• True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism: A Refutation, Part 2

    Chapter 2: The Irony of Atheism, by Carson Weitnauer

    This second chapter trumpets many of the same themes as the first. Carson Weitnauer seems annoyed that the New Atheists consider themselves to be the bearers of reason, writing, “One of the great ironies of the contemporary atheistic movement comes from its ubiquitous use of rhetoric, branding, and emotional triggers to advocate for reason.” (9) [emphasis in original] I believe the irony entirely belongs to Weitnauer because Christians are the ones who often use “rhetoric, branding, and emotional triggers to advocate for” Christianity. They have used the fear of the unknown, the fear of death, and the wonders of the universe to cajole people into believing the improbable with tales of magic and an afterlife. And he provides just such an example a few pages later when he writes, “Christians marvel at how this group [of atheists] rallies together even as their most prominent leader, Richard Dawkins, argues that evolution favors the selfish gene, not the reasonable group.” (11)

    I’ve pointed out this grave misunderstanding of Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene numerous times, and so have many other atheists, so how in the world can the author make such a statement? I don’t believe I’ve ever come across as eloquent of an explanation about this idea of “selfish genes” better than in Robert Wright’s book The Moral Animal:

    [T]hose genes that are conductive to the survival and reproduction of copies of themselves are the genes that win. They may do this straightforwardly, by prompting their vehicle to survive, beget offspring, and equip the offspring for survival and reproduction. Or they may do this circuitously – by, say, prompting their to labor tirelessly, sterilely, and, and “selflessly,” so that a queen ant can have lots of offspring containing them. However the genes get the job done, it is selfish from their point of view, even if it seems altruistic at the level of the organism. (emphasis in original) [1]

    Richard Dawkins’ book takes a gene’s-eye view of the world and this has unfortunately lead to much confusion over the years. Just because our genes are “selfish” doesn’t mean humans act selfish at the social level. But don’t just take Wright’s word for it! Here is Richard Dawkins writing in the first chapter of The Selfish Gene: “I am not advocating a morality based on evolution. I am saying how things have evolved. I am not saying how we humans morally ought to behave.”

    In an attempt to demonstrate how irrational atheists are, Weitnauer cites a number of quotes from prominent atheists about how they came to disbelieve or their thoughts about why science discounts the supernatural, and argues that these reasons are not rational, they are irrational and are based upon emotionally-driven thinking. (13) He quotes the following atheists: Aldous Huxley, Thomas Nagel, Michael Shermer, and Richard Lewontin. (13-15) Unfortunately for the author, he apparently failed to confirm the context of most of these quotes.

    The author first quotes Aldous Huxley who said in his book Ends and Means,

    For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever…..
    Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because, for one reason or another, it suits their books that the world should be meaningless. (13-14)

    I believe this is an odd quote for the author to choose in defense of his argument since Huxley rejected this view. Below I quote what Huxley actually said. I’ve placed triple stars around the above quoted sections, and the sections of text that will aid the reader in understanding the context of this quote I’ve placed in bold.

    All that I need add is the fact that, in recent years, many men of science have come to realize that the scientific picture of the world is a partial one the product of their special competence in mathematics and their special incompetence to deal systematically with aesthetic and moral values, religious experiences and intuitions of significance. Unhappily, novel ideas become acceptable to the less intelligent members of society only with a very considerable time-lag. Sixty or seventy years ago the majority of scientists believed and the belief often caused them considerable distress that the product of their special incompetence was identical with reality as a whole. To-day this belief has begun to give way, in scientific circles, to a different and obviously truer conception of the relation between science and total experience. The masses, on the contrary, have just reached the point where the ancestors of to-day’s scientists were standing two generations back. They are convinced that the scientific picture of an arbitrary abstraction from reality is a picture of reality as a whole and that therefore the world is without meaning or value. But nobody likes living in such a world. To satisfy their hunger for meaning and value, they turn to such doctrines as Nationalism, Fascism and revolutionary Communism. Philosophically and scientifically, these doctrines are absurd; but for the masses in every community, they have this great merit: they attribute the meaning and value that have been taken away from the world as a whole to the particular part of the world in which the believers happen to be living.

    These last considerations raise an important question, which must now be considered in some detail. Does the world as a whole possess the value and meaning that we constantly attribute to certain parts of it (such as human beings and their works); and, if so, what is the nature of that value and meaning? This is a question which, a few years ago, I should not even have posed. For, like so many of my contemporaries, I took it for granted that there was no meaning. This was partly due to the fact that I shared the common belief that the scientific picture of an abstraction from reality was a true picture of reality as a whole; partly also to other, non-intellectual reasons. I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption.

    Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know. It is our will that decides how and upon what subjects we shall use our intelligence. ***Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because, for one reason or another, it suits their books that the world should be meaningless.*** […]

    The desire to justify a particular form of political organization and, in some cases, of a personal will to power, has played an equally large part in the formulation of philosophies postulating the existence of a meaning in the world. Christian philosophers have found no difficulty in justifying imperialism, war, the capitalistic system, the use of torture, the censorship of the press, and ecclesiastical tyrannies of every sort from the tyranny of Rome to the tyrannies of Geneva and New England. In all these cases they have shown that the meaning of the world was such as to be compatible with, or actually most completely expressed by, the iniquities I have mentioned above – iniquities which happened, of course, to serve the personal or sectarian interests of the philosophers concerned. In due course there arose philosophers who denied not only the right of these Christian special pleaders to justify iniquity by an appeal to the meaning of the world, but even their right to find any such meaning whatsoever. In the circumstances, the fact was not surprising. One unscrupulous distortion of the truth tends to beget other and opposite distortions. Passions may be satisfied in the process; but the disinterested love of knowledge suffers eclipse.

    ***For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality.*** We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever.

    Similar tactics had been adopted during the eighteenth century and for the same reasons. From the popular novelists of the period, such as Crebillon and Andrea de Nerciat, we learn that the chief reason for being “philosophical” was that one might be free from prejudices – above all, prejudices of a sexual nature. More serious writers associated political with sexual prejudice and recommended philosophy (in practice, the philosophy of meaninglessness) as a preparation for social reform or revolution. The early nineteenth century witnessed a reaction towards meaningful philosophy of a kind that could, unhappily, be used to justify political reaction.

