Op-ed: Latter-day Saints are equipped to confront atheism

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  • WayneMan Indianapolis, IN
    Oct. 1, 2017 5:51 p.m.

    First off the initial main point is wrong. The main reason is not that we cannot see God. The fact that God is unseen is a valid but minor point.

    1. The article mentions faith. Faith alone is not a reliable path to truth. About 1 billion Hindus, 1.6 billion Muslims, 2.2 billion Christians (vastly non-Mormon) accept their religion on faith. So faith obviously is not a reliable path to truth for the vast majority, unless you somehow claim they are all true.
    2. Science has shown at least some of the Old Testament stories as just not true, which puts doubt on the entire text.
    3. Man made evil is our doing and is not the issue. The issue is with the countless random suffering from natural disasters or diseases. They strike believers and nonbelievers by the millions with no discrimination. If God designed this world, those random sufferings are what I challenge. Land and sea creatures are a total blood and guts suffering world.
    4. For the vast majority, religion is random based on birthplace. A religious demographics map, based on census data, makes this obvious. Born in India, very likely Hindu. Born in Mexico, probably Catholic. ... It is simply indoctrination for most.

  • Steve Greene Grand Rapids, MI
    Oct. 1, 2017 12:29 a.m.

    [continued, part 3] ...critique the atheistic argument against the traditional Christian concept of a god in regard to suffering. He attempts to do a side-run around the atheistic criticism by bringing up free will - but, of course, he totally ignores the fact that (1) just because of free will, that does not mean a god can't alter the consequences even after free will choices are made, and more importantly (2) Lewis totally ignores the great deal of suffering that occurs that has nothing whatsoever to do with the consequences of people making choices, such as natural disasters, disease, and so on.

    So even while Lewis concludes "While atheism has grown in America over the past generation, this is not because it has solid arguments behind it" and "Latter-day Saints are equipped with religious truths that can help them refute even the strongest atheist claims" - he makes such ridiculous remarks while in the very act of demonstrating just how silly the rhetoric of religious apologists really is.

  • Steve Greene Grand Rapids, MI
    Sept. 30, 2017 4:31 p.m.

    [continued] ...no matter how many times we atheists point out exactly how silly it is. If his argument was right (and if he actually believed his own argument), then besides being a Mormon believer, Lewis would also be Jewish, non-Mormon Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and a believer in any number of other religions - and he'd believe that UFO's are visiting aliens from other stars, and he'd believe in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, Chupacabra, leprechauns, and fairy dust too. Of course, the fact of the matter is that people make things up all the time, for all kinds of reasons, which are wrong, and believe them and promote them despite the fact that they don't have good evidence to back them up. This is a fact of humanity and human history. So anyone who even tries to seriously promote some argument based on ignoring this obvious fact only exposes his irrationality.

    Then Lewis makes some argument about the concept of falsifiability which is just a silly bogus argument on its face. There are indeed examples of science dismissing bogus (and primitive) religious notions regarding strictures on behavior (morality).

    Finally, Lewis tries to critique the atheistic argument...

  • Steve Greene Grand Rapids, MI
    Sept. 30, 2017 5:57 a.m.

    It's always ironic how when religion apologists post some essay/article in trying to critique atheism they actually in that very process demonstrate why atheism is correct, by demonstrating the very 'irrationality inspired by religious thinking' that constitutes the atheistic critique of religion.

    In this particular essay, the author, Hyrum Lewis, employs some lame-brained straw man disparagement of dealing with evidence. (He pretends that the use of evidentiary standards - i.e., requiring good evidence to back up claims - is "knowledge comes exclusively through sight. Religious propagandists have only been employing this silly rhetorical tactic for over a hundred years - and no matter how many times we atheists explicitly point out how stupid the straw man is, they just keep right on using it.)

    Then Lewis goes on to make an argument based on pretending that people never ever make anything up that doesn't have good evidence to back it up. Again - just another inane argument, which is obviously bogus, that religious apologists have been using for over a hundred years, no matter how many times.

  • SkepticNY Port Washington, NY
    Sept. 29, 2017 12:43 p.m.

    If you're going to write an opinion piece regarding atheists the least you can do is understand what atheism is. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in gods. For whatever reason. Nothing more, nothing less. When you imply atheists say this or atheists say that you are adding "stuff" to the meaning of atheism. Atheism is NOT the assertion that there is no gods (while a minority do) just the lack of belief - that's it. Having said that without empirical testable verifiable unbiased falsifiable EVIDENCE that any gods exists you and others will have a very hard time convincing an atheist of the delusional god belief.

  • FJSL Houston, TX
    Sept. 28, 2017 8:26 p.m.

    @ UtahBlueDevil

    Karen R. here.

    Actually, I was thinking only in terms of the average believer and my assumption is that they're as decent as your average human being. But as noted earlier, the problem is that many are taught to disregard/distrust evidence-based knowledge when it conflicts with their tenets/beliefs, and this can prolong harm.

    Example: Homosexuality. We've had objective evidence for at least a generation that refutes much of what we used to persecute gays for and yet some religions persist in acting on beliefs generated long ago - even when shown that persisting causes harm, and not just to the gay people. It's really tragic.

