Christopher Hitchens at his best

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Carl Sagan at his best, and our own @pnelson responding.

I enjoyed the first five minutes of this video. Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot is as human as it gets. Nelson’s responding was just the same old Christian apologetics stealing from the accomplishments of mankind and science and attributing real human genus and accomplishment to an invisible, indifferent, non-existent God.

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Quite an imaginative comment from an “evolved overgrown ape,” dont’cha think? I don’t believe in an accidental, happenstance universe. That takes too much blind faith. The irony is, we believe you have more eternal value than you believe of yourself. It matters, Patrick. Cheers!

Yes of course from an ape who evolved for over two million years making stone tools all the way to making Voyager. Just us, the most intelligent apes on the planet. And one of those apes leading the program can request to take a picture of the pale blue dot and then write the words based on a poem his wife wrote.

That very comforting, please remember me when I am gone. Like we remember Christopher Hitchens.

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Guy, can you explain how the cause of the universe is neither accidental or happenstance?


“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
In a startling reversal from the cultural assumptions of the ancient world, come these words --some of the loftiest ever written, from which all other observations concordant with this foundational truth follow.
For those from a pagan, agnostic or atheist worldview, they inform of the comforting truths that we are not alone, that life is a meaningful gift, and that nature, in all its raw power, is still in the hands of One Whom we can beseech and influence to forestall, change, or even reverse the usual course of nature.
Why; what’s the lasting significance of a “godless” perspective? Why would anyone prefer to be “alone in the cosmic dark?”

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Sorry, but was this intended to answer me? Apologies if not. If so, I might as easily say “In the beginning, reality existed” which puts us back to square one. In other words, you haven’t answered my question, and your statement about atheist “blind faith” is undermined.

Those are nice things, but the scripture you quoted doesn’t convince me of the truth of them.

I don’t think it’s written in stone that anything has to be significant. Furthermore, it’s not a question of preference. There are a lot of things I would prefer to reality, but that doesn’t change reality. It is a question of making a rational analysis of reality. Different people do in fact come up with different answers when doing so.


Yes, and this approach has already led you to reject the demonstrable historical reality of the resurrection, without even considering the evidence. That puts you in a rather impressive “blind faith” grouping.

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Ten truths about Easter - Brian Bolton

The foundational belief of Christianity is that Jesus was resurrected from death, an event that is commemorated at Easter each year. As the most important celebration in Christendom, Easter is focused on the risen savior as a guarantee of everlasting life for believers.

The 10 themes enumerated below provide the historical, cultural and theological context for understanding the Easter observance.

• The name Easter derives from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring — Eostre or Ostara — whereas the Christian festival that celebrates Jesus’ resurrection developed from the Jewish Passover and includes prominent vestiges of Roman paganism.

• The annual Christian commemoration of the resurrected savior is held on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21 and before April 25, a method of calculation that was decreed by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.

• The Easter celebration evolved from the Jewish Passover observance, which was adapted from earlier Canaanite festivals that included the slaughter of a lamb, which was related by the Hebrew priests to deliverance of the Jews from bondage in Egypt, i.e., they were saved by the blood of the lamb.

• Jesus died on Passover after sharing a “Last Supper” or Passover meal with his disciples, thereby serving as a redeeming blood sacrifice represented as the Paschal Lamb or the Lamb of God. Jesus instructed his followers to observe the Lord’s Supper on that day in remembrance of him.

• The Christian observance also incorporates major elements of the festival of Attis, which was celebrated in March by Roman pagans. The yearly ritual included the crucifixion of an effigy and the enactment of an empty tomb, demonstrating that Attis was resurrected and providing assurance that devotees would achieve immortality.

• Crucifixion was invented by the Phoenicians and subsequently adopted by the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians and later by the Romans. The original procedure entailed securing the criminal to a vertical stake and allowing him to die slowly of thirst and exposure.

