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Jul 13 2014

Open thread for AETV #874: Russell and John

Coming right up!

Also, if you have any unfinished discussion of last week’s episode 873 with Matt and Don, feel free, because it looks like nobody made a thread. 872 was a skipped show because it fell on a fifth Sunday.

499 comments

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  1. 1
    adamah

    Great show, guys.

    To Valerie in Bedford, she should be aware that hearing a voice in her head that she ascribes to God is NOT rare or unusual, since it’s a known phenomena to hear voices esp in times of stress.

    Google “hearing voices network” for only one such site which seeks to increase awareness of the perception, and to lessen stigmas attached to those who dare to mention experiencing.

    At times, the voices can function as if combined with the famous déjà vu, where the perception involves a sense of time-shifting as if the voice is predictive. The brain is capable of playing some pretty interesting tricks on us, and hence why one’s sensory perceptions cannot be trusted at times.

    To both Valerie and David, it doesn’t suffice to say a story is metaphorical, but then not attempt to explain the metaphorical meaning. Let’s hear what value the story of a talking snake has.

    BTW, the story contains elements that seemingly serve as an explanation for how a snake could talk, eg it opens with the justification that God made the snake the cleverest of the beasts of the field.

    However, that only leads to other questions, ie why would God make an animal that was so clever it apparently could outwit the humans?

    I explore these and many more problematic issues with the story (including the moral problems it creates) in an article on my blog:

    http://awgue.weebly.com/the-paradox-of-adam-and-eve-and-how-the-new-world-translation-fruitlessly-attempts-to-keep-it-hidden.html

    It’s targeted for Jehovah’s Witnesses, but the general questions and points raised apply to all believers.

    Russell, it’s good you don’t work for the Post Office (or maybe you DO, which would explain the misrouting of my mail)! :)

    Adam

    1. 1.1
      corwyn

      However, that only leads to other questions, ie why would God make an animal that was so clever it apparently could outwit the humans?

      Why would a god make an animal that was so clever that it could outwit a *god*? If Adam and Eve staying in that garden was the plan, than a simple talking snake ruined the plan of an omniscient, omnipotent, being. Sad, really.

      1. adamah

        Corwyn said-

        Why would a god make an animal that was so clever that it could outwit a *god*?

        Lol, true dat!

        Heck, even if we accept the Christian claim that there’s a ‘Universal Sovereignty Issue’ at play, and the serpent is actually Satan, it still doesn’t eliminate the problem that God made a so-called ‘inferior being’ that essentially questioned his ability to run the show by essentially saying, “You’re doing it wrong. Let me take the wheel and I’ll show you how it’s done!”

        And worse, God complies (!), handing over the reins to the Planet to give Satan a shot at running things!

        But does God actually give Satan a fair chance, not interfering with Satan’s ‘turn’? Hardly: God is tampering by giving mankind His rules out-of-turn, and throwing up flak every chance He gets; God even sends his own son down to cheat and meddle during Satan’s turn.

        The whole plot-line of the story is so farking ludicrous, if it were shown on TV and rewritten so as to not say ‘God’, most people would change channels after deciding it was simply too silly to watch.

        1. Frank G. Turner

          Never minding the idea that if a being is omniscient and omnipresent anyway (which is contradictory) that he knew what was going to happen by following this train of events before it even happened. So you made an animal so clever that it could outwit you knowing that it would outwit you using beings that you created to be outwitted and just let it happen?
          .
          Do you hand a child a loaded gun telling him not to point it at you and pull the trigger knowing that he is going to point it at you and pull the trigger even if you know that the shot won’t be fatal, and then complain that the child did it against your wishes when you knew he was going to do it despite your wishes?

      2. Matt Gerrans

        Actually, the original “plan” of this all knowing supremely intelligent being was to create Adam only. It was only when Adam complained that He created Eve. Duh. How did He know to create all the animals in pairs (except maybe those that reproduce asexually?), but not realize that it would make sense for humans? What an incompetent Creator.

        1. Sir Real

          The bible does come in handy if you run out of toilet paper.

    2. 1.2
      Frank G. Turner

      Are you on facebook by any chance? We need to hook up outside of this.

      1. adamah

        @Frank, I write on my blog and post here under an alias, primarily out of caution for my activities as an atheist spilling over into my real life (not that it’s a big secret in my real life: I’ve been “out” for 4 decades now).

        Not that I have any identified threat of it happening, just that there’s a lot of nut jobs on the internet, and I’d like to not have to learn that lesson ‘the hard way’.

        But sure, you can send me a message from my blog (awgue.weebly.com).

        Adam

        1. Frank G. Turner

          10-Q

  2. 2
    Eric Holp

    Since we can comment here about episode 873 (I like 874, Russell and John are great!) I would like to comment that, even though I very much like Matt and Don and agree with almost everything that they say, I think that at times they allow there Liberalism is blind them to certain points. In my opinion the true problem with the Hobby Lobby case is not that it might lead to more strength of the “corporations are persons” legal position or that it is a blow to women’s rights but the real problem was that the court concluded that people can base decisions on the idea that a fertilized egg is a person.

    1. 2.1
      Monocle Smile

      Yeah, that doesn’t mean “liberalism” is causing any blindness. You just disagree. It’s sufficient to merely say that instead of getting in a bonus potshot.

    2. 2.2
      pneumo

      No True Problem!

    3. 2.3
      houndentenor

      I have heard and read many people explain different problems with the Hobby Lobby decision. Yours is but one. Whether it is more significant than the others will depend on what the court does with this precedent. As I can’t see the future (and neither can you) to assert that your concern is greater than others (or cite some “liberal bias” which makes you sound like a right wing nutjob even if you aren’t) is quite presumptuous.

    4. 2.4
      AhmNee

      Was that actually a conclusion reached by the SCOTUS ruling? This is the first I’ve heard of anything regarding egg as person.

  3. 3
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    I just don’t get how people like Valerie and David can be so myopic. How do they explain why their personal experience of “God” can override the experience of millions of other people who heard the voice of Isis or saw the miracles worked by Asclepius? Why don’t they rush to convert to Hinduism, because surely, the Vedas are divinely inspired–as a billion Hindus, give or take, in their own lifetimes would attest? Do they think all the Sumerians who had their prayers answered by Shamash were mistaken, but they are not? Does Valerie honestly comprehend the implications of God speaking personally to her to let her know that her mother really wasn’t sick, while all across the globe he was ignoring all the prayers of people who actually *were* sick (or in even worse situations)? Or thinking that any God would even bother with the petty concerns of one single human being given the vast expanse of the universe, let alone the vast number of living organisms on this one–all concerned to the degree they are capable of for their own comfort and survival? Makes no sense whatsoever.

    1. 3.1
      Monocle Smile

      To those of us who actually exercise a healthy degree of critical thought and inquiry when confronted with oddities, this kind of incredulity does seem strange.

      In part, the preachers and churches are to blame. Lots of them set up the expectation that believers SHOULD hear voices, have visions, speak in tongues, etc. such that when people have these things, it’s confirmation of an expectation rather than some weird unexplained experience.

      1. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        Yeah, it’s not so much the hearing of a voice you expect to hear that’s bugging me, but rather the notion that those who heard the voices of their gods were certainly wrong while you (universal, not you Monocle Smile) are certain you’re right. Oh and so many more logical holes (why are some people right about the God, but totally wrong about the theology? Shouldn’t God speak to them and correct *their* mistake?)

    2. 3.2
      adamah

      Ibis3 said-

      Does Valerie honestly comprehend the implications of God speaking personally to her to let her know that her mother really wasn’t sick, while all across the globe he was ignoring all the prayers of people who actually *were* sick (or in even worse situations)

      Yeah, it’s an expression of personal narcissism, for sure. She’s probably a nice and polite person, but that’s kind of the point: religious beliefs force one to think and behave in a “me first” manner to save their own skin, once you scratch below the surface.

      On the other hand, whispering in her ear is the least God can do, since He openly takes the dubious credit throughout the Bible (eg Exodus) for causing ALL human disease, as I explained in the following article:

      http://awgue.weebly.com/why-did-jesus-protest-washing-hands-before-eating.html

      Adam

    3. 3.3
      houndentenor

      Christian privilege. The others are obviously deluded into thinking what they believe to be god is a different god from theirs. They live lives so insular that it doesn’t occur to them that people of other religious think the same thing about them. That would require viewing those other religions as being on equal footing with their own. I grew up around this and it took a few decades to shake it and when I did I realize that all of it was equally ridiculous.

      1. Monocle Smile

        This relates to something I heard on Ask an Atheist. Theists, Christians in particular, assume that they can take their belief system and use it as a template for EVERYONE’S belief system merely by changing all the nouns. It’s why we get accused of “worshiping” something or using “Origin of Species” as our holy text (or seeing Darwin as a prophet), and get asked questions about the afterlife. They just can’t fathom that the very fundamentals of our worldviews are wildly different.

        “Myopic” is the right word. This is exactly what happens when one religion dominates not only the populace, but the media as well.

      2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

        I once heard an interview with an ex-Hindu where, IIRC, he said the cosmopolitan nature of India made tolerance a virtue – his definition being that you allow others to maintain beliefs which you believe put them on the bad path that will ultimately get them burnt, but you grant them your tolerance. The others are all dangerously mistaken, but don’t point that out or evangelize.

        1. adamah

          That’s an Interesting point about tolerance as a virtue.

          Xianity emerged when the majority of the surrounding population believed in multiple PAGAN gods, who, unlike the God of the Jews and Jesus, weren’t “jealous Gods”.

          In fact, pagans were quite comfortable ‘sampling’ Gods, worshipping one set for one purpose or stage of their life (ie fertility gods), since paganism was a ‘mix and match’ affair.

          And if one deity failed to provide the desired results, you simply tried another: no harm, no foul.

          The ONLY stipulation for those living within the Roman Empire was citizens HAD to support the Emperor as the divine Son of God by offering a periodic tribute or sacrifice (and whether they believed he was a deity or not was a private matter). This was expected from all Roman citizens as contributing to the common welfare, where military defeats, famines, etc were often scapegoated and blamed on those citizens who didn’t root for the ‘home team’.

          Being polytheistic, pagans had no problems complying since they didn’t have to give up THEIR Gods; on the other hand, Xians refused, often choosing instead to die as martyrs (based on Jesus’ words, “pay Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God”. Remember: YHWH is a ‘Jealous God’).

          So that’s the environment in which Xianity emerged, which succeeded by demanding a level of commitment that far-exceeded that of more open-minded and tolerant pagans (esp after Constantine became a Xian, and made Xianity the official religion of the Holy Roman Empire).

          Throughout the Bible, Jesus consistently denounces tolerance of other faiths, eg saying “you cannot serve two masters”, and in another scripture, “you’re either for me or against me”.

          The book of Revelation has Jesus saying he detests those who are ‘lukewarm’ in their faith and not whole-hearted, and he will spit out the wishy-washy and undecided.

          Even the practice of Eucharist (introduced at the Last Supper) can be seen as forcing his Jewish disciples to take a stand to separate from their Jewish roots, since the symbolic act of drinking blood was a death-penalty offense under the Torah (it not only violates Kashrut, but worse, constitutes idolatry). Some NT scholars suggest Jesus intentionally created the ritual as a “make or break” ritual, constituting the moment when Xianity was born as an offshoot cult of Judaism, introducing a polarizing act designed to revulse the more conservative-minded Jews while attracting young disenfranchised Jews who were willing to part with the old).

          Obviously the Abrahamic faiths prevailed in the Western World, with their dogmatic stance of, “Our way or the Highway to Hell”.

          Sad that such a manipulative psychological tool survives and is even voluntarily-accepted by so many in 2014, driven largely by fear of anger of a “loving” God.

      3. Sir Real

        Amen to that! Once people start to realize that religion is antiquated and back-wards thinking perhaps there can be a new revolution of free thinkers and reasoning. There are enough problems in this world why complicate it with crap that is unnecessary and useless. “United we stand, divided we fall.”

  4. 4
    JT Rager

    The callers have had me fed up multiple times with the “why do you believe there isn’t a god” shit. It’s happened on multiple shows where they’ve asked a variant of this question, including this one, where the hosts will explain that atheism is “non-belief in gods”, not “belief that there aren’t any gods”. After some discussion they will ask again why the hosts believe there isn’t a god.

    Are my standards too high? You’d think they’d want to at least learn something. I know I wanted to learn stuff like this when I was a Christian, but then again maybe that’s why I’m an atheist now.

    1. 4.1
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      IMHO, the language adopted by many atheists is very confusing to Christians. In most contexts, “I do not want X” means “I want it to be that not X”. Similarly, “I do not believe X” often means “I believe that not X”. However, when talking with atheists, it means something different. That’s why I personally try to stress verbatim: atheism includes the “I don’t know” position and the “I know there are no gods” position.

      1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

        Sometimes “I believe X” means “I’d prefer to entertain X, as opposed to alternatives” or rather “I enjoy fantasizing that the statement X were true”.
         
        After a funeral, one of the bereaved began interpreting mildly unexpected occurrences as signals from beyond the grave (e.g., a large number of flowers on a plant that season). A psychic he met at a diner seemed eerily knowledgable. Etc. Much later, once emotions had settled down, he agreed he wasn’t taking the signals themselves seriously (seeking them out and trying to decipher them); he just wanted the reassurance that he imagined he’d get if there were signals. He agreed it had been fantasizing, but acknowledging that breaks the immersion.

      2. houndentenor

        Agreed and at the same time from experience I don’t find that it helps to explain the difference. Even analogies that ought to clarify things like “I don’t believe there are any unicorns but I can’t prove absolutely that no unicorns exist or ever existed.” Because theists usually apply Special Pleading, they believe THEIR religious beliefs are an exception to such comparisons. In short, you cannot win a logical argument with people who refuse to employ logic. it is important to have these discussions for those who are curious and open to hearing challenges to this kind of “reasoning”.

    2. 4.2
      RoBoTech

      I understand why we atheists are reluctant to assert that there are no gods, since then we will assume the burden of proof to demonstrate this, however, I am certain there are no gods and here is why. Up til now, humans have had ample opportunity to devise the most sophisticated proofs for the existence of a god. Over the course of thousands of years humans have created some very creative and compelling arguments. I have listened to all of them and rejected all of them. I doubt that I would be able to independently devise my own unique proof so their proofs will have to suffice. Besides, any proof that I might devise is likely to have already been proffered by someone else at an earlier time. So in essence, I have used every theists’ argument as a proxy for my own, and since every hypothesis has failed, I feel rather comfortable with my conclusion that there is no god. Since the gap of scientific understanding of our world has dwindled to such an extent as to be negligible I do not foresee any new arguments for the existence of a god arising any time soon, unless of course god is to be defined as a computer simulation or something defined outside of time-space which for all practical purposes is non existent. In summary, every theist argument could easily be a hypothesis of mine, and since they all fail, there is no god. The worst that I can be guilty of is not considering some newfangled hypothesis for the existence of a god. However any definition of god which hasn’t already undergone a thorough examination is not likely to prove useful or meaningful in the modern world.

      1. Narf

        Eh, you have to contextualize things like that, though. I positively believe that a god who cares about us and wants us to know it does not exist. The Christian deity in particular certainly does not exist. If there was any god like that, it would have done a much better job of communicating with us and would not be pushed most strongly by con artists.

        How do you disprove a god who gets a kick out of fucking with us, like a 5 year-old with ants, though? Strangely, almost no one ever worships evil, trickster gods, though.

        1. Frank G. Turner

          Are you on facebook by any chance? I like your comments and it would be nice to hook up outside of this. (I should have done this with Adamah too).

          1. Narf

            I like your comments and it would be nice to hook up outside of this.

            Sorry man, but I’m straight. :D

            I’m on Atheist Nexus. I’ve avoided Facebook, since I have too many time sinks already. If you’re not on Atheist Nexus, I can create a throwaway e-mail address, since I can’t remember the password on the last one I created. I don’t generally need the things.

            Or hell, if Russel sees this, he could e-mail you my e-mail address. He has both of ours.

          2. Frank G. Turner

            I meant hook up as friends dude. (That was probably a wise ass statement on your part anyway).
            .
            What I mean is that I find you to be interesting as a person and that I like you as a person. (By the way, how do you know that I am even male? Maybe I am not…I am just messing with you). I will check out Atheist Nexus though. I have heard of it and considered looking it up. (Much like I was asking questions on the previous message board and was given the Skeptics Annotated Bible which i had to clarify I already knew about).
            .
            Thanks.

          3. Narf

            Okay, I’ve written a reply here twice. It isn’t showing. What’s up with the blog?

          4. Martin Wagner

            There’s nothing of yours hung up in the queue, Narf.

          5. Narf

            … and somehow, that one did. @#$%.

          6. Narf

            I meant hook up as friends dude. (That was probably a wise ass statement on your part anyway).

            Heh heh heh. Just a bit, yeah.

          7. Narf

            What I mean is that I find you to be interesting as a person and that I like you as a person. (By the way, how do you know that I am even male? Maybe I am not…I am just messing with you).

            Well, you’d still be out of luck, since I’m not a lesbian. :P

            I’ve heard of women using the name Frank, when their full name is Francesca or something like that, but it seems pretty rare. Seemed like a safe assumption.
            Besides, that’s a pretty masculine middle initial that you have there.

          8. Narf

            I will check out Atheist Nexus though. I have heard of it and considered looking it up. (Much like I was asking questions on the previous message board and was given the Skeptics Annotated Bible which i had to clarify I already knew about).

          9. Narf

            If you join that, look me up at [link to my Atheist Nexus profile clipped, to see if it was eating it because of that]. Alternately, I could link you to my YouTube channel or something.

          10. Narf

            W!
            T!
            F!

            The blog doesn’t want me linking you to my Atheist Nexus page? What the hell?

          11. Narf

            This thing seems to be rejecting any message with an Atheist Nexus url in it, even as an entry into the Website box. Any idea what’s up with that, Martin?

            Anyway, Frank, if you look me up on there, I’m Joseph P. You should be able to find me with a user search for that.

          12. Martin Wagner

            I have absolutely no idea. This is the first I’ve heard of anyone having that problem. Sorry.

          13. Narf

            Yeah, of all the things to be filtered out, you wouldn’t think that that would be one of them. Very puzzling.

      2. AhmNee

        I agree with the stance that Matt most often asserts. My agnosticism about whether god exists depends on how you define god. Mostly, non-deistic gods can be said to not exist with a high degree of certainty. Either through the contradictions in the god definition or by lack of evidence where it is expected. It’s the naturalistic or metaphoric gods that are harder to dispute.

        1. AhmNee

          I might add that the naturalistic or metaphoric god definitions are also of less concern. A god that doesn’t interact with the universe or whose interaction with the universe is indistinguishable from natural methodology is irrelevant.

    3. 4.3
      doublereed

      I don’t know why atheists get caught up in such BS semantic games. If you don’t believe there is a god, then you believe there is no god. They’re equivalent logical statements.

      They’re both asking your subjective probability of god’s existence. It’s the same number.

      1. John Iacoletti

        No, that’s ridiculous. One statement is an active belief. The other is the absence of a belief.

        1. Frank G. Turner

          To follow up on that but putting it in different words, absence of belief does not mean belief in absence. (That occurred to me as a method of agreement and I thought it was a good line).

          1. doublereed

            No, it really does. What you’re doing is completely denying Bayesian Reasoning. The probability of a statement being not true is the same probability of the negative statement being true.

          2. adamah

            Double reed said-

            The probability of a statement being not true is the same probability of the negative statement being true.

            How lovely it must be to live in a simple binary world populated by only ‘true or false’ statements. Sounds like someone is still looking for absolutes outside of religion?

            Adam

          3. doublereed

            ???

            Existence is a binary position. Obviously?

          4. adamah

            Dr said-

            Existence is a binary position. Obviously?

            But you leapfrogged and apparently forgot that you are talking about BELIEFS in the existence of God, which are far from simple binary propositions, but vary along a spectrum of ideas which don’t condense into a simple binary proposition. Hence my snarky comment about your over-simplification, and projecting your model of reality into others.

            Adam

          5. doublereed

            Beliefs are just subjective probabilities. Existence is, in fact, binary. You believe in a probability of whether a proposition is true or false. Like I said before:

            The probability of a statement being not true is the same probability of the negative statement being true.

            There is no over-simplification. There is no ‘projecting your model of reality into others.’

            You want to talk about other gods or something? Fine. But any belief is going to fall under such a 1-dimensional spectrum because all beliefs fall under such a spectrum.

          6. Narf

            Double, Bayesian Reasoning is not a hammer, and belief positions are not nails. You’re grossly misusing the only tool you seem to have in your toolbox.

          7. doublereed

            Uhh… Bayesian Reasoning is literally for beliefs. It’s using the tool exactly for what it’s for.

          8. doublereed

            If somebody says they’re using Bayesian Reasoning, then that directly means that they’re using subjective probabilities to measure beliefs. That’s what that means.

          9. adamah

            dr said-

            If somebody says they’re using Bayesian Reasoning, then that directly means that they’re using subjective probabilities to measure beliefs. That’s what that means.

            The premises underlying Bayesian reasoning seem almost as delusional as those of believers, as if a bunch of egg-headed statisticians think they’ve engineered the silver bullet approach which will make illogical people suddenly adopt the cold-hard analytical thinking they use to decide, lol! That’s what I meant by PROJECTING ones values onto others: if only that approach worked with actual people!

            Turn the tables time: show me ONE believer who’s been deconverted by Bayesian reasoning, and we’ll talk. Otherwise, you’ve got to deal with a MAJOR apparent self-selection bias effect, where anyone able to even understand it’s basic approach is unlikely to be a believer who’s truly a believer (and not like Frank, who is only going thru the motions out of loyalty to his tribe).

            Adam

          10. Narf

            No, they’re using probabilities to establish their belief stance on a subject of existence. You seem to be having a basic language malfunction.

          11. Narf

            And I’ve seen a lot of people attempting to use Bayesian Reasoning. It’s not nearly as subjective as they like to pretend it is, in practice.

          12. Narf

            Err, flipped that. You know what I meant, though. The subjectivity is the issue I was pointing out, anyway.

          13. doublereed

            Could you elaborate on that Narf. I don’t understand what you mean by “it’s not nearly as subjective as they like to pretend it is”?

          14. Narf

            Not really, no. I’m losing interest in your inanity.

        2. doublereed

          There is no different between an ‘active’ belief and the absence of belief. Absence of evidence is precisely evidence of absence.

          1. John Iacoletti

            I’m sorry that you don’t see the difference, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. One is a belief and the other is not a belief. I don’t know how to make the distinction any clearer. Do you think “not guilty” and “innocent” are the same thing too?

          2. Frank G. Turner

            Beliefs don’t operate on Bayesian principles. I can see what you are getting at because dichotomies like Guilty vs. Not Guilty operate that way. However, as Matt has said numerous times in the show, atheism is not about proof that there is not a God, i.e.: that God is innocent of existing, it is about there being insufficient demonstrable evidence for a God, that God is Not Guilty of existing. You can view “not guilty” as being the same as “is innocent” but they are separate.

          3. doublereed

            That is the same thing. There is no distinguishable difference between proving someone guilty and not proving someone innocent. It amounts to the same thing: a subjective probability of whether somebody did the crime.

            If you’re talking about burden of evidence, where someone is declared guilty, but not beyond a reasonable doubt or something, then the God belief fails this as well. There is literally no burden that the God hypothesis succeeds at. To use this analogy in this regard is dishonest at best, and is nothing but special pleading in the God hypothesis.

          4. Narf

            You haven’t taken even basic formal logic, have you, Double? You’ve never even read a book on the subject or listened for 5 minutes, while someone discusses basic argument construction? That is so wrong.

            What you’re saying is that rejection of a positive claim is the same as the embracing of the negative of that claim. If you don’t comprehend how wrong that is, I don’t know how to unfuck your head.

          5. doublereed

            Are you joking, Narf? When the argument is binary, then it’s a probability question of A and ~A.

            The question being asked in either context is the same thing: “What is the probability of God’s existence and what is evidence for thinking that?”

            Trying to be fancy and whine about semantics is pointless. Just answer the damn question and move on.

          6. John Iacoletti

            Recognizing that one side has failed to meet its burden of proof is not equivalent to believing the other side, even in a binary proposition.

            If I have a jar of gumballs, the number of gumballs is either even or odd, right? If I claim the number is odd and provide no evidence, do you believe the claim? If not, does that automatically mean that you believe the number is even?

            Or can you disbelieve both claims, “the number of gumballs is odd” and “the number of gumballs is even” until you have sufficient evidence to convince you of one or the other?

          7. Narf

            What’s this malfunction you have, jumping from the existence of something to the belief in the existence of that thing, as Adam pointed out? Do you not notice that you’re doing it, or do you just not think that it’s important?

            What happens when we just don’t have enough information about something, either for or against? That’s our state of affairs on most issues, in reality. We have a pile on one side, a pile on the other side, and a HUGE field of gray, in the middle.

            As I’ve said elsewhere, if you want to talk about a specific case with fairly tight parameters, it’s doable, and you can come to a fairly solid conclusion. If you want to talk about a more vague concept with no appreciable parameters, the gray in the middle becomes quite significant.

          8. doublereed

            What field of gray? What the hell are you talking about?

            Even in John’s example, there’s a 50% chance of one or the other. There’s no ‘gray’ anywhere. It’s black and white. If you actually think “God does not exist” does not meet the burden of proof, then you actually have to say that. I think that’s a ridiculous claim, judging by simply how unlikely it realistically is.

            But when we speak about the person asking “Why do you believe there is no God?” then the question is clearly talking about the probability of God’s existence. That question should be answered as such, and saying “No, no, I just don’t believe there is a God” a blatant dodge of the question.

            If you’re talking about making sure they define their God properly, that’s a completely different discussion, because then you’re saying their question in the first place is incoherent.

          9. Narf

            What field of gray? What the hell are you talking about?

            Even in John’s example, there’s a 50% chance of one or the other.

            John’s gumball example is a better example of one thing, demonstrating why it’s more reasonable to be agnostic about some things. I don’t believe that there’s an odd number. I don’t believe that there’s an even number. I would reject both claims, if someone made them, without being able to demonstrate that he counted them accurately.

            As for the question, does some kind of god exist somewhere …
            What’s with you and black and whites? There’s a lot of shit we don’t know about the universe. There’s a hell of a lot of gray out there. If you’re willing to include admittedly-subjective things and pretend that that makes things black and white … well, that’s your issue. Most atheists that I know know better.

          10. doublereed

            Okay, then. What do you think the probability of God’s existence is?

            (Choose whatever God you wish.)

          11. doublereed

            I’m not saying agnosticism is an unreasonable claim all the time. But it is unreasonable (and I think dishonest) to claim agnosticism for the God position. And it is certainly unreasonable to claim agnosticism all the time. Because in that case we actually do have considerable evidence in the face of the God claims that are actually posited.

          12. Narf

            Okay, then. What do you think the probability of God’s existence is?

            (Choose whatever God you wish.)

            No. I won’t choose whichever god I wish. I already explicitly said that for any god I’ve ever had described to me, for all but the most vague, fuzzy, new-agey gods, I’m a strong atheist.
            For those in the adjective-laden scope that I described, my position is generally, “Why the hell would you think something like that, and why would you call it a god? Stop smoking that shit, and get rid of that patchouli; it stinks.”

            We’re speaking about the global question of some god existing. This shit is context dependent … as I also said earlier.

          13. Narf

            I’m not saying agnosticism is an unreasonable claim all the time. But it is unreasonable (and I think dishonest) to claim agnosticism for the God position. And it is certainly unreasonable to claim agnosticism all the time. Because in that case we actually do have considerable evidence in the face of the God claims that are actually posited.

            Like I’ve said before:
            The applicable words went something like … context dependent … you have to pin the suckers down.

          14. EnlightenmentLiberal

            @doublereed

            There is no different between an ‘active’ belief and the absence of belief. Absence of evidence is precisely evidence of absence.

            That is the same thing. There is no distinguishable difference between proving someone guilty and not proving someone innocent. It amounts to the same thing: a subjective probability of whether somebody did the crime.

            How about no? Haven’t you ever heard of the position “I don’t know”?

            If someone has not demonstrated their position properly, do not assume that their conclusion is false. That’s called the fallacy fallacy.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_fallacy

          15. Narf

            Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh. Fallacy Fallacy. I like it.

          16. AhmNee

            Lets look at it another way.

            Do Tachyons exist? There are strong theories that say they could. But we have never discovered evidence of them. Does that mean they don’t exist or that we just don’t have enough information.

            Conversely.

            Before it’s discovery, did the Higgs Boson exist? Strong theories about it’s existence but no empirical evidence prior to it’s discovery. What if the LHC hadn’t been able to find the Higgs Boson? When would the line be when we’d just have to say, we can’t find anything. It mustn’t exist.

            Did the big bang happen? Which model?

            These are all areas where belief isn’t a binary thing. It’s subjective. I wish I knew of the name of the physicist that debated WLC (was it Sean Carrol) where he talked about models of the Big Bang that he and others have created that are absolutely not now the big bang happened but were used to illustrate a particular theory on an aspect of it.

            How does your binary belief model account for a claim that is known to be false but has explanatory value? Is the whole thing rubbish?

          17. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

            @AhmNee:

            I wish I knew of the name of the physicist that debated WLC (was it Sean Carrol) where he talked about models of the Big Bang

            I am not gonna watch another WLC debate to confirm, but I think you guessed correctly…
             
            Article/Video: Sean Carroll – Post-Debate Reflections

            my main point was not to push this or that specific model, but to argue that it’s the models that matter, not some general theorem in a regime we don’t pretend to understand. So I listed a bunch of plausible-looking eternal cosmologies. The point is not that all or some of these models is perfect; it’s that they’re eternal. So we should judge them on their merits, rather than claiming to have general arguments that there are no such things. (It’s as if WLC has a powerful general theorem against heavier-than-air flying machines, while airplanes keep buzzing overhead.) [...] If there are some cosmological models that are eternal but have other problems, there’s no reason to stop looking for other models that are also eternal but don’t have those problems.

          18. douglasmcfarland

            I don’t believe that there is a multiverse or extra dimensions in really tiny spaces. There may be but I don’t believe that there are. I don’t believe that there aren’t either. Seems perfectly logical to me.

        3. doublereed

          Would you at least acknowledge that, in fact, absence of evidence is evidence of absence? I like to start from some common ground here.

          1. Narf

            It depends upon the context. Sagan took a position that’s too extreme in one direction. You’re taking a position that’s too extreme in the other direction.

          2. doublereed

            Oh come on. We have so much evidence at this point, and it does not point to God.

            At what point will you be satisfied? How much more evidence do we need before the ‘absence of God’ position is reasonable to you?

          3. Narf

            Are we speaking specifically of Yahweh, as explicitly described in the Bible? Yeah, that guy doesn’t exist.

            If you want to pull it back to the general question of a god of some sort existing … say a deistic god of some sort … I’m not sure there ever can be a satisfactory refutation of the concept. The bastards have deliberately made their god-concept unfalsifiable. That’s when you just have to toss the concept, because it’s useless.

          4. EnlightenmentLiberal

            What part of context dependent do you need?

            There is no elephant in my car. I know this because all attempts to detect an elephant have failed. Absence of expected evidence is evidence of absence. However, mere absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.

