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Nov 08 2010

My God is an awesome God a whiny little bitch

Aaaand we get email! Yesterday, we heard from a fellow who objects to our objections to Christianity, because, as he goes on to explain, all other Christians are “ridiculous” because they’ve read the Bible all wrong, and he’s the first one ever who’s got God all figured out. Thing is, I don’t see his version as being much of an improvement on the concept…

My replies, as written in my email back, appear within.

(And PS: The first person in the comments who makes the usual “Oh, I just can’t believe anyone could be this stupid, this guy must be a Poe” remark gets to wear the Pointy Hat in the corner for 24 hours, and doesn’t get any pudding after supper either.)


I’m a Christian.

Your anti-biblical arguments are strawmen, and your anti-theistic arguments are typically childish, because you are arguing against mainstream definitions of God, which themselves are ridiculous definitions. Shame on those of you who claim to be “former Christians” because you, like the rest of Christians, never attempted to define the biblical God in any kind of logically consistent manner.

So you’re off to the races with a “no true Scotsman” fallacy right out of the gate? Look, we won’t stop you from claiming that you are the only Christian out there who isn’t working from a definition of God that is “ridiculous,” but honestly, isn’t that a matter for you to take up with your fellow Christians and not us? Shouldn’t all of you come to some kind of consensus as to what this being is you worship, and want us to worship, whose supposed edicts you want enacted as laws that will affect all the rest of us? I really don’t see how you can blame us for critiquing the concepts of God as they are presented to us by the vast majority of believers who contact us, even when you agree with us that these are “ridiculous” concepts. Really, where’s your beef with us?

The only way to resolve the problem of evil, or to make sense of the biblical accounts, is to define God as a being subject to certain needs, weaknesses, and limitations. For example, the biblical God obviously lacks foreknowledge, because a loving God would not create Lucifer, Adam, and Eve knowing in advance that they would freely choose to fall. The most loving thing to do would be to create only those persons foreknown to freely chose righteousness.

WHY did God give Lucifer, Adam, and Eve enough freedom to hang themsleves? The only solution is to define God as a being who has an emotional need for voluntary fellowship. Had I the space, I would explain precisely WHY God has emotional needs.

Well, I suppose one can imagine a weak, stupid and insecure god just as easily as one can imagine an almighty, powerful, omniscient and omnipotent one. I think you’re going to have a harder sell where your fellow Christians are concerned, though. Why worship someone with weaknesses and limitations? What believers want in a God is a being just like them, except idealized and perfect. Otherwise where is the appeal? I don’t see too many religions thriving whose sales pitch is, “God! Just as pitiful as you!”

Next question. On what basis would the biblical God indict the whole world for the sin of Adam and Eve? The solution is quite simple. A soul defined as an immaterial substance is a logical absurdity beccause it leads to the insoluble mind-body problem, as the church father Tertullian pointed out in 200 AD. Therefore the soul must be defined as a tangible substance.

Lovely. Then it ought to appear on a CAT scan, an MRI, an X-ray or somewhere in the human genome. Let me know when you find it.

Let’s assume for the moment that God created only one tangible soul named Adam. After Adam sinned, God extracted most of Adam’s soul from his body and held it in suspended animation. At every human conception He mates a portion of this soul to the embryo. In other words, YOU are Adam. You were born guilty of sin because YOU are part of the Adam that originally sinned even though you don’t remember living in the garden.

I see no reason to assume any of these things, but I do think you probably have a fantastic career ahead of you writing for Marvel Comics. Seriously, there’s a plot here worthy of an entire series.

The biblical writers wrote with great brevity. Therefore we really don’t know how severe Adam’s rebellion was. For example we don’t really know how many times he partook of the forbidden fruit before God pronounced sentence. But if we give God the benefit of the doubt, we’ll assume that Adam’s sin was severe enough to merit hellfire, although personally I don’t believe that hell is everlasting. And since all men merit hellfire, we cannot regard the biblical God as tyrannical merely because he sent a Mesopotamian flood in Noah’s day, or rained burning coals upon Sodom and Gomorrah, or allowed babes to starve to death. All are guilty in Adam.

Well, that all sounds like a pretty raw deal for every human being born since Adam. So far, what you’ve been describing are the actions of a god that I can only consider an incompetent clod at best and a malevolent psychopath at worst. Why, exactly, would God only create one soul, watch it epically fail, then continue reinstalling tiny bits of that same soul in all subsequent humans in the hopes that — what — it’ll work this time? Why not just go back to the drawing board and keep plugging away until he’s ready to launch the new and improved Soul 2.0, now with new sin-negating algorithms?

Remember what I said about your promising writing career? Scratch that, you have serious problems with story logic, even worse than the conventional Christian mythology you’ve dismissed as ridiculous. Exactly where is the sense in God suspending a broken and malfunctioning soul so you can keep using it, despite knowing it’s broken and malfunctioning? I mean, even for religion, that’s silly.

Let’s move to another topic. Why believe in Christianity? Subjective experience is the only way for God to reveal Himself unfailingly. In other words He must persuade the heart that Christianity is the true religion, if in fact it is so. Why doesn’t He give this revelation to everyone? Again, because He has needs and limitations. It COSTS Him, emotionally, to show kindness to people who regularly sin against Him even after they get the revelation.

Then frankly, he should have gone about his business in a less idiotic way. Stop re-using the same old broken souls for all of humanity, and get rid of the completely unjust sentence of hellfire and damnation for refusal to believe in something that you admit he is too incompetent and emotionally dysfunctional to communicate properly in the first place. Sorry, but if you’re trying to cast your version of God in a sympathetic light, it ain’t working. As you describe him, he’s petulant, unintelligent, rash, given to tantrums, and incapable of following through on anything he’s started, or even understanding the consequences of his own failed actions.

For the long-term safety of the universe, He will not emotionally expend Himself to the extent of mentally destabilizing the Godhead (because were that to happen, we WOULD end up with a capricious God).

No, the being you describe is already capricious, because he’s not even in control of his own emotional health and compounds his mistakes by punishing people for his own failures, rather than simply correcting those mistakes. And apparently, if he gets extra pissy he’ll blow up the universe or something. Talk about a buggy system! It’s really sounding like God should have put together a better angelic QC team before creating stuff.

You know, your God isn’t really much different or any more appealing than the conventional Christian conce
pt after all.

The Bible says that God is love. This IMPLIES that He is already expending Himself to the max, that is, to the very brink of destabilizing the Godhead.

Therefore He needs our help in getting men saved. When we Christians pray to Him and worship Him, this ministers to His emotional needs – you might say it raises His pain threshhold – and thereby enables Him to impart the saving revelation to more and more unsaved people.

You know, Jerry, when you say stuff like this, do you know what we hear? We hear something like this: “In Thor #whatever, Thor, like all Asgardians, is shown to be not truly immortal but relies upon periodic consumption of the Golden Apples of Idunn to sustain his lifespan, which to date has lasted many millennia. After Odin’s death, Thor inherited his father’s power, the Odinforce. Thor becomes capable of feats such as reconstructing the Earth’s Moon, willing the Asgardian monster Mangog into nothingness, and, by focusing his entire power into a hammer throw, decapitating a Desak-occupied Destroyer.”

Yes, I got all that from the Wikipedia entry on the Thor comic book. Which is the point: to us, your mythology sounds no different than that one. You can describe this being you have imagined all you wish, but in the end I’m going to ask you the same question I ask all those other Christians with their “ridiculous” version of God: How do you propose to demonstrate that your God is real and not merely something you are imagining?

I claim to be the first person in Church history to provide any kind of reasonable, legitimate theodicy,

I think this claim is open to doubt.

but unfortunately I don’t have time right now for a full exposition. Feel free to contact me with any objections and, if I have time, I’ll provide you with more details on my views.

All I ask is that stop reading the Bible in a silly manner. Don’t start with the assumption that God is insusceptible to weakness, because such assumptions makes the Bible look ridiculous. I realize that’s how Christians have been reading it for 2000 years, but this kind of silliness is precisely why I haven’t attended church for many years. I reached a point where I just couldn’t stand it anymore.

As you’ve described it, your variation on the myth is no less silly. In places it’s even moreso, as I’ve described above.

The incarnation demonstrates God’s susceptibilty to weakness. Jesus became fatigued and needed rest. God is not, therefore, inherently strong. Strength is rather something He aquired over a long time, as the Ancient of Days. Nor is He inherently omniscient, as shown by the fact that Jesus arrived on earth as an ignornant babe. God therefore aquired His knowledge over time. Note well that a God defined as susceptible to learning would quite naturally create the species over a period of several billion years. Learning takes time.

Scientists tell us that the fossil record is consistent with a slow process of evolution. But it is also perfectly consistent with a creative Being who is slowly educating Himself, experimenting with various species.

You could also say evolution is “consistent” with the Flying Spaghetti Monster, provided you define that being the same way you’re defining your god: a cosmic tinkerer who’s just kind of messing around without really knowing what he’s doing. Again, I fail to see why Christians should be eager to embrace this klutzy, inept, Aspie God you seem to find appealing.

If you actually study evolutionary theory (or any field of science for that matter), you find that what is so beautiful and elegant about them is that they make recourse to supernatural explanations totally unnecessary. Gone are the days when people had to fear that sickness was due to evil spirits clogging our humors. The more you study nature, the less need there is for cosmic tinkerers.

Does this imply that He is cruel to innocent animals? Again, let’s not read the Bible in a silly manner. The Bible says that God is love. Therefore He isn’t cruel to animals, in which case we can safely assume that animal souls are actually Lucifer’s followers who already deserve hellfire. Therefore it isn’t capricius for God to run experiments on animals, for they already deserve any suffering experienced.

Minion of Lucifer, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

226 comments

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  1. 1
    Cafeeine Addicted

    It seems to me this "One True Christian"(TM) has read Garth Ennis' Preacher. God was a clingy, emotional attention whore there too.

  2. 2
    Volly

    Oh, oh, oh, it's too early in the morning for pounding headaches!!!What happened to all that "personal" relationship with god crap? Ever notice how it flies right out the window the second you tickle the sensibilities of morons like this? Quick, let's find all the bobble passages that warn readers not to presume to know the mind of god. This guy seems to be taking it a step further; he's right on the verge of claiming to be god. The hamster and I are outa here. The hour for my shower came just in time. Peace out.

  3. 3
    Ricky

    He makes a lot of assumptions and doesn't even have (Hera, help me. I can't believe I'm saying this…) Biblical scripture to back up his beliefs, much less reason and logic. With all of the "then it is safe to assume"s and "we can imply"s, I wouldn't have been able to finish a response to this guy. Good for you for sticking with it.

  4. 4
    Mark B

    Funny, the guy sort of goes through the same process an atheist might when analyzing biblical claims; but where an atheist would conclude that "this doesn't add up, so it's probably all wrong" he rushes forward and embraces the actual god described in the Bible — needy, incompetent and petty.His claim to being the only Christian to ever interpret the Bible correctly — man, don't these fools ever stop and listen to themselves? That's just crazy talk, man…

  5. 5
    David McNerney

    Makes sense.It's gotta be easier for "God" to adjust the trajectory of a football heading toward a goal than to stop a priest from raping a child.Especially as the child is the only one not praying – the ungrateful little git.

  6. 6
    Afterthought_btw

    This is one of the reasons I've always found polytheism more likely than monotheism. Whilst he was speaking rubbish mainly, he is right in saying that imperfect beings are far more likely than perfect beings. And the Roman/Norse/other-polytheistic-gods were certainly imperfect. (Kinda like super heroes with bad attitudes.)Maybe it's because we know that imperfect beings exist.

  7. 7
    simplyShelley

    Dang, is this scientology with whacked out xenu all whiny and pissy?

  8. 8
    JT

    This whole framework thing he came up with is just like any other interpretation – completely divorced from any kind of factual evidence. It does not matter how you read it. What matters is that darned evidence.I would consider the Loch Ness monster, and bigfoot, to be orders of magnitude more likely and ordinary than a god, but we don't believe those exist either without sufficient evidence.Some people just don't "get it", I suppose.

  9. 9
    Sebastian

    > Subjective experience is the only way> for God to reveal Himself unfailingly.Too bad subjective experience is allways fallible.Overall, his god may be more believable than an omnicient, omnipotent one, but why would anyone want to worship him? Ok, maybe to prevent him from blowing up the universe… Let's just hope his god doesn't exist. :/But I really don't get the last paragraph. Torturing beings (for eternity) just is not compatible with "love", even if they are the followers of your greatest enemy.PS: Preacher is an awesome comic. :)

  10. 10
    Lone Primate

    If Jerry's god is, as he admits with something approaching pride, a fallible being in such very human ways, aren't we even more justified in demanding he not judge us, or that he be far more forgiving than he is when he does so? A perfect god, at least, has the excuse of finding us wanting by his own example. But how is Jerry's god any different from a vain, powerful dictator? Don't we rightly despise people who, though flawed as us, excuse themselves from the very standards they insist we obey? Why should we worship a god who's no better than us, but merely more powerful? In these circumstances, maybe Lucifer had the right idea, and was doing nothing more than declaring independence from a tyrant.So might we all.

  11. 11
    DavidCT

    Now that the author has worked out the real truth about god, he is ready to start his own sect. This is exactly the sort of thinking one would expect from someone putting together thoughts about philosophical problems in a vacuum. Even in a postmodernist world, where all views can be equally valid, this "new" view of a god is still a steaming pile. We are still waiting for someone to present a logically consistent view of a god that would be worthy of worship. Even then if the concept were perfected, that would be no proof that such a thing was real.

  12. 12
    Lurker

    Oh, I just can't believe anyone could be this stupid, this guy must be a Poe.

  13. 13
    Martin

    Hey. I think you did that on purpose!

  14. 14
    Jennifer Juniper

    Hey, I resent that Marvel crack! He sucks, so he'd be more likely to write for DC… BURN!! ;-) (Unless it was back during the Preacher days. Yes, one of my all-time favourites… :-P)

  15. 15
    ChaosSong

    Bizarre!You hardly ever hear an argument for a physical soul.How does it get to the afterlife? Does God actually bend over and dig it out of the ground? Perhaps it self-locomotes, crawling out of the nostril of the deceased… Is it destroyed by cremation?If it becomes cancerous can it be removed by a terrestrial surgeon – transplanted with the healthy soul of a motorcycle enthusiast with an organ donor card?Why does he use the word "breed" instead of the word "transplant" does it have it's own genitalia?He makes it sound more like a parasitic organism than an organ with a discrete function.

  16. 16
    Martin

    As a commenter on Facebook has noted, it's as if this guy has cobbled together his own Christian fanfic. I don't think he's thought through all the necessary logical paths of his story yet.

  17. 17
    BatDaddy

    Sweet Baby Jesus, that was a surprisingly fun read. I was really with this guy right up until the end, when animals became infused with the souls of Satan's followers. I mean, that's a fantastic idea, but that twist knocked me for a loop. I'd really have to see the idea fleshed out a little more – if it was handled correctly I'd probably buy it.Oh I'm sorry, this wasn't a treatment for a screenplay? Oh.Martin, your comparison to Thor was fantastic.

  18. 18
    Ron Strelecki

    What a perfect example of the god character as a projection of the self. His god character is beleaguered, stressed, bothered and rejected. Later in his post, he gives the old "I can't be bothered to explain all the details, but trust me, it's water tight" saw, along with the invitation to send (easily dismissed, no doubt) objections. Imagine the martyrdom this poor scholar has had to endure at the hands of countless Philistines.

  19. 19
    George From NY

    I knew those fucking bunnies were up to no good…

  20. 20
    Thomas Duke

    "you are arguing against mainstream definitions of God, which themselves are ridiculous definitions"Isn't a definition supposed to be a representation of how a word is used in a common, widespread sense? Also, using this opening in an argument is just annoying. Just skip to a definition of your specific god. It's like a guy beginning an argument with "wait a second…you're still using Websters for your definitions? REALLY?!? PLEASE! No WONDER you're wrong about everything…you're using the wrong words!"

  21. 21
    Curt Cameron

    I thought the whole "problem of evil" thing, and the theodicy business that tries to address it, was a problem only if you believe in an omniscient, omnipotent version of god.This guy posits a bumbling mad scientist sort of god, so of course he has no problem of evil to address.I wonder if you met this guy on the street, whether he'd be the schizophrenic mental patient that you immediately recognize as batshit crazy. Or whether he'd seem mostly normal but maybe eccentric.

  22. 22
    Jane

    Oh, I just can't believe anyone could be this stupid, this guy must be a Poe.Now, gimme a pointy hat!In all seriousness, this is a poetic idea. that's the main reason I'm interested in religion: it sounds good, poetically sound. I'm no believer, but that doesn't stop me appreciating entertainment. The Elohim are Elidhu.

  23. 23
    JT

    It does sound like this guy watched a bit of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Or maybe he wrote it.

  24. 24
    John K.

    I love this guy.The parts of the bible you can criticize don't count and are being read incorrectly. The parts that he likes are true and have some air tight explanations that he will never show you. He then proceeds to apply logic to the parts he likes and creates his own ad absurdum for us. He has found a lot of the problems that make most people atheists and gone ad hoc crazy.All living things are part of a process of evolution, so are plants also evil minions from Lucifer? Which primate ancestor of humans suddenly got a soul? How does a physical soul get to heaven or hell?Sorry, can't help myself. I know I might as well be asking about why Thor never kills Loki.HUGELY entertaining post, thank you Martin.

  25. 25
    Barbara_K

    That was unexpectedly entertaining, an email jackpot of weird, righteous rationalization. So, his certain knowledge that his God has weaknesses and imperfect knowledge, and is so mentally unstable that we must appeal to His vanity in order to keep Him from losing his mind and destroying the universe as we know it, makes his worship of Him so much more justified than that of all those silly Christians who think God is a perfect being. Unseeing fools! I guess the appeal of lolcats could be partially attributed to Lucifer, cute light bringers that they are. I’m a little confused though – where do all of those fluffy little Luciferians come from? Are they fallen angels, or is he making an argument for reincarnation as sweet animals, destined for either meat factories or vivisection, of all of us humans who follow Lucifer? Or maybe the animal embryos are mated with Lucifer’s fallen angel soul?“…but unfortunately I don't have time right now for a full exposition. Feel free to contact me with any objections and, if I have time, I'll provide you with more details on my views.”No no… *backing away slowly*… that’s ok… really… just let me know when the animated series comes out…

  26. 26
    tigrrr

    God wants Adam's companionship. Right. Bring on the slash fic.

  27. 27
    erauqssi

    I can't help but be reminded of the fourth and final clause of Epicurus' statement (http://www.faithinterface.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/problemofevil.jpg): "Then why call him God".The argument as far as I can see is that "God isn't evil, he's incompetent". When I was still on my deconversion path, this took me a while to understand, but now I just want to say: "I'll grant that your god exists. Then why worship him? He's a moron". Just because some supernatural entity exists, doesn't mean we default to worshiping him. This god certainly doesn't sound deserving.

  28. 28
    Lukas

    I know I might as well be asking about why Thor never kills LokiActually, I imagine it's because Loki and Odin are blood brothers and you don't kill family.

  29. 29
    Thomas

    I know, I'm missing the batshit-crazy for the trees, but his justification of hell makes no sense either. We all deserve to go to Hell, because a fraction of a component of our "being" did something really bad. (It must be really bad, because it's the one area where he wouldn't just make shit up). Kind of like saying "you share DNA with a serial killer, so you deserve the same punishment".But, he still ignores the fact that nobody alive today has done anything bad enough to justify hell as defined by most Xians. So, we're talking about a being who is holding a 6,000 year grudge (or longer), and who would forgive us, if only we would pray to him, but who cannot tell us that, because it would cost him a Gnosis point and he's all out.

  30. 30
    Thomas

    @Thomas DukenfieldAnd it is ridiculous to argue against what the majority of people believe, when you could have just been arguing against his concept of god. I mean, why both with all the myths and superstitions in the world, when you can just pick the guy with the right answer and start there!

  31. 31
    William

    I don't see the marvel series, but it would make a good conspiracy theory.

  32. 32
    Sines

    I'd actually buy the whole 'weak, insecure pathetic' god thing. But the 'animals are all servants of lucifer'? Yah… I'll take my dunce cap if I need to, but that's when I stopped buying it.

  33. 33
    Strangelove

    Somehow I never imagined Yahweh as an emotional wreck on the brink of a nervous breakdown. This 'godhead' should thank the gods for monotheism. Marduk would so kick his ass.But it's not enough that Yahweh craves for human adoration to raise his 'pain threshold' (seriously, wtf?), he's also starts out as dumb as a box of rocks. Doesn't know nothing about no evolution, so it takes him billions of years to build your average emotion-stabilizing human sycophant.He should just contact his future self, say like 100 billion years down the stream. That guy should know. But I guess Yahweh has no clue about closed timelike curves either.Why should I worship a dunce like that again? If anything I feel pity for him.

  34. 34
    magx01

    This is amazing. He's working backwards and coming to ad hoc conclusions by inserting logic into the story after the fact!!He sees the problem with the story, so he rewrites the damn story!Amazing. Penn and Teller should make themselves a threesome. The trifecta of magic: Penn, Teller and Ad Hoc Guy.

  35. 35
    GPL(urker)

    Sounds like he ripped off the old Star Trek with Apollo and that big disembodied hand grabbing the Enterprise for the whiny a-hole personality of this Mr.'God-enough-for-you'.Actually by hurling insults at him we distract his attention from the evolution we worship so much!! Aarghh!(small trickle of blood from corner of mouth)

  36. 36
    Wired For Sound

    Actually, the plot from the Thor comic book made more sense than this guy.

  37. 37
    dennis

    http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/543672-inhertitance-of-acquired-behaviour-adaptions-and-brain-gene-expression-in-chickensatheists, we're gonna cut off your heads…THE HIGH PRICE OF REVOLUTIONhttp://www.youtube.com/user/xviolatex?feature=mhum

  38. 38
    dennis

    martin and we are going to torture you before we execute…

  39. 39
    Megathieron

    Thomas above was on the right track… the soul he speaks of must be DNA. I can picture god slicing off little bits of DNA like a chef carving a roast, and giving a little bit to each embryo at the instant of conception. Not to get off-topic, but being that there is not a post for the latest non-prophets ep, I'll comment here. When they were talking about the woman that had an 'unique' experience trying to vote at a church, and mentioned that the believers praying for 10 minutes were essentially casting spells I immediately came to the realization that people that pray in public are LARPers. I know I'm not the first to realize that, but it tickled me in all the right places.

  40. 40
    Excredulous

    "Had I the space, I would explain precisely WHY God has emotional needs."What makes him think he doesn't have the space? Does he need a larger monitor? Aside from that of course, everything made perfect sense.

  41. 41
    David Mabus

    http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/543672-inhertitance-of-acquired-behaviour-adaptions-and-brain-gene-expression-in-chickensatheists, we're gonna cut off your heads…THE HIGH PRICE OF REVOLUTIONhttp://www.youtube.com/user/xviolatex?feature=mhum

  42. 42
    Neato Spiderplant

    "Therefore He isn't cruel to animals, in which case we can safely assume that animal souls are actually Lucifer's followers who already deserve hellfire. Therefore it isn't capricius for God to run experiments on animals, for they already deserve any suffering experienced."Wow I hope this guy isnt a pet owner. I could see him feeling the need to teach Lucifer's followers a lesson with the toe of his boots.

  43. 43
    Neato Spiderplant

    Have you noticed when he says things like "therefore" or "in which case" it can often be replaced with "by the way" or "on an unrelated note" and make more sense?

  44. 44
    Spoondoggle

    Holly shimp!I think I can hear baby jeeberries crying because of this guy…

  45. 45
    Spoondoggle

    Actually… it does make a helluva lot more sense this way. We just need to follow the logic chain a little further down the rabbit hole.When god told Adam that "you shall surely die" should he eat of the forbidden fruit, it was an imperfect statement with imperfect foreknowledge. Perhaps not a lie, but certainly an untruthful statement.One of the most used titles of Satan is the "father of lies," suggesting that either he told the first ever lie or planted the first seed of deceit.I think we can probably all agree that intentional or not, "you shall surely die," is either the first recorded lie, given it's falsehood, or the first seed of deceit, given all the dissembling and deception that surrounds the idea.It makes sense then that the god described in the bible is in fact Satan. Perhaps this Satan is not truly evil, but is certainly capricious, unpredictable and dangerous. Perhaps the Satan described in the bible is in fact the true creative force, the true god (sort of like how the characters in the film "Face-Off" get switched around, yeah?) and the reason that "Satan" doesn't intervene is that no matter the harm caused by "god" and his misbehaviour, the intervention would cause a greater harm in the long run? Or even in the short run. Maybe "Satan" loves all his creations, even "god" so that he cannot bring himself to risk hurting any of us by acting against him, even though his inaction may be causing more harm… oh man, "Satan"'s an anti-vaxer, isn't he?

  46. 46
    trj

    It's amusing how people who have found the true version of Christianity usually say something like "Therefore, the only possible explanation is…", followed by some convoluted and dubious chain of reasoning.Actually, there is another explanation, a much simpler one, one that neatly resolves all of those religious paradoxes and inconsistencies. Every atheist knows what this conclusion is.

  47. 47
    Mike Haynes.

    Pardon me while I attempt to define the biblical God in a logically consistent manner….Doh! I crapped my pants!

  48. 48
    Mark B

    Hey, this guy could start his own denomination; I propose Smacktardarianism.

  49. 49
    Raymond

    I like the way that he starts with"I'm a Christian", then badmouths the beliefs of other christians.In that spirit (sic). I would like to declare that I am a vegitarian and other vegitarians who don't eat meat are just plain silly.As long as the animals that you eat have been only been fed on plants and vegetables then they are equivalent to plants and vegetables.Those silly non-meat eaters are just misinterpreting what Vegetarianism is all about.

  50. 50
    isleoflesbos

    Ok, so, hmm. So when 'God' said to kill all men, boys and females who had 'known men', he was obviously offering them an easy, quick (if still probably painful) death. When 'God' said to keep and rape the little virgin girls, since 'God' is 'love', that obviously means that all little virgin girls are minions of Lucifer and deserve to be raped and tortured instead of being put to instant death.Makes all KINDS of sense now! *nod*

  51. 51
    Dorkman

    I like how he says we should give God the benefit of the doubt after he just established that God is weak, fallible, and emotionally unstable. Also, that last paragraph went off the edge so suddenly I actually got a little dizzy.

  52. 52
    Jerry

    I don't think Matt got the full essay. (I kept adding more material because I kept getting a "Mail returned undeliverable" message in the email. You can get the full essay here:www.bible-verse-search-engines.com\Atheism_1.zipAnd here's my response to Matt's critique of my essay:www.bible-verse-search-engines.com\Atheism_2.zip

  53. 53
    Jerry

    Woops, I thought this was Matt's page. Sorry guys. I was "responding" to Martin's content thinking it was Matt. Ok, Martin, you're on.

  54. 54
    Jerry

    In this treatise I responded to most of the posters who commented on this discussion. http://www.bible-verse-search-engines.com\Atheism_3.zip

  55. 55
    Dennis

    richarddawkins.net/discussions/543672-inhertitance-of-acquired-behaviour-adaptions-and-brain-gene-expression-in-chickensatheists, we're gonna cut off your heads…THE HIGH PRICE OF REVOLUTIONyoutube.com/user/xviolatex?feature=mhum

  56. 56
    Spoondoggle

    I don't think you can really justify calling a series of short responses a treatise… anyway."Spoondoggle, I guess I'm not grasping your conclusion. Adam DID eventually die, so it was a true statement."Granted, Adam did eventually die, but not "in that day." Sure, you can claim that a day means a thousand years, but I can claim that a chicken is a duck with just as much certainty and actually be closer to the truth if I use some of the more entertaining definitions of the word "kind."You can also claim that he meant an instant spiritual death but god made no mention of this, he said, "you will die." If I tell someone that they will become a millionnaire in the next 20 minutes and nothing happens, would it become something more than a false prophecy or lie if I simply claim to have meant they'd become a spiritual millionnaire, or that by 20 minutes I meant a million years?You may disagree, but my personal view on the scrambling for excuses for this first nugget of misinformation makes it look a lot like ad hoc excuses, similar to that of the crumb-covered child telling of the naughty dog that ate all the cookies. Like it or not, your god is the father of lies. Unless he doesn't exist of course, in which case he's the son of a lie.Oh and, "On the other hand He no longer (having made Himself irreversibly holy) has enough freedom to do anything evil."Killing is evil, even when justified it is merely a justified evil, even in the case of mercy killings it is simply a merciful evil, so surely god cannot carry out a death sentence?If you disagree that it is evil for a creator to kill his creation, answer me this: If I create a robot, give it intelligence, sentience; allow it to feel a touch or the wind across it's chassis; grant it the ability to love and to hate, to rejoice and to mourn, would it not be evil for me to then kill it?

  57. 57
    Neato Spiderplant

    "Kait82, this reaction is understandable. I feel no inclination to be cruel to animals, although I can understand why my theology could be seen as a justification for it, unfortunately. I will admit that I am less protective of animals than some of my peers, to your disappointment I'm sure. I have peers who put animals on a par with the sanctity of human life, and that's just not going to happen with me, I'm sorry to say. Jesus said of men, "You are worth more to the Father than many sparrows." "As long as you arent going around kicking dogs to help with the war on "Lucifer's followers" based on what you yourself call an assumption, then I dont really care wether or not you volunteer at an animal shelter or contribute to save endangered species or anything. Apathy is alright by me, destructive acts are not. Especially when to me it seems this idea is based on a hunch. (It seems you got all this info from the words "God is love" which is quite a leap)

  58. 58
    Ryan V

    So… in other words, God is a total asshat emo-whore when he doesn't get incessant worship from the creatures he created. He should have just ended creation after Adam failed. Instead, he repeated his failed experiment billions of times over by infecting each trial run with a 'soul' that he already knew to be a failure. God is the worst scientist ever.

  59. 59
    Neato Spiderplant

    "Thomas, Adam is not a fraction of your being. All of your soul is Adam in my view. The WHOLE of your soul is guilty, in my view. There aren't two people in your body (Adam and Thomas). YOU are the Adam who sinned, in my view. Please try to understand what I wrote. You continue, "But, he still ignores the fact that nobody alive today has done anything bad enough to justify hell as defined by most Xians." That's precisely the opposite of the case here. I'm virtually the ONLY one who says that all men (even babes) have done something evil (when they were Adam). The (incredibly stupid) mainstream view (which I reject) is that Adam was our representative. This means that babes are guilty without themselves having done anything wrong, on account of Adam's representation."So if all of my soul is Adam and when I die, my soul goes to hell, no harm done to ME, right? If Adam contributes the guilt, than the part he contributed to my being goes to hell and everything that is me just dies? Otherwise if guilty Adam's soul fuses with some part of me, and we BOTH go to hell, how is that just? And what about heaven? If the soul is all Adam and Adam has sinned and is hellbound for it, when anyone dies they automatically go to hell right? No one goes to heaven then?

  60. 60
    Spoondoggle

    Following on from Kait82's comment:Why does god not simply create each soul anew for each individual and give each the chance to be worthy of him, rather than injecting each of us with a hellbound soul?Imagine I was a dictator is some country and had passed a law stating that anyone over the age of 25 with herpes was a criminal and needed to be tortured and executed. Imagine further that at birth, I have each child infected with herpes. Now… what am I doing wrong here?From my perspective, there are two issues. Firstly, I don't really believe that having herpes is really such a terrible crime that it deserves torture and death.Secondly, infecting everyone with herpes so that they are automatically breaking my law from birth is fucking evil.Ok, sure, but how does this relate to hell and souls? Well, god apparently thinks that a single act of disobedience deserves hell and god has decided that each soul, being apparently a part of adam, should already have been disobedient from the moment of conception, surely the relation is clear?Seriously god, just make a new soul, jeez!

  61. 61
    Jeremiah

    It's right to point out that this god injecting a known pathogen (adam's soul) into people means that you haven't escaped from the problem of evil yet, but I think the larger issue is just that this claim fails in the most basic way that every other version of Christianity does. That is, there is no reason to believe it is true. Everyone got a kick out of Martin's comparison to the comics Thor but I think that really is the crux of the matter. Laying the stories out side by side there is absolutely no more evidence or reason to believe that there was an a Adam and original sinning souls than there is a Norse warrior eating golden apples to live forever. Both make claims that fly in the face of the observable universe and there is no reason at all to put any faith in either.

