Sabbath UnSermon: John Haught, Nancey Murphy & Kenneth Miller, "What the 'New Atheists' Get Wrong"

(system) #1

Sabbath UnSermon: John Haught, Nancey Murphy & Kenneth Miller, "What the 'New Atheists' Get Wrong"


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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Thomas J Zwemer) #3

The problem is simple. the New Atheists examine Christians and not Christianity. Tom Z.,

(Ryan Bell) #4

So many thoughts here. I think I will write an entire blog post responding to this video. Thanks for sharing! I’ll post a link to my blog when it’s up at

P.S. The new commenting system here is WAY confusing. Took me 15 minutes just to figure out how to work it. Missing Disqus.

(Ryan Bell) #5

The problem with this line of reasoning is simple. Christianity is made up of Christians. Were it not for the Christians there would be no Christianity.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #6
 no without Christ there would be no Christians. the problem is they began looking at each other and not Christ.,  Tom Z

(Charles Scriven) #7

I liked the length of the “unsermon”–few of us have time for 30 or 40 minutes presentations.

This was good and helpful.


(George Tichy) #8

Ryan, after using it for a few days you will never want to go back to “Disgust,” believe me. You get all new posts on the bottom and just check them out in order.
It’s much easier now. Just hang in there, you will like it.

(Yoyo7th) #9

Not picking on you chuck, but your comment on time reminded me of a Sabbath school training seminar that I attended recently. where the leader mentioned that people say that they don’t have time to study the lesson. I countered by saying that they don’t take the time.

What are SDA doing with their daily 16 waking hours? Involved in sharing the 3 angel’s message or in the 3+ hours of TV programs?

(Ya Wei) #10

Ryan I am a Christian who hates 21st century “Christianity” but am deeply loved by and love Christ. “Christianity” as you encountered it last year in the church, of which I am a member, totally failed to hold true to the values Christ demonstrated towards the afflicted. This “Christianity” failed to act mercifully, justly and humbly towards you and towards your “just” treatment of our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters. “Christianity” can pretend to follow Christ while actually acting in the very opposite manner to the way Christ acted. The disciple who had his head on Jesus heart, at the last supper, said it transparently- “Anyone” who loves is “born of God”! He hammered it home with “Anyone” who “says” they are born of God and “does not love” is a liar and the Truth is not in them. This “Christianity” continues to be expressed by those saying they are “born of God” but “do not love” as demonstrated so clearly in the betrayal of you in 2013, and the resultant betrayal of the ministry needs of our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters, and it leaves me no other choice but to name it as the most evil behaviour I have encountered in my life, because it comes from those who claim to represent the God who is Love, claim they are Sabbath keepers who rest in God’s finished work, yet ask you to leave for your ministry of Love, claim they prepare to meet God, but do not comfort the afflicted and in fact choose to afflict you because you refused to cease comforting the afflicted. I look forwards to read your blog post as I have been greatly blessed following your journey this year as I have in following your Christ like ministry in past years. Thank you for being so anti “Christianity” and for choosing Christ’s path in interacting with our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters even when it upset the religious establishment. Jesus was radical and not conservative and for this He was hung. Christianity has become conservative and not radical.

(Elaine Nelson) #11

But what happened to “Conversation” that were once listed right under “News”?
It was possible to go straight to conversations without wading through other steps.

WebEd Why was that feature eliminated?

(Rheticus) #12

“The two sides are just so entrenched” “never seen one put down their sword”.

It is never going to happen. People don’t change their minds during meetings, but after them. And usually the only sign that they have changed their mind is they don’t return to the arena.

“missing out how self-critical we are”

ROFLOL - to the public view, denominations are ZERO OUT OF TEN on the “self critical” scale. SDA leaders are ZERO OUT OF TEN on this scale. Discussing in public why some project or activity was a disaster is only done by the disenfranchised opponents of the action, not by those who did it or who are in leadership positions.

science is based on Christianity

and on greek thought and on muslim mathematics and on atheistic rejection of everything-is-a-miracle and on…

humility that truly religious people do show with respect to great questions

It is interesting that the defense of Christianity is usually based on idealized Christians, whereas the attack on evolution is often against the character of most egregious examples the claims-to-be-Christian attacker can think of

if it [the bible] is to tell us any substance to it at all it should be telling us something about [chemistry, physics, …]

They would gladly accept it as a capture of oral histories that we can draw lessons from, like we do from explorers diaries or novels. Many Christians want to give the lessons more weight than that.

Scientism takes nothing on faith but it takes enormous faith to embrace scientism

He is simply wrong about this. It doesn’t take any, all it takes is pragmatism - while something works, I’ll use it. When it stops working, I’ll look for something that does work

(George Tichy) #13

Am I understanding it right, that you are spending 16 hours daily “sharing the 3 angel’s message.” This is certainly teaching by example, no doubt about it.

(Joe Erwin) #14

@bevin_brett and @Beth and others.