            For examples of evidence of absence, please see “garage dragons”.
            http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Dragon.htm

            For an example of mere absence of evidence, consider the proposition that there are aliens on Rigel 7.

          5. Narf

            If it’s an elephant, as seen in zoos worldwide, with no super powers of any sort, then of course.

            If you’re dealing with people who are deliberately making their claims unfalsifiable, then you call them out on their bullshit and move on. Different approaches for different contexts.

          6. corwyn

            Would you at least acknowledge that, in fact, absence of evidence is evidence of absence?

            Absence of evidence is evidence of absence to the precise amount of the likelihood that evidence was expected. This can in fact be zero. See: Bayes Theorem.

          7. doublereed

            Are we speaking specifically of Yahweh, as explicitly described in the Bible? Yeah, that guy doesn’t exist.

            If you want to pull it back to the general question of a god of some sort existing … say a deistic god of some sort … I’m not sure there ever can be a satisfactory refutation of the concept. The bastards have deliberately made their god-concept unfalsifiable. That’s when you just have to toss the concept, because it’s useless.

            Would you describe either of those positions as “agnostic”? Because I would not.

          8. Narf

            Would you describe either of those positions as “agnostic”? Because I would not.

            The first one, of course not. As I said, I’m a strong atheist in respect to Yahweh.

            There’s a significant difference between an intellectually-useless concept and a false concept. That’s one of the important components of hard agnosticism.

            Now, I’m not a hard agnostic, and I think Huxley was a bit full of it, creating the same absolute-certainty standard that we get from the fundies. But they bring up interesting points that have to be addressed. If you drag the concept of uncertainty all the way into the extreme forms of postmodernism, you’ve fallen into another cesspit, but the core concepts are good to keep in mind.

            So, to answer your question on the second position, yes. If you don’t conflate unfalsifiable with false, as you’re doing, it’s an agnostic postion.

          9. doublereed

            I don’t know, man. Saying something is completely useless and inane is not that far from saying that it is false. Practically, pragmatically, realistically, the difference really isn’t that significant.

            But I guess that’s where we disagree.

          10. Narf

            I’d look at them as the bottom of two different sliders, if you want to be poetic about it.

            Maybe, if you want a pithy phrase, you could say they’re worse than false? :D

          11. Narf

            … or not even false? :?

          12. doublereed

            Or perhaps ‘not even wrong.’

          13. Narf

            Yup, that’s exactly what I was playing off of, in my second iteration. :P

      2. Frank G. Turner

        I would tend to disagree. I could say that I don’t know if you have a cat, which is different from saying that I know that you don’t have a cat. I could attempt to prove that you did not have one by going into your home and filming everything around to see if there is any evidence of a cat.
        .
        The main issue here has to do with your default position when you have no proof in either direction. Some default to the belief that there is a God in the absence of proof but acknowledge a lack of proof (an agnostic theist), while some default to saying that there is no God in the absence of proof and also accept that there is no proof (an agnostice atheist). To say that you have proof that there is or is not a God (even if you don’t because you accept as proof something flimsy) would be a gnostic theist or a gnostic atheist, respectively. From my impression of the show none of the hosts are gnostic though Matt comes close with some very logical arguements for the non existence of a God.
        .
        So you may not believe that there is a God because you don’t know, that does not mean that you are certain that there is not one. It is a matter of taking a default position that does not represent certainty much like in a courtroom which they have used as an example on the show many times.

        1. doublereed

          That’s completely ridiculous, and all you have to do is take literally any other statement other than God to show it.

          Are you “agnostic” about the Statue of Liberty being green? Just because evidence may convince or you’re not absolutely certain does not mean that you do not KNOW the statue of liberty is green. And if you say that you are agnostic about the greeness of the statue of liberty then I’m just going to laugh at you and point out that you’ve just destroyed the very notion o knowledge.

          1. Narf

            Say I’ve never seen the statue of liberty … have only heard stories about it. Some of those stories make the Statue of Liberty sound more bluish.

            For that matter, look at the thing.

          2. doublereed

            It wasn’t rhetorical. I’m asking you.

          3. Narf

            From what I’ve seen it’s blue. I’ve never seen it up close, in person, though. Too touristy.

          4. doublereed

            Well, I have seen it and it is green. It’s copper.

            The point is that if you applied this kind of burden of evidence to anything else, you’d be saying ridiculous things like “I’m agnostic whether gravity exists” or “I’m agnostic whether kittens are adorable.”

          5. Narf

            Are you agnostic about the mechanism that causes gravity to behave the way it does? That’s the sort of thing we’re talking about here. You’re deliberately crafting metaphors in a way to favor your position. There are many metaphors that toss your position on it’s ear. This is why metaphors break down, when you try to apply them too strictly.

          6. doublereed

            Well that’s not my belief. I don’t believe the likelihood of God is on par with more reasonable questions like that.

          7. Narf

            You keep capitalizing the G. I’m not talking about Yahweh, the god of the Bible. I’m speaking of a more global, general, undefined concept. When you start an argument, you have to stick with the context in which you’re describing it. If you’re going to define your atheism within certain constraints … well, that isn’t what the general atheist community is talking about, most of the time. Within that context, a more reserved, lack of belief definition is more applicable and useful.

          8. John Iacoletti

            Ok, I have given you no evidence that I have ever visited the statue of liberty. Do you therefore believe that I haven’t?

            By the way, I guess you don’t understand what “agnostic” means either. “Agnostic” says nothing about whether you believe a claim is true or not.

          9. Narf

            Freethinker.co.uk used to have a fantastic article on how atheism and agnosticism are on an X-Y axis of belief and knowledge, but sadly, it seems that the article has been taken down. Thankfully, the Wayback Machine has it stored:

            http://web.archive.org/web/20140325160011/http://freethinker.co.uk/2009/09/25/8419/

            Should be required-reading for atheists who want to speak on the subject.

          10. doublereed

            I very much disagree with that notion of X-Y axis of belief and knowledge presented in that article. I think it’s not only completely impractical, I think it’s also not how people have historically used the word ‘agnostic.’

            Knowledge is just strong beliefs. When somebody says “I know X” they are saying that they have a certain degree of certainty. When somebody says “I think X” or “I believe X” they are saying that they have less certainty, but still a certain degree of certainty. And when somebody says they are “agnostic” then it’s an even lower degree of certainty.

          11. Narf

            I think it’s also not how people have historically used the word ‘agnostic.’

            It fits the usage of popular, historical agnostics, like Huxley and Heinlein. They just took it to a bat-shit extreme.

            Knowledge is just strong beliefs. When somebody says “I know X” they are saying that they have a certain degree of certainty.

            To a certain extent, yes, but there’s an important distinction.

            See if this makes any sense to you. Remember the earlier issue we were all having with your conflation of existence claims and belief positions? The latter is a meta- of the former, if you get what I mean.

            Similarly, the gnostic/agnostic proposition is a meta- of the theism/atheism proposition. It’s just a modifier on the tentative conclusion we’ve reached about the (non)existence of gods. That’s why I find the 2D matrix to be a useful representation. I can understand why Dawkins and others prefer a simple slider, but that doesn’t fit my concept of the proposition as well.

            Like I said somewhere else in here, about Valerie’s fundamentalist beliefs, it has gotten to the point that we not only doubt the reality of those myths, but we indeed know them to be pretty much certainly false. If you strip out every detail in the Bible and reduce the concept back to a simple creator-god … okay, you’ve made it unfalsifiable and useless, and I see no need to either accept or reject it, even though I reject out of form.

            In some ways, you could view the gnostic/agnostic axis as a measure of the proposition under scrutiny. The proposition slides further towards the agnostic side of the chart, as the theists continue spin-doctoring and patching the holes in their concept, unto unfalsifiability.

            Was that any help, or should I try it again?

          12. corwyn

            If you strip out every detail in the Bible and reduce the concept back to a simple creator-god … okay, you’ve made it unfalsifiable and useless, and I see no need to either accept or reject it, even though I reject out of form.

            There is a problem (for many theologies) with the idea of a ‘simple’ creator-god. At the time of the creation of the Universe, entropy was extremely low, meaning that there was very little information. As entropy increased (as it inevitable must according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics), more information entered the Universe, perhaps through the working of quantum mechanics. A creator-god could not affect the unfolding of the Universe without further tampering in its running. So either a god is continually adding information to the Universe to control where it is going (and thus is falsifiable) or we and everything we care about was never in his plan.

          13. Narf

            Yup, that’s the problem with anything but the most useless deistic god. We’d have fingerprints. If creationist nuts wanted to be welcomed into the scientific community, they would have to construct a useful model that explained how their god does everything.

            This is one of the failures of religious types, like Valerie. She claims that science has proven the fundamentalist perspective of the Bible, probably referring to the activities of the Discovery Institute or the nuts who go off to find the Ark (again) to film a new hoax video to con money from the gullible faithful. She probably doesn’t genuinely understand that what they’re doing is not science.

            And when you tell them that, they don’t grasp that we’re saying it isn’t science is because they don’t follow the scientific method. I’ve heard creationists respond that if creationism isn’t science, evolution isn’t science either, because it also happened in the past.

            They just don’t understand what science DOES. You have no useful, demonstrable model; you have no peer review by people trying to tear down your evidence; you have no methodical testing of your hypothesis which will falsify it if the results come out other than what you expected; you’re not doing science.

            I think Valerie genuinely believes that poking holes in the prevailing theory (all together now: “It’s just a theory!”), without presenting any evidence for a replacement theory, somehow supports her worldview. I don’t know how to break that bubble.

          14. doublereed

            You mean like one dimension is “I think this is true/false” and the other dimension “I think this is nonsense/sensible”?

          15. AhmNee

            I think it would be more accurate to say one axis is I believe this is true, resulting in “I believe” or “I don’t believe”. And the other is I have seen sufficient evidence this is true, resulting in “I know” or “I don’t know”.

            Does that sound about right? Now that I’ve written it down it seems wrong. The know/don’t know proposition seems to be the binary portion. Either you know or you don’t. And belief is the degree of certainty.

          16. Narf

            doublereed

            You mean like one dimension is “I think this is true/false” and the other dimension “I think this is nonsense/sensible”?

            Hmm, possibly. I can certainly see the case in which something would be perfectly sensible, but when we test it, it turns out to be wrong.

            I think that second to last paragraph of mine, in the comment to which you’re responding, might be the most useful bit of that comment. I was thinking through that stuff while I was going, and some parts of it came out a bit more coherent than other parts.

            AhmNee

            I think it would be more accurate to say one axis is I believe this is true, resulting in “I believe” or “I don’t believe”. And the other is I have seen sufficient evidence this is true, resulting in “I know” or “I don’t know”.

            Does that sound about right? Now that I’ve written it down it seems wrong. The know/don’t know proposition seems to be the binary portion. Either you know or you don’t. And belief is the degree of certainty.

            More or less, yeah. Belief should be binary, as long as you’re speaking of the acceptance or rejection of a single claim. You turn it into a trinary proposition, when you add in the negation of the claim.

            I accept the proposition : I reject the proposition and accept the negative position : I reject both the positive and the negative propositions.

          17. Narf

            Whoops, I read that the wrong way around, AhmNee. As the indicator of your level of confidence, knowing something would not be binary. The belief axis is digital, and the knowledge axis is analog.

          18. AhmNee

            Ah, I see. I think I may just be “mislabeling” the axis. So belief is binary, either you believe or you don’t. And as a subset, knowledge informs that belief with a degree of confidence.

            Is that more inline?

          19. Narf

            Yup, that’s more or less my understanding of the situation. Perhaps, for clarity, you could say that you either accept the proposition or you don’t. “Believe” often sends the theists off into all sorts of sophistry, trying to show that atheists have even more faith than they do.

          20. AhmNee

            Indeed. Valid point. With the kind of word games that get played already, no need to add fuel to the fire.

          21. corwyn

            Is that really how your minds work? For me, ‘know’ is mostly used for facts (as opposed to theories or hypotheses), but sometimes it is another of the degrees of confidence that I try to use even in everyday speech. ‘believe’, ‘understand’, ‘was told’, ‘know’ are all common words I use to convey my confidence level in a proposition. Sometimes I also try to include the source.

            On a secondary axis there is my calibration on the proposition, that is how much confidence I have in my confidence level. How much actual thinking, research, and updating of confidence levels I have done. Or even how much research everybody has done.

            “I don’t believe X” would be me explaining that my confidence level was in the middle (i.e. not much evidence either way, but perhaps some negative prior probability), but also a low calibration. I don’t think that evaluation is very robust.

            “I believe not X” would be me explaining that my confidence level was significantly negative, and that my calibration was reasonably high.

            “I know X” might be where my confidence level exceeded the point where anyone might question it.

          22. AhmNee

            Well, since we can’t control what we believe. We either believe or we don’t. Knowledge would seem to be the variable as evidenced that we cannot have absolute knowledge of anything, meaning the degree of knowledge has to be a range. No?

            What we know or have learned is what convinces us and shifts the Boolean belief value.

          23. corwyn

            Well, since we can’t control what we believe. We either believe or we don’t.

            I don’t agree with either of these statements, nor do I think that there is a logical connection which justifies the word ‘since’.

          24. Narf

            In some cases, we can. It depends what you call “controlling your beliefs.” If you logically realize that something is completely bullshit, but some emotional part of your mind is still stuck to it, you can override the emotional part of your brain. Over time, the emotional stuff in your head will calm the fuck down, and the logical part will win.

            If you’re starting from complete nutjob, and someone wants you to change your mind and believe something rational … then no, not so much.

      3. Monocle Smile

        You are completely wrong. Like, straight-up logic 101 wrong. That’s not how dichotomies work and it’s not how belief values work, either.

        1. Frank G. Turner

          @Monocle Smile
          You are completely wrong. Like, straight-up logic 101 wrong. That’s not how dichotomies work and it’s not how belief values work, either.
          .
          Where you talking to me or doublereed? I don’t agree with him about not believing that there is a God is not the same as believing that there is no God. I tend to take the more agnostic view and say “I don’t know” much of the time (i.e.: “Not true” does not equal “Is false”). I just went into more detail reguarding belif systems so I was thinking you don’t agree with the way I explained belief systems (which was just an example and a poor one at that).
          .
          Note when I use the term “gnostic” I did not mean in terms of ancient gnosticism. I meant it merely as an opposite to agnosticism and claiming to “know” rather than “not know.” That may have been a poor usage of the word and feel free to correct me on that (I hope that did not offend you Matt if you are reading this).

          1. Frank G. Turner

            Ok let me clear this up because my words are getting jumbled.
            I think, “Not believing in a God” does NOT equal “you believe that there is no God.” The reason why you do “Not believe in a God” may be because you don’t know, which is NOT “you believe that there is no God.” That was the idea that I was trying to get at.
            .
            One could claim “Proof that there is no God” or “Proof that there is a God,” though either case may not have real evidence (demonstrable to others, measurable).
            .
            What I was getting at had less to do with the existence of an actual dichotomy and more to do with the default position that you take in the absence of proof.

          2. Monocle Smile

            I was talking to doublereed. Follow the chain.

        2. doublereed

          The probability of whether God exists is the same as the complement of probability of whether God doesn’t exist. That’s logic 101.

          That is precisely how belief values work if you work in Bayesian context.

          1. corwyn

            For a P(A), there exists a Set(X) of all P(A) large enough that I claim belief in A, there is a Set (Y) of all P(A) small enough that I claim belief in ~A. There is a Set(Z) for all P(A) not in Set(X) OR Set(Y).

            I claim it is not the case that everybody thinks Set(Z) is empty. Not even logicians claim Set(Z) is empty.

            Why people don’t use formal logical language when trying to make these distinction is beyond me. Every time I suggest it I get shot down. Do they just like to argue?

          2. Narf

            I think it’s mostly that people who haven’t had a few formal logic courses can’t parse that. I follow you, but I’m sure you lost more than a few … and plenty of others probably didn’t read past the first sentence. If you’re losing the lurkers, you’re doing it wrong, in a forum like this.

            Plus, in my case, it’s been more than a few years since I used formulae like that regularly, and I’m not sure I won’t fuck something up in the syntax. Better to go with common verbiage, for many reasons, for me.

          3. doublereed

            I understand all that. I’ve never parsed the actual sentence that way though.

          4. EnlightenmentLiberal

            PS: I think I adequately captured corwyn’s point adequately with “what about the ‘I don’t know’ position?”.

          5. corwyn

            If you’re losing the lurkers, you’re doing it wrong, in a forum like this.

            How the heck am I supposed to know if I am losing the lurkers? :-)

          6. Narf

            You feel fewer electrons around you?

            Oh, wait, that’s just because I grounded myself on the metal desk sides, after walking across the carpet.

          7. AhmNee

            Hey! I think I actually followed that, Corwyn.

      4. corwyn

        Even if one assumes that everyone has a Bayesian confidence for every proposition that they have heard, it is not the case that everyone translates those confidence levels into two disjoint sets whose union encompasses all confidence levels.

        A quick example, I claim that something I call a ‘syober’ exists. You now, from our assumption above, have a confidence level for the existence of a syober. Would you like to commit, right now, to your confidence level translates to “I believe that syobers exist” OR “I believe that syobers do NOT exist? Or would you like some more information before you decide? If that latter, you have shown that some confidence level falls outside those two disjoint sets.

        1. doublereed

          Sure, you can say this kind of argument theoretically, but that really does not relate to the God position at all. I have literally never met someone who is that “unsure” of the God position. Have you?

          1. John Iacoletti

            I think you need to get out more. If somebody is rational, he doesn’t believe anything (including the non-existence of something) without evidence. It’s generally impossible to prove that something does not exist. The best you can do is say that there is no evidence that it does.

          2. doublereed

            The logic works the reverse as well, that it is generally impossible to prove something DOES exist as well. Who cares about the possible and impossible. What we care about his probabilities.

            Are you seriously going to argue that there is NO evidence that God doesn’t exist? That’s patently absurd, and you clearly haven’t even bothered to consider the question.

          3. Narf

            Well, if you slap on enough conditionals to nail that sucker down, it’s doable. Of course believers in bullshit always leave themselves a backdoor.

            You’d have to find a believer willing to falsify his god. Good luck with that.

          4. John Iacoletti

            What the hell are you talking about? I can prove that the Statue of Liberty exists. You go to New York harbor and there it is.

          5. doublereed

            How do you know you aren’t hallucinating or that there’s some bizarre conspiracy or blah blah blah. It is not impossible that the Statue of Liberty doesn’t exist, it is simply improbable.

            And Narf has it right, you have to pin down their God first.

          6. John Iacoletti

            Nobody is saying that you can prove anything with absolute certainty. We could all be Sye’s brains in a vat. But you can’t prove a negative with any certainty, because in an infinite universe, no matter how many places you look, there are still an infinite number of places you haven’t.

          7. corwyn

            Sure, you can say this kind of argument theoretically, but that really does not relate to the God position at all. I have literally never met someone who is that “unsure” of the God position. Have you?

            Yes, I have. Many.

            If you can make this argument ‘theoretically’, then it applies to EVERY position. That is why we use logic, because it allows us to determine truth values irrespective of subject matter.

          8. Narf

            John Iacoletti

            But you can’t prove a negative with any certainty, because in an infinite universe, no matter how many places you look, there are still an infinite number of places you haven’t.

            Unless the claim comes with sufficient contextual components and enough attributes to make it falsifiable or self-contradictory. You can’t forget that part.

            If the definition of their god includes things that he does/has done, and those claims are demonstrated to be bullshit, then that iteration of the god is dross. Mind you, most of the believers will immediately start backpedaling and spinning like mad, leaving us with the current batch of mysterious, mentally-masturbatory theologians. But then you can call them on that.

          9. corwyn

            Nobody is saying that you can prove anything with absolute certainty.

            That is quite simply what many people MEAN by ‘prove’. Especially any mathematicians.

            P(Statue of Liberty Exists) = 1. That is what many people mean by ‘prove’.

            Here’s the problem, let’s say your prior probability of P(Statue of Liberty Exists) = 99% (20 decibans) How do you get to 100%? Say I give you additional evidence which is only 1 in 1,000 (30 decibans) chance of being wrong. Your probability P(Statue of Liberty Exists) should now be 99.999% (50 decibans) More evidence with a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of being wrong brings it to 99.999999999% (110 decibans) There is no way to bring it to 100% without infinite evidence.

          10. doublereed

            Yes, I have. Many.

            If you can make this argument ‘theoretically’, then it applies to EVERY position. That is why we use logic, because it allows us to determine truth values irrespective of subject matter.

            I think I misunderstood you the first time I read that post. Yes, that’s absolutely true.

            However, I have never met a self-identified agnostic or atheist with this position. The only people I have met with this level of uncertainty have been people who identify with religions. Actual agnostics have been quite strong atheists when you pin them down on their actual beliefs.

            I will also maintain that I do not consider that level of agnosticism to be a reasonable position.

          11. Narf

            The only people I have met with this level of uncertainty have been people who identify with religions. Actual agnostics have been quite strong atheists when you pin them down on their actual beliefs.

            The spectrum generally only comes out in internal discussions amongst atheists, in which the differences are magnified over the similarities. For all purposes, almost all self-identifying atheists are wedged down within 2% or 3% of the one edge.

            No matter how open we are to being convinced that we’re wrong, the evidence just doesn’t seem to be coming. As we continue being fed the same bullshit that we’ve always heard from most apologists, and the new arguments (think presups) are even worse than the old bullshit, you can’t help but become more certain that it isn’t coming.

            I will also maintain that I do not consider that level of agnosticism to be a reasonable position.

            Depends upon the context, I guess. Amongst ourselves, we can generally assume that there’s that degree of uncertainty, and we all know it.

            Perhaps we’re all a little more fussy about the details, now that we have an active Christian in our midst, again. The Christian apologists are the assholes who throw out the absolute-certainty bullshit, so it’s important to distinguish ourselves from them, in that respect. Never mind the fact that almost no Christians have the absolute certainty they claim, either, no matter what the lying apologists say.

      5. Curt Cameron

        I’m going to agree with doublereed here – this talk about “not believing” versus “believing not” is not productive.

        I have a set of things that I believe exist, and there is not a god in that set. I don’t believe in a god. Now you may be a stickler for absolute precision and say that this doesn’t mean that I believe a god doesn’t exist, but really, how many people who don’t believe in god would NOT ALSO say that they believe a god doesn’t exist? If an object is not in the set of things a person believes exist, then either he has no opinion or he believes it doesn’t, and the “no-opinion” group is vanishingly small.

        Pretty much every atheist would say that he believes there is no god. Saying that alone doesn’t shift the burden of proof, it’s just my belief. If I asserted a claim that there is no god, that would be different, and you should expect me to be ready to back it up. But it’s just my belief that there is no god. That’s not a problem.

        As for what I’m willing to assert, my claim is that there is not sufficient evidence to justify a belief in god. Not that there is no god, but that the evidence anyone has doesn’t warrant belief. If someone brings up his personal revelation, I just point out that since humans imagine all kinds of false stuff, subjective things like revelation don’t count to convince me, and they shouldn’t count to convince him either!

        1. John Iacoletti

          I disagree that “pretty much every atheist would say that he believes there is no god”. Do you have any empirical data for this?

          1. Narf

            Yup, you’re wrong, Curt.

          2. Curt Cameron

            Is there an atheist you know of who would not agree to “I personally believe that a god does not exist”?

            The conversations I’ve had make me think that this would be a rare find.

          3. Jasper of Maine

            “I personally believe that a god does not exist”?

            *raises hand*

            That’s an irrational position.

          4. Narf

            Most that I know would say that they don’t believe in any of the god claims they’ve ever been introduced to, and they see no reason to believe in anything of the sort without overwhelming evidence, given the nature of the claims. Do they actively hold the belief that there isn’t anything out there anywhere that someone might call a god? No. You need to layer on a good number of conditionals, before I’ll adopt a positive stance that a given god-concept is absolutely false.

            When you’re arguing with the sort of theistic idiots who claim that all atheists make an absolute claim to knowledge that no gods exist, this shit is important.

          5. Narf

            And your language is very sloppy, with this latest clarification, in the way I think you meant it, Curt. Do you mean, “I personally believe that a specific god does not exist,” or do you mean, “I personally believe that no god of any sort exists?” You have to sort that out, before you make a claim.

          6. Curt Cameron

            First, to Jasper, I also believe that leprechauns don’t exist (not just that I don’t believe they exist). Is that also irrational?

            Imagine conducting an experiment: go up to people in the street, and ask them if they believe leprechauns actually exist. Most will say “no.” Then ask them (the ones who said no) if they would also say that they believe leprechauns DON’T exist. Almost everyone who said no to the first question would say no to the second. I don’t think that’s irrational. I believe leprechauns don’t exist, just like I believe gods don’t exist.

            Narf, notice that I explicitly stated the difference, that I am not making a claim to absolute knowledge, I’m just stating what I believe, which is another way of saying the tentative conclusion I have reached.

            And I don’t have to put conditions on the definition, because I believe that anything that is commonly defined as “god” by almost anyone, does not exist. Sure, some asshole would then say “Well, God is love – you don’t believe in love?”, but I would just explain that he doesn’t really define God that way.

            Again, I’m not asserting a claim here about the existence of anything. I’m just stating that based on what I’ve seen, I’ve come to a tentative conclusion that there are likely no gods in existence – in other words, I believe no gods exist.

          7. Jasper of Maine

            First, to Jasper, I also believe that leprechauns don’t exist (not just that I don’t believe they exist). Is that also irrational?

            Yes. What is your evidence that they don’t exist anywhere in the universe?

            Imagine conducting an experiment: go up to people in the street, and ask them if they believe leprechauns actually exist. Most will say “no.” Then ask them (the ones who said no) if they would also say that they believe leprechauns DON’T exist. Almost everyone who said no to the first question would say no to the second. I don’t think that’s irrational. I believe leprechauns don’t exist, just like I believe gods don’t exist.

            An argument from popularity doesn’t make them right. The U.S. science literacy isn’t that great.

            Again, I’m not asserting a claim here about the existence of anything. I’m just stating that based on what I’ve seen, I’ve come to a tentative conclusion that there are likely no gods in existence – in other words, I believe no gods exist.

            The only reason why I wouldn’t normally hold you to the position of mere belief, would be because you aren’t trying to convince anyone else about it. The belief is still irrational.

          8. Narf

            Narf, notice that I explicitly stated the difference, that I am not making a claim to absolute knowledge, I’m just stating what I believe, which is another way of saying the tentative conclusion I have reached.

            I didn’t mean to imply that you were speaking of absolute certainty. Sorry if I blurred that a little. The absolute part is the bullshit that the apologists I was referencing always throw in. I just meant to say that when talking to idiots like them, it’s particularly important that you get your terminology straight. It was more of a “This is why,” not any kind of comparison between them and you.

            And I don’t have to put conditions on the definition, because I believe that anything that is commonly defined as “god” by almost anyone, does not exist. Sure, some asshole would then say “Well, God is love – you don’t believe in love?”, but I would just explain that he doesn’t really define God that way.

            Heh, you would be amazed what sort of things people have worshiped as gods, over the history of our species. It’s the sort of thing that would make even a fundie Christian sit back, bewildered: “What, you’re serious? You worship that?”

            It’s just like the garbage about souls. Do I know that there’s no way for our consciousness to persist after our deaths? No. I don’t see a possible mechanism, though, and I don’t see any reason to think there’s anything of the sort. I have no evidence that leads me to conclude that something like that is impossible, and all of the crap that the spiritualist types throw out there is … well, crap.
            So, I’m at a point of, “I don’t buy it. Bring me some better evidence.”

            If you’re talking to a monotheist, start asking for characteristics. You’ll get two or three sentences in before you hit the first contradiction with either itself or reality. That’s the point at which you say, “Nope, you’re full of crap. That thing doesn’t exist.”
            It’s important to include that step.

            Again, I’m not asserting a claim here about the existence of anything. I’m just stating that based on what I’ve seen, I’ve come to a tentative conclusion that there are likely no gods in existence – in other words, I believe no gods exist.

            And that’s fine for you. Your claim to be representative of “pretty much every atheist” is a major stretch, though. You’re representative of a decided minority of the people in my local atheist groups, as well as those I’ve spoken to online.

          9. doublereed

            Yes. What is your evidence that they don’t exist anywhere in the universe?

            I have lots of evidence of how the universe works and nothing includes the notion of a God. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that they exist. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

            An argument from popularity doesn’t make them right. The U.S. science literacy isn’t that great.

            Unless you are denying the notion of scientific knowledge, or knowledge in general, this point is irrelevant and insulting.

            The only reason why I wouldn’t normally hold you to the position of mere belief, would be because you aren’t trying to convince anyone else about it. The belief is still irrational.

            Ridiculous. Try applying this line of logic to any other position out there besides God. Whether gravity exists. Whether the sky is blue. Whether kittens are adorable.

            This is special pleading of the God position. They want to treat this as a special position that it’s not irrational to think is complete nonsense. So they come up with these ridiculous arguments that says that saying “God does not exist” is irrational when honestly if you applied the logic ANYWHERE else you’d realize this is perfectly rational.

          10. EnlightenmentLiberal

            I have lots of evidence of how the universe works and nothing includes the notion of a God. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that they exist. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

            I don’t consider this a foolproof argument. I do think it’s slightly compelling. In a slightly more verbose form, it goes: We haven’t noticed a violation of natural law yet. The universe seems to operate according to uncaring, mindless natural forces – physics. Almost by definition, any theist god would be a violation of that general trend, and we’ve accumulated a decent amount of evidence that there are no violations of that trend, and thus there are no gods. This leaves open the possibility that there may be creatures within the universe with god-like powers, but those creatures would be bound by the same natural laws – physics – as us. The only gods this leaves are the do-nothing deist clock-maker gods, and who cares about those anyway?

            AFAIK, this argument was first put forward by the second self-proclaimed atheist writer of modern history, Baron d’Holbach.

      6. Frank G. Turner

        All right let me see if I can explain a few things.
        .
        I am not saying that the probability of A is not the complement of the probability of not A. I get that, I do a lot of statistics and I know the equation.
        .
        What I am saying is that I don’t really know if there is a God or not. I can’t even describe it all that well aside from saying that it is an assumption that a being or force (which I use for lack of better words even though those are inaccurate) that inhabits the entire universe (I tend to call that “nature” for lack of a better word) has its own hypothetical conciousness. There seem to be three positions that are actually on a scale, the certainty in the existence of a God (I will label that ‘A’), the middle “I don’t know” position (label ‘B’), and the certainty of the non existence of a God (‘C’).
        .
        One could make the claim that all of B + C is = not A. The difficulty is that it is on a scale. There are B that lean towards A and B that lean towards C. Is there some cut off point where B leans towards A everything past which you are going to call “not A”? Maybe we should drawn that line closer to C? Maybe there is some overlap between the parts of the circles around A and B and come overlap between the parts of the circles around B and C? It may sound a little silly to think of degrees of existence, but sometimes we just don’t have hard proof of the existence of something in either direction. I would like that, a world where everything is documented and we have proof of everything that has ever occurred.
        .
        If you want to go with the idea that anything other than A is not A (draw the line on the scale very close to A and label it ‘Q’) then go ahead, I am sure there are plenty of creationists and Biblical literalists that would agree with you, particularly those who would insist that Catholics were not true Xtians for acknowledging even the possibility that the creation story is not factual but the Gospels are for the most part. I don’t agree with that type of reasoning and a lot of people on here don’t seem to either, but you are welcome to it. “Not guilty” does not equal “Is innocent” in terms of knowledge. If that fit perfectly into a Bayesian equation then one could say that but it doesn’t.
        .
        I don’t think we are going to get anywhere with this though double as, with all due respect, you are behaving like the petulant child trying to win the argument with no concern over whether it solves the problem. Frankly I don’t care. Some of us seem to understand that.

