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May 23 2009

The Bible’s greatest hits: Genesis edition

The Atheist Experience episode #606 will be about the Bible’s impact on our culture, focusing on the book of Genesis. Dust off that Bible and follow along. We’ll talk about

  • how just-so stories have been used to blame and repress minority groups,
  • how the in-group uses the stories to align with power and justified thuggery,
  • how the breeding log of Genesis provides convenient hooks for derivative religions, and
  • how so many aspects of the goofy episodes in Genesis still remain with us while the really embarrassing ones are forgotten.

In future episodes, we’ll look at the greatest hits from some other parts of the Bible.

41 comments

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  1. 1
    Lloyd Macalpine

    Sounds great, im about to spend a lazy sunday afternoon with the AE.

  2. 2
    Guillaume

    Sounds really interesting, can’t wait to watch it.

  3. 3
    articulett

    aAack… I’m listening to the first caller… What a dope. He wants to believe the supernatural claims of the bible while dismissing the wacko claims of the Koran, Book of Mormon (it has “eyewitness” accounts), Scientology, and everything else. Why shouldn’t Matt or any atheist require the same type of evidence that would make a theist believe in some other religion or supernatural claim?? What exact evidence would a non-Mormon need to believe in the magical gold plates (there are many supposed “witnesses” to these plates) and to further believe they were messages from an invisible man in the sky about ancient Israeli tribes hanging out in America?We have lots of evidence that humans are prone to very specific types of misperceptions, delusions, and wishful thinking. We have NO evidence that any dead people come alive. None. Trust me, this is something all scientists would be studying and refining their knowledge on if we had such evidence– for their own benefit as well as the benefit of their loved ones. We have no more evidence for “souls” and “gods” than we do for demons, leprechauns, Xenu, and invisible clowns making the faithful say stupid things. That’s why all rational people treat such beliefs similarly.I am endlessly appalled at the semantic games necessary for believers to keep the faith “alive” so they can imagine themselves special and saved for believing.The stupid caller believes in the resurrection… and Tom Cruise believes he’s a Scientologist Messiah operating at Thetan Level 7. Is there a difference as to the veracity, respectability, or usefulenss of these beliefs? Believers want the right to dismiss the “wackos” but they don’t want others to have the right to dismiss their equally wacky claims under the same logic. We don’t dismiss claims because there are no eyewitnesses– it’s because humans are delusional and seem to “witness” all sorts of events that cannot be true. We even understand why and how this evolved. (Humans confuse correlation with causation and confirm their biases… it is generally a good learning mechanism–religions hijack this built in “meme” template).Religion makes the arrogant and ignorant feel humble and chosen never realizing what a terrible meme infection they have.

  4. 4
    articulett

    The problem with all woo arguments as that they could be used to justify things the believer doesn’t believe in. I could use the callers own arguments on him to prove that the golden plates in the Book of Mormon are real or that People speaking in tongues are getting a true sign from god or that rain dances work. He uses the same special pleading to imagine the belief in his favorite zombie is real that Tom Cruise uses to presume that all the wacky stuff he believes in is real. I just wish one caller could explain to us why we should take their magical beliefs any more seriously than THEY take the average Scientologist. I suspect I feel exactly the same way about them that they would feel about a Scientologist trying to use semantics to get them to take a “free personality” test.You don’t need to emotionally bully people and manipulate them to get them to believe something that is actually true. The normal stuffl like examples,demonstration and evidence tend to work just fine. Of course “woo” doesn’t really have any of that, does it?

  5. 5
    Ing

    I liked that the caller basically thought he was pwning Matt with “Oh so just because historians say impossible things happened they’re less of a science than real science!”

  6. 6
    hellboundsmoker

    If I had a dollar for every time I face-palmed during the first caller’s tirade, I’d be typing this on a bigger screen right now.As for claims of “Miracles” in the Koran, wasn’t Mohammed supposed to have been visited by the Archangel Gabriel in a cave? It might not be up there with a zombie infestation, but it’s something you don’t see every day.

  7. 7
    DavidCT

    Anyone that has been personally present at an event reported by the news media will be aware of differences between what they experienced and what was reported. This is for same day reporting. Resent research has shown that our memories of even major events such as the Kennedy assassination or 9/11 are highly unreliable.Yet when it comes to the gospels we are asked to believe that accounts written no sooner that 50 years after an event are accurate. Talk about your miracles!!Yah, Yah I know they were God inspired. If that is the case why does it look as if Satin did the proofreading? Obviously if it all made sense no one would need faith to consider it evidence.