  62. 62
    Thomas

    @Kait82I'm not seeing the comment you are replying to. Was that posted by Dennis?As for my response, to whomever, the original writer said that the soul was divided up. If it isn't divided, then we are all the same person? And that guy deserved to be tortured for all eternity?You and I are not living in the same world (metaphorically speaking). You respond to incongruities in your beliefs by making up stories to justify what you want to believe. the odds of any of these stories being true are low, and over time, this brings you further and further from the truth. your method can be used to justify any conclusion. "You deserve to be tortured?" You don't know it, but you were an evil person in a past life."Paris Hilton deserves to be rich and well-treated" That's because she was gave her life saving orphans from a fire in a past life."George W Bush is the best president EVAR!" – He single-handedly prevented Bin-Ladin from buying a doomsday device from a madman.See, it's all very easy, and I don't even have to resort to some touchy-feely spirit-world nonsense to make it happen. But I disagree with your conclusion. If you look at the world around you, you will see a history of people who are for the most part, decent. It may not seem that way, because you probably have been taught to focus on, and exaggerate the seedier parts of life. A small minority commit murder, and it is an epidemic. the majority have casual sex, and it's seen as "just as bad".Some people do terrible things, but none as bad as hell is claimed to be. So, the only justification for your belief is to find fault where there is none. In the sermon on the mound, Jesus seemed to be claiming that there is no difference between the person who resists temptation, and the one who gives in to it; they both gave in to temptation in their heart. (But, in the real world, they didn't. Some of them had a perfectly human emotion, and overcame it. That makes them superior to both the person who failed to overcome that emotion, and to the person who was never faced with it in the first place).You have taken a different approach with the "you secretly did something evil in a past life, 6000 years ago, but you don't know it". In that case, I would say it is an unfounded assertion, and point out that, if I ever did something atrocious in a past life, then I obviously have changed. Is forgiveness not a virtue? If I cannot even conceive of what I supposedly did, (and I cannot conceive of anything worthy of hell), and 6,000 years has passed, then what would be the point in further punishment?

  63. 63
    JAFisher44

    I am kind of sad. I just read Jerry's full atheist_1.txt and now my brain is afraid to ever open up a .txt file again. I don't even know where to start. This sort of thing is beyond my tolerance for stupid. I am too weak to deconstruct all this and refute it. I do not envy you this task guys.

  64. 64
    John K.

    Ooh, its a theist.Well Jerry, let me simplify some points for you a bit, and I will leave out any ridicule to spare your feelings.You have a lot of explanations for specific problems in the bible, but until some physical evidence is presented (some sort of repeatable experiment would be perfect) it is all indistinguishable from something somebody just made up. It does not matter how internally consistent it is, although people will have fun picking things apart if it is not internally consistent. That was what the Thor example was trying to demonstrate.The bible reports very specific examples of commandments by god that are shockingly cruel and barbaric. If you want specific examples try http://www.whywontgodhealamputees.com. That is why god was described as a psychopath.Original sin is an inherently unfair concept. Nobody after Adam had any control over what he did, so it is unjust to punish other people for his crimes. An infinite punishment for the finite crime also is extremely unjust. The mechanics of soul transfer or whatever are not relevant.There is a lot more, but I will stop here. There is plenty to chew on, and the post is long enough already.

  65. 65
    Alethiest

    At least we could in principle test if this god exists … all we have to do is stop all prayers to God and if the universe blows up we known he's real… might not matter much but its technically more tennable than most god-concepts… It is falsifiable, which makes it almost a hypothesis… Guess is a kind of hypothesis right? ;) <— winky face to keep the Poe's away….

  66. 66
    Hermes

    Well, I'll give him some credit. His Yahweh/Jesus is in some ways more credible than the regular one touted by Christians; it's not an omnimax, so thus isn't self-refuting on that level. It fails in other places, though.I take the field of theistic religions like a group of children in a playground;* Personal-spirit or house-spirit theist gets trumped by animal and ancestor spirit theist.* Animal and ancestor spirit theist gets trumped by pantheon theism where the spirits specialize in love, war, inspiration, creation, and the all important thieving guild.* Polytheist fractal theism — a pantheism with each member having countless expressions and names — trumps pantheon theism.* Uber-dictator theism trumps polytheist fractal theism.* Omnimax theism trumps uber-dictator — because he's just like the uber-dictator but super smart, powerful, and perfectly nice.Note that the previous gods get subsumed — not really replaced — by the later ones. So, Catholics have a pantheon of saints while many protestants worry about Satan leading them astray or doing harm to the world (as if an an omnimax deity would allow such a thing).So, on the playground, it goes like this;—Billy: "My gods are strong!"George: "Mine are stronger, and I have more of them!"Billy: "Na-ha! Mine cover everything and your gods are just a few of my gods. You don't have the complete set!"George: "Well, my gods are so strong that there's only one of him — and the others don't exist. You damn pagan!"Billy: "Pagan? What do you know you damn heretic! Unlike your feeble god, mine knows everything, is everywhere, and always does the right thing. He buys me ice cream every day and twice on Tuesday!"George: "Arrrr! No fair!"—The Bible does say that Yahweh/Jesus is an omnimax, but if you look at the Bible it's clear that it doesn't describe an omnimax. What it describes is a member of a pantheon without the company of other specialty gods. This makes sense on an anthropological level since El/Baal/Asherah/…/Lilith/… used to make up the Canaanite pantheon and now there's only some hybrid based on El that (OT) takes on the tribal brute dictator role and (NT) takes on the buddy who hates who you hate, can help you out in a jam, but for some reason still needs to borrow your car (and take your gas) if you want to stay on good terms with him. Come on! Help buddy Jesus out!So, I can see how the writer has a seed of a possible "legitimate theodicy", but what he has needs quite a bit of work, and in the end I don't think it can be used to justify any actual theistic beliefs. That's why most Christians stick with the playground rules of 'my gods better than your god' and they don't bother with attempting to make any sense of the mess except to assert that it makes sense if you think — if you believe — it makes sense first.The writer might figure things out after a while.

  67. 67
    Jerry

    "It's right to point out that this god injecting a known pathogen (adam's soul) into people means that you haven't escaped from the problem of evil yet….". Jeremiah, I think you have the same problem as Kati. You're not comprehending anything that I'm saying. God didn't inject Adam into you (or anyone else). I'll state my position again. There is no "you" other than Adam. YOU are Adam. YOU were in the garden. YOU freely chose to eat the forbidden fruit (although you don't remember being there, and doing so). I don't know how to state this position in words clear enough for you to comprehend it. Can someone give me a hand here?"…but I think the larger issue is just that this claim fails in the most basic way that every other version of Christianity does. That is, there is no reason to believe it is true." Again, a total inability to comprehend the arguments expressed. I'll try to state my position more plainly. You should NOT accept Jesus as Lord, you should NOT accept the Bible, you should NOT believe in Adam and Eve. . PLEASE do not do so, as you probably do NOT have sufficient warrant (or evidence) to do so. I do not, should not, and will not ask you to take a leap of blind faith. Blind faith is foolishness/stupidity, and my God does not encourage stupidity. Ok, so I hope we are clear that I was not ASKING you to believe in my God. What then was my argument? Primarily I was challenging those of you who accuse the biblical God of capricious or unjust behavior. It is a theodicy. (Tangentially, I also provided an argument for the existence of the soul based on the law of inertia and, as usual, no one has demonstrated any ability to refute that argument). You know what I think? You guys, like Martin, are struggling to morph my statements into an evangelism/proselytizing because the only ace in your deck of cards is the tired old attack, "Show me your evidence for Christianity." So let's get it straight once and for all. I am NOT an evangelist, and personally I am OPPOSED to the last 2000 years of historic Christian evangelism. I'm trying to get Christians to STOP evangelizing (for reasons I can't get it into here). Clear? Or are you still unable to comprehend anything I am writing here?

  68. 68
    Jerry

    “Granted, Adam did eventually die, but not "in that day." Sure, you can claim that a day means a thousand years, but I can claim that a chicken is a duck with just as much certainty and actually be closer to the truth if I use some of the more entertaining definitions of the word "kind."You can also claim that he meant an instant spiritual death but god made no mention of this, he said, "you will die." If I tell someone that they will become a millionnaire in the next 20 minutes and nothing happens, would it become something more than a false prophecy or lie if I simply claim to have meant they'd become a spiritual millionnaire, or that by 20 minutes I meant a million years?”Spoondoggle, ok, rather obtuse of me not to see your point the first time. It's pretty easy to nitpick the Bible because its choice of words is often more for the sake of brevity and convenience than pinpoint accuracy. When a scientist says, "The sun rises in the east and sets in the west," he is making a statement that's a bit misleading, one that we could easily nitpick if we wanted to. But chances are we'd be okay with it. But if the Bible makes such a nitpickable statement, for instance if it says something about the sun which turns out to be misleading scientically, atheists throw a fit. At that point I think they are holding the Bible to a higher standard than it was intended to conform to. In this case your beef is with God's statement, "In the day you eat of it you will surely die." Yes, I suppose we could nitpick this statement. Or we could grant Moses here a little flexibility of language. Let's start with the word "day". In Genesis Moses uses the word "day" in the sense of "the whole period of creation", when he says, "In the day that the Lord created the heavens and the earth." So there is no need to assume that "day" here means 24 hour period. And let's consider the word "death". Yes, as you suggested, it can mean spiritual death (Jesus used it this way in the NT), or it could also refer here to my own hypothesis, that God subdivided Adam's soul as a penalty for eating his fruit (in other words the original Adam died upon eating the fruit).I suppose that people like you who have no strong incentive to defend the Bible will always have a tendency to nitpick it. So I will never be able to defend it to their satisfaction. But I think can show, and have shown, that the Bible is defensible on the major issues of theodicy. “Killing is evil, even when justified it is merely a justified evil, even in the case of mercy killings it is simply a merciful evil, so surely god cannot carry out a death sentence? If you disagree that it is evil for a creator to kill his creation, answer me this: If I create a robot, give it intelligence, sentience; allow it to feel a touch or the wind across it's chassis; grant it the ability to love and to hate, to rejoice and to mourn, would it not be evil for me to then kill it?”You seem to be using equivocal language when you refer to a "justified evil." If an action is justified, I would call it an act of justice, which is the opposite of evil. You ask if it would be evil for you to kill such a robot. I'm not sure why you bothered to call it a robot, since you grant it the essential aspects of personhood. If it has free will, then yes, as a society we would certainly want to mete out some kind of justice if this person misbehaves, that is, behaves in a way harmful to other people. As for whether we are warranted in sentencing someone to death, this is always a difficult decision. I don't think human beings make those kinds of decisions nearly as accurately as God does. I think He's a much better judge of character than we are.

  69. 69
    Jerry

    "So… in other words, God is a total asshat emo-whore when he doesn't get incessant worship from the creatures he created."RyanV, your reaction here is very self-centered and selfish. Basically you're whining and complaining, "Poor me, how awful it is that I, as Adam, was supposed to spend my time enjoying fresh fruit, the cool of the shade, and singing love songs to God. What a terrible life God had planned for me, what a horribly cruel person He is." Let's put the shoe on the other foot. Instead of thinking selfishly, try seeing things from GOD'S standpoint. Do you ever get sick and tired of going to work every day? After less than a 100 years? Now imagine (although frankly you really can't do it) spending billions and billions of years laboring to perfect yourself in all areas of study, knowledge, and science, so that OTHERS can be safe (i.e. s the whole Totality of existence matter/sentience). Think of what this entails. In order to fully comprehend, and sensitize yourself to, the potential suffering of others, you would probably have to undergo it yourself (i.e. you yourself would be the chief ginny pigg). This means that God has probably subjected Himself to all kinds of hellishly painful experiences and experiments for billions of years. And your compalint with all this is merely that He wants you to sing Him some love songs now and then? (If you, as Adam, had never sinned, that's really the most He would have asked of you). Poor baby. God was just too hard on you. Cry me a river. "He should have just ended creation after Adam failed. Instead, he repeated his failed experiment billions of times over by infecting each trial run with a 'soul' that he already knew to be a failure. God is the worst scientist ever." Ok, so you'd prefer that He'd just gone and ahead and thrown that soul into hell (that soul being YOU, by the way), instead of giving you second chances. Wow, you're really making a LOT of sense, here.Or maybe you feel He should dispense with hell altogether. Ok – just be consistent. Let's get rid of all punishment, shut down the prisons, jettision all justice, and live in complete anarchy. If some man rapes you, or makes you perform oral sex on him, that's just fine with you, right? No reason to punish anyone. No point in justice.

  70. 70
    Jerry

    "Following on from Kait82's comment: Why does god not simply create each soul anew for each individual and give each the chance to be worthy of him, rather than injecting each of us with a hellbound soul?""Imagine I was a dictator is some country and had passed a law stating that anyone over the age of 25 with herpes was a criminal and needed to be tortured and executed. Imagine further that at birth, I have each child infected with herpes. Now… what am I doing wrong here?From my perspective, there are two issues. Firstly, I don't really believe that having herpes is really such a terrible crime that it deserves torture and death."Secondly, infecting everyone with herpes so that they are automatically breaking my law from birth is fucking evil."Ok, sure, but how does this relate to hell and souls? Well, god apparently thinks that a single act of disobedience deserves hell and god has decided that each soul, being apparently a part of adam, should already have been disobedient from the moment of conception, surely the relation is clear?"Seriously god, just make a new soul, jeez!Spoondoogle, I am at a complete loss here as to how to explain myself more clearly. None of you are getting any of this. God isn't INJECTING something into you. Yes, God could create new souls, but that wouldn't change the fact that YOU sinned in the garden and are therefore hellbound. In fact, I'm glad you mentioned this idea of new souls, because it provides the most favorable commentary IMAGINABLE on the biblical God. Were I in His shoes, I would have taken the easy way out. I would simply have thrown Adam (YOU) into hell, created some new souls, and started all over, and I would keep doing this until I got what I wanted out of this. But instead of creating new souls, the biblical God opted to suffer and die for the sins of Adam (YOU), in order that Adam (YOU) not go to hell.

  71. 71
    Jerry

    "Well Jerry, let me simplify some points for you a bit, and I will leave out any ridicule to spare your feelings…Original sin is an inherently unfair concept. Nobody after Adam had any control over what he did, so it is unjust to punish other people for his crimes."John K, that was precisely MY argument (obviously, you didn't read anything I wrote). At least we are in agreement to this point. Excellent. "An infinite punishment for the finite crime also is extremely unjust."Again, excellent. I implied the same thing in my statements. (You might want to actually try reading a few of my statements before attempting to critique them)."The mechanics of soul transfer or whatever are not relevant."Actually it's quite relevant, but as you can't seem to figure this out on your own, try reading my explanation. "The bible reports very specific examples of commandments by god that are shockingly cruel and barbaric. If you want specific examples try http://www.whywontgodhealamputees.com. That is why god was described as a psychopath."You'll need to give me a better link that. I don't feel like researching a whole website. Take me to the specific page you had in mind, please. "There is a lot more, but I will stop here. There is plenty to chew on, and the post is long enough already." Wow. You really gave me a lot to chew on. I'm overwhelmed.

  72. 72
    Jeremiah

    Jerry,You wrote, and I quote: "At every human conception He mates a portion of this soul to the embryo. In other words, YOU are Adam."And yet now you are saying that: "God didn't inject Adam into you (or anyone else)."These two statements appear to be mutually exclusive. Is your god responsible for me being a clone of Adam or infused with his soul or whatever? Yes or no? If the answer is yes, the problem of evil remains. If the answer is no, then what is responsible for us being Adam if your god didn't do it? None of what you are saying is making any sense.The fact that you are claiming to only engage in theodicy doesn't get you off the hook IMO. Engaging in a conversation about if a god is exempt from the problem of evil is only really relevant if we have been given a good reason to believe that god exists in the first place, otherwise we might as well be discussing what Gandalf the Grey's favorite after dinner snack is.

  73. 73
    Jeremiah

    Also, you say we are all Adam, yet you were against throwing him into hell originally for his sin, but you aren't against throwing us into hell because it would mean dispensing with all justice. So why does Adam have a get out of jail free card but I don't? But if we are all Adam then aren't we all one person? What differentiates me from you? And you used the example of a man raping another and therefore deserving punishment but wouldn't this be Adam raping himself? (is that even possible?) So is god trying to save me (Adam), but how can he do that if some of me (rapists) go to hell and some of me doesn't? Am I partially saved?The logical underpinnings of your position needs some work I think.

  74. 74
    Jerry

    "You have taken a different approach with the "you secretly did something evil in a past life, 6000 years ago, but you don't know it". In that case, I would say it is an unfounded assertion, and point out that, if I ever did something atrocious in a past life, then I obviously have changed."Thomas, none of you can seem to get it. Generally, I'm not making assertions here. (Sigh). Again, I'm not ASKING you to believe in the Bible or Adam. I'm simply stating, "If hypothethetically we assume for the moment that the Bible might be true, are we able to find some kind logical consistency (ie. can we find a viable theodicy) in the pages of that book.""If I ever did something atrocious in a past life, then I obviously have changed."Ok, but if a murderer eventually reformed himself (let's assume he killed your whole family, and raped you in the process, even forcing you to give him oral sex), doesn't he still deserve punishment for his prior actions? Make up you mind, please DO you, or DON'T you, want justice? Conveniently you people stand on both sides of the fence. In real life you want justice, but in debates like this, you conveniently deny God the perogative to administer justice because you are just looking for an opportunity to construe Him as a tyrant. It's a bunch of hypocrisy. You're just blowing hot air. "Some people do terrible things, but none as bad as hell is claimed to be."Ok, you're saying that hell sounds too harsh. You don't like this kind of justice. But isn't the whole point of theodicy to address this kind of complaint? I did in fact address this in my theodicy, so why aren't you discussing my comments on the issue? I totally agree with you. As I suggested in my theodicy, the traditional definition of hell is probably too harsh. Hell is probably not everlasting, and the fires of hell probably administer forms of torment OTHER than actual heat. "Is forgiveness not a virtue?"The issue here is that atheists argue on these matters from bias, not from reason. Here you are saying you want foregiveness rather than justice. But suppose that were in fact the message of the Bible, that God just lets everyone go scott-free. Would that satisfy you? No, it wouldn't, because the REAL problem here is that you are looking for ammunition to attack the Bible. You would just take a different line of attack (viz. I don't like the God of the Bible because He lets everyone go scott-free, He's so unjust). "If I cannot even conceive of what I supposedly did, (and I cannot conceive of anything worthy of hell), and 6,000 years has passed, then what would be the point in further punishment?"In other words, "I don't remember sinning in the garden and therefore God shouldn't punish me." Is that your system of justice? Ok, so if I injected a murderer (the guy who killed your family, and raped you) with a serum that erased these murders from his memory, you would now feel that he should go unpunished? I don't think so. I think you're just trying to stand on both sides of the fence with respect to justice, because you want ammunition against the Bible.

  75. 75
    Ing

    SO when does Jerry turn into the One Winged Angel Dragon monster? I'm pretty sure that shows up in this story.

  76. 76
    Spoondoggle

    Advance apology: wall of text. I swear, I really do try to be brief.Jerry, before you continue accusing us of disobeying god's command and eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of eden, please back up your assertion that we are all Adam, because seriously, I'm happy to humour you to a certain extent and debate your theology, but there are limits.I will not accept the supposed crime of a supposed character that was supposedly carried out 6000 years ago without, at the very least, some kind of evidence that I was ever at the scene of the crime. You are making an accusation of a criminal act – is scrumping a criminal act? – play prosecutor and prove it.This is not the whining and complaining of a self-centred and selfish person, it's the response of the accused. Prove your assertion.I don't mind taking responsibility for my own actions… I don't even mind taking responsibility for the actions of those I influence, but being told I'm responsible for the actions of someone I never met, never influenced and who I don't believe ever existed? That irritates me just a little.I would like to point out that simply reading a passage and noting that what it claims will happen does not happen is not nit picking. If I go to my local shop and attempt to claim that week's lottery jackpot, would it be nit picking on their part to point out that a) all my numbers are wrong and b) it's just a scrap of note paper, not actually a lottery ticket at all but more of a chinese takeaway menu? I think they would be justified in noting the discrepancy.Now, however, I will nitpick if you don't mind. You say "In Genesis Moses uses the word 'day' in the sense of 'the whole period of creation'," citing "In the day that the Lord created the heavens and the earth." That was the first whole period of creation. It was not until the second whole period of creation that god created the sky. God then waited until the third whole period of creation to create the land and vegetation, and named the waters beneath the sky "sea." By the fourth whole period of creation, god had noticed that there was no actual source for the light he had created in the first whole period of creation and created the sun, moon and stars… Interestingly enough, there was an evening and a morning in between each of these whole periods of creation. Perhaps Moses simply meant the end of one whole period of creation and the start of another whole period of creation? Hmm… No, I think day must mean day (as in "day") in this context… unless this is the spirit of confusion working to confound my wisdom? Oh, but that's more deceit isn't it? More lies from the one who would have us call him father.The interesting thing is that I hold most things to this level of scrutiny (not apples, I just eat them) but very few crumble so quickly under it.As for the robot (which I named such because it would likely be a created being with mechanical parts – I could have said "android" but that word is longer and means essentially the same thing except with specific reference to both humanoid and masculine form which would not necessarily be the case. I could have called it a self aware, sensing, feeling, artificial life form (SASFALF?) but why be so blatantly nerdy?) the question was not whether it would be justified to kill it if it behaved in a harmful manner, but whether or not it would be evil to kill it. By the way, justification does not make an action less evil, only more justified. Justice is not automatically goodness and goodness is not automatically justice – justice applies to law, goodness applies to morality, there is an overlap but it is not complete. It is possible to commit a good act of injustice and an evil act of justice. That's all beside the point anyway since justification and justice are not synonymous.

  77. 77
    Spoondoggle

    “God isn't INJECTING something into you. [...] But instead of creating new souls, the biblical God opted to suffer and die for the sins of Adam (YOU), in order that Adam (YOU) not go to hell.”I think I mostly covered this bit at beginning of the last comment but I feel the need to reiterate. But first, as Jeremiah has said, you cannot say "At every human conception He mates a portion of this soul to the embryo. In other words, YOU are Adam." and then claim "God isn't INJECTING something into you" because the two don't work together.Either I was myself at conception and god injected nothing, meaning that this entire theodicy of yours is entirely meaningless, or god "mated" Adam to my embryonic self, making it so that I was already breaking his law from conception. Maybe that isn't an injection with a syringe, but it's putting something there that was not inherently a part of me.I am beginning to see why people are horrified at the idea of scientists playing god.So, that out of the way with, I do understand that you are merely making a philosophical argument, but you are casting criminological accusations in doing so… so prove it. Clearly you disagree, but I maintain that this body that I use to act out my wishes, this mind that I use to make my decisions and this tongue that I use to taste were merely the glimmer in the eye of a glimmer in the eye of a glimmer… [ad nauseum] and evidently not involved in the Edengate scandal.Your Honour, the defence rests.(By the way, if god has no trouble sending us to hell after this life is over, why would it be such a terrible thing to just send Adam to hell and create new souls? Does god think that diminishing Adam's soul will make it better?Is god into homeopathy?)

  78. 78
    Neato Spiderplant

    Thomas, I was quoting Jerry in his link/word document thingy he posted. "Jeremiah, I think you have the same problem as Kati. You're not comprehending anything that I'm saying. God didn't inject Adam into you (or anyone else). I'll state my position again. There is no "you" other than Adam. YOU are Adam. YOU were in the garden. YOU freely chose to eat the forbidden fruit (although you don't remember being there, and doing so). I don't know how to state this position in words clear enough for you to comprehend it. Can someone give me a hand here?"I am trying to understand, but I think I need some definitions because we may be talking about way different things here.Please explain to me exactly what a soul is. You've said it was tangible and since my reaction is to think of it in a more traditional immaterial way, I would appreciate it if you could narrow down exactly what it looks like or is made of or however you describe a tangible soul. You've said that God seperated Adam's soul from his body so since the only tangible part of a person Im aware of is a body, I dont get what you mean by soul.Second, I dont think Im understanding our relationship to Adam. I realize that is because I need to understand what a soul is before I can understand what role his plays in our being. But so far what I've seen is that whatever his soul is "mated with every embryo." From this I'm under the impression that the embryo is the individual, and the soul is another part of the equasion so I'm confused when I hear you later say that "There aren't two people in your body (Adam and Thomas). YOU are the Adam who sinned, in my view." Im getting a sense of deja vu from when anyone tried to explain the trinity. It seems some statements reflect that I am 100% Adam-soul when I need to be a natural born sinner and yet at times, Adam's soul seems to have fused (mated, joined…not sure of the wording since I dont know the concept you're trying for) with some aspect that is me.

  79. 79
    Jerry

    "You wrote, and I quote: "At every human conception He mates a portion of this soul to the embryo. In other words, YOU are Adam." And yet now you are saying that: "God didn't inject Adam into you (or anyone else)." These two statements appear to be mutually exclusive. Is your god responsible for me being a clone of Adam or infused with his soul or whatever? Yes or no? If the answer is yes, the problem of evil remains. If the answer is no, then what is responsible for us being Adam if your god didn't do it? None of what you are saying is making any sense.Jeremiah let me clarify (jeez, am I really that hard to comprehend?). Kati and Spoondoggle seemed to be using the concept of "injection" in the sense of reading me like this:(1) I am a soul (2) Adam is a different soul. (3) God injected Adam's soul into me (that is, his soul into my soul).In this concept of "injection", God has no basis for blaming ME for the sins of someone else (the sins of Adam), because we are two different people. I reacted stating, "You are reading me wrong. God isn't injecting Adam into you. There is no 'you' (other than Adam) because you ARE Adam." This is the CORRECT reading of me, which changes the whole landscape dramatically. "Is your god responsible for me being a clone of Adam or infused with his soul or whatever? Yes or no? If the answer is yes, the problem of evil remains. If the answer is no, then what is responsible for us being Adam if your god didn't do it?"First of all, God isn't responsible for the existence of souls. (I don't except creation ex nihilo, everything (including souls) are "created" (i.e. formed) out of preexisting substance). God isn't responsible for the fact that, numerically, you are Adam (logically, He isn't the cause of that and can't change it – it's just the principle of identity that you, as a soul, preexisted, although it was God who gave you the name 'Adam'.). God IS resonsible for shaping the world from preesting substance and putting you (Adam) in the garden, but He is not to be blamed for your free choice to eat forbidden fruit. After Adam (you) did so, he split you into parts (such as you and I) and placed you in different shells (bodies). EACH of those parts is still guilty for what it did in the Garden. God is therefore just in condenming you and I to a prison sentence (hell). You seem to think that it's morally wrong for God to split Adam into parts and move him into different bodies/shells. What's morally wrong with that? If a prisoner is guilty, what's morally wrong about the judge moving him to a different cell? Doing so wouldn't exonerate the prisoner of guilt, much lest incriminate the judge. "The fact that you are claiming to only engage in theodicy doesn't get you off the hook IMO. Engaging in a conversation about if a god is exempt from the problem of evil is only really relevant if we have been given a good reason to believe that god exists in the first place, otherwise we might as well be discussing what Gandalf the Grey's favorite after dinner snack is."Not relevant? That assesment is obviously incorrect. In order to help gravitate Christians toward atheism, militant atheists tell them that the Bible fails of any sound theodicy. For some Christians this was the "final straw" that moved them into the atheist camp. How dare you suggest, then, that the topic of theodicy is relevant only if "we already know" (based on evidence) that God exists? In fact, if we all knew (based on evidence) that God exists, there would be no atheists to debate with, and hence no need for theodicy !!! You aren't making a lick of sense here. Theodicy is relevant precisely BECAUSE the existence of God is in debate/question.

  80. 80
    Jerry

    "Also, you say we are all Adam, yet you were against throwing him into hell originally for his sin, but you aren't against throwing us into hell because it would mean dispensing with all justice. So why does Adam have a get out of jail free card but I don't? But if we are all Adam then aren't we all one person? What differentiates me from you? And you used the example of a man raping another and therefore deserving punishment but wouldn't this be Adam raping himself? (is that even possible?) So is god trying to save me (Adam), but how can he do that if some of me (rapists) go to hell and some of me doesn't? Am I partially saved? The logical underpinnings of your position needs some work I think"Jeremiah, are we all one person? Suppose I hand you an ice cube. It's just one cube, right? Or is it it many small cubes fused into one? By the nature of the case, a tangible soul is both one and many at the same time. Each of the many is an individual responsible for its own behavior. Back in the garden we were all fused together and, as a result, there was a shared content of thought (we basically functioned as one mind/consciousness). Now that we are split up, we no longer cogitate in unison, although we are are still guilty for our sin in the garden. Let me make this more clear. Have you ever wrestled with temptation? Typically, PART of you (literally) is gravitating toward choice A (a particular sin), while anothe part of you toward choice B (a righteous action). Those parts of you, if any, that are actually choosing to execute choice A are guilty, while the other parts are innocent. God keeps a record of all this. In hell, each part of you will suffer according to its choices. Did any of Adam's parts remain innocent? If so, the Bible doesn't mention so. What it does imply is that all those parts of Adam still walking the earth today (such as you and I) DID choose to eat the forbidden fruit. Next issue. You say that I am equivocating on the issue of whether God (i.e. Jesus) atoned for Adam's sins, on the issue of whether he has a "get out of jail free card." The problem here is that I take a radical (non-mainstream) view of the atonement, which I haven't explained as yet. In my theodicy, God lacks foreknowledge. As God could not know, in advance, how much sin Adam would commit (for instance how much sin you and I would commit), there is no way that Jesus could atone for all of us. God had Jesus suffer enough to cover all the Old Testament believers, and all those New Testament believers contemporary with Jesus. Christ's suffering is NOT applied to unbelievers who are now dead (they are all going to hell). There is a sense, then, in which Christ didn't die for me. How then am I going to make it to heaven? First of all, the "Jesus" that came to earth was only a small subsection of the Son of God. There are othe parts of the Son that continue the work of atonement behind the scenes, according to my theory. For example, suppose the church gets really active in prayer as to move God to save 100,000 more people. This means that the Son, behind the scenes, will subject Himself to precisely enough demonic torment to atone for those 100,000. This is what Saint Paul was alluding to in the Book of Hebrews when he says that Christians who continue sinning are actually re-crucifying the Son of God. (Yes, the Bible does say that). Think about it – it's not likely that Christ's death on the cross would be enough suffering to pay for billions of people. The Son therefore subjects Himself to crucifixions again and again, behind the scenes. THAT'S how much God loves us.

  81. 81
    Jerry

    "Jerry, before you continue accusing us of disobeying god's command and eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of eden, please back up your assertion that we are all Adam, because seriously, I'm happy to humour you to a certain extent and debate your theology, but there are limits.I will not accept the supposed crime of a supposed character that was supposedly carried out 6000 years ago without, at the very least, some kind of evidence that I was ever at the scene of the crime. You are making an accusation of a criminal act – is scrumping a criminal act? – play prosecutor and prove it.This is not the whining and complaining of a self-centred and selfish person, it's the response of the accused. Prove your assertion.(Oh my God). Spoondoggle, you still don't get it? For the millionth time, I'm not ASKING you to accept the doctrines of the Bible. In fact I explicilty begged you to REJECT the Bible !!! Did you read that post? I'm merely engaging in theodicy. I am merely showing that the Bible is internally consistent. That is to say, I am showing that if we assert (provisionally, as a hypothesis) that Adam existed, he can be defined in such a way as to explain why God condemns all men to hell (at least by default, except where atonement is applied). Apparently you want more than that. You want me to stop believing in this kind of Adam until I can prove to you that he really existed, because you don't like how my doctrine of Adam insinuates that you yourself sinned 6000 years ago. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I am not going to desist from my beliefs merely because you dislike them. My belief in the Bible is based on subjective experience (invicible persuasion), and the only way I can make any sense of the Bible is to define Adam as I do. If you can come up with a different definition of Adam that renders the Bible internally consistent, I'll take it under advisement.

  82. 82
    Jerry

    Here's what Saint Paul actually said at Romans 5:12, " Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"Notice that Paul says "all have sinned". This parallels Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God". HOW did we we sin? Read verse 5:12 again. He says that when Adam sinned, this was ALL of us sinning. Paul did NOT say, "Adam alone sinned, but he was our representative." When Paul wrote these words, he was well aware of pregnant women whose fetus hadn't even been born yet. Nonetheless he asserts that ALL sinned – even a fetus? The only way to make sense of this is to read Romans 5:12 as implying that we are Adam.

  83. 83
    Jerry

    Spoondoggle, you wrote:"Now, however, I will nitpick if you don't mind. You say "In Genesis Moses uses the word 'day' in the sense of 'the whole period of creation'," citing "In the day that the Lord created the heavens and the earth." That was the first whole period of creation. It was not until the second whole period of creation that god created the sky. God then waited until the third whole period of creation to create the land and vegetation, and named the waters beneath the sky "sea." By the fourth whole period of creation, god had noticed that there was no actual source for the light he had created in the first whole period of creation and created the sun, moon and stars… Interestingly enough, there was an evening and a morning in between each of these whole periods of creation. Perhaps Moses simply meant the end of one whole period of creation and the start of another whole period of creation? Hmm… No, I think day must mean day (as in "day") in this context… unless this is the spirit of confusion working to confound my wisdom? Oh, but that's more deceit isn't it? More lies from the one who would have us call him father.Spoondoggle, You seem to saying that because Moses used the word "day" in one place in the sense of the "the whole period of creation", this would mean he always uses the word "day" in that fashion, which makes the writings of Moses look absurd. Do you hold science textbooks to that same ridiculous standard? That is to say, suppose a science textbook, in one place said, "Back in the day of Galileo, science was in its infancy" (meaning a long period of time), and then in another place said, "A day is precisely 24 hours," would you dismiss the science textbook as self-contradictory? This is even worse than nitpicking. It's one of the most stupid arguments I've ever heard.