    So IMO it does matter if that source of comfort/hope is real or an illusion. Who would tolerate harm on the basis of the latter? Also, while research does show that religious membership can be beneficial, none of it suggests that the religion or the god-belief are the cause. It instead points to human connection, common purpose, and shared goals/meaning. And we already know that these can be produced without religion or god belief.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Sept. 27, 2017 8:07 p.m.

    @Karen.... the assumption you seem to be making is without religion, there wouldn't be bad actors in society. Of course there are people who have abused and misused "religion" for their own personal benefit. That's what people do unfortunately as fallible Humans. Even in the most of atheistic societies that same thing happens.

    By pointing out that sometimes bad outcomes happen, that doesn't change that faith is also a positive. An abused drug may cause huge damage, but that doesn't mean the drug when used properly isn't greatly beneficial.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Sept. 27, 2017 2:59 p.m.

    @ UtahBlueDevil

    "Perhaps it is just fooling the brain into not giving up, and there is no real spiritual power associated - it really doesn't matter. The outcome is it provides peace when logic would dictate otherwise."

    If the only outcome were benign and beneficial, there would be no reason for concerned skeptics to speak up.

  • DSattheU Ogden, UT
    Sept. 27, 2017 1:27 p.m.

    Meant to say "my atheist friends do NOT believe they superior to a deity."

  • DSattheU Ogden, UT
    Sept. 27, 2017 12:54 p.m.

    As a Christian with numerous atheist friends, I find this article lacking on many fronts. Atheists are mischaracterized as is the role of faith. My atheist friends do believe they are superior to a deity. In fact, they are humble, serving and some of the most gracious people I've ever known. As a person of faith, I do think everybody is a person of faith on some level, i.e. we are all trusting in some things that we cannot prove but we believe to be true. We always need to respect and communicate, not confront. The Facebook rant phenomenon should teach us that confrontation gets us nowhere and changes nothing, except for our sense of imagined importance.

    If people of faith would humbly and joyfully live what they believe and truly care about every person within a relationship of mutual respect, much more good would be done. Just one man's $.02

  • theNaturalist Smithfield, UT
    Sept. 27, 2017 9:02 a.m.

    If the arguments presented in this article is the best LDS people have, then atheists and others who don't believe LDS "knowledge" have nothing to fear. Let me focus on the author's question: "why should we trust anything they tell us, including the evidence for evolution, relativity or any other scientific theory?" The answer is obvious: If scientific theories were wrong then we none of our technology that we use every day would work. For instance, the author picks out relativity. Perhaps the author and readers don't realize that GPS technology utilizes the theory of relativity to produce accurate location data. Has the author ever utilized the GPS system available on his smartphone? There is no belief needed when one arrives at their destination!

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Sept. 27, 2017 7:31 a.m.

    @Karen R - thank you for your thoughtful response. And I would agree that there is a tendency to sometimes use "faith" as an excuse for personal inaction. Like mentioned in a previous post where some feel the extent of their responsibility is to simply pray for those stopping short of actually personally helping.

    But then there is the times when faith has also been used to sustain people when logic would dictate other outcomes. Whether it be someone who is in an accident on a dark late night road, hoping to be found, who uses their faith to sustain them in hope that they will be found. Or to those in the most abhorrent conditions such as those holocaust survivors that used their faith to sustain them when logic would dictate to give up hope. There have many studies that have shown "faith" has been a factor in medical outcomes.

    One could debate if that faith is unfounded or not, but outcomes show that faith plays a role. Perhaps it is just fooling the brain into not giving up, and there is no real spiritual power associated - it really doesn't matter. The outcome is it provides peace when logic would dictate otherwise.

    I myself, choose to believe.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Sept. 26, 2017 9:51 p.m.

    @ clearthink

    "Atheists who rely on science are relying on an inherently illusory foundation, which is fine so long as they acknowledge that everything they believe is subject to change at any moment."

    So if we started all over again, we'd discover that the laws of physics are different?

    "But at least religion does not reject the resurrection simply because it cannot explain it."

    Why would Christianity reject the very thing that's central to its existence? And why should it be given credit for not doing something it has never considered doing?

  • clearthink Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 26, 2017 5:20 p.m.

    Scientists have always thought they were correct until a new discovery replaced their previous beliefs. Atheists who rely on science are relying on an inherently illusory foundation, which is fine so long as they acknowledge that everything they believe is subject to change at any moment.

    Much the same could be said about religion; even in the Bible, the pagans thought they were correct until the Israelites showed up with a "more powerful God," as in the case if Elijah at Carmel.

    The ultimate proof of God was the resurrection of Christ, well documented anciently in the New Testament and in modern times in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. Of course, anyone can choose to disbelieve the witnesses of the resurrection, but rejecting eye-witness accounts is not scientific.

    So far, science can't explain how resurrection works. Nor can religion. But at least religion does not reject the resurrection simply because it cannot explain it.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    Sept. 26, 2017 2:50 p.m.

    Why does the author feel the need to "confront" me. I'm an atheist, but living in Utah, I know, and am friends with, plenty of mormons. I don't feel the need to confront them. They are welcome to their religion. In that same breath, i'm not joining a church. I don't believe in God(s), so why can't we just agree to disagree and do our own thing instead of "confronting" each other?

  • Bob A. Bohey Marlborough, MA
    Sept. 26, 2017 12:17 p.m.

