Open Thread for AETV #856 – Christianity’s Dependence on Ignorance


Featuring Russell Glasser and Don Baker.  Have at it!

Added by Russell:

Our first caller, Drew, did share links to the “miracle” stories he was telling us about.

Per our conversation on today’s show, here are a few links. Luke Muehlhauser’s miracles:
Here’s Dan Barker giving the anecdote about the mute man speaking (scroll to 9:50):
After going back through the chat logs, I found enough clues about the Dan Barker story to get a better sense of what was going on there. Here’s what I wrote back:
 I can definitely say now that you misrepresented Dan Barker’s story, although it is an understandable mistake.
Here’s what Dan says in the video:
“I one laid hands on a person, and said in the name of Jesus you are healed, and that person regained his lost voice.”
You told me that he said he healed a mute person. I can see how you thought that from the context, but apparently it’s a pretty big leap to a false conclusion. Here’s Dan telling the same story in his recent book, Godless.

“It was before one of our meetings, as we were preparing and praying, when Gary, who sang bass in the quartet and whose turn it was to preach that night, whispered to us that he had lost his voice and was unable to sing or talk. We gathered in a circle around Gary and laid our hands on his shoulders, and I prayed out loud for God to heal Gary’s voice, ending with the words ‘Gary, in the name of Jesus, be healed!’

“Gary looked up and yelled, ‘Praise the Lord!’ in a strong voice. He went on to sing and preach that night.”

Now, granted, this story is still interesting. But quite often people do in fact recover from a sore throat, without divine intervention. Without the detail that Gary is actually “mute,” it’s very much in the realm of what the placebo effect alone can pull off. Not particularly miraculous in this sense.

I haven’t read much into the Luke Muehlhauser story yet, so if anybody has any points to make, discuss away.

Comments

  1. Dagor_Annon says

    I’ve been searching, still can’t find the Dan Barker curing the mute miracle youtube – or even text – anyone else find it?

  2. Alan says

    The first caller should be reminded (unless I inadvertently skipped over this bit) that the plural of “anecdote” is not “data”, and maybe he should be encouraged to attempt a study of miraculous happenings to get some feel for the numbers, and also the variety of religions that are involved. Also, I’m surprised when someone claims that “god done it” – why can’t they be asked to “please explain how?”, since if they can’t establish that, then they are not justified in making the claim that “god done it” in the first place. I might just as well claim that “I done it”.

  3. says

    Regarding curing a mute, I did a word search in the Kindle edition of “Godless,” and the word “mute” does not appear at all. There was a story about a devout colleague of his named Gary who got a very bad case of laryngitis and was afraid he would not be able to preach at a particular event. Dan and the rest of the missionaries gathered around Gary and prayed for healing. Gary got his voice back and preached loudly that night.

    I think the caller on the show today probably mis-remembered that as a healing of a mute person.

    Dan Barker, incidentally, mentions that this same guy prayed for healing of needing glasses and then threw his glasses away. Later the poor guy had to go back to an eye doctor and get new glasses.

  4. says

    OK–correction. The work, “mute,” does appear once in the book but not in the context of anything about a physical problem. At location 3280 the author is talking about Josephus’ writings being mute on the topic of the life of Jesus. So, it’s not the same kind of use of the word.

  5. omar says

    Why would a good christian like Drew care about Africans killing each other? When he said he wanted historical evidence, he meant European (white) history. There was a reason why he mentioned the Salem trials. I like Don and Russell, but they’re often too nice for their own good. Drew’s brand of christian apologetics calls for Jen, Matt, or Jeff. Or, for a kinder, gentler, beat down: Tracie. So Drew, this is for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witch_trials_in_the_Early_Modern_period.

  6. Matt Gerrans says

    Well, yeah, with legends, the details get more spectacular with each telling. And they aren’t hindered by any reality check, like this. So, the next time this story is retold, he won’t have just been mute, but was missing his vocal chords. Then the next will be that his whole neck was missing. And after that, it will be that he was missing his whole head, they all prayed and it grew back. It’s true! You can check youtube yourself!

  7. Matt Gerrans says

    And then Christians prayed, some time later (3rd century), Josephus miraculously had something to say about Jesus! God is great, thanks to forgers.

  8. Muz says

    Yeah, that’d be good.
    Also the money on the cheque story seems very familiar too (familiar as proven hogwash actually). So if anyone knows the background on that.

  9. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Video: Unreported World – Witches on Trial (23:56)

    In the Central African Republic, convicted witches make up nearly half the prison population.

  10. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    I favor “genocide diary” over manual.

    There are sooo many more pages about followers acting on orders than the orders themselves, and it covers acts of Yahweh himself, and any other killing that was apparently important enough to include in the holy book. Whether a reader interprets the anthology as examples to emulate or the orders binding is beside the point when you’re making an argument about its unsavory content.

  11. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Podcast: ReasonableDoubts – 89 Summer Genocide Series Part 1

    A critical review of Paul Copan’s book “Is God a Moral Monster?” Copan argues that the holy war waged against the Canaanites was not the blood-soaked genocide that critics of the Bible make it out to be. It was a limited, relatively humane campaign that was morally and spiritually justified… or not.

     
    Podcast: ReasonableDoubts – 89 Summer Genocide Series Part 2

    Recent findings in archeology indicate that the genocides in the book of Joshua probably never took place. But if the conquest of Canaan is just legend, what was the real reason for the fall of Canaanite civilization?

  12. mamba24 says

    Just have to say that Russell and Don were way too nice to that guy and let him talk for too long. You could have easily dismissed his “miracles” argument by saying that any “miracle” that manifests in the material world is therefore subject to scientific scrutiny and study. This call should have lasted a couple minutes, instead he got to ramble on making one logical fallacy after another.

  13. says

    Caller’s position on miracles – that God doesn’t perform miracles on cue, and you have to have faith… well, I’m sorry, but at that point, we’ve 100% abandoned any capacity to determine that any miracles occur. As far as I can tell, “miracle” is just anything that seems unlikely, and we don’t have any good explanation for… which makes them indistinguishable from coincidence.

    The story about the check being made to the exact amount.. I don’t buy it. Even if we were to take as a given that this atheist reported his perspective of the story accurately, we have no verification that something didn’t happen behind the scenes where the person wrote the correct amount… maybe someone secretly told her, and she claimed that was the exact amount for the sake of being noteworthy.

    With no other information, we have three basic possibilities to start:

    0) Coincidence (even if it’s unlikely on an individual basis)

    1) The event was mis-reported and there’s a perfectly mundane explanation for it we don’t know.

    2) An all-powerful invisible universe-creating sky wizard manipulated reality for this church, while still allowing millions of babies to die from preventable diseases and hunger across the planet.

    One of these possibilities is far more likely than the others.

    Caller wouldn’t know critical thinking if it bit him in the ass.

  14. Coming_Curse says

    I’m sorry to tell but I found Don a little disturbing. His loud laughs often made it hard to understand what the caller or Russell were saying and he also often interrupted with comments that were not really helping the case.
    Apart from that the show was good – although especially the first caller seemed to be extremely hard to nail down on the fallacious parts of his views. :-)
    Thanks to the ACA and everyone involved for having the show.

  15. says

    It would have been useful to pin the caller down on what a “miracle” is. It seems to be about as nebulous as “spiritual”.

    Apparently anything that happens that’s unknown/unexplained automatically means an invisibly sky wizard is somehow involved. That’s how his “evidence” works.

  16. says

    Not to mention his entire approach to evidence is completely backwards.

    He starts with an effect, and then asserts a cause he made up, and connects the two. It’d be like if I claimed that Rock’Nar, the giant stone golem exists, and how do we know he exists? Earthquakes. Every time there’s an earthquake, that’s evidence for Rock’Nar.

    But a billion other people can come up with their own explanations for earthquakes… and all one billion of them can say, “Well we dont’ know how else it could happen, and you haven’t proved that all earthquakes are naturally caused…some are mysterious!”

    We can boil it down into a generic type of argument:

    1) A exists
    2) I propose that B exists
    3) I assert that B causes A
    4) Since A exists, and B causes A, therefore B exists

    … and I can fill in A and B with whatever I arbitrary crap want… and it’ll be the same level of “evidence” as miracles.

    He can’t establish that miracles even exist before first demonstrating that a god exists to do miracles.

  17. Russell Glasser says

    Check the OP, I added links that Drew sent me, along with a response about Dan Barker.

  18. John Kruger says

    Absolutely. The whole point of experimental repeat-ability, peer review, double blinded studies, etc., is to find a way to work around our biases. Acknowledging our biases and focusing on methods that are not affected by them is what makes science actually work.

  19. John Kruger says

    I bring you Lisa and Homer Simpson:

    H: The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
    L: That’s specious reasoning, Dad.
    H: Thank you, honey.
    L: By your logic, I could claim this rock keeps tigers away.
    H: Oh, how does it work?
    L: It doesn’t work.
    H: Uh-huh.
    L: It’s just a stupid rock.
    H: Uh-huh.
    L: But I don’t see any tigers around here, do you?
    H: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

  20. corwyn says

    0) Coincidence (even if it’s unlikely on an individual basis)

    But it ISN’T unlikely. It was a number in the mid-4 digits as I recall. That means it was at most a 1 in 10,000 coincidence (about 40 decibans of evidence). Let’s assume that the church got 100 contributions total, only one of which was the proper amount, That means it was a 1/100 coincidence (20 decibans). Given that a 1 in a million coincidence happens to you about once a month (Littlewood’s law), you should see a 1 in a 100 coincidence every few minutes.

  21. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Speaking of witches, genocides, and Josephus…
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Witch of Endor
     
    Article: Skeptic’s Annotated Bible – 1 Samuel 28.

    Sidenote: “God sent a message to Saul (through a dead man brought back to life by a witch) that tomorrow God would make sure that the Philistines kill him and his sons along with the Israelite soldiers (to punish Saul for not killing all the Amalekites like God told him to in 1 Samuel 15:3).”

  22. says

    The first caller was pretty annoying, and I was disappointed that at no point did the hosts ask him about this supposed miracle, “What makes you think that it suggests there’s a god?” <

    Sure, I guess you kind of implied the idea – and I think Don actually did say the words “argument from ignorance” in between his usual uncontrollable fits of loud, distracting, nervous laughter – but I think it would have been a huge help if you clearly and directly asked the caller what it is about a mute man suddenly talking that makes him think a god exists. The gap in logic there is so big you could drive a truck through it. While you’re at it, after you ask the question, you should actually make him answer. Don’t let him dance around it, in the way that he was dancing around pretty much everything you asked him the entire time.

    I see from Russell’s addendum above that the caller misrepresented the miracle story, but so what? It’s not the job of the skeptics to research exhaustively every nonsense claim that people present us with. Let’s grant the caller that someone really touched a completely mute guy and then the completely mute guy spoke, for the first time in his life. So what? How does that demonstrate that a god is any more likely to exist?

    I would have wanted to see you insist that the caller answer that question.

    I guess there’s something to be said for a more laid back approach to hosting, and I guess it’s better than screeching hysterically at the caller before he barely says two words – but there has to be a happy medium. At the very least, hosts need to be on guard against the trap of playing the caller’s game, getting sucked into the details without forcing the conversation up to a more general level, where it can be more enlightening for the audience at home.

    For example: The caller reads out some stupid supposed miracle? Great. Let’s talk about miracles, in general. Tell us, caller, what is a miracle and by what criteria do you recognize one? And how would a miracle, as you define it, demonstrate God? Oh, what’s that, you’ve got more stories, and you’re starting to read another one to us? You’re on hold now. Definition of a miracle, please. How does it suggest a god exists? Etc.

    Tracie and Matt are the best at that approach, and it’s an approach that I feel everyone who talks to theists needs to work on – not just hosts of this show, but everyone.

    And for goodness sake, it’s your show. Don’t let him get away with that “Can I finish? I feel like I’m always being cut off –“ Damn right you’re being cut off. No, you can’t finish. Please explain how you got from “A mute guy suddenly talked” to “God is more likely to exist than not.”

    You can even do it with a smile, like Tracie, if you like.

  23. says

    That caller wasn’t about to be pinned down on Jack Crap. When confronted with Biblical killing on god’s commands, he declared that if god commands it, the assumption is that those killed are evil people and it’s justified. Then when asked if he would kill “a guy” if god instructed it, he said “that would never happen”–that is, god would never command someone to kill someone else. How do you argue with someone who can do an about face literally within the same minute, and not even recognize it? It’s like arguing with two different Christians with opposing views, embodied in the same person.

    When he declared the Flood was justified, and Don asked him point blank if unborns/infants were “evil” and guilty and deserving of death, he basically said he refused to get dragged into it.

    He called pointing out his contradictions “gotcha questions.” It isn’t a rhetorical trick to ask someone to clarify their position when they give what appear to be opposing perspectives intended to represent their position.

    He doesn’t understand the problem with self-contradiction, and why that’s a logically impossible state to exist within. And his solution appears to be to simply ignore half his position when he’s espousing the other half as justified, and vice versa. You can’t argue with someone like that. But you can use them as “Exhibit A” in what constitutes problematic reasoning.

  24. says

    they should have pressed Don from the start when they quoted exodus 22:18 ” Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

    and then Don admitted that the Salem witch trials was based of the misinterpretations of the bible. i would love to know if all witch killing are misinterpretations of the bible or if there are any witches out in the world

    And then Don just fo sake afterwards. Does he actually believed that Noah was the only innocent person in the world?

    And he kinda admits to his bullshit when Russel did the burning bush question. He only answer was: Well that is a gotcha question Because he didn’t have an answer to it

    all other claims he makes sounds like Lying for Jesus ™ which doesn’t really give his religion credit

  25. says

    they should have pressed Don from the start when they quoted exodus 22:18 ” Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

    I was wondering out loud how “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” translated through caller’s “Love thy neighbor as thyself” lens.

    … or the two she-bear tearing apart 42 kids for calling the guy bald
    … or spiking a slave’s ear with an awl to mark him as your property forever
    … or that women need to be silent in church and cannot have authority over men

  26. Muz says

    Ah, cheers. So it’s pretty much first hand at least.
    I vaguely recall a similar one I heard somewhere People got the exact irregular amount of money they needed or something similar. But then someone checked and they actually didn’t. The family just remembered it as the miraculous exact amount. Really it was just close.

  27. kestra says

    Anyone here a fan of Astro City by Kurt Busiek? In one of the early volumes, he does a day-in-the-life story of a woman who lives in the “Shadow Hill” neighborhood of Astro City, an enclave of Eastern European immigrants that is also well known as a haunt for vampires, ghouls and other unpleasantness. (Don’t worry, the residents have a special mystic looking out for them.) ANYway, every morning this woman goes through a number of rituals that protect her and her family from the Shadow Hill denizens, planting special plants in the garden, placing a special rune on the door in brass (which needs to be re-blessed occasionally by the local priest), etc. She is a genre-savvy resident of a world where vampires and werewolves really *do* prowl the streets at night, and her precautions prevented them from hurting her.

    Now, if we lived in a world where holy water *really did* convey blessings, where three “Hail Mary’s” *really did* protect the chanter from rapists in alleys, where reciting Torah verses over a clay statue *really did* bring it to life as a Golem, don’t you think such things would have been commercialized by now? One of Martin Luther’s main gripes against the Church which sparked the Reformation was the *buying of indulgences*. True believers paid bishops and priests to forgive this or that transgression, and lo, it was forgiven. Martin thought this was insincere and debauched. But he, and the priests, and the people buying them all thought the indulgences really did *work*, even if you paid money for them.

    The argument that such things don’t work unless you *really believe* don’t hold water for two reasons: first, if god made the rules of the universe such that only he could break them, (as in that time he held the sun in the sky while Israel needed some extra time to finish off the Canaanites they were slaughtering; never quite understood why *that* use of divine power is so popular among the “miracles are real!” crowd) then these things *would always work*, otherwise, what use is divine power? And if they did only work for true believers, then true believers would be visibly better off than the heathen and the craven. And we all know that simply isn’t the case. I mean, how did all those successful non-Christians make *that many* successful deals with the devil? And if deal with the devil actually work, wouldn’t people be making *those* all the time too?

  28. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Article: Wikipedia – Littlewood’s Law
     
    Statistically unlikely events (or even two such unrelated events only occuring near each other by chance) become commonplace given a large sample size.

  29. says

    yeah, that is my point. how do you define mathematically an unlikely even of 2 unrelated events occurring near each other by chance? because you need a rule-of-thumb approach to even get near to that and we don’t even have that.

    And then if you actually had a miracle come true, don’t you need to define it?

    Never mind, it is all nonsense anyway

  30. says

    Don’s statement about the Gospel of Mark knowing nothing of the Resurrection, at around 11:30, is incorrect. The original ending to Mark did not depict any appearances of the resurrected Jesus, but it does end with the women discovering an empty tomb where a man in a white robe tells them that Jesus has been raised from the dead and that the disciples should wait for him in Galilee.

    Also, the idea of the dying-and-rising gods in relation to the Christ story has been incredibly overstated, in my humblest opinion. The Christian mythos has far less resemblance to the agricultural and fertility myths of the seasonal gods than many people try to imply.

    Finally, the Don confuses a few things with the “virgin birth” stories. Saying that Mary’s virginity is a mistranslation is not quite right. The gospels of Matthew and Luke both identify Mary as having been a virgin when she conceived Jesus, in the original Greek. The mistranslation is actually not even in either of these books– it’s in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was in use at that time. In Isaiah 7:14, the Septuagint translated the Hebrew word “almah” (which means “young woman,” without respect to sexual experience) with the Greek word “parthenos” (which explicitly implies virginity). The author of Matthew, being familiar with the Septuagint, erroneously linked this verse to the legend of Jesus’ birth in an attempt to shoehorn the Nazarene into Jewish prophecies.

    The statement that the virgin birth stories were added much later is also misleading. So far as we are aware, the gospel of Matthew has ALWAYS opened with his account of the virgin birth– that was not added to the story, later. There are scholars who have theorized that the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke was added in a sort of second-edition of the gospel, but this is far from being universally accepted by scholars, and even if true, it would be disingenuous to say that this was added “long after,” implying that it was an interpolation into the text from decades or centuries down the line of transmission (as occurred with the aforementioned Mark 16:9-20).

  31. Monocle Smile says

    Here’s where I wanted to (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

    Russell asks for a verified miracle.
    Drew: “I think you may be putting the threshold very high”

    WHAT THE HELL IS A MIRACLE, THEN?
    STAB STAB STAB STAB STAB

  32. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Sorry, I was sloppy. “Coincidence” doesn’t appear in the article anyway, and I would have done better to link to the more verbose RationalWiki page.

    You are correct, of course.

  33. Monocle Smile says

    The “miracle” Drew related from Common Sense Atheism is like most “miracle” claims I hear. Heartwarming stories that can be explained by coincidence and are typically devoid of a bunch of potentially relevant information. The fact that the discovered check was for the exact amount of money has so many mundane explanations that jumping to a miracle is pretty much the equivalent of the above quoted Simpsons exchange. You need to have some pretty serious god-glasses on to fail so hard.

  34. Kandal says

    0:00 Intro
    1:00 Announcements
    4:00 Failures of Christianity: Dependence on Ignorance
    16:50 Caller #1: Drew
    40:55 Caller #2: Janet
    47:20 Caller #3: Greg
    53:15 Caller #4: Kyle

  35. adamah says

    Drew is a typical modern Xian who thinks Jesus’ admonition of “Love your neighbor as yourself” was meant to apply to all humans. Nope, since Jesus never intended those words to be applied to SLAVES, a sub-set of humanity, but only to Jesus’ fellow free (i.e. non-enslaved) Jews.

    Let’s not forget these words of Jesus, which are rarely mentioned by the feel-good preachers and pastors in church:

    Luke 17:

    7“Who of ​YOU​ is there that has a slave plowing or minding the flock who will say to him when he gets in from the field, ‘Come here at once and recline at the table’? 8 Rather, will he not say to him, ‘Get something ready for me to have my evening meal, and put on an apron and minister to me until I am through eating and drinking, and afterward you can eat and drink’? 9 He will not feel gratitude to the slave because he did the things assigned, will he? 10 So ​YOU, also, when ​YOU​ have done all the things assigned to ​YOU, say, ‘We are good‐for‐nothing slaves. What we have done is what we ought to have done.’”

    Whoops, dere it is, more of that typical self-loathing attitude fostered by Xianity.

    Adam

  36. says

    Great! Thanks! That’s what I thought he was referring to. Funny how it’s easy for someone to mis-remember something as more confirming than it is. Laryngitis certainly isn’t the same thing as muteness, as the word “mute” is usually understood. So Drew remembered an account of a self-limiting condition like laryngitis as a miracle.

  37. fitjiffa says

    When my brother was in his teens, he borrowed some money off our Dad to buy a new bass guitar. The next day he won that amount on the premium bonds. He gave my Dad the money back. 2 months later, he borrowed some more money to buy a bass amp and a few days later won enough money to pay the debt off again. My brother is an atheist and did no praying of any kind for the money. Sometimes people just get lucky. After this, I borrowed some money for a six string hoping I’d win it back on the premium bonds in a similar fashion but had to spend a year paying it back weekly.

  38. Will H. says

    I have to admit, and I don’t mean to sound rude, but I can’t even watch when Don and Russell host. They talk over each other, they don’t control the callers enough, Don’s opening remarks are always too long and having him constantly refer to his laptop for his speech is distracting and Russell needs to stop listing every single bit of minutia about the show at the outset. Almost everything he mentions is already listed on the screen during the episode and it just takes up valuable time.

    I like them, and I love that they do this, I just can’t get through the episode. Sorry.

  39. Alex W says

    I feel that way every time Don Baker is on, I can’t stand him laughing at everything. He seems like he’s got a constant snarky “gotcha” response for every religious caller; it’s like reading comments on reddit.

  40. Jon Simon says

    I do wish Russel and Don would not talk over each other and let the caller carry on without being stopped at the first assertion.

  41. Edward Howton says

    Drew is a disgusting, immoral, inhuman sack of shit.

    I mean that. Any dumbass who can sit there and say that unborn children being murdered for their “crimes” is okay depending who does the killing isn’t a human being. Any dumbass who can say that his imaginary friend would never command murder, then get his nosed rubbed in the fact that his religion has MANY examples of exactly that, and then desperately try to run th fuck away from it and change the subject… He shouldn’t be breathing my air, he shouldn’t be allowed near children, and it should be castrated and forbidden from ever breeding.

    Too fucking insane for polite company. He can fuck right the fuck off.

  42. Nume says

    seemed like russel instantly regreted the decision to get some random guy to talk to the caller after the show.

  43. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    To be fair, the big bang was an unexpected tangent (as any event in the distant past would be, for that matter).

    And beginning a tangent with “The singularity *pause* ” may bring something else to mind.

  44. Atavistic says

    Getting the mute to speak isn’t a miracle – I’ve done it myself. I’ve worked with people who haven’t said a word in ten years and gotten them to speak. In fact, given the full description it’s even better then what Barker saw. No miracles required, just good solid therapy.

  45. Russell Glasser says

    FOLLOWERS: A miracle! A miracle! A miracle!
    SIMON: Tell them to stop it. I hadn’t said a word for eighteen years till he came along.
    FOLLOWERS: A miracle! He is the Messiah!
    SIMON: Well, he hurt my foot!
    FOLLOWERS: Hurt my foot, Lord! Hurt my foot. Hurt mine…

  46. Steven Walker says

    Every tie I see Don as a host I think “Yay, failures of christianity!” Good work keeping it going Don.

  47. Damo says

    Hi

    I have to say that the hosts really did a pretty terrible job. Constant talking over the top of one another resulting in periods of no-one being able to understand anything. Don kept trying to make jokes every two seconds and then laughed at them himself causing more disruption. There was a lack of leadership in any of the conversation from Russell and a lack of quality arguments from either of them.

    I know there’s only one Matt but when he’s not around the quality and cohesiveness of the show just falls apart and something really needs to be done about it. I don’t think Russell really has the ability to manage the show effectively and Don really needs to be reigned in half the time.

    This is not the first time I’ve noticed this. Perhaps Jen or Tracy should host in Matts absence. Don needs to save his comments until they have some impact rather than just saying the first thing that comes into his head.

    Cheers

  48. TE Eve Guy says

    Are you saying that you are perfect? I would hope not. Everyone has flaws so I think you may want to rethink your views of yourself.

  49. says

    I really enjoyed having the studio audience member on the show at the end. Pulling wisdom from differing experiences is almost always a good thing. Anyone else feel the same?

  50. Russell Glasser says

    “They don’t have sarcasm on Betelgeuse, and Ford Prefect often failed to notice it unless he was concentrating.” –The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

  51. Daumie says

    I don’t understand the whole “God doesn’t want to provide evidence for miracles because that would just negate faith.” When the guy said that, I literally laughed out loud for how nonsensical it was. How can he on the one hand use anecdotes of miracles as evidence to have faith, and then say that evidence of miracles negate faith? If knowing that miracles exist negated faith, then wouldn’t it make more sense to hide all knowledge of miracles in the first place? I mean, if I witnessed firsthand Dan Barker laying his hands on person with no tongue and vocal chords, literally a mute, and watch him cause the person to regrow them in name of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, then does that mean he has destroyed any chance of me ever having faith now that I’ve seen a real miracle occur right in front of me?

  52. Narf says

    Yeah, that’s one of the first things I always tell someone who presents me with some absurd miraculous story like this. First off, it doesn’t matter, since it’s just an anecdote, and I can find wild coincidences of all sorts, at both ends of the bell curve. Even without the general uselessness of anecdotal evidence, you’d need more than just your memory of events, since the human memory twists and turns in all sorts of ways to turn things into the way that we want to remember them.

  53. houndentenor says

    Okay. Since this is a topic I know a little bit about (multiple classes on vocal pedagogy and voice disorders…I will be presenting at a conference this summer so I’m above amateur status)…

    Laryngitis is a rather general diagnosis. It doesn’t tell me what was wrong with this person. Now if they had been scoped before and after and the vocal folds had nodules before and an hour later those nodules were gone, there would be no medical explanation for how that could have happened. (Nodules take weeks of vocal rest to go away and sometimes surgery is needed.) If however, the person had some swelling of the vocal folds which causes a breathy tone, it is possible that he got excited and spoke relatively clearly at least for a brief amount of time. I’ve sung performances in the evening after waking up in pretty bad shape that morning. Every singer and professional performer I know has done the same. (It’s not recommended but it can be done. If it’s that or forfeit a rather large fee, sometimes you take your chances.)

    This is almost the problem with such claims. The miraculous claim is rather specific. When questioned, the details turn out to be more muddy and of course there’s no documentation that would be required to prove the claim. All of that allows for bias confirmation and other logical fallacies. Sorry but being able to speak with laryngitis does not qualify as miraculous.

  54. houndentenor says

    Interesting but almost all of the miracles mentioned in the Bible involve someone asking for something specific and God providing it “on cue”. At one point did god stop giving what they asked for?

  55. martiabernathey says

    Well, what about history?Christianity is sanitized in text books, um, and how many people know about the Cathers, or the Peasant’s Rebellion or the Thirty Years War. Where, which, which, really reflect very badly on Christianity. How many people where murdered during the Christianization of the Americas, and is that ever discussed in, in, in history classes. Who knew that Martin Luther’s, uh, anti-Semitic writings helped to make the Holocaust a religiously motivated horror it was. So these things aren’t taught. And, and, Christians, uh, embrace folks like David Barton, who tell lies about the founding of the the United States, and there’s a lot of modern propaganda about the US as being successful country because of Christianity. But in reality this is because of capitalism, democracy, and the spirit of free enterprise, which are concepts not found in the Bible.””

    WHAT? I thought I was listening to the Atheist Experience, not Bill O’Reilly.

    The “reality” of the founding of the USA, isn’t found in capitalism, democracy, or in the spirit of free enterprise. You are substituting one false story for another. The USA was founded on genocide, theft, and oppression. Your statement, while popular amongst those you criticize (that the USA was founded truth, justice and the American way), is just as ahistorical of a statement as anything David Barton has said.

    And if you’re going to get down to it, the US isn’t a democracy, but a representative republic.

    The last couple of shows have bothered me because of how the callers have been treated. Last week Matt referred to a caller as an “idiot” (which is ableist), and this week you dismissed the first caller’s points by what you thought his belief was, rather than by what he said. I get cutting off people who go on incessantly, but this guy didn’t do that. It seemed like you were taking on a gotcha style atheism, that I don’t think helps anyone. This guy seemed, to me, to be on the edge of faltering or losing his faith. He wasn’t denying a lot of what was said and he was listening and he was polite.

    I’m a fan of the show, and an atheist, but this was NOT a strong show.

  56. Robert, not Bob says

    Oh, that one’s obvious. Elevating faith is an adaptive response to never having evidence. If they had evidence, they’d never have needed to invent faith. Interesting that this issue already existed in the early centuries of Christianity.

  57. Grif says

    Indeed. Since you treat your slaves like crap, don’t feel cheated when God treats you like crap. You deserved it.

    I mean, it’s not like it’s possible to treat your slaves nicely.

  58. Damo says

    I agree, I have been a fan for a couple of years, and have watched almost every episode online. Recently I’ve noticed Matt is rude, angry and too aggressive. Russell is possibly the worst host due to an inability to manage callers properly or his co-host. Don just talks about things that are barely relevant. Tracy tends to dominate whenever she gets on, almost like an ego trip. Jen seems ok.

    Overall its like the team have become jaded and short tempered or disinterested. If youre going to lose patience with people or make a joke of everything youre going to lose viewers.

  59. says

    Well, thank you for your viewership up to this point, since I take it you won’t be watching anymore, since you take issue to virtually all the hosts.. We can let them worry about whether they’re supposedly gaining or losing viewership.

  60. says

    And if you’re going to get down to it, the US isn’t a democracy, but a representative republic.

    False. While on the State level we’re more of a democracy than on the federal level, we do vote for president. On the state level we vote on referendums, as well as on who we elect for a plethora of office positions. The U.S. senate and house act as “mini-democracies”, voting on what decisions to make, which is essentially us voting by proxy.

    While democracy isn’t and exhaustive mechanism in how we operate, it definitely exists.

  61. says

    I honestly don’t see any point in disputing the tone. I like the cut of their jib. To each their own.

    Tracie explains it well – if you don’t like how they do things on the show. Feel free to throw your hat into the ring, and do things the way you think they should be done.

    … and we’ll see how much patience/audience you maintain, dealing with these people.

  62. J.D. says

    I think the hosts read feedback like “stop being mean to callers” and try to integrate it into the show. With the amount of people with torches and pitchforks last week up in arms over Matt’s treatment of guests, (which is sometimes necessarily forceful because the caller is being rude or making circular arguments) it’s interesting how now some are going the complete opposite route. Just goes to show you can’t please everyone!

    Love this show by the way, it sparked my journey to atheism.

  63. J.D. says

    I think they’re calling it a democratic republic on Wikipedia, which I think suits what you’re describing fairly well, Jasper. We democratically elect people to vote/make decisions on issues we care about… Sounds about right.

  64. says

    let the caller carry on without being stopped at the first assertion.

    I wish they’d be more prompt in stopping the caller as soon as something wrong is stated, because everything after that premise is moot, if the premise is wrong.

    Though the hosts could use a “talking pillow” at times, I think.

  65. martiabernathey says

    I understand that doing a show like this takes a special kind of person, and that’s it’s not an easy thing to do. But I watch to learn, to understand, and to become a better skeptic. I do not watch to learn how to take the piss on Christians.

    Today’s show was full of fail. Another example was when of the hosts (I’m not sure which, as I was listening to the podcast), I believe Dan, conflates Mosaic law, “commandments” or commands, and Christ”s words in Matthew 5:17.

    πληρόω,means to:

    1) to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full 1a) to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally 1a1) I abound, I am liberally supplied 2) to render full, i.e. to complete 2a) to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim 2b) to consummate: a number 2b1) to make complete in every particular, to render perfect 2b2) to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, (some undertaking) 2c) to carry into effect, bring to realisation, realise 2c1) of matters of duty: to perform, execute 2c2) of sayings, promises, prophecies, to bring to pass, ratify, accomplish 2c3) to fulfil, i.e. to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment

    and he implied here https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LLoz8_M22do#t=1246 that Christ is saying that Mosaic law still applies. Anyone can take words out of context and make them mean other things. Fox News, politicians, and religious leaders do it all the time. But in the Biblical context, Christ isn’t saying what Dan implies at all. From the the above definition of the word used, he said he is the fulfilment (meaning it no longer applies after his resurrection).

    Sure, it’s all BS and was is probably a work of fiction anyway, from a man that most likely didn’t exist. But that still doesn’t change the fact that Dan is engaging in a logical fallacy here (contextomy).

    I don’t really have a problem with any of the other hosts specifically, as I’m commenting on this and the last show only. Generally I love the show, and I’ll continue to watch. I just don’t believe you only criticise your foes, but also your friends when they get it wrong.

  66. martiabernathey says

    False. We live in, and our rule of law (including the states) comes from the US Constitution. Laws are made by the Congress. The powers that are defined in the Constitution as federal aren’t overruled by the state.

    You elect representatives TO THE REPUBLIC. You’re not even technically, factually correct. The President is elected via the Electoral College of the United States, not directly from the voters.

    Furthermore, as far as I know, and tell me if I’m wrong, the President doesn’t make laws.

    When you recite the Pledge, who do pledge allegiance to?

    Our form of government is democratic in nature (supporting democracy or its principles), but in structure it is a republic..Voting by proxy is how you DEFINE a a republic.

  67. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    From the the above definition of the word used, he said he is the fulfilment (meaning it no longer applies after his resurrection).

    From the the above definition:

    2b1) to make complete in every particular, to render perfect
    2c) to carry into effect, bring to realisation, realise
    2c1) of matters of duty: to perform, execute
    2c3) to fulfil, i.e. to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be

  68. martiabernathey says

    So I can’t criticize anything on TAE? No. let me have Tracie respond to you:

    Let me just clarify that this is NOT posted to say that people shouldn’t feel free to criticize things about TAE they don’t like. If you don’t like it when Matt yells, and you feel a more productive dialog would be served with calmer attitudes and less hang ups–that’s just your assessment of your preference, and it’s as valid as the person who says they love when Matt hangs up on someone being unreasonable and goofy. But when people start to assert that Matt owes it to a community he does not have the authority to represent, to behave this or that way–those people are confused about boundaries and roles and responsibilities in their own lives and those of the TAE hosts. And when they assert that minority groups that are prejudicially judged are responsible for their own vilification, and that the problem lies with their lack of accommodation of majority prejudices, that’s when I think a person has begun to say things that need to be countered. Christians who subscribed to prejudiced views using small sample sizes are 100% responsible for their prejudiced attitudes, and no atheist is to blame, nor is responsible, for their irrational bigotry.