  84. 84
    Jerry

    Jeremiah, you and I seem to be talking past each other in the following respect. You assume that, as long as any evil remains in the world, the problem of evil remains unsolved. This is really a semantic disagreement between us because, personally, that's now how I would define the problem of evil. Whereas I would define it like this, "A loving God does not exist, if this hypothesis conflicts insolubly with the evil seen all around us." My theodicy, then, seeks to demonstrate that even a loving God could have a justifiable reason for allowing evil to persist. This demonstration, in my understanding, is a viable resolution to the problem of evil.

  85. 85
    Neato Spiderplant

    "God had Jesus suffer enough to cover all the Old Testament believers, and all those New Testament believers contemporary with Jesus. Christ's suffering is NOT applied to unbelievers who are now dead (they are all going to hell). "Okay, so Jesus suffered for old testament and new testament. Adam is in the old testament so shouldn't Adam be forgiven? If not, why wouldnt God have taken that into account since its obviously the first and apparently most relevant sin?"jeez, am I really that hard to comprehend?""you still don't get it? For the millionth time…"I can only speak for myself in this but I am trying to understand your position. I grew up being told about one kind of god and although I reject those ideas now, those ideas are all I know about christianity. You are attempting to turn my entire view on christianity upside down and offer me an alternative that is supposed to make more sense but I can't fairly reject your ideas any more than I can accept them until I understand them. Until then I can say "okay, there's this other view. It kind of sounds unlikely to me, but I cant really evaluate it until I know I'm clear on it". The only way I believe I'm going to get clarification is to say "This is what I think you're saying, but that part doesnt make sense to me. can you please clarify?" and as a result, you throw out frustrations like above. I get that it must be frustrating being the lone theist among a group of atheists trying to explain entirely new concepts. If you'd rather end it here and say that you just dont have the capacity to articulate your position, that's fine with me. If you are willing to continue and clarify things for me, then please try to be patient because it doesnt help anything when you add your frustrations of how we don't get something you're explaining. It just discourages me from asking for clarification on points I'm confused with.

  86. 86
    Jerry

    "Okay, so Jesus suffered for old testament and new testament. Adam is in the old testament so shouldn't Adam be forgiven? If not, why wouldnt God have taken that into account since its obviously the first and apparently most relevant sin?"Kait82, my theodicy implies that the scope of the name "Adam" has an ambiguity since the fall. God removed MOST (but not all) of Adam's soul from his body, and this extracted portion (now split up into parts) is who you and I are. I am one of those parts, and so are you. As for the rest of Adam's soul (which remained in his body), it continued to live a normal life (with Eve as his wife). The biblical evidence suggests that God saved Adam and Eve – but when I say this, I'm using the term "Adam" in reference to the portion that remained in his body. The ambiguity is that Saint Paul uses the term "Adam" in its original sense (as I have often done in this discussion), that is, in the sense of ALL of Adam's soul, which would include everyone. Jesus did not suffer enough to save EVERYONE. After all, think about it. There's been plenty more since since the Garden, both from Christians and non-Christians. Therefore it takes a lot of suffering – literally there's hell to pay – to atone for all that sin. Does that help?

  87. 87
    Jerry

    Kait82, Maybe what you're asking is, "After Adam sinned, why didn't God simply atone for that one sin and be done with it? The whole human race would have been saved."Theoretically, God could have done so, but practically, He could not end things there. He cannot put an end to free will until His NEED for us to love Him (in acts of free will) has been satisfactorily met. This was a promise God made to His own constituent parts. And one of the reasons that God is loyal to Adam, is still trying to save all his constituent parts, is that He ALSO promised Himself, before shaping Adam in the garden, "I will be loyal to any son that I create – I will do my utmost to save him." (At least the Bible seems to imply He made that promise). For those of you who have never read the Bible, it is intensely promissory in nature, although the term often used for "promise" is typically "covenant".

  88. 88
    JT

    This would definitely be one of those cases where I wouldn't even bother debating the topic.It's like people are busy trying to explain how someone could change water into wine without first establishing that someone actually changed water into wine.First things first.

  89. 89
    John K.

    OK, Jerry. You did in fact say you suspected hell was not eternal, so I will retract that. You do not want to check out a whole website, fine. Inconsistency in the bible has been covered a thousand times over, and I trust you can do a web search on your own.But you did not reply the only paragraph that really mattered.>You have a lot of explanations for specific >problems in the bible, but until some physical >evidence is presented (some sort of repeatable >experiment would be perfect) it is all >indistinguishable from something somebody just >made up. It does not matter how internally >consistent it is, although people will have >fun picking things apart if it is not >internally consistent. That was what the Thor >example was trying to demonstrate.I think you are just making this stuff up. Again, it does not matter how internally consistent it is without any actual evidence. All of humanity is just the pieces of one soul, aka Adam? I see no reason to accept that claim. Until you can get past paragraph one, I do not care what the mechanics are.>"Well Jerry, let me simplify some points for >you a bit, and I will leave out any ridicule >to spare your feelings…Original sin is an >inherently unfair concept. Nobody after Adam >had any control over what he did, so it is >unjust to punish other people for his crimes.">>John K, that was precisely MY argument >>(obviously, you didn't read anything I >>wrote). At least we are in agreement to this >>point. Excellent. So we are in agreement that the god of the bible is unjust, for punishing people due to things they cannot control? Indeed, excellent. Splitting souls or whatever, I have no control over the actions of my ancestors. I will not accept that I should be punished for things they have done. But do not worry about anything else I have said until you can show some evidence. I am not going to go to the effort of understanding every line of the hundreds you have written until you do.

  90. 90
    John K.

    Argh, >> notation fail. My apologies.

  91. 91
    WooHooHoo

    I must say, my favorite part whas when you wrote "Why not just go back to the drawing board and keep plugging away until he's ready to launch the new and improved Soul 2.0, now with new sin-negating algorithms?" OMG, "new sin-negating algorithms." That's freakin' hilarious.

  92. 92
    Spoondoggle

    Sweet mother of facepalm!Yes you are engaging in theodicy. I know that, do you think that means you should not be challenged on it? I'm a student of physics, do you think I should be able to tell my lecturers that gravity is blue and rebuff their criticisms by responding with, "hey, it's just a hypothesis!"?You are also throwing accusations around as a result of this theodicy. Prove the accusations.If I am supposed to reject the bible, which presumably means I should also reject the whole book of romans, why does this discussion matter at all anyway?Why did god consider it necessary (assuming your theodicy assumes that the bible is divinely inspired (if not, why does this discussion matter at all anyway?)) to wait 4000 years to have it pointed out that we are all Adam with unclear language rather than spell it out with Moses to begin with?Your original argument around the meaning of the word "day" was that since it had been used to refer to the whole period of creation once (I have to admit here that I doubt that this was the case; repetetive as it is, I don't think even the bible would say "in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, and in the day that the LORD God made every plant of the field…" the begatyssey makes a kind of sense since it's "father begets son and son begets grandson" and that makes sense, but describing the action of one) we should assume that it was meant this way again wherever we pleased. This does not make sense, which was the point I was making.Now, when we speak of Gallileo's day, we are clearly speaking of the time at which he was alive, same as when we speak of Newton's day, however, when we speak of the day in which the apple supposedly dropped on Newton's head, that is a reference to a specific day. "In my day" refers to the time of my life and, perhaps later in life, the time of my youth, but if I say, "in the day that I went to the cinema with Jane," I am again referring to a specific day. So when we speak of "in the day that you eat of the apple" it makes rather more sense to assume it means a specific day, rather than the whole period of creation.Feel free to theatrically throw up your arms and exclaim that I am still failing to simply agree with your assumptions and accept your theodicy as accurate. I'm sorry about that but you need to convince me that your assumptions are correct first and then show that it matters anyway by showing some actual proof for it second.

  93. 93
    Spoondoggle

    Damn… the horrors of being a leaping writer."The begatyssey makes a kind of sense… but describing the action of one" person this way is utterly nonsensical and starts to sound like a child's description of his trip to the beach – "We went to the beach and it was nice and we went on the pier and it was windy and cold and we went for some ice cream and it was tasty and mine had a flake in it…"

  94. 94
    Jerry

    You wrote, John K:"So we are in agreement that the god of the bible is unjust, for punishing people due to things they cannot control? Indeed, excellent. Splitting souls or whatever, I have no control over the actions of my ancestors. I will not accept that I should be punished for things they have done."Unjust? No, you're just ignoring the argument. My position is that you are a soul, and that soul once lived in Adam's body. God is not going to punish you for the sins of someone else, but for your own sin. I agreed with you that the TRADITIONAL view of Adam (i.e. which construes him as our mere ancestor and representative) DOES have God unjustly punishing men for the sins of someone else (Adam). But in my theology, YOU are Adam, and therefore you are punished for your own sin, even though you can't remember living in the garden and comitting that sin. You've done NOTHING to show that this is unjust. You say that it isn't even pertinent to discuss these topics until some evidence is in place for Adam's existence.Bullshit. You atheists DO discuss these issues all the time, you accuse the God of the Bible of being unjust, you accuse the Bible of being internally inconsistent, and now, suddenly, when I arrive on the scene to DEFEND it, you (conveniently) want to back out of the conversation. That's some of the most bullshit hypocrisy I've ever seen in all my life – or just pure cowardice afraid that I really CAN show the Bible consistent.

  95. 95
    Jerry

    You wrote, Spoondoggle:"If I am supposed to reject the bible, which presumably means I should also reject the whole book of romans, why does this discussion matter at all anyway?"It MATTERS because atheists who bash the Bible have succeeded in weakening the commitment of Christians to Christ, even gravitating them to the atheist camp. (And no, this doesn't contradict invincible persuasion, because it can wax down to a subconscious, indiscernible level such that a Christian actually THINKS of himself as an atheist). Atheistic Bible-bashing also hardens the hearts of non-Christians to the gospel, which means fewer of them will be saved. (Because the more resistant you heart is to the gospel, the more it emotionally costs God to reach out to touch your heart). "Why did god consider it necessary…to wait 4000 years to have it pointed out that we are all Adam with unclear language rather than spell it out with Moses to begin with?"God never INTENDED the Bible to be the principal source of our education (contrary to Protestantism). God would have to be stupid to use the Bible that way. Where did the writers of the Bible get their knowedge? Inspiration. What Christians are SUPPOSED to be doing is praying for inspiration (as Moses and Paul did). Instead they spend the majority of their time in activities such as evangelism, Bible-study, and ineffective ministries. In fact mainstream Christianity asserts that God no longer provides inspiration (they claim that the Bible is the new substitute for inspiration). This is an incredibly stupid assertion persisting in the church for the last 2000 years. "Now, when we speak of Gallileo's day, we are clearly speaking of the time at which he was alive, same as when we speak of Newton's day, however, when we speak of the day in which the apple supposedly dropped on Newton's head, that is a reference to a specific day. "In my day" refers to the time of my life and, perhaps later in life, the time of my youth, but if I say, "in the day that I went to the cinema with Jane," I am again referring to a specific day. So when we speak of "in the day that you eat of the apple" it makes rather more sense to assume it means a specific day, rather than the whole period of creation."Consider this statement. Back in the day of the Boston Tea Party, Britain was oppressing its colonies. See what I mean? Nitpicking isn't a reliable way to challenge a text. And there's more to be said here. The Bible is a book of brevity, that is, it summarizes major historical events in a few words, even when later historians wrote huge volumes on those same events. My point is that we really don't know how many times Adam ate of the fruit before God kicked him out of the garden. Some readers presume the biblical God to be too draconian in judgment, because they don't realize that Adam may have repeated his rebellion incessantly over a period of days, weeks, months, or years. Furthermore, there are two other senses in which the word "death" could be used here (as already mentioned). (1) Spiritual death. (2) Adam (as such) passed away in the sense that God split him up at the time of sentencing. With all these varied solutions, you have litte warrant for nitpicking.

  96. 96
    JT

    @jerryYou say that it isn't even pertinent to discuss these topics until some evidence is in place for Adam's existence.Bullshit. You atheists DO discuss these issues all the time, you accuse the God of the Bible of being unjust, you accuse the Bible of being internally inconsistent, and now, suddenly, when I arrive on the scene to DEFEND it, you (conveniently) want to back out of the conversation.You do realize that you are conversing with more than one person, don't you? Some of us have been discussing your claim, and some of us haven't. I personally rarely engage in these discussions because I don't see a point.You confuse Atheist A talking with Atheist B talking. We're all independent thinkers.Why would we fear whether you can develop a proprietary internally consistent interpretation of the bible? Consistent != True. You still need some good solid evidence, that adheres to the standards of evidence, before the claim begins to have merit.We usually poke fun at, and pick apart the mainstream interpretations because they have inconsistencies, however, the reverse isn't true.(Dogs have 4 legs, therefore, anything with 4 legs is a dog – it doesn't reverse)

  97. 97
    Jerry

    Atheists typically say, "If a loving God exists, He would stamp out all evil. He wouldn't allow free will to persist, knowing that it causes great harm." But that same atheist doesn't mind having kids of his own! If they judge God irresponsible for birthing His children into a free-will environment, why do atheists presume it morally okay for themselves to do the same? Sounds a bit hypocritical, if you ask me.

  98. 98
    Martin

    You atheists DO discuss these issues all the time, you accuse the God of the Bible of being unjust, you accuse the Bible of being internally inconsistent, and now, suddenly, when I arrive on the scene to DEFEND it, you (conveniently) want to back out of the conversation.Jerry, sure, as an academic exercise, atheists are perfectly happy to criticize all of the flaws, the inconsistencies and absurdities in Christian mythology. We do it all the time, that's correct.But you claim to be different than all those other Christians. You claim to be the one guy who's got it right. Furthermore, you point out that because you're the one Christian who's gotten it right, all of our godless criticisms of the Bible and Christian teachings are absurd and pointless, because they're based on incorrect interpretations. So it's no use complaining that we have a habit of doing something you've already declared is misguided and mistaken.So since you think your Biblical exegesis is the only real valid one, excuse the shit out of us for holding you to the higher standard you've made it clear you think you're worthy of.Therefore, yes, we're going to insist — before you make any more confident assertions about what your God intends, about Adam, about souls, what have you — that you first present your evidence for these things. In short, how do you propose to demonstrate that these things are real and not simply something you are imagining?Succeed at showing us that, then we can get into your God's intentions and desires, and the proper care and maintenance of our souls. Until then, we'll continue to help Christians "weaken their commitment to Christ" by showing them what a load of silly childish rubbish such a commitment is.

  99. 99
    Neato Spiderplant

    I'm going to assume you missed the post where I asked for you to define what you're calling a soul because that might be why I'm having problems understanding you. I'll show you how I'm interpreting statements you've made about the soul:1. "Therefore the soul must be defined as a tangible substance." Great! I like tangible. Tangible souls would be so much easier to pinpoint than traditional wishy-washy spiritual immaterial souls…so what does it look like? Where can I find it? I assume its somewhere on or in my body because the body is the only tangible part of a person. 2. "God extracted most of Adam's soul from his body" Okay, so this tangible soul can be separated from the body. I assume the soul is an internal part of else I'd be able to see it. Maybe that's what the appendix is. It's a part of the body that can be removed. 3. "There is no "you" other than Adam." wait, what about the body? We already determined the soul and the body can be seperated. plus "He mates a portion of this soul to the embryo" so the embryo is a non-soul part of the equation and its on the scene before the soul gets there. But okay, I'll forget everything I ever thought I knew about this tangible soul in parts 1 and 2 and the bit about the embryo. 4. "YOU freely chose to eat the forbidden fruit (although you don't remember being there, and doing so)." So given that points 1 & 2 are moot and that there is no me other than Adam and that I ate the fruit but dont remember, my NEW conclusion is that Adam got split up billions of times over (some sort of mitosis is my best guess), only slightly altered each time to look like a new individual with every division. And then plagued with amnesia.I'll stop here although I could go on. Im sure I'm WAY wrong in these observations and look forward to your explanation as to how these contradictory seeming statements aren't contradictory at all. And I wont be asking anything further until this matter is settled because its silly to further discuss anything until we establish the basic definition of a soul and the relationship between the Adam-soul and ourselves.

  100. 100
    Martin

    Atheists typically say, "If a loving God exists, He would stamp out all evil. He wouldn't allow free will to persist, knowing that it causes great harm." But that same atheist doesn't mind having kids of his own!If I had a kid, and I knew that kid intended to commit a crime, or I caught him in the act of committing one, I would stop him. If I heard, after the fact, that he had committed a crime, I would hand him over to the authorities.That puts me ahead of God, morally.Free will is not the same thing as freedom of action. Having the will to do something merely reflects an individual's desires. It has no bearing on his ability to act upon those desires. I want to be able to teleport, and to read minds, and to fly like Superman, but I cannot. Does that mean my free will is taken away? No, not at all. I can want to do anything, even things I can't do. Will is not action.So all appeals to free will as a rebuttal to the Problem of Evil fail.

  101. 101
    Jerry

    "Therefore, yes, we're going to insist — before you make any more confident assertions about what your God intends, about Adam, about souls, what have you — that you first present your evidence for these things. In short, how do you propose to demonstrate that these things are real and not simply something you are imagining?"Interesting. Here we go again. I come here proposing to discuss the internal consistency of the Bible, but you don't want to have that conversation with me. Meanwhile, behind my back, you'll happily broadcast to the world, on your TV show, a bunch of allegations about biblical inconsistencies !!! Are you kidding me?I never SAID there was empirical evidence for Christianity as such. Hence I have no burden of proof in that regard. Stop being hyprocritical. If you don't want to debate biblical inconsistency, then stop alleging it on your show!Now, back on the topic of evidence, I DID provide evidence for the existence of the soul – see my discussion of inertia in the first essay.www.bible-verse-search-engines.com\Atheism_1.zipYou'll likely respond, "That doesn't PROVE that souls exists." Sure. I can't prove anything to absolute certainty. I can't even prove that YOU exist. The question is, where is evidence SEEM to be pointing? What theory (of all theories provided to date) best explains the data (i.e. the data that I discuss with respect to inertia).To me, it seems fairly clear that the data points to the existence of the soul. If you feel it is pointing elsewhere, state your argument. YOU said you wanted to discuss evidence. Good. Have at it.

  102. 102
    Martin

    Interesting. Here we go again. I come here proposing to discuss the internal consistency of the Bible, but you don't want to have that conversation with me.Correct, because internal consistency is irrelevant to whether anything the Bible talks about — like God, Jesus, resurrections, angels, heaven, hell, pillars of salt and arks — is actually true. The Bible could be (though it's not) an exemplar of internal narrative logic unmatched in the history of literature, and it wouldn't get us any closer to evidence for its supernatural claims.Meanwhile, behind my back, you'll happily broadcast to the world, on your TV show, a bunch of allegations about biblical inconsistencies !!! Are you kidding me?Behind your back? A little full of yourself tonight, aren't you, Jerry? Whatever we say on the show, we'll do it right up front, and in your face. There are indeed inconsistencies in the Bible, as is only to be expected in a book that was cobbled together from numerous sources written over periods of thousands of years, then subject to a centuries-long stream of ecclesiastical edits and revisions. We aren't exactly the only people to have ever brought this up.I never SAID there was empirical evidence for Christianity as such. Hence I have no burden of proof in that regard. Stop being hyprocritical. If you don't want to debate biblical inconsistency, then stop alleging it on your show!Jerry, you only have the burden of proof of that which you're claiming, and I've never suggested otherwise. Anyway, I don't seem to be able to access your zip file as other readers have done, so feel free to just paste the relevant bits containing your evidence for the soul here.

  103. 103
    Jerry

    "If I had a kid, and I knew that kid intended to commit a crime…"Martin, how can an act of free will be foreknown? You are being logically incoherent here. Deterministic acts can be foreknown, but not free acts. "…or I caught him in the act of committing one, I would stop him….What kind of crime? Such as murder? Ok, so if your son was German and was putting Hitler to death, would you stop him? One problem with your assessment is that you are presuming the "victims" to be "good innocent people." If those "victims" are already guilty in Adam, God has every right to permit the crime. That's the thing about hell – you can pay now, or pay later. Or you can make monthly payments. It's all up to God. The second problem with your assessment is that you are assuming that God has no needs. But that was the major argument of my theodicy, wasn't it? What kind of debater are you, that ignores the very arguments raised? I demonstrated that a God with no weaknesses could merit no worship. Merit implies weakness, and therefore the theologian is warranted in surmising that God has an emotional need to be loved by His children as an act of their free will."…If I heard, after the fact, that he had committed a crime, I would hand him over to the authorities." The third problem (or rather 2nd problem part B) with your assessment is that if God stopped all sin, free will would ebb to a negligible low. Which God would be happy to permit, if He didn't Himself have an emotional need for (and prior commitment to) it. "Free will is not the same thing as freedom of action. Having the will to do something merely reflects an individual's desires. It has no bearing on his ability to act upon those desires. I want to be able to teleport, and to read minds, and to fly like Superman, but I cannot. Does that mean my free will is taken away? No, not at all. I can want to do anything, even things I can't do. Will is not action. So all appeals to free will as a rebuttal to the Problem of Evil fail."I take this to mean that, in your opinion, free will would not ebb to a negligible low. I made an argument on this point but, as usual, you reassert your position without addressing the argument. Suppose God put a stop to every crime. Soon men would lose all INCENTIVE to attempt crimes. Eventually there would be so little effort put forth toward crime that free will is no longer much of a reality. And here's an additional problem. What about crimes against God? (Rebellious thoughts). Don't those count too? Or is it that you are so much a self-centered person that, if God exists, you wouldn't give a damn how much it breaks His heart when His children rebel? But assuming you do (or would) care about your Father, then, by your logic, God would have to put all rebellious thoughts to a stop as well. Clearly, this would be the elimination of free will.

  104. 104
    Jerry

    "Behind your back? A little full of yourself tonight, aren't you, Jerry? Whatever we say on the show, we'll do it right up front, and in your face."Not really "in your face". Even when someone phones in to the show, the discussions are too short to make much progress (look at how hard it's been to get people to understand my statements on this blog even after a couple of days hard work). Plus, the moderator can be a bit stifling, form what I've seen. "There are indeed inconsistencies in the Bible, as is only to be expected in a book that was cobbled together from numerous sources written over periods of thousands of years, then subject to a centuries-long stream of ecclesiastical edits and revisions. We aren't exactly the only people to have ever brought this up."Personally, I have no problem with minor inconsistencies. Many Protestant theologians feel the same way. But on the show you guys allege inconcistencies on the major issues, for instance you insist that the biblicala God is an evil dictator, and I felt this assumption needed to be addressed. Hence I was a bit disappointed when, in response to my email, you basically argued.(1) All that matters is your evidence for God.(2) Stop believing in magical gods.Actually, when I post my discussion of inertia (or get you a better link), I hope you'll find that I do NOT believe in magic. For example, I reject creation ex nihilo out of hand.

  105. 105
    Jerry

    Martin, here's a link to my first essay:WWW.Bible-Verse-Search-Engines.Com/Atheism_1.txtLet me know if it doesn't work. I can always email it to you.

  106. 106
    Jerry

    Martin, here's a link to my second essay:WWW.Bible-Verse-Search-Engines.Com/Atheism_2.rtfMaybe I'll post that material here, as it's shorter.

  107. 107
    Jerry

    My third (and final) "essay" was miscellaneous short-responses to everyone who posted something before I got a chance to post. http://WWW.Bible-Verse-Search-Engines.Com/Atheism_3.rtf

  108. 108
    Jerry

    "Great! I like tangible. Tangible souls would be so much easier to pinpoint than traditional wishy-washy spiritual immaterial souls…so what does it look like? Where can I find it? I assume its somewhere on or in my body because the body is the only tangible part of a person."Kait82, in light of the evidence (see my discussion of the law of inertia in the first essay), the body is not likely "the only tangible part of a person." The evidence favors a tangible soul permeating your brain and/or body. You want to see it, huh? I agree that would be nice. But let me ask you, have you ever seen an electron, proton, or neutron? Fact is, you have NOT seen these things. You deduce them based on evidence. In the same way, you should deduce the soul based on the evidence. "Okay, so this tangible soul can be separated from the body. I assume the soul is an internal part or else I'd be able to see it. Maybe that's what the appendix is. It's a part of the body that can be removed."Given that your sentience and willpower remain localized to the body when the appendix is removed, I doubt that the appendix is your soul. For reasons mentioned in essay #2, God has a motive for hiding from us the major constituent elements of His kingdom, such as human souls, angels, demons, and His own substance. Actually there is an additional motive not even mentioned yet. The more clear the revelation of His kingdom, the greater the offense if you rebel. The Bible clearly teaches that He is reluctant to fully reveal Himself even to Christians if He knows they are likely to have some rebellious attitudes because, when the offense is great, His righteous anger will likely put them to death. To spare us judgment, then, He tends to hide His kingdom, unveiling it gradually to our very eyes as we spirtiually mature. Mature men such as Moses and Paul regularly saw angels, demons, the heavenly city, and God Himself (as is well-documented in the Bible). After I said that YOU freely chose to eat the forbidden fruit (although you don't remember being there, and doing so), you responded:"So given that points 1 & 2 are moot and that there is no me other than Adam and that I ate the fruit but dont remember, my NEW conclusion is that Adam got split up billions of times over (some sort of mitosis is my best guess), only slightly altered each time to look like a new individual with every division. And then plagued with amnesia."Mitosis? You're still thinking too heavily in biological terms. In my view the soul, although tangible, is not necessarily organized into protons, neutrons, electrons, and cellular protoplasm. The main difference between the soul and body, however, is that the soul is animate (self-propelling) whereas the body is inanimate (inert) according to the law of inertia. The soul animates the body; it is probably the chief impetus of human mutility, or at least the chief impetus in prompting the brain to activate human motility. Muscular energy created by the metabolism of food assists and strengthens motility but is generally not its chief catalyst/cause. Now, I'm a monist, and thus the body itself is actually made from the same "stuff" as the soul. It's merely that God, in my view, grips ordinary matter (i.e. the body) so tightly that its capacity for sentience and self-animation is never realized. God's grip has the effect of rendering ordinary matter inanimate/inert, resulting in the "universal law of inertia." Most of this was explained in my essays. Did you read them, Kait82?

  109. 109
    Jerry

    Anyway, Kait82, God split Adam's soul into parts. You are one of those parts, as am I. The splitting wasn't a biological process such as mitosis. It was more like taking a hammer to an ice cube as to break it into chunks (to use a crude analogy). You mention amnesia. You are wondering why you can't remember being Adam. As mentioned in my essay, the brain helps to organize the soul's currents of thought; its electrochemical streams carry thought-streams in directions favorable to intelligent thinking, accurate sensory perception, emotional well-being, AND memory. If I damage your brain, I thereby scramble your thoughts in ways that impair memory. Or, if I remove your soul from its brain, and move it another body, here too a scrambling can occur whereby memories are lost. Does this help you understand why you might fail to remember being Adam? It should also help you understand how the supremely educated Son of God became an ingorant fetus in Mary's womb. God the Father simply applied scrambling techniques when He moved a small portion of the enthroned Son into Mary's womb for the sake of the Incarnation.

  110. 110
    Jeremiah

    My theodicy, then, seeks to demonstrate that even a loving God could have a justifiable reason for allowing evil to persist. This demonstration, in my understanding, is a viable resolution to the problem of evil.Sure you can resolve it by dumbing down the god from the 3 omni's to just 1 (all loving) but the point is, so what? There is still no reason at all to believe such a god exists, but you don’t want to have that discussion. Fine.You seem to think that the problem of evil should be off limits because you can define a god where it doesn't apply but the problem of evil isn't the be-all-end-all reason to not be a theist. The reason the problem of evil argument gets used at all is because the theology that Christians consistently put forth involve a 3 omin god, not your 1 omni god. Being a book the bible is open to interpretation and the interpretation of most Christians is a 3 omin god and we are absolutely justified in pointing out to them, on TV or otherwise, that their interpretation of the bible does not maintain consistency. I suggest if you don't want to see such "bible-bashing" then you should first convince your fellow Christians that your interpretation is correct. As long as they persist in the 3 omni interpretation then the argument remains valid.

  111. 111
    ScooterKPFT

    I fulfill God's emotional need to feel necessary as an alternative to me.

  112. 112
    Spoondoggle

    Jerry, you appear to have misunderstood my question. I asked, "If I am supposed to reject the bible, which presumably means I should also reject the whole book of romans, why does this discussion matter at all anyway?"When I said, "this discussion," I was referring to this discussion; this particular thread.If the only point is to receive our opinion of your theodicy in a concise point, I will give you that.I believe you have taken the great wizard (god) and torn down his projectors to reveal an old man, perhaps a kind old man, but nontheless just a man, manipulating levers and pulleys to frighten and inspire his petitioners. (Wizard of Oz reference.)If your point is, as you say in your reply, that, "It MATTERS because atheists who bash the Bible have succeeded in weakening the commitment of Christians to Christ," then why discuss it here? What is the point of that? I fail to see what our discussing your theodicy could possibly achieve toward strengthening Christian commitments. However, taking into account my opinion, as stated above, I also fail to see how any doubting Christian would be swayed back by your attempt to show them the other side of the curtain, if anything it seems to me that it would only serve to highlight the reasons for their doubts and push them further away. I could be wrong about that of course.As for non-Christians, any whose hearts are not already hardened against it by their own religious views are not going to have them hardened by our supposed bible-bashing. My own experience is not that my heart has been hardened against it, but that I have been inspired to actually read it. I still haven't found cause to believe it, but a hardened heart does not investigate, it merely dismisses (and though I do not expect you to believe it, I do care to investigate things before I dismiss them – even the bible.)When I ask why god does not simply make his message clear, I am not expecting a vast and complete library of information to stand as the principal source for education as you seem to think, I am merely asking why he does not simply make his message clear. It seems that all of us being Adam would be an important piece of theology to be clear about… just sayin'.Righto, Boston Tea Party. When you say "in the day" meaning the whole period of time leading up to the war of American independence, you are referring more to the resistance and independence than the individual event and you would really do better to use clear language and say that the Boston Tea Party was the culmination of American unrest over the oppressive taxation of the British empire. Basically, the issue is clarity once again.If god had said "if you eat from the tree, you will become mortal and eventually die" or "if you eat from the tree, I will have no option but to divide your soul" or "if you eat from the tree, it will cause you to suffer a spiritual death" there would be no issue.The problem that I have is that simply expecting the words on the page to mean what they say is considered nit picking, while scrambling around for meaning, then assuming that the meaning you choose is correct is some kind of scholastic virtue? Forgive me if I find that ridiculous."We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…"Well, what he meant by equal was…If mere men can communicate clearly, why does their creator fall short of the mark?

  113. 113
    Jerry

    "I believe you have taken the great wizard (god) and torn down his projectors to reveal an old man, perhaps a kind old man, but nontheless just a man, manipulating levers and pulleys to frighten and inspire his petitioners."Spoondoggle, You are contradicting yourself. To define someone as a kind old man repudiates the notion of a tyrannical manipulator. Your desperation to discredit the Bible has destroyed your commitment to logic and reasoning. "Why discuss it here? What is the point of that? I fail to see what our discussing your theodicy could possibly achieve toward strengthening Christian commitments. However, taking into account my opinion, as stated above, I also fail to see how any doubting Christian would be swayed back by your attempt to show them the other side of the curtain, if anything it seems to me that it would only serve to highlight the reasons for their doubts and push them further away. I could be wrong about that of course..I'm discussing topics raised on the show. Nonetheless the posters on this thread have wasted most of the breath discoursing on why we should NOT be discussing those topics. Guys! What gives? If these topics aren't worthy of discussion, then STOP DISCUSSING THEM ON THE SHOW. If a viewer phones in wanting to debate the Bible's internal consistency, just say, "Sorry, we find this topic to be outside the scope of the show's purview." Fair enough? You say, "I fail to see what our discussing your theodicy could possibly achieve toward strengthening Christian commitments." You're not making any sense. Since the show has made statements that WEAKEN Christian commitments, a CORRECTIVE to those statements aimed at the producers would hope to reduce the occurrence of those statements and thereby preserve existing commitments to Christ. "The problem that I have is that simply expecting the words on the page to mean what they say is considered nit picking, while scrambling around for meaning, then assuming that the meaning you choose is correct is some kind of scholastic virtue? Forgive me if I find that ridiculous…If mere men can communicate clearly, why does their creator fall short of the mark?"Many of the most highly esteemed writers in world history were unclear. Are the following writers easy to comprehend? Heidegger, Kant, Spinoza, Descartes, Marx, Hegel, and Sartre. One thing you're overlooking is that God may have undisclosed motives for leaving a passage unclear. The only reason that Protestants (wrongly) insist that the Bible is always clear is to support their (stupid) assumption that God intended it to be the only rule of faith and practice.