    Was this an opinion piece or a speculation piece? I find it interesting that an OP-Ed in a church owned news publication purports to speak for what all athiests believe and their arguments for believing what they do. For me it makes this publications views on the matter highly suspect. Why, for example must atheism be confronted in the first place? If a religious message is so true, no confontation of alternative views should be required, the matter will sort itself out naturally. The truth will stand on it's own. To me this opinion piece creates an us vs. them instead of a live an let live narrative.

  • cthulhu_fhtagn Seattle, WA
    Sept. 26, 2017 10:19 a.m.

    An article on how to be "right" in an argument. That'll up the conversions for sure.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Sept. 26, 2017 9:37 a.m.

    @ UtahBlueDevil

    I don't wholeheartedly believe gods don't exist. It's always possible. But the evidence from history and many sciences leads me to conclude that it's far more likely that we created gods than vice-versa.

    Faith: To me believers have always placed religious faith in a separate category from the forms you're talking about. Non-religious forms are typically based on some measure of objective evidence and when the evidence demonstrates that our trust isn't warranted, we respond accordingly. Religion doesn't operate like this. It often teaches that these moments are actually a test of one's faith, as if an absence of evidence is evidence that faith is what one's god values.

    And that describes the kind of faith I think we could do without. It encourages mental gymnastics over honesty and critical thinking. It values tradition over knowledge. And to me, it interferes with human potential. It makes us beholden to our ancestors' views of reality and this can retard our ability to respond morally/ethically to new knowledge, thus perpetuating unnecessary suffering.

  • Rude_Dog Kaysville, UT
    Sept. 26, 2017 9:19 a.m.

    Wow, this article is weak sauce. First, this atheist, like many if not most here was once a Gospel Doctrines teacher, Elder's Quorum teacher, RM, married in the temple type of Mormon. I know probably more than most what the Mormon church believes and teaches. After I set aside "feelings" and critically examined the claims, the church's truth claims came up severely lacking.

    However the straw man Atheist that the author sets up is a weak analogy of what most atheists are. The Church taught me that truth is good stuff. Scientists don't accept "sensory" evidence in their work contrary to the infantile assertion by the author. Scientists accept what can be measured. Sometimes those measurements go against "sensory" expectations. We don't see gravity nor the atom, but because we can measure their effects we can work within their frameworks for results, like the low pressure that sits on top of a wing in flight.

    Morals are a product of evolution and the evolution of society. We are an evolved bi-pedal hominid, even the church acknowledges this. This is taught at BYU. When you insert whatever "God" involvement you must, you now are in the faith zone.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Sept. 26, 2017 7:42 a.m.

    It is interesting to read the opinions of those who whole heartily insist there is no God and that there is no need for "faith". And yet we all live in a world where we operate on faith in many aspects - where we only see at best at times indirect evidence of something. Particularly in an age where anything can be faked... one uses faith to greater levels.

    We use faith everyday when we believe what someone says. We take as truth based on reputation - rather than empirical proof - many things in life. There are few absolutes in this life, and faith is part of most things we do... in our legal system, or financial system, in the honesty of others, and the decency of most people.... though if we believed the news represented humanity as a whole, we would have little justification to have faith in these institutions.

  • Wyomex Burlington, WY
    Sept. 26, 2017 6:26 a.m.

    The Atheist says to the Christian: "You're so smart, why don't you doubt it?"

    The Christian to the Atheist: "You're so smart, why don't you believe it?"

  • RJohnson Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 11:54 p.m.

    @Sportsfan123

    “Another way to refute Atheism”

    Do you want to refute atheism once and for all? Using tried and tested standard scientific methodologies and produce compelling, peer reviewed evidence of God.

  • tsr1 Irvine, CA
    Sept. 25, 2017 11:50 p.m.

    Good insights from commenters here on both sides. Most atheists I know are good and moral people. Same with religionists. I myself choose to believe in God.

    Impartial7 mentioned the recent Pew study. One interesting finding of that study was that, among Mormons, higher education actually correlates with greater religious devotion:

    "Mormons with college experience are more religiously observant, on average, than Mormons with less education. Fully 92% of college-educated Mormons are highly religious, as are 91% of Mormons with some college. Among Mormons whose education topped out with high school, however, just 78% score high on the index of religious observance."

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Sept. 25, 2017 10:34 p.m.

    1covey."Evolution is proved by the evolving fossil record and such ? Ever thought we've only found the creator's assembly line ? "

    That's the point you willing miss covey, why would I think that. There is no need. The theory of evolution doesn't need a creator to be successful. It's whole by itself.

    As to fraud, one cannot seriously look out over the last 100 years of scientific accomplishments and call into question the scientific process, reason, and discipline because you can find a few cowboys, as illustrated in what was called a short and simple little book.

    The best review of the little book was by Brian Medawar "The number of dishonest scientists cannot, of course, be known, but even if they were common enough to justify scary talk of ‘tips of icebergs’ they have not been so numerous as to prevent science’s having become the most successful enterprise (in terms of the fulfillment of declared ambitions) that human beings have ever engaged upon. "

    Big Bang..Covey..science gives us no real beginning. Who created God Covey, and then who created..do you have a beginning?

  • my_two_cents_worth university place, WA
    Sept. 25, 2017 7:07 p.m.