    The men of the new Enlightenment which occurred in the middle years of the nineteenth century, once again used meaninglessness as a weapon against the reactionaries. The Victorian passion for respectability was, however, so great that, during the period when they were formulated, neither Positivism nor Darwinism was used as a justification for sexual indulgence. After the War the philosophy of meaninglessness came once more triumphantly into fashion. As in the days of Lamettrie and his successors the desire to justify a certain sexual looseness played a part in the popularization of meaninglessness at least as important as that played by the desire for liberation from an unjust and inefficient form of social organization. By the end of the twenties a reaction had begun to set in – away from the easy-going philosophy of general meaninglessness towards the hard, ferocious theologies of nationalistic and revolutionary idolatry. Meaning was reintroduced into the world, but only in patches. The universe as a whole still remained meaningless, but certain of its parts, such as the nation, the state, the class, the party, were endowed with significance and the highest value. The general acceptance of a doctrine that denies meaning and value to the world as a whole, while assigning them in a supreme degree to certain arbitrarily selected parts of the totality, can have only evil and disastrous results. “All that we are (and consequently all that we do) is the result of what we have thought.” We have thought of ourselves as members of supremely meaningful and valuable communities – deified nations, divine classes and what not – existing within a meaningless universe. And because we have thought like this, rearmament is in full swing, economic nationalism becomes ever more intense, the battle of rival propagandas grows ever fiercer, and general war becomes increasingly probable. […] [2]

    I hope you have read this entire quote and that you paid close attention to the highlighted text. Where Weitnauer inserted an ellipsis you can see that Huxley was just getting to his point, but Weitnauer cuts him off. The sections in bold ought to make it clear what Huxley meant when he refers to a philosophy of meaninglessness. He was not trying to argue (as Weitnauer tries to make it appear) that a philosophy of meaningless allows one to do whatever one wishes and to cast away morality. While Huxley does mention sexual freedom, it should be clear that his main motivator was political. It should also be pointed out that in the following chapter titled Ethics Huxley warns against unhealthy sexual addiction when he writes, “It is not only when it takes the form of physical addiction that sex is evil. It is also evil when it manifests itself as a way of satisfying the lust for power or the climber’s craving for position and social distinction.” [3] His contemporaries used a philosophy of meaningless as a method of confronting nationalism and other oppressive philosophies of the period. And, more importantly, he rejected such a philosophy. He said quite clearly, “For, like so many of my contemporaries, I took it for granted that there was no meaning.”

    In addition to this out of context quotation, there appears to be an even larger issue. In his footnotes, Weitnauer cites the 1937 edition of Ends and Means. He cites the page number this passage can be found on as 273. (207) However, the quote in the 1937 edition I have is on page 312. After doing some digging, this quote does seem to appear in the 1946 edition on page 273.

    Where Weitnauer has placed the ellipsis, signaling a jump forward in the text, the quote he cites (“Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because, for one reason or another, it suits their books that the world should be meaningless.”) actually comes before the first quote cited, and they are not even on the same page. This makes me wonder why Weitnauer cited the quote in such a way that would make it appear as if this was one single, coherent thought, when in actuality both of these quotes are four pages apart from one another.

    This further makes me wonder if perhaps Weitnauer even has a copy of this book or if, like so many of his fellow Christians, he merely cited a secondary source without checking the original. If that’s the case, why did he cite his source as Ends and Means? I don’t know, but either this was sloppily cited or Weitnauer did not actually check the primary source he was citing.

    The next quote provided by Weitnauer is one from Thomas Nagel in his book The Last Word:

    I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life, including everything about the human mind. Darwin enabled modern secular culture to heave a great collective sigh of relief, by apparently providing a way to eliminate purpose, meaning and design as fundamental features of the world. (14)

    This passage has been taken out of context. In The Last Word Nagel was discussing what he believes is the popularity of reductionism in common thought, in science, in evolutionary biology and sociobiology in particular. In the final chapter of The Last Word, titled “Evolutionary Naturalism and the Fear of Religion,” Nagel provides his own explanation for why people feel uncomfortable with Platonic-sounding language. Just prior to the passage quoted by Weitnauer above, Nagel writes,

    Even without God, the idea of a natural sympathy between the deepest truths of nature and the deepest layers of the human mind, which can be exploited to allow gradual development of a truer and truer conception of reality, makes us more at home in the universe than is secularly comfortable. The thought that the relation between mind and the world is something fundamental make many people in this day and age nervous. I believe this is one manifestations of a fear of religion which has large and often pernicious consequences for modern intellectual life. [4]

    According to Nagel, this reductionist viewpoint has biased scientists against his more Platonic view that intelligence was not just an accidental byproduct of natural selection. I personally do not agree with his conclusions, but it should be apparent that he is not explaining his reasoning behind his non-belief. He seems annoyed that many scientists are such hardliners with respect to their commitment to reductionism, and he believes that more scientists should be more open-minded.

    Nagel continues to write how he believes:

    One of the tendencies it [this reductionist position] supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life, including everything about the mind. [5]

    In the end Nagel explains how this fear is ultimately irrational and that any atheist who might have this fear can safely leave it behind.

    This is a somewhat ridiculous situation. First of all, one should try to resist the intellectual effects of such a fear (if not the fear itself), for it is just as irrational to be influenced in one’s beliefs by the hope that God does not exist as by the hope that God does exist. But having said that, I would also like to offer somewhat inconsistently the reassurance that atheists have no more reason to be alarmed by fundamental and irreducible mind-world relations than by fundamental and irreducible laws of physics. It is possible to accept a world view that does not explain everything in terms of quantum field theory without necessarily believing in God. If the natural order can include universal, mathematically beautiful laws of fundamental physics of the kind we have discovered, why can’t it include equally fundamental laws and constraints that we don’t know anything about, that are consistent with the laws of physics and that render intelligible the development of conscious organisms some of which have the capacity to discover by prolonged collective effort some of the fundamental truths about that very national order? [6]

    I am not the author so I cannot speak for him. However, it sounds as if he is providing a personal example of this “fear” of a Platonic view of the world, using a religious example, which he admits does plague him from time to time. But as he plainly expresses later, he seems to believe this is a more realistic view of the world, a world where the mind was made to understand the universe, as quoted below.

