I’m debating in Georgia – Nov. 17th »« Raising Atheists, part 2

We get email: Science vs religion, round 70 kajillion

Email today comes from a fellow whose rather ironic screen name is “Advanced Technology Solutions.”

I have a few questions for you. I am a Christian, and a strong Man in my faith, therefore these questions may be hard for you to respond to

1.)    Are you a scientist?

I personally am not.

2.)    Do you speak, write, or translate Hebrew, or Greek?

I have in the past learned to read some Hebrew, but never fluently.

3.)    Are you a parent?

I am.

Below are my reasons for asking these questions

1.)    If you are not a scientist, then in fact you must take the word of someone you have never met, and use it as evidence for your case. Guess who else does that? That’s right Christians do that every day.

Let’s talk a little bit about the philosophy of science.

Religion is explicitly based to a certain extent on “faith” — believing above all in the accuracy of one particular source (in your case, the Bible) and assuming that anything which disagrees with this source must be wrong.

Science, by contrast, is more of a methodology than an authority, and the philosophical position is almost exactly opposite.  Nobody who wishes to do science can expect to be immune from criticism.  That includes the most famous scientists as well as fresh graduate students.  Isaac Newton’s laws of motion were considered to be one of the crowning achievements of physics… until they were overturned by Einstein.

Science isn’t considered to be well-supported until it has been published in public journals that anybody can read, dissect, and criticize.  The experiments they cite need to be clearly described, and repeatable by others who might challenge the results.  In short, it’s not a cult of personality, but a process for filtering out ideas that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

2.)    If you answer no o this question, then how can you understand how these ancient texts were to be translated? Oh I know you rely on an expert who has studied these sorts of things their entire life. They have read the books, and been well educated. Let me ask who wrote these books? Men, flawed creatures, who believed the world was flat, and that the center of everything was the earth. Again blind faith in Men.

They could have done the most accurate reading in the world, but it wouldn’t make what’s in the text any more likely to be true.  Tell me, what do Christians provide as an equivalent to the above?  How do you propose I go about distinguishing your true claims from your false ones?  What makes you think that anything the Bible has to say about gods or the supernatural (even the original, untranslated source material) is accurate?

3.)    If the answer is yes, then you understand the rage of God “The Father.” Sometimes as parents we do become angry with our children, and we tell them “you will understand when your older.” And things of this nature. And to say that God is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow is correct. Look in exodus where he plans to kill the Israelites, but Moses intercedes for them, and God spares them. We see his rage in the great flood, and his compassion, and we read in the new testament that Jesus is seated at his right hand and makes intercession for us. He gives one reason for his wrath, he cannot stand Sin, but Jesus intercedes for us so that he not wipe us out.

It’s a poor analogy.  No matter how much I think my kids have screwed up, I’ve never once been tempted to dole out an eternity of torture for their behavior.  I think that any parent who would punish their child with even a couple of days of torture because they are “angry” would be rightly considered an abusive and unfit parent.

On a side note. If you are going to accuse Christians of Being “Stupid” You should understand that without proper theological training that you have no case for the non-existence of  God, Just as I am not a Plumber, therefore, I must take his word when he says “frozen pipes.” The point is Pastors, or other men with theological training are here to help us make sense of the teachings in the bible, just as your “experts” help you understand the world. Without objection (right, everyone has an agenda, even Atheist) In closing learn Hebrew, and Greek, Translate the Bible for yourself, and ask where is YOUR proof that God does not exist, not the proof from another group of “experts” Who like everyone else is left roaming the earth looking for a

[It just cuts off there]

I personally try to avoid unfair sweeping generalizations like “Christians are stupid.”  I think they are incorrect, but lots of very smart people have been incorrect about a great many things — through error, or sometimes deliberate or unconscious dishonesty.

I think that people with theological training have accumulated a lot of knowledge about literary interpretation and analysis, but they have not, in any sense, provided evidence in several thousand years that their stories about magical beings in the sky are an accurate depiction of reality.  It’s not their authority or sincerity that I dispute; it’s the fact that they have no reliable method for telling what things are true.

Let me ask you a question.  I already know you’re a Christian, which means you disagree with two thirds of the world about what is true, two billion Muslims are wrong about their belief in the Quran, and a billion Hindus are wrong about their belief in the Bhagavad Gita.  Among the 33,000 competing sects of Christianity that claim to know what is true about God, which one are you?

Thanks for writing!

Comments

  1. Rob says

    Knowing ancient languages still won’t stop the Bible from historical inaccuracies and scientific error. Nor will it clear out contradictions.

    Notice the surrender: “You should understand that without proper theological training that you have no case for the non-existence of God, Just as I am not a Plumber, therefore, I must take his word when he says “frozen pipes.” What this person does is forsake even checking for himself or figuring out that the pipes are frozen. Failure to question. Failure to exercise his own mind. And he then surrenders his whole life like that to a character with little historical backing based on a book with the above mentioned problems, and calls it faith.

    Been there, done that. Then I saw the light….