    @Misty Mountain

    "So the real reason that people are agnostic or atheist is that they want to justify their [wrong/ bad / evil ] lifestyle choices?"

    When I first left the church home teachers, bishops, misisonaries, etc would come by to try and pull me back into the fold. When I would explain, again, why I left it was usually met with "it's the Word of Wisdom, isn't it? Most people who leave do so over Word of Wisdon issues."

  • Joshua Thinks SLC, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 6:01 p.m.

    As an athiest, i found it hard to relate to any of this ideas. They just don't relate to my experience in reality. I was LDS. I left the church after I realized that the spiritual experiences this article presents as evidence of god are common to most religions. If those experiences are evidence, why do they all point people to different gods. And why does the direction those experiences point people so often line up with their current social environment?

    If it makes sense I can put it in the same vein the author uses. I had a "spiritual experience" that felt like an epiphany in which i realized that no churches were true and that god didn't exist. It made me feel feelings similar to those I'd felt the first time I prayed to know if the church was true, but with more freedom.

  • Thomas Jefferson Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 2:44 p.m.

    Atheists believe there is no God; Agnostics claim there is no conclusive evidence either way.

    Not quite. Atheists dont think that the burden of proof has not been met to support religious claims. Agnostics think that the answer is unknowable.

    I dont believe in any god(s) but if you have evidence (or good argument) for one then please present it.

  • Thomas Jefferson Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 2:20 p.m.

    "Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must remember that everyone, atheists included, have faith."
    Simply not true in any sense. Faith is the excuse people use when they dont have good reasons. If you had good reasons to believe something you would quote those reasons. There is not one thing you couldnt believe and use 'faith' as the reason. Unicorns? Faith.

    "Humans are wired for worship and we all seek out dogmas that give our lives direction. Our choice is not whether to worship, but what to worship. "
    I completly disagree and I find it crazy that a deity would demand 'worship' in the first place.

    This was not a well thought out essay.

  • Thomas Jefferson Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 2:19 p.m.

    "If we can dismiss spiritual experiences (such as “feeling the Holy Ghost”) by appealing to brain chemistry, we can also dismiss sensory experiences in the same way and for the same reasons."
    Wow, so you give the same credence to hundreds of researchers working for years in labs all around the world coming to the same conclusion as you do for some dude saying he 'feels' the same as you...but NOT if some dude has a different 'feeling' than you. I am starting to feel sorry for the writer of this poorly thought out opinion.

    "The scriptures and LDS traditions are full of accounts of people who have seen, heard or even touched God."
    And so do every other religion. You can go on youtube and watch giant congregations who all are 'speaking in tongues' and will 'testify' that your church is of the devil. Whos 'accounts' should I believe?

  • Thomas Jefferson Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 2:18 p.m.

    "There are many reasons for this rise in atheism, but it is not because atheists have advanced good "
    I disagree. I find the opposite to be true. But more than that I have yet to see ANY evidence which supports the idea that any god(s) exist.

    "The basic atheist objection to belief in God is that we don’t see him"
    Wrong and a strawman. It has nothing to do with sight. There has been NO evidence presented which convinces me any god(s) exist. Start there.

    "Many Latter-day Saints believe in God not necessarily because they have seen him, but because they know through spiritual witness that he is real."
    Any person can make any claim imaginable and use the very same 'reasoning' (or lack thereof). In fact billions of muslims make that claim. Do you just believe their claim? Why not?

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    Sept. 25, 2017 1:35 p.m.

    1covey wrote,

    "For those who only want to justify their lifestyle choices, read no further."

    So the real reason that people are agnostic or atheist is that they want to justify their [wrong/ bad / evil ] lifestyle choices? This statement is not going to do much to promote a respectful discussion.

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    Sept. 25, 2017 12:27 p.m.

    I've read a few books on atheism including "Atheism: The Case Against God," by George H. Smith, "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris, "The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values" by Sam Harris, and "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.

    I would gently suggest that Professor Lewis read one or two of these books so that he can learn what atheists actually believe and why.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 11:17 a.m.

    For those who only want to justify their lifestyle choices, read no further. For others, I suggest reading "Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science"-Broad and Wade; Simon and Schuster. I have previously mentioned the problem of unverifiable theories. I believe scientific effort admirable and proper use of man's God-given agency to grow. Science changes as new facts are found. People say "God, show yourself, and we will believe". That would destroy His plan for us to develop our true character. God has given us a few independent witnesses who sealed their testimony with their blood; and has left His handiwork visible. Big bang ? Some Christians see this as God creating the universe. While I think this is simplistic, but, on the right track, science gives us no real beginning - only unverifiable theories. Evolution is proved by the evolving fossil record and such ? Ever thought we've only found the creator's assembly line ? That accommodates entropy.

    From the finale of Edvard Grieg's "Landsighting", " Like the Viking, we are seeking....seek thy God, seek Him, forever". When we find Him, and we can, only then will we find ourselves. Otherwise...otherwise.

  • Prometheus Platypus Orem, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 9:50 a.m.

    a_voice_of_reason said:
    @Hutterite: "Atheism, by the way, is not a substitute religion but rather the absence of religion."

    Which, I submit, is in itself a religion.

    Hilarious, Atheism is a religion, just like not collecting stamps is a hobby, right?

  • Sportsfan123 Salt lake, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 9:33 a.m.

