Beyond stereotypes?

It seems likely that Ian Paisley will attend Michael McIlveen’s funeral, now expected to take place on Wednesday. Rev David McIlveen and Peter Robinson have moved to quash the rumour that Free Presbyterian doctrinal issues had prevented a response to the family invitation. Rev McIlveen points out this will not be the first time the Rev Paisley has attended a Roman Catholic funeral:

“I have attended the funerals of Roman Catholic prison officers who were murdered and I have done so alongside Dr Paisley,”

While Peter Robinson points out:

“I am sure that Ian and the party would want to associate themselves in whatever way they can.”

It has also been revealed Michael was considering joining the British Army to help him fulfil an ambition to join the American Army and that the family had previously been the victims of Republican intimidation.

  • Resolve

    FAO Taigs

    I can’t believe you mate. Paisley’s attendance or non-attendance is not the important concern at the moment, it is the death of an innocent child. Now, if Ian Paisley does attend the funeral, that has to be seen as a good thing (although, as i have said, hardly the most important focus of the day) and if the only way you can respond is with cynicism about his true motives, then that is just as much a block to the sorting out of our sectarianism as the sorts of attitudes in the Protestant community. It just takes a different form, as our (i.e. nationalist) moral view on the politics of this country is shaped by different factors.

  • Bollix

    Regarding the subsidiary point on different interpretations of the bible. The classic work on this subject was pointed out to me by my A level history teacher. Written in 1577 in Ingolstadt Germany it is:
    Two Hundred Interpretations of the Words, “This is My Body”

    On the most important point, god help that poor family in their suffering now. I am mightily impressed by the christian charity they are showing in their distress. It stands in marked contrast to the casual brutality and bigotry displayed by not just the murderers by others in the wider community. And as with most families in NI, scratch the surface and you will find none of us as “ethnically pure” as we think. Most families have someone who has intermarried or has strong links to the other side.

    On the subject of this thread, I am no fan of paisely, who has alot to answer for, but I do think it is of vital importance that he is seen standing right beside the McIlveen family. It is no longer sufficient to rest on the sidelines saying “isn’t that terrible what happened to that poor wee fella”. We have to actually get up and demonstrate clearly that this type of bigotry is completely unacceptable. Going to the funeral is a vital first step.
    I don’t yet know if we should expect him to attend the mass as well. he could just “suck it up” and attend the mass as that is more important that some theological principle he has. Or perhaps it is enough if he goes to the house, walks in the funeral cortege and stands by the graveside.

  • Paisley has for very many years stated that he helped Taigs in his constituency; he has, in htat sense, made a big deal out of it. To argue that his views have not incite Protestant killers is to against the testimony of those veyr killers. Let’s see how he deports himself on Wednesday and what effect it will have. I won’t hold my breath.
    Here’s the Rev Bigot in his prime, with a pipe smoking Gearoid MacAdaim

  • CS Parnell

    Can’t blame Paisley for not going to Mass. I haven’t been for two decades (ok, weddings aside). Waste of bloody time and boring as hell.

    And if you are offended, get stuffed.

    If Paisley has such twisted beliefs that he thinks going to something as tedious as Mass will send him to hell, let him think that. I couldn’t give a toss. What I cannot stand is anyone’s religious beliefs being used to spread hate. I’ve seen plenty of Catholics do that (at my primary school in Andytown the Jews seemed to be a big target) but without doubt the all time grand master is big Ian himself.

  • Forget him not.

    It is totally tragic that another young person has lost their lives through violent actions of what can only be described as mad men.I feel however that it has to be said , the media are really going to town on this incident , its no different from what happened a good friend of mine several years ago in a ballymena town centre bar.he was brutally kicked and beaten to death in a sectarian attack by a catholic man from fisherwick.Where was the media outcry then this happened? Where was Sinn Fein’s words of disgust and where was Ballymena councils Book of Condolence? catholics are dishing out just as many beatings to protestant teenagers as protestants are to them but at the end of the day NO ONE should be getting beaten at all never mind getting beaten to death.Im angry that the death of my friend Steven Kirk didnt receive the same media publicity and exposure as the death of Michael Mcilveen .Im not trying to say one murder is worse than the other, murder is murder no matter what side it is on,but it seems to me that when the murder victim is a catholic then in media terms , it is treated more seriously.Sinn fein have to shoulder much of the blame for the trouble in Ballymena , they have stirred tensions to boiling point and should take a long hard look at their policies if they are to achieve the “ireland of equals ” they talk so much about.