  8. 8
    Ing

    “As for claims of “Miracles” in the Koran, wasn’t Mohammed supposed to have been visited by the Archangel Gabriel in a cave? It might not be up there with a zombie infestation, but it’s something you don’t see every day.”Mohammed was supposed to be illiterate…THE WHOLE KORAN IS SUPPOSEDLY A MIRACLE!!!!

  9. 9
    Ing

    Hilariously my word verification for the last post turned out to be”Subwhine” which is a good title for that one caller.

  10. 10
    MrFreeThinker

    That first caller made some good points. I usually hate it when atheists say things like “Why don’t you believe the Koran?It has the same evidence.” It was nice to see Matt D. get called on it.As for the Quran it says that only miracle Allah gave Mohammed was the revelation of the quran (and the prose therein). Unless you think good arabic poetry is a miracle the Quran doesn’t really have miracle accounts. There are some written accounts of sayings and narrations of Mohammed’s life with miracle acounts that were collected 200 years after his death called the hadith (Even Muslims scholars admit many of these sayings and stories are unreliable).The evidence is in no way equivalent.And of course I don’t think anyone who has investigated the Mormon claims will claim that the Mormon evidence is equivalent (seeing as every “eyewitness” who was not related to Smith later recanted their position and left the Mormon church).Matt made some good points but then dropped into incoherence and poor logic. “Philosophy is useless. I’ll just use my senses to verify my senses” and using failed subjective epistemic maxims like “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.You can’t declare your opponent has “no rational justification” for trusting a book and then use subjective criterion to assess it and draw an arbitrary line in the sand about what kinds of evidence you find admissible.

  11. 11
    TheBrainFromPlanetArous

    There is nothing arbitrary about being more skeptical of magical claims than of non-magical ones. That is not a line in the sand. That is a giant stone wall with barbed wire and machine gun turrets.If you want to claim that tales of Heracles, say, are based on an real sportsman, adventurer or warrior – fine by me.If you want to claim that this person fought an actual hydra, however, the burden of proof goes up. WAY up. Like, into the stratosphere.I don’t care if you have impeccably-sourced and dated documents from ancient Greece. If these documents tell me some guy was sired by a god and fought fantasy monsters, you bet your ass I’m going to treat them with more skepticism than, say, Thucydides writing about Pericles.As would you. As would Tommy the caller – which gives us yet another example of what an intellectual sham such apologetics are.

  12. 12
    cipher

    If you want to claim that tales of Heracles, say, are based on an real sportsman, adventurer or warrior – fine by me.If you want to claim that this person fought an actual hydra, however, the burden of proof goes up. WAY up. Like, into the stratosphere.I would add: and if you’re going to insist that I believe your stories, or burn for all of eternity… Why am I bothering? Never mind.

  13. 13
    Hairy Chris

    Agreed on the frantic facepalming during caller #1.Personally I look on his arguments this way:I’ve read Herodotus, Appian, Suetonius, Julius Caesar, etc. There are certain aspects of these ancient writers that modern historians see as correct.However the miraculous and mythological aspects of these works are, if not necessarily totally discarded, treated with a lot of caution.The question is why not the Bible, in this case Matthew? His (supposed) writing is in the same time period as these Roman authors so why isn’t the same standard applied to him? The Romans were at least as convinced of the presence of the supernatural so what’s the difference?

  14. 14
    Reynold

    Well, here’s something tangentially related: a creationist fan of VenomFangX is a criminal it seems.

  15. 15
    Warren Grubb

    i love and hate callers like Tommy (hope that is his name, i am referring to the same caller as the others here). he is part of what makes the show so entertaining, but I felt his arguments employed classic debate tactics rather than a truly constructive dialogue. for example, calling matt out to give examples of something he wasn’t prepared for in advance and then trying to claim some sort of “victory” when he didn’t have one immediately is lame. Especially since, in this case, the caller has the topic in mind before he calls, so he has the upper hand for such things.to me, tho, the real face palming that makes it so painful is the fact that the thing Tommy was able to steer the argument into seemed so irrelevant to me since the question of whether or not historians consider something historically accurate or not is not the same as accepting something as scientifically accurate or even plausible. i know matt tried to address this several times, but it just seemed like after Tommy admitted that he considered the accounts of the bible as sufficient evidence, the conversation was at a dead end and it should almost be worth leaving it there. still, it would be worth looking up references after the show to hit him with just for fun. i am sure he would totally justify his non belief in other texts, but I would be game for hearing them, regardless of how painful.one side note, i didn’t realize the qu’ran didn’t make any miracle claims. interesting. i immediately have more respect for it than the bible. :) then again, doesn’t it support all the miracle in the bible and promise an afterlife?