    There’s a difference between him owing the community anything, and dialoguing about and criticising his conduct, as he is in a community of atheists. I’m not saying he owes anyone anything. I’m saying being an ableist isn’t helpful to atheism or humanism or skepticism, as a movement. The whole point of shows like this is to influence and educate, right? I’m not sure how you do that effectively by berating your callers. It’s much the same way that I don’t think the misogyny of Dawkins or of Thunderf00t helps (and in fact, harms) atheism.

  69. says

    False. We live in, and our rule of law (including the states) comes from the US Constitution. Laws are made by the Congress. The powers that are defined in the Constitution as federal aren’t overruled by the state.

    And yet this isn’t contradictory to democracy. Do I have to quote Wikipedia at you?

    Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or indirectly through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws.

    Secondly, you don’t appear to understand what the Constitution’s role plays in law creation. It establishes who creates the laws on a federal level, and the limitations on those laws. The specific laws that are generated don’t come “from” the Constitution.

    The same applies to States. The Constitution doesn’t tell them what laws they have to make. It says what laws they can’t make.

    You elect representatives TO THE REPUBLIC. You’re not even technically, factually correct.

    Except, I am factually correct. The Republic is established democratically. The representatives are established democratically.

    Furthermore, as far as I know, and tell me if I’m wrong, the President doesn’t make laws.

    They do play a role – proposing them and/or vetoing them. Executive orders qualify as “laws” in a sense, where the President has authority to do so.

    When you recite the Pledge, who do pledge allegiance to?

    I don’t, for one. I find it way too nationalistic. It pledges allegiance to the flag as it represents “the Republic”.

    But that’s not terribly relevant, since it also says “one nation under God”, and more importantly, there’s no mutual exclusion between representative republics and democracy.

    Our form of government is democratic in nature (supporting democracy or its principles), but in structure it is a republic..Voting by proxy is how you DEFINE a a republic.

    Isn’t that what I said… and what you’ve been saying it isn’t?

    We are a Constitutional Representative Republic Democracy.

  70. martiabernathey says

    Again, context is KEY. “until everything is accomplished” is a reference to resurrection (or if you read it to it a bit more vaguely, something Christ will do). That is the understanding I grew up with, and was taught. You can argue what that scripture means, of course. But I’m not aware of anyone outside of 7th Day Adventists who will argue this.

    That being said, it’s all turds of a different colour. No matter if I say it’s blue, and you say it’s aqua, they’re still turds. I don’t believe any of it.

    But I also don’t feel it’s helpful to denigrate and mock a believer using s logical fallacy. You win the battle, but lose the war. If the goal is gotcha atheism, then you win. If it’s winning people over to rationality and skepticism, not so much. A pastor could bat down Dan’s argument simply by contextual analysis of the scripture.

  71. martiabernathey says

    Since you’re a fan of Wikipedia as a source:

    “A republic is a form of government in which power is held by the people and representatives they elect,[1] and affairs of state are a “public matter” (from Latin: res publica), rather than privately accommodated (such as through inheritance or divine mandate).”

    and

    “Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or indirectly through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws”

    From the US Constitution:


    Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution:
    The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government
    , and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

    There are aspects of the Republic which are democratic, but it is NOT a democracy. Citizens are not required to vote, and not everyone can vote.

  72. martiabernathey says

    You can say that the United Kingdom democratically elects the House of Commons, but that doesn’t make the UK a democracy. It’s a constitutional monarchy.

  73. martiabernathey says

    I mostly agree. I don’t have a problem with Matt being short, or even rude. But what he said was derogatory. It’s on the same level of him calling a woman that disagreed with him a “bitch”, or him calling a gay caller that he disagreed with, a faggot.

  74. scottsville matt says

    matt is going to give himself a stroke on the air one day.
    that much anger isn’t good for one’s health.
    (unless it’s a deliberate act that he’s control of. then, he’s probably safer.)

  75. Atavistic says

    How exactly is calling someone an “idiot” ableist? I’ve worked with people with learning disabilities, people with low IQs, people with cognitive impairments, and people with brain injury to the point of being nearly catatonic – very few of them displayed the level of willful ignorance that idiots do. When they did display that, I didn’t hesitate to call them on it, because I believed in their ability to get past it and improve. Ridiculous things deserve ridicule, no matter who they’re coming from.

  76. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    [it no longer applies after his resurrection] That is the understanding I grew up with, and was taught. You can argue what that scripture means, of course. But I’m not aware of anyone outside of 7th Day Adventists who will argue this.

    Granted, they are turds, so arguing for the correct interpretation is moot.
    But for completeness, here are the variations among denominations…
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Christian views on the Old Covenant

    The predominant Christian view is that Jesus mediates a New Covenant relationship between God and his followers, according to the New Testament, which ended or set aside some or all of the Old Covenant. […] However, there are differences of opinion as to how the New Covenant affects the validity of the Old Covenant, how many Old Covenant laws such as the Ten Commandments are continued or renewed in the New Covenant, and related issues. The differences are mainly as a result of attempts to harmonize biblical statements to the effect that the Old Covenant and its law is “perpetual” or “everlasting” or “lasting” with biblical statements to the effect that it does not apply anymore (in the current dispensation) or at least does not fully apply

  77. RandyW. says

    This isn’t really pertaining to the subject of the show, but I noticed Don’s wedding band. From what I was able to see in the video, it looks very much like mine. A titanium band with a channel through the center into which a gold design has been inlaid (mine is a simple celtic design, two simple waves with each having its crest at the other’s trough with the waves intersecting in the center – http://www.absolutetitanium.com/order_cart_new.php?task=load&ring=AVALON&default_grade=V). Just wondering what the actual design is. Mine has rose gold. I know. Totally irrelevant. Still interested. :)

  78. kestra says

    The word “idiot”, like the words “retard”, “moron”, (and “cretin” (born with iodine deficiency) or “mongoloid” (Down Syndrome)) and others, used to be clinical words trying to define human intelligence along a single scale of numbers representing the ill-defined concept of “IQ”, and if your perceived IQ number fell below a certain numerical threshold, you were medically classified as a “moron” or an “idiot”. As these phrases leaked out of academia and into the mainstream as insults, the medical terminology evolved to use other words, like “retard” or “mentally retarded”. Then those too became insults and slurs, and new phrases were invented.

    As the word changed, so did the way the medical community understands, describes, and treats people who are not neuro-typical has also evolved and changed, with a growing understanding that human learning and cognitive abilities are not as simple as assigning everyone one number on a single scale. Emotional intelligence, spatial learning, linguistic ability and cognitive reasoning, etc., are all factors in human learning, and all humans vary in their abilities in each area. As you note in your comment.

    However, the old “idiot” and “moron” classification scheme, popular in the early days of psychology at the turn of the 20th century, was hugely influential in areas of law and how the government treated people who were classified as such, including infringing on their rights to vote, to hold office, and even their liberty. Some laws against “idiots” voting were only repealed *last decade*. So calling someone and “idiot” is not the same as calling someone “stupid”.

  79. says

    Since you’re a fan of Wikipedia as a source:

    “A republic is a form of government in which power is held by the people and representatives they elect,[1] and affairs of state are a “public matter” (from Latin: res publica), rather than privately accommodated (such as through inheritance or divine mandate).”

    and

    “Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or indirectly through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws”

    From the US Constitution:

    Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution:
    The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

    I’m still not seeing the contradiction. The republic is established/executed through democratic mechanisms.

    That would be the “indirectly through elected representatives” part, assuming we’re not talking about things referendums.

    There are aspects of the Republic which are democratic, but it is NOT a democracy. Citizens are not required to vote, and not everyone can vote.

    It’s the aspects/mechanism that make us a democracy.

    Democracy doesn’t require everyone to vote. Do you really think that a Democracy of a hundred million people suddenly becomes not a democracy because one guy decides to sleep in?

    I’m sorry, but you’re flat wrong on just about every count.

  80. says

    So I can’t criticize anything on TAE? No. let me have Tracie respond to you:

    I’m curious where I said anything like that. Making things up again, I see.

    I’m saying being an ableist isn’t helpful to atheism or humanism or skepticism, as a movement. The whole point of shows like this is to influence and educate, right? I’m not sure how you do that effectively by berating your callers. It’s much the same way that I don’t think the misogyny of Dawkins or of Thunderf00t helps (and in fact, harms) atheism.

    I get all that. On some of those items, people disagree with you, and it seems to be little more than subjective bickering. That’s where Tracie’s point becomes germane – if you think others aren’t representing your side well enough, lend your voice and “do it right”.

    Until then, we’re just having the same accomodationalist/confrontationalist debate in perpetuity.

  81. Russell Glasser says

    I haven’t noticed Don’s ring, but that does look and sound a little like mine. It’s also titanium and gold. I don’t have a link because I bought it at the Renaissance Faire, an upgrade for our second anniversary. Did you mean me?

  82. kestra says

    Tracie dominates “like an ego trip”? Really? And why, exactly, should Tracie not have the majority of the speaking time on *her show*? I like all the hosts, and they all have different strengths, but Tracie is by far my favorite for her clarity of thinking and simple, logical deconstructions of silly arguments. I wish she was on more.

  83. deesse23 says

    The messiah, the messiah!

    Hey, i am not the messiah.

    He MUST be the messiah, only the TRUE messiah denies that he is the messiah

    Ok, i AM the messiah.

    See, he IS the messiah.

    Aww, come on….

  84. Bryan S says

    I agree completely. Martin, Tracie, and Matt all have the ability to keep the conversation on track. It seems that whenever one of them isn’t on the show the callers tend to bounce all over the place and nothing is ever nailed down. I like Russel, but he’s much better as a co-host.

    On the subject of Don. He certainly has his moments, but a lot of the time he can be brutal to listen to. He tends to throw out non sequiturs and then laugh loudly at them which derails the conversation completely.

    All of the hosts/co-hosts have their pros and cons, but some definitely have more cons than others.

  85. Bryan S says

    I was astounded neither of them called him out on that. Putting the threshold too high? So asking for a miracle with actual evidence is too much? That should have been the end of it right there.

  86. Atavistic says

    The word usage has shifted, as it always does. Idiot, moron, and cretin are all pretty generic as this point, and retarded is quickly sliding that way. Citing them as offensive simply stops that slide and locks in their offensive value – and why would you want there to be more offensive words in use?

    Anyway, this is all a misunderstanding of Vgotsky – you can’t change what people think by changing the words they use. They just find new words to express the same feelings – like how “special” is currently shifting into the spot that retarded used to occupy. Better to teach empathy, and to focus on disliking people based on the choices they make instead of their nature – hence, calling people idiots when they’re being idiotic.

  87. Taylor Wilson says

    Just wanted to stop by to say this is one of the best episodes I’ve seen in a long time.

    The subject matter is always interesting to me, although obviously some shows more than others. What made this show so great was the tone.

    It was a real pleasure to see Don and Russell have fun. To hear both hosts, as well as the audience (and/or crew) laugh was great.

    Obviously certain topics, or particular callers essential preclude this sort of attitude. But there are other times where I feel like the tone of the show is unnecessarily adversarial. As though certain hosts or co-hosts come to the table expecting, and perhaps even wanting, more confrontation than is really appropriate.

    I’m not a member of the ACA, I don’t put in all the hard work that makes the show possible, but as an outsider, episodes like this do a lot more to promote the idea of “positive Atheism”.

    Loved it, guys and gals, keep on rockin in the semi-free world.

  88. omar says

    Have to disagree. Matt calling someone an idiot is not on the same level as bitch or faggot. One obviously doesn’t choose the gender or sexuality they were born to. Idiot refers to beliefs and actions–things an individual has control over. Matt’s admitted that everybody’s an idiot at times about different things. And when we are, we should be called on it.

    Holding to the literal genesis account of creation is idiotic. A global flood and Noah’s Ark are idiotic beliefs. Not accepting evolution is idiotic. And yet, some callers will defend those beliefs, and will babble on unless checked. Not everybody can have Tracie’s patience and good manners. I’m actually surprised at Matt’s restraint, considering what he often has to deal with.

  89. Damo says

    Yeah maybe that was a bit harsh. I was just irked by her when she used to call in all the time to the show when she wasn’t hosting. It struck me as weird. Let the Christians call, you don’t need to call in and expound your views. Shes been much better recently and is not one of my favourites.

    However my comments still stand. I can tell you having been a Christian until my late thirties, that the majority of Christians will write this show off immediately and cease listening if:

    the hosts are rude
    they swear
    the call people bad words like idiot
    they constantly hang up on people
    laugh at people all the time

    If the hosts are tired or jaded or whatever, then thats not a good thing.

    At the end of the day do I have my own show? No. Would I do it if I was able? Yes. Do I have the knowledge to do it? No. So I really dont want to sound harsh and dont mean to complain, but I really think that if the show had a friendlier aspect it would be more attractive to Christians.

    At the end of the day I love the show and wish it would continue. Just less shows like 856 would be great. Dons Christianity Failures are great. Russell is a great co-host. Whatever form it takes I hope it continues regardless of my opinion.

  90. RandyW. says

    Nope…unless you gained 40 lbs, an earring, and hair. :) Check Don’s left hand next time you see him and report back to me. THIS IS IMPORTANT! :) If you happen to remember, though, it would be interesting (to me, anyway) to find out what his band looks like. I kept noticing that it had a gold line through the middle because he was fidgeting with his hands a lot (not a knock, just something I noticed as he was talking). Maybe all three of us have similarly unconventional bands. Whatevs. At least we know two of us are cool guys. Maybe Don’s the third.

  91. martiabernathey says

    “Have to disagree. Matt calling someone an idiot is not on the same level as bitch or faggot. One obviously doesn’t choose the gender or sexuality they were born to.”

    What? Are you a skeptic? Can you provide the research that sexual orientation isn’t a choice? It’s easy to throw things around like that because it’s the acceptable viewpoint in the culture,  but where’s the evidence? And gender? Well, I don’t consider myself an expert, but I am transgender and bisexual, and while I don’t consciously THINK I choose my desire, I do choose my actions. But that’s based on my own perception, not science.  I can assure you that I’ve chosen every sexual act I’ve ever been a part of. (also if you’re pointing to research about sexual orientation, much of it points to SO being a lot more malleable than either heterosexual or homosexual identified people like to admit). That still doesn’t make being called a bitch or a faggot, any less hurtful.

    Now above I repeatedly tried to put the facts on the table about the difference between a democracy (a noun), and an institution being democratic (an adjective) and even provided an example to show they’re not the same (That the House of Commons in the UK is a democratically elected body, but the UK is a constitutional monarchy, not a democracy). If you provide your reasoning and the person you’re debating with totally ignores the facts, what can you do but just let it go (in Matt’s case, hang up).  My issue wasn’t one of tone,  but of  hurtful,  uncivil, and  offensive language.

    Idiot refers to beliefs and actions–things an individual has control over. Matt’s admitted that everybody’s an idiot at times about different things. And when we are, we should be called on it.

    You may disagree, but one only need open a dictionary to see what the meaning of the word idiot is:

    Oxford dictionary:
    1. (informal)a very stupid person
    2. (old-fashioned, offensive) a person with very low intelligence who cannot think or behave normally

    or

    Google:
    1 . a stupid person.
    synonyms: fool, ass, halfwit, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, cretin, moron, imbecile, simpleton
    2.  a mentally handicapped person.

    or

    Merriam-Webster
    1. usually offensive :  a person affected with extreme mental retardation
    2. :  a foolish or stupid person

    I think given the above definitions, it IS derogatory.

    I would think that a good majority of the world has believed in something that has no basis in rational thought, but I wouldn’t call most of the people in this world idiots. Ill informed? Irrational? Ignorant? Sure. But I don’t think someone’s intelligence, or lack of intelligence is based on every bit of their life being examined rationally. Do you?

  92. martiabernathey says

    Maybe it’s progress that no one has refuted my claim:

    “The “reality” of the founding of the USA, isn’t found in capitalism, democracy, or in the spirit of free enterprise. You are substituting one false story for another. The USA was founded on genocide, theft, and oppression. Your statement, while popular amongst those you criticize (that the USA was founded truth, justice and the American way), is just as ahistorical of a statement as anything David Barton has said.”

    or that Don is engaging in “spin” himself.

  93. says

    martiabernathey writes: “Last week Matt referred to a caller as an “idiot” (which is ableist)”

    Oh, stop being stupid.

    Look, I understand the desire to avoid language that reinforces oppressive hierarchies and that perpetuates ideas that translate into actions harmful to marginalized groups. I understand it, but I’m skeptical of the idea that policing language will have much of an effect — if any — on how people actually think and behave. I think that promoting the ideas of tolerance and empathy, along with educating people about marginalized groups, will have far more of an effect than scolding people for using very common words.

    But anyway, words do have rhetorical power, too, and the rhetorical force of “idiot” — a word that has lost all of its medical connotation, by the way — is sometimes useful.

    You write: “I get cutting off people who go on incessantly, but this guy didn’t do that.”

    I’m not sure which show you were watching….

    You write: “It seemed like you were taking on a gotcha style atheism”

    Oh, please. The caller, at one point, responded to a completely fair question by calling it a “gotcha question.” I wish the hosts had said, “It’s not supposed to be a ‘gotcha’ question…it’s an honest question that follows from what you’ve been saying.” And I wish they would have made him give an answer.

    You write: “This guy seemed, to me, to be on the edge of faltering or losing his faith.”

    Again, I’m not sure which show you were watching. The caller seemed like a well-meaning modern Christian who was more or less sure that the message of Christianity is a good one and that the hosts of this show typically bring up extremists with uber-literal interpretations of the Bible to make Christians look bad. And hey, he reasons, sure you can pull a bunch of stuff out of the Bible to try to make it seem like there’s contradictions (gotcha!) but at the end of the day, no normal Christian kills witches or stones kids or whatever, and Jesus said the only commandment was to love everybody, so c’mon, atheists, stop being so gosh darn silly!

    Sorry, that’s an idiotic position, and one of my frustrations with the show was that the hosts did not call this guy out on his *dumb* position, a position that he held confidently and clearly.

    You write: “this was NOT a strong show.”

    I completely agree, but for very different reasons.

  94. Robert, not Bob says

    They are hardly mutually exclusive, as anyone who looks at history objectively can see. Human beings are often hypocritical: consider Athenian democracy (which no one today would call democracy). There’s also a distinction between the founding of American civilization, culture and the constitutional government. Sweeping generalizations using emotionally charged language can’t do justice to such a complex subject.

  95. Monocle Smile says

    Can you provide the research that sexual orientation isn’t a choice? It’s easy to throw things around like that because it’s the acceptable viewpoint in the culture, but where’s the evidence?

    I could post a shitload of research, but seeing as you’re unable to distinguish between orientation (which IS a spectrum, though with a bimodal distribution) and sexual actions, it’s likely I would be wasting my time.

    I’m not fully convinced you’re not trolling. You’re taking issue with an extremely outdated connotation of the word “idiot” apparently for the sake of being butthurt. You went on an irrelevant tangent about democracy and decided to split hairs for no reason (after making a Bill O’Reilly crack). And when describing one of the callers you thought was treated “unfairly,” (Drew) it’s like you were watching a different show. That guy was nowhere near questioning his faith; he’s a typical American moderate Christian who wants to ignore all the unsavory parts of his religion. He even chose to be dishonest about it later in the call.

    My issue wasn’t one of tone, but of hurtful, uncivil, and offensive language.

    *dismissive wanking motion*
    Grow a thicker skin. Or just stop watching, because no one will care.

  96. Monocle Smile says

    I think it’s more likely that you have an overdeveloped sense of self-importance.

  97. Monocle Smile says

    The people who are so vacuous and shallow that they’d write the show off entirely for those “trespasses” while ignoring the behavior of the callers who incite said behavior are NOT the intended audience of the show.

    I’ve said this before, but I firmly believe that the people who are willing to listen won’t be thrown off so easily. Those who rage out at the first sign of trouble are just looking for a reason to dismiss the show and weren’t open to convincing anyway.

    Do you listen to Dogma Debate? Check out the episodes where an apologist calls in to defend his faith…and make sure it’s an episode where AronRa isn’t in the studio. Then get back to me on whether a “friendlier” approach works better.

  98. says

    Actually, that’s an all too human attitude. I’ll certainly agree that it’s inhumane, but that’s not the same thing. These people are definitely human and pretending otherwise isn’t going to lead anywhere good.

  99. Ubiquitous Dubiousness says

    Witches are not “neighbors,” perhaps…

    I wondered out loud why the caller, when pressed on the question: Is it okay to kill witches, did not dispute the definition of “witch” and whether or not such an entity exists. Of course, the hosts could still have demonstrated that the way we define the term and the fact that we now know that no such entities exist are only because of science.

    Am I to assume, by way of an argument from ignorance, that the caller believes in witches?

  100. Damascus The Beast says

    Drew constantly tries to make the claim that miracles are evidence for the argument for god’s existence. However, given the definition of the term miracle, being a “welcome” unexplained event attributed causally to a god is evidence for nothing. Both models of the universe, being one with a god and one without a god, would easily have people attributing unexplained events to god’s hand cause it’s both unexplained and beneficial to their circumstance and there would be NO way of differentiating between the two models given the event is unexplained.

  101. Monocle Smile says

    I like the “welcome” crack. You never hear about negative miracles, like a stray bullet from a police shootout hitting someone in the face in a high-rise apartment several blocks away.

    For fun: if the dollar value in Drew’s tale from Common Sense Atheism was even one dollar more, would it even be a story at all?

  102. ydnar0591 says

    The 1st caller’s comments on the miracle of the woman sending money from her account that was accruing interest and the amount coming out exactly to the penny to the amount the Church had received a bill for was amazing…..but as usual the atheist in the yellow shirt pipes up with: “I still see no evidence for a God in that”? I have a feeling that if Jesus hinself were to come to this heathen and raise up a pile of dry bones into an army of elite soldiers {as in Ezezkiel} right in front of this heathen , he would still say “I still see no evidence of a God”. lol

    Atheists look for GOD like a thief looks for a policeman. lol

  103. Ironchew says

    I like Don and Russell, but they’re often too nice for their own good.

    I disagree. The hosts got their point across in a way that exposed Drew’s massive cognitive dissonance; leading him through the Joseph Smith example was masterfully done. Don and Russell may not be as loud as Matt, but I expect theists to lose handily to them in an argument nonetheless.

  104. omar says

    @martiabernathey. Yes, I’m a skeptic. I’m just one who should’ve proofread his previous post better. I meant to say that we don’t choose the genders and sexual orientations we’re born into. I was an idiot for using the word sexuality to describe orientation. In your own, weird, long winded way, you called me out on that. I learned from my stupidity. On that particular issue, I’m no longer an idiot. I changed. I grew. Split hairs if you must, but I think you know what Matt means when he calls someone an idiot–especially when he’s used the word to describe himself.

  105. Monocle Smile says

    That story was neither a miracle nor amazing. It was a fairly amusing coincidence, if it even happened as described. Third-hand mundane stories that rely on confirmation bias are not convincing.

    Your condescension despite your rather troubling degree of credulity is appreciated. Do you have anything of actual substance to add?

  106. says

    So, just to be clear, you consider such a story convincing evidence for the existence of god? That would mean that if I could tell you such a story from a person from a different religion, say a Hindu, you’d accept that as evidence for their god too, right? If not, why not?

  107. Russell Glasser says

    FYI, I got in touch with Luke, who told the story on his blog, and it turns out again that the caller jumped to quite a few unwarranted conclusions. Luke says he never saw the check himself. His dad told him about the amount desired and the amount received later.

    I wouldn’t say anyone was deliberately lying, most likely, but without any actual records, it certainly has the air of a story that might have gone through a few links in a communication chain and gotten embellished somewhere along the way. Confirmation bias makes it easy to justify making the story more exciting in the retelling.

  108. says

    Very likely possibility. It wouldn’t be the first time a story was unconsciously edited along the way.

    – We got a donation to help pay our bill.
    – We got a donation that covered our bill.
    – We got a donation that exactly covered our bill.
    – We got a donation that exactly covered our bill, down to the last cent. It must have been a miracle.

  109. curiousgeorge13 says

    If you brought Archimedes to the present day, and showed him a ship made of metal, floating in the water, he probably would not be surprised because he understood the principle of displaced water supporting weight.

    BUT – take him in an elevator ride to the top of the Empire State Building ; his reaction would be “it’s a miracle” because he had no referential framework of the concept of skyscrapers, electricity, or any of the technology required for an explanation of what happened. You would immediately be elevated to the status of a god – my guess would be Mercury.

    – Start of a new religion maybe? Ignorance leads to a supernatural explanation that lasts until knowledge of reality is gained. Why are so many people so far behind ?

  110. Bradley Dawson says

    I find it curious when the christ-chumps quote their cult leader as saying:
    “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”
    Check Luke 10 25-28. Actually it was a lawyer that said that. Geezuz only agreed with him.
    They think the buy-bull is the greatest book ever written, that the author is the creator of the universe and it should be the manual for living. You would think they would know what’s actually in it and who said what.

  111. b. - Order of Lagomorpha says

    Excuse the digression, but the word “idiot” wasn’t coined as a clinical term. According to the OED, in English the first printed usage dates back to ca. 1384 when it was used to mean, “A person without learning; an ignorant, uneducated person; a simple or ordinary person.” Or you can take it back even further to classical Latin (Idiota) where Tertullian used it to mean an ignorant, uneducated person. Medicine may have borrowed the word to describe a narrow subsection of mental incapacity, but that in no way negates the original meaning or colloquial use of the word.

    *I will give up the OED when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers*

  112. says

    Here’s my guess: He wakes up with a scratchy throat and, being a singer with a performance that night, basically rests his voice for the day. Maybe at the time of the incident it’s still a little scratchy, but whatever had caused the irritation was essentially gone. Being a good Christian, after the prayer he confidently tests his voice and it’s back. Magic.

  113. Ronald Kappes says

    I’d like to make 2 points about the interview with Drew.
    Drew, quoting Vince Sanger says: “if there is a god we should expect interventions & answers to prayer.” Don: nods his head in agreement & Russel says: “right, if they are verifiable…”
    Full stop, whoa. There are billions of gods out there, just waiting to be imagined- material, non material, smart, stupid, red, green. How many of them answer prayers? The Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn’t. My own personal god, “the god who sleeps late on Saturday” has never answered my Saturday morning prayers. That’s how I know that my god of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday afternoon is the one true god. The origins of god belief can be traced back to human social evolution & psychology 101. Why did Don & Russell miss this huge opportunity to start off with a big gotcha? The ACA is about “no gods.” The bullshit bible is secondary. This is the path we should be actively pursuing. Cut back a little on the bible, especially if you have to look up so much.

    Fred Phelps: It is irrelevant that FP is loathed by the vast majority of Christians. The important point is that he derives his interpretation from the same book as all other Christians. It nourishes his sick mind. Besides being full of intolerance the bible is incredibly ambiguous. I’ve never seen a schizophrenic standing on a corner brandishing a copy of the US constitution.

    Just another observation about the bible as a “genocide manual.” Maybe he should have said-“the bible approves & encourages genocide.” Just sayin.

  114. adamah says

    Russell said-

    it certainly has the air of a story that might have gone through a few links in a communication chain and gotten embellished somewhere along the way.

    That strong human tendency to play Chinese Whispers explains religious beliefs, relying on a generous dollop of exploiting people’s need to have their biases confirmed.

    The topic in question could be urban legends, UFOs, or market bubbles (whether tulips or real estate), etc, but it’s the same fundamental human dynamic at play, depending on the brain’s strong desire for asymmetric acceptance of ideas those who tickle our ears, telling us we’re correct (even if we’re wrong).

    The old saying is the claims we should be most suspicious of are NOT those that are unappealing to us, but those we most WANT to be true: that’s exactly how scammers operate, telling you have already won millions, etc.

    I encountered an elderly widow the other day who learned that lesson the hard way, falling for a scammer who took her for $129k in Green Dot Government Grant scam (telling her she’d get $250k if she sent him $100 via Green Dot card; of course, the amount went up over time). Fortunately she was able to avoid losing an additional $4k after I showed her Google results for “Green Dot scam”, and she went back to her bank and halted a funds transfer she made directly to the scammer’s account earlier in the day.

    She was in denial, hoping beyond hope that it was legit. It’s not pretty to see what happens when someone realizes they’ve been victimized as a result of their own desires.

    Religions are a legal form of the same scam…

    Adam

  115. Damo says

    I think that this will be a big loss. The Westboro church brought a lot of attention to the truly barbaric and idiotic statements made in the bible which brought the entire Christian religion into disrepute. Fuck it, hope he lives for a long time to come. God actually does hate gays if you read the bible its pretty fuckin black and white.

  116. Pedi says

    Interesting idea in theory, but that particular guy was a bit of a disaster. He didn’t have anything useful to say to the caller.

  117. says

    In general terms, I always complain about “gotcha!” type conversations. Sye Ten Whatshisname is what I think of, though. Not the Socratic method. This just made me more angry with this guy. He took 180 degree positions on about 3 or 4 subjects and acted like you were mean or unfair to point it out. As if he could somehow spin it to make sense if you’d just give him enough time. Plus, he kept whinging about being interrupted, while doing the same thing himself.

  118. says

    They did derail each other a little more than usual this episode. But, really, you’re examining that gift horse’s mouth a bit critically.

  119. corwyn says

    yeah, that is my point. how do you define mathematically an unlikely even of 2 unrelated events occurring near each other by chance?

    In this case it is really just simple probability. For each donation check (of a hundred) that comes in, what are the chances that it will be (to the dollar), the amount outstanding. If all amounts are less than $10,000 and are equally likely, and each check is place-able in a sequence* (which makes a miracle most unlikely), then each check has a 1 in 10,000 chance of being exactly the amount (currently) needed. 100 * 1/10,000 = 1/100.

    For two *unrelated* events the probability of both occurring is probability of the first times the probability of the second. Your chance of winning the lottery is 1 in 100 Million (for some tickets), the odds of getting struck by lightning on that day instead are 1 in 82 Million, the odds of winning the lottery AND getting struck by lightning on the same day are 1 in 8.2 Quadrillion.

    * One can of course, arrange the checks such that it is more likely that some arrangement of them totals to the amount outstanding (and the rest become ‘unimportant’).

  120. Kongstad says

    Concerning the check in that exact amount – I have a freak coincidence happen to me once.

    When I was in high school one of my friends, Michael, was a real joker – he later went on to become a moderately successful stand up comedian – He would typically come with totally non sequitur comments.

    Now one time I was in the school play, were the main character had to break a pair of sunglasses in one scene.
    Since my mom worked for a chain of optometrists, she had them supply about ten pairs of sunglasses, for use in that scene. After the dress rehersal, I picked up the lenses from the broken sunglasses, and put them in my pocket, and forgot all about them. The following day in school I was walking down the hall, just as Michael exited chemistry class, where they had been working with polarized light – As soon as he saw me he asked me whether I had a set of polarized pieces of glass on me. Not believing my ears, I put my hand in my pocket and drew out the sunglasses lenses, and gave them to him, and – yes – they were polarized.

    Whenever someone gives me a coincidence story like the one with the cheque I bore them to death with my own coincidence story, which is just as improbable as most, but utterly without any deeper meaning.

  121. Matt Gerrans says

    Yeah, that was my impression. Kind of a lot of rambling that boils down to “I’ve been there too.” Just because you’ve had the same experience someone else is going through now, doesn’t mean you’re an expert or that you have any useful advice. It’s possible you did lots of study, research, thought and became an expert, but it’s also possible you just muddled through it and don’t really have anything useful to offer others on the topic.

  122. Matt Gerrans says

    God actually does hate gays if you read the bible its pretty fuckin black and white.

    Really? Where does it say that in the Bible? All it says is certain acts are “abominations.” The Bible isn’t really very clear on any topic and pretty much contradicts itself on every topic it does touch. This (and the fact that most haven’t actually read the whole thing) is what allows other Christians to believe it is a “good book” despite all the awful things it does say. You can thump The Bible and say pretty much anything that springs to mind, or suits your fancy, which is what most believers do.

  123. Ronald Kappes says

    Actually, the bible approves not only of homosexuality but of smoking pot.

    From Leviticus 20:13;
    “And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them shall be stoned….”

  124. FaS says

    I 100% agree with you, Don and Russell are way too easy on the callers. They can make point after point without a proper stop or calling out the different fallacies the callers make. At one point I thought Russell was going to do it when he said “oh I can kill a witch… why not?” but then Don makes a silly joke about secular laws and the whole point was gone… Just like that (I was almost screaming at my screen at that point). They should have sticked to the point and let him see he is being dishonest or is doing some “special pleading”. Matt and Tracy are the best at doing this. I love Tracey the most because she can spot the different fallacies and explain them very calmly without the caller getting away with it.

    I’m really at a point where I won’t watch the show when Don and Russell are on…

  125. bigwhale says

    The bible even makes fun of the Egyption priests because their gods couldn’t perform magic on command, while the god of Moses was shown to be willing to show such proof.

  126. bigwhale says

    Yeah, just thinking about the millions of churches, it would be more surprising if a story like this never happened.

  127. FaS says

    “When confronted with Biblical killing on god’s commands, he declared

    that if god commands it, the assumption is that those killed are evil people and it’s

    justified. Then when asked if he would kill “a guy” if god instructed it, he said “that would

    never happen”–that is, god would never command someone to kill someone else. How do you argue

    with someone who can do an about face literally within the same minute, and not even

    recognize it?”

    Well you could pull up stories from the bible that contradict his statements right? Don did

    at one point say ” Abraham and Isaac” but then the caller just become quiet and went on to

    the next argument. Why didn’t they just say: “wait please, you just said that god would not

    command you to take a life but in the bible we have stories (for example: Abraham and Isaac)

    where he (supposedly) did make commandments like that. How do you reconcile your statements

    with these stories? they are in direct contradiction”. That would force him to think about

    the answer, and who knows if he would see that if forced he still isn’t able to get a good

    answer he would learn from it and take a step to the “good side”.

    “When he declared the Flood was justified, and Don asked him point blank if unborns/infants

    were “evil” and guilty and deserving of death, he basically said he refused to get dragged

    into it.?”

    Again, wouldn’t it be better if the hosts stopped him, then ask ‘why’, and point out thats it a

    contradiction that all people that were killed were evil if unborn people were killed also?

    The caller even gets to call the killing of the “witches” “mass hysteria”. I’m really

    wondering why the hosts didn’t correct him and really pin him down on the fact that it

    literally stated in the bible(!) and not something that mankind just did without a reason.

    I really love the show and have been watching for over a year now. But I do think that some

    hosts really let callers slide along way too easy where you or Matt would really face the

    callers with their contradictions. I think that the second approach is better because that

    forces the caller to justify their believes to the hosts and the viewers but more

    importantly: to them selfs.