  • Southern Observer

    [i]I am very sorry to have thrown so many knickers into twists[/i]
    Not quite the case.We just pulled you up on a theologicaly inaccurate statement.

  • missfitz

    You are correct, and I know you are correct.

    On the other hand, growing up that was what I was taught, albeit inaccurately, and I know that there are many of an oldre generation who still cling to that belief.

    But in the context of a serious argument, I should not have been flippant.

    I repent.

    (Wonder will that get me into heaven)

  • Alan Law


    Sorry I couldn’t find a link, it was on UTVlive earlier in the week.


  • Sam

    [i]“…but catholics dont think prods get into heaven either,”
    “…at one time Catholics did not believe that Protestants could enter the Kingdom of God when they cast aside their earthly form.”
    “…growing up that was what I was taught, albeit inaccurately, and I know that there are many of an older generation who still cling to that belief.”[/i]

    Far from being ‘taken out of context’ you’ve retreated through a succession of formulations which just happen to reflect common Protestant misconceptions and prejudices – what I called ‘Orange folklore’ or anti-Catholic propaganda. This has [u]never[/u] been Catholic teaching, [url=]the Council of Trent[/url] (Vatican I) was crystal clear.

    Are you seriously suggesting that [i]many[/i] Catholics of an older generation were taught and maintain such a heresy? It would be interesting to see any evidence of that beyond folklore or personal reminiscence. Given the process of Catholic indoctrination, I’d imagine it would be rather difficult to get away with such a glaring heresy.

    Despite the reflexive whataboutery, and assertions that ‘both-sides’ – i) are, ii) then were, iii) now ‘once misrepresented to be, as bad as the other – there is no equivalence between the doctrine on Catholic damnation which is espoused by Alderman Gillespie, the Free P’s and the Orange Order.

    Those people are more than welcome proclaim their faith and to disagree with Catholic doctrine. In Catholic teaching they would all remain Christians, and may still be ‘saved’. However, as far as I’m concerned, he and his followers are not welcome to declare those who disagree them ‘anti-Christian’ and ‘damned’. In that conception, Protestants of any denomination [i]may[/i] be ‘saved’, but a Catholic holds [i]anti-Christian[/i] beliefs, and is by definition damned.

    Furthermore, the Orange Order builds upon this anti-Catholic religious theology (binding Protestants of any denomination together to oppose the ‘fatal errors’ of the Church of Rome) and fuses it with a political ideology of Protestant supremacism. I think this political-religious fusion has informed much of the culture of sectarianism within unionism and loyalism.

  • Resolve

    Well said Sam… and in relation to that final point, the fact that Church of Ireland Christians are MUCH closer, theologically speaking, to Catholics than they are to many of their reformed brothers and sisters, serves to strengthen your argument that the problem is that of mixing politica and religion, a dangerous thing to do….

    Then again, the Reformation was primarily political too….

  • Sam

    [i]”Now, if any of you have a working knowledge of protestantism, you will be aware that for most protestants, there is no greater conduit to their maker than through the act of prayer.
    “It is absolutely no coincidence that it has been made known that Ian Paisley has joined the McIlveen family in prayer.
    “This makes it clear to those who know how to read the runes that they were all equal before the eyes of God, everyone on an absolutely and fundamental level playing field.

    “All I ask is that people who may not have been aware of it try and understand that from Paisleys perspective, he has already done that which some people think Mass is there to achieve.
    “Not only this, but by making it public knowledge that he has joined the family in prayer, he has made it known to all who follow the protestant faith that he holds the McIlveen family in equal worth as any other, their own denomination notwithstanding.
    “It would certainly be my hope that in the coming days he would be able to attend the funeral service, including the Mass.
    But if he doesn’t, I also hope that it is not seen as such a negative gesture as some might rush to judge it is.”[/i]
    ————————————————–This This an interesting point on Paisley’s beliefs, especially in relation to those who share his Protestant understanding of Christianity.

    I think you’re probably right, it may not understood by Catholics in the instinctive way you suggest would be the case for evangelical/born again Christians.

