ReasonCon Materials Going Public »« On maintaining passionate intensity

Comments

  1. Josué says

    Hi I am a follower of the program from South America. I wonder what to say to this: “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”

  2. Monocle Smile says

    In general, that statement holds true.

    However, it doesn’t hold true for specific testable predictions. If evidence SHOULD be found and none exists, then whatever the prediction is specifically postulating does not exist.

  3. xscd says

    Hi I am a follower of the program from South America. I wonder what to say to this: “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”

    “The absense of evidence (for God) is not evidence of the absence (of God).”

    Should we believe in the Grand Cosmic Dragon who laid the egg that hatched into the Earth with its myriad life forms? Why not, since the absense of evidence for the Grand Cosmic Dragon is not evidence that the Grand Cosmic Dragon does not exist.

    Should we believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, fairies, gnomes, the gods of the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, the beasts and beings of mythology and every other “living thing” ever imagined by us humans, because although there is a lack of evidence for their existence, the lack of evidence is not evidence of their non-existence?

    How can a person prove that something that does not exist, does not exist? What kind of evidence would be required? It seems to me that we would have to be omniscient and know everything in order to conclusively exclude the existence of anything, even the seemingly least likely of things, and if we were omniscient, there would be no need for this discussion.

  4. otrame says

    That expression is pretty silly, because the absence of evidence IS evidence of absence. It is not, however, PROOF of absence.

  5. Jon says

    Hi Russell and Trace.. I am in England, have watched many hours of you guys and value your clear thinking. I attended the christening of my first grandson in Ireland last week. I wasn’t looking forward to it. In Ireland the education system is very much under Catholic control as far as i can see. I was thoughtful during the service, that the ‘deacon’ (not an unmarried priest, but a schoolteacher with six children) who took the service made a lot of the need for family to support the parents, that grandparents should be valued for their wisdom, that they were a rock for the parents and a harbour.. The community were also called upon to give love and support. I was able to ignore the bits about praying to the saints and the magic stuff, but I was less upset by the occasion than I had anticipated.
    The thought that I had was that whilst atheists are pretty efficient and convincing about pulling the rug from under the institution of the church, with rational thought. And rightly criticise the teachings and dogma of religious institutions…. but are we a bit slow on filling the gaps in social care and support networks that at present churches are able to fill. In England there are food banks emerging, a national disgrace in my view, but in my area all the food banks have emerged from church groups originally. I have become involved as a volunteer and observed no proselytising, just simple folk wanting to help others in need. How do we ensure that the baby does not get thrown out with the bathwater when we attack the churches ? I would like to develop humanist ideals without the magic..
    Keep up the good work over in Texas… Jon

  6. says

    Two incidents I’d like to share because they are relevant to what was discussed on today’s program:

    About the clash between a desire to respect indigenous cultures while not reneging on our duties as human beings to help preserve the rights (to life, to education, to be free of ignorance perpetuated by tradition, to bodily autonomy) of those people who belong to them: There is a very difficult situation going on in Ontario right now concerning a 10 year old girl with leukemia. She was being treated with chemotherapy but decided to quit the treatment in favour of what they are calling traditional medicine (but from how it is described sounds much like any other form of faith healing). The hospital informed Children’s Aid who are now involved in the case. How much more difficult could it be to arrive at a good result? There’s just so much context, it’s overwhelming.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/first-nations-girl-chooses-traditional-medicine-over-chemo-1.2644637


    Second, George (or whoever he was), claiming that the (Holy Apostolic) Catholic Church is so hands off and non-interfering? Let me introduce him to Cardinal Thomas Collins, the RC archbishop of Toronto who, just last week, tried to interfere with the internal policy of the Liberal Party of Canada. Justin Trudeau, the leader, announced that, going forward, any person standing as a candidate would be expected, should they win, to vote pro-choice on any HoC votes in accordance with the party platform. He was, in the words of various media sources, “rebuked” by the “prince of the church” in question. Hands off? I think not.

    http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/cardinal-urges-trudeau-to-drop-abortion-benchmark-for-liberal-candidates-1.1822355

  7. will tay says

    hi R&J thought that today’s show ,or this evening for me in the UK . was very good. The part where the theist claimed that his fellows were being outnumbered was laughable,quite incredible -no wonder that you were dumbfounded. The idea that theists don’t get a fair crack of the whip is astonishingly prevalent in the wider world .a view that is constantly maintained and honed at every opportunity by their apologists, who really live in the theatre of the absurd.

    The response to such a mentality is humour and only humour , because their mindset is stuck in a way that is unreachable -even presented with truths about their religions mountains of funds they will not see any wrong only good ,but please let people of that opinion on as they do immense harm to their cause.

    keep on doing what your doing it works wt.

  8. says

    Hi Jon:

    We actually get this quite a lot. I have a good friend online who advocates for CoE, because he feels it keeps religious competition down, and makes for a tamer religious culture in England, and more secular society. There are some other countries in Europe with state churches that are ranked very “secular.” In some countries the church state integration doesn’t work–see many of the Muslim run nations for easy examples. But to me it’s more about “religiosity” than “state church.”

    I actually see the point that funding a church for the state that represents more of a cultural institution, and actually is used in the modern age to help distribute necessary goods/services for public welfare–a socialized church system mainly used by the state for social betterment–can be a nonthreatening and useful thing. And obviously if you see it serving a need, and there is no secular replacement available currently–that’s a point for “practical necessity/usefulness.”

    I guess it could be compared to an ancient temple in Greece being used to house the homeless. Is that church-state integration? Or just using a cultural/historic venue to good public use?

    It’s not black-and-white. And we do get this view a lot from some Euro nations and English listeners.

  9. cddb says

    Hi guys, great episode.

    At the top of the show Tracie mentioned that she’d been listening to a new/recent debate involving Matt Dillahunty online…I was wondering if someone could post a link to this debate, or even just let us know what specific debate she was talking about??

    Thanks!

  10. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I wonder what to say to this: “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”

    It contains a useful bit of truth, but taken at face value it’s also false. IIRC, that statement was given to us by Sagan. The funny part is that IMHO the best refutation of that is also by Sagan.
    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Dragon.htm

    In one sense, all we have is absence of evidence of garage dragons, but the only sane and rational conclusion given our current evidence is that there are no garage dragons. Put another way, testing a prediction and getting nil is a kind of absence of evidence, and that kind of absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

  11. Eli says

    I’d like to point out, in case it isn’t clear, that this Ethan/George character is the same guy from episode #806 who used the slur “curry eater” to describe the person who called before him.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMuwD3aiHSI

    There’s no mistaking that voice and total lack of a well thought-out argument/idea. His calls are so unbearably frustrating to listen to because he doesn’t even understand (or won’t admit) that he’s wrong.

    Tracie and Russell handled him so well this episode. Particularly that comment about the Catholic Church only becoming wealthy through its followers and not through any hard work of their own and then Russell hung up on him while he was stuttering his way to some other logical void. Brilliant work!

  12. Safoz says

    Russel’s greatest outro ever! “That ought to hold the little bastards.” My face hurt from laughing.

  13. Hope says

    I totally agree, Will. So sick of Christians crying persecution. Ethan is tragically blind to the amount of social and political power that Christians wield in this country. He seems like the kind of guy who believes that organizations dedicated to furthering the interests of racial minorities are unnecessary and racist against whites.

    He wants the Christians and atheists to get along, and yet he doesn’t want atheists to have their own space in which they can control (to an extent) the narrative. So what are we supposed to do? Keep trying to come into Christian spaces that don’t want us and don’t let us talk? Have Happy Huggy Feely Hour where Christians can come on the show, say what they think, be met with smiles and nods and not be challenged whatsoever? I feel like maybe this “But you have to be fair!” line of attack is really just a veiled way of saying, “I don’t think you should be challenging Christians’ beliefs, because that hurts my feelings.”

    Ethan, if you ever read this: I challenge you to watch clips of Bill O’Reilly interviewing atheists (or anyone he disagrees with), and then come back and honestly tell me that you think TAE “gangs up” on theists.

  14. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Isn’t it unfair to gang up on two human atheists, when the caller has spent years/decades attending weekly lectures on the subject AND has an omniscient sidekick with infinite resources?

  15. Muz says

    Heh. He was a doozy.
    It’s the usual sort of thing. The average pro show doesn’t let more than a quarter of its callers on the air and the screeners put you on and take you off in a real hurry. There’s no ‘balance’ of any description. It’s exactly what the producer and hosts want it to be.
    TAE is endlessly more open and discursive than just about anything similar and is one of the few shows on this subject. It’s the usual undercurrent of it being not ‘fair’ to question a poor little individual’s beliefs (who voluntarily called in to assert them0 without, I guess, a priest nearby to help them with what their faith really is when it turns out they don’t really know what they think.

  16. David Heffron says

    Good to see Pastor George back on the show. Though now he’s converted to Catholicism, he’s probably not a pastor anymore.

  17. corwyn says

    Or, “Ethan, start pretending to be an atheist. It really is easy to walk the shoes of an atheist, just casually mention that you don’t believe in god.”

    And let us know how that works out for you.

  18. Narf says

    It depends upon the nature of the claim, really. There are plenty of claims for which the absence of evidence absolutely is evidence of absence, if the claim requires that something is detectable. I love most of Carl Sagan’s work, but his crafting of that particular phrase was kind of sloppy. And when someone starts goalpost-moving to specifically make their claim unfalsifiable, you have to call bullshit on them.

  19. says

    We’re lucky in the UK. There exists a wall of separation between religion and business.

    Fundamentalists only really appear as ranting weirdos on street corners.
    A bishop breaking ranks and telling us that floods were due to our permissive, gay-friendly secular society is met with scorn and derision.

    I’m happy to live in a culture with a low, background, hum of vague, happy-clapper religiosity instead of a land of firebrand preachers condemning the rest of humanity to an eternity of suffering if they don’t buy their product.

    I spent an evening at a methodist church hall the other night – my gf’s dad does slideshows of his extreme treks – Ladakh in northern India, this time – to raise money for christian aid. Of the maybe 20 people there, my gf and I were the youngest by a good 30 years, but… It raised nearly £300 – a not inconsiderable sum.

    Now, I don’t know, exactly how that money gets spent, but it an undeniable positive result.
    I’d like to imagine it goes to the needy without proselytizing, but, maybe not…

    Would I prefer that the same result was reached secularly? Yes, of course – and maybe that’s just a matter of time… A lot of charity comes from the older generation, and many of them are religious.

  20. houndentenor says

    This is why we don’t try to prove a negative and place the burden of proof on the person making the positive claim. I can’t prove that there are no ghosts. I can only claim that I find the claims of the existence of ghosts to be insufficient. Does someone have substantial evidence to prove that they exist? Then they should show me that evidence. Until then I will continue not believing they exist. Am I 100% certain of that? Of course not. But there’s no way for me to prove that no such phenomenon exists although I will say that with all the claims, you’d think there’d be some evidence that can be examined in a scientific manner and so far there is not.

  21. houndentenor says

    One thing that didn’t come up is that usually only one of the hosts deals with a particular caller. Yes, sometimes both have something to say but more often than not one or the other takes the lead depending on the topic. I suppose someone could see that as unfair, but only if they want to play a gotcha game and claim a win because you can’t immediately refute their logical fallacy or because their claims are simply outside your area of expertise. One of the benefits of having a rotating slate of hosts is that each of them brings different styles and knowledge bases to the show. Matt makes a different argument than Tracie would have (or Jen or Russell or Martin, etc.). They are usually not better arguments, just different ones. (This is especially useful for regular viewers who would probably get bored with the same arguments over and over. I can’t say that 2 against 1 is ganging up, especially since Christians and others always go in pairs (a good idea for safety reasons) when they are knocking on doors. By the way the caller’s argument was absurd since almost daily I see someone handing out religious literature or knocking on doors to witness to people. Very rarely do I see atheists and when I do they have a table which people are free to approach or not. I have never seen any of them handing out books or tracts to people as they walked past. (For what it’s worth, I think people have every right to do that so long as they aren’t too rude or aggressive in doing so and respect requests from people to be left alone or not to ring their bell as they sleep during the day.)

    What I have noticed is that there seem to be fewer wannabe apologists lately. I wonder what that’s about.

  22. Monocle Smile says

    “Ethan” isn’t blind to anything.

    He’s a repeat caller and blatantly lying about everything. He’s called as Ethan before, “Pastor George,” and I think he’s “Stotch” as well. His purpose to be a douchebag who pretends to not understand simple, commonly understood things.

  23. gshelley says

    As others have said, it depends on the claim. If the claim is “I ate an apple yesterday”, there probably isn’t any evidence to support this, but that isn’t evidence the claim is false. If the claim is “I have an elephant in my garage”, but when you watch my house, you don’t hear an elephant, or see large amounts of elephant food being delivered, or elephant waste being removed, that is evidence it is false
    It’s a bit like the claim “you can’t prove a negative”, sometimes a useful guide, but not really applicable – after all, a negative can be just a positive rephrased, ie for any positive claim that can be proved, there is a negative claim. We can’t prove the positive claim “the earth orbits the sun” without disproving the negative claim “the earth doesn’t orbit the moon”, so this may only be true for a very specific subset of negative statements

  24. gshelley says

    The penultimate caller was a little odd, he seemed to be complaining that you weren’t making the kind of show he would make and not really understanding what you do. If you have a show where two hosts take calls on religion and atheism from either believers or non believers, complaining it is unfair that you have two hosts talking to the caller is weird.

  25. says

    He’s also the guy who pissed Matt off by complaining that a previous caller had taken too much time, referring to the caller as “the curry eater”.

  26. steveb0503 says

    Why is it that SO many people who call this show seem to have such a hard time expressing themselves?

    I dunno, maybe it’s just me – but, once I noticed a failing (on at least a few occasions) to be able to effectively convey some of the things I was trying to express to others, I made it a personal goal to try and be more skilled at doing so and (consequently) took action . Do these people simply lack the ability to self-assess?

  27. Narf says

    When you spend most of your time in an echo-chamber with people who largely share your core beliefs, you never have to make persuasive, coherent arguments. Arguing with people and being convincing is a learned skill that improves with practice.

  28. corwyn says

    Theists!… am I right?

    :-)

    That is actually a large part of why I am here; getting better at expressing a persuasive argument.

  29. Monocle Smile says

    They have a script. When they get off the script, they can’t improvise. They haven’t been taught how to think, just what to think. They can’t dive deeper into their own responses or answer most questions because of this.

    Also, I believe there’s some Dunning-Kruger effect going on.

  30. adamah says

    The thing often overlooked by those parroting that meme is that the statement assumes a proper SEARCH for evidence HAS been conducted, and it’s NOT an excuse for failing to conduct a search!

    Assuming a reasonable search HAS been conducted, then absense of evidence AFTER looking IS in fact evidence of absense, and is sufficient.

    Tracie used the example in an old show that if someone claims a gorilla is in the room next door, a listener can can reasonably conduct a search and conclude there isn’t a gorilla in the room simply by looking; they can also reasonably consider other explanations (likely mental health issues, eg hallucinations) that reasonably explains why the person sincerely believed they saw a gorilla in the room, and hence made the claim.

    But no gorilla found on even a precursory visual inspection of the room? No lingering hair/odor/banana peels, much less gorilla fingerprints or gorilla DNA from sloughed epithelial cells isolated in samples of room dust? It’s time to continue down the list of differential diagnoses, and the person’s “eyewitness” claim is suspect.

    Adam

  31. adamah says

    Oh PS, on this:

    “The absense of evidence (for God) is not evidence of the absence (of God).”

    It sure as Hell is not evidence FOR God, either, so the statement is meaningless and only constitutes “begging the question” (repeating or rephrasing a questionable statement that is being challenged, in the first place). It’s a delay of game tactic, designed to buy some time in a debate and/or distract, hoping everyone forgets about the vacuum of proof.

    Pointing out that they’re only begging the question brings the issue back to their lack of evidence, ie their inability to back up the claim with evidence sufficient to validate holding such a belief.

    Adam

  32. steveb0503 says

    Oh, I’m certain the “Dunning-Kruger effect” is at least in part responsible, and I hadn’t really considered the other part about what you said: “They haven’t been taught how to think, just what to think.”, and running into trouble because they’ve gone off script. But, I’m not talking about the theists exclusively – some of the atheists/”rationalists” (scare-quotes ENTIRELY deliberate) seem to suffer from this short-coming as well.

  33. adamah says

    Yeah, that whiny caller needs to learn what the “genetic fallacy” is, since reality and truth doesn’t hinge on the SOURCE or METHODS use to find it, only whether it comports with available evidence.

    He’s whining over the unfairness of the big meanies ganging up on callers, like he’s some kind of fairness titty-baby….

    I tend to be less tolerant, and try to put such types out of their misery by being more direct and upfront, since he’d still be talking now on the same point….

  34. adamah says

    On the point of needing to handle cherished long-standing cultural practices with kid gloves: in general, as atheists, isn’t that the entire POINT of questioning religion?

    Fact is, there are many-more cultural practices that have existed and disappeared without leaving so much as a trace, and while it’s nice to try and catalog and document endangered cultures and odd beliefs before they disappear (as cultural anthropologists attempt to do, studying Yanomano tribes, Cargo cults, etc), the question is, WHY? What is the goal of documenting cultures, if not as examples of how NOT to live?

