Billy Graham’s Daughter: I Would Not Vote for an Atheist to be President April 9, 2012

Billy Graham’s Daughter: I Would Not Vote for an Atheist to be President

The daughter of Billy Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, spoke about the nature of religion and politics on yesterday’s Meet the Press.

At one point, host David Gregory asked her about the likelihood of Evangelical Christians voting for the Mormon candidate, Mitt Romney:

David Gregory: … Evangelicals… are deeply suspicious of Mormons and the Mormon faith and do not consider them to be Christian… [With] the likelihood now of a Mormon Republican nominee, is there not an opportunity for more national understanding and more of a discussion about the Mormon faith when you have the standard bearer of one of our two major political parties of that shape?

Anne Graham Lotz: … You can learn from that something of how his religion drives him… I think… the discussion of religion is almost a smoke screen and a diversion from the real issue. And that’s the policies. And there’s a [clear] choice I think this fall between the way the nation’s going to be led. And that’s what I think we ought to be looking at. Not so much… the religions preference of a particular person.

I’m not sure we should completely ignore Romney’s Mormonism, but to say, “Let’s put aside his religious beliefs and focus on his potential policies” instead? That actually makes some sense!

But then take a look at Lotz later in the same program:

Lotz: … I still think we need to look at the policies. [But] I would not vote for a man who was atheist because I believe you… need to have acknowledgment, a reverence, a fear for almighty God. And I believe that’s where wisdom comes from.

So, to paraphrase: “We should only look at candidates’ policies, not their religious beliefs. But if those candidates are atheists, fuck ’em.”

Because, FSM forbid you have a candidate who obtains wisdom from science and critical thinking instead of any number of holy books written thousands of years ago.

You know, I would have at least understood if she said, “I can only vote for a Christian to be president.” But to say she would vote for any religious person? Anyone who believes in any higher power, as ridiculous as it might be? Because that, to her, makes more sense than voting for someone who lives in reality?!

And remember: Bill Graham is constantly paraded around as someone who is not political. The guy who stresses Jesus over Christianism. The guy who is less crazy than Pat Robertson, less political than James Dobson, less misogynistic than Mark Driscoll.

But, as Anne Graham Lotz shows, the family’s commitment to delusion is as strong as ever.

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  • To be fair, just because she’s hypocritical doesn’t mean her dad is. I mean, he might be, but it’s not certain.

  • Stefan Monsaureus

    Similar comments have been made by politicians over the last several decades, not merely touting the supposed “virtues” of faith, but asserting faith (any faith) as a prerequisite for possessing sound judgment. It seems that countering this fallacy should be a bigger focus than berating the irrational underpinnings of Christianity.

  • She threw him a slow ball right in the strike zone, and the guy didn’t even take a swing at it.

  • Anonymous

    So, is she going to vote for a muslim candidate then?

  • Anonymous

    Here is my thing, who cares about Anne Graham Lotz, never heard of her until this point. My issue is with her dad and brother. 

    And most Americans wouldn’t vote for an atheist anyway, so it doesn’t surprise me that Lotz would say something like that. 

  • LutherW

    At least she is honest! Yet,

    need to have acknowledgment, a reverence, a fear for almighty God. And I believe that’s where wisdom comes from.

    So she thinks, wisdom comes from fear. Does not sound like a good formula for presidential decision making.

  • Gunstargreen

    I’m sure her definition of “religious” ends at “people who believe in Jesus” in which Mormons make the cut.

  • Stan Brooks

    Meh, I am sure that was this is all politics. If an atheist was the republican nominee then she would be fine with that and poo pooing anyone that felt the need to bring it up. Really who is this woman and who cares what she thinks.

  • Anonymous

    Even as a believer, why are you supposed to “fear” your god? That right there is complete absurdity and perversity. Why would anyone worship a being that is clearly not benevolent?

  • You have to remember guys, they are the victims of discrimination.

  • Bully Graham was never not political.  He prefers to be behind the curtain, and pull the strings of the political power players rather than dealing with the uncleaned masses.  

  • I think you’re revealing your youth when you suggest Billy Graham is not political. Throughout the 60s and 70s, Graham shmoozed shamelessly with whoever happened to be president at the time. He was a frequent visitor to the White House, where cynical presidents (Nixon was the worst) used him as evidence of their own piety. He can be heard on the recently-released Watergate tapes discussing with Tricky Dick the evil nature of Jews. Graham is an anti-Semite and a pig who permits himself to be addressed as “Doctor,” despite having only an honorary degree.

  • Marguerite

    I agree with this. 
    I don’t think there’s much real chance that the Republicans will nominate an atheist or a Muslim any time soon, so she’s probably safe in saying “fear for almighty God” is what’s important. Had you asked her a couple of years ago if she’d vote for a Mormon, I suspect the answer would have been no.  Evangelicals are throwing their hats in with Romney because they have to (the alternative would likely have been Santorum, and they’re generally not comfortable with Catholicism either). But that doesn’t mean they have truly embraced the Mormon faith, or that they’re ever going to truly believe it’s valid in God’s eyes. It’s simply a matter of political expediency.

  • A) Santorum’s barely a Catholic, and he’s completely divorced from American catholicism.