  16. 16
    Archaneus

    “one side note, i didn’t realize the qu’ran didn’t make any miracle claims.”There’s a reason you didn’t realize that, it’s a lie. There are a couple I can think of off the top of my head, the angel imparting the Quran directly to Mohammed as well as the winged horse he rode. I’m only minimally familiar with the Quran and even I can disprove that spurious claim with no effort at all.

  17. 17
    Ing

    I can think of non-new testement miracle claims dismissed by both history and science.Scientologies “souls in volcanos” there were no volcanos in the preposed area at the time it was supposed to happenMormonism: just…everything with the Native’s being the lost tribe. Old Testement: Hebrews ever having been in Egypt, much less any miracles.I didn’t read Mr. Freethinker, but I’m going to guess and say that I agree with him that Matt got flummoxed. It was hard to argue with someone like that and Matt gave him more freeway to interrupt and assert than usual. The problem was that Matt was arguing a sane statement “There’s no reason to believe’ even “historical’ accounts of the impossible…even if the account is considered genuine.” the caller argued against naturalism, really he needed it hammered in that every single supernatural phenomena tested by experiment has been debunked. He needs to read this http://xkcd.com/373/ cartoon.

  18. 18
    cipher

    The problem was that Matt was arguing a sane statementThis is why dialogue is impossible. They don’t understand the process; they aren’t hardwired for it. They understand only monologue.”Dialogue” to a fundie means, “I’ll pretend to listen until it’s my turn to tell you how wrong you are.”

  19. 19
    TheBrainFromPlanetArous

    Some Quranic points, off the top of my head..1. The Quran (Arabic: recitation) itself is held by Muslims to be miraculous as it was dictated to an illiterate merchant by a supernatural being (the angel Jibreel/Gabriel). 2. At various times throughout the Quran, Mohammed ‘downloads’ new intructions or information from Allah. 3. Sura (chapter) 54 has Allah split the moon in half and then re-form it to prove Mohammed’s prophethood to disbelievers.4. Sura 72 concerns “Jinn,” a race of conscious fire elementals, some of whom become Muslims when Mohammed recites the Quran to them.*****Regarding ahadith (oral traditions of the sayings and doings of Mohammed, compiled post-mortem)…While ahadith are distinct from the Quran itself, the idea that any truth claims they might contain are not relevant to Islamic belief is preposterous.Various branches of Islam have different canonical lists – The rule seems to be that if a given hadith flatly contradicts the written Quran or is senseless on its face, then it’s inauthentic. – but in all cases ahadith inform doctrine, theology, jurisprudence, social traditions, etc.Brushing aside the entirely of the ahadith – including ‘gold standard’ collections like that of Bukhari – is akin to dismissing the Pauline epistles on the grounds that they’re not technically Gospels.

  20. 20
    BeamStalk

    5:60 Shall I tell thee of a worse (case) than theirs for retribution with Allah ? (Worse is the case of him) whom Allah hath cursed, him on whom His wrath hath fallen and of whose sort Allah hath turned some to apes and swine, and who serveth idols. Such are in worse plight and further astray from the plain road.9:26 Then Allah sent His peace of reassurance down upon His messenger and upon the believers, and sent down hosts ye could not see, and punished those who disbelieved. Such is the reward of disbelievers.9:40 If ye help him not, still Allah helped him when those who disbelieve drove him forth, the second of two; when they two were in the cave, when he said unto his comrade: Grieve not. Lo! Allah is with us. Then Allah caused His peace of reassurance to descend upon him and supported him with hosts ye cannot see, and made the word of those who disbelieved the nethermost, while Allah’s Word it was that became the uppermost. Allah is Mighty, Wise.15:27 And the jinn did We create aforetime of essential fire.27:18 Till, when they reached the Valley of the Ants, an ant exclaimed: O ants! Enter your dwellings lest Solomon and his armies crush you, unperceiving.54:1 The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain.I would say all those count as miracles. Invisible armies, talking ants, moon torn in half, and people made from and consisting of fire, smokeless fire at that.