    I think of the Aztecs/Mayans, with their human sacrifices, believing their Gods demanded the still-beating heart of their victims in order to entice the Sun to rise daily. If we lose sight of the forest for the trees out of concerns for showing respect for other beliefs, we lose the true value of documenting and learning from the lessons offered by the example of ancient cultures: learning what does NOT work, practices that contribute to the decline of civilizations.

    Adam

  35. adamah says

    PS in my eyes, there’s no difference between a JW child who is declared a ‘mature minor’ and allowed to die in from refusing blood in the mistaken idea he’s making Jehovah happy, and the well-preserved mummified child sacrifice that found high in the Andes, being ‘honored’ by their culture 500 yrs ago by being selected to serve as servants and ambassadors to their ancient God(s).

    As much as some things change and improve, other cultural practices are remarkably consistent in human nature throughout time, and incredibly resilient to progress.

  36. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @adamah:

    What is the goal of documenting cultures, if not as examples of how NOT to live?
    […]
    the lessons offered by the example of ancient cultures: learning what does NOT work, practices that contribute to the decline of civilizations.

    Tracie alluded to using variety across cultures to tease apart what tendencies are innate versus what’s conventional or convenient. It also a source of thought-provoking novelty to see unexpected approaches to common problems.
     
    * Cultures that navigate differently: e.g., relative to absolute landmarks instead of NSEW, and develop an inner compass as a result.
    * Cultures that think of time differently: e.g., the future is behind you; you can’t see it after all.
    * Cultures that construct language differently.
    * Cultures that interpret images / sound / emotions / risk / quantity / categories differently.
    * Cultures that mediate conflict differently.
    * etc.

  37. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Interesting argument. I’m hesitant to take it quite as far as you imply, but interesting argument.

  38. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    It’s not even meanness.
    Some callers think they’re on a “Stump the Atheists” game show, and it’s unfair to compete against a team with more practice, better resources, and two brains.
     
    Clearly, there should be a single host taking calls, one who’s just as ignorant and unskilled as the callers.
    Then either side can ‘win’.

  39. Walter says

    That is why we attend and support a Unitarian-Universalist congregation here in the US. The congregation is about 50% atheist, with a strong social action commitment, an active Religious Education program (it inoculates the kids against BS they can catch from their friends), welcoming ceremonies for children, weddings, memorial services, dinners, coffee hours, small group ministries (of the UU kind). We sponsor an inner-city after-school program, including with tutoring time, etc. There is no dogma, but some principles that members are urged to subscribe to, such as upholding the worth and dignity of all people. I like it because people together can do more than people alone. Remember, ‘take refuge in the sangha’ as Buddhists say.

  40. adamah says

    Sky Capt, on a related note, it’s highly unlikely ancient humans conceived of their World (and their place in it) in a way that we could ever hope to understand in order to relate, since the range and diversity of world-views even within a single time/place varies: it simply boggles the imagination.

    We encounter the same challenge in understanding modern foreign cultures, where certain concepts simply don’t translate from their native tongue into other languages, since the original word carries so much more meaning in the native tongue that is ‘lost in translation’.

    I’ve always felt that most modern-day evangelical Xians would be shocked and paralyzed by fear at how strange reality would be, if they could time-travel to witness Jesus preaching to the crowds: not only would they not understand what he was saying, but without understanding the ancient AND foreign practices of Palestine, they’d likely be stupified by what they observed: Bible translations cannot help but be modernized and updated to “hide the wrinkles” of just how antiquated a document it really is…

    It’s actually no different from an American traveling to a foreign land (eg Saudi Arabia) without doing a bit of cultural homework and research, learning the language, etc; cultural faux pas are bound to occur, due to ignorance.

    Now amplify that by 10x, and we’re approximating the average Xian’s lack of understanding of the prevailing ancient cultural beliefs and thinking of common peoples in 500BC (which even varied from region to region).

    Point being, cultures change over time, whether we like it or not, and cultural evolution (with an analogous Darwinian corollary of greater differential survival of ‘those more-adapted to the environment’) will occur. Whether that culture will require wearing a burka, a cross, or a college-level course in critical thinking is anyone’s guess…. Remember, it wasn’t so long ago that Nazis were putting not only the Jews, but also atheists and college-trained intellectuals into camps, as a threat to Hitler’s Master Race society.

    Adam

  41. says

    Also, bear in mind that it’s very easy to get tongue-tied when you’re feeling nervous. And cold-calling a live show to make an argument is nervousness inducing if it’s not something you’re used to doing.

  42. adamah says

    Somnus said-

    And cold-calling a live show to make an argument is nervousness inducing if it’s not something you’re used to doing.

    “Cold-calling”?

    So setting aside the entire hour they were placed on hold to contemplate exactly what they want to say, let’s not forget about the prior week/month/year/decade they had to jot down a few words to draft a scripted statement!

    I’m going with the explanation that once they’re deprived of a choir (so no longer can “preach to the choir”), all that excessive feel-good brain juice (aka endogenous neurotransmitters) evaporates like so much bong water spilled on the sidewalk in Woodland Hills, CA in the Summertime, and there’s nowhere to hide for cover.

    If they’re lucky, they will feel as naked and vulnerable as Adam and Eve felt after eating the forbidden fruit, with their eyes opened, and they will use the experience as a “moment of lucid insight”, thus encourgIng themsleves to dig even deeper.

    Or not: most just stick their heads back in the sand, since it’s vastly easier to simply “go with the flow” and to “go along to get along”.

    Of course, theists are the masters of attempting to create false equivalencies, and likely would protest that atheists exist in an echo chamber, too, (the ol’ childish “tu quoque” rebuttal, ie “you do it, too!”) as if we’re agreeing to agree to a common set of rationalist principles.

    We no shit, Sherlocks, we are!

    As if there’s any other alternatives, like agreeing to share a commonly-held known DELUSION, but promising NEVER to publicly admit we all KNOW it’s irrational?! Let’s all special plead for just ONE exception, m’kay?

    (Where’s a rollie-eyed emoticon when you need one?). :)

    Adam

  43. davecampbell says

    It reminded me of an old story…

    Myth: “Uncle Don” of early radio fame, finished his children’s program one day and not realizing his microphone was still on uttered, “There, that oughta hold the little bastards!”

    Truth: This is an urban legend which dates back at least to the 1930s. As early as 1935, Alton Cook, Radio Editor of The New York World Telegram, debunked the story and wrote that a Baltimore columnist had made up the story.

    http://radio.about.com/od/funradiothingstodo/ss/blRadioMyths_7.htm

  44. says

    [blockquote]We can’t prove the positive claim “the earth orbits the sun” without disproving the negative claim “the earth doesn’t orbit the moon”[/blockquote]

    actually, this is not a true statement. For example, the moon orbits both the sun and the earth. That’s without even getting into quibbles about barycenters…

    But you are right that there are many facts for which the negation can be proven false by proving the fact. If it is light outside it is not dark, etc.

  45. says

    Well, most people do make a moral distinction between actively killing someone versus allowing them to die by withholding appropriate aid. But I suppose it’s more a distinction in degree than one in kind.

    I’ve found it interesting in my reading of the Bible that the various genocides carried out use the same words to describe the populations they slaughtered that are used to describe the animals set aside as sacrificial offerings: “devoted to destruction.” Maybe it’s an artifact of the translation, but it really comes across as being intended to be read as mass human sacrifices. But I never hear it described that way.

  46. says

    Well, there’s the preparation that you feel they should have done, versus what they actually do. Given the number of callers who seem unprepared to have their assertions challenges by the simple question “But why do you believe that?” I don’t think most do any real systematic research of the show.

    But even so, even if they’re prepared in that way, it’s still a form of public speaking that requires practice to be good at. Most don’t have that practice.

  47. says

    In regards to the “magic” being an explanation for the magic trick of cutting the person in half, while not killing the person…

    I think a variation on this theme may be something that theists could better connect with.

    Your buddy with you in the audience asks how the magic trick is done, and you turn to him/her and say “Science! Science did it.“… I wouldn’t be offering an explanation… even if there was applied science that allowed the trick to happen.

    When asked for an explanation of how abiogenesis happened, we don’t say “Biology happened“.

    When asked for an explanation of how the Big Bang happened, we don’t say “Physics!

  48. Russell Glasser says

    My sign off wasn’t just supposed to “remind” you of that story… that is the joke.

  49. corwyn says

    I think of the Aztecs/Mayans, with their human sacrifices, believing their Gods demanded the still-beating heart of their victims in order to entice the Sun to rise daily. If we lose sight of the forest for the trees out of concerns for showing respect for other beliefs, we lose the true value of documenting and learning from the lessons offered by the example of ancient cultures: learning what does NOT work, practices that contribute to the decline of civilizations.

    Sadly, Sacrificing still-beating hearts works just fine for continuing a civilization. What doesn’t work (if we take the Aztecs and Mayans as examples) is being isolated from pathogens that you might eventually come in contact with.

  50. Monocle Smile says

    Sometimes I’ll do that if I’m feeling snarky and the theist insists on asking a billion ill-formed questions while answering none. But yes, it’s counterproductive and unnecessary.

  51. corwyn says

    If it is light outside it is not dark, etc.

    Both of those are *positive* claims (actually the same positive claim).

    The presence of a negative in the claim is not what makes it a negative claim.

  52. Narf says

    Ditto. That’s why I watched the entire archive of the show and am fairly active on here.

  53. adamah says

    Yeah, Somnus, I think we’re saying the same thing, just putting a different spin on it.

    Even though it’s a call-in show, it’s clear the questions they should be asking are questions directed at themselves, not others.

    However, obviously the show plays to an audience, who hopefully will ask themselves the tough questions to challenge their conceptions: the old saying is the beliefs we should constantly challenge are in fact the ones we most desire to be true…

    Part of me suspects many believers deep-down know it’s a load of bollocks, but they’re thinking of the God hypothesis as a clever game they’re playing and able to win, where the only unwritten rule is to not acknowledge they also understand they’re defending an irrational claim, since then they’d admit to being irrational (and are trying to turn it into a positive trait by relabeling it as ‘faith’).

  54. adamah says

    Btw, most evangelicals pride themselves on their ability to follow Jesus’ commands to “go thereforth and make disciples”, spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God. So despite your claim that Xians don’t have training in public speaking and debating, many spend a major portion of their time teaching the art of conversion and persuasion.

    So it’s not for lack of training (JWs meet 3x a week, attending a “theocratic ministry school” to practice their skills of public speaking needed to knock on strangers doors, aka “cold calls” in sales), but the fact that the general person requires so little evidence to accept a desire-driven belief, so they succeed in their “sales” despite their lack of evidence and skill… Through in a bit of fear of Hell, and it’s an easy sell/snow job.

    Adam

  55. adamah says

    Corollary: Absence of evidence is very suspicious.

    Yes it is, since one of the hallmarks of criminals is their desire to not leave any evidence behind. All the moreso, when said being doesn’t actually exist. :)

    Adam

  56. Ruben Laane says

    Yes, but what evidence is relevant to the topic. A piece of evidence may also prove that the claimer is lying!

  57. says

    My favorite part of the episode, though, was when the hosts mentioned that they usually don’t expect to convince the caller but hope that the audience is getting something to think about, and the caller replied with and indignantly incredulous “You mean you’re *using* your callers?!” As if he’d just caught them doing something underhanded and unethical. I mean aside from the fact that they’ve said this exact thing many times before, I’m pretty sure the purpose of public debate in general has always been more about influencing your audience than you opponent.

  58. corwyn says

    Yes, but what evidence is relevant to the topic.

    Perhaps I should be more precise.

    Properly weighted by likelihood, *everything* is evidence for *every* proposition.

  59. says

    I’ve seen a lot of people complaining that there’s no point to the Sye/Matt upcoming debate, that it’s a complete waste of time. I don’t know why people don’t get this.

    I want Matt to make an example of Sye. I want Sye to be used to demonstrate why his ideological/epistemological position is crap.

    Do people just not get what these debates/shows are for?

  60. doublereed says

    Absence of Evidence is ALWAYS Evidence of Absence. This is a basic principle given by Bayesian Reasoning. Evidence can, in this instance, simply be a person telling you something, and the weight of evidence being how trustworthy that person is.

    But I’ll give you an example that people always use. If you’ve never seen a black swan before, would you say that black swans don’t exist? That sounds crazy, right? Of course it sounds crazy, because we know black swans exist.

    If I asked you, however, if you think green polkadotted swans exist, what is your answer? How could you possibly justify that answer other than an absence of evidence?

  61. doublereed says

    “I ate an apple yesterday” has evidence. The person saying this is telling you this, and you have no reason to think that he is lying. That is evidence, and it’s perfectly satisfactory for such a simple, realistic claim.

  62. Ruben Laane says

    The major problem with situations like these is that the line of unneccasary suffering and medical care is very blurred indeed.
    Let me give you an example that will be more clear cut. A child born with the spina bifida (open spine deficiency) usually has a very bad life expectancy, as well as a extremely high chance of infections that threaten the entire body. Generally speaking the child is a valid candidate for passive euthanasia, meaning no treatment of the disease, but pain relieving medication (which will be severe). Said children usually die within days or several weeks at the most.
    There used to be a physician (he is retired now) in the University hospital of Groningen (Netherlands), who ‘saved’ several children from certain death by temporarily removing the parents from their parental power and starting treatment. When he was finished the children returned to the parents were missing limbs (due to infections spreading through the body) and required heavy medication for the rest of the infants life. I am not even mentioning the fact that the child in question needed 24/7 care from that moment in time as considerable funds to facilitate the care. Luckilly such facilities are covered in the Netherlands by healthcare, but the parents are still chained to the child for the rest of their lives. The justification for this behaviour was off course the deeply religious conviction of the physician in question who refused to perform or even aid in life ending treatments or even the ceasing of treatment when such treatment does more damage then aid. Children with the spina bifida usually have brain damage because of all kinds of infections that can freely enter the body via the open spine. After the doctor’s retirement, the Hospital developed a protocol that contains a code that will determine whether or not a doctor should start or remain treating newly borns, with serious deficiencies in less then a year. It showed how long the hospital staff and the other doctors had to put up with the physician, athough I must add that the doctor was a brilliant surgeon as well and a leader in his field of expertise (pre- and neonatal care).
    One of the first lessons a student of medicines must learn is that he should stop treating a patient if he does more harm then good and it is one of the most difficult lessons to learn and has very blurry lines.
    One of the most difficult decisions a doctor must make is if he/she should force treatment on a patient if neccasary as the forcing of the treatment may be harmfull as well.
    The problem in the example is the fact that the girl in question is unable to oversee the long term problems that may occur from stopping treatment, but at the same time we should realise the chemotherapy is indeed very damaging and will eventually become unbearable if not effective and continued. Since I saw a photo of the girl in question I assume since she has all her hair that treatment has not been given yet, or she would have been bald. The only exception of people not going bald are chemo treatment that do not enter the interior of the body (my late grandfather was an example, as he had a tumor inside his blather and it was treated using chemo inside the bladder, so he kept his hair).
    The social problem of unlawfully removing parents from their charge is an added problem, but not relevant for the medical decision of forced care.
    I am no doctor so I cannot make an educated guess whether or not the forced treatment is valid.
    I can state my opinion, that I think it seems valid, but I must admit that this is a layman’s opinion and should be treated as such.

    Well the only positive observation that can be made in the cardinal problem is that he met opposition when expressing his opinion and I think his remarks did more harm to his cause then good.

  63. Matt Gerrans says

    Good points Adam; this is a point that really annoys me with Muslims. They like to claim that unlike their Christian and Jewish religious forbears, they have a perfect document written in the original language (of course, God would use Arabic, just to fuck with computer programmers who have to deal with the pain of RTL languages!). However, the idea that it is “perfectly preserved” only works if you ignore the fact that culture and language change over time. Even if the words on paper are the same, the meaning of those words today is not.

    Just pick up a copy of Shakespeare, which is a recent publication by comparison. See if you can grok it without any footnotes or other explanatory information. While you may be able to get the gist of any given play, a very large part of the text will be completely meaningless poppycock. (This is assuming you’re not an expert on Shakespeare, of course, but just an ordinary modern reader).

    I’ve also set aside the fact that Muslims are lying (intentionally or not, who knows) about their book only having been written once and not having other versions that were expunged. They just took care of that process earlier and more thoroughly than most other cults have.

  64. doublereed says

    Yea, but that’s not a very helpful thing to say because the weight could be zero. And evidence that is weight zero is not differentiable from not evidence.

  65. doublereed says

    If we’re talking about God specifically, well there is lots of evidence against God. The complete immorality of the laws of the bible is evidence. The fact that we see the “eye for the eye” justice system as barbaric, the misogyny as grotesque, and the condoning of slavery as unacceptable: these are all strong evidences against God because presumably he’s supposed to be a good guy.

    The Problem of Evil, or the fact that genocides have taken place throughout history, innocent children murdered and destroyed in horrible ways. A fate that you avoided simply because of the circumstances of your birth, rather than anything you did (unless you end up declaring that small children deserve to be burned, raped, etc). If you have any sense that God is a “protector” of any sort, this is strong evidence that he does not protect the innocent.