    I would argue that this is the way to get people out of unjustified beliefs.

  128. FaS says

    My message is strangely different then it was in the preview and I don’t see a edit or delete button so I hope it’s still somewhat readable…

  129. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    However you are doing your post, I suggest letting automatic line wrap handle newlines, except for paragraph breaks, which you need to handle manually.

  130. John Kruger says

    In particular, MS Word likes to insert its own line breaks into text fields when using the Windows copy function. Combined with the normal line wraps most websites provide you get too many line breaks. This is easy to get around though. Paste your comment into a simple text program like Notepad, then copy it again and paste it into the text field. This reduces the comment to just text, no hidden formatting characters, and then the website can handle the line breaks and word wraps correctly without any outside interference.

    You can also use browsers like Firefox or Chrome that will spell check for you without trying to do a lot of automatic formatting.

    Good on you for using a word processor. All too often spelling mistakes really drag on overall conversation. A little proofreading is also a great thing for communicating well.

  131. FaS says

    Thank you! My native language isn’t English so sometimes I make silly errors that I overlook. But I am affraid that my post is somewhat unreadable now, is there a way to fix this?

  132. Narf says

    Not after you hit post, no. Only the moderators have the ability to change things on here.

    Oh, and I glanced at a comment earlier, while I was at work. I don’t remember who said it, but he was talking about how the preview button made his comments look all fucked up. This is largely a feature of the browser you’re using. I mostly use Firefox and Chrome. In Firefox, the preview function seriously fucks up the placement of links and such. In Chrome, it’s nearly perfect. I’m not sure about how well IE handles it, because I only use it at work, when I’m forced to.

  133. CaptainCrunched says

    heicart: “That caller wasn’t about to be pinned down on Jack Crap.”

    Hahaha, I’ll take that as a compliment! That line caused me to burst out laughing, I’m not sure why. In any case, this is Drew, the caller. Not sure if I can verify that to you. Guess you’ll have to take it on “faith.” ;)

    rrpostal: “He took 180 degree positions on about 3 or 4 subjects and acted like you were mean or unfair to point it out. As if he could somehow spin it to make sense if you’d just give him enough time.”

    Honestly, the Bible is a large and complex book. It’s not enough to say, hey, God killed some people, ergo he’s a monster. As I pointed out with the Flood example, the Bible is clear that the earth was filled to the brim with violence at that time. God didn’t act like a monster, he executed murderers.

    But returning to the Flood is not my point. My point is, context and explanations are in order to debunk the strawmen that are thrown around. I was trying to field objection after objection that was thrown at me on the fly. A coherent, harmonious theology can be assembled that accounts for the entirety of the Bible, but why would you expect it to be explicated in a few sentences and not have varied nuances for varied circumstances?

    rrpostal: “Plus, he kept whinging about being interrupted, while doing the same thing himself.”

    Insofar as I was being a hypocrite, mea culpa. I’m not about to go back through the 25 minutes I talked with Don and Russell and make an official count, but my perceptions was that I was being interrupted more often. That was slightly frustrating. I remember deliberately interrupting though when Fred Phelps was mentioned because I felt that was such an outrageous example.

    FaS: “Then when asked if he would kill ‘a guy’ if god instructed it, he said ‘that would never happen’–that is, god would never command someone to kill someone else. How do you argue with someone who can do an about face literally within the same minute, and not even recognize it?”

    I said and maintain that God will never order *me* to kill someone. I would identify that as schizophrenia first (cue someone here calling faith “schizophrenic” and thinking it clever). Of course I recognize there are times in the Bible when God ordered the deaths of certain peoples.

    But here’s the thing, the Bible literally states that God does interact with humanity in the same way he did prior to sending Christ. Yes, God had and has a special relationship to the Israelites. And for a time they were commanded to use violence to 1) execute God’s justice and 2) preserve themselves ultimately so the savior of all of humanity could come forth through them.

    When I say God wouldn’t command me to kill anyone, it’s a theologically accurate statement. I’m not Abraham, whom God communed with directly and established his people. I’m not the Israelites living at a time BC surrounded by hostile cultures that sacrificed newborns into fiery pits. I wasn’t given apostolic authority and commissioned by Jesus himself.

    I could get more into the theology of this, but *of course* I wouldn’t want a theological discussion with Don and Russell. Why would I try and get into theology with two people who reject a central premise of *any* Christian theology, to wit, that God exists? So insofar as I judged digressions into theological details, guilty as charged. That was reasonable.

    FaS: “The caller even gets to call the killing of the ‘witches’ ‘mass hysteria’ ”

    Yeah, so does Wikipedia, per the link given by some other commenter here that courteously wanted to educate me. I was unaware how extensive the slaughtering of alleged witches was, though, of course, I was inclined to believe Don and Russell when they said it occurred over several centuries. Obviously, much of that is horrifying, as it is to anyone who understands the concept of due process.

    FaS: “I really love the show and have been watching for over a year now. But I do think that some hosts really let callers slide along way too easy where you or Matt would really face the callers with their contradictions.”

    Realize that they were playing the same tactics with me. For instance, I started off taking issue with calling the Bible a “genocide manual” (I stand by that. What a ridiculous caricature, it’s like calling War and Peace a “gore fest” because it has a lot of deaths people… that misses the central point of the novel and distorts what it’s all about.)

    Take, e.g., when I made my penultimate argument that calling the Bible a “genocide manual” is ridiculous: that even if you compiled all killings by God in the book and measured it in proportion to the remainder, you’ll find the violence is a very small slice of the whole. And how was this key point answered? An inexplicable detour onto how the NT is bad because it introduces the concept of hell. Diversion and distraction and failing to concede that calling the Bible a “genocide manual” is hyperbolic. (Look up the both the word “genocide” and the word “manual,” then tally how many chapters in the Bible document Israel’s warring with other people groups. Come back and tell me if you still think it’s an accurate characterization, and not a weak insult.)

    This is why I griped about “gotcha” questions. I’d try to answer something, then I’d be skewered with the next controversial topic Don and Russell brought up. Not that I blame them. I enjoyed the conversation and they were polite (some of the laughter I felt was unnecessary but whatever). It’s their show.

    Peggy: “I think the caller on the show today probably mis-remembered that as a healing of a mute person.”

    I appreciate your research. I think it was a misunderstanding, not an error of memory. The way Dan explains the story when he was being interviewed by Oprah leads to a reasonable inference that the person was a mute. I’d actually never read the story from his book. But it was a mistake and I’m *glad* it was corrected. Thanks to you and Russell.

  134. CaptainCrunched says

    (Drew, the caller, again.)

    Some of the mathematical tinkering I’m seeing here is just number guesstimating at best, number-fudging more likely, but let’s ignore that for a second…

    Yes, it’s understood that big coincidences will happen in life. They’re a downright inevitability given the variables bouncing around in the world. However, when sizable coincidences repeatedly occur in *response* to something, evidence builds that there is a causal connection.

    Like if I said, “Lightning is about to strike!” And sure enough, it happened within a few seconds of my pronouncement, you *might* write that off as a coincidence the first time. If that happened repeatedly, you’d reasonably suspect I was either privy to when lightning strikes or actually causing it somehow.

    So all the above misses one of the central factors with Luke’s story: that very check with a number meeting the exact needs of the church that could have happened at any church according to corwyn, happened to the church that spent an all-night prayer meeting asking for the check.

    But let’s be real. If you start mathematizing this, you’re being disingenuous unless you can calculate many, many things with precision: the number of churches that have been in need of money and received the money, the number of churches that have been in need of money and prayed for the money the night before and received the money, the number of churches that have been in need of money and didn’t receive the money… etc.

    One way or the other, Luke’s story is an eyebrow raiser. And in the cumulation of my life’s experience, these “eyebrow raisers” have occurred in response to faithful knocking, seeking, and asking of God.

  135. CaptainCrunched says

    Los: “The first caller was pretty annoying, and I was disappointed that at no point did the hosts ask him about this supposed miracle, ‘What makes you think that it suggests there’s a god?’ ”

    On the contrary, Don and Russell did press that point, twice! This is the caller speaking.

    And my answer was that Vic Stenger says if God exists, we should see miracles as the Bible suggests them. My response is that Vic is right but miracles do occur, and here’s a few of them.

    If you find an event occurs in response to a petition to God that seems to have no natural explanation, two obvious possibilities emerge: 1) there is an as-yet undiscovered natural explanation and 2) God heard and answered the petition.

    After enough fruitless examination of naturalistic explanations, and enough hearing these events happening when made to God, you reasonably could attribute the occurrences to God.

    Obviously, I have more and better stories recounting miracles, some of which happened to me personally, but I wanted to go for a unique angle when I called the show: “atheist miracles”.

  136. CaptainCrunched says

    “Drew is a typical modern Xian who thinks Jesus’ admonition of ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ was meant to apply to all humans. Nope, since Jesus never intended those words to be applied to SLAVES, a sub-set of humanity, but only to Jesus’ fellow free (i.e. non-enslaved) Jews.”

    Actually, the Jews were subjugated to the Romans at this time. They were given a level of autonomy and freedom though, but they certainly weren’t completely free.

    What basis do you have to say that Jesus didn’t mean slaves when he used the word “neighbor”? He was talking to downtrodden people. It’s reasonable to assume there were some slaves who had the ability to come and hear him from time to time.

    Indeed, the Gospels recount that Jesus was *asked*, “And who is my neighbor?” How did Jesus respond? He told the story of the Good Samaritan, who helped some poor, beat-up guy on the side of the road without even inquiring into who the beat-up guy was.

  137. CaptainCrunched says

    martiabernathey: “I get cutting off people who go on incessantly, but this guy didn’t do that. It seemed like you were taking on a gotcha style atheism, that I don’t think helps anyone. This guy seemed, to me, to be on the edge of faltering or losing his faith. He wasn’t denying a lot of what was said and he was listening and he was polite.”

    This is Drew, the caller. I very much appreciate your perspective. I too felt like the hosts were trying to pin me into a corner with “hard’ topics rather than have an enlightening, mutual dialogue. But pinning people down is more entertaining, I don’t necessarily blame them for choosing to forward the discussion that way. I imagine that’s more of why people watch the show. Entertainment.

    That said, no, I don’t think I’m on the edge of losing my faith. Been through the doubt period. Came to a realization that despite some cognitive dissonance, there are truths that are undeniably self-evident. I remain a Christian.

  138. says

    After enough fruitless examination of naturalistic explanations, and enough hearing these events happening when made to God, you reasonably could attribute the occurrences to God.

    No you couldn’t, for two reasons. You can’t be sure you have exhausted all possible natural explanations, and once you’ve exhausted all the ones you can think of, or know about, the best you can say is that there’s an explanation outside your sphere of knowledge, but that is more likely to be natural than magical. Second, if you really do think that you’re left with an explanation that falls outside of nature (which I’d again submit you can’t do, only that falls outside your knowledge/understanding of nature), there’s still no reason to conclude that the explanation must be the particular deity of the Abrahamic faith tradition. It could yet be some other “supernatural” force, or deity, or similar “higher power” of which you’re unaware. The aliens from 2001, Zeus, Gus the Magic Cosmic Hippo… the list is as vast as the imagination.

    Concluding that your God of choice must be the correct answer would require a battery of evidences specific to that being. And as long as the Biblical God’s existence is still unproven, it will be hard to catalog those evidences, I’d say.

  139. CaptainCrunched says

    If you aren’t feigning interest and really care to hear the strongest presentation of evidence for the Christian faith, might I suggest two books?

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Blackwell-Companion-Natural-Theology/dp/1444350854

    http://www.amazon.com/Existence-God-Richard-Swinburne/dp/0199271682/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395544170&sr=1-1&keywords=the+existence+of+god

    If I had some means of verifying that you’d actually spend the necessary 10+ hours pushing through these very dense and difficult books (a modest expenditure of time, given how important the question is), I’d PayPal over the money to order them myself.

  140. says

    If you aren’t feigning interest

    I’ve been a co-host of the show off and on since 2000, and as a general rule I don’t involve myself with something for 15 years if my interest is only feigned.

    I’d be happy to read the books you suggest, though as you say it would be an investment in time.

    So until I do get a chance to add them to an already groaning book pile, why not humor me and tell me, briefly and in your own words, what evidence convinces you. Why do you believe there’s a God? Let’s say we’re two guys at a bus stop, and you’re witnessing to me. Go.

  141. CaptainCrunched says

    Point number one, you never know if you’ve exhausted every naturalistic explanation. True enough. I already acknowledged this fact. But presumably, if my friend born without a sense of smell went to a Christian camp, had this issue prayed for at midnight around a camp fire (where he was not present), he awoke at this time during this night feeling cracking and popping in his sinuses, and then the next morning was hit with the aromas of shower gels, etc., when walking into the bathroom so startling him that he cried out loud… right off the bat we know this is something that doesn’t *normally* happen. (Btw, that *did* happen to a buddy from college.) I know even with a thorough doctor’s examination prior to and after the event, we can’t deduce every medical possibility, but we’re talking reasonable inferences.

    Again, I’d return to the lightning example. If every time I said “Bang!” lightning struck, you’d be eminently justified in supposing I was causing the lightning in some form or fashion, even though realistically there’s no way for you to examine every causation outside of my own force. It’s all about reasonable inferences based on the facts. I don’t claim that the evidence for God (outside the sensus divinitatis) bridges the gap 100% (hence when talking with Don and Russell I talk about the need for faith), but you still call it “evidence” even if it’s not 100% complete.

    As to your second objection, identifying the God, my point is the petitions in the hypothetical I gave supra would be in the name of the Christian God. So the prayers identify the one who answers them, just as I’m the one causing the lightning in my other hypo.

  142. CaptainCrunched says

    Martin Wagner: “I’ve been a co-host of the show off and on since 2000, and as a general rule I don’t involve myself with something for 15 years if my interest is only feigned.”

    Makes sense. :D I meant more feigned interest as to the theist’s position. I know of atheists who are committed to their own cause but really aren’t interested in the arguments for the other side, or willing to be convinced if there is a contrary case. As an aside, I didn’t know you were one of the show’s hosts. I don’t watch religiously.

    “I’d be happy to read the books you suggest, though as you say it would be an investment in time.”

    It is a worthy investment of time. As I said, if you do entertain books that are for the other side, I strongly, strongly urge reading the Blackwell Companion. It’s 800+ pages, but gives the best and most thorough forms of the arguments for God’s existence. Nor is it an easy book. If nothing else, it is a brain stretcher.

    Read this very brief review (by an atheist) of that book: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=1908

    “So until I do get a chance to add them to an already groaning book pile, why not humor me and tell me, briefly and in your own words, what evidence convinces you. Why do you believe there’s a God? Let’s say we’re two guys at a bus stop, and you’re witnessing to me. Go.”

    Quite the question. I’ve been in (as I’m sure you have) scads of debates on this topic on the internet. I’ve found they’re largely fruitless, and often devolve into pettiness and misunderstandings compiled on misunderstandings.

    I’m not trying to dodge the question, it’s just that I take the question so seriously I’d rather point you to a source that recapitulates arguments so thoroughly and rigorously.

    What tiny chunk of thought could I offer here to satisfy you now though? But you ask, and I’ll try.

    I’ve lived long enough to have serendipitous coincidences occur. Random “luck.” Good things and bad things that happen at the most fortuitous or unfortunate of times. So I know from just being another human wandering this planet how the order of things goes about. But I’ve seen prayer alter the regularity of these experience. I’ve seen crazy things happen seemingly in direct response to prayer. Prayer to Christ. I’ve seen enough of these prayers answered that it “bucks the system,” defies the usual fluctuations of luck and chance. I believe I have seen God moving in his creation and answering his children’s petitions offered in faith, just as He says He will in the Bible. Ask, seek, knock. I can say I’ve also experienced the presence of God, but what would personal experience do to move you? That can be written off as hallucination by your worldview. But I know what I know.

    Perhaps I’ll just give the briefest of emotional appeals. Right now, I live in an area with a very clear atmosphere. The stars are brilliant and clear most nights. I look up at those stars and I see tiny pinpricks of light, that are in fact orbs of plasmic luminescence of unfathomable size. That light has traveled up to million of light years to hit my eyes, such that I am seeing the star in a much more youthful phase, when in fact it could be on its dying breath in a supernova. Here I am in this universe, which has more space dedicated to blackholes than habitable space for humans (by a staggering proportion), yet looking out and observing this enormity, this panoply of stars engulfed in vast darkness… and somehow the stars are beautiful and evoke an unstoppable awe. Even though they are harsh objects. Huge objects. Fearsome, dangerous objects moving away from me, though they are already so far away. And yet they’re beautiful. And they make me feel at peace gazing at them.

    How am I part of the universe and yet able to comprehend this universe? Why–even if I am assembled by naturalistic processes–am I able to be aware of my existence? I understand the process of evolution, I get that. By why should I be self-aware? Why should my thoughts be of a nature that I, Drew, this individual, hear them, accept them, mold them. This intentionality. This consciousness of my own being. It’s inexplicable. Why am I not just a biological machine, as “blind” and dead–existentially-speaking–as a rock? I have no reason to believe my laptop is self-aware, but it has programming to “think” and follow instructions and “reason” to a degree. Why am I not just a biological computer…? Whence comes this awareness and fullness of existence? And why would the programming that has been given to me by allegedly naturalistic processes even contain instructions to be so moved by stars of all things? What advantage does that give me?

    Nature speaks volumes about God and the fact that I can even hear it boggles my mind.

    Beyond that, while the processes and forces of evolution are understand, there is absolute no example and no accounting of DNA coming into being. Evolution presupposes an informational system that gets altered. But these DNA instructions even being there at the start is inexplicable beyond the most speculative of theories (oh, the original strands coalesced in earth’s early atmosphere and then rained down (Here most atheists just say “you’re invoking the God of the gaps” and move on. But ponder it. Grasp the enormity of what an atheist must postulate: that in a chaotic system like earth, some natural processes created self-replicating, coded instructions that became key components of living organisms many years later. This is a huge statement! By all means investigate and prove it, but grasp what you’re investigating to begin with! Take a step back and consider if a theist is not quite reasonable to assume a greater being of intelligence.))

    And evolution itself. Two billion years give or take. That’s the time-frame for the first multicellular life forms to graduate to homo sapiens. I know the process has been documented in part in our fossil records but it still boggles the mind. Two billion years. Scientists tell us that the colored patterns on the skin on some geckos’ backs changed over millions of years, leaving the gecko otherwise largely the same critter. Yet the first multicellular organisms became homo sapiens, with the fantastical machinery of our brains (containing 100 billion neurons) in just 2 billion years through the unguided natural processes. Again, mind boggling. (I know, people will take issue with the gecko example: “Less survival pressure, that’s why that process could be slower!” Notwithstanding, mathematically, the timeframe for our brains emerging just defies naturalistic explanation.)

    I could go on. I’d flesh these out more, but I didn’t even intend to write this much to begin with. I realize much of what I typed is a mess of conflating different arguments and partially just rambling. But hey, I would ramble if I was at a bus stop and was asked that question.

    Get the Blackwell book, I urge you. Its arguments are stronger than my own rants and much more varied than what I’ve said here. There is no better argued case for theism in my estimation than the two books I’ve recommended. (Of course, there’s the Gospels but those aren’t necessarily argued cases. Just historical records with some scattered argumentation.)

  143. Monocle Smile says

    Wow, you’re even more deluded here than on the call.

    As I pointed out with the Flood example, the Bible is clear that the earth was filled to the brim with violence at that time. God didn’t act like a monster, he executed murderers.

    I and many others find capital punishment abhorrent in general, murderers or not. Secondly, are you seriously saying EVERYONE, including infants, were murderers? You have to have something wrong with your head to honestly believe this. Secondly, why does god have this right? Because he’s god, and might makes right? Because your only defense thus far boils down to “well, god did it, so it MUST be right,” which is nothing more than submission to authority out of fear.

    I’m not the Israelites living at a time BC surrounded by hostile cultures that sacrificed newborns into fiery pits.

    The Jews wrote the Old Testament, so OF COURSE they were going to talk shit about the people they just wiped out. Smear jobs were par for the course to justify unwarranted violence. Why take their word for it? Would you merely take the word of a murderer that their victim both deserved to die AND the murder was justified at the time? That’s stupid.

    This is why I griped about “gotcha” questions.

    No, you griped because you couldn’t answer those questions without blatantly lying or admitting that you’re a moral thug. Your theology is immoral at every turn, and you don’t even realize it. Hell, IN THIS COMMENT you talked about the witch killings and decided to avoid defending that passage in the Bible. Or how about sending two she-bears to slaughter 42 children for taunting the baldness of a prophet? Have you even READ your Bible?

  144. Monocle Smile says

    Well, we KNOW FOR A FACT that prayer doesn’t work after countless studies, so you’re SOL on that one.

    I don’t believe you for a second about your buddy from college. My experience with these stories is that they’re almost entirely made up to score meaningless points. Don’t assume that your word carries any weight whatsoever. But it wouldn’t matter, because there could have merely been a chemical present in the camp that did something to his sinuses.

    I know even with a thorough doctor’s examination prior to and after the event, we can’t deduce every medical possibility, but we’re talking reasonable inferences.

    Magic, for which there is no explanation, is NEVER a reasonable inference. Otherwise we’d never convict a murderer ever again. You don’t seem to have a strong grasp on how science or reason actually work. Some of us do, and caking on the confirmation bias isn’t part of it.

    I don’t claim that the evidence for God (outside the sensus divinitatis) bridges the gap 100%

    Not only does the “sensus divinitatis” not evidently exist, but you haven’t even gotten remotely close to 0.1%.

  145. Monocle Smile says

    RAMBLING NONSENSE

    Basically, this is one big argument from personal incredulity. Has it ever occurred to you that some of us actually STUDY how the universe works and understand it well enough to know that no god is required? You don’t understand science in the least, and you haven’t studied cosmology, biology, physics, or any other discipline. That’s why you use sloppy layman’s terms to describe intricate physical and chemical processes inaccurately. I frankly don’t give a shit what you don’t know or understand. That has no impact on reality.

    Sorry, but some of us don’t share your self-imposed ignorance, and it’s why I don’t walk around slack-jawed at everything like you apparently do. The universe is a wondrous place, and in my opinion, postulating “god” rather than FINDING OUT how it works is the saddest thing ever.

  146. CaptainCrunched says

    Monocle Smile: “Wow, you’re even more deluded here than on the call.”

    Sticks and stones, friend. Sticks and stones.

    “I and many others find capital punishment abhorrent in general, murderers or not.”

    Fair enough. I do too, generally, save for people like Ted Bundy who escaped prison multiple times with dreadful consequences. Some people are too dangerous to allow to live among us. Of course, we would want to be sure the “beyond all reasonable doubt of guilt” standard was fulfilled.

    “Secondly, are you seriously saying EVERYONE, including infants, were murderers? You have to have something wrong with your head to honestly believe this.”

    Of course I don’t think the infants were running around killing people. -_-

    “Secondly, why does god have this right? Because he’s god, and might makes right? Because your only defense thus far boils down to ‘well, god did it, so it MUST be right,’ which is nothing more than submission to authority out of fear.”

    I think God, who lovingly gave me my life to begin with, has a right to dictate when it ends. I’m not saying he would be moral to just create beings to torture and kill for fun, but that’s not what the Bible shows. Instead it shows God giving the *gift* of life, freely and generously. And that he imposing reasonable laws of morality.

    If God were to take me now–and don’t get me wrong, I hope he doesn’t–he would commit no error. Are you saying God, just virtue of creating you, has an obligation to make sure that life extends eternally and blissfully no matter what you do? Even if I were an atheist, I would say that reasoning is odd.

    “The Jews wrote the Old Testament, so OF COURSE they were going to talk shit about the people they just wiped out. Smear jobs were par for the course to justify unwarranted violence. Why take their word for it?”

    Hey, Monocle, check out the “Archaeology” and “Classical Greek and Roman Accounts” sections of this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moloch

    “Hell, IN THIS COMMENT you talked about the witch killings and decided to avoid defending that passage in the Bible.”

    If there were indeed witches as described in the Book of Kings and Chronicles. Or witches that communed with demons and caused pain through spiritual forces, then just as it would be necessary to execute Ted Bundy, so these persons would be one of the greatest conceivable threats to a society. Now, please note that as explicitly laid out in the Bible, the Mosaic code was given to govern the Israelites prior to Christ’s coming. It has limited jurisdictional scope. Christ came and fulfilled the law fully. Beyond that, I maintain that the passage was abused throughout history because everyone is entitled to due process before being punished for alleged crimes.

  147. CaptainCrunched says

    Monocle Smile: “Well, we KNOW FOR A FACT that prayer doesn’t work after countless studies, so you’re SOL on that one.”

    Yeah, I know there have been experiments conducted. My point is that God wouldn’t reduce his activity to some measurable experiment. God isn’t going to be confined or locked by us. It’s his choice when to act. He’s not a law of physics, He’s an intelligence and being.

    Plus, people would then pray for the wrong motives, worshipping instead the act and treating it like a physical law and not the loving action of their Creator.

    Pray *does* work, just not like your personal genie in a bottle.

    “I don’t believe you for a second about your buddy from college. My experience with these stories is that they’re almost entirely made up to score meaningless points. Don’t assume that your word carries any weight whatsoever. But it wouldn’t matter, because there could have merely been a chemical present in the camp that did something to his sinuses.”

    Seriously? I would not be that underhanded. I believe lying is wrong, as in truly wrong. My conscience would not abide that. How could I sit here and talk about God and then lie? I do have to sleep at night. I know there have been hypocrites out there who call themselves Christian, but we’re not all like that.

    That did happen to my friend and I did cross-examine him seven ways to Sunday because his account blew me away.

    Anyway, if I made that up you can bet I’d give it more indicia of credibility. For one, why wouldn’t I just say it happened to me?

    “Magic, for which there is no explanation, is NEVER a reasonable inference.”

    So you’re saying nothing would convince you that supernatural forces are at work?

  148. Monocle Smile says

    Of course I don’t think the infants were running around killing people. -_-

    So that’s it? You don’t feel the need to explain further? Or are you not able to adequately answer?

    I think God, who lovingly gave me my life to begin with, has a right to dictate when it ends.

    Your parents gave you life. If you think magic was involved in your conception, then you need your head examined, and that’s not just a cheap shot. That doesn’t mean your parents can do whatever they want to you, and if this god thinks it has that right, I have some choice words for it.

    check out the “Archaeology” and “Classical Greek and Roman Accounts” sections of this article:

    Not all the tribes wiped out by the Jews worshiped Moloch, but nice half-assed apologetic.

    Or witches that communed with demons and caused pain through spiritual forces, then just as it would be necessary to execute Ted Bundy, so these persons would be one of the greatest conceivable threats to a society.

    Oh, my aching ass. Are you seriously saying that people can commune with demons or could at any point in history? Or that demons exist and can actually do shit to people in the real world? Maybe you DO need your head examined. Screw due processs, these people were being tried for crimes that DO NOT EXIST.

  149. CaptainCrunched says

    Monocle Smile: “Basically, this is one big argument from personal incredulity.”

    If I can put a label on it, I’ve invalidated it… specious.

    “Has it ever occurred to you that some of us actually STUDY how the universe works and understand it well enough to know that no god is required?”

    Has it occurred to you that just because I’m a theist, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reading science or revere the scientific method?

    “You don’t understand science in the least, and you haven’t studied cosmology, biology, physics, or any other discipline.”

    False. My UG degree is in mathematics, but I have done a fair amount of reading on cosmology, biology, and physics. Your proclamations don’t dictate what I have read or not read.

    “That’s why you use sloppy layman’s terms to describe intricate physical and chemical processes inaccurately.”

    No, I used layman’s terms because that was not a scientific treatise. I was asked to give an account for why I believe in God as though I was “at a bus stop, and [ . . . ] witnessing to [Martin].” I wouldn’t use technical terms while conversing at a bus stop. Besides, I wanted to keep things brief. I said that was hastily and sloppily hacked out.

    My biggest push was for Martin to buy the book I suggested. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Incredibly thorough and rigorous. I urge you to check it out as well. It’s worth it if for nothing else exercising your mind.

    “I frankly don’t give a shit what you don’t know or understand. That has no impact on reality.”

    Indeed, reality is not dictated by *either* of our hope or conceptions of it.

    “Sorry, but some of us don’t share your self-imposed ignorance, and it’s why I don’t walk around slack-jawed at everything like you apparently do. The universe is a wondrous place, and in my opinion, postulating ‘god’ rather than FINDING OUT how it works is the saddest thing ever.”

    False dichotomy. I can walk around “slack-jawed” (lol’d at that btw) in awe and still enjoy finding out how it works. Indeed I do both.

  150. Monocle Smile says

    My point is that God wouldn’t reduce his activity to some measurable experiment.

    That’s called a cop-out. It’s a pretty dishonest one as well, because that’s not how reality works. Sorry, without a repeatable demonstration, there’s 0% chance of me believing anything you say about your supposed deity. Tough shit.

    I would not be that underhanded. I believe lying is wrong, as in truly wrong.

    Why should I believe you? I don’t. Christians lie to me daily. Like, to the point where they claim to know what goes on in my head (they tell me I already know god exists and am just in denial). I find Christians to be the least honest category of people I know. I mean, I was RAISED in the Lutheran church, and after I gave up the ghost a few years ago, I started noting just how often Christians lie in theological discussions.

    For one, why wouldn’t I just say it happened to me?

    A million reasons, one of which being that offering a secondhand account means you’re held less liable for minute details BECAUSE it didn’t happen to you.

    So you’re saying nothing would convince you that supernatural forces are at work?

    I’ve thought about this before. It would take an absolute mountain of evidence to convince me, but even then, any acceptance of anything supernatural would be extremely tentative. I mean, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic from the perspective of a primitive.

  151. Monocle Smile says

    My UG degree is in mathematics, but I have done a fair amount of reading on cosmology, biology, and physics.

    Let’s examine how many things you get wrong despite this “reading.”

    Why am I not just a biological machine, as “blind” and dead–existentially-speaking–as a rock?

    This is inane teleological musing, but living organisms are not the same as inanimate minerals. Also, we ARE biological machines, just ones with a fair amount of complexity in the brain.

    I have no reason to believe my laptop is self-aware, but it has programming to “think” and follow instructions and “reason” to a degree.

    Wrong. A laptop using a processor is not currently analogous to the workings of a human brain. Of course, when we one day successfully create an artificial intelligence, does your little world crumble?

    But these DNA instructions even being there at the start is inexplicable beyond the most speculative of theories…

    that in a chaotic system like earth, some natural processes created self-replicating, coded instructions that became key components of living organisms many years later.

    1) Emergent complexity is predicted in a “chaotic” system. YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS as a math major. What we perceive as “order” is actually a natural result of anisotropic stochastic processes.
    2) DNA is not “instructions.” It’s a catalytic macromolecule. There’s no message conveyed; it’s all organic chemistry.
    3) The first part is a blatant lie. RNA-world is pretty well established. Seems like you have more reading to do.

    (I know, people will take issue with the gecko example: “Less survival pressure, that’s why that process could be slower!” Notwithstanding, mathematically, the timeframe for our brains emerging just defies naturalistic explanation.)

    No, it doesn’t, and now I suspect you’re being dishonest about your studies. Seriously, it’s like you’ve read Answers in Genesis and exactly nothing else.

    There is no better argued case for theism in my estimation than the two books I’ve recommended.

    And seeing as neither one of them are peer-reviewed scientific publications, they’re worth less than half a shit concerning this topic.

  152. CaptainCrunched says

    Monocle Smile: “Your parents gave you life. If you think magic was involved in your conception, then you need your head examined, and that’s not just a cheap shot. That doesn’t mean your parents can do whatever they want to you, and if this god thinks it has that right, I have some choice words for it.”

    My parents are not God. I’ll repeat: God has no obligation to continue my life another day. It’s been a wonderful two decades plus change, and if that’s all I get, fine. If all I got was an infant life, fine. It’s not my choice. That’s all I can say, if you don’t get it or just disagree, fair enough. Why would God be obliged to make sure I reached a certain age? Why could he not hold me accountable for harming others? Is God wrong that people die at all? I just can’t believe anyone would think this.

    “Are you seriously saying that people can commune with demons or could at any point in history? Or that demons exist and can actually do shit to people in the real world?”

    Demons and angels are part and parcel with Christian belief so… yeah?

    “Maybe you DO need your head examined.”

    I guarantee you do not have a completely accurate picture of reality, even supposing there was no God. Doesn’t mean I’m going to label you crazy on the points where you’re wrong. I’m a hard-working person just trying to do his best to live and help others. It’s only because of your hateful prejudice that you can countenance saying that I need my head examined . If you really want Christians to have to undergo psychiatric evaluations, then *you’re* the one who’s got the issues.

  153. CaptainCrunched says

    Monocle Smile: “That’s called a cop-out. It’s a pretty dishonest one as well, because that’s not how reality works.”

    How is it a cop-out for me to say miracles would only happen consistent with how they’re portrayed to happen in the Bible? If I’m positing the Christian God exists, I’m going to posit that miracles will happen in the manner the Christian God is described to effectuate them. In response to genuine faith.

    “Sorry, without a repeatable demonstration, there’s 0% chance of me believing anything you say about your supposed deity. Tough shit.”

    It’s your life bud. Believe what you choose.

    “Christians lie to me daily. Like, to the point where they claim to know what goes on in my head (they tell me I already know god exists and am just in denial).”

    That’s not really a lie if they actually believe that you still believe in God deep down. The mind is very deceptive anyway. Psychology tells us we have keen abilities to hide truths from ourselves. It’s conceivable you’re still convinced there’s a God and just don’t like that thought. I’m not saying that, but it’s possible.

    “I find Christians to be the least honest category of people I know.”

    Not my experience at all. In any case, if you don’t believe my story about my friend, you won’t believe other miracles I’ve seen/experienced. So I suppose this whole discussion is fruitless since you’re basically saying I’ve no qualms with making up anything to win the debate.

    Your choice. All I can say is I find the thought of just making stuff up for a debate about God comically hypocritical. I couldn’t do that. If you don’t believe me, fine. What do I care? I only debate online because I enjoy it and hope that I reach the people who are willing to be reached.

  154. CaptainCrunched says

    I just explained that I wrote those paragraphs very swiftly, not trying to make anything comparable to a scientific treatise, and yet you’re pulling apart (and straining to do so) whatever fine bit that you can in order to discredit me. My arguments were purely philosophical anyway. And I can tell you misunderstood the one where I mused on consciousness and awareness.

    “Of course, when we one day successfully create an artificial intelligence, does your little world crumble?”