    If Paisley were to elaborate on this, and possibly develop that positive form of engagement instead of the anti-Catholicism, it could be constructive.
    [url=]Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster[/url]- Doctrine:
    Doctrinally, the church describes itself as fundamentalist, evangelical, and separatist. Baptism and the Lord’s supper are recognized as sacraments of the Free Presbyterian Church. Members are allowed to determine the proper mode (dipping, pouring, sprinkling) and subjects (infants, adult believers) that they prefer, but the church will not sanction baptismal regeneration. The Lord’s supper is observed monthly, unless a local congregation prefers a more frequent observance. [b]Alongside the Free Presbyterian Articles of Faith, the Westminster Standards are considered doctrinal standards subordinate to the Bible.[/b] On account of their additional adherence to the Articles of Faith, and because of their baptismal views, some regard the church as only nominally Presbyterian, and actually nearer to the Baptist Church, and more nearly allied to modern Fundamentalist Christianity than to the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition.
    [b]Political and religious opposition to the Roman Catholic Church, construed by the Free Presbyterians as Protestant reformation principles, represents the single most distinctive characteristic of this denomination, not least because this is the single most distinctive characteristic of the Rev Ian Paisley’s own theological outlook.[/b]

    [url=]Westminster Confession of Faith[/url]
    The confession is a systematic exposition of Calvinist orthodoxy (which neo-orthodox (Barthian) scholars routinely refer to as, ‘scholastic Calvinism’), influenced by Puritan and covenant theology.
    Its more controversial features include: double predestination (held alongside free-will); the covenant of works with Adam; the Puritan doctrine that assurance of salvation is different or separable from saving faith, a minimalist conception of the Regulative principle of worship; and a Sabbatarian view of Sunday.
    Even more controversially, [b]it states that the Pope is the Antichrist, that the Roman Catholic mass is a form of idolatry, and rules out marriage with non-Christians.[/b] These formulations were repudiated by the Church of Scotland in the 1980s, but they remain part of the official doctrine of some other Presbyterian churches.
    The Church of Scotland made the theological leap. Protestants who adhere to the teachings of fundamentalists like Paisley, or are members of the anti-Catholic Orange Order ought to consider doing the same for very good, Christian reasons.

    I see no reason why they shouldn’t be challenged on these matters, whether it come from his fellow Protestants, Catholics, agnostics or ‘evangelical atheists’.

  • Conor Gillespie

    “it states that the Pope is the Antichrist, that the Roman Catholic mass is a form of idolatry”

    I’ve always wondered, didn’t Paisley and his band of merry bigots claim that the last pope was also the anti-christ? Surely since he died and the world didn’t end or anything he can’t be. How many Anti-christs does it take to herald an armagedon?

  • missfitz

    While not as great an expert as yourself on this, I do know that there are serious differences of opinion on gaining the afterlife between chrisitian groups.

    Before Vatican II, the Church consistently taught that only Roman Catholics had a chance to be saved and attain Heaven. Followers of other Christian denominations and of other religions would be automatically routed to Hell for all eternity:

    Pope Innocent III (circa 1160 – 1216 CE) is considered “one of the greatest popes of the Middle Ages…” At the Fourth Lateran Council (a.k.a. the General Council of Lateran, and the Great Council) he wrote:
    “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all can be saved.”

    Pope Boniface VIII (1235-1303 CE) promulgated a Papal Bull in 1302 CE titled Unam Sanctam (One Holy). He wrote, in part:
    “Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins…In her then is one Lord, one faith, one baptism [Ephesians 4:5]. There had been at the time of the deluge only one ark of Noah, prefiguring the one Church, which ark, having been finished to a single cubit, had only one pilot and guide, i.e., Noah, and we read that, outside of this ark, all that subsisted on the earth was destroyed….Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

    The last sentence in the original Latin reads: “Porro subesse Romano Pontifici omni humanae creaturae declaramus, dicimus, definimus, et pronuntiamus omnino esse de necessitate salutis.”

    Pope Eugene IV, (1388-1447 CE) wrote a Papal bull in 1441 CE titled Cantate Domino. One paragraph reads:
    “It [the Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart ‘into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels’ [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

    The position has changed since Vatican 2.
    “The Catholic Church professes that it is the one, holy catholic and apostolic Church of Christ; this it does not and could not deny. But in its Constitution the Church now solemnly acknowledges that the Holy Ghost is truly active in the churches and communities separated from itself. To these other Christian Churches the Catholic Church is bound in many ways: through reverence for God’s word in the Scriptures; through the fact of baptism; through other sacraments which they recognize.”