    [T]he existence of mind is certainly a datum for the construction of any world picture: At the very least, its possibility must be explained. And it seems hardly credible that its appearance should be a natural accident […]

    I admit that this idea – that the capacity of the universe to generate organisms with minds capable of understanding the universe is itself somehow a fundamental feature of the universe – has a quasi-religious “ring” to it, something vaguely Spinozistic. Still, it is this idea, or something like it, which [Charles Sanders] Peirce seems to endorse in the passages I have quoted. […]

    But there is really no reason to assume that the only alternative to an evolutionary explanation of everything is a religious one. However, this may not be comforting enough, because the feeling that I have called the fear of religion may extend far beyond the existence of a personal god, to include any cosmic order of which mind is an irreducible and nonaccidental part. [7]

    Given these facts, I don’t believe the evidence supports Weitnauer’s interpretation of this quote from Thomas Nagel. It appears clear that he was taken badly out of context.

    Of course, having said this and after trying to do my best to place what he said in context I think the following should further help in allowing others to understand what Nagel said regarding his statement, “I want atheism to be true…” Once again, I am not the author so this is only speculation, but this sounds similar to a view I’ve seen expressed by atheists about not wanting religion to be true. This statement is never given as a reason for disbelief, but only as a statement about how if religion were true (particularly Christianity) it would not be a pleasant world to live in because the god of the bible is horribly cruel and unjust (and just insert Richard Dawkins’ most infamous quote from The God Delusion here) and it would be a very unfair world. It is only a statement about what the state of the world might be like were religion true and not a reason for non-belief.

    Next, Weitnauer quotes Michael Shermer.

    My philosophy is that all phenomenon have natural explanations. There is no supernatural, there’s just the natural and stuff we can’t yet explain. That’s basically my position. Socially, when I moved from theism to atheism, and science as a worldview, I guess, to be honest, I just liked the people in science, and the scientists, and their books, and just the lifestyle, and the way of living. I liked that better than the religious books, the religious people I was hanging out with — just socially. It just felt more comfortable for me.

    I found this quote interesting, but what was even more interesting is what Weitnauer chose to leave out. After the above quote Shermer responded to a follow up question: “So it was a relationship-driven decision.” Shermer responds: “Not solely. The intellectual stuff and all that is part of it, but if you’re going to be honest, it’s not just reasoning your way to a position.” To which he was asked, “Well, how do you make sense of the other, now?” Shermer responds: “In reality, I think most of us arrive at most of our beliefs for non-rational reasons, and then we justify them with these reasons after the fact.” (emphasis mine) [8]

    First, the very brief snippet quoted is hardly a good source of information about Shermer’s deconversion. I would think a better source would be a blog post he’d written in 2005 that contains more detail about the reasons he began to stop believing. Second, an even better source would have been Shermer’s book The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths (2011) wherein he provides an even more detailed account of his deconversion.

    In The Believing Brain Shermer says of the factors that lead to his deconversion:

    Creationists have tried to pin my belief in evolution to my demise as a believer, thereby chalking up another lost soul to the evils of liberal secular education. Atheists have trumpeted my deconversion as evidence that education, especially in the sciences, demolishes [superstitious beliefs]. The truth is far more complex; rarely are important religious, political, or ideological beliefs attributable to single causal factors. Humans thought and behavior are almost always multivariate in cause, and beliefs are no exception. […]

    I was still a Christian when […] [o]ut of curiosity, I registered for an undergraduate course in evolutionary biology [at California State University] […]. I discovered that the evidence for evolution is undeniable and rich, and the arguments for creationism that I had been reading were duplicitous and hollow. […]

    Although I had already been exposed to all sides in the great debates in my various courses and reading at Pepperdine, what was strikingly different in this context was the heterogeneity of my fellow students’ beliefs. Since I was no longer surrounded by Christians, where were no social penalties for being skeptical – about anything. […] So it was not the fact that I learned about evolutionary theory that rent asunder my Christian faith; it was that it was okay to challenge any and all beliefs without fear of psychological loss or social reprisal. There were other factors as well. […]

    [While obtaining my master’s in experimental psychology, finding the skeptical movement, and my study of cultural anthropology and leaning about the varying beliefs of different cultures] it made me realize just how insular my worldview was and how naïve I was in assuming that my Christian beliefs were grounded in the One True Religion while all the others were so obviously culturally determined.

    Together, these inputs led me to a personal exploration of comparative world religions and to the eventual realization that these often mutually incompatible beliefs were held by people who believed as firmly as I did that they were right and everyone else was wrong. Midway through my graduate training, I quietly gave up my religious belief and removed my silver ichthus […] from around my neck. [9]

    What did Shermer mean when he explained how most people are influenced by both intellectual reasons and emotional? He meant that most decisions that people make are not caused by a single event, but opinions and views are shifted because of a variety of social, environmental, and rational judgments. In Shermer’s case there were many rational reasons he abandoned belief in religion. The theory of evolution, his study of comparative religion and anthropology. But he does not leave out the emotional and social factors. The relief from the social pressure to resist challenging what he already believed, aided by the mixed company he found himself with while studying at a secular university.

    In order to understand Shermer’s second statement: “In reality, I think most of us arrive at most of our beliefs for non-rational reasons, and then we justify them with these reasons after the fact,” you need to understand his views about the brain. In The Believing Brain Shermer argues that the brain is a “belief engine.” The second that “sensory data” flows “through the senses the brain naturally begins to look for and find patterns, and then infuses” these patterns “with meaning.” Shermer goes on to argue that the only way to reliably weed out the false beliefs from the true ones that are formed is via the scientific method. [10]

    Rather than take a single snippet of a quote from an obscure discussion (out of context, by the way), Weitnauer should have consulted other, more fuller accounts of Shermer’s journey to non-belief. Unfortunately, it appears that the rest of the quotes are cherry-picked in a similar manner. Keep in mind what Weitnauer said these quotes represented: “unbelievers’ testimonials about how they came to ‘unbelieve.’” (13)

    On to the quote about science by Richard Lewontin. The author quotes him from a 1997 book review of Carl Sagan’s classic The Demon-Haunted World titled Billions and Billions of Demons.