One of the reasons I visit Spectrum and comment is that I have personal and private experience as an adventist Christian who transitioned into a more generic form of Christianity and then became a scientist–a scientist with a focus on comparisons of human and non-human animals with regard to learning, behavior, development, and neurobiology. I have personal and private knowledge of what religion and science did for me, and of the process of becoming the 73-year-old person I am today, including the values and attitudes and understandings I currently have.

There are, I think, on all sides of the discussion, people who are entrenched in belief systems in ways that do not permit them to give fair and rational consideration to any alternative views. Some people commit deeply to one side or another without adequate knowledge or understanding of any side. I think that is unfortunate. I am guilty, myself, of stereotyping people who hold various positions regarding science and religion, including concepts of God and claims that there is no God.

Both extremes seem to claim to KNOW things that probably cannot be verified or falsified, but the relative strength of science is that it has been developed specifically to help directly verify or falsify propositions about tangible and material reality, and has been extended to use tangible indirect indicators to advance understanding of less tangible processes. Religion, on the other hand, specializes in applications of unknowable “spiritual” dimensions to reality. All too often, these approaches clash–in part because one oversteps into the realm of the other.

So, when one sees no scientific evidence of the spiritual dimension, one can simply say that, or one can claim that no such dimension exists at all. It seems to me that the “new atheism” has overstepped when it claims that science has proved that there is no God or spiritual dimension. So, I refer to myself as “agnostic” or as a “nonbeliever” rather than as an “atheist” because I do not wish to claim to know that there is no God.

I feel quite confident that the concepts of God that humans have invented for themselves are not accurate nor comprehensive, and I recognize that each of us is in a somewhat different place with regard to what we feel we understand. I think I should remember and respect that more than I actually do in practice.

In practice, I find myself unable to tolerate very well the insistence that humans and all other living things came into existence on earth within the last 10,000 years. That is a position that can only be held, it seems to me, by ignorant and deluded people who choose to be out of touch with reality. There was I time when I was firmly committed to this notion–of course, that was prior to examination of the facts. There are Christians who seem to base their entire belief system on this “young life” dogma–and this is the official position of the SDA church. Regardless of whatever else I might be able to accept about Christianity or religion, this tenet is so unbelievable that I could never rejoin the church.

Even so, there are plenty of people who have stayed in the church who recognize that the church is wrong on this issue. Some remain silent. Others speak their minds; but, the official position of the church remains unchanged, and translates into distorted concepts of science and scientists, and, incredibly, to directives that those who teach science in adventist institutions MUST teach (and adhere to) the young life position. It is amazing that SDA institutions are able to produce competent health science professionals, and yet, they do, albeit, I’m guessing, they are also producing clients and patients for @GeorgeTichy and @elmer_cupino.

(George Tichy) #15

And man, have we been busy lately?!?!

(Elaine Nelson) #16

Joe, I always enjoy reading your comments. I have little formal knowledge of your profession but as a life long student, the more I read and study I can only claim to be agnostic: “I do not know.” There is so much more I do not know, and can never know, but as long as I continue to learn the realization dawns that there is so much more that no one in a lifetime can know. Which means that the certitude that many have, particularly in religious beliefs, seems so very strange. How can a mature individual still cling to what he learned almost in kindergarten without ever questioning how can this be?

(George Tichy) #17

How do you feel among so many “gnostics?”

(Elaine Nelson) #18

Very enjoyable! (Are these enough characters–to make up for those extra long ones sometimes submitted?)

(George Tichy) #19

Have seen them around, but I have no idea of their content…

(Beth Again) #20

Joe, I agree with much of what you said here, but I wonder about your quibble with the “new atheists” who claim that science has proved there is no God or spiritual dimension.

Who are these “new atheists” claiming such a thing? Are these people you’ve met in real life? I’m asking because I haven’t read anything like that coming from the atheists in the media. I’ve read a stray comment here and there in the comment sections on atheist sites that seems to say that, but by and large I’d be quite surprised to hear it from most atheists. I’d be especially surprised to hear it from the main new atheists who tend to be scientists and understand very well the limits of science when it comes to “proving” spiritual claims. It’s quite possible I’ve missed it though.

(Joe Erwin) #21

Your point is well taken @Beth. Aside from a few people who have written high profile books, one does not hear many scientists making any sort of claims about God. It is my impression that most scientists don’t believe in ghosts.

Many scientists are aware of the limits of science with regard to examining imaginary dimensions.

There is some movement on campuses to form “atheist clubs.” I think these are inspired more by “humanists” than scientists, and as a reaction against religious organizations’ activities.

The tendency among those in some scientific fields to accept propositions if they are not falsified by facts, that is, are “consistent with the evidence,” rather than a more rigorous hypothesis-testing approach, might play some role. There are some people who almost worship Darwin and are not very knowledgeable about modern molecular and population biology.

I suppose most of the people I know well and have interacted with professionally in the past 30 or so years have been agnostics or atheists–including most of the students over about 22 years old. It does not take much looking critically at facts about the real world to convince people that the young life dogma does not come close to fitting the facts.

Even quite strident atheist writers seem not to claim that science falsifies God. At their best, they just say that the concept of God that is advanced by fundamentalist religions doesn’t fit the facts.