    The non-Christian may not be blamed for his ignorance of Christ and his Church; salvation is open to him also, if he seeks God sincerely and if he follows the commands of his conscience, for through this means the Holy Ghost acts upon all men; this divine action is not confined within the limited boundaries of the visible Church.”

    (“The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Dedicated to ‘The Immaculate’,)

    In short, those who learned their faith prior to Vatican 2 would certainly have held that entrance to heaven was restricted, and indeed very few got there without a period in purgatory.

    As to how prevalent this view is in Ireland now, I have to say I do not know of any large scale surveys that have been done, but would be interested if anyone knows of work done in this area.

    No doubt any of us who grew up in a post V2 era have different ideas and outlooks, but I can tell you that those of my parents generations certainly held these ideas very firmly.

  • kensei

    “Sinn fein have to shoulder much of the blame for the trouble in Ballymena , they have stirred tensions to boiling point and should take a long hard look at their policies if they are to achieve the “ireland of equals “ they talk so much about.”

    Yeah. It’s all SF’s fault.


    All your examples are of pre Reformation Popes, and therefore don’t count, because there couldn’t have been an opinion on other Christains. The Council of Trent would trump them anyway.

  • missfitz

    Can you expand on that, because I dont see how the Council of Trent affected these pronouncements.

    “In the area of religious doctrine, the council refused any concessions to the Protestants and, in the process, crystallized and codified Catholic dogma far more than ever before. It directly opposed Protestantism by reaffirming the existence of seven sacraments, transubstantiation, purgatory, the necessity of the priesthood, and justification by works as well as by faith. Clerical celibacy and monasticism were maintained, and decrees were issued in favor of the efficacy of relics, indulgences, and the veneration of the Virgin Mary and the saints. Tradition was declared coequal to Scripture as a source of spiritual knowledge, and the sole right of the church to interpret the Bible was asserted.”

    I used that quote as I couldnt have put it better myself, and wonder do you have any issues with that statement?


    All your examples are of pre Reformation Popes, and therefore don’t count, because there couldn’t have been an opinion on other Christains.

    What about the Orthodox church?

  • kensei

    “Can you expand on that, because I dont see how the Council of Trent affected these pronouncements.”

    Read Sam’s link above. Baptism of desire is older than Vatican II at any rate.

    “What about the Orthodox church?”

    The opinion of the Catholic Church to the Orthodox Church has always been different to that of Catholics and Protestants. I’m not really sure they would be seen as “outside the Church” – the Catholic Church accepts the validity of the Apostolistic succession in the Orthodox Church, the validty of its sacrements and tradition. Probably a quick google would find a more definitive account.

  • Briso

    Posted by Reader on May 14, 2006 @ 11:19 PM

    >Which God to believe in? Do you choose the best
    >heaven, worst hell, most plausible God, best
    >odds of salvation – or the God most likely to
    >believe the pretend adherence of a muddleheaded

    I believe in a God who will allow me into the company of all the people I have loved and lost. I believe in a God who will allow MickeyBo to see his mother again. At least, I try to.

    You believe what you want.

  • stephen

    well then briso, you are plainly a fool….

    it is over…face it, and deal with it.

    capputt….nothing else.

  • bertie


    prove it!

  • stephen

    Ha, there is nothing to prove.

    There is nothing….

    In spite of the rantings and threats of the churches, there is still no sensible person believing in heaven, or some god, etc.

    Grow up.

    You would be better off worshipping the sun, at least it is real….

  • briso

    >well then briso, you are plainly a fool….


    >it is over…face it, and deal with it.


    >capputt….nothing else.
    As I said, believe what you want.

  • Resolve

    This discussion is really starting to get boring….

    Bertie, the fact is Stephen can’t prove it… you know this, and so does he. It’s just what his gut tells him is right. This is the same thing as applies to the faithful…

    No one should criticise the faithful solely for their faith. It makes no sense to criticise them. Atheists can be no more sure of their convictions than religious people can.

    The way I choose to approach this question (a question that has been an ever-present human concern since the dawn of man) is this….

    I accept that the only reason why I have any notion that God is a loving God is from my Christian past. Nevertheless, if there is such a God, he will more kindly look on me, an honest agnostic humanist, who at least admitts that one can’t know… than on many of the religious people (not all!) who take up their faith for completely the wrong reasons, and live closed as opposed to open lives.

    Now i am not a full-blooded cultural relativist, but at the same time, when we look across the world and see so many different groups all having completely different answers to these ever-present human concerns, i cannot fathom a God who expects us to repress the nagging suggestion that “I am only a Catholic because I was born here… who am I to say that we are right and they are wrong?”