• Some scholars assert that Jesus was crucified on a vertical stake, not a cross, because the Greek words used in the bible translate as “torture stake” or “execution stake.” Christian tradition says it was a cross because a dozen pagan savior gods were crucified on crosses, two of them between two thieves.

• The cross was a widely used religious symbol found in various early cultures, including Egyptian depictions of their gods, as well as by Hindus in India, Buddhists throughout Asia and by some American Indian tribes. There is no evidence of use of the cross by early Christians.

• The empty tomb story presented in the Gospels is not the first report of the Easter event, nor is it conclusive evidence of the resurrection claim. Two decades earlier, Paul described a series of appearances of the risen Jesus to more than 500 followers.

• Jesus’ resurrection was not a unique biblical occurrence, because at least eight and possibly 10 or more scriptural characters died and were subsequently restored to life by Jesus, his apostles, Hebrew patriarchs or some unspecified agent. Of course, the dozen pagan savior gods were also resurrected.

Brian Bolton, Texas, is an FFRF Lifetime Member who is a retired psychologist, humanist minister and university professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas. He endows FFRF’s graduate/mature student essay contest.

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Thanks for an article getting some of the historical context together, despite some errors in conceptualization, from my point of view. These things did not arise in an historical vaccuum, nor in a corner.

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Why would you think I hadn’t considered the evidence Guy? About this or anything else for that matter? I disagree that it’s a “historical reality”, and I’m not even sure it would matter if it was, but I do have reasons for thinking so.

Because believing it was all just a hoax requires an even greater instance of blind faith and willful ignorance than the supposed “sheep” view requires. Pascal says that atheists are simply bad gamblers, and I tend to agree. You don’t have to, of course.

I never said anything about a “sheep” view–I respect your view about it.

I don’t see though why you find the evidence convincing to the degree that rejecting it amounts to “blind faith” and “willful ignorance”. For a start, I think we can safely say that the majority of the people on earth disbelieve it. The evidence is written accounts from Christians, without any kind of independent verification. All the accounts come from considerably after the fact, and they differ. I would argue that it is a matter of belief on your part to accept it, which I have no argument with. But I don’t see how disbelief is essentially irrational as you are saying.

There are some obvious problems with Pascal’s argument. Here’s one big one. What if a god actually wants us to stand by our convictions, and could even reward such behavior and punish the opposite?

That turns out not to be true. Interesting that you didn’t know.

How so? Always open to knowing things :slight_smile:

First of all, excuse me @Patrick , if I seemed to highjack your thread. Hitchen’s video is marvelously entertaining, and Christians, like anyone else, can and should occasionally be hoisted on their own pitard.
The “sheep” comment was one of Hitchen’s “gems,” so sorry if that sounded like an accusation, @John_Dalton .
I actually do agree that God wants us to stick by our convictions, while remaining open to learn more.
The Scriptures say that “God is a rewarder of those who seek Him,” and you can’t and shouldn’t get there by ignoring the hard questions, nor the hard answers… but, it’s very much worth it!


Listen to the full presentation by Gary Habermas here: Peace Be With You. Beware of atheist pseudohistory. Do not trust your polemicists.

I will, but let me outline the facts as I understand them first. In my opinion, they are not the product of “atheist pseudohistory” or “polemecists”, but of my attention to a variety of sources over the past several years. I try to be careful about such things, and I’m not in the habit of accepting things out of hand no matter who says them.

Word of the resurrection is relayed first by Paul, a Christian, probably written from 50-60 CE, and then in the Gospels, by Christians, from 65-120 CE. No confirmation can be found in non-Christian histories of the period.

Is that in error? I’m going to watch the video now.


Yes. Several contemporary non-Christian historians make reference of the existence, claims, and supposed “social nuisance” of Christians. They were regarded as atheists, because they refused to bow the knee to anyone in the pagan pantheon of the gods, and revered and worshipped Jesus only, along with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob --“YHWH Elohim.”