Creationist Wisdom #578: Why Leave the Church?

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Knoxville News Sentinel of Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s titled Restraints make people leave church. The newspaper has a comments section, but you need to subscribe to see what’s going on there.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Jim. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!.

A letter writer wrote, “Why are people leaving religion? I am an atheist and I know why.”

We can’t find that earlier letter, but it doesn’t matter. Jim’s response is sufficiently entertaining on its own. He says:

Contrarily, I was an atheist and became a Christian. The scientific reasons the writer cites can be used just as well to justify belief in God.

Ah, Jim was saved from the vile pit of atheism — and it was science that brought him into the light! The next few paragraphs are Jim’s scientific reasons for abandoning atheism. Well cut it short by presenting them in a list:

The Big Bang theory implies that the universe had a beginning. If something begins to be it must have a cause. Christians believe that cause is God, but atheists have no explanation.

The fine-tuning of the universe that makes it permit life — at last count 115 items — also point to God.

Evolution cannot explain the beginning of life, and the complexity of DNA points to an intelligent designer.

The existence of moral values point to a creator. … I am not saying all atheists act immorally, only that they have no basis for their morality.

The Christian religion is based on well-documented historical evidence of Jesus’ life, crucifixion, resurrection and the change in his followers afterward.

You’re already familiar with most of those, so we’ll only comment on Jim’s last item. Presumably he’s is referring to the New Testament. That’s one document, the provenance of which is unclear, and its contents required centuries of debate and controversy before the current version was agreed upon. Because of the absence of contemporaneous external historical references, professional historians would not consider that to be “well-documented historical evidence.” Additionally, the central doctrines of Christianity were in controversy until 325 AD — see Council of Nicaea, and numerous sectarian controversies still exist.

Regardless of what Jim considers “well-documented historical evidence,” he still has all those scientific reasons. But he doesn’t mention any of them at the end of his letter:

Why are people leaving the church? In my humble opinion, they are choosing a lifestyle that allows them freedom to live without the restraints of moral and ethical standards (particularly sexual) that they do not like and their faith is undermined by the propaganda of our secular society.

So there you are. Jim says the real reason people are leaving the church is in order to live a life of unrestrained sexual debauchery. Admit it, dear reader — he’s talking about you.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #578: Why Leave the Church?

  1. I am not saying all atheists act immorally, only that they have no basis for their morality.

    This is something the religious wingnuts frequently come out with, and I’ve yet to discover what it means.

  2. Honestly, having had a few friends leave Christianity in the past few years, the problem hasn’t been that life outside the church permits immorality – it’s immorality INSIDE.

  3. michaelfugate

    Why are people leaving the church? In my humble opinion, they are choosing a lifestyle that allows them freedom to live without the restraints of moral and ethical standards (particularly sexual) that they do not like and their faith is undermined by the propaganda of our secular society.

    Was there ever a time when we humans were more moral than we are now?

  4. Dave Luckett

    Yeah. You’re right. We’ve heard it all before. But once more. We don’t know lots of stuff, but “…therefore, God”, doesn’t follow. The fine-tuning argument is anthropic. Complexity doesn’t point to design. If morals were the invention of a creator, they wouldn’t vary so much from society to society.

    The origins of the Christian religion are documented by five texts (the Gospels plus Acts), two of them by the same author, but only one of the authors is ascribed, and that one, John, is also clearly the last of the texts to be written, and it shows the strongest evidence for redaction – except for the last twelve verses of Mark, which were certainly made up and tacked on later.

    “Life changes” are lousy testimony to truth. The Heaven’s Gate crowd, the Branch Dravidians, the residents of Jonestown, the Aum Shinrikyo – they all had life-changing experiences, too.

    Yes, people are leaving the church, but there’s no evidence it’s because they want to live a debauched life. For one thing, church membership and attendance has never been an obstacle to that. From from what I observe in others and in myself, the reasons are usually good ones – disgust at the hypocrisy of churchgoers, including the clergy, and at church policy and teachings from the treatment of women and gays to the use of condoms to the protection of paedophiles to the doctrine of Hell. Or it’s often because the church appears to be completely ineffectual.