  114. 114
    JT

    @JerryI'm discussing topics raised on the show. Nonetheless the posters on this thread have wasted most of the breath discoursing on why we should NOT be discussing those topics. Guys! What gives? If these topics aren't worthy of discussion, then STOP DISCUSSING THEM ON THE SHOW. If a viewer phones in wanting to debate the Bible's internal consistency, just say, "Sorry, we find this topic to be outside the scope of the show's purview." Fair enough?Again, you're talking to different sets of people. There's:1) People who don't bother discussing the nuances of interpretations until the premises are demonstrated.2) People who run the show, who aren't commenting here.3) People who discuss it with you until they turn into #1s.You're mostly talking to #3s.You aren't discussing what's been brought up on the show, though. You're discussing an interpretation that is even more lunatic than the mainstream interpretations that no one else holds. The hosts of the show discuss what the callers bring up as much as they care to, and then stop. Some confront those beliefs they were raised with.It's a bit dumb to lump us all in together as one cohesive operating unit.

  115. 115
    Jerry

    "There is still no reason at all to believe such a god exists, but you don’t want to have that discussion. Fine."Jeremiah, What do you mean by "such a God?" Specifically Yahweh, the God of the Bible? There probably isn't much evidence for preferring the God of the Bible to some other monotheistic God. Or are you asking for evidence of theism in general? Ok, let's talk about that for a moment. The main reason I don't much discuss theistic evidence is that atheists have already shut there eyes to it. Various phenomena in Nature can be viewed as good candidates for theistic evidence, but the atheist mentality is a bias which insists, "If there seems to be ANY possibility, no matter how remote, that such phenomena may have naturalistic explanations, it doesn't count as evidence for theism." This is basically demanding, "Unless y ou show me DECISIVE evidence, it's not evidence." To demonstrate that such mentality is a bias, I gave an example in my essays. I asked the reader to picture a CSI who concludes, "Since it is POSSIBLE that naturalistic processes (as YET unexplained) managed to move the money from the bank vault into the suspect's own safe, we cannot conclude it was a robbery accomplished by an intelligent perpetrator, there is no reason to postulate intelligent design." Given this atheistic mentality, I generally don't waste much time discussing with them the usual kinds of evidence. Instead, I prefer to bring to the discussion a FRESH contribution, that is, some ideas they probably haven't considered yet, specifically (1) A rather unique theodicy and (2) evidence for the existence of the soul based on the law of inertia. Given that you keep insisting that you are hungry for some "real evidence", your silence on my soul-argument leads me to believe you haven't read it. Please read it, because it's probably the only FRESH evidence that I can bring to this discussion."You seem to think that the problem of evil should be off limits because you can define a god where it doesn't apply but the problem of evil isn't the be-all-end-all reason to not be a theist. The reason the problem of evil argument gets used at all is because the theology that Christians consistently put forth involve a 3 omin god, not your 1 omni god. Being a book the bible is open to interpretation and the interpretation of most Christians is a 3 omin god and we are absolutely justified in pointing out to them, on TV or otherwise, that their interpretation of the bible does not maintain consistency. I suggest if you don't want to see such "bible-bashing" then you should first convince your fellow Christians that your interpretation is correct. As long as they persist in the 3 omni interpretation then the argument remains valid."Hmmm…You say, "As long as they persist in the 3 omni interpretation then the argument remains valid." That's not necessarily true. Suppose the whole church misunderstood an excellent science textbook such that their interpretation misconstrues the book as idiocy (although they themselves remain convinced that the bizarre conclusions they drew from it constitue sound science). Of course it would be appropriate to inform them that they have now embraced bizzare science (no argument there). However, would it also be appropriate to bash the book? Is this your definition of scholarly integrity? Recently, if I recall correctly, Matt expressed esteem for the Higher Criticism movement's attempt to raise the bar of scholarly analysis of the biblical texts. Is bashing a book without sufficient hermeneutical warrant a good example of raising the bar,in your view?

  116. 116
    Foot

    I have a hard time believing that Jerry's version of an imaginary god is ALL good when he perpetuates such an unhealthy relationship (Dependent personality disorder).But that is beside the point. I think Jerry is awesome. He continues to show in his posts here that in order for a biblical god to be consistent, he has to be dysfunctional. I think that is what most atheists are trying to say about the biblical god in the first place.I think the main problem Jerry faces is with coming up with a more convincing argument that his god (or more accurately, his imaginary god) is justified in punishing everyone because he keeps on taking billions and billions of segments of one soul and justifying his mistreatment of them after the initial punishment was already carried out. A vindictive god that justifies his continued mistreatment and torture of a single soul. Yep, sounds all good if you are a sociopath (this is without needing to point out the inconsistency that Jerry laid forth that his god has no predictive power, but he predicts the disobedience of his creation in order to justify his mistreatment of that creation before any disobedience is possible… lovely). 11/12/2010 8:12 PM

  117. 117
    Jerry

    Foot, you articulate your objection pretty skillfully, I'll give you that much:"I have a hard time believing that Jerry's version of an imaginary god is ALL good when he perpetuates such an unhealthy relationship (Dependent personality disorder)…in order for a biblical god to be consistent, he has to be dysfunctional. I think that is what most atheists are trying to say about the biblical god in the first place."Foot, You mention sychological disorders. Would most psychologists consider it emotionally healthy for you to remain an absolute loner for the rest of your life? Is permanent solitary confinment the sort of mentally stabilizing environment that you recommend for all men? Would you disparage men who find themselves emotionally damaged by such confinement as "guilty" of Dependent Personality Disorder? After all, typically a man lives for only about 100 years. Are you honestly asking God to subject Himself to an ETERNITY of solitary confinement? (Or at least to limit His "social" circle to animals devoid of substantial free will?). When God said, in Genesis, "it's not good for man to be alone", He was primarily talking about Himself. At that time Adam was SURROUNDED with animals, but God basically said, "That kind of fellowship is insufficient FOR A SENTIENT PERSON. Therefore Adam needs a wife." By parity of reasoning, God needed a bride as well. Secondly, you fail to address a particularly critial aspect of my theodicy. I argued that God, in His first thought-current as the beginning of time, gradually "awakens" to find Himself within an ineffably huge Totality of potentially sentient substance. Going far beyond the call of duty, far beyond the call of conscience, He commits to slowly achieving a humanly unimaginable degree of knowledge, dexterity, and love in order to insure the long-term safety of the Totality. But He finds Himself unable to commit to such an unbelievably tortorous regimen without some minimal reward in sight at the end of the tunnel and, in all good conscience, He therefore swears to Himself (and to His constituent parts) that He will one day fashion Himself a bride out of the Totality, as His reward for all this self-torture. Having made such an oath, He CANNOT in good conscience renege on it."[Jerry needs] a more convincing argument that his god is justified in punishing everyone because he keeps on taking billions and billions of segments of one soul and justifying his mistreatment of them after the initial punishment was already carried out…"God removed most of Adam's soul to a place of suspended animation and thus the larger portion did NOT undergo any initial punishment. Your present life IS the start of your punishment, to be completed in hell if necessary. Even human judges sentence men to consecutive lifetimes in prison. Furthermore, since the Bible is written with great brevity, we don't really know for sure how severe Adam's rebellion was, for instance how many days, weeks, months or years that he persisted in consuming the forbidden fruit before God indicted him. "… (this is without needing to point out the inconsistency that Jerry laid forth that his god has no predictive power, but he predicts the disobedience of his creation in order to justify his mistreatment of that creation before any disobedience is possible… lovely).Ok, stop misrepresenting me. I never said that God predicted the disobedience of His creation. I merely said that He PREPARED for that possibility. I mean,when He gave Adam free will, was He too stupid to realize that disobedience was a real possibility? What I said was that He promised Himself, before creating Adam, a commitment to atone should he fall into sin.

  118. 118
    Jerry

    "You aren't discussing what's been brought up on the show, though…"JT, the show bashes the Bible based on a particular interpretation. Proposing a more charitable intepretation, as I have – one that actually coheres with the text – is hardly a digression from the show's purview. "You're discussing an interpretation that is even more lunatic than the mainstream interpretations…" An intepretation that actually coheres with the text "is even more lunatic than the mainstream interpretations"? Go ahead and convince yourself of that noise, if it makes you feel any better. "…that no one else holds."No one else holds? Sorry, but I'll need to qualify your assertion. Not all aspects of my theodicy are unprecedented. Millard J. Erickson is possibly the most popular evangelical theologian of our generation. In his systematic theology, which is a standard seminary textbook, he argues that Adam's soul must have been a physical substance whereby "we were actually present within Adam, so that we all sinned in his act" ( Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2001, reprint), p. 654). I didn't mention him before only because he equiovates on tangibility due to his allegiance to traditional Christian dogmas of immaterial souls. Another honorable mention here is the early church father Tertullian who invented the word "Trinity" back in 200 A.D. Tertuallian held (1) That God is a tangible being. (2) Our souls are tangible as well and (3) Our souls are derived physically from Adam as the only viable explanation of original sin. Many years ago, furthermore, I read an anthology on the problem of evil. One of the contributors was a present-day scholar (an atheist, as I recall), who argued that the problem of evil can be readily solved by decreasing God's omni-attributes. In the article he complained that even those few theologians who purport to reduce God's omni-attributes actually equivocate.

  119. 119
    Spoondoggle

    Where am I supposed to start here…Surely the following sentence, "If the only point is to receive our opinion of your theodicy in a concise point, I will give you that," is suggestive that I am giving an opinion rather than a rigorous logical argument?I also thought that noting "(Wizard of Oz reference.)" would be suggestive that I was making use of a thing called, "metaphor," using some kind of pop culture reference? Perhaps I should have called it a baguette and expected you to interpret that as meaning a Wizard of Oz reference. Perhaps I should have resorted to the greater clarity of simile.Also, the word "perhaps" implies that I am not stating this as a certainty. I'm sure there have been times when perhaps has meant, "with utter certainty," or, "ham sandwich," but I was attempting clear language (by which I mean, "transparent," rather than, "obfuscating.")No part of my personal opinion of your personal theodicy was an attempt to discredit the bible.Personally, I've just been following the discussion between you and I. I feel it's important to note however that I'm not telling you not to discuss it, I'm just wondering why it is worth your time to discuss it with us when you agree that we should reject the very basis from which you are arguing? I am beginning to realise that it is very important to you that we should be wracking our brains to engage in a deeply sophisticated discussion of the points you're raising without bothering with the foundation, but (please note, I am moving into a comparison here, this is not a wild leap between two discussions, it is a comparison (as noted earlier) and you really should take note of that because I can already anticipate your response if you fail to take note of that… it will be quite annoying)how often do you see rock climbers approach the cliff they intend to climb, then leap to the last few inches from the top?Without showing that the discussion is worth having, the discussion is essentially pointless.That is, I believe, why people have been suggesting that the discussion is pointless. Not because we simply don't wish to discuss the question of god, but because it has no actual foundation as far as we can tell. Now I know you have referenced chapter and verse as foundation for your views, but these are not actually foundations, they are the ground floor – the foundation is what would hold the verses up.By the way, as JT pointed out, most of us who are replying to you have no real affiliation with the show, we're just people who read the blogs from time to time and respond. Also, if you watch the show, you'll see that when people do call in with their own personal theodicies, they are discussed although the ultimate point is "and why should we believe this?"

  120. 120
    Spoondoggle

    Where am I supposed to start here…Surely the following sentence, "If the only point is to receive our opinion of your theodicy in a concise point, I will give you that," is suggestive that I am giving an opinion rather than a rigorous logical argument?I also thought that noting "(Wizard of Oz reference.)" would be suggestive that I was making use of a thing called, "metaphor," using some kind of pop culture reference? Perhaps I should have called it a baguette and expected you to interpret that as meaning a Wizard of Oz reference. Perhaps I should have resorted to the greater clarity of simile.Also, the word "perhaps" implies that I am not stating this as a certainty. I'm sure there have been times when perhaps has meant, "with utter certainty," or, "ham sandwich," but I was attempting clear language (by which I mean, "transparent," rather than, "obfuscating.")No part of my personal opinion of your personal theodicy was an attempt to discredit the bible.Personally, I've just been following the discussion between you and I. I feel it's important to note however that I'm not telling you not to discuss it, I'm just wondering why it is worth your time to discuss it with us when you agree that we should reject the very basis from which you are arguing? I am beginning to realise that it is very important to you that we should be wracking our brains to engage in a deeply sophisticated discussion of the points you're raising without bothering with the foundation, but (please note, I am moving into a comparison here, this is not a wild leap between two discussions, it is a comparison (as noted earlier) and you really should take note of that because I can already anticipate your response if you fail to take note of that… it will be quite annoying)how often do you see rock climbers approach the cliff they intend to climb, then leap to the last few inches from the top?Without showing that the discussion is worth having, the discussion is essentially pointless.That is, I believe, why people have been suggesting that the discussion is pointless. Not because we simply don't wish to discuss the question of god, but because it has no actual foundation as far as we can tell. Now I know you have referenced chapter and verse as foundation for your views, but these are not actually foundations, they are the ground floor – the foundation is what would hold the verses up.By the way, as JT pointed out, most of us who are replying to you have no real affiliation with the show, we're just people who read the blogs from time to time and respond. Also, if you watch the show, you'll see that when people do call in with their own personal theodicies, they are discussed although the ultimate point is "and why should we believe this?"

  121. 121
    Spoondoggle

    Grrr… vanishing comments making me look like a rambling moron :\ I can do that perfectly well myself thank you, blogspot.I'll split it into two then, sorry for spamming.1/3Where am I supposed to start here…Surely the following sentence, "If the only point is to receive our opinion of your theodicy in a concise point, I will give you that," is suggestive that I am giving an opinion rather than a rigorous logical argument?I also thought that noting "(Wizard of Oz reference.)" would be suggestive that I was making use of a thing called, "metaphor," using some kind of pop culture reference? Perhaps I should have called it a baguette and expected you to interpret that as meaning a Wizard of Oz reference. Perhaps I should have resorted to the greater clarity of simile.Also, the word "perhaps" implies that I am not stating this as a certainty. I'm sure there have been times when perhaps has meant, "with utter certainty," or, "ham sandwich," but I was attempting clear language (by which I mean, "transparent," rather than, "obfuscating.")No part of my personal opinion of your personal theodicy was an attempt to discredit the bible.Personally, I've just been following the discussion between you and I. I feel it's important to note however that I'm not telling you not to discuss it, I'm just wondering why it is worth your time to discuss it with us when you agree that we should reject the very basis from which you are arguing? I am beginning to realise that it is very important to you that we should be wracking our brains to engage in a deeply sophisticated discussion of the points you're raising without bothering with the foundation, but (please note, I am moving into a comparison here, this is not a wild leap between two discussions, it is a comparison (as noted earlier) and you really should take note of that because I can already anticipate your response if you fail to take note of that… it will be quite annoying)how often do you see rock climbers approach the cliff they intend to climb, then leap to the last few inches from the top?Without showing that the discussion is worth having, the discussion is essentially pointless.

  122. 122
    Spoondoggle

    Where am I supposed to start here…Surely the following sentence, "If the only point is to receive our opinion of your theodicy in a concise point, I will give you that," is suggestive that I am giving an opinion rather than a rigorous logical argument?I also thought that noting "(Wizard of Oz reference.)" would be suggestive that I was making use of a thing called, "metaphor," using some kind of pop culture reference? Perhaps I should have called it a baguette and expected you to interpret that as meaning a Wizard of Oz reference. Perhaps I should have resorted to the greater clarity of simile.Also, the word "perhaps" implies that I am not stating this as a certainty. I'm sure there have been times when perhaps has meant, "with utter certainty," or, "ham sandwich," but I was attempting clear language (by which I mean, "transparent," rather than, "obfuscating.")No part of my personal opinion of your personal theodicy was an attempt to discredit the bible.

  123. 123
    Spoondoggle

    Personally, I've just been following the discussion between you and I. I feel it's important to note however that I'm not telling you not to discuss it, I'm just wondering why it is worth your time to discuss it with us when you agree that we should reject the very basis from which you are arguing? I am beginning to realise that it is very important to you that we should be wracking our brains to engage in a deeply sophisticated discussion of the points you're raising without bothering with the foundation, but (please note, I am moving into a comparison here, this is not a wild leap between two discussions, it is a comparison (as noted earlier) and you really should take note of that because I can already anticipate your response if you fail to take note of that… it will be quite annoying)how often do you see rock climbers approach the cliff they intend to climb, then leap to the last few inches from the top?Without showing that the discussion is worth having, the discussion is essentially pointless.That is, I believe, why people have been suggesting that the discussion is pointless. Not because we simply don't wish to discuss the question of god, but because it has no actual foundation as far as we can tell. Now I know you have referenced chapter and verse as foundation for your views, but these are not actually foundations, they are the ground floor – the foundation is what would hold the verses up.

  124. 124
    Spoondoggle

    By the way, as JT pointed out, most of us who are replying to you have no real affiliation with the show, we're just people who read the blogs from time to time and respond. Also, if you watch the show, you'll see that when people do call in with their own personal theodicies, they are discussed although the ultimate point is "and why should we believe this?"Again, I really don't think that a few atheists talking on tv is going to weaken commitments to and harden hearts against the bible. If you are committed, nothing I say is likely to sway that. If you are already questioning, it might speed the process of investigation, but the ultimate result is likely to be much the same. If your heart is already hardened against the bible, no ammount of discussion is likely to sway that. If your heart is not hardened, discussion of the subject is only going to make you more likely to investigate it.Your corrective statement, however, may well lead people to reject the bible. I say this because most christians that I know believe that god is some kind of fantastical super-being… if you manage convince them that he's the equivalent of a guy with a big lever, (which is essentially what your god is, though I accept you might not recognise that.) I can see that shaking their faith.

  125. 125
    Spoondoggle

    When writers are human, we can forgive their being unclear. They are, after all, only human. When we're speaking of a god, can we say, "well, he's only human," or would that be some kind of theological problem?What undisclosed motives could god have to leave a passage unclear? Does he want us to be lead to disbelieve? I know there are sects that believe that god does only want a select few to reach heaven, but that does not make sense if we're all Adam – why would god only want 15% of Adam's soul to reach heaven? Are we simply to be reborn until we get it right?What do you believe the rules of faith and practice should be? (And how do you know that protestant assumptions are more stupid than your own?)

  126. 126
    Cafeeine Addicted

    I won't get into the rest of the issues, but this stuck out to me:"The main reason I don't much discuss theistic evidence is that atheists have already shut there eyes to it. Various phenomena in Nature can be viewed as good candidates for theistic evidence, but the atheist mentality is a bias which insists, "If there seems to be ANY possibility, no matter how remote, that such phenomena may have naturalistic explanations, it doesn't count as evidence for theism." This is basically demanding, "Unless y ou show me DECISIVE evidence, it's not evidence." To demonstrate that such mentality is a bias, I gave an example in my essays. I asked the reader to picture a CSI who concludes, "Since it is POSSIBLE that naturalistic processes (as YET unexplained) managed to move the money from the bank vault into the suspect's own safe, we cannot conclude it was a robbery accomplished by an intelligent perpetrator, there is no reason to postulate intelligent design.""The problem wit your analogy is that the existence of human criminals is a demonstrable, undeniable fact. The CSI is not trying to prove that criminals exist, he is trying to determine the identity of the perpetrator. To bring this back to your argument, you seem to be presupposing that a god exists, and then trying to figure out the most consistent way to fidget the data to fit that presupposition.

  127. 127
    Foot

    "Would most psychologists consider it emotionally healthy for you to remain an absolute loner for the rest of your life? Is permanent solitary confinment the sort of mentally stabilizing environment that you recommend for all men? Would you disparage men who find themselves emotionally damaged by such confinement as "guilty" of Dependent Personality Disorder?"I guess you are admitting here that your version of the biblical god isn't operating with a full deck of cards? The "Love" of the god you seem to cling to is extremely selfish. You can attempt to justify his selfish love, but it doesn't make it good or healthy. Too bad your god isn't smart enough to figure out how unhealthy is relationship with humanity is (nor is he good enough to figure out that his situation is unhealthy and therefore try to resolve that). Even humans have figured this much out on their own. Besides, being free of dependent personality disorder does not require one to be completely isolated… that is a false dichotomy."Secondly, you fail to address a particularly critial aspect of my theodicy. I argued that God, in His first thought-current as the beginning of time, gradually "awakens" to find Himself within an ineffably huge Totality of potentially sentient substance. Going far beyond the call of duty, far beyond the call of conscience, He commits to slowly achieving a humanly unimaginable degree of knowledge, dexterity, and love in order to insure the long-term safety of the Totality. But He finds Himself unable to commit to such an unbelievably tortorous regimen without some minimal reward in sight at the end of the tunnel and, in all good conscience, He therefore swears to Himself (and to His constituent parts) that He will one day fashion Himself a bride out of the Totality, as His reward for all this self-torture. Having made such an oath, He CANNOT in good conscience renege on it."–this is exactly what I was addressing with the dependent personality disorder comment. You are basically restating how selfish and insecure and mentally unstable your version god really is. Just because humanity understands how mental disorders work, that they are natural, it does not make them a good basis for any relationship. Even all of these tiny parts of adam doomed to being punished for who knows what for who knows how long have figured that much out. Your god insists on a very unhealthy relationship, therefore I cannot concede that it is good.

  128. 128
    Foot

    @ Caffene Addicted:I love how theists cling to "evidence" for god's existence when they don't really seem to understand what actually constitutes evidence. The whole statement of "I don't talk about evidence because you reject my evidence" is just an admission of how unsubstantiated the claims related to said evidence really is.Jerry's claim that subjective experience is actually valuable (and viable) is a related example of how fundamentally flawed the claim to "evidence" really is among theists.The more and more we discover about the universe, the fewer places there are for a biblical god to hide, and the more mental gymnastics are required to try and make room for him (as evidenced by the current discussion with Jerry).

  129. 129
    JT

    @jerryJT, the show bashes the Bible based on a particular interpretation. Proposing a more charitable intepretation, as I have – one that actually coheres with the text – is hardly a digression from the show's purview.Feel free to call into the show and discuss it. Then yours can be bashed alongside the other interpretations that are brought up.Generically, when the topic is brought up, it's logical to confront the general consensus, and not random obscure interpretations. "You're discussing an interpretation that is even more lunatic than the mainstream interpretations…" An intepretation that actually coheres with the text "is even more lunatic than the mainstream interpretations"? Go ahead and convince yourself of that noise, if it makes you feel any better. Let's start with a defining of "lunatic" that I'm using here – Making claims that do not conform to reality, and are not supported by solid evidence that meets the critereon for good evidence.For example…The concept of a soul is lunatic. There's no way to measure it, detect it, or in any way verify that it exists in the slightest. Claiming that souls exist is therefore lunatic.You go a step further and claim that not only is there soul, but it can be broken up into little iddy bitty chunks and inserted into embryos, or something. This is a claim that does not conform to reality and is unsupported by evidence. It's therefore lunatic.You've added Lunacy B to Lunacy A, thus, it's more lunatic."…that no one else holds."No one else holds? Sorry, but I'll need to qualify your assertion. Not all aspects of my theodicy are unprecedented. Millard J. Erickson is possibly the most popular evangelical theologian of our generation. In his systematic theology, which is a standard seminary textbook, he argues that Adam's soul must have been a physical substance whereby "we were actually present within Adam, so that we all sinned in his act" ( Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2001, reprint), p. 654). I didn't mention him before only because he equiovates on tangibility due to his allegiance to traditional Christian dogmas of immaterial souls. Another honorable mention here is the early church father Tertullian who invented the word "Trinity" back in 200 A.D. Tertuallian held (1) That God is a tangible being. (2) Our souls are tangible as well and (3) Our souls are derived physically from Adam as the only viable explanation of original sin. Many years ago, furthermore, I read an anthology on the problem of evil. One of the contributors was a present-day scholar (an atheist, as I recall), who argued that the problem of evil can be readily solved by decreasing God's omni-attributes. In the article he complained that even those few theologians who purport to reduce God's omni-attributes actually equivocate.Ok, fine, so a few people buy into this tripe. Untold millions don't, for one reason or another.My original point, since you decided to dive back into the pool of insanity here, was that your interpretation is not equivalent to the mainstream interpretations, by your own admission, which is why it hasn't been discussed on the show. Someone actually has to call it in. That person should be you!

  130. 130
    JT

    @jerryJT, the show bashes the Bible based on a particular interpretation. Proposing a more charitable intepretation, as I have – one that actually coheres with the text – is hardly a digression from the show's purview.Feel free to call into the show and discuss it. Then yours can be bashed alongside the other interpretations that are brought up.Generically, when the topic is brought up, it's logical to confront the general consensus, and not random obscure interpretations. "You're discussing an interpretation that is even more lunatic than the mainstream interpretations…" An intepretation that actually coheres with the text "is even more lunatic than the mainstream interpretations"? Go ahead and convince yourself of that noise, if it makes you feel any better. Let's start with a defining of "lunatic" that I'm using here – Making claims that do not conform to reality, and are not supported by solid evidence that meets the critereon for good evidence.For example…The concept of a soul is lunatic. There's no way to measure it, detect it, or in any way verify that it exists in the slightest. Claiming that souls exist is therefore lunatic.You go a step further and claim that not only is there soul, but it can be broken up into little iddy bitty chunks and inserted into embryos. This is a claim that does not conform to reality and is unsupported by evidence. It's therefore lunatic.You've added Lunacy B to Lunacy A, thus, it's more lunatic."…that no one else holds."No one else holds? Sorry, but I'll need to qualify your assertion. Not all aspects of my … ributes actually equivocate.Ok, fine, so a few people buy into this tripe. Untold millions don't, for one reason or another.My original point, since you decided to dive back into the pool of insanity here, was that your interpretation is not equivalent to the mainstream interpretations, by your own admission, which is why it hasn't been discussed on the show. Someone actually has to call it in. That person should be you!

  131. 131
    JT

    @Foot I love how theists cling to "evidence" for god's existence when they don't really seem to understand what actually constitutes evidence. The whole statement of "I don't talk about evidence because you reject my evidence" is just an admission of how unsubstantiated the claims related to said evidence really is.I would love to hear what his understanding of the standards of evidence are, how his "evidence" qualifies, and what makes his evidence good, compelling evidence.We all know what a giraffe is, and could recite a list of qualifiers as to whether a specific object is a giraffe or not. When it comes to "What is evidence?", most people just give a blank stare.If we go with the usual theistic equivalent, they'll say, "It has a head, therefore, it's a giraffe."No, there's more to it than that.

  132. 132
    Jerry

    "I guess you are admitting here that your version of the biblical god isn't operating with a full deck of cards? "Foot, I can only surmise you misunderstood me. I didn't say that God was emotionally damaged. I rather claim that He recognizes His own limits, and thus did not want to risk subjecting Himself to an eternity of solitary confinement. Those stakes are just too high, because if the Godhead becomes emotionally destabilized, the end result could be the eternal dissolution of peace in the Totality, and thus the loss of safety for ALL the little guys. You talk about selfishness? You're only thinking selfishly of our own puny human existence on this infinitesimally small planet earth. According to my metaphysic the entire universe, and beyond, is capable of being awakened, manipulated, used, and abused. THAT'S why God can't risk destabilizing the Godhead. The "Love" of the god you seem to cling to is extremely selfish. You can attempt to justify his selfish love, but it doesn't make it good or healthy. Too bad your god isn't smart enough to figure out how unhealthy is relationship with humanity is (nor is he good enough to figure out that his situation is unhealthy and therefore try to resolve that). Even humans have figured this much out on their own. Besides, being free of dependent personality disorder does not require one to be completely isolated… that is a false dichotomy."How is that a false dichotomy. I said that YOU only want to give God a couple of options:(1) An eternity of solitary confinement.(2) An eternity surrounded only by animals who are essentially mere automotons in the sense of never having freely chosen to love Him.Again, would most pyschologists recommend this kind of lifestyle for ANY length of time, much less an eternity?"this is exactly what I was addressing with the dependent personality disorder comment. You are basically restating how selfish and insecure and mentally unstable your version god really is. Just because humanity understands how mental disorders work, that they are natural, it does not make them a good basis for any relationship. Even all of these tiny parts of adam doomed to being punished for who knows what for who knows how long have figured that much out. Your god insists on a very unhealthy relationship, therefore I cannot concede that it is good."Unhealthy relationship? What in heaven's name are you TALKING about? You're beginning to sound incoherent. Does a man's decision to birth some kids make him guilty of Dependent Personality Disorder? Is this necessarily an unhealthy relationship? Your sword cuts both ways. You're not only accusing God of being selfish for having kids, you're accusing all humanity. Many people have kids because they WANT to have kids. It's very selfish. God had kids because He felt that He NEEDED this relationship to insure the long-term safety of the Totality. And let's keep in mind what God had to accomplish toward insuring universal safety. He spent billions of years developing the ability to monitor every inch of the Totality simultaneously such that He can eternally insure, after this world ends, that there will never again be even one iota – not even for one MILLISECOND – of suffering. So again, you're thinking selfishly. The sufferings of this world will slowly (but eventually) pale into insignificance as time approaches eternity.

  133. 133
    Jerry

    "I'm just wondering why it is worth your time to discuss it with us when you agree that we should reject the very basis from which you are arguing?"Spoondoggle, if you still can't see the relevance of a theodicy-discussion on threads that tend to promote atheism while using the problem of evil to deprecate theism, I'm throwing in the towel on that one. I've run out of ways to explain it. If you're once again going to accuse me of being overly-theatrical, have at it."Again, I really don't think that a few atheists talking on tv is going to weaken commitments to and harden hearts against the bible. If you are committed, nothing I say is likely to sway that."Actually that's just not true. The show rehashes the very arguments that gravitated people like Matt away from theism to atheism. I myself personally have talked to numerous Christians who underwent a crisis of faith when presented with such material. For some Christians it was issues of theodicy that was shipwrecking their faith. For others, it was physiology textbooks helping to discredit belief in the existence of the soul. For others it was the argument that evolution can proceed without divine intervention. For still others, it was an inability to reconcile the seven days of Genesis with the geologic timescale (in fact a number of Christians have personally thanked me for proposing a rather unique solution to THAT problem). "What undisclosed motives could god have to leave a passage unclear? Does he want us to be lead to disbelieve?"I'll give you an example – this is just a theory of mine. Leaving a passage unclear can be an effective way of polarizing true Christians from nominal Christians. By using direct revelation (via subjective experience) to unveil the true meaning of a passage so that only the true Christians stand much chance of comprehending it, God creates a divide between true Christians and nominal Christians (for reasons I won't get it into here). Hence the Catholic-Protestant divide over the question, "How does one get saved?" (This is not to say that all Catholics are unsaved, nor that all Protestants are saved. It's not a perfect science). "Why would god only want 15% of Adam's soul to reach heaven?"John Calvin, the leading theologian of the Protestant Reformation,held that God predestined some men to damnation. And for about 100 years, most theologians agreed with Calvinism based on substantial exegetical data in the New Testament. Although his position is fairly well-defended, I claim to be first to provide a VIABLE reinterpretation of those passages. (Traditional reinterpretations, called Arminianism, failed to address the full force of those passages and are thus still laughed at by today's Calvinists). In my view, God has been striving for ALL men to be saved, although He isn't totally averse to exterminating a particularly evil nation once it becomes obvious that He won't be able to save them within this lifetime, and that meanwhile they will inflict terrible suffering on humanity. "Are we simply to be reborn until we get it right?"I wasn't planning to get into that topic, but there is CONSIDERABLE biblical evidence that (1) God decreed a unique saving promise to the the Israelites in exodus from Egypt with Moses. (2) Accordingly their souls are reborn until all of them get saved. They can be reborn as Gentiles, however, whence any present-day Christian could be a "true Jew." Conversely, a present-day Jew is not necessarily one of original "true Jews". This is why Saint Paul said, "Not all who are of Israel, are Israel (Romans 9:6).

  134. 134
    Jerry

    "The problem with your analogy is that the existence of human criminals is a demonstrable, undeniable fact. The CSI is not trying to prove that criminals exist, he is trying to determine the identity of the perpetrator. To bring this back to your argument, you seem to be presupposing that a god exists, and then trying to figure out the most consistent way to fidget the data to fit that presupposition."CafeeineAddicted, Presupposing that God exists? Yes and no. Yes, when I'm discussing theodicy, the existence of God is a (tentative) methodological assumption pitted against the problem of evil to determine whether we can reconcile the two logically. But when discussing evidence for theism, I wouldn't presuppose God's existence (as that would be circular reasoning). Rather it's more like this. Can you imagine finding enough evidence for the existence of super-intelligent aliens (for instance a UFO) such that you would be warranted in positing said existence, even though these aliens, unlike the criminals in my CSI analogy, are still invisible to you? My own definition of God construes Him, somewhat, as an invisible super-intelligent alien of sorts, and there is certainly some evidence (although probably not decisive) to posit His existence. What evidence? I've already provided an argument for the existence of the soul. I could add to this am argument such as the following. The force of gravity betwen two particles is roughly proportional to the square of the distance between them. Of course this means that the force increases as the two particles become more proximate. Why? Does the universe say to itself, "Hm…I see a particle getting closer to another one – sounds like a good time to raise the force of gravity." In my opinion, then, gravity is more likely the Hand of a creator intent on fabricating an ordered universe for the sake of biological life. A similar dynamic occurs with magnetic forces, and yet again with electrical forces. Furthermore the very guy who invented the theory of gravity, Isaac Newton, said that one would have to be a fool to believe in gravity because the notion of an object exerting a force upon another object across a distance is logically incoherent. Hence Newton vacillated as to whether the real cause of gravity was (A) the hand of God or (B) some kind of atmospheric pressure. Scientists still haven't made much progress in producing a naturalistic explanation. Again, I'm not saying that any of this is DECISIVE evidence. But I think it should give one pause – certainly it gave Newton pause, and he was a bit smarter than most men.