    B) Santorum agrees with evangelicals on virtually every social issue.

    C) The evangelical vote and support is all that’s keeping him in the race right now.  That evangelicals will eventually, reluctantly throw their support behind Romney in the general has nothing to do with accepting a Mormon and everything to do with thinking Obama’s the antichrist or whatever.

  • Because if the sheeple weren’t terrified of going to hell for the smallest infractions, what would there be to keep them in line?  Fear of the afterlife is the biggest whip organized religion uses to maintain their flocks.

  • Anonymous

    There isn’t a single president since Truman and Eisenhower that he isn’t close to somehow

  • Marguerite

    I agree that Santorum comes across more as an evangelical. Nevertheless, he calls himself a Catholic, and that makes many of them squirm.

    And I also concur that the only reason he’s in the race is the evangelical support. They would far rather Santorum be President than Romney (typing that sentence made me shudder). But even they are starting to see the writing on the wall. Santorum isn’t going to be the nominee. Therefore it behooves them to start pretending that they’re perfectly okay with Mormonism. And yes, it’s not support for Romney so much as it is a desire not to see Obama get another four years.

    Nevertheless, it’s absolutely political expediency. A year or two ago, you could have asked almost any evangelical in America for an opinion on Mormonism, and the answer would have been, “That’s not Christianity, it’s a cult, and I will never support a Mormon for President.”

  • Marguerite
    The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (which I’m assuming is actually related to Billy Graham, though one never really knows who’s who on the Internet) defines Mormonism as a “cult” on the above page. 

    “A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith. It is very important that we recognize cults and avoid any involvement with them. Cults often teach some Christian truth mixed with error, which may be difficult to detect…Some of these groups are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others.”

  • Puzzled

    These Christians seem unaware of the three temptations in the desert.

  • GregFromCos

    I had a much larger issue in that Interview with the comments about morality, I believe it was from the Catholic guy. He said that there is no morality outside of God, and there was not even a followup to that. I definitely yelled at the TV a few times during that interview.

  • Scott Cragin

    A mainstream religious bigot. I’m shocked; shocked. This is what we’re up against. The self-righteous, offensive, arrogant belief that morality is the exclusive domain of religion.

  • Chris Kilroy

    Oh hang on a minute there. Remember, to many of them, allah is not god. 

  • Chris Kilroy

    Why does this woman’s opinion mean anything, other than being reflective of most Americans? She’s the daughter of a guy was famous. It’s like when I see the Bush twins interviewed. Really? We care? Make a name for yourself in some way, then sure. In this case, her opinion only reflects mainstream America’s opinion. And that is the scary part. They are uncomfortable with Romney as a Mormon and Mormonism as a whole, but now it’s become almost incorrect to say so. They have to get behind him so they can vote out the perceived evil lib President Obama. This is their opinion, despite the fact that Obama professes their same faith and hosts prayer breakfasts etc. But an atheist? Oh hell no. They’ll be darned if they see one of us elected. 
    And since when does wisdom come from fear? How does that make any sense? 

  • Anton

    “And I believe that’s where wisdom comes from.”

    I would imagine then that there was a lack of wisdom on the part of Turing, Wozniak, Gates, Jobs, Edison, Madame Currie, etc. as they pursued their imaginative creations.

  • Josh

    That’s exactly what I was going to say.

  • Steve K

    Sadly, it’s just another indication that “no religious test” is still as much of a sham as it ever was…

  • Really, what’s wrong with her position? I think almost everybody has absolute litmus tests when considering candidates. I would under no circumstances vote for a candidate who sought to make abortion illegal, or who denied evolution was real, or who denied global warming was caused by humans. That is, no matter what other positions a candidate might support that I agreed with, these would be deal killers. I’d vote for nobody before I’d vote for them.

    Her attitude is really no different. Sure, I think her particular litmus test is a crazy one, but it’s still her test, her worldview.

    Certainly, it is a far more rational position to automatically exclude candidates based on their viewpoints (e.g. refuse to vote for an atheist) than to automatically include candidates on similar grounds (e.g. to always vote for the most religious).

  • Anonymous

    So not only can you not be good without god you cannot be wise without god too ? 

  • ThinkingChristian

    I do understand her logic a little bit.  I am an active christian involved in helping my community through a local baptist church and while I personal would vote for an atheist to be president, I can shed some light on her viewpoint.  As a christian, our primary source of instruction for faith is the Bible.  The bible says, “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.”  As a Christian we believe so strongly in the evidence that God does exist that it is difficult for us to support someone who does not share this belief.  We have all seen things happen in our lives that cannot be explained by science or chance alone (Yes, I am well educated and I believe God does exist and involve himself in our lives) and so for someone to say, “I explain these events by a different belief in a different god” makes some sense to us, even though we don’t agree.  We can look at that person and say, “At least they believe in something other than cold science alone.”  On the other hand, someone who does not believe in a higher power of any kind seems “foolish” both from a biblical perspective and from a practical perspective.  The belief in a particular God is not as important to Christians today as it once was but, belief in some explanation for the inexplicable events of life is still important and this is something that an atheist cannot offer.  My personal beliefs about God are much more in line with an overall scientific, logical foundation and so I would not have a problem voting for an atheist as president but, I will save this discussion for another comment.   BTW, my first time reading your blog, interesting articles, I look forward to reading more. 