    No. But if we could create life from raw materials, that might be a tremendous blow. The AI thing would be troubling if it displayed indicia of experiencing consciousness in the same way that humans or other life forms do. That would be impossible to know, in the same way that it’s impossible to “know” that solipsism is not true.

    Emergent complexity, btw, is a philosophical concept, not scientific law.

    “RNA-world is pretty well established. Seems like you have more reading to do.”

    It’s a *hypothesis*. And the many forms of the hypothesis vary dramatically.

    “Seriously, it’s like you’ve read Answers in Genesis and exactly nothing else.”

    I don’t even read their stuff as I’m not even a YEC.

    “And seeing as neither one of them are peer-reviewed scientific publications, they’re worth less than half a shit concerning this topic.”

    Good excuse for not reading some very rigorous and intriguing arguments. Btw, many of the authors in the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology do have published work in peer-reviewed journals of science and philosophy.

  155. Monocle Smile says

    My parents are not God.

    I’m not the one who doesn’t get it, and this is obvious to anyone who doesn’t have Jesus glasses permanently glued to their face. Your PARENTS gave you life. No deity had any hand in the process. We understand how reproduction works, Sally.

    Why could he not hold me accountable for harming others?

    Christian theology holds that this is irrelevant. You can rape, kill, and steal and get into heaven if you repent and believe. Meanwhile, you can harm no one for your entire life and end up in hell. So don’t act as if your system has some actual justice behind it.

    I guarantee you do not have a completely accurate picture of reality, even supposing there was no God.

    But I don’t believe batshit crazy things despite all evidence to the contrary. That I CAN guarantee. What you believe doesn’t matter so much as WHY you believe it, and it’s been a while since I’ve heard someone give reasons as empty and poor as yours.

    It’s only because of your hateful prejudice

    *dismissive wanking motion*
    Cue feigned Christian persecution complex. You’re a joke.

  156. CaptainCrunched says

    Monocle Smile: “Your PARENTS gave you life.”

    God ultimately is the author of life having made the first human beings according to Christian doctrine. And that’s the perspective I’m coming from, remember?

    So my point is, as the ultimate author of life, he has the right to terminate what he has freely given. The fact that we’re digressing on this smaller point of parentage if missing the overall philosophical point. That God is not wrong to terminate a life.

    “You can rape, kill, and steal and get into heaven if you repent and believe. Meanwhile, you can harm no one for your entire life and end up in hell. So don’t act as if your system has some actual justice behind it.”

    Well, there is no person who has lived their “entire life” and not harmed someone. As for repentance thing. Yes, that’s one of the glorious things about Christianity. If your heart truly is broken and you repent, forgiveness is available. But repentance means changing, turning from those ways. It connotes–as explicated in the Bible–anguish for the crimes done. It’s not some casual get out of jail card. I know of people with rough pasts who did receive this beautiful forgiveness despite past crimes, but they received it with tears of both joy and regret, desperately wanting to atone for their lives before Christ.

  157. Monocle Smile says

    Let’s get some terms straight. BELIEVE means you accept a proposition as true or likely true. KNOW means your belief is so justified that you can provide a DEMONSTRATION of this knowledge. If you can’t show it, you don’t know it, which is why Christians ARE lying when they say they KNOW I know god exists. They may BELIEVE that, but they don’t know it. Just like you don’t KNOW miracles occur, you merely believe it…because if you KNEW that, you could provide a demonstration.

    if you don’t believe my story about my friend, you won’t believe other miracles I’ve seen/experienced.

    OF COURSE NOT, and that’s kind of the point. Independent confirmation or GTFO. It’s very simple. After all, this is how science, the most reliable tool we’ve ever had for generating accurate models of reality, operates. If you can’t convince skeptics, the problem is probably with your claim, not the skeptic.

    It’s your life bud. Believe what you choose.

    And I guess we’re done now, because you’ve just admitted that you can’t demonstrate anything about your god, which IMO means you believe for terrible reasons.

  158. CaptainCrunched says

    Monocle Smile: “Let’s get some terms straight. BELIEVE means you accept a proposition as true or likely true. KNOW means your belief is so justified that you can provide a DEMONSTRATION of this knowledge. If you can’t show it, you don’t know it, which is why Christians ARE lying when they say they KNOW I know god exists. They may BELIEVE that, but they don’t know it. Just like you don’t KNOW miracles occur, you merely believe it…because if you KNEW that, you could provide a demonstration.”

    Technically, from both a scientific and philosophical perspective, you can’t know anything. Everything you take in from your senses could be an illusion. Every single proposition you hold about the universe takes some foundational leaps of faith. That your senses are accurately relaying the input. That you’re not dreaming. That you’re not in a computer simulation. Etc. This is a real problem in philosophy.

    That aside, I see your point. But it’s still flawed. You say a belief is only knowledge when it’s demonstrated. Then demonstrate that Jupiter’s atmosphere is made primarily of hydrogen. How would you do this? You can’t right now. You’d need tools and have the right circumstances. I’d say the same thing. I can demonstrate God’s intervention. It happens under certain circumstances and with the right tools. Namely, faith and prayer. But you won’t even use those tools to see the demonstration. And when I tell you of past experiments with those tools, you say I’m just lying and you won’t believe me because others have lied to you.

    “And I guess we’re done now, because you’ve just admitted that you can’t demonstrate anything about your god, which IMO means you believe for terrible reasons.”

    Wrong. I’ve encountered many credible and compelling miracles, you’ve just told me you won’t accept any of them.

    And then I’ve suggested two books with strong argumentation grounded in science and philosophy and you’ve said you won’t read them.

    You’re evidence-proof as far as God and the supernatural. Congratulations.

  159. Monocle Smile says

    I know about hard solipsism, obviously. I assumed you weren’t a dumbass.

    But you won’t even use those tools to see the demonstration. And when I tell you of past experiments with those tools, you say I’m just lying and you won’t believe me because others have lied to you.

    1) I WAS A CHRISTIAN for about 21 years, numbnuts. I DID attempt to use those tools. But I learned that they aren’t tools, they’re bullshit…which is why they never worked. You fundamentally don’t understand how reality works, it seems.
    2) Do you know why science works? Because it doesn’t matter if I believe you or not. If you tell me baking soda and vinegar produces carbon dioxide, I don’t have to just take your word for it. You can combine them in front of me and DEMONSTRATE that it happens, and I can do it myself and achieve THE SAME EXACT RESULT. NONE of this is true of “faith” or prayer. You’re just being disingenuous at this point.

    I’ve encountered many credible and compelling miracles, you’ve just told me you won’t accept any of them.

    I won’t accept your bald assertions, but apparently that’s all you have. Now you’re bitching that I don’t believe you, which shows the weakness of your position.

  160. Narf says

    Linking downward, from further up the chain:

    If you aren’t feigning interest and really care to hear the strongest presentation of evidence for the Christian faith, might I suggest two books?

    Do I get to drop them after they create the fallacious foundation in chapter 2, upon which they base the rest of the book, then end each of the following chapters with a blatant argument from ignorance? I have yet to read a Christian apologetic book that doesn’t have that issue. Most “prove” the existence of God within the first couple of chapters … when they haven’t done anything of the sort … then go into mental masturbation mode to try to demonstrate why it’s the one from the Bible, taking the initial point, that there should be anything of the sort, for granted.

    What makes these two books different?

  161. corwyn says

    And *you* are a prime example of why such stories aren’t reliable. The person on the show said that it was the same to the exact *dollar*. You come here and retell the story but now it is to the exact *penny*. If we use that progression to get to the original story, it would have been the amount to the the exact 100 dollars. People telling their miracle stories are inherently unreliable; you can look at yourself as a prime example of that. Gladly do they break the ninth commandment in service of their faith.

  162. Monocle Smile says

    And that’s the perspective I’m coming from, remember?

    Your “perspective” doesn’t comport to reality, which is the problem. There was no Adam or Eve. There was no Garden of Eden. There was no flood, no Exodus, no Moses. We know this to perhaps the highest degree of certainty we can attain on such matters.

    as the ultimate author of life, he has the right to terminate what he has freely given.

    I disagree entirely. I think that with such power comes responsibility; it’s analogous to the parents having the “right” to kill their children. It doesn’t exist.

    there is no person who has lived their “entire life” and not harmed someone.

    There are hermits and young children who would object, and you think they end up in hell anyway. Why did you resort to preaching and calling something horrific “good” rather than address the actual problem?

  163. corwyn says

    So after explaining the things needed to determine whether something is remarkable, you proceed to just chuck all that, and go with confirmation bias instead?

    Eyebrows it turns out are terrible indicators of statistical likelihood.

    [NOTE: I don’t think it is going to far out on a limb to suggest that the probability of Churches in need of money, spending time praying is close to 1, thus the probability of getting that exact (to the dollar) amount given that they were praying for it, is extremely close to the base probability of them getting it.
    P(B|A) = P(B) * P(A|B) / P(A). ]

  164. CaptainCrunched says

    Narf: “Do I get to drop them after they create the fallacious foundation in chapter 2, upon which they base the rest of the book, then end each of the following chapters with a blatant argument from ignorance? I have yet to read a Christian apologetic book that doesn’t have that issue.”

    Here’s a review, by an atheist, of the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=1908

    I don’t think either book mirrors that flaw. As Luke writes, “Craig and Moreland basically made a list of the most compelling contemporary arguments for the existence of God, tracked down their foremost living defenders, and gave them 50-100 pages to make their case. The result is awe-inspiring, even for the atheist.”

    In other words, this was a collaborative effort almost the best and brightest, making independent arguments.

    Swinburne’s book proceeds with Bayesian probabilities.

    They’re well worth your time.

  165. CaptainCrunched says

    corywin: “So after explaining the things needed to determine whether something is remarkable, you proceed to just chuck all that, and go with confirmation bias instead?”

    No, corwyin, I said you would need those and many other variables to precisely *mathematize* the issue, which you tried to do via–in my judgment–very unwieldy estimation. The fact that the event was unlikely can be apprehended without an equation. I’m not the one trying to reduce my credibility to calculate the exact level of improbability.

    Luke himself, an atheist and celebrator of Bayesian probabilistic reasoning, didn’t try to explain the event away with probabilistic reasoning. (Maybe he would now, I can’t speak for him.) Indeed, he characterized the check as “spookily accurate” and relayed all of the variables in the story that made it remarkable:

    Luke M.: “One time my church desperately needed $7,461 to keep going. After an all-night prayer meeting, my dad went to pick up the mail, and in it was a check for exactly $7,461, from someone who didn’t even know the church but had heard one of the pastors speak a few years ago. My dad contacted the giver and she said that after she’d heard the pastor speak, she felt God wanted her to put some cash in an annuity and give it to our church. The process took several years, and just days before she’d decided to close the account and send the accrued money to the church. And it happened to be the exact amount that was needed, right after an all-night prayer meeting.”

    corwyn: “[NOTE: I don’t think it is going to far out on a limb to suggest that the probability of Churches in need of money, spending time praying is close to 1, thus the probability of getting that exact (to the dollar) amount given that they were praying for it, is extremely close to the base probability of them getting it.
    P(B|A) = P(B) * P(A|B) / P(A). ]”

    Ugh. -_- You just tacked on Bayes’ at the end of that sloppiness without even explaining the variables. What are you deriving there, buddy? What is B? What is A?

  166. CaptainCrunched says

    Ronald Kappes: “Fred Phelps: It is irrelevant that FP is loathed by the vast majority of Christians. The important point is that he derives his interpretation from the same book as all other Christians. It nourishes his sick mind. Besides being full of intolerance the bible is incredibly ambiguous. I’ve never seen a schizophrenic standing on a corner brandishing a copy of the US constitution.”

    Serial killer Paul Bernardo called the satirical novel American Psycho his “Bible.” To use your language, it nourished his sick mind. Deranged people will find stimuli in many places, whether those sources were intended as such or not. (I will concede that I find American Psycho deplorable literature satirical or not.)

    You’ve said Fred Phelps has a sick mind. No doubt. Some of his kids would say the same. I believe he was described as having an addiction to hate by one of his sons. His views are a reflection his sickness compelling him to seek what he wants to see in the Bible, not the Bible twisting his mind into sickness. Again, I go to Jesus saying that the greatest and highest commands are to love God foremost and love your neighbor as yourself. (“All the law and prophets hang on these.”) Elsewhere God is described as love. I could go on.

    The point is Fred Phelps is deranged irrespective of the content of the Bible. He’s wholly irrelevant to the existence of God and the validity of the Bible.

  167. corwyn says

    Elsewhere God is described as love. I could go on.

    And if that was all that was in the bible, I might even agree. However, there are also those places where he uses mind control, for the expressed purpose of being able to murder children. I could go on.

    How about taking all those passages out of your personal bible?

  168. corwyn says

    a·bom·i·na·tion
    əˌbäməˈnāSHən/
    noun
    noun: abomination; plural noun: abominations

    1.
    a thing that causes disgust or hatred.
    “this bill is an abomination to all mankind”
    synonyms: atrocity, disgrace, horror, obscenity, outrage, evil, crime, monstrosity, anathema, bane More
    “in both wars, internment was an abomination”
    a feeling of hatred.
    “their abomination of indulgence”
    synonyms: detestation, loathing, hatred, aversion, antipathy, revulsion, repugnance, abhorrence, odium, execration, disgust, horror, hostility More
    “she looked upon his kitschy decor with abomination”
    antonyms: liking, love

    Origin
    Middle English: from Latin abominatio(n-), from the verb abominari (see abominate).
    Translate abomination to
    Use over time for: abomination

  169. Monocle Smile says

    What you’ve failed to note is that Luke is an atheist, so clearly he doesn’t find either book convincing.

    This is basically what the quantum woo monkeys like Deepak Chopra pull…they cite peer-reviewed literature that arrives at a totally different conclusion than they advocate. It means you don’t fundamentally understand the material. In fact, Drew, fundamentals are consistently your problem. You don’t seem to understand skepticism, reason, or even how knowledge is acquired and confirmed.

    There’s also a very apt comment on that link you posted:

    There are thousands of ways to take a piece of rope and tie it into a large knot. So it is with arguments. Untying knots is a long noble task, as is weaving a straight strong rope so others may tie knots.

    This is the basis of apologetics. The point is to torture logic and conduct mental gymnastics in ways that make it difficult and arduous for critics to dismantle the arguments. But that doesn’t mean there’s any truth to the argument; in fact, it’s a concession that your arguments suck so badly that you NEED to obfuscate everything.

  170. CaptainCrunched says

    Monocle Smile: “What you’ve failed to note is that Luke is an atheist, so clearly he doesn’t find either book convincing.”

    I failed to note that…? Perhaps I’m being trolled. I wrote, “Here’s a review, by an atheist. . . .” Luke’s review itself makes it painfully obvious he doesn’t buy the conclusions of the book, even though he reveres the quality of the argumentation. I suggest the book all the same because others might find the argumentation so compelling that they *do* accept the conclusions.

    MS: “The point is to torture logic and conduct mental gymnastics in ways that make it difficult and arduous for critics to dismantle the arguments. But that doesn’t mean there’s any truth to the argument; in fact, it’s a concession that your arguments suck so badly that you NEED to obfuscate everything.”

    How is there any “concession” going on when you’re the one making bald assertions the book’s argumentation relies on obfuscation? You haven’t even read the book. An atheist–who actually *has* read the book–does not accuse the authors of obfuscation.

    To the contrary, Luke writes: “High points include Robin Collins’ defense of the teleological argument and McGrew & McGrew’s astounding Bayesian defense of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.”

    He’s not being tongue-in-cheek. One does not call flimsy, obfuscating arguments “astounding,” do they? I conceded that Luke wasn’t moved by the book all the way back to theism, but he praises the strength of its argumentation all the same. He also writes that the book is a “tour-de-force of analytic philosophy.” That doesn’t sound like obfuscating and dodging to me. Hence I recommend the book to anyone, even for nothing else than brain-stretching.

    Meanwhile you presume to know the argumentation in the book without even reading it. This despite the fact that Luke, a fellow atheist, has read it and has praised its level of argumentation.

    I’ve followed Luke’s blog for a long while and I say flatly and honestly, he is far better at advocating rationality and logical thinking than you are. And I appreciate that part, as people in general have many biases than require deliberate effort to overcome. Luke is also a far better advocate for atheism. And in the meantime, I’ll credit his opinion on the book, while noting he still isn’t a theist.

    You should read it. Until you do, you really have no business telling anyone about the strength of the arguments. That’s not even following logic or rationality.

  171. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I think God, who lovingly gave me my life to begin with, has a right to dictate when it ends.

    This is the mentality of a slave. I am no one’s slave. Moreover, this is also naked “might makes right”, and it makes me sick. You are a miserable excuse for a human being. Get some self respect, and fight back against your imaginary unelected eternal celestial tyrant. Nuke god!

  172. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    As to your second objection, identifying the God, my point is the petitions in the hypothetical I gave supra would be in the name of the Christian God. So the prayers identify the one who answers them, just as I’m the one causing the lightning in my other hypo.

    And what about malicious aliens who just want to fuck with you? That seems eminently more likely than your god. At least know that aliens probably exist, and sufficiently advanced technology exists. It doesn’t break physics. It’s not unprecedented.

    Even then, why are you under the false belief that there’s only one Christian god belief? Do you know how many sects of Christianity there are? And in each sect, it’s fair to say that each individual believer has their own variant.

    So no, praying in the name of the Christian god is not enough. Hell, honestly, I’d sooner conclude that we have pure mental powers that are based on willpower, and those who believe in the Christian god have sufficient willpower and that’s why it manifests. You’d have to find people of similar conviction of belief and willpower among other traditions and see if they also manifest the same power before your conclusion is even remotely warranted – ignoring my other examples.

    I’ve thought up like 3 counters in 3 seconds, and I’m not even trying yet. Put on your skepticism hat.

  173. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Living under an oppressive government does not make a slave. There are rules in your Bible for how much you can beat your slaves, for passing down of slaves as property for inheritance, for rules from changing a temporary bondage servant into a full slave and pierce their ear as a mark of slavery, for how to acquire slaves, and so on. You can say what you say only out of gross ignorance. Have you even read your bible in whole?

  174. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    As for Craig’s book, color me unimpressed. All of the first-cause arguments and similar do not matter a damn. Give me something specific to the Christian god, or I don’t care. There are a nigh infinite number of different god hypotheses, including ones who are completely unobservable and thus irrelevant, and it sounds like most of that book is doing useless pontificating on gods that no one cares about. Give me what convinced me for your specific god, not some nebulous first cause bullshit.

  175. CaptainCrunched says

    EnlightenmentLiberal: “This is the mentality of a slave. I am no one’s slave.”

    Save to your own vaunted sense of self-worth.

    “Moreover, this is also naked ‘might makes right’, and it makes me sick.”

    If God indeed exists and if He did indeed make life, then he has given me something amazing for nothing. I didn’t earn it. It was a generous gift. As such, it’s God’s choice when the gift terminates. Do you really not realize this? This isn’t a bully taking something that was not his, this is a free gift to begin with. Do you not see this?

    “You are a miserable excuse for a human being.”

    You know nothing about me, save that I’m a Christian. You have no position whatsoever to assess what kind of person I am. For all you know I could be an amazing businessman who donates 90% of his profits to the poor and ailing. If you’re judging me based solely on one religious/philosophical position, I find that pretty ridiculous.

  176. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    No. But if we could create life from raw materials, that might be a tremendous blow.

    Wait what. Why? Do you think that life is something other than chemistry and physics? Where exactly do you think the magic manifests? Do you think there’s magic in the chemistry of hemoglobin and oxygen binding? Protip: we’ve been looking pretty hard for a long long time, and haven’t found any magic yet. It’s all just chemistry, which is all just physics.

    All of the evidence is overwhelmingly clear that if we take literal rocks, take the elements we need, and put them together into the correct arrangement, that we will get something indistinguishable from a fertilized human egg, which will grow to become a perfectly normal human being. We’re getting closer to this every day too. We’ve already synthesized a full human genome from literal rocks. We’ve made really simple cell walls from literal rocks. It’s only a matter of time.

    Your arbitrary skepticism is unfounded. Life is just chemistry.

  177. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    So Luke was unreasonable in this case. Ok. What’s your point? I’m not bound to believe what Luke believes for bad reasons. This is fallacious argument from authority.

  178. CaptainCrunched says

    “And what about malicious aliens who just want to fuck with you? That seems eminently more likely than your god.”

    lol’d. You’d sooner accept that? Thanks for showing the mindset you’re coming from.

    “Even then, why are you under the false belief that there’s only one Christian god belief? Do you know how many sects of Christianity there are? And in each sect, it’s fair to say that each individual believer has their own variant.”

    I’m aware that are numerous variants to Christian belief. This has no bearing on anything I’ve said about miracles. The Bible never says one must have a perfect apprehension of truth or a perfect theology for him to answer us. We’re accountable for the truth that’s been revealed to us.

    “I’ve thought up like 3 counters in 3 seconds, and I’m not even trying yet.”

    Yeah, the quality of your objections reflects the time you put into them. Back to the drawing board. Armed with a good imagination, I could come up with a near infinite number of alternative theories to a murder if I was acting as a defense lawyer for the defendant. That doesn’t mean this alternatives would be even half-way plausible to a reasonable jury. Possibility doesn’t mean much.

  179. CaptainCrunched says

    EnlightenmentLiberal, you really didn’t get my objection with Jupiter’s atmosphere did you? I meant direct evidence of Jupiter’s atmosphere. Like he would have to carry out whatever necessary testing or experiments.

    The Wikipedia article is all indirect recapitulation of the testing/observing done by others. That was my point in context… please, try for just a second to apprehend my overarching point. In context of the conversation, you would have understood that.

    OF COURSE I was aware you can just google what Jupiter’s atmosphere is made up of.

  180. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    “You are a slave to your own interests.”
    What is this? I don’t even. This is the height of dishonesty and word-games. I am not a slave because I “serve myself.” You are a slave because you serve an unelected celestial tyrant. Words. Do you know what they mean?

    You know nothing about me, save that I’m a Christian.

    I know everything I need to know when you say that you’re ok with your god ending the life of someone on a whim. You are miserable excuse for a human being. You make me sick. Get some self respect.

  181. CaptainCrunched says

    EL, context, context, context. I’m not addressing the matter of slavery in the Mosaic Law. Enough with your rapid-fire comments that have no bearing on the prior discussion.

    Someone had told me Jesus’s admonition to “love thy neighbor” did not encompass slaves. I.e., slaves were not embraced under the term “neighbor.” Which is utter nonsense, hence my argument.

  182. CaptainCrunched says

    EL: “As for Craig’s book, color me unimpressed. All of the first-cause arguments and similar do not matter a damn. Give me something specific to the Christian god, or I don’t care.”

    Well, if we have evidence some form of intelligence created the world, I think that matters, irrespective of whether it can be established to be particular to some religion right off the bat.

    But to get to the matter, Luke said one of the highpoints of the book was “McGrew & McGrew’s astounding Bayesian defense of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.”

    So that’s at least one section of the book devoted to Christianity.

    You’ll notice both books I suggested are more of in defense of a general theism. If you’re willing to concede there may be some deistic God out there I suppose we have more common ground than I thought.

  183. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    lol’d. You’d sooner accept that? Thanks for showing the mindset you’re coming from.

    Planets outside the solar system have been demonstrated to exist. Spacecraft capable of going from here to there (while insanely expensive) have been demonstrated to exist. Some limited forms of mundane scientific “mind control” have been demonstrated to exist. Some limited forms of lightning generation have been demonstrated to exist. Abiogenesis has been to a limited form been shown plausible and not incompatible with physics.

    Where’s any sort of similar evidence that your god exists? Nowhere. Your first-cause arguments are irrelevant. Your arguments in favor of Jesus in particular are wholly bad and without merit.

    I’m aware that are numerous variants to Christian belief. This has no bearing on anything I’ve said about miracles.

    Yes, it does. You tried to make the argument that “prayer in Christian god’s name works” to “Christian god exists”. That counter was: “Which Christian god? There’s a lot of different hypotheses which share that name.” Try to keep up.

    I meant direct evidence of Jupiter’s atmosphere. Like he would have to carry out whatever necessary testing or experiments.

    Spectroscopy is (direct) evidence. What are you talking about? We did carry out the “experiments”. What do you think spectroscopy is? Scientists sitting in chairs pulling shit out of their ass? We did the observations and measurements. It’s been multiply confirmed.

    You have a completely artificial and useless notion of “direct” vs “indirect”. It’s bullshit. What – are you going to say that we don’t have direct evidence of atoms? That all of chemistry isn’t based on direct observation because we’ve never “seen” an atom? Is it distance that matters? Chemistry is “direct observation” because it’s closer, and spectroscopy on Jupiter doesn’t count because it’s “farther away”?

    I have no clue what is going on in your addled brain to make this wholly vacuous and arbitrary distinction. That’s not the way real science and rationality works.

    OF COURSE I was aware you can just google what Jupiter’s atmosphere is made up of.

    Fuck you. That’s blatant dishonesty. That’s not what I did. That’s not what I argued for. Right now you can take a telescope, find Jupiter, do an analysis on the light from Jupiter, and come to the same conclusions that the atmosphere is mostly hydrogen. (Is it? Whatever. You can come to the conclusion that it’s whatever composition which it is.) I didn’t make a possibly-fallacious appeal to authority. I didn’t argue that you can “google it”. I argued that there is good evidence which can be had by all, even you.

  184. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And yet even in the sermon on the mount, Jesus confirms that the old law still applies. How can you love your neighbor and keep him as a slave, I wonder.

  185. CaptainCrunched says

    EL: “So Luke was unreasonable in this case.”

    General statement with zero substantiation. Read the full discussion between corwyn and I. It’s clear you’re not even understanding the context in which I’m making some of my points. Just hopping in piecemeal and uselessly.

    “This is fallacious argument from authority.”

    Er, no. I was quite explicit in stating that “[m]aybe [Luke] would [use Bayes’ theorem] now, I can’t speak for him.”

  186. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Then everything but the space dedicated to Christianity is wasted space. No one cares about the nebulous deist god, of “general theism”.

    You argue that showing some sort of first-cause god helps to show the Christian god. It does not. I can name a different, mutually inconsistent, god hypothesis for every star in the observable universe. All you have to do is take Christianity, replace “Earth” with “planet around that star”, and replace “humans” with “humanoid aliens on that planet specially created to look like that god’s image”. It is the height of hubris to think that showing the first-cause god gets you any closer to Christianity. From simple Bayesian probability, if the number of equally probable alternative hypotheses numbers in the numbers of stars in the observable universe, then your “evidence” is basically equal to nothing. Please try again.

  187. CaptainCrunched says

    EL, okay, if you want to divert on the rabbit trail of slaves, I don’t have time. I’ve literally spent pages on the subject with someone else only a few months ago, and unfortunately I don’t have access to everything I wrote then without taking some time to find it. Maybe I will. Just not now.

    As to the whole “old law still applies” thing, please educate yourself on Christian doctrine.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_the_Old_Covenant

    It’s not that simple to just make a blanket statement like that.

    One of your fellow atheists already gave the best explanation of Jesus’s alleged upholding of the Mosaic law, I’ll quote her now:

    martiabernathey:

    Today’s show was full of fail. Another example was when of the hosts (I’m not sure which, as I was listening to the podcast), I believe Dan, conflates Mosaic law, “commandments” or commands, and Christ”s words in Matthew 5:17.

    πληρόω,means to:

    1) to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full 1a) to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally 1a1) I abound, I am liberally supplied 2) to render full, i.e. to complete 2a) to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim 2b) to consummate: a number 2b1) to make complete in every particular, to render perfect 2b2) to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, (some undertaking) 2c) to carry into effect, bring to realisation, realise 2c1) of matters of duty: to perform, execute 2c2) of sayings, promises, prophecies, to bring to pass, ratify, accomplish 2c3) to fulfil, i.e. to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfillment

  188. CaptainCrunched says

    “No one cares about the nebulous deist god, of ‘general theism’.”

    Pass that one by Matt Dillahunty and the other co-hosts for me sometime. Let me know what they say. You’re only speaking for yourself.

    “You argue that showing some sort of first-cause god helps to show the Christian god.”

    Sure it does. It shows an unfathomably powerful and intelligent Creator-being, which encompasses many of the attributes of the Christian God. It doesn’t bridge the gap to Jesus though, granted. For another thing, first-cause arguments like the Kalam Cosmological Argument go for creation “ex-nihilo,” meaning the general creator exists outside of space-time. So first-cause arguments also establish the existence of the supernatural.

    Once again, no, it doesn’t bridge the gap to Christianity completely, but it certainly is consistent with the Christian conception of creation.

  189. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Yes, I’m aware that lots of Christians dishonesty invent reasons out of whole cloth in order to ignore the ugly parts of their holy book. I give them props for it. It means they’re more moral than the alternatives, such as (some) Muslims. It also means that they’re one step closer to ditching the whole enterprise.

    Which excuse do you hold to? The Roman Catholic one? I don’t see anything in the Christian bible itself about ceremonial vs moral vs judicial laws. Even then, how do you decide which laws is in which category? Why isn’t the anti-gay law one of the ceremonial laws which we can ditch.

    Why couldn’t Jesus have said that the old moral laws still apply, but you can ditch those old ceremonial laws? It would have been easy to say to avoid this confusion, but he didn’t. Doesn’t the bible also say that your god is not the author of confusion? I find it hard to picture a system with more confusion than Christianity.

  190. CaptainCrunched says

    “That counter was: ‘Which Christian god? There’s a lot of different hypotheses which share that name.'”

    To which I responded, it doesn’t matter. People might have slightly varied conceptions of Christ, doesn’t mean it’s not all the true Christ answering the prayers. No one is going to agree on every fine detail of God and theology but the myriad opinions don’t influence who God is at the end of the day. Moot point. God will still hear the prayers of his children even if they don’t fully and accurately grasp who He is.

  191. CaptainCrunched says

    EL: “Spectroscopy is (direct) evidence. What are you talking about? We did carry out the ‘experiments’. What do you think spectroscopy is? Scientists sitting in chairs pulling shit out of their ass? We did the observations and measurements. It’s been multiply confirmed.

    “You have a completely artificial and useless notion of “direct” vs “indirect”. It’s bullshit. What – are you going to say that we don’t have direct evidence of atoms? That all of chemistry isn’t based on direct observation because we’ve never “seen” an atom? Is it distance that matters? Chemistry is “direct observation” because it’s closer, and spectroscopy on Jupiter doesn’t count because it’s “farther away”?

    “I have no clue what is going on in your addled brain to make this wholly vacuous and arbitrary distinction. That’s not the way real science and rationality works.”

    Good. Grief. So many strawmen and misunderstandings. You’re absolutely right when you say you have no clue what’s going on in my brain. You have so bastardized the points I was trying to make to Monocle Smile that I don’t even know how to respond to all of this. How many times must I ask you to grasp the full context of these discussions that you weren’t originally involved in before heaving your thoughts into the mix?

    Of course I accept spectroscopy as valid scientific investigation. Duh. Distance has nothing to do with the distinction I was drawing. Gee whiz. If you can’t figure out my point, I’m not going to waste time reiterating it for you now. Read the complete back and forth with Monocle Smile and me if you want to understand.

  192. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Once again, no, it doesn’t bridge the gap to Christianity completely, but it certainly is consistent with the Christian conception of creation.

    I want you to read that part again where I showed the general shape of a Bayesian argument that shows that evidence for the mere existence of a first-cause god is utterly unrelated to the existence of the Christian god. Then, I want you to reply to that. Preferably, I want you to explicitly agree with me, that giving evidence for merely some god gets you no closer to demonstrating the Christian god. Alternatively, I want you to show me my error.

    PS: Natural vs supernatural is bullshit. The distinction is vacuous and empty. I refuse to use those words, except to point out this error of thought. Those words are a fallacious game of begging the question. Merely by using them, you are assuming your conclusion. I am a skeptic and a scientist. There is no such distinction as natural vs supernatural. Either it exists in our shared reality, or it doesn’t. Either it has some causal power over our shared material reality, or it doesn’t. Either you god exists and can (indirectly or directly) poke my knee, or it does not.

    In practice, supernatural vs natural is an entirely arbitrary category difference which is wholly culturally constructed. There is no rhyme or reason which goes into which category. There is no sensical rule to differentiate which goes where. It is entirely void of worth.

    “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arther C Clarke

    “Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!” – Girl Genius Webcomics
    Link:
    http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20081205
    Please read the comic. It’s short. It makes a strong point.

    Quoting: Lee Siegel, from the book Net Of Magic.

    I’m writing a book on magic”, I explain, and I’m asked, “Real magic?” By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts, and supernatural powers. “No”, I answer: “Conjuring tricks, not real magic”. Real magic, in other words, refers to the magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.”

    For example, (stealing a great bit of PZ Myers), if a 300 ft tall Jesus manifests outside, and starts blowing up people with its eye lazors, I’m not going to just gasp and say “It’s supernatural! Science is useless!” I’m going to run outside with a syringe and try to get a sample.

    Supernatural in practice is a “get out of evidence and reason” free card. I refuse to let that card be played. You still need to present evidence and reason.

    PPS: And I wasted way too much time on what may be troll. Oh well.

  193. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    You didn’t reply to a single point I made. You didn’t attempt to defend “direct vs indirect” as anything but vacuous. You failed to admit your error about our current level of evidence concerning the composition of Jupiter’s atmosphere. I see no further reason to post anything else until you respond to my earlier points.

  194. CaptainCrunched says

    You’re asking me how I reconcile the parts of the Bible that you find objectionable with my broader theology? Is that correct?

    Read Paul Copan’s book Is God a Moral Monster? That’s a good place to start.

    As to the Mosaic Law, no, I don’t think it applies now. It was a law with a limited jurisdictional scope; i.e., it was given for the Israelites until Christ’s fulfillment of the law (see Martiabernathey’s comment on how Christ proclaimed his fulfillment of the law in Matthew 5:17). A honest reading of the Bible will lead to the conclusion that the Mosaic Law was not intended to bind all humanity for all time. That’s my assessment so far.

  195. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Meh… I can’t help myself. “Someone is wrong on the internet.”

    You were making a point and using Jupiter’s atmosphere as an example. The point can either be read to be advocating for the plausibility of solipsism, which would mean that you are no longer worth my time, or that the evidence for the composition of Jupiter’s atmosphere is somehow categorically weaker than the evidence that I’m sitting on a couch. I addressed this second point, hoping that you were not a solipsist. I pointed out that the evidence we have for the composition of Jupiter’s atmosphere is quite strong, and of a similar nature to the evidence that I have that I am sitting on a chair. Thus, I addressed your point head on. This is where you get to explain what you actually meant – if there is anything which can possibly salvage your point – or admit your error.

