the name atheist any more than some backwoods sect of holy rollers owns the name Christian.

      • You don’t own the word atheist. Many people with as good a claim (actually better) to the word own Satan as an archetype, and would happily agree to Kristor’s argument (provided the story is taken as a myth). Individual atheists have certainly suffered, although in most case it was because they were obnoxious about their atheism, not because they were atheists. And in recent centuries the body count is pretty squarely on your side. You have heard of the League of the Militant Godless, haven’t you? You have heard of the Vendee? I’m not blaming you for these atrocities, just saying that atheists also have blood on their hands.

      • @ JMSmith

        Right. I see. I don’t own the term ‘atheist’ even though I exactly fit the definition of the term – I do not believe in any gods or God – whereas you do, and so you can attribute whatever negative connotations and characteristics you deem worthy and then apply them to me or any other atheists you care to vilify in the name of piety.

        You’re still playing the Blame the Victim card by pretending atheists deserve whatever vilification they get… even after pointed out the backwards direction of your reasoning.

        You deem that accurate criticism unworthy of comment.

        Well, aren’t you the Special One.

      • Christians like to play this game, too. They will say that a Christian is a follower of Christ, so everyone in the past or present who has not been Christlike no true Christian. It’s a bogus copout when they do it and its a bogus copout when you do it. If you want to march down the street under that banner, you’re going to find yourself in some mixed company. Words have definitions, etymologies, histories, usages and connotations, and folks who aim to use them correctly take all of this into account. The word atheist did not fall from the sky yesterday, and no amount of protest from you is going to scrub it clean of a thousand years of usage and literary association. If you are so determined to distance yourself from the cultural history of the word, coin a new one for heavens sake.

      • @ JMSmith

        Still avoiding my criticisms I see, playing this stupid word game. The etymology of the term is very clear and it’s you who are trying to make the square peg of its meaning fit into whatever round and triangular holes you want.

        You have marched this term into meaning a kind of belief in god, not I. You’re the one trying to alter it so that your thesis makes a kind of sense. The problem is that by doing so, you’re stripping the term of its common usage while, at the same time, using the common usage for us atheists in the here and now to then smear us with the the negative characteristics you have assigned the term. This is beyond stupid and borders on malicious because you’ve settled on obstinacy as your primary defense and victim blaming as your primary justification; this result is intentionally duplicitous. And this is a charge I direct at you because you’ve left the playing field of reasonable criticism to justify by foul means this absurd idea that Satan represents the archetype atheist, which means I do not care to have interchange with someone of such little intellectual integrity. You are a waste of my time.

      • No, you are avoiding my criticisms. I offered you historical evidence on word usage which none of you have answered, presumably because you are completely out of your depth when it comes to historical evidence. Here is a simplified form of the argument.

        1) Frederich Nietzsche was an atheist.
        2) Frederich Nietzsche called himself “the Antichrist”
        Therefore: Atheists have been known to identify with “the Antichrist”

        (If you read the book, you will find the Antichrist is, for FN, the type of Satan.

        1) Frederich Nietzsche is probably the greatest atheist philosopher of the last century.
        2) tildeb is an internet warrior, who lost his faith last Tuesday and doesn’t know who Frederich Nietzsche is.
        Therefore: Nietzsche’s opinions about atheism are worth more than tilde’s.

        So, argue with Nietzsche.

      • @ JMSmith

        Yes, yes, yes… I could argue your points and lay out my qualifications to do so but that would waste my time. Why would you allow contrary facts produced by me to get in the way of your confidence in the beliefs you hold out of ignorance?

        You wouldn’t because you don’t. That’s why you won;t engage in my criticisms about what you’ve actually written but try vainly to divert attention and attack what you presume are my beliefs, my lack of credentials, my ignorance about specific authors.

        You’re wrong.

        You believe notions about me that are entirely a self-constructed fiction and then speak to me as if you hold a better informed opinion based on that fiction. What you do have in far more plentiful supply than I is an inflated sense of ego and assume the truth of what is factually incorrect.

        The difference between thee and me is that I happen to care about what’s true. You care only about your beliefs and this remains a fatal flaw in your ability to reason or even hold a mature conversation. There is nothing I can say or show you from reality that will be tolerated by you if they are contrary to your assertions based on your beliefs. That’s why you a re fool and shall remain so.

      • JMSmith, do you even hear yourself? There are thousands upon thousands of former believers who come to understand with honest introspection and inquiry that their beliefs in this nebulous agency called ‘god’ – and all the baggage that accompanies it – come only from other believers who have presented these beliefs as if true by fiat, by word play and metaphysical musings. They understand that they’ve been sold something that has no substantive positive knowledge value as it pretends to offer but creates by a flawed method a systemic world view that causes not just dysfunction with understanding how reality operates but reliably and consistently produces pernicious effects when acted upon. These atheists do not fit into the packaging you label qua atheist that you have made for them and put to the test the assumed accuracy of your atheist descriptions. Your description fails the reality test.

      • I’m not sure what I am failing to hear in my own words. I am perfectly aware that people lose faith and I am very familiar with the ways in which they describe the experience. They tend to be angry; they tend to present themselves as great rationalists; they tend to retain a morbid interest in religion. I’m quite prepared to say that what they have to say about their own experience is true, since churches can all too easily become cult-like and cruel. When it comes to their ability to engage in rational and disinterested debate, however, they generally make a pretty poor show of it. What they offer, more often than not, is what the Christian churches call “witnessing” or “testimonials” about their (de)conversion experience. Like Christian testimonials, these employ certain stock phrases. These stock phrases use philosophical terms, but this isn’t enough to make atheist testimonials philosophical. What variety of Christian were you before you saw the light?

    • When you call Satan the archetypal atheist, you are just as much saying Satan’s views are representative of atheists in general.

      Don’t be silly. That a person is atheist does not mean his beliefs are exactly the same as Satan’s beliefs. Some atheists, e.g., are Democrats, some are Republicans. Which party do you think Satan is backing this fall? Is he the archetypal Democrat? Some atheists believe in anthropogenic global warming, others realize it is absurd hogwash. What does Lucifer believe about it?

      Honestly! Do be more careful.

      Satan does believe in a God, even if he doesn’t fully comprehend God.

      Did you even read the post? The *whole point* of it was that Satan does not believe in God, properly so called, *because he doesn’t understand the proper concept of God.* You’re being sloppy.

      Do you fully comprehend God? If no, does that make you an atheist? If yes… reconsider your answer.

      No; only God can fully comprehend God. The finite cannot encompass the infinite. From this it does not follow that finities cannot comprehend that there is such a thing as infinity, and reason about it to some truths. It means only that they cannot reason to All Truth, any more than they could count to infinity. In other words, the fact that we cannot comprehend God does not mean that we can’t believe in him.

      Take something small and ordinary, like a paper clip. Do you comprehend it? Can you know *everything about it*? No, of course not. Does that mean that you don’t believe in paper clips?

      You really should think through your thoughts more carefully before publishing them.

      I know that it is super, super important to many atheists that no one should understand them as disbelieving in the existence of God. They want to be sure that everyone understands that it’s not that they *disbelieve* in the existence of God, but rather only that they *don’t believe* in the existence of God. OK, fine; whatever. Satan doesn’t believe in God, either.

      • “Don’t be silly. That a person is atheist does not mean his beliefs are exactly the same as Satan’s beliefs.”
        That one atheist’s beliefs don’t represent another’s is something I accept wholly. But, by definition, the characteristics of an archetypal X are representative of Group X. That’s what the word archetypal means. And you’re the one who used it.

        “Take something small and ordinary, like a paper clip. Do you comprehend it? Can you know *everything about it*? No, of course not. Does that mean that you don’t believe in paper clips?”
        Again, I agree with what you’re alluding to here. But I was not the one arguing Satan’s lack of comprehension of God is the same as disbelief or lack of belief. That’s your argument.

      • … by definition, the characteristics of an archetypal X are representative of Group X. That’s what the word archetypal means. And you’re the one who used it.

        Are all atheists seraphim, then? Are they all aeviternal?

        The archetype of the triangle shares the properties of triangularity with other triangles. That does not mean that all triangles have the same dimensions as the archetypal triangle, or the same color, or borders, or locations, or anything else that triangles can have. It means only that all triangles instantiate the properties of the archetypal triangle, such as having three straight sides and three angles.

        I was not the one arguing Satan’s lack of comprehension of God is the same as disbelief or lack of belief. That’s your argument.

        No, it isn’t. My argument is *not* that lack of comprehension of God is *the same* as disbelief in him. I suggest that Lucifer’s lack of comprehension of God is the *reason* for his disbelief in him, or rather, in his misapprehension of him.

        You asked:

        Do you fully comprehend God? If no, does that make you an atheist?

        I answered:

        [No:] the fact that we cannot comprehend God does not mean that we can’t believe in him.

      • Okay. I think our conversation is based on two misunderstandings:

        You clearly don’t know the definition of the word “archetype”. Perhaps you might want to actually look at it in some sort of detail. Once you’ve done that, perhaps you might want to discuss whether you really believe Satan is the archetypal atheist; what characteristics make him the archetype?

        Your passage about an archetypal triangle is a trite little exploration of the problem with essentialism, I suggest you might want to research that, too.

        I also admit to misunderstanding your initial argument. Your argument appears to be that Satan has met YHWH, but doesn’t believe believe YHWH is a God. (I won’t get into what that says of your God, or the frequent assertion that faith relies on having an experience of God; it didn’t work for Satan.)