    Another way to refute Atheism is to use modern scientific study in regards to archeological evidence of the Book of Mormon.

    And I am not talking about the Mesoamerica model where mormons fantasize about the ancient ruins in mexico or south america, for instance the b of m never describes large stone pyramids ever. Infact since the people of the b of m are said to be ancienct hebrew wouldnt they have built similarly as hebrews did in egypt and isreal.

    The b of m does describe building large earthen berms round about their cities with deep ditches, and builts walls of timbers the height of a man with palisades and towers like a fort to protect themselves from attack.

    These structures are found all over the midwest like ohio, illinois the great lakes region and north east new york niagra area of the east coast. Infact modern science identifies these ancient people as the Hopewell indians. Also the carbon dating of these sites range from 550 bc to 385 ad. Which is almost a match of the b of m timeline. They also have found mtdna evidence of ancient hebrew dna, called the x2a marker. None of which is found in mesoamerica.

    Look up Newark earthworks, Oh. Lookat the pics, facinating.

  • Sportsfan123 Salt lake, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 9:17 a.m.

    For evolution believers - they still have not found the missing link. Fact!

    Science once thought that the human mitochondria, part of DNA cells, mutates at a very slow rate these mutations have been calculated at a very slow rate which gave geneticists a molecular clock which suggests humans evolved over many many thousands of years. But recent scientific discoveries regarding Human DNA proves that the human mitochondria mutates much faster than originally believed and the new evidence suggests the very first humans are only 6 thousand years old, and what does the bible say about how long ago Adam was here, hmmm 6000 years ago. Very interesting wouldnt you say.

    Also take note of some simple principals that Joseph Smith recieved revalation for like the word of wisdom. Part of which is to not drink coffee, some ask why because its otherwise harmless right - well modern science knows that a natural substence called tanic acid is found in coffee, the same acid used to harden leather for the shoes we all where every day. Joseph Smith didnt know this.

    Science can also be used to prove the existence of devine guidence and creation as stated in the bible, and by Joseph Smith.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Sept. 25, 2017 8:09 a.m.

    There is far more scientific,.. evidence that God exists than there is that He does not exist. Why? .. the multitude of recorded witnesses who have seen Him.

    Multitude? Of the trillions of people that have lived on the earth, you are talking about a dozen or so recorded claims..unless you include the guy on the corner waving his arms and shouting at God for his adversities.

    I can show you "reason" hard evidence that supports the idea of a big bang theory as an explanation for the reality of today. Can you do that for a garden of Eden? Is there any evidence that women originated from the rib of a man, much less in Missouri? I can show you evidence of human evolution from a being that would not survive as a human today to modern humans.

    BTW we are not talking about luck. Luck presupposes the end. There is no need for humans in the universe. Can you show me any evidence that we are necessary. We are here because of the laws of nature and the circumstances of nature.

    Highly unlikely..I agree, but again because the conditions that created us are rare and unlikely.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 7:51 a.m.

    It's your right to preach to the choir, but if the Deseret News actually wants to examine atheism then why not just cover actual atheism rather than engage in apologetics and straw man arguments?

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Sept. 25, 2017 7:37 a.m.

    This essay asserts that LDS are equipped to confront atheism "with religious truths." But all religions claim to possess this, yet when you drill down, all that's found is opinion - opinion rebranded as "faith" and proclaimed a superior form of knowledge. By whom? Believers. Based on what evidence? Faith.

    I'm getting dizzy.

    Re: the claim that we're wired to worship: I think we're wired to see purpose even where none exists, but wired to worship? Look at the behavior of self-identified god believers. How many elicit behaviors that look like worship, e.g., regularly attending worship services? To me, the behavior of most looks strikingly similar to that of nonbelievers.

    "…why aren't our experiences of right and wrong also 'just feelings' that we can likewise ignore?"

    Because the human moral compass isn't a product of emotion. It's a product of objective experience.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Sept. 25, 2017 5:38 a.m.

    "While atheism has grown in America over the past generation, this is not because it has solid arguments behind it. Latter-day Saints are equipped with religious truths that can help them refute even the strongest atheist claims."

    I'm sorry... but this statement is fundamentally flawed. While I firmly believe in many "religious truths" - to say they can refute anything is huge warping of logic. No faith, or lack of faith, is based on being able to quantifiably prove anything. No more can a believer "prove" there is a God, neither can an Atheist prove there is not.

    We need to stop this mentality that is the realm of religion the way to peoples soles is by confrontation. No level of coercion has ever force non-believers to believe. And even if you could, it would defeat the purpose of faith as we believe in it. We shouldn't be "confronting" anyone.... less alone atheist.

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 2:02 a.m.

    @Hutterite:

    "Atheism, by the way, is not a substitute religion but rather the absence of religion."

    Which, I submit, is in itself a religion. One of the definitions of religion is: "a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance." I'd say that is more fitting of atheists than agnostics. Agnostics seem simply not to care one way or the other. They don't know and don't care. Atheists tend to firmly believe there is no God. That belief is very important and central to the atheists I know. It is their religion.

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 25, 2017 1:55 a.m.