  135. 135
    Jerry

    @JT"Feel free to call into the show and discuss it…Someone actually has to call it in. That person should be you!"I've already furnished reasons why I'm not optimistic that a phone call to the show would prove effective. There isn't enough time, for example, to clarify terminology and develop arguments. In that environment, it becomes all too easy for the host to lampoon the caller's position. "The concept of a soul is lunatic. There's no way to measure it, detect it, or in any way verify that it exists in the slightest. Claiming that souls exist is therefore lunatic."The soul is a tangible substance, and it's only a THEORY of mine that God keeps it indectably hidden. Currently there is no way to detect it (at least none that I know of) – but as for verifying its existence, see my argument for the existence of the soul based on human empirical experience vis a vis the law of inertia. (You're welcome to postulate an alternative theory that better explains the data but, until then, I'm sticking with the soul-theory as the best explanation proffered to date). And consider this. At the time of the earliest Atomists (500 B.C.), there was (using your words) "no way to measure it, detect it, or in any way verify that it exists in the slightest. Claiming that [atoms] exist is therefore lunatic." Lovely. What an impressive piece of reasoning. Oh, by the way, have you personally ever seen electrons, protons, and neutrons with the naked eye? Or is it rather that these particles remain INVISIBLE to you and hence you DEDUCE their existence based on empirical data/experience?"You go a step further and claim that not only is there soul, but it can be broken up into little iddy bitty chunks and inserted into embryos. This is a claim that does not conform to reality and is unsupported by evidence. It's therefore lunatic."Ok, talk about insanity. I define the soul as a tangible substance, and then, in response, you find it unreasonable to imagine that it can be subdivided into parts? Are you serious? You're kidding, aren't you?

  136. 136
    JT

    @JerryI've already furnished reasons why I'm not optimistic that a phone call to the show would prove effective. There isn't enough time, for example, to clarify terminology and develop arguments. In that environment, it becomes all too easy for the host to lampoon the caller's position.Or you're just a coward who doesn't want to have his ideas shredded in such a public fashion. You could discuss one particular compelling point you think is best verified/justified. The soul is a tangible substance, and it's only a THEORYYou keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.It would be a theory (at least in science) if it was based on a confirmed phenomenon and backed by tons of objective evidence. It doesn't make sense to call it "only a theory", as a scientific theory is the highest point it reaches.of mine that God keeps it indectably hidden.And this is one such point where your "conjecture" hurtles away from the real world and deep into the abyss of the fantasy world.Currently there is no way to detect it (at least none that I know of) – but as for verifying its existence, see my argument for the existence of the soul based on human empirical experience vis a vis the law of inertia.Do you know what "emperical" is? I slogged through your argument and noted zero emperical anything. I read a bizarre concoction of assumptions, misuse of the "law of inertia" and bad logic.

  137. 137
    JT

    [continued](You're welcome to postulate an alternative theory that better explains the data but, until then, I'm sticking with the soul-theory as the best explanation proffered to date).There's no point in building a "theory" around something that has not been demonstrated to exist. And consider this. At the time of the earliest Atomists (500 B.C.), there was (using your words) "no way to measure it, detect it, or in any way verify that it exists in the slightest. Claiming that [atoms] exist is therefore lunatic." Lovely. What an impressive piece of reasoning.And they were correct for thinking that. That's what's supposed to happen when extraordinary claims are asserted. They then have the burden of providing sufficient evidence to demonstrate it beyond a reasonable doubt.Oh, by the way, have you personally ever seen electrons, protons, and neutrons with the naked eye? Or is it rather that these particles remain INVISIBLE to you and hence you DEDUCE their existence based on empirical data/experience?Yes, the latter. We can successfully determine models of things we cannot directly observe. You haven't even approached doing that. You may want to familiarize yourself on the history of the research of atomic theory. You'd be embarrased how pathetic your syllogism is, compared to actual objective emperical research. Even when we were pondering the possibility of "non-dividable" bits, we didn't just go ahead and accept that as true. We conducted many tests to not only verify the concept, but derive the specifics.Ok, talk about insanity. I define the soul as a tangible substance, and then, in response, you find it unreasonable to imagine that it can be subdivided into parts? Are you serious? You're kidding, aren't you?The dividing of an object into smaller pieces isn't the issue. It's the fact that it's yet another non-demonstrated claim on top of another.You've woven quite an intricate web of insanity.

  138. 138
    JT

    (You're welcome to postulate an alternative theory that better explains the data but, until then, I'm sticking with the soul-theory as the best explanation proffered to date).There's no point in building a "theory" around something that has not been demonstrated to exist. And consider this. At the time of the earliest Atomists (500 B.C.), there was (using your words) "no way to measure it, detect it, or in any way verify that it exists in the slightest. Claiming that [atoms] exist is therefore lunatic." Lovely. What an impressive piece of reasoning.And they were correct for thinking that. That's what's supposed to happen when extraordinary claims are asserted. They then have the burden of providing sufficient evidence to demonstrate it beyond a reasonable doubt.Oh, by the way, have you personally ever seen electrons, protons, and neutrons with the naked eye? Or is it rather that these particles remain INVISIBLE to you and hence you DEDUCE their existence based on empirical data/experience?Yes, the latter. We can successfully determine models of things we cannot directly observe. You haven't even approached doing that. You may want to familiarize yourself on the history of the research of atomic theory. You'd be embarrased how pathetic your syllogism is, compared to actual objective emperical research. Even when we were pondering the possibility of "non-dividable" bits, we didn't just go ahead and accept that as true. We conducted many tests to not only verify the concept, but derive the specifics.Ok, talk about insanity. I define the soul as a tangible substance, and then, in response, you find it unreasonable to imagine that it can be subdivided into parts? Are you serious? You're kidding, aren't you?The dividing of an object into smaller pieces isn't the issue. It's the fact that it's yet another non-demonstrated claim on top of another.

  139. 139
    Jerry

    "Do you know what "emperical" is? I slogged through your argument and noted zero emperical anything. I read a bizarre concoction of assumptions, misuse of the "law of inertia" and bad logic."Obviously, anything that challenges the presuppositions you hold most dear is a misuse of logic. Had you any kind of COGENT objection to my logic, you'd delight to specify it. As it stands, you retort with the kind of empty, unsupported polemic rhetoric that I've come to expect in an arena like this. In physics, the behavior of an object is determined by the vector sum of forces acting upon it and is therefore said to be predictable. This is consistent with the law of inertia and makes for a deterministic metaphysics, what Frederick Copleston rightly termed "the world of determinism." If the behavior of objects were NOT predictable, science would come to a screeching halt, as it's not very practical to launch an air plane or a space shuttle if you can't create a vector sum of forces that reliably control its travel. Having defined a deterministic metaphysics, you can't have your cake and eat it too.Notice what I just did? I didn't regurgitate preconceived conclusions couched in polemic rhetoric. Rather I ARGUED my point. Give it a try once in a while – your posts will have a lot more credibility. "You keep using that word [theory]. I do not think it means what you think it means.It would be a theory (at least in science) if it was based on a confirmed phenomenon and backed by tons of objective evidence. It doesn't make sense to call it "only a theory", as a scientific theory is the highest point it reaches."Ok, this is nitpicking. As I recall, the last two times I used that term were in decidedly NON-SCIENTIFIC statements, specifically when I was speculating/ conjecturing on (A) God's undisclosed motives for permitting obscure Scriptures and (B) His undisclosed extent of hiding the supernatural from us. This fits with the definition of theory according to Dictionary.Com:2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact. 7. guess or conjecture. "And they were correct for thinking that. That's what's supposed to happen when extraordinary claims are asserted. They then have the burden of providing sufficient evidence to demonstrate it beyond a reasonable doubt."Ok, that's pretty stupid. You're suggesting that a person who proposes a theory as yet undemonstrated counts as a lunatic until demonstrating his point. So much for Dawkins, then. No point in listening to THAT lunatic anymore. In point of fact, had the Atomists been taken more seriously,atoms might have been discovered sooner, to the great benefit of science. Maybe you ought to close your mouth for a moment – you seem to keep sticking your foot in it."The dividing of an object into smaller pieces isn't the issue. It's the fact that it's yet another non-demonstrated claim on top of another."My CLAIM is that if a tangible God exists (as a methodological assumption for the sake of theodicy), He could easily divide such a tangible soul into parts. There's nothing wrong with that claim. As you objected to it, however, you're apparently asking me to demonstrate the cogency of that claim. Fine. Come over to my house. I'll pick up a pencil and snap it in two right in front of your very eyes. Would this empirical demonstration open your mind to the possibility that a tangible being might well be able to divide a physical object into pieces? Or would we need to construct a more elaborate demonstration for you? Maybe the real problem here is that you apparently haven't got a clue what a "methodological assumption" is, and the role it can play in a metaphysical discussion or debate.

  140. 140
    Tom Foss

    Some things that Jerry doesn't seem to understand: 1) Atheism is lack of belief in the existence of gods. While the problem of evil may be a contributing factor in a believer's path toward atheism, and in fact may be justification for not believing in particular gods (gods whose existence would be logically inconsistent with the existence of evil, specifically), it generally isn't an actual reason for being an atheist. After all, there are many possible gods whose existence is perfectly consistent with the existence of evil–evil gods, dead gods, inept gods, apathetic gods, oblivious gods, impotent gods, and so forth. I am an atheist (and I suspect this is true for most of the people here) because I see no evidence to justify belief in the existence of any gods, evil or not. 2. Consequently, any discussion of gods which does not include sufficient evidence to justify their existence is not likely to sway me (or anyone else) regarding their existence. We are justified in believing a thing exists only after sufficient evidence has been provided that such a thing exists, and not before. The a-atomists of Democritus's time were correct in rejecting his ideas; there was no evidence to believe that atoms existed, even though such evidence would eventually be found. And when such evidence was discovered, it showed that many of the traits Democritus believed atoms had (shapes corresponding to their properties, indivisibility) were completely without basis in reality. In other words, first we establish that a thing exists, then we talk with some certainty about the properties that thing possesses. 3. The two points above do not preclude discussion of things which we do not believe to exist. Such a preclusion would be quite silly. None of us believes that ghosts exist, yet I suspect we've all taken English classes where we discussed "Hamlet." For the sake of discussion, we accept the story, and we can discuss it and critique it on its own merits. The same is true of the Bible or any other holy or mythological test. We do not believe in the god described in the Bible because we have not been presented with sufficient evidence to justify its existence. This does not prevent us from talking about what kind of character the Biblical god is, whether or not the story is consistent, or other points related to the Bible. It does not even preclude us from, for the sake of argument, assuming that this god does exist and drawing logical conclusions or performing a reductio ad absurdum on the concept.

  141. 141
    Tom Foss

    4. Which brings us to what you're doing, Jerry. I'm going to use an analogy that has been used before on the site and the show. Imagine you've seen a bunch of Star Trek fans talking about things in the Star Trek universe. Then, someone comes in and says "you guys have it all wrong, and everyone who's ever discussed Star Trek before has also been wrong about this. The replicators don't work by rearranging atoms, but through the use of a network of reptiles, whose saliva can magically transmute elements–it's right there in the name, 'rep-lick-ator'! And warp drive doesn't actually rely on subspace at all, but creates a time warp around the ship, allowing it to appear to travel faster than light, when it's really traveling in time!"Now, some Star Trek fans may choose to argue with that person on the terms of the show, citing continuity and quotations and technical manuals, pointing out inconsistencies in that model of ship operations. Other Star Trek fans are likely to just say "um…you know it's just a TV show, right?" Different approaches, but those taking the former approach do not necessarily believe that the events described in Star Trek are real, they may just be interested in a different kind of argument. That is what your arguments seem like to the readers here. Some people are intrigued by your unorthodox take on the Bible and Christian doctrine, and wish to argue with you on that front. They don't believe that the God you describe exists, but they're clearly interested enough to see where that line of argumentation goes. Others, however, see your absolute certainty, your assurance that you are right and all other believers are wrong, and would argue instead on that front–namely, how can you provide so much detailed information about something that you can't demonstrate exists (or, alternately, "if you have so much information, then clearly you must have evidence to back it all up")? If you questioned either group, you'd find that they're all on the same page: none of us thinks that this discussion has any significance to reality unless you can provide sufficient empirical evidence that your god exists. But where some people see pointlessness, others see an interesting argument/discussion. No one here sees any kind of empirical truth in what you've had to say so far, I'm afraid. So, Jerry, you can continue to misunderstand and conflate these various positions, or you can recognize that different individuals are trying to have a discussion with you (and regarding the show, with other believers) on different levels. Some are asking for the foundational evidence, some are probing the consistency of the conceptual structure that you've built. It's up to you to decide which levels you want to have this discussion on, but I suspect it'll save you a lot of confusion and frustration if you don't assume that everyone is trying to have the same discussion at the same point.

  142. 142
    Tom Foss

    One last thing, regarding scientific laws: it seems like you think that scientific laws are prescriptive, that they lay out the way that things must behave. This is not correct. A scientific law is merely a description, usually mathematical, of how particular systems behave. The law of inertia describes the motion of certain kinds of objects in certain reference frames. It is inadequate and insufficient to describe the same kinds of motion in non-inertial reference frames (such as an accelerating system), at very small scales (where quantum phenomena come into play), or at very high speeds (where relativistic effects become noticable). Nor does the law of inertia have any power to describe electric current, optical properties of substances, or a variety of other objects and systems. It essentially defines what mass is a measurement of, and that's about it. Even after reading the relevant bit of your text file, it's not clear how you get from "mass is a measurement of an object's resistance to a change in velocity" to "therefore a material soul must exist to animate the body."

  143. 143
    Tom Foss

    If the behavior of objects were NOT predictable, science would come to a screeching halt, as it's not very practical to launch an air plane or a space shuttle if you can't create a vector sum of forces that reliably control its travel.This might have been a reasonable assumption in the 17th Century. It is, however, quite contradicted by modern science. Two major theories deal with this specifically; first, chaos theory describes how very complex systems, with large numbers of moving parts, are difficult to accurately model and predict, since they are very sensitive to initial conditions. Very small differences in those initial conditions can lead to very large differences in the ultimate outcome, due to various sorts of feedback loops and cascade effects. Such systems are deterministic, but still unpredictable, because we are not able to know the initial conditions to a high enough degree of accuracy. Consequently, we can only model and predict the behaviors of such systems probabilistically. On the other hand, you have quantum theory, which describes the unpredictability of the universe on very small scales. Unlike the systems described by chaos theory, quantum systems are not deterministic. Many quantum systems, for instance the position of an electron, can only be determined probabilistically. This is not a limitation of our ability to measure or know initial conditions, but a fundamental feature of the universe. At the level of the very small, randomness and probabilistic effects play a large role. These effects average out over larger scales and longer periods of time, such that systems on the human scale can be thought of as deterministic and modeled with Newtonian physics, but on the quantum scale determinism is a joke at best. And yet science has not ground to a screeching halt; quite the contrary. The computer you are using to read this relies on what we've learned about quantum mechanics. What science has done is described the universe in greater detail. Newton's laws are based on observations at a certain scale in certain frames of reference, and they apply and work quite well in those frames of reference. Quantum physics can function a more detailed description of the same phenomena; you can use the quantum equations to model macroscopic behavior, and you'll get the same answers that Newton did, just to a higher degree of accuracy. Science marches on by improving models, not typically by throwing old models out entirely.

  144. 144
    Spoondoggle

    "if you still can't see the relevance of a theodicy-discussion on threads that tend to promote atheism"Of course I can't see the relevance of discussing theodicy. Do you see the relevance of discussing the average eye colour of aliens when their existence and proximity both remain unproven? We can discuss your subdivided soul all we like(and I think this is a major part of foot's unhealthy relationship comment, not simply god's desire for companionship… I don't really want to go into someone else's point, but does it make sense that you would want someone to freely choose to love you, and to lock them up in the basement until they do choose to do so? Then, when they die, resurrect them and lock them in the same basement again with the same expectation? Does that sound healthy? Don't worry, I don't expect you to recognise (or at least address) what I'm saying. Hint: some use of metaphorical language.)but until we've established that souls exist anyway, it's a waste of time.I don't care how tall your Jerbandafleet is until you can show me that it's even real."while using the problem of evil to deprecate theism"The problem of evil isn't the only objection we have y'know… I suspect it's the least of our objections to be honest – What if god's just a dick? What if god actually doesn't notice? What if people are less compassionate if they've never faced evil? What if god is just a kid playing Sim Earth? (Maybe he interacts less recently than in biblical times because he has gone to school; maybe he'll be astounded by our progress when he gets home in 20 minutes?)Warning: Conjecture, not an argument."Actually that's just not true. The show rehashes the very arguments that gravitated people like Matt away from theism to atheism."It is true that there are theists who, when faced with the opinions of atheists, will be shaken in their faith. It's also true that there are theists who, when faced with the scriptures will find them divorced from reality. I suspect it is also true that the majority, if perhaps not all, of these theists were already questioning. If you want to address the problem, stop people questioning.By the way, physiology and evolution are not atheist arguments, they're just reality. If you want to address this problem, change reality.

  145. 145
    Spoondoggle

    "Leaving a passage unclear can be an effective way of polarizing true Christians from nominal Christians."Why does god want to polarize true christian Adam and nominal christian Adam? What is the difference between true and nominal christian Adam? If it is merely the direct revelation, then surely it's just god deciding who gets to be true christian Adam this lifetime? Why does god choose to leave some Adams as nominal christian Adams?Seriously, why won't you get into the reasons here? Until you get into the reasons it really just sounds nonsensical.By the way, while I have been tempted to suggest that you replace your uses of the word "theory" with "hypothesis," I think it would be safer if you just used the word "idea" since that's the only one that doesn't require your ideas to be testable."God decreed a unique saving promise to the the Israelites in exodus from Egypt with Moses. Accordingly their souls are reborn until all of them get saved."So is it only Jewish Adam that gets reborn? Why? Surely all Adams are Adam? Surely all of Adam is redeemed or Adam is not redeemed? Surely this contradicts the statement that "God has been striving for ALL men to be saved"?

  146. 146
    Spoondoggle

    "Oh, by the way, have you personally ever seen electrons, protons, and neutrons with the naked eye?"Have you ever heard of a device called a "Scanning Tunnelling Microscope"? It's essentially a conducting needle that "scans" incredibly closely across an object, utilising "quantum tunnelling" (basically, electrons move between the needle and the object) to create a current which is measured to show the varying distance between the needle's tip and the object's surface, giving an image akin to an OS map with resolutions in the region of 0.1nm (0.00000001cm) which can show the electron shells around the proton/neutron nucleus (it can show you atoms.) You and I can then use our naked eyes to view the image. Pretty awesome, huh?"Or is it rather that these particles remain INVISIBLE to you and hence you DEDUCE their existence based on empirical data/experience?"Like I said, the STM makes it possible to see atoms.The electrons are not directly visible in the produced picture, but their outermost orbital "shell" is visible and it is measurement of the electrons themselves which produces the picture. They are invisible to our eyes, but they are measurable, so it is not inferent deduction but direct measurement which shows their existence to us.The proton is also known as ^1H^+ (^1 means 1 as a subscript, the same is true of ^+), Hydrogen-1 or Protium. This is to say that a lone proton is an ionic form of hydrogen, it is also the 3rd hydrogen in H3O^+, this too is measurable.Neutrons produced in research reactors (similar to nuclear power reactors but simpler) are used in neutron scattering experiments and are clearly measurable.Clearly we can't actually see these particles directly with our eyes as they are rather small, that does not mean that we rely on deduction to assert their existence however since we can actually measure them.

  147. 147
    Spoondoggle

    "Ok, that's pretty stupid. You're suggesting that a person who proposes a theory as yet undemonstrated counts as a lunatic until demonstrating his point. So much for Dawkins, then. No point in listening to THAT lunatic anymore. In point of fact, had the Atomists been taken more seriously,atoms might have been discovered sooner, to the great benefit of science. Maybe you ought to close your mouth for a moment – you seem to keep sticking your foot in it."We should accept every idea as true until it is proven otherwise? God is a badger.You seem to be mistaking the practice of not embracing an idea as absolute truth without evidence with simply refusing to investigate it.Here is how to approach such ideas:1) Have an idea.2) Test idea.Here is how not to approach such ideas:1) Have an idea.2) Embrace idea without evidence.

  148. 148
    Spoondoggle

    "^1 means 1 as a subscript, the same is true of ^+"By subscript I mean superscript, hopefully that was obvious, but p'raps not.

  149. 149
    Tom Foss

    I hadn't noticed this quote until Spoondoggle highlighted it: In point of fact, had the Atomists been taken more seriously,atoms might have been discovered sooner, to the great benefit of science.That's certainly a possibility, but I don't think the difference in discovery time would have been all that significant. The observations that led up to Dalton's rediscovery of the atomic theory were rather independent of any preconceived notions we had about the divisibility of matter. Specifically, technological advances in making scales made it possible to accurately measure the reactants and products of reactions, which led to the development of a host of chemical laws, which Dalton explained with an atomic hypothesis. Without that technological advancement, the groundwork for the modern atomic theory would not have been possible. That being said, the problem with rejecting the atomic theory wasn't that it was rejected (on the contrary, we reject any hypothesis until it is supported by sufficient evidence), it was in accepting the Aristotelian alternative, that matter was continuous and made of a substance called hyle. Aristotle's hypothesis was equally without evidentiary support, and should have been provisionally rejected, just as Democritus's was. We can perhaps forgive the ancient Greeks for this blunder, since the methodology of science that we recognize now hadn't actually been developed at that point.

  150. 150
    Jerry

    @Tom FossMost of your statements won't be cited here as they don't contribute anything. For example you wrote a whole paragraph (paragraph #3) explaining why it is okay to discuss these topics. (No shit, Sherlock). Then there's the usual pretense of "assessing" my position such as:"Any discussion of gods which does not include sufficient evidence to justify their existence is not likely to sway me (or anyone else) regarding their existence."According to you, this is one of those things "that Jerry doesn't seem to understand". This appears to be an intellectually dishonest assessment,patently false because, in point of fact, Jerry begged you guys NOT to accept his God. And as for "sufficient evidence" to "justify God's existence", these are misleading terms because what you really have in mind here is "decisive evidence." (Heck, I can't even provide decisive evidence that YOU exist). As already mentioned, the atheistic bias conveniently transforms the question, Is there any evidence for theism, into the rhetorical question, Isn't it true there's no DECISIVE evidence for it? Perhaps the most salient point to be made here, however, is that my argument for the existence of the soul challenges the assumption that Nature boils down to natural forces. The soul, according to my argument, exerts a physical force undefined in the science textbooks, a force that is non-predictable and unquantifiable by scientific formulae. As this is not a "natural" force (as defined in the formulae), it is best described as supernatural, which flies in the face of the assumption that there are no credible arguments (notice I didn't say DECISIVE arguments) for belief in the supernatural.Paragraph #4 seems to be an exercise in aimless rambling. What's your point? You talk about different approaches to discussing Star Trek. If most of the world believed that Stark Trek is a true story, it might be a topic worth debating on the show. One way to debate it, perhaps, is to discuss whether the narrative is internally consistent. "So, Jerry, you can continue to misunderstand and conflate these various positions or you can recognize that different individuals are trying to have a discussion with you (and regarding the show, with other believers) on different levels."Utterly ridiculous assessment, because in point of fact it's several of the OTHER posters that have confounded the levels. Whenever I made a theodicy-contention predicated upon God's existence as a methodological assumption, they usually responded, "That's not a valid argument until you prove the existence of God." Huh? Whereas I myself clearly distinguished the different levels. I said, for example, that I do NOT take God's existence as a methodological assumption when discussing evidence for theism as such. Your admonition that I need to recognize the different levels,therfore, is merely reiterating obvious points that I myself already made, in the false pretense of explaining to the other posters "those things that Jerrry doesn't understand." Stop patronizing me.

  151. 151
    Jerry

    @Tom Foss"First, chaos theory describes how very complex systems, with large numbers of moving parts, are difficult to accurately model and predict, since they are very sensitive to initial conditions."This statement is baldly misleading. Are you stooping to intellectual dishonesty here? I'd like to think not. Chaos theory is DEFINED within a deterministic metaphysic, as discussed here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory#Distinguishing_random_from_chaotic_dataAccording to the Wikipedia article:(1) The matter involved in chaotic phenomena is operating deterministically. (2) These phenomena are characterized as chaotic merely because their behavior is particularly challenging to predict. Thanks for bring up the issue, as the Wikipedia article clearly confirms my contention that matter as defined in the science textbooks operates deterministically (as though such confirmation were really necessary). You wrote:"The law of inertia describes the motion of certain kinds of objects in certain reference frames. It is inadequate and insufficient to describe the same kinds of motion in non-inertial reference frames (such as an accelerating system), at very small scales (where quantum phenomena come into play), or at very high speeds (where relativistic effects become noticeable). Nor does the law of inertia have any power to describe electric current, optical properties of substances, or a variety of other objects and systems. It essentially defines what mass is a measurement of, and that's about it."The elements mentioned here (electricity, optics, etc) – these do not operate deterministically? Too bad, because I was hoping that I could count on my car starting up this morning when I turn the ignition key…I guess there's not much hope for that now. All that randomness and chaos that you mentioned, I guess that must be the problem. I would really like a reliable car. Wishful thinking, huh? I'm DEFINITELY not going to board an airplane. Based on what you just said, that couldn't possibly be safe !!!Look, a sandwich is a sandwich is a sandwich. Science understands those particles to act predictably. The human digestive system reassembles those particles into cellular protoplasm (my body and brain). If the particles were operating deterministically BEFORE I ate the sandwich, what's to stop them from acting deterministically AFTERWARDS ??? Does the universe as understood by atheists have a preference for human bodies such that the ordinary laws of physics are suspended in that domain? Sorry, but I'm inclined to stand in agreement with Frederick Copleston's assessment that conventional matter, as defined in science, constitutes a "world of determinism".

  152. 152
    JT

    *Warning – Post Tsunami Inbound*@jerryObviously, anything that challenges the presuppositions you hold most dear is a misuse of logic. Had you any kind of COGENT objection to my logic, you'd delight to specify it. As it stands, you retort with the kind of empty, unsupported polemic rhetoric that I've come to expect in an arena like this.I didn't want to pull an all-nighter. I swore I wasn't going to be sucked into this. This is from your essay:The evidence for the existence of a soul applies to those who accept the following two assumptions:(1) The law of inertiaYou keep bringing up this "law of inertia", which sounds like you're invoking Newton's 1st law, but you keep using it as though you really mean the 2nd law in the construction of free body diagrams.

  153. 153
    JT

    (2) The reality of free will.The argument is a non-starter by applying "free will". Even coming up with a definition for it is difficult. Most atheists would accept that we have "limited" free will. Meaning, we can have the will to walk across the room, and can invoke limited muscle control, but we're ultimately constrained by the physics around us. We can have all the will we want, but that doesn't always translate into action.Without a more complete understanding of this particular premise, and its nuances, it's difficult to build a valid logical syllogism on it.The PROBLEM is that free will creates an obvious conflict with the law of inertia.The ability to choose conflicts with "a body at rest tends to stay at rest until acted on by an external force, …?"According to the Bible, God judges our SOULS rather than our BODIES. The body is an inanimate object (i.e. an object subject to the law of inertia). As such, it operates under purely mechanistic (deterministic) principles that cannot be deemed morally reprehensible.The body is a bio mechanical device, sure, but it's ran by a brain that tells it what to do. One of the things you're doing is ignoring that Newtonian physics is obsolete. It doesn't work on reletavistic scales, nor does it work on the quantum level. The concept of a "quantum mind" can "free" us from determinism without resorting to the invoking of fairies or ghosts.Again, whether we agree to an assumption-as-premise is irrelevant. That premise must be shown to be true before this logical syllogism can operate.

  154. 154
    JT

    Again, a rock canot be deemed morally repugnant because it cannot be blamed for its behavior. Neither can your brain and body be deemed morally reprehensible,I both agree and disagree. It's the sentient conciousness – the thing that makes the decision, that gets blamed. That sentient conciousness would run from the brain's circuitry.I have no idea how consciousness arises. The default answer is "we don't know". We observe that it apparently does, even if we don't know how (We may – I don't read up on it). To go from that to "magical man come down, break up some "soul" thing and implant it into embryos" is quite a leap.since they are under the law of inertia.Yes, as the brain is also affected on the quantum and relativistic levels too. I'm still not sure how inertia specifically plays a role. It would have been better to just say "laws of physics". "A brain at rest tends to stay at rest until acted on by an external force, …?"If my fist strikes you in the face – and if you are correct in judging this to be a morally reprehensible act of free will – then you cannot posit ordinary mechanical forces as the chief impetus (or at least as the ultimate causality) of the motion. The CAUSE of the motion (if we are to deem it a morally reprehensible act of free will) must be free will itself.This statement seems agreeable to me.

  155. 155
    JT

    The only way to resolve this conflict is to posit a soulWait, what?!I'm sorry, but your unfettered ignorance doesn't a logical argument make. Set aside the "quantum brain" concepts I mentioned. You're more or less invoking a colossal logical fallacy here – Argument from Ignorance. There could be all sorts of possibilities that we aren't even aware of yet.You can't make a statement like that without going out on an infinitely long limb. and this is just like positing the existence of atoms. I can't SEE atoms (just like I can't see the soul),No, it's not, I assure you. You actually can see atoms (as a mass). You just can't see individual atoms. Atoms at least construct something that we can determine to be real – matter. The question arose, "If we keep dividing matter into halves, is there a point where it becomes indivisible?" It's a good question to a real thing. You have a question to something that hasn't even been remotely been demonstrated to have any basis in reality whatsoever.It works like this. The soul is a tangible substance existing at least in my brain, and probably throughout my whole body.What is it made of? Is it more or less detectable than chackras? If it's tangible, it's by definition detectable and investigatable. As you say later on, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

  156. 156
    JT

    Thought – for instance a freely willed decision – is a process that involves physical motion within this soul. In other words, free will (a free thought) is an act of motion.The only motion, other than circulating blood to feed the brain, are the flows of electrons when neuron speaks with neuron. Those electrons are swamped in quantum issues – NOT Newtonian. When I make a freely willed decision to strike you in the face, this motion moves my brain and fist in such a way as to strike you.This is an incredibly fuzzy area, by the way. A bear can decide to sock you in the face, but it's more likely to do so because you're treading on its territory, encroaching on its young, or because you look tasty. The only difference we're talking about here is whether a decided action is "moral" or not, which can easily be structured around the realities of society. If Bob is sleeping with my wife, and I decide to punch him, it's more or less my regressing into more primitive instincts than actively deciding to something morally wrong.As a result, I am guilty.The bear would be guilty too. We just accept that's its the nature of the bear to go around socking people in the face.

  157. 157
    JT

    Whereas, if the metabolism of food into muscular energy were the ultimate cause of the blow, you couldn't blame me for striking you (you would have to blame my last meal).Of course not. But, there's three levels:1) The physical machine + fuel.2) The brain and wiring to direct the functionality3) The decision makerThe decision maker only has to push the metaphorical button to make levels 1-2 go into action. It's the puppet-master.The pertinent question is whether #3 arises naturally, or the result of magical sky man chopping up bits of some indectectable, yet somehow still tangible substance that's placed into embryos without notice, through millions of births per year.In sum, the soul is a self-propelling substance in stark contrast to objects that are essentially "stuck in place" due to the law of inertia.So that's the reference to the 1st law of motion? That's sort of a scenic-view route to saying that without the soul we'd just be rag dolls.

  158. 158
    JT

    The soul moves itself, by the power of free will. A rock does NOT move itself, due to the power of the law of inertia.Alright, you've ignored all the other perfectly natural explanations and suggested an alternative idea for how bio machines can move around.Now you have to demonstrate that it's actually real.This painfully obvious distinction between animate objects (those with a soul) and inanimate objects (those with no soul)False dichonomy. Perception does not determine reality. Just because you're in a delusional state where you're seeing ghosts, doesn't mean that it's true.Do microbes have souls? Or are they infested with demons? Do microbes go to hell? was readily apparent to the biblical writers 2000 years ago. And it's readily apparently mistaken to you too, now.It was also readily apparent that the sun moved across the sky. That doesn't mean that the assessment that Apollo dragging with his chariot was correct.

  159. 159
    JT

    The fact that modern scientists still haven't caught up with the Bible leads me to suspect that intellectual dishonesty is at work here.That's the sad thing here. Not only has science "caught up" with the bible, but has long since sailed past it, oh, about 2000 years ago.What's dishonest is touting this as the "only" explanation, while not even bothering to read up on, or attempt to refute all the neuralscience available. Science doesn't operate on the "well we don't know how ELSE this could have happened, therefore it MUST have been invisible sky monkeys!" mechanism.There is no valid logical argument here, just ignorance, fantasy and pseudoscience. There is no emperical evidence here.