  • “No religious test” was never intended to restrict an individual from using a religious criterion in deciding who to vote for. Nor should it ever be interpreted that way.

    I certainly consider the religious views of a candidate when I make my voting decision, and I think any rational person should do the same.

  • Anonymous

    Yep. Nominating Romney highlights all the hypocrisy we atheist talk about. 

  • Because being in an abusive relationship changes they way you think.  Your brain has to rationalize the abuse with the love, and the abuse becomes a sign of love.  He only hurts us because he loves so so much!  He doesn’t want to hurt us, but we make him hurt us by disobeying him.

  • Daniel Miles

    This seems to fit nicely into “the common creed” theory by Caplow, Bahr, and
    Chadwick in the latest (but hopefully not final) installment of the famous Middletown study in  1983 (All Faithful People: Change and Continuity in Middletown’s Religion). In it, the authors posit that the United States has invented something new and very important in the scope of religious history. They say we invented something called, “the common creed” where we feel in-group kinship and a trust with people of faiths that differ from our own so long as their religious beliefs meet some very general standards (which I’m having trouble remembering right now. Something about belief in a transcendent power larger than yourself, daily prayer and… one other thing…? I’ll have to inter-library-loan that book again, I suggest you do the same, it was a very enlightening read).

    I think what Annie Grahm Lotz is saying is that so long as you’re a common-creeder, you’re probably OK and we should just look at your policies.

    For a more in-depth discussion of the atheist-as-other phenominon, I thought this paper by Penny Edgell of the University of Minnesota  was really valuable:


  • Anonymous

     “On the other hand, someone who does not believe in a higher power of any
    kind seems “foolish” both from a biblical perspective and from a
    practical perspective.”


  • Your problem here is the sheer hubris that makes you think that you must know the reason for everything. If you can find the humility to accept your own limitations you’ll realise that “I don’t know” is much more honest than “God did it”.

  • This is misusing “bigot” as much as when atheists are accused of bigotry for their opposition to theism.

    It is not bigotry to oppose those who have a different worldview than you do. While a theist may be irrational in their religious belief, nothing could be more rational than trying to reform other people’s views to be more in line with their own. We all do that!

  • Marguerite

    “As a Christian we believe so strongly in the evidence that God does exist that it is difficult for us to support someone who does not share this belief…someone who does not believe in a higher power of any kind seems “foolish” both from a biblical perspective and from a practical perspective. ”

    The problem is that atheists don’t see any “evidence” that God exists. Indeed, to us all the evidence seems to point in the opposite direction.  Right now, atheists have little choice but to vote for Christians, but I admit that given a choice between two equally qualified candidates with similar platforms, I’d vote for an atheist over a Christian. I suppose it’s human nature to believe that the person who shares your worldview is more logical and sensible than someone who doesn’t *shrugs*.

  • They always say they wouldn’t vote for an atheist. But I don’t buy it. You mean to tell me that if it was Ayn Rand vs. Barack
    Obama, all these Religious Republicans would vote Obama because he is a Christian
    and Rand was an atheist? I doubt it. All these polls are wrong. 

  • ThinkingChristian

    I agree that this is her problem and a more general problem with Christian logic.  As I stated in my comment, her line of logic does not correspond with mine but, I can understand where she is coming from having been brought up with this mind set.  The underlying problem with Christian logic is that it assumes God is the sum of the variables from understood reality.  If this is all God represents in our lives then a belief in God will make less and less sense as the variables we encounter can be explained by science.  Thinking Christians believe that God is reality and it is his system that we strive to understand.  An event that we can explain through the laws of God does not represent a supernatural occurrence but rather one of God’s laws that we do not yet understand.  An answered prayer is as much a result of one of God’s laws as the moon revolving around the earth.  
    If you think about it, this is why religion was so much more prevalent a thousand years ago.  It was because there were more variables that we could not understand.   The whole theory behind Atheism is that eventually, Science will explain away all the variables and therefore eliminate the need for God in our lives but, God is not the sum of the variables God is the inventor of the system and is thus involved in every area of our lives. 

    I might point out that this same line of logic was overwhelming adopted Science for years (still with a large following today) and the most relevant scientific breakthroughs have come from scientists seeking to discover the laws that God put in place not the existence of a system that would create no need for God.  Although many of these scientists did not subscribe to a religious creed in particular they believed in the existence of God.  But, then again, those of us commenting on this blog are probably smarter than 
    Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Pascal, Newton, Boyle, Faraday, Planck, and Einstein, all of whom did believe in God, right?  I am willing to admit I could be wrong and perhaps there is no God would you be willing to admit the same or is there no chance that any of the scientists mentioned above were right and you are wrong?  

  • Marguerite

    Einstein didn’t believe in a personal God:

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.” 

    A better question might be whether those other scientists would believe in God TODAY, knowing what we do TODAY. Even a brilliant mind can be somewhat limited by the prevailing beliefs of its time. It’s rather striking how many physicists today have no religious belief.