    Now, the fact that humans have always had these questions MAY be explained by the sorts of arguments put across by such thinkers as psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx (though this is unlikely when one considers the ancient nature of religious belief, but may have something to say on the institutional factor) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (see his Tractatus, where he argues that all unanswerable questions, such as “Is there a God?” arise from the imperfect nature of the way language operates in our consciousness)

    It may also suggest something, perhaps beyond our comprehension (and thus, of course, attempting to comprehend it is futile) but nevertheless present.

    There is something very powerful in the Gospel (and, no matter what lunatics like Ian Paisley say, the gospel forms the basis of ALL true Christians’ lives, ‘even’ catholics lol)… the Jewish authorities get so caught up with living obsessively by the law that they forget the message behind it…. they get so caught up thinking about what the Messiah WILL be like, that their eyes are closed to the present reality… HE IS HERE!… Sound like anyone you know?

    Many Western Christians get so caught up with the righteousness of their beliefs and spend so much energy denouncing the heresies around them that they keep their christianity in their minds, never considering the importance of making that longest of all journeys… that to the heart.

    Remember this one thing… God may exist, and how awesome is he does… yet we cannot ever BE SURE of this… God, if He exists in the Christian sense, KNOWS (He is omniscient, isn’t He?) how hard it is for us, born into a scientific ‘proof before belief’ society, to take the word of a book written thousands of years ago…. We can NEVER be sure that it is true!

    What we CAN BE SURE OF…. what is all around us, is the existence of a beautiful home called Earth, Ireland being as beautiful as any, with infinite (for all intents and purposes) variety of people… people of different colours, different shapes and sizes, different thoughts, beliefs, rituals, politics, different gifts, different everything! Now you can say ‘variety of the spice of life’ like you can say any other proverb, cliche, adage etc. You can SEE ITS TRUTH in your mind, or… for a change, you can let it into your heart 🙂 you can spend your life obsessed with the thought that “I am right, you are worng, God love you”… or you can spend every day meeting new people, all different (though i suppose people aren’t as different from eachother here as in other places.. then TRAVEL!) and really try to see a new aspect of “God” or whatever you call the notion in your mind in the heart of every one…

    We can’t get away from eachother.. we have been trying to for hundreds of years… maybe it’s time we considered that our real goal should not be trying to change those around us, but actually see things from their perspective… using the old Atticus Finch line, walk about in their shoes for a while… this is the only way to understanding, and, ultimately, the only way to end sectartianism etc.

    Do you really think that, if we do get into Heaven, that God will dish out a restraining order to keep the Pope away from Paisley? lol if the Christian conception is true, then St John must be true when he said “God is LOVE”… if we don’t use our short lives learning to love those different from us, what makes us think God will accept us in in the first place?

    Apologies for the length on this post. thank you for anyone who took the time to read it.

  • briso

    Resolve, sometimes I wonder what I’m doing on Slugger and then I come across a little gem like this. Thank you for taking the time to write it!

    BTW, can you explain the theory that ‘all unanswerable questions, such as “Is there a God?” arise from the imperfect nature of the way language operates in our consciousness’? Surely some unanswerable questions are simply unanswerable?

  • Resolve

    thanks for the compliment Briso…

    the idea you are referring to comes from Ludwig Wittgenstein, famous logician who studied under Bertrand Russell in Cambridge after the Great War (the Wittgensteins were a famous family in the Habsburg Empire, and you know its fate after the War)….

    He was a revolutionary thinker, and in his first work (in fact the only one to be published during his lifetime) ” Tractatus Philisophico-Logicus” he thought he had put an end to all the problems of philosophy… now, he eventually rejected much of his earlier work (see Philosophical Investigations for a more mature approach) but nevertheless, the book is up there in any list of the most significant of the 20th Century.

    It is in the nature of his arguments in the book that I cannot convey them to you.. you must SEE them yourself. It’s a short book, but a notoriously difficult. Perhaps look up Wikipedia or something, it might give you a summary.. but as I say, a summary may be useless…

    Sorry i can’t give you a more developed answer… i have a Law exam on thursday morning, and I have a depressising amount of notes in front of me here! c ya

  • Resolve

    Before some anal retentive slugger corrects me, the correct title is “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” 😉

  • Reader

    Briso: I believe in a God who will allow me into the company of all the people I have loved and lost. I believe in a God who will allow MickeyBo to see his mother again. At least, I try to. You believe what you want.
    Yep. That must be comforting. Personally, Pascal’s wager has persuaded me to ‘believe’ in Santa Claus, on account of the excellent Chrismas. The rest of the year I’ll just face reality in the company of the living and with the memory of the departed – making sure not to get the two mixed up.

