Thursday, January 6, 2011

J. Neil Schulman Argues God with the Atheists

J. Neil Schulman is the author of the popular libertarian novel, Alongside Night. He was an atheist from a young age, and says that George H. Smith's bestselling atheist book Atheism: The Case Against God was a major influence on him.

What distinguishes my approach to God from others is that I’ve never abandoned my view that one should not accept the existence of anything on faith. Nor religious dogma. Nor scripture. Like anything else, I always have viewed existence of God as a fact that needs to be verified or negated. One can negate something by showing how the concept is impossible. But once a proposed existent survives the intellectual challenge that the very idea is impossible, one is still left with the problem of what constitutes sufficient reason to regard it as real.

He continues: I was a rationalist when I was an atheist. I’m a rationalist still. What overcame my skepticism were personal experiences that challenged my cosmology, my epistemological premises, my concept of what the nature of God is, and my view of the nature of man and his place in existence, itself.

Yet I did this without abandoning my reliance on any of the axioms or rules of logic that Ayn Rand used to dismiss the concept of God. I thought George H. Smith would have some respect for that.-I argue God with the Atheists

At his I Met God audio book site he lists some things that are in the book. I've always felt that some people create a false dichotomy between atheism and Biblical Christianity or organized, revealed religion in general as the only options, when I still think that philosophical theism (belief in God without formal religion of any kind) is a live option for most people:

What convinced Neil that God was not a fable but a real and present spirit with a fully human personality;

How religious scholars' totally non-Biblical definition of God as "omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent" have driven rational people into atheism;


Why the disbelief in the afterlife, or belief in Heaven as a real place, is the single most important factor in how people make their fundamental life choices and form their political opinions;

What God looks for when He looks into a human soul, and how from His viewpoint God is not all-powerful but He feels almost helpless in the face of our individual free-will powers ...

Certainly God as portrayed in the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) is not obviously omni anything, though the more "sophisticated" God of theology is omni-everything. If there really is a god (and not just a very powerful being that might just be a super alien), I would lean toward the omni-attributes, though they pose logical problems. If God exists, however, He/She will remain mostly mysterious to us, at least in this life (assuming there's more to come).

Schulman's book is available to read for free chapter by chapter, starting with the introduction here.


  1. So J. Neil Schulman is a Diest - yawn...

    Now I have even more reasons not to read his stuff anymore after he tried to justify voting for Obama as some sort of libertarian cause to eradicate race hate.

    Irrational crap to try and drive more attention and hits to his website, and it’s mounds of boring tripe like this...

    "I’ve satisfied myself that I met the gauntlet thrown down at me. Beyond that, some third party not Me and not Them will have to decide whether I’m justified (logically) in believing in God … and whether my challenge to the atheists is deserving of any intellectual respect.”

    His argument in this case was with Rand cultists not atheists in general.

    So he had a few drug or stress induced hallucinations, I’m supposed to lean on that for confirmation?

    I like his writing style, I just wish he could wright something that I actually wanted to read... too bad his narcissism is as unpalatable as Rand’s is...

    I will try and see if I can stomach his free book - why not, it is free, possibly I will form an appreciation of his work (not counting the stuff I have already read and found lacking of course).

  2. Technically I don't think he's a deist. The God of deism doesn't go around talking to people, except perhaps through nature. The deist God is silent and doesn't even promise an afterlife (though he may provide one). He just created the world and then let it go. Schulman's God seems to be much more involved and interventionist than that.

  3. "So he had a few drug or stress induced hallucinations, I’m supposed to lean on that for confirmation?"

    No. There's nothing anyone but me can lean on for confirmation.

    And FYI, I don't use mind-altering drugs.

  4. Welcome to our little slice of Hell Mr. Schulman, feel free to expound on our rudeness, lack of civility or our questionable parentage, or sexual orientation, we have contributors that provide that, so outside input will at least ad a bit of creativity lacking here.

    I am glad to see you eschew MA drugs, but that does not eradicate the issue of hallucinations. I have had several “more real than real’ hallucinations caused by illness or stress, I am lucid enough to recognize that none of the experiences are supernatural.

    I am a bit into your online book and continue to remain skeptical if not actually more convinced personally of a lack of any supernatural.


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