  • ThinkingChristian

    Let me give you an example.  Let’s say you were walking with a political candidate down the street and you saw a motorcycle pass in front of you very clearly.  You turned to the candidate and said, “Did you see that Motorcycle fly past?” and he said, “Motorcycles do not exist and whatever you just saw was not a motorcycle, I didn’t see anything!”  You would question his ability to be a candidate because he obviously has a biased against reality.  If he said, “I think it was a scooter.”  You would think, “That’s strange…but at least he admits that he saw something.”  

    Evangelical Christians believe God exists as much as you believe motorcycles exist so when someone says, “I believe in a different God”  We think, “That’s strange but, at least he believes in God.”  When someone says, “There is no God” then we think, “You are refusing to believe in the reality the we know to be true and that doesn’t make sense to us.”  That doesn’t mean you don’t do good things or are a generally good person or that we do not value you as a person it just makes us lose our confidence that you could lead others objectively.  By the way, one interesting project would be to identify the top 100 leaders in the world today and see what percentage believe in some form of God.  I would bet it is 85% but, I could be wrong I have no basis for the assumption.  I am with the 85% but, I admit I could be wrong and I accept the consequences of a wasted prayer life if I am wrong, you are with the 15% could you admit that you might be wrong and are you willing the accept the consequences if so? 

  • ThinkingChristian

    What would you consider as evidence that God exists?  The problem is that you think the only form of evidence would be an event that cannot be explained by Science and from this view point, you are correct that all the evidence is pointing away from a God who randomly adjusts the laws of nature in favor of a select few.   But, the belief of Christians such as myself and that of thousands of scientists across the world is that God is the creator of the system and the system itself is the greatest evidence.   

    As hard as scientists have been trying, they still have found no explanation for the very beginning of time without a supreme being (see Stephen Hawking “A Briefer History of Time”).  Basically, we have a logical system that says, “God created the system and everything else happened and happens according to the laws he put in place.”  Atheist’s do not yet have such a system.  There best explanation right now is, “Nothing started an incredibly intricate system of laws through luck and we are here as a result of this random event and the laws that somehow exist through no intelligent design whatsoever.  If you had no religious bias, which of these statements sounds more logical? 

  • To extend your example, we are stuck with candidates who believe in unicorns.

  • Anonymous

    So you are suggesting I take up a religion based on the odds that one of them might be right – by that logic I should become a muslim as there are more of them so the probability is that they are right. 

    There used to be more people believing in Roman gods than christ so I guess the christians chose the wrong horse there as the odds are that they were wrong.

    You may be a christian but if your belief is based on the mathematical probability of  a large number of people being right just because there is a large number of them then I really don’t believe you are thinking.

  • ThinkingChristian

    I never said he did believe in a personal God.  I said he believed in a supreme being who created the system and laws of science we study which he did and which you just confirmed.  As far as what they would believe today, that is like asking if Kobe Bryant would beat Michael Jordan if he was in his prime…who cares!  There is no way of knowing or testing this, so it is not a viable argument.  

    Here is a good one for you.  Name the top 5 Scientists who are (or were) confessed atheists who made discoveries that had as significant an impact on humanity as the scientists I mentioned above.   Again, I’m not talking about people like Stephen Hawking who says that there may well be a God (See his book, “God create the Integers” introduction) or other open minded scientist who say, “We have no explanation of the beginning of the universe so we don’t know if there is a God”  I’m talking about Scientists who profess to be atheists.  I can think of only one that has made a meaningful contribution.

  • Anonymous

    I should also point out that here in the UK Ed Milliband (Labour Leader) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat Leader) do not believe in god whilst Prime Mnister David Cameron says he does but has problems with some of the stuff that religions come out with. By your logic I would be a fool to believe in god as 66% of our leaders don’t believe and the other one is probably more of a cultural christian.

  • ThinkingChristian

    Well, let’s see…  In 2008 11% of Evangelicals voted for Obama  and it looks like 22% are planning to in 2012.  “Christian” is a very vague term.  If you mean, “Not Atheist” then you would know that over 85% of those voting for Obama in 2008 believed in God.  So… Yes, believers in God generally and Evangelical Christians in particular will vote for Obama or any other candidate that best represents their life views.   The real issue here is not how many will vote for Obama, but how many will not vote for the republican.  This election will come down to Voter turn out and if the republicans serve up someone who does not excite the evangelical block, the voter turn out for that candidate will be low which will fuel Obama’s victory.

  • Marguerite

    “Basically, we have a logical system that says, “God created the system and everything else happened and happens according to the laws he put in place.” 

    And God came from…? No, that’s not a logical system; that’s an assertion that we can’t understand the universe, and indeed that it CAN’T be understood, so God must have done it. That’s only an assertion without proof.

    “As hard as scientists have been trying, they still have found no explanation for the very beginning of time without a supreme being (see Stephen Hawking “A Briefer History of Time”).”
    Nor have Christians any explanation. The Christian explanation boils down to the idea that something must have created the universe, and that something is God. But what created God? The Christian solution is to invent an “eternal” being and announce that he must be the Creator. But there are massive logical holes in this assertion. Why can God be eternal but not the universe? Why must the universe have a starting point, but not God?

    What would you consider as evidence that God exists? 