  5. 5
    OakWind

    It would be nice to have a few links for the last few shows.

    You know when TAE went draconian there was a guy that uploaded the shows timely. Maybe you could hire him…

    1. 5.1
      Monocle Smile

      Oh, for fuck’s sake. The endless ax-grinding rustles my jimmies more than anything creationists ever say.

      1. Cephus

        Well, to be perfectly honest, if they’re going to push all comments to this blog, at least they have the obligation to post a thread in a timely manner, which often isn’t the case. I don’t get why because most blogging software allows you to pre-schedule a post as far ahead as you like. Why doesn’t whoever is in charge of doing this (and I don’t think anyone is actually in charge), just pre-schedule them a month at a time? Have the post go up the minute the show is over.

        That would seem to be the most effective and efficient solution to me.

        1. macanna

          This is stupefying. The AXP offer a free show which is both educational and entertaining. Shall I repeat the most important part: it’s FREE. And it’s wonderful! But you still think that “they have the obligation” to offer other things, also for free, in addition, for your convenience??? Your sense of entitlement seems incredibly egocentric, imperious, and greedy, to me. I mean, I do get it that it can be annoying or disappointing when you can’t discuss a recent episode because it was posted late or not at all. But to say that they have the obligation to post anything? Wow. Just wow.

          1. macanna

            “incredibly egocentric, imperious, and greedy” – I just realised, reading my comment again, that this was really harsh. I apologise, sincerely; I didn’t mean to express that in my opinion you, as a person, ARE like that. It’s just that what you said sounded like that to me.

          2. Cephus

            Nice overreaction there. It doesn’t matter if it’s free, they’re the ones specifically saying they only want it talked about *HERE* and then they don’t even provide a *HERE* to talk about it. I gave a quick and easily solution for solving the problem and you jump all over me. Gee, thanks.

          3. Monocle Smile

            Cephus does have a point that open threads for show discussion should be posted in timely fashion if the goal is to cultivate discussion on this forum. Also, there’s no need to overreact; Cephus’ comment was rather benign and he offered a solution.

            That said, it’s merely an annoyance and AXP isn’t actually “obligated” to do anything.

          4. OakWind

            It’s not free. It’s supported by tax dollars at the station and ads (costing my time) at the streaming sites.

          5. Monocle Smile

            Incorrect. The public access studio cost would be the same with or without AXP.

            Furthermore, if I throw a penny at you, I don’t automatically get to make demands because you were “paid.”

            Thirdly, you’re extremely deluded if you think your time is so valuable that your choice to watch AXP suddenly becomes too burdensome on your income because of around an extra minute of advertising.

            This is ax-grinding for its own sake, just like I said. Such stupid arguments would not be employed otherwise.

          6. OakWind

            Yes, the cost would be the same, but that does not say that it is free.

            What demands? I said “It would be nice.”

        2. Monocle Smile

          Well, there’s no obligation, first of all.

          But that’s not what the post was about. OakWind was bringing up Steve Mills for no reason. And of course, he’s ignoring the blip.tv and ustream resources, which are both up to date, last I checked.

        3. Russell Glasser

          Actually, scheduling the posts in advance seems like a pretty good idea. I think I’m going to do a few now.

          1. Narf

            I was about to say something about how you could only do things so far in advance, due to variation and last minute changes to the shows, but that’s stupid. It isn’t hard to make a fairly standardized template, just to give the peanut gallery a forum in which to comment. You can then edit in the details in the body of the post, when you get around to it.

            Well, at least we got a good idea out of this sarcastic comment.

    2. 5.2
      Victor Prime, the Ghost-Who-Waddles

      >draconian

      “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

      1. Jasper of Maine

        Redirecting people to a more convenient place for moderating a comment forum is something only Hitler would do. As we all well know, Hitler was all about making sure that discussions and debates remained civil.

        1. Narf

          “Gott mit uns,” is properly translated as a pithy shorthand for, “Let’s sit down together and discuss this civilly, and we can come to a mutually beneficial solution.” True story.

          1. blue

            Don’t forget the famous SS slogan “nicht die Trolle füttern”.

          2. Narf

            I think of that one as more of a parable or a metaphor, not Hitler’s literal truth. :D

    3. 5.3
      jdoran

      Have you considered the show archive page that’s clearly labelled on TAE’s website? It has video for every episode except the most recent one and audio for every episode. New episode videos are generally posted within 24 hours of the show airing, while audio is available almost immediately after the episode airs.

      Here’s the direct link to the archive, since spending five seconds on Google to locate the show’s website (which also gets mentioned on every episode) appears to be problematic for you:
      http://www.atheist-experience.com/archive/

      Tell all your friends!

      1. mas

        The online archive doesn’t have “audio for every episode.” To go back further than November 2013 one must order the mp3 files on CD. I did, and it is worth it.
        When you bring that much snark, don’t fail so hard.

        1. Narf

          Oh, have they not been deleting the .mp3 files for old episodes? The last I checked, they only had the last 6 months posted in audio-only. I’ve been saving the .mp3 files for years, so I haven’t looked back that far, recently.

        2. jdoran

          The poster I’m replying to very clearly said he or she was talking about the last few shows. Would you like to address the topic posted or nitpick at irrelevant inaccuracies in my response?

      2. Narf

        Oh, whoops. I hadn’t read down this far, when I added 5.4. Just catching up on the comment section here, now.

    4. 5.4
      Narf

      Here are your links, by the way: http://www.atheist-experience.com/archive/

      More than you could ever want. Very draconian of them to not put the links to every show in an easily-accessible place and only post the audio a few hours later, then the video of the show a couple of days after that, usually.

  6. 6
    chiefkurtz

    God is so vain, he must first inform the doctor that this girl’s mom was actually ill, so he could then tell HER that she was in fact NOT? Is that what I’m hearing? Why would I worship such a being who’d do that?

    1. 6.1
      Matt Gerrans

      Are these the actions of the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving creator?
      1. Make the girl sick.
      2. Cause the doc to misdiagnose and scare the hell out of the mother (and daughter presumably).
      3. Tell mom (via magical feelings, if not directly speaking to her) that is was just a hoax.
      4. Let the doctor discover the correct diagnosis subsequently.

      6. Prophet!

  7. 7
    Jasper of Maine

    Why would God cause lions to defend a child, but in Ethiopia, but then turn around and then kill many more by malaria?

    This here says 2,100 deaths of children <5 years old from 2003-2004 in Ethopia, probably due to Marlaria.

    What kind of strange game is God playing?

    1. 7.1
      Jasper of Maine

      It occurs to me that the malaria example doesn’t necessarily negate the lion example.

      … but there’s a phrase I’m constantly prompted to ask the theist… “Is that the best explanation you can come up with?” When we’re discussing a strange event, there’s many different ways it could come about, and for some reason, they dart towards the single most ridiculous possibility available, that has the most assumptions possible.

      The lion story doesn’t seem all that compelling to me.

      You had a pack of lions, who could have been well satiated by a previous meal… so they don’t care about a non-threatening 5 year old, who otherwise may not be aware enough to be afraid of lions, and instead hangs around them for protection.

      I recently watched a video of polar bears who befriended some sled dogs. Predators don’t always eat everything they come across.

      The lions become hostile to what they identify as dangerous creatures – the adult humans. The adult humans leave, and while still not caring about the child, the lions wander along.

      … why do we need to invoke magic?

      1. Narf

        Yup, adult humans are BIG. Most of us are something like 50% bigger than a lion, the way that lots of animals judge things. As one of the few upright-walking species, we gain a lot of threat-status from the increased height, which many animals use as a measure of threat-level.

        So, take a child, who is probably no taller than the smallest of great cats … yeah, if the lion isn’t particularly in need of a snack, no worries.

    2. 7.2
      adamah

      I still don’t get what the lions had to do with explaining the talking serpent found in Genesis? IIRC, Russell asked for any specific example of anything similar that Valerie had encountered in real life, and she offered lions seemingly protecting a child (and animal behaviorists would have a field day pointing out the massive anthropomorphism required to assign such motives to animals).

      She’d have had better luck tap-dancing her way thru the “it’s metaphorical” excuse, but that only leads to a question of WHAT ELSE is metaphorical in the account? If the talking serpent is, then are the first human pair also? If so, then what’s the whole need for redemption of Adam’s sin all about, if Adam wasn’t ‘really real’ but only a character in a metaphorical tale?

      As John pointed out, the Bible should have a notation system for pointing out which parts are metaphorical and which are literal; confusion runs rampant without it.

  8. 8
    Bugmaster

    Apparently, no one is talking about the elephant in the room (as per episode 873): Matt plays Path of Exile ! Woo ! I’d love to know what build he runs with…

    1. 8.1
      Victor Prime, the Ghost-Who-Waddles

      Watch one of his streams on Twitch and you’ll probably see.

  9. 9
    edmond

    How bizarre when people hear you out, compliment your thinking process, agree with your approach, and then STILL say they just believe because they believe. Russel gave a great explanation of “intellectual honesty”, and she even called it “noble”, but was nevertheless certain that her beliefs did not require doubt or review.

    I couldn’t believe her answers about lions and dolphins. YEAH, social and protective behavior is fairly normal for these animals, even if they don’t usually apply it to humans.

    That’s STILL a far cry from a SNAKE slithering down from a tree and saying “Hey, c’mere! I’ll tell you some things about this tree that THAT guy won’t tell you!” Who do these people think they’re fooling?

    I got into a similar exchange with a theist elsewhere, who rebutted my claims that people don’t come back to life after death, by citing stories of people in hospitals being revived after being declared dead. But those people were surrounded by doctors who were making active attempts to revive them, they were hooked up to all kinds of machines helping to keep them connected to life. Was Jesus resuscitated for our sins? They don’t see the gigantic leaps they have to make to rationalize the magic.

    1. 9.1
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      Last I checked, there are no cases of someone being declared legally dead by professional doctors in the west, and then “coming back to life” three days later.

      1. corwyn

        There are however plenty of stories about people being declared dead (by old standards) and awakening just prior to burial.

        And if you were to look at it as a murder case, he was (apparently) dead around 3:00pm Friday, sealed in a tomb around 6:00pm Friday, and discovered missing early Sunday morning. That gives a time ‘dead’ somewhere between 3 hours and 36 hours. So, at most a day and a half. However, if we assume he got help ‘escaping’, that help could come anytime after 6:00pm Friday. All that is well within the limits of existing non-miraculous stories (of admittedly dubious certitude).

        1. Frank G. Turner

          I have a friend who was declared legally dead 29 years ago after failed attempts to revive him following an accident. 4 hours later his body was on his way down to the freezer room (his parents were crying and saw him being rolled out just to give you an idea) and he was being placed into a bag. He actually has his toe tag as a souvenir and the hospital record showing him as legally dead. As the bag was being zipped up a technician noticed his chest moving and checked for a very weak heartbeat.
          .
          Should I be worshiping him? I like him and he is a very nice guy (I talked to him last week) but I don’t think that he is God.

          1. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Indeed. Still, 4 hours is a far cry from 3 days. I know of examples like that in the 4 hour time frame, give or take a little.

          2. corwyn

            What three days?

            See my post above, he was buried around 3 hours after he was pronounced dead. He could have revived anytime after that, and escaped from the tomb anytime between Friday 6:00pm and Sunday 6:00am. Even if he waited until the last possible moment it would only amount to 36 hours (1.5 days).

          3. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Nevemind. Talking past each other, and not important.

        2. Curt Cameron

          “That gives a time ‘dead’ somewhere between 3 hours and 36 hours…”

          35, if they did it on the weekend when the time changed.

    2. 9.2
      Frank G. Turner

      I would suggest that what was going on with Valerie is a struggle between her emotional self and her reasoning and rational self.
      .
      Pardon me for playing armchair psychologist here but note that I am admitting it and I will point out that this is conjecture/hypothesis but it does fit with some of what got said even if it is not proof and merely a hypothesis that fits that facts.
      .
      This Valerie person seems to have a long history of reinforcement of certain beliefs regarding absolute interpretation of Biblical scripture. As such an emotional part of her likely got very comfortable with a certain sense of purpose (and possibly a sense of superiority if the “us vs. them” principle was reinforced as well) provided by a delusional sense of certainty that literal interpretation of scripture provided. (Even as a believer I observed this I think that I just did not apply it to myself).
      .
      It seems that a part of her is searching, looking for a way to satiate a more rational side of her that is more skeptical, the “glass is half empty” part of herself she mentioned in the episode (which may be more real than she cares to admit publicly). What I think she cannot reconcile is how to give priority to the rational part of herself and put the emotional part aside. Emotions can be very powerful and set up defensive mechanisms in our mind when we are convinced that certain thing are causally and inseparably combined. I.e.: she is convinced that her sense of purpose and self confidence comes from God rather than it coming from herself and possibly a need to feel superior to others. (She may not have the latter part I just notice that this narcissistic tendency is coming among many believers and is often correlated with their sense of purpose and self confidence).
      .
      .
      If I may relate a story from years ago. I was working at a job in 2009 when Farrah Fawcett passed away (the same day as Michael Jackson). I had come to love her documentary program about struggling through cancer but I had missed a critical element, the part of the body where she was receiving the most treatment. On the day of her death I found out and I found it amusing and a tad ironic, though I had the utmost respect for her.
      .
      The people I worked with asked why I didn’t respect her. I talked about how I did respect her, having the utmost courage to have a show like that and to talk so openly about her condition to help others, I thought that was really awesome. They asked why i was laughing and i said that I found her situation a tad ironic is all. My colleagues seemed to think that being amused at someone’s situation was by definition disrespectful. Obviously it isn’t or we would not talk about laughing “with” someone vs. “at” someone. I was not laughing “at” Farrah Fawcett so much as the irony of the situation. Had I known her personally I would never have laughed “at” her, but the people I was working with did not seem to comprehend those ideas as separable.
      .
      I don’t think Valerie sees self confidence and a sense of purpose as separate from a belief in God, much as she can’t see how improbable things occurring as just that, improbable but not impossible and indicative of the presence of something supernatural. Anyone have comments on this? (Adam I often appreciate your feedback on this).
      .
      .
      Oh and FYI Russell, if you are reading this look up articles on dolphins used by the US Navy that are trained to seek out depth charges. Dolphins have a very large mass of brain in proportion to their body size and a number of studies have been done on their capacity to communicate.

      1. adamah

        Frank said-

        I don’t think Valerie sees self confidence and a sense of purpose as separate from a belief in God, much as she can’t see how improbable things occurring as just that, improbable but not impossible and indicative of the presence of something supernatural. Anyone have comments on this? (Adam I often appreciate your feedback on this).

        Yeah, I pretty agree with everything you said above, and it reminds me of an insightful observation made by DarkMatter2525, looking at why some believers react so strongly to a rejection of their God:

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-j8ZMMuu7MU

        Of course, it does very little good for anyone but the persons themselves to gain such insight, since they’re the only ones who can determine if they can summon the courage and strength needed to make such life-altering changes (ie if they value intellectual honesty, or even if they can afford such a luxury).

        Btw, I’m still not sure how Valerie ‘connects the dots’ between lion behavior and a snake that talks with a forked tongue of a lawyer. The former is observed in nature and is not completely fantastic as the latter (where talking animals are a common literary device of the period, eg Aesops Fables).

        Worse, unlike Baalam’s talking donkey, there’s no “God did it as a miracle!” excuse for the snake.

        Adam

  10. 10
    Gene Law

    Does anyone else think that both/either David and/or Valerie are a handful of good conversations and a year of honest thinking away from becoming atheists?

    1. 10.1
      Russell Glasser

      Speaking for myself — not especially. I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question, it does happen but only in a very small percentage of cases. The cultural drive to stay religious is very strong, and while I do think our show changes minds, I don’t think it does with every theist we have a pleasant conversation with.

      1. Frank G. Turner

        You changed my mind but i was not one of the callers and I was already heading in that direction anyway. (Some of what I read on here helped push me in that direction too as you may have noticed based on my earlier posts). In retrospect I realized that i had always basically been agnostic and just was not being fully honest with myself. I used to say agnostic theist and now I say just agnostic, but I lean a little more in the direction of atheist, 4.2 on the Dawkin’s scale.
        .
        Matt said something about this topic in another show, how you don’t really change the minds of those listening as they need to save face but you do change the minds of listeners who don’t need to save face as they are not in an active debate with you. The callers seem to be the loud and insecure individuals who are trying to convince you based on flimsy evidence and emotional appeals who I am guessing don’t represent many listeners. Unlike callers, listeners who were on the fence and change their minds don’t have to save face or admit that they are wrong publicly, maybe that is who the show is for.

  11. 11
    Robert Smart

    I think an interesting approach to take with anybody who believes through personal revelation (ie God spoke to me) maybe the following:

    Ask if they still have free will (first).
    There likely answer will be yes (or at least subjectively yes)

    Ask them then if they can explain why God does not provide personal revelation to the rest of us. What made them so special?

    They may respond with a claim that the rest of us may have not recognized it, in which event you need to question if they are claiming God incompetent, or if their unique experience of their revelation could have been mistaken for something else?

    I guess the key point is to make them ask if:
    A.) Their revelation was so extreme it could not possibly be anything else, if so why withhold it from others?
    B.) Their revelation is vague enough they it could be mistaken for something else, if so could they also be mistaken.

  12. 12
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    I was having a recent thought about omniscience and free will w.r.t. Christian god hypothesis – that dude for short. What if that dude was all-knowing about material events in the material universe absent any external influence from the dude? And what if that dude was all-knowing about material events in the material universe with any specific identifiable external influence from the dude? Imagine a guy at a computer terminal, able to run the simulation with whatever external events he wants. He can “know” whatever he wants to know. But he still can’t predict his own actions, and thus he cannot predict what will happen in the material universe either.

    I’m not sure where I’m going with that.

    1. 12.1
      Monocle Smile

      Interesting thought experiment.

      The only conclusion I can draw is that I’d rather not worship the equivalent of a kid playing with a loaded gun…especially if he exaggerates his own abilities. That’s another thing about the deity described in the bible…he doth protest a bit too much when it comes to his power and glory.

      Are you a Mass Effect fan? Because whenever a Christian starts to describe what their god can or can’t do, I think of the Reapers. They claim stuff like “you cannot comprehend the magnitude of our presence,” but then get crushed by giant worms. This deity is supposed to be all-everything, yet there seem to be pretty restrictive limits on him just to make the theology plausible (in their minds, of course).

      1. Narf

        This deity is supposed to be all-everything, yet there seem to be pretty restrictive limits on him just to make the theology plausible (in their minds, of course).

        @#$%^*& iron chariots. How do they work?

    2. 12.2
      adamah

      EL said-

      I was having a recent thought about omniscience and free will w.r.t. Christian god hypothesis – that dude for short. What if that dude was all-knowing about material events in the material universe absent any external influence from the dude? And what if that dude was all-knowing about material events in the material universe with any specific identifiable external influence from the dude? Imagine a guy at a computer terminal, able to run the simulation with whatever external events he wants. He can “know” whatever he wants to know. But he still can’t predict his own actions, and thus he cannot predict what will happen in the material universe either.

      I’m not sure where I’m going with that.

      Yeah, I’m not sure where you’re going with that either, esp. since Xians generally claim God DOES know all, and not that He CAN know all (regardless of knowledge in the material plane or in the spiritual realm).

      Some believers claim a prescient God knew Adam was going to sin even before creation began, and God knew Jesus would be needed to redeem mankind. That idea opens a can of worms, since it means God intentionally made a faulty product (mankind) that could piss him off and make Him angry (both are so-called ‘surprise emotions’, attributes humans are subject to simply because we DON’T know the future: God cannot be surprised by ANYTHING if He’s truly prescient. Hence an angel can’t sneak up behind Him and startle God, since He knows the angel is coming; the ‘startle reaction’ also is a surprise emotion, as is ‘regret’).

      I’ve seen believers respond by saying God possesses limited prescience, where He chooses NOT to know certain future events (like Adam’s fall).

      The counter to that one is to point out how does God know what NOT to know, esp if He already knows everything?

      Does He lack the ability to use inductive and deductive reasoning, where seeing death and mayhem in the future is not a MASSIVE hint that something might’ve gone wrong in the Garden?

      Or already knowing the future, does God hit Himself over the head with a big mallet to self-induce amnesia, forcing Himself to forget certain things?

      It all makes no gobsmacking sense, but then what do I know; per the Bible, I’m a maggot, and humans cannot even walk without God telling us to put one foot in front of the other (and I have no idea how us atheists manage to do it on our own without God)!

      Adam

    3. 12.3
      Mas

      Misread as “I was having a recent thought about omniscience and free wifi.”

      1. Narf

        :D
        The Lord is my barista; I shall not want.
        He maketh me wait in line: He leadeth me beside the steaming espresso machine.

  13. 13
    Gary Walker

    Well Russell, I hope you feel better now that you have insulted “9/11 truthers” again. As a long time out of the closet and militant atheist I am used to being insulted but felt the need to reply this time. You see, I do not believe the guvmint’s conspiracy theory about 9/11. I have been studying this issue for 13 years now (if my math is correct) and have concluded that for the guvmint’s conspiracy theory to be true, it would have required more miracles than the amazing voyage of Noah’s Ark. And I like to believe as many true things as I can, and as few false things. Crazy huh! Please have mercy on me Russell, because as an atheist, not only do I have to go through life with no invisible means of support, but I am also politically and religiously incorrect often.

    Amen,
    Infidel

    1. 13.1
      Monocle Smile

      Did that make you feel better?

      Now that the psychobabble is out of the way, did you have an actual point?

      1. Gary Walker

        Yes Monocole, my point was that the guvmint’s conspiracy theory is impossible. But it has become the national myth. It is curious to me that atheists and freethinkers have been sucked into this fantasy and even get rude when anyone questions the details. Atheists are acting like Bible apologists regarding this myth.

        MY spirit is sorely vexed,
        Infidel

        1. Monocle Smile

          I guess the psychobabble WASN’T out of the way.

          There’s no “fantasy” and people don’t “get rude” just because someone asks questions. When you ask stupid, leading questions, ignore all actual evidence, become absorbed entirely in confirmation bias, and go on crazy-ass rants entirely composed of nutjob insults, people might think you’re a dick. Mostly because you’re acting like a dick.

          No one’s acting like a bible apologist. You’re just wrong. Grow up.

          1. Gary Walker

            Wow Monacle, that was brilliant. And thank you for making my point.

          2. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Humor me. Hit me with your best argument that the official story of what happened on Sept 11 is bogus.

          3. Narf

            Sooooooo, having the guy who masterminded it telling us how he did it, then discovering that all of the forensic evidence supports his claims …

            What do the 9/11 Truthers have, besides a blunderbuss assault on the evidence, making claims that don’t hold up to the tests done by the 9/11 Commission?

            I’ve seen damned near the whole array of Truther claims, from missing planes to the towers falling at free-fall speeds (they didn’t; they took about 2 or 3 times that long). They pretty much all fall apart under the slightest bit of examination and testing, most of them quite spectacularly.

          4. Curt Cameron

            I agree with everyone else here – I’ve been heavily involved with the claims of the 9/11 Truth crowd since 2006, and everything I’ve seen them claim is so stupid that it should be embarrassing to them (but it’s not). Not one thing they claim stands up to the slightest scrutiny.

            It’s either the same misunderstandings again and again, all of which have been corrected again and again with no effect, or the same blatant lies. They have NOTHING. It’s amazing to me that there are still Truthers at this point.

    2. 13.2
      CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

      @Gary Walker:

      for the guvmint’s conspiracy theory to be true, it would have required more miracles than the amazing voyage of Noah’s Ark

      my point was that the guvmint’s conspiracy theory is impossible

      Comic: Explain XKCD – Conspiracy Theories
      Comic: Explain XKCD – Jet Fuel
      Comic: Explain XKCD – Semicontrolled Demolition

    3. 13.3
      changerofbits

      Just some advice, from a fellow atheist: Maybe try to present any evidence you have for why the government’s story of 9/11 events isn’t accurate? True things aren’t asserted, they are demonstrated.

      1. Gary Walker

        Thanks for the advice but the burden of proof is upon the guvmint to prove it’s ridiculous conspiracy theory. I don’t think they have even come close to doing that, just like the god thingy. I would ask people to just watch vids of the buildings I and II being blown to smitherenes and ask them if they agree with most reporters of the day who said it looked just like a planned demo. Building 7 was done differently, but came down in about six seconds, and that is impossible without explosives.

        1. Monocle Smile

          I think you need to look up what words mean.

          I also recommend not making shit up.

        2. changerofbits

          Thanks for the advice but the burden of proof is upon the guvmint to prove it’s ridiculous conspiracy theory.

          Have you read the 9/11 commission report? While I wouldn’t claim that it’s 100% accurate “because government”, that book does lay down the official findings of the events.

          I don’t think they have even come close to doing that, just like the god thingy.

          So, you think that some terrorists flying planes into buildings, and them falling down, is as equally unlikely as a magic man in the sky who knows what you’re going to do and yet gave you free will, and cares if your penis has extra skin? Seriously?

          I would ask people to just watch vids of the buildings I and II being blown to smitherenes and ask them if they agree with most reporters of the day who said it looked just like a planned demo.

          So, most reporters agree about something of which they have no professional expertise, outside of watching building demolitions? I suppose the thought that buildings brought down by various means might actually look very similar, at least to reporters, who are expert material engineers for some reason…

          Building 7 was done differently, but came down in about six seconds, and that is impossible without explosives.

          Now you’re the one making a claim. I suppose two of the largest buildings in the world that fell down right next to Building 7 didn’t carry anywhere the same energy that government planted explosives would have.

          1. adamah

            Not just the initial impact, but take a few tons of burning aircraft made of aluminum, loaded with JP4 jet fuel, and mix in some steel from the building such that molten aluminum is produced, and then see what happens when water from the sprinkler systems creates explosive hydrogen. Exactly such explosive scenarios have been replayed 100s of times.

            Adam

          2. Gary Walker

            Building 7 came straight down at virtually the speed of gravity. Even if it came down because of the rubble of the other crashes, this doesn’t explain the speed of gravity or why it came straight down just like a planned demo. Sometimes things are just what they seem to be. Watch it, there are tons of vids. Oh and it’s demise was reported by BBC and CNN before it was demolished at 5:21 in the afternoon. And then there was the molten metal in the base of all three of these buildings for weeks after. Firefighters and cops were not allowed to testify about this at the coverup commission. Philip Zelikow’s cover up commission was a joke. Even according to Kean, It was set up to fail. And the report ends before the buildings are destroyed.

          3. Monocle Smile

            Building 7 came straight down at virtually the speed of gravity.

            There is no such thing as the “speed of gravity.” Furthermore, as any high school physics student can tell you, small differences in time can mean significant changes in acceleration.

            why it came straight down just like a planned demo.

            Planned demolitions implode to reduce the radius of detritus. They don’t come straight down.

            And then there was the molten metal in the base of all three of these buildings for weeks after. Firefighters and cops were not allowed to testify about this at the coverup commission. Philip Zelikow’s cover up commission was a joke. Even according to Kean, It was set up to fail. And the report ends before the buildings are destroyed.

            That first part, more than anything else, tells me that you have no clue what you’re talking about at any point. When you don’t understand material properties or mechanical engineering and still say shit like this, you should probably take a seat and shut up. Aluminum melts at a relatively low temperature. These buildings had aluminum in them. Steel doesn’t need to melt to utterly collapse; it gets extremely malleable before the melting point.

            The rest is just half-truths, misquoted facts, and nonsense. This isn’t how you prove things. Odd how you accuse freethinkers of being “bible apologists” merely for not taking your word for it. You clearly don’t know your ass from your elbow.

          4. changerofbits

            Building 7 came straight down at virtually the speed of gravity.

            Earth gravity, or super gravity from Nibiru?

            Even if it came down because of the rubble of the other crashes, this doesn’t explain the speed of gravity or why it came straight down just like a planned demo. Sometimes things are just what they seem to be. Watch it, there are tons of vids.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrRsUROXjOo

            Oh and it’s demise was reported by BBC and CNN before it was demolished at 5:21 in the afternoon.

            So, the BBC and CNN are in on it too, or at least there were people leaking the news before it happened? Why haven’t they followed up? Talk about a ratings boom if they have a justified story to publish. If they’re in on the coverup, please answer my below question.

            It couldn’t have been that they knew the fire in Building 7 was going to cause it’s collapse hours before it collapsed, because that would be too convenient, given that the government went to the trouble of collapsing the WTC towers just so they could demolish Building 7 in a controlled way.

            And then there was the molten metal in the base of all three of these buildings for weeks after.

            The tallest buildings in the world falling down after being hit by a plane loaded with fuel (which you don’t deny?) wouldn’t have created any sort of heat.

            Firefighters and cops were not allowed to testify about this at the coverup commission. Philip Zelikow’s cover up commission was a joke. Even according to Kean, It was set up to fail. And the report ends before the buildings are destroyed.

            Sure, and I’m not claiming the government did a great job with the report or didn’t make mistakes or that there were some things they didn’t want people to know. I just don’t see how you go from that to asserting that the government actually orchestrated the whole thing.

        3. changerofbits

          What is your estimate on the number of people within the government that were in on the plot (directly knew about it) or were at least asked to do something ridiculously criminal (such as fly planes into buildings, plant explosives, etc)?

          1. Gary Walker

            Don’t have an estimate. But I am sure Cheney, Rummy, Condi, etc. were involved, oh and the Mossad of course. They are the masters of false flag events.

          2. adamah

            G walker said-

            Don’t have an estimate. But I am sure Cheney, Rummy, Condi, etc. were involved, oh and the Mossad of course. They are the masters of false flag events.

            Yes, the “masters” who showed their mastery by botching the WMD claim.

            See, the CT nut-jobs cannot have their cake and eat it, too, portraying Cheney at the helm of an incredibly-intricate ‘false flag’ event required for 9/11 to be an inside job while also being incompetent in other matters (eg invasion of Iraq).

            Btw, I object to calling these wing-nuts “conspiracy THEORISTS”, since it’s an misuse of the term, ‘theory’. Instead, they rightly should be called, “conspiracy HYPOTHESISTS”, since they generally lack sufficient evidence to support their claims.

            Adam

          3. Monocle Smile

            So you’re just making shit up. Or you’re just trolling and weren’t real to begin with.

            Seriously…this cover-up was good enough to fool the American public and everyone who should rightfully know better, but bad enough for random assholes on the internet to figure it all out? Wow.

            This is no different than the moon landing hoax bullshit.

          4. changerofbits

            Don’t have an estimate. But I am sure Cheney, Rummy, Condi, etc. were involved, oh and the Mossad of course. They are the masters of false flag events.

            Maybe you should think about that for a bit. My political bias would like to think the folks on the top would be willing to do this, but as the number of people increases, the harder it is to keep it a secret. Of all the things the 9/11 truthers claim, having an credible insider with a conscious isn’t one of them. All of the other claims fall to Occam’s Razor with just a bit of critical thought.