        In hindsight, I should have understood. My brother is the God of a small religion and his followers often deride me for my disagreements with him. I suppose it’s the same: I literally live with “God”, but do not actually acknowledge that he is a God.

      • Oh, for Pete’s sake.

        You misunderstand “archetype.” That a thing is a type of an archetype does not mean that it is like the archetype in every respect. If it did, the type would just *be* the archetype.

        That’s why, in my last – I can’t believe I’m explaining this – I asked whether under your notion of the term “archetype,” the fact that Satan is the archetypal atheist means that all human atheists are seraphim. It was a rhetorical question. It went right over your head.

        Let’s put that little contretemps to bed: *obviously,* when we say that Satan is the archetypal X, we don’t mean that all X are just like him.

        You also still completely misunderstand the argument of the post. I’ve already explained a number of times exactly how you and the other atheist commenters here have misunderstood it. Just like Satan, you misunderstand “God,” thinking it means “god.” You just can’t see, or refuse to see, the difference between these two terms. The argument of the post hinges upon it.

        Go read it again, recognizing that your current ideas about it are wrong, so that you need to find another way to interpret it.

      • I don’t remember saying ‘Archetype X’ is identical to ‘group X’. So, here’s the problem: I know what the word means, and you don’t. When you used the word, I thought (and I think you’ll like this, because it makes me silly)… I thought you meant the word you used.
        But actually, when you used the definite article “the”, you meant to use the indefinite article “an” and when you used the word “archetype” you meant to not have a word in there at all.
        Your argument is that Satan is an atheist. That’s the actual content of your argument. Making the words “an atheist” “the archetypal atheist”, and then — hilariously — defending it after it was pointed out to you that you’ve no idea what you’re talking about is dishonest.
        The pity here is that if you’d just argued that Satan is an atheist because he doesn’t believe in a God — because he doesn’t believe YHWH is a God — then you’d have had me on side quite a while ago. I’ve had the humility to accept I was wrong in the first instance.

      • I’d much rather you were a serious than a silly interlocutor.

        So, here’s the problem: I know what the word means, and you don’t.

        No; that is not the problem. The problem is that you are not hearing what I am saying.

        All-alt, let me be as clear and simple as I can, so that you can understand: I don’t think, and did not say, that atheists are all like Lucifer. When I say he is the archetypal atheist, all I mean is that he is the palmary instance, the first and supreme instance, of disbelief in the Eternal One. I mean only that he is the first creature of our created order thus to disbelieve, and that he is by far the most powerful and intelligent creature that could ever have erred in this way.

        That others have erred in a like way does not make them just like him, except in the similarity of their errors. Just please stop barking up that tree. You are wasting your time, and making a spectacle of yourself.

        Your argument is that Satan is an atheist. That’s the actual content of your argument.

        No. Dead wrong. That’s a tangent of my argument, a passing insight. My argument is that Lucifer persists in his hopeless rebellion against God because he can no longer see what God is, thinking instead that God is a mere seraph like himself. He cannot see that there is a God above him; and so, since he does not believe in any beings superior to himself (here’s the tangent), we could call him an atheist.

        The pity here is that if you’d just argued that Satan is an atheist because he … doesn’t believe YHWH is a God – then you’d have had me on side quite a while ago. I’ve had the humility to accept I was wrong in the first instance.

        That was *exactly* the argument of the post. Did you even read it?

      • Okay, so, in order:
        That’s not what ‘archetype’ means.

        You missed the point of that section of my argument. It’s the difference between “an…” and “The archetypal…”

        Yes, I did read the post, hence my use of the words “just argued”, as opposed to omitting the word “just”.

        I’m dyslexic. I misspell and accidentally miss out words all the time. But if people point it out to me, I don’t defend my mistake, I admit to it and correct it.

      • Ah, I see. When you said, “If you’d just argued” I took you to mean “If only you had argued.” Thus my response: “But I *did* argue exactly that, right in the post! Didn’t you read it?”

        But based on what you now say, it seems that you meant, “If you had stopped with arguing only that …” Reading it in that way makes more sense.

        My response to that, then is: “But that’s *all* I argued! I never even mentioned human atheists until they came along and wanted to start talking about their ilk in relation to Lucifer – a subject that had not concerned me!”

        As to “archetype“:

        Archetype: “original pattern from which copies are made,” 1540s [Barnhart] or c. 1600 [OED], from Latin archetypum, from Greek arkhetypon “pattern, model, figure on a seal,” neuter of adjective arkhetypos “first-moulded,” from arkhe- “first” (see archon) + typos “model, type, blow, mark of a blow” (see type).

        The ancients understood worldly things as bearing each the stamp or impression – in Greek terms the idea or form, in Hebrew the stamp or engraving or writing – of heavenly originals. These originals were often personified as angels or gods (as Aurora is goddess of the dawn, or Raphael the angel of healing). As bearing the form of archetype x, a worldly being partakes in some degree of the nature of x, making that nature part of its own nature. “Partake” is “participate.” Participating a form, a worldly being becomes a type of that archetype, as the mark of a seal in wax is a type of the archetype on the face of the seal. A type is a mark in the actual world of an archetype. It is in virtue of their participation of the order of the forms in heaven that worldly things exhibit their own order, and are amenable to coordination with each other in and as a coherent world. This is why the ancients were so interested in the Logos, the Memra, the Word. The world and its members are the imperfect type of a heavenly order, an impression of heavenly words.

        Each worldly thing obviously participates many different archetypes. That a worldly thing participates an archetype does not mean that it is like the archetype in every respect, for the archetypes are pure, while worldly things are composite. This means also that no worldly thing can perfectly instantiate any of the archetypes it participates, precisely because it is not pure. So for example a man can participate the form of the father, of the poet, of the farmer, of the husband, of the son, of the citizen, of the soldier, of the philosopher, of the atheist, and so forth. The forms are not all mutually exclusive.

        So a man can be a type of the archetype of atheism, and also a type of the archetypes of sagacity, magnanimity and charity. It is even possible for a type of the archetype of atheism to be a type of the archetype of holiness. I knew a guy like that once.

        That a man is a type of the archetype of atheism does not mean he is nothing else. Nor does it mean that he perfectly and completely expresses the archetype of atheism.

        Clear?

        I’m actually trying here to relieve you of something that appears to cause you some pain, so that you can let go of it and move on.

      • Oh my, 16th century archaic definitions that are metaphors for essentialism. Okay.
        Yet, when the atheists try to define atheism according to it’s etymology they are told they are wrong.
        Okay — so you’re holding to the archaic definition that now claims atheists are made from the mould of Satan… (in some metaphorical sense)? After all, he’s not just another type, he is the archetype. Seems to me you’re not actually around the problem I initially challenged.

        Also, I love the idea that you need to think you’re causing me pain to elicit a response. Tell you what, I’ll ignore you in the future, even if you’re wrong, and will resist offering challenges to either refine or challenge your view, unless what you’ve written is actually offensive to me.

        Enjoy the echo chamber that leaves behind.

      • Hey, you’re the one who’s gotten all huffy about the notion that Lucifer is the archetypal atheist. You’re the one who can’t let go of your mistake about what that means. I’m not concerned that it paints human atheists with some sort of horrible Satanic tar, as you seem to be. It simply doesn’t. The idea is absurd. It can be entertained only under a profound ignorance or confusion, or both, about the historical meaning of “archetype” in philosophical and religious discourse.

        I notice that you have no substantive reply to my adduction of the actual definition, etymology and historical usage of the word “archetype,” which, while relieving you of all reason to worry about a taint upon you of the archetypal atheist, also demolishes your many assertions that I don’t understand the term. All you can do, it seems, is sneer vaguely about essentialism. Smells like rhetorical bankruptcy.

        Do you think you’ll have better luck with me on essentialism than you have had with “archetype”? Want to try? Want to bet that you don’t even understand what it is?

        Have I said that you guys are wrong about the meaning of atheism? No. I have said things like, “OK, it’s not that you disbelieve in God, but rather that you don’t believe in God; whatever, I get it.” I know it is super, super important to lots of atheists that no one thinks that when they say that they “reject all gods,” they mean that they think there are no gods. Because to say that there is no such thing as gods would be to admit that the concept of “god” makes some sense, or something, and that would imply some horrible spot of credence in it on the part of atheists. Or something. “Out! Out, damned spot!”

        What mystifies me is why they get so hotted up about this, and spill so much ink over it. Who cares? If you are so confident, why aren’t you relaxed, blithe, unconcerned?

        What makes you think I need to think I’m causing you pain in order to want to respond to you charitably? For the record, I certainly *don’t* think I’m causing you pain about this business of “archetype.” I think *you* are causing you pain. Why are you so determined to keep at it?

        You think if you stop commenting here the Orthosphere will be an echo chamber? My God, man; pull your head out of your own navel. It’s not about you. Almost nothing in life is. Get over it.

      • Yeah, I noted that repeated trip to the ‘hurt feelings’ well as if that and not your carefully crafted responses had to be your motivation to correct their errors.

        Good grief, yet again.

        So… apparently we atheists don’t know about their God-that-is-not-just-another-God-but-the-highest-God-when-properly-understood-above-all-other-Gods because we can’t ‘see’. Yet these guys can’t comprehend why anyone might take issue with the thesis that Satan is THE archetypal atheist… after repeated attempts by atheists to break through their obtuseness about what atheism actually means and why Satan doesn’t represent it. At all. By definition!