    He’s omniscient and omnipotent and omnipresent, right? If he really wants people to believe in him, why does he rely on ancient documents to get his message across? It shouldn’t be hard for him to prove he’s out there, if he really wants to. And if it truly matters that we all come to “know God,” why wouldn’t he want to? 

  • ThinkingChristian

    See my comment below to 

  • Marguerite

    ” I said he believed in a supreme being who created the system and laws of science we study which he did and which you just confirmed.”

    That’s deism, not Christianity. You seem to be conflating the two in an attempt to make your point. And I’m not sure Einstein was any sort of believer at all.

    Stephen Hawking seems to have swung between deism and atheism, but in his most recent book, he said: “The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can’t understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second.”

    But again, scientists who believe in a vague sort of God who set up the universe and then went on a fourteen-billion-year vacation are not at all the same as scientists who believe in a God who’s busily sticking his finger into pies all over the universe. I think I’ve lost track of the point you’re trying to make… but I suspect you’ve done likewise.

  • Heide

    The comments that followed on that episode of Meet the Press from a Catholic priest were no better. I had to turn the television off and had trouble sleeping afterwards. David Gregory just let these religious bigots say what ever they wanted without any push back or challenge. 

    I would like to say that there are level-headed Evangelicals but now-a-days it is seeming like it is getting harder to find such a critter.

  • ThinkingChristian

    Yes, that is exactly the problem.  The huge majority of the world believes in something so silly that you can mock it as a unicorn.  We might as well believe that Unicorns designed the universe as we know it today.  After all belief in God makes you an idiot, right?   

    I know many very intelligent people who do not believe in God and I would never tell them they are stupid or that they might as well believe in unicorns.  I also know many very intelligent scientists who do believe in God, people who are much smarter than both of us put together.  I am simply saying that for Christians, in the area of religion, belief that God does not exist makes no sense based on the lives we have lived and the universe we observe and this does have an impact on the candidates a Christian would vote for. 

  • ThinkingChristian

    Nice, that was a great rebuttal thanks for calling me out on that one.  I might point out that your sample size is too small and allows for too much variation LOL but, other than that, good logic.   

  • Steve K

    So it’s all right to have secret religious tests (i.e., ones composed in the minds of the voting electorate), just not institutional tests (i.e., enshrined in a state or federal law). Got it.

    Just because you’re secretly committing an error doesn’t mean you’re not committing an error. This argument arose, too, in the national conversation during JFK’s candidacy. Why should it be less relevant when the hypothetical candidates lack any religion whatsoever? Religion has nothing to do with one’s qualifications for office, and is easily separable in each and every case you can come up with. I don’t look at a candidates’s religion–I look at what they have done and how they have done it. You’re simply upholding religious privilege by arguing that it should be a factor in deciding how to vote.

  • ThinkingChristian

    Again, nicely done.  I am simply suggesting that being religious or believing in God cannot be categorically dismissed as a waste of emotional energy unless you are willing to assert that you are much smarter than the smartest individuals that have ever lived.  I believe in religious freedom and so any religion (including faith that no god exists) is your choice.  The thing is so interesting to me is that Atheists as a general rule cannot admit that they could be wrong.  Of course neither can most Christians but, you cannot say that you are open minded unless you can admit that you could be wrong and you can genuinly see the other person’s point of view.  If I am wrong, I will just die and never be heard from again having lived a wonderful life of blissful ignorance, happily married, successful in business, helping my community and enjoying life!  I believe God has been good to me but, if he hasn’t I have just been lucky I am ok with that too.

    P.S.  Christians 33% — Muslims 20% to 25% we are still ahead… not that this matters I just had to correct the facts.

  • Marguerite

    “I am with the 85% but, I admit I could be wrong and I accept the consequences of a wasted prayer life if I am wrong, you are with the 15% could you admit that you might be wrong and are you willing the accept the consequences if so?”
    This sounds like Pascal’s wager. The problem is that if you’re Christian, you’re gambling that the Christians have it right. But the true religion might be Judaism, or Islam, or Neo-Paganism, or any number of others. Admittedly every religion doesn’t damn you to hell if you’re wrong, but still, you stand a very good chance of having wasted your prayers if the One True God isn’t the Christian Jehovah. If there is in fact only one true religion, then out of those 85% of believers, a large percentage must be wrong.

    What I’m saying is that it isn’t a choice between belief on one hand, and nonbelief on the other. It’s significantly more complex than that. Nonbelief is fairly straightforward, but belief comes in all shapes and sizes.

  • We have all seen things happen in our lives that cannot be explained by science or chance alone

    We have? The reason I’m an atheist is precisely because I have never seen even a shred of evidence that would make me doubt that we live in a purely material world. I have seen absolutely nothing to make me think that the supernatural exists in reality.

  • Anonymous

    Again with the Pascal’s Wager nonsense. That argument has been debunked in so many ways that it’s not even funny. Am I supposed to fake belief in some god just to escape eternal torture? The thing is that you can’t will yourself into believing. Brains don’t work that way. Once you reasoned yourself into unbelief there is no going back. There is no way I could become religious and even if there were an omniscient god, he would see right through any deception.

    And if 100% of people believed in gods, they’d still be wrong. Numbers mean nothing. Something doesn’t magically become true just because many people think it is. There is simply no evidence for any of it, despite what many people believe.