          5. changerofbits

            So you’re just making shit up. Or you’re just trolling and weren’t real to begin with.

            This post is strikingly similar (even down to the signature and the sprinkle of anti-semitism):

            http://www.veteranstoday.com/2013/09/13/march/comment-page-1/#comment-502679

          6. changerofbits

            This post is strikingly similar

            Or this gem:

            Gary Walker I used to like Shermer until he lied about 9/11. He is part of the cover up.
            January 20 at 2:49pm

            https://www.facebook.com/thethinkingatheist/posts/593800014029750

          7. changerofbits

            Or this:

            Gary Walker I read her book, “Infidel.” And I too hate Islam and all other religions, but Muslims did not do 9/11. And the Tsaernev brothers were accused, tried and sentenced by the Zionist CorpoRat media. That’s all folks.
            1 · April 12 at 10:06am

            https://www.facebook.com/thethinkingatheist/posts/10153986682600117?comment_id=49130302&offset=0&total_comments=46

          8. Mas

            Gary, I would suggest you work through the 911 timeline at History Commons to refine your points. It is a massive, searchable compilation of citations from journalistic sources, starting from decades before the attacks. For example, a group of Mossad agents posing as movers videotaped the first crash from NJ, among whom “one man is found with $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock, another has two foreign passports on him, and a box cutter is found in the van.” (ABC News)
            There are many, many reports that might help you to construct your own narrative more coherently. Imo the demolition theory is a non-starter. The foreign actors (including of course Islamists – Mossad was just an example!) are the real story.

          9. changerofbits

            Thanks Mas!

            The foreign actors (including of course Islamists – Mossad was just an example!) are the real story.

            And to not exclude anything (yay freethought!), we must include domestic actors. Hell, the whole “Department of Homeland Security” was formed on the argument that as a whole, the government had enough information to prevent, or at least seriously diminish the 9/11 attack, if only they were allowed to share information more freely.

            … posing as movers … and a box cutter is found in the van

            This is another example of how the way something is worded allows folks like Gary to draw a line that just isn’t there. If you’re posing as movers, having a box cutter is not extraordinary. Thinking that because some Mossad agents were found with a box cutter somehow links them to the hijackers who also used box cutters is ridiculous. Also, spies having a video camera also isn’t extraordinary. It also seems somewhat reasonable (although a stretch) that those Mossad agents knew about the plot, including dates, rough times and locations and didn’t try to stop it, lest their cover be blown and finding somebody who would take the story seriously. What is extraordinary is the claim that they helped or orchestrated the whole thing and more evidence than a story about box cutters being found in a moving van, even one used for spying, is needed to back up that theory.

          10. EnlightenmentLiberal

            oh and the Mossad of course. They are the masters of false flag events.

            This is a troll. We can move on now. Nothing to see here.

  14. 14
    billgarthright

    Sorry, but this show was just frustrating as hell. I realize that you’re trying to be nice, but… can’t you try to pin down theist callers at all?

    That guy who didn’t believe in ghosts (because of a lack of evidence), but did believe in ‘God’… you let him dither on for almost a half-hour before even starting to ask him why. That should have been the first thing you asked him, and you shouldn’t have stopped asking until he answered.

    Instead, you just let him ramble on, mostly agreeing with him about ghosts, and after a half-hour, he hangs up (saying that he did have evidence for his god, but maybe he’d get to that next time!). Honestly, I normally love hearing the theist callers, but that was just terrible.

    And the woman who called afterwards. You asked her if she’d investigated any other religions. Huh? What was that about? But OK, maybe you were going somewhere, I don’t know. But then, when she said she didn’t like Joseph Smith having multiple wives, you didn’t even point out that multiple wives are common in the Bible!

    I’ll watch the rest of this later, when I’ve calmed down. :) But seriously, what’s up with not pinning down theist callers about what they believe and why? Are you just trying too hard to be nice?

    Sorry. I love the show, but this was way too frustrating. (Naturally, the only time I comment here is about a show I didn’t like. Heh, heh. Human nature, I suppose. You guys normally do a good job, you really do.)

    1. 14.1
      Valerie

      Hello,
      I’m glad that they didn’t pin me down more, because I was really nervous :)
      All joking aside, I will answer your question if I may. I know that the Bible has people in it with multiple wives, I would say that this is not portrayed as a good thing. I would also say that Joseph Smith had multiple wives and when it was illegal to, also there having multiple wives has led to child brides and abuse towards women in this religion, and I couldn’t abide by that.

      1. valerie

        Dear Friends,
        I thank you for being so kind to me on this message board and I have heard and listened to everything you have written to me. I know that you have been intellectually honest with me. I hope this is not preaching to you or steppin on your toes, but I felt led to share with you honestly and candidly.
        I must tell you that I have thought about Atheism, and I have turned it down, but I must tell you why, because I’m certain it is not why you think.
        I’m not going to use Pascal’s wager, I am going to give you a verse-1st Corinthians 15:19 “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”I would love to be able to be an Atheist. I would love to believe that all of mankind was good and our only problem was ignorance. I would thrill to think that I did not have to be held accountable by anyone or anything but my own conscience and what I deem to be correct from what I have learned from the Sciences.
        I would like to think that there was not God, and if a God existed that he or she would completely solve all of the problems of the world. That this God would completely agree with me, and everyone I hold dear, and if I was out of line this God would simply smile at me and make everything OK without damaging my free will or taking one iota of my natural goodness away. This God would demand nothing of me but to be the best human I could be. At the end of my life this God would forgive any of my sins and not just my sins but any and all men, and women who have ever lived.
        I could enjoy humanism; I would be a free agent. I could fully devote my life to study and improvement of my health, happiness and community. Life as mankind began to fully realize their potential and study more would finally become a utopia. Yes I would love to believe that.
        The only problem is reality. The reality is that mankind is seriously depraved. A mere viewing of the nightly news can show us that, a glance thru our Facebook feed, or a look in the mirror. Humans are evil, lost, and with no hope whatsoever. Think of all the advancements our society has already experienced. We now have a simple phone that we can communicate with anyone in the civilized world, and that we can search pretty much any library database that exists. However we are not better, we kill people, and we hate people, we steel, we rob, we covet, we commit adultery, there is child abuse, rape, and abuse of the elderly and innocent. On websites our United States is listed as one of the most dangerous Countries in the world. We have children shoot other children in cold blood. We argue because of gun control, we don’t want to break the first amendment but we are literally devouring each other. We are constantly at war, with other countries and within our own country. We currently have children crossing the border because they want to get out of the hell they are in, but they are in grave danger and will more than likely be targets for gang recruiting and prostitution.
        In this dark abyss we have one option, one savior, one hero, the only free agent and intellectually kind being that ever lived; a lowly carpenter named Jesus. Jesus the Son Of God who left His home, His Kingdom, His Father, to come to earth as a poor human born into abject poverty in the world. One being who had the capability and morality to roll His proverbial sleeves up and dig headlong into the muck and mire of our fallen world.
        Before the age or thirty-four He was arrested late at night, in an illegal trial (even for that day’s laws.) He was beat up, tortured, than left to hang on a cross. You are correct when you state though that this was not enough to atone for the sins of mankind. One man’s mere human death did not compete nor could compete with all the sin and darkness.
        What atoned for our sins is found in Isaiah 53:10 “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief, if He would render Himself as a guilt offering.” God took His Son, His only Son, who had never sinned, and He put all of the sin that was and ever will be committed on Him. Every murder, every rape, every act of incest, every shooting, every moral, ethical abuse was put on Him, as if He himself did it, and He punished Him with the whole wrath that every man and woman from the first man to the last person that ever lives would be punished with. That is why our sins are atoned for.

        1. EnlightenmentLiberal

          I skipped over some of what you wrote, but I think I got the basic gist. I don’t think you presented any relevant argument. It seems you just said “Humans are sinners. Thus we need someone to forgive / fix our sins. Thus Jesus exists and is god.” Sorry, no dice. Gonna have to do better than that. That’s just flagrantly fallacious, intellectually dishonest, and dare I say willfully ignorant and delusional. It’s wishful thinking.

          Yes, the world sucks, but no one is going to help us fix it except ourselves. Your Jesus? He hasn’t done anything lately to help, so fuck him. Yes, I know you think he helped you, but you have absolutely no basis for it. Call me when Jesus appears and takes a bullet for you, or restores someone’s amputated leg, or other obvious miracles which cannot be just confirmation bias.

          If Jesus was god, and had the power to help, that means he doesn’t, so fuck him. No really. You just cited all of that evil which exists in this world, and your pompous ass god sits idly somewhere and lets it all happen. “All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.” I want nothing to do with your god.

        2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

          @Valerie:

          I would thrill to think that I did not have to be held accountable by anyone or anything but my own conscience

          We’re accountable to each other. We don’t leave someone off the hook for misbehavior until they die – continuing to misbehave without correction and harm others, in hopes that something will be done about it in a hypothetical afterlife.
           

          The reality is that mankind is seriously depraved. [...] Humans are evil, lost, and with no hope whatsoever. Think of all the advancements our society has already experienced. [...] However we are not better

          You have no apprehension of how bad people used to be. Now you complain that people aren’t perfect yet. You have control over your own behavior, and influence over others. So if you bother to put some effort into it, you can ensure there’s at least one more decent person in the world.
           
          Song: Jesus Loves the Little Zygotes (2:00)
          Video/Transcript Steven Pinker – A History of Violence (1:26:17)
           

          our sins are atoned for.

          So… you’re insisting the world was horrible, God had a good man tortured and killed, the world’s still horrible, God won’t fix it, and now you wish for death.

        3. Frank G. Turner

          @Valerie
          And I will make an attempt to be more kind in my tone that the others seem to have been.
          I must tell you that I have thought about Atheism, and I have turned it down
          .
          It is not something that you “accept into your life” like you “accepted Jesus into your life.” That gives an indication that you are still thinking about it in terms of your religious beliefs. You give other indications that you are still thinking in terms of that. It can take years to understand an get your mind thinking that way.To use an analogy, it is like doing gymnastics, you have to get your muscles strong enough and your nerve tissue accustomed to reacting a certain way and it can take a lot of hard work and time. I don’t think that your mind is not accustomed to thinking in a way that an understanding of agnosticism and atheism would make sense. The fact that you still think opening your mind to the possibility of there not being a God is an outright rejection of God indicates that too. You really need to study mathematics in detail, over and over again, And science for that matter. Much like you would have to do gymnastics for years to get good at it, your would have to study science and atheism for years before your really started to understand them. You don’t just feel them overnight.
          .
          Tracie and Matt who host the show sometimes can tell you that. It took any years of them studying and being just like you before they came to understand and it did make their lives fuller and gave them more meaning. It can do that for you too if you want it to, but you have to make an effort an ongoing effort. To use another analogy, your brain is too out of shape and you are too addicted to sitting on your butt and being lazy when it comes to an understanding of science and what led many of us to atheism.
          .
          but I must tell you why, because I’m certain it is not why you think.
          .
          Yes it is what I think, you are putting your emotional self ahead of your intellectual understanding, most likely because your intellectual self is out of shape so you are compensating with your emotional self. YOur response of,
          ,
          what I deem to be correct from what I have learned from the Sciences
          .
          indicates that. One does not deem things to be correct from the sciences. They are correct because demonstrable evidence supports them being correct, REGARDLESS of the authority that says them and REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THEM. What is found to be correct in the sciences stands on its own merit. It is correct because of its calculable capacity, our capacity to demonstrate it repeatedly to others and be independently verified. When you say that,
          ,
          The only problem is reality. The reality is that mankind is seriously depraved.
          ,
          That is the problem. Science HAS determined part of reality and it has determined that what is stated in the Bible particularly in Genesis is just wrong, factually incorrect. You don’t deem it to be correct or incorrect, it is correct because of its demonstrable capacity and if that makes you feel bad, well tough. We don’t think that science is right because it makes us feel good, that is emotional reasoning. It is not right because of any divine power, it is right because it is factually correct. Hard physical evidence is what improves the world. Hoe you FEEL about it is only relevant to you and your shrink. You talk about how mankind is depraved,
          Think of all the advancements our society has already experienced.
          .
          I do, and the fact is that a TON of those advancements, particularly in medicine, would not have come about were it not for that very evolutionary principle that Darwin developed based on many years of research and collaboration with other scientists and a collection of understanding of many different scientific principles.
          .
          I will appeal to emotion to see if it helps you to understand. You would probably not be responding to me were it not for evolutionary principles. Water used to be very dirty and full of disease ridden microorgnaisms. t took an understanding of a combination of evolution and microbiology to clean our water supply ad sustain life. Many individuals in wartime used to die due to dirty water and food provided by their military organizations or that they acquired in the field. Various medical procedures have been developed like antiseptic surgery and antibiotics an understanding of how microorganisms were actually building defenses against each other in their evolutionary cycles that we could take advantage of. These would not have developed to the way that they are today were it not for evolutionary principles. We would not have an understanding of child birthing principles were it not for having studied something very similar to ourselves which we figured out was so similar (apes and monkeys) due to, you guessed it, evolution. We would not have understood that certain species who have been given evolutionary pressures similar to ours, like rodents on the brain and pigs on their hearts, have organs that are chemically or structurally similar to ours. The advancement of brain medications would not have taken place had we not realized that rodents have a similar brain chemistry to ourselves due to, yup evolution (ever wonder why they are often used in research, particularly brain research?). Some of Ben Carson’s best procedures came from studying rabbit brains and the similarities that they have to ours due to, you guessed it, evolution.
          .
          I have a cousin who would be DEAD due to an unusual heart condition that he was born with. It took an experimental procedure that was uncommon at the time to repair his heart. An understanding of evolution and how pig hearts are similar to ours due to evolutionary principles saved him. Xenobiotic grafting of pig heart muscles was used on him and this has not only advanced the understanding of hearts, but the procedure has been modified and adapted to adults as a result of what was one to my cousin 18 years ago. The actor Robin Williams is alive because of the Xenobiotic grafting procedures of pig heart muscles. That was understood to have worked because of, EVOLUTION. Think of that, what if a doctor had refused to do that procedure to someone you care about Valerie, someone you loved because the basis of that procedure is evolution and the doctor refused to believe in evolution because of their religious upbringing?
          .
          Imagine walking into a hospital with a severe medical condition and being denied medical coverage because you refused to acknowledge evolution and not being allowed to be subject to a procedures that you needed to keep you or a friend or family member alive. Would you “deem it to be incorrect” in the sciences if that procedure saved the life of someone you cared about? This may come as a surprise to you but you have probably already benefitted from it. There are probably those that you love and care about who are alive because the doctors that they went to had to learn about evolution and its daughter field, GENETICS! Has THAT ever occurred to you when you think about how horrible the world around you is? Do you have an appendix? THat appendix is an indication of evolution and if we did not intervene on the part of our evolution and remove it when it gets infected people would DIE. Do you know anyone with the sickle cell gene who has to be concerned about giving it to their children (the heterozygotes)? Did you know that those heterozygotes for the sickle cell gene are immune to malaria due to, yup EVOLUTION. So are the children who are heterozygotes and so are the homozygotes, of course what is sad about the homozygotes is that they have sickle cell disease too despite malarial immunity. And we intervene on the part of the evolution of those sickle cell children to keep them ALIVE. Do you “deem it to be incorrect” that we intervene on the part of those children because you insist that evolution did not occur? Well do you? Do you “deem it to be incorrect” that we intervene on the part of cancer and AIDS patients whose diseases can be cured based on processes developed based on, EVOLUTION? There are people who are immune to HIV due to, yup EVOLUTION and we are using their immunity to help save the lives of others. There are people who never develop cholesterol issues no matter what their lifestyle due to, EVOLUTION, and their immunity is being studied to help others.
          .
          FYI, not all atheists believe in evolution, and not all Xtians dismiss evolution. I have mentioned Kenneth Miller multiple times and I will again because you obviously have never read him or have not absorbed the correct information when you did. You really have not thought about this though as you keep defaulting to your feelings. You have to look beyond them. If you think that Atheism and agnosticism means that non-believers
          ,
          did not have to be held accountable by anyone or anything
          ,
          then you really have not studied it extensively or in such a way as to put your feelings aside. Non believers are accountable, to humanity and themselves, that is why we have secular laws. I tell you what, I will hold you accountable for something.
          .
          Our beliefs don’t exist in a vacuum and they effect our behavior. There are those who know that evolution (the FACTS of evolution that you so willingly “deem to be incorrect”) is the basis for modern medicine. Yes that is right, there are doctors who still deny evolution and can learn medicine without it, but talk to a few of the more well educated ones who have developed cures for very advanced diseases. You might find a dentist or a general physician who denies evolution, but they are not many. Sample a few thousand physicians and see how many of them did not at least have to learn SOMETHING about genetics, the daughter field of evolution. Some are too pig headed to realize that the Genetics they are learning about was the daughter field of evolution. And some play that, “well micro evolution” occurs but “macro evolution” still doesn’t game, which is more apologist bovine feces. A way of accepting medical care without acknowledging evolution, which is just more bull.
          .
          Some of those families who learn that medicine advance due to the advancements of biology and that biology, modern biology, largely advanced due to evolution. As they grow up denying evolution due to their religious belief, they don’t let their children get medical care when diseased. They give it all up to God and pray and pray and pray all day long, AND THE CHILD DIES DUE TO LACK OF MEDICAL CARE! There are PLENTY of news stories (SkyCaptain probably has a few links) about these.THAT is what your denial of evolution does because you “deem it to be incorrect.” Pardon me for being harsh but PEOPLE LIKE YOU Valerie, let innocent children DIE because you “deem” evolution to be “incorrect.” How does that feel? Does THAT feel good when you think about it? Do you feel like the sin of letting an innocent child die because you refuse to acknowledge evolution is atoned for? Did Jesus want your child to die because he thought that Genesis was factually correct and evolution demonstrates that it is wrong? Do you think THAT is being intellectually honest with yourself?
          .
          Plenty of people do. Plenty of those hopeless and sinful humans allow people to suffer and die, people who you care about and love, because they cannot accept that modern medicine is based on evolution and that evolution MUST be wrong because the Bible says so. Preachers do that, tell people to turn away from evolution. There are plenty of stories all over the internet of children who grow up in insular societies that refuse to believe that evolution or genetics is correct and don’t learn advanced biology. They want to help people but keeping them healthy and they go off to universities and start learning advanced biology which included an understanding of evolution and genetics. Then they learn the truth of what has been studied and how it is helping people, and they realize that their parents were telling them lies, being intellectually dishonest with them. There are plenty of stories about that on the internet (feel free to post a few links SkyCaptain, you seem to be good at this and I appreciate that).
          .
          To “deem” certain parts of science to be correct because they make you feel good IS being intellectually dishonest, WITH YOURSELF. It is putting your emotions ahead of the facts and imprisoning yourself in a delusion to make yourself feel good. You don’t have to, you can feel secure and passionate and safe and like you have a purpose in life WITHOUT that delusion. You can feel good and acknowledge that you don’t know if there is a God, and that is NOT denial, no matter how much you tell yourself that it is.
          .
          And again, there are those who study the sciences and come to believe that evolution occurred despite the indication that Genesis did not as a result and they still remain Xtian. I did for a long time and so do plenty of others. They don’t “deem” anything “to be correct” from the sciences. They go to school to learn what IS correct because it is helping to keep people HEALTHY and ALIVE. They “deem” the understanding of evolution as a GIFT that was given to us by God given how it has been used to IMPROVE the health and lives of the people around us. Think of it this way, every time you insist that Genesis is correct and evolution is wrong, someone in a hospital suffers and possibly even dies due to a Genetic abnormality that could be cured by a Doctor or Nurse that studied evolution. And you think that because many of them (obviously not all) may eventually come to the conclusion that there is not a God that those medical professionals, are evil, lost, and with no hope whatsoever when they do long hours of the night and day to keep people from suffering and to keep them alive?
          .
          Oh and to EnlightenmeantLiberal
          I want nothing to do with your god.
          .
          That is still the mentality that the God is there. I used to be angry at God for exactly what you said. It finally occurred to me that I was angry at something that just may not be there. It made a whole lot more sense to me that it was not there then that it was doing nothing. So I would not say that I want nothing to do with their god, but that I realized I couldn’t because it is not there. I don’t think she can understand that mentality that it is not denying god as that would indicate it was there.
          .
          You do a lot of reading. Keep listening to old shows of TAE, you can find them on youtube. Read every last page of talkorigins.org, listen to every lecture on khanacademy.org on biology and chemisitry and genetics, read through every last page of ironchariots.org and look up the skeptics annotated Bible. Keep reading and keep listening and after a while your brain may get into good enough shape to understand where we are coming from. If you need an emotional prong as to why you should do this, I will repeat that your denial of evolution has caused people to die and suffer needlessly. Does your God WANT you to do that?

        4. unfogged

          I thank you for being so kind to me on this message board and I have heard and listened to everything you have written to me.

          Thank you for persisting in the face of what may have sometimes seemed to be rude. Atheists tend to be blunt and not so concerned with feelings when they conflict with evidence and that, I’m sure, can be very negative for many theists.

          I must tell you that I have thought about Atheism, and I have turned it down

          My first reaction is that that is the wrong approach. Coming from a theistic view, thinking about atheism must appear to be a denial of what you believe to be true and an unattractive option. The approach you need to take is to consider what belief does the best available evidence actually support. I’ve been a non-believer all my life so I can’t truly appreciate the difference but every atheist I’ve ever talked to who used to believe has found “the dark side” to be anything but dark. It is truly liberating to know that you are in charge of yourself.

          I would love to be able to be an Atheist. I would love to believe that all of mankind was good and our only problem was ignorance

          Atheists don’t all believe that all of mankind is good or that our only problem is ignorance. We aren’t so naive as to believe that if nobody believed in gods then everything would be sunshine and lollipops. What we believe is that if anything is going to help improve the world then it is up to us to make that happen because we can’t rely on any supernatural help.

          I would thrill to think that I did not have to be held accountable by anyone or anything but my own conscience

          That is another misunderstanding. We are not accountable only to ourselves, we are acountable to everyone around us and to future generations and to the other species with which we share the limited, fragile resources of this world.

          That this God would completely agree with me

          To be a little snarky, that is the theistic position. It is always interesting how each religion’s god hates the same people that the followers hate and justifies any actions that the followers take. That’s why Yahweh so often told his chosen people how wicked the neighbors were and why they should kill and enslave them and take their lands. That’s why some Christians today claim that god will punish homsexuals witheternal torture while others say that he approves of loving relationships regardless of the genders involved. Anybody who claims membership but disagrees has to fall back on the “I don’t agree it but I’ll pray for understanding until I do” canard.

          Life as mankind began to fully realize their potential and study more would finally become a utopia.

          Utopia? Probably not a realistic goal. Better than it is in a world run byconflicting, unjustified beliefs? Definitely possible.

          The reality is that mankind is seriously depraved.

          No, some individuals are seriously depraved. The vast majority of people I know mostly just want to live in peace and security and given the chance without ideologies (both religious and secular) that must be obeyed unquestioningly would be more than happy to live and let live. It will require making decisions using logic and reason and being willing to evaluate different view as honestly as possible. Consider that if you don’t want to base a society on reason and facts then you must be basing it on unreason and guesswork.

          Humans are evil, lost, and with no hope whatsoever.

          Most secularists and humanists haven’t given up like you have; thousands of years of religious dominance has produced the world we are in now. Maybe something else would work better.

          On websites our United States is listed as one of the most dangerous Countries in the world.

          We are also on of the most highly religious, at least in the ‘western’ world. The levels of crime, violence, unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and many other societal problems are significantly lower in more secular countries that emphasize the teaching of basic science and rational approaches to problems. In other words, praying for deliverance doesn’t resolve the problems while making changes that address the reasons for the problems does.

          That is why our sins are atoned for.

          As a life-long atheist I always find comments like you make very depressing. Our ‘sins’ are atoned for by making repartions to those we have sinned against, not by cheering the bloody torture of a third party. The problems faced by humanity are huge but giving up and grovelling in a corner wishing for forgiveness and waiting for death is pitiable. Facing the world with the knowledge that for things to improve we need to figure out how to change them is not only solution that might work. The religious view always comes across as the one that is truly bleak and depressing. I can’t imaging spending my whole life believing that things are hopeless but maybe if I wish hard enough it’ll be better after I die.

        5. xscd

          Valerie says–

          The reality is that mankind is seriously depraved. … Humans are evil, lost, and with no hope whatsoever.

          No, we’re not. Are you depraved? Are you evil? I’m not either of those things. I’m empathetic and nice to other living beings because I want to be, knowing with certainty that I could be horrible if I wanted to, but I don’t want to.

          No one needs a god or “a savior”; all we need is to be good people, individually, whether we are religious or not.

          Religious people often think that humans are awful, that “God’s great creation” is really very flawed and full of trials and tribulations and temptations and sorrows and that we just have to drag ourselves through this wonderful life God has given us in order to get to our eventual reward when we finally–HUGE sigh of relief!–die!

          Christians in particular believe that sex is simultaneously holy and good, and evil and bad and shameful. Christians devalue their own God’s creation and their own bodies. Christians believe that humans are not worthy, when worth and merit are not earned, but intrinsic. No one must do anything to justify his or her existence. We exist just like the other animals, and we don’t demand that a singing bird or hunting lion justify their existences. We don’t think that other animals are as “hopeless and flawed” and in need of “saving” as Christians think our own species needs.

          Christianity, to put it bluntly, is stupid. So is Islam. So are just about all of our religions and religious notions. Religion is what we humans created when we were primitive and didn’t understand the world around us, to try to explain a universe that seemed vast and mysterious and sometimes scary.

          But the rational mind and science took over where superstition left off, and the most depressing fact about us humans is that some people such as yourself still cling to superstition, fear and negative beliefs about humanity and reality in the face of a multitude of evidence that contradicts religion. If you think it’s humanity and the world that is flawed, perhaps it is your own beliefs that are flawed.

          1. special ops monkey

            i remember an episode where Martin summed it up nicely. christianity MANUFACTURES a problem (original sin), then offers up a solution, but this solution is such that it inoculates against attempts at refutation (for example, if someone questions you, they are motivated by the devil or something). it’s a vicious circle and it gets well-meaning people like Valerie into believing in talking snakes and just throwing up her arms at all the so called depravity in the world and leaves her to be just waiting for the next life.

        6. corwyn

          I could enjoy humanism; I would be a free agent. I could fully devote my life to study and improvement of my health, happiness and community.

          But instead you are going to cling to barbarism and do something else? Not make the world the best you can?

          If there is a god, and he *complains* that I spent all my time, making myself and the world into the best place I could, I will happily tell him that he is evil, and go spend my time in the cozy warm place.

          You realize, do you not, that war death worldwide are down? Crimes, including murder, in the the US are down and still falling?

        7. Narf

          Many others have already gone into detail, so there isn’t much I particularly need to add. Let me pick out my one favorite part:

          I must tell you that I have thought about Atheism, and I have turned it down, but I must tell you why, because I’m certain it is not why you think.

          When you thought about atheism, you clearly never understood atheism. The most important component of the atheistic stance, for just about everyone in the New Atheist movement; just about everyone in the ACA; just about all of the regulars in this comment section, except for XSCD; is skepticism.

          You don’t understand skepticism or rational thought in general, as demonstrated by what you immediately followed this paragraph with:

          I’m not going to use Pascal’s wager, I am going to give you a verse …

          *groan*
          I can’t speak for the others, but I suspect many of them would agree with me. I’d rather have someone present me with Pascal’s Wager, instead of spraying authoritarian nonsense at me without justifying why I should grant it a position of authority. At least Pascal’s Wager is a logically-structured argument, even if it is an exceedingly shitty one.
          This is just so painful.

          And your end-of-the-world, the-world-is-getting-worse-and-worse shtick doesn’t wash. Speaking on a grand scale, life is getting better and better. Sure, we have social problems, based upon the current social construction, and we’ll always have problems. But on the whole, there’s far less suffering in the world than there was a thousand years ago, never mind in Jesus’s time.
          And strangely, the greater suffering is in the more ass-backwards, fundamentally-religious parts of the world. What can we learn from that observation? Sure, it’s only a correlation, but it’s a good one … and we can observe many causative factors.

          If I wanted an appeal to shitty-world, I would answer the door when the Jehovah’s Witnesses ring the doorbell.

          1. xscd

            Narf says

            just about all of the regulars in this comment section, except for XSCD

            Although I take exception to that, I’d much rather hang with the atheists than the religi-weenies. Organized religion is stoopid and their views of God is demeaning to him. Atheists are a lot healthier and saner than most religious people, whose beliefs amount to almost pure self-deluded fantasy.

            I believe in God for my own reasons, but I love science and where science and religion conflict, science rules. Religiosity is not an adequate substitute for rationality.

            Anyway, glad to be here among you heathen atheists–

          2. Narf

            *shrug*
            You’re not a part of the category under discussion.

            Anyway, I doubt your religious stance would pass muster under any sort of skeptical examination, so my exclusion of you is an accurate analysis, no matter what your feelings are about it. Not my fault.

          3. Frank G. Turner

            @Narf
            When you thought about atheism, you clearly never understood atheism.
            .
            I get that a lot with people regarding evolution. They deny because they don’t really understand it they just think that they understand it.
            .
            I realized that she did not understand science when she talked about deeming parts of it to be true so it stands to reason that she does not really understand skepticism or rational thought. I figured that what we may have is a cargo cult islander (metaphorically speaking). I guess due to evolution we do have a few whose brains just are not well developed enough to comprehend some of these principles.

          4. Narf

            I get that a lot with people regarding evolution. They deny because they don’t really understand it they just think that they understand it.

            Heh heh heh heh heh. Very frequently, yeah.
            “Ah, so you’ve studied evolution in great detail. Who was your teacher? … ah, Ray Comfort and Eric Hovind … really.”

        8. Frank G. Turner

          @unfogged and Valerie
          I quote unfogged here as it is relevant to something that I was saying.
          .
          We are also on of the most highly religious, at least in the ‘western’ world. The levels of crime, violence, unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and many other societal problems are significantly lower in more secular countries that emphasize the teaching of basic science and rational approaches to problems. In other words, praying for deliverance doesn’t resolve the problems while making changes that address the reasons for the problems does.
          .
          Far be it from the religious types, the battered brides of God, to think that they are doing God’s will when they are part of the cause of the suffering that we have in this world.. I suggested in response to Valerie that the way she thinks about science is part of the problem and not part of the solution. You can pray all you want for snails to have wings if you think it will help and it is still probably not going to happen.
          .
          Valerie, if you are reading this then yes, you are part of the problem not part of the solution. Every time you deny evolution because the Bible does not say it is so an innocent child with a serious medical condition suffers needlessly. Secular countries that teach evolution and more advanced biology prevent some of that needless suffering, maybe not all but as much as they can. Creationists like you try to prevent the teaching of evolution in this country which is an intimate part of medicinal biology that heals people. You don’t deem that part of science to be false because it is based on evolution when the medical procedure based on that science helps an innocent child not suffer. That is being part of the problem and not part of the solution. If you care so much about how mankind is “seriously depraved” start being part of the solution and not part of the problem.