        I mean, how sophisticated do you have to be to have eyes that do not see the written words, ears that do not hear the plain meaning of terms carefully defined for the ease of their intellectual digestion that they so flippantly use, minds that do not grasp why applying untrue characteristics to real people in real life based on their misunderstanding may be considered worth correcting. I mean, really…. what we have are dedicated religious apologists who refuse to apologize for their own gross misrepresentations! The cloak of piety is pretty powerful, I guess: it can deflect any and all criticism no matter how accurate and truthful it may be!

      • Also, the description of your argument I offered that you evaluated as being “exactly” what your argument was — that’s the same argument I described earlier, followed by a joke about my brother, that you said was wrong. You have reading comprehension issues.

      • No, I got the thing about your brother. That’s why I was so surprised when you later said that if I had only made that argument you would have agreed with it.

        When I said that you still misunderstood the argument, I was responding to this statement of yours:

        I won’t get into what that says of your God, or the frequent assertion that faith relies on having an experience of God; it didn’t work for Satan.

        It is all too easy to have an experience of God and not recognize it, or him, as what they are – especially if one is blind to the very concept of God. The blindness, the insufficiency, lay not in God, but in Lucifer.

  11. Being wrong about something is not the same thing as not thinking it exists. I, for instance, could be under the impression that your name is Al Smithers and someone else might be certain your name is Wayland Coholic. Either one or both of us are wrong, but that would not change the fact that we both acknowledge your existence. Likewise, someone might be completely wrong about the nature of gods and still believe in them.

    Nor does one’s stance on omnipotence have anything to do with atheism as there are many gods who don’t have that attribute. Hanuman, Freyja, and Nogomain are but a few examples. There is no logical contradiction in thinking your god exists and that it is more fallible than Dionysus after a massive bender.

    At most, you’ve shown that you and Satan disagree on what it means to be a god, or perhaps on who qualifies. Wherever this disagreement lies, you also haven’t shown that your view is correct and Satan’s view is wrong. In any event, none of what you’ve discussed qualifies Satan as an atheist.

    • If you walked into the room covered with tomato sauce and noodles, and announced you were the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I would say begone you wretched impostor, for there is no such thing as a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

      But seriously, if my beliefs about something are “completely wrong,” I cannot be sad to believe in that thing, since I clearly have no notion of that thing. If I say I believe that the Mississippi River exists, but am under the impression that Mississippi River is the name of pop singer, I do not in some covert way affirm belief in the existence of the Father of Waters.

    • Thanks for a serious comment, that actually grapples with the arguments of the post. Taking your points in order:

      … someone might be completely wrong about the nature of gods and still believe in them.

      Well, sure; especially if you delete “completely,” so that the someone in question is indicating the same sort of thing as everyone else when he talks about gods (if my notions about that thing I am calling Wayland Coholic were *completely* wrong, I might be using the name to refer to a lamp post rather than a man). But that’s not the argument of the post. It argues that Lucifer’s turn from Truth is, not from the idea of gods, but from the idea of God. The two ideas are radically different, as different as being and non-being. God is eternal, necessary, omnipotent, and so forth, *by definition.* The gods, on the other hand, are contingent creatures: they came into actual existence at some point in the past of some world or other, so they are not eternal; they are contingent, which is to say that they are not necessary; and while they are very powerful, they are not omnipotent. All I am saying in the post is that the only way I can see how a rational, supremely intelligent being like Lucifer could rebel against God is by mistaking him for a mere god; and the only way that I can see him making such a huge mistake is if his turn from Truth erased from his intellect the idea of God, so that all he can see is ordinary, run of the mill gods like himself.

      Nor does one’s stance on omnipotence have anything to do with atheism as there are many gods who don’t have that attribute. … There is no logical contradiction in thinking your god exists and that it is [fallible].

      To think that God is like Freya is a category error. It is like thinking that infinity is the same sort of thing as 5. If you are thinking that God is like Freya, you are not thinking about God at all; you are thinking of things like Freya.

      At most, you’ve shown that you and Satan disagree on what it means to be a god, or perhaps on who qualifies.

      No; just the opposite. I’ve suggested – not shown – that Satan and I disagree on what sort of being YHWH is. He thinks YHWH is just like Freya and himself, I suggest; while I think that, while YHWH certainly has it in his power to appear as a god like Lucifer or Freya, and has indeed done so, YHWH is *also* coterminous with the Eternal Holy One, the necessary, omnipotent being who is the source of all being.

      … you also haven’t shown that your view is correct and Satan’s view is wrong.

      Correct. I have not tried to. That’s a completely different subject.

      In any event, none of what you’ve discussed qualifies Satan as an atheist.

      I’ve suggested that Satan doesn’t believe that God exists. How is that not atheism?

      • “It argues that Lucifer’s turn from Truth is, not from the idea of gods, but from the idea of God…God is eternal, necessary, omnipotent, and so forth, *by definition.*”

        Ahh, that would be YOUR definition. And as you admitted, you’ve not presented any reason why we should accept your definition. As far as definitions go, it’s quite limited. Zeus and Ra would not approve.

        “I’ve suggested that Satan doesn’t believe that God exists. How is that not atheism?”

        You are conflating “Not buying into Kristor’s particular definition of god” with ‘atheism’. Atheism rejects, not only YOUR god, but also Freya, Thor, Zeus, and the Great Tree Spirit. Atheism does not believe in ANY god or god(s). Thus, Satan does not qualify. According to your reasoning, the ancient Greeks with their entire pantheon of gods, were atheists. They were, in fact, polytheists, or super-theists. I mean, you just believe in just one god. Not all that impressive, compared to other believers.

      • Except for a few process theologians and perhaps some Mormons, what you call “my” definition of God is the one that theists have always used, for thousands of years and across all cultures that have a tradition of philosophical discourse. If you want to argue against the truth of theism to theists, you have no alternative but to argue against the doctrine that they mean to indicate by “theism.” When they talk about God, theists do not mean to indicate beings like Freya. That’s all. Sorry! It is what it is. You can argue against the Flying Spaghetti Monster till you’re blue, and you just won’t be talking about theism.

        A fortiori, if you want to argue against the suggestion of the post, why then you’ll have to argue against the suggestion of the post.

        Apart from a few atomists, the ancient Greeks were mostly theists. You can’t think carefully about the gods for long without realizing that they entail God. Read some Plato, Aristotle, or Plotinus; you’ll see.

        I’m tired of this discussion, so I’ll close it by saying that by their determined, adamantine resistance to the simple notion that conflating the Eternal One with the fairies at the bottom of the garden is an obtuse category error, akin to conflating 5 and infinity, the atheists who have lately chimed in here have provided us an apt demonstration of something like the adamantine determination of Lucifer to continue his resistance to the suasions of his Lord. You can explain to them ad nauseam that they have failed to grapple with the right idea, that they appear to fail even to *understand* that idea, and they just don’t get it, nor do they seem to want to get it. They seem proud of their ignorance, and determined to maintain it.

        The whole thing is odd.

      • “I’m tired of this discussion, so I’ll close it”
        Oh no! One shouldn’t close a discussion right when things are pushing one’s limits and getting interesting. Otherwise we would never learn and grow.

        ““my” definition of God is the one that theists have always used, for thousands of years and across all cultures”
        Surely, you jest. You must know of Hinduism with its many gods. About 15% of the world’s population is currently Hindu and reject your narrow view of theism in favour of a polytheistic view. There are also all the aboriginal religious beliefs world over, and I’ve not heard of one monotheistic system among them. Not to mention all the new world-ish religions that have sprung up recently who, for the most part, flat out reject the notion of an omnipotent sky king.

        The fact that we have and can understand words like ‘polytheism’, ‘pantheism’, ‘deism’, ‘paganism’, and ‘animism’ demonstrates clearly that your ‘one all powerful god’ is not the only theistic game in town. A person in any of those types of religion cannot be said to be atheist.

        Even if there were indeed only one theistic belief in the world (which, as noted above, is complete balderdash), one could be the first ever to come up with a brand new notion of what god is, be a congregation of one at odds with every other believer on the planet, but that one person would still be a believer. They would not be an atheist.

        “conflating the Eternal One with the fairies at the bottom of the garden is an obtuse category error”
        Person A says god(s) are all powerful, person B says god(s) are not. But both definitely believe in god(s) and are therefore not atheist. The atheist position is that both A and B are wrong. Further, when persons C,D, and E come along with their own versions of god, no matter what they are, the atheist rejects them all. Again, all you have shown is a disagreement amongst theists. ‘I don’t think god is as powerful as god says’ or ‘I don’t think god is as powerful as all god’s followers think’ is in no way synonymous with ‘I don’t believe god(s) exists’.

        And your focus on fairies is quite uncharitable. The point was to show that there is more than one idea about how powerful a being need be to be considered a god. Krishna, Buddha, Ra, Zeus, and Odin are certainly more than garden fairies. If you look any of them up, the first thing it will say is “God of this” or “God of that”. You started by thanking me for a serious comment that actually dealt with your post’s arguments. I’d appreciate it if you responded in kind.

        ” you misunderstand “God,” thinking it means “god.” ”

        I think you’re right here when you say this is a key point, but I’m afraid it is you who does not understand. Atheists do not believe in ANY god, gods, God, Gods, or even GOD or GODS. As soon as someone believes in just one god, God, or GOD, that person does not qualify as an atheist. You particular belief of god holds no special position to the atheist. It is just one of many.

        “all [Satan] can see is ordinary, run of the mill gods like himself.”
        There, you said it yourself. Satan sees gods. He believes himself to be one of them. He believes in the existence of gods. He is therefore, by definition, a theist. Thus he cannot be an atheist. I think that’s worth repeating. Within your own reasoning Satan meets the criteria of a theist, thus your suggestion that he is an atheist must necessarily be false.