  160. 160
    JT

    Back to the regular thread…In physics, the behavior of an object is determined by the vector sum of forces acting upon it and is therefore said to be predictable. This is consistent with the law of inertiaIt's actually more consistent with the 2nd law… what Frederick Copleston rightly termed "the world of determinism." If the behavior of objects were NOT predictable, science would come to a screeching halt, as it's not very practical to launch an air plane or a space shuttle if you can't create a vector sum of forces that reliably control its travel.True. That's, however, operating on the newtonian level, and sometimes relativistic. Part of the problem is that we don't have a physical model yet that works on the quantum, newtonian and relativistic levels. Having defined a deterministic metaphysics, you can't have your cake and eat it too.Sure you can, especially if they're working on different models. It's like we're talking about two programs running on two entirely different programming languages, and saying "Well you have to either code C++ programs or Python programs." No, we can do both, because they exist as different frameworks, and operate differently.

  161. 161
    JT

    Ok, that's pretty stupid. You're suggesting that a person who proposes a theory as yet undemonstrated counts as a lunatic until demonstrating his point.Yes, that's standard. Of course, this reaction is lessened with people publish their theories with the backing of a good deal of emperical evidence gathered through experimentation, which in science, is normal. It would be stupid to consider them anything else than lunatic if they don't meet these minimum requirements.So much for Dawkins, then. No point in listening to THAT lunatic anymore.What does Dawkins have to do with this? He discusses and promotes established scientific fact, not hair-brained batshit insane "theories" that typically only get imagine during the height of a drug induced hallucination.In point of fact, had the Atomists been taken more seriously,atoms might have been discovered sooner, to the great benefit of science.Perhaps, but hindsight is 20/20. For every person who is legitimately right (sans evidence), there's thousands of crackpots making claims, and it's difficult to distinguish one from the other. The only reasonable thing we can do is establish a standard of investigation, and process all the claims. If you can't even meet the minimun requirements, you wash out fairly early on.The point is, at the time, we had no reason TO take them seriously… until the scientific method could produce results.That is the correct, demonstrably accurate, approach.

  162. 162
    JT

    My CLAIM is that if a tangible God exists (as a methodological assumption for the sake of theodicy),… which makes it invalid from the get-go.He could easily divide such a tangible soul into parts. There's nothing wrong with that claim.Yes, assuming the first part is correct. You'd have to demonstrate:1) That the soul exists.2) That the god exists.3) That the soul was actually broken up.4) That the soul bits are in each of us.You can't even demonstrate ONE of those.As you objected to it, however, you're apparently asking me to demonstrate the cogency of that claim. Fine. Come over to my house. I'll pick up a pencil and snap it in two right in front of your very eyes.Don't be obtuse. I'm not asking you demonstrate whether objects can be divided, as I said before. I'm asking you to demonstrate THAT it happened. Please TRY to comprehend this vastly complex statement I just made.

  163. 163
    JT

    Maybe the real problem here is that you apparently haven't got a clue what a "methodological assumption" is, and the role it can play in a metaphysical discussion or debate.Of course I do, however, I don't really care about "metaphysical discussions". Until this "tangible" soul you describe can be demonstrated to be true, it's moot.It's like we're having an intense discussion about the internal consistency of the Harry Potter books, and whether Harry REALLY COULD fly on a broomstick, given a few methodolocial assumptions.

  164. 164
    Mathew H

    Typical believer really , thinks he knows what is unknowable and arrogantly asserts his belief to be true despite no evidence at all.Really just a way to make himself feel like he is special. with No real effort or skill required unlike when you actually achieve something through effort and work

  165. 165
    Jerry

    @JT"What's dishonest is touting this as the "only" explanation, while not even bothering to read up on, or attempt to refute all the neuralscience available Science doesn't operate on the "well we don't know how ELSE this could have happened, therefore it MUST have been invisible sky monkeys!" mechanism."These words are frankly dishonest because I didn't tout the soul as the only possible explanation. Rather I challenged the other posters to produce an alternate theory. You mention neuralscience. Hardly qualifies as an alternative, because the particles that comprise the nervous system are instances of ordinary matter defined deterministically in the science textbooks. And it's pretty easy to impugn your allusion to invisible sky monkeys. As follows. You are standing in court as a witness to an act of crime. You point your finger at the defendant stating, "I watched you commit the crime as an act of your own free will." The defendant responds, "What are you pointing at? My body and brain? That's all made of determnistic particles. Wasn't my fault." There's little doubt, however, that you are pointing in the right direction, but if the only substance in that location is his body and brain, the defendant is quite right that you've failed to establish guilt (in a strict logical sense). Seems to me you're going to have to postulate ANOTHER SUBSTANCE (one which is NOT bound up by ordinary physical laws) at that location, that is, within his body, if you're going to justify putting his BODY in prison as a punishment. That's fairly solid logic, has nothing to do with invisible sky monkeys, and SEEMS metaphysically inescapable. Postulating a soul, then, seems to me as cogent as postulating electrons, protons, and neutrons – these particles are invisible to the naked eye, and hence I have to DEDUCE them based on the data. Likewise I deduce the soul. Again, you're welcome to produce a better theory that fits the data, but it will need to overcome determinism.

  166. 166
    Jerry

    @JT"Part of the problem is that we don't have a physical model yet that works on the quantum, newtonian and relativistic levels."The dynamics operating at the quantum level are not understood to undermine the deterministic behavior of matter. Hence a scientist doesn't live in fear that maybe all these cars, electrical devices, and airplanes will desist from functioning tomorrow. "Yes, that's standard. Of course, this reaction is lessened with people publish their theories with the backing of a good deal of emperical evidence gathered through experimentation, which in science, is normal. It would be stupid to consider them anything else than lunatic if they don't meet these minimum requirements."Not true. If a proposition appears to have some internal logical consistency and cogency, the scientific community doesn't NECESSARILY deem the author a lunatic until he has proved his point. And this is easy to demonstrate as follows. One scientist telephones his friend, "I have a new scientific hypothesis – was hoping you would lend me your lab and help me test it out." His friend replies, "Help you? You bloody lunatic! Get your own lab. I refuse to help you until you prove your theory in a lab. Until you prove it, you're just a lunatic!""The point is, at the time, we had no reason TO take them seriously… until the scientific method could produce results."Not true. If a theory seems to have cogency, this is good enough reason to take it seriously, in the HOPE that, by doing so, you will eventually stumble accross a way to verify it. This is especially true if you are having difficulty producing alternative theories that fit the data (I'm still waiting for somone to announce a viable alternative to soul-theory)."The point is, at the time, we had no reason TO take them seriously… until the scientific method could produce results."Yes, but by demonstration, it's the same old "I want DECISIVE evidence" sleight-of-hand. If the data suggests a theory, and we are having difficulty producing a more cogent theory that fits the data, it is reasonable to (tentatively) accept the current theory, even if you can't produce decisive evidence. To deny this is like saying, "It was stupid of all those guys to accept Newtonian science. After all, it couldn't haven't been based on decisive evidence, as that scientific model was in error." The data seemed to fit with Newtonian theory, and alternative theories seemed less cogent. Hence it was only appropriate to (tentatively) accept Newtonian theory.

  167. 167
    Jerry

    @JT"This is an incredibly fuzzy area, by the way. A bear can decide to sock you in the face, but it's more likely to do so because you're treading on its territory, encroaching on its young, or because you look tasty. The only difference we're talking about here is whether a decided action is "moral" or not, which can easily be structured around the realities of society. If Bob is sleeping with my wife, and I decide to punch him, it's more or less my regressing into more primitive instincts than actively deciding to something morally wrong…The bear would be guilty too. We just accept that's its the nature of the bear to go around socking people in the face."If it's the NATURE of the bear to so act, then this is tantamount to saying that the bear has no indeterministic freedom and, as such, certainly cannot be deemed morally reprehensible. (As an aside, although I don't think my pets exhibit enough freedom to be reprehensible, those little guys exhibit quite a bit of personality. I'm inclined to believe they do exhibit some degree of real freedom). But if you insist that no one has freedom, then that makes you a determinist. That's just fine, if you are logically consistent with that. For instance I have no quarrel with you on this thread if you insist that Hitler had no control over his behavior, that neither he nor anyone else merits punishment. Are you such a staunch determinist? If so, I wouldn't see any grounds for you accepting my argument for a soul.

  168. 168
    JT

    @jerryI actually had another tsunami inbound, but after working on your final post, I decided it got to heart of the matter, and to just go with that.If it's the NATURE of the bear to so act, then this is tantamount to saying that the bear has no indeterministic freedom and, as such, certainly cannot be deemed morally reprehensible. I agree. My point was that we operate on that same level, plus an amount of higher cognition. We're both capable of socking people in the face, however, unlike the bear, I can stop and think about the ramifications of the action, and override my instincts if necesary.When the guy punches you in the face, he's mad, he's working more on instinct than higher cognition.(As an aside, although I don't think my pets exhibit enough freedom to be reprehensible, those little guys exhibit quite a bit of personality. I'm inclined to believe they do exhibit some degree of real freedom). But if you insist that no one has freedom, then that makes you a determinist. That's just fine, if you are logically consistent with that. For instance I have no quarrel with you on this thread if you insist that Hitler had no control over his behavior, that neither he nor anyone else merits punishment.I think we have "limited" free will. We can have the will to take whatever action, but there are some bounds we cannot cross. For instance, I may be able to inact my free will enough to walk across the room, but not necesarily to walk through the wall. Again, it depends on what free will is.

  169. 169
    JT

    Are you such a staunch determinist? If so, I wouldn't see any grounds for you accepting my argument for a soul.Nope, I'm not, however, I still don't see any grounds for accepting your argument for a soul.It's okay to have the status of "pending further evidence" as to why we can have free will in a seeminly deterministic universe.Back in the 1800s, we thought we have figured just about everything out in physics. Einstien, I believe, blew the lid off that with his theory of relativity. And since then, we've been learning more and more things that we couldn't even imagine before. Newtonian mechanics weren't wrong. They just weren't 100% right. Any "ultimate" theory that encompasses the quantum, newtonian and relativistic would explain all three in one cohesive model. We still made progress with newtonian mechanics.My point is that there could be perfectly logical and nautral explanations for these issues that we haven't even concieved of yet. Without any solid (or "decisive") evidence, I don't see any point in accepting any new argument as true.So, when you can conjure up some objective emperical evidence for a soul, god, or mechanics involved, and it survives peer review, we'll be on board, at least for that particular bit.

  170. 170
    Tom Foss

    Most of your statements won't be cited here as they don't contribute anything. For example you wrote a whole paragraph (paragraph #3) explaining why it is okay to discuss these topics. (No shit, Sherlock).It was in direct response to your repeated statements like this one: "If these topics aren't worthy of discussion, then STOP DISCUSSING THEM ON THE SHOW. If a viewer phones in wanting to debate the Bible's internal consistency, just say, 'Sorry, we find this topic to be outside the scope of the show's purview.'" Discussions of theodicy and Biblical inconsistency are not outside the show's purview, but they are meaningless navelgazing, on the level of debating sci-fi minutiae or the powers of comic book characters, unless gods can be shown to exist and/or the Bible can be shown to be reliable. I'll chalk "direct responses to his own questions" up on the list of things Jerry doesn't seem to understand. This appears to be an intellectually dishonest assessment,patently false because, in point of fact, Jerry begged you guys NOT to accept his God.I apologize, Jerry. You've been wildly inconsistent on this position, alternately saying that you're not trying to convince us and have no burden of proof, then saying that people need to pray so that more unsaved bits of Adam's soul can be saved, and that "Atheistic Bible-bashing also hardens the hearts of non-Christians to the gospel, which means fewer of them will be saved." There's also the matter of you claiming to be right and all other Christians to be wrong, and we have no way of determining that if you have no support for your claims. So which is it, Jerry? Are you trying to convince us to pray so more bits of Adam can be saved, are you trying to convince us that we need to stop bashing the Bible so we stop preventing souls from being saved, are you trying to convince us that evil isn't a problem and the Bible isn't inconsistent, are you trying to convince us that your interpretation is the correct one? Because any of those would require some evidence. And if you're not trying to convince anyone of anything, then why are you arguing?And as for "sufficient evidence" to "justify God's existence", these are misleading terms because what you really have in mind here is "decisive evidence." (Heck, I can't even provide decisive evidence that YOU exist).No, I'm not looking for decisive evidence, and I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that. It seems like you think we want evidence that amounts to absolute certainty, and that's not the case. We recognize that absolute certainty is an impossibility for nearly all beliefs, just as you seem to. However, it's trivially easy to provide evidence that I exist. Look, woo, here I am. There's a picture of me right there. Now, it's possible that I'm masquerading, that I'm using an alias, any number of other things, and I could produce other evidence to further justify the claim (my driver's license, social security card, birth certificate, etc.). That a person exists is a fairly ordinary claim, and doesn't take much evidence to justify belief (the government's satisfied with two different types of ID, for instance). That a persona and the supporting evidence are part of an elaborate hoax is a more extraordinary claim, which requires more independent evidence to believe.That a soul exists, is tangible, is part of the human body, imparts special properties to inanimate matter, and can be torn into ever-smaller pieces by God is yet a more extraordinary claim, and would require yet more evidence to justify. So far, the evidence you've provided for the existence of the soul as you describe it is about the same as the evidence that the entirety of Star Trek is a holodeck program being run by Q.

  171. 171
    Tom Foss

    As already mentioned, the atheistic bias conveniently transforms the question, Is there any evidence for theism, into the rhetorical question, Isn't it true there's no DECISIVE evidence for it?No, it boils down to "is there enough evidence to justify believing it?" There are thousands of different claims about gods and souls, all of them dealing with things that have not been detected, and which many believers say are outside the realm of our normal methods of measuring and describing unknown things–and yet still make detailed claims about what they are and how they work. All we're asking is for a little rigor: demonstrate that a thing exists before you make definitive, detailed claims about it. And if you can make definitive, detailed claims about a thing, then you ought to be able to provide evidence that it exists. If you can't, then we have to imagine that it's as real as The Force or Harry Potter's magic broom. Perhaps the most salient point to be made here, however, is that my argument for the existence of the soul challenges the assumption that Nature boils down to natural forces. The soul, according to my argument, exerts [...] a force that is non-predictable and unquantifiable by scientific formulae [...] it is best described as supernatural, which flies in the face of the assumption that there are no credible arguments (notice I didn't say DECISIVE arguments) for belief in the supernatural.No, actually, it just sounds like special pleading. "Nature boils down to natural forces, except the soul, which isn't natural." This conveniently exempts the soul from all the things which would be necessary to justify believing it, and further exempts it from the basic rules you've accepted for all other things.Paragraph #4 seems to be an exercise in aimless rambling. What's your point? You talk about different approaches to discussing Star Trek.Yes, and you apparently missed the point: unless you can demonstrate that what you're talking about is true, it looks to us the same as people talking about Star Trek. One way to debate it, perhaps, is to discuss whether the narrative is internally consistent.That's true. In fact, it was part of my point.

  172. 172
    Tom Foss

    Whenever I made a theodicy-contention predicated upon God's existence as a methodological assumption, they usually responded, "That's not a valid argument until you prove the existence of God."Yes…because those posters weren't interested in having the theodicy argument, or, alternately, wanted to know how you came about your definitive knowledge, and why they should believe you over everyone else with a theodicy argument. According to the Wikipedia article:(1) The matter involved in chaotic phenomena is operating deterministically.(2) These phenomena are characterized as chaotic merely because their behavior is particularly challenging to predict.Thanks for bring up the issue, as the Wikipedia article clearly confirms my contention that matter as defined in the science textbooks operates deterministically (as though such confirmation were really necessary).Again, you miss the point. The individual particles in a chaotic system behave deterministically, but the system as a whole is unpredictable because we can't know the initial conditions to a high enough degree of certainty. And if you take the system down to the quantum level, then things do not, in fact, behave deterministically. And so, to any extent that the initial conditions of a system rely on events at the quantum level (electron energy levels, nuclear decay, etc.), they are not strictly deterministic. The elements mentioned here (electricity, optics, etc) – these do not operate deterministically?Their behavior is not described by the law of inertia. To the degree that we are talking about events on the quantum level in either case (electrons, photons, etc.), they do not, in fact, behave deterministically, but probabilistically.All that randomness and chaos that you mentioned, I guess that must be the problem.Yes, if you live on the nanoscale, then quantum randomness would be a significant problem. Not simply that your car might not start, but that in trying to enter it, there's a decent chance that you'd instead pass out the other side via quantum tunnelling. But since you live on a macroscopic scale, the quantum randomness even out to apparent determinism. The probability of tunnelling through a solid object on the macroscale is so close to zero that you can reliably assume that it will never happen. But on the quantum scale, the enormous number of particles interacting and the enormous number of interactions mean that even very unlikely events occur with some regularity.

  173. 173
    Tom Foss

    Look, a sandwich is a sandwich is a sandwich. Science understands those particles to act predictably.You misunderstand what science understands. At the level of the sandwich, the probabilities involved are so close to certain that you can assume deterministic behavior and almost never be wrong. But at the level of the particles, the atoms and molecules that your body is rearranging into new chemical compounds, the behavior is indeed probabilistic.You can try to deny this, but in doing so, you're denying the physical underpinnings of your computer, your USB flash drive, your laser pointer, your doctor's MRI machine, even your electric stovetop. Classical physics, with its deterministic models, is a good enough approximation for things on a macroscopic scale. But once you get down to the level of atoms and subatomic particles, classical physics no longer applies. Sorry, but I'm inclined to stand in agreement with Frederick Copleston's assessment that conventional matter, as defined in science, constitutes a "world of determinism".Then you're standing in the wrong. Copleston lived during the development of quantum mechanics, born two years after Einstein's papers on Brownian motion and the photoelectric effect started the revolution, living through Bohr's model of the atom, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Schrödinger's wave equations, the discovety of particles from quarks to neutrinos, and the development of scores of technologies that rely on these principles, from the atom bomb to the microchip. And as far as I can tell, Copleston never took an advanced physics course in that time. Relying on the word of a decade-dead Jesuit priest over the actual understanding of physicists regarding the behavior of matter, behavior that you, right now, are relying on in order to read this, is a profound mistake on your part. JT: Part of the problem is that we don't have a physical model yet that works on the quantum, newtonian and relativistic levels.I would amend this a bit. Quantum mechanics covers the level of the very small, and Newtonian mechanics can be extrapolated from quantum mechanics. Similarly, general relativity covers the realm of the very large, and Newtonian mechanics can be derived from general relativity. What we don't have is something that works on all three levels.Which, I realize, is what you were saying, but Jerry is so profoundly misinformed on this subject that I wanted to make it doubly clear. Jerry again: The dynamics operating at the quantum level are not understood to undermine the deterministic behavior of matter. Hence a scientist doesn't live in fear that maybe all these cars, electrical devices, and airplanes will desist from functioning tomorrow.This is exactly wrong. It's not that quantum physics fails to undermine deterministic behavior of matter. It's that quantum physics shows that matter does not behave deterministically, and only appears to do so on larger scales, where events with very small probability average out to zero. Not true. If a proposition appears to have some internal logical consistency and cogency, the scientific community doesn't NECESSARILY deem the author a lunatic until he has proved his point.No, they don't brand him a lunatic (unless the hypothesis contradicts established observations), but they do reject his hypothesis until it is sufficiently supported by evidence.

  174. 174
    Tom Foss

    Look, a sandwich is a sandwich is a sandwich. Science understands those particles to act predictably.You misunderstand what science understands. At the level of the sandwich, the probabilities involved are so close to certain that you can assume deterministic behavior and almost never be wrong. But at the level of the particles, the atoms and molecules that your body is rearranging into new chemical compounds, the behavior is indeed probabilistic.You can try to deny this, but in doing so, you're denying the physical underpinnings of your computer, your USB flash drive, your laser pointer, your doctor's MRI machine, even your electric stovetop. Classical physics, with its deterministic models, is a good enough approximation for things on a macroscopic scale. But once you get down to the level of atoms and subatomic particles, classical physics no longer applies. Sorry, but I'm inclined to stand in agreement with Frederick Copleston's assessment that conventional matter, as defined in science, constitutes a "world of determinism".Then you're standing in the wrong. Copleston lived during the development of quantum mechanics, born two years after Einstein's papers on Brownian motion and the photoelectric effect started the revolution, living through Bohr's model of the atom, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Schrödinger's wave equations, the discovety of particles from quarks to neutrinos, and the development of scores of technologies that rely on these principles, from the atom bomb to the microchip. And as far as I can tell, Copleston never took an advanced physics course in that time. Relying on the word of a decade-dead Jesuit priest over the actual understanding of physicists regarding the behavior of matter, behavior that you, right now, are relying on in order to read this, is a profound mistake on your part. JT: Part of the problem is that we don't have a physical model yet that works on the quantum, newtonian and relativistic levels.I would amend this a bit. Quantum mechanics covers the level of the very small, and Newtonian mechanics can be extrapolated from quantum mechanics. Similarly, general relativity covers the realm of the very large, and Newtonian mechanics can be derived from general relativity. What we don't have is something that works on all three levels.Which, I realize, is what you were saying, but Jerry is so profoundly misinformed on this subject that I wanted to make it doubly clear.

  175. 175
    Tom Foss

    Jerry again: The dynamics operating at the quantum level are not understood to undermine the deterministic behavior of matter. Hence a scientist doesn't live in fear that maybe all these cars, electrical devices, and airplanes will desist from functioning tomorrow.This is exactly wrong. It's not that quantum physics fails to undermine deterministic behavior of matter. It's that quantum physics shows that matter does not behave deterministically, and only appears to do so on larger scales, where events with very small probability average out to zero. Not true. If a proposition appears to have some internal logical consistency and cogency, the scientific community doesn't NECESSARILY deem the author a lunatic until he has proved his point.No, they don't brand him a lunatic (unless the hypothesis contradicts established observations), but they do reject his hypothesis until it is sufficiently supported by evidence. If the data suggests a theory, and we are having difficulty producing a more cogent theory that fits the data, it is reasonable to (tentatively) accept the current theory, even if you can't produce decisive evidence.No, it is not. Please learn about the null hypothesis. This is why, for instance, string theory is not generally accepted by the scientific community. While it purports to explain how quantum mechanics and general relativity can be reconciled, and while it has good mathematical foundations, it is not yet supported by empirical evidence, nor has it made testable predictions that could be used as support. Consequently, despite theoretical physicists working on it for over thirty years, it is not generally accepted. Moreover, the problem with using the Atomists here is that Democritus and the early Atomists had no data to suggest that atoms existed. The hypothesis at that time was the result of pure philosophy. It was only when folks like Lavoisier and Dalton were able to collect the relevant data that the theory could be accepted.

  176. 176
    Tom Foss

    Looks like my first comment of that cascade got eaten by the comment goblins. Here's how that long post was supposed to begin: Most of your statements won't be cited here as they don't contribute anything. For example you wrote a whole paragraph (paragraph #3) explaining why it is okay to discuss these topics. (No shit, Sherlock).It was in direct response to your repeated statements like this one: "If these topics aren't worthy of discussion, then STOP DISCUSSING THEM ON THE SHOW. If a viewer phones in wanting to debate the Bible's internal consistency, just say, 'Sorry, we find this topic to be outside the scope of the show's purview.'" Discussions of theodicy and Biblical inconsistency are not outside the show's purview, but they are meaningless navelgazing, on the level of debating sci-fi minutiae or the powers of comic book characters, unless gods can be shown to exist and/or the Bible can be shown to be reliable. I'll chalk "direct responses to his own questions" up on the list of things Jerry doesn't seem to understand. This appears to be an intellectually dishonest assessment,patently false because, in point of fact, Jerry begged you guys NOT to accept his God.I apologize, Jerry. You've been wildly inconsistent on this position, alternately saying that you're not trying to convince us and have no burden of proof, then saying that people need to pray so that more unsaved bits of Adam's soul can be saved, and that "Atheistic Bible-bashing also hardens the hearts of non-Christians to the gospel, which means fewer of them will be saved." There's also the matter of you claiming to be right and all other Christians to be wrong, and we have no way of determining that if you have no support for your claims. So which is it, Jerry? Are you trying to convince us to pray so more bits of Adam can be saved, are you trying to convince us that we need to stop bashing the Bible so we stop preventing souls from being saved, are you trying to convince us that evil isn't a problem and the Bible isn't inconsistent, are you trying to convince us that your interpretation is the correct one? Because any of those would require some evidence. And if you're not trying to convince anyone of anything, then why are you arguing?

  177. 177
    Tom Foss

    Looks like the comment goblins ate the first part of my post avalanche. Here's how it was supposed to begin:Most of your statements won't be cited here as they don't contribute anything. For example you wrote a whole paragraph (paragraph #3) explaining why it is okay to discuss these topics. (No shit, Sherlock).It was in direct response to your repeated statements like this one: "If these topics aren't worthy of discussion, then STOP DISCUSSING THEM ON THE SHOW. If a viewer phones in wanting to debate the Bible's internal consistency, just say, 'Sorry, we find this topic to be outside the scope of the show's purview.'" Discussions of theodicy and Biblical inconsistency are not outside the show's purview, but they are meaningless navelgazing, on the level of debating sci-fi minutiae or the powers of comic book characters, unless gods can be shown to exist and/or the Bible can be shown to be reliable. I'll chalk "direct responses to his own questions" up on the list of things Jerry doesn't seem to understand. This appears to be an intellectually dishonest assessment,patently false because, in point of fact, Jerry begged you guys NOT to accept his God.I apologize, Jerry. You've been wildly inconsistent on this position, alternately saying that you're not trying to convince us and have no burden of proof, then saying that people need to pray so that more unsaved bits of Adam's soul can be saved, and that "Atheistic Bible-bashing also hardens the hearts of non-Christians to the gospel, which means fewer of them will be saved." There's also the matter of you claiming to be right and all other Christians to be wrong, and we have no way of determining that if you have no support for your claims. So which is it, Jerry? Are you trying to convince us to pray so more bits of Adam can be saved, are you trying to convince us that we need to stop bashing the Bible so we stop preventing souls from being saved, are you trying to convince us that evil isn't a problem and the Bible isn't inconsistent, are you trying to convince us that your interpretation is the correct one? Because any of those would require some evidence. And if you're not trying to convince anyone of anything, then why are you arguing?

  178. 178
    Tom Foss

    And as for "sufficient evidence" to "justify God's existence", these are misleading terms because what you really have in mind here is "decisive evidence." (Heck, I can't even provide decisive evidence that YOU exist).No, I'm not looking for decisive evidence, and I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that. It seems like you think we want evidence that amounts to absolute certainty, and that's not the case. We recognize that absolute certainty is an impossibility for nearly all beliefs, just as you seem to. However, it's trivially easy to provide evidence that I exist. Look, woo, here I am. There's a picture of me right there. Now, it's possible that I'm masquerading, that I'm using an alias, any number of other things, and I could produce other evidence to further justify the claim (my driver's license, social security card, birth certificate, etc.). That a person exists is a fairly ordinary claim, and doesn't take much evidence to justify belief (the government's satisfied with two different types of ID, for instance). That a persona and the supporting evidence are part of an elaborate hoax is a more extraordinary claim, which requires more independent evidence to believe.That a soul exists, is tangible, is part of the human body, imparts special properties to inanimate matter, and can be torn into ever-smaller pieces by God is yet a more extraordinary claim, and would require yet more evidence to justify. So far, the evidence you've provided for the existence of the soul as you describe it is about the same as the evidence that the entirety of Star Trek is a holodeck program being run by Q.

  179. 179
    Jerry

    @JT"It's okay to have the status of "pending further evidence" as to why we can have free will in a seemingly deterministic universe."But it's not a question of whether the universe SEEMS deterministic. It's rather that the science textbooks DEFINE ordinary matter as deterministic, and I agree with them, because oxygen will always behave as oxygen, helium like helium, and hydrogen like hydrogen. There are no exceptions. To suggest that ordinary matter is the ONLY reality that exists, therefore, is a logically unacceptable hypothesis because it leads to a self-contradictory metapysics (i.e. the postulation of free will within a deterministic fabric or framework). The atheist claims (and the TV show claims) that the world as described in the science textbooks is more credible and SENSIBLE than a dualistic worldview that, in addition to ordinary matter, also postulates the existence of a second kind of substance, this one unbound by the natural laws of science (and thus termed a supernatural substance). The question is here is, which world world view is more credible? One that is patently self-contradictory, or one that is NOT self-contradictory? "So, when you can conjure up some objective emperical evidence for a soul, god, or mechanics involved, and it survives peer review, we'll be on board, at least for that particular bit."I think this misses the force of the argument. Suppose I describe to you a very simple environment, namely a ball dropping through space. And I reassure you, "This ball has no ability to stop falling on its own. Left to itself, and based on existing laws of physics, it WILL continue falling." And let's say this statement is known to be true. I then drop the ball from a great height but it comes to a rapid halt. Which of the following two propositions, in your mind, has more credibility?(1) The system as described was complete – it was just a ball in a void.(2) A second reality of some kind must exist that put a stop to the ball. Given the underlying assumptions, proposition #1 has zero credibility. Proposition #2 seems to be a NECESSARY conclusion. I mean, if we're going to allude to lunacy in these discussions, it seems to me that a person who hard-headedly sticks with proposition #1 is quite possibly a candidate.Now let's get back to the criminal on trial. You'll probably say, "but to postulate a soul is too great a leap." Not at all. Call it whatever you want (if you don't like the term soul). The bottom line – what seems to be a necessary conclusion here – is that within the criminal's body (inasmuch as it is his body that we punish by incarceration) must be the "real criminal" (an entity reprehensible for its behavior because it can propel itself in offensive ways). For if the criminal consisted only of ordinary deterministic matter , we cannot logically justifiy punishing him for his behavior. Moreover, once we accept the idea of a self-propelling substance, I think we end up with a more cogent theory of the Big Bang. After all, there had to be a first motion as the beginning of time, because time cannot be conceived as extending infinitely back in an endless chain of events. Ordinary matter is inert and thefore would not plausibly be the catalyst for the first motion. More cogent – more credible – is a self-propelling substance.

  180. 180
    Jerry

    @Tom Foss:"Again, you miss the point. The individual particles in a chaotic system behave deterministically, but the system as a whole is unpredictable because we can't know the initial conditions to a high enough degree of certainty."Right, which is only to say that it is humanly unpredictable when the humans involved don't happen to know the initial conditions. But in terms of actual behavior, it's still fully deterministic according to the Wikipedia article."And if you take the system down to the quantum level, then things do not, in fact, behave deterministically. And so, to any extent that the initial conditions of a system rely on events at the quantum level (electron energy levels, nuclear decay, etc.), they are not strictly deterministic."(Yawn). Not deterministic, huh? Yes, it 's all very chaotic. Great. Document some examples where oxygen doesn't act like oxygen, helium like helium, and hydrogen like hydrogen. YOU seem to be missing the point. Even though quantum mechanics has some suprises at the SUBATOMIC level, matter on the whole (starting with the atomic level) behaves consistently and therefore deterministically. The oxygen, carbon, hydrogen (etc.) that constitute the criminal's body will therefore behave deterministically. WHO then is to be blamed for the crime? The oxygen? Maybe the carbon? Maybe the hydrogen?"Yes, if you live on the nanoscale, then quantum randomness would be a significant problem. Not simply that your car might not start, but that in trying to enter it, there's a decent chance that you'd instead pass out the other side via quantum tunnelling. False analogy. There are no "cars" at the quantum level, what you term here the level of the nanoscale."But since you live on a macroscopic scale, the quantum randomness even out to apparent determinism."Exactly my point."You misunderstand what science understands. At the level of the sandwich, the probabilities involved are so close to certain that you can assume deterministic behavior and almost never be wrong. But at the level of the particles, the atoms and molecules that your body is rearranging into new chemical compounds, the behavior is indeed probabilistic."Uh oh, now I AM worried that my car won't start. Maybe when it attempts to ignite some fuel using oxygen, perhaps the oxygen won't even act like oxygen due to the all the chaos at the quantum level. Can you document that?

  181. 181
    Tom Foss

    Right, which is only to say that it is humanly unpredictable when the humans involved don't happen to know the initial conditions. But in terms of actual behavior, it's still fully deterministic according to the Wikipedia article.The point, in its relevance to your argument, is that "free will" need not require some supernatural explanation. In a strictly deterministic system, "free will" might simply be an illusion caused by having a chaotic system with many different parts–for instance, a brain composed of billions of neurons in different arrangements. Until you can demonstrate that "free will" is not something illusory in this way, there's no need to posit a supernatural explanation. Great. Document some examples where oxygen doesn't act like oxygen, helium like helium, and hydrogen like hydrogen.You don't seem to understand what determinism actually means, that a system's current state is determined by prior states, and that all events are linked in a chain of causes and effects. This is not the case on the quantum level, where uncertainty and randomness are key features of the universe. So yes, Hydrogen typically behaves like Hydrogen. But hydrogen behaves both like a particle and a wave, sometimes in the course of the same experiment. Sometimes the neutron in a Helium atom becomes a proton and an electron. A single electron often behaves as if it's more than one particle. And none of these events or effects can be determined by knowing prior states; they can only be determined to some degree of certainty. Not because of a limitation of human measurements, but because of the limitations of the universe itself.