  2. scott says

    This guy must pay thousands of dollars a year to “experts.”

    He needs a plumber to tell him when his pipes are frozen?

    His admiration for the study of hebrew and Koine Greek is a bit misplaced. It’s helpful to know what the original texts (if an “original” text can be agreed upon) say.

    But in my experience with the realm of religion, people just tend to argue with one another about an additional layer of nuance. Knowing the Greek and knowing the Hebrew just gives you more minutia to bicker over. Of course, that is what religionists do best – bicker over minutia.

    It will be helpful to remember that Church of Christ students study the original languages as do Baptists, Methodists and Reformed students. I’m sure catholics study the original languages as well as Latin (yet another nuance to bicker over). Knowing the underlying languages doe little to reach a “true” conclusion

    Pastors and theologians are here to keep as many people in the religion, occupying seats and giving money. Hopefully, along the way, they will manage to do some real good in peoples lives, despite the damage that faith can do to one’s critical thinking facilities – as evidenced by this person’s dogged reliance on “experts.”

  3. davidct says

    Kazim

    I have just a minor objection to your otherwise well written reply.

    You stated: “Isaac Newton’s laws of motion were considered to be one of the crowning achievements of physics… until they were overturned by Einstein.”

    We still use Newtonian Physics for most of the calculations involving motion in the world we live in. The laws of Newton were not so much overturned by Einstein as they were extended. This is the way science usually progresses with new knowledge extending what is already known. It is unusual for new knowledge to cause a complete rejection of what is already supported be evidence.

    My objection to your phraseology is that it plays into the argument that science cannot be trusted because it is so often wrong. Just a small point.

  4. 10000li says

    Speaking of arguing over minutia:

    1. Einsteinian physics did not overturn Newtonian physics, it added to our understanding at the atomic and subatomic levels, and at the macro levels. Newtonian mechanics still perfectly* describes what’s going on at scales humans interact with.
    (*as perfectly as anything else in science)

    2. All Christians are small “c” catholics. When one refers to Roman Catholicism, the convention is a large C.

    Hey, I get the urge to taser my kids into unconsciousness when they’re acting like little hellions, but, unlike the so-called “loving” god of the Bible, I don’t act on such urges, because, unlike the the god of the Bible, I take responsibility for how my kids behave.

  5. BobTheAwesome says

    I would just like to point out that in my personal experience, the one person I know who does speak and read Hebrew is less fundamentalist than most Christians because he realizes that a lot of what he was told was, in fact, bullshit. He still believes in God generally, but also realizes that it’s a matter of faith and that learning to read some ancient language didn’t give him more evidence.

    So if my anecdote is reliable, I don’t even understand this dude’s point.

  6. 10000li says

    I see davidet got in the point about physics before I did.

    To you AE writers:

    Are these really the best letters that you get? I have a believer friend with whom I discuss these ideas and he’s a much better thinker than this ATS chap, or the AS kid whom you-all wrote about earlier.

    The other day, I reviewed the AE episode where Ray Comfort called in, and I have to say I was just flabbergasted that a guy so frigging stupid could be making so much money by basically showing everyone how stupid he is.

    No, not all believers are stupid, but it seems the smart ones usually just keep their mouths shut.

  7. Jdog says

    Could also paraphrase The Courtier’s Reply. If your building doesn’t have plumbing, anyone claiming “frozen pipes” comes off looking rather silly.

  8. 10000li says

    Sorry for so many posts, but you-all are bringing up good points.

    The real problem with the appeal to original languages is that it implies that only people who read those languages get to understand what God really meant. All other people on the planet are SOL. This sentiment is actually anti-Biblical because the point of the tongues of flame in the Pentecost story is that God wanted the Disciples to deliver the message of the New Testament to each person in his own language

    (this does NOT mean glossolalia like some Holy Rollers endorse)

  9. Kazim says

    Is it the best we get? I don’t know. I only respond to the ones I feel like responding to, and I only post them when it feels like my own reply was interesting enough to showcase. Usually the ones I choose to repost either have extra humor value, or they come up frequently enough that it’s worth making a single blanket response so I can address an entire category of emails.

    I don’t know if what you see is the BEST of our email, but it’s fairly representative, with some exceptions:

    I don’t usually post things that launch right being personally hostile and trash talking, as I prefer not to waste time talking to that sort of person.

    There are some we get which have pretensions of being erudite and philosophical, but they attempt this by writing pages and pages of pseudo-academic rambling BS. Just unpacking what they are trying to say is dull, and the response to the unpacked version is not much less dull. See: Courtier’s Reply.

    We do occasionally hunt down and reply to examples of “sophisticated” theology; you may have seen the exchange I did with Chuck Colson once, and I’ve broken down some WL Craig debates and we had a couple of interminable threads discussing Chris “IQ makes you infallible” Langan. That’s usually way beyond anything we get by email, though.

    What’s the problem here? In an ideal world, what kind of emails do you wish we were getting?