    We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

    I’d like to know how this one scientist’s opinion about science could be considered a “testimonial” about how he came to “unbelieve?” It’s not about how he came to disbelieve, it’s about his minority views about science. He says nothing in the quote provided, nor in the entire review, about why he became an unbeliever. Weitnauer is greatly jumping to conclusions and is clearly reading what he wants into this quote.

    Near the end of the chapter Weitnauer writes, after quoting all of these alleged (and as we’ve seen, out of context) quotes by a few atheists,

    In addition to [these quotes by atheists], when it comes to their defined philosophical positions, many of the leading atheists of our day have staked out commitments which seems to defy reconciliation with the human ability to reason. For instances, Sam Harris denies that we are able to choose how we reason or what we come to believe:

    Yes, choices, efforts, intentions, reasoning, and other mental processes influence our behavior – but they are themselves part of a stream of causes which precede conscious awareness and over which we exert no ultimate control. My choices matter, but I cannot choose what I choose. (16)

    This quote is taken from a blog post written by Sam Harris clearing up confusion about his views on free will. This partial quotation is taken from from a much larger discussion, and as such, it has been taken out of context. This statement was in response to this objection to his views on free will:

    You admit that mental events—like choices, efforts, intentions, reasoning, etc—cause certain of our actions. But such mental states presuppose free will for their very existence. Your position is self-contradictory: Either we are free to think and behave as we will, or there is no such thing as choice, effort, intention, reasoning, etc.

    Even if my thoughts and actions are the product of unconscious causes, they are still my thoughts and actions. Anything that my brain does or chooses, whether consciously or not, is something that I have done or chosen. The fact that I cannot always be subjectively aware of the causes of my actions does not negate free will.

    Harris responds:

    The second concern also misses the point: Yes, choices, efforts, intentions, reasoning, and other mental processes influence our behavior—but they are themselves part of a stream of causes which precede conscious awareness and over which we exert no ultimate control. My choices matter, but I cannot choose what I choose. And if it ever appears that I do—for instance, when going back and forth between two options—I do not choose to choose what I choose. There’s a regress here that always ends in darkness. Subjectively, I must take a first step, or a last one, for reasons that are inscrutable to me.

    What Sam Harris is discussing are the findings of neuroscience which have shown us that the brain, essentially, makes decisions before we are even conscious of these decisions. For example, a study conducted in 1985 by Benjamin Libet took EEG readings of subjects who were sitting in front of a computer screen with a dot moving in a circle. “The subjects were asked to do two things: (1) note the position of the dot on the screen when they first became aware of the desire to act, and (2) press a button that also recorded the position of the dot on the screen. The difference between 1 and 2 was two hundred milliseconds. That is, two-tenths of a second lapsed between thinking about pressing the button and actually pressing the button. The EEG recordings for each trial revealed that the brain activity involved in the initiation of the action was primarily centered in the secondary motor cortex, and that part of the brain became active three hundred milliseconds before subjects reported their first awareness of a conscious decision to act.” [11]

    Michael Shermer continues,

    That is, our awareness of our intention to do something trails the initial wave of brain activity associated with that action by about three hundred milliseconds – three-tenths of a second lapsed between the brain making a choice and our awareness of the choice. […] The neural activity that precedes the intention to act in inaccessible to our conscious mind, so we experience a sense of free will. But it is an illusion, caused by the fact that we cannot identify the cause of the awareness of our intention to act. [12]

    This is all Harris is describing; the findings of neuroscience, but because Weitnauer didn’t appear to bother to look into why Harris said what he said, he wants to portray it as irrational. But it is not irrational given what we know about the brain.

    Weitnauer’s next target is Richard Dawkins, who he quotes from The God Delusion, which he mistakenly says is on page 368. It is not. It can be found on page 347 in the 2006 edition. He also takes this quote out of context. He writes,

    Like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins also acknowledges the non-rational factors that motivate atheistic beliefs. For instance, he has written that “human psychology has a near-universal tendency to let belief be coloured by desire.” In addition, he suggests that humanism – not God – is the best fit for our psychological needs:

    Does religion fill a much needed gap? It is often said that there is a God-shaped gap in the brain which needs to be filled: we have a psychological need for God – imaginary friend, father, big brother, confessor, confidant – and the need has to be satisfied whether God really exists or not. But could it be that God clutters up a gap that we’d be better off filling with something else? Science, perhaps? Art? Human friendship? Humanism? Love of this life in the real world, giving no credence to other lives beyond the grave? (16)

    Dawkins is not saying anything of the kind. The first stump of a quote about belief being “coloured” by desire can be found in Chapter 5 and he is discussing the common belief that our souls will live on after death and says that just because we might wish it to be so does not make it true. The second, longer quote is discussing the role that religion plays in consoling and inspiring much of humanity. Dawkins argues that religion may bring comfort but that alone does not make it true. He goes on to write about how other things might be used to inspire or console us, should religious belief ever disappear. He argues that there appears to be some kind of psychological need for religion, which he says could be filled with something else, like friendship, science or art. In no way whatsoever is Dawkins saying anything like what Weitnauer imparts to him.

    At the end of the chapter he cites a single study from a CNN blog whose findings indicate that “atheists and agnostics reported more anger at God during their lifetimes than believers.” [13] With this news Weitnauer says, “these individuals don’t necessarily even believe that God exists, yet they report greater levels of an angry emotional investment in God’s hypothetical character than people who actually believe that God is real.” (16) As an example of this he quotes Richard Dawkins’ most despised quote from The God Delusion (“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction…”) and comments, “This correlation is confirmed by the anecdotal evidence from Richard Dawkins’ writing” and he sums it all up with the statement that “atheists’ belief systems are certainly ‘coloured by desire!’” (16-17)

    There are a few problems with Weitnauer’s example. First, Dawkins is not displaying anger at god. In fact, with this sentence his “intention was closer to robust but humorous broadside than shrill polemic.” Dawkins continues with the explanation of his reasoning for the passage: “If I could venture to suggest why the humor works, I think it is the incongruous mismatch between a subject that could have been stridently or vulgarly expressed, and the actual expression in a drawn-out list of Latinate or pseudo-scholarly words (filicidal’, megalomaniacal’, pestilential’). My model here was one of the funniest writers of the twentieth century, and nobody could call Evelyn Waugh shrill or strident (I even gave the game away by mentioning his name in the anecdote that immediately follows, on page 51.” [14] Second, anyone can open the Old Testament and see that this description of the god of the bible is perfectly apt.