        9. Frank G. Turner

          I would like to apologize for the “you are part of the problem not part of the solution” comment. I know it is harsh and it hurts but it is also true. I could have presented it better though. I really don’t think that you understand atheism and that you don’t understand logic, skepticism, or science (that’s my big one). You don’t “deem things to be true” in science, it does not work that way. If it works, it works whether you agree with it or not. Plenty of people don’t agree with evolution but reap the benefits of it, vaccination being a big one (among many others that I mentioned).
          .
          This may be a surprise to you but the world keeps on working despite your beliefs and understanding. That is why medicine advanced due to understanding of evolutionary theory even though you and those of your religious background did not get it or agree with it personally. Enough people did get it and were able to use it. Atheism keeps developing more and more worldwide because of people who actually put their feelings aside and look act historical evidence, regardless of whether that evidence leads towards the conclusions that you agree and are comfortable with or against them. Enough people examined the facts and put aside their feelings to do historicitical studies of the Bible. If you want to live in your little fantasy of the Utopia (FYI, Utopia is “Nowhere” in Greek) that you think is coming then go ahead, it will take a lot more understanding and exploration to break out of that and it is a painful journey. Matt and Valerie know that and so do many of us. It is a journey that you have to be willing to take regardless of how painful it is. I can tell you that the rewards are very great.
          .
          If there really is a God I am thankful to that God for sending me on that journey and finding who i am in the process. I don’t really know if there is and being intellectually honest with myself I don’t think there is, but that is ok. It does not cause me harm to think that even though I once did believe that. It might cause you harm to think that, but understanding, like exercise, is painful. As they say in the gym, no pain, no gain.

  15. 15
    favog

    In regard to the dolphins: the first time I heard of this dolphins saving sailors from drowning thing, that has apparently been around since the times of Ancient Greece, it was in the book “The Eden Express” by Mark Vonnegut. Mark is the son of one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. — probably popular with a lot of other atheists, too. “The Eden Express” is actually a non-fiction book, an autobiography dealing with his struggle with schizophrenia. Any way, that’s all beside the point, but for reasons I forget the subject of the dolphins performing rescues came up, and the claim in the book is that it had been looked into. The finding was evidently that dolphins are playful. So if a sailor lands in the water, if dolphins find him, they play with him, not realizing that he’s in trouble. But in the course of play, they get moved around. In some lucky cases, the sailor is brought close enough to land that, between the shortened distance and the rest they got from being carried, they’re able to swim in and save themselves. But it’s just as likely that the dolphins could take their new playmate further from shore, and those guys don’t get to tell their tale. Ever since I read that, I’ve actually referred to any process that skews the frequency of the reporting of an outcome to not square with the true frequency of the outcome as a “dolphin effect”.

    1. 15.1
      adamah

      Favog said-

      Ever since I read that, I’ve actually referred to any process that skews the frequency of the reporting of an outcome to not square with the true frequency of the outcome as a “dolphin effect”.

      Yeah, the phenomena has already got a name, being a specific type of confirmation bias called, ‘survivorship bias’:

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias

      Adam

  16. 16
    leeslonaker

    The story about the lions just made me laugh. I found myself thinking that as lions don’t have refrigerators it is most likely the lions were just saving her to snack on later. Okay, probably not, but that still seems as likely an explanation as divine intervention.
    Overall I thought it was a pleasant show. While neither of the callers are likely to deconvert, it is likely that they will go back and listen to themselves and perhaps reexamine their position. So good Job Russell & John.
    Now please excuse me while I try to work out why I think lions saving a little girl to snack on later is funny.

    1. 16.1
      Frank G. Turner

      Actually the lion story is not the most unsuaul nor is the dolphin story. There are stories of apes in the zoo where a child would drop into the habitat set up for the apes and some apes would try to harm the child (say a baby) and one or two, say a female, would try to protect the child and maybe hand it back to the zookeepers.

      Furthermore apes are capable of communitcation as demonstrated by teaching them sign language and sometimes even ask questions about where they came from and analysis of sonic waves from dolphins in certain areas have indicated the presence of language. So it is not entirely unlikely that great cats (who have various sound types for communication, up to 80 or so different sounds, mayeb a reading felinologist can correct me on that) have communication as well, which means that they may have empathy too. ANyone who has had a pet knows that it has the capacity to think and reason, even if at a very low level compared to us.

      Oh and brainwave studies of dogs indicate that they dream.

      1. corwyn

        have communication as well, which means that they may have empathy too.

        Would you care to explain that step a bit more. I don’t see any reason to believe those two things are correlated.

        1. Frank G. Turner

          Would you care to explain that step a bit more. I don’t see any reason to believe those two things are correlated.
          .
          No problem, although I want to point out that I am not saying that communication makes empathy certain or even probably, only that it makes empathy possible. Communication involves exchange of information. If the exchange only involved a benefit on the part of the sender and not the receiver, what would be the point of the sender exchanging information as it is clearly of the benefit of the receiver to the detriment of the sender? This may be conjecture, but one would tend to think that exchange of information evolved for the benefit of both sender and receiver. So the receiver must have a way of understanding and as communication is a two-way street, the receiver will later become the sender.
          .
          Empathy is about applying that idea to potential feelings of another individual, particularly when numerous different forms of communication are used beyond just verbal, i.e.: body language, facial expression, gesture, etc. to communicate feelings of one party to another. Feelings are a form of information that can be communicated, though not measured with certainty so in many respects it is educated guesswork. However, my point was that communication makes this possible (not necessarily probable). Does that make sense?

          1. corwyn

            Does that make sense?

            Nope. Humans (some anyway) can have empathy for a lot of things which they aren’t capable of communicating with. Eggs are one easy example.

          2. Frank G. Turner

            @ corwyn
            Nope. Humans (some anyway) can have empathy for a lot of things which they aren’t capable of communicating with. Eggs are one easy example.
            .
            That is true but that empathy is a form of communicating that we have with each other. Just because we APPLY it to an egg does not mean that is doesn’t come from our ability to apply it to one another. I was not making an assertion about what we apply it to, only where it came from. I am thinking that it evolved form our capacity to do that with each other and the ability to apply it to other non human things is a side effect. This is conjecture though as I am not an evolutionary psychologist who would liley study these things.

          3. corwyn

            empathy is a form of communicating that we have with each other.

            That is just conflating two separate concepts.

            Trees communicate with each other, do they have empathy?

          4. Frank G. Turner

            @ corwyn
            Trees communicate with each other, do they have empathy?
            .
            That is an excellent point, perhaps they do! Being intellectually honest I would have to say that I don’t know if they do or not. Perhaps a brain is not necessary to have emotion or empathy.
            .
            Your skeptical review of this has gotten me to think of something rather interesting. We are aware of or rather subscribe the idea of empathy because of our ability to detect things with our senses which we also use to communicate and our emotional though patterns. So as far as we know we have empathy because of our ability to communicate, or perhaps we simply use the word “empathy” to describe a feeling that we cannot otherwise identify. Perhaps other things in the universe do have empathy but simply lack the capacity to communicate it, if empathy exists outside of our own minds. When we are capable of measuring empathy empirically to determine if it exists outside our own minds we may be able to determine if other beings not capable of communicating have empathy. That is assuming that empathy is something that can even be quantified and is not just a made up term for something that we cannot pin down. However, as we are only aware of empathy from beings that communicate I would say that the correlation between our awareness of empathy and communication is very strong, but that is essentially circular. It is a moot point though as I have pointed out that this is conjecture as I know not how to measure empathy objectively if it is even measurable and to avoid the argument from ignorance I do state that I don’t know.
            .
            To rephrase my above comment of “they have communication as well, which means that they may have empathy too,” I will say,
            because we can communicate with them (lions), and they with us at least to some degree, and we are aware of their communication with each other, we can potentially become aware of empathy that they may have due to that communication. Empathy itself at least appears to be a form of communication but that may be linking unrelated concepts despite their appearance of a relationship, much as the results of evolution may appear to be intentionally designed even though they are not.
            .
            I am probably just confusing the issue more but you did get me to think about the idea of empathy not really being a solid concept an something that we just made up to describe a feeling that we cannot otherwise identify that may not even exist.

          5. corwyn

            That is an excellent point, perhaps they do! Being intellectually honest I would have to say that I don’t know if they do or not. Perhaps a brain is not necessary to have emotion or empathy.

            So, upon hearing evidence that calls your claim into doubt, instead of saying that maybe it is perhaps wrong, you say that maybe our entire understanding of emotions is wrong?

            Yes, there are by the way, scientific studies showing that trees communicate, here is a popularized explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vk-12s7tB_Y

          6. Frank G. Turner

            @ corwyn
            So, upon hearing evidence that calls your claim into doubt, instead of saying that maybe it is perhaps wrong, you say that maybe our entire understanding of emotions is wrong?
            .
            Not instead of, in addition to. I saw that there was evidence that the claim was wrong and I acknowledge that. I don’t see it as hard evidence that it is definitely wrong, but that it is called into doubt and I am more than willing to revise my position, I just revise it to “I don’t know” rather than, “it is definitely wrong.” I can see how communication can be possible without empathy (that is a nice video by the way), but still don’t see how empathy is possible without communication. I was familiar with that form of communication among plants but did not really apply it to this situation.
            .
            What I was getting at was that this may be because we have no way of knowing that empathy is being displayed without being able to communicate. Just because I can’t see how it is possible to have empathy without communication does not mean that it isn’t, which is why I take the “I don’t know” position.
            .
            What it got me to thinking is that maybe the reason that the original correlation is incorrect is because our understanding of emotion is incorrect. Maybe it does not take a brain to have emotion and trees have feeling for each other.
            .
            Essentially I went a step beyond revising the original position and wanted to see if the assumptions behind it need revision too. You gave a good example of things that communicate but (as far as we know at least) don’t have empathy for each other (as far as we know) nor apply it to other species outside of their own (as far as we know). Can you give an example of a display of empathy between things that don’t communicate? Do rocks show empathy for each other? I would be very curious to see this.

          7. corwyn

            Can you give an example of a display of empathy between things that don’t communicate? Do rocks show empathy for each other? I would be very curious to see this.

            Since all information gathering from an entity would be described by you as communication, communication is a necessary condition for a *display* of empathy. How would you *SEE* it without communication? Send me a picture of an invisible object, and we will talk.

        2. corwyn

          but still don’t see how empathy is possible without communication.

          But that has nothing to do with your original claim. Your claim was that communication was indicative of empathy. I have shown it isn’t. You have agreed.

          1. Frank G. Turner

            @ corwyn
            My original claim was that communication “may be” indicative of empathy, not that I was certain that it “was.”
            .
            Quoting myself.
            So it is not entirely unlikely that great cats (who have various sound types for communication, up to 80 or so different sounds, mayeb a reading felinologist can correct me on that) have communication as well, which means that they may have empathy too
            .
            Quoting you,
            Your claim was that communication was indicative of empathy.
            .
            For arguments sake I assumed that I was making a fully positive claim that it was and I was welcomed to demonstration to the contrary, which you have done well. Communication can occur without empathy, at least as far as we know. We presume that a brain is necessary for emotion, and we assume that empathy falls into the category of emotions. Plants don’t have emotion (as far as we know) because they don’t have brains, but do communicate. (If they have some sort of emotion we do not know about it). So obviously communication can exist without empathy unless plants have feelings and we simply don’t know about it.
            .
            Based on that demonstration I made a revision. So you are right that it does not have to do with the original claim, because it is a reversal of the original claim. The revision had to do with the question can empathy, an emotion, exist without communication?
            I propose that it is possible, but I would like to see a demonstration of it to back that up, hence the rocks question. (If it is not I am welcome to evidence to the contrary as well).
            .
            Just because one can demonstration that a claim is wrong does not mean we can’t go back and make revisions and explore and test those revisions. THAT is part of the scientific method too. You don’t have to go down this path if you don’t want to, I think it is just worth exploring.

          2. Frank G. Turner

            I did some thinking (I did not mean the equation but thank you for that). I thought I might discuss what I was thinking when I made the original statement and how our conversation has answered some of the issues with it as it was not as simple as the claim as the one you pulled out but the simple claim does demonstrate several points.
            .
            The idea in question was lions displaying empathy which Valerie thought to be coincidental, too coincidental to be likely (it really isn’t but I will get to that later). Lions are a mammal, and we like other mammals tend to be complex creatures with large dense brain tissue that is capable of engaging in a type of complex communication that involves emotional processing. Now yes it is possible to communicate without a brain as the case of plants or without the brain being large and complex, as might be the case with, well clams with no central nervous system would be a good example. (I am not sure if I would call simple sets of neurons a “simple brain” or just not a “brain” but the idea is there).
            .
            Unlike simple sponges, starfish, clams, or even jellyfish, lions do have a central nervous system, a large complex brain which appears to be capable of feeling at least some degree of emotion (which is a category that empathy falls into) and can communicate. So despite Valerie’s apparent view that lions are just wild animals that hunt, kill, and eat without feelings unlike humans. Lions can learn and be trained (circuses), and they do display a sense of cognitive bias. The question of whether they can display empathy still remains and some claim that the display of emotion is anthropomorphizing (great article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotion_in_animals#Cognitive_bias_test).
            .
            However, and here is another revised version of the claim: “animals with emotion and the ability to communicate have the potential for empathy and the ability to express it.” Lions appear to have both the capacity for communication and emotion, so they have the potential for empathy and the ability to display it.
            .
            Various cases of said expression by lions (as well as many other mammals, Apes being the key example) have been recorded. If she had one a wider study of animal planet or even just talked to a lion trainer from a circus she might have seen evidence that demonstrated what she was talking about was not that coincidental or even supernatural. From what I have seen she is an emotionally driven person with a great deal of cognitive bias who lets what she wants to believe drive her learning, which is unfortunate but happens among mammals (even other species)
            .
            Now I did make the mistake of discussing communication in too general of terms when I did not actually mean it that way. I had to look back over what I wrote a few times to get my thoughts in order and realize what I was thinking at the time I wrote the claim which I acknowledged was expressed in an overly simplistic way. Even I was able to think of incidents (when I focused on it) where animals that as far as we know don’t have emotion, much less empathy, that can communicate and you expanded that to plants as well. To say that they have emotions with no brain or central nervous system is definitely anthropomorphizing.
            .
            Does that sum it up well? (I am opened to critique here).

        3. Frank G. Turner

          @ corwyn
          Since all information gathering from an entity would be described by you as communication, communication is a necessary condition for a *display* of empathy. How would you *SEE* it without communication? Send me a picture of an invisible object, and we will talk.
          .
          I did send you a picture of an invisible object, didn’t you see it? :-)
          .
          Joking aside, I would not necessarily call information gathering from an object “communication,” but information gathering is an integral part of communication. I think you may have gotten to the heart of the original statement though. If communication is necessary for a display of empathy, then by saying that because something can communicate it is possible that it can display empathy (possible that it can, not that it actually does) actually makes some degree of sense doesn’t it? That does not mean that empathy and communication can’t exist independent of each other, obviously they can and I agree to that. It is a supposition of a correlation of awareness that is not causation.
          .
          Perhaps the original claim needs a little more revision, something like, because we are aware that lions communicate, and communication is necessary for a display of empathy, then it is possible that if the lions have empathy and that they can display it and we can be aware of it. They may have been what was being witnessed in the video and this is certainly not indicative of supernatural intervention, which was the original point.
          .
          I don’t think we need to get so nit picky over the details and would accept the original statement as stated and just assume that the correlation is not an absolutely necessary part of the equation. Pardon the metaphor but we are kind of splitting hairs here.

          1. corwyn

            Pardon the metaphor but we are kind of splitting hairs here.

            You are, of course,free to refrain from responding to my criticism. Developing a writing style of precision and persuasiveness is why I am here.

            If communication is necessary for a display of empathy, then by saying that because something can communicate it is possible that it can display empathy (possible that it can, not that it actually does) actually makes some degree of sense doesn’t it?

            If the probability of communication being present given that empathy is observed is 100% (i.e. we can only observe empathy when there is communication), then the presence of communication gives us zero information about the presence of empathy.

          2. Frank G. Turner

            You are, of course,free to refrain from responding to my criticism. Developing a writing style of precision and persuasiveness is why I am here.
            .
            Actually I appreciate it. The reason that I mention the “splitting hairs comment” is that sometimes differences are so slight that they don’t matter. You are getting me to think and I hope that I am doing the same in response. Although I am less interested in persuasiveness than I am in precision, which I why I would love a static language in which we did not have to split hairs. I would very much appreciate a universe where we could measure and quantify everything.
            .
            If the probability of communication being present given that empathy is observed is 100% (i.e. we can only observe empathy when there is communication), then the presence of communication gives us zero information about the presence of empathy.
            .
            I was actually more interested in it the other way around (the whole revision thing). What is the probability of empathy being present given that communication is observed? You gave an example of where communication was present in plants but we don’t observe empathy. At least we think they don’t because we can’t communicate with them in such a way as to identify if they have empathy. We assume that they don’t because we only observe the necessary type of communication and observe empathy occurring in animals.
            .
            I acknowledge that one does not appear to be causally related to the other as it is possible to have communication without empathy, but sometimes correlation provides information as well. The probability of empathy being present given that communication is observed is obviously NOT 100%, so what is it?

          3. corwyn

            What is the probability of empathy being present given that communication is observed?.

            This is just a normal application of Bayes’ Theorem.

            P(E) = Probability of Empathy Observed
            P(C) = Probability of Communication Observed
            P(C|E) = 1

            P(E|C) = P(C|E) P(E) / P(C)
            or
            P(E|C) = P(E) / P(C)
            Which we knew.

        4. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

          @Frank G. Turner (above):

          So obviously communication can exist without empathy
          [...]
          The revision had to do with the question can empathy, an emotion, exist without communication?
          [...]
          I propose that it is possible, but I would like to see a demonstration of it to back that up, hence the rocks question.

          Since even plants and bacteria ‘communicate’, I’ll assume you mean voluntarily.
          Still, I’m having difficulty parsing that.
          Is this what you’re asking for?
           
          Thing A’s pattern recognition picks up an involuntary signal caused by B’s emotions; then A performs an action relevant to B’s mental state (indicating recognition)… without communication. Not something like grasshoppers’ locustification signals spreading aggression, without regard for the source.
           
          An apparently social animal without voluntary communication, that has a brain complicated enough that we’d be reluctant to describe its behavior in terms of reflexes and fixed action patterns. A lineage of brains that managed mutually beneficial advanced pattern recognition (presumably mental modelling/mirroring) without discovering alarm calls? (basic pattern recognition with voluntary signals) That seems far fetched.
           
          Or, trying to salvage this, maybe… inter-species signalling where either A or B might communicate among their own kind, just not with each other?

          1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

            * Empathy is not itself an emotion.
            It’s a faculty for inferring and internalizing others’ emotions, which can influence decisions. To “display” empathy, there doesn’t need to be a reciprocal “I feel your pain” communication: infer distress, do something to alleviate it (with internalized distress suggested by vitals). Hence my description of it as advanced pattern recognition (mental modelling/mirroring).
            That’s the best I could do to steel man at any rate.
             
            Article: Wikipedia – Empathy
             
            Frank G. Turner (above):

            Just because we APPLY it to an egg does not mean that is doesn’t come from our ability to apply it to one another. I was not making an assertion about what we apply it to, only where it came from.

            Oh, scratch the inter-species thing then. It was dodgy anyhow.

          2. adamah

            Sky capt said-

            Since even plants and bacteria ‘communicate’, I’ll assume you mean voluntarily.

            Cool. Now you only need to show plants and bacteria are self-aware, and then you’ll be cooking with gas to prove they can possess empathy (since it’s rather meaningless without self-awareness).

            ;)

            Adam

      2. leeslonaker

        I am familiar with a story of the ape defending the toddler, I recall seeing it on the news awhile back, I am convinced that is a true story because I watched the video. The similarities between apes and human are close enough that that particular story didn’t really seem that strange.
        Cats on the other hand are a different kind of animal. The story the first caller related about the lions circling the girl to protect her seems far less plausible. I love cats, have one that by all accounts is as much a member of my family as any of my children. He can be quite affectionate, although narcissistic would be a more apt description of his behavior than empathetic. I’ve seen how he will toy with his prey ( mouse bug, pretty much any moving thing smaller than he is. He will corral it, bat it, hold in his mouth careful not to kill it so he can release it and chase it some more. I also have some experience with larger cats, my wife’s cousin at one time had a pet mountain loin. ( NOT recommended ! ) I actually entered her enclosure and played with her on a couple of occasions ( also not recommended ). She was much like her smaller cousins, except exponentially more powerful. I was lucky because she never injured me in playing, but the experience did teach me that she easily could have killed or injured me with very little effort on her part. Even with out any intent on her part to harm me, she could easily break me in the process of play. To her I was a rather large and amusing mouse. So I think large cats and people are a combination that is likely to end badly for the cat or the person or both.
        I have seen cats behave in a way that could be considered protective, but it is my firm belief that they just don’t like strangers ( or anyone ) messing with their toys.
        If the story is true at all, I don’t think the lions motivation for behaving so was as warm as fuzzy as some might like to believe.

        1. Frank G. Turner

          That s certainly a valid point. We have now way of really knowing the motivation of the lions and to suppose that we do is rather arrogant.

        2. Frank G. Turner

          Oh and while I am at it,

  17. 17
    Gary Walker

    Really Monacle? The buildings had aluminum in them. And water blew up. I wonder why there are sprinkler systems in the first place. And that explains how they came straight down at free fall speed? And then you retreat to the ad hominems, which was my original point. No steel buildings have ever collapsed because of fire until we had three miracles of Allah, I presume, on 9/11. Because he hates our freedoms of course.

    1. 17.1
      Victor Prime, the Ghost-Who-Waddles

      You are a Poe, right?

    2. 17.2
      adamah

      We’ve also never had two jet aircraft run into the Twin Towers before, either, both loaded with JP4. The element you’re forgetting about is TIME: it took about an hour for the steel core to get up to temperature that compromised it’s integrity, collapsing under the massive weight of the floors above the point of impact, triggering a chain reaction of failure, leading to pancaking.

      No doubt if the firefighters had been able to suppress the fire in the first hour, the outcome wouldn’t be the same.

      That’s why it’s important to understand WHY it catastrophically failed and engineer around the vulnerability to prevent a recurrence; otherwise it’ll only happen over and over.

      That’s why your suggestions of “false flags” are harmful asinine foolishness: it distracts from finding the ACTUAL truth so we can act accordingly in line with the evidence.

      Isn’t that the same complaint you have against religion, that it’s a big lie and a huge time-sink?

      You really should strive to be more consistent in your logic and beliefs, and not allow your thinking to be swayed by your emotions and desires (what you WANT to be true).

      Adam

  18. 18
    Gary Walker

    Change of bits, when you have the entirely controlled media system on your side, it is not that difficult to deceive the public, especially the American public. And by the way, many who questioned the official story were gagged or arrested. Susan Lindauer and Sibel Edmonds were just two. Our guvmint, had the means, and the motive to do this. 19 crazy Muslims did not. Who benefited? “It was good for Israel.” – Benny Nuttyyahoo.

    1. 18.1
      changerofbits

      So, therefore Jews did it? I’m not saying that people should automatically believe the official story at all, but a conspiracy that Cheney and Benny orchestrated it is absurd. I’m willing to accept gross incompetence or even a “well, if the terrorist do it, we can make money on the war” indifferent attitude (both of which they’d want to cover up). Also, to think that 9/11 and the events that (inevitably?) followed do or will benefit anybody just make you as much of a monster as those who you claim would do this.

      1. Monocle Smile

        This is actually a trap into which I see a disappointing number of “skeptics” fall.

        The vast majority of the planet believes in a god(s). Atheists don’t and we’re right to withhold belief due to lack of evidence. This is a case where the overwhelming majority is unjustified and the minority holds the correct position.

        Maybe this doesn’t apply to Gary, but what seems to happen is that some “skeptics” will take this to mean that questioning “official stories” or any majority belief will automatically make them right. It’s a faulty application of skepticism. Each claim needs to be examined on its own merit. I compared this to anti-vaxxxx, and it’s the same thing…the anti-vaxxxx movement exists largely in progressive areas (Seattle, Oregon, California) with higher numbers of freethinkers. It’s not Bible-Belt madness, although anyone who listens to Jenny McCarthy doesn’t qualify as a skeptic in my book.

        Given Dick Clarke’s comments in the years after 9/11, gross incompetence seems to be the case. That guy has zero motivation to make stuff up, and by far the most plausible explanation.

  19. 19
    Gary Walker

    And I was wondering when the tired canard of anti-semitism would slither its way in. I am not an anti-semite. I have nothing against Palestinians.

    1. 19.1
      changerofbits

      Really? If you’ve heard this before, then maybe you should reexamine your beliefs. Your comments indicate that you hold a hatred of Judaism, but why? Jealousy? Fear?

      1. Gary Walker

        Brilliant again Monocle. The ad hominem. Just like Bible apologists.

        1. Gary Walker

          I don’t know how my comment to Monocle appeared here. Demons? But, Bits, I stand guilty of hating Judaism, but I am not prejudiced, I hate all religions including the new American religion of 9/11. Amen.

          1. adamah

            Gary said-

            hate all religions including the new American religion of 9/11.

            Are you SURE you’re not still a believer deep-down, a ‘sheep in wolves clothing’ who justifies believers to characterize all atheists as those who still believe in God but deny Him, since they only want to sin?

            Regardless of whatever you ARE, you’re certainly no rationalist, since you wouldn’t rely on fallacies such as ‘equivocation’ or hyperbolic characterizations (eg when you cite “the new religion of 9/11″). That kind of irrational over-reach is the HALLMARK characteristic of believers, leading me to wonder…

            Funny, as I don’t recall seeing places of worship springing up to worship what: the belief that radical Islamists hijacked two planes and caused devastating damage, likely succeeding far beyond their wildest dreams?

            Who do we pray to: Allah or Xian God? What rituals do we use, and what sacraments are involved?

            Sounds interesting! Where do I join?

            As the old saying goes, ‘even a blind mouse occasionally finds the cheese’, a truism which applies equally to radical Islamists who didn’t anticipate the total destruction of the towers would occur due to initiating complex metallo-chemical reactions, or even to you, reaching the correct conclusion on Gods existence for whatever reason(s) you used to come to that conclusion (and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out God doesn’t exist: most older kids start to have their doubts, but simply cave under massive societal pressure (which ironically enough, is exactly what the underlying floors of the Twin Towers did as the structural integrity supporting the levels above became compromised).

            Adam

          2. changerofbits

            Okay, Gary, since you want to play games, here’s a prayer for you:

            May your Hate bless you and keep you; The Hate will make its face shine upon you, And be hateful to you; The Hate will lift up its hatefulness upon you, And give you hate, especially for Jews. Amen.

            Or maybe this one:

            Our Hatred who art in my brain,
            Hatred be thy name.
            Thy hatred come.
            Thy hate be done
            On earth as it is in my conspiracy.
            Give us this day our daily hate,
            and forgive us our empathy,
            as we hate those who are nice to us,
            and lead us not into understanding,
            but deliver us from the Jews.
            For thine is the hatred,
            and the power, and the gory,
            for ever and ever.
            Amen.

  20. 20
    Gary Walker

    And by the way Bits, I stand by all those quotes. They are accurate.

    1. 20.1
      Gary Walker

      My original point was why do a lot of atheists go into shock mode when affronted with someone who questions 9/11, but will give Bible thumpers at least some common curtesy to make their claims. Russell bends over backwards for some Bible thumpers but he had to get a shot in at the end of the show at 9/11 truthers, not a term I like. What I would ask is why this hostility? What are you afraid of?

      1. Monocle Smile

        You’re like the anti-vaxxxxxx movement without the body count (Though given the nutty survivalist tendencies of 9/11 truthers, who knows what the future will bring)…annoying, stupid, and completely divested of all self-awareness. This is Dunning-Kruger to the nth power. You don’t know anything about anything, get basic shit completely wrong, but pompously babble on as if you’re absolutely right about absolutely everything.

      2. changerofbits

        Gary, what you are doing is not questioning 9/11. You’re engaging in conspiracies that affirm your personal bias.

      3. changerofbits

        Gary, if you don’t like the term “9/11 Truther”, then why did you feel the need to come here and defend it?

        Also, one possible the reason Russel does itt is because it acts as a reagent for flushing out folks like you.

        1. Gary Walker

          I am defending the challenge to the guvmint’s fairy tale of 9/11 which has become our new national myth. I am tired of being lied to. There is no way the guvmints myth is true.

          1. adamah

            Gary said-

            I am defending the challenge to the guvmint’s fairy tale of 9/11 which has become our new national myth. I am tired of being lied to. There is no way the guvmints myth is true.

            Yeah, you’ve got the part about stating your conclusion down pat, so that’s not the problem : you just need to back up and support your conclusion with actual evidence and you’d have the form of a valid argument (rather than relying on the weak-sauce ‘argument from personal incredulity’ AKA ‘argument from ignorance’).

            Adam

          2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

            @Gary Walker:

            I am tired of being lied to. There is no way the guvmints myth is true.

            You got us. After 13 years, you’ve finally found the HQ of a branch of the atheist Illuminati, which orchestrated the events of 9/11, in concert with everyone else you’ve long suspected. That clever ploy – an indignant comment on a blog, aimed at an off-hand comment from the host of a public access TV show – was the optimal strategy to get REAL answers.
             
            History books and reporters said what they were told to say, and getting all the details perfect was never a priority (you were clever to notice those oversights), for bigger plans are in motion – and plans within plans. Ironically, truthers’ astute yet inarticulate ravings have proven quite useful as a smokescreen. But don’t worry; there is no interest in you specifically, nor in the collapse of civilization. Most global powers will continue operating, bickering, and satisfying the Illuminati’s nefarious schemes as they always have. Now that that phase has completed and over a decade in the past, there’s no harm in telling you… Events played out exactly as you suspected (some classified technology was involved, as you’d imagine); the rest was hoaxed. Congratulations. ∀∅∃∹⊚

          3. changerofbits

            I am defending the challenge to the guvmint’s fairy tale of 9/11 which has become our new national myth. I am tired of being lied to. There is no way the guvmints myth is true.

            Gary, I’m now beginning to suspect you are an agent of the Mossad, sent to spread propaganda in atheist forum for the sole purpose of inciting a civil war, which will be known as the Great Atheist War. Think about it, the Mossad it looking for ways to distract the US with a trumped up enemy while they quietly nuke ISIS, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Your presence here is to mystery to me, you sly devil!

          4. changerofbits

            Gary, I’m now beginning to suspect that you are an agent of the Mossad, sent to spread propaganda in atheist forums for the sole purpose of inciting a civil war, which will be known as the Great Atheist War. Think about it, the Mossad is looking for ways to distract the US with a trumped up enemy while they quietly nuke ISIS, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Your presence here is no mystery to me, you sly devil!

            Wow, typos. Fixed.

          5. adamah

            COB said-

            Gary, I’m now beginning to suspect that you are an agent of the Mossad

            Oh, man, my mind is BLOWN! You suspect Gary is engaging in a reverse double-gainer backflip of the false flag black-ops World, a dis- dis-information campaign? Hiding the truth in plain sight, where no one will be looking for it? Such a thing was rumored to exist on Alex Jones site, but discounted as impossible: who knew GARY is able to pull it off!?

            Whoa, kudos to COB for figuring it out!

            PS is this what they mean when they say, “paranoia will destroy ya’”?