  10. says

    I wonder what it is about religious people that so many of them don’t understand the concept of varying degrees of certainty. It’s like either you know personally with absolute certainty or you’re just relying on blind faith. They don’t have a middle setting.

    If I take an expert’s word for something, it’s not blind faith. Even if I’m not personally educated on the subject, there are still many things I can do to evaluate whether to trust the guy or not.

    I can check whether he’s talking shit about the things I do know about. I can check if other experts agree with him, or if he’s a lonely, fringe character. I can check whether his conclusions contradict what I know form other subjects.

    It’s not just a case of either believing or rejecting everything he says. Even if I do accept his ideas, I can accept them to different degrees. There are plenty of things I accept tentatively. I accept them for now, but realize that it may turn out that they’re wrong.

    Recently, I watched a video by David Fitzgerald, talking about the geographical mistakes in the gospel of Mark (31 minutes into this video). Did I accept it blindly? Did I reject it blindly?
    No, I got out my bible and a map and checked his facts.

    To the degree that I was able to check, he was right, so I feel comfortable accepting what he has said as true, until contrary information comes up.

    Trust based on evidence is not the same as blind faith. Why this is so hard to understand, I don’t know.

  11. summerseale says

    I would be absolutely happy and ecstatic to argue the nuances of each word in the bible (in Hebrew, no less!) with this Christian, or any other as long as they first:

    1) Prove that God exists before claiming that it is his book.

    2) Prove that this is actually his book and message.

    That’s all. It’s that simple. If they prove to me that he exists, without the use of claims in the Bible (circular logic), then I shall be happy to debate the nuances of his message for however long they wish.

    Until then, I’ll tell them: “Lech tizdayen.”

    It’s Hebrew. Christians can look it up if they wish to learn more.

  12. jacobfromlost says

    “1.) Are you a scientist?”

    We don’t have to simply “trust” scientists, or any expert. I don’t need to be an expert auto mechanic to be able to see that my car runs AFTER the mechanic works on it, but did not run before he worked on it. And if I really, really distrust the mechanic, I can bring two other mechanics to watch what he does, separate them into two different rooms, and ask them what he did, and if it corresponds to what he said he did (so that I’m not being overcharged, lol).

    There are very basic control systems to find the truth–scientists use them, cops use them, smart parents use them, and Judge Judy uses them every day at 4pm on channel 2. That’s why I watch. (She ingeniously pushes every person’s story element into falsifiability–either X is true, or “not X” is true…and once you string enough story elements together and press them hard, usually the truth just pops right out. It’s not magic, but very few people seem to be able to do it in real time.)

    “2.) Do you speak, write, or translate Hebrew, or Greek?”

    Similarly, you don’t have to pick out one transator and then simply “trust” everything they say. You can look at words in various contexts, you can get arguments (and counterarguments) from various translators and compare them. You can even look at many, many translations, look at the separate definitions of the Hebrew or Greek words themselves in the source material, and compare everything using your own brain…never being fluent in Ancient Hebrew or Ancient Greek.

    “3.) Are you a parent?”

    The only thing this argument illustrates is that the “god the father” concept is borrowed utterly from human psychology. When we are young, weak, and ignorant (as we all start out as such), we want to avoid angering father (or mother), do whatever they say, and love them unconditionally as our Good Parent even when said parent is horrendous. Why? Nature. A young, weak, ignorant human may be in a bad situation with a bad parent, but leaving that parent as a young, weak, ignorant human will very likely lead to death.

    So how do children reconcile an abusive father with the innate “my father is good” notion? They blame themselves. They say, “I’m not good enough. I am a horrible person. I do bad things and deserve my punishments for them.”

    Sound familiar?

    Last point: if we are blindly accepting expert opinions on science, language, and whatever else, therefore (so this argument goes) we should accept expert theologians…

    …then which theologians do we blindly accept? The emailer is aware that they don’t agree with each other? At least if I have two mechanics watch a third fix a car, and the car RUNS afterward, I can be sure the mechanic did SOMETHING to make the car run. If the two observing mechanics disagree on what he did, I can compare their disagreements, bring in other expert mechanics, and look at the EVIDENCE of the car.

    If the car is invisible and intangible, the mechanic said he used magic to fix it, and the two observing mechanics start arguing over which kind of magic was used…there is no evidence to refer to, and assertions of magic are not evidence. (And no, I don’t have to pick one type of “magic” and trust it.)

  13. Kazim says

    No, not all believers are stupid, but it seems the smart ones usually just keep their mouths shut.

    It seems to me like when smart believers do argue, they often approach it from the angle of what Stephen J. Gould called “Non-Overlapping Magisteria”. That is, science is science, and religion is religion, and the evidence that supports scientific reality cannot in any way be applied to the fuzzy, nebulous realm of what makes God real.

    That’s because (IMHO) people who are smart and educated tend to recognize that there isn’t any good evidence for their position, so they move the god into a domain where evidence can’t touch it. When they leave that domain, that’s where you get into creationism, which is where the REALLY ridiculous arguments come from.