        “You can explain to them ad nauseam that they have failed to grapple with the right idea, that they appear to fail even to *understand* that idea, and they just don’t get it, nor do they seem to want to get it. They seem proud of their ignorance, and determined to maintain it.”

        Are you familiar with the psychological defence mechanism of ‘projection’? At this point, it may be prudent for you to look it up.

      • OK, I’ll bite.

        Oh no! One shouldn’t close a discussion right when things are pushing one’s limits and getting interesting. Otherwise we would never learn and grow.

        The discussion is not pushing my limits. Quite the opposite. I’ve encountered all the points you guys have made, many times, and refuted them all. Dealing with them is child’s play.

        About 15% of the world’s population is currently Hindu and rejects your narrow view of theism in favour of a polytheistic view. There are also all the aboriginal religious beliefs world over, and I’ve not heard of one monotheistic system among them.

        Well, there’s a lot you have not heard of, it seems. You have not read very much of what actual Hindus have written, have you? Nor it seems have you read very much about animism.

        The fact that we have and can understand words like ‘polytheism’, ‘pantheism’, ‘deism’, ‘paganism’, and ‘animism’ demonstrates clearly that your ‘one all-powerful god’ is not the only theistic game in town.

        Yeah, those almost all turn out upon examination to feature an Eternal One who is the source of all contingent things, including such gods or angels as there may be. The only exceptions are certain primitive forms of animism from cultures with no tradition of philosophical or theological discourse, that have not yet thought their way from the fact of contingent beings to the necessity of the Eternal One.

        But in any case, the post is not about the existence of contingent gods or angels. It is not about polytheism. It is about Lucifer’s failure to apprehend the Eternal One as the Eternal One.

        You round out your comment by repeating again and again that atheists don’t believe that any gods exist. I do get that, I really do; so please relax about it. But never mind all that, if you want to argue with theists about the God they are talking about, then it behooves you to talk about the God they are talking about, rather than insist that something they are not talking about does not exist. And if you want to dispute the suggestions of the post, then you have no alternative but to dispute the suggestions of the post.

        I don’t know what else to say to you about this, that might get through to you. I understand your arguments. They are simply not responsive. I explain how they fail to pertain, and you just repeat them.

      • “[This post] is about Lucifer’s failure to apprehend the Eternal One as the Eternal One.”

        No. It’s about how Lucifer doesn’t accept YHWH as the Eternal One. More to the point, it is on how you think this means that Satan is an atheist. The sentence above is not the definition of atheist. The actual definition has been explained in multiple ways. And each time it was shown how Satan does not meet the criteria. And still each time you go back to this tired line as if it justifies twisting the definition to suit your whim.

        Does Satan believe that some type of god or gods exist? As you said earlier, he does. That precludes him from being an atheist, by definition.

        “I don’t know what else to say to you about this, that might get through to you. I understand your arguments. They are simply not responsive. I explain how they fail to pertain, and you just repeat them.”

        Again, you express perfectly my thoughts on your comments.

      • The difference is that I do understand your comments, and can see clearly that they do not pertain to the matter at hand, but are, rather, quite confused; while you don’t understand mine, but are … quite confused about them.

        I understand the definition of atheism. It’s problematic to say that Satan is atheist, because of course he is himself a god. How can he fail to believe that he himself exists, as by definition an atheist god must do?

        Duh! Right?

        Can you see now that I really do understand the difficulty you have noticed in construing a god as an atheist?

        Would you please now just try to understand the point I have actually been trying to make?

        It is that the reason Satan, if he exists, might not recognize his God as such is that in turning away from Truth – i.e., from God – he has eliminated in himself the capacity to cognize the Category of the Ultimate, i.e., God; and that this would mean that he couldn’t recognize YHWH as the Eternal One, or, a fortiori, worship him as he should.

        Now, from Satan’s perspective, the gods are just normal folks. He knows that they exist, because he hangs out with them all the time, and is one of them. Men are to the gods as ants are to us. To such people as the gods, the only being that they might possibly worship is a being as high above them as they are above us. And this is exactly how Israelite religion has perennially understood the relation between the angels – i.e., the gods – and the God of the gods, YHWH: he is as high above them as they are above men. He is in fact one being with the Eternal One, who created Lucifer and all the other gods.

        Say then that there are is only one god, the Eternal One. There are no gods, but only men and some supermen, all contingent creatures. The supermen can fly and stuff, and hurl thunderbolts. And they are immortal. But they are not gods. They are more like Thor in the recent Marvel movies: super aliens. They are the ones that men have mistakenly called gods, and wrongly treated as supernatural. Say that Satan is one of those super aliens, like Loki is in the Marvel movies. Say also that Satan had turned from Truth, and – like so many men – had lost the capacity to understand the nature of the Eternal One. If that’s the way reality is – if, in other words, there is no such thing as gods, but only God – then Satan’s lack of belief in God, the Eternal One, would make him an atheist of the only sort that is possible. In a reality where the only truly divine being is the Eternal One, atheism – the lack of belief in divine beings – *just is* the lack of belief that there is an Eternal One, for in such a reality, there’s no other divine being out there to lack belief in.

        That’s all I was getting at. It’s *so simple.*

        Get it?

        Now, even if Satan was indeed an angel, rather than a mere super alien, and could move and act at will and without limitation within, in, and out of this cosmos, so that he was not pinned to this world as we are, his lack of belief in the Eternal One could still be construed as atheism, properly speaking. For if there are really angels or demons who can do that sort of thing, and they are creatures (as all varieties of theism have always thought), then provided you draw the boundaries of creation properly (as we should always of course do, if we want to speak properly), they are *not supernatural* in respect to the whole of the created order, but only in respect to certain worlds within it. If you draw the boundaries of creation properly, under any variety of theism, the *only* supernatural being is the Eternal One. This is because, being eternal, he is the only being who is “before *all* worlds.” This is one reason that Christianity, Judaism and Islam have lately been careful to use the term “angels” for the beings that the Old Testament and other religions characterize as gods or Sons of God. The angels are mere created messengers and ambassadors of the only one who can be called God, properly speaking: the Eternal One.

        I recognize of course that this is not how “atheism” has usually been employed, nor is it how you would prefer to use it. I’m just making a point, not suggesting that we all change our usage.

      • I would add that since your argument states that Satan’s rebellion is at the root a denial of God since Man’s own rebellion imitates and flows from this first rejection of His authority, you’re definitely using “archetypal” right (but I’m sure you knew that).

        I think the problem that atheists want to have their position be the default, but as you pointed out natural religion seems to be radical to human nature.

      • “The difference is that I do understand your comments, and can see clearly that they do not pertain to the matter at hand, but are, rather, quite confused; while you don’t understand mine, but are … quite confused about them.”

        Oh no. I’m not confused at all. I just have this habit of cutting through irrelevant nonsense.

        You started with the suggestion that Satan is an atheists. I disagreed. To settle the matter there are only two things to consider. The definition of ‘atheist’ and whether it applies to Satan. Those two things are precisely what I have focused on. And as you rightly admit, D’uh! Satan cannot be an atheist.

        Anything else, including all your suppose this’s and your imagine thats, does nothing to change the definition of atheist, nor does it change the fact that it does not apply to Satan. All you have been doing is taking fanciful trips through ‘what if’ land, hoping to skew and twist things enough so that, if you squint, it kind of looks like Satan might be an atheist.

        Then I try reign you in, remind you that the definition of atheist is very simple and it does not apply to Satan, so he cannot be an atheist. You reply each time saying ‘yes, yes I understand completely, but you are missing the point by staying exactly on topic. What you don’t understand is that I am holding the definition of atheist to this series of funhouse mirrors so it gets contorted enough to apply to Satan.’

        “I recognize of course that this is not how “atheism” has usually been employed, nor is it how you would prefer to use it. I’m just making a point, not suggesting that we all change our usage.”

        Your point seems to be that you are content to skew your view of things so they match how you’d like them to be with no regard of how they actually are. Someone earlier in the comments mentioned something about ‘bearing false witness’…

      • OK, so you’re absolutely determined to miss the point of the post. Or you *just can’t see it,* thanks to some intellectual incapacity. Or both: convinced of its correctness, you are absolutely determined to maintain that intellectual incapacity. Whatever the case, you *don’t* want to try to understand.

        Such is Pride.

        Ex hypothesi, this is just the situation Satan is stuck in, immovably, after he has turned away from the Truth. You even display the conviction of your superior gnosis, scornful condescension, and supererogatory spite so often ascribed to him. It’s uncanny.

      • Since you have nailed your flag to the mast of etymology and eschewed all of the word’s history, I guess I’ll have to cut down that mast. The privative “a” does not only mean “without” and does not by any means entail denial of what it lacks, so on strictly etymological grounds, Satan can be called an atheist. An apolitical man does not deny that politics exists; he simply lives as if it did not exist (as Satan attempts to live as if there were no God). An asocial man does not deny that society exists, he simply dislikes society (as Satan dislikes God). An aseptic wound resists infection, although infection certainly exists and afflicts other wounds (much as Satan resists grace while grace operates on other creatures). The humble atom is not itself divided, but joins into divisible molecules and compounds, and so in a sense recognizes the reality of division. There is no serious etymological objection to using the term atheist to describe a being who acknowledges the existence of a being known as God, but refuses to acknowledge, interact with, submit to, or emulate that being.

      • To Kristor:

        “you’re absolutely determined to miss the point of the post … You even display the … supererogatory spite so often ascribed to him. It’s uncanny.”