  196. CaptainCrunched says

    You do realize that xkcd comic is mocking people like us, right? :D

    No, I’m not a solipsist. And no, you still didn’t grasp my point. Perhaps I’ll explain what I meant within the full context of the prior discussion, but I don’t have the energy now.

  197. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    We’ve already established else-thread that you are the moral monster by your own admission that it’s ok if your god ended the life of someone on a whim because he’s god. Here, I’m merely pointing out other flaws in your other arguments. It’s already too late for you to avoid the conclusion that you are a moral monster and your god is a moral monster without a lot of backtracking.

    A honest reading of the Bible will lead to the conclusion that the Mosaic Law was not intended to bind all humanity for all time. That’s my assessment so far.

    So, in the sermon on the mount, arguably one of the most important and most cited teachings of Jesus Christ, how do you explain the bit about where he said he did not come to change or throw away the old law, and those who advocate for throwing away the old law will be considered least in heaven? Genuinely curious.

  198. CaptainCrunched says

    EL: “You didn’t reply to a single point I made.”

    Yeah, I know. As a general rule I don’t argue points that have no bearing on anything I’ve said.

    Me: “But God exists.”

    Contextless in California: “But humans are bipedal!”

    Me: “That has nothing to do with my proposition.”

    Contextless in California: “YOU HAVEN’T RESPONDED TO MY POINTS!”

  199. corwyn says

    And you don’t think that Matthew 5:18 throws that into confusion?
    An honest reading of the bible leads some to the exact opposite conclusion.

    How are those of us who don’t think the book is divinely inspired supposed to any of you seriously?

  200. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Completely lost me. To whatever extent your earlier Jupiter analogy / argument makes sense, it is wrong. I await your second try. I’ve just read it again now, and nothing has changed.

  201. CaptainCrunched says

    EL: “So, in the sermon on the mount, arguably one of the most important and most cited teachings of Jesus Christ, how do you explain the bit about where he said he did not come to change or throw away the old law, and those who advocate for throwing away the old law will be considered least in heaven? Genuinely curious.”

    Yeah, it’s a good question. I thought I’ve already answered partly based on Martiabernathey’s older response. I’ll be honest, I’m really 100% this is accurate but it’s the best I can say for now.

    Preliminarily, you’re talking about Jesus’s words from Matthew 5:

    17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

    I would have said that Christ was saying until he fulfilled the Law, not the least stroke could be made. That is, his fulfillment of the Law would be living a completely sinless life until death, thus freeing us from the Law. Thus, the injunction for no one to advocate setting aside any bit of the Law until its fulfillment would be short-lived in duration. Of course, this is thrown off by the “until heaven and earth” disappear part.

    Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t say he means that the Law is upheld in its entirety for all time though, because Christ himself could be argued to have “violated” the Law by not allowing the adulteress to be stoned. Perhaps Christ showed up the true way the Law was meant to be fulfilled: not with heartless, rote application.

    I do realize it’s sounds like I’m dodging the question. I’m not. I realize it’s difficult. I’m not going to give up my beliefs simply because I don’t have a perfect explanation for this statement though.

  202. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t say he means that the Law is upheld in its entirety for all time though, because Christ himself could be argued to have “violated” the Law by not allowing the adulteress to be stoned. Perhaps Christ showed up the true way the Law was meant to be fulfilled: not with heartless, rote application.

    I do realize it’s sounds like I’m dodging the question. I’m not. I realize it’s difficult. I’m not going to give up my beliefs simply because I don’t have a perfect explanation for this statement though.

    “I don’t know” is a good answer.

    So, you’re now in the “I don’t know” state. Why weren’t you in the “I don’t know” state 5 minutes ago when we were just talking about whether the old law applies?

    The better question is: You are one step away from recognizing the irreconcilably inconsistent nature of morality as commanded by the bible. Why not accept that conclusion? And having accepted its logical inconsistency, why not throw it out?

  203. CaptainCrunched says

    EL: “For example, (stealing a great bit of PZ Myers), if a 300 ft tall Jesus manifests outside, and starts blowing up people with its eye lazors, I’m not going to just gasp and say ‘It’s supernatural! Science is useless!’ I’m going to run outside with a syringe and try to get a sample.”

    Yeah, this is something I’ve never understood. Why must naturalists make the assumption that just because I accept a supernatural realm, therefore I probably invoke it by default whenever confronted with something that appears abnormal. I do accept the usefulness and wonders of science. It’s great and the supernatural should not be a go-to card that obviates scientific investigation.

    Throwing out the silly Jesus example and substituting something more plausible/useful: if I saw some aberrational phenomenon in the sky that I couldn’t identify (this has happened), I wouldn’t immediately scream, “It’s magic!” I would assume that it’s probably some kind of explicable meteorological event that we just don’t understand right now. That’s exactly what I did assume to explain the event I witnessed. I’ll admit, I did toy in my mind with the idea that I was witnessing some alien or hidden human technology, but I didn’t take the thoughts seriously.

    So your point doesn’t apply. It’s a crude caricature of people who accept a supernatural realm. We don’t throw out science, we just accept that there are possible non-naturalistic explanations from time to time.

    For instance, if a man is thought to be terminally ill with cancer, he is prayed for, and recovers to the wonderment of his oncologists, I have no problem with reasonably inferring it may have been an answer to prayer. That is because my other life experiences bolster this possibility.

    I mean, I’m not even prepared to say what supernatural phenomenon look like. When a man is healed supernaturally, as when Jesus healed the blind man… what happened? Did Jesus cause the atoms to reassemble? Rearrange? Creation of new atoms ex nihilo? I mean, I have no clue. Could it have even been measured? I don’t know.

    But to say that because I believe in the supernatural means I use that as an “excuse” to avoid serious questions is silly.

  204. CaptainCrunched says

    EL: “Why weren’t you in the ‘I don’t know’ state 5 minutes ago when we were just talking about whether the old law applies?”

    Probably because I wasn’t asked so directly about that passage previously. You asked me about it and the question seemed genuine, so I tried to have candor in my answer. If you’re suggesting that I’ve never grappled with the inherent difficulties of that passage before, then you’re sorely mistaken. I’ve given it much thought. I do wish I had a better answer.

    EL: “The better question is: You are one step away from recognizing the irreconcilably inconsistent nature of morality as commanded by the bible. Why not accept that conclusion?”

    Probably because having several difficult passages isn’t enough for me to disregard all the other arguments, evidences, and experiences I’ve had that severely weigh in favor of God’s existence.

    In Darwin’s time, there were enormous gaps in the fossil record. He did not disregard his theory solely because of that obstacle.

    In past experience, I’ve encountered explanations for certain Scriptures that were grounded on linkage with other Scriptures that beautifully harmonized them both in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated. It could certainly happen with the verses in Matthew 5.

  205. Monocle Smile says

    For instance, if a man is thought to be terminally ill with cancer, he is prayed for, and recovers to the wonderment of his oncologists, I have no problem with reasonably inferring it may have been an answer to prayer. That is because my other life experiences bolster this possibility.

    So you think it’s reasonable to conflate correlation with causation without ANY FURTHER INVESTIGATION? Once again, your problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of all things reason.

  206. Narf says

    As Luke writes, “Craig and Moreland basically made a list of the most compelling contemporary arguments for the existence of God, tracked down their foremost living defenders, and gave them 50-100 pages to make their case. The result is awe-inspiring, even for the atheist.”

    In other words, this was a collaborative effort almost the best and brightest, making independent arguments.

    Actually, that sounds even less promising than I had initially surmised. I’ve read too many Christian apologists to be impressed by the best and brightest. Piling together a mass of bad arguments isn’t going to make them compelling, as a whole.

    The argument from design is still ignorant bullshit, no matter how you try to pretty it up. I sure as hell am not going to read through 100 pages of someone trying to make it sing and dance.

    Who wrote the cosmological argument section? William Lane Craig, or someone as equally full of shit? When the early versions of the argument weren’t even validly constructed, and later versions play some word games that are still invalidated by set theory … never mind the unsound premises …

    People don’t believe in a god because of these sorts of arguments, because these arguments don’t lead to a specific god. Most of them don’t even lead to a god at all, except with some tacked-on, post-hoc garbage, as in WLC’s made-up, unjustified nonsense that he spews at the end of the Kalam, hoping that no one will question any of his conditions. These arguments are only ever any use in propping up the faith of the already-brainwashed.

    Swinburne’s book proceeds with Bayesian probabilities.

    This doesn’t tell me much. I’ve seen apologists using Bayesian probabilities before. I don’t know if Swinburne’s book is the one I’ve sampled before, but that one was basically the same old bullshit, masked over with a layer of mathematical nonsense.

    When you assert something ridiculous as fact and have it modify the probability of your final target by a made up amount, you’re not putting together anything that a skeptic will find the least bit convincing. I’ve even seen apologists using this method inserting things like personal experience and faith, if I’m remembering correctly, because their already bullshit numbers didn’t add up high enough for their audience to be happy with the result.

    Your end result is still almost certain to be a pandering pat on the head for believers, with nothing beyond lip-service for skeptics. After reading Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, C.S. Lewis, Norman Geisler, Frank Turek, Ray Comfort (that last one just for laughs, admittedly), and a handful of others whose names I can’t remember, I don’t think your first suggestion is going to throw up any arguments that I haven’t ripped apart years ago. And your description of the second book is so vague that it hasn’t sparked my interest even a little.

  207. CaptainCrunched says

    MS: “So you think it’s reasonable to conflate correlation with causation without ANY FURTHER INVESTIGATION?”

    When I wrote the healing occurred “to the wonderment of his oncologists,” I’m presupposing medical explanations falling short. So yeah, that causation of God inference would be reasonable–not certain–in that instance, especially in light of other arguments for God and past miracles.

    I’m not sure why you’re arguing this point. No amount of investigation in the hypo would satisfy you. You’ve already per se ruled out the supernatural.

  208. CaptainCrunched says

    You’ve per se ruled out cosmological and teleological arguments. That would be arrogant even for a PhD physicist or astronomer. Perhaps you are one of the above but I’m guessing not which makes your per se rule more absurd.

    In any case, the cosmological arguments are authored by Alexander Pruss, James Sinclair, and your buddy Craig.

    Did you ever read the review? I realize I am arguing from authority to bolster the review, but Luke M. seriously was one of the most persuasive and effective atheist writers I’ve encountered.

    While we’re on the subject of crappy apologetic books though, don’t get me started on Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris.

  209. Narf says

    The base arguments are unsound pieces of crap. It doesn’t matter how much frosting you put on a piece of shit; it’s not a cake. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. physicist to discard a shitty argument.

    Every cosmological argument out there ends with a colossal argument from ignorance, and the teleological argument is a self-defeating still-birth. When an argument proposes obvious design without having anything un-designed to compare it to, you’re fucked before you even start … and that is only the start of what is wrong with it.

    I wouldn’t know about apologetics from those three. I read Dawkins for his biological texts. Hitchens didn’t write apologetics; he wrote slash-and-burn social commentary. He was a journalist. And I’ve never read anything by Sam Harris, so I couldn’t venture an opinion. Anyway, atheism is the default position, so it doesn’t even need its own apologetics.

  210. Monocle Smile says

    I’m presupposing medical explanations falling short. So yeah, that causation of God inference would be reasonable

    That is a TEXTBOOK argument from ignorance. Do you know what logical fallacies are? It seems like you’re wholly unfamiliar, given the amount of them you commit.

  211. Monocle Smile says

    You’ve per se ruled out cosmological and teleological arguments. That would be arrogant even for a PhD physicist or astronomer.

    I’m beginning to question how you make your way through life without even a tenuous grasp of reason. “Don’t believe because there are no good reason to do so” is NOT the same thing as “rule out.” This is something religious apologists CONSTANTLY get wrong, even after repeated correction. It’s become blatant dishonesty at this point.

  212. CaptainCrunched says

    MS: “That is a TEXTBOOK argument from ignorance. Do you know what logical fallacies are? It seems like you’re wholly unfamiliar, given the amount of them you commit.”

    Duh. I’m quite familiar with logical fallacies. I’m also familiar that just because a line of argumentation superficially fits a common fallacy label, that does not mean the argumentation is in fact invalid.

    We don’t have direct evidence for every inference we make. We deem some inferences reasonable based on the available evidence and what seems to fit the best explanation.

    Would you want a voice from heaven booming down, “I have healed the man. All conceivable medical explanations are unavailing, and I would know this being the designer of human life,” for verification?

    You could just step back ad nauseum and object, “Well, have we ruled out every alternative explanation that the voice was actually God and not some simultaneous hallucination by everyone in the room? Argument from ignorance otherwise!”

    There is no proof that would satisfy you. And this is a terrific double-standard, because I’ll bet you don’t proceed through your life with this mode of reasoning. If you aren’t prone to stomach aches, one day eat something out of your usual diet, and then later experience stomach pain, you might reasonably infer this new food caused the pain if no other things have been out of the ordinary (e.g., stomach bug going around). But technically, blaming the food would qualify as an argument from ignorance, since you haven’t thoroughly ruled out every other alternative.

  213. corwyn says

    Why must naturalists make the assumption that just because I accept a supernatural realm, therefore I probably invoke it by default whenever confronted with something that appears abnormal.

    Because you do exactly that 3 paragraphs later?

    For instance, if a man is thought to be terminally ill with cancer, he is prayed for, and recovers to the wonderment of his oncologists, I have no problem with reasonably inferring it may have been an answer to prayer.

    You assume that an event with at most 30 decibans of evidence is cause to believe something with way more than 100 decibans of evidentiary debt.

  214. CaptainCrunched says

    Actually he did “rule out” the arguments because he said he was unwilling to even read them. That’s not failure to find good reason to accept the argument, that’s ruling it out based on your own arrogant assumption that they’ll be flawed without even reading them.

    I’d guarantee his reasons for rejecting all formulations of cosmological and teleological arguments rests on flawed reasoning anyway.

  215. Monocle Smile says

    We deem some inferences reasonable based on the available evidence and what seems to fit the best explanation.

    And in all of human history, there is no confirmed event for which magic is the best explanation. NONE.

    There is no proof that would satisfy you.

    Blatant lie. Sorry my standards are higher than bullshit anecdotes you probably embellished, if not pulled straight from your ass.

    you might reasonably infer this new food caused the pain if no other things have been out of the ordinary

    That’s because we understand the digestive system and understand that food can indeed cause stomachaches.

    We have NO KNOWLEDGE of any magic or deities even existing, let alone causing things. Inferences based on EVIDENCE are one thing. Slathering on the confirmation bias because you’re a dumbass is another.

  216. CaptainCrunched says

    MS: “‘Don’t believe because there are no good reason to do so’ is NOT the same thing as ‘rule out.'”

    Actually he did “rule out” the arguments because he said he was unwilling to even read them. That’s not failure to find good reason to accept the argument, that’s ruling it out based on your own arrogant assumption that they’ll be flawed without even reading them.

    I’d guarantee his reasons for rejecting all formulations of cosmological and teleological arguments rests on flawed reasoning anyway.

    (I posted this response in the wrong place elsewhere.)

  217. CaptainCrunched says


    I wrote: “Why must naturalists make the assumption that just because I accept a supernatural realm, [I therefore] probably invoke it by default whenever confronted with something that appears abnormal[?]”

    corywin responded: “Because you do exactly that 3 paragraphs later?”

    In my hypo three paragraphs later, the inference was not “default.” I’ve answered this already: “When I wrote the healing occurred ‘to the wonderment of his oncologists,’ I’m presupposing medical explanations falling short. So yeah, that causation of God inference would be reasonable–not certain–in that instance, especially in light of other arguments for God and past miracles.”

    This is dramatic difference from the obtuse, crude caricature that Enlightenment Liberal painted of supernaturalists.

    I think you demand more “decibans” (I’d never to this point known there was a unit measurement of probabilities, so thank you for that bit of knowledge) because you’re so hardline against the possibility of a supernatural. In the cumulation of arguments for God’s existence and past experience of incredible events happening in conformance to prayer, the possibility of supernatural explanations certainly becomes more plausible.

    Like my friend I mentioned born without a sense of smell who felt cracking and popping in his sinuses when the other people at the camp were praying for him and the next morning he could smell for the first time ever (forever changed his ability to taste food too). Like Dan Barker’s friend whose difficulty speaking melted away after the prayer, instantly. Like Luke’s father praying for financial providence and a check for money that had been tucked away in an annuity years before arrived with the exact amount. Like my other friend who prayed for God to reveal himself who suddenly found himself collapsed on the ground with overwhelming sense of God’s presence, who was not in any heightened emotional state during the prayer and did not have any history of seizures or like medical conditions (to my knowledge, I did not cross-examine him extensively on that point, however the experience as described was not consistent with seizuric activity as he was not in pain and fully conscious of the whole ordeal and truly convinced it was supernatural… also to my knowledge nothing like that happened again).

    Like countless other miracles stories that you take the greatest pains to invalidate or just flat call me a liar in the case of Monocle Smile. As if I would take the time to type out any of this if I did not actually believe it and actually hear the stories from those that experienced the alleged miracles. I have my own experiences too but I’ll spare them for now.

  218. Monocle Smile says

    The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”

    Do you believe that aliens are currently abducting humans and doing experiments on them? Because you can talk to shitloads of supposed abductees. They believe it every bit as strongly as you do.

    Hell, Muslims FUCKING BLOW THEMSELVES UP for beliefs that you think are false. Does that lend any credence to their religion?

    Like Dan Barker’s friend whose difficulty speaking melted away after the prayer, instantly. Like Luke’s father praying for financial providence and a check for money that had been tucked away in an annuity years before arrived with the exact amount.

    I’m perfectly fine with calling you a liar on these two. Barker’s story is not even close to what you just described, especially after the actual recounting found IN THIS VERY THREAD, and the story about the check is specious, third-hand, AND unverified.

    In the cumulation of arguments for God’s existence and past experience of incredible events happening in conformance to prayer, the possibility of supernatural explanations certainly becomes more plausible.

    Except the former lacks demonstration and is chock full of logical fallacies and you can’t confirm ANY of the latter, though you continue to lie about this. You believe because you WANT to believe, and for no other reason. At least be honest about it.

  219. CaptainCrunched says

    MS: “Do you believe that aliens are currently abducting humans and doing experiments on them? Because you can talk to shitloads of supposed abductees. They believe it every bit as strongly as you do.

    “Hell, Muslims FUCKING BLOW THEMSELVES UP for beliefs that you think are false. Does that lend any credence to their religion?”

    I never argued that the strength of my belief actualizes the belief. The only reason I mentioned “really believing” at all was to say I wasn’t making the narratives up about my friends’ miracles. I.e., I’m not trolling.

    As to the alien abductees and Muslims comment in general, I touched on this in my email exchange with Russell:

    “Obviously, both atheists hedge the alleged miracles with their reasons for disregarding them now. Luke, in particular, refutes his experiences as evidence for God because he “hold[s his] own experiences to the exact same burden of proof to which I hold the experiences of everyone else.”

    He goes on: “See, millions of people from other religions and New Age superstitions have equally amazing stories to tell. They have experienced miraculous healing, answered prayers of incredible specificity, amazing coincidences, powerful visions, unexplainable phenomena, spiritual experiences, and fulfilled prophecies. If I give as much weight to their experiences as the Christian apologist gives to his own, my worldview would be filled to the brim with gods and spirits and magical cosmic forces!”

    On the contrary, I would ask Luke to give me examples from other religions that have the same force as his father’s prayer for financial support, which yielded a check written down to the necessary dollar amount the next day, or his vision of the car.

    I have heard scads of these types of stories from Christians that have experienced them first hand, including a friend who gained his sense of smell after a prayer meeting. He literally felt cracking and popping in his sinuses when it happened, the very moment he was being prayed for. His life was dramatically changed. Food tasted different, etc. He shared this story with absolutely nothing to gain. He wasn’t soliciting financial support. We were already friends. I was already a Christian, he wasn’t trying to convert me.

    I have also heard wild and fantastic claims from alleged UFO abductees, or strange coincidences that have occurred to my non-Christians friends. Never, however, have these stories been bolstered with the same level of evidential support, about other gods. You mentioned Joseph Smith and the plate readings. What I mean is that this tale about plate-reading from a verified con artist born two centuries before me does not have the same evidentiary power as a firsthand account from a friend who possessed an unmarred history of credibility and honesty, describing to me a literal physiological change that happened to his body through prayer to Christ.

    So I take Luke’s challenge. I hold my and my friend’s Christian experiences to the same level of scrutiny as other dramatic stories (from people like Joseph Smith, UFO-abductees, Scientologists, Muslims) and I find the Christian stories hold more weight.

    [/end email response]

    MS: “You believe because you WANT to believe, and for no other reason. At least be honest about it.”

    First part kinda true, second part absurd. I’ll be bluntly honest, it would trouble me to be wrong about God as I’ve believed in his existence for some time. Now, is this natural attachment to my own worldview the only reason I have to hold it? Absolutely not. The evidence is on the theist’s side as I see it, by far.

    Now, I’ve answered honestly. Be honest in return: you don’t want there to be a God. I’m not going to level the same nonsense accusation that that’s the only reason you don’t believe, but at least admit you don’t want to be wrong about this one.

  220. Narf says

    Actually he did “rule out” the arguments because he said he was unwilling to even read them.

    No, I said that the arguments are logically unfounded. “Ruling something out” implies disregarding it without cause. I’ve examined every syllogistic argument for the existence of a god that I could find, and every single one of them is logically unfounded. The god-concept also falls on its ass when you try to examine it through an evidential process. I didn’t rule out a damned thing. I examined them and discarded them.

    After seeing the first 5 or 6 formulations of the cosmological argument and finding them worthless, how many dozens more am I supposed to eagerly dive into? After examining the core concept of the teleological argument that makes an argument a teleological argument and discovering that it’s ignorant, unscientific bullshit, do you really expect me to examine the way that every apologist has worded the same bankrupt, core concept?

    I’d guarantee his reasons for rejecting all formulations of cosmological and teleological arguments rests on flawed reasoning anyway.

    … the fuck? You arrogant piece of shit. When the core concept of an argument is completely stupid, as is the case with the teleological argument, and I’ve examined it thoroughly … and you guarantee?
    Fuck you.

  221. CaptainCrunched says

    Narf: “You arrogant piece of shit. When the core concept of an argument is completely stupid, as is the case with the teleological argument, and I’ve examined it thoroughly … and you guarantee?”

    Yeah, I do. You’re the one acting arrogant. Analytic philosophers and cosmologists of much higher caliber intellect than yours have been debating cosmological and teleological arguments for centuries, and you suppose that you’re privy to logical foundations that refute them right off the bat? With that kind of certainty? Give me a break! Call me a piece of shit all you want. Say “fuck you.” Stick and stones.

    Even non-Christian astronomers like Luke Barnes have shown how disingenuous certain atheist attempts to refute fine-tuning arguments have been. Richard Carriers’ answers to fine-tuning argument are laughable (the ones I’ve heard). The only decent answer to the Kalam Cosmological Argument is based on the A-theory/B-theory time distinction, which is not a settled matter.

    So why are both forms of argumentation invalid by default in your world? Please explain why it’s not even worth your time to read a book that contains possibly the best formulation of both arguments to date (compiled by persons most likely with IQs far higher; that’s not an insult, just my honest assessment)?

  222. Monocle Smile says

    Be honest in return: you don’t want there to be a God.

    I don’t give a shit either way. And that’s completely honest. Any extant god probably doesn’t care at all about the planet, seeing as despite your many outrageous claims, there don’t appear to be any “divine interventions” on behalf of humanity.

    I have heard scads of these types of stories

    Who the fuck cares? When will you realize that SECONDHAND ANECDOTES are NEVER good reasons to believe extraordinary claims if you care about the truth? Several of us have belabored this point well past death, but you just can’t grasp it. It’s like your skull is made of titanium.

    Never, however, have these stories been bolstered with the same level of evidential support, about other gods.

    0 is not greater than 0. Nothing gets by you, buddy. Did you really write that and think it was a real response to the challenge? This is once again a bald assertion on your part. Literally everything you post SCREAMS confirmation bias.

  223. Monocle Smile says

    Even non-Christian astronomers like Luke Barnes have shown how disingenuous certain atheist attempts to refute fine-tuning arguments have been

    http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=8109

    Barnes criticizes some arguments that “atheists” aren’t making. You’re being wildly dishonest. I swear, you might be the most gullible person I’ve ever met.

    The only decent answer to the Kalam Cosmological Argument is based on the A-theory/B-theory time distinction, which is not a settled matter.

    I can refute it easily. The first premise is sloppy…there are two meanings of “begin to exist,” (ex materia and ex nihilo) and depending on which you choose, the premise is either unsupported (ex nihilo) or demonstrably false (ex materia). Kalam is stupidly simple to defeat.

    Analytic philosophers and cosmologists of much higher caliber intellect than yours have been debating cosmological and teleological arguments for centuries

    It’s not like we’ve been able to properly examine the cosmos until this past century, so that’s a bit dishonest, but another fundamental problem with your thinking is that you have this batshit crazy idea that “philosophers” can determine whether something exists just by thinking about the issue. That’s not how we determine existence, and that’s why I don’t give a flying fuck about Philosopher Dickhead playing word games until his tongue falls out.

  224. CaptainCrunched says

    “Barnes criticizes some arguments that ‘atheists’ aren’t making. You’re being wildly dishonest. I swear, you might be the most gullible person I’ve ever met.”

    *facepalm*

    First off, I’ve listened to that conversation already… twice! Have you even listened *once*? If not, do it!

    And atheists aren’t making the objections he answers?

    “However the universe was configured, evolution would have eventually found a way.” “There could be other forms of life.” “It’s impossible for life to observe a universe not fine-tuned for life.” “Maybe there are deeper laws; the universe must be this way, even though it looks like it could be other ways.” “Maybe there are bajillions of universes, and we happen to be in one of the few that supports life.”

    These are like the key arguments used by Lawrence Krauss, Vic Stenger, and others… are you KIDDING me?

    I don’t even… … …

  225. corwyn says

    [Hey, its not like my name isn’t spelled correctly right above where you wrote. misspelling it is rude]

    In my hypo three paragraphs later, the inference was not “default.” I’ve answered this already

    Your description is *exactly* taking that inference as the default. You had a situation (an unexplained spontaneous remission) and your first hypothesis (AND CONCLUSION) was for something vastly more unlikely than the initial event (instead of, for example, the far more likely cause, that the doctor made a mistake in diagnosis). This is akin to rolling 8 six sided dice, getting all sixes, and deciding that it must have been caused by an invisible time traveler.

    So let’s see what you think of my anecdote. I have a friend who was having trouble in school, her parents were very religious, so they prayed for her (as well as exhorting her to do better). Soon she started to get violent headaches. So they prayed for her (and took her to the doctor). The doctor could find nothing wrong. As things got worse, they kept praying, but eventually took her to an eye doctor, who determined that her vision was failing, but had no explanation. Make a long story short, she eventually had to have both of her eyeballs removed, to get rid of the debilitating pain.

    So this is a rough equivalent to your anecdote. I can take your route and attribute this unexplained event to a diety, and therefore conclude that omni-benevolence is not among their attributes, or I can conclude that their was no deity involved. Which would you prefer?

    Do you doubt that for every cute story you have of prayer, I can tell a horrific story also involving prayer. If I choose to only tell the horrible stories, I will be doing the exact same thing you are doing (only in reverse), and you would have to accept my conclusion as just as valid as yours (since I used the same process).

    If I roll a 5 dice 1000 times, and total each roll up, only when there are 2 sixes showing, and tell you that I got an average total of 21.5 would you be impressed? What about if I neglected to tell you that I only counted those with at least 2 sixes? That later seems far more impressive does it not (we would expect an average of around 15.5)? This is what you are doing when you include all those ‘miracles’ but not the other times when nothing or something worse happens, following prayer.

    Here is one way how we get around this problem. I want you to go find 10 (or more) people who are praying hard for something important right now. I want you to predict how many of them will get it in the next month if they get divine intervention, and how many we should expect if no god exists. We will happily help you with the math on that if you need it. Then a month from now, we will see what the results are. Are you willing to TEST your hypothesis?

  226. corwyn says

    Duh. I’m quite familiar with logical fallacies. I’m also familiar that just because a line of argumentation superficially fits a common fallacy label, that does not mean the argumentation is in fact invalid.

    We don’t have direct evidence for every inference we make. We deem some inferences reasonable based on the available evidence and what seems to fit the best explanation.

    So you DON’T know what the argument from ignorance fallacy is. Because it is NOT making an inference without direct evidence.

  227. corwyn says

    The only decent answer to the Kalam Cosmological Argument is based on the A-theory/B-theory time distinction

    Premise one is easy to refute.

    1) Everything that began to exist has a cause.

    The Universe didn’t. (Now you actually have to prove it did, BEFORE you make your premise).

    More robustly, premise 1 becomes

    1) There is a set of things which began to exist (call it set E), and another set of things which are caused (call it set C). For all things T(i) members of set E , T(i) is a members of set C.

    Go ahead and prove that.

  228. Matt Gerrans says

    “Miracle” stories invariably evaporate or become very mundane upon close inspection. I have tried investigating Christian miracle church healing at the behest of Christians who insisted that I wasn’t following the evidence and sticking my head in the sand like all atheists who turn away from God. As soon as you begin to ask for specifics, like which church, the address, names of witnesses who “testified” to this miracle, names of people affected by the miracle, date, time, etc. that this person saw with their own eyes, it changes from “I saw it” to “it happened at my church” to “well, it wasn’t me who saw it, but my cousin at his church in Oklahoma…” So you ask them to get the specifics from their cousin. There is a prolonged silence while they are “looking into it for you.” Much later, if you are persistent enough to keep nagging about it, it turns out it wasn’t the cousin, but just that the cousin heard this story at church about the magical event which had occurred at some other church. Details may change somewhat (was stomach cancer not breast cancer, or what have you), but none of the specific information listed above materializes (miraculously!). So, even though this was the best example out of “hundreds” that the theist has available to give you, it fizzles. If you ask for any of the others (like maybe the second or third best?) of the “hundreds” then you are just being a smart ass and they don’t want to talk about it, because you are not approaching this serious topic “with an open heart.”

    Of course, none of this will stop the Christian (or Muslim, etc.) from telling this very same story to the next atheist audience with whom they contend, along with chastising those atheists for not following up on the “information.” So, while it may be confirmation bias and some cognitive dissonance brought on by continual repetition at church and decades of indoctrination, I think at some point it is also flat out dishonesty. As in bearing false witness.

  229. Matt Gerrans says

    @Monocle Smile:
    “Check out the episodes where an apologist calls in to defend his faith…”
    Can you suggest one? It is hard to tell from the titles in the archive which would be a representative choice.

  230. Monocle Smile says

    I believe it’s episode #83 where Eric Lounsbery calls in. He’s been on AXP twice as Eric from Mesa, AZ. He’s a pompous ass and a Gish Gallop expert. Episode #94 is one with another apologist.

    Contrast those with episode #68 where AronRa’s in the studio and a Christian Rapper attempts to use the typical apologist BS. Aron easily corners him and forces him to blatantly lie, and this lie is obvious to ANY listener, Christian or no.

  231. Matt Gerrans says

    It is worth noting that believers usually weasel out of the Abraham & Isaac story by pointing out that God relented at the last moment, after fucking with Abraham’s head for a day or so. Abraham being the most righteous and supposedly being God’s favorite human at the time. God really knows how to play a fun practical joke on his hapless pals! Yuck, yuck.

    Anyway, a good follow up to this story is the one of Jephthah, where Jephthah promises to murder the first living thing he sees when he gets home from a session of genocide on his neighbors if God will help in the mass murder project. God likes this plan (since he can see the future and knows what a fun trick on Jephthah this will be and since murdering his little creations is such grand fun in general). So, Jephthah commits the genocide with unmitigated success (it helps to have the all-powerful, all-loving creator of the universe on your side) and returns home. The first person he sees is his beloved daughter. It is time for human sacrifice and this time God does not give a rain check. To the pyre it is.

    Lovely moral story that teach us that, uh… er… WFT does this teach? To be loyal and keep your promised (however arbitrary and idiotic) to the uberthug, I guess.

  232. Matt Gerrans says

    It is worth noting that believers usually weasel out of the Abraham & Isaac story by pointing out that God relented at the last moment, after fucking with Abraham’s head for a day or so. Abraham being the most righteous and supposedly being God’s favorite human at the time. God really knows how to play a fun practical joke on his hapless pals! Yuck, yuck.

    Anyway, a good follow up to this story is the one of Jephthah, where Jephthah promises to murder the first living thing he sees when he gets home from a session of genocide on his neighbors if God will help in the mass murder project. God likes this plan (since he can see the future and knows what a fun trick on Jephthah this will be and since murdering his little creations is such grand fun in general). So, Jephthah commits the genocide with unmitigated success (it helps to have the all-powerful, all-loving creator of the universe on your side) and returns home. The first person he sees is his beloved daughter. It is time for human sacrifice and this time God does not give a rain check. To the pyre it is.

    Lovely moral story that teaches us that, uh… er… WFT does this teach? To be loyal and keep your promised (however arbitrary and idiotic) to the uberthug, I guess.

  233. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    “supernatural realm”
    “non-naturalistic explanations”
    “supernatural phenomenon”
    “healed supernaturally”
    As I just explained in excrutiating detail, I don’t know what those words mean, except when they’re used as an excuse to avoid reason and the burden of proof. For example, what is the difference between supernatural healing and non-supernatural healing?

    For instance, if a man is thought to be terminally ill with cancer, he is prayed for, and recovers to the wonderment of his oncologists, I have no problem with reasonably inferring it may have been an answer to prayer. That is because my other life experiences bolster this possibility.

    You should, for so many reasons. 1- Anecdotal. Hell, this is a sample size of one. Are you kidding me? 2- The massive evidence against prayer. We have studies.

    Could it have even been measured?

    Did you see it? Then it was measured. Congratulations! This goes back to my earlier problem with you bad understanding of “direct vs indirect evidence” w.r.t. spectroscopy.

    Would you want a voice from heaven booming down, “I have healed the man. All conceivable medical explanations are unavailing, and I would know this being the designer of human life,” for verification?

    That’s a good start, but I would want more. Having watched enough Star Trek and Stargate, and knowing enough about real world religions like the Cargo Cults, I know that the easiest person to fool is yourself. I want actual hard evidence, not some voice in the sky that happens once.

    I would sooner accept that I had a fit of temporary insanity than a miracle occurred in a one-off scenario. That is how strong the evidence is against miracles. It needs to be done, repeatedly, on demand, without ambiguity, in laboratory conditions. Or it has to be grand scale, undeniable, with large margins of error, such as an amazingly higher portion of believing Christians don’t get cancer. Not some one-off “I heard a voice”. That’s just stupid. There are known medical reasons why we sometimes hear things. I’d go to a medical doctor and get myself checked out for Schizophrenia et al.