  21. 21
    TheBrainFromPlanetArous

    Thanks for the addition, Bean.Even though the talking ants supposedly occurred in the time of Solomon, we’re still talking about… talking ants.The reply will come, “Well, that’s not something Mohammed did, or that his followers claimed!”But Islam DOES claim that Mohammed brought the Quran… which takes large swaths of the Old Testament/Torah “as read” so you have to include all those miraculous things. The Quran – direct from Allah, relayed by a divine angel, remember – presents all that as TRUE. Islam regards Judaism and Christianity as mostly correct but flawed and incomplete… and now obsolete following the prophethood of Mohammed. That’s what Muslims mean when they refer to their Abrahamic monotheist cousins as “People of the Book.” The “Book” is the final, perfect revelation from God which is the Quran. Christians and Jews, they believe, had earlier, imperfect versions of it.Those earlier “Books,” of course, are chock-a-block with miraculous claims, which Islam not only validates but incorporates into its own sacred history and theology. This is in the plain text of the Quran, not interpretation or even ahadith.

  22. 22
    TheBrainFromPlanetArous

    You do have to admit that the Jinn are pretty cool, though.

  23. 23
    MrFreeThinker

    I assume you guys listened to Tommy’s point. He said there were no miracle claims for Mohammed like that in the Quran and most of the miracles ascribed to Mohammed come from the hadith (which were narrations compiled over 2 centuries after Mohammed died)@BrainFromArousI don’t think anyone claimed the hadith were irrelavant. People did say they were unreliable.Surah 54:1 does seeminly refer to the splitting of the moon , but the only way you can get the full account is from reading the hadith@BeamstalkWhat the Quran is referring to is old Jewish and biblical fables , like the first one from a Jewish story about fishermen who were punished for breaking the Sabbath and the talking ants in the temple of Solomon were from another Jewish story. These are not claims about any miracles Mohammed personally witnessed himself. He is just retelling these things. I hope you can see the difference.The only think I think would probably count is the splitting of the moon and the Quran skimps on the details in this case.

  24. 24
    TheBrainFromPlanetArous

    MFT, 1) You missed the point about ahadith. Hundreds of millions of Muslims consider ahadith, for example those in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, to absolutely authentic and trustworthy. They are as much a part of Islam as the Quran itself and any miraculous claims made therein may properly be considered as part of the beliefs of those Muslims who accept them.2) Sura 54 does not concern the moon ‘seeming’ to split. It flatly states that Allah split, then reformed, the moon.It goes on to chasten some unbelieving witnesses as being so stubborn as to scoff at the miracle, declaring it a magic trick designed to fool them.This is not allegorical, nor prophetic. The sura plainly says that this happened.3) Sura 72, likewise, plainly declares the existence of Jinn and the conversion of some of their kind to Islam by Mohammed. Nor is this the only place Jinn are mentioned. 4) Islam is seen by its adherents as a continuation and perfection of something that starting with Yahweh revealing himself to Abraham, culminating in the final prophet, Mohammed.Accordingly, the miracles of the Old Testament/Torah incorporated into Islamic teaching are not held to be “fables” nor does the Quran present them as such.Sura 11, for example, contains the Islamic version of Noah, the Flood and Sodom. It doesn’t say that Mohammed flooded the world – but then, the Gospels don’t say that Jesus did either.It matters not, since the tale is presented as a true, cautionary lesson from history of the perils of disobeying divine authori-TAH.

  25. 25
    Ing

    To the new guys, just letting you know most of us have taken an unofficial decision to just ignore Mr. Freethinker since he has mistaken his head for hinder

  26. 26
    Kazim

    Remind me, please, what is the value of this argument to an apologist in the first place? Suppose it’s true that the Koran contains fewer miracles than the Bible does, or that the Bible’s miracles are cooler than the Koran’s. How does this help establish the credibility of either book?To my wicked unbeliever’s mind, the fact that there are fewer reality-bending incidents in the Koran would make it MORE likely to be true.Also, I don’t get this overly specific qualification that the Koran doesn’t contain miracles that are *exactly like* the ones in the Bible? So what? The Bible doesn’t contain miracles that are exactly like the ones in Alice in Wonderland. Of course it doesn’t: they’re different books. If every detail was the same, they’d be the same book. But again, what’s the value of this argument?