    And honestly, would you rather live in a world where an all-mighty protector watches over but doesn’t protect you, or a world where there is no protector at all?

    Now instead of asking your preference, which do you think fits what we see in the real world?

    That is evidence.

  66. Monocle Smile says

    Shakespeare is my favorite author, and it’s only because of the footnotes that I can say that. I generally dislike his plays until I’ve read them a few times and painstakingly worked through all the footnotes. Then they’re genius and often goddamn hilarious.

    But give a Shakespearean play to a random asshole in Butffuck, Alabama, and they’ll think it’s what happens when you give a schizoid meth tweaker a pen.

  67. Ruben Laane says

    Off course it worked. For as long as they practiced this their civilisation continued. When they stopped doing so their civilisation stopped, so I definetly see a correlation. And the fact that they were conquered even proves this, because when they had to stop offering, because they had to take up arms against the invaders, they immediatly ceased to exist.

    Oh and before anyone actually thought I was serious, let me assure you that I was sarcastic.
    And the reason that the spanish conquistadores won the attack was because of the B-weapons they deployed. The diseases the Europeans brought along made more victims then the conquistadores ever could. And the fact that the empires heavily depended on slavery made their conquest even easyer as the conquering Spaniards gladly accepted the help provided by these ‘ex-slaves’, before they reenslaved them off course.

  68. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Article: Wikipedia – Moche Culture, Religion and Collapse

    Both iconography and the finds of human skeletons in ritual contexts seem to indicate that human sacrifice played a significant part in Moche religious practices. These rites appear to have involved the elite as key actors in a spectacle of costumed participants, monumental settings and possibly the ritual consumption of blood. […] The Moche may have also held and tortured the victims for several weeks before sacrificing them, with the intent of deliberately drawing blood.
    […]
    climatic events between 536 to 594 AD, possibly a super El Niño, that resulted in 30 years of intense rain and flooding followed by 30 years of drought, part of the aftermath of the climate changes of 535–536. These weather events could have disrupted the Moche way of life and shattered their faith in their religion, which had promised stable weather through sacrifices.
    […]
    [Fortifications and] defensive works suggest social unrest, possibly the result of climatic changes, as factions fought for control over increasingly scarce resources.

  69. corwyn says

    It is useful, in that it removes the giant argument we often hear, about what does and does not count as evidence. And until you *know* that the weight is zero, you don’t know to disregard it. The only way to know that the evidence is irrelevant (if there is some contention) is to compute its weight and check it against 0.

    “Count it all, let the likelihood sort it out.”

  70. corwyn says

    If we’re talking about God specifically, well there is lots of evidence against God. The complete immorality of the laws of the bible is evidence. The fact that we see the “eye for the eye” justice system as barbaric, the misogyny as grotesque, and the condoning of slavery as unacceptable: these are all strong evidences against God because presumably he’s supposed to be a good guy.

    I think it depends on your hypothesis.

    If your hypothesis is that there is a omni-benevolent being, then the bible isn’t (much) evidence against that, but rather simply isn’t describing such a being.

    If your hypothesis is that the bible is describing something real, then that is (small) evidence for that something, and evidence against an omni-benevolent being.

  71. corwyn says

    If I say that my sister took my niece of chemo, do you know whether to condemn that decision or not without asking any more questions? I sure don’t.

  72. adamah says

    Somnus said-

    Well, most people do make a moral distinction between actively killing someone versus allowing them to die by withholding appropriate aid. But I suppose it’s more a distinction in degree than one in kind.

    Sure, but my broader point is that despite increases in general knowledge, some humans are accepting some questionable premises that leads to them making critical errors in judgment.

    My example was implicitly referring to the ‘Inkan Ice Maiden’ (and the two small children who accompanied her, serving as her hand-maidens). By all appearances, she was a family member of the elite strata of her society, and didn’t exactly fit the stereotype of a “sacrifice” as an unwilling participant: she likely WANTED to ascend the mountain and serve as an ambassador, communicating from the after-life with shaman.

    That sounds eerily-reminiscent of the Egyptian house servants who accompanied Pharaohs (who died of natural causes) in their tombs, 4,000 yrs ago. Being selected to accompany as a member of the Royal staff was an honor.

    Fast forward to the current day, and we see the same dynamic at work with JWs who refuse blood transfusions regardless of why they need blood (in some situations, death is easily-preventable, say from anemia), since they too truly believe accepting blood would piss off the same class of imaginary being.

    Three different cultures, spanning 5k yrs: do we need any more data points to see a trend here, to recognize the same categorical error being made, as if we don’t have enough data necessary to learn THAT tragic lesson from the past?

    Somnus said-

    I’ve found it interesting in my reading of the Bible that the various genocides carried out use the same words to describe the populations they slaughtered that are used to describe the animals set aside as sacrificial offerings: “devoted to destruction.” Maybe it’s an artifact of the translation, but it really comes across as being intended to be read as mass human sacrifices. But I never hear it described that way.

    Yup, ancient Jews literally “wrote the book” on how to dehumanize the targets of their hatred; the book is called ‘The Torah’. Of course, that same book was used against them millennia later, attempting to justify the genocide of Jews.

    It’s not politically-correct to point that kind of thing out, of course, but saying it isn’t excusing it…

    Adam

  73. jdoran says

    Because Sye’s made enough of an example of himself by now that he gets thrown out of debates by the moderator. At some point, making a further example out of him simply isn’t worth giving him a pulpit. If he wants to masturbate, he can do it at home like everyone else.

  74. Hope says

    I agree. He’s obviously not going to convince Sye (unless God is real and makes a miracle happen… Does God still harden peoples’ hearts?), but maybe some people in the audience will see the incredible amount of mental bullshittery it takes people to justify their belief in God, and they’ll take something away from what Matt has to say. And if that’s the only good that comes out of the debate, I’m totally cool with that. Like Dusty Smith says, let’s mock them out of existence.

    At the same time, though, I worry that the psuedo-intellectuals who buy into Sye’s philosophical-sounding word twisting (I bet everyone here $20 that he’s going to use this argument: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBg3byvsosY) as a valid method of argumentation will come away feeling even more pretentious. I went through a similar phase in high school when I was first getting interested in epistemology, and I know I would have been like, “Yeah, take that, plebe!”

    But I’m still going, because I live only 2 hours away and it’s going to be entertaining as fuck to see Matt get pissed at this juvenile “intellectual”. It’ll be like watching a terrible movie for shits and giggles, times 20.

  75. Hope says

    Ha! I had totally forgotten about that! For a troll, this guy is pretty good. I can usually spot pretty quickly when callers are just fucking around (like the guy the other week who called to preach about the One True God and ended up going down some weird road where he was suddenly a closet atheist), but this guy got me.

  76. Frank G. Turner says

    It is interesting that you mention the whole cultural differences thing as I have actually traveled a few places around the world and discovered so many things that we in the Americas believe are universal that just are not. Body language being a key thing that varies, like how in some cultures shaking hands (touching) another person or even offering a hand may be considered rude or looking them in the eye when you talk (unless you are their boss/superior).

    As United States North Americans many are so isolated (at times by choice) that they never realize that, well pardon the cliche, “it’s a different world from where you come from.” I have suggested many times that children ought to be REQUIRED to interact extensively with other cultures i order to learn about different cultures BEFORE they get culturally indoctrinated and isolated.

    However, broad assumptions are not limited to us. Having been to the UK I heard many a British individual (not to be insulting to any English-person reading this, I know that you are not all like this, this is just what I experienced from more than a few individuals, Americans can be just as bad) claim to “fancy” peanut butter and claim it was a great gift they they gave to Americans for which we as Americans should be thankful, actually believing peanut butter to be THEIR invention and that it must have spanned back for hundreds of years. I embarrassed many an individual who made this claim by actually looking it up and showing proof that the peanut originated in South America and making paste out of it was an American invention.

    What is funny is, they would scoff and this and refuse to be openly embarrassed nor change their views despite proof, and this was not about religion, it was about peanut butter! It was like they were too proud to be wrong and they just can’t be wrong. I sometimes wonder if the Xtian sin of pride is the most deadly as it is essentially what seems to be expressed in the face of hard evidence, this attitude of “I just can’t be wrong, I must be right no matter what no matter how hard I have to apologize”). Hence why I think the word “apologetics” is so appropriate, it like an apology for holding irrational views that can be proven wrong with Hard evidence and observable demonstration.

    FYI, Ethan, if you are reading this I am Catholic too, but I have had enough experience to realize that my beliefs are based on something irrational and that I have no hard proof for them. I am open to the possibility of being wrong about my beliefs in a very real and tangible way and that there may be no God or no after life even though I think that there is one. If I were to call in I would acknowledge this lack of hard evidence which is why this show does not bother me in the slightest. As atheists they have a better understanding of scripture than many a preacher and I have learned a lot from them that I don;t think I can anywhere else which is a lot of why I listen to them. Most of the theists who call the show are typically not open minded Xtians who look at hard facts and acknowledge lack of hard proof. They have formed a conclusion without hard evidence and are willing to do anything and everything to get to that conclusions no matter what including twisting language, bending rules, accept fallacies and try to get others to do so, make unfounded assumptions and claims with no evidence, try to engage in special pleading, etc. I conceded a long time ago that I do not have hard proof for my beliefs and I accept that and it helps me to accept the views of others, particularly atheists. Being opened to the possibility of being wrong and conceding this does not make you a weaker person in character, it makes you stronger.

  77. Matt Gerrans says

    If you are going to be there, then you should consider it your personal responsibility to laugh loudly and raucously when Sye Zero uses those kind of juvenile tactics. Please do it!

  78. Ron B. says

    The quick response to a theist caller who says that he is “ganged up on” by 2 atheist show hosts, is obviously to invite him to call the show with a “co-caller” so that it can be 2v2 instead of 2v1. Yall still have control over the hold button, but as it has been said before, it is your show to format as you see fit.

  79. Narf says

    I dunno. I think it’s useful to hold up examples that make the other side look bad. It won’t have much effect on the serious believers, who can pull a no-true-Scotsman out of their ass at a moment’s notice, but it helps with the fence-sitters to be able to point at idiots like Sye and Eric Hovind and say, “See what they’ve been reduced to?”

    And considering the increasing number of presups out there, we’re not even straw-manning, if we do that.

  80. Narf says

    You’re never there to convince your debate opponent, Hope. You’re only ever doing it for the audience.

  81. Narf says

    As Steve Shives said, apologists talk about God leaving his fingerprints all over the place in the universe.

    … but not in Mary’s bedroom. God made sure to wipe that place down really thoroughly.

  82. says

    Not that I’m suggesting that you go the night before, find the hotel Matt’s staying at, get a bunch of people together to hold a loud all-night prayer meeting outside his window…..

    But, I kind of hope Matt goes into this a bit more feisty and cranky than he did the Eric debate.

    Calm and intellectual has its place, but Sye….Sye needs slapping down the second he trolls out his usual (read – only) argument…

  83. says

    I’m thinking of putting together a Sye Ten Bingo-cate game. All I need is an 8 by 6 grid with “But how do you know that?” in every square…

  84. Ruben Laane says

    correct. But we had more then that basic information to go on even though I admit, that the information provided wasn’t sufficient for a well balanced judgement call.

  85. Matt Gerrans says

    When Jesus was off in the woods with the naked young man of Mark 14:51, I don’t think it was his heart that was getting hardened.

  86. Narf says

    Errrr … I’m not going to argue with your point, but that seems like a bit of a non sequitur. Did you stick that on the right comment chain?

  87. adamah says

    Frank said-

    Being opened to the possibility of being wrong and conceding this does not make you a weaker person in character, it makes you stronger.

    And that, in a nutshell, explains the strategy upon which types like Hovind and Sye rely:

    They understand that most people in their target audience are the types who read the tone of confidence with which statements are made, and will preferentially respond to an argument delivered with irrational exuberance and brazen confidence over one delivered with a sober and honest disclosure of risks.

    Many people are described by the Jack Nicholson line, “you can’t HANDLE the truth!”, preferring a false promise of an assured “sure thing” over a truthful honest disclosure, delivered by someone who truthfully admits to even the slightest possibility of being incorrect. That shadow of doubt is interpreted as weakness, in their book.

    That bias is a fluke of human reasoning, driven NOT by logic, but by emotional needs and a desire for comfort in an uncertain World.

    Adam

  88. Matt Gerrans says

    Yeah, that should have been a reply to attached to Hope’s message (“Does God still harden peoples’ hearts?”).

  89. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Frank G. Turner:

    I am Catholic too, but I have had enough experience to realize that my beliefs are based on something irrational and that I have no hard proof for them. I am open to the possibility of being wrong about my beliefs in a very real and tangible way and that there may be no God or no after life

    By what criteria do you consider yourself a “Catholic”?
     
    Think carefully how you define Catholicism.
    If you reduce it to “anyone who who labels themselves one counts”, you’ll ignore centuries of explicit doctrine, ritual, dogma, theology, and of course, the content of the holy book(s).
     
    Plus whether you believe the god described in those sources would really endorse the institutions you’re citing to brand yourself… institutions which told you stories, and offer no rational reason to be accept them as an accurate depiction of characters and events.

  90. adamah says

    Sky captain said-

    If you reduce it to “anyone who who labels themselves one counts”, you’ll ignore centuries of explicit doctrine, ritual, dogma, theology, and of course, the content of the holy book(s).

    Heh, true dat.

    Frank likely considers himself a good modern Catholic, and is willing to express doubts in the name of saving himself from appearing absurd to other rational-minded people; however, he’s completely ignoring the message consistently delivered in both the OT & NT about the importance of FAITH, aka belief within a vacuum-lock of evidence, and is trying to update theology to adapt to current mores and standards.

    Remember, if there’s one theme in the Bible that IS consistent throughout the Bible, it’s the value of FAITH: Jesus and consistently deprecates weak-in-faith “Doubting Thomas” with the adjective used as a pejorative (!), the disciple who had to see some proof with his own eyes before he was willing to accept claims of Jesus’ resurrection. Thomas was the caricature of the skeptic, the butt of the jokes, the black sheep of the disciples, due to his lack of faith.

    So on the one hand, the Hovinds and Syes earn partial credit for at least having the gumption to state their beliefs and to properly interpret the MANY examples where Jesus talked about the importance of faith (even saying in Revelation that he’d spit out that congregation that was luke-warm in their faith, neither hot nor cold).

    But the apologetists obviously lose the game by trying to defend an indefensible and irrational position, supporting a religious belief system that places faith HIGH ABOVE empirical evidence, and worse, actually DEMANDS wearing blinders to refuse to see any counter-evidence that might weaken one’s faith.

    That’s an ancient time-honored recipe for creating bull-headed and closed-minded dogmatists, solidly resting on a millennia-old foundation of ‘appeal to tradition’.

    Adam

  91. tgman says

    Most childhood leukemias are very treatable with chemo. Certainly not all, but most. My inclination here is to suspect that the daughter has a treatable leukemia and her parents are trying to opt out of standard medical care because the chemo is not pleasant for the girl (and I understand that unpleasant may be a massive understatement). In that case choosing traditional therapy is potentially tantamount to aiding the girl’s death. If parent’s can’t make a decision in their daughter’s best interest then the state has to step in. i agree that when the line is in fact blurry we have to allow parents the benefit if the doubt. But I doubt that is the case here.

  92. pj says

    Pretty sure he is also the guy Matt hung up on last year when he called to complain that kids in his congregation were watching the program.
    I’m not convinced he is a troll; he might just be really dumb.

  93. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @adamah:
    You may find this interesting…
     
    Lecture: Douglas Adams – An Artificial God (25:12-44:45)

  94. doublereed says

    Maybe not omnibenevolent, but just against the hypothesis that God is good and moral in general.

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the people who tend to point out that the fact that God is hideous and horrible tend to be atheists. People who think God is immoral don’t stay religious for long.

  95. adamah says

    Douglas said-

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the people who tend to point out that the fact that God is hideous and horrible tend to be atheists. People who think God is immoral don’t stay religious for long.

    Well, honest believers won’t declare God’s morally-questionable acts depicted in the Bible as “immoral” per se: they simply redefine morality in terms that whatever God does IS moral (“might makes right”, aka an appeal to a totalitarian authority).

    We saw that kind of thinking recently when a Xian caller said God made humans and gave us life, and thus He can take life back at any time (“Indian Give” much, God?), which is the Classic excuse used to defend the actions of an abusive Father figure.

    Fortunately, we place limits on allowable actions of government authorities in a modern democratic society in order to protect individual liberties and civil rights; unfortunately the Bible emerged in an environment long-before such concepts were codified into law.

    Ironically, the early champions of basic civil rights were the Persians, who were the World’s first society to outlaw slavery, their first benefactors being those Hebrews held as captives in Babylon circa 6th cent BCE, freed to return to their homeland and rebuild destroyed Jerusalem and reestablish their religious worship.

    The horrible bit is that the Jews didn’t learn the lesson of Zoroasterianism, and didn’t pass on the good karma to others, but soon returned to practicing slavery as owners of neighboring peoples after the Persian Empire was defeated some 200 yrs after their release. Like the Bible says, they returned to their own vomit, and the World had to wait another 2,500 years before prohibiting slavery again, thanks to the influence of the ‘pro-slavery’ OT and NT.

    Adam

  96. adamah says

    Simon said-

    I’m interested in the etymology of the term ‘Indian give’.