  182. 182
    Tom Foss

    YOU seem to be missing the point. Even though quantum mechanics has some suprises at the SUBATOMIC level, matter on the whole (starting with the atomic level) behaves consistently and therefore deterministically.No, you are the one missing the point. You're treating determinism as if it's a hard-and-fast rule that quantum mechanics violates. It isn't. The apparently deterministic behavior of macroscopic objects is an illusion created by averaging out the nondeterministic behavior of large numbers of individual particles over time. The fact that this randomness is built into the universe at the very smallest scales means that the universe is not strictly deterministic. This means that we do not necessarily need to resort to a supernatural explanation for "free will." Even if such a thing can be shown with certainty to exist and not be an illusion caused by chaotic systems, there is already a known mechanism by which nondeterministic events can occur in this universe. If we were to posit the existence of a supernatural soul, we would first need to rule out the possibility that the mind is the result of nondeterministic quantum interactions and events. False analogy. There are no "cars" at the quantum level, what you term here the level of the nanoscale.No, it's just an analogy. You committed a fallacy of composition by assuming that randomness at the subatomic level would translate to the same kind of randomness at the macroscopic scale. Uh oh, now I AM worried that my car won't start. Maybe when it attempts to ignite some fuel using oxygen, perhaps the oxygen won't even act like oxygen due to the all the chaos at the quantum level. Can you document that?Again, fallacy of composition. You also fail to understand the laws of truly large numbers, what determinism actually means, and frankly, how probability works. Yes, there's a chance that some of the individual oxygen atoms in your gas tank will tunnel through the side of the tank itself. There's an even better chance that a few of the atoms of oxygen in your tank will decay every so often, producing a positron and an atom of nitrogen. We can not only document these properties, but we can determine the probability that they will occur in a given timeframe, and we can utilize them for technological applications (flash drives work on quantum tunneling, for instance). Before you go talking about what the universe is like and what supernatural entities are required by properties of the universe, you may want to make sure that your understanding of the universe is not over a century out-of-date.

  183. 183
    JT

    @jerryBut it's not a question of whether the universe SEEMS deterministic. It's rather that the science textbooks DEFINE ordinary matter as deterministic,Seems yes, because its not deterministic on all levels. That's what we've been repeatedly explaining to you. Those same science textbooks, if you had bothered to read them, would inform you that the determinism on the newtonian level is not equivalent to what happens on the quantum level. and I agree with them, because oxygen will always behave as oxygen, helium like helium, and hydrogen like hydrogen. There are no exceptions.I am curious where you get your information, because determinism vs. non-determinism isn't about whether hyrdogen will stop acting like hydrogen, or not. This is just yet another gross misrepresentation of science.Determinism deals with sequence of events, and whether the events can be determine ahead of time, knowing the initial conditions. Take the electrons, which are the critical component of brain activity, by the way. They exist around the nucleus as probability clouds, where the location of the electron is entirely unpredictable. The only thing we can say about its position is that there's an area that it's probable to find it. It's not orbiting the nucleus like a moon would.Because it's unpredictible, and because the starting conditions keep changing, there's no way to determine what the outcome events will be. Thus, it's non-deterministic, even if on the newtonian level, things can be.

  184. 184
    JT

    To suggest that ordinary matter is the ONLY reality that exists, therefore, is a logically unacceptable hypothesisWho said that? Are you hallucinating? We accept that matter exists because we can demonstrate that it exists. When something new comes along, and it's supported by evidence, we'll accept that too.The atheist claims (and the TV show claims) that the world as described in the science textbooks is more credible and SENSIBLE than a dualistic worldview that, in addition to ordinary matter, also postulates the existence of a second kind of substance, this one unbound by the natural laws of science (and thus termed a supernatural substance). The question is here is, which world world view is more credible?How about the one that's real and supported by evidence? That'd be a good place to start. One that is patently self-contradictory, or one that is NOT self-contradictory? You haven't even remotely made the case that it's self-contradictory. How could you, considering how misinformed you are about science?

  185. 185
    JT

    I think this misses the force of the argument. … blah blah blah … opositions, in your mind, has more credibility?(1) The system as described was complete – it was just a ball in a void.(2) A second reality of some kind must exist that put a stop to the ball. Given the underlying assumptions, proposition #1 has zero credibility. Proposition #2 seems to be a NECESSARY conclusion. I mean, if we're going to allude to lunacy in these discussions, it seems to me that a person who hard-headedly sticks with proposition #1 is quite possibly a candidate.I agree. Except, this situation isn't that.It's more like defining the system as "the object is falling, and can smack into something to stop it", and you're insisting, "There's no way that the ball could stop on its own, despite the science of the system that states otherwise, so a magical invisible monkey must have projected a magical force field to stop it!"Now let's get back to the criminal on trial. You'll probably say, "but to postulate a soul is too great a leap." Not at all. Call it whatever you want (if you don't like the term soul).My problem is that a thing is being postulated that has zero evidence to back it up, whatever we call it.

  186. 186
    JT

    The bottom line – what seems to be a necessary conclusion here – is that within the criminal's body (inasmuch as it is his body that we punish by incarceration) must be the "real criminal" (an entity reprehensible for its behavior because it can propel itself in offensive ways).I agree.For if the criminal consisted only of ordinary deterministic matter , we cannot logically justifiy punishing him for his behavior. The physical body is, the mind isn't. You keep attempting to apply newtonian mechanics to the quantum level.It doesn't work that way, I'm sorry.Moreover, once we accept the idea of a self-propelling substance, I think we end up with a more cogent theory of the Big Bang. After all, there had to be a first motion as the beginning of time, because time cannot be conceived as extending infinitely back in an endless chain of events.Special pleading here. The uncaused cause is a logical fallacy. The fact is, we don't know. Sure, it may make for a convenient answer, but unless it can be backed up with evidence, it's still nothing more than a conjecture. The Big Bang theory doesn't include what "started" it, by the way.Ordinary matter is inert and thefore would not plausibly be the catalyst for the first motion. More cogent – more credible – is a self-propelling substance.The more made-up, no-evidence answer, you mean.

  187. 187
    Jerry

    @Tom Foss"The point, in its relevance to your argument, is that "free will" need not require some supernatural explanation. In a strictly deterministic system, "free will" might simply be an illusion caused by having a chaotic system with many different parts–for instance, a brain composed of billions of neurons in different arrangements. Until you can demonstrate that "free will" is not something illusory in this way, there's no need to posit a supernatural explanation. "Again, that's fine, if free will is an illusion in your view, this would exempt you from my argument for the soul. I merely challenge people to be logically consistent. And personally I don't think you are consistent. I think you DO believe in free will, that you DO believe in punishing criminals, and the rub is that none of this makes strict logical sense in a deterministic system."You don't seem to understand what determinism actually means, that a system's current state is determined by prior states, and that all events are linked in a chain of causes and effects. This is not the case on the quantum level, where uncertainty and randomness are key features of the universe."I thought I was clear. I'll try this again. I don't CARE what happens on the quantum level. If oxygen acts like oxygen 99.99% of the time, and so with carbhon, hydrogen, etc, then the behavior of the human body is too determinisitic to incur guilt, regardless of any anomalies at the quantum level. "The apparently deterministic behavior of macroscopic objects is an illusion created by averaging out the nondeterministic behavior of large numbers of individual particles over time. The fact that this randomness is built into the universe at the very smallest scales means that the universe is not strictly deterministic. This means that we do not necessarily need to resort to a supernatural explanation for "free will." Even if such a thing can be shown with certainty to exist and not be an illusion caused by chaotic systems, there is already a known mechanism by which nondeterministic events can occur in this universe. If we were to posit the existence of a supernatural soul, we would first need to rule out the possibility that the mind is the result of nondeterministic quantum interactions and event."Again, what components of the brain are not acting deterministically in your view? Is it the oxygen? The carbon? The hydrogen? Ultimately the nervous system consists of parts, and if those parts consist of elements (such as hydrogen) that act consistently (and thus deterministically), you cannot justifiably condemn the brain and body for its behavior. Sorry, but that would make zero sense. You speak of whether the mind is the product of nondeterministic quantum interactions. Irrelevant. I don't CARE how sentience arises. My argument does NOT stand or fall on whether sentience is possible epiphenomenally. (I'm aware of that debate but am not indulging in it). It's rather a causality argument. Particles (at the atomic level and higher) operate in a consistent, well-documented fashion according to rules of motion and chemistry. This leads to determinism, in terms of what happens at the atomic and molecular levels (regardless of any chaos at the quantum level).

  188. 188
    Jerry

    @Tom FossIn large part, quantum mechanics indicates that the position of an electron in orbit around a nucleus can't be pinpointed with the precision once hoped. But this doesn't lead to an unreliability of how atoms act. It doesn't imply, for example, that a given chemical has no consistent set of properties or behavior. Regardless of what is happening in terms of sentience (subjective human experience), free will (if we are to justiably punish the criminal) involves a CAUSALITY factor – his power of choice must move the body in a way that transcends and OVERRIDES ordinary deterministic physical laws so that, in effect, oxygen no longer acts like mere oxygen, carbon like mere carbon, and so on. I can only think of two ways for this happen.(1) The laws of physics are suspended in the human body at the moment of free will such that free will (as experienced in sentience) is now the controlling factor. Not likely. I don't see how, in an atheistic world view, the universe is going to make special exceptions for human bodies. THAT would be special pleading. (2) A substance within the body, which is NOT inert like ordinary matter, but rather is self-propelling by free choice, functions as a catalyst in the brain or nervous system as to cause a deviation from the usual deterministic, rigid ways that atoms and chemicals normally behave. In this view, it's not really that oxygen ceases to behave like oxygen, or carbon like carbon, but rather that a new physical causal-factor is interfering with their usual regimen. NOW the criminal can't protest, "I am innocent because my brain and body were merely operating according to the rigid laws of physics and chemistry which I cannot change."In soul-theory, then, the criminal CAN change how particles and chemicals fundamentally operate, not by supending the laws of physics and chemistry, but by introducing a causal factor that acts physically upon those particles and chemicals. To summarize (if we go back to my ball-falling-in-the-void-analogy), you've got two choices.(1) Reality consists only of ordinary matter. The system, as described in the science textbooks, is complete. This seems pretty hard-headed, as that system doesn't allow free will (in the physical-CAUSALITY sense – even though it perhaps allows for free will in terms of subjective sentient experience). (2) Conclude that there must be another substance or force, not originally mentioned in the science textbooks, that justifies punishing a criminal's body (i.e. incarcerating it). Again, this seems to be a logically NECESSARY postulation, even as it was necessary to postulate some kind of reality (such as a ceiling or floor) to bring the ball's downward flight to a halt. "Take the electrons, which are the critical component of brain activity, by the way. They exist around the nucleus as probability clouds, where the location of the electron is entirely unpredictable. The only thing we can say about its position is that there's an area that it's probable to find it. It's not orbiting the nucleus like a moon would. Because it's unpredictible, and because the starting conditions keep changing, there's no way to determine what the outcome events will be."Again, regardless of what happens at the quantum level, there is a consistency in chemical behavior. In fact this consistency is a presupposition of scientific investigation. If scientists felt that quantum mechanics rules out the possibility of consistent chemistry, they would be highly pessimistic about making significant progress in studying the brain. If we extracted chemicals from the brain into a lab, the scientists would expect them to behave (in the lab) with consistency and thus deterministically. To even suggest that those chemicals operate unpredictably in the human body is therefore special pleading. Again, oxygen behaves like oxygen, carbon like carbon, and so on.

  189. 189
    Tom Foss

    Again, that's fine, if free will is an illusion in your view, this would exempt you from my argument for the soul. I merely challenge people to be logically consistent. And personally I don't think you are consistent. I think you DO believe in free will, that you DO believe in punishing criminals, and the rub is that none of this makes strict logical sense in a deterministic system.I don't see how disbelieving in free will would necessarily preclude punishing criminals. But then, it really all depends on what is meant by "free will." Personally, since I recognize that the universe is not strictly deterministic, I also recognize that there's no conflict between the laws of physics as we know them and the existence of something like free will. I don't CARE what happens on the quantum level. If oxygen acts like oxygen 99.99% of the time, and so with carbhon, hydrogen, etc, then the behavior of the human body is too determinisitic to incur guilt, regardless of any anomalies at the quantum level.You certainly have a strange idea of what determinism means. It doesn't mean "things act like what they are." Regardless, the quantum level, as JT has pointed out repeatedly, is quite relevant to the functioning of the human brain, which relies on electrical impulses and other events that are highly sensitive to quantum effects. You may not care what happens, and you may think that the body is deterministic enough. I tend to agree with you. The problem is whether or not the brain (and consequently, the mind) is deterministic, and I don't think you've justified claiming that it is. Again, if your argument for the existence of the soul relies on the idea that the universe is deterministic, then it fails on that premise alone. If your argument for the existence of the soul is that the mind cannot naturally arise from a deterministic brain, then you first have to show that the brain is in fact deterministic. If your argument is that there must be a soul because it would be wrong to punish people for actions that were predetermined, then you're making a fallacious argument from adverse consequences.

  190. 190
    Tom Foss

    Again, what components of the brain are not acting deterministically in your view?The electrical impulses, at the very least. Ultimately the nervous system consists of parts, and if those parts consist of elements (such as hydrogen) that act consistently (and thus deterministically), you cannot justifiably condemn the brain and body for its behavior.Determinism is not consistency. Again, you fail to understand what determinism means. It refers to all events being connected by a strict chain of cause and effect, and that every event derives from previous conditions. This is not the case on the most basic level of matter, and the brain relies on effects at that level. My argument does NOT stand or fall on whether sentience is possible epiphenomenally.Actually, yes, it does. You have claimed that the existence of the soul is required by the law of inertia, because you think said law applies to the human brain and precludes the notion of free will, which you assume exists. In order to justify your assumption that free will exists and satisfy your assertion that free will cannot naturally arise in a universe that operates on the law of inertia, you posit the existence of a supernatural soul. If I have gotten anything wrong in there, please let me know. But it seems that your whole justification for positing a supernatural soul relies on the presumption that the universe is deterministic and that free will is not. But in order to justify those assumptions and assertions, you have to demonstrate both that free will is not deterministic and that the universe is deterministic. Chaos theory allows for the possibility of a deterministic free will; quantum theory describes the inherent indeterminism in the universe. In order to justify how the law of inertia requires a soul (as you have said), then you must solve these problems. Otherwise, there is no need to posit a supernatural explanation for free will. Until all natural options are exhausted, or until evidence is provided for the supernatural explanation, the supernatural option remains an unparsimonious argument from ignorance. It doesn't imply, for example, that a given chemical has no consistent set of properties or behavior.Again, this is not determinism. That being said, again, this is still wrong. Quantum mechanics describes phenomena like nuclear decay, quantum tunneling, particle diffraction, and other events that do involve unpredictable, inconsistent behavior. For a particle to spontaneously become another particle, for a particle to travel through a solid barrier, for a particle to interact with itself or with other objects as if it were a wave, and for all of these events to occur randomly, is quite indeterministic.

  191. 191
    Tom Foss

    Regardless of what is happening in terms of sentience (subjective human experience), free will (if we are to justiably punish the criminal) involves a CAUSALITY factor – his power of choice must move the body in a way that transcends and OVERRIDES ordinary deterministic physical laws so that, in effect, oxygen no longer acts like mere oxygen, carbon like mere carbon, and so on.Frankly, this makes no sense. Causality is the key component of determinism. I thought you claimed that the soul was nondeterministic. What about committing a crime overrides normal physical laws? What about committing a crime is tantamount to making an atom act like some other atom? If I steal from a store or shoot another person, I have done nothing that violates any law of physics. I can only think of two ways for this happen.This is the very definition of the argument from ignorance. "I cannot imagine how it could be different, therefore it must not be different." Your imagination is not infallible. Your argument seems to be predicated on the injustice of punishing someone if their actions are determined by prior conditions. So what? One who commits a crime, whether or not they have free will, is statistically likely to commit crime again, especially if they face no penalties for committing that crime. Imprisoning criminals whose actions were wholly determined by prior deterministic causes might seem unjust to the criminal, who was only doing what he had to do, but is just from the perspective of society (who is doing the imprisoning), since they prevent that criminal from committing more crimes. Moreover, if the system is wholly deterministic, then the people doing the imprisoning have no choice but to imprison the criminal, since that would also be caused by prior conditions. "Justice" never even enters into it, if everything is predetermined. In soul-theory, then, the criminal CAN change how particles and chemicals fundamentally operate, not by supending the laws of physics and chemistry, but by introducing a causal factor that acts physically upon those particles and chemicals.So instead of the laws of physics being suspended by some unknown process (as you posit in your first, discarded, explanation), the laws of physics are instead suspended by an undetectable supernatural process. I fail to see how this solves the problem you pose.

  192. 192
    Tom Foss

    To summarize (if we go back to my ball-falling-in-the-void-analogy), you've got two choices.Even if your analogy weren't considerably flawed, this would still be a false dilemma. You may not be able to imagine other scenarios or possibilities, but that does not preclude their existence. Consequently, the only reasonable choice would be not to postulate some additional substance or force operating supernaturally, but to say we don't know, and collect more data. Again, regardless of what happens at the quantum level, there is a consistency in chemical behavior. In fact this consistency is a presupposition of scientific investigation.I'm going to chalk your failure to understand at this point up to stubbornness, because this point has been made to you repeatedly, by myself and JT, and you continue to misstate it. Chemical behavior is determined by the events at the quantum level. Chemicals interact on the quantum level. Chemical compounds are formed from interactions between electron shells, which are quantum phenomena. The assumption of consistency is a practical one, not a fundamental one. At the scale of human observations, the quantum events with the highest probability of occurring are the ones which are noticed. You don't see the behavior of individual particles when you mix two chemicals in a test tube, you see the average behavior of millions of particles. If scientists felt that quantum mechanics rules out the possibility of consistent chemistry, they would be highly pessimistic about making significant progress in studying the brain. Quantum physics doesn't rule out consistent chemistry. Quantum physics is the basis for all modern chemistry. Everything that we know about chemicals relies on what we know about quantum physics, from the periodic properties of the elements to the interactions of chemicals in reactions, to radioactive decay. These quantum events can be modeled probabilistically; different events have different probabilities of occurring. When you take a very large number of particles (as in any chemical interaction), the events that have high probability of occurring will occur in most of the particles; the low-probability events will occur in far fewer particles. Consequently, what the observer sees is most of the particles doing what most of the particles were expected to do. Those few particles which behave unexpectedly (or more accurately, in an expected-but-low-probability fashion) do not get noticed by the observer. This doesn't mean that their effects can be ignored. In some cases, sure, the effects are so small that they become part of the normal background noise. But just ask the residents of Hiroshima how ignorable rare quantum events are. The nuclear chain reaction that powers nuclear plants and nuclear weapons can be triggered by a single particle decaying; the decay event is uncaused, unpredictable, and wholly indeterministic, but can obviously have major macroscopically-observable effects. And until you could demonstrate that the human mind is not the product of similar chain reactions in the human brain–consisting of electrical impulses rather than nuclear decay, but still potentially starting with the unpredictable behavior of unbound electrons–then there is no reason to posit a supernatural explanation for the apparent phenomenon of free will.

  193. 193
    Jerry

    @Tom FossPart OneMaybe I can clarify the argument this way. Consider the criminal. Did he put the law of gravity in place? The law of inertia? The principles of chemistry? The principles of quantum mechanics? He can't be blamed for any of this. And by the power of his free will, can he suspend the law of gravity? The principles of chemistry? Quantum mechanics? He can't suspend any of these LAWS. He is therefore warranted in complaining (unless we introduce another factor here), "I am not to blame for the actions of my body and brain because the constituent particles act according to the rigid laws of chemistry and physics." After all, it is a presupposition of science that these laws DICTATE how particles behave. A particle is not understood as having the capacity to suspend these laws. You keep talking about quantum mechanics, but the laws of quantum mechanics do not operate differently for sentient versus non-sentient beings. The universe whose laws dictate the behavior of non-sentient matter must be understood as EQUALLY dictating the matter within the human body (to suggest otherwise is special pleading). Behavior dictated by the universe's immutable laws is not an instance of free will. You want to say that, because there is some degree of randomness at the quantum level, that the universe is NOT dictating the criminal's body. That isn't a reasonable conclusion, for the following reason. An electron is not free. Although it's position may be difficult to pinpoint, it is it is not as though it can reduce the probability of its appearing at a particular location to zero. This is radically different than libertarian freedom, wherein the criminal CAN decide to abstain from moving his body to a particular location forever. Thus the laws of quantum mechanics DO dictate the behavior of electrons, even if they do so with SLIGHTLY rigidity than originally anticipated by pre-quantum scientists. This is not freedom, but determinism. The criminal's body as such has no freedom to control how particles behave at the quantum level because it cannot suspend those laws. Your appeals to quantum theory as a basis for freedom are completely unintelligible."Consequently, the only reasonable choice would be not to postulate some additional substance or force operating supernaturally, but to say we don't know, and collect more data."Whoa. Not so fast. Free will (if it is to be regarded as reprehensible) MUST be defined as a force that moves matter. Because, viz., a criminal's body is witnessed to perform a crime. What DICTATED or CAUSED the motions of his body? If free will caused it, then free will must be defined as a causal force that moves matter. If free will did NOT cause it (i.e. if the laws of physics beyond the criminal's control caused it), then what we have here is determinism, because we would have no justifiable basis for blaming HIM for physical laws which he did not put in place. Sorry, that's how free will (in the reprehensible sense) must be logically defined. Please not well that I am NOT saying that the concept of free will necessitates a special substance or force (continued below).

  194. 194
    Jerry

    @Tom FossPart Two As I belabored in my last post (although I don’t think you caught it), we could hypothetically imagine the sentient experience of free choice existing without any special substance or force. As I tried to make clear in that last post, I'm strictly referring to free will in the REPREHENSIBLE SENSE of blaming a man's free will for the criminal behavior of his body. This kind of free will unavoidably attributes a physical force to free will. (It blames the free will for moving his body in the act of crime). This is simply a DEFINITION of (reprehensible) free will, not an unwarranted postulation of the supernatural. However, as this force isn't found in the list of natural forces named in the physics textbooks, one understandably inclines toward the term "supernatural" as an arguably appropriate classification. No quarrel there. Quantum physics could be violated if ordinary particles, such as electrons, had in themselves this free-will-force. Like the criminal, the electron could thereby opt to forever shun a particular location in space. In point of fact the empirical data flies in the face of the notion that ordinary matter violates the laws of physics at times.Ok, at issue now is this force. Where is it? In what, if anything, does it inhere? It's not an attribute of the body, for reasons already explained. Does it magically follow the criminal wherever he goes? Is there a kind of Occasionalism at work such that, when the criminal's mind makes a free choice, suddenly "the force" appears out of nowhere to enact his decision (i.e. move his body)? Isaac Newton rightly rejected, as logically incoherent, the notion of an immaterial force such as gravity acting across a distance. Far more cogent is it to postulate a tangible substance (whether waves or particles) that moves the body in criminal acts by making direct physical contact with it. You'll respond, I suppose, "I'm not going to postulate anything until I have proof." To me, that seems like stubbornly saying I'm not going to believe in electrons until I can see them with my own eyes. I DEDUCE the electron, and likewise the soul, based on the data (vis a vis the underlying assumptions, in this case the assumption of reprehensible freedom). I cannot abandon the assumption of free will in good conscience – but that's not even the point. The point is that the majority of human beings, including the scientific community, accepts the concept of reprehensible free will and therefore must recognize it as a special physical force to be logically consistent. THAT'S the main point of the argument.

  195. 195
    Jeremiah

    Well, I have been busy having a weekend so I am about 50 posts behind but….Nobody is saying the topic shouldn't be discussed. You are trying to say that if the problem of evil doesn't apply in situation A (your stripped down god) then it shouldn't be applied to situation B (mainstream Christian god) and that simply isn't true. Atheists respond to the claim being made and if the claim doesn't square with the bible then it is perfectly reasonable to point that out.Of course it would be appropriate to inform them that they have now embraced bizzare science (no argument there). However, would it also be appropriate to bash the book?If the book was as poorly written as the bible, then yes it would be appropriate to bash the book. The bible completely fails to convey it's message (whatever that may be) and that is the point a lot of people are trying to make. The only way that any consistency can be stitched together is by relying on making up what's in the gaps. That right there points to major failings in the book. If any science book said that gravity pulls stuff to the ground and left you to figure out the rest it would be crap and would tossed in the nearest garbage can.

  196. 196
    Jeremiah

    …because I didn't tout the soul as the only possible explanation. Rather I challenged the other posters to produce an alternate theory. And it is wrong-headed to do that. It is the old, "my believing is justified until someone proves my nonsense is wrong with 100% certainty" tripe. If one guy says thunder is angels bowling and challenges others for an alternate theory, even if nobody on earth could come up with any idea at all on what causes thunder, that wouldn't make any made up assertation justified. If I had a magic wand and could drill one single point into theists heads it would be "I don't know" is the right answer to give when we don't actually know something.As for free will, I tend more toward determinism but I suppose it could be some sort of emergent property or something. Regardless I am happy with "I don't know" how free will works until we actually figure it out. On top of that, I don't see any reason to posit a soul to solve the problem any more than I would posit that we are all video game characters being controlled by super powerful space aliens on their Playstation 900s. Your soul theory is just more 'god of the gaps' thinking. Your only 'evidence' for a soul is free will and at best that points us to a gap in our knowledge (free will), it doesn't point us to any answers.

  197. 197
    Tom Foss

    He is therefore warranted in complaining (unless we introduce another factor here), "I am not to blame for the actions of my body and brain because the constituent particles act according to the rigid laws of chemistry and physics."And he can complain all he wants. If free will exists, then it's just to punish him. If free will does not exist, then what does it matter? If he is punished, it is because the people doing the punishing had no more say in their actions than he did in his. He can complain all he wants, but the injustice lies not with those punishing him, but with the same properties of the universe driving those people to punish him. His problem is with the universe, not the jury. After all, it is a presupposition of science that these laws DICTATE how particles behave.They most certainly do not. Laws, as I explained in one of my earliest posts on this thread, are descriptions, usually mathematical, of how phenomena occur. They do not have the power to dictate how particles will behave. You have this exactly backwards. The universe whose laws dictate the behavior of non-sentient matter must be understood as EQUALLY dictating the matter within the human body (to suggest otherwise is special pleading).The only person here suggesting that there is something exempt from the basic laws of physics is you, with your supernatural soul hypothesis. Behavior dictated by the universe's immutable laws is not an instance of free will.So what? Not only is "free will" insufficiently specifically defined for us to really say anything about it, but you haven't demonstrated that it exists and is a non-illusory phenomenon. You want to say that, because there is some degree of randomness at the quantum level, that the universe is NOT dictating the criminal's body.No. I say that because there is a degree of randomness at the quantum level, the universe is not strictly deterministic. Consequently, we have a possible mechanism for free will to arise naturally, working within the laws of the universe, without resorting to unparsimonious supernatural explanations.

  198. 198
    Tom Foss

    An electron is not free. Although it's position may be difficult to pinpoint, it is it is not as though it can reduce the probability of its appearing at a particular location to zero.Actually, its position is impossible to pinpoint with certainty. There are, however, regions where the probability of its appearing is zero, due to properties relating to its quantum numbers. But that's kind of another story. This is radically different than libertarian freedom, wherein the criminal CAN decide to abstain from moving his body to a particular location forever.I don't think this conversation can really proceed until you define what you mean when you say "free will." This is not freedom, but determinism.No, it is not determinism. Being constrained by the properties of the universe is not determinism; determinism is the belief that all events are linked in a chain of cause and effect, and that each event derives necessarily from previous conditions. Determinism is not "consistency," nor is it "being constrained by physical laws." The criminal's body as such has no freedom to control how particles behave at the quantum level because it cannot suspend those laws. Your appeals to quantum theory as a basis for freedom are completely unintelligible.You would be the expert in unintelligibility. So far, you have redefined "god," "soul," "day," "Adam," "law," "inertia," "determinism," and "free will" to fit your own personal meanings. You can play Humpty Dumpty all you want with language, but it doesn't actually change what words mean. And until you explain what you mean by "free will" and figure out a word for the concept you're mangling "determinism" to represent, any discussion is going to be rather fruitless. Whoa. Not so fast. Free will (if it is to be regarded as reprehensible) MUST be defined as a force that moves matter.Again, redefining terms. A force is defined as the product of mass times acceleration. Forces are measurable (in Newtons), physical phenomena. Forces are well-understood in physics, and have particular properties that we should be able to examine. So, I ask: is free will a fundamental force like gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, or the weak interaction? If so, what boson mediates its interactions with matter? Is it a mechanical force, like the ones described by Newton's laws? If so, what is its equal and opposite force, as per Newton's third law? Or is it a pseudoforce, like centrifugal force? If that's the case, in which reference frames does free will arise, and in which reference frames does it disappear? What DICTATED or CAUSED the motions of his body?I suppose it depends on what part of the body, but I would suspect it went something like this: the motion was caused by the contraction and relaxation of muscles (powered by energy taken from the food the criminal has eaten, stored in the form of ATP), which was caused by nerve impulses traveling to the muscles along a network of neurons (mediated by various neurotransmitters and electrochemicals), which was caused by electrical activity in the brainstem or the brain itself. Where does the initial command to move the body come from? Well, that's an interesting question, one which has been explored by neuroscientists. And one of the findings so far is that the brain commits to decisions before the conscious mind is aware of having made them. So what is free will, Jerry? Is it a feature of the conscious mind? Is it something that precedes conscious awareness? And what about when my body moves in ways that I am not willing to occur, such as when I reflexively kick during a physical, or when my bicep was twitching earlier today? How does free will impinge on those things?

  199. 199
    Tom Foss

    The neuroscience of free will is a fascinating subject, and one that's in its infancy. The more we probe and study the brain, the more we find out about how the mind is created by the brain's neurons. In any case, it appears to me that "free will" doesn't have to be able to move matter, it only has to be able to generate particular electrical conditions in the brain. The movement of matter comes later, through well-understood biological processes. As I tried to make clear in that last post, I'm strictly referring to free will in the REPREHENSIBLE SENSE of blaming a man's free will for the criminal behavior of his body. This kind of free will unavoidably attributes a physical force to free will.I fail to see how this argument is anything more than a fallacious appeal to adverse consequences. You're trying to draw logical conclusions and make existence claims based on the practical necessities of the penal system. (It blames the free will for moving his body in the act of crime)Actually, I'd say that it blames the "free will" for deciding to make the body move in the act of a crime. However, as this force isn't found in the list of natural forces named in the physics textbooks, one understandably inclines toward the term "supernatural" as an arguably appropriate classification. No quarrel there.Quarrel: this is equivocation. There's a difference between physical forces (the ones in textbooks) and circumstantial forces (for lack of a better term). When a teenager says "my mom is forcing me to mow the lawn," they don't mean "my mom is exchanging virtual particles with me that are directly causing me to mow the lawn," or even "my mom is taking control of my limbs in such a way that I cannot help but mow the lawn," but "my mom is exerting some degree of social control over me that obligates me to mow the lawn." These are not the same kind of forces. The force which moves my fingers as I type is the mechanical force of my hand and arm muscles contracting; the force which causes those muscles to contract is the electromagnetic force, which manifests as electrical impulses that travel from my brain through my nerves to my hands and arms. My "free will," if such a thing exists, is the part of my mind which exerts control over these forces. It does not, however, exert the same control over the same forces which send electrical impulses to my stomach to digest my food, or to my heart to pump blood, which happen whether or not I will them to, and which I cannot by force of will stop from happening. "Free will" continues to shrink, in my approximation. At this point, it seems to be a portion of the mind which can organize particular electrical states, sending particular impulses, but is impotent to send or stop other particular impulses that originate in other parts of the brain and/or brainstem. It doesn't need to be defined as a force, only a decision engine, and one with a scope that is limited not only by the laws of physics (I cannot, for instance, will myself to float above the ground) but also limited by biology (I cannot consciously stop my large intestine from removing the water from my digested food).