  27. 27
    Warren Grubb

    That was my thought, Kazim, and i totally agree with what you said. The caller basically claimed that he thought the evidence of eye witness accounts in the Bible were sufficient for him to believe they were true (the miracles, not just the accounts). Matt and many others said that isn’t sufficient for them to believe the miracles occurred. Everything after that seems irrelevant because we have different standards of evidence. It doesn’t matter how many other books have miracles if we don’t accept eyewitness accounts as sufficient on their own to prove something happened (miraculous or not). The caller muddied the discussion further by arguing (I believe) that drawing the line on what eyewitness accounts you believe is arbitrary, and I think at that point you might just have to say if that is how he feels, fine. I disagree and i think for matters such as miracles, no number of testimonials is sufficient to convince an honestly rational person. It is a starting point for testing with the other means at our disposal.it seems like, in the heat of debating “does this book have miracles” and “how much weight do we give to historical accounts,” people were steered away from the premise.

  28. 28
    Kazim

    Something I wrote to Matt:Essentially what Kabane was doing was explicitly rejecting the need for ANY standards in determining the truth of something. This is clearly ridiculous. By spending time addressing his nitpicks about what your SPECIFIC standards are, you let him control the flow of the conversation. You proposing a standard and he shoots it down with “You can’t use THAT standard!” or “Most historians don’t think that!”IMHO, a better way to get back on the offensive would have been to just ask “So you believe absolutely everything you read.” He can’t say yes to that without appearing gullible. This means that he has to defend himself by bringing up his own standards, at which point, yes, you get to point out all the other things which can also be true with such loose standards. Define first, then apply examples.

  29. 29
    MrFreeThinker

    @KazimI think the point was that-*Tommy said he believed in miracles because of certain things in the gospels (eyewitness testimony , multiple attestation ,historical criteria..etc).*Matt said that if he was to use that criteria he would believe in Quranic miracles.*Tommy was pointing out that the Quranic accounts were disanalgous to historical accounts in the gospels and Paul.I think that was what we were trying to establish by showing they were different.I think was what Matt said was that no textual account would be enough to establis a miracle for him and even if there was a historical consensus concerning this point he would reject it because of his criteria.He then resorted to “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (which has been disproven probabilistically by the way). If you look at Bayes theorem you can see that even if the background probability of an even is very low and the probability given specific evidence isn’t very high ,if the probability of the alternatives is very low you can still have a high overall probability.For an explanation of Bayes Theorem you can check herehttp://yudkowsky.net/rational/bayes

  30. 30
    Warren Grubb

    like most generalizations, the “extraordinary claims” saying isn’t perfect, but I would argue it is a great rule of thumb and Matt was well founded in using it when he did. if someone claimed 2000 years ago that they witnessed something repeatable- let’s say that water was falling down the rock face at Niagara- there is little reason to question the plausibility of the accuracy. if they claimed the water was flowing up the rock face at Niagara, I would look for a lot more evidence before believing it. Bayes’ Theorem seems like a non-sequitur.If there are infinite parallel universes, there must mathematically be one where water is flowing up at Niagara. I have no reason to believe that the witness experienced that parallel universe, even if he did.

  31. 31
    Kazim

    *Tommy said he believed in miracles because of certain things in the gospels (eyewitness testimony , multiple attestation ,historical criteria..etc).*Matt said that if he was to use that criteria he would believe in Quranic miracles.*Tommy was pointing out that the Quranic accounts were disanalgous to historical accounts in the gospels and Paul.That is a complete red herring. It does matter if the miracles in the Koran are identical in nature to the ones that are in the Bible. Matt’s statement that Kabane should believe in them is absolutely correct, since no evidence is required.He then resorted to “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (which has been disproven probabilistically by the way). If you look at Bayes theorem you can see that even if the background probability of an even is very low and the probability given specific evidence isn’t very high ,if the probability of the alternatives is very low you can still have a high overall probability.For an explanation of Bayes Theorem you can check herehttp://yudkowsky.net/rational/bayesOh good. Then no standards of evidence whatsoever are required by you. In that case, I’m sure you’ll be comfortable believing me when I tell you that I died last week and have now returned from the dead. I have 57 eyewitnesses. I promise.