  • ThinkingChristian

    The Christian belief is that God is infinite, that he has no beginning and no end.  However, since most scientists agree that the universe is not infinite but, rather has a beginning and end, we assert that God who is infinite created the universe.   I don’t claim that the universe couldn’t be infinite as God could have created however he chose to but, the current evidence seems to point away from that.  This is a perfectly logical system if you believe in God.  Science has shown that infinity can exist and we believe God is infinite.   If you don’t believe God then, obviously this is an illogical system but, since I do believe in an infinite God it makes perfect sense.

    Again, your “evidence” of God is exactly what I said it would be.  You want to see variation.  You want to see God do something that defies scientific precedent as if that is all God could be.  If God created the system and allows us to have free will inside of the system why would he go against the system to prove his existence?  I would be willing to bet that you feel God (if there is one) has shown his existence to you through some inexplicable event already and it is his involvement or lack of involvement that caused your doubt in the first place.  

    If so, ask yourself this question.  How much control should God have?   If God is willing to change the laws of nature to prove his existence, how far should that go?  Should he control every area of your life and the lives of those around you?  You can’t have it both ways, either God created a system and allows good and bad events or our lives are pointless and we are simply puppets on a string.  God created a system and we live in it using our free will and affecting our own lives and the lives of those around us through our actions.  This is a logical system for existence.

  • Anonymous

     The Australian PM is an atheist too

  • You’re the one who compared disbelief in God to disbelief in motorcycles.  I know you’re just trying to make a point, but my point is that just like you can’t understand how I could possibly deny God, I can’t possibly understand how you believe most of what Christianity says.  But since we only get Christian candidates, I’m stuck voting for the Christian who is at least scientifically literate enough to know that the earth isn’t thousands of year old, it’s billions.

    So far you have thrown up Pascal’s Wager, argument from authority, argument from popularity and God of the gaps, and perhaps more I missed.

    I know you’re trying to explain why some Christians would never vote for an atheist, and I don’t actually disagree with that point.  But you’ve thrown out a lot of faulty arguments that are seriously detracting from your point.

  • Anonymous

    Or to put it another way 67% of the world does not believe in the religion you are hedging your bets on – not the best odds I fear.

    I do not assert that I am smarter than the smartest individuals who have ever lived – but are you asserting that the smartest people who ever lived were all or most  in your 33% – that is an extraordinary claim – do you have the extraordinary evidence to back it up.

  • ThinkingChristian

    Really?  So, you never believed in God as a child?  And if so, when did you stop believing?  You just woke up one day and said, “Nothing extraordinary happened in my life today so God must not exist.”   By the way, you can see my other comments that this logic is not my logically reason for the existence of God, in fact it is quit the opposite.  I believe that God is the system and if there is something we cannot understand or explain it is not because God intervened and it is because his laws are always in effect and there are still man things we do not understand.  I do think it is a little funny you would say what you did, I mean come on seriously, Einstein said he didn’t understand half of the things he observed but, everything that has ever happened to you made total sense and was easily explained by science…. I don’t think so.

  • Anonymous

    “Logic”. It does not mean what you think it means

  • Anonymous

    The prime mover “argument” is completely pointless anyways. All it gets you is “something created the universe”. So what? What does that get you? All you have is Deism.

    You don’t have theism and you certainly don’t have Christianity or any other kind of established belief system. Where does your god come from? Why does it care what we eat, with whom we sleep in what position, how we worship and when we work? And how did it communicate those ideas to us? How does a creator god make a specific belief system true? You still have >b>zero evidence for anything else in your holy book. There are still tons of things you believe that make no sense whatsoever. Like the whole original sin/vicarious redemption nonsense.

    Never mind that the whole line of thinking is completely absurd. There are ideas how the universe came into existence on its own. Things are “created” from nothing all the time (look up virtual particles). The universe wouldn’t function otherwise. But just become we can’t comprehend something or because we can’t definitely prove it, doesn’t mean you can’t say “God did it”. There is plenty of evidence for the Big Bang by the way. See cosmic microwave background radiations and the COBE and WMAP missions. And if your god can exist eternally, then so can some kind of basic quantum state that fluctuated to cause the expansion of spacetime

  • No, I’m a lifelong atheist. I have never believed in any gods. I never believed in the supernatural at all. It just wasn’t part of my childhood. I’m very curious as to what you have seen that makes you think that the supernatural is real. What things have happened to you that don’t make “total sense” without believing in the supernatural?

  • Atheists as a general rule cannot admit that they could be wrong

    That is a problem everyone faces, but just because I think you’re wrong doesn’t mean I think I can’t be.  Heck, this is a good day.  I was wrong last night, corrected last night, spent the night trying to justify why I was right, and this morning came to the conclusion I was wrong.

    I do think that in the “can be wrong” category, there’s a huge difference between science and religion.  Science is based on correcting things that are wrong.  It’s rarely right the first time, but it gets closer and closer.  Religion is based on getting it right the first time.  After all, how can God’s word be wrong?