        You want to suggest that Satan is an atheist. I got the point. I demonstrated that you are wrong. Further, my doing so does not constitute ‘spite’. You appear to be doing more of that ‘see what I want, not what is’ thing again.

        To JMS:

        “An asocial man does not deny that society exists, he simply dislikes society ”

        This is like a someone arguing that the correct plural of moose is meece, as the plural of goose is geese. You cannot change the definition of words willy nilly just because it bears some resemblance to other words.

        “Since you have nailed your flag to the mast of etymology…”

        No, I have nailed my flag to what atheism actually means right now. How the word atheist got to be where it is today is of no relevance. You going on and on about similarly structured words also has no relevance. All that matters is that ‘atheist’ currently has a very simple and easy to understand definition: does not believe in any god or gods. And this is relevant to this post as this simple and easy to understand definition clearly does not hold true for Satan, thus Satan is no atheist.

      • You nailed your flag to the mast of etymology. I cut that mast down. Now you wish to retreat to usage. Good luck. Answer my question about Nietzsche. Checkmate, dude!

      • No, in completely missing the point of the post – which is *not* that Lucifer is an atheist – you completely missed the opportunity to demonstrate that it is wrong. But thanks to your determined adamantine intellectual incapacity, this oversight of yours is something that you simply cannot see, even when it is pointed out to you. So it seems, anyway. Instead of engaging with the post, you find a way to prevent any such engagement.

        As for whether you behave spitefully, it would seem that awareness of the ugliness of your behavior is another of your characteristic lacunae. No doubt you are convinced that your language is that of sweet reason. I can tell you that it isn’t, but this is not a message you are going to be equipped to hear.

        It is clear that you are impervious to conversation. So conversation with you is a waste of time. Because you are impervious, I shan’t respond to any more of your comments.

      • To JM Smith:

        “You nailed your flag to the mast of etymology.”

        You keep saying this, but it never happened. I know theists have a strong tradition of resorting to ‘It is this way because I say so’, but you should know your declarations don’t actually shape reality.

        “Now you wish to retreat to usage.”

        Insisting that words should be understood and used according to their actual definition is not a retreat. It’s being honest and consistent.

        “Answer my question about Nietzsche.”

        You haven’t asked me a question about Nietzsche. Looking up in the comments you were discussing Nietzsche with Tildeb, but I don’t see where you asked him a question about Nietzsche either.

        “Checkmate, dude!”

        Another long standing theist tradition of declaring victory when none was earned.

        To Kristor:

        “the point of the post … is *not* that Lucifer is an atheist”

        You dedicated an entire paragraph to declaring that Satan is an atheist. Then you spend a number of paragraphs trying to justify your declaration. Then there’s the title. This is indeed a point in the post. There may be other points in there as well, even others that you feel are more important. But I commented and have been discussing the ‘Satan is an atheist’ point, as it is the only one that holds any interest to me. If you wish to concede that Satan is not an atheist and hold on to the rest of your points, I’m more than happy to let the matter close.

        Oh and you also started by commending my comment as being on point. It was only when I stuck to it that you decided to change your mind. To be intellectually honest, one must be consistent, even when things are not going your way. Learn this and your life will be better.

        ” They seem proud of their ignorance…you are absolutely determined to maintain that intellectual incapacity… you *don’t* want to try to understand…Such is Pride…You even display [attributes of Satan]. It’s uncanny…your determined adamantine intellectual incapacity…you simply cannot see…it would seem that awareness of the ugliness of your behavior is another of your characteristic lacunae…”

        You call me intellectually incapable, prideful, blind, and compare me unfavourably to Satan, then get all indignant when I don’t respond with lovey dovey words. In contrast to your thinly veiled insults, the worst I’ve suggested about you is that you were being intellectually dishonest; a charge that I cited examples of when I did so. Again, I encourage you to study the projection defence mechanism and take a hard look at your conduct.

        “I shan’t respond to any more of your comments.”

        Good bye then. Thanks for playing.

      • Mystro, I take it back. I’m going to respond to this latest comment of yours after all, first because in it I hear again a tone of reasonability, and second because I think that you make a fair point, which I think it only right to acknowledge.

        I didn’t spend a paragraph of the post declaring that Lucifer is an atheist. I spent four words. I might just as well have spent seven, and made the same point: “He is, as it were, an atheist.” I might then have gone on to say that, of course, I didn’t mean to imply that Lucifer didn’t believe in such gods as himself, but only that – like human atheists – he didn’t believe in the Eternal One. This would have been a more careful way to put it, I grant, and would have forestalled many of the objections that atheists have here raised against the notion. That would have been good!

        As to the title; there, I disagree. The idea of the title was that in rejecting the Eternal One, Lucifer made an error that atheists also make when they reject both the gods and the Eternal One: namely, rejecting the Eternal One. Of all the beings above human atheists, the Eternal One is the only one that is God to all beings, no matter how high they might be. I.e., he is just as much God in respect to Lucifer as he is to us. One can decline to reckon Lucifer or Thor or any of the gods without contravening in act what is necessarily true: that the Eternal One is the Eternal One, and thus the only being truly worthy of worship. In rejecting the Eternal One, Lucifer rejected the only God that ultimately matters. The rejection of the Eternal One is the ultimate rejection, from which all other rejections of truth and being derive, for he *just is* Truth and Being. It is impossible to reject a higher being; so the rejection of the Eternal One is the archetypal rejection. As furthermore himself belonging to the penultimate category of beings – the seraphim – Lucifer is the first and foremost and most important of all those who reject the Eternal One. No higher being could reject the Eternal One. So, both as to what was rejected by Lucifer, and as to who was doing the rejecting, the title was not inapt.

        While the title then certainly took license with the ordinary definition of “atheist” that humans customarily use in referring to human atheists, that license was rhetorical rather than philosophical; and not I argue completely without philosophical warrant, when push comes to shove.

        Your first couple of comments were indeed germane to the main topic of the post, and were both interesting and constructive. But then you glommed on to the definition of “atheist” and went off the rails, thenceforth apparently unable to talk or think about anything else. You seemed to think that it defeated the suggestion of the post, when it did not: the post would have worked philosophically (so far as anyone has yet shown, or I have discovered) even if I had never used the word “atheist.”

        Now, to your fair point.

        First, I want to be sure that you understand that it is not true that I compared you unfavorably to Satan. As I have said repeatedly in this thread, from the fact that a man shares certain characteristics with Lucifer – as I do – it simply does not follow that he is like Lucifer, except in respect to those characteristics. To think that it does is to commit the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent.

        Nevertheless I’m sure it must have been hard to hear my words about “determined adamantine intellectual incapacity,” pride, blindness to the ugliness of your behavior, and so forth. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but from the other side of our conversation, that’s how you appeared. Throughout our conversation, I have been struggling to make myself clear, to understand your points and respond to them directly, and in general to be a courteous, accurate, honest interlocutor. You responded with snark, gotcha, condescension, misrepresentations of what I had said, accusations that I was fanciful, lying, twisting concepts, and so forth. You even went so far as to say that the point of the post was not the point of the post, as if you could know better than I what I had tried to convey.

        This all bewrayed an intractable stubbornness, an utter refusal to try to understand what I was saying. Understanding did not appear to be on your list of desiderata. I wrote:

        Can you see now that I really do understand the difficulty you have noticed in construing a god as an atheist? Would you please now just try to understand the point I have actually been trying to make?

        It is that the reason Satan, if he exists, might not recognize his God as such is that in turning away from Truth – i.e., from God – he has eliminated in himself the capacity to cognize the Category of the Ultimate, i.e., God; and that this would mean that he couldn’t recognize YHWH as the Eternal One, or, a fortiori, worship him as he should.

        You responded:

        Anything else, including all your [imagined suppositions], does nothing to change the definition of atheist, nor does it change the fact that it does not apply to Satan.

        This amounts to, “No – I *won’t* try to understand your point. I’m not even going to notice it. I’m going to keep hammering away at mine, even though you’ve obviously got it.” It was a refusal to engage in actual conversation. It seemed clear to me from this that you were impervious.

        Now, I didn’t feel quite right suggesting that you were doing this because you are a fool, or an ass, or something of that sort. It seemed to me that you must feel yourself to be doing your best to be an honest interlocutor, but that this honest intent on your part was issuing into public life as a determined refusal to learn; and that due to an intellectual lacuna that, by definition, was invisible to you, you must be blind both to the fact of that refusal and to its ugly appearance.

        I was struck by the congruence of your situation in this to Lucifer’s. Like him, you seemed blind to the possibility that you might have missed something important, and, being blind to the oversight, uninterested in learning anything about it. Furthermore you seemed angry, spiteful, scornful, bileful. Maybe you didn’t mean to be that way, but it is how you appeared.

        Again, to repeat: that you and Lucifer share certain properties does not mean that you are both alike, except in respect to those shared properties. It does not mean you are demonically evil!

        So now I come at last to the manner in which your point about my behavior is fair. I too am of course immured in the same sort of intellectual and moral predicament as Lucifer (albeit that as a human I have a chance at metanoia and redemption from it). I, too, fail properly to reckon the Eternal One. There is every likelihood therefore that what I intend as an honest, courteous attempt to reach understanding and to criticise fairly comes across as ugly, scornful, spiteful, and so forth. If so, I apologize.

        I’d be glad to have a courteous conversation with you, however much we disagree on the substance. If you feel able to make an attempt at that, by all means let’s proceed. If not, then, God be with you.

      • “I didn’t spend a paragraph of the post declaring that Lucifer is an atheist. I spent four words.”