  32. 32
    articulett

    Until a single supernatural event is verified, I think the thing all rational people ought to do is dismiss them all. I don’t care what “credentials” a historian might have… he cannot have credential to verify that a “miracle” occurred in the past since no one can verify such a thing happening in the PRESENT.Moreover, it appears that Mr. Freethinker thinks much more of his reasoning abilities than others do. I found Matt much more coherent than both the caller and Mr. Freethinker. Of course, it’s a well known phenomenon that the incompetent are most likely to overestimate their competence… whereas, the most competent usually underestimate their abilities appearing humble to others.The irrational people just don’t have the basic skills to realize they are the irrational ones it seems and so are unlikely to ameliorate the deficiency. They imagine they know more than those who might give them a clue.On the plus side, they never fail to amuse.

  33. 33
    TheBrainFromPlanetArous

    “If you look at Bayes theorem you can see that even if the background probability of an even is very low and the probability given specific evidence isn’t very high ,if the probability of the alternatives is very low you can still have a high overall probability. (MFT)”So, MFT, if something is inherently unlikely, but still more likely than the alternative… Ok, fine. Let’s apply this to Jesus walking on water in Mark 6:45-52 (We’ll leave aside Peter joining him in Matthew for the time being; also, Mark is believed to be the earliest canonical gospel.)The claim is that Jesus walked on water. The alternative claim is that he did not. What is more LIKELY? That a man suspended the power of gravity upon his body and walked on liquid water, or that this did not actually happen and the story was concocted and retold for evangelical purposes?And before you start talking about theurgy (divine magic)… STOP! We are not interested in the MECHANISM of defying gravity. That’s another discussion.We are sticking to the Bayesian “likelihood” comment you made.Which is more LIKELY? If your answer is, “That Jesus did really walk on water,” then explain exactly what standards of evidence and probability you are using.

  34. 34
    MrFreeThinker

    “It does matter if the miracles in the Koran are identical in nature to the ones that are in the Bible. Matt’s statement that Kabane should believe in them is absolutely correct, since no evidence is required.”Kabane never said NO evidence was needed. He just said some kinds of evidence (like the evidence of eyewitness testimony in Matthew and other gospels). Perhaps the Quran fails to meet these (seeing as it was only compiled after Mohammed’s death)“Oh good. Then no standards of evidence whatsoever are required by you. In that case, I’m sure you’ll be comfortable believing me when I tell you that I died last week and have now returned from the dead. I have 57 eyewitnesses. I promise.” I never said I needed NO evidence. I was pointing out that ECREE was a bad principle.

  35. 35
    Ing

    “Kabane never said NO evidence was needed. He just said some kinds of evidence (like the evidence of eyewitness testimony in Matthew and other gospels). Perhaps the Quran fails to meet these (seeing as it was only compiled after Mohammed’s death)”Since everyone else stopped ignoring you, I can’t resist.”…it was only compiled after Mohammed’s death”If this invalidates the Koran as an inaccurate account WHY DOES IT NOT APPLY TO THE GOSPELS.

  36. 36
    Kazim

    I never said I needed NO evidence. I was pointing out that ECREE was a bad principle.I’m agreeing with you, you see. My own claim that I died and returned from the dead would probably seem pretty extraordinary to most people, but that’s okay. Extraordinary claims don’t require extraordinary evidence. So you should be willing to accept this claim just based on my own personal say so. You do, right? Believe I returned from the dead?

  37. 37
    Ing

    Optimus Prime, Buffy Summers, The Doctor, Kal-El, Barry Allen, Prometheus, Wormwood Gentlemen Corpse, John Constantine, Thor Odinson, Jean Gray and Mr. Spock died for my sins.