    I’d guarantee his reasons for rejecting all formulations of cosmological and teleological arguments rests on flawed reasoning anyway.

    I gave my reasons. Proving that there is some god thing without any other properties is useless, and those arguments are non-sequiturs w.r.t. Christianity. Address my arguments. Put up or shut up.

    There is no proof that would satisfy you.

    There is. The following would make me seriously reconsider being an atheist: Jesus came down every Saturday in Times Square and healed some amputees with professional magicians with full access to guarantee no funny business. Lightning starts smiting those who take Jesus’s name in vain in public. Jesus volunteers to break fundamental physics on command, in the best laboratory conditions, such as transmitting a signal FTL (faster than light), or predicting what we thought was an unpredictable quantum event, and so forth.

    Instead, we get weak excuses that are easily explained away with far more mundane and far more plausible explanations – explanations which actually have been demonstrated to exist.

    I’m presupposing medical explanations falling short. So yeah, that causation of God inference would be reasonable–not certain–in that instance, especially in light of other arguments for God and past miracles.”

    This is dramatic difference from the obtuse, crude caricature that Enlightenment Liberal painted of supernaturalists.

    And yet you fit it to a T. “Well, we can’t explain it. Thus god.” That’s your argument. Ok, technically, “We can’t explain it, and I asked god for it. Thus god.” Do you have any idea how foolish, naive, and gullible you are?

    Like Dan Barker’s friend whose difficulty speaking melted away after the prayer, instantly.

    Bald-faced lying now, eh?

    Never, however, have these stories been bolstered with the same level of evidential support, about other gods.

    HAHAHAHA!

    Oh wait, you’re serious? Let me laugh harder.

    HAHAHAHAHA!

  234. Narf says

    Yup, the show with Eric was one of the incredibly painful episodes that I mentioned in another thread, which I couldn’t work up the effort to listen to a second time. The people who were on the show gave only a token rebuttal to all of his fundamentalist bullshit.

    Eric just throws out heaps of bullshit, like how even skeptics acknowledge the 12 plagues of Egypt happened … which is so laughable. There’s even more stupidity, but I can’t remember most of it.
    His basic line is that everyone knows that everything in the Bible happened as it’s described, and no one contests that … but skeptics just give out feeble, non-miraculous explanations for how the miraculous stuff really happened. David and the other people on the show laughed and said no a few times, but they never called him out on his amazing gall at saying such profoundly wrong things. Without Aron on the show, I just can’t listen to the episodes with theists there.

  235. Narf says

    Christians usually explain it away as a tale to warn people to be careful about what you promise. Yeah, but what about you fundamentalist assholes who think that it actually happened? What about your monstrous god who actually let it happen?

  236. Matt Gerrans says

    If God is all knowing and all powerful, these miracle healings don’t make any sense. If he didn’t want this hypothetical guy to die of cancer, why would he let the cancer develop, have the doctors throw in the towel, then magically heal that guy, while letting hundreds of thousands of innocents die horribly in a tsunami? Where is the sense in this? What purpose does it serve? Teaching some inscrutable lesson? Providing some lame evidence of His existence? Let’s see Him heal an amputee.

    If God is just in the business of harvesting souls, then there is really no good reason why he should kill (floods, earthquakes, etc.) or save (magical healing, close calls, etc.) anyone. This life is a blink in the eye for Him and all he cares about is harvesting the souls (which He created in the first place). So even if everyone in the world is a murderer (seems logistically impossible, especially for the todders and infants, but He can read their intent, even if they don’t have the wherewithall) why kill people at all? They’ll die eventually and whether that is now or the veritable eye-blink of a few decades later, what’s the difference for God? Why save them, either? Some particular individual living a few decades more or less makes a difference to “God’s plan?” Seriously?

  237. Matt Gerrans says

    Oh come on, let’s not be stupid here. We all know what the word means and even those who don’t can look it up, so no need to pedantically copy and paste. Try to grasp the point, please. It is not all that subtle.

    Geez, I can’t believe I have to spell this out, but The Bible just prohibits certain acts, such as anal sex and lying (of a man with another man). It doesn’t say anything about orientations, desires, dispositions, etc. (in this context). By that measure, lesbians are good to go and gay men just have to refrain from anal sex. That’s why it is kind of funny when morons like Fred Phelps & Co. say “God god hates fags” — according to The Bible, God has no particular beef with bundles of firewood or even gay men or women.

    Look how the super anal-retentive (AKA “observant” or Orthodox or whatever those idiotically dressed and stupidly coiffed clowns like to be called) Jews play games with the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. (Both puns intended, is that a double point score?). Those guys could probably also partake of anal sex as well, as long as a condom was used, because then they’d be fooling the all-knowing God via the introduction of a thin membrane and could thus argue that no actual penis-to-anus contact was occurring. (It is amusing to note that they implicitly admit that their god is a complete dunce who is easy to outwit with technicalities, but that is beside the point.)

  238. Matt Gerrans says

    CaptainCrunched, it is worth noting that hurling material at unbelievers is a common tactic. Muslims love to do this; they claim that you have no basis for refuting Islam, because you haven’t read the Qur’an and all the haddiths and studied the topic intensely for 25 years. Any religion can do this. They are all so full of minutia and “arguments” for why they are true, that anyone who has not been steeped in them for decades has no “right” to question them. Of course, those who simply believe without knowing any of the apologetics are good to go; they are not grilled about why they believe in ignorance.

    Is it fair to chastise someone for not believing in the power of the one ring, or in trolls, orcs or elves, because they have not read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and the The Silmarillion? Is someone unfamiliar with the Star Wars story line unwarranted in questioning The Force and Midichlorians?

    I, and I’m sure many on this list, have read many books on Christianity and there will always be new books out there. How can we ever escape the old “but you haven’t read this new book by so-and-so, so your skepticism about my magical superstition is unwarranted!” canard?

  239. Matt Gerrans says

    “Life is just chemistry.” — And more importantly chemistry is just physics! (I guess I’m somewhat biased, because I kicked ass in physics and sucked in chemistry).

  240. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    So… god doesn’t hate gay people. God hates gay sex? We’ve heard this before. It’s bullshit. Arguing this is intellectually dishonest IMHO.

  241. Narf says

    It isn’t explicit in terms of anal sex. The Bible just forbids categories into which anal sex falls. It also hints like hell that homosexuality is the real problem there, but I’m not aware of an explicit linking of the two.

  242. Ronald Kappes says

    CaptianCrunched: Serial killer Paul Bernardo called the satirical novel American Psycho his “Bible.” To use your language, it nourished his sick mind. Deranged people will find stimuli in many places, whether those sources were intended as such or not. (I will concede that I find American Psycho deplorable literature satirical or not.)

    American Psycho is a work of fiction, it is unlikely the author approves of serial killers getting inspiration from it. Not so the Bible. Its authors wanted its readers to get inspiration. Big difference.

  243. Andreas says

    About the “genocide manual” idea..
    It would be interesting to know how the bible compares to other writings from that time, with regard to killing.

    Killing and war was a normal thing these days, as part of a survival and growth strategy, and still is in many places and times, with or without religion.

    In fact, if god did watch millions of years of evolution, and humans evolving from animals that eat each other for survival, killing must seem like a very natural thing to him.

    On the other hand, being kind to members of the own group, or even to strangers, can also be part of a survival and growth strategy. So we could assume that god is familiar with that concept as well.

    And finally, a very important part of the human success story is the concept of “don’t shit where you eat”. We want to live in a society that is peaceful, and do our killing elsewhere. Yes, we are going to do a drone strike here and there, or wear shoes that were made by children, or “defend our country” in a war, but we don’t want any conflict with the neighbour to turn out deathly.

    And believe it or not, the best solution for that is a bit of hypocrisy. We buy our meat in plastic packages, so we don’t have to think about killing animals. We lock the toilet door, and flush all the traces. We let the drone pilot operate in a safe place.

    Now again we could assume god is aware of all of this, and to him it must appear as the natural way things work.

    If god’s goal is to give an advantage to the people of Israel, it would seem logical to instruct them to love each other most of the time, and kill at another time, but within a framework that allows for a generally safe and stable society.

  244. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    It would be interesting to know how the bible compares to other writings from that time, with regard to killing.

    When you think brutal political dominance, you want to see the Neo-Assyrians.
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Military history of the Neo-Assyrian Empire: Strategy and Tactics
     
     
    They were unmatched for a couple centuries… until eventually the ENTIRE middle east teamed up to revolt against them.

    “The plains and fertile lands of Mesopotamia were not only ideal for warfare: they actually attracted war. Raiders from all nations coveted the lands of the Assyrians – Scythians to the north, Syrians, Arameans and Cimmerians to the West, Elamites to the East and Babylonians to the south. In fact, the latter never tired of rebelling against Assyrian rule.”

     
    * Keep in mind though, that much of the bible’s conquest stories were ahistorical “our people used to be mighty, too” revisionism. If you mean to compare literary style, the wikipedia page has some quotes from Assyrian lore.

  245. Matt Gerrans says

    Would you want a voice from heaven booming down, “I have healed the man. All conceivable medical explanations are unavailing, and I would know this being the designer of human life,” for verification?

    Sure. Why not? What is your god hiding from?

    Why is your god invisible and inert? If “he” does want to do miracles for some (but only those who “pray hard” enough), why not do it in the open? Is it the old free will canard? if so, why wasn’t free will important for the characters in the bible myths (Jephthah, Abraham, Noah, etc.)?

  246. Andreas says

    That’s what I thought – the bible may have some violence, but nothing exceptional compared to what was common at the time..

  247. Andreas says

    it also appears to me that other folks at that time were much more into heroic stuff and badassery.

  248. Monocle Smile says

    Yes, the Bible appears exactly as we’d expect if it were written by the barbaric nomads of the time in the form of cultural and historical mythology without any influence from a magic dude.

  249. Andreas says

    I heard the argument that it adds credibility to the bible that it does not contain any real human superheros. There are some characters that could be seen as heroes, but it is always pretty clear that they are humans with weaknesses, and certainly without any superpowers of their own – instead, any superpowers are given by god.

    In other literature from that time, we could expect that the disciples could shoot a fireball or something..

    And I have to admit that a lot of the stories show psychologically credible characters.

  250. Monocle Smile says

    That’s a terrible argument, especially given Moses and the plagues. And the disciples who started speaking in tongues. And Jacob, who could wrestle with an angel and subsequently saw God’s ass. And the Jewish zombie invasion. And people who lived for hundreds of years, which was a common Sumerian practice outside Judaism.

    That’s just off the top of my head. Someone’s clinging to feeble straws.

  251. Matt Gerrans says

    Yeah, there’s also Sampson and the giant that David murdered. Not much archaeological evidence for giants, interestingly. I guess god was too busy planting all those fake dinosaur and trilobite fossils and forgot to leave some space for actual things like giant skeletons.

  252. says

    …certainly without any superpowers of their own – instead, any superpowers are given by god.

    A distinction without much difference. It’s basically just a way of distinguishing (in power and moral value) the magical abilities of the good guys and the bad guys. Their righteousness and favor with god is their super power.

    Remember that is was apparently a common idea that people could gain power by means of serving demons/other gods (Jesus was accused of exactly that), so the idea of the power coming from outside is not unique.

    In other literature from that time, we could expect that the disciples could shoot a fireball or something..

    You should look into the Acts of Peter, one of the texts that didn’t make it into the official canon. It includes a miracle contest between Peter and Simon Magus.

  253. FaS says

    “Hahaha, I’ll take that as a compliment! That line caused me to burst out laughing, I’m not sure why. “

    I really doubt it was meant as a compliment. I think she means when you see you’re going to get exposed of certain contradictions you duck and roll to other subject without answering the first question. You’ve done this a couple times with the witches and the killing in the flood. Let me show you one of them:

    1.”Honestly, the Bible is a large and complex book. It’s not enough to say, hey, God killed some people, ergo he’s a monster. As I pointed out with the Flood example, the Bible is clear that the earth was filled to the brim with violence at that time. God didn’t act like a monster, he executed murderers.

    2. “Of course I don’t think the infants were running around killing people. -_-”

    So in the first part you say god executed murderers and in the next you´re saying that little infants are not murders. But they were KILLED by GOD. So to sum up: god did not only kill murderers but INNOCENT people as well… This is fairly obvious to everyone but you still don’t give an explanation for this or even acknowledge this . In the show you’re just ducking the question by saying you’re not going to “make the argument” but this is just a “duck and roll” tactic.

    Reading how you think here I guess your answer to this problem will something like “well god gave a live so the innocent babies can die if god want them to, and that’s moral…” Not even realizing how immoral it is.

    “When I say God wouldn’t command me to kill anyone, it’s a theologically accurate statement. I’m not Abraham, whom God communed with directly and established his people. I’m not the Israelites living at a time BC surrounded by hostile cultures that sacrificed newborns into fiery pits. I wasn’t given apostolic authority and commissioned by Jesus himself.”

    I don’t see how this is even relevant who you are. If god wants to speak to you he can right? And if he want you to kill someone for him he can tell you right? I don’t see any obstacle for god to do any of these two things. you claiming he will not ask you for a death is saying you know more than your god.

    “Yeah, so does Wikipedia”
    Sure wikipedia calls it mass hysteria. if you don’t believe in witches then it was a real hysteria. You on the other hand believe what’s in the bible. It stated that witches should be put to death. So the people who killed “witches” based on what they read in the bible had legitimate reasons to kill them. They were not hysteric but following orders of their holy book. How do you reconcile this? do you really believe that witches exist? Ever?? What kind of proof do you have of this?

    “I think God, who lovingly gave me my life to begin with, has a right to dictate when it ends. I’m not saying he would be moral to just create beings to torture and kill for fun, but that’s not what the Bible shows.”

    By your own reasoning you should also believe that god has the “right” to torture you if he wants to, for absolute no reason right? God has given you life so he has the right to take it(or let you live a short live). God has given you pain receptors and a brain to experience pain so he has the right to let you experience pain as a helpful method to avoid death, OR let you feel all the horrible pains in the world for ever…

    “that even if you compiled all killings by God in the book and measured it in proportion to the remainder, you’ll find the violence is a very small slice of the whole.”

    So you’re saying that the violence and murder part of innocent people isn’t that big so we should not mind it?

  254. says

    I was looking through the thread to see if “Henry” in Portland (right before the “end”) had ever checked in here…. I live in Portland, and have VERY similar issues with what I call the “emotional hostage-taking” defense. From loved ones, particularly.
    While I don’t claim to have any special tricks,
    (Dust off, and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.)
    I’ve grown somewhat adept at navigating the active minefield of evasions/attacks while staying on point. And staying nice, AND HONEST. Helps when you’re emotionally invested in NOT utterly shattering their ideas and psyche, or even their security blankets. Im relatively a lurker here. I watch the episodes, but this is the first time I’ve even browsed the blog…
    Found a striking similarity personally in virtually everything Henry said he’s experiencing, don’t know if this is against “rules” or will annoy the mods… but Henry, or anyone for that matter, even drew if you quit running and communicate.,
    (Not intimidated by emails… the “Block” button is but a click away.) feel free to drop a line… baronpvt@gmail.com
    But Drew’s constantly craven conniving to avoid answering ONE. QUESTION. HONESTLY. Is giving me the “HULK SMASH” rage.
    “oh i dont answer questions that don’t support the answer I have predetermined”
    Seriously I don’t know how EVERY COMMENT TO HIM ISN’T “where are these legion of miracles you have… waiting for.. what exactly?… these “really good ones” (I hope you have better than:
    MAGIC MUTE CURE PART TWO. “He Done Gone Smell Blind.” If it wasn’t such obviously pathetic straw grasping, it would be almost funny. What really WAS funny was “I held BACK all the really good miracles, with proof, that happened to ME PERSONALLY. To be original.” Totally ignoring for like the JILIONTH time, that anecdotes mean NOTHING. No matter how much you perceive that the person’s bias might match “ours” more than “yours” no matter what authority you argue from… all I hear is “BUT I REALLY WANT IT TO BE TRUE. REALLY.” Very telling of your morals and ethics, drew, was “well, If they really believe that about you. then they’re not lying.” WRONG. JUST NO. If someone says “with the power of jesus I can see into your heart and your thoughts, and I KNOW that you DO believe, you’re just mad at god or blah blah denial fart…” when in reality what they really believe is “hes a good boy i know he loves jesus” then that person is a liar.
    FFS, when will the sky daddy crowd realize that wanting something to be true, and/or fully believing it..
    HAS NO BEARING ON THE FACTS. ZERO.

  255. CaptainCrunched says

    Very telling of your morals and ethics, drew, was “well, If they really believe that about you. then they’re not lying.” WRONG. JUST NO. If someone says “with the power of jesus I can see into your heart and your thoughts, and I KNOW that you DO believe, you’re just mad at god or blah blah denial fart…” when in reality what they really believe is “hes a good boy i know he loves jesus” then that person is a liar.

    Of course I would call that deception because you’ve explicitly portrayed deception there. The person I was responding to simply said “they tell me I already know god exists and am just in denial,” which is not deception if they actually believe said person is just denial about God’s existence.

    lie – to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive.

    Totally ignoring for like the JILIONTH time, that anecdotes mean NOTHING.

    I’m not ignoring the objection, I just don’t agree. What more can I say? Having directly and extensively talked to the persons who experienced some of the miracles I’ve relayed, I’m not swayed by a blanket dismissal of the narratives because you characterize them as “anecdotes”.

  256. Monocle Smile says

    which is not deception if they actually believe said person is just denial about God’s existence.

    If you make a rather spectacular claim and not only can’t show it to be true, but don’t even have a solid reason for thinking it MIGHT be true, then you’re being dishonest. And when I say there’s no solid reason to think such a thing might be true, it’s because there are dozens of steps from “some god exists” to “everyone knows this god exists and Jesus actually said this in reality” and yet NO ONE has ever been able to demonstrate anything about the former. You can’t even start, let alone get to the end.

    Start by making a compelling case that “some god exists.” Then maybe we’ll go from there. Unless you can do this, every claim that could possibly follow is dishonest unless there’s something wrong with your head. I mean, I’m talking to someone who thinks demons exist and can be directed to manipulate our reality, so I’m still in favor of you seeking counseling anyway.

    I’m not swayed by a blanket dismissal of the narratives because you characterize them as “anecdotes”.

    You had no reason to be convinced of them in the first place. That’s what we’re getting at. And we have no reason to believe them either, especially given your dishonesty and inability to answer simple questions. You have burden of proof ass-backwards, which is unsurprising. You believe them because you ALREADY BELIEVED or wanted to believe.

  257. CaptainCrunched says

    corwyn: “Premise one is easy to refute.

    1) Everything that began to exist has a cause.

    The Universe didn’t. (Now you actually have to prove it did, BEFORE you make your premise).

    More robustly, premise 1 becomes

    1) There is a set of things which began to exist (call it set E), and another set of things which are caused (call it set C). For all things T(i) members of set E , T(i) is a members of set C.

    Go ahead and prove that.”

    I’m confused. You say premise one is easy to refute then you state a contradiction of premise two? How is that a refutation of premise one?

    Remember, the KCA proceeds as follows:

    1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
    2) The universe began to exist.

    Therefore,

    3) The universe has a cause of its existence.

    So when did you refute premise one, besides later asking me to “prove” it based on your mathematical reformulation of it?

    Premise one is based on our observations of the known universe. Everything we see that begins to exist has a cause.

    I remember watching the debate between William Lane Craig and Sean Carroll, when Carroll disputed premise one by saying something to the effect of, “Sure, everything we’ve observed that begins to exist has a cause, but universes are in a different category and might not obey that.” He proceeded to substantiate this claim with zilch evidence or reasoning. Just: “hey maybe universes are different.”

    Just a big blanket statement that universes might possibly be an exception to an obvious property of reality that we observe without contradiction called cause and effect. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, anyone?

    If you’d like to dispute premise one quantum mechanics, I’m more than happy to go that route too. Just because something has probabilistic behavior, does not mean it is not caused.

  258. CaptainCrunched says

    I am not a slave because I “serve myself.” You are a slave because you serve an unelected celestial tyrant.

    A person can be enslaved to their own interests in the way an alcoholic is enslaved to his addiction. Doesn’t matter if the goal is self-satisfaction, I still call that (figurative) enslavement.

    So in the first part you say god executed murderers and in the next you´re saying that little infants are not murders. But they were KILLED by GOD. So to sum up: god did not only kill murderers but INNOCENT people as well… This is fairly obvious to everyone but you still don’t give an explanation for this or even acknowledge this . In the show you’re just ducking the question by saying you’re not going to “make the argument” but this is just a “duck and roll” tactic.

    Well, then, allow me to clarify. The Bible is clear that when the Flood came, the earth was filled with evil. So, in general, people were acting awfully. Obviously, I did not mean to suggest even infants and fetuses were murdering and raging… but yes, the Flood wiped them out too, tragically. To which I say, God as the loving author of life can choose its termination point too. Does that make sense? If I suggested that ever single human living at the time of the Flood was doing awful things, I certainly didn’t intend that communication. Noah would be an obvious exception anyway.

    But the latter part of what I said there leads to another of your objections…

    By your own reasoning you should also believe that god has the “right” to torture you if he wants to, for absolute no reason right? God has given you life so he has the right to take it(or let you live a short live). God has given you pain receptors and a brain to experience pain so he has the right to let you experience pain as a helpful method to avoid death, OR let you feel all the horrible pains in the world for ever…

    Terrible analogy. Just terrible. No. Obviously not.

    God can terminate my life in the same way I can stop giving you free money. If I want to mail you $100 check every week, that would be entirely my prerogative. You can reject it, of course, but it’s my choice to send it or not. Suppose I do start sending you $100 every week. You have no basis to complain if I stop sending the weekly checks, even if you’ve come to enjoy them and expect them.

    Life, as it were, is a moment by moment “check” from God. That he gave you life at all to begin with was an unmerited gift, which does not automatically impart upon you the right to determine when that gift ends. Sorry. Makes sense. Doesn’t seem unjust.

    I’ll say it again, if God were to end my life now, I have no basis to complain. It’s been a wonderful two decades plus change that I did nothing to kick-start.

    Sure wikipedia calls it mass hysteria. if you don’t believe in witches then it was a real hysteria. You on the other hand believe what’s in the bible. It stated that witches should be put to death. So the people who killed “witches” based on what they read in the bible had legitimate reasons to kill them. They were not hysteric but following orders of their holy book. How do you reconcile this? do you really believe that witches exist? Ever?? What kind of proof do you have of this?

    False dichotomy. There can be real witches and also still be mass hysteria with false accusations raging about people who aren’t actually witches. The latter, of course, is abhorrent to anyone.

    Yeah, I do believe there were (are, maybe?) witches. I could direct you to tales of missionaries in places like Africa who have seen witch doctors, shaman, etc., do all sorts of strange, seemingly supernatural things (cue dispute about whether they actually witnessed the supernatural). And some of these doctors convert to Christianity and say that there were communing with demons that empowered them.

    Of course, Christ having fulfilled the Law, we do not follow the Mosaic Law. That’s my understanding. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_the_Old_Covenant) Plus, we not being Jews wouldn’t be under its jurisdiction to begin with. So I’m trying to obviate your next question about killing the witches.

    So you’re saying that the violence and murder part of innocent people isn’t that big so we should not mind it?

    Er, no. Context. I was saying because the violent passages are such a small slice of the whole of the Bible, calling the Bible a “genocide manual” is completely disingenuous. Much in the same way calling War and Peace a “death-fest” would be ridiculous and to misconstrue the full, true meaning of the book.

  259. Monocle Smile says

    A person can be enslaved to their own interests in the way an alcoholic is enslaved to his addiction.

    This is stupidly simplistic. People aren’t one-dimensional. We can CHANGE our interests, it just so happens that some of us feel our interests are solid.

    but yes, the Flood wiped [infants] out too, tragically. To which I say, God as the loving author of life can choose its termination point too. Does that make sense?

    Only if you’re a sociopath. I don’t understand this notion that giving something life and sentience makes it an expendable plaything. This is why I hope you never reproduce. And what happens if one day we gain the ability to develop test-tube babies from synthetic eggs and sperm? It’s bound to happen based on current progress. Will you argue that the scientists involved have every right to slaughter the children they create?

    If I suggested that ever single human living at the time of the Flood was doing awful things, I certainly didn’t intend that communication. Noah would be an obvious exception anyway.

    Noah was a drunk. Have you even PICKED UP a bible before?

    Yeah, I do believe there were (are, maybe?) witches. I could direct you to tales of missionaries

    *dismissive wanking motion*

    Why do you think anyone would give a flying fuck? How gullible can you be?

    the violent passages are such a small slice of the whole of the Bible

    Seeing as you haven’t read it, how can you say this? And if these were the case, so what? The “genocide manual” crack was a snide remark and little more. I think I’ve said this before, but you exhibit Ray Comfort levels of failing to (or pretending to not) understand simple everyday things like snark. You come up with excuse after excuse after excuse sandwiched between unverified anecdotes (that would mean little even if true) and straight-up crazy talk (Witches? Demons? Please tell me you’re not planning on having kids).

  260. Monocle Smile says

    Premise one is based on our observations of the known universe. Everything we see that begins to exist has a cause.

    I would argue that NOTHING we see “begins” to exist. It really depends on what you specifically mean by “begins to exist,” which apologists always avoid answering.

    Sean Carroll made a valid point (unless you’ve never taken a physics class before), but it was a crappy in-debate argument, which is why I don’t give a shit about debates.

    Just because something has probabilistic behavior, does not mean it is not caused.

    You don’t understand the first thing about science, so it’s rather hilarious that you think you can comment on quantum physics.

    Stochastic processes happen for a REASON, but this is different than a CAUSE. Nuclear decay is a good example. Radioactive material decays because (simply put) the nuclei of the atoms are not “stable.”
    HOWEVER, there’s no “cause” behind each decay event. Hence Schrodinger’s Cat. In fact, if you had ever even heard of Schrodinger’s Cat, you wouldn’t make such a stupid argument from ignorance that is ALSO WRONG, like you just did.

  261. CaptainCrunched says

    It’s fairly obvious, Monocle, that you have a lot of frustration against theism/theists. Maybe you resent your presumably Christian upbringing, I have no clue. But for whatever reason, you prefer hostility as a means of communication.

    It’s almost like you forget we’re all humans here trying to figure out how best to live our lives. Yes, I believe in Christ. Yes, I take his words to heart. I really do want to love God and love my neighbor and I’m doing my best to figure out what that looks like. Yes, I really do believe in miracles and find my friends’ stories credible. So I pray. I really have read copious amounts of atheist literature and found it insufficient to negate my faith. So I continue as a Christian, striving to excel at my job, pay my taxes, help those in need, be a friend to those who lack it, and in general make the world a better place to whatever capacity I can.

    Yet to you, this faith of mine is such a fatal flaw that I shouldn’t even have kids…? (Tongue in cheek or not, that’s a pretty strong thing to type. I know it’s the internet. It’s not like you’ve hurt my feelings, I’ve just got to be honest, I hope I would never type something like that to somebody just because I found their worldview delusional.) I thought atheists claimed people of faith were the ones with a tribalistic mentality. Yet you can’t even be bothered to type a response with a decent tone.

    I do comfort myself by remembering I have plenty of atheist friends in real life who are capable of respectful, enlightening dialogue. I’ll just wish you well. To be frank though, I genuinely hope you’re not this unpleasant in real life.

  262. corwyn says

    I’m confused. You say premise one is easy to refute then you state a contradiction of premise two? How is that a refutation of premise one?

    This is called a disproof by counter example. You claim that EVERYTHING that begins to exist has a cause. I claim that the universe did not have a cause, (thus breaks premise 1). You must therefore show (in order to defend premise 1) that the universe has a cause (and began to exist, but I am willing to stipulate that for the sake of the argument).

    “But” you say “that is what I am trying to prove.”

    “Yes I know” I reply, “that is why the argument is flawed.”

    The problem is that you are taking a form of mathematical proof and trying to use it inductively, which is not what is meant to be used for.

    You argument only slightly more robustly this time is:
    1) Everything that we have observed that began to exist, has had a cause.
    2) We think the universe began to exist.
    Now we are left with the hard bit still to go. Why do we think that the universe is, at all, like the things which we have actually observed. We need to show that making a watch is somehow similar enough to space-time and fundamental particle creation that what follows for one follows for the other. Which is ludicrous. Read the slightest bit of quantum physics, and it will be clear that even current quantum behavior is so radically different from macro scale behavior that arguments like this are non-starters.

  263. CaptainCrunched says

    corwyin: “This is called a disproof by counter example.”

    Disproof by counter-example only works when the counter-example is established.

    E.g., Joe: “All integers are even.”
    John: “Not so! Behold: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9…”

    So when your counter-example is the object in question (i.e., the universe), that would be begging the question. Presupposing the exact proposition that you’re supposed to be arguing for.

    To suppose the universe is somehow obviated from rules of cause and effect is such a tremendous statement. It is opposed by the rules of logic as we know them and everything we have observed about the universe and all of our intuitions. So how about some–any–piece of evidence or credible reasoning that might bolster the proposition?

    Your response is very much like the statement by Sean Carroll that I criticized. Just a suggestion that the universe might be the one exception to the otherwise substantiated concept of causality. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, don’t they? Where’s your proof that the universe is this grand exception?

    And I have done some reading into quantum mechanics. Tell me how virtual particles don’t have a cause for coming into being. They most certainly do! To wit, they only appear under the right circumstances: a quantum vacuum. So we have a prerequisite condition and then a phenomenon that appears following the condition. Cause and effect. That the exact appearance of the virtual particles follows probabilistic formulae does *not* mean they don’t have a cause.

  264. Monocle Smile says

    Most of that was mere tone trolling.

    You know what’s obvious? How oblivious you are to the horror of some of the shit you believe and appear to hold dear. This is why I often compare devout religious belief to Stockholm Syndrome. You don’t even understand that you believe things that sane people who care about humanity find atrocious.

    you prefer hostility as a means of communication.

    I have two reasons for this:
    1) Your religion is a destructive plague upon humanity whether you realize or acknowledge this or not
    2) You dodge and obfuscate in dishonest fashion, hold ideals I find morally repugnant, and yet you act as if we’re the problem. Contempt is the only appropriate response.

    this faith of mine is such a fatal flaw that I shouldn’t even have kids…?

    Based on what you’ve typed, I don’t have any confidence in your ability to make the best decisions for whatever children you might have, not the least of which being medical decisions. Do you honestly think your beliefs live in a vacuum? If you can be convinced of nutjob stuff like witches and demons, who knows what you might swallow when it comes to medical care or Christian “child-rearing” techniques?

    I hope I would never type something like that to somebody just because I found their worldview delusional.

    You’re okay with delusional people raising children? That’s fucking scary. I acknowledge that people won’t stop having kids, so I must do what I can to disabuse people of their delusions. Why do you think this show exists?

    I have plenty of atheist friends in real life who are capable of respectful, enlightening dialogue

    I don’t think you’d recognize such a thing if it bit you in the ass.

  265. CaptainCrunched says

    “1) Your religion is a destructive plague upon humanity whether you realize or acknowledge this or not”

    Nonsense. The teachings of Christ are exactly what the world needs to stop its insanity. Love God, love your neighbor, be kind, compassionate, giving, turn the other cheek, consider the poor, the fatherless, the widow, etc.

    You would rest on people like Fred Phelps as counter-examples, ignoring the obvious fact that the man was mentally deranged irrespective of his religious beliefs.

    “2) You dodge and obfuscate in dishonest fashion”

    Just because I don’t agree with your arguments doesn’t mean I’ve been dishonest.

    “hold ideals I find morally repugnant”

    Like what? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Chances are, whatever you’d be compelled to list here is a bunch of strawmen beliefs that I don’t actually hold.

    “Contempt is the only appropriate response.”

    And that’s proof that it’s not religious that’s the problem. Because it’s your own non-religiously-inspired beliefs that have impelled you to be rude to me, a fellow human, without any direct cause. Just because of my beliefs. And your non-religiously-inspired beliefs have impelled you to quell any cognitive dissonance about the rudeness because I somehow “deserve it” in your world. Contempt is the only response? Nonsense. I can’t conceive when contempt towards a human being who only desires the best for his fellow human beings is EVER an acceptable response. Contempt, perhaps, for the believes themselves if you’re truly convinced they’re harmful.

    “You’re okay with delusional people raising children? That’s fucking scary.”

    I believe what I said was I wouldn’t want to deny someone the right to have kids just because I found their worldview delusional. I.e., I recognize no one has the ultimate picture of reality. I am probably wrong on a late of my perceptions of reality, as no doubt you probably are too. For instance, some entirely sane people believe in an “intelligence explosion” or “technological singularity” that may threaten humanity. I find this belief delusion and ridiculously improbable, but I wouldn’t want said people to be denied the ability to have kids. I find your conception of Christianity delusional, but I wouldn’t say you should be denied the ability to have kids for that.

  266. Matt Gerrans says

    “Everything we see that begins to exist has a cause.”

    Really? Can you give one example? And remember, we’re talking about things that “begin to exist,” not merely re-configurations of existing matter (like people, animals, planets, stars, etc.). Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

  267. CaptainCrunched says

    So many grammar errors. Ugh. I typed that all too fast. No more skimping on proof-reading…

  268. Monocle Smile says

    The teachings of Christ are exactly what the world needs to stop its insanity. Love God, love your neighbor, be kind, compassionate, giving, turn the other cheek, consider the poor, the fatherless, the widow, etc.

    The first of that list doesn’t have any effect on anything, and the rest are cherry-picked feel-good stuff that isn’t even remotely original to Christianity nor dependent on it. Furthermore, you HAVEN’T read your bible (surprise, surprise) if you think that’s all Christ taught or all your religion entails.

    And I don’t need Fred Phelps. I have plenty of other shit.
    http://whatstheharm.net/
    http://www.endtheharm.com/
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_public_schools_mapped_where_tax_money_supports_alternatives.html
    http://www.masskids.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=161&Itemid=165

    I can keep them coming almost endlessly, and that’s just in this country. You can scream incoherently all you want about “true Christians,” but you don’t get to fucking blame us because your own back yard is strewn with garbage. Furthermore, the fundamentalists are MUCH more in line with the bible than modern progressives.

    Like what? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

    That’s Code of Hammurabi, not Christianity, and the first thing I’d point to is this idea that creating a living sentient being automatically grants you the right to strip it of its life on a whim. That’s fucking insane.

    I can’t conceive when contempt towards a human being who only desires the best for his fellow human beings is EVER an acceptable response.

    Because you DON’T desire what’s best for your fellow human beings, you’re just too goddamn blind to understand this. Again, Stockholm Syndrome.