            Adam

  21. 21
    Valerie

    Hello, I’m Valerie (the female caller from this episode.) I wanted to once again thank Russell and John for putting up with my call (first time calling a radio show ever.) I would be more than happy to answer any questions, as long as I don’t hiijack or monopoziae the conversation.
    Thanks again and God bless.

    1. 21.1
      Jasper of Maine

      One question that came up…

      What’s the connection between the lion story and talking snakes and/or the inerrancy of the Bible?

      1. Valerie

        hello,
        I’m not sure if there is a connection beyond that I believe that God can use animals, and animals sometimes do things that could be considered supernatuaral.

        1. Narf

          [citation needed]

        2. Jasper of Maine

          … but it doesn’t require magic for a lion to decide not to eat something.

          1. valerie

            True, but I think this story goes above and beyond not eating someone. The lions didn’t simply run away from the noise or confusion, they chased the predators away, sat with the girl, and left when authorities came.
            I suppose anything can be described as coincidence, but that’s a lot of coincidences then.

          2. kestra

            It doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me at all. First, that the lions attacked or threatened the kidnappers, well, fairly easily explained with predator instincts to chase large game. Second, that they ignored the girl and didn’t hurt her, could be several things, but one article quoted a lion expert that opined that her high-pitched cries mimicked those of young lions, labeling her “non-prey” to the lions. This is really the only part of the story that strikes me as at all interesting or unusual. Third, that they hung around afterwards… well, no pressing need to leave the area; the kidnappers were dealt with and the girl was evaluated as nonthreatening. The lions fleeing when “authorities” arrived is the least surprising part: of course they fled at the approach of a large group of men in vehicles. I’m sure they have negative experiences with automobiles and hunters or poachers who operate out of them.

          3. kestra

            The only coincidence I see is the lions happening to be near where this girl attempted to escape her kidnappers. Everything that happened afterwards seems to be a combination of stimulus/response and serendipity that the girl wasn’t also attacked.

          4. John Iacoletti

            The “cries mimicked those of young lions” explanation seems a lot more plausible than the “God intervened to protect the girl” explanation. For one thing, we have so many examples of God not intervening to protect other children.

          5. Mas

            John, you’re going to be so burned when that little girl turns out to be the person who cures cancer.

          6. Frank G. Turner

            @ Mas
            John, you’re going to be so burned when that little girl turns out to be the person who cures cancer.
            .
            If your suggestion is that God saved her so that she could one day cure cancer why not save many other little children eaten by lions in order to cure cancer? That sounds vaguely like confirmation bias, i.e.: ignoring the misses and only counting the hits.
            .
            Or were you being sarcastic and I missed it?

          7. Narf

            Yeah, that was sarcasm.

          8. EnlightenmentLiberal

            @Valerie
            Read:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Littlewood%27s_law
            Coincidences without proper statistical analysis are not very impressive. When you do proper statistical analysis, you should expect to see something “miraculous” like once a month. Your evidence is not terribly interesting. You need to use proper statistical analysis. Saying “that’s too amazing to be a coincidence” without some proper statistical analysis is fallacious. You don’t need to do formal mathematical statistical analysis, but you have to at least make some effort to do some informal analysis.

            Also see confirmation bias.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

            So, this one time some lions acted oddly. Last I checked, this is not a violation of physics. Talking snakes are a violation of physics. Snakes cannot talk because they lack the requisite body parts (i.e. vocal cords) to talk.

          9. Narf

            Hell, on top of that, at least half of the time, what laypeople think is an extraordinary event will turn out to be nothing of the sort. You’ll speak to an expert and get an explanation that, yeah, that sort of thing happens all the time and makes perfect sense within the animals’ normal behavior patterns.

        3. corwyn

          In which case, you can’t use it as evidence of the inerrancy of the bible.

          Where did you get the idea “that God can use animals, and animals sometimes do things that could be considered supernatural.”? Did that idea come from the bible or somewhere else? If it came from the bible was the story of the talking snake part of that evidence?

          If so, you are claiming that bible is true, despite having a talking snake, because the bible contains a story about a talking snake.

          1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

            @Valerie:
            You have to read the bible as an ordinary, potentially fallible, text first. Then if you find no errors, you may conclude that it’s inerrant, to the best of your knowledge. When others inform you of problematic passages, you need to update your opinion – not invent excuses.
             
            If you swear the bible’s inerrant before reading, you’re committing yourself to being a spin doctor. Not an honest position.
             

            animals sometimes do things that could be considered supernatural

            This, for example. You’ve not seen nor heard of a talking snake – not even supernaturally – outside of the bible, fables, cartoons, and entertaining fiction (which can still inspire readers/viewers, of course).
             
            Right there, you ignored the difference between, “Those cats did something that seemed pretty smart to me,” and “OMG a that snake is talking without vocal chords!” by calling them both the same word: ‘supernatural’. One happens. One does not.

          2. Frank G. Turner

            @ SkyCaptain
            You have to read the bible as an ordinary, potentially fallible, text first. Then if you find no errors, you may conclude that it’s inerrant, to the best of your knowledge. When others inform you of problematic passages, you need to update your opinion – not invent excuses.

            If you swear the bible’s inerrant before reading, you’re committing yourself to being a spin doctor. Not an honest position.
            .
            Interesting that you mention this as I have been able to communicate something clearly about apologetics and the whole petulant child trying to argue that they are right in the face of evidence to the contrary position. Intellectual honesty is wanting to find the truth in an empirically factual way. If we could make time machines and go back and document what occurred, many of us would change our views if Jesus really could have been observed doing what is described in the Gospels (at least SOME of them, which would clear up the contradictions). Of course that is because we are intellectually honest with others and ourselves and we respect observed evidence, putting rational observance AHEAD of our emotions.
            .
            @Valerie, you might want to read this next part very carefully.
            .
            People who put emotions 1st and rational thought and observable evidence second don’t really care if we could go back in time and document what occurred. Their emotions tell them what they want to hear. Many (William Lane Craig being a good example) are not interested in truth in the empirically observable sense and many are even willing to lie or believe in what they know is shown before their very eyes to be false, repeatedly. It is because they are not interested in empirically evidential truth (i.e.: fact), they just want to win the argument. When winning the argument becomes more important to an individual than intellectual honesty, one really needs to re-observe their priorities.
            .
            I sometimes wonder if that is the big issue in America here, we have a whole lot of people who could give less of a damn if they actually solve any problems or help anyone. They just want to win the argument and are willing to hurt others and lie just to get power and make others believe that they are right and dress it up with charity and honorable actions when the core person is just corrupt and selfish. To quote an episode of Star Trek TNG, “When a villian dresses in a black cloak and twirls his mustache he is easy to spot, but one who clothes oneself in good deeds is much harder to see.”
            .
            If you are listening Valerie I will relate this story as stated on another board (Adamah knows what I am talking about as he has referenced it before). I was a believer, a Catholic. Now mind you that most Catholics are directed NOT to believe that the creation story (or most of Genesis) is factual. They are taught in many Catholic churches as a parable and so are a number of other stories outside of the Gospels (a large portion of the Bible actually).
            .
            Though Catholics are (somewhat) generally opened to people within their faith believing as they will and there are Catholics who believe in Biblical inerrancy, literalism of all of the words. As Matt on this show has put it accepting metaphorical meaning within the Bible by the Catholic church seems to have been for reasons other than accepting empirical evidence as truth and in many ways the Catholic Church was dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century (their attitude and actions towards Galileo probably had a lot to do with that).
            .
            I am talking about more recent times, There are a number of Catholic Priests who devote themselves to studying scripture academically, studying ancient Hebrew and Greek and translating in as unbiased a fashion as they can without diverging from their belief in Jesus’s miracles and Jesus as the Son of God despite accepting that Adam and Eve most likely did not exist (Gospel = fact to them but most of OT not = fact to them).
            .
            One such Priest was a pastor of mine and he taught at a University as he had 2 Ph.D.s in ancient languages, ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek. He kept copies of ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek translations with him which he would translate on the fly as part of his classes or when doing study sessions. One could tell what his sermons were, 10 minute versions of his classes (many said that you felt like you had to take notes on his sermon because there was going to be a quiz afterwards to give you an idea). I was there when he preached about the “Divine Myth” of Job, how it begins with (Adamah can tell you about this) the Hebrew “Oath of Innocence” (it is even present in the NWT, they never took it out as they probably don’t even know what it is).
            .
            After the mass a woman came to him and asked why he was calling Job “divine myth,” she asked if he was claiming that Job was not true. He first pointed out that the way the word “myth” is used today to be synonymous with the word “fiction” is not the way it was used in ancient Greek translations (Job is in ancient Hebrew but the word “Myth” is Greek). Essentially the word just meant “story” to them and whether a story was factually correct (which in this case is what is meant by “true” even though “true” can have other meanings) it was still considered a “myth” as long as it had a point, morality stories being the most common type of “myth” regardless of whether they were fictional or not. Second, he pointed out that Job IS fictional and we know because of the way it starts. He translated this professionally.
            .
            She was crushed. She was one of those who had claimed that all of the Bible must be inerrant and therefore every word must be factually correct, as though we could go back in time and record these events step by step. This was not coming from a full time professional apologist (though he probably was an apologist in other ways), or an atheist. This was from a Priest. She said that she wanted to go to another church which he said was her priority, she can believe as she wishes. I had more respect for him as he did not just tell someone what they wanted to hear, that they were right. He was not encouraging a petulant child to stick their fingers in their ears (metaphorically speaking here) and go “la la la I can’t hear you.” In effect, that is what she did anyway. He didn’t act like a politician who just wanted your vote, he spoke the truth. And if you think about it, a lot of Priests, Ministers, etc act like politicians and used car salesmen who just tell you what you want to hear to get you in their church. If that makes you feel good then ok, you can have a great social network by doing that.
            .
            That also means though that you are putting your feelings, your desire for companionship through the group, ahead of demonstrable fact and intellectual honesty. That is not seeking empirically demonstrable evidence, that is just trying to gain power and win the argument and get your pack to win. That type of pack behavior is also exhibited by dogs, wolves, large cats, apes, dolphins, birds, various types of fish, etc and humans too. And you think we humans did not evolve like them? Though maybe you need the pack to survive and that is understandable, many cannot survive on their own or in small groups.

          3. valerie

            Hello,
            I see everyone’s point, I really do. I have to disagree with the pack argument, my beliefs are rather personal and I believe things differn’t than even my parents do who are in the ministry. I feel that the Bible is inerrent because of the testimony it says about my life and humankind, I think that science has proved, disproved, proved again the Bible several times over. I am interested in science, and I want to learn as much about the world as possible, but as a Christian, I truly believe that God created science, and every good gift comes from Him. To further translate, I believe that if it were not for the power of God, I could not even type this message, or any message.

          4. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

            @Valerie:

            I have to disagree with the pack argument, my beliefs are rather personal and I believe things differn’t [...] but as a Christian, I truly believe that [X]

            If your beliefs are your own, you should never need to use that phrase.

          5. Narf

            I have to disagree with the pack argument, my beliefs are rather personal and I believe things differn’t than even my parents do who are in the ministry.

            Of course you do. Every pack is made up of individuals who deviate from the average of the group by 3% or 5%. Yet, you accept the literal truth of the Bible, which makes you conform to probably greater than 95% of the group’s dictates, by itself.

            I think that science has proved, disproved, proved again the Bible several times over.

            And that displays a profound ignorance of the state of modern science. At what point was the worldwide flood ever proven? They’ve found the remains of the Ark (the boat, not the box containing the Ten Commandments) dozens of times now, because con artists love to con credulous fools who don’t follow proper scientific protocols.

            You’re aware that what Carl Baugh is doing isn’t science, right?

          6. valerie

            I don’t think saying I’m a Christian identifies me with a pack, Christian means follower of Christ. I suppose it is a grouping, like i’m a human. I would say that the term is so broad in and of itself that it is not a pack term.

          7. EnlightenmentLiberal

            @Valerie

            I think that science has proved, disproved, proved again the Bible several times over.

            Which is simply wrong.
            We have very, very compelling evidence that Genesis and Exodus, especially Genesis, are not historical – at all. We have very compelling evidence that many miracles attested to Jesus in the New Testament never happened, such as a 3 hour darkness across the land, an army of zombies rising from the dead and going to Jerusalem, and so on.

          8. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

            We have very compelling evidence that many miracles attested to Jesus in the New Testament never happened, such as a 3 hour darkness across the land

            Supplemental Link
             
            Article: Wikipedia – Crucifixion Darkness

            A common view in modern scholarship is that the account in the synoptic gospels is a literary creation of the gospel writers, intended to heighten the importance of what they saw as a theologically significant event. [...]
            The image of darkness over the land would have been understood by ancient readers as a cosmic sign, a typical element in the description of the death of kings and other major figures

          9. Narf

            And with many of the signs and miracles of Jesus, including him rising bodily into heaven, you find several analogs in the myths of the surrounding cultures of the time, which predate the Jesus myths. The myths not only aren’t credible; they’re also not particularly noteworthy, in a world of constant miracle-claims.

        4. xscd

          Valerie says that God can sometimes use animals to do His will (instead of just making something happen without the use of animals or the weather or whatever).

          You mean like zombies? Can He do that to humans too, make us do stuff according to His will, even if it might be against our will and against our nature?

          Regarding the lions leaving the girl alone and chasing away her tormentors, don’t you think we would need to throw more girls out near the lions to test the theory of God’s intervention? I wonder how many girls would need to be tossed to the lions to fairly convincingly prove to everyone that God was indeed intervening.

          You know, the thought occurs to me that sometimes sharks swim around people without attacking and eating them. Maybe the lions were already full of gazelle and chased the boys just for the sheer fun of it, after-dinner exercise! Maybe the girl was too small for them to notice, or maybe her clothing or skin tone blended more with the natural savannah. The guys in this primitive cultures tend to doll themselves up more than the girls, just like male birds are usually more colorful, so maybe that’s what attracted the lions.

          OR, maybe God did it! That’s always a logical conclusion to jump to.

    2. 21.2
      Monocle Smile

      Welcome to FtB, Valerie!

      I don’t have a question (though I second Jasper’s), but I do want to let you know that I appreciate your affable nature and willingness to open up about these things.

      Don’t worry about monopolizing the conversation. We’d like more theists to post regularly. Your input is always welcome.

      1. Valerie

        Thank you :)

        1. Frank G. Turner

          I see everyone’s point, I really do. I have to disagree with the pack argument, my beliefs are rather personal and I believe things differn’t than even my parents do who are in the ministry.
          .
          No you really don’t see the point. Personal feelings are largely not relevant. You might disagree with the pack argument but your personal beliefs just don’t agree with observable reality. If you kept watching animal planet for a long time you observe a lot of pack instincts and other cases not exactly like what you described but close to it. No matter how strongly you feel that you are right you have not demonstrated it and there are plenty of demonstrations for why you are wrong. Be opened to the possibility that you are wrong, even if it hurts. Don’t fight it because it hurts, that will lead to petulance. Let it hurt, don’t tear open the scab. I am sorry if that hurts but emotions don’t dictate learning or understanding. In many cases they are an obstacle to it.
          .
          I feel that the Bible is inerrent because of the testimony it says about my life and humankind, I think that science has proved, disproved, proved again the Bible several times over.
          .
          No science has proved the Bible factually incorrect when it comes to certain stories, creation particularly. There are a handful of facts that have been proved correct by the Bible, like the existence of certain people and places, but that is about it. You have probably been reading Xtian scientists like those wackos at the creation institute which no one in the accredited academic community takes seriously. They have no demonstrable evidence for what they say or do and have performed no unbiased controlled experiments. They dress in lab coats and act like they are performing experiments but have no SOPs that can be followed or independently verified. They have an agenda that anything that is contrary to scripture must be false and that is not an intellectually honest position. Everything must be falsifiable to be demonstrably correct no matter how strongly you want something to be correct. If something is not falsifiable because of the way you think and set up your system of learning, then you can’t really be sure if it is true either. To provide an analogy, how can you be sure if you really won a game if you set the rules up so that there was no way that you could loose?
          .
          I am interested in science, and I want to learn as much about the world as possible, but as a Christian, I truly believe that God created science, and every good gift comes from Him. To further translate, I believe that if it were not for the power of God, I could not even type this message, or any message.
          .
          Go to khanacademy.org and listen to the lectures for a while several times over, from beginning to end. Start with basic high school biology and chemistry. There might be a God, we just don’t have hard material evidence of the universe actually having a conciousness.
          .
          The way you talk about God makes God seem more like the dieties of the old Greeks than it does an omniscient omnipresent creator of the universe. You wind up sounding more like the ancients trying to explain the world around them by making up fairy tales than you do a modern thinker. Evolution does indicate that there will be those like you in our age so I guess it stands to reason.

    3. 21.3
      adamah

      Valerie said-

      Hello, I’m Valerie (the female caller from this episode.) I wanted to once again thank Russell and John for putting up with my call (first time calling a radio show ever.)

      Welcome aboard, Valerie!

      That was your 1st ever call to any radio show? Wow, great job- I think I’d be a nervous wreck, unable to form coherent sentences….

      I would be more than happy to answer any questions, as long as I don’t hiijack or monopoziae the conversation.

      No worries: we don’t bite (well, MOST of us don’t). Many here are ex-believers of various stripes and colors, who like you, were willing to reexamine our beliefs to, as the Bible says, “make sure of all things”.

      I’ve always felt it’s better to have questions that cannot be adequately answered vs questions that cannot even be asked.

      As stated above, we were scratching our heads over the connection between lion behavior and a clever talking snake that was able to outwit the first human pair (where God even takes the credit for making the serpent “the cleverest beast of the field” (per Genesis 3), and then acts offended when the inevitable happens, as if a prescient God didn’t see THAT one coming).

      I suppose if the lions started talking to the Homo sapiens and got them to engage in a discussion delving into the longstanding history of violent interactions between felines and humans, and then convinced humans of the wrongness of killing lions based on their moral standing by protecting the young of another species, we’d have a suitable analogy. Alas, we don’t).

      Most believers use the “it’s metaphorical” defense, but then the Xian bears the responsibility to explain why that particular metaphor of a talking serpent?

      And if the serpent is metaphorical, what else in the account is figurative?

      Is Adam figurative, too?

      If so, then cool, since there’s no need for redemption from Adamic sin, and hence no need for the “perfect” blood sacrifice of Jesus.

      As you see, Xian theology all is derived based on that story, so it’s a very important to properly understand it.

      Thanks again and God bless.

      Uh, you DO remember that we’re atheists, right?

      I’ll try to fight the urge to make some snarky comment, but I cannot guarantee how long I’ll be able to hold out if you continue to leave those set-ups hanging out there, lol!

      ;)

      Adam

      1. Frank G. Turner

        Is Adam figurative, too?

        If so, then cool, since there’s no need for redemption from Adamic sin, and hence no need for the “perfect” blood sacrifice of Jesus.

        One could argue that the Adamic sin is ALSO figurative, a metaphor for the sinfulness of humanity, something that is ongoing and exists even without “original” sin. You would find that argument common among Xtians who do believe in evolution (of all living things not just everything but humans) and as such tend to recognize that the Xtian creation story is not empirically factual. Of course those are typically more of a bother to the literal creationists as that is “not true Xtianity” (according to them at least).

        1. changerofbits

          Yea, I think I went through a phase like this when I was still a believer, to rationalize why Adam’s sin would affect us at all. In the end, though, if you accept that sin = “that shitty part of human nature we all have”, then you have to accept that God that created, or at least allowed, us to become this way. This has been said before, but if there’s a devil in the Adam and Eve story, it’s God (threatening, damning, punishing, withholding knowledge/life). The serpent seems to be the only one who had his head screwed on straight.

        2. adamah

          Frank said-

          One could argue that the Adamic sin is ALSO figurative, a metaphor for the sinfulness of humanity, something that is ongoing and exists even without “original” sin.

          Of course, that’s not actually EXPLAINING the metaphorical interpretation (like you did above in explaining the lesson of the tortoise and hare, a lesson that sometimes dedication and perseverance matters more than possessing natural talent).

          What is a similar lesson to be derived from a talking snake?

          Even if you understand that the ancient Jews looked as serpents as wise creatures who’d learned the secret of immortality (they confused shedding of their skin with possessing immortality), there is no “neat” harmonious moral like found in Aesops Fables.

          (It’s been long known that talking animals were a common literary device in ancient times, where humans are generally more accepting of moral tales when it’s not offered by a fellow Homo sapien; some people instinctively rebuff being told by others what to do, even when they’re correct. Anthropomorphism is one way to avoid that natural resistance, and is not needed when an ‘appeal to Divine Authority’ is available, which is exactly the point the story actually makes! )

          My question is if modern believers are willing to contemplate that if Adamic sin is figurative, and Jesus’ blood sacrifice is figurative, too, what basis is there to think Jesus AND God aren’t figurative, as well (and hence Heaven and Hell)?

          See where I’m going? If some believers are willing to concede foundational doctrines of Jewish and Xian theology as figurative, then what is left? What are they left clinging to?

          I’d say all you have left remaining is the error-prone work of mortal men who died long ago, leaving behind an ancient book of legal codes that reflects their culture’s questionable morality (eg endorsement of slavery, misogyny, mandated discrimination against the disabled, etc). Such morals are found within pseudo-historical legends of the Torah, all designed to “sell” the original audience on the value of the laws contained inside which were developed for THEIR cultural environment, NOT ours.

          And if ‘older is better’ applies to legal codes, then why NOT just leap-frog over the Bible so we can really go ‘old-skool’, adopting far-older legal codes that predate the Torah (Code of Hammurabi being the one most people have heard of before)?

          The US Civil War was fought NOT so long ago, and 700k lives were lost fighting over the slavery issue which the Bible firmly endorses in the OT (and even in the NT, although some believers claim otherwise).

          Even putting aside the Xian crusades, 700k lives lost over a disagreement which arose over what God wanted us to do is PLENTY ENOUGH spilled blood in MY Book to justify humanity waking up and deciding to say, “No more such foolish make-believe….”

          You asked above if the Bible could have meaning without being factual: you’d first have to inform believers that God is not real first, since believers are typically putting the cart ahead of the horse, and wouldn’t eg tolerate reading old English of the KJV if they didn’t think it was actually Gods inerrant word (most don’t read Shakespeare, since it’s not claimed to be God’s word).

          Of course those are typically more of a bother to the literal creationists as that is “not true Xtianity” (according to them at least).

          Yeah, it’s the ‘too close for comfort’ with fellow believers who are essentially the same. That’s when the ‘narcissism of small differences’ often kicks in, and one group makes a mountain out of a molehill, while disinterested observers are left wondering what the big difference is, seeing only a ‘distinction without a difference’ fallacy at work.

          If more believers bothered to learn the actual history of their own religious beliefs, they’d see the idea of “original true worship” is only one of the myths that surrounds belief in other myths, for as the historical record indicates, there NEVER WAS only one way to worship in early 1st century Xianity, since at least four sects were later polemicized by the group which eventually seized the reins of control.

          The very existence of terms like ‘orthodoxy’ (lit “straight thinking”) should make that fairly obvious to anyone, as does the attempts to stamp out the ‘heretical ‘ideas of various flavors of early Xian thinking (eg Valentinian, Manichean, Marcionian Gnostics) as recorded in the NT (eg 2nd Peter).

          On a related topic, I’m re-reading “How Jesus became Divine”, by Bart Ehrman, which tracks the evolution of Xian doctrine that’s still seen in the NT.

          Once it’s explained to them, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could see the evolution of belief in their Bible, and still harbor a belief in Holy Spirit, or trust in their pastor (this stuff has been taught in Seminary for centuries, yet it hasn’t filtered down to the pew for obvious reasons).

          Adam

          1. Frank G. Turner

            What is a similar lesson to be derived from a talking snake?
            .
            Actually a Priest (who did not believe that Adam and Eve were real people, reference my earlier “Job” and the pastor story) did once tell me that part of the lesson is found in the idea of all human beings being related to one another and that it is really about respecting one another, treating everyone like they are your brother and sister. Hence why all human beings are reflected as being the children of two parents as it makes them all related. Of course through evolutionary theory we are also all related so in a way that metaphor kind of works (treat all other human beings with respect), but that sounds more like retrofitting. I suspect that much of the moral meaning has been lost and that the only way we could find a good solid meaning is to talk to the original author (something often lost in a LOT of fables).
            .
            You asked above if the Bible could have meaning without being factual: you’d first have to inform believers that God is not real first, since believers are typically putting the cart ahead of the horse,
            .
            Actually I was mainly getting at the Adam and Eve story could have meaning without being factual, but I did word it that way. Why the whole thing though, why not little pieces? I see what you mean about the cart before the horse though, it is a circular argument, God has to be real because the Bible says so because the Bible is the word of God who has to be real, etc etc. Many do acknowledge various parts as being factual with others being fictional (it is a lot of cherry picking mind you). There are those who think that the OT is largely fiction but the NT is not. There are those who will believe that outside of the Gospels is fiction aside from a few people and places that exist (the whole “original sin” is figurative crowd but God and Jesus are not), excluding the fact that the Gospels contradict each other.

            The jump from all fact to all fiction explains what part of the difficulty might be here. It is asking people who have a long standing history in Biblical inerrancy to go from belief that they were absolutely correct to belief that they are absolutely incorrect. For people who have been constantly reinforced in their beliefs that is too much all at once. Baby steps might be the way to go. Even many atheists will state that not every word of the Bible is absolute fiction as at least some real places and names of real people who probably lived are used (much like the whole “Harry Potter” or “Forest Gump” concept where real people and real places are used in those stories even though the story as a whole is fiction). Even on TAE they will say things like Jesus probably did exist, i.e.: a person who was the inspiration for the Gospels even if the Gospels themselves are at least partially fiction (they have to be to account for the contradictions within them).
            .
            The difficulty is the idea of “I must be absolutely right on everything and if I admit even one little tiny flaw then I am completely wrong about everything” mentality, the “all or nothing” type of thinking. To use a metaphor here, no one goes from being 300 lbs overweight and completely out of shape with a BMI of 45 to a BMI of 18 and 10 lbs overweight at the most in one week no matter how hard they exercise or how perfectly they eat without serious surgery. (I could imagine beliefs being that way if we could just upload information directly nto our brains like in “The Matrix”). The body changes slowly in small steps over time. Many brains may be the same way, particularly with the influence of emotion. That’s the idea of gnawing down belief a little at a time. It allows a person to adjust emotionally and save face.
            .
            Even as someone who has come to see that while Jesus may have existed (thought I seriously doubt that he performed miracles or was the son of God or was crucified) and that a God is possible even if not probable (an agnostic, which you call a “soft atheist”). I still think there is a value to some of the Bible and that it does have some inspirational stories. One may have to cherry pick to find them and there are a lot of empty passages and demonstrations of how NOT to live (like slavery).

          2. adamah

            Thanks for your comments, Frank. It’s always enjoyable interchanging ideas with you. :)

            Adamah asked: “What is a similar lesson to be derived from a talking snake?”

            Frank said-

            Actually a Priest (who did not believe that Adam and Eve were real people, reference my earlier “Job” and the pastor story) did once tell me that part of the lesson is found in the idea of all human beings being related to one another and that it is really about respecting one another, treating everyone like they are your brother and sister. Hence why all human beings are reflected as being the children of two parents as it makes them all related.

            Yeah, I remember you mentioned that interpretation before, and it didn’t make any sense then, either.

            :)

            Problem is, you could exorcise the ENTIRE story of the talking snake tricking Eve into eating the wisdom-bestowing fruit from Genesis, and that message would be better-served by its removal, since there’s NOTHING remotely connected to that theme served by the entire 3rd Chapter of Genesis.

            Instead, the story as written fits in perfectly into Genesis (a name that explains ORIGINS, ie how the Nation of Israel come into existence), without any reading between the lines or scriptural eisegesis required: in the Xian interpretation, the story is a thinly-masked appeal to divine authority, yes, but it also explains how sin and death came into the world as punishment for Adam’s disobedience to God (somewhat analogous to the Greek story of Pandora’s box, for those who remember it as an explanation how strife entered the World as a result of a foolish woman’s curiosity who was given to humanity as a practical joke played by the Gods).

            Thus, it’s a story of the GENESIS of human mortality, as well as an explanation of why women experience pain in childbirth, and ultimately, why humans die.

            We’re dealing with ANCIENT PEOPLE who knew little about how their World operated, and just like us, experienced anxiety over the “great unknowns”; they were looking for answers to ease their stress, and that’s what they came up with. It worked fine for ancient people who were tempted to worship snakes; today, only inbreds living on various bayous and backwaters of the South are suitably-qualified to do so.

            Of course, most believers will take the knowledge which us moderns take for granted (like evolutionary biology), and will back-project our knowledge and Worldview on them, in an attempt (unconscious or otherwise) to cover for their ancient ignorance.

            So when you say this:

            Of course through evolutionary theory we are also all related so in a way that metaphor kind of works (treat all other human beings with respect), but that sounds more like retrofitting.

            Yup, it sure looks like ‘retrofitting’ to me (aka using anachronistic knowledge as post-hoc rationalization to excuse the story).

            I suspect that much of the moral meaning has been lost and that the only way we could find a good solid meaning is to talk to the original author (something often lost in a LOT of fables).

            I find that Aesops Fables don’t suffer from that problem (few readers spot the contraction of claiming both outcomes, eg ‘look before you leap’ contradicts ‘he who hesitates is lost’. So much like when citing scriptures, the reader picks an aphorism that fits the occasion).

            But again, that’s also because people aren’t faced with the challenge of making the moral message of Genesis into something it’s not. I don’t see the talking snake as a fable, designed to stand on it’s own.

            I’m a big fan of NOT engaging in eisegesis (which is rampant in Xianity to retrofit the story to make it fit into a doctrinal mold). The same thing happened to the story of Lot, as I explain in my blog article:

            http://awgue.weebly.com/article-pt-1-revisiting-sodom-was-lot-supposed-to-be-viewed-as-a-righteous-man.html

            Another problem is modern OT scholarship supports the idea of multiple redactors of Genesis working over long periods of time; there likely is no one original author of the account (it’s likely based on older oral traditions), and even though the later editors tried to smooth out transitions, most Xians don’t understand they’re looking at parallel narratives in Genesis eg the Flood account is likely a composite, with one version derived from the Northern Kingdom of Israel and another derived from Southern tradition of Judea.

            Most readers don’t understand Genesis Ch 1 is actually ancient Hebrew poetry, while Genesis 2 is newer, written in prose, again reflecting two parallel creation myths that existed from different regions (Judea and Isreal, which split apart in a civil war that severed the United Monarchy).

            All such subtle details are lost to the casual reader of an English translation.

            Worse, most people don’t WANT to know, since they’d prefer to keep their fantasy alive of Moses as the sole author (as they’re told by their pastors). It’s like buying a lottery ticket to enjoy the fantasy of what if they win millions, except religion is an afterlife fantasy of eternal bliss which is thus immune from falsification.

            The jump from all fact to all fiction explains what part of the difficulty might be here.

            Sure, and as you point out, very little fiction is PURE fantasy; obviously most fiction occurs in real settings to make it more relatable.

            It’s so odd that many people seemingly experience amnesia of that concept when it comes to the Bible?

            It is asking people who have a long standing history in Biblical inerrancy to go from belief that they were absolutely correct to belief that they are absolutely incorrect. For people who have been constantly reinforced in their beliefs that is too much all at once. Baby steps might be the way to go. Even many atheists will state that not every word of the Bible is absolute fiction as at least some real places and names of real people who probably lived are used (much like the whole “Harry Potter” or “Forest Gump” concept where real people and real places are used in those stories even though the story as a whole is fiction).