    Of course, you could make a case that non-overlapping magisteria is EXACTLY what the writer of this particular email was getting at, and you thought that was dumb. So seriously, what kind of argument do you think a good emailer would make?

  14. says

    Men, flawed creatures, who believed the world was flat, and that the center of everything was the earth.

    This is the kicker for me. Men, flawed creatures who believed the world was flat and the center of the universe, also wrote the bible…where does ATS get the balls to think that his brand of ancient wisdom is any different?

  15. warren grubb says

    I like when theists attack atheists by using faith as a pejorative rather than arguing that faith is actually good.

    And thanks for using a variation of outsider’s test of faith at the end- that is one argument I have turned to most often lately because it is so short and can usually quickly give the person the perspective of “hey you don’t believe a ton of other religions either, so why should I believe yours?” Most people I meet who do bring up religion are so used to being embedded in the majority that they get pretty shocked by realizing they are the minority.

  16. roggg says

    I really want to be this guy’s plumber

    Me: Frozen pipes…
    Him: Um…in August?
    Me: Who’s the trade school graduate here? Frozen pipes.

  17. says

    So basically he’s saying if you can’t disprove it, we should believe it.

    I doubt he’s bothered to read the Qu’ran or any other holy book besides his, but somehow that makes him qualified to dismiss them? According to his own logic he should’ve read the Qu’ran in its original writing before being able to dismiss it as false.

    He basically admits Christians believe in spite of evidence, in ignorance, have faith. So even if atheists use faith, how does that make belief in the positive claim that there is a magic extraterrestrial designer in the clouds valid? It doesn’t.

    He makes the mistake of defining atheism as ‘belief in no god’.

    It doesn’t require faith to not believe in baseless claims.

    His entire letter consisted of ignorance or dishonesty.

    When will these people finally realize faith fails every single time?

  18. Art says

    “Who like everyone else is left roaming the earth looking for a ” …

    Always a bummer when they strictly enforce the prison’s time limit for internet use.

    Science, once it differentiated itself from philosophy and religion by establishing experiment, observation, and logic as a solid base, allowing conclusions to be established by the evidence, the reverse of religion, started simple and worked its way up. The experiments and observations made by Archimedes and Michelangelo are repeatable today, in your own back yard, using everyday objects.

    On the other hand religion depends on a series of singular, and completely unrepeatable, revelations and subjective experiences to establish a base of assumptions upon which everything else rests. These assumptions are held as being right, true, and entirely unquestionable. All other evidence is secondary to these dogmatic truths. In fact the Christian Bible asserts a completely anti-scientific policy.

    Tell a scientist that this special force/being called God exists and she will want to quantify and find the limits to this God thing. Paraphrasing George Carlin, blessed be his name: ‘Can God make a rock so heavy he can’t pick it up?’. A scientist, and all humans are, at heart, scientists, wants to know what God’s limits are.

    The Bible says you’re not allowed to do that. You’re not allowed to doubt the existence of this mythical beast, but you can’t establish his/her/its limits either. Fact being you’re not supposed to, according to tradition, speak its name. Which is a bit odd. Given the assumed all-powerful, omniscient, omnipresent nature of this being you can’t talk about it, can’t define it, can’t put up any logical evidence for its existence or non-existence. The single most central assumed fact of all existence and you can’t talk about it for fear this all powerful being will disappear in a puff of logic because all-powerful, omniscient, omnipresent is neither logically consistent with the physical evidence, nor the Biblical story.

    The simple comparison is that science starts simple and demands little or no faith. The first test of the nature of existence can be done with sticks and pebbles. You can work up step-by-step to larger conclusions and you are free to retest anything you might not understand or believe.

    Religion starts with a bitter pill, there is a God. The main evidence for this is a series of highly individualistic, subjective, untestable, unrepeatable, entirely fantastic, stories. If your roommate stumbled in and related the story about a burning bush you would have him committed. Fact being that Narnia makes more logical sense than the Biblical worldview it attempts to support.

    All the evidence and many proofs offered after the fact, including Narnia, have two things in common: they all assume that God exists as a precondition to proving that God exists, and they are afterthoughts.

  19. michaelswanson says

    We see his rage in the great flood, and his compassion…

    I’ve tried and tried and tried, but I’ll never be able to understand the twisted rationalizing that goes into this kind of thinking. If the flood tale was true (I can only imagine the stupid universe where it is) then God murdered the entire human race, but for a tiny handful of people, and killed every single animal, but for two or seven each, because humans were – what? Fucking too much? Ignoring him? Killing each other? Every cute puppy and kitten and bunny and toddler on the planet drowned in a cataclysm because humans were working overtime on Sundays. Not that they could really know what they were doing wrong, since he hadn’t gotten around to the ten commandments yet. He had to wait until we invented writing to tell us what he wanted us to do, kind of like a “DO NOT ENTER” sign posted inside a room marked “FREE CANDY.”

