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  1. After reading and re-reading Why I’m not an atheist by Fiona Ellis I remain perplexed, for a number of reasons. I found her reasoning to be less than compelling and certainly not of the caliber I would expect from a senior lecturer.

    Her claim that the boundary between atheism and theism “is entirely unclear” is an astonishing statement, given that every definition I can discover is very clear and unequivocal: Atheism is the lack of belief in deities, while Theism is the belief that there is at least one deity (and Unitarianism, of course, is the belief that there is at most one deity). If we are going to utilize the English language to communicate our position we should at least use it correctly and as defined in many lexicons, including the Oxford Companion to Philosophy.

    Ellis claims that “value cannot be adequately comprehended in scientific terms.” In what terms can value be adequately comprehended if not in scientific ones? Religious terms (whatever that may entail)? Philosophical terms? Or is she claiming that value cannot be comprehended? Although some claim that value is an objective quality I have yet to encounter a compelling supporting argument. If we can make any scientific claims about the subjective state of the mind, and we clearly can, then we can make scientific claims about value, for instance, as an evolutionary adaptation which confers a clearly superior criteria for analysis of the objective world.

    There are many more examples of questionable statements in the article – more than I care to address because any careful reader can discover them on their own (i.e., “Heaven’s not a place, and it contains neither virgins nor harps” – is this then an example of reality that is outside to bounds of scientific study? How does Ellis know this statement is factual?), and, “…after all, flat-earthers don’t commit atrocities: How can she know this? I’m pretty sure that before a few hundred years ago all atrocities were committed by flat-earthers, and may still be.

    What I would like to see from religious apologeticists is a reasonable and compelling defense of their faith based on justification. I was the victim of ideological abuse by Christian fundamentalists parents who were convinced that I was chosen for the ministry, and in particular, of the faith-healing, holy roller and speaking in tongues variety. I was systematically indoctrinated from birth, with no defenses or access to reasonable counterpoint. When I began to question my beliefs I found that they were not justified. Try as I might, I couldn’t muster a compelling argument to bolster my system of belief, so perhaps someone could present something I missed in my rigorous and decades-long search.

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