        Scroll up. Those four words were indeed given their own paragraph. The word ‘atheist’ is even bolded. Giving a sentence its own paragraph and bolding words signifies you wanted to highlight that sentence. That is, it stresses the the words in that one sentence paragraph as very important to the overall piece. Or, put another way, it means it is an important point.

        “ You even went so far as to say that the point of the post was not the point of the post”

        I have already recognized that you might not feel it is THE point, but it is most certainly A point. I have stated expressly it was the only point that held any importance to me. You say you understand me, but this seems to escape you.

        “This amounts to, “No – I *won’t* try to understand your point…This all bewrayed an intractable stubbornness, an utter refusal to try to understand what I was saying”

        I kept the conversation on the only point I raised instead of following you to other things that didn’t matter to that point. You misunderstand my apathy for the irrelevant as stubbornness.

        “I didn’t mean to imply that Lucifer didn’t believe in such gods as himself, but only that – like human atheists – he didn’t believe in the Eternal One.”

        Read what you wrote there and think of what it means. You didn’t mean to imply that Satan was an atheist, yet still directly called him an atheist. Perhaps now you better understand my charges of intellectual dishonesty.
        I will consider this as close to you admitting you were using your own made up version of ‘atheist’ as you’ll get. I’m happy to leave it at that.

        “it must have been hard to hear my words…“

        Not at all. I’m quite used to being unfairly insulted by holier-than-thou believers. The ubiquitous theistic vitriol, however, does not inspire me to go the extra mile to look after your feelings. This is not anger or spite. It is simply calling out poor behaviour when it is thrown at me.

        “it is not true that I compared you unfavorably to Satan… the fact that a man shares certain characteristics with Lucifer..it simply does not follow that he is like Lucifer…To think that it does is to commit the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent.

        In comparing me to Satan, you called me scornful, condescending, spiteful, and blind. This was certainly not a favourable comparison. It was a blatant ‘guilt by association’ type of ad hominem.

        “I’d be glad to have a courteous conversation with you…God be with you.”

        No, I think our conversation has run its course. Freya be with you.

  12. So by definition I am a Lucifer?
    Wow … all this time and I never knew.

    Move over, God … Lucifer coming, ready or not!

    • I take it that you are atheist.

      No. Like the other atheists who’ve recently commented here, you’ve committed a basic error of logic in thinking that if you share some characteristic with Lucifer, as I do, that makes you a demon just like him.

      Your conclusion lies at the end of a syllogism that has the following form:

      1. All men are mortal.
      2. Socrates is mortal.
      3. Socrates is a man.

      This syllogism is invalid. The conclusion does not follow from the truth of the premises. It employs the fallacy of affirming the consequent. Socrates might be a fish, and he would still be mortal.

      So, likewise, the following syllogism is invalid; its conclusion does not logically follow from its premises, even if they are both true:

      1. Demons are atheist.
      2. Argus is atheist.
      3. Argus is a demon.

      NB: from the fact that this syllogism is invalid, it does not follow that its conclusion is false. You really could be a demon. It’s just that the syllogism does not show that you are a demon in virtue of your atheism.

      The other atheists on this thread seem to have been operating on the basis of the same fallacy, but using something like the following arguments:

      1. Kristor says that demonic beings, as Lucifer is supposed to be, are atheist.
      2. I am atheist.
      3. Kristor implies that I am demonic.

      They naturally took umbrage at what they mistook as my implication that they were demonic, like Lucifer. As you may now well see, there cannot possibly have been any such implication. Their thoughts were just muddled.

      It’s an understandable mistake. No one wants to be thought of as similar to Lucifer in any respect. But – aside from saints and martyrs – all of us are. It’s a horrible, revolting thought. But it’s true.

      • Thank you, much appreciated.

        True, I am an atheist—but I try not to make a religion out of it (there’s a few too many of those already).

        My gripe is never with the person who has found God (or Allah, Yahweh, Herne, Odin, Brahma, etc etc whatever His (Her too, sometimes) name is.
        My gripe is with the person who claims that his/her God is the One True God and all others false. Not good. So I ask them to, if they can, prove it? Because I find it very difficult to reconcile the claims made for ‘gods’ with the realities of this world.

        If a person has found God, I say good on him. Or her.
        But please, don’t expect me to accept that Allah is all merciful, wise and compassionate just because the Holy Koran says so (often enough, sheesh!); or that Jehovah likewise because of The Bible. And especially not when they neither of them practise what they preach. Is preached, if we’re splitting hairs.

        The Spouse and I have some very devout Christian friends, who when we go there say Grace before a meal … and when they come here, we always invite them to do their thing likewise.
        But it gets better, he is a devout Baptist and she a devout Catholic, and every other week they worship in the other franchise’s temple. Surely it doesn’t get better than that? And they never try to convert us, and we likewise—but anyone trying to convert me prompts a gut reflex: first I clamp my hand on my wallet, then I say “Prove it, Bud” …

        But Mormons though … I love them, and have had them spring wide-eyed to their feet, gather up their teaching aids and run almost shrieking from my house—their programmers hadn’t prepped them for the line I took and they couldn’t handle it.

        If you are a Christian, what outfit are you with, if it’s not too personal a question?

      • I’m Catholic, with deep thick roots in the Anglican communion. So, more traditional than most Catholics, is the impression I get so far.

        My gripe is with the person who claims that his/her God is the One True God and all others false. Not good.

        It’s not possible to believe a doctrine unless you think it true; and to think x is true is ipso facto to think -x somehow false. So while I understand the gripe – no one enjoys being pushed away from a comfortable costly equilibrium – it’s not quite fair; for, no man of conviction – any sort of conviction – can avoid the ire of that gripe. Everyone believes something you don’t, and would rather you agreed with him about it than not (tolerance is the virtue of the man who has no convictions, etc.) If what is more I am convinced that x is true, and that salvation depends upon agreement with it, it would be positively sadistic of me to fail to evangelize you if I could. So is it appropriate to treat even the most bothersome missionaries as people who are trying their best to help you at the deepest level, as if they were offering to pull you up into a helicopter out of a killing flood.

        I am glad that you are so courteous and charitable to your Christian friends, and that you recognize that their prayers cannot hurt.

      • Certainly their prayers cannot hurt. And if they do no other good than bring folks together in peace and good fellowship—who would I be to object?

        Thinking one truth is true doesn’t necessarily mean that other truths aren’t also true—even if we do not think them true.

        But given just the One True God to share between three religions, each of which believes itself to to be the true pathway to union with the godhead, puts any two of those religions—if not all three—in the wrong. Ask a Jew, a Christian, and a Mussulman which is the True Path … and you’ll get three different (mutually excluding) answers. Perhaps two of them really are deluded (in my atheist view, all three are).

        But if one is The One … then which?

      • Thinking one truth is true doesn’t necessarily mean that other truths aren’t also true – even if we do not think them true.

        It’s not our thinking a thing true that makes it true. Either there is truth, and we can possibly understand it, or we are basically screwed, completely in the dark whatever we might think to the contrary. But, fortunately, if there is no truth, then “there is no truth” is false. “There is no truth” is self-refuting. So there is truth. What is more, if it is true that we cannot know the truth that is really out there, then we cannot know that we cannot know the truth that is really out there. Radical skepticism devours itself.

        If the God of the Bible is essentially different from the Allah of the Koran, then they cannot be the same being, and – because by definition of “ultimate” there can be only one ultimate – they cannot both be real in the same way (they might both be real if one of them is God and the other a demon, e.g.). One book or the other gives a truer picture of God, and if we believe there is a God, and we want to be both thorough and careful, we must decide between them.

        There will then be a lot of other derivative questions to be answered – so as, e.g., to figure out whether the Orthodox or the Catholics get things quite right, or to decide between Ismaili and Sunni doctrine and practice.

        It’s a lot of work!

      • @ Kristor

        it would be positively sadistic of me to fail to evangelize you if I could. So is it appropriate to treat even the most bothersome missionaries as people who are trying their best to help you at the deepest level

        It’s also colossally arrogant and incredibly disrespectful to assume the Other must believe as you do. Once you believe that the Other is doomed (and we have gobs of evidence for this), then it’s far easier to then infringe upon their rights and freedoms and be disrespectful to the Other’s autonomy.

      • Sure. Humans are evil. They are all too prone to do evil even when they intend to do good.

        But coercion is not evangelization. It would be even more sadistic for a believer to try to coerce belief in another than for him to fail to evangelize.

      • @ Kristor

        It would be even more sadistic for a believer to try to coerce belief in another than for him to try to evangelize

        But this is exactly what believers do in effect – coerce – when they extend their private beliefs into the public domain and (ab)use the law to do it. This is exactly what believers do in effect – coerce – when they extend their private beliefs into the public domain in areas of medicine, reproductive concerns, end of life policies, education, the military, social policies and welfare, foreign policies and law, and so on. Coercion is the Number One tool used to force everyone to first accept and then submit to the religious beliefs of some to then be privileged.

        So there is no innocence of some benign intention to evangelize, to continue to hammer away at others – particularly through the ongoing indoctrination of dependent children – when in effect this evangelization is to coerce the Other and fail to respect the autonomy of those who do not believe as you do.

      • These arguments all tell – a bit – against *any* set of believers in *any* doctrine. These days, it is the Christians who are being Otherized by secularists, forced, e.g., to kowtow to secular sacred cows like gay “marriage” or risk losing their careers, to pay for the murder of children, and so forth.

        There is nothing unusual in this state of affairs. Enforcing outward compliance with an ostensible common cult is just what cultures do.

        But, in any case, coercion is not what Argus and I were discussing. It’s a different subject. A polite evangelist who comes to your door offering to talk is not trying to coerce anyone, and you are at perfect liberty to say to him, “No thanks.”