    There is far more scientific, empirical, whatever evidence that God exists than there is that He does not exist. Why? If for no other reason than the multitude of recorded witnesses who have seen Him. Science has absolutely no proof or evidence God doesn't exist - only how He works. It's humorous that many find the "Big Bang Theory" so plausible and the account in Genesis so laughable - why? Beyond that, the idea that chance could create this world with its many complexities and that reasoning creatures (humans) would just naturally come about given enough time and luck? I'm sorry, at that point we're into things that are incredibly unlikely without some kind of guiding force putting such things into place - enter God. While there is much we don't know about Him, or even many different theories related to God, I find it far more plausible to believe in God than to believe that it all come out of nothing that was nowhere.

  • RichWilson Rocklin, CA
    Sept. 25, 2017 1:40 a.m.

    "The basic atheist objection to belief in God is that we don’t see him"

    Eh, no. There are plenty of possible evidences that don't involve sight.

    "The scriptures and LDS traditions are full of accounts of people who have seen, heard or even touched God"

    But those scriptures don't lead to a consistent "God". Put a Mormon, a Muslim, a Hindu and a Jew in a room, and everyone will be convinced that their own scriptures present "the truth". The only agreement you'll come to is that the Mormon the Muslim and the Jew will all agree on a on Adam, Eve, Abraham, etc. Now toss in a few other smaller religions and it gets even more chaotic.

    If scripture and personal accounts were valid methods of learning the truth about God, then there would a consistent outcome. Even if one of you is right, the fact that so many different religions exist is proof that there is no way to determine which one is right. It just so happens that the vast majority of people just happen to be born into the 'right' religion. Funny, that.

    Put another way, I just believe in one less god than you do.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 10:42 p.m.

    Atheism is based in fact. Belief in god/religion is not.
    Humans can believe in anything but believing in something doesn't make it true.

  • my_two_cents_worth university place, WA
    Sept. 24, 2017 5:40 p.m.

    @Mike Richards

    "Atheists believe that they are the supreme intelligence; that they are superior in intelligence to Diety. "

    Wait, what? Atheism, by definition, is a lack of belief in deities. Please explain how one can feel they have a superior intelligence to something they believe does not exist.

  • my_two_cents_worth university place, WA
    Sept. 24, 2017 5:32 p.m.

    Atheism is the default state; it's the way we were all born. Only after indoctrination by our parents do we "find God." It's no coincidence that the majority of believers follow the same religion as their parents. So, what is the church really confronting?

  • the greater truth Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 5:29 p.m.

    @Ranch

    LDS believe there are many Gods.

    The LDS do NOT worship many Gods, but only God the Father.

    NO, they are not like other "polytheists". Their views of worship are a departure even from traditional polytheists.

  • Faith is Just Hope Australia, 00
    Sept. 24, 2017 5:07 p.m.

    No offence intended, but it's hard to believe a professor wrote this.

    The whole argument is framed to the Tu quoque fallacy: an appeal to hypocrisy endeavoring to discredit the opponent's argument by asserting the opponent's failure to act consistently in accordance with its conclusion(s).

    So what if Atheists have faith in things? It doesn't prove that faith in God is justified. It's doesn't prove anything.

    And please, what a stupid point of false equivalence, that atheists believe in things unseen. Gravity is unseen but atheists and theists are quite capable of discerning the irrefutable evidence of its existence. Surely, a child could SEE through this lack of reasoning.

    The writer is blissfully unaware of weak atheism. Simple lack of belief due to lack of evidence or reason. This is distinguished from positive atheism, which makes the positive truth claim that no God exists.

    The article seems influence by David Foster Wallace's "What is water?
    " commencement speech, where he asserts we all worship something, but be careful what you worship. Better of reading that for a worldview sympathetic to Christianity.

  • Ether 4:17 Arlington, TX
    Sept. 24, 2017 4:39 p.m.

    Substitute "Theory of" for "Guess of" and it becomes obvious that there are many things science can only guess at. Some will not be persuaded by scriptures about life after death or sin or forgiveness or love, but that doesn't mean those things don't exist. This article seems to be generally addressing atheism, not some specific track of atheism. It's just like people who call themselves non-denominational, they've now categorized themselves through unbelief of another track, but there are many variations. Eveyone will be rewarded according to what they do, that's why some atheists will end up better after death than some Christians, because they do more good.

  • Seldom Seen Smith Orcutt, CA
    Sept. 24, 2017 3:34 p.m.

    Spiders make complex webs, termites make mounds, the species Homo sapiens creates, among other things, god(s)/religion.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 3:11 p.m.

    @Mike Richards;
    " Faith in God separates mankind from animals that simply exist with no knowledge of God and no appreciation of His love for us."

    “Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”- Napoleon.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 2:36 p.m.

    The word 'religion(s)' encompasses a wide panorama of differing and usually competing, if not conflicting beliefs; to judge all religions together is unreasonable. And I noticed that one writer confused atheism with agnosticism. Atheists believe there is no God; Agnostics claim there is no conclusive evidence either way. By the way, all "theories' are a 'faith' process, You take data, make a hypothesis and go with it, while gathering new data which may or may not affect the hypothesis - there is always an element of the unknown present. Science: some years ago a convocation of physicists and philosophers discussed the issue of unverifiable theories - scientists can only see so far and so small. As far as theological problems such as evil or God not putting himself on display, LDS doctrine on man's origin and destiny provide an intellectually satisfying explanation. And we believe that God, while giving revelation, and giving us guidelines, does not lead us around by our nose. One fact that some people refuse to look at is the Book of Mormon. All the arguments against Joseph Smith's claim of translating it by the power of God have failed. ( check out fairmormon.org )

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 2:28 p.m.