    I recognize no one has the ultimate picture of reality.

    So why do we lock people up in asylums? Why does science work? If you can just believe whatever you want and every belief is just as true as everything else, why does anything mean anything?

    The fact is that we CAN know things about reality, and we KNOW there are no such things as witches and demons as we’ve been discussing to the highest degree of certainty possible.

    I find your conception of Christianity delusional

    Says the guy who still hasn’t opened a bible. Are you ever going to address anything of relevance in my posts, or are you just going to tone troll from here on out?

  269. CaptainCrunched says

    Matt Gerrans: “Really? Can you give one example? And remember, we’re talking about things that “begin to exist,” not merely re-configurations of existing matter (like people, animals, planets, stars, etc.). Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.”

    Didn’t think I’d be encountering this old gem, but so be it. Please watch the following, beginning at 21:05 (objection #6 is the mirror of your objection, but #4 and #5 lay some other relevant groundwork):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtfVds8Kn4s

    Anticipatory response to criticisms for referencing Dr. Craig: genetic fallacy, watch the video and respond to its substance not its author, and yes, he wears ugly ties.

  270. corwyn says

    So when your counter-example is the object in question (i.e., the universe), that would be begging the question.

    Fair enough. We can start with no assumption about whether it was caused or not. You prove it is, I’ll prove it is not. If neither of us can do that, we won’t make any assumption about its causedness. I am glad you realize that assuming its causedness is begging the question.

    obviated from rules of cause and effect is such a tremendous statement.

    Perhaps you could enlighten us on the scientific formulation of these ‘rules of cause and effect’. Theist seem to be in love with this, but most of the laws of physics don’t include it (thermodynamics is the first place it shows up).

    Your response is very much like the statement by Sean Carroll that I criticized.

    Thank you for the compliment, but I won’t claim to know anything like what he does about the universe. I find it odd that you do. Where did you get your degree in cosmology?

    I will try to make things simpler for you, here is a variation of your argument. Please locate the flaw.

    1) Everything we have observed begin to exist, occurred after the big bang.
    2) The universe began to exist.
    3) Therefore the universe occurred AFTER the universe began to exist.
    CONTRADICTION.

    The beginning of the universe is a singular event, and it defies conventional explanation, the laws of physics as we understand them DO NOT APPLY previous to one Planck time after the beginning. Expecting it to fit your Newtonian conceptions of reality (not to mention quantum mechanical conceptions) is silly.

  271. Monocle Smile says

    What’s hilarious is that you QUOTED Matt Gerrans’ objection and you STILL posted that video anyway.

    Craig goes “Did I exist before I was born?” Well, William Lane Craig is a collection of stuff that ALREADY EXISTED before (the material that makes up his body and the biological processes) that was then arranged into a human and we stuck a label on that particular arrangement. This is EXACTLY what Matt Gerrans was talking about! How dumb can you be? Craig IS IN FACT a “reconfiguration” of existing matter! Can you name anything that exists in the classical sense that IS NOT a reconfiguration of existing matter?

    It’s quite literally like Matt pointed out an open manhole in the road, you stared straight at it, acknowledged its existence (by quoting Matt), then promptly fell straight into it anyway.

  272. corwyn says

    Please watch the following.

    Nope. My objection is NOT based on the fallacy of composition.

    In the future, please make you OWN arguments, (if you wish to plagiarize Craig feel free).

  273. corwyn says

    Can you name anything that exists in the classical sense that IS NOT a reconfiguration of existing matter?

    To forestall a possible problem here, consider matter and energy.

    That is can you name anything that exists in the classical sense that is not a reconfiguration of existing matter and energy?

  274. CaptainCrunched says

    Monocle Smile: ‘Stochastic processes happen for a REASON, but this is different than a CAUSE. Nuclear decay is a good example. Radioactive material decays because (simply put) the nuclei of the atoms are not “stable.” HOWEVER, there’s no “cause” behind each decay event. Hence Schrodinger’s Cat. In fact, if you had ever even heard of Schrodinger’s Cat, you wouldn’t make such a stupid argument from ignorance that is ALSO WRONG, like you just did.’

    I mean, isn’t this just semantic quibbling at its finest? It has a “reason” but not a “cause”? C’mon…

    cause

    /kôz/

    noun: cause; plural noun: causes

    1. a person or thing that gives rise to an action, phenomenon, or condition.

    Here’s a more in-depth explanation of what you deem a “reason,” not a “cause” (from someone with a better grasp of the science than both of us):

    “My understanding is that an unstable atomic nucleus decays
    when the constituent quarks happen to come together in a way
    which allows them to interact such that an energy threshold is
    exceeded. The quarks are moving randomly, just like molecules
    of air move randomly. With a large population of quarks, the rate
    at which they come together and interact is very uniform and
    predictable. But the motions of individual quarks in a nucleus
    can’t be followed, so there is no way to predict when the nucleus
    will decay.

    [ . . .] The cause of the decay
    is known, but no technology could ever make it predictable.”

    Just because the effect behaves in a probabilistic manner (as many things appear to at the quantum level), that does *not* mean they’re causeless. That’s silly.

    And if you really are clinging to the notion that any level of randomness somehow equates to “no cause,” as someone in the same forum noted, we may in the future derive completely deterministic causal principles that are underlying the seeming randomness of the process. We just don’t know. Either way, I don’t buy the “no cause because probabilistic distributions model the phenomenon.”

    Oh, hey, speaking of Schrodinger’s Cat, quantum mechanics actually provides some intriguing arguments for the existence of a supernatural realm:

  275. Monocle Smile says

    I mean, isn’t this just semantic quibbling at its finest? It has a “reason” but not a “cause”? C’mon…

    No, it’s not semantic quibbling. You’ve highlighted a serious problem in discussing science with people who don’t understand the nature of science.

    The quarks are moving randomly, just like molecules of air move randomly.

    What makes you think this person understands science better than either of us? Not to be self-aggrandizing, but you don’t know with whom you’re communicating.

    I can confidently say this person doesn’t quite get it. Firstly, air molecules don’t move in the same “random” motion as quarks, mostly because gaseous collisions and van der Waals forces are predictable to a point (it’s just simpler for most applications to model it as random), where the motion generated by the strong and weak force interactions are not. There’s a fundamental difference in the motion.

    Secondly, that person ignores the fact that for a given sample, the rate of nuclear decay is EXTREMELY predictable. In fact, it’s what we use to clock pretty much everything that needs high precision. So clearly his understanding is incomplete, as if that were the whole story, sample decay rates would also be unpredictable. There is no “cause” in the classical sense of cause and effect.

    if you really are clinging to the notion that any level of randomness somehow equates to “no cause,”

    Now THAT is a straw man. Your objections to being called dishonest are getting more inane by the minute.

    quantum mechanics actually provides some intriguing arguments for the existence of a supernatural realm:

    You’d have to take too many bong hits and ignore the meaning of words to come to that conclusion. Some simp put together a YouTube video where he doesn’t know the first thing about classical vs. quantum physics and then misunderstands “observer.” Typical. Also, attacking realism doesn’t in any way hint at “supernature,” whatever that means. I would argue that if there is another reality existing in some other plane, it’s just another facet of nature, not this magical “supernatural” place.

    For the record, “observer” in these quantum experiments refers to the DEVICES used to detect stuff, not the people in the room. That’s absurd. Also, all the experiments show is that the differences between classical and quantum mechanics are so deep that experimental setup itself needs to be reconsidered. That’s all

    Our understanding of quantum physics is so minimal that drawing conclusions such as the tool in the video does is grasping at straws. It’s wishful thinking and it’s committing a massive, massive argument from analogy fallacy.

  276. CaptainCrunched says

    corwyin: “Perhaps you could enlighten us on the scientific formulation of these ‘rules of cause and effect’. Theist seem to be in love with this, but most of the laws of physics don’t include it (thermodynamics is the first place it shows up).”

    Scientific formulation? I don’t know… how does one give a scientific formulation of the concept of “greater than”, “less than”, or “equal to”? The concepts speak for themselves.

    I’m begging you to thoroughly explain this: “most of the laws of physics don’t include [the rules of cause and effect].” Really. Think about that statement. And here, again, for reference is the definition of cause “a person or thing that gives rise to an action, phenomenon, or condition.”

    corwyn: “Thank you for the compliment, but I won’t claim to know anything like what [Sean Carroll] does about the universe. I find it odd that you do. Where did you get your degree in cosmology?”

    Okay. Now we’re getting goofy. I don’t need a degree in cosmology to criticize a statement Carroll made that wasn’t directly born of his cosmological studies, in the same way you don’t need an advanced philosophy degree to criticize anything that comes out of Craig’s mouth. Nor did I presume to have the same level of knowledge of cosmology that Carroll does. Goodness, I didn’t even imply that. I critiqued one statement Carroll made in the debate that he utterly failed to substantiate and one that flies in the face of all logic, observation, and intuition regarding the universe. The statement, again, was something to the effect of “universes may not need causes like everything else. They may be in a special class.”

    corwyn: “In the future, please make you OWN arguments, (if you wish to plagiarize Craig feel free).”

    Here I was thinking even though I disagree with you, I appreciate that your responses are logical enough and not barbed with redundant insults… then you go and make that errant dig. For one, that video was directed at Matt, not you. Second, look up the meaning of plagiarize. I linked directly to Craig’s video. That’s not plagiarism. I wanted to save time and I went right to the source: Craig’s own authorized-for-upload video.

    Monocle Smile: “What’s hilarious is that you QUOTED Matt Gerrans’ objection and you STILL posted that video anyway.”

    What’s even more hilarious is that you didn’t listen to Craig’s full response to Matt’s objection or you failed to grasp his overall point. Matt’s objection is directly answered in the video and you seem to have latched on to one statement Craig made… and it appears you missed his meaning of that statement too!

  277. Monocle Smile says

    Matt’s objection is directly answered in the video

    It actually gets funnier. First, Craig accidentally takes the universe OUT of the set of things identified in the first premise with the line “just because the matter has always existed doesn’t mean the thing itself has always existed,” which also means he’s arguing that esoteric labels have causes (a rather meaningless statement).

    Then Craig engages in quite literally the stupidest fucking semantic horseplay I’ve ever heard. It’s a glaring equivocation fallacy conflating the label with whatever the label is pointing to. “the objector has to say HE doesn’t exist!” is disingenuous to its core. The “objector” merely has to acknowledge that he is not not an arrangement of fundamental particles (yes, you read that right), which is of course true.

    The objector DOES exist as an arrangement of fundamental particles. The objector does NOT exist as something that is not an arrangement of fundamental particles. So what if we’re not not an arrangement of fundamental particles? (again, the double negative is intentional)

    Of course, why did I bother? You won’t actually read this comment and your pea brain won’t follow it anyway.

    Why didn’t you answer corwyn’s question? It’s because you can’t, that’s why. Not without crack pipe bullshit.

  278. CaptainCrunched says

    Monocle Smile: “What makes you think this person understands science better than either of us? Not to be self-aggrandizing, but you don’t know with whom you’re communicating.”

    True enough, but it’s my educated inference based on the things you say. I’ll freely admit I’m far from an expert in cosmology and physics. My UG degree was in math. Care to clarify for the record your level of education then?

    Monocle Smile: ‘Secondly, that person ignores the fact that for a given sample, the rate of nuclear decay is EXTREMELY predictable. In fact, it’s what we use to clock pretty much everything that needs high precision. So clearly his understanding is incomplete, as if that were the whole story, sample decay rates would also be unpredictable. There is no “cause” in the classical sense of cause and effect.’

    Um, your concluding sentence there did not follow at all from the sentences that preceded it. Do you not realize that the more predictable the behavior, the more appropriate that makes the characterization of “caused”?

    Monocle Smile: ‘For the record, “observer” in these quantum experiments refers to the DEVICES used to detect stuff, not the people in the room.’

    And this is why I suspect you are not educated on these matters to any significant degree. My understanding completely contradicts what you typed there:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measurement_in_quantum_mechanics >>> Read the “What physical interaction constitutes a measurement?” section.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann%E2%80%93Wigner_interpretation >>> ‘In the orthodox Copenhagen interpretation, quantum mechanics predicts only the probabilities for different outcomes of pre-specified observations. What constitutes an “observer” or an “observation” is not directly specified by the theory, and the behavior of a system upon observation is completely different than its usual behavior: The wavefunction that describes a system spreads out into an ever larger superposition of different possible situations.’

    Monocle Smile: ‘Some simp put together a YouTube video where he doesn’t know the first thing about classical vs. quantum physics and then misunderstands “observer.”‘

    Yeah, more proof of why I’d be specious if you ever tried to suggest you had some legitimate expertise on these matters… you just employ your MO with anyone that says something you don’t like: insult and say they don’t understand.

    I showed that video to a friend–an ardent atheist btw–who has a degree in quantum physics from a respected school in CA. I showed the video because I wanted to make sure the uploader was not misrepresenting the experiments he talked about.

    Said friend explained the science and experiments were completely accurately represented, he just disagreed with the philosophical inferences the uploader drew. So much for “not know[ing] the first thing about classical vs. quantum physics”.

    Monocle Smile: “Our understanding of quantum physics is so minimal that drawing conclusions such as the tool in the video does is grasping at straws. It’s wishful thinking and it’s committing a massive, massive argument from analogy fallacy.”

    Oh? Did Michio Kaku also grasp at straws by essentially postulating the very same implications the uploader drew?

  279. Monocle Smile says

    Care to clarify for the record your level of education then?

    I have two engineering degrees, and much of grad school involved cosmology.

    Do you not realize that the more predictable the behavior, the more appropriate that makes the characterization of “caused”?

    Again, reason, not cause. Yes, those are my words, but the distinction is what’s important. Radioactive material decays for a reason, but there’s evidently no cause for why an individual atom in a sample decays. And arguing that a cause MUST exist is just an argument from ignorance.

    My understanding completely contradicts what you typed there:

    You understand this about as well as you understand everything else. Meaning not at all.

    Yes, “observing” involves a physical interaction. But when a conscious observer LOOKS as something or focuses their attention on something, they are NOT physically interacting. When I look at this can of Fresca on my table, I’m not interacting with it. Our eyes are passive remote sensors. My point is that these quantum experiments produce the same results whether there are life forms within 100 miles doing other things or in the room staring intently at the setup. Most quantum woo monkeys claim that humans looking at stuff warps reality.

    Said friend explained the science and experiments were completely accurately represented, he just disagreed with the philosophical inferences the uploader drew.

    Oh, the science was represented accurately, but that’s just parroting. It’s the conclusions, philosophical or otherwise, drawn from the reported experiments that show whether you actually understand them or not. That uploader doesn’t. Funny how you don’t share your friend’s POV on the matter. It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with your overwhelming confirmation bias and DESIRE to believe the uploader, could it? Nah…

    Did Michio Kaku also grasp at straws by essentially postulating the very same implications the uploader drew?

    I’d like an actual citation in context. Kaku’s not the greatest at public speaking, and woo monkeys LOVE misquoting scientists or changing the meaning of what they say.

    Anyway, how about you answer corwyn’s question instead of pretending it doesn’t exist? Can you name anything that exists in the classical sense that is not a reconfiguration of existing matter and energy?

  280. CaptainCrunched says

    ‘First, Craig accidentally takes the universe OUT of the set of things identified in the first premise with the line “just because the matter has always existed doesn’t mean the thing itself has always existed,” which also means he’s arguing that esoteric labels have causes (a rather meaningless statement).’

    Seriously… are you trolling? I don’t want to waste anymore time if you’re trolling. I mean, if you are, mega props. My jimmies have been rustled, good job, and so forth…

    Anyway, addressing the substance of that… monstrous line of reasoning. First, no, he’s not arguing labels have causes. The person Bill Craig is not the same thing as the label with which we identify him. Follow closely, Bill Craig, the person, did not always existed. He came into being the moment his father’s sperm united with his mother’s egg. So in an abstract sense, whether formed of pre-existing matter or not, he had a definite moment of coming into being. That the sperm and egg existed before Craig the human did is irrelevant to the fact that the terminology is accurate. He began to exist when the sperm and egg united. Craig did not always exist. You did not always exist. Coming into being has an abstract meaning.

    That we have never witnessed anything become created ex nihilo is irrelevant to the premises of the KCA.

    “Why didn’t you answer corwyn’s question?”

    Reiterate for me please. You and corwyn aren’t the only people I’ve had to respond to. It’s easy to get disorganized in the responses… especially when I have answered there objections and they just continue to talk past me.

  281. Monocle Smile says

    Bill Craig, the person, did not always existed.

    This is only correct if you mean the ARRANGEMENT of matter/energy that we label as William Lane Craig did not always exist IN THAT ARRANGEMENT. If you mean anything else by this, you’re wrong. A “person” is just an arrangement of matter/energy that we label based on certain characteristics.

    He came into being the moment his father’s sperm united with his mother’s egg.

    Only if you define a person as the same thing as a cell with their DNA, which is debatable, but would STILL fall into the above category. Also, fertilization is a process despite your attempt to narrow it down to a “moment.” Seriously, you don’t understand ANYTHING, dodge questions, and make shit up, and you accuse ME of trolling? I can’t fix your brain.

    Coming into being has an abstract meaning.

    That’s weaseling. You can’t toss in bullshit like that into a syllogism. You’re basically defending future use of an equivocation fallacy.

  282. CaptainCrunched says

    Monocle Smile: ‘Yes, “observing” involves a physical interaction. But when a conscious observer LOOKS as something or focuses their attention on something, they are NOT physically interacting. When I look at this can of Fresca on my table, I’m not interacting with it. Our eyes are passive remote sensors. My point is that these quantum experiments produce the same results whether there are life forms within 100 miles doing other things or in the room staring intently at the setup. Most quantum woo monkeys claim that humans looking at stuff warps reality.’

    And you just dodged being accountable to your earlier statement.

    Your wrote: ‘For the record, “observer” in these quantum experiments refers to the DEVICES used to detect stuff, not the people in the room. That’s absurd.’

    That’s not true. Observer is not defined at all in quantum mechanics. Are you going to admit this statement was wrong or not?

    It’s unclear what part of the observation causes the collapse or not. And the inference that it is conscious observation that causes the waveform collapse seems plausible, because what part of an inanimate device could possibly influence the particles? The device is inert and not interacting with the particles at all.

    “My point is that these quantum experiments produce the same results whether there are life forms within 100 miles doing other things or in the room staring intently at the setup.”

    Seeing as you couldn’t prove that until you consciously observed the results, that is an unfounded assertion.

    “I’d like an actual citation in context. Kaku’s not the greatest at public speaking, and woo monkeys LOVE misquoting scientists or changing the meaning of what they say.”

    And now I suspect you didn’t watch the video in its entirety. See for yourself if that’s a quote-mine, skip to 13:30: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C5pq7W5yRM

    On second watching, I’m not sure if he’s adopting Eugene Wigner views or just explaining them. If it’s the latter, then substitute my above statement with: “Did Eugune Wigner also grasp at straws by essentially postulating the very same implications the uploader drew?”

  283. CaptainCrunched says

    “you don’t understand ANYTHING”

    You don’t agree with my arguments, therefore you must not understand them… cool story. Your insults are tiresome.

  284. Matt Gerrans says

    Only if you’re a sociopath. I don’t understand this notion that giving something life and sentience makes it an expendable plaything. This is why I hope you never reproduce. And what happens if one day we gain the ability to develop test-tube babies from synthetic eggs and sperm? It’s bound to happen based on current progress. Will you argue that the scientists involved have every right to slaughter the children they create?

    Yeah, I think there is a pretty good book and subsequent movie with a certain Harrison Ford that explores this topic.

  285. Monocle Smile says

    And you just dodged being accountable to your earlier statement.

    No, I just assumed you weren’t a dumbass and could actually put two and two together. Clearly I was wrong.

    That’s not true. Observer is not defined at all in quantum mechanics.

    Jesus Haploid Christ. “Observing” a particle involves interacting with it. The “observer” is what’s interacting with the particle. In the experiments, there are devices that interact with the particles. Get your head checked.

    And the inference that it is conscious observation that causes the waveform collapse seems plausible, because what part of an inanimate device could possibly influence the particles?

    A crazy-ass argument from ignorance. Gee, this isn’t familiar at all.

    A rock is inert. If I run into it, it influences me. If you’re going to argue that the experimental particles couldn’t possibly interact with ANY OTHER PARTICLE OR EM WAVE during the experiment, you’re nuts. And wrong.

    Seeing as you couldn’t prove that until you consciously observed the results, that is an unfounded assertion.

    *another dismissive wanking motion*

    Then set up an automated camera. And take a picture. And then look at the picture after the test is done. Are you going to argue that the photo rearranges itself upon examination by a conscious observer? Then go ahead and check yourself into the funny farm right now.

    I’m not sure if he’s adopting Eugene Wigner views or just explaining them.

    Hey, you finally understood a simple thing. My answer is YES…Wigner was postulating a hypothesis. For the record, Wigner died 20 years ago, meaning his work was done LONG before we knew really anything about quantum mechanics. Another habit of woo monkeys is to take outdated (and unsupported) hypotheses brainstormed by pioneers and then portray them as undeniable fact. This is why “What the bleep Do We Know” is a pile of shit.

  286. corwyn says

    Scientific formulation? I don’t know… how does one give a scientific formulation of the concept of “greater than”, “less than”, or “equal to”? The concepts speak for themselves.

    Oh, take a math class. Just because they didn’t mention them in your second grade math class, doesn’t mean that there aren’t rigorous definitions at the level where real mathematician work.

    What I trying to get you to understand is that ’cause’ is normally defined in terms of the arrow of time. Without the arrow of time there can be NO CAUSE. Therefore the arrow of time can have no cause in the normal usage of that word. You therefore need a definition which makes sense with no arrow of time. I know you feel the need to twist things to met your god presupposition, but this really has no bearing on it. See if you can figure it out without starting with your assumptions.

    then you go and make that errant dig. For one, that video was directed at Matt, not you. Second, look up the meaning of plagiarize. I linked directly to Craig’s video. That’s not plagiarism.

    I didn’t accuse you of plagarizing. I INVITED you to plagarize. In other words, I want you to write your argument here, but I am fine with you rephrasing WLC’s if you want to and understand it.

    The statement, again, was something to the effect of “universes may not need causes like everything else. They may be in a special class.”

    So let’s look at that. You are claiming that EVERYTHING needs a cause, and that NOTHING is in a special causeless class, is that correct?

  287. FaS says

    haha you call my analogy terrible? let’s have a look at yours:

    “God can terminate my life in the same way I can stop giving you free money. If I want to mail you $100 check every week, that would be entirely my prerogative. You can reject it, of course, but it’s my choice to send it or not.”

    I assume you have actually read your bible when I ask this but is it ok to commit suicide according to your bible? You should look it up. This would be anologous with rejecting the money.

    “That he gave you life at all to begin with was an unmerited gift, which does not automatically impart upon you the right to determine when that gift ends.”

    This makes no sense at all, the latter doesn’t even follow from the premise.

    Your argument gets even worse when you think about how simplistic it is. Giving me 100 dollars every month only gives me advantages while life does not. It can give you tremendous amounts of pain and suffering.

    But you also missed my point entirely. It was about the RIGHT to do this. If you give me 100 dollars you can but you can not take it back from me. You say your god can give you life and ends it if he wants to. He can give you something and do with it as he pleases because it was a gift in the first place right? In the same way he gives you painreceptors so he can do with your feeling as he wants to too, because in the end it was a gift and you did nothing to deserve them…

    I assume you also believe in hell, and that god sends people there. Hell is a place where people get tortured for ever. Does god not have the right to send you there?

    In the supposed flood god killed INNOCENT people by DROWNING them. You think drowning people is not a horrible (some might say torturous) way to die? If so does god have the right to torture or not? Is this moraly acceptable according to you?

    So if we really want to use your argument (which I don’t because it’s not only terrible but it’s also really really simplistic), here’s what it comes down to:

    I am forced to take your 100 dollar bill every month with gives me pleasure and pain. I can not stop the deposit or you will torture me for ever, even if I have tremendous amounts of pain. I also have to worship you in some kind of creepy way just because you are giving me money which I never asked for. If I don’t worship you you’re gonna torture me when you plan to stop giving the money (for some people(Impregnated cells/fetuses) that’s the case within 5 seconds, and others 100 years). If I live in the neighborhood of evil people you could stop giving money and kill me in a horrible way just because I lived near the people and although I was innocent.

    “Yeah, I do believe there were (are, maybe?) witches.”

    Funny, when Russel asked in the show if he could kill witches today you said “no you can’t”
    So why not?

    “I could direct you to tales of missionaries in places like Africa who have seen witch doctors, shaman, etc., do all sorts of strange, seemingly supernatural things (cue dispute about whether they actually witnessed the supernatural).”

    And I could direct you to tales of lord Voldemort…
    I know this sounds condescending but there is a reason that most grown up people in the west don’t believe in witches or lord Voldemort…

  288. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @CaptainCrunched
    FaS did it well, but let me chime in.

    Quoting CaptainCrunched:

    Nonsense. The teachings of Christ are exactly what the world needs to stop its insanity. Love God, love your neighbor, be kind, compassionate, giving, turn the other cheek, consider the poor, the fatherless, the widow, etc.

    Quoting CaptainCrunched, who is also quoting someone else:

    hold ideals I find morally repugnant

    Like what? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Chances are, whatever you’d be compelled to list here is a bunch of strawmen beliefs that I don’t actually hold.

    Quoting CaptainCrunched:

    Because it’s your own non-religiously-inspired beliefs that have impelled you to be rude to me, a fellow human, without any direct cause. Just because of my beliefs.

    From a previous post, quoting CaptainCrunched:
    You say that any beliefs you hold which we find contemptible are probably strawmen? Here is your quote from elsethread:

    God can terminate my life in the same way I can stop giving you free money. If I want to mail you $100 check every week, that would be entirely my prerogative. You can reject it, of course, but it’s my choice to send it or not.

    You have absolutely zero self-respect and self-worth. You are willing to accept atrocities in the name of your false god. This kind of slave mentality with zero self-worth and self-respect is exactly what we find contemptible. The proper response to evil, odious, false beliefs is ridicule, scorn, and contempt. I don’t care if it’s “just beliefs”. Beliefs influence action. Your beliefs influence your actions.

    If your god existed, it would be necessary to destroy it. Nuke god!

  289. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @CaptainCrunched

    I’m not swayed by a blanket dismissal of the narratives because you characterize them as “anecdotes”.

    There are just as reliable or more reliable narratives in many other fictions. Most other religions. Alien abductions like the Hale-Bopp comet cult.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Gate_%28religious_group%29
    Why do you dismiss all of these cults, including the plethora you’ve never even looked at, while not dismissing your own rubbish book?

  290. corwyn says

    Ugh. -_- You just tacked on Bayes’ at the end of that sloppiness without even explaining the variables. What are you deriving there, buddy? What is B? What is A?

    Well we have established that you *recognize* Bayes theorem, but that you don’t *understand* it. I did include what A and B are, but you would need to understand it, to know that.

    “spookily accurate”

    This is NOT the professional assessment of an event. It is exactly the type of woo statement, that we are trying to use statistics to avoid. Perhaps that is even his point.

  291. corwyn says

    In Darwin’s time, there were enormous gaps in the fossil record. He did not disregard his theory solely because of that obstacle.

    Darwin also wasn’t claiming an omniscient creator of his theory.

    I commend to you, take that ‘I don’t know’ attitude, and read the entire bible cover to cover IN ORDER. I am sure it will help.

  292. Narf says

    I read it cover-to-cover, myself, as an atheist. Alas, I couldn’t have read it as a believer, since I have vague memories of disbelief, going back to the age of 5 or 6. I’m not sure I was up to the task in Kindergarten, despite being way ahead of my reading level.

    The book is freaking ridiculous. Anyone who says that the Bible is less mythic than Greek, Norse, and Babylonian myths needs to read their holy book again.

  293. Matt Gerrans says

    Drew (CaptainCrunched): Regarding the “God gave them the gift of life, so it is okay for him to commit brutal mass murder” idea that you and many Christians subscribe to: do you believe that every human is individually given the gift of life by God? At conception or something? What about every bacterium, plant and animal? Do they come about by natural processes, while humans are each “created” by God? Or does God individually create each of them?

    I really don’t understand how something massive and random events like the two major tsunamis in the last decade figure into a loving God. Are those minor “floods” because all those people were (or wanted to be, or would some day be) murderers? God saw (or arranged for) them all in the right place at the right time and unleashed a tsunami? What kind of thinking can support this sort of idea? These natural disasters seem like a really crude tool for an omniscient, omnipotent and omni-benevolent being. How can you make sense of it?

  294. Matt Gerrans says

    Thanks Monocle Smile; I guess we got to share a dual face palm a la Jen & Matt.

    To add injury to insult, he made me listen to several agonizing minutes insincere incredulity and inane “humor” of the smirking Doctor William Lane Craig, PhD, Professional Philosopher, before discovering that he absolutely did not get the point. Gah. To get a more stimulating discussion, I think I’ll go discuss dialectical materialism with a garden slug, now.

  295. Matt Gerrans says

    “He came into being the moment his father’s sperm united with his mother’s egg.”

    What? You think right as WLC’s parents were in the throes of orgasm, he sprung onto the scene, cardigan, smug smirk and all? Sorry to burst your bubble, but at that point it was still just an egg being impinged by a sperm. It was not The Doctor William Lane Craig, PhD, Professional Philosopher, Expert Debater and Master of Sophistry. Furthermore, both the egg and the sperm already existed. Do you imagine they sprung into existence out of nothingness? On top of that, as the egg began to develop, it assimilated existing matter, it did not create any matter.

    …Ah, why am I wasting my time? If this is not clear to you, you are either too dense or too obdurate to benefit from further elucidation.

  296. Matt Gerrans says

    Believers use words like “narrative,” instead of “anecdote,” “truth” instead of “claim,” “testimony” instead of “story” and so on. This is really dishonest. It is tantamount to outright lying. They should be stopped and called on it every time. Stop the lying and have an honest discussion!

  297. Narf says

    “The accurate, historical biographies of Jesus …”

    Carl Baugh and other pathetic shills like him tend to lay it on really thick.

  298. AJ says

    Lurker here.

    I know it’s a bit late in the game, but I just wanted to remark that this is the best comment thread I’ve ever read on this blog. Seriously.

    Monocle Smile, wow. You have my heart. Fucking brilliant. I can’t stop laughing.

  299. adamah says

    FaS said-

    In the supposed flood god killed INNOCENT people by DROWNING them. You think drowning people is not a horrible (some might say torturous) way to die? If so does god have the right to torture or not? Is this moraly acceptable according to you?

    Many modern Xians are unaware of the prevalent concept common in ancient Hebrew society that’s reflected in many of the OT accounts: communal responsibility. This is the ancient idea that the entire town or community shares bloodguilt for a crime (eg the ritual of the red heifer was carried out by the city elders and priests if a murder victim was found outside city walls nearby, to mitigate the town’s bloodguilt, where the killer was assumed to be within city walls).

    Similarly, the same thinking is reflected in Abraham’s negotiating on behalf of the unknown righteous men of Sodom, where he got God to agree to spare the city if only 10 righteous men were found. Early audiences didn’t expect YHWH to possess selective kill capabilities, and weren’t put off by what we’d now call “collateral damage” such as innocent babies drowning in the Flood. Even by 30 CE, Jesus still spoke of condemning towns (like Tyre) which rejected his disciples, where all were condemned as a group.

    (Only later did the concept of individual responsibility emerge into Xian thought, largely based on older Egyptian ideals of standing before deities in order to have one’s heart weighed after death.)

    Kudos to you, though, if you share a common sense of morality and justice with ancient people who lived 3,000 yrs ago!

    Adam

  300. Narf says

    Yeah, unfortunately, people like Captain won’t listen to reason and change their minds.

  301. CaptainCrunched says

    Well, it may be sheer foolishness, but I’ve missed church this morning and I feel slightly goaded into jumping back into the fray here. I’m sitting here outdoors, listening to the coo of the morning doves on my street. The sky is as blue as ever. Why not?

    Narf, isn’t that a tad arrogant to say I’m not “listening to reason”? You’re begging the question by assuming that reason is fully on the atheist’s side. I have read tons of atheist literature. I called into this very show. I’ve engaged all of you guys here in the comments, reading every post I responded to carefully. I question my assumptions. At the end of the day, there is no definitive proof for either side of the question. There is a final leap of faith required to identify one’s self as theist or atheist.

    Graham Oppy, a brilliant thinker and self-identified atheist, says as much in his book Arguing About Gods. His ultimate thesis is that theism and atheism can both be rationally held. Neither view has “successful” arguments that should convince every reasonable person. (My thesis would be that the theistic arguments are more convincing than the atheist arguments, however.)

    To say I’m not listening to reason is ad hominem. I’m listening and evaluating everything that’s been said to me. Frankly, most of the arguments I’ve heard from the people who have responded to me most in this thread (Monocle Smile and EnlightenmentLiberal) I’ve already heard before. And most of the arguments against the Kalam Cosmological Argument in this thread already have very persuasive answers in WLC’s voluminous literature on the subject.

    God exists. All the banding together, listening to shows like this, and brainwashing one’s self with vitriolic, straw man characterizations of people of faith won’t undo that. I’ve had the accusation leveled at me so many times: you just want God to exist! Concededly, no one wants to be wrong. But to suppose my beliefs are held because of desire is flat wrong. I waded into independent uncertainty in college, willing to be persuaded either way on this issue, seeking only what was actually true. A perfectly good and just God is, in many ways, a terrifying thought for us. Every deed that is done in the darkness will be brought to the light? Unsettling.

    I’m just convinced he does exist. And if one levels the accusation that I’m invested in my belief, how much more can the atheist be said to be invested in the inverse! Many, many atheists hate God. They hate Him and don’t want Him to exist. I’ve heard it from their own lips. Some of the responses I’ve garnered here are dripping with unjustified malice. It’s actually absurd. But again, no desire within us has an ounce of probative weight as to God’s actual existence.

    This doesn’t apply to everyone, but certainly to some on the vocal internet atheist community: Step away from the cyber world and delve into reality. Invest more in real relationships instead of cyber relationships. Stop watching video after video on YouTube by all the confirmatory voices, just to solidify what you already believe. Step back. Live. And reflect independently. Personally. Search your soul. Get to know some actual Christians so you can decide for yourself. Make friends with them. Then tell me if you still believe religion is some kind of scourge on humanity, like Christopher Hitchens offered. Pray that if God exists, He would reveal Himself to you.

  302. Narf says

    Narf, isn’t that a tad arrogant to say I’m not “listening to reason”?

    No, I read your arguments. That was enough. They’re freaking incoherent.