            Another strategic mistake often made by atheists is poo-poohing ALL wisdom sayings in the Bible: aside from the intentionally inflammatory stuff Jesus said, some of it is just basic common sense most learned in kindergarten: showing consideration for ones’ fellow human beings, aka displaying even a modicum of empathy for other humans.

            What many believers do (esp fundie groups like JWs) when they deconvert is ‘go off the deep end’ and shift to the other extreme, making up for time they lost not ‘sinning’ by acting out.

            Ultimately, it’s still allowing others to control your behavior, since it’s like the rebellious child who moves out and does the opposite of what their parents demanded. Eventually they give up acting out when thy finally figure out no one really cares WHAT they do, once they’re kicked out. Instead, they’d be better served by figuring out THEIR course in life, rather than basing their actions on the rules of others (whether it’s strict obedience or disobedience in the name of being contrary).

            Even on TAE they will say things like Jesus probably did exist, i.e.: a person who was the inspiration for the Gospels even if the Gospels themselves are at least partially fiction (they have to be to account for the contradictions within them).

            My suspicions are Jesus character is the stuff of legends, not myth, in that there were many Jewish messiah claimants at the time who claiming to be the ‘son of God’ who were executed for it by the Romans (they were a dime a dozen, esp at a particularly turbulent time of Roman hegemony and brutal oppression never experienced by Jews under ANY prior conqueror). There’s no question it happened many other times, and the Jewish people secretly longed for a Jewish superhero figure to come to the rescue and smite their enemies, leading them to a rebuilt Kingdom of David, an ancient memory of their glorious past (that likely was vastly overstated).

            The difficulty is the idea of “I must be absolutely right on everything and if I admit even one little tiny flaw then I am completely wrong about everything” mentality, the “all or nothing” type of thinking. To use a metaphor here, no one goes from being 300 lbs overweight and completely out of shape with a BMI of 45 to a BMI of 18 and 10 lbs overweight at the most in one week no matter how hard they exercise or how perfectly they eat without serious surgery. (I could imagine beliefs being that way if we could just upload information directly nto our brains like in “The Matrix”). The body changes slowly in small steps over time. Many brains may be the same way, particularly with the influence of emotion. That’s the idea of gnawing down belief a little at a time. It allows a person to adjust emotionally and save face.

            Yeah, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

            Believers know this, often speaking of the metaphor of ‘planting seeds’.

            To be honest, though, I get a bit worried when I see people change beliefs quickly (esp if it hasn’t been gnawing at them for awhile) since although it may be in the ‘right’ direction, it still means they’re capable of sudden shifts and manipulation by others. That’s worrisome.

            Even as someone who has come to see that while Jesus may have existed (thought I seriously doubt that he performed miracles or was the son of God or was crucified) and that a God is possible even if not probable (an agnostic, which you call a “soft atheist”). I still think there is a value to some of the Bible and that it does have some inspirational stories. One may have to cherry pick to find them and there are a lot of empty passages and demonstrations of how NOT to live (like slavery).

            Well, as I pointed out in my article on Lot and Sodom, the Jahwist who wrote much of Genesis was far-too subtle with his message, and his subtle denunciation of Lot was lost on Greek-speaking Xians who relied on the flawed translation, the Septuagint, to draft their NT interpretations of Noah and Lot.

            So what we see now is an 180 degree shifts in morality, where Lot is portrayed as a Worldly and materialistic Godless man in the OT, but upgraded to a righteous man deserving of salvation, in 2nd Peter.

            I cannot imagine a greater possible contradiction: is Lot a righteous guy like 2nd Peter says, or a heel, like Genesis draws?

            Xians have been forced to defend the drunken incestuous Lot as a righteous man, since 2nd Peter tells them so, and they’ve sublimated their own moral sensibilities to church leaders, since exercising independent moral thinking is a ‘no-no’.

          3. Frank G. Turner

            Actually a Priest (who did not believe that Adam and Eve were real people, reference my earlier “Job” and the pastor story) did once tell me that part of the lesson is found in the idea of all human beings being related to one another
            .
            Yeah, I remember you mentioned that interpretation before, and it didn’t make any sense then, either.
            ,
            My point was that he had actually thought about it and it did make a little bit (not every much mind you) of sense to me at the time. Despite it being apologetic retrofitting it was the only time I had ever gotten an answer out of someone that had actually demonstrated that he thought about what the parable might have meant rather than just claiming that it was a parable (and not a very good one) and expecting automatic compliance.
            .
            I have plenty of Jewish friends over the years who have said that they are taught it was a parable, but I had suspicions that at one point it was not taught that way in Jewish culture and that they may have simply done a better job of hiding that. Maybe they realized before Darwin came along that it was baloney. I would love to hear what some of the non-Xtian Jewish history of those beliefs evolved.

      2. Valerie

        Hello,
        I believe that the whole Genesis acount is literal, I used to think it was perhaps metaphorical till I read more of Jesus’s words and He refers to event in Genesis as literal.
        Thank you for your kind words. Sorry I had to add the God Bless, it is a great complement in my circle, but I can understand if you tease me about it.

        1. Narf

          The problem here is that we now know better, from everything that we’ve discovered through a scientific examination of the world, since breaking free of religious censorship, a few hundred years ago. The world was not created in 6 days; the worldwide flood never happened; the Jews were never in Egypt, in any way similar to what’s described in the Bible.

          The first point at which the Bible begins to be representative of real history, in any meaningful way, is something like 800 or 900 BCE. The earlier stuff, about the Judges, Saul, David, and Solomon, is dubious at best, even if the stories about them were in any way based upon real people, before the mythology was added. Even the later material is only vaguely representative, because you have to scrub out all of the mythology, like most of the New Testament.

          Imagine trying to figure out what actually happened to Troy, after you take out all of the stuff about the Greek gods. Surely you don’t accept that part of that story, right? There could be some real history there, but what is one of the first sorting criteria you would apply to those quasi-historical stories?

          1. corwyn

            Not so. Jesus’s judgement that the Genesis account is meant as a literal rather than a metaphoric tale is fine. Equivalent to Harry Potter saying that Voldemort’s diary is meant literally, rather than metaphorically. It doesn’t say anything about whether it is true, of course.

          2. adamah

            Wow, some are going on quite a few tangents here.

            Back to the literal vs metaphorical issue:

            1) Adam appears in many Biblical genealogies, including Jesus’: the clear implication is Adam is a literal historical figure.

            2) Paul refers to the cunning serpent deceiving Eve, in 2 Cor 11:3.

            Again, literal.

            3) Reinhold Neibuhr has gone so far as to state, “The doctrine of original sin is the only empirically-verifiable doctrine of the Xian faith.”

            Then prove it, Reinie!

            It’s almost sad how this is what passes for logic within Xianity:

            http://m.blogs.christianpost.com/confident-christian/talking-snakes-donkeys-and-believing-the-bible-11993/

            The author of the article was correct in their interpretation of Balaam story, since just as God was able to use Balaam’s donkey to deliver a message to Balaam, God was able to use Balaam to deliver a message to Balak. The message is God can use an animal to communicate, and it’s essentially calling Balaam an ass…

            Enabling the donkey to speak is clearly disclosed in the account as being miracle, defined as God using His supernatural powers to further His Divine will.

            Unfortunately, the same “talking animals are a miracle from God!” excusiology completely fails when applied to the talking serpent, since presumably the author of the article would agree that deceiving Eve cannot in any way be considered as a miracle done by God to further His Divine Will, since it would imply tricking Eve into VIOLATING Divine Will (sinning)?

            Eve sinned, and she in turn got Adam to sin; hence the name, ‘Adamic ‘or ‘original sin’.

            That would make no gobsmacking sense!

            (Although it IS par for the course for YHWH: remember how God hardened the heart of the Pharoah as an excuse to put on a magic show full of pulling plagues out of his hat, just to convince the Pharoah to do what he was quite willing to do in the first place, to fulfill Moses demand to “let my people go”!)

            The NT says God does not tempt humans to sin, so the rationale of claiming the talking serpent as a miracle is a non-starter, since God already has enough Divine Entrapment charges to account for, and He doesn’t need any more added to the pile.

            Adam

          3. Narf

            Err, yeah, that’s what I meant with:

            Even the later material is only vaguely representative, because you have to scrub out all of the mythology, like most of the New Testament.

            I’m scrubbing Jesus … or at least the parts of him that make Christians worship him. I could buy that there might have been some anti-Roman revolutionary running around doing a few of the things, here and there, which are attributed to this supposed messiah.

            The miracles are right out, though, and I’m sure that most of the non-miraculous stuff was retconned in later, as well. There could be a core of truth, but how do you tell, with the slapdash way that the Gospels were thrown together? It could be pieced together with such a small percentage based upon the real actions of any given person that it’s effectively made up from scratch, for any useful purpose. I take no stance either way, since it doesn’t matter to me.

            What was your, “Not so,” referring to, anyway? I can’t make any sort of connections between your comment and what I said. Bet you it’s something you’re reading into my rambling, which I didn’t actually mean. :D

          4. corwyn

            What was your, “Not so,” referring to, anyway?

            I got the impression that you were saying that the bible is errant means that Jesus couldn’t have implied that the genesis story should be taken as literal. That is merely a statement of his opinion on the matter.

            It does reduce the confidence one should have in the both the biblical story of genesis, and the story of Yeshua.

          5. Narf

            I got the impression that you were saying that the bible is errant means that Jesus couldn’t have implied that the genesis story should be taken as literal. That is merely a statement of his opinion on the matter.

            Ohhhhhhhh. Yeah, I see how that would be an issue. I’m sure that Jesus could have said that, sure. Of course sorting through and figuring out what he actually said after 30+ years of telephone-game is for all intents impossible.

            If he said it (if he actually existed), I imagine it was a statement of his beliefs, not just an implication. There’s no reason to think he was much less ignorant than most people of his time.

            It does reduce the confidence one should have in the both the biblical story of genesis, and the story of Yeshua.

            Hell, once people take more than a generation to actually start writing things down, my level of confidence is almost at zero, already.

          6. corwyn

            my level of confidence is almost at zero, already.

            Which is why I like using decibans as a measure of confidence, they just keep getting worse (or better). Adding one-in-a-million negative evidence (-60 decibans) to a previously one-in-a -trillion chance (-120 decibans) gives -180 decibans. No tendency to just round to ‘nearly zero’.

        2. corwyn

          Sorry I had to add the God Bless, it is a great complement in my circle, but I can understand if you tease me about it.

          It is closer to a *threat* in mine. If the being described in the bible actually exists, I would most definitely not want anyone drawing his attention towards me. That tends to end up with being tormented, enslaved, maimed, or killed (even those he claims to like). “God bless” (if I really think about it literally) comes out as equivalent to “My dad is going to come kick your butt.”

          1. valerie

            Corwyn-I apologise, no desire to make anyone uncofortable at all. The fact was that everyone here has been very nice to me even though I have a completly different belief system, and worldview and I wanted to indicate appreciation for that.
            i do have to ask you though without changing the subject, why you do not like the God of the Bible, or why you find Him threatening?

          2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

            @Valerie:

            why you find Him threatening?

            Article: Steve Wells – How many has God killed?
            (Complete list and estimated total, with details about each occasion)

          3. Narf

            It doesn’t make us uncomfortable, and I’m sure Corwyn didn’t take any actual offense. We just like to remind the believers what the implications of their beliefs are.

          4. valerie

            Narf- what are the implications of my beliefs??
            CompulsoryAccount-will check that article out

          5. Narf

            Take your pick. I wouldn’t even know where to begin, unless you wanted to play a game of what’s-wrong-with-this-chapter. Yahweh does so many horrifying, immoral things in the Bible, but Christians will twist and spin things any possible way they think will make him less horrible, so they can still claim that he is a perfect god.

            The best excuse they can give for so much of his behavior boils down to might-makes-right or divine-command theory, which has never been moral to any rational person.

            Most of the stuff he does in the OT is just evil, stupid, and without foresight, more like one of the flawed, anthropomorphic Greek gods than like a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient being. If you read it from the outside, you’re better able to see how it was created and how those attributes were tacked on long after the myths were collected and written down.

      3. Valerie

        Hello,
        I believe that Genesis in it’s entirety is literal. I used to think it was metaphorical till I read the words of Jesus, and He referred back to Genesis in a literal way.
        Thank you very much for your kind words.

        1. kestra

          I suppose it is out of the question to consider that Jesus was a product of his time and place, a Bronze-age Palestinian Jew with no further insight or understanding of the world than what was provided in the sacred texts of the time? Just because Jesus thought Genesis was a literal telling of the origins of the world doesn’t mean it was. And we now know for a fact that it wasn’t, either in broad metaphorical strokes or in specific details. I know, I know, Jesus was “divine” and thus “infallible”. It’s turtles all the way down.

          1. valerie

            Well, I believe that Jesus is the Son Of God, I beleive on earth that He was fully man and fully God. I don’t know if as a person He would know more than other people, but I believe He was led by the Holy Spirit and was a man that studied.

          2. adamah

            Valerie said-

            Well, I believe that Jesus is the Son Of God, I beleive on earth that He was fully man and fully God. I don’t know if as a person He would know more than other people, but I believe He was led by the Holy Spirit and was a man that studied.

            There’s no doubt that Jesus had natural intellectual capabilities and charisma that made him an extraordinary individual who was able to overcome his being born into a poor lower-class Jewish family (public education was non-existent in his part of Palestine, yet he clearly overcame it).

            Of course, he quickly ran into social stigmas that locked him out of the upper echelons of Jewish and secular society: he wasn’t born into the right family, which is partly why his story was so revolutionary in its day, with a strong theme of social change based on talent and natural ability, not birthright or social status.

            Of course, Jesus didn’t know ANYTHING about bacteria, and the Bible clearly shows he believed in the old Jewish, “Sin hypothesis of disease”. That lack of awareness of germs explains why he pooh-poohed handwashing before eating:

            http://awgue.weebly.com/why-did-jesus-protest-washing-hands-before-eating.html

            It’s hard to accept, I know, but Jesus was simply a mortal (albeit with a Messiah Complex) who was as a victim of his then-ancient Jewish traditional teachings as his followers still are today, some 2000 yrs later. Some die as martyrs for their beliefs, just like he did. He’s the prototypical role model for martyrs of ALL faiths, since he died for his religious beliefs.

            It’s called “propagation of error”, and unfortunately is still persists in humanity today, largely thanks to the old “appeal to tradition” (as summed up by those who say, “my religion was good enough for my parents and their parents, so it’s good enough for me, too”).

            Ps part of me feels like the kid who tells the younger kids that Santie isn’t real…. However, the difference is religion has an extraordinarily-tight grip on Americans, who also vote their Xian family values into law and try to foist their nonsense (eg young-Earth creationism) into MY grandkids’ brains to turn them into illogical zombies.

            Damn-straight that’s going to be a problem!

            Adam

          3. kestra

            Yes, he studied. He studied fallacious texts which were widely available. Just because he read them doesn’t make them true or accurate. We *know* that the sun existed well before the earth and everything on it, for example.

            Also, I hatehatehate the holy spirit concept. It is always used to rob humans of their own agency and accomplishments and lay things at the feet of a god instead. *I* learned, studied, struggled, and overcame by myself. No spirit necessary.

          4. corwyn

            Well, I believe that Jesus is the Son Of God, I beleive on earth that He was fully man and fully God. I don’t know if as a person He would know more than other people, but I believe He was led by the Holy Spirit and was a man that studied.

            Can you count the contradictions in that one paragraph?

          5. valerie

            Corwyn-It is contradictary and hard to grasp, He had to be fully man to atone for men’s sins, but He had to be fully God because only God could atone for all sins of mankind.
            Kestra- He studied, but I understated that, at twelve he was talking in the temple with religious leaders of that day, this is someone who had a voracious desire for knowledge.

          6. Narf

            And he had to beat the living hell out of himself, in a manner that means nothing to an omnipotent being, rather than simply offering us a way to get out of Hell. What does torturing yourself have to do with forgiving someone else, when it’s your universe, and you make the rules?

            The Jesus myth pulls upon the Old Testament practice of scapegoating, which is a grossly immoral concept. That’s yet another tie between the Old and New Testaments.

          7. Frank G. Turner

            @kestra
            .
            I find it funny that this Valerie here says it is contradictory and hard to grasp yet does not even consider the possibility that it is contradictory because it did not happen, which is a much simpler and easier to grasp explanation and not that hard to consider.
            .
            It is people like this that drove me away from belief i their effort to try to draw me towards it. I guess that is not so unusual that many people are their own worst enemy.

          8. Narf

            Well, God created the laws of logic, so he isn’t bound by them … or something. Most fundamentalists don’t seem to grasp what the laws of logic actually are. William Lane Craig uses them to poo-poo some of the wackier philosophical dross in Buddhism and other eastern mysticism, then turns around and claims that God doesn’t have to follow the laws of logic.

            … which is why we should believe the claims of Christianity and not Buddhism, apparently.

          9. corwyn

            Corwyn-It is contradictary and hard to grasp

            The trouble is, ‘contradictory’ means impossible to believe. And just plain impossible (regardless of power level).

            To be human is to be limited, if a god is unlimited, he can’t be human. Moreover, even if he could it makes the *story* stupid. How could the temporary (3 to 36 hour) inconvenience of a god, be able to atone for anything. There would be no suffering, no real death, it would be like crucifying Superman. No, the only way the story has any emotional content at all, is if he was human (and not wholly god as well).

            If he is all-knowing why does he need to study.

            What does it even *mean* for a god to be led by himself?

          10. valerie

            God created the laws of logic, but He can not committ evil. If He just forgave Evil, He would be a very bad God. He can’t just ignore murder, rape, and the other crimes of humankind, therefore He had to pay for them Himself with His own precious blood.

          11. unfogged

            He can’t just ignore murder, rape, and the other crimes of humankind, therefore He had to pay for them Himself with His own precious blood.

            That claim never made any sense to me. If man committed crimes then how does a god killing a manifestation of himself pay for it? If I harm somebody then it is up to me to make reparations to the person that was harmed. Scapegoats are inherently immoral and I do not see how the whole “Jesus died for my sins” claim can be considered anything except the use of a scapegoat to avoid responsibility.

          12. adamah

            Unfogged said-

            Scapegoats are inherently immoral and I do not see how the whole “Jesus died for my sins” claim can be considered anything except the use of a scapegoat to avoid responsibility.

            Yeah, the idea of the death of an innocent sinless man dying to cover the sins of others is found in ancient Judaism, where sacrifices had to be ‘perfect’, free from blemishes. That’s likely the point the Yahwist was attempting to make in the story of Cain and Abel, where the latter brought the best of his of his flock (the first born) and Cain didn’t.

            Also, the death of the high priest (considered the most rightous and pious individual alive) automatically triggered foregiveness of others, including those guilty of manslaughter who’ve fled to ‘cities of refuge’ (I discuss the ancient practice in my article on Cain and Abel on my blog).

            One rationale offered in ancient Jewish writings was the populace would supposedly be so distraught over the death of the High Priest that foregiveness of the sins of others (including their family members) would provide some comfort in a time of mourning.

            THAT actually makes some semblance of logical sense, but the problem is that, as you point out, the Christ story doesn’t fit: the High Priest died of NATURAL CAUSES, and wasn’t put to death (ie it wasn’t a sacrifice to God).

            By claiming Jesus died for our sins, the Xian is saying God in essence is forgiving a debt owed to Him by humanity for Adamic sin by having himself put to death.

            Huh?

            That’s even worse than ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’: in the trinitarian view, God is basically giving Himself a loan to pay Himself back!

            The logic of Xian theology was rejected by Jews for good reason: they actually UNDERSTOOD the principles underlying relevant concepts like ‘redemption’, ‘sacrifice’ and their Hellenized Jewish early-Xian counterparts who invented Xian theology didn’t.

            Here’s a novel idea:

            How about God demonstrating any ONE of the fruitages of His Holy Spirit (esp. self-control), and rather than putting on an elaborate and contrived stage show to impress humanity of what a great guy He is, God simply reject the odd Xian doctrine of Adamic ‘original sin’ and issue forgiveness (since again, in Jewish beliefs, sin is NOT inherited; that’s the whole point of the OT scripture saying how sons aren’t responsible for the sins of the Fathers).

            Remember, God supposedly required Jews to forgive the debts owed to them periodically during the festival of Jubilees; why not God actually doing the same? Talk about holding a grudge!

            The answer of course is that Christianity is a failed hypothesis, proven beyond a reasonable doubt for anyone but those who are blinded by their own desires for it to be true, since they so desperately want it to be true. Turns out there’s many such people alive in this day and age.

            Sorry, folks, but reality doesn’t give one whit about what you or I want it to be, and if prior episodes of popular beliefs ending up being wrong (eg flat earth) doesn’t give you a moment’s pause, then I cannot save you from your own flawed irrational thinking.

            BTW, Valerie, if you want to know the truth, you really should study evolution; no, not Darwinian biological evolution, but the evolution of Xian theology. A good start would be Bart Ehrman’s “How Jesus Became God”, where he reviews the Bible and church history to explain how your currently-held beliefs came to be so popular.

            Adam

          13. corwyn

            Valarie: …He can not commit evil.

            That isn’t what your inerrant bible says.

            I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
            — Isaiah 45:7

          14. EnlightenmentLiberal

            @Valerie

            Corwyn-It is contradictary and hard to grasp, He had to be fully man to atone for men’s sins, but He had to be fully God because only God could atone for all sins of mankind.

            Motivated reasoning. You have the predetermined conclusions that Jesus must have atoned for man’s sins, but also be “fully god” because only god could do that. We in the business of rational and sane thinking don’t do that. We don’t have predetermined conclusions. Instead, we look at where the evidence leads us, and when we find a contradiction, we endeavor to discover our mistake and correct it. You instead seem perfectly ok spouting bald-faced contradictions without pause. I call that intellectually dishonest. Either Jesus was human, or he was “fully god”, or “fully human” and “fully god” have some pretty significant overlap. Anything else is a violation of logic, and for that I get to laugh at you.

            Jefferson: Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks [EL: swindlers] calling themselves the priests of Jesus.

            @Valerie

            God created the laws of logic,

            How do you know that?

            but He can not committ evil.

            How do you know that?

            If He just forgave Evil, He would be a very bad God. He can’t just ignore murder, rape, and the other crimes of humankind, therefore He had to pay for them Himself with His own precious blood.

            No. No no no. You are basing your argument off what is called the retributive theory of justice. In short, it is the moral position that “sinning” or dong evil requires punishment. In other words, that there should be an eye for an eye. I find this to be an absolutely sick and twisted idea of justice and morality. It’s nauseating.

            There are other reasons why we can punish people. We can punish people for deterrence to prevent future harm. We can punish people to act as corrective therapy. We can punish people with confinement to guarantee the future safety of others. But never it is justified to punish people because they deserve it because they previously did ill. That notion is barbaric, and it has no place in a modern society. Yet, it’s also the foundation of your beliefs – sin, hell, redemption through sacrifice, etc. Your beliefs and notions of justice are barbaric.

            Finally, why does it have to be blood? What’s with your god’s fascination with arcane blood magic ceremonies and human and animal blood sacrifices? Don’t you ever think about that? When you think blood magic, doesn’t that conjure up native shamans cutting the throat of a chicken? Oh wait, that’s what happened frequently in the old testament to appease god under god’s direct orders.

            PS: Speaking of blood magic. Do you take cracker and wine at church? Are you a Catholic? Don’t you ever find it kind of odd that Jesus commands you to eat his flesh and drink his blood? Why does he command that? Doesn’t he command that so that you gain his power over sin and gain forgiveness from sin? Cannibalism is the eating of flesh and drinking of blood of another human being, often under the barbaric and superstitious notion that you can gain the other person’s power. Sound familiar? Taking the cracker and wine is literal cannibalism if you buy transubstantiation, and at best it’s just metaphorical cannibalism, which isn’t much better IMHO.

        2. kestra

          I had never seen the claim that Jesus stated outright in the New Testament that Genesis was the literal history of the world, so I looked into a little. Here’s a short, succinct deconstruction of the text that seems to be the source for this claim, Jesus’ remarks to the Pharisees regarding Mosaic divorce, found in Mark 10: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/08/did-jesus-understand-genesis-2-literally.html

          This analysis concludes that Jesus was using the metaphorical language of Genesis (and interestingly, the more cosmic and poetic Priestly source, Genesis 1, “male and female he created them”, NOT the Yahwist source, Genesis 2, which features specific characters, and much more personal and direct-acting god, and the Eve-from-rib story) to bolster his rhetoric, rather than explicitly stating, “What is described in Genesis 1 is literally how the world came to be.”

          If there are other verses about Jesus’ views on the historicity of Genesis, I’m not familiar with them.

        3. Monocle Smile

          Sorry, Valerie, but we know for a fact that Genesis is completely fictitious. I mean, we even know where those myths came from.

          Also, how do you know that Jesus said anything or even existed? Or, more to the point, existed as described? I guess the overall question is why do you believe what you read in the bible? If you read the Hindu Vedas or the Kitab-i-Aqdas, would you take them at face value as well?

          1. valerie

            I believe the Bible, because of the Holy Spirit and how it has translated in my life.

          2. Frank G. Turner

            @ Valerie
            I believe the Bible, because of the Holy Spirit and how it has translated in my life.
            .
            It is not a matter of how it translates in your life, it is a matter of if it is demonstrable in a physical, unbiased, controlled manner. You can believe that the Bible is inspirational and has meaning without believing that it is factually correct. The stories don’t have to be factual to be relevant.
            .
            I am not sure that you are even capable of understanding this though. Your feelings and emotions may be too strong of a force in your mind. I will say this, you did not really study atheism and you did not really study other religions or other ways of thinking. I am not saying that you did not try, I am sure that you did. I just think it is very possible that you are incapable of gaining a real comprehensive understanding of the way others think.

          3. kestra

            Valerie, are you going to address the possibility that Mark 10 has alternative interpretations (like the entire rest of the bible) and that it doesn’t necessarily imply and certainly doesn’t outright state that Jesus believed the Genesis creation myths were historical events? If not, why not?

            If you agree that multiple interpretations are possible, do you have other texts to cite in favor of Jesus’ endorsing a literalist reading of the Old Testament or, for that matter, his own teachings? I mean, we’re discussing a man whose preferred method of teaching was his very celebrated parables. Do you really think that hie was unable to distinguish between mythical, metaphorical language that was the basis of his society’s beliefs and social mores?

            I really wish you would engage with the arguments against your position in some way, rather than just repeating the holy spirit’s impact on your life, personally. You came here to profess your beliefs, the least you could do is explain them and respond to reasoned objections, rather than restate something about your personal experience that has no bearing on them, and cannot be verified by anyone but yourself.

          4. adamah

            Kestra said-

            Valerie, are you going to address the possibility that Mark 10 has alternative interpretations (like the entire rest of the bible) and that it doesn’t necessarily imply and certainly doesn’t outright state that Jesus believed the Genesis creation myths were historical events? If not, why not?

            Jesus didn’t have to explicitly state he believed it as literal history, since the idea of the Torah being metaphorical recording of historical events is of fairly-recently origin.

            In Jesus’ time, a Jew would be stoned to death for blasphemy for even questioning whether the Torah contained a recorded history of the Nation of Israel, starting with the creation of the World. That’s what ‘Genesis’ (Hebrew word, ‘bereshit’) means: “origins”.

            The idea of questioning the historicity of Genesis is a result of moderns projecting their values and worldview in an anachronistic manner. It’s anachronistic, and is done by ignorant atheists and loosy-goosey believers, alike, the latter to excuse dismissing the OT despite Jesus’ words saying that not any part of the Torah would pass until heavens and earth passed.

            The NT depicts Jesus as a Torah-observant Jew, period (well, at least up until the last week of his life, when he supposedly rolled out the ritual involving the symbolic drinking of blood, Eucharist, which may be a late-addition added by others, long after he died).

            Jesus demonstrates a commanding knowledge of the Torah (which Xians know as the Pentateuch, Genesis to Deuteronomy), and he often polemicized the Pharisees and their man-made oral law tradition.

            Adam

          5. Narf

            The idea of questioning the historicity of Genesis is a result of moderns projecting their values and worldview in an anachronistic manner. It’s anachronistic, and is done by ignorant atheists and loosy-goosey believers, alike, the latter to excuse dismissing the OT despite Jesus’ words saying that not any part of the Torah would pass until heavens and earth passed.

            Err, what are you trying to say here? Not following you.

            Oh, I think I might have cleared it up, looking at it in context again. Would that be “The idea of Jesus questioning the historicity of Genesis is …” carrying over the context from the previous paragraph?

            Is that even a thing, amongst the more ignorant atheists out there? It would be a new one to me. I’ve heard plenty of liberal Christians say that Jesus never said anything about the historicity of the OT, but I haven’t heard it from an atheist.

            I can’t say that the question comes up all that often, within atheist circles, so I don’t have a very good sample. Maybe it’s a thing, with the Zeitgeist crowd?

          6. kestra

            @Adam, I’ve read differently. I believe it was in “A History of God” by Karen Armstrong, that she discusses how these stories were viewed by ancient peoples, and the gist was that the strictly-literal reading of Genesis as a history, rather than a human attempt to describe divine events that reflected metaphors for understanding the human position, is a more recent point of view than 1 AD. She wrote that most mystics would regard those stories as allegories of divine mysteries, more than some kind of “A Day In the Life of Adam and Eve, with Guest Appearances by Yahweh!” Armstrong thought that the tension between scientific discoveries and what people “knew” about the origins of the world from Genesis was what gave rise to a reactionary overly-literal interpretation of sacred texts in the 16th & 17th centuries. She perhaps overstates her case in this, but the absolutely literal view that what is written in Genesis is verbatim what happened is a departure from earlier interpretations of scripture.

            As to stoning to death for blasphemy, heretical Jewish mystery religions were a growth-industry in the centuries around Jesus’ time. Christianity is the all-time runaway most successful of these cults, but they were numerous and found all over Palestine. The Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest records of the Old Testament we have access to, were hidden by a different Jewish sect. And guess what, Jesus did manage to get himself killed by being too controversial. Sure, it was officially a Roman execution, but all four sources agree that the priesthood in Jerusalem was involved *somehow*. Jesus did not exactly shy away from taking extreme religious positions due to fear of death for heterodoxy, is what I’m saying.

          7. adamah

            Kestra said-

            @Adam, I’ve read differently. I believe it was in “A History of God” by Karen Armstrong, that she discusses how these stories were viewed by ancient peoples, and the gist was that the strictly-literal reading of Genesis as a history, rather than a human attempt to describe divine events that reflected metaphors for understanding the human position, is a more recent point of view than 1 AD. She wrote that most mystics would regard those stories as allegories of divine mysteries, more than some kind of “A Day In the Life of Adam and Eve, with Guest Appearances by Yahweh!” Armstrong thought that the tension between scientific discoveries and what people “knew” about the origins of the world from Genesis was what gave rise to a reactionary overly-literal interpretation of sacred texts in the 16th & 17th centuries. She perhaps overstates her case in this, but the absolutely literal view that what is written in Genesis is verbatim what happened is a departure from earlier interpretations of scripture.

