Toongabbie Anglican: nice people, still wrong

A contingent of Sydney Atheists ran a little sidequest this evening, off to Toongabbie Anglican church in Sydney, where the specialised subject was: "Tough Questions: Does God Exist"

Firstly, this is not a tough question, though I will admit some people have trouble.

Secondly, well, nothing in the sermon added substantively to existing knowledge, which while not entirely unexpected, was slightly disappointing.

We did, however, get a new argument for the existence for god.

It goes like this, and forgive me if I'm misremembering. If you're annoyed about this, L2 read my title bar.

So a christian sits down with an atheist and over lunch they discuss the existence of god.

"So", says the atheist, "have you ever seen god?"

"no", says the christian.

"Have you ever smelt god?"

"no", says the christian.

"So how do you know he exists?"

Well, says the christian, have you ever seen your own brain? Have you ever smelt your own brain?

And that's it. The argument from the inability to smell one's own brain. WIN.

This is awesome.

Things they did right (this is a short list)

  • Immediately dismissing the Ontological and Cosmological Arguments outright, along with the argments from Design and Moral Law. The pastor at the dais at least has this under control.
  • Not immediately burning the atheist interlopers at the stake

err.... that's about it. Teleology still loomed large, despite the argument from design having already been dismissed piecemeal.

The sermon focused, apparently, on John 1: 1-18, which for some reason, always reminds me of this:

The failure is still coming folks, don't let the uke distract you. Looming large within the sermon was Psalms 14 verse 1. Against my usual practice, I shall actually post the text of this fucker, because this is good:

14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

You hear that, assholes? You atheists are all fools! Hahahahaha!

5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

[emphasis mine]

Oh, wait! Shite! I just called atheists fools, and whoever shall say "thou fool" is in danger of hellfire! Stick a fork in me, Jesus, I'm done!

Cans't thou say, PETARD*?

Also, a fool hath said in his heart "there is no god"; The wise man hath said it out loud.

Cluedo also featured in the sermon, which was moderately unxpected, since I myself am a proponent of the Argument From Sherlock as a rebuttal to scriptural arguments. Allow me to digress and explain this.

Sherlock Holmes clearly existed, and was clearly something more than the common man. We have a long series of stories told by a close confidant of Sherlock. These stories tell of Sherlock's amazing adventures in apprehending criminals, in essence solving problems of sin, during the late Victorian era, over 100 years ago.

Sherlock died, tragically, by falling over the Riechenbach falls, as Watson reports.

Yet Holmes reappeared shortly afterwards; resurrected, one may say, and was met by Watson who at first did not recognise him.

Holmes often astonished those around him. Some may say in a miraculous manner. We have documentary evidence of the existence of Holmes, written by eyewitnesses. Better still, we have a museum, in the very house Holmes used as his spiritual home.

The only downside is that Holmes was entirely fictional.

Those readers who know me will know what comparison I'm drawing here

Anyway, back to Toongabbie. Having spread fallacy all over the building, we moved on to more singing, which incidentally must be a massive moneyspinner for certain publishing companies. Every song sung had a prominent copyright notice at the foot of the lyrical powerpoint presentation. This is a subject for a later blog.

After the singing and praying, we moved on to a prayer, delivered by the bass player of the church band.

Now, I'm a bass player myself. Admittedly not exactly a hard-working gigging, kinda Guy Pratt sorta Victor Wooten sorta awesome all-styles all-day kinda bass player, but nonetheless a bass player. I would have gone insane playing the root-note garbage this pooor man was cheat-sheeting all evening, and clearly that's what happened.

You see, our friend had no idea there were atheists in the room

I'm sure if he'd known, he would have hurriedly re-written the prayer for the night, which can be summarised thusly:

Oh, those atheists. They don't believe in you, and they're so arrogant because they think they know a thing or two about a thing or two. Baaaaw. Oh please god, fix them. Oh, and fix us because we're sinners. But mostly fix the atheists, because they're all bad, like that Richard Dawkins fellow, you know, the one who is always eating babies and murdering people in shopping centres and generally being all nasty and mean. Baaaaaw.

At which point, it was all pretty much over and we, in essence, took off our masks and revealed ourselves.

Or, more specifically, got asked about our opinions, and were honest.

You see, no-one had asked us anything, up to that point, which may have outed us.

So, conversation ensued. Some highlights:

  • Do you feel angry about the 2004 Tsunami? (answer: no. Being angry at plate tectonics is not productive. L2 ask questions)
  • What if the Tsunami did good for society? Would you then still be indifferent about causes? (see above)
  • And my particular favourite, for which I shall break out of bullets. Regarding the Bible's reliability and historicity, isn't it amazing that all the gospels are so consistent with each other?
Errrrr.... no.