    Yeah, it’s not PC to use the term, since it obviously was used as a pejorative against indigenous native tribes in the past. However, it wasn’t accidental, but used to support my point, to describe the far-greater offensive concept of some humans exterminating other humans via genocidal campaigns, and then justifying it in the name of their God.

    Ironic, no? Not content to simply try to wipe out the native populace, the dominant culture even dares to polemicize the victims a century later, when their God does the same so openly, and they are A-OK with it.

    Adam

  97. adamah says

    Sky captain said-

    Lecture: Douglas Adams – An Artificial God (25:12-44:45)

    Thanks, yeah I love his anthropomorphism of the puddle narcissistically thinking the depression in the ground was specifically-designed for its benefit.

    Adam

  98. Ruben Laane says

    I thought that an Indian Gift refered to a native amercian chief who gave a significant gift to the commander of a fort and got nothing in return and demanded his gift back after waiting for a day.
    I am not sure whether or not this is true, but it’s something I recalled.

  99. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Also this…

    Article: Wikipedia – Raven Paradox

    Hempel’s ravens, is a paradox arising from the question of what constitutes evidence for a statement. Observing objects that are neither black nor ravens may formally increase the likelihood that all ravens are black – even though, intuitively, these observations are unrelated.

    Hempel describes the paradox in terms of the hypothesis:
    (1) All ravens are black.
    In strict logical terms, via contraposition, this statement is equivalent to:
    (2) Everything that is not black is not a raven.
    […]
    (4) This green (and thus not black) thing is an apple (and thus not a raven).

  100. adamah says

    I hate to torpedo Hempel’s logical exercise, but his first premise (“all ravens are black”) is flat-out incorrect, and the claim is easily toppled by disproving it with counter-evidence, rather than relying on finding tons of loosely-correlated supportive evidence.

    Leucism is a phenomena which is understood to effect effects ravens (and swans, BTW), and a Google image search reveals many photos of rare white ravens.

  101. Frank G. Turner says

    @adamah and Sky Captain
    Please read this slowly and carefully as you probably have not encountered one like myself and don’t realize that we actually do exist.
    Sky Captain:
    Think carefully how you define Catholicism.
    If you reduce it to “anyone who who labels themselves one counts”, you’ll ignore centuries of explicit doctrine, ritual, dogma, theology, and of course, the content of the holy book(s).

    Plus whether you believe the god described in those sources would really endorse the institutions you’re citing to brand yourself… institutions which told you stories, and offer no rational reason to be accept them as an accurate depiction of characters and events.
    Believe me I think that the Catholic Church has done a lot of horrible things and there are many things that I do not endorse in the slightest. I myself am a scientist and do not think that the church has done nearly enough to apologize for what they did to him. (I wonder if they ever could).
    In many ways you personally might consider me an agnostic theist, one who acknowledges that there is no good hard evidence in favor of the existence of a God and it is just a matter of where you put the burden of proof. Putting the burden of proof on those making the positive claim makes sense to me from a logical standpoint lest we make all sorts of claims about purple unicorns and invisible elephants living in closets. However, in the absence of proof I consider my default point to be existence (and this is not due to Pascal’s Wager as I don’t necessarily subscribe to the Xtian God being my pure belief in favor of no other. I have many Pagan and Hindu friends, and even Buddhist friends whom I feel have just as much proof and as long as they live good moral lives I could care less about what they believe. I have family members who go to Unitarian Universalist temples, some of whom are atheists who just like the community experience, others of whom favor Pagan traditions. (It was obvious to my sister and I that our cousin had dropped Catholic beliefs at our cousin’s wedding and I had no problem with it).
    I go to a Catholic Church more out of comfort (Peter Boghossian says something about “loyalty to the tribe” in his book, “A Manual for Creating Atheists” which I have been reading, it kind of makes sense to me) and will participate in charities that I agree with (as an example I removed myself from one once which I felt had become more about being anti-gay than helping those in need).

    adamah:
    and is trying to update theology to adapt to current mores and standards.
    Theology just may not be adaptable to current mores and standards and I can accept the loss of it in that wake. If the Catholic Church were to fall tomorrow I would likely go to a Unitarian Universalist group (which sometimes I go to anyway) for the community (if at times I felt that I needed it). I have more than once suggested the skeptical idea of getting a time machine and going back in time trying to determine if Jesus was real or not via documentation via hard evidence and would not be heartbroken if evidence demonstrated that Jesus just did not exist in the way he is written about. I still think that some of the teachings hold good moral value (though I can understand that they are not perfect, I have read some of the stuff on ironchariots.com about a breakdown of the sermon on the mount and that does make sense to me).

    adamah:
    They understand that most people in their target audience are the types who read the tone of confidence with which statements are made, and will preferentially respond to an argument delivered with irrational exuberance and brazen confidence over one delivered with a sober and honest disclosure of risks.
    Actually I read tones of confidence as deceptive and tend to think people are lying to me if they sound TOO confident (even Matt Dillahunty has sounded that way at times). Anyone who has ever been the victim of a bully who convinces people of pure lies through confidence might know what I am talking about. I try very hard to let the evidence speak for itself and in doing so I know that there is no hard evidence for the existence of a God and I am ok with that.

    adamah:
    he’s completely ignoring the message consistently delivered in both the OT & NT about the importance of FAITH, aka belief within a vacuum-lock of evidence,…
    Remember, if there’s one theme in the Bible that IS consistent throughout the Bible, it’s the value of FAITH: Jesus and consistently deprecates weak-in-faith “Doubting Thomas” with the adjective used as a pejorative (!), the disciple who had to see some proof with his own eyes before he was willing to accept claims of Jesus’ resurrection. Thomas was the caricature of the skeptic, the butt of the jokes, the black sheep of the disciples, due to his lack of faith.
    No I am not ignoring this. I am a scientist professionally. I am a Chemist but I have had more than enough coursework in Biology (actually quite a lot) to know that there is more than enough hard evidence in favor of Darwinian evolution. (I don’t buy this crap about micro and macro, that is just a difference of time and there is more than enough hard evidence to demonstrate that the world and the universe have been around long enough for this to happen). Large scale Darwinian evolution is a fact, hard evidence (or might I say Dawkinian, I read Dawkins too and feel that he has a good point when it comes to “The God Delusion”) which completely crushes into a pulp any literal interpretation of the Genesis story of creation and a good part of Noah plus many other Biblical stories. I also went to some pretty liberally minded Catholic Churches with priests who more than happily declared the Biblical story of creation to be fictional and who were more than happy to discuss contradictions found in the Gospels without trying some dance of apologetics. Many simply acknowledge that someone must simply have been wrong (Jesus was not in two places over two hundred miles away at the same time and that refusing to believe this out of blind faith did not make you an evil person). I don’t agree with a lot of this emphasis in scripture and I don’t like it. Maybe that is cherry picking and I won’t deny that.

    Despite many an apologist who (adamah):
    obviously lose the game by trying to defend an indefensible and irrational position, supporting a religious belief system that places faith HIGH ABOVE empirical evidence, and worse, actually DEMANDS wearing blinders to refuse to see any counter-evidence that might weaken one’s faith.
    Many a modern priest (that I interacted with) will point out that faith does not necessarily lead to actions of kindness and good will to others, so what is the point of trying to defend an indefensible and irrational position?
    Many years ago I made a joke about Farrah Fawcett’s death. People around me said that the joke was disrespectful and hurtful. I asked why and they said something about her having great courage. I pointed out that I thought she was very courageous to come out about her Cancerous condition and even do a reality show, talking frequently about cancer’s effects on our society. They asked why I made the joke and I said, “Because it’s supposed to be funny” (some even laughed and thought it was funny too). Some could not separate disrespect from humor (the joke was not intended as ridicule for foolishness, just an irony). In their minds, humor was, BY DEFINITION disrespectful (I can see the difference).
    Some years later I heard one of our parish priests (who had PH.D.s in ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew, he taught at a local University and one could tell that his sermons were often abbreviated forms of his lectures) giving a sermon on “the divine myth of the Book of Job. “ A parishioner actually came up and asked him about why it was a divine myth, was he saying that it was not true? He went into an explanation.
    He first explained that the ancient Greek word “mythos” is not necessarily synonymous with the word “fictional” as we have come to use it today. In the broadest sense it means, “story” regardless of whether the story is true or false. He also pointed out that truth can be philosophical and have a deep meaning much like a fairy tale meant to teach a moral lesson, and that there were many of these in the Bible and throughout ancient Hebrew and Xtian literature, called “parables” (even going on to point out that his studies of ancient Hebrew that the Book of Genesis was written much in the style of a parable, suggesting very strongly that it was intended that way). He pointed out that variously things might have “tested” the faith of those at the time and made them question the value of God, whether God was a good being, but that Job was written very much in the style of a composite, a combination of many different people’s stories compiled into one. So if one went back in time you would probably not find the story to be word for word accurate, if it even happened at all.
    This bothered the parishioner. She was raised among very conservative Catholics and she did not want to listen to this anymore DESPITE the fact that it was coming from A PRIEST! She started going to a different Catholic church. She ALSO could not separate the message, moral or not, forma belief in factual occurrence. In order for the story (which I will admit is a lot about faith) to have ANY meaning to her whatsoever it MUST be factually correct, observable by empirical evidence or believed in as factual despite empirical evidence. (Just like others could not separate humor forom disrespect, she could not separate moral value from empirically factual correctness). I never thought that anything was so dumb.
    Then again, when I was young, I had serious skeptical doubts about scripture myself. I asked my father about Cain and about how he had gone off to live elsewhere with another woman. I immediately asked” wait, who was she? If Adam and Eve were supposed to be the father of all humans, wouldn’t God have to create another person for Cain to have been with?” The response was, “well he created that woman too.” I responded with (at 5 years old), “Why doesn’t the Bible say anything about her, if God is omniscient, wouldn’t he have known that such a question would be asked and have prepared an answer ahead of time, that made its way into scripture?” I got some responses that I recognize as apologetics, but it came down to the Bible sounding very poorly written to me. I mean if there was an omniscient God who wanted things communicated clearly he would have thought of that ahead of time, right? Even if he had to make the Bible Billions of pages long answering every debatable question and putting evidence of that question in easy to find and preserve places, that would make thinks pretty clear and unambiguous. So early on I was (and still am skeptical). I EVENTUALLY got the, “We knew it was fiction but were not sure if you were ready to learn and understand that” speech as an adult, where the story is really about the idea of all human beings being individuals with value whom you should respect, so in that regard we are all brothers and sisters regardless of the factual value of Adam and Eve. (And the lesson can come from other places). I honestly wonder why they were not opened to giving me the description early and I got the “you were just a child” excuse (which does bother me). They could have given me the adult explanation at the age of 5 and I would have respected them more for it. I often got the “you just don’t understand” response and when I asked them to explain things to me. I got the “You just have to be there” response and responded with, “No you were there and if you can’t put it into words then you don’t understand yourself” (my father actually realized that I had a point but he is just not very articulate so putting his thoughts into words is a problem). (BTW I had serious doubts about Santa Claus too and pretty well stopped believing even though I was told flat out at the age of 7).
    I eventually came to understand that honest and complete descriptions that are factual and give serious complete explanations just bores a lot of people whose thoughts are “feelings first, facts second.” That’s why Sye and Hovind and William Lane Craig’s stuff works on many, it makes them feel good (much in the same way a bottle of liquor makes a drunk feel good). For the most part I am a “hard empirical facts first, hard empirical facts second, feelings (and yes I consider faith a feeling) a distant third if it is even considered at all (and often isn’t)” type of person. I still have an inkling of faith though due to a personal experience, which I am very much aware is NOT proof or evidence of any kind, but it does bind me to something religious. (FYI, I cringe listening to their stuff too, Craig particularly. If I were God, Craig’s stuff would make me doubtful of my own existence).
    adamah:
    Remember, if there’s one theme in the Bible that IS consistent throughout the Bible, it’s the value of FAITH: Jesus and consistently deprecates weak-in-faith “Doubting Thomas” with the adjective used as a pejorative (!), the disciple who had to see some proof with his own eyes before he was willing to accept claims of Jesus’ resurrection. Thomas was the caricature of the skeptic, the butt of the jokes, the black sheep of the disciples, due to his lack of faith.
    This is one of the major problems that I have with the Bible and once may call me an unbeliever because of it. I tend to think that this is something Paul included because he did not understand the scientific method and that even if he did, people around him did not. They did not understand something I have often said to myself, nothing is factually correct unless there is some doubt to it. Nothing can be right unless there is a possibility, however remote, of it being wrong. Insecure people don’t seem to get this (at times I didn’t). Maybe faith was all that they had and it needs to go away. Maybe that is trying to update theology with modern ideas but maybe that is impossible. If society eventually drops religion because of that I am ok with it.
    For the large part I am something that you probably have not come into contact with, a LIBERALLY MINDED Catholic. Dr. Ken Miller, the famed scientist (cellular and molecular biologist but has taught and written books on evolution too) who went to federal court to fight against teaching creationism in schools (in science courses anyway) by explaining the evolution of cellular mechanisms, is CATHOLIC. Matt DIllahunty has actually quoted and mentioned Ken Miller many times over the years (normally to point out that one can believe in evolution and still be Xtians, but it does take acknowledging that much of scripture is not literal). FYI, the scientist who came up with what eventually was called the Big Bang Theory, was a CATHOLIC PRIEST! (And did not get persecuted like Galileo either). Look this up it is dead serious!
    I asked my parents some of these same questions that follow and have only gotten marginal answers. It demonstrates that my beliefs are pretty flexible. If Jesus insisted on us having faith in something, faith in what? Did he mean faith in the absence of evidence that the book of Genesis is literally correct?
    At any point did Jesus say (and I don’t mean implied that he said, I mean nearly word for word or idea for idea) that “In order to be saved you must literally belief in every word for word piece of the Book of Genesis to be factually correct as though it literally happened and if at any point you find even a single shroud of evidence that suggests anything to the contrary that you should throw it out in favor of what I say because I can do magic”? I don’t find that in the Bible and it sounds like it does not exist. If God had written a clear Bible to me that was really divinely inspired it would not be subject to human emotional interpretation.
    I often got more out of some passages of The Jefferson Bible as it was clearly written in such a way as to be focused more on morality and less on unfounded claims about demonstrative fact. I have often said that if the Bible were truly clear and un-doubtable fact it would probably be boring as it would sound more like a set of instructions on how to put together a set of bookshelves with an Allen wrench that you bought from IKEA. (Feel free to use that line on the show as I have gotten roars of laughter when saying that). That is not to say that the Bible is not useful, but one has to do an awful lot of filtering and many apologists filter the wrong way, throwing out the pasta after cooking it and insisting that we drink hot water to stay healthy (I use that metaphor a lot).
    I hope that this gives you a better idea of the kind of person that you are talking to as it sound like it is not what you assumed.

  102. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @adamah:

    his first premise (“all ravens are black”) is flat-out incorrect, and the claim is easily toppled by disproving it with counter-evidence

    Monochromatic birds are kind of a theme in thought experiments about induction (what can be extrapolated from what has been seen so far).
     
    Sure a Black Swan – once observed – would disprove a proposed universal but, for the exercise, one has not been found yet. The point is: given that there’s a possibility that there might be a disproof lurking out in the wild (and indeed definitely is), what can be said, with varying degrees of confidence, based on available knowledge at the time?
     
     
    * The color of Russell’s Chicken wasn’t mentioned, but I like to imagine it that way. : )

  103. Ruben Laane says

    Although that is very possible indeed, we must remind ourselves we do not have the data to make a fair judgement. Futher complicating the matter is the fact the the government in de fifties ordered native americans be made infertile as to make sure they did not procreate as the government did not think that would be preferable. So I understand the intense distrust of the parents in this matter. And even though the doctor treating her must not allow that to weigh in his judgement to remove the parents from custody during the treatment. The government that has to carry out such an order may well decide that the costs outweigh result. Or it may even be the government lacks jurisdiction in this matter as certain tribes have their own laws and lands.

    But whatever the consideration may be, I fear we lack the data to make a reasonable judgement.

  104. adamah says

    Hi Frank,

    Believe me, I’ve interacted with your personality-type before, as I get the fleeting impression of someone who attempts to achieve agreements via making concessions (eg Neville Chamberlain thinker), the kind of person who’s able to tolerate high levels of cognitive dissonance to be able to hold contradictory beliefs, wanting the group to hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’. I tell myself I can’t do that kind of thing and that personal integrity to my beliefs is more important, but then again, that’s probably just me believing my own personal mythology. :)

    As pointed out on http://www.bookofjob.org the account begins with a characteristic Hebrew syntax that is the equivalent of the later hallmark of a fairy tale (“once upon a time”) that is telling the reader the story is a parable, and Job, a fictional character, a detail that was lost over the centuries and multiple translations.

    (BTW, if you don’t know what the ancient legal premise of the “oath of innocence” is, then you really don’t understand Job, since it underlies the entire story. Worth looking into it…)

    The problem is Jesus (and others, like Paul) held the OT figures like Noah and Job to be humans who actually lived, not just literary characters, now supposedly in Heaven: that kind of position shift over time is a characteristic of the legend formation process.