    Dawkins provided numerous rational reasons for his non-belief in The God Delusion, but Weitnauer ignores them and claims Dawkins doesn’t want to believe because he doesn’t like god. As I demonstrated, Dawkins was attempting to be “humorous” with the quote and was not approaching the subject with anger.

    Regarding the study itself, this is highly specious reasoning. The evidence brought to bear here does not appear to me to be very convincing. This study was not looking at factors in belief or unbelief, only forgiveness and anger at god. It cannot tell us whether or not this anger influenced their path to atheism. Based upon personal experience, in my teens I was very angry at god for not answering my prayers, but after a while I simply stopped praying and focused on healing my emotional scars. During this process and for many years afterwards I did not give god or religion any thought until I met a few Christian friends who tried to convert me from my agnostic position. At this point in my life, I felt no more anger and hadn’t for many years. This was the time when I reopened the question about whether or not god exists and I looked at both sides as objectively as possible (given the many cognitive biases humans are unfortunately endowed with). My past anger had no influence on my decision at all. Weitnauer is jumping to conclusions again without any evidence.

    I’ve read of numerous studies that have looked at emotional factors in belief in god. [15] Here are just two of them. A study done in 2008 demonstrated that “making people think about events they had no control over radically increased their belief in God, but only when that God was presented as a controlling God. What’s more, this happened because people who were made to feel like they had no control actually increased their belief that the Universe was not actually random.”

    A UK evangelical advocacy group called Theos conducted a survey which found that when “you make people think about death, not only do they become more religious, but they also become more open to religious claims.”

    These studies are not all, however. I also have several examples of anecdotal evidence of Christians believing purely for emotionally-driven reasons without as much as a hint of rational justifications.

    Lee Strobel: Chris Hallquist writes:

    [S]ome prominent Christian figures – notably Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell – have risen to fame by painting self-portraits in which intellectual considerations dragged them kicking and screaming into belief. Notice what they’re doing: they’re essentially claiming to be Christian versions of Lukeprog et al. But if you look at what Strobel says in his pre-Case for… book Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary, you get a somewhat different picture: Strobel started going to church because his wife wanted him to, found it emotionally moving, and then started reading Christian apologetics to assure himself it was all true. It’s unclear Strobel read any non-Christian books in his ‘journalist’s investigation…’ [16]

    After reading Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary for myself I confirmed Hallquist’s summary of Strobel’s “investigation.” All Strobel did after attending church at the insistence of his wife was begin to read the bible and apologetics literature, such as Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Simon Greenleaf’s An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, and interviewing unnamed experts about the historicity of Jesus. He mentions nothing whatsoever about looking at the objections to these arguments from skeptics to gain a balanced perspective. [17]

    Josh McDowell: Ed Babinski writes:

    McDowell’s journey toward Christianity began after he met some evangelical Christians during his Freshman year in college. He was attracted to their “different dimension…riding above circumstances” (MT1); “something different about their lives…happiness…inner constant source of joy” (MT2); they were “disgustingly happy” (MT1&2). (Ellen Kamentsky in her autobiography, Hawking God: A Young Jewish Woman’s Ordeal in Jews for Jesus, discusses the nature of the “happiness” she radiated toward fellow believers and potential converts, and the types of unhappiness she was concealing from herself and others. Also, enthusiastic adherents of non-Christian religions radiate states of peace, happiness and joy that draw others toward them and their respective faiths.)

    McDowell says he “hated to be alone…[was] frustrated…empty (MT1)…circumstances [made him feel either] okay or bad…If my girl loved me, I was on cloud nine; if she broke up with me, I was really down (MT1)…I had a bad temper (MT1&2)…and still have the scars from almost killing a man during my first year in the university (MT2)…had a lot of hatred…hated my father [who was a wife-beating alcoholic] (MT1&2)…had a lot of restlessness in my mind, and I always had to be somewhere, or with someone. I just couldn’t be alone with my own thoughts. My mind seemed like a maze…I used to be constantly on the go because of restlessness” (MT1). “I always had to be occupied. I had to be over my girl’s place or somewhere else in a rap session. I’d walk across campus and my mind was like a whirlwind with conflicts bouncing off the walls. I’d sit down and try to study or cogitate and I couldn’t” (MT2). “I ran for Freshman class president and got elected” (MT1&2). “[I knew] everyone on campus… everyone said ‘Hi Josh'” (MT2). “I made decisions, spent the university’s money, the student’s money, to get speakers I wanted… threw more parties with student money than anyone else did…would wake up Monday morning, usually with a headache because of the night before…happiness revolved around three nights a week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday” (MT2). “For 19 years I wasn’t satisfied with my life” (MT1).

    McDowell was a prime candidate for conversion. He was young, unstable, with manic-depressive tendencies, with no well thought out beliefs of his own, including his “atheism” which, according to his testimony, amounted to a series of one-liners aimed at religion: “I chucked religion…it didn’t work” (MT1&2). “I thought most Christians were walking idiots…I imagined that if a Christian had a brain cell, it would die of loneliness” (MT2).” “I figured every Christian had two brains; one was lost and the other was out looking for it” (MT1). “I used to listen to professors in supercilious humanities classes, and if they didn’t believe Christianity, you weren’t going to catch me believing it.” (MT1). So McDowell admits he lacked any well thought out beliefs or convictions of his own, his mind lacked as much intellectual depth as his emotions lacked stability. “I was like a boat out on the ocean being tossed back and forth by the waves, the circumstances” (MT2), “my happiness always depended on my circumstances” (MT1). For all of the above reasons, there was no doubt that McDowell would be impressed upon meeting “that young woman…[with] a lot of conviction” who mentioned her “personal relationship” with “Jesus” (MT1&2). McDowell was in the market for “convictions” and a “relationship” that was on a more even keel.