    But of course it’s no good saying any of this to Jim. If he’s ill-informed enough to regurgitate these long-refuted arguments in a public place, it can only be because he’s either not smart enough to inform himself, or is unwilling to make the effort.

  5. I have a basis for my ethics. It’s very simple: being happy is to be preferred to being unhappy.
    If Jim is going to ask what’s the basis for that one I’ll ask how his god is the basis for his morality. Is genocide morally right or wrong, for instance?
    For more details: see the Eutyphro Dilemma.

  6. michaelfugate hit the main point right on the head. studies have shown that we are generally less war-like and ‘moral’ then ever before. So where was this great source of morals 100yr ago???
    If DNA is an example of his designer then fire his ass as he is incompetent.
    Nothing new here same old tired debunked BS as any xtian can come up with. Jim may (doubtful) have been an atheist but he sure aint a thinker!

  7. I’d just like to point out one more time the incompatible arguments:

    1. The laws of nature are fitted to the existence of complex life.
    2. The laws of nature cannot account for the existence of life.

  8. L.Long, you bring up a good point there too – I have a few friends who’ve come to some form of deism after being atheists, and in most cases their atheism was no more reasoned than the faith of someone who grew up Christian. They were atheists by osmosis and inertia, as much as anything else, and most had poor support structures in their families.

  9. @realthog
    ”they have no basis for their morality.”
    I’m pretty sure what he means is that he has no concept of empathy and needed someone to tell him the difference between right and wrong.

  10. Who are these heathens living debauched lives? I would like to meet them.

  11. Jim bears witness and testifies to

    The fine-tuning of the universe that makes it permit life — at last count 115 items

    He omits #116: the exquisite perfection with which Megalonyx and his Olivia are fitted one for the other, intellectually, physically, spiritually, &c &c. Call if Fate, call it Kismet, call it what you will–but such an illustrious and flawless union can be no accident. 🙂

  12. I’ve been told that Megalonyx will soon appear on the cover of Vanity Fair wearing his gorilla suit, claiming: “This is the real me!”

  13. Diogenes Lamp

    O/T, but Jon Stewart’s take on the Caitlyn Jenner cover of Vanity Fair was particularly funny. To paraphrase: “Everyone is judging you on the basis of your physical appearance. Congratulations Caitlyn, America accepts you as a real woman!”

  14. Bruce Jenner becomes Caitlyn. So, why is this such a big news story? Is it because he was once on a Wheaties box?

  15. SC: “Admit it, dear reader — he’s talking about you.”

    Wow, he described me to a T! I left organized religion 46 years specifically for the “freedom to live without the restraints of moral and ethical standards (particularly sexual).” So here I am, married many years to someone of the opposite sex. Neither of us ever dreamed of committing adultery or of her having an abortion. No restraints, just a choice. I also have the choice of lying about science if I wanted to. It is tempting in that it does make one popular, and is often financially rewarding. But something is stopping me, possibly a fear that I could still get in trouble after I die. Wait, I know! Maybe I’ll go back to organized religion. Maybe Jim’s religion, where someone else can pay the price for my evil deeds. They’re not sexual, so I might have a shot. Wish me luck!

  16. TomS: “I’d just like to point out one more time the incompatible arguments:

    1. The laws of nature are fitted to the existence of complex life.
    2. The laws of nature cannot account for the existence of life.”

    That’s the best treatment I have read yet that sums how the “fine tuning” and design arguments not only not the same, but in fact undermine each other.

    The problem, of which too few of us are painfully aware, is that most criticisms of anti-evolution arguments show only how they fail, and not how they also incompatible with other common ones. Since those incompatible arguments are rarely made by the same denier at the same time, the unintended impression given to the casual audience is that every denier believes roughly the same alternate “theory.” Hence the all-too-common reaction of “what’s the harm, let them believe.”

    The harm, of course, is that, among peddlers of the pseudoscience, it’s no longer honest belief based on honest misunderstanding, but deliberate misrepresentation and cover-up.