    He still condemns not just murderers and rapists (I would, too), but people who have the wrong kind of sex, or who just don’t like him, or who say things like, “I deny the existence and the divinity of god in all shapes and forms!” to torment for all eternity. Do Christians understand what eternity means? That it’s a really long time? That when I was reading Phil Plait’s Death from the Skies! (read it!) and he was discussing the fate of the universe at 10 to the 92nd years (how do you superscript here?) from now, and saying that comparing one atom to all the atoms in the universe pales next to the age of the present universe compared to that time span…that that is quite literally nothing next to eternity.

    Let’s imagine just one man who was brutally murdered in the flood and has spent the last 3000 years in unimaginable agony, and will continue to do so forever, because he fell in love with another man. That kind of punishment for a random prohibition is a crime beyond imagining.

    But “we see his compassion.”

    To view the Christian god and his rap sheet-Bible as a good thing you have to be one or both of two things. Unthinking or an asshole.

    Sorry to preach to what I am sure is overwhelmingly the choir, and in such a rambling tirade.

  20. Andrew says

    …ask where is YOUR proof that God does not exist…

    No one can conclusively prove that something doesn’t exist. However, the evidence that a god doesn’t exist is the entire body of scientific knowledge, which indicates that we haven’t observed anything like a god yet.

    Absence of evidence is in fact evidence of absence. That’s because scientific understanding is always tentative, depending on the evidence that becomes available. That’s why science works.

  21. bksea says

    Alas, poor creatures believeing the earth is flat and the sun revolves around the earth. I guess that is what you get from believing the Bible…

  22. says

    You should understand that without proper theological training that you have no case for the non-existence of God

    Null hypothesis.

    The default position is non-acceptance of a claim. It’s not to be accepted until sufficiently demonstrated.

    This guy wouldn’t, for a microsecond, buy the idea that the default position is that Allah is real until proven otherwise.

  23. Eric says

    I work in the trades, so the “frozen pipes” thing got stuck right in my craw. He says “Just as I am not a Plumber, therefore, I must take his word when he says “frozen pipes.” And…. no. No word must be taken. He has within his faculties the ability to go get a tube cutter, find where the freeze is supposed to be, cut the pipe, and see the damn ice for himself. Alot of typing has been done on this thread, but isn’t this thing the most pure flaw? The man can go in the cellar and see the ice for his own damn self. Therein lies the frickin’ rub…. am I right?

  24. says

    To go a little further on that point; the fundamental problem of theology is that it cannot demonstrate the existence of its supposed subject of study. If any such demonstration were to be made, it would have to be done through a field other than theology, since ancient texts and philosophical arguments could never provide adequate evidence.

    As such, I don’t think theology actually studies anything at all and is therefore utterly irrelevant for any discussion on any subject whatsoever.

  25. says

    Do you speak, write, or translate Hebrew, or Greek?

    I seem to recall that, according to the Bible, the reason we speak all these different languages in the first place is because God got pissed at some people for building their tower too high.

  26. says

    I can only assume that while composing this letter, “Advanced Technology Solutions” believed he was writing a scathing, effective rebuke of atheist arguments.

    Which makes reading his critique of atheism even more painful.

    When I first began reading Christian responses to atheist arguments, I would immediately chalk pieces like this up as a Poe and move on to the next. I spent a lot of time and effort going over the atheist position and studying Christianity and other religions. It is obviously an issue I care deeply about, and I wanted to make sure that my arguments were well thought out, rational, and effective. I assumed that since Christians believe their eternal soul is at stake, they would seriously examine their own beliefs and be able to coherently explain not only what they believe, but why as well.

    It took about 1 day for me to shelve that notion. I don’t pretend to understand why so many believers lack the ability to win an debate with a piece of lint, but I’ve argued with enough of them to no longer be shocked at the low quality of arguments they consistently put forth.

    Their confidence while spewing forth these horrid arguments however, never ceases to amaze me.

    This is the non-Kirk/Ray equivalent of the banana debunking evolution. 3 questions that have no bearing on the topic whatsoever, that he strongly felt would rock the foundation of atheism and force us all to find God. Normally, the points I see repeated by those suffering under blind faith are points that have been dealt with so many times that they are ex-parrots only not pushing up daisies due to being nailed to the perch of apologetics. This however, this is just nonsense. I know 4 year olds who can structure a better argument. Things like this, they make me laugh, but then they get me depressed. Presumably, “Advanced Technology Solutions” is an adult with probably at least a high school education, and in his mind this was an effective argument. And he more than likely votes.

    If I believed, and prayed, I would be praying for two things right now. First, I hope he isn’t a parent. His claim that being a parent allows you to understand God’s wrath frankly scares the shit out of me. My ex has two little girls whom I love dearly. While I was their step-father, I could never have raised a hand against them, let alone drown them, turn them to salt, stone them, have them gang raped to death, have them gang raped (but not to death this time), sacrifice them as a burnt offering, have sex with them, sell them, kick them out for eating fruit, tell them their sex makes them second class citizens, and/or condemn them to eternal torment.

    Maybe that is just because they weren’t actually my own spawn. More likely, it’s because I’m not fucking insane.