    Faith is defined in the Bible as specifically faith in Jesus’ ability to deliver salvation to humans, whether that’s the hope of ascending to Heaven after death, or the Earthly hope of resurrection (as JWs believe).

    Now obviously if Jesus’ existence as the demigod “Son of God” is questioned, that by definition demonstrate a weakness in faith, which per theology, means the person won’t be saved! Note the circular logic at play there?

    If Jesus can’t deliver as promised, there’s nothing remaining but a bunch of other rationalizations and secondary benefits to justify spending one’s life in worship (eg “the church choir is soothing to listen to”, etc), but again, those should be seen as add-ons, secondary concerns to the REALITY, ie what actually IS true.

    I don’t have a problem with believers who acknowledge that they lack proof, and admit to having doubts (although it’s basically saying the King has no clothes, and WILL generate a load of sideways looks). The problem is those who die in the name of their irrational beliefs, whether JW’s who off themselves by refusing blood transfusions, or Muslim suicide bombers (and take others with them).

    Adam

  105. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Frank

    In many ways you personally might consider me an agnostic theist, one who acknowledges that there is no good hard evidence in favor of the existence of a God and it is just a matter of where you put the burden of proof. Putting the burden of proof on those making the positive claim makes sense to me from a logical standpoint lest we make all sorts of claims about purple unicorns and invisible elephants living in closets. However, in the absence of proof I consider my default point to be existence (and this is not due to Pascal’s Wager as I don’t necessarily subscribe to the Xtian God being my pure belief in favor of no other. I have many Pagan and Hindu friends, and …

    What the hell are you even saying? You are admitting that you have no evidence to favor the proposition “There is a god”, but you believe in it anyway? That makes you a liar, or insane. What is wrong with you?

    You mention you do it because it’s comforting, which makes me lean towards a combination of liar, in denial, and delusion. Not so much insanity.

    Also, learn to quote. If you cannot figure out blockquote, at least demark the text in some way. Use the preview button too.

    I’m not reading the rest of that, given that I have such a fundamental problem with either your epistemology, your dedication to truth, and your honesty – and because the formatting is god-awful.

  106. Frank G. Turner says

    @adamah
    “Believe me, I’ve interacted with your personality-type before, as I get the fleeting impression of someone who attempts to achieve agreements via making concessions (eg Neville Chamberlain thinker), the kind of person who’s able to tolerate high levels of cognitive dissonance to be able to hold contradictory beliefs, wanting the group to hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’.”
    .
    Actually no adamah, jdoran has a better idea when he says,
    .
    @jdoran
    “The term you were looking for is “culturally Catholic”.”
    .
    That makes a bit of sense, athough I am a little bit more than culturally but I still disagree with a lot of what gets done in the name of the Catholic Church and I make that quite clear having known a priest who at least did prison time and was subsequently moved to a home where he was kept under surveillance after having been found guilty of you know what (I was not one of his “victims” but know someone who was). I don’t make certain concessions. Evolution did happen largely the way Darwin explain it, period, even if it means that Adam and Eve did not exist and neither did Noah. MANY a Catholic scholar will acknowledge that and some will not concede on that point and don’t get excommunicated for it. Although I tend to think that a person LIKE Noah may have existed but he most certainly did not carry every animal in the world nor did the whole world flood happen. If anything it happened over a 100-200 mile radius and Noah carried all of the animals of the world he THOUGHT was the entire world, if it even happened at all. I am not an apologist and given how ridiculous the story sounds I am more than happy to concede that the explanation that I give has no evidence to back it up, it is merely an exercise of thought of what MIGHT have inspired the story. And regardless of what conservative Catholics might tell you, or conservative Protestants, there are a LOT of Xtians who do not believed that Noah existed REGARDLESS of what Paul and Jesus supposedly said (which may have just been mistranslations or Paul’s own insecurity and misunderstanding). MANY of a disagree with the idea that Jesus and Paul believed Noah and Adam and Eve and Jonah etc were real people, particular given that JESUS HIMSELF as a Rabbi would have been familiar with the “oath of innocence” (the Priest I spoke about most certainly was, that is essentially what he was describing to the parishoner). Jesus knew how to speak in parables, he knew how to recognize parables (if he even existed). His depicting of any OT character as actually existing could very well have been hyperbole. The fact that JWs or any other closed minded Dogmatic group insists that the ONLY way for you to believe in Jesus is to agree with EVERY word that he supposedly said including that Job, Noah, Jonah, etc must have actually existed is insecure and full of themselves and there are Xtians who are not like that (they just are not as loud about it).
    .
    Evolution on a macro-logical level did happen, period, given the mountain upon mountain of evidence that exists in favor of it from geology to genetics (which should be enough by itself). None of this micro or macro crap, and ALL of medical science and life expectancy has advanced because of it. Apologists try to claim that micro evolution could have occurred or that there was a way for medical science to advance without evolution and my answer is this, NO IT WOULD NOT!!!. No Matter what claim you make in that regard it s not supported by hard evidence at it is just wrong no matter how brainwashed you are. The Bible is just WRONG about the story of creation if it is meant in a literal sense (which I don’t believe it to be). Even if it were correct, it has no practical application, evolution does (modern medicine). To quote Ken Miller, “we have the data, we win” and “we have the fossils, we win” (discussing evolutionary biology and one of his CATHOLIC students who went on to get a Ph.D. in Paleontology). I would go on to say, “we have the doctors, we win” and it is my understanding that even at universities like BYU they have to teach evolution correctly WITHOUT creationism to get accreditation or to get students graduated and they are tested on these subjects correctly and must pass muster. Ken Miller would not concede on this and neither do I. (Miller actually said this publicly to a political candidate who said something about people “wanting to believe that they came from apes.” Miller pointed out that if the parents of the candidate did, then so did the candidate and we have more than ample proof that your parents came from apes. When the candidate complained that no good Xtian would believe that Miller stated that he had been a practicing Catholic for years and that there is no objection from the Vatican of what he said, they even endorse it which got a rather angry look on the face of the candidate). ALL humans came from apes, period, or we are at least living in a simulation that definitively looks that way so for all intents and purposes, we did. I don’t concede on this, Adam and Eve just did not exist and Noah most certainly was not the man he is written to be (no respectable scientist would believe that Noah could have carried every animal in the world even at the time of the supposed occurrence, particularly given that there is no evidence of a world wide flood and even significant evidence against it) regardless of what Jesus says. It has been suggested that we make people accept evolution as fact (as the firm basis for the advancement of medical science to provide them with services) or deny them medical services but that is unethical and would harm us as much as it does them, particularly when it comes to vaccinations and herd immunity. Not only other animals evolved EVERYTHING DID and I will shout it from the mountain top. I have taught it to others! Fortunately, some “believers” aid in the evolutionary process by doing something as ridiculous as say, getting bitten by a poisonous snake and refusing medical treatment. (I wish that parents would not do stuff like that to their children mind you as I think THAT is unethical).
    .
    Of course, as Matt Dillahunty said in one program “the Catholic Church had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century and modern science,” but I would go on to add that once they were there they got a bit more open minded by not persecuting Monsignor Georges Lemaître (one of their own) the way they did Galileo who I talked about before. (Of course they could admit they were wrong wrong wrong about Galileo and spend several millions of dollars making widespread apologies which I think they should be required to do).
    .
    As far as Jesus not saving and salvation, I would not believe that the simple act of blind faith would be good enough. A person should be knowledgeable about morality regardless of where it comes from and the idea that we can “commit adultery 1 hundred times er day and still be guaranteed salvation through solo fides” as Martin Luther claimed is just his own insecurity and desire to feel superior to people (or one might say his own inferiority complex which he seems to have had and which LOTS of modern day Xtians seem to have). If there is an omniscient God he is smart enough to forgive shortcomings of perfection as long as there is indication that you made an effort to maintain a moral lifestyle and blind faith and immorality does not excuse you. If faith has to die because too many can’t see that, so be it. I would rather a moral and loving and unselfish and caring atheist than a wicked and selfish supposed Xtian (just like Matt Dillahunty says, if church prevents you from going and and doing crazy wicked things then he wants you in church every Sunday). Theology may just not be adaptable to modern day ideology and if it dies as a result, so be it, I am not uncomfortable with that. Any morality that I have which comes from religion I back up with secular reasoning as well.
    .
    So maybe I am not maintaining cognitive dissonance to hold contradictory beliefs? (I know what you mean, they call it “compartmentalizing”). Like I said I get more out of The Jefferson Bible.
    .
    I doubt that Ethan has thought his Catholicism through as thoroughly as this and believe me, I have no problem with the fall of the Catholic Church despite the label that I give myself, I just wont actively participate in taking it down as I do believe that it has some value in the world that outweighs the negatives, not by a lot thought nor that can be achieved through other means. I DO KNOW that there are Catholics who are more liberally minded like myself and not as closed minded or Dogmatic, I tend to get along with lots of atheists and agnostics who are more intellectual which I prefer.

  107. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @ Frank G. Turner:
    Misc highlights…

    I don’t agree with a lot of this emphasis in scripture and I don’t like it.

    If God had written a clear Bible to me that was really divinely inspired it would not be subject to human emotional interpretation.

    the Book of Genesis was written much in the style of a parable, suggesting very strongly that it was intended that way

    I EVENTUALLY got the, “We knew it was fiction but were not sure if you were ready to learn and understand that” speech as an adult

    So why do you not ALSO consider gods to be heavy-handed plot devices? As you do for angels, demons, floods, plagues, faith healing, eden, etc.
     

    in the absence of proof I consider my default point to be existence

    That string of words conveys no meaning.
    If you mean to say “the fact that you exist at all is bewildering”, stating your ignorance doesn’t lead you anywhere, much less to a deistic god, much less to a meddling theistic god, much less to a modern variation on ancient assertions about a particular god.
     
    We build models of the world expanding outward from our present immediate awareness. Not from the beginning of time or from first principles. There’s no existential crisis in not having a grand narrative, such that it HAS to be filled in with some explanation. There will always be gaps in understanding and unexplored areas, and yet we get by just fine not knowing everything that ever happened everywhere.
     
    I think a human who called himself Frank probably existed in the recent past, based on the lingering comments I see above. This is reasonable since English speakers named Frank are not uncommon in my experience, and I’m quite confident of the notion that a human human exists who can write a blog comment, because one is doing so right now where I am.
     
    Why is anyone named Frank? *shrug*
    I might google it if I get bored and feel like becoming aware of some new trivia.
     

    I still have an inkling of faith though due to a personal experience, which I am very much aware is NOT proof or evidence of any kind, but it does bind me to something religious.

    No. A feeling doesn’t bind you to any religion.
     

    If the Catholic Church were to fall tomorrow I would likely go to a Unitarian Universalist group

    And that’s an awfully loose binding you’re asserting. Your idea of “faith” seems to have nothing to do with any religion’s declarations about gods, demons, angels, history, institutional decrees, salvation, or even morality parables. You’re just relabelling a general desire for social interaction and mutual support. Whether there’s a cross around is irrelevant.

  108. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Enlightenment Liberal
    Pardon my issue with formatting, I am new to this message board and just learning it. I apologize for that and did try to make up for the issue.
    .
    It is an interesting matter as there are really two statements, “There is/are a God(s)” or “There is/are no God(s)”.The first is obviously the positive statement and should bare the burden of proof from a logical standpoint, so God should essentially be not guilty of existing until proven to exist. One could take up the other viewpoint, but such would be analogous to making the claim of Being guilty of existence until proven not guilty of existence. Obviously that is foolish (I have watched many episodes of the show) as one could make the same claim about purple unicorns or invisible elephants (that was in the rest of the statement), and believing such things is rather silly.
    .
    My personal belief in the existence of a God is based upon a very personal experience in my life, but I acknowledge that this provides no proof in my mind of it being the Xtian God (which is why I read other religious texts, for a time I considered Wicca/Paganism). I also acknowledge that what happened to me is not proof for others, nor could it be. What happened to me could have been a delusion (I ALSO acknowledge this in the rest of the statement) and I would be comfortable with that. I have challenged my own faith, asked myself (and others) questions like “if I had a time machine and could actually determine if Jesus existed demonstratively by witnessing it personally, would I do it and would I be surprised if he didn’t?.” The answer is yes I would and no I would not be heartbroken if that happened. I might still believe in a God, but I have often asked myself questions about what it is does it have an intelligence, does it have to have an intelligence?
    .
    If you read about my views on evolution, I am a scientist (a Chemist but one with enough of a background to have a firm understanding of evolution and genetics) and solidly devoted to evolution largely the way Darwin and Dawkins describe, with nothing “special” about human design aside from the possibility of intelligence (which I doubt was willed into existence by an all powerful intelligence through supernatural violations of the laws of nature, why create rules if you are just going to re-write them anyway?).
    .
    Believe what you will about me being hypocritical though, and I can understand your feelings. The thing is, I am learning a LOT about scripture from atheists who know more about it than actual Xtians and its funny as I have often gotten along better with atheists than I do Xtians, despite claiming to be one.

  109. Monocle Smile says

    Holy shit. Do you expect people to read all that? I’m skimming through it and it’s mostly meaningless twaddle. You spend thousands of words both apologizing for and defending the Catholic church for whatever bad reason of the moment. What does any of that have to do with anything?

    Ah, found the crux!

    However, in the absence of proof I consider my default point to be existence

    The value you place on truth is bad and you should feel bad.

  110. Frank G. Turner says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain
    .
    You guys have made me seriously think here and i like it, it helps me consider some things that i have not thought of, I appreciate that.
    .
    “So why do you not ALSO consider gods to be heavy-handed plot devices? As you do for angels, demons, floods, plagues, faith healing, eden, etc.”
    .
    Actually I do consider the others to be heavy handed plot devices which I why I tend to disagree with a lot of what the Bible says, and other religious books too. In many respects I realize that i don’t really believe in angels and demons and see them as more of metaphorical devices so why not God? That does make a tone of sense actually and I will give that more thought. Maybe God just is a metaphor for a heavy handed plot device and considering that I don’t make much of an effort to defend other ridiculous unfounded claims, why make an exception for God? (I tend not to defend God’s existence much of the time anyway). I agree that evolution has the best hard evidence behind it regardless of whatever scripture it contradicts, that part of scripture is just wrong (although I keep a small bit of skepticism about that to and I agree that it is possible, though remotely, and belief in it certainly is not practical). That story of creation was not and should not nor should have ever been taken literally, so maybe God is that same way.
    .
    “You’re just re-labelling a general desire for social interaction and mutual support. Whether there’s a cross around is irrelevant.”
    .
    You have a good point and I don’t deny this. Believe me I did strongly consider Wicca/Paganism for a while as I see a lot of morality in some of what they teach and there are those who would say that my views are a lot like a Buddhist in many ways. I have Buddhist friends and think they are among the kindest people that I have ever known. I am no your “fire an brimstone” Xtian believer who insists that you have to believe one way or be labeled a heretic. They turn me off and I never liked them. Even if the Xtian God were what I encountered in the afterlife if I saw people being rewarded for blind faith I would consider that God (if it was even there) to be an inhumane monster. Many times when I find myself describing God I find myself focused on the natural power of the universe and nothing supernatural or superstitious like a separate intelligence (sort of like Buddhists) which Richard Dawkins describes as a type of atheism.

    So to Ethan, maybe I am not Catholic in anything more than culture, maybe I only go to service out of “loyalty to the tribe” (to quote Boghossian again). Just letting you know though, there are those who are liberally minded Catholics (that was my whole point in bringing this up int he first place). if you read about Kenneth Miller you might be quite surprised at what some who call themselves Catholic believe and are NOT ex-communicated for (at least not anymore).

  111. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Monocle Smile
    Actually if you read slowly and carefully (which many people don’t) I don’t really defend the Catholic church. I point out that they have done many bad things that I don’t agree with and I point out that one can be liberally minded and NOT believe that every word of scripture is fact and still be Christian (Catholic specifically but there are Protestants who do as well), particularly given that there are Catholic evolutionary biologists who have actually protested creationism being taught as science in schools (Kenneth Miller) and a Catholic priest came up with what would be labeled the Big Bang theory. I also stand strong in favor of belief in evolution as the best explanation and demonstrable through empirical evidence despite scriptural disagreements.
    .
    When I said in the absence of proof I consider my default position to be existence, I meant with reference to the existence of a God. However, having spoken with people on here I think I have realized that my confidence in the existence of a God (as least as an intelligent being and not more than the universe itself) is pretty lacking so my position might not be all that comforting to another supposed Catholic.
    .
    I think that they may have it right that I am more of a cultural Catholic who goes to service “out of loyalty to the tribe” rather than an actual belief. Which is not to say that I would not be thankful to such a being if one rally did exist, I just have no hard evidence of the existence of a God as an intelligence separate from the universe or existent within and throughout it.

  112. Frank G. Turner says

    Having taught Chemistry and Biology and tutored Physics, Evolution, Genetics, etc, I certainly would not use any of that as explanations or accept that as a correct answer.
    .
    I read an article somewhere about a school district in the south actually trying to get it legalized for students to put the word “God” as an answer to science questions to witch they did not know and have that be considered a “correct answer.” (Which would lead to no learning). Did anyone else read this article? (I did some google searching and can’t find it).
    .
    FYI to others on here, you are right I am not really a Catholic in anything more than culture / name. I concede the point about myself (not the point about how one can believe in evolution and still be Xtian though, particularly among Catholics).