      • @ Kristor

        Enforcing outward compliance with an ostensible common cult is just what cultures do.

        Yes, this is what unenlightened cultures do… unless constrained by law from doing so. Secular law. That’s why such forced compliance is illegal in secular countries.

        So the important question I have for you is whether or not you respect the fundamental enlightenment value of individual autonomy (and respect for it in law) on which secularism itself rests… secularism, I hasten to add, that establishes in law for the right of the Other – all Others – the religious freedom to believe whatever you want in the private domain… or do you not?

        Exporting these private religious beliefs into the public domain and attempting to use secular law to privilege your preferred religious beliefs (while claiming this is what cultures do and not you specifically) is not religious freedom at all but it’s opposite: forcing religious compliance that you prefer through legal coercion that supplants the individual legal rights of who do not.

        Standing firm against this anti-secular privileging you favour is not “kow tow(ing) to secular sacred cows” but respecting our shared enlightenment value of individual autonomy in law and standing up for it… defending the very value upon which YOUR religious freedom rests.

        You seek to undermine this value of respect for individual autonomy in law and attack this principle (entirely for religious reasons). By claiming allegiance to such an anti-secular objective, you are undermining your right to your religious freedom and attacking the principle of it. This support is folly.

        I will defend your right to believe whatever you want without legal coercion but I will not tolerate you undermining my right to support your religious freedom.

        Even if you fail to ‘see’ why your support for religious privileging you happen to favour is folly for all, I do not. And I will continue to attempt to break through your religious blinders and eagerness to discriminate on this basis to get you to ‘see’ why privileging your religious belief in the public domain attacks the principle of religious freedom itself.

        Understanding this will then allow you to understand why secularism is religion’s greatest ally if religious freedom is a fundamental value worth having. This is where the rubber of your religious belief meets the road of real life: are you a supporter of religious freedom or are you not?

      • You seek to undermine this value of respect for individual autonomy in law and attack this principle (entirely for religious reasons).

        I do? Where and when? I don’t believe I’ve ever written about religious freedom. You’re leaping to some wild, simplistic and unwarranted conclusions.

        Law *cannot operate* except by imposing constraints upon individual autonomy. To think that it can is simply incoherent. And law per se cannot but express a moral evaluation of behavior: it imposes a moral vision upon the whole polis, whether or not it admits to doing so, or wants to.

        At the same time, individual autonomy cannot be ontologically limited – or guaranteed – by the state, for as the Founders knew, it is given with the human person eo ipso.

        There will always be laws, and the individual is always going to have to decide whether to obey them and remain a member of the polis, or to disobey and pay the price of ostracism. And there will always be ostracism; the only way to do without it is to do without a polis altogether.

        The only question then is whether the laws of the polis – including the laws about what sorts of ostracism are illicit – are in fact moral. There is no way to answer that question except by reference to moral principles that transcend and found all law. We can’t avoid moral determinations. And that is just to say that we can’t avoid deciding what it is absolutely wrong to do; wrong, i.e., not just in terms of our happenstantial preferences, but in terms of the structure of reality.

        Legal discourse, then, rests ultimately upon a shared understanding of the basic order of being; and such understandings cannot but address religious matters (even if only to deny that religion refers to anything real – which is itself a terrifically controverted proposition of theology). This is why a common cult of some sort is always the foundation of political order. Whether or not it be juridically established, there is *always* a state religion.

        Again, likewise, there is *always* freedom of religion. The individual will *always* have to decide whether or not to adhere to the common cult, and will *always* face ostracism as a traitor thereto if he does not.

        A common cult that asserts the meaninglessness of all cults is by its own account meaningless, and having rejected any absolute, metaphysically given basis for moral evaluations, is incapable of generating laws that are moral except by accident – or by the survival from other days of moral sentiments grounded in the cult of an obsolescent ancient regime. E.g., we still feel that murder is evil, but if there be no absolutely given moral order of things, as would be the case if there were no God, then this feeling *can’t be correct,* so that it is no greater in inherent righteousness, weight and dignity than the feelings of the murderer who feels like murdering – or than the soughing of the wind.

    • Censorship is a unilateral action by a government, in violation of well-known rights, to prevent discussion of certain topics in the commons, or to prevent the promulgation of certain judgments concerning certain topics in the commons. The Orthosphere is not a government; it has no commons. The Orthosphere is a private arrangement to discuss issues relevant to Traditionalism. Being a private arrangement, it is like a household. The householders may admit guests, as they see fit; they may expel them, as they see fit. We grant guests privileges on a probationary basis, but we reserve our rights to ourselves. Parties excluded from The Orthosphere may carry on their discussions elsewhere freely – for example, at atheist websites.

      • Possibly the word started out with that precise definition, but it has entered the lingo and is now an acceptable term for “someone in a position of power using said power to delete or adjust the sayings of others before those saying may enter the public weal

        Would you believe that sometimes dictionaries actually lag the flow?

        Given your points one can but agree, that the householder may indeed regulate the flow through his door. No argument there—but if he/she uses his power to control speech … I’d call that censorship.

        Is it perhaps a case of you only want people to/that agree entirely with you and yours? Fair enough—but preventing them from airing an alternative is censorship.
        And the last thing I want to do is crash a private party, or intrude upon anyone else’s freedoms; peace be with you and may your God be with you always.

  13. We call it fostering our household. We posses authority in our household, and the power, through our arrangement, small though it be, to exercise that authority. We are not afraid to effectuate our prerogatives. In our household, we decide what is acceptable or not.

    No one at The Orthosphere can prevent anyone from “airing” his views, but we can, and we will, stop such a party from “airing” his views here, as long as we see fit to do so. The air here is ours, period.

    “The last thing I want to do is crash a private party, or intrude upon anyone else’s [sic] freedoms; peace be with you and may your God be with you always.”

    Good. You understand me, as I understand you.

    PS: “The last thing I want to do is crash a private party.” A bloke may ask admission to a private symposium, but, supposing he finds himself admitted, the obligation on him not to spoil the air is immense.

    PPS: “Would you believe that sometimes dictionaries actually lag the flow?” Yes, I would believe it. We at The Orthosphere breast “the flow.” Welcome to the Bohemia of nonconformism.

      • Mr. Zande @ The Orthosphere is a published forum, not a public forum. The fact that this published forum has a very liberal comment policy appears to have confused you. A published forum is presented to the public, and so invites criticism; but it is under no obligation to sponsor or subsidize that criticism. If you set up a website called the Antiorthosphere, we would not try to stop you.

        Argus @ Censorship prevents the publication of an opinion, so that that opinion will not be presented to the public. Editorial or authorial control prevents the presentation of an opinion in a particular publication. If I submit an article to the New York Times and they decline to publish it, that is not censorship, since they have done nothing to prevent its publication in another place. The same is true of a letter to the editor.

        You are right to say that some people nowadays espouse an expansive definition of censorship. Thus when a public library declines to purchase some particular book, they will cry censorship. As with most expansive definitions, this has the drawback of reducing abhorrence of the real thing.

      • Atheists may abuse English ad libitum; but God forbid that anyone else should dare to tickle or push or stretch at the definition or usage of the word “atheist,” in their own fora or anywhere else.

      • Atheists may heap contempt and scorn on anyone, for any reason; but God forbid that anyone else should intimate that they are themselves anywise beset by wickedness or error.

      • but God forbid that anyone else should intimate that they are anywise beset by wickedness.

        Well, if that were true we would surely see a strong correlation between your rather brash statement and prison populations, correct? We don’t. Atheists compose 0.07% of the US Federal prison population, and that is a massively under-represented demographic, compared to the number of atheists in the general American public (~20%). Protestants (who make 48% of the US population) make up 28.7% of the prison population; Catholics (who make up 22% of the US population) make up 24% of the federal prison population.

      • You missed the point. No one has intimated here that atheists are more wicked than is normal. All men are beset by wickedness, as Lucifer is. Relatively few do such wicked things as to wind up in jail.

        I do however get the impression that the atheists who’ve commented on this thread are extraordinarily sensitive to the notion that others might think them unusually wicked. They seem to apprehend intimations of their extraordinary wickedness where none exist.

        It’s curious.

        Not all atheists are like that, of course. Our own loyal atheist commenter here, the intelligent and acerbic a.morphous, seems completely untouched by worry on that score.

      • No one has intimated here that atheists are more wicked than is normal.

        Ah, and saying all atheists are Satan (or part thereof) is what, exactly?

        Do you people even comprehend what you’re writing?

        And who altered one of my comments? Editing someone’s words (actually deleting those words and writing something completely different to make it look like I wrote them) is outrageously bad form.

      • I think one of the other editors might have been having a little fun at your expense.

        You are not comprehending what you are reading. No one said that atheists are Satan, or are Satanic. Like so many of the atheists on this thread, you have confused yourself by deploying a logical fallacy. For an explanation, search this thread for the string “affirming the consequent.”

      • Having a little fun?

        Altering people’s comments. Fabricating a narrative, huh? I suppose that’s what apologists do best, isn’t it. Create a pantomime world.

        Well done. Very impressive stuff.

      • I’ll see if I can restore your comment.

        By the way, you’ve abused English again with muddled diction. You’ve misused “pantomime.”

      • Don’t bother.

        You have revealed how you act. You have no concern for reality, and not only censor comments, but fabricate new one’s to suit your narrative.

        Like I said: Impressive stuff.

      • Well, I tried, but I couldn’t find the text of your original comment. If you want to submit it again, I’ll approve it.