    Also interesting is the fact, as pointed out in a Christianity Today article, that “The average age of conversion [to Protestant Christianity in America] is quite young,” about “16 years of age.” Furthermore, “Postadolescent persons do not seem to find Christianity as attractive as do persons in their teens. [McDowell was nineteen when he converted. – ED.] Indeed, for every year the non-Christian grows older than 25, the odds increase exponentially against his or her ever becoming a Christian.”[169] So McDowell was a prime candidate even according to the author of that Christianity Today article. Hence, there is no mystery behind McDowell’s decision, a few months later, to convert.

    Concerning the part of McDowell’s testimony where he says, “My new friends challenged me intellectually to examine the claims that Jesus Christ is God’s Son” (MT1&2). I wonder when McDowell ever found the time and mental composure to rise to that “intellectual challenge.” His conversion took place “Dec. 19, 1959” (MT2) at the end of the first semester of his college sophomore year. He did not spend years studying the evidence, just months. Besides, McDowell admits he “always had to be somewhere, or with someone,” “couldn’t be alone with my own thoughts,” “mind seemed like a maze,” “constantly on the go because of restlessness” (MT1), “always had to be occupied…had to be over my girl’s place or somewhere else in a rap session,” would “walk across campus and my mind was like a whirlwind with conflicts bouncing off the walls,” would “sit down and try to study or cogitate and I couldn’t” (MT2). It should come as no surprise that being in such a state, he could not “refute” Christianity (MT2), but wound up becoming a believer himself.

    McDowell spent the next “13 years” after his conversion, “documenting why I believe that faith in Jesus Christ is intellectually feasible” (MT2). But many people spend years “documenting” why their beliefs are “intellectually feasible,” including scholarly Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Christians of different denominations, agnostics and atheists. The question remains whether McDowell can justify that he was intellectually adept enough and emotionally stable enough to have made the right choice in the first place. And the answer to that question appears to be “no”: “I knew I had to make a decision because I couldn’t sleep anymore. I knew I had to get it off my mind or I’d go out of my mind” (MT1&2). McDowell’s conversion does not appear to have been based on his “intellectual” honesty so much as on his lack of emotional stability and lack of well thought out “convictions” of his own. In such a state, he was easily overwhelmed by a few pro-Christian, pro-Bible arguments that he “never knew existed” (MT1). [18]

    Craig Keener: Keener writes,

    Eventually, one day when I was walking home from school, a couple students from a fundamentalist Bible college cornered me and asked me if I knew where I would go when I died. I argued with them for 45 minutes, as they tried to explain about Jesus’ death and resurrection bringing salvation, something that made no sense to me. Finally I hit them with what I thought was the ultimate question: “If there’s a God, where did the dinosaur bones come from?” If one asks a stupid question, one usually gets a stupid answer. They replied that the devil put them there. I was so annoyed that I started to walk off, and they warned me that if I kept hardening my heart against God, I would end up in hell.

    Although I tried to shake off their words, I found myself terrified the entire way home. Despite their weakness in paleontology (i.e., the nonsense about the devil planting dinosaur bones), they had spoken to me truth about Jesus. I had wanted God to give me empirical evidence, but instead God confronted me with the reality of God’s own presence. I had studied various religions and philosophies in the encyclopedia, but what I was experiencing now was on a completely different level. As I got to my room, I was so overwhelmed by God’s presence and the demand it made on my life that I felt only two options—I had to either accept or reject the demand of my Creator, and God was not going to let me alone until I did one or the other.

    My knees buckled out from under me, and I cried out, “God, I don’t understand how Jesus dying and rising from the dead can save me—but if that’s what You are saying, I’ll believe it. But God—I don’t know how to be ‘saved.’ So if You want to save me, You’re going to have to do it Yourself.” Suddenly I felt something rushing through my body like I had never felt before. Indeed, it frightened me! I did not understand what had just happened, but I knew that God was real and that I must now give God everything I was and everything I had.

    That was the beginning of my Christian life, more than 30 years ago. Two days later I walked into a church and the pastor asked if I was sure I was truly “saved.” Since I was not sure about whether or not I had accepted Christ “properly,” I prayed again, this time led by the pastor. Afterward I was overwhelmed with the awesome majesty of God again, but this time I was not afraid. God was so awesome that I knew that I could not praise God enough unless the Spirit of God gave me the words to do it. It began to come out in a sort of language I did not know; I had never heard of this experience before, but it was wonderful. [19]

    This conversion appears to be entirely influenced by an irrational fear of hell. Keener appeared to be so afraid that he convinced himself to believe immediately after this incident.

    Lionel Luckhoo: In a pamphlet titled The Question Answered: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? he makes his case for the resurrection of Jesus. What is this example of rational proof he offers? He writes,

    The common denominator to the entire burial and resurrection of Jesus is that (a) the stone was rolled away (b) the presence of an angel or two angels (c) the message they gave….This Jesus who is crucified is NOT HERE. Indeed, this they could all see for His tomb was no longer occupied (d) the declaration from God’s messenger He is Risen!The cry which the first Christians used as a salute. “He is risen.”
    John in his Gospel reveals to us a most important eye witness bit of evidence “When Peter and John went into the tomb strips of linen were lying there, as well and the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself separate from the linen.” The Greek word used describes the cloth as if the body or the head had disappeared and only the folded cloth lay by itself. The body of Jesus had vanished. The material things like head cloth and linen remained by themselves.
    Would anyone steal a body and first gently and carefully remove and fold the strips of linen and the head dress? Why? To steal a naked body? With guards all around, a tomb which had been sealed and was now an empty tomb save for the burial clothing and the strips of linen bespeak that Jesus was no longer contained by the grave. He had conquered Death. [20]

    What is the big problem with this argument? He is relying purely upon the bible without any justifications for why it’s so trustworthy. The truth is that the bible is historically flawed and there was not a single piece of “eye witness” testimony to Jesus’ life or resurrection.