  113. adamah says

    jdoran said-
    “The term you were looking for is “culturally Catholic”.”
    .
    Frank said-

    That makes a bit of sense, athough I am a little bit more than culturally but I still disagree with a lot of what gets done in the name of the Catholic Church and I make that quite clear having known a priest who at least did prison time and was subsequently moved to a home where he was kept under surveillance after having been found guilty of you know what (I was not one of his “victims” but know someone who was).

    Funny, as I haven’t met a brash RC within the past decade; most are like the current Pope, who’s doing everything within his power to at least give the public appearance of back-peddling from prior mistakes and dogmatic stances, esp after being hit in the pocketbook due to the pedophile priest scandals. ie I’ve encountered more Catholics like you, essentially forced to admit the obvious, but once again (are you sensing a common theme?) only AFTER the incriminating evidence is so overwhelming that to deny only harms their credibility, be it pedophiles, denial of evo, Galileo, gays, etc.

    Frank said-

    I don’t make certain concessions. Evolution did happen largely the way Darwin explain it, period, even if it means that Adam and Eve did not exist and neither did Noah.

    You’d be a FOOL to deny evo, since as you said, there are multiple scientific disciplines which ALL converge to reach the same conclusion supporting evo.

    Oh, you COULD deny it, but then you’d be on the par of Flat Earthers, another group largely driven by the Bible to stick to their guns well-past the point of reasonableness, ignoring mountains of evidence.

    MANY a Catholic scholar will acknowledge that and some will not concede on that point and don’t get excommunicated for it.

    No kidding: RCC seemingly learned their lesson of meddling into science with Galileo (too late for Bruno to benefit: he was burned at the stake), although the RCC only recently got around to apologizing for their handling of Galileo.

    Frank said-

    although I tend to think that a person LIKE Noah may have existed but he most certainly did not carry every animal in the world nor did the whole world flood happen. If anything it happened over a 100-200 mile radius and Noah carried all of the animals of the world he THOUGHT was the entire world, if it even happened at all.

    “If”? R u trolling us? Or can you ignore the unbroken records of civilizations from Egypt, Sumeria, China, etc which didn’t reflect such an event?

    You seemingly overlook the story is told from the perspective of a 3rd-person omniscient narrator, who reports the words of God to Noah, even the thoughts of God (ie God’s internal dialogue for why He carried out the Flood).

    Rather than rehashing my writings on the topic, check out my blog articles on the story of the Flood, as well as my analysis of the issue of Cain being a murderer vs committing manslaughter.

    http://awgue.weebly.com

    Few readers understand the Torah is a book of legal codes, introduced by a series of vignettes in Genesis which are designed to help “sell” the adoption of the Deuteronomic (civil) and Levitical (ritual) codes which later are encountered. If you’re not thinking of the Torah in those very-human terms, you’re missing the boat….

    Frank said-
    I am not an apologist and given how ridiculous the story sounds I am more than happy to concede that the explanation that I give has no evidence to back it up, it is merely an exercise of thought of what MIGHT have inspired the story.

    Well, it’s obviously absurd NOW, since there’s TONS of evidence discovered within the past 150 yrs (including prior tales which were likely adopted by the Hebrews, for the same purpose: to establish the right to control others), but a priest could say he believed in a Worldwide flood and not encounter snickers in the congregation.

    AGAIN, conceding an obvious point well past the point of obviousness is NOT intellectual heroics; to NOT do so is foolishness. All we know then is that you’re likely not a fool, lol!

    And regardless of what conservative Catholics might tell you, or conservative Protestants, there are a LOT of Xtians who do not believed that Noah existed REGARDLESS of what Paul and Jesus supposedly said (which may have just been mistranslations or Paul’s own insecurity and misunderstanding). MANY of a disagree with the idea that Jesus and Paul believed Noah and Adam and Eve and Jonah etc were real people, particular given that JESUS HIMSELF as a Rabbi would have been familiar with the “oath of innocence” (the Priest I spoke about most certainly was, that is essentially what he was describing to the parishoner). Jesus knew how to speak in parables, he knew how to recognize parables (if he even existed). His depicting of any OT character as actually existing could very well have been hyperbole. The fact that JWs or any other closed minded Dogmatic group insists that the ONLY way for you to believe in Jesus is to agree with EVERY word that he supposedly said including that Job, Noah, Jonah, etc must have actually existed is insecure and full of themselves and there are Xtians who are not like that (they just are not as loud about it).

    Don’t read Matt 24 then, since Jesus’ entire salvation schtick was based on comparison to an ACTUAL Flood occurring: he compared his offering salvation to Noah’s family being saved from destruction.

    Your strategy of back-peddling on Bible interpretative claims is an old shop-worn strategy I refer to as, “What was once literal now is only metaphorical”.

    I often ask the believers to EXPLAIN the metaphorical meaning of Jesus’ salvation? If Jesus can’t literally conquer death and resurrect humans, then WHAT is the metaphorical meaning?

    Here’s where believers offer the sounds of crickets chirping: they cannot explain it, since they’ve never thought of their own excusiology. So when you say stuff like this:

    The Bible is just WRONG about the story of creation if it is meant in a literal sense (which I don’t believe it to be).

    I ask you, how do interpret the creation account metaphorically to provide anything valuable to humanity? What is it?

    As I see it, the Genesis creation narrative is an attempt to create the ultimate control system, all in an attempt to gain control over the behavior of others.

    Frank said-

    I don’t concede on this, Adam and Eve just did not exist.

    Lucky you, since if you don’t believe Adam existed, you have absolutely no need for Jesus’ blood redemption for mankind from Adamic sin….

    UNLESS you can coherently and logically offer a metaphorical interpretation of Adamic original sin which somehow makes sense (and I won’t hold my breath). ;)

    Just realize the Xian blood sacrifice WAS supposed to be metaphorical, with animal sacrifice rituals to serve as the teaching aid that symbolically foreshadowed the blood sacrifice of Jesus. So you can’t use that, since

    Frank said-

    Any morality that I have which comes from religion I back up with secular reasoning as well.

    Fortunately we have secular prisons, too: turns out the fear of God didn’t work all that well to prevent criminals!
    .
    So maybe I am not maintaining cognitive dissonance to hold contradictory beliefs? (I know what you mean, they call it “compartmentalizing”). Like I said I get more out of The Jefferson Bible.

    The idea is to AVOID CD, not ‘maintain it': people develop various coping strategies to avoid experiencing it, since it’s emotionally painful (Jefferson avoided it by taking out all the stinky passages of the Bible, so reading it wouldn’t cause CD and he could avoid asking himself troublesome “faith-eroding” questions).

    frank said-

    I doubt that Ethan has thought his Catholicism through as thoroughly as this….

    I dare say he’s in good company, ie project much? :)

    Adam

  114. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Frank G. Turner:

    maybe I only go to service out of “loyalty to the tribe” (to quote Boghossian again). Just letting you know though, there are those who are liberally minded Catholics […] you might be quite surprised at what some who call themselves Catholic believe and are NOT ex-communicated for (at least not anymore).

    It IS surprising who the Catholic Church considers (not) deserving of excommunication these days…
     
    Article: Church Excommunicates Doctor And Mother Of 9-Year-Old Rape Victim – But Not The Man Who Raped Her
     
    Article: Catholic priests investigated over stolen babies

    Church leaders now admit they have known about the network for at least 10 years. Unlike in Spain and Argentina [and Australia and Ireland], where [in each country, tens or hundreds of thousands of] babies were stolen from families considered to be too poor or too subversive to raise the children well, the motivation in Chile was to shield the reputations of well-off families from the social stigma of unmarried motherhood.
    […]
    “These woman entered the clinic. They were put to sleep and when they woke up were told ‘Your baby has died.’ Basically it was kidnapping.”

  115. says

    Right–if you just slap a label on it that does not elaborate or “explain” the process by which it occurred, that is not an “explanation.” It’s just a relabel of “X.” It is an unexplained variable that provides no greater insight into what occurred to cause the outcome than “X did it.”

  116. says

    >Well, most people do make a moral distinction between actively killing someone versus allowing them to die by withholding appropriate aid. But I suppose it’s more a distinction in degree than one in kind.

    Not actually. For example, I have to have access to a particular medicine daily or I will die. My body cannot manufacture a hormone that is required for survival. I am lucky that many people have this same condition–to varying degrees–so that the synthetic hormone has been created and is cheaply and widely available. Because it’s easy to produce, the idea of withholding access to members of our tribe/society would seem immoral and inexcusable. But what if I was the only person on the planet to ever have the condition, and it would take resources to test and develop a cure, resulting in a pill that would be worth $100,000 per day? Is society then obligated to provide that aid to keep me alive? I mean, I’m IN that situation in reality where I rely on these drugs, but if that second case were my reality, I would have to acknowledge that there are, like it or not, resource ceilings in what we can provide to citizens to aid them. It isn’t that we don’t care. But we don’t have unlimited resources, and have to make decisions about where those resources go. Generally speaking, the LESS cost that is involved in helping someone in distress, the more we expect other people to feel an obligation to help. But as the cost or even potential cost/risk goes up to those who want to help, the more we begin to see it less as obligatory and more praiseworthy or heroic. So, that someone who runs into a burning building to save others is considered a hero, because it’s beyond what we expect someone to risk to help others. People CAN do it, but we don’t condemn them if they do not.

    So, there isn’t just a slight difference between withholding aid if someone dies as a result, versus proactively killing them. It’s actually the difference between “immoral” and “not immoral”–again, to some degree depending on a value assessment of “cost to aid.” We literally go from being morally condemned, to morally obligated, to “hey, nobody expects you to help at THAT cost/risk–you’re still a good person even though you stood by and let people die–we understand.”

  117. says

    Exactly. When someone asserts an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it might be good to ask if they are acknowledging that we are, in fact, observing an absence of evidence their god exists? Because that is something I can fully get behind.

  118. Monocle Smile says

    Actually if you read slowly and carefully (which many people don’t)

    You’re not exactly Shakespeare. I have no interest whatsoever in falling asleep trying to grind through your muddied ramblings. I just don’t give a shit and I found exactly nothing of value in that block of text. Stay on topic and stay concise next time.

    particularly given that there are Catholic evolutionary biologists who have actually protested creationism being taught as science in schools (Kenneth Miller) and a Catholic priest came up with what would be labeled the Big Bang theory.

    This is exactly what I meant. I was entirely right. Does it MATTER that Miller and Lemaitre (it was actually FRIEDMANN who came up with the actual equations; Lemaitre just formalized it) were Catholic? Does that have anything to do with their work in science? Of course not.

    Which is not to say that I would not be thankful to such a being if one rally did exist,

    I suggest you spend less time composing blog posts that would give William Faulkner cottonmouth and more time actually reading your goddamn “holy book.” The being described in that thing would need to be destroyed, not worshiped.

  119. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Frank G. Turner
    You’re surprisingly polite, and not a troll? I shall endeavor to reciprocate.

    As for how to quote. I could look up the escape sequences, but I’m too lazy. Try this (with the preview button before submitting)
    {blockquote} quoted text goes here {/blockquote}
    with angled brackets instead of the curly brackets, e.g. the less-than and greater-than signs.

    My personal belief in the existence of a God is based upon a very personal experience in my life, but I acknowledge that this provides no proof in my mind of it being the Xtian God (which is why I read other religious texts, for a time I considered Wicca/Paganism).

    I thank you for recognizing your personal experience is not compelling to others. I also appreciate that you recognize that it could have been a hallucination. However, you also openly admitted that you had no reason to think it was the Christian god, so why do you think it’s the Christian god? Thus, I still have a problem with your epistemology, honesty, and dedication to truth.

  120. Frank G. Turner says

    I don’t think it is the Christian God. I don’t think I ever did even when that event happened, I just went to that out of convenience because it was what was taught to me and I did not even do that all of the time (hence my exploration into Wicca/Paganism).

    I think it is more a matter of I just have a hard time “fitting in” in many groups (accept intellectuals for the most part) is all and I should have paid attention to how well I fit in among atheists and agnostics. It is sort of like craving social acceptance and not realizing what you need to do in order to get that acceptance. Does that make sense?

  121. Frank G. Turner says

    I read something to that effect about a woman in South America excommunicated for getting an abortion in a case that clearly would have killed the mother and harmed the child once. The weight of the article I had read hit me pretty hard after all of this.

  122. Frank G. Turner says

    Fair enough, no need to read if you don’t want to, though I read Richard Dawkins whom I find to be amazingly long winded and does not always stay on point but I still find it valuable and meaningful information. (I got a lot of my understanding of science by reading apparently muddled ramblings slowly and carefully). And I read about Friedman too so you are spot on there.

    Like I said in another post I have gotten more value out of the Jefferson Bible so why even bother with the other one which I agree carries too much crap. You have gotten me to concede, I am Catholic in name only.

  123. Frank G. Turner says

    adamah –
    .
    “Funny, as I haven’t met a brash RC within the past decade; most are like the current Pope, who’s doing everything within his power to at least give the public appearance of back-peddling from prior mistakes and dogmatic stances, esp after being hit in the pocketbook due to the pedophile priest scandals. ie I’ve encountered more Catholics like you, essentially forced to admit the obvious, but once again (are you sensing a common theme?) only AFTER the incriminating evidence is so overwhelming that to deny only harms their credibility, be it pedophiles, denial of evo, Galileo, gays, etc.”
    .
    “You’d be a FOOL to deny evo, since as you said, there are multiple scientific disciplines which ALL converge to reach the same conclusion supporting evo.”
    .
    I see what you are saying, although I was tutoring others in evolutionary theory (and for a long time understood the differences between theory, law, and hypothesis in the scientific sense) in high school. Despite my upbringing, I think I had already realized that the Adam and Eve story was a load of crap, I think I knew that as a child. That is not to be seen as Heroic, but I did figure it out before a mountain of evidence was thrown at me. (Matt Dillahunty’s comments about “the Catholic church being dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century make a bit more sense to me now)
    .
    adamah –
    .
    ““If”? R u trolling us? Or can you ignore the unbroken records of civilizations from Egypt, Sumeria, China, etc which didn’t reflect such an event?”
    .
    No I was aware of this, I did not buy the Noah story for other reasons but that is as good as any. Like I said, my explanation of how it could potentially have happened was more of a mental exercise than something which I thought held any water (pardon the pun).
    .
    adamah –
    .
    “Don’t read Matt 24 then, since Jesus’ entire salvation schtick was based on comparison to an ACTUAL Flood occurring: he compared his offering salvation to Noah’s family being saved from destruction.

    Your strategy of back-peddling on Bible interpretative claims is an old shop-worn strategy I refer to as, “What was once literal now is only metaphorical””
    .
    I have read the Matthew 24, and I just never bought it that Jesus was using anything other than hyperbole and no priest could ever convince me that it was not hyperbole (some priests even DID claim that it was hyperbole but none could give me an explanation of why or how they knew). I don’t consider it back peddling as I NEVER personally claimed that a variety of Biblical stories were anything other than metaphor, but I see what you mean. I have no metaphorical explanation for Jesus’ salvation. I don’t even know if one could really exist (maybe someone has come up with something). On some things I did not back pedal, I never believed them to begin with.
    .
    adamah-
    .
    “I ask you, how do interpret the creation account metaphorically to provide anything valuable to humanity? What is it?”
    .
    The only thing that I can come up with is that even if we are not the sons of one mother and one father then we are meant to respect each other like we would a brother and sister, basically we are all one big family. (Though some genetic evidence does suggest a “MItochondrial Eve and a “Y chromosome Adam” who are named based upon the Biblical terms even though calculations show they did not live at the same time, so the nomenclature is pretty arbitrary). If you treated all humans as your family you (hypothetically) would not enslave them (albeit this is violated later in the Bible, in the same book…) or kill them out of spite which is violated in the same story i.e.: Cain and Abel so it is a pretty weak point.
    .
    adamah-
    .
    “Lucky you, since if you don’t believe Adam existed, you have absolutely no need for Jesus’ blood redemption for mankind from Adamic sin….
    .
    UNLESS you can coherently and logically offer a metaphorical interpretation of Adamic original sin which somehow makes sense (and I won’t hold my breath).”
    .
    I am not saying that this is a good argument (what I am about to say), but it is what I have said before. I have heard this before and I have said to Xtians many times, “what you think that man would not act in sinful and selfish ways if he evolved from primates? Are you Blind?” We do act in ways that are immoral and we do try to rationalize our actions. I have often thought to myself, maybe that is what original sin is really talking about. I don’t know. I don’t pretend to know. And that does not go on to justify the blood sacrifice of Jesus whom I have doubted for a long time existed in the form that he is written about anyway.
    .
    I guess it did not really matter as I backed up much of what I would say about any morality discussed in the Bible with secular reasoning and if I could not come up with a secular reason, I tended to disagree with it. I never could come up with a secular reason against homosexuality (and the Biblical issues seemed none to convincing to me either) so I never spoke out against it. I even spoke in favor of treating homosexuals with respect and equality many times (voting IN FAVOR of allowing gay marriage). So I guess that there was a part of me that conceded on some things even before mountains of evidence came about. Like I said, I taught evolution to others with infinite respect for the hard evidence that backs it up.
    .
    adamah-
    .
    “Fortunately we have secular prisons, too: turns out the fear of God didn’t work all that well to prevent criminals!”
    .
    I have even read that a fear of God can make some criminal behavior worse.
    .
    adamah-
    .
    “The idea is to AVOID CD, not ‘maintain it’:”
    .
    You are right and I am wondering why the Freudian slip came about. Given that I am not experiencing great emotional pain in response to the realization that what few beliefs I held in the Bible is a load of crap too I am wondering if I ever really believed. I think it is wholly possible that i figured out that I was a Catholic in name only many years ago and that I am just figuring out through you all how to admit it to myself.
    .
    The Bible never really did make sense to me even when I did read it, it is too poetic and not scientific enough. Like I have said in another post if the Bible had bee written ina way that made sense to me it would be boring as it would have sounded like a set of instructions on how to put together a couch with an allen wrench that you bought from IKEA.(A very big and complex couch mind you).