  • Resolve

    FAO Reader…

    Who are you to tell Briso how to interpret reality? I agree with you that the thoughts of (an otherwide great thinker) Blaise Pascal on this matter are ludicrous… but you must take everything in context: 1. the time it was born; and 2. the way in which Pascal recorded this ‘wager’ idea… it is part of what have collectively become know as his “Pensees”, or thoughts. If you look inside that collection, you will find his thoughts on a huge variety of matters… a real Renaissance thinker at heart, if not in time… it was simply an observation of his, not meant to form the basis of any serious metaphysical system of belief…

    And these “people living in reality” that you speak of… perhaps many of them come to terms with the reality principle in more awful ways than a religious conviction… i need not go through the neuroses of the modern day to make this point….

  • briso

    >Yep. That must be comforting.
    It is.

    >Personally, Pascal’s wager has persuaded me
    >to ‘believe’ in Santa Claus, on account of the
    >excellent Chrismas. The rest of the year I’ll
    >just face reality in the company of the living
    >and with the memory of the departed – making
    >sure not to get the two mixed up.
    Whatever floats your boat. I believe the question what happens after death is unanswerable. There are only two possible answers: a)your consciousness ends at the moment of your death never to return b)everything else.
    In that sense, I am an agnostic most of the time.

    Like most people over a certain age, there are people I would like to see again who are dead. Given I can fill the unknowable with whatever I like, I choose something that gives me comfort. Why athiests choose to believe as they do is beyond me, but as I say, whatever floats your boat.

    Now if Wittgenstein proves to me that a question beyond answer is just an imperfection in our consciousness’s interaction with language, I’m snookered. But I guess I won’t understand him anyway, so I’m safe enough.


    No one should criticise the faithful solely for their faith. It makes no sense to criticise them. Atheists can be no more sure of their convictions than religious people can.

    I humbly suggest that the lack of evidence for the existance of God makes me much more confident of my position as an atheist.
    In fact, it’s exactly the type of thing one would expect.
    On the other hand, those who believe have to come up with an explanation for the lack of evidence where there ought to be evidence, if what they hold to is correct.

    When two people argue over the existance of anything, the onus is always upon the person claiming that the thing is there to show proof.

    I’m an atheist and I’ve got the proof to show I’m right

  • Resolve


    So you said before… the point is, you can’t know.. therefore, maybe you shouldn’t ask in the first place…. certainly don’t criticise those who do ask, and something (whatever it is) makes them answer in the affirmative….

    The fact is, i ultimately agree with you… but don’t forget that even if the Bible is made up, and Christianity isn’t true, that doesn not deal with the nagging wonder in your mind… “What is it for?”

    It is truely difficult to process the suggestion that there is no purpose…. that may well be true…. but, i tend to agree with the smart old answer to the question “What is the meaning in life?”
    The answer is “It’s to have meaning in your life”… so if some people decide to find that meaning in a religion or a book or whatever, be gracious and open-minded in your dealings with them… after all, what if it’s true? 🙂

  • briso

    TAFKABO, with respect, I think you’re completely missing the point.

    >I humbly suggest that the lack of evidence for
    >the existance of God makes me much more
    >confident of my position as an atheist.
    More confident than who? The Pope? Ian Paisley? He’s got evidence in abundance! Me, almost certainly. I have hope which occasionally becomes faith.

    >In fact, it’s exactly the type of thing one
    >would expect.
    Who would expect? lol

    >On the other hand, those who believe have to
    >come up with an explanation for the lack of
    >evidence where there ought to be evidence, if
    >what they hold to is correct.

    >When two people argue over the existance of
    >anything, the onus is always upon the person
    >claiming that the thing is there to show proof.

    I’m not arguing. Believe what you like. In any case, the question is unprovable either way, no?

    >I’m an atheist and I’ve got the proof to show
    >I’m right

    No, you’ve seen no compelling evidence to convince you that your belief is wrong.