Don't invite an atheist, who is packing an annotated bible, to agree with you on the consistency of the gospels

I give you Matthew 28, concerning the discovery of Jesus's empty tomb:

28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

Then I give you Luke 24

24:1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
24:2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

OK, so. First up. How many women turned up?
  • Matthew says just the two. Mary Magdalene, and "the other Mary". Fine, whatever.
  • Luke refers to "the women who came from Galilee" from an earlier passage, and "certain others with them". And that's just two of the four gospels.
  • Mark mentions Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome.
  • John Says it was JUST Mary Magdalene.
Can these guys not get it together?
  • Worse, Matthew mentions an earthquake, and angel, a moving back of the stone, and a smug fucking stting-on-the-big-heavy-stone moment while the women watched.
  • John says the stone was already moved by agencies unknown and there was nothing in there.
  • Luke says the tomb was already open, and two dudes in shining clothes were hanging about there.
  • Mark says the stone was moved, and one mysterious dude was there, ready to impart a bit of info.
I mean, fuck. Can these guys really not agree? Honestly? This, you would think, is relatively important.

OK, fair enough. If you lock me and three of my friends into separate rooms and ask us to retell the story of Cinderella, I'm sure we'll differ in some elements, but let's face it, none of us are willing to base our entire lives on Cinderella.

Seriously, L2 consistency.

And please, do not claim that the writers of the four gospels were direct eyewitnesses to the events concerned and at the same time didn't know each other. I mean, please. Do I have to expand on this? Honestly?

Anyway, there was some relatively good discussion, once you get past the swimming-in-treacle aspect of getting past the logical fallacies. Toongabbie Anglicans are nice people, but fundamentally they're on the other side of the barrier between belief and disbelief and it's a hard barrier to cross.

I got prayed for by a rather pleasant young lady who is getting married in a few weeks. I wish her luck, and I'll be sure to let you know as and when the personal revelation shows up. You're not the first to pray for me though, sorry.

And for the guys that somehow tried to imply that we'd somehow blame someone for tsunamis? L2 nature. And L2 talk to atheists. Stop anthropomorphising nature and look up the Intentional Stance, which I introduced you to earlier. You might see where you're misfiring in your view of reality.

Or maybe not.

Anyway, hopefully next time we'll have some more substantive discussion, and maybe you'll be less insulting in your closing prayers.

Or maybe not

Maybe, it's just possible you'll come up with some better proofs, and maybe you'll convince us all with some solid evidence rather than re-hashes of prior arguments, logical fallacies and misplaced intentional stance evaluation

Or maybe not


p.s. Dear friends, it's late. Please check my grammar, spelling and general fail levels, and post corrections in comments

* It's only two letters from retard, so it's not that difficult.

posted @ Monday, January 26, 2009 12:25 AM


Comments on this entry:

# re: Toongabbie Anglican: nice people, still wrong

Left by Thom Blake at 2/13/2009 2:31 AM
See, it's stuff like this that makes me not self-identify as an athiest. Whatever 'atheist' means, it's clearly a sect of christianity. Atheists do things like discuss the existence of God, go to church, carry around copies of the bible, and tell people whether or not they should believe in God. (Note: usually the christian god).

I don't tend to identify myself by things I don't believe in, nor associate with people who happen not to believe in the same things I don't.

Atheists are silly.

# re: Toongabbie Anglican: nice people, still wrong

Left by Jason at 2/13/2009 2:33 AM

# re: Toongabbie Anglican: nice people, still wrong

Left by David Corless at 2/27/2009 1:12 PM
Hi I'm the bass player/prayer.

On everything you said about the music, you are right. Its hard to do too much more than root note congregational songs, which makes playing bass pretty boring! (And since I learned to play from listening to Paul Mcartney its hard to do much more)

I think you pretty much summed up the prayer, maybe I could save some time running it past you in future!

Thanks for saying we're nice anyway...

# re: Toongabbie Anglican: nice people, still wrong

Left by Jason at 3/11/2009 1:30 PM
Hey David, nice of you to drop round.

Glad you could make it past the abuse, ad-hominem attacks and profanity that passes for my blogging style. I'm not a raging psychopath, but I play one on the internet.

Re: xtian music; Out of interest, have you ever been to a Hillsong service? We popped over to a saturday evening service a while back and they do music pretty well (even the bass parts!). The actual content was pretty much fail, but the band were tight, well rehearsed and pretty good at their jobs, for sure.

I could definitely learn a thing or two about music from them, though I don't think their religious angle has any merit whatsoever...

# re: Toongabbie Anglican: nice people, still wrong

Left by FatCow Coupon at 5/21/2009 2:35 AM
I simply find it depressing that people (religious) believe things that are impossible. It means a) they're stupid or b) they don't care about finding out about what the universe is really like. Either option does not bode well for humanity.
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