    Does the author believe in Ra, Thor, Zeus, Odin, Hera, etc.? If not, the author qualifies as an 'atheist' - at least in regards to those gods. If the author believes in his god, what makes him so certain the others don't exist? Logically, if there is one, there are others.

    Mormons are actually polytheistic - they can become gods themselves, and their god was once a person like them. The bible doesn't claim that the other gods don't exist, only that the Israelites had committed to him to worship him and only him, foregoing worshiping the other gods.

    The author missed his mark by well over a mile.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Sept. 24, 2017 2:17 p.m.

    There is no scientific proof that there is love, yet all people love their children - even those tell that there is no God of love. Our Father in Heaven who loved us enough that He gave His only begotten son to die at the hands of those who had no belief, to atone for everyones' sins, including the sins of those who have no belief in anyone but themselves. That is real love, the emotion that science cannot explain or prove. Faith in God separates mankind from animals that simply exist with no knowledge of God and no appreciation of His love for us.

  • Thomas Thompson Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 1:45 p.m.

    Respectfully, I believe the author misconceives the argument for atheism, which is entirely based upon the view that science represents the only knowledge available to human beings and, there being no genuinely scientific evidence for religious precepts, religion has not made the case for its truthfulness. In the atheistic view, spiritual dogmas must be subjected to the same kind of rigorous analysis we would use to determine whether our understanding of gravity, for example, is accurate. The misconceptions of atheism have everything to do with its ardent insistence that all truth is (only) found in the scientific method, despite the fact that the working out of that method are ongoing and always will be. As Flannery O'Connor has told us, "[a]ll around you today you will find people accepting 'religion' that has been rid of its religious elements. This is what you are asking: if you can be a [Christian] and find a natural explanation for mysteries we can never comprehend, you are asking if you can be a [Christian] and substitute something for faith. The answer is no."

    Surely, she was right.

  • shamrock Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 1:20 p.m.

    1. Many Americans who believe in God do not affiliate with any organized religion. Nor do they want to. This doesn't make them atheists.

    2. Many atheists and agnostics actively approve of Jesus' teachings, especially those about compassion and kindness. They just don't believe Jesus was divine.

    3. A belief in a divine God requires a certain "leap of faith," and the decision to make that leap depends upon many factors, such as the individual's temperament and ways of viewing the world. That being the case, not many of us are swayed by logical or scriptural arguments from either side, so it's unlikely that nonbelievers will suddenly change their minds when confronted by an enthusiastic Mormon quoting passages from the BOM.

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    Sept. 24, 2017 12:52 p.m.

    The author writes that " nearly all atheists who ridicule the idea of faith, themselves gravitate to secular faiths [including] humanism. Each is based on dogmas that require leaps of faith."

    From Wikipedia:

    "Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma".

    Can the author tell me what "leap of faith" it takes to believe in the worth of our fellow man and to prefer critical thinking and evidence over what somebody else says is true?

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Sept. 24, 2017 12:24 p.m.

    Mr. Lewis founds his article primarily on the premise that atheists don't believe in God because they can't see God.

    That is absolutely false, and makes most of his argument moot.

    Of course atheists believe in things they can't see. You can't even drive to the store without that principle.

    Atheism is based on the idea that God does not explain adequately the world the atheist sees and lives in. The details of that are personal and may include the presence of evil, or just generally better explanations.

    If you mean atheist don't believe there is any verifiable visible evidence of God you are right.

    As to why my explanation of the world is believable and yours Mr. Lewis is not, your discussion of brain miss leadings is wanting. The brain does miss lead often. However mistakes in logical thinking are well known and avoidable with effort.

    Scientist can be miss lead as easily as anyone, but the scientific method is well fortified against logical errors, so there is no equivalency in science can be miss lead as easily as you Mr. Lewis can be miss lead.

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    Sept. 24, 2017 12:01 p.m.

    @Mike Richards wrote,

    "Excellent op-ed; but, it misses a central fact. Atheists believe that they are the supreme intelligence; that they are superior in intelligence to Diety "

    Mike, this "central fact" doesn't make sense. By definition, no atheist believes that there is a deity. What you are saying is similar to what I've heard from people belonging to certain religions; they decry people who celebrate Halloween as "devil worshipers". But at least some of those who dress up in costumes (whether they're costumes of cows or fairies or witches) don't believe that there is a devil. You can't worship (or believe that you are more intelligent than) something that you believe doesn't exist.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 11:12 a.m.

    “...nearly all atheists who ridicule the idea of faith, themselves gravitate to secular faiths such as Marxism, progressivism, humanism, postmodernism, scientism, libertarianism or other such "isms." Each is based on dogmas that require leaps of faith."

    This was forwarded by James Talmage in his “Articles of Faith” and has long been parroted in LDS circles as a result of that influential book.

    It aught yo be laid alongside other statements by the author which as “yeast is not a living organism”.

    They have no basis in quantifiable reality. Opinions are not the same as facts.

    As for the blather about Marxism, this is simply a projecting of things you don’t like into those who disagree with and an attempt to say they are equal to believers in some way.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 11:10 a.m.