  • Resolve

    In any event, TAFKABO, do you ever ponder the fact that atheists, by and large, are found only in Western countries? Let’s leave out Buddhist for a second (in a moment, as my argument develops, you will see why)…

    There are many agnostics across every part of the world, yet atheists are usually only found in Western countries. Why is this? Let’s consider simplifying the history of the West for a second (an awful thing to do usually, but hopefully it will prove illustrative)… the Enlightenment brought with it a reaction to the Christian history of europe… most obvious in the French Revolution, people grew revolted at the previously popular notion of Throne and Alter, and concluded that the Alter was, by association, as lacking in legitimacy as the Throne…. from Enlightenment thought can clearly be seen a logic and reason in its purest form. From that came the birth of the modern applied sciences, and many of the complex technological developments we take for granted now… yet we are, as a people, more than ever, caught in spiritual disarray…. we find it much harder, on the whole, to relate to people, than did folks of old, who didn’t have the convenience of TV… subliminal distraction has, for a lot of people, made direct communication much harder…. is Reason the sole important feature distinguishing humans from animals?

    Many great thinkers have argued that reason, if cut off from the deepest parts of the soul (call it what you want) in itself becomes unreasonable… actually, even more perverted than unreasonableness, because to the subjective mind, it seems perfectly reasonable… is it, for example, reasonable to plunder the earth’s natural resources? In the name of what? and what will be the end result? there may well be generations of our brothers and sisters to come who will hate us for it…

    It seems to me that a good way to describe this contradiction is that we have focused so closely on the “reason” side of things whilst renouncing the existence of our spiritual selves…. no wonder Nietzsche went mad! (i know that was a stupid thing to say, so no need to criticise me for saying it. It was a joke)… Sometimes the more we try to understand things, the less we have the capacity to understand them…….

    However, you cannot deny that atheism is as irrational as religious belief… why not call yourself agnostic and admit the possibility of something greater… I agree, there is not enough proof to convince me, however to say that there is the proof to support atheism, like you do…. you have more in common with fundamentalists than you would care to admit TAFKABO… 🙂

  • Resolve

    Will we ever break out of stereotypes???

  • Alan

    Well let’s try extending the options. Rather than just being a theist, agnostic or atheist – I prefer to think of adding the possibility of being a *theist agnostic* and an *atheist agnostic*.

    I prefer the later, personally, as I believe that I cannot know the full truth, but all that I can see of life and the universe demonstrates precious little prior intent, direction or evidence of creation.

    I’m suspicious of definitive statements in relation to this, due mainly to vain attempts in the past to discuss creation / non-creation with evangelicals. Their answer to the question of proof was faith which is an unarguable cul-de-sac.

    Which brings me to ask of our resident theologians – what is meant by *God’s Grace*. By my limited understanding, that concept would seem to rule out the acceptance of many into a heaven. The earlier quote from RC doctrine would seem to be arguable in a number of exclusive directions.

  • Reader

    briso: Given I can fill the unknowable with whatever I like, I choose something that gives me comfort. Why athiests choose to believe as they do is beyond me, but as I say, whatever floats your boat.
    Like many people, I think ‘Choose to believe’ is an oxymoron. I can gather evidence, listen to the views of others, and think carefully through the issues. But in the end, I either believe, or I don’t believe, or I remain uncertain. Choice doesn’t come into it.
    Of course, I can ‘choose to pretend’, or even ‘pretend to choose’. But that isn’t the same.

  • DK

    I am an athiest. This means that I have decided that, on balance of personal evidence, there is no god(s). This is different from being an anti-theist, which is what athiests are often mixed up with. An anti-theist believes that there is no god; an athiest would be open for their opinion being changed if, for example, the great goat descends from the heavens and steps on their foot.

    I am not confusing this definition with agnostic. An agnostic is someone who has decided that there is a god, but are not sure exactly what that god is.


    Theist – I believe in god
    agnostic – I have decided that there is a god
    athiest – I have decided that there is no god
    anti-theist – I believe that there is no god

  • tera

    Perhaps somewhat off topic, I am proud to see so many people discussing such a heated issue calmly. Although many of you have deep seeded feelings when it comes to so much of what has been discussed in this thread, most of you have stated your sides very calmly and seem open minded to hearing other peoples opinions. Perhaps if the rest of the world was as calm and attempted to understand others as well as you all have seemed to, the main issue that started this discussion…stereotypes, wouldn’t exist. Atleast not in a negative way.

  • bertie


    I think that considering the title of the threadm your comments are totally on topic 🙂