  303. unfogged says

    At the end of the day, there is no definitive proof for either side of the question

    I’m just convinced he does exist

    I do not understand how anybody could be convinced of the existence of anything for which there is no definitive proof. It can make sense to believe that the existence is possible, or even that it is likely, but not known to be true.

    There is a final leap of faith required to identify one’s self as theist or atheist

    You are using a different definition of the word atheist than I mean when I use it. For me, and for virtually every other atheist I know of the word simply means there is not enough evidence to accept the claim “a god exists”. I know one self-declared gnostic atheist who asserts that there is sufficient evidence to prove that no god exists but that’s an unusual stance in my experience. I’ve listened to his reasoning and don’t agree that he has met his burden of proof.

    And most of the arguments against the Kalam Cosmological Argument in this thread already have very persuasive answers

    Not that I’ve ever heard. The responses to the argument are all arguments form ignorance and/or wishful thinking. They often sound good on the surface but do not stand up to scrutiny.

    many atheists hate God

    Speaking for myself, and based on what I typically read and hear from other atheists, I hate the character of the Christian god in the same way I might hate the character of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings. Jehovah is a petty, incompetent, malicious, overbearing tyrant who, if he does exists, deserves revulsion and not worship. That’s not the same as actually “hating god” though. You can’t do that unless you believe he exists and in that case you aren’t, by definition, an atheist. There may very well be many people who call themselves “atheist” because they hate the god they believe in but that’s just a contradiction in terms.

    Get to know some actual Christians so you can decide for yourself. Make friends with them

    I know, and like, many Christians. They are people who have many good qualities and, from my perspective, at least one unfounded belief. Luckily, most of them have used their own moral sense to pick and choose from their religious heritage and have discarded most of the odious claims and nonsense and have focused on the more decent portions.

    Then tell me if you still believe religion is some kind of scourge on humanity, like Christopher Hitchens offered

    Religion offers nothing that could not be accomplished without it. At best it is a placebo and a security blanket. At worst it limits people’s options and retards progress. It is a scourge. The fact that people are often able to do good despite their religion says more about them than anything else.

  304. Narf says

    Many, many atheists hate God. They hate Him and don’t want Him to exist. I’ve heard it from their own lips.

    This is the sort of shit I’m talking about, by the way. You’re incapable of recognizing the difference between hating something and recognizing that this imaginary being that people have constructed would be an immoral monster, if it actually existed.

    Damned near everything you say is full of this sort of idiocy. You have no concept of nuance (not that that particular example is particularly finely nuanced), and you use deliberately obfuscatory language. This is why you aren’t even worth talking to.

  305. CaptainCrunched says

    This is the sort of shit I’m talking about, by the way. You’re incapable of recognizing the difference between hating something and recognizing that this imaginary being that people have constructed would be an immoral monster, if it actually existed.

    No, I understand atheists don’t believe in God. You’re the one who missed my point. The point is that because people dislike and hate the concept of God, they have a vested interest in their beliefs. Just as (so the argument goes) some Christians may be biased by their desire to be right, many atheists are biased by their genuine desire for there not to be a God who holds them accountable. Did you miss that context? It was my entire point.

    I’ve literally heard atheists say, “I dislike God.” In the flesh. So what I said was completely accurate, there’s no “misunderstanding.” There are atheists who hate this God they don’t believe in. It’s fact straight from the horses’ mouths. In this thread one guy said “nuke God” a couple times. He hates something he claims he doesn’t believe in. Fact: he hates the concept of God. Fact: he claims he doesn’t believe in God (ergo, “atheist”). Now see the above paragraph to understand my argument from these facts.

    Damned near everything you say is full of this sort of idiocy.

    This is the sort of unwarranted malice I’m talking about. My point could not have been more accurate and clear, as I just elucidated with two full paragraphs above. But you attack me with hyperbolic statements like that.

    You have no concept of nuance (not that that particular example is particularly finely nuanced), and you use deliberately obfuscatory language.

    Nonsense. I have a vested interest in being as clear as possible. If you have difficulty understanding my posts, point out where I’m being unclear and I’d be happy to clarify. I am candid when discussing issues I’m not an expert in about my lack of expertise. I’ve even taken efforts to point out conceded weaknesses in some of my arguments. I don’t know what more I could do to make this a civil, enlightening discourse.

    This is why you aren’t even worth talking to.

    That’s entirely up to you.

  306. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    No, I understand atheists don’t believe in God. You’re the one who missed my point. The point is that because people dislike and hate the concept of God, they have a vested interest in their beliefs. Just as (so the argument goes) some Christians may be biased by their desire to be right, many atheists are biased by their genuine desire for there not to be a God who holds them accountable. Did you miss that context? It was my entire point.

    I’ve literally heard atheists say, “I dislike God.” In the flesh. So what I said was completely accurate, there’s no “misunderstanding.” There are atheists who hate this God they don’t believe in. It’s fact straight from the horses’ mouths. In this thread one guy said “nuke God” a couple times. He hates something he claims he doesn’t believe in. Fact: he hates the concept of God. Fact: he claims he doesn’t believe in God (ergo, “atheist”). Now see the above paragraph to understand my argument from these facts.

    Talk about useless pedantics from both sides. Seriously, sometimes people are sloppy with their language. Sometimes people say “I hate Sauron from Lord Of The Rings”. That in no way is an admission that they believe Sauron exists.

    Similarly, Captain, you should be careful about insinuating that atheists actually believe god exists. Please try to not attribute beliefs to us that we have not stated we have held. It’s not conducive to an open and honest conversation to just call one side liars.

    Also Captain, that’s just projection. Just because you use the fallacious of “argument from the desired consequence” does not mean atheists do. I mean – how much more clear could I be? I said, and I will say again, the evidence is clearly that your Christian god does not exist, and I am thankful for that fact, but if I was wrong, I would seek to destroy your Christian god. Why would you think wishful thinking at all there? Seriously? As far as I can tell, it’s just projection. You think irrationally, and you then assume that everyone else is irrational too.

    PS: I don’t care enough to look over this thread. Do you have any actual argument for the Christian god in particular? Or is it all for nebulous first-cause gods? Every piece of evidence you cite for a mere first-cause god is a gigantic non-sequitur with regard to the Christian god hypothesis. I can name a different god hypothesis for every star in the observable universe which is just as plausible under the evidence for the first-cause god evidence as your Christian god. With so many competing and equally plausible hypothesis, your first-cause god evidence in no way supports the Christian god. It’s basic Bayesian reasoning.

    It seems to me that the only possible evidence you can invoke is:

    1- Evidence from the Christian bible. Well, with a proper knowledge of history and archaeology, we know that the bible is largely fiction, and thus is not a credible source of anything.

    2- Evidence from god talking to you in your head. It seems that at least half the population uses this exact same justification, but comes to wildly different conclusions. Thus the reasonable conclusion is that this is not reliable evidence. Not to mention all of the different sects of Christianity, which makes it more like 80% or higher of the population that comes to wildly different conclusions.

    3- Modern day miracle stories. Well, other religions have those too, and stories of miracles which are just as compelling as yours, aka not compelling at all.

    And that’s it. That’s all the evidence you have for your Christian god. Aka none.

    PPS:

    Then tell me if you still believe religion is some kind of scourge on humanity, like Christopher Hitchens offered.

    Largely, yes. It has some benefits for socialization, but any benefits are largely outweighed by the harm religion does.

    Pray that if God exists, He would reveal Himself to you.

    Sort of agreed. Prayer is stupid. However, if it did reliably reveal itself to me, then I could take the proper action to coordinate with other such people and blow your god up. I would like to know if there was such an evil powerful creature so that the proper countermeasures could be taken. No sense sticking my head in the sand.

    It’s funny. You still think that if your god existed and revealed itself to me, that I would bow down and worship. Hell no. Again, you can take your god, and shove it. It’s possible to convince me to not be an atheist, but if being a Christian means worshipping that abomination, then it is impossible to convince me to be a Christian.

  307. says

    @CaptainCrunched

    Get to know some actual Christians so you can decide for yourself. Make friends with them. Then tell me if you still believe religion is some kind of scourge on humanity, like Christopher Hitchens offered.

    I know several “actual Christians”. I actually sing in my local church choir. I think those people are quite nice. They’re friendly and welcoming and they never try to shove their beliefs down my throat. As a result, I don’t feel any need to tell them their god isn’t real. I even sit politely while they do their idiotic communion and I don’t say a word about it.

    I think they’re nice despite their religion, not because of it. I reach this conclusion because most people without religion are just as nice and some people with religion aren’t. Consequently, the religion can’t be the deciding factor.

    Pray that if God exists, He would reveal Himself to you.

    Been there, done that, didn’t fucking work.

  308. CaptainCrunched says

    I know several “actual Christians”. I actually sing in my local church choir. I think those people are quite nice. They’re friendly and welcoming and they never try to shove their beliefs down my throat. As a result, I don’t feel any need to tell them their god isn’t real. I even sit politely while they do their idiotic communion and I don’t say a word about it.

    Well, I appreciate your comment because you at least have a human view of your Christian friends. Some of the other people I’ve been debating in this thread have such a vicious tone, it’s actually a bit disturbing. That’s actually my point really. Getting to know “actual Christians” won’t convert everyone, but at least you’ll see they’re human, “quite nice” people.

    I think they’re nice despite their religion, not because of it. I reach this conclusion because most people without religion are just as nice and some people with religion aren’t. Consequently, the religion can’t be the deciding factor.

    I understand your objection. Reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote:

    The bad psychological material is not a sin but a disease. It does not need to be repented of, but to be cured. And by the way, that is very important. Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choices. When a neurotic who has a pathological horror of cats forces himself to pick up a cat for some good reason, it is quite possible that in God’s eyes he has shown more courage than a healthy man may have shown in winning the V.C. When a man who has been perverted from his youth and taught that cruelty is the right thing does dome tiny little kindness, or refrains from some cruelty he might have committed, and thereby, perhaps, risks being sneered at by his companions, he may, in God’s eyes, be doing more than you and I would do if we gave up life itself for a friend.

    It is as well to put this the other way round. Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends. Can we be quite certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.

    Yet when you have seen a man who is a violent nuisance to society come to Christ and completely reform his ways, or when you have experienced for yourself the influx of love that empowers you to love others in a way you never knew before, you will then have proof of Jesus Christ being the deciding factor. Instead of just looking at the myriad people that walk this earth with various labels.

    As for the prayer, I hope in due time you have your answer. I hope you have not shut up your heart completely to God.

  309. Narf says

    As for the prayer, I hope in due time you have your answer. I hope you have not shut up your heart completely to God.

    As always, you just don’t understand. It’s the brain that is the issue here. I’ve heard pretty much every theistic argument out there, and they’re all complete crap, with holes that you have to fill in with your religious brainwashing.

    There’s this other huge issue that you’re completely ignoring, too. If the god presented in the Bible is even vaguely accurate, there’s no way I could worship a monster like that, even if I did have any reason to believe it existed. From an objective reading of the Bible, from someone who wasn’t brainwashed into the religion from birth (they tried, but it didn’t take, since even as a 5 year old, I was too skeptical and rational to blindly swallow the shit they were shoveling), Satan, Lucifer, and the others who oppose Yahweh seem to have the right of it. The only reason that Christians view Yahweh as he good one is that they’ve had that idea beaten into their heads incessantly.

    Fortunately, there’s no good reason to believe anything out of that book. What isn’t flat-out contradicted by other historical accounts and science is still unsupported to anything approaching the degree necessary to believe such outlandish claims.

    If I had any reason to believe any of the stuff in the book, I would probably have to side with Satan, but fortunately, he’s just as made-up or borrowed from other cultures as is everything else in the book. At least the Puritans had the right of it, worshiping this horrific god who seemed to have control of things out of fear. They knew what they were dealing with, based upon the contents of their book.

  310. CaptainCrunched says

    As always, you just don’t understand. It’s the brain that is the issue here.

    I was using the term “heart” poetically, of course. But if what you said was true, conversions and deconversions would be solely cerebral matters. And very rarely is that the case. The majority of deconversions I have seen were from personal tragedies, disappointments, emotional issues, and refusals to let go of certain sins. The majority of conversions I’ve seen were from experiences of God, not by reading apologetic works.

    There’s this other huge issue that you’re completely ignoring, too. If the god presented in the Bible is even vaguely accurate, there’s no way I could worship a monster like that, even if I did have any reason to believe it existed. From an objective reading of the Bible, from someone who wasn’t brainwashed into the religion from birth (they tried, but it didn’t take, since even as a 5 year old, I was too skeptical and rational to blindly swallow the shit they were shoveling), Satan, Lucifer, and the others who oppose Yahweh seem to have the right of it.

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

    God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

    This is the essence of the Christian walk. Jesus even identifies loving God and love others as that which everything else hangs on. I fail to see where it’s so offensive. The commands and teachings above reflect God’s heart. Looking after the widow, the orphan, the stranger, the weak, the one that cannot repay.

    You hate God because you hate your own twisted image of Him. Were you to see and understand, your heart might change. I have seen people changed by the love of God. By their fruits, you shall know them. If God were anything like the ostensible depiction you hold, then the brothers and sisters I have known would not be transformed so positively. Becoming humble and more charitable to their family and friends and strangers.

    I’m sure you’re ready to offer me all the “offensive” Bible passages you can muster as rebuttal. Passages where judgments are issued and people are killed. If God is love, we trust the judgment was issued justly. That is, those who were wiped out deserved it.

    Let me share a little story. I hate to divulge any personal aspects of my life, but I happened to sit in on the closing arguments in a serial killer’s trial. I met the victim’s family. I saw the photographs of the victim’s body. More horrifying than the pictures of the 50+ stab wounds and slit throat were the pictures that evidenced her struggle for her life. She clawed the ground to escape. She fought back. She didn’t make it though. He killed her and enjoyed it. He’d do it again were it in his power. The defendant had a look of disturbing pleasure when the photos were shown.

    The jury retired at the end of the closings. I had a chance to chat more with the detectives and family. Late into the night, we were all called back to the courtroom and we waited with baited breath as the jury marched into their place to render the verdict… guilty. Justice. It was beautiful. I don’t doubt the man had sociopathic tendencies, that did not render the verdict any less powerful and just. He was quarantined, no longer to hurt or harm humanity.

    So it goes with the justice of God. I’m not likening you or anyone specific in the OT to the serial killer, what I am saying is that when you have an intimate knowledge of the gravity of the harms one commits, you appreciate the righteousness of their due reward. I leave another quote from C. S. Lewis:

    [M]any of us have had the experience of living in some local pocket of human society—some particular school, college, regiment or profession where the tone was bad. And inside that pocket certain actions were regarded as merely normal (‘Everyone does it’) and certain others as impracticably virtuous and Quixotic. But when we emerged from that bad society we made the horrible discovery that in the outer world our ‘normal’ was the kind of thing that no decent person ever dreamed of doing, and our ‘Quixotic’ was taken for granted as the minimum standard of decency. What had seemed to us morbid and fantastic scruples so long as we were in the ‘pocket’ now turned out to be the only moments of sanity we there enjoyed. It is wise to face the possibility that the whole human race (being a small thing in the universe) is, in fact, just such a local pocket of evil—an isolated bad school or regiment inside which minimum decency passes for heroic virtue and utter corruption for pardonable imperfection.

    God is good. That is in part a matter of faith, in part a matter of observable truth when you know Him. Hopefully one day you understand.

  311. CaptainCrunched says

    Believers use words like “narrative,” instead of “anecdote,” “truth” instead of “claim,” “testimony” instead of “story” and so on. This is really dishonest. It is tantamount to outright lying. They should be stopped and called on it every time. Stop the lying and have an honest discussion!

    lolwut. How did I pass by this comment?

    “Story” and “narrative” pretty much mean the same thing. I mean exactly what I type when I use the words “testimony” and “narrative”…

    Testimony – a formal written or spoken statement, especially one given in a court of law.

    Narrative – a spoken or written account of connected events; A STORY. (emphasis mine)

    Why do you have to try to paint me out as some shyster at every turn? I’ve been as candid as possible in these discussions. I’ve no goal of “winning” the debate and utilizing any means to do so. My only goal was presenting my beliefs and reasons for them. You can do what you will in response.

  312. adamah says

    Cpt Crunched said-

    But if what you said was true, conversions and deconversions would be solely cerebral matters.

    Sigh…. I’ve got some shocking news for you then, dude: ALL beliefs, true and/or false alike, along with all emotions, occur strictly in the brain. NOT the heart.

    We know that nowadays beyond a shadow of a doubt, no thanks to the malformed campaign of Jesus and other ancient misguided humans who simply didn’t know any better and wallowed in their ignorance. Fortunately, some people weren’t afraid to carry out some studies, overthrowing the ancient misconception that all thoughts occurred in the heart (and generally speaking, other organs in the torso), and NOT the brain.

    Thanks, Jesus, for 2,000 yrs of continued anatomical ignorance, along with Jesus’ ignorance of the role of germs and bacteria causing human illness, etc, etc (Jesus poo-poohed hand washing, the “single most important means of preventing the spread of diseases”, per the CDC).

  313. CaptainCrunched says

    There are various meanings of “cerebral.” The one I was referencing is as follows:

    Cerebral – related to the mind rather than to feelings : INTELLECTUAL NOT EMOTIONAL. (emphasis mine)

    So I reiterate: most conversions and deconversions are motivated by feelings, not rote intellectualism. I stand by my post. I have not taken any worldwide survey, that has just been my overwhelming observation. Even some prominent atheists are candid that their pathway to atheism was at least kickstarted by emotional trauma.

    Did you really assume from my message that I didn’t understand that thoughts originate in the brain? Bro, I even explicitly stated I used the term “heart” poetically. Sweat reading comprehension. It’s important. Before you respond, make you know what you’re responding to. Thank you!

  314. adamah says

    Just making sure YOU knew, since most Xians haven’t studied anatomy of the brain (and given the title of this thread, the omission of education certainly isn’t going to hurt acceptance of Xian doctrine).

    Fact is, though, Jesus seemingly literally believed the center of cognition was the heart, and not the brain (not that everyone else alive at the time was equally in the dark: a handful of Greek physicians knew better, having treated warriors with head injuries; the brains true role was discovered about 500 yrs before Jesus was born, but the correct knowledge spread slowly, no thanks to Jesus).

    Most Xians today dismiss it with a curt, “but that’s a figure of speech!” when fact is, in ancient times, those who said it didn’t mean it as ‘poetic': NOW it’s poetic, but ancient people accepted and believed it as literal truth, both Jewish and Xian alike.

  315. CaptainCrunched says

    Yeah, I mean, I think that’s you retroactively imposing an untenable literalism because it advances your position, not modern-day Christians imposing a figurative meaning to alleviate difficulties. Honestly, an objective reading of the passages mentioning the heart certainly strikes me as figurative, though neither of us, I suppose, could definitively show it either way.

    But I think many examples favor my interpretation quite persuasively. To wit, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” If Jesus understood the heart to function as the brain, the statement would be a boring fact that everyone already knew: “You speak what your brain first processes.” Oh, okay thanks, Rabbi. Figuratively, however, the expanded meaning: “Your words flow out of the desires in your innermost being.” Somewhat more profundity and truth there. The latter interpretation definitively seems what he was going for.

    As for Jesus “poo poohing” hand washing, I believe in one instance he clarified that it wasn’t a sin to eat before washing. That is, certain washing ceremonies were in the Talmud and other writings, but not the original Mosaic Law. As it is, the Mosaic Law was quite ahead of its time in protective, sanative measures.

    Remember Ignaz Semmelweis? What a shame: “Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis’s observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and Semmelweis could offer no acceptable scientific explanation for his findings. Semmelweis’s practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory and Joseph Lister, acting on the French microbiologist’s research, practiced and operated, using hygienic methods, with great success. In 1865, Semmelweis was committed to an asylum, where he died at age 47 after being beaten by the guards, only 14 days after he was committed.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ritual_washing_in_Judaism

  316. adamah says

    Google for “Aristotle brain” as there’s a PDF article published by Princeton.edu which explains how Jesus was in good company to be wrong on the role of the heart… Of course, Aristotle lived some 400 yrs before Jesus, too…

    Look into the beliefs of the Pharisees vs Sadduccees, and realize Jesus was neither fish nor foul, and hence he didn’t form alliances with either major faction (which explains why they both threw him under the bus).

    Jesus opposed the attempted Pharasaic insertion of oral Torah traditions and associated rituals into daily life (of which hand washing was a part of, esp before meals), which is ironic, since handwashing is the ONE ritual which modern science has validated as being useful as a public health and sanitation measure, a practice which is possibly seen as proof of coming from Divine direction, esp after Pasteur discovered germs some 1700 yrs later.

    Instead, Jesus pooh-poohed the concept of washing hands (AND cups/utensils after meals) in Mark…. Whoops.

  317. adamah says

    Various common errata spewed by Xians, but I was too tired to address them all last night:

    Yeah, I mean, I think that’s you retroactively imposing an untenable literalism because it advances your position, not modern-day Christians imposing a figurative meaning to alleviate difficulties.

    Unfortunately for you, ancient men left extant records of their beliefs and hypotheses, specifically Aristotle entered into a long-running public debate with those from the Hippocratic school (Aristotle grabbed the wrong end of that stick). So Now you’re arguing against mounds of secular evidence, and should consider reviewing historical facts before offering an opinion driven by your desired theology (ie what you WANT to be so).

    While you’re at it, study the actual known role of kidneys, too (filtration of blood) vs the ancient views found in the Bible (kidneys were translated as ‘reins’ in KJV, considered as organs of decision-making, hence why they were used as guilt offerings to atone for making a bad decision), and note the sheer silliness of scriptures claiming God knowing ones innermost kidney function. Most of those translations have been “fixed” to hide the ancient ignorance reflected in such passages, with “lying scribes” modernizing the views to harmonize with modern medicine, lying in the name of God.)
    .

    But I think many examples favor my interpretation quite persuasively. To wit, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” If Jesus understood the heart to function as the brain, the statement would be a boring fact that everyone already knew: “You speak what your brain first processes.” Oh, okay thanks, Rabbi. Figuratively, however, the expanded meaning: “Your words flow out of the desires in your innermost being.” Somewhat more profundity and truth there. The latter interpretation definitively seems what he was going for.

    “Profundity and truth”? Wow. That seems deep to you?

    Jesus believed all human diseases were punishment from God for human sins, whether the sins were committed by the person in secret or by the parents (Jews generally believed in familial inheritance of debts). Jesus claimed to be authorized by God to forgive human sin (along with the Temple high priest, who Jewish lepers were required to seek a cure by offering sacrifice to YHWH).

    BTW, those who claimed the power to heal on God’s behalf were a dime a dozen in 1st century Palestine: Jesus had competition for his traveling healing act.

    As for Jesus “poo poohing” hand washing, I believe in one instance he clarified that it wasn’t a sin to eat before washing. That is, certain washing ceremonies were in the Talmud and other writings, but not the original Mosaic Law. As it is, the Mosaic Law was quite ahead of its time in protective, sanative measures

    No, Jesus said hand washing wouldn’t do any good, since illness results from expressions of the heart (“what defiles a man”). That’s Jesus, setting the germ theory of disease back by a millenium…

    For one, the Talmud wasn’t put into writing until a few centuries AFTER Jesus died: that was the whole point of the idea of an ORAL tradition to be handed down by rote memorization, not by scribe.

    Learn something about the Talmud and get back to us after you do, since until then, you’re just another Xian who lacks the curiosity (or is afraid) to dig deeper into the roots of your own religious beliefs, learning the history of your own beliefs.

  318. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    God is good. That is in part a matter of faith, in part a matter of observable truth when you know Him. Hopefully one day you understand.

    I’m sorry. It’s simply not true that I would fall down and worship if only I knew your god the way that you know it.

    I know that humans have inherent self worth, unlike you. I am not a slave, unlike you. Knowing your god better would change none of that.

    If your god matches the description of your holy book in any reasonable way, I would no sooner fall down before it than I would before Stalin or Hitler. Your god is a moral monster, worthy only of incarceration or destruction. Nuke god!

  319. CaptainCrunched says

    I’m sorry. It’s simply not true that I would fall down and worship if only I knew your god the way that you know it.

    “[T]here is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on. If God thinks this state of war in the universe is a price worth paying for free will—that is, for making a live world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings–then we may take it it is worth paying.
    – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (emphasis added)

    “God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist.”
    – Augustine of Hippo, Enchiridion

    Not an appeal to authority. They’re just more eloquent than I am.

    I know that humans have inherent self worth, unlike you. I am not a slave, unlike you. Knowing your god better would change none of that.

    I know they have inherent self worth. You may believe the same, but you have no have no basis to say humans have worth at all. Sure, you may believe it, and there we share perhaps the tiniest fraction of moral ground, but you simply have no epistemic justification to say so. A world bereft of God is a world where men are mere replicating bits of matter formed of stardust over billions of years… it may be useful to believe we have worth, even evolutionarily programmed… but as for a matter of absolute truth? Even some heroes of atheism like Christopher Hitchens conceded they couldn’t make that claim.

    http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=8859

    Fun fact: the author of that post, Luke Muehlhauser, had his own crisis of morality after leaving Christianity. He realized he had no anchor to say certain moral propositions were a matter of “truth”. He was quite candid about it, making a somewhat emotional post about it on the blog. (This, incidentally, is why Luke’s blog is one of my favorite, though it is now defunct. He was never hateful of theists, even if scathingly critical of the beliefs themselves. He was equally frank and honest about deficiencies in atheist arguments as well of theistic arguments. Such candor is rare, evidenced here pretty obviously.)

    Luke resolved his issue by settling on desirism as the epistemic framework of morality, which interestly–if I understand it correctly–does not speak of anything, including humans, in terms of inherent moral worth. (Could be wrong, haven’t studied desirism thoroughly.) You might want to look into the works of Alonzo Fyfe.

  320. CaptainCrunched says

    Caller here again. Can’t help myself. I come back to this video every now and again to skim for new comments.

    Yes, he putting the threshold hold too high when he said verbatim, “Gimme one that’s verifiable that it happened and was miraculous.”

    How could I prove definitively that something is miraculous over the phone? I can only share what happened, but if your worldview per se precludes you from entertaining the inference that what happened was miraculous, I’m at a loss. I can only offer the story, which may be highly suggestive that naturalistic explanations won’t work. Look elsewhere in this thread, somebody wrote this when I asked what it would take for them to accept the supernatural realm might exist: “It would take an absolute mountain of evidence to convince me, but even then, any acceptance of anything supernatural would be extremely tentative. I mean, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic from the perspective of a primitive.”

    So, on the phone, when I can sense both hosts are ready to move on to another caller, yes, it is setting a high threshold to ask me to tell you something “verifiable that it happened and was miraculous.” My comment was fair. I would have never said I set out to do such a thing when I called in the first place.

  321. CaptainCrunched says

    FYI, I got in touch with Luke, who told the story on his blog, and it turns out again that the caller jumped to quite a few unwarranted conclusions. Luke says he never saw the check himself. His dad told him about the amount desired and the amount received later.

    I wouldn’t say anyone was deliberately lying, most likely, but without any actual records, it certainly has the air of a story that might have gone through a few links in a communication chain and gotten embellished somewhere along the way. Confirmation bias makes it easy to justify making the story more exciting in the retelling.

    What links in the chain? Luke’s father was the pastor of the church that received the check and Luke states elsewhere on his blog that he and his dad talked about church and theology all the time. We have a dad who received the check directly, got in contact with the caller to find out the circumstances of why they sent it, and relayed the amount of the check to his son.

    Who’s the one being disingenuous? Me or those who would conjure as much haziness in the actual story as possible to obfuscate its plain meaning? Ironically, Luke was (still is I believe?) a major contributor to “Less Wrong,” which is a blog all about debunking pre-programmed cognitive biases in our thinking. Luke never attacked his dad’s veracity or his own recollection of the story.

  322. CaptainCrunched says

    He starts with an effect, and then asserts a cause he made up, and connects the two. It’d be like if I claimed that Rock’Nar, the giant stone golem exists, and how do we know he exists? Earthquakes. Every time there’s an earthquake, that’s evidence for Rock’Nar.

    . . .

    He can’t establish that miracles even exist before first demonstrating that a god exists to do miracles.

    Not quite, Jaspar, but I appreciate your point. I’ve tried to elucidate this elsewhere ITT, but I’ll do so again.

    Contrary to your golem analogy, the situation with miracles and why I can postulate God behind them is more akin to the following: you meet me in a field. I say, “Hey, check this out,” and clap my hands. At that moment, lightning strikes nearby.

    What do you know at this point? You see me, who appears to be a human like any other. And your background knowledge of lightning (scientific and practical) tells you lightning strikes don’t occur because someone claps their hands. Thus, me clapping my hands and lightning striking would appear to you an odd coincidence, nothing more.

    But then once again, I clap, lightning strikes. Pause. I clap, lighting strikes. AGAIN. Clap. Strike.

    Even though you have absolutely no previous evidence that I have any mechanism capable of producing lightning, you would be reasonable to infer that I might be privy to when lightning is going to strike or I’m somehow causing it. You would be reasonable in inferring thusly because you know how improbable it is for someone to clap so many times in succession right on cue before a lightning strike. My claps would appear to have a causal connection even though you’ve seen nothing beyond the claps and the strikes.

    So it goes with miracles. Interventions and bizarre occurrences that seem to defy naturalistic explanations occur time and time again in response to faithful prayer. Thus, the reasonable inference for an outsider without faith that the faithful prayer is somehow causally related.

    [M]y belief that miracles have happened in human history is not a mystical belief at all; I believe in them upon human evidence as I do in the discovery of America. . . . Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is . . . [t]he believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them. The open, obvious, democratic thing is . . . . to trust the peasant’s word about the ghost exactly as far as you trust the peasant’s word about the landlord. Being a peasant he will probably have a great deal of healthy agnosticism about both. Still you could fill the British Museum with evidence uttered by the peasant . . . . If it comes to human testimony there is a choking cataract of human testimony in favor of the supernatural. . . . It is we Christians who accept all actual evidence—it is you rationalists who refuse actual evidence, being constrained to do so by your creed. But I am not constrained by any creed in the matter, and looking impartially into certain miracles of mediaeval and modern times, I have come to the conclusion that they occurred. All argument against these plain facts is always argument in a circle. If I say, ‘Mediaeval documents attest certain miracles as much as they attest certain battles,’ they answer, ‘But mediaevals were superstitious’; if I want to know in what they were superstitious, the only ultimate answer is that they believed in the miracles. If I say ‘a peasant saw a ghost,’ I am told, ‘But peasants are so credulous.’ If I ask, ‘Why credulous?’ the only answer is—that they see ghosts.

    — G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

  323. CaptainCrunched says

    Love overdue response to Monocle Smile… I wrote, “The teachings of Christ are exactly what the world needs to stop its insanity. Love God, love your neighbor, be kind, compassionate, giving, turn the other cheek, consider the poor, the fatherless, the widow, etc.”

    The first of that list doesn’t have any effect on anything, and the rest are cherry-picked feel-good stuff that isn’t even remotely original to Christianity nor dependent on it.

    Christian means follower of Christ. So we follow his teachings. His teachings were centrally focused on loving God, loving others, loving your enemy, giving to the poor, looking after the weak, downtrodden, and hurting. What do you mean “cherry-picking”? Read the Gospels! We’re called “Christian” for a reason, we call Christ the authority. The things I listed were exactly the things he identified as chief.

    And I don’t need Fred Phelps. I have plenty of other shit.
    http://whatstheharm.net/
    http://www.endtheharm.com/
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_public_schools_mapped_where_tax_money_supports_alternatives.html
    http://www.masskids.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=161&Itemid=165

    “What’s the Harm?” has links to prove that the following are harmful:

    Acupuncture
    Alphabiotics
    Alternative dentistry
    Alternative medicine
    Applied kinesiology
    Autism denial
    Ayurvedic medicine
    Chelation therapy
    Chiropractic
    Colloidal silver
    Colon cleansing
    Cranio-sacral therapy
    Cupping
    Detoxification
    Ear candling
    Energy medicine
    Escharotics
    Folk remedies
    Herbal remedies
    HIV/AIDS denial
    Holistic medicine
    Home childbirth
    Homeopathy
    Iridology
    Naturopathy
    Osteopathy
    Ozone therapy
    Psychic surgery
    Vaccine denial
    Vitamin megadoses
    Astrology
    Attachment therapy
    Dowsing
    Dream interpretation
    Evolution denial
    Expert witnesses
    Facilitated communication
    Feng shui
    Hypnosis
    Numerology
    Reparative therapy
    Repressed memory therapy
    Misinformation
    GPS navigation systems
    Internet misinformation
    Child vegetarianism
    Conspiracy theories
    Holocaust denial
    IRS denial
    Moon landing denial
    Multi-level marketing
    Nigerian emails
    Rituals
    UFOs

    Objection, relevancy? I’m against nonsense too. And then you post links about creationism too. Ha! Spare me. I was taught creationism too and I believed it for a while until I studied the evidence. And I’m an ardent Christian. Those of my friends who have remained creationist have no interest in biology or geology and probably wouldn’t make great scientists anyway, though that may be a bit presumptuous for me to say. To pretend some minority of schools teaching creationism is doing catastrophic level harm to scientific progress is silly, truly silly. Even the creationists I know that are engaged in higher level research in the natural sciences know how to “play the game” and conduct their research and report their findings in terms of uniformitarianism and evolution.

    The “What’s the Harm?” website says, “368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured” right at the top. Ironically, how many nation-states with state-sponsored atheism could I list that have committed atrocities that killed way more than 368,379 people in their persecution of religion? Answer: several.

    But you know what? I’m not even going to play that game, because it would be fallacious to argue that because lots of terrible men have been atheists and lots of terrible atrocities have been committed by nation-states that sponsored atheism (both of which are true), atheism is incorrect.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?
    That’s Code of Hammurabi, not Christianity,

    Never said Jesus’ teachings were all pioneered exclusively by Him. The Golden Rule appears well before Babylonian civilization too, I believe. The Golden Rule was even in the Pentateuch: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Leviticus 19:18. So what?

    Lewis has a great article on this point, about God scattering throughout history whispers of the ultimate morality and truth. “Myth Became Fact.” It’s brilliant. Reminds me also of Romans 1:20.

    and the first thing I’d point to is this idea that creating a living sentient being automatically grants you the right to strip it of its life on a whim. That’s fucking insane.

    It’s also a straw man. I never said such a thing. “[W]him?” Really? Ultimately, the Christian trusts that God has loving and just purposes in all His actions. Some might seem very painful to us now, but they have ultimate purpose for our good. Romans 8:28. My point was that God as the loving author of life has the authority to do this. He’s not stripping life on a whim. That’s a terrible caricature.

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