  200. 200
    Tom Foss

    Like the criminal, the electron could thereby opt to forever shun a particular location in space. In point of fact the empirical data flies in the face of the notion that ordinary matter violates the laws of physics at times.The criminal also cannot violate the laws of physics. No matter how much he wills it, he cannot fly under his own power, he cannot move faster than the speed of light, he cannot perfectly convert all of his mass into energy, he cannot transmute himself into gold. Moving his body is not a violation of any physical law. Far more cogent is it to postulate a tangible substance (whether waves or particles) that moves the body in criminal acts by making direct physical contact with it.Agreed. I postulate electrons, traded between neurons in the brain. You'll respond, I suppose, "I'm not going to postulate anything until I have proof." To me, that seems like stubbornly saying I'm not going to believe in electrons until I can see them with my own eyes.How about "I'm not going to believe in electrons until they can be supported by data"? You know, the way scientists did. When they were doing the early cathode-ray tube experiments. I DEDUCE the electron, and likewise the soul, based on the data (vis a vis the underlying assumptions, in this case the assumption of reprehensible freedom).And this is where you and science part company. The existence of electrons was inferred from the behavior of cathode rays (magnetic deflections showed that they were negatively charged, the cathode ray apparatus showed that they conducted electricity, their ability to show up regardless of which gas was used showed that they were in all atoms), and the theory of electrons produced particular predictions that could then be tested, verifying their existence. Any assumptions made were basic ones, and were justified through practical application. Your hypothesis of the existence of the soul relies on the unjustified assumption of free will as a real nonillusory phenomenon. The soul-hypothesis offers no mechanism by which it could be tested, makes no predictions about future observations, and differs wildly from every other kind of force that exists in physics. Moreover, your argument relies on fallacy after fallacy, contradicts known science, and relies on profound misunderstandings about what the universe is like, how the human body works, and what a scientific law is. I'd recommend clearing all that up before continuing. Because once all your assumptions and fallacies are cleared away, I don't see any real difference between your "soul" and the material brain states that neuroscientists actually look to as the origin of the mind and consciousness.

  201. 201
    Jerry

    @Tom FossSorry, but your post didn't address the heart of the argument belabored in the my last post and in fact, already made clear way back in the first essay. I'll try this again. If a criminal's free will is blamed as the cause of his body's criminal behavior, then free will (in this framework) is understood to be a causal force physically moving the body. That's what libertarian freedom implies, like it or not. That's a DEFINITION of libertarian freedom, not an unwarranted postulation of a supernatural soul. Interesting that you did not address that in your post, when it was fact the main point that I belabored. I made it perfectly clear that even before we TALK or DEBATE about the existence the soul, we need to be candid about the fact that liberterian freedom defines a causal force moving the body. Again, as I have said repeatedly, if you want to deny libertarian freedom, if you want to argue that the laws of the universe dictate all behavior, fine, my quarrel is not fundamentally with you. It is rather with those who DO really believe in it, and I think most people do. Most people DO believe that there is such a thing as reprehensible freedom, that some criminals, at least (although not necessarily all) really DID have the option to freely abstain from the crime and therefore merited some kind of punishment. Many of the people who believe this are scientists. I'm merely calling the scientific community, and everyone else, to be candid about what that implies. At mininum it defines a force not named in the science textbooks and, once we confess that fact, we can then begin to DEBATE whether it implies the existence of a soul. Obviously in my opinion the existence of the soul is a likely corollary, but that wasn't the main issue raised in my last post.

  202. 202
    Tom Foss

    You are equivocating a philosophical concept with a physical one. That is, indeed, a criticism of the heart of your argument. You are conflating two wildly different kinds of "force" as though they were the same thing, and committing an egregious, argument-shattering logical fallacy in the process. In short, you cannot derive the existence of a thing from a purely philosophical/legal construct, which is what you are trying to do. You may be able to construct a valid argument along such lines (and I think I've pointed out enough logical fallacies to demonstrate that you haven't), but it won't be sound unless you actually have some evidence to back it all up. Your "definition" of libertarian freedom has no basis in science, has nothing to do with any scientific concept, and is not a "force" in any meaningful sense of the word–specifically the sense that you're trying to use it in. The key component of your argument, that such a definition requires that free will be "a force that can move matter," is flatly contradicted by basic biological and neurological knowledge. Moreover, you cannot derive reality from definitions. Saying "I define X to be Y, therefore X must exist" is circular reasoning.Moreover, you seem to be the only person in the entire Internet to use the term "reprehensible freedom," as I can find not only no independent definition of it, but no other uses of the term anywhere online. Which makes me suspect that it's yet another meaningless Humpty-Dumpty term that you've misappropriated, much like "determinism" and "force." Once again: regardless of what you think "reprehensible" or "libertarian" freedom is, regardless of how many people you think believe in it (argumentum ad populum), you must first demonstrate that it exists in reality before you can draw any further conclusions about reality that rely on its existence. What you'll find, however, is that the existence of some kind of free will does not, as you repeatedly assert, require the existence of some kind of new physical/scientific force. At most, from any point of view that includes a basic understanding of neuroscience, it requires an ability to organize particular electrical states in the brain (which relies on known forces, like electromagnetism). The "moving matter" is accomplished by electrical impulses causing contraction of proteins. If you want to continue to justify this idea that free will necessitates a physical force, then you must demonstrate with evidence that there is something wrong with the basic neuroscience and biology of motion. None of these conclusions about existence can be derived in any sense from what people believe about purely conceptual or philosophical (i.e., non-physical) notions like justice, guilt, and legality. I notice that you failed to address any of the substantive questions in my last round of posts, namely the nature of the force you're proposing, the equivocation and word-redefinition you're continually engaging in, and the basic misunderstanding you have about how science works. Instead, you continue to smugly deflect and pretend that your incoherent argument does not rely on profound ignorance and critical fallacies. Again, I recommend that you clear such things up before you attempt to speak definitively on any subject related to reality.

  203. 203
    JT

    It's not special pleading to point out that physics is different on the quantum scale. Scale affects physics quite a bit. I can build a 3" high house out of paper, and it'll stand. If I scale it up to 30' high, it'll collapse. If I scale it up to 300 lightyears high, we facing the possibility, not only of it collapsing, but collapsing into a singularity.If I scale it down on the order of a few angstroms, not only won't it be paper anymore, but it's likely to fly apart, or bond in some different fashion, depending on the atoms chosen.The physics is different on different scales.Quantum Physics is a describing approximation of how things work on that level.Newtonian Physics is a describing approximation of how things work on that level.Relativity is a describing approximation of how things work on that scale.It'd be great to have one set of physics that describes all three scales, but we haven't gotten there yet.That's why we shift gears when we start talking about the quantum level.The human body is perfectly capable of moving itself. It has muscles and biofuel to do so. The only part that free will even enters the equation is the decision-making process – the higher conscious that manifests from the brain, and operates on non-deterministic physics. The decision maker makes a request of the body to do something, and it can either comply, or not.There is no force (other than gravity) necessarily being enacted on the body. It's driving itself.

  204. 204
    Foot

    Arguing the existence of god is where theists like Jerry fall into a nice little trap they set for themselves of thinking that they somehow have actual evidence for their position. They think they have good reason to believe their own myths, without considering that there is almost always an explanation for things that doesn't require a god.Aside from the fact that there has yet to be justifiable reason to believe in Jerry's version of god, I will just add a little bit about his theodicy:I think that Jerry has been given a thorough examination of the theodicy he has presented here, enough so that he could probably go back to the drawing board and re-work it so that he removes the final "good" part from the equation. Right now he doesn't realize it, but we have done him an enormous favor by pointing out how piss-poor the logic of his god construct really is. He came in here claiming that his construct was logically sound, but obviously hasn't fully considered the ramifications of keeping the "good" part attached to the god construct. It is obvious from his rebuttal to my last post that he hasn't really been willing to let that part go. (especially evident in his response to me saying his god is selfish: "No he isn't selfish, you are selfish". Really? That form of argument wasn't even viable to fifth graders.)Right now he is too much in love with his own construct to be willing to see it has just as many flaws as the christian's ideas that "get it wrong". I would like to think that Jerry is smart enough to figure that out, but right now his unfounded pride in his theodicy is standing in the way of his ability to actually examine whether his premises/conclusions are valid or not. I know, I have been there myself. It is funny, because Jerry's Theodicy has many things in common with Mormonism, which is the religion I was a part of for 30+ years before I finally was willing to consider whether or not I had good reasons to believe in the first place. His reasoning is just as bad as theirs.

  205. 205
    Jerry

    @Tom Fost“You are equivocating a philosophical concept with a physical one….Your "definition" of libertarian freedom has no basis in science, has nothing to do with any scientific concept, and is not a "force" in any meaningful sense of the word–specifically the sense that you're trying to use it in. The key component of your argument, that such a definition requires that free will be "a force that can move matter," is flatly contradicted by basic biological and neurological knowledge. Moreover, you cannot derive reality from definitions. Saying "I define X to be Y, therefore X must exist" is circular reasoning.Nope. I’m just clarifying the definition of libertarianism. Philosophical concepts are not efficient causes that move matter. If we’re going to say that free will caused the criminal’s body to misbehave, then this “free will” must be, as a crucial part of its definition, a substance or force. “Once again: regardless of what you think "reprehensible" or "libertarian" freedom is, regardless of how many people you think believe in it (argumentum ad populum) you must first demonstrate that it exists in reality….”(Sigh) I don’t have to “establish” a methodological assumption. The assumption was that free will (punishably) causes a criminal’s body to misbehave. I reminded you a thousand times that you don’t have to buy that assumption. But those who buy it need to be candid that this assumption defines free will as a force.“The existence of some kind of free will does not, as you repeatedly assert, require the existence of some kind of new physical/scientific force.”As this force isn’t named in the science textbooks, I would call it new. What generates this free will (this force)? You could argue that ordinary matter has this capability. Logically, that’s acceptable. This would mean that the criminal’s body, instead of being inert, self-propels by free will. The law of inertia, then, was an error (Even in my first essay, as I recall, I mentioned this route). My ASSUMPTION, however, is that no one (including me) is going to abandon the law of inertia. In that case we’ll have to assume that this free will (this force) is not a property of ordinary matter. “At most, from any point of view that includes a basic understanding of neuroscience, it requires an ability to organize particular electrical states in the brain (which relies on known forces, like electromagnetism). The "moving matter" is accomplished by electrical impulses causing contraction of proteins. If you want to continue to justify this idea that free will necessitates a physical force, then you must demonstrate with evidence that there is something wrong with the basic neuroscience and biology of motion.”Neurologically, I have no problem with the criminal’s brain sending signals to his hands causing him to stab someone, but if free will is said to ultimately cause all this, it must be understood as a force that activates those neural processes in the brain. Duh. “I notice that you failed to address any of the substantive questions in my last round of posts, namely the nature of the force you're proposing the equivocation and word-redefinition you're continually engaging in, and the basic misunderstanding you have about how science works. Instead, you continue to smugly deflect and pretend that your incoherent argument does not rely on profound ignorance and critical fallacies. Again, I recommend that you clear such things up before you attempt to speak definitively on any subject related to reality.”Right, I need to “clarify” that if the criminal’s inert body is set in motion, its inertial mass overcome, a substance or force must be involved. Until I “clear such up such things”, my claim makes no sense. Lovely. Your complete state of denial has plunged you into total lunacy. I can’t make any progress here. You can have the last word. Goodbye.

  206. 206
    JT

    I feel like I've been having an argument with myself.Back when I was a theist about 10-12 years ago, I was pondering this very topic, actually, although admittedly far far less sophisticated than Jerry's.I was thinking about it at the time, and it went almost literally something like this:"Math and science show that spacetime, either in the future or past are basically determined. Yet, somehow, we still have free will despite that. The only way that could be resolved is by a god. Hey, I just proved God! Nice."I was so proud of myself. Looking back, I see how inane it was. I understand now that I was ignoring other possibilities, was woefully ignorant of the facts at hand, wasn't utilizing critical thinking, and was simply trying to reaffirm my beliefs.And that's Jerry's position in a nutshell.

  207. 207
    Spoondoggle

    Jerry, please do not misunderstand this comment (I wish I didn't feel that I had to write that.) I am not the sort of person who demands that people pay attention to him and I do not take offense to being ignored.However… for a few days we discussed pointless shit, myself having a giggle and you apparently taking it dreadfully seriously. In my last comment to you, I directly addressed and contradicted your assumption that we are simply deducing the existence of protons, neutrons and electrons, noting that we measure the things, even giving examples.I suppose it is necessary here to note that it is only things that we cannot directly measure that we must deduce the existence of – dark matter for instance. Where we have measured the attributes of a particle, all we are doing is applying a label to it.You have since totally ignored me, not even a "nuh-uh!" out of you, you're also continuing to assert that we are merely deducing the existence of electrons, despite our measurements of them… why is this, pray tell?I know you are not the only one to have thrown accusations of dishonesty around in this thread, but I think you might be the most guilty of it.

  208. 208
    Spoondoggle

    I'm tempted to leave it there and let everyone else continue to bat you around between them, but I have to mention something. In your courtroom analogy you declare that we have no justification for pronouncing punishments on criminals if they are acting deterministically. You are missing the fact that if their actions are deterministic, then so are ours, and our punishment of criminals are also deterministic so justificiation is essentially thrown out the window anyway as we are little more than robots acting out our set programs.You also, rather amusingly, say that you can understand our rejection of your soul-"theory" (which has zero evidencial backing) if we are "staunch determinists" (which is to say that we are deepling entrenched in accepting another unproven idea.)I am not a determinist (I do not accept that our actions are deterministically driven) but I am also not a free-willist (I do not accept that our actions are driven by our own free will in defiance of determinism) but surely this is some kind of crazy contradiction?? I MUST subscribe to one view, otherwise I'm just floating through space without direction!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Nope, I just haven't yet seen enough evidence on either side to sway my opinion either way. Sure, I feel like I have free will… but since I only do what I will to do, what if my will is determined?Ultimately, I don't really care either way. If I have free will, wooo! But I still can't make myself invisible and walk into the women's showers at the gym so my freedom has limits imposed. If I am just a robot with delusions of grandeur, well I still feel free, so how does it really hurt me?

  209. 209
    Spoondoggle

    In response to your ball falling through space, perhaps the thing that cause it to come to a rapid halt was the source of gravity that it was falling toward rather than a second reality? If you think this is nit-picking, name something massive (by which I mean "with mass" rather than "fscking HUGE!") in our solar system that is not falling toward something else. I am limiting it to our solar system simply because it's easier to check our backyard than the entire universe – feel free to go beyond if you feel there is something out there.And to your question "which world world view is more credible? One that is patently self-contradictory, or one that is NOT self-contradictory?" in relation to the supposed atheist claims (clearly you are defining atheists as rationalists, thank you but this is not true in all cases) "that the world as described in the science textbooks is more credible and SENSIBLE than a dualistic worldview that, in addition to ordinary matter, also postulates the existence of a second kind of substance."The answer is clearly that the one which is not self-contradictory of course. However, your assertion that the text book worldview is self contradictory because of the existence of free will fails on two points.Firstly, the existence of free will is not actually proven.Secondly, that free will cannot exist in the text book worldview is merely your assertion – one which has not yet been shown to reflect reality.

  210. 210
    Spoondoggle

    Oh, oh, oh! When does oxygen not act like oxygen? OOOOH ME, ME MISS, MEEEE!! When it forms bonds with two hydrogens – then it acts like water. Do I get a sticker?Of course, a lone oxygen atom will always behave like an oxygen atom. It's just that there are a number of activities that fall under the umbrella of "oxygen-like activites" which have varying chances of being acted by an individual oxygen atom at any one moment.I actually am planning on leaving this alone soon, but I can't help but quote you here."False analogy. There are no "cars" at the quantum level, what you term here the level of the nanoscale."Key word: ANALOGY! Seriously man. The point, I assume, was the behaviour of quantum-scale entities and how they are different to macro-scale behaviours, not the existence of tiny cars.The problem you're really having here is that you're engaging in purely philosophical discussions and claiming that the conclusions effect reality, then getting annoyed with us because we actually care about what is real.Don't get me wrong, philosophy is great, but it's useless as a means of determining reality unless there's evidential support for it all the way.Anyway, I'm off to play fallout – lets see if I can get a better informed debate going with a deathclaw.(That's an ad hominem btw. Feel free to use it to claim victory over me.)Have fun with him guys.

  211. 211
    Spoondoggle

    Ok, one last comment. Jerry, you suppose that there are only two ways for free will to exist.1, that the laws of physics are suspended in the body when we are making free choices.2, that your soul-"theory" is correct.What about possibility 3?3, that the laws of physics are in no way an obstacle to free will and only your misunderstanding of them lead you to believe otherwise.Please understand that the universe is not nearly as simplistic or regimented as a cursory reading of physical theories can lead you to believe.Or possibility 4?4, that all of reality as we see it is a simulation. Our bodies and brains are exactly as they are if there is no soul, but the brain is essentially the end part of a "player-console interface," similar to the plug on an xbox controller. We, as avatars to extradimensional gamers, have no free will of our own, but only when inhabited by a gamer do we behave in ways other than those determined by our programming.Or possibility 5?5, hmm… screw it. "Other."By the way, I don't believe you've actually mentioned how this soul of yours is impervious to natural laws. I accept that it is possible – gravity, for instance, only applies to things that actually have mass – but just stating that "it just is" wouldn't be convincing… perhaps I skipped over the part where you detailed this without realising though.You're also still using the word theory in the scientific sense without evidential backing. Perhaps you think you're using it in the colloquial sense, perhaps you mean it in that way, but your usage suggests the scientific meaning, this is misleading.

  212. 212
    Spoondoggle

    Sweet cheesewheel of holiness… another last comment. This might only be a small misunderstanding and a very small point, but the laws of physics do not dictate the behaviour of matter. The behaviour of matter dictates the laws of physics. Laws are descriptive devices made by humans to help us understand the behaviours of matter. I feel quite confidently that I can say that there are particles out there that behave in ways which no law covers. Laws are what we have consistently seen to be the case and they only apply in certain circumstances. It is a law that objects will fall downward toward the earth when dropped on the earth, but an apple dropped on the moon is not in breach of this law when it falls toward the moon. This is an incredibly simplistic example. The point is that laws are not universal, your belief that they cannot be suspended is missing the vital fact that they do not extend to all situations, speeds or scales.Lets work with gravity. An object, when released from your grip, will always fall toward the nearest significant centre of mass, correct? Incorrect. There are five points, "Lagrangian points," relative to any two significantly massive objects where a third object with a relatively insignificant mass (perhaps a teapot :P) could be placed and remain, relative to the first two objects, stationary. Is this a suspension of the law of gravity? Not at all, it's just a more complicated situation where normal assumptions do not apply.Before I finally call it a night, I'd like to make a note of something I've noticed. As I scroll down this thread, I find that a number of the points I've raised have been raised by others. Now, I'm not one who believes that the number of people who subscribe to a particular view have an effect the truth of the view, but I will say that if all of us are independently coming up with the same objections to your points, it might be worth considering that your arguments are flawed, or you are simply failing to communicate them accurately.

  213. 213
    Tom Foss

    Nope. I’m just clarifying the definition of libertarianism.Another term that you appear to have redefined for your own purposes. I'm beginning to think you've invented your own language, Jerry.Philosophical concepts are not efficient causes that move matter. If we’re going to say that free will caused the criminal’s body to misbehave, then this “free will” must be, as a crucial part of its definition, a substance or force.I enjoy the subtle goalpost-shifting you've done here; a post or two ago, and "free will" meant "a force that moves matter," and now it means "something which caused the criminal's body to misbehave." You've made "free will" from a proximal cause into an ultimate one. And kudos to you, that makes your concept of free will far more coherent. I agree! If free will exists, then it is the decision-making part of the consciousness, an ultimate cause of conscious motion.And depending on what kinds of "substance" or "force" you might be talking about, I may even agree with you there, too. I certainly think (because cognitive neuroscientists think) that "free will," if it exists as a non-illusory phenomenon, arises from the substance of the brain, the particular arrangement of neurons interacting with particular chemicals and electrical states. "Consciousness" and "free will" might not be "tangible," but then, neither is "sight," which is another complex phenomenon that arises from biological and physical conditions.So where, exactly, is the need to invoke the supernatural?(Sigh) I don’t have to “establish” a methodological assumption.Oh, I see. You can just assume things without cause or justification. Then you're not doing science, and you're only barely doing philosophy. At best, you're engaging in a much less satisfying sort of masturbation.See, in any field worth a damn, you do indeed have to justify your methodological assumptions. Otherwise, any conclusions you derive from your methods are utterly worthless.The assumption was that free will (punishably) causes a criminal’s body to misbehave. I reminded you a thousand times that you don’t have to buy that assumption. But those who buy it need to be candid that this assumption defines free will as a force.Again, no, it doesn't, not for any meaningful sense of the word "force."But now I have to wonder: who on Earth would be stupid enough to accept that kind of unfounded, unjustified assumption? Particularly when the assumption is foundational to the arguer's claims that a soul exists, and that he is right about its properties?

  214. 214
    Tom Foss

    As this force isn’t named in the science textbooks, I would call it new.I would ask that you actually read what I have written. Alternately, you could answer the many questions I put to you regarding the nature of this "force" that doesn't conform to any meaningful scientific definition of the word "force." I would further ask why such a "force" is necessary to explain well-understood phenomena about what causes a body to move.What generates this free will (this force)?Seems like it's generated directly from your rectum.You could argue that ordinary matter has this capability. Logically, that’s acceptable. This would mean that the criminal’s body, instead of being inert, self-propels by free will.Add "inert" to the list of words you've redefined to mean something other than what they actually mean.The law of inertia, then, was an error (Even in my first essay, as I recall, I mentioned this route).Yes, I recall being on this side of the circle, where I explained that the law of inertia does not say what you think it says.Let me put it another way: the body, of a criminal or a saint, is not a single thing. It is, in actuality, a rough conglomeration of many different organs, made of different tissues, made of different cells, made of different molecules, all working somewhat independently at different tasks, but more or less coming together. Some of these organs and tissues do their work without conscious prodding; others require some conscious stimulus, coming in the form of electrical impulses from the brain. Nowhere, in any of this, is there anything that could reasonably be called "inert" unless the person has recently been inhaling helium. What causes parts of the body to move are stimuli from other parts of the body. An electrical impulse from the brain can cause a muscle to contract or relax (contraction and relaxation result from the near-simultaneous chemical contraction of particular proteins in muscle fibers, stimulated by the electrical signal). The law of inertia is not violated in any part of this; the electrochemical stimulus causes a series of chemical reactions to occur in the proteins of the muscle fibers, which causes the fibers to shorten, which moves the muscle. The force to drive the motion comes from the chemical reaction inside the cells.Basically, what you fail to realize here is that parts of a system can exert forces on other parts of a system, causing them to move. On some level, I think you understand this, since you seem to think the soul is a part–a supernatural part, but a part nonetheless–of the human body. But when it comes to one part (the brain) causing another part (a muscle) to move, you treat this as if it's some grand, shocking mystery that defies all known physics and requires the existence of some supernatural free will. By the same logic, since a part (the engine) of a car exerts a force on a different part (the axle) of a car, causing the car to move, we should suppose that it also has free will. It seems like the only reason your philosophy doesn't impart free will to the car is that when the car hits a pedestrian, we don't put the car in jail. And that's in a car, where a lot more parts could reasonably be called "inert matter" than in the human body. If a car can propel itself without necessitating free will or supernatural forces, without violating the law of inertia, then why can't a human body?

  215. 215
    Tom Foss

    As this force isn’t named in the science textbooks, I would call it new.I would ask that you actually read what I have written. Alternately, you could answer the many questions I put to you regarding the nature of this "force" that doesn't conform to any meaningful scientific definition of the word "force." I would further ask why such a "force" is necessary to explain well-understood phenomena about what causes a body to move.What generates this free will (this force)?Seems like it's generated directly from your rectum.You could argue that ordinary matter has this capability. Logically, that’s acceptable. This would mean that the criminal’s body, instead of being inert, self-propels by free will.Add "inert" to the list of words you've redefined to mean something other than what they actually mean.The law of inertia, then, was an error (Even in my first essay, as I recall, I mentioned this route).Yes, I recall being on this side of the circle, where I explained that the law of inertia does not say what you think it says.Let me put it another way: the body, of a criminal or a saint, is not a single thing. It is, in actuality, a rough conglomeration of many different organs, made of different tissues, made of different cells, made of different molecules, all working somewhat independently at different tasks, but more or less coming together. Some of these organs and tissues do their work without conscious prodding; others require some conscious stimulus, coming in the form of electrical impulses from the brain. Nowhere, in any of this, is there anything that could reasonably be called "inert" unless the person has recently been inhaling helium. What causes parts of the body to move are stimuli from other parts of the body. An electrical impulse from the brain can cause a muscle to contract or relax (contraction and relaxation result from the near-simultaneous chemical contraction of particular proteins in muscle fibers, stimulated by the electrical signal). The law of inertia is not violated in any part of this; the electrochemical stimulus causes a series of chemical reactions to occur in the proteins of the muscle fibers, which causes the fibers to shorten, which moves the muscle. The force to drive the motion comes from the chemical reaction inside the cells.Basically, what you fail to realize here is that parts of a system can exert forces on other parts of a system, causing them to move. On some level, I think you understand this, since you seem to think the soul is a part–a supernatural part, but a part nonetheless–of the human body. But when it comes to one part (the brain) causing another part (a muscle) to move, you treat this as if it's some grand, shocking mystery that defies all known physics and requires the existence of some supernatural free will. By the same logic, since a part (the engine) of a car exerts a force on a different part (the axle) of a car, causing the car to move, we should suppose that it also has free will. It seems like the only reason your philosophy doesn't impart free will to the car is that when the car hits a pedestrian, we don't put the car in jail. And that's in a car, where a lot more parts could reasonably be called "inert matter" than in the human body. If a car can propel itself without necessitating free will or supernatural forces, without violating the law of inertia, then why can't a human body?

  216. 216
    Tom Foss

    As this force isn’t named in the science textbooks, I would call it new.I would ask that you actually read what I have written. Alternately, you could answer the many questions I put to you regarding the nature of this "force" that doesn't conform to any meaningful scientific definition of the word "force." I would further ask why such a "force" is necessary to explain well-understood phenomena about what causes a body to move.What generates this free will (this force)?Seems like it's generated directly from your rectum.You could argue that ordinary matter has this capability. Logically, that’s acceptable. This would mean that the criminal’s body, instead of being inert, self-propels by free will.Add "inert" to the list of words you've redefined to mean something other than what they actually mean.

  217. 217
    Tom Foss

    The law of inertia, then, was an error (Even in my first essay, as I recall, I mentioned this route).Yes, I recall being on this side of the circle, where I explained that the law of inertia does not say what you think it says.Let me put it another way: the body, of a criminal or a saint, is not a single thing. It is, in actuality, a rough conglomeration of many different organs, made of different tissues, made of different cells, made of different molecules, all working somewhat independently at different tasks, but more or less coming together. Some of these organs and tissues do their work without conscious prodding; others require some conscious stimulus, coming in the form of electrical impulses from the brain. Nowhere, in any of this, is there anything that could reasonably be called "inert" unless the person has recently been inhaling helium. What causes parts of the body to move are stimuli from other parts of the body. An electrical impulse from the brain can cause a muscle to contract or relax (contraction and relaxation result from the near-simultaneous chemical contraction of particular proteins in muscle fibers, stimulated by the electrical signal). The law of inertia is not violated in any part of this; the electrochemical stimulus causes a series of chemical reactions to occur in the proteins of the muscle fibers, which causes the fibers to shorten, which moves the muscle. The force to drive the motion comes from the chemical reaction inside the cells.Basically, what you fail to realize here is that parts of a system can exert forces on other parts of a system, causing them to move. On some level, I think you understand this, since you seem to think the soul is a part–a supernatural part, but a part nonetheless–of the human body. But when it comes to one part (the brain) causing another part (a muscle) to move, you treat this as if it's some grand, shocking mystery that defies all known physics and requires the existence of some supernatural free will. By the same logic, since a part (the engine) of a car exerts a force on a different part (the axle) of a car, causing the car to move, we should suppose that it also has free will. It seems like the only reason your philosophy doesn't impart free will to the car is that when the car hits a pedestrian, we don't put the car in jail. And that's in a car, where a lot more parts could reasonably be called "inert matter" than in the human body. If a car can propel itself without necessitating free will or supernatural forces, without violating the law of inertia, then why can't a human body?

  218. 218
    Tom Foss

    My ASSUMPTION, however, is that no one (including me) is going to abandon the law of inertia. In that case we’ll have to assume that this free will (this force) is not a property of ordinary matter.No one's abandoning the law of inertia, except when we did, ninety-five years ago, when Einstein published his papers on General Relativity, which demonstrated that Newton's laws only apply within certain reference frames. Sure, we still use Newton's laws, but we recognize them for the flawed approximations that they are. We also recognize exactly what they mean, unlike you.Neurologically, I have no problem with the criminal’s brain sending signals to his hands causing him to stab someone, but if free will is said to ultimately cause all this, it must be understood as a force that activates those neural processes in the brain. Duh.Great. Then you've defined "free will" to mean "electricity." That's your "new force" that's "not in any of the textbooks." Color me unimpressed.Right, I need to “clarify” that if the criminal’s inert body is set in motion, its inertial mass overcome, a substance or force must be involved. Until I “clear such up such things”, my claim makes no sense.Dunning-Kruger in full effect here. No, until you understand that no part of a human body is "inert," that the law of inertia does not preclude one part of the body from moving another (since the human body is not behaving as a single object in the instances you describe), and that the forces involved are the well-known mechanical forces of contraction and relaxation, the chemical reactions that change protein shapes, and the electrical impulses that set those reactions in motion, never requiring at any point an unknown force or some outside force that moves the whole body from without, then your claim makes no sense. Further, your attempt to redefine nearly every key word that your argument hinges on, your inability to understand what a force is in any meaningful scientific sense of the word, your ignorance of any scientific knowledge from the last century, and the basic fallacies that riddle your whole set of premises, only contribute to the incoherence of your overall argument.Lovely. Your complete state of denial has plunged you into total lunacy. I can’t make any progress here. You can have the last word.And the last word is "projection." And me without my Mr. Pibb and Red Vines.

  219. 219
    John K.

    I guess I will take one last spin at the ad hoc machine and call it quits.You can start from almost any position and use little qualifiers to shore it up against objections. Even if you have created a perfectly consistent version of the bible, if you have no real world evidence for it, it does not matter. Why bother with complicated arguments about splitting souls, injecting embryos, and an imperfect god that has to hide all the evidence of his existence because he gets mad when people reject it?A god that is willing everything and controlling everything, including everyone's perception, is equally as valid. "God put the fossils there to test us" is a logically consistent argument within that framework. If there is a contradiction with science it is easy to just exclaim "god can break the rules and in that case he did". (I know these are not your arguments Jerry, I am demonstrating that a logically consistent framework is not necessarily true.)When you get too far away from physical, repeatable evidence, almost anything can be stated and logically consistent if you work hard enough at it. If your theory cannot be tested by some kind of observable test though, it is basically meaningless.I am amazed that some people here have been willing to indulge you enough to read the hundreds of lines you have written. If you are going to stay outside the realm of testable evidence, it means about as much as a fantasy novel. I am not just talking about the existence of Adam here, I am talking souls, free will, and the very existence of any creative intelligence at all.Keep playing make believe if you like. Wild and baseless bandages to the consistency of the bible are not going to convince many people here to stop criticizing it though.

  220. 220
    cyberdaemon

    Fairy tale is a fairy tale, no matter how you translate it. Hes view of a God was incredibly identical to some of the worst dictators in human history – mentally unstable, capable to carry out one of the biggest genocides (they always got million justifications jumping out of sleeve for that), hes limited but thinks he has all the answer and he demands people to worship him or else he becomes mentally unstable and blows up the earth!

  221. 221
    cyberdaemon

    And he runs wars like they were some sort of video game. Screw it, I'm not gonna waste my valuable time for such an insecure imbecile, even if he was real. IF he doesn't like it, fuck him. I don't need to appeal to a dictator or warlord!

  222. 222
    guy

    Ugh…Jerryyou say your god doesn't support stupidity. I say your god couldn't spot stupidity if it looked like a porn star and sat on his face, assuming your version of christianity is right.

  223. 223
    Peter Thomas Coll

    Martin, you smartass, you are the king of Atheist invective!!!

  224. 224
    bernlin2000

    Afterthought_btw said… "This is one of the reasons I've always found polytheism more likely than monotheism."That's like saying it's more likely that there's 10 supermen rather than one. It doesn't make any sense.

  225. 225
    Fiaz

    If you wrote a world simulation software would you be more interested in seeing every person inside the simulation always saying good things about you and doing the same things like a drone ? Or would you be interested in seeing what they are capable of doing, what they invent/create ? Religion was invented so our ancestors could explain natural phenomena and then unexplainable things. Over time it evolved and it became a tool for ATTENTION HUNGRY PROPHETS to manipulate other people. Now they know better and still choose to be blind.If muslims are right then half of the population is going to hell and vice versa. What if Samoans are right ? then 95% of the world population is going to hell I guess. But, religion will vanish at least we'll have to make it disappear.

  226. 226
    Ilium Mortus

    I should agree with that one, if the so called “bible” is really written by this so called cosmic sadist who like to see ‘his’ people suffer rather than answering their prayer, why worship a weak and powerless entity? I don’t see any credibility in people who use the bible to back up their statements in a logical argument, since when is the bible written anyway? there’s also a high chance that a schizophrenic individual may have written the bible. is it undeniably made(written) by a human entity and more so, it is written in a time where the sciences are limited.

    Then as time passed by, religion became a mere tool for social engineering to further the means of manipulative individuals.

    If God really did existed, he should have stopped me at the moment I am writing these statements(struck me with a fucking lightning or so) in order for ‘his’ so called children to be saved and not be contaminated by these so called anti-theistic arguments….

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