  • ThinkingChristian

    I am a youth pastor and I have seen 3 people in the last year that were professed atheists trust Christ, join our church and become active Christians developing a relationship with God that they considered real and valuable to their lives.   Your argument is like saying, if I ever got to a place where I didn’t believe man had actually landed on the moon there would be no going back.  Obviously something could happen that would change my mind, maybe I would see a new piece of evidence.  

    As far as your main point however, you are absolutely correct.  You will never become a Christian through logic.  Christianity is a relationship with Christ and as you know, all relationships take faith and time.  I tell you what, if you picked up a Bible (which I assume you consider to be a meaningful piece of literature.) and read one chapter from Psalms for 30 days in a row and prayed for 30 days in a row asking God for wisdom as you live your life (At least 10 minutes at a time each day) then you could report back to us and say, “I tried to connect with God but I felt no connection.”  Otherwise it is like me saying, “I never spent anytime trying to build a relationship with my wife and now she dumped me, I guess we are just not meant for each other.”  God is not afraid to be tested, he is not afraid to be proven non-existent.  Give it a shot for 30 days, don’t tell anyone else about it, just do it for you and then make your final decision about your religious beliefs. …Just a thought.

  • Anonymous

    Most children are indoctrinated into believing. Though actually Anna wasn’t. So there goes your whole line of thinking.

    Religion is a learned behavior. Children are taught religion by their parents. That doesn’t make it true. My indoctrination never took. What I was taught never made sense to me, so eventually I stopped taking it seriously

  • ThinkingChristian

    Agreed.  The context of this debate was about people voting and whether those who believed in God would vote for someone who doesn’t but, outside of that this logic is obviously not the best argument for the existence of God.  Otherwise we would all still believe that the sun revolved around the earth.

  • Troy Truchon

    “They would far rather Santorum be President than Romney”
    Probably because their own protestant faith is a catholic heresy, whereas mormonism is a protestant Heresy. Hence mormons are heretics, and Catholics are the “old” church.

  • ThinkingChristian

    Then there must be no God.  I mean if 4 politicians representing 8% of the world’s population are atheists…  How about we rephrase the question to leaders who have proven that they have made a significant mark on the world.  Not that this is the ultimate proof of God’s existence but, I was hoping we could find some leaders with a greater impact representing your cause.

  • Anonymous

    As you said it proves nothing, so what’s the point? Arguments from authority and arguments from numbers (or argumentum ad populum) gets you nowhere

  • I wasn’t taught about God as a young child.  My mother was an anti-Christian at the time.  She is now a born again.  At the age of four I realized that Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and Santa were all not real.  I believed other things since then that I’ve rejected, and was even a cultural pagan for a while, but I never believed in The Dadga Mor either.

    Extraordinary things happen all the time.  The Universe is Extraordinary.  I just prefer answers that can be wrong over answers that cannot be questioned.

  • Jason Loveless

    Those scientists were all wrong about something. In the cases of (at least) Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, they were wrong about things we consider obvious facts today. And really, the pre-1650 folks were products of a different investigative paradigm. That they happened upon true insights is far more a credit to their characters than to the system of thought that dominated at the time.

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson put it very well in “The Perimeter of Ignorance”.  It’s really worth 15min but the short version is:

    Isaac Newton was the smartest man to ever live.
    Isaac Newton was a Christian.
    Isaac Newton was unable to fully account for the orbits of the planets with his equations.
    Isaac Newton said it must be God.
    130 years later Laplace developed mathematical models that fully explained planetary orbits.

    Just because someone is smart doesn’t mean they can’t be wrong, and just because you can’t explain something doesn’t mean God did it.  Doesn’t mean God didn’t do it but of all the mysteries out there, we have countless where science has replaced the God explanation, and none where God has replaced the science explanation.  So if you’re going to use the “one with the biggest numbers”, I’d suggest going with science.

  • Anonymous

    A good story about Einstein is the cosmological constant. He considered it the biggest mistake in his life, but since then it was discovered that the expansion of the universe is accelerating and it was resurrected

  • Anonymous

    You are laughable. You act like I was never indoctrinated and preached to before. Like I haven’t read or heard anything about Christianity. Like I never read the Bible. Like I’ve never been in a church.

  • Marguerite

    Thank you for that, Stev. Yes, I think I’m done debating with this one. There’s nothing asserted here that hasn’t already been answered a thousand times, by atheists far more articulate than myself.

  • Marguerite

    “You will never become a Christian through logic.”

    Oh, so painfully true. One of the reasons I stopped being a Lutheran was the famous quote from Martin Luther: “Reason is a wh*re, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” 

    In other words, to be a good Christian you have to turn off your brain. Alas for faith, my brain insisted upon reasserting itself.

  • chicago dyke, venomous lesbian

    you’re joking, right?

  • Yoav

     I had a serious case of rage watching the segment. Start with the fact that a discussion on the place of faith in politics included only christians (and a mormon since they can’t ignore them with mittens being the likely republican nominee). Then there was the whole circle jerk about how believing in imaginary beings is a good thing that would not have worked if the producers have invited Dave Silverman or some other evil atheist to represent the position that faith has no place in politics. And then you had the catholic bishop talking about his cult’s dedication to the general good and lying his ass off about how they are prosecuted by the healthcare law and David Gregory, who is a sad excuse for a journalist and an embarrassment to the Meet The Press brand, wouldn’t call him on it and point out the fact that if including contraception in health plans for their employees was trampling on their religious liberty, how come they only discovered it when it became an Obama policy. I have given up long ago on hoping for these guys to have to face actual questions such as which other laws should they be exempt from based on their mythology?