  124. Frank G. Turner says

    What exactly did I say that made you think that because I am open minded to the idea of it not being the Xtian God that I still think it is the Xtian God?
    ..
    I will acknowledge that maybe I do on some unconscious level and made a Freudian slip that indicated this but in retrospect I don’t think that I ever really did feel that it even was the Xtian God.
    ..
    OH and like I said to the others, you have gotten me to realize that I have been Catholic in name only and maybe not an agnostic theist but just a plain agnostic.

  125. Ruben Laane says

    There is actually a second reason why, it is NOT moral to spend so much money a day of communal funds on keeping one person alive. And that’s the fact that more then one person needs aid for their ailments and if one person drains significant amount of funding from the fund, then other people will be unable to benefit from that fund to which they did contribute. So,yes a maximum amount of money spent on a patient is not only reasonable, it’s even the moral thing to do as those huge amounts of money can be spent to treat lots of other patients of ‘less expensive diseases’. That’s not about condemning an individual, but it’s about treating the entire group fairly. And although a one time event of $100.000,- is very defendable, a $10.000,- /day treatment for the rest of somone’s life may not be. In reality the amounts of money involved are much higher off course, but this was about showing an example as a reference and not specific reality.

    And something about the ‘hero’ who runs into a building to save someone: Do you know how professionals from a fire department call somebody who does that??? They will call them: Oh great another victim needing to be saved. That’s not a smear towards the fact that he/she is trying to help, but instead of helping that ‘hero’ actually worsened the situation. So instead of hailing someone who does that as a ‘hero’, it should be explained that even though people do this with the best of intentions, they are more likely to worsen the situation then helping others. In such situations recources are scarce and priorities have to be made and adding another victim to the equation does not help the situation.
    A problem about this is that if someone actually manages to extract a victim, the media will bombard him/her as a ‘hero’ and if someone dies while doing that it is likely not to be mentioned at all. And if someone else cannot be rescued because the ‘hero’ had to be rescued, no media will cover it and they should. Not because we need to nail the ‘hero’ to the wall, but to show why you should leave the heroics to the professionals.

  126. Narf says

    Yeah, when you’re in the middle areas, the definitions get a bit … muddy.

    Labels can be a great way to find a starting point, on the way to figuring someone out. You just can’t try to force someone into the label they’ve chosen, and you have to adjust labels on-the-fly, as new revelations come into the discussion. Good deal on that front, man.

    This sort of semantic nonsense is important for understanding. It always annoys me when people completely dismiss something as just being semantic. There’s such a thing as engaging in pointless semantics, but this shit is important.

  127. says

    This is why the majority of responses to the first leg of the Trolley Dilemma (turning the train on the hiker) disturbs me. Literally it would not be a moral obligation for me to turn the trolley off a bridge, killing myself to save the people in the path of the accidental runaway trolley. If I refused to sacrifice *my own* life to save them, people would understand and say “well sure, I mean you would have died doing that–and that’s too much to expect. You would have died a hero, but as it is, you’re not evil for not killing yourself to stop the train.”

    Yet somehow it’s not too much cost to kill someone else to save the potential accident victims. So, my own life, I can spare at their expense, but the life of someone else, surely I should take to save this group? How very magnanimous of me to play so fast and loose with someone else’s life and volunteer them as a nonconsensual heroic sacrifice for others. And isn’t it interesting how we all agree that it’s up to YOU whether you run into the burning building to save others or not–because it’s too much for us to obligate someone to do morally–but this hiker, the person in the trolley somehow grants themselves the right to strip him/her of THEIR own ability to make that choice.

    To me, the fact that NOBODY is considered immoral for not killing themselves to save others from an accident, should point to “you aren’t obligated to take someone else’s life to save others.” The cost of taking an innocent life to stop that situation is too great to *compel*. And if you make that decision FOR someone else, without their consent–you have done an immoral thing, in my book.

  128. adamah says

    Tons I could write, but this bit caught my eye:

    Frank said-

    Like I said in another post I have gotten more value out of the Jefferson Bible so why even bother with the other one which I agree carries too much crap. You have gotten me to concede, I am Catholic in name only.

    The Bible is NOT like Tolstoys ‘War and Peace’, since it claims to be the Divinely-inspired instruction manual containing God’s master plan and an expression of His will for mankind. “All scriptures are inspired by God”, and all that….

    The idea of someone editing out “the crap” (as you say) is obviously “cherry-picking” (wearing rose-colored filters that is comfortable, but is obvious selection bias). Such attempts to change meanings has happened repeatedly throughout history, for a variety of reasons and motivations (some nefarious, some more benign).

    You mentioned Lot: read the 3-part article article on my blog examining how Lot enjoyed a 180* reputation makeover when transitioning between Genesis (where he was intended to be seen as a heel) and 2nd Peter, which declared Lot as “righteous”. THIS is an example of the Bible’s “superior God-given unchanging morality”?

    Even stellar examples of God-given superior “family values” like Abraham’s “binding of Isaac” (or the sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter, etc) demonstrate horrific morality. Sure, you could omit those passages in future translations, but you’re tampering with evidence.

    Such efforts seem exactly like the kind of thing Jesus polemicized against, condemning “those lying scribes” for their editorializing and scripture-twisting, even if done in the name of hiding the anachronisms and errors that would point to the Bible being the result of uninspired mortals.

    Certainly even from the secular POV, alone, it’s intellectually-dishonest to mislead others by removing “the crap” which allows others to continue to wallow in their delusional thinking. Sure, Jefferson was willing to do it, but it was a ethically- and morally-questionable action, IMO, which only delayed your realization for what, a few decades?

    Adam

  129. doublereed says

    @adamah

    My main point was that there are almost zero (if any) ‘maltheists': People who think God is a bad guy but still exists. It just doesn’t happen. People believe in God because they want to believe in God. So if people don’t want to believe in God then they don’t. Saying “God is a bad guy”, practically speaking, is equivalent to saying that “God does not exist.”

    It’s considered a logical fallacy to believe something because you want it to be true, of course. But this is very obviously the evidence that people are using in this case, so it should not be ignored.

  130. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Ok, you’ve lost me a little bit. I still have mixed feelings about the trolley problem. I’m not saying you’re right, but I am saying I am hesitant to agree or disagree.

  131. Frank G. Turner says

    I know that this is long, but I have been thinking a lot about this and you seem to actually be reading what i am saying. I very much appreciate what you say too. It gets me to think and I like that (and as I hope that you can tell I am NOT here to proseltyze).
    .
    It did not completely delay my realization, as the realization is not an “all at once” type of thing. Like evolution is actually 5 different sub principles that conglomerate into a theory (at least when we are talking Biology), realization of a larger concept may come from realization through many smaller concepts. I think that I always knew that my faith (depending on how you define it) was pretty weak and that I was scientifically minded. I was always too good at mathematics and understanding scientific principles to buy some of the religious fairy tales. That and I think that I had a bit of a different experience than you around Catholics growing up (based on what I have read from you).
    .
    The church I was in had a LOT of liberally minded Catholics who would more than happily tell you that numerous stories from the Bible were fiction. Now you may say that they were back peddling, the difficulty is at times I did not see that because when I came in they were ALREADY fairly opened to admitting things like that. (Maybe I was just born too late into that adjustment). I don’t know exactly what it was like before me in that area and it has become more liberal politically and intellectually over the years as well as representative of minorities. The head of the Choir is now Chinese and most of the choir is black or Hispanic (from about 3 different areas of South America), one of the Priests is black (they were all white except one Hispanic man when I was young) and one of the Deacons and several of the staff are Phillipino or white. Several churches in the area are like that too (and you can’t necessarily go to a “Black mass” or a “Phillipino Mass” for a church because people move around a lot, though many have a “Spanish Language” mass but anyone is welcome and many come as many in the area know Spanish anyway). You do get a LOT of people there with open minded attitudes and willing to seriously consider ideas that the Bible is not God’s word for word detailed direct and straightforward communication of exactly how to obey God’s will. Most of the priests and authorities I knew would tell you that Jesus’s reference to OT figures who could not have lived was hyperbole or metaphor lost in translation and that was their very 1st response. No back peddling later on, many STARTED with that viewpoint (the church may not have started that way but these priests certainly did, and this was in the 1980s).
    .
    When I was there growing up If you pressed many a Priest hard on certain issues (with the exception of Jesus having actually existed or being the Son of God) you would get “some” honest answers (a pretty good number compared to some places that I went which told you not to even ask such questions). I remember one priest even when asked casually saying (in public in front of MANY parishoners) that it was ludicrous to believe that a planet and all life on it could be created in exactly 7, 24 hour days but if that was your prerogative, so be it. Albeit HIS Ph.D. was in English Literature (you could tell from the sermons, he preached about religious symbolism in Charles Dickens among other authors a lot). And you did NOT hear a lot (if any) of sermons about the Bible being God’s Divinely inspired word for word accurate depiction of exactly how things were to be done either. Although I did not go to a private Catholic school below 18 I did go to a Catholic University for my undergrad and got taught Chemistry, Physics, History, and Computer Science (among other topics there taught by Priests) by Ph.D. priests (Jesuits tend to be like that, there were lots of non-Catholic teachers too, and plenty of all religious background of students, even other liberally minded Catholics). You did get a few Conservative students (and a few staff) who believed in closed minded Dogmatism but they were not very loud mouthed among the students I was around (they were in the minority a lot of the time). Although at times I was seen as a bit too liberally minded but given how naturally liberally minded the average student there was, that was not saying much. (FYI, you could get Biology degrees that SPECIALIZED in Genetics and Evolution there, and no Catholic marine biologist there would seriously tell you that a man could survive for 3 days in the stomach of a Baleen whale if he could even GET INTO IT).
    .
    Of course when younger I knew others Catholics from nearby areas who got much more deceptive or conservative answers from Priests (which almost went hand in hand). To give an example a fellow student once discussed with me how the only thing his Priest would ever say when asked about the Biblical story of creation was, “7 days,” (as if that was an answer to how Adam and Eve could have been created given that fossil records suggest otherwise, it was just the Priest avoiding the question) which pissed my fellow student off and would have me as well. And people were welcome to be closed minded if they felt like that (refer back to the story of the woman listening to a Priest with Ph.D.’s in Hebrew and Greek tell her that Job was fictional and getting angry). Of course she could go to ANOTHER Catholic church where they would tell her what she wanted to hear. And around them you DID here the insistence in word for word accuracy attitudes about the Bible which drew some and drove away others. You probably grew up around much more of that didn’t you? (They always pissed me off). I tended NOT to hang around them as I thought they were at their maximum capacity for fecal matter. 
    .
    Views like this often confused (and angered) me personally when I heard it but at one point my father (as inarticulate as he normally is, he actually gave me a coherent explanation on this) explained to me that the Catholic church does not go around policing the churches like Big Brother of Orwell’s 1984 to make sure that every parishioner subscribes detail for detail to what the church wants them to believe and could not if they wanted to. (The JWs around me were more like that but I have heard of some regions of the church being like that, i.e.: the church in South America who excommunicated a woman for getting an abortion even thought it was OBVIOUS that the child would be still born and going through the procedure would endanger the mother. Maybe the Catholic Church NEEDS to police its members to PREVENT crap like that). As my father said, people are free to believe as they will and stay even if they don’t believe. (Albeit in many ways it makes religion a LOT more like politics which I am SURE you realized, I had figured this out along the way too). When I read some Boghossian and he talks about people who don’t believe but continue to go to service, “out of loyalty to the tribe” that made a lot of sense to me and to some degree it does apply but makes religion a very political thing.
    .
    I never bought the idea of a “God given unchanging morality” as I hear Mormons talk about. (The Priests I spoke with growing up tended to avoid the question when pressed, though I once did get one to honestly tell me that many of the early writers of the Bible if they were divinely inspired, the later twist put on some of the text was NOT divinely inspired). Any priest that tried that question ignoring, sidestepping, or absolute morality crap I ignored and complained about. And I already saw many areas of the Bible as examples of what NOT to do. That does not mean that I think every single word of it is bad advice, but you do have to cherry pick given how much crap there is around it. And it makes sense that you have to cherry pick as it was not a well-designed system that was largely subject to change and new ideas. At least cherry picking and acknowledging incorrectness is a step in the right direction from “insisting that every word is detail for detail factually correct because it is divinely inspired EVEN IF it contradicts with hard physical evidence.” “That just is not my bag,” (quoting Michael Myers). Scientific principles, theories are accepted because that is the best explanation at the time and we are forever opened to new ideas and new information which can replace and / or add to the current explanation and I get that. Many religions were not set up in a way so as to be highly subject to change (the Mormons sure are trying though despite their doctrine of an “unchanging” God).
    .
    So maybe the Jefferson Bible delayed some aspects of my realization, but then again, maybe it was just the environment that I grew up in, which it sounds like many of you on this board are not familiar with and I can understand that. I can see what you mean about modern day Catholics making an effort to update their theology and perhaps that is WHY I grew up in a more liberally minded Catholic environment (they had to be as they were losing members, much like politicians adjusting their views to agree with their constituents). Something that I have heard many times discussed on “The Atheist Experience” is how the liberal to moderately mindedly religious shield the extremist conservatives, but perhaps not much as many people actually do start to realize the discrepancies between the ways of thinking. I will acknowledge that I did not catch them all (I am not hunting Pokemon) but more have been apparent to me since I started watching and even more since starting on this board a few days ago.

  132. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Frank
    You’re surprisingly honest with us, which is refreshing. You’re also surprisingly honest with yourself, which is also refreshing, but perhaps less honest than you could be towards yourself.

    I’m not going to fault you for trying to fit in, and I am not going to fault you for calling yourself a Christian to try and fit in. You are lying to them, in a way which is IMHO often reasonable. I am slightly concerned that you are also lying to yourself to some degree, but everyone post makes me think that less.

  133. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @doublereed
    Indeed. In the olden days, back when people used their god as genuine explanations, they believed in evil gods. For example, if I get this right, long ago Greek sailors worshiped Poseidon and gave sacrifices. They didn’t do it because they liked the guy. They knew he was a capricious dick. However, he’s in charge because he’s massively powerful and a dick, and so the sailors tried to curry his favor.

    PS:
    Poseidon was a genuine explanation. It had explanatory power. The explanation was that if you didn’t appease that god with proper sacrifices, then he would wreck your ship. Of course, the explanation was also wrong, but it still was an explanation. It was an explanation because it was testable.

    As opposed to modern intelligent design which really isn’t an explanation.

    As soon as they stopped treating their god(s) as genuine members of our reality – as soon as they stopped treating their gods as explanations – then AFAIK we started seeing only good god hypotheses running around.

  134. Frank G. Turner says

    @Narf
    “This sort of semantic nonsense is important for understanding. It always annoys me when people completely dismiss something as just being semantic. There’s such a thing as engaging in pointless semantics, but this shit is important.”
    .
    Something I learned very early on is that words change meaning over time. I would like a static language where every word and detail meant exactly the same thing to every person across all time with no subtleties influencing things, but that is not realistic. I have often heard it said that mathematics is the only universal language.
    .
    “Labels can be a great way to find a starting point, on the way to figuring someone out. You just can’t try to force someone into the label they’ve chosen, and you have to adjust labels on-the-fly, as new revelations come into the discussion. Good deal on that front, man.”
    .
    Given my background the label probably meant something VERY different to me than it does to the people on this board who probably don’t realize that the environment that I grew up in actually exists or that it began to exist when it did (I.e. they think Catholic communities like that only began to arise in the 2000s or late 1990s when the one I was in had that kind of thinking going on in the 1980s). Then again sometimes that is the result of location.
    .
    Part of the reason that I am often long winded is that I KNOW that other people don’t have the same feelings and indications that I do in response to environment, my feelings are often VERY different from those around me (such is the nature of my condition). And people grow up in different environments (I am pretty sure that the one I grew up in is NOT indicative of the majority but is getting there). When I communicate I am often doing my best to CREATE the environment that I am in, a context in which I am speaking. It may sound long winded and off topic, but I am not a Vulcan who can mind meld so that the other person receives all of the memories and all of the feelings and all of the context that I had going into a situation. I sincerely hope that medical science can overcome this barrier of communication someday as I would like to know how people came to the conclusions that they did.
    .
    Much of Biblical deception I have found comes from taking words out of context. It is mentioned how Jesus claimed that characters in the OT were actual people instead of literary figures, which may have been taking hyperbole out of context, we will probably never know unless time machines are successfully invented (maybe they have been in the future and we are being studied now… ).
    .
    @Enlightenment Liberal
    Read very carefully a response I just made to adamah. I figure out that I probably grew up in an environment of Catholicism that was VERY different from what you are probably used to, particularly in Southern States.