    The second thing I’d pray for? To be his plumber. $$$

  27. Achrachno says

    “Do you speak, write, or translate Hebrew, or Greek?”

    They only want you to know ancient languages if you doubt the truth of their scriptures. If you’re buying their fables, the English translation works fine. I’ve never heard a Christian claim some novice believer is not justified in accepting something biblical about Jesus because they can’t read Koine Greek, or Aramaic, or whatever. You’re allowed to believe even if you’re semi-illiterate and can barely read English. They seem to think you can only justify doubt if you’re a great scholar, and probably not even then. Evasive weasels, eh?

  28. ah58 says

    “You should understand that without proper faeriolgical training that you have no case for the non-existence of fairies.”

  29. Andrew G. says

    If the answer is yes, then you understand the rage of God “The Father.”

    Psychologist Valerie Tarico absolutely eviscerates this idea in her series “God’s Emotions” (posted as a series to PuffHo and included as a chapter in Loftus’ “The End of Christianity”).

  30. says

    So we literally must accept that an infinite number of things are true:

    “You should understand that without proper Entity 00000000000000000000000001 training that you have no case for the non-existence of Entity 00000000000000000000000001.”

    “You should understand that without proper Entity 00000000000000000000000002 training that you have no case for the non-existence of Entity 00000000000000000000000002.”

    “You should understand that without proper Entity 00000000000000000000000003 training that you have no case for the non-existence of Entity 00000000000000000000000003.”

  31. Athywren says

    I am a Christian, and a strong Man in my faith, therefore these questions may be hard for you to respond to

    I’m an atheist, therefore this pasta might be a little spicy for your taste.

    3.) Are you a parent? […] We see his rage in the great flood, and his compassion, and we read in the new testament that Jesus is seated at his right hand and makes intercession for us.

    If a parent drowns their child in the bathtub, but promises not to drown their other child, do we hold them up as an example of righteousness? Do we point to the anger that lead them to drown the first child and call it just? After all, that child did eat a biscuit when she had been specifically told not to! Disobedience is a sin and the wages of sin are death, so not only was it just, it would have been unjust not to kill the child. Right?
    A good parent deals out punishments which are proportional to the misdeed. More importantly, a good parent explains why the misdeed is a misdeed in the first place. Why is it wrong to eat the biscuit? Because I said so? No. Because you haven’t eaten your dinner yet, and it’ll ruin your appetite, a good appetite being important to make you eat well, which is important as it keeps you healthy. Because those packets of biscuits are expensive and if you eat them all now, there will be none for treats later.
    A child who understands that biscuits are a finite resource that will make them weak and fat if they eat them when they’re not supposed to is more likely to resist the biscuity temptation when the parent is out of sight. A child who understands “because I said so” has no reason to obey if they believe the parent will not discover the biscuit heist. Of course they’ll still need a reason to disobey, but that’s fairly obvious in this case – biscuits are yummy and I am hungry.

    Umm, I took a tangent there… point being that god is not a good parent.

    You should understand that without proper theological training that you have no case for the non-existence of God.

    Likewise, without proper training in political science, we have no case for the unfeasability of stalinist government, and no case for the fictional nature of the movie Avatar without proper training in xenobiology and astronomy.

  32. Comment1 says

    Sometimes pipes freeze and stop water from coming out of the tap. Sometimes plumbers say “frozen pipes”, fix frozen pipes and then water comes out through the tap.

    Unfortunately there isn’t such a clear way to spot an authoritative opinion when it comes spirit realms and afterlives.

  33. Walter Byers says

    +1

    I want to add that Newton’s Laws are an accurate description of reality within a certain scope. Kazim, I’d recommend reading Stephen Hawking’s latest book The Grand Design and pay close attention to model-dependent realism.

    In particular…

    “It might be that to describe the universe, we have to employ different theories in different situations. Each theory may have its own version of reality, but according to model-dependent realism, that is acceptable so long as the theories agree in their predictions whenever they overlap, that is, whenever they can both be applied.”

  34. 10000li says

    Foster Disbelief,

    That’s what I was trying to say. I really wish our host would respond with some proof that this really is the best we can expect from our theist apologist counterparts.

    Personally, I’m still holding out some hope that my friend is the norm, and ATS, Ray Comfort, that Huaght guy, the entire AIG and DI contingent, the Southern Baptist Conference, Phishy Phelps, Galloping Duane Gish, and all the rest, are the exceptions. ;>

    Athywren,

    Mostly true. But only later in life. Our job as parents is to keep them from getting squished until they develop enough rational capacity to realize that running into traffic is dangerous. It’s gradual process and reasoning about abstracts like “finite resources” with a 2 year old may be fun for the 2 year old (because everything’s fun for a 2 year old!), but is an ineffective strategy for garnering their compliance.

    Unlike God, who tells us right in the Bible that he makes some of us evil just to torment us.

  35. Kazim says

    That’s what I was trying to say. I really wish our host would respond with some proof that this really is the best we can expect from our theist apologist counterparts.

    Did you or didn’t you read my responses to you before?