    James S. Spiegel: He is the author of the 2010 book The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief. In a blog post from 2010 titled “To the God Who Might Be There” Mr. Spiegel remarks how he was having a “crisis of faith” so his solution was to pray and hope god would give him some kind of assurance he was truly there. He writes,

    During my first year of graduate school I went through a brief crisis of faith, largely due to the influence of a particular professor who was especially adamant in his religious skepticism. In fact, you might say he was—pardon the oxymoron—a dogmatic skeptic. After a few weeks in his class I found myself struggling with doubts of my own and entertaining the thought that my Christian commitment was based on a lie. What if, after all, God did not exist? I recall one evening as I went to pray sensing the potential absurdity of what I was about to do—quietly thanking and praising a fictitious deity, and making assorted requests to someone who was not there. The usual feeling of God’s presence, an ineffable intuition that was reliable until then, was gone. What to do? I suppose I could have allowed that feeling, or the lack thereof, to dictate a decision not to pray at all. But as I sat there I tried to make a rational assessment of the situation. If there really is no God, I wondered, then what harm will it do to pray? At worst, I mutter to myself for a few minutes and perhaps benefit from the meditative discipline involved in the process. On the other hand, if God is real, despite my failure to sense his presence, then he will hear my prayers and perhaps respond to my pleas to make his presence known to me again as before. And perhaps he will reward me by giving me more assurance than ever that he is real since my prayers in that state would be an even greater act of faith than my usual prayers prompted by the confidence that he exists. I’m not sure how lucid this reasoning was, but that was my thought process.

    So I prayed. I prayed then and several other times during that period to the God who might be there. And as the days went by, my assurance of God’s existence did return—and yes, stronger than ever. Would that confidence have returned eventually had I ceased praying? I don’t know. But I’m glad I did it, since I believe that not only did God hear those prayers but it was also a good exercise in devotional perseverance. The Scriptures tell us that God rewards those who earnestly seek him, and this would seem to apply just as much to the person who doubts his existence as to the person who is confident that he is real but simply wants to learn more about him or grow closer to him. [21]

    Where is the evidence in this story about his “crisis of faith?” It is nowhere to be seen. Like Craig Keener previously, he merely convinced himself while thinking inside his own head that his god was there. He did not provide any rational arguments for the existence of god, even bad ones, like the argument from design.

    William Lane Craig: On his website, Mr. Craig, one of the contributers to this book, has written a fairly full account of how he came to believe in god and in the salvation of Jesus.

    I wasn’t raised in a church-going family, much less a Christian family—though it was a good and loving home. But when I became a teenager, I began to ask the big questions of life: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” In the search for answers I began to attend on my own a large church in our community. But instead of answers, all I found was a social country club where the dues were a dollar a week in the offering plate. The other high school students who were involved in the youth group and claimed to be Christians on Sunday lived for their real God the rest of the week, which was popularity. They seemed willing to do whatever it took to be popular.

    This really bothered me. “They claim to be Christians, but I’m leading a better life than they are!” I thought. “Yet I feel so empty inside. They must be just as empty as I am, but they’re just pretending to be something they’re not. They’re all just a pack of hypocrites.” So I began to grow very bitter toward the institutional church and the people in it.

    In time this attitude spread toward other people. “Nobody is really genuine,” I thought. “They’re all just a bunch of phonies, holding up a plastic mask to the world, while the real person is cowering down inside, afraid to come out and be real.” So my anger and resentment spread toward people in general. I grew to despise people, I wanted nothing to do with them. “I don’t need people,” I thought, and I threw myself into my studies. Frankly, I was on my way toward becoming a very alienated young man.

    And yet—in moments of introspection and honesty, I knew deep down inside that I really did want to love and be loved by others. I realized in that moment that I was just as much a phony as they were. For here I was, pretending not to need people, when deep down I knew that I really did. So that anger and hatred turned in upon myself for my own hypocrisy and phoniness.

    I don’t know if you understand what this is like, but this kind of inner anger and despair just eats away at your insides, making every day miserable, another day to get through. I couldn’t see any purpose to life; nothing really mattered.

    One day when I was feeling particularly crummy, I walked into my high school German class and sat down behind a girl who was one of those types that is always so happy it just makes you sick! I tapped her on the shoulder, and she turned around, and I growled, “Sandy, what are you always so happy about anyway?”

    “Well, Bill,” she said, “It’s because I’m saved!”

    I was in utter shock. I had never heard language like this before.

    “You’re what?” I demanded.

    “I know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior,” she explained.

    “I go to church,” I said lamely.

    “That’s not enough, Bill,” she said. “You’ve got to have him really living in your heart.”

    That was the limit! “What would he want to do a thing like that for?” I demanded.

    “Because he loves you, Bill.”

    That hit me like a ton of bricks. Here I was, so filled with anger and hate, and she said there was someone who really loved me. And who was it but the God of the universe! That thought just staggered me. To think that the God of the universe should love me, Bill Craig, that worm down there on that speck of dust called planet Earth! I just couldn’t take it in.

    That began for me the most agonizing period of soul-searching that I’ve ever been through. I got a New Testament and read it from cover to cover. And as I did, I was absolutely captivated by the person of Jesus of Nazareth. There was a wisdom about his teaching I had never encountered before and an authenticity in his life that wasn’t characteristic of those people who claimed to be his followers in the local church I was attending. I know that I couldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Through reading the New Testament, I discovered what my problem was. My own moral failures—in thought, word, and deed—had made me morally guilty before God and so spiritually separated from Him. That’s why God seemed so unreal to me. But the Good News was that God had sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to pay the death penalty for my sin, thereby freeing up God’s love and forgiveness to pardon and cleanse me and restore me to the relationship with God that I was meant to have.

    Meanwhile, Sandy introduced me to other Christian students in the high school. I had never met people like this! Whatever they said about Jesus, what was undeniable was that they were living life on a plane of reality that I didn’t even dream existed, and it imparted a deep meaning and joy to their lives, which I craved.

    To make a long story short, my spiritual search went on for the next six months. I attended Christian meetings; I read Christian books; I sought God in prayer. Finally, one night I just came to the end of my rope and cried out to God. I cried out all the anger and bitterness that had built up inside me, and at the same time I felt this tremendous infusion of joy, like a balloon being blown up and blown up until it was ready to burst! I remember I rushed outdoors—it was a clear, mid-western, summer night, and you could see the Milky Way stretched from horizon to horizon. As I looked up at the stars, I thought, “God! I’ve come to know God!”