  • chicago dyke, venomous lesbian

    nevermind… work on that “thinking” stuff some more, OK/

    start here: what is your “thinking” about the Buddha? is/was he ‘real?’ 

  • chicago dyke, venomous lesbian

    what “evidence” would that be? other than a book written thousands of years ago, and a lot of commentary since, almost all of it by believers? 

    god: speak up here. otherwise, i’ll have to give you an F in this class. i’m waiting…

  • chicago dyke, venomous lesbian

    we cannot understand or explain i

    and yet here you are, thinking you both understand, and can explain “him” to those of us who know he’s just an ancient campfire myth. how much aramaic do you speak, by the way? classical hebrew? persian? babylonian? cause if you don’t speak any of them, you don’t even really understand the book that you think is ‘proof.’ today’s english versions aren’t really the same. 

  • Yoav


    Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Pascal,
    Newton, Boyle, Faraday, Planck, and Einstein, all of whom did believe in
    God, right?

    And if they did, so fukcing what? This is a common fallacy of appeal to false authority. All these scientists made significant contributions but as others have already pointed out they also made mistakes. You also need to remember that Gallileo, for example, lived in a time that a belief in god was more intellectually justified since their knowledge had many gaps that have since been filled, and when being a declared atheist was likely to get you extra crispy. Newton also believed in alchemy and astrology but the great respect I have for the contributions he made to the field of physics and mathematics don’t mean I will start reading the daily horoscope.
    The rest of your argument is the classic god of the gaps, the weakness of this argument is that the gaps are getting smaller, if the universe is a massive cave system then god is the darkness as we penetrate deeper and map more and more passages, god is being chased into smaller and smaller tunnels and the more we gain knowledge the smaller god gets until one day in some near or distant future some scientist will reach the end of the smallest crevasse and by then god would be so small and insignificant that he or she would probably won’t even notice when  they step on him and squish him when trying to look at some interesting rock formation.

  • How is it even remotely committing an error in using a person’s religious beliefs as a factor in deciding to vote for them? Religion ABSOLUTELY has something to do with a person’s qualifications, just as all of their philosophical viewpoints do. A person who considers religion (or its absence) to be an important factor in how a candidate thinks, or is likely to act, is a fool to not take that into consideration!

    The restriction on religious tests bars the state from creating any kind of religious test as a condition of running for office. It certainly does not- and must not- limit an individual voter in considering a candidate.

    For me, religion by itself is never enough to completely disqualify a candidate. But the more religious a candidate is, the more I count that against them when I decide who to vote for. It’s an important factor for me, although far from the only one. I voted for Obama, but the single biggest factor in his negative column for me was his overt Christianity. That wasn’t enough for me to change my vote, but it did (and does) matter.

    As voters, we have both the right and the obligation to consider every aspect of a candidate- which includes everything that defines their philosophical viewpoints. For most people, that includes their religion.

  •  Was this a reply to my comment? If so, how so?

  • Anonymous

    Cecil Bothwell, the current atheist running for public office, wrote an excellent book about Billy Graham. Great insight and history about the man:

  • Anton

     Finding out a list of scientist who were “unbelievers” all it takes is to Google “atheist scientists” and go the WIKI entry. There are lots of them.

  • Rwlawoffice

    The Hebrew word translated as fear is most often yir a which means reverence, not actual fear. So most of the time you see this in the Bible it is instructing the believer to have reverence for God. There are times when discussing the judgment of God that the word fear would mean to be frightened, but that is not what is normally meant when the scripture talks about”fear of the Lord”

  • Leah

    For some reason the Australian atheist PM does not support marriage equality so even when we do get an athiest they don’t do all our bidding  🙂

    I saw this ep of Meet the Press yesterday and all I can say is keep fighting the good fight people, surely they can’t keep the crazy up for much longer!

  • Leah

    Damn typo, I spelt atheist right and then wrong, forgiveness FSM please

  • Of course, there’s also the fact that their god (supposedly) repeatedly punished the shit out of them for transgressions, so I’m guessing that no matter how the word actually translates, they were very afraid of him.

  • It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Shannara reference on the interwebs.  Well done, sir.

  • It’s been so long since I read them, that I had no idea what you were talking about.  I was actually just intending “The Dagda” so I guess “Mor” came from, OMG! It must be Him!  He has reveals himself to me!

    (Edit: I guess that should be OMDM or OMTDM. Is The an article? Or part of the proper name as in the city “The Hague”?)

  • Webby

    Half of Americans will never vote for an atheist. That is never going to change any time soon. You are in denial. Get over it. At least it means we won’t have a president who bores us to death by continually shouting flying spaghetti monster at anything on the net with even the slightest twisted possibility of anything to do with religion or proclaiming how smart he is to be atheist in between busting his zits and playing world of warcraft.

  • Thomas Grogan

    And to think, I almost got hired by BGEA for an IT job there – whew, that was close!

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