    And what do you mean by proof, exactly? Do I need to post every email we’ve ever received so you can comb through them and find some better ones?

  36. johnoddo says

    Christianity is religion based on much contradiction, inconsistencies, magical and fantasy based elements, full of immoral acts and the list goes on.

    If an all-powerful God exists then their is no need for science anymore. God could make humans fly like superman, God could make a cell-phone with a mere command, God could make humans breath in space, God could make you travel at 1,000,000 times the speed of light, God could make Harry Potter real, God could make the most absurd claims that I can think of become a real reality. you ask how he is able to do it? simple……..magic…….even God himself could not explain to you in how he able to do the such of things. it’s no different then Tinker Bell spraying magic dust around you so you can fly and all you have to do is believe…..blind faith. how can anyone who upholds science believe in a all-powerful God when it slaps science 10,000 fold in the face since an all-powerful God can render science to be useless and never explain nor understand how God can do these said magical things. this reason alone should be enough for anyone to reject a Supernatural all-powerful God type. while the sufferings and the evil and unfairness of the world is a big strike against a Loving God, it does not negate the magic crap that goes with it. I also sometimes get tired of people pointing to the old testament when the new testament is far worse because it speaks of eternal torment.

    Let me say this………I’ve seen real people getting tortured horribly, stuff you do not want to see, a bloody mess it so was, to think anyone deserves to be eternally tortured forever is the most sick and evil thing I can think of, it makes me want to vomit now, finite sins can’t equal infinite suffering of any kind, this is why Christianity and Islam are so big as they are, they based on so much fear.

    Science in the hands of humans might have limitations…..but that will never mean their is an all-powerful wizard/God in a magical realm called heaven any more likely to exist.

    Christianity and Islam and Judaism are the biggest anti-science religions because the God of those religions could render everything we know about science to a halt, because this God could do every magical act under the sun and science would be left thinking…….what the hell just happened and never be able to explain it. if can be explained… it’s no longer supernatural.

    This what I think it least.

    John.

  37. John says

    This is the same person replying here as a guest.

    Let me add on further to what I just said above.

    Arguing with Christians is one freaking hard game. I’m not sure how I broke free from it my-self, but I have argued with my Mom and Sister about it, and even had a little talk with my former best friend about it, no matter what you say it seems to pass right over their heads. the fear of hell itself makes seems impossible to let the faith go, let alone you have this idea that God loves you and has eternal treasure waiting for after you die, these reasons alone make it hard to show them the bible is a pact of lies written by primitive man.

    So Atheists/Skeptics. remember it’s no easy game to leave a faith such a Christianity, and even if they’re not serious about their faith, it still is hard to let go.

    I’m not sure about you guys, but I do not take pleasure in thinking their is no real Loving God up there, that their is no heaven… whether it’s eternal or not, and that their is no soul in us, that we get a short life, I do not like these ideas my-self, but logic, rationality, critical thinking, plain common sense and much more will no longer make it possible for me to believe the bible or any kind supernatural any longer…..AKA……magic.

    I commend you all and speak your mind if you desire to, and do not let their numbers that believe in the supernatural and gods intimidate you like it’s doing to me right now, and this why I applaud Matt Dillahunty and Russell Glasser and the rest of them so much, they’re not afraid to speak up….it takes some courage to do what they do.

    John.

  38. Athywren says

    True dat, if you spend your time explaining the reasons why they should behave to a very young child, it’s mostly going to be wasted… but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explain it to them anyway, especially since, whether or not they understand the concept of ‘finite resources,’ they almost certaintly understand the concept of “no treats later.” There are also children who are older than 2, but somehow younger than 18, who have an increasing capacity to comprehend moral reasoning.

    Of course, and I’m not actually sure how obvious this is, I wasn’t really talking about explaining morality to children, I was talking about explaining morality in general. It applies just as well to adults as it does to children. The point I was making was that god gave no reason to humanity to avoid doing anything beyond, “because I say so,” starting in Eden, and that this is bad parenting.

    Actually, the Eden story shows exactly how bad of a parent god is, he becomes angry because his creation gains the knowledge of good and evil – the ability to tell right from wrong. Not only did he not explain why they should behave a certain way, he didn’t want them to understand why they should behave that way to such an extent that when they gained the ability to understand, he threw them out of his presence. One has to wonder what sort of creature would be upset by those around them being capable of recognising evil…

  39. Jolly says

    To follow through on the plumber analogy: someone comes to your home one fine summer day and says you have frozen pipes and you need to get them fixed. But it is just a summer lake cabin and doesn’t have any plumbing. Then the person says the pipes can’t be seen unless you have studied and properly understood the ancient texts. The invisible, non-material pipes froze because the being who made the pipes was thinking sinful thoughts so when the fairy who makes water run and the fairy who makes water stop running, got into a fight, the pipe couldn’t stand up to the internal pressure and froze. Now if you could just start praying and pay the nice man, your problems will be over for now, even though you deserve frozen pipes for eternity.