        By the way, you’ve abused English syntax by inserting a possessive apostrophe in “ones.”

      • And Kristor, didn’t you write “beset by wickedness.”?

        Can you not keep track of your comments? Do you not recognise what you’re writing?

      • I suppose you were reading too hastily to notice that I said that *all* men are beset by wickedness. It’s standard Christian and Jewish moral theology, and also a deliverance of plain common sense.

      • No, you wrote “Atheists may heap contempt and scorn on anyone, for any reason; but God forbid that anyone else should intimate that they are themselves anywise beset by wickedness or error.”

        But why don’t you just alter that comment to read as you feel fit. That is what you do, isn’t it, editing peoples words? Fabricating the narrative by inventive subterfuge and just hope no one catches you out.

      • Mr. Zande, you really should slow down, take a deep breath, read more carefully, and then write more deliberately, lest you embarrass yourself any further by more such grotesque misprisions as you’ve committed in the last few of your comments.

        The meaning of the quote you provide is quite clear, and it conveys a truism nowhere controverted and everywhere accepted, which I am therefore naturally content to affirm without reservation. To say that atheists are somewise beset by wickedness or error is just to say that, *like all men (who are not God),* they can err and stray from the perfect in thought, word and deed. This is just common sense. I’m amazed that you seem so offended at the notion.

        Again, it’s curious. You seem certain that you are being accused of horrible things, when all that has been suggested is that you, like all others (who are not God), are able to err. You apprehend an insult, when none has been offered. Proverbs 28:1.

      • To say that atheists are somewise beset by wickedness or error is just to say that, *like all men (who are not God),* they can err and stray from the perfect in thought, word and deed.

        And as I have already demonstrated, this is simply false. Atheists are woefully underrepresented in Federal prisons. That is a fact.

        So, you got that wrong, too. Your pantomime world is not very convincing.

        Now, as you’re probably going to change this comment, editing and altering my words to read something else, I think I’ll just leave you be. You’ve shown you’re prepared to lie, to misrepresent someone through forgery, so I see no point in lowering myself to your ignoble standard by continuing this conversation.

      • You haven’t demonstrated anything. Do you really think “wicked” means “convicted of a Federal crime”? Do you think, i.e., that anyone not in jail is as pure as the driven snow? Look up “wicked.” Sheesh.

        Do you really think that there is some one (who is not God) who *absolutely cannot* err in thought, word or deed?

        NB also that to say someone is beset by wickedness is not to say that they are in fact wicked. It is to say only that they are plagued by wickedness, assailed, tormented, and so forth (look up “beset,” and you’ll learn what it means). A saint who had attained immaculate moral perfection in this life would be nevertheless plagued and assailed by wickedness; even if, per impossibile, he were never tempted to do evil, he would be forced by the exigencies of earthly life to suffer the torments of evils committed by others.

        I think your decision not to comment further on this subject is prudent. I urge you again in future to read more carefully, think more carefully, and write more carefully, so as to avoid such basic errors of usage, diction, and reasoning as you have lately here committed.

      • I would not argue that atheists are overrepresented in prisons, but you are wrong (not to mention sly) when you claim they are underrepresented. In order to get a big denominator, you include “nones” and “no religion” to get 20 percent of the population; and then to get a small numerator, you leave these folks out. A substantial number of inmates do not know what the word atheist means, and among those who do, more than a few take it to mean something more than a man who recognizes no God. Somewhere, about 500 comments back, I described these two groups as “high church” atheists and “low church” atheists (borrowing the terms from Vox Day, who has actually crunched the prison numbers).

        In any case, as Kristor has repeatedly tried to explain, Satan is the archetype of atheists because he refuses to acknowledge God as God, not because he behaves badly. If he had meant to suggest the latter, he probably would have said that the Devil is the archetypal atheist. The two names have very different connotations. Looking back, however, he (Kristor) might have done better to speak of Lucifer.

        We have seen in this thread that none of our atheist guests has the slightest knowledge of the history of atheism, so let me explain the connection that has traditionally been made between atheism and wrongdoing. The place to begin is Plato’s Laws. Here Plato described three types of atheist: men who believe there is no God, men who believe God does’t care what men do, and men who believe God is easily placated with sacrifices. The non-belief these three types share is non-belief in the promises of God. In Plato’s view, the reasons these three types give for not believing in the promises of God are different (non-existence, indifference, amiability), but these reasons are secondary.

        Christian writers absorbed this view, and it gave rise to the doctrine that bad men find a refuge in atheism–as broadly defined by Plato. I can think of no writer who argued that atheism was the cause of wickedness; causality always ran in the other direction. Christian writers also recognized a host of other causes of atheism, including congenital inability, poor teaching and disgust with the behavior of bad Christians. All the old Christian writers recognized that many self-described Christians were atheists in Plato’s second or third sense of the word.

      • You use Vox Day as a legitimate source of information about anything?That’s like using Answers in Genesis for update sin evolutionary biology. ‘Vox Day’ and ‘intellectual integrity’ is an oxymoron.

  14. Zande: I altered your comment. I altered it for two purposes: (1) to eliminate the Nth degree of repetition in your endless stream of self-mimicking discourse; and (2) to demonstrate that Orthosphereans control The Orthosphere, not its guests, and especially not its obnoxious ones, who abuse the rules of hospitality. (I don’t give a damn whether you call it censorship or anything else — your opinion on that matter is both tedious and irrelevant, as The Orthosphere is not your house, but ours.) Kristor has given you leave to post thousands of words in his thread, nine tenths of which are frankly redundant. You misread Kristor; with admirable clarity Kristor explains the misreading, and then you come right back with an identical comment as though Kristor’s response had never existed. Kristor’s Christian patience in respect of you verges on the saintly. That patience has gone completely unremarked by you – not one atom of acknowledgment that he is a generous host. Your verbal behavior, on the other hand, has been grossly un-guest-like. Your style, which is the Liberal style to a T, is to barge in, tell people what to do, and suck all of the air out of the room. Go suck your own air. Sincerely, TFB

    • For the record, Mr. Zande’s original comment was something like, “Then you should stop pretending that the Orthosphere is a public forum.” As JM Smith then said, the Orthosphere is, indeed, not a public forum, nor has it ever represented itself as such.

    • It’s better to just delete (or just not approve in the first place) a comment that violates the policy outright. It’s a total violation of all “netiquette” and simply doesn’t look good. You’ve just given him an excuse for unrepentant self-righteousness.

      • I’ve now encountered about one to two dozen religionist sites that alter commentary and even edit it… when the mood strikes, I guess. I have encountered no atheist sites that do the same. I’ve been online since 1983.

        I’ve encountered only a few atheist sites that moderate (and all have been by topic, ie. no creationism allowed) but fewer than a handful out of thousands of religionist sites that don’t.

        Yet atheists are usually painted as the ones typically violating ‘netiquette’. It’s a question of tone, you see.

        Of course, I wouldn’t want any religious site administrators to criticize themselves about their own version of netiquette; the painting of others in a negative hue must always be one way and outward and who better to target than those nasty and rude and brutish atheists. After all, as every religious person knows, they’re the ones that truly deserve it. Especially people like John Zande, who dare to point out fatal flaws in religious thinking and the temerity to keep enunciating them. How very, very… well, the religious term for it is… ‘rude’ (by religious definition, meaning a criticism of a religious belief).

        Everyone knows the religious deserve much more tolerance and respect and tonal privilege than they are willing to grant to non believers… because of God, you see, and objective morality and First Cause and Ptolemy and forms and so on… all ideas (thoroughly discredited) upon which religious foundations must stand. No shaking allowed. By divine fiat, so the religious administrators believe is their version of ‘polite’… and the good intentions of moderators who alter and edit commentary, it goes without saying. After all, such a dramatic breach of netiquette as writing another’s commentary and presenting it as such, editing commentary, and the usual moderating it out of existence, is all for a Greater Cause, you see, and one that must be called honouring Truth (even if it is a blatant denial of it). None of this is breaching netiquette like those angry and strident and militant atheists do all the time.

      • Tildeb: there may be few things that violate netiquette, but changing the content of a comment is definitely one of them (deleting an inappropriate comment usually isn’t). Nevertheless, you guys have been treated very graciously here, especially by Kristor, who is the author of the article.

        All the same, you have an uphill battle if you want to convince people that atheists, especially on the internet, aren’t angry and, as JM said, have a morbid obsession usually bordering on hatred with both religion and God while claiming not to believe in either.

      • If the comments policy at *your* site is, more or less, ‘no comments, no matter how irrelevant, vulgar, off topic, out of bounds, etc. shall ever be deleted or altered for content’, that is *your* prerogative at *your* site, and I’m pretty sure that no one here will ever argue against it. And if *yours* is indeed a “public forum” then all the more power to you. The question is since we religionists do not presume to question your utterly open comments policy, why do you presume to question the comments polic(ies) of Christians/”religionists” at their own sites. Besides, as others have pointed out, seems like you atheists have pretty much been given free rein here to spout off all manner of nonsensical falsehood concerning Kristor’s meaning in the O.P. and to reject his clarifying comments out of hand. Who are you *really* mad at?!

  15. Pingback: The Trouble with Atheists – The Orthosphere

  16. Comments should probably be closed and everyone invited to start again on one of the other atheism articles up page. It’s become nearly impossible to keep track of all the posts.

  17. Pingback: The Troubled Atheists – The Orthosphere

  18. Pingback: The Troubled Atheists – CHRIST THE MORNING STAR

  19. Pingback: A Theologico-Ontological Appraisal of Atheism | Suspended over Nothing

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