  135. adamah says

    E lib said-

    I’m not going to fault you for trying to fit in, and I am not going to fault you for calling yourself a Christian to try and fit in. You are lying to them, in a way which is IMHO often reasonable. I am slightly concerned that you are also lying to yourself to some degree, but everyone post makes me think that less.

    It’s not hard to imagine some theists will use TAE anonymously as a safety valve to let off some steam, since while most religions aren’t still conducting witch-hunts to root out apostate heretical talk, openly-critical comments will eventually result in at least the cold shoulder, if not shunning and ex-communication.

    Some religions have lightened up from Jesus’ chilling words reminiscent of Orwell’s ‘thought-crimes’, when Jesus said merely thinking of committing a sin (adultery, “looking at a woman with lust in your heart”) is the same sin as actually committing it); most modern religions tell members it’s OK if you have some doubts, just as long as you discuss them with “the shepards” and DON’T don’t spread the virus to other parishioners.

    That attitude suppresses open and honest discussion, and squelches seditious thoughts.

    Frank, I don’t know what represents a greater threat to rationalism and the truth: the hard-liner totalitarian dogmatic approach of suppressing doubt and questioning, or the newer more-accepting liberal approach which essentially buries the evidence and attempts to water down the brutal ugliness of the passages in the Bible?

    Ironically, Paul congratulated himself for not thinking like a child, but a man; of course, he still carried ONE childish thought into adulthood… Such is the power of self-delusion.

    All I know is, religious thinking which is driven by FUD is so far in my distant past, it’s like looking in the rear-view mirror (I was raised as a kid, but concluded it was all hogwash at 12, over 4 decades ago. A doctorate in biology only cinched it, and my later independent study of history confirmed the likely manner in which the scam has perpetuated for 3,000 yrs).

    Bottom line is, there’s no going back for me: it literally would take massive closed-head brain trauma and brain damage to ever become a believer again, and to ever believe again that up is down, black is white….

    Adam

  136. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Frank G. Turner:

    the Catholic church does not go around policing the churches like Big Brother of Orwell’s 1984 to make sure that every parishioner subscribes detail for detail to what the church wants them to believe and could not if they wanted to.

    i.e.: the church in South America who excommunicated a woman for getting an abortion […] Maybe the Catholic Church NEEDS to police its members [?] to PREVENT crap like that

    I grew up in a more liberally minded Catholic environment (they had to be as they were losing members, much like politicians adjusting their views to agree with their constituents).

    Members (pew-sitters) are told whatever they want to hear, or told vagaries so they can imagine what they like. That way they keep filling seats and sending donations. Official Catholic doctrine is that those crackers are literally Jesus flesh (in a conveniently intangible way, based on medieval physics), but only 1/3rd of members understand that.
     
    On the other hand, the high ranking clergy police themselves to CONTINUE crap like that, and use that money and prestige to do what they want. (like say, cutting funding to charities when someone endorses gay marriage, or threatening to shut down its homeless shelters if the US government passes an anti-discrimination law, or funding lawsuits to limit the availability of contraception)
     
    Video: CGPGrey – How to Become Pope (5:09)
     

    the liberal to moderately mindedly religious shield the extremist conservatives, but perhaps not much as many people actually do start to realize the discrepancies between the ways of thinking.

    “No true Catholic” is a tough sell when you’re talking about the frikkin’ Vatican.
     
    Video: CGPGrey – The Vatican City Explained (7:01)

  137. Ruben Laane says

    I could not agree more.
    It is immoral to ‘sacrifice’ someone else for the benefit of the group, no matter how great the benefits.
    It can be very moral to sacrifice yourself for the benefit of the group, even though this is highly questionable if a group would want to accept such a sacrifice.
    And the ease that some people show to sacrifice others for the greater good both shocks and offends me, as I fairly sure that such ‘heroes’ will most likely not even consider sacrificing themselves.
    A different situation may occur when you have to choose between, shooting down a plain full of hostages to make sure the terrorists do not fly the plane into a Nuclear powerplant or a building containing thousands of people.
    But the situation that usually comes to mind is if it is morally right to blow up a car with a terrorist, knowing that innocent children are in the same vehicle or next to it and that’s morally wrong. And anyone defending that should look in the mirror and ask himself/herself when he/she started using the same weapons as the terrorists and why he/she actually thinks he/she is doing the right thing.

  138. Frank G. Turner says

    @ adamah
    .
    “Frank, I don’t know what represents a greater threat to rationalism and the truth: the hard-liner totalitarian dogmatic approach of suppressing doubt and questioning, or the newer more-accepting liberal approach which essentially buries the evidence and attempts to water down the brutal ugliness of the passages in the Bible?”
    .
    I would be a liar if I said that the thought did not occur to me. I can imagine this being how many individuals began taking the liberal approach in an attempt to get seats filled with intent on playing “bait and switch.”. However, one of the more interesting things i realized studying Biochemistry in my undergrad years is that a LOT of religious institutions put up educational centers to teach their own doctrine and in the process, in order to get accredited, had to teach things like science correctly to get accredited. so while I was studying at a Catholic University, they had to teach evolution correctly, in accordance with Darwin (and did, I can attest to it, “On the origin of Species” was a required book and was unedited for several classes that I took).
    .
    A lot of what i read about modern students coming from more conservative Xtian homes it that they go to college having never heard of evolution or the historical content of scripture or many other things that might contradict their home teaching of scripture. After going to universities and learning the facts they feel betrayed and lied to by their families and religion and often abandon them. I was reading somewhere about a pre-university college summer camp that attempts to indoctrinate students against this. From my understanding, the basic strategy is to expose the students to other ways of thinking so that they don’t feel like they have been being lied to when they get to their respective universities, WHICH IS WHAT THEIR PARENTS SHOULD HAVE DONE IN THE FIRST PLACE WHEN THEY WERE GROWING UP!
    .
    So oddly enough, closed minded dogmatic people were creating their own enemies all along. Funny how withholding information can do that. Maybe that was why i did not realize what was going on, I was among liberally minded people who expressed open mindedness. (Despite a possible claim of acting open minded to fit an agenda without actually being open minded, i think that some actually are more open minded as a side effect).
    .
    George Carlin said something that makes a lot of sense to me, there si a missing commandment that unfortunately a lot of individuals could not follow that is quite simple and covers a lot of area,
    “Thou shalt not be dishonest.” Of course conservatives could not follow it as it would mean,
    Not withholding information,
    Not deliberately shielding people from information,
    Offering complete, relevant information even if asked indirectly
    Not deliberately taking things out of context to fit an agenda,
    Accepting as fact that which is presented as fact via uniform demonstrative capacity,
    Not denying your senses to fit an agenda,
    Organizing information in a detailed, complete, unbiased fashion
    Learning to loose fairly and justly,
    Not manipulating people using emotional reasoning.
    .
    Believe me I respect intellectual honesty, particularly given that what we are experiencing is a largely American phenomenon (some Middle East countries too). I think that we are on our way out due to the internet though, the Free Market of Ideas has been opened for business and it is helping.

  139. adamah says

    I responded in another thread, but this bit needs additional clarification:

    Frank said-

    And I already saw many areas of the Bible as examples of what NOT to do. That does not mean that I think every single word of it is bad advice, but you do have to cherry pick given how much crap there is around it.

    I responded by giving the example of Lot, who was originally intended by the Yahwist (the Hebrew author of the account in Genesis) to be Abraham’s prodigal nephew, the relative who turned his back on God, eventually fathering the “bad guys” of the Old Testament via incest with his two daughters in a cave. Lot was SUPPOSED to be interpreted as a skeezy morally-reprobate selfish and materialistic character who was saved by God from Sodom’s destruction ONLY as a favor to his “righteous” God-fearing uncle, Abraham. The Bible says it plain as day IF you know ancient Hebrew idioms.

    Ancient Jews had no problem with the principle of transferable righteousness, and the story demonstrated it as an example of it, a part of the plot (as does many others, eg Noah’s family was saved due to HIS righteousness, even Ham, the son who was later cursed by Noah, etc).

    Fast forward a millennia later, and the Xian who wrote 2nd Peter (hint: it wasn’t Apostle Peter) upgraded Lot, declaring him as “righteous”. WTF? Was Lot portrayed as righteous or not? That kind of moral uncertainty and ambiguity is the result of ‘too many cooks spoiling the broth’ and addressing current doctrinal needs, a very human tendency to introduce more continuity errors in an attempt to ‘patch up’ problems.

    As said by Sky Captain, the typical approach of the RCC is to shot-gun answers, letting the questioner select from a smorgasbord of even mutually-exclusive responses (analogous to throwing a plate of spaghetti against a wall and seeing what sticks). So rather than giving only one answer, religions allow parishioners to work it out on their own, cherry-picking the answer which resolves their concerns (at least for the time being).

    Adam

  140. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Sky Captain
    “Members (pew-sitters) are told whatever they want to hear, or told vagaries so they can imagine what they like. That way they keep filling seats and sending donations”
    .
    Absence of feces…I actually did figure some of that out (like I mentioned the woman who refused to listen to a Priest, a PRIEST! with a Ph.D. in ancient Greek and Hebrew who would show you his Hebrew version of Job and walk you through the letter by letter translation demonstrating clearly that Job was a fable, and him simply send her to another parish where she did not have to hear that if she did not want to and make the donations that she liked to them, it still goes into church pockets. It is funny how I have heard the Bible called the “Big Book of multiple choice” on this show, now it seems that parishes are the big group of multiple choice too! It is a politicians dream, you get support money whether you agree or disagree with their position! I am thinking now, does anyone have the integrity to stick to their guns and fight for what they believe in even if it is a lost cause but a symbolic action OTHER THAN insecure, closed minded, dogmatic fundamentalists?

  141. Frank G. Turner says

    @adamah
    .
    Yes i got the idea about cherry picking, what i am getting at is that if you have to continue cherry picking through bullshit flavored spaghetti to get to a cherry, hopefully sooner or later you realize that there is more bullshit than cherries. Of course some just don’t have the olfactory receptors for bullshit after a while.
    .
    As I have said before too many people filter their pasta the wrong way throwing out the boiled pasta and asking us to drink hot water to stay healthy.

  142. jdoran says

    “See what they’ve been reduced to?” Is not dissimilar to dismissing Carrier because of Zeitgeist.

    I see it as a matter of exposure. STB gets paid to be an apologist because he can still participate in the public discourse.

    We’re not going to get anywhere if we keep giving the other side’s crackpots face time. To do so implies that we take the crazy extremists seriously. Theists with more moderate positions aren’t going to be persuaded by STB getting thrown out of another debate, because they can say we didn’t argue against the beliefs they actually hold. STB (and those like him) are now meat shields for the moderate theist position; it doesn’t matter how many times we stick it to him, because that’s what he’s there for.

    The paradigm of public discourse on theism vs atheism has shifted to a point where we can challenge the moderate positions and people will listen. We don’t have to challenge the extremists anymore just to make headway and to continue to allow them to challenge us is to retard progress.

  143. Ruben Laane says

    @Frank G. Turner

    Now that would never happen if you accepted the true and eternal learings of the almighty and omnipotent flying spaghetti monster. As any pastafarian could have explained how to keep the pasta and get rid of the water.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist the temptation with pasta example being present.

  144. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @jdoran
    False premise: There are more respectable apologists on the other side.

  145. jdoran says

    Thanks for that insightful contribution. You seem to have missed that the moderate Christians take them seriously. The whole point of the atheist movement is to get the moderate Christians to either stop being Christians or join us in supporting a secular society, yes?

  146. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    You said:

    >We’re not going to get anywhere if we keep giving the other side’s crackpots face time.

    I’m merely noting that everyone on that side is just as crackpot. Just some of them are in a suit, like WIlliam Lane Craig. So, are you suggesting we don’t give their side any face time at all? I didn’t think that was your intention.

  147. Frank G. Turner says

    @Ruben Lane
    .
    Cute response, I like it. The point was that in life many people focus too squarely on body language and tone of voice or other aspects of what is being said outside of the main premise. By focusing too much on what is not being said and not enough on what IS being said, it is like filtering the hot water from pasta then keeping the hot water and throwing out the pasta (I came up with that analogy). I have often wished that others would listen wearing blindfolds and through voice synthesizers that would make us all sound monotone at times.
    .
    I never thought to invoke the Flying Spaghetti monster but that is a good application.

  148. Ruben Laane says

    We are human and a lot of the communication indeed is non-verbal. And the problem with writings is the lack of non-verbal communication. And as with other aspect of the human psyche, the brain will be tempted to add the wanted/neccasary non-verbal communication to a text in order to make the reader feel more comfortable. And the problem will be that this is entirely the interpretation of the reader and not the Non-verbal communication of the writer. And it’s likely to vary per reader and possibly even every time the text is read by the same reader.
    And that analogy is a nice one (I like it).

  149. Ruben Laane says

    I meant the analogy of the hot water surrounding the spaghetti. I just read it back and it seems to say that I like my own analogy.

  150. Joe E Dangerously says

    I realize this is late but I don’t have regular internet access right now and I’ve only just heard the show. Absence of evidence can be and often is evidence of absence. If I told you I have 63 grapevines in my apartment and then you search my apartment, strip the carpet, knock down the walls, and scour every inch of my apartment and then you find no grapevines, that is evidence that there are not, in fact, 63 grapevines in my apartment. But I assume you’re talking about deities. What you can do in that case is examine claims that people have made. Miracles, visions, NDEs and that sort of thing. When all of them fall down in the face of scrutiny, which they all, yes, all do then you can take a tentative position because at that point you’ve reached a point where you are convinced. This is not speculation. It’s based on logic, reason, and observed information. So the fact that exactly zero claims that supposedly point to the existence of gods stand up to scrutiny is enough to form a reasonably informed position.

  151. Joe E Dangerously says

    I really wish people learned what “bias” means. A bias is a particular inclination or tendency. The practical definition, however, can simply be “prejudice.” A position is not prejudice. For example, I don’t believe my last girlfriend cheated on me. In fact, I believe she never did. She was a very moral person who did not go to parties, drink to excess, or anything like that which may affect someone’s inhibitions in that regard. She told me she never cheated on anyone in her life (as I have not) and didn’t believe in it. She also said that she would never be able to forgive someone for cheating on her, which is a position I also hold. I wish I could but I just don’t think I have that in me. She never lied to me to my knowledge and in fact she would send me an email everyday when she got home from work and we would often talk. She worked long hours so we’d mostly go out on her days off. Every time I called her after work she answered and we had a reasonably long conversation, probably over 15 minutes. Not everyday but she had no way of knowing which days I would and would not call. If she did not answer right away she would call back five minutes later and tell me she was taking a quick shower or she was busy making a sandwich or something. So based on the evidence, her statements, and the way I knew her I would say I’m convinced she did not cheat on me. However, if someone showed me timestamped security footage from a casino or something (I’m from Nevada) that showed her making out with another guy or a recording of her having sex with someone else while wearing an article of clothing or piece of jewelry I got her then I would have to change my mind. I don’t think that is likely though. That does not make me biased. It makes me convinced. A logically arrived at position is not the same as bias, despite what the internet seems to think.

  152. Ruben Laane says

    If you actually think she never lied to you you are deluded. Everybody lies about stuff and it’s good that we do, because telling each other the truth all the time is unhealthy. In fact a healthy relation needs some lying every now and then.
    example: 1. her. Don’t you think that Jennifer Lopez big ass is hideous??? he. Yes, it’s just hideous dear.
    2. her. Do you think I am still as attractive as I was 10 years ago?? he. Yes.

    Explanation: 1. men like a nice behind.
    2. Men see the change of their wives in 10 years and that doesn’t mean they don’t love their wives anymore, but every relation changes and time doesn’t stand still. It doesn’t mean love is gone even, though the physical attraction is different. Men learn that a nice appearance is likable, but the character of your mate is way more important.

    That doesn’t mean she did or did not cheat, but do not kid yourself into thinking you or she never lied, because you both did and that’s a good thing. As long as you are honest about the important stuff (like cheating) you will be fine.
    And the fact that you think she was unable to squeeze in a lover, doesn’t mean she couldn’t. You just prefer to think she didn’t and you trusted her. And that’s good, because I do the same. But realise that this does make you biased, because you trust her and will make a judgement based on that trust. Someone without that bond may ask serious questions and even see possibilities you missed. it doesn’t mean she cheated, but a possibility is most likely possible whether you think so or not. Bias means you are not objective to something and believe me you are not objective towards a lover and that’s based on actual scientific reasearch.
    Are you aware that people who love each other are perfectly capable to judge other people’s beauty normally, but are unable to judge their lover’s beauty fairly?? That’s bias and it’s a good reaction trust me.

  153. Ernesto says

    ok if I tell you, your house was fire and when you go to check you find no signs of fire, call the fire department and they tell you they didn’t when there to stop any fire, no smoke or signs of burn in the house, would you say then The absence of evidence of a fire at your house is not evidence that there wasn’t a fire? or would you conclude that no there was no fire because of the absence of evidence?

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