  40. Akira MacKenzie says

    How is being able to read “The Original” text (wherever that is) supposed to make all the silly things in the Bible believable? Do virgin births, walking on water, and coming back to life two days after dying supposed to make sense if we read the stories in “Hebrew or Greek?”

  41. says

    Indeed. that’s a good point. While I may not be able to read the original texts, there are plenty of scholars who can and their translations and interpretations are easily available.
    However, not one of them have presented a believable account. None of them give any evidence for the truth of the stories. They can’t even explain it in a manner that makes the slightest bit of sense.

    So, why do I need to read the original texts? To make personally sure that it’s bullshit? I think that point has already been settled.

    This is nothing but a simple-minded attempt to preempt any criticism.

  42. peterh says

    “If you are not a scientist, then in fact you must take the word of someone you have never met, and use it as evidence for your case.”

    Pointing out the obvious: With regard to a scientific matter, a person is fully capable of becoming a scientist or acting in the manner of a scientist to examine that matter in a rational manner and deriving the same conclusion – or even a better one – as the original. With regard to a religious matter, it remains a crap-shoot into infinite regress regardless of how many letters (many of them from dubious institutions) might be strung after one's name. The old, "You were not there" ploy applies equally to all, and answers no questions whatever.

  43. Son says

    I think this is just how the world works. Sometimes we can’t know and when atheist fundamentalists (or extremists of any kind) declare emphatically on subjects where the truth is gray and hazy, then a serious epidemic of arrogance and delusion will break out.

    For example, we can’t prove the non-existence of a planet made of cheese. Does that mean it exists. No. But the fact we can’t disprove something as trivial as this is simply baffling.

    We can’t know if our minds our logical and working as rational, cognitive centers of reason. We must presuppose and trust this fact using…our minds. We simply start with the axiom that “We are rational” and go from there.

    We can’t know why molesting innocent children is wrong. We can say it’s beneficial for society not to or it makes us happier not to but there still is no objective, universal, overarching reason why we can’t tell the pedophile he doesn’t have the freedom to commit deeds of oppression.

    The best strategy we have for determining truth is to see which proposition has the most evidence. But sometimes, theories with the least evidence are actually the most truthful while theories with a plethora of proof are actually mounds of falsehood. What can we do about this? Not much really, but simply trust that the evidence-based method is rational and move on from there.

  44. Edgardo says

    I disagree with you guys, because Einstein’s theory of relativity does not extend Newtonian physics (or at least it was not meant as an extension). And to illustrate it I’ll use a mathematical example.

    Imagine that Newton wanted to describe a certain phenomenon for which he can construct a model consisting of a one variable function. After many tests he comes up with the following model: f(x)=1+x. Then Einstein comes with a more accurate model: f(x)=ln(x). If you evaluate both functions for positive values of x very close to zero, the models yield quite similar results. That doesn’t change the fact that the second one is different, that it is more accurate (especially for values not close to zero) and that it is not an extension of the first one.

  45. says

    The way that I state this is that scientific theories are theories that predict the behavior of phenomena within the realm in which they have been tested (within some range and some degree of accuracy) and found to agree with the Theory and not falsify it.

    Tests that are Outside the realm which has been thoroughly tested (extrapolations, or in some cases interpolations), form falsification tests of the theory.

    Future theories would still be constrained to agree with the tested predictions of the current theory (again, within in some margin of error) but could give us a different understanding of the underlying mechanism.

    As our knowledge expands, possibilities for Nature that once existed are found to be untenable.

    The simplistic, classical world is no longer a viable view of reality – even as it serves as a perfectly serviceable approximation of our common experience.

    We already know that Quantum Mechanics and Relativity are not compatible and complete descriptions of reality, but they are extremely accurate MODELS (within nearly every realm which our instruments can currently reach and have held up over many orders of magnitude). We also know a tremendous amount about what any future model CANNOT be (and that guides our explorations forward in terms of M-theory, LQG, holographic models(all but ruled out now), etc.

    I also try to add that the scientific methodology is nothing but our very best attempt at removing sources of error, illogic, and biases from our conclusions. Seen in this light the idea that science must be excluded from some domain of inquiry is laughable because it implies that a methodology that admits error, illogic and bias will give superior answers.

    The methodology of faith has produced a continuous bifurcation of beliefs, resulting in tens of thousands of conflicting and variant belief systems about the very thing it claims it can give us absolute answers about.

  46. says

    I would say that it’s not so much about trusting rationality as it is the fact that there’s really no other option. Either we can make sense of the world or we can’t. If we can, then we’re good. If we can’t, then it doesn’t matter what we do or believe anyway, since truth will be forever beyond our grasp. *
    If the world makes no rational sense, then the only way to get a hold of the truth would be to randomly stumble on to it and even then, we wouldn’t necessarily know that it was true.

    Rational thought isn’t just the best way, it’s the only way.

    * Yes, I’m aware that that’s a rational argument, but I think that only cements my point. Rejection of this argument on the grounds that it assumes rationality only illustrates just how impossible it would be to think any other way.

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