    That moment changed my whole life. I had thought enough about this message during those six months to realize that if it were really the truth—really the truth—, then I could do nothing less than spend my entire life spreading this wonderful message among mankind.

    For many Christians, the main difference they find in coming to know Christ is the love or the joy or the peace it brings. All of those things were thrilling for me, too. But if you were to ask me what is the main difference Christ has made in my life, without hesitation I would say, “Meaning!” I knew the blackness, the despair, of a life lived apart from God. Knowing God suddenly brought eternal significance to my life. Now the things I do are charged with eternal meaning. Now life matters. Now every day I wake up to another day of walking with Him. (emphasis mine in bold) [22]

    Pay particularly close attention to the parts I’ve highlighted. Once again, there is no examination of evidence, nor logic being employed. It is 100% emotion. Like McDowell, Craig also felt “empty” and unloved, so he sought out the love (falsely) promised by Jesus and god.

    Another very striking quote from William Lane Craig is this: “The way in which I know that Christianity is true is first and foremost on the basis of the Holy Spirit in my heart and this gives me a self-authenticating means of knowing that Christianity is true wholly apart from the evidence.” [23] He is arguing that these subjective feelings he has will overrule even the most convincing evidence that god does not exist or that Jesus did not raise from the dead. How does he know that his feelings aren’t leading him down the wrong path? People have subjective feelings about things all the time, and oftentimes those feelings turn out to be wrong. This is why those who utilize reason (and not faith) look at the evidence first and only then make a decision, not the other way around.

    Chuck Edwards: Another contributer to this book, Mr. Edwards, has written about how he came to believe in the resurrection of Jesus on Carson Weitnauer’s personal website. He writes,

    [After explaining how he lost his faith during a 10th grade biology class where he learned about evolution, he talks about how he later came to believe again.] However, during my first year in college I met a guy who seemed to know some things about the Bible. He pointed to the lives of men and women who had lived and worked with Jesus and the accounts they gave of Jesus being raised from the dead. I had heard about Jesus’ resurrection in church and knew that’s why we celebrated Easter. But I don’t recall hearing about eyewitnesses or historical evidences for this actually happening. This was news to me and caused me to reconsider what the Bible, as a historical document, had to say about Jesus.

    After considering the historical evidence from the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, I reasoned that if Jesus pulled off rising from the dead, then he must be who he claimed to be, the Son of God. And if he was the Son of God, then God must be real, and I better pay attention to what he had to say about life and re-connecting to God. [24]

    Christians like to cite the bible as a form of “eyewitness” testimony but the gospels are anything but. To simply take the gospels at their word without doing any investigation into how reliable these writings are, as Edwards looks to have done, is not particularly rational. It is the opposite of true reason. [25]

    I hope you’re beginning to notice a pattern here. Where are any of the rational arguments, the use of reason that Carson Weitnauer and Tom Gilson have constantly been telling their readers that Christians allegedly use? Michael Shermer cited a few social reasons for his emerging lack of belief, but he also cited just as many logical, rational reasons. The Christians I have looked at have not cited even a single solitary fact or rational reason for why they decided to take that leap of faith and believe anyway, despite their (very reasonable) doubts.

    I’m sorry to say, but this chapter was a disappointment. Weitnauer continually took quotes out of context and did not appear to even fact-check any of the quotes he used. Rather, what this chapter has shown is that Christians are the ones whose beliefs are “coloured by desire,” a desire to prove atheists are as irrational as they want to believe them to be. Unfortunately, due to the lack of such evidence, they scoured the New Atheists’ books and the internet for anything they could latch onto and, in their desperation, ended up resorting to taking quotes out of context to try to make their argument stick. Is that an example of rationality? Of reason? No, it’s the complete opposite.

    1. The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, by Robert Wright, Vintage Books, 1995; 162

    2. Ends and Means: An Inquiry into the Nature of Ideals and into the Methods Employed for Their Realization, by Aldous Huxley, Harper & Brothers, 1937; 311-312; 315-318. This full text can also be read here: Archive.org: Ends and Means, by Aldous Huxley – accessed 5-16-14

    3. Ibid.; 358

    4. The Last Word, by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press, 1997; 130

    5. Ibid.; 131

    6. Ibid.; 131-132

    7. Ibid.; 132, 133

    8. PBS: Nine Conversations: The Question of God: A Transcendent Experience – accessed 5-16-14

    9. The Believing Brain: The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths, by Michael Shermer, St. Martin’s Press, 2011; 37-42

    10. Ibid.; 5, 186-187

    11. The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths, by Michael Shermer, 70-72

    12. Ibid.; 72

    13. CNN Blogs: Anger at God common, even among atheists – accessed 5-16-14

    14. The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, Mariner Books, 2008; 17

    15. Anxiety Over Loss of Control Can Increase Belief in God…and Government; More Evidence Against The Making of an Atheist

    16. The Uncredible Hallq: “There is no Lee Strobel” – accessed 5-16-14

    17. Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary: How To Reach Friends and Family Who Avoid God and the Church, by Lee Strobel, Zondervan Publishing House, 1993; 17-43

    18. The Uniqueness of the Christian Experience (1999): “McDowell’s Testimony,” by Edward T. Babinski – accessed 5-16-14

    19. Craig Keener’s Conversion Testimony – accessed 5-16-14

    20. The Question Answered: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, by Lionel Luckhoo – accessed 5-16-14

    21. Wisdom & Folly, by Jim and Amy Spiegel: ”To the God Who Might Be There” – accessed 5-16-14

    22. Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig: Question #78: “Personal Testimony of Faith” – accessed 5-16-14

    23. Atheism and the Case Against Christ, by Matthew S. McCormick, Prometheus Books, 2012; 69

    24. Reasons for God: “The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection: Chuck Edwards” – accessed 5-16-14

    25. Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, by John W. Loftus, Prometheus Books, 2012; 312-319

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    Article by: Arizona Atheist