    @mike richards

    I wouldn't say atheists feel they are superior. Atheists just look at things logically and religious folks rely on faith.

    Their is no scientific proof that God exist but there also isn't any proof that God doesn't exist.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 11:06 a.m.

    Matt

    “Atheists believe that they are the supreme intelligence; that they are superior in intelligence to Diety. ”

    This is patently illogical.

    Also not very meek.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 11:04 a.m.

    “Many Latter-day Saints believe in God not necessarily because they have seen him, but because they know through spiritual witness that he is real.”

    This is a misappropriation is the word knowledge.

    It is not knowledge by any real definition.

  • strom thurmond taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 11:02 a.m.

    “There are many reasons for this rise in atheism, but it is not because atheists have advanced good arguments. They haven’t.”

    This is simply your opinion.

    The trends the author cites clearly present a different picture.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 10:37 a.m.

    Why does atheism need to be confronted? Are religious people that insecure in their own beliefs that they feel they have to take down those who don't believe in the same things?

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 10:31 a.m.

    The headline says it all. Religion feels that atheism cannot be allowed to exist, and it will therefore prepare as if entitled to confront it.
    Atheism, and atheists, have every right to exist as does anyone who follows a religion. Atheism, by the way, is not a substitute religion but rather the absence of religion.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 9:43 a.m.

    @byufootballrocks;
    "It was very telling that a recent in-depth study with plenty of statistics concluded that the more education a person has, the more faith and religious belief they also tend to have, and the less likely they are to leave their faith."

    That's not true. More educated people in the US are less likely to be religious. More educated people that are already christians are more likely to stay. You cite the Pew study- pretty unbiased study, but you're bending the results to fit your argument. That's disingenuous. The complete quote:
    "On one hand, among U.S. adults overall, higher levels of education are linked with lower levels of religious commitment by some measures, such as belief in God, how often people pray and how important they say religion is to them. On the other hand, Americans with college degrees report attending religious services as often as Americans with less education. And among Christians, those with higher levels of education appear to be just as religious as those with less schooling, on average. In fact, highly educated Christians are more likely than less-educated Christians to say they are weekly churchgoers"

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 9:33 a.m.

    "Notice, for instance, that nearly all atheists who ridicule the idea of faith, themselves gravitate to secular faiths such as Marxism, progressivism, humanism, postmodernism, scientism, libertarianism or other such "isms." Each is based on dogmas that require leaps of faith."

    I don't get the siege mentality of the writer. His view of Atheism fits only a tiny minority. So why all the sweat?

    Views of God have been clouded by religion in that religion historically has saddled us with "dogmas" which just plain don't work. As Marx points out, religion focuses on the hereafter without dealing with the pressing issues of the present, particularly those faced by the proletariat, those souls who survive only by selling their labor power. And let me point out, Marx's analysis in "Capital" is in the best traditions of theoretical economics.

    Most people of a scientific bent understand the role of "gut feel," "hunches," and faith. There is an entire school of statistics which deals with the quantitative use of such things.

    From what I know of people in science, the Atheism described by the writer is not ascendant.

  • Dmorgan Herriman, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 9:22 a.m.

    Most atheists I know, since I live in this area, are former members of the LDS Church and many have a strong knowledge of its history and theology. They can speak about LDS theology better than most members. It's obvious from the article that the author knows little about atheism. The author makes the oft made mistake equating atheism as another "religion". Atheism is not based on any belief. It is simply based on a lack of evidence for belief. The case for Gods existence lies with the person making the claim (believers). It is not up to an atheist to prove that God(s) do not exist. I don't have the time or space to address the author's misconceptions regarding science and how it works. Members of the LDS faith can take this article and think they are armed to take on atheism, without realizing that just about all atheists come from a religious background. That's why they are atheist.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Sept. 24, 2017 8:57 a.m.

    Excellent op-ed; but, it misses a central fact. Atheists believe that they are the supreme intelligence; that they are superior in intelligence to Diety. That type of thinking is based on self-worship and pride. Christ told us that the meek shall inherit the earth. He also told us that the earth will become part of His Father's kingdom. Meekness is the polar opposite of pride.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 8:32 a.m.

    "In recent decades, anti-religion books have become best-sellers, the culture has become increasingly secular, and religious affiliation has declined among the population."

    Here's where the author gets confused. Most people that I know that got fed up with organized religion, did not become atheists. In recent decades, scores of people got sick of watching organized religion trying to use the courts to discriminate and deny civil rights to Americans. They quit belonging and identifying as a member of religion, not denouncing God. Most believe in a God, just not the God that organized religion claims exists. Religions sure don't follow the teachings of the bible anymore, just the parts that back their dogma. Organized religion has twisted the bible, and ignored parts to fit their agenda. Many Americans got tired of the hypocrisy and refused to identify with those organizations. The author needs to understand that because someone quits organized religion it doesn't mean they quit being spiritual and became atheists.

  • byufootballrocks Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2017 8:28 a.m.

    Brilliant. There are far more evidences for God and spiritual things than any other explanation of life, as well as its purpose and meaning.

    It was very telling that a recent in-depth study with plenty of statistics concluded that the more education a person has, the more faith and religious belief they also tend to have, and the less likely they are to leave their faith.

    The exact opposite of the weak arguments made with atheism and agnosticism.