  38. 38
    articulett

    You don’t really need to have an alternative explanation to point out that all non-supernatural explanations are more probable than supernatural ones. Either a miracle that defies physics (as all miracle do) occurred or something else happened. We know a lot about the ways “something else” happening that fools others from numerous newer religions and other cults. (Heck, I have students who swear that Criss Angel can levitate because they saw it with their own eyes.)Whether the story is cut from whole cloth or based on manipulations or misperceptions is completely irrelevant. When people accept any claim of a miracle they are “special pleading”– they are using evidence that they’d normally dismiss if it came to something they didn’t want to believe in like “demon possession”. (Even if millions of people claim that someone really is possessed, that cannot make it so–the same with “Magic Jesus”. Belief cannot make “magic” real… no matter how many people really really believe it and how cleverly they’ve managed to play semantic games. All those who attempt to rationalize supposed “miracles” are using special pleading to make their pet delusions sound rational. This is simply “confirmation bias”.And there is nothing in Bayes theorem that allows for that. I am so tired of apologist word games. I have a degree of expertize Bayesian theorem because I’ve used it extensively as a genetic counseling. I am tired of dumb people using the tools of the smart to try to convince themselves and others that their silly beliefs and opinions are well-reasoned.There is no more probability that Jesus resurrected or walked on water than there is probability that Criss Angel really levitates. Anyone who imagines there is, is engaging in “magical thinking” common in children– no matter how much pedantic language they use to justify such delusions.

  39. 39
    articulett

    Historians can give great accounts of millions of children all over the world who ended up with Christmas presents under their tree every year… that would not make it rational for future humans to imagine that Santa really existed. How are Jesus apologists any more rational? Why would one take claims about “real Jesus” any more seriously than claims of the hypothetical believers in a “real Santa”? Other than semantic shenanigans, what can be gained by indulging such sloppy thinkers? We should at least force those who wish to inflict such opinions upon us to justify why we should take them more seriously than the wackos they dismiss. What argument can one use to justify belief in some brands of “unverifiable” miracles but not others? It seems that believers are all for the “extraordinary claims” rule and general mockery and skepticism for lots of beliefs– they just don’t want to use it on their own– lest their pet delusion be proven as flimsy as the delusions of those they laugh at. I believe this is called “cognitive dissonance”.

  40. 40
    nicolioso

    First off, I will not classify myself or bind the power of my thoughts and words with the chains of judgement. I know however, that my words will allow themselves to show my opinion…obviously. Let's speak in a language I presume all "Non Believers" will understand that has baffled "Believers" who haven't noticed it. The one factoidal proof that there is something that is beyond our comprehension. Some may call it, a higher power. Some a force. Some Allah. Some God. Some Ralph…I don't know. But one word that sums up my point for anyone who hasn't yet heard this name. ENERGY. That's what atheists call God right? ENERGY: Cannot be created or destroyed, only changed in form. Energy is in ALL matter. Basically…IT JUST IS.YHWH: Also translated Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, El, Elohim,Adonai…point is…doesn't matter what you call it It matters what the words mean….Tetragramaton meaning "To Be" let me put that in another way. IT JUST ISI agree with the gruesome misinterpretation people connect with "Holy" writings. Energy is in ALL matter. God is in ALL matter. You seeing a Mathematical similarity here? I hope. Let's make it fair, scientific, and logical…You define energy in better terms and I will tell you that what you call "Energy" isn't what some call "God".The same force, the same anomoly, the same damn thing. Believe or don't…You are only limited by your own fear. And the need for knowledge is as unfulfilling as the need for money. Enough is never enough, fair enough?

  41. 41
    nicolioso

    P.S.- Mathematically speaking again…"Miracles" can be classified as something that is mathematically improbable. That said…Let's just substitute the word "Miracle" with the word "Improbability". There are unexplainable mathematical "Improbabilities" all over the logical word which are occupying the lives and time of those who are trying to figure them out. They will figure them out. But that is their bible. Don't you see? Bible, Quran, that homeless guy with a clever sign, your math thesis, whatever inspires or invokes passion…or heightened energy if you will…Is your religion. And the common denominator? Well I call him God, for lack of self confusion. You may call him whatever you like. It's all the same baby, hate to break it to all of you atheists. I believe Rush said it best in the little tune titled "Free will"…"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."Duh…Simple logic, Shouldn't a dumb uneducated Christian (there I said it)just sit behind my Bible and quote it on venues to try and convert people to my Jedi propaganda? I guess not because I ACTUALLY READ IT. And it takes the most obscure of mathematical minds to figure out what Fibonacci was trying to get everyone to see. The ultimate equation. That little number that makes something ALIVE. It is provable, scientific, absolutely not an accident. I thought you fellas used your brains…but a fool can always run his mouth.P.S.-The grandfather of modern science…I believe you know of him… a little dude called Leonardo DaVinci. Why don't you read a few of his notes. They fill in the gaps that make people afraid to connect God to science…He was a "Believer" after all. And as for "God"…(Personification alert) He probably factored in doubt.

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