            I’m aware of her claim, but I’m not talking about the highly-educated and literate class of High Priests in the Temple, but what the illiterate common man worshipping in the Temple likely believed. Once again, it’s tempting to project our modern skepticism onto ancient people who saw no logical problem with talking animals, esp when excused as a miracle of God. Just look how many people believe in it TODAY, despite MOUNDS of available counter-evidence pointing to how impossible it would be.

            As Bill Devers puts it, the surviving texts we have are a “minority report” which reflects the thinking of the Jerusalem elite; the discovery of 1,000,000′s of Asherah figurines indicates that folk worship amongst the common people throughout Israel was far-more widespread and diverse than is portrayed in the OT.

            Once you got outside Jerusalem, diversity in beliefs flourished, and the average common person didn’t leave any written record of their beliefs (aside from the physical evidence uncovered by archaeologists).

            Sure, it was officially a Roman execution, but all four sources agree that the priesthood in Jerusalem was involved *somehow*. Jesus did not exactly shy away from taking extreme religious positions due to fear of death for heterodoxy, is what I’m saying.

            Rome didn’t care one bit about one’s religious beliefs, as long as it didn’t involve sedition. Judea was a hotbed of revolt, and Jesus punched the wrong buttons (just like John the Baptist did) and paid for it with his life.

            Ultimately it was the inability of the Saduccees to control the rabble-rousing extremists within the Jewish populace which led to their being eliminated by Rome in 70CE, who had to send in ‘boots on the ground’ (sandals?) to suppress, leaving the Pharisees (the target of Jesus’ diatribes) as the survivor.

            But back to Jesus: you don’t shout “fire!” in a crowded theatre and then act surprised when people take you seriously and trample others to death.

            Which leads to another point: if Jesus were supposedly faithful to Torah, and hence ‘free from sin’, why was he constantly trolling ancient Jews into doing what the Torah demands them to do when someone commits blasphemy by claiming to be God?

            If you believe in the trinity, then God hands Moses a law forbidding blasphemy as punishable by stoning, but then God became incarnate commits blasphemy, but is suddenly surprised when Jews start picking up stoned to obey his rule?

            Xian theology has so many holes in it, but it doesn’t matter to most: that’s the power of claiming FAITH (and not logic) as the highest virtue: faith covers a multitude of logical ‘sins’.

            Adam

          8. valerie

            In Matthew 12 :39-41 Jesus refers to Jonas (who was swallowed by a whale) as a literal event. In John Jesus refers to Moses and the burning bush. I apologize I do not have any refferences off the top of my head that refer specifically to Genesis, but He does refer to the Old Testament as literal.

          9. kestra

            Also, if we want to discuss anachronistically applying modern viewpoints to historical personages, let’s consider the idea of the “Old Testament” at all. Yes, the Torah was known and respected in Jesus’ time, but so were many midrash, which also contained extensive commentary on the Torah’s narrative from both a historical and allegorical perspective, as well as other versions of the Adam and Eve story, like the one where they have to stand in the Tigris and Jordon rivers, respectively, for forgiveness after eating the apple, but the serpent again tempts them out of the water, scotching their means to make amends for the whole apple-business. The Jewish midrash tradition itself speaks of a very different relationship to sacred texts than unquestioningly accepting their content, and Jesus was, first and foremost, a Jew.

            The modern idea of a “canon” of sacred texts and “apocrypha” didn’t arise until centuries after Jesus’ death, so don’t assign a weight to the Genesis account of creation as the definitive version that he himself may not have felt.

          10. kestra

            Thanks for responding Valerie. So from those two texts, clearly Jesus thought those two events were historical. And he did famously say he wasn’t there to change “one jot or tittle” of Mosaic law. But then again, in other stories he is shown acting in direct conflict with Mosaic law, like in the story of the adulteress, and the admirable “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” line (yes, I know it doesn’t appear in the earliest editions.)

            The character of Jesus isn’t consistent in either acts or beliefs from Gospel to Gospel, and is shown in all of them to be a radical figure eschewing social convention, welcoming tax collectors, prostitutes, and Roman soldiers to share his table and receive his healing. I don’t think you can take one or two instances of Jesus discussing certain events in the Old Testament he believed to have really happened and say “The Entirety of the Old Testament is factual because Jesus said so.” I just don’t see that from what you’ve presented.

          11. valerie

            Kestra-I see your point, I will study more for other instances where He talked about the Old Testament as literal.
            He didn’t as much go against Mosaic law as He did additional laws that were added. When He was typically shown as going against law it was to benefit people. Also as Messiah, He came to fullfill the law, when He died He took care of the need to practise Mosaic law, and we are now in a stage of grace.

          12. EnlightenmentLiberal

            I believe the Bible, because of the Holy Spirit and how it has translated in my life.

            What is the “holy spirit”? I don’t know what that is. Please explain to me how it works. Does it literally whisper in your ear? Does it communicate to you in your head via English? Is language involved? Or is it just a warm feeling? Please go into full details.

            how it has translated in my life.

            I’m sorry, but this is just a fallacious argument. Suppose you followed the advice in the book and it happened to work out. So what? How is that proof that Jesus is god etc.? It’s a non-sequitur. Further, you have a sample size of one. Anecdotal. You need a larger sample size to make proper conclusions.

        4. adamah

          Valerie said-

          believe that Genesis in it’s entirety is literal. I used to think it was metaphorical till I read the words of Jesus, and He referred back to Genesis in a literal way.
          Thank you very much for your kind words.

          And thank you for your response.

          I agree there’s no reason to believe Jesus thought Adam and Eve and the serpent were metaphorical.

          Apostle Paul certainly didn’t, either, speaking in Romans of how “thru one man sin and death entered the World”, and how the wages of sin is death; he also spoke of how sin-free Jesus redeemed all sinful humankind by serving as the ’2nd Adam’ and offering his life on the cross to bear the sins of all.

          That’s certainty not metaphorical, but quite literal: that’s a core tenet of Xian doctrine.

          In another post, you referred to how animals could talk as a miracle (eg Baalam’s donkey).

          But the problem there is that God would have to perform a miracle to make the snake talk for what purpose, exactly? To tempt Eve into disobeying His rule? That strikes me as more of a case of Divine entrapment. In fact, Genesis 3 reveals the serpent was made by God as the “cleverest beast of the field”.

          So either way, God bears some responsibility for the situation.

          I wrote an article looking at other problematic aspects of the Xian interpretation of the story here:

          http://awgue.weebly.com/the-paradox-of-adam-and-eve-and-how-the-new-world-translation-fruitlessly-attempts-to-keep-it-hidden.html

          Although I go into the corruption of the NWT (my target audience is JWs), I discuss the Jewish interpretation and how they view the story (they wrote the original, after all). That’s key for understanding how all flavors of Xians have inserted their theology into the account.

          Adam

        5. EnlightenmentLiberal

          @Valerie
          So, as Russell tried to ask: Which came first – trees or stars? All of modern scientific knowledge says one thing, and Genesis says another. Which are you going to go with? Bronze-age superstition? Or modern science, reason, logic, and evidence?

          1. valerie

            God created the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night, this is in Genesis 1:3 I believe and He does not create vegetation till verse 11.

          2. Narf

            14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.

          3. Narf

            16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.

            There was no sun when plants were created, according to the Bible. There was just … night and day somehow … without the sun and the moon.

          4. EnlightenmentLiberal

            @valerie
            I didn’t ask about light. I asked about trees and stars. See the citations from Narf above. Which came first – trees or stars?

          5. Narf

            Oh, and I meant to include 3, since you misquoted it, Valerie:

            3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

            Sorry, I forgot to include that bit.

          6. valerie

            Narf- thank you for your correction, I’m a bit embarrassed :) Bible Scholars say that the greater light was the sun, but due to Sun God worship of that time, they wrote it as greater light as not to confuse readers in that time period.

            I would also add that if God created the Universe from absolutely nothing, He would not need to grow things in a usual way, He wasn’t like “darn I wish I had some better mulch.”

          7. Narf

            Narf- thank you for your correction, I’m a bit embarrassed :) Bible Scholars say that the greater light was the sun, but due to Sun God worship of that time, they wrote it as greater light as not to confuse readers in that time period.

            That doesn’t ring true to me … not that you don’t believe that, but that a real Bible scholar would say it. I would believe that Kent Hovind or William Lane Craig would say it, because those guys are dishonest and intellectually bankrupt.

            When the Bible explicitly describes the sun and moon, a few verses later, how could a real scholar come up with anything of the sort?

            I would also add that if God created the Universe from absolutely nothing, He would not need to grow things in a usual way, He wasn’t like “darn I wish I had some better mulch.”

            And you really don’t realize how intellectually dishonest this is?

            This is the sort of thing that makes me mock your statement about science supporting the Bible. This is the kind of thing that the so-called creation scientists do, as well. Whenever something contradicts your preconceived notions, you’ll spin-doctor like crazy, rather than admitting that you might have it wrong.
            For that matter, organizations like the Discovery Institute don’t even have a research arm. They’re not even pretending to do science. The only branch is their propaganda branch … oh, and they probably have a fundraising department, as well, since you know they’ll never turn up anything useful that could help fund the organization.
            Scientific organizations do not have a statement of faith.

            So, God created the world from absolutely nothing, a few thousand years ago, but he left evidence all over the landscape, indicating that the universe is billions of years old. What kind of trickster god do you worship?

            And what does growing things in the usual way even mean, within the context of universe creation, star and planet formation, the evolution of species …
            That’s a completely nonsensical statement.

          8. EnlightenmentLiberal

            @Valerie
            I didn’t see an answer to my question. Which came first – trees or stars?

            There is a complete consensus in the scientific community that stars came along well before trees. Stars were very clearly the first to hit the scene. The first tree was much much later.

            Do you understand that your book says trees before stars? Do you understand that this stands in stark contrast to basically the whole scientific enterprise and a massive and overwhelming amount of known evidence?

        6. Frank G. Turner

          @Valerie
          .
          Repeating the same arguments over and over again and trying to make appeals to emotions when you can’t win is being like the petulant child I mentioned before. You are going down that road. I don’t think that you realize that you are doing it (some creationists and Biblical literalists do and they continue anyway). Stop appealing to emotion when you can’t win the argument that way. Stop trying to win the argument that you are having in your own head as you listen to us. Instead of repeating emotional appeals to yourself over and over again when you have to consider the possibility that there is no God, try saying over and over again to yourself , “I don’t know if there is a God.” You have hypnotized yourself into believing that there is one because of the comfort it brings you and you don’t have to state that there is not one, only open yourself to the possibility that there is not one. That takes strength and courage and I think that you have it, you just don’t realize that you have it.
          .
          You want to gain an understanding of where we are coming from right? You have to fight the emotional part of you that finds comfort in what you believe and find comfort in something else. That comfort is an obstacle to understanding. You CAN have purpose and meaning and comfort without appealing to God and obtain a greater understanding from it too, even if you come back to the same conclusion of there being one.

          1. valerie

            Frank-I have no problem with facts at all. But let me ask you something, do you have a spouse or someone very special in your life? If so can you tell me scientifically why you love this person? I would imagine your love for this person or person’s goes beyond medical and scientific facts.

          2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

            “Love without evidence is stalking.” -Tim Minchin

          3. Narf

            Valerie, you’re aware of the fact that we’ve studied the chemicals and hormones that influence love and lust, right? Emotions absolutely do not go beyond medical examination and study. I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable that our thoughts and emotions are reductive, but that seems to be the state of things.

        7. Frank G. Turner

          @Valerie
          In Matthew 12 :39-41 Jesus refers to Jonas (who was swallowed by a whale) as a literal event. In John Jesus refers to Moses and the burning bush. I apologize I do not have any refferences off the top of my head that refer specifically to Genesis, but He does refer to the Old Testament as literal.
          .
          No he doesn’t Valerie, he does not say word for word, “I believe that I am like Jonas who I actually literally believe lived and in no way shape or form am I using my words in a way that are metaphorical at all. You must believe detail for detail that Jonas could be observed without having witnessed it yourself.”
          .
          And what difference does that make to the burning bush? Did Jesus say explicitly, “because I believe that Jonas existed or that Moses existed that you must literally interpret every word of the Torah as fact”? You personally believe that but it is not stated in a way that is completely and totally unambiguous and not subject to interpretation. You seem to think it is right because it makes you feel good. Take happiness and emotion completely out of the equation. One does not have to have witnessed something to know that it happened, but you do need some physical evidence, blood stains, fingerprints, fossils, DNA, SOMETHING physical to have proof. Even eyewitness accounts are doubtable. You don’t understand the concept of “physical evidence” do you?
          .
          People speak metaphorically all the time without explicitly stating it. My friends often describe me as a polar bear (I am capable of staying warm at very cold temperatures). They don’t say that I am “like” a polar bear (a simile), they say I AM a polar bear. They obviously don’t mean that I am of the species Ursus maritanus. That does not mean that I am. Jesus was perfectly capable of doing that too if he even existed and if those writing about him had wanted their followers to really believe that they would have learned to be unambiguous.
          .
          And with regards to,
          Frank-I have no problem with facts at all. But let me ask you something, do you have a spouse or someone very special in your life? If so can you tell me scientifically why you love this person? I would imagine your love for this person or person’s goes beyond medical and scientific facts.
          .
          I am not going to answer that because love is an emotion, I said to stop appealing to emotion. If you have no physical evidence then learn to loose and give up. Do that again and I will consider you to be a petulant child. What you are doing now is just preaching to appeal to emotion, cut it out.
          .
          Do you have physical evidence? Blood, hair, fingerprints, bones? Something that can be verified by an outside source? And no those accounts of what you talked about with the lions is not physical evidence, that is an appeal to emotion. Do you have anything measurable? If not then say no and don’t use emotion. Don’t come back with a counter argument.

          You don’t get to change the rules just so that you win the argument. No lofty language or special appeal or anything supernatural. There is no such thing as the supernatural, if there was IT WOULD BE NATURAL! You want to make appeals? They must be natural, measurable, demonstrable, falsifiable, and repeatable. EVERYTHING must have the potential to be false INCLUDING GOD if it is to have the potential to be true.
          .
          If there is not a possibility that there is not God then I know that there is no God. Acknowledge that there is a possibility that there may not be one and you MIGHT just get me to think that there is a stronger likelihood of there being one. Make that the first line of your next response, “Maybe there is no God.” Type it over and over again twenty times and post it and you might at least get my respect.

          1. valerie

            Frank- I would post that in a heartbeat, but I would gladly die for my God, if someone held a gun to my head and asked me to deny His deity, I wouldn’t, ergo I don’t feel like I could on a simple message board. You have my respect, so I would hope that my beliefs and the sincerity of them do not lead you to disrespect me, but alas we all have our own oppinions.
            I’m not trying to win a argument,I am just telling you my oppinion, though I find it odd that you will not answer my question.
            Narf-I know that is true, I have studied science. Beyond endorphins and pheremones, there are also biolgical desires to reproduce, and women are hardwired to look for a man that they find will be masculine and have strong traits. Men it has been shown are attracted to a certain symetry in facial features, and a certain body shape, even though sizes that are in vogue vary. However I would say to you, that I’m certain that, that isn’t how you or most people you know even look at things. People fall in love all the time with people that do not fit those standards, people fall in love with people that aren’t even there acknowleged type.

          2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

            @Valerie:

            People fall in love all the time with people that do not fit those standards [of beauty]

             
            Article: Wikipedia – Interpersonal Attraction

            Interpersonal attraction, the process, is distinct from perceptions of physical attractiveness which involves views of what is and is not considered beautiful or attractive.

            Article: Wikipedia – Biological Basis of Love

            The chemicals triggered that are responsible for passionate love and long-term attachment love seem to be more particular to the activities in which both persons participate rather than to the nature of the specific people involved.

          3. AhmNee

            Don’t forget about the psychological effects from the chemicals and hormones in semen.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semen#Psychological_aspects

          4. Narf

            Uhhhh, if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather forget about that part.

    4. 21.4
      Frank G. Turner

      I have two questions.
      .
      I would be more than happy to answer any questions, as long as I don’t hiijack or monopoziae the conversation.
      .
      Don’t worry about hijacking or monopolizing the conversation, if it gets to be an issue people can ignore what they don’t like, although the politeness and concern for others is appreciated. (If you were really rude or it got to be an issue they can block you). It probably is taking a lof of courage for you not only to call the show but to participate in this blog given that you have been discussed upon it. (That is going to happen, some of my posts have been discussed in my absence, its all part of public discussion).
      .
      My two questions, first of all were you offended by my playing armchair psychologist with your situation? (Read above if you don’t know what I am talking about). I did not intend it offensively and I did point out that I don’t know your situation, what was being said was speculation and I tried to make that clear.
      .
      The second question requires a little bit of background. Years ago I was discussing scripture with a Jehovah’s Witness (one who was born into a family of JWs) and I said something that had never occurred to him before (or at least had never hit him as that important, perhaps due to reinforcement of contrary ideas). I was talking about Aesop’s fables and the story of the Rabbit and the Tortoise. Obviously the story is fiction as rabbits and turtles can’t talk to each other, but I did suggest that something similar to that story probably has occurred, an athlete becoming over confident and being beaten by someone who normally did not have much athletic skill but whose effort made the difference (and very likely what the story is a metaphor for). I suggested to him that much of the Bible was that way. It struck him as very odd. For years he had come to believe that the only way that the stories could have any value at all was if they had factually occurred and could have been observed at the time. Maybe it was because of the idea of Biblical stories having a divine meaning, maybe it was just that it made him feel good to think that Biblical stories were all real, maybe it was just reinforcement of that type of thinking, or all of the above (what I suspect).
      .
      In any case, he had never thought that a story could be both a fable (a metaphor as the story of the Rabbit and the Tortoise is) and have divine or moral meaning at the same time. I did not speak with him much after that (I moved shortly after) but for the time that I did see him his personality changed (he did less door to door talks and I suspect did some inner reflection).
      .
      He also became aware that there are those that consider themselves Xtian who do not believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God nor that every word is demonstrative of fact. Some of the best evolutionary and genetic biologists in the world are Xtian (look up Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins to get an idea) who do not view the Xtian creation story as factual.
      .
      So with regard to your claim that you believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God and must be factual, does it really have to be? Can’t it have meaning WITHOUT being considered factual?

      1. Valerie

        Frank,
        I was not offended at all at your analysis, my mom is a psychologist, so I’m used to being analyzed :) I found it interesting and read thru it a couple of times.
        Your second question is a good question. I’m not sure how to answer it, I feel that the Bible is literal mainly because Jesus indicated that it was.

        1. Frank G. Turner

          If you are referencing Mark 10:6 Jesus mentions the story of creation, not the entire Bible. And in context he is not really stating that he took that literally either. You may be surprised to know that there are those who takes parts of scripture literally and other parts figuratively (I don’t know how deeply you have studied other sects of Xtianity). While there are passages to support the possibility that Jesus may have indicated he believed the Creation story was literal, he never stated it unambiguously. Jesus never said, “take Genesis literally.”
          .
          You might want to read this:
          http://www.godofevolution.com/did-jesus-believe-in-a-six-day-creation-and-a-literal-adam/

          1. Frank G. Turner

            Oh and in reference to my below comment it needs better wording on the quote,
            “What the lions did is NOT NECESSARILY indicative of divine intervention, no matter how much one WANTS it to be. While it is beyond what one would expect it can and does happen.” Say that out loud to yourself and post it online if you can.
            .
            FYI I watch a lot of animal planet too and that is not the only indication of that happening. There are cats who will protect birds like companions even when very hungry. All sorts of animals have intelligence that may not be at our level but certainly indicates communication and empathy.

          2. adamah

            Yeah, I could see Valerie’s example being relevant to God supposedly shutting the mouths of the lions in the Daniel account, and maybe that’s what she had in mind.

            But as pointed out, there’s only TWO examples of talking animals in the Bible, where God is explicitly stated as giving Balaam’s donkey the ability to talk to rebuke its owner (and notice his name is Balaam, a false prophet who had no problems offering sacrifices to the false God, Ba’al: word-play and puns are a favorite of the Yahwist).

            I take the talking donkey as a not-so-subtle jab at Balaam, who’s asked by God to only say what God tells him to say, as if he were no more than a talking ass.

            On the other hand, Genesis clearly states that God made serpents as clever, and thereafter punished them by taking away their legs as a curse (thus explaining the current behavior seen in snakes of propelling without feet or legs).

            Anyway, the question Valerie needs to ponder is if it’s worth upsetting the apple cart in her relations with her family by questioning what is a core familial belief? Or would it be smarter to sacrifice her rationality on the altar to God?

            Many doubting believers make that same decision every day, usually justifying their religious beliefs on other factors besides whether it’s actually TRUE or not (eg availability of babysitters, friends, they’d miss the tasty potluck socials, it’s something to do for a few hours on a Sunday, etc).

            It takes courage to be rational in a world where you’re surrounded by irrationality.

            Adam

          3. John Iacoletti

            Atheist groups sometimes have tasty potluck socials too!

          4. valerie

            John-Completly off topic but if there is food I’m there.

        2. Frank G. Turner

          @Valerie
          Pardon me for continuing this here even though it is relevant to another string
          .
          Frank- I did not know I was acting petualnt. I didn’t turn away when it got uncomfortable, I decided to follow Jesus when some of the things I studied spoke to my heart.
          .
          I did not say that you were being petulant, I said not to be LIKE someone who is petulant. That is a subtle but critical difference. In your case the rest of your response indicates that I don’t think you are like that. Petulance when it comes to creationists and evangelicals has to do with an awareness of the facts and their relevance in terms of reality and emotion and a denial of factual information and its relevance because it is uncomfortable and they have to win the argument. In your case I think it is a lack of understanding.
          .
          This may sound strange to you but in terms of observable reality and factual determination of events, i.e.: scientific examination, that which “speaks to your heart” is largely not relevant, at least with regards to an understanding of the hard scientific fact. No matter how strongly you feel something, that is not evidence or proof. The voices in your head are not proof until you can demonstrate them to other people in a measurable, observable sense. The Holy Spirit you speak of is not demonstrable or measurable.
          .
          Many stories in the Bible may speak to you emotionally. but that does not prove them true even if they may you feel on top of the world or they inspire you to do something to help society. Proof is something demonstrable to others, calculable, and can be verified by outside sources. There is hard evidence, demonstrable proof that from fossils in the ground and their respective DNA with measurable nucleic acids, calculations from geological studies, radiometric dating, cosmological observation, etc. that show that human beings evolved out of earlier primates, the earth is much older than demonstrated in the Bible, all living things occurred as a result of nature and were not created suddenly, billions of stars and planets including ours were created from cosmological events, etc. The planet and all living things on it were simply not created the way that is described in the Bible.
          .
          It can speak to your heart until you die and that still does not make it fact. You can believe all you want to and that won’t make it so. And the study of the real events as determined by observation and study had led to an intimate understanding of biology, chemistry, physics, etc. that has led to advancements in medicine and technology that are keeping you and your family alive and healthy and letting you respond to this very post.
          .
          You may just not have a brain that is strong enough to comprehend all of this. It sounds like you did not really study the sciences all that extensively. I would say go to talkorigins.org but I am not sure how much that would help. Maybe go to khanacademy.org and listen to the lectures on biology and chemistry, ALL of them, to start understanding the scientific method. Then again I don’t know if that will help because it will never “speak to your heart” and you may be incapable of understanding something that does not have an emotionally pleasing appeal to you. You may not be capable of putting your emotions aside and understanding that reality is not based on your feelings. That which you can observe and is demonstrable to others needs to come first and your feelings need to come second, and a distant second at that.

        3. Frank G. Turner

          @ Valerie
          Frank- I would post that in a heartbeat, but I would gladly die for my God, if someone held a gun to my head and asked me to deny His deity, I wouldn’t, ergo I don’t feel like I could on a simple message board.
          .
          You need to read this very slowly and carefully, possibly more than once to understand this. Apparently you don’t understand certain aspects of logic. Fair enough, we are arguing about this on here and doublereed apparently does not get this either or at least disagrees with it. (Unfortunately his reasoning would not lead to a scientific understanding).
          .
          I did not ask you to deny God. Denying God would be saying that you are certain that there is not one. I was saying that you should “Consider it as a possibility” that God does not exist. You have an opinion that he does, but you act as if you are certain, which you really are not. Let me see if I can get you to understand. If I were wearing a green shirt right now but you could not see it to confirm that and you only took my word for it, I would say that is foolish. I would say that you should “consider the possibility” that I am wearing a green shirt. Of course that also means that you are “considering the possibility” that I am NOT (it is actually a lie, my shirt is grey). Of course my shirt being grey could be a lie too. So to not be foolish you consider a possibility that it is or is not. You hypothesize (form an opinion) that I might be telling the truth or telling a lie. Until you have evidence one way or the other you basically don’t know (I could send a video for example or you could meet me in person). Of course by the time you meet me in person I will have changed so you may never know if I was telling the truth or not (I will probably forget what I was wearing when I write this).
          .
          THAT is a big part of how science works. It is a big part of the scientific method. Of course there are a lot of things that we will never know (I won’t know what you where wearing when you read this). It sounds like you have read about the results of science but never really studied how it works. Reading about pheremones is one thing, but understanding HOW they were discovered and tested is something completely different.
          .
          You don’t get to say that God is supernatural and therefore beyond that type of testing. That is special pleading. LIf we are intellectually honest, then like anything else God is subject to that type of testing. You can have a hypothesis about it, but reserve judgement until you have evidence, and emotions don’t count as evidence (yet) because they are not measurable (yet), nor do they lead to demonstrable results (yet) that would indicate the likely presence of a God (yet). So many of us reserve judgement about the existence of a God until we have hard physical evidence. Love is also not beyond that type of testing, we just don’t understand how to test it (yet), so judgement on that basis is ALSO reserved until it can be tested and measured. The type of testing of pheremones and endorphins in response to love and brainwaves is soft science, using SOME of the elements of physical evidence, but that still does not lead to the likely conclusion of a God via physical evidence.
          .
          Now with regards to reserving judgement, we on here have default positions. For a long time I acknowledged that I did not really know about the existence of a God as I had no physical evidence. I recognize that emotions and even presumably supernatural events are not indicative of our universe having its own intelligence, i.e.: a God. YOU may see that as evidence, but in a physical testable sense, it really is not. IN the absence of evidence, like in a court room, we see that as a conclusion of “not guilty.” As has been said on the show, God is considered “Not guilty” of existing because of a mentality of “Innocent until proven guilty” (although “not guilty until proven guilty” would be more accurate). “Not guilty” does not mean “Is innocent,” it is just a matter of the burden of proof (hard physical proof, NOT feelings) being on the person who makes a positive claim (that there “IS” a God). My default position was in favor of a God for a long time, now I am closer to a middle position and I will probably stay there.
          .
          You don’t get to say that we either believe or don’t believe, i.e.: Matthew 12:30. That is NOT ONLY special pleading BUT ALSO is emotionally manipulative. (I saw that early on in my life when reviewing the Bible and I could not believe that a kind and loving man like Jesus appeared to be would say something so emotionally manipulative like a bully, but I don’t think he really said that, I think the authors of the Gospels put words in his mouth). Up above DR might agree with you that one cannot be on the fence in the middle, you must have a default position of there either being or not being a God and saying “I don’t know” is saying that you are certain that there is not one, but logic does not work that way despite Bayesian mathematical equations. That is an attempt to shift the burden of proof, and the burden of proof is on the person who makes the positive claim, not the negative one. YOU can go ahead and shift the burden of proof in your mind and consider God Guilty (of existing) until proven innocent, but you don’t really have physical measurable proof that is independently verifiable in an unbiased sense.
          .
          Apologists use lofty language and try to shift the burden of proof and make emotional appeals, i.e.: emotional manipulation, and do everything in the world other than demonstrate hard proof using demonstrable physical evidence. They use every fallacy in the world, and when they can’t win using the arguments they have they start repeating the same old arguments over and over, which itself is a fallacy (the ad nauseum fallacy). Funny how a certain historical figure said that if you keep repeating a lie to people over and over again, they will start to believe you (FYI I am paraphrasing a well known bully, Hitler). Based on what I have seen, the reason apologists won’t use hard physical evidence and try to emotionally manipulate people rather than use hard evidence it is because they have no hard evidence and won’t admit it openly as it could basically lead to a lost argument and they don’t want to loose (the petulant child who has to win example). They are bullies who need to win and will be the biggest and most uncaring and unloving bullies in the world just to force their opinion on you (Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps being good examples). Others, like William Lane Craig will clothe themselves in good deeds to try to get you to think that they are not trying to be emotionally manipulative, but some of us see through their intellectually dishonest veil, you personally may not but I do and I see him as a bully too, just a more sly one.
          .
          Trying to use an emotion, like love, and how we think of it is emotionally manipulative. And the fact that you know the chemicals involved in how it is measured in the soft sciences does not make it any less manipulative, which is why I refused to answer the question, at least initially (I have more on that in a moment). The people who dug up and analyzed fossils and DNA and studied cell biology were not trying to be emotionally manipulative in order to discover what they did, they were trying to be intellectually honest, and many of them were and still are Xtians. Experiments were done in and on fossils, animals have been tested and we have more than ample evidence that evolution occurred, of human beings too. So if we are intellectually honest with ourselves and take emotion out of the equation because it cannot lead to physical proof (yet), we come to the tentative conclusion that Adam and Eve never existed. Making a claim that despite evidence to the contrary Jesus believed that they did and that he is a Divine authority of some sort is special pleading, a fallacy of an argument from authority, which is not only emotionally manipulative but also intellectually dishonest of us.
          .
          I don’t mean to suggest that Jesus was emotionally manipulative and intellectually dishonest (though I have already suggested that Matthew 12:30 is), but insisting that he believed in a literal interpretation of Genesis when that is not explicitly stated is dishonest. Adamah has some good arguments for why Jesus may have felt that way given the culture of the time, but the Biblical verses don’t state it in unambiguous terms. Albeit these were written third hand so we will probably never know how Jesus meant it as we can’t ask him.
          .
          Geologists have used that very method of forming an opinion (a hypothesis), testing it under controlled conditions, then following the calculations and mathematical results. The data leads to a conclusion that the earth is a lot older than mentioned in the Bible. In some cases we can’t take thousands of years to test hypotheses, but there are other methods of testing under controlled conditions and making calculations. One of the major physicists who contributed to an understanding of Planck time and what was eventually called the “Big Bang” hypothesis which is used to calculate via intellectual honesty the age of the universe as we know it (and his hypothesis later formed into a working theory, which if you understand science means that it has been accepted as fact) was a Catholic PRIEST! Even he understood parts of the Bible to be metaphoric and from what I can tell he did not let his emotions regarding the Bible get in the way of doing honest intellectual scientific analysis.
          .
          I know this is long but I am addressing a lot of issues here. Now regarding love I would say that I have evidence of a person loving me, little things that they do to show me that they care. The love I have MAY go beyond a capacity to measure it in a scientific manner under controlled conditions, but I AT LEAST have a “soft” scientific method of demonstrating that the caring is present. If I am fully intellectually honest with myself I don’t know for sure, but I have confidence that it will based upon past observations. (Richard Dawkins actually addresses this quite well in “The God Delusion” if you ever have the courage to read it). I would have no problem with a person challenging those observations and I would NOT try to use emotionally manipulative methods to insist that the love was for certain nor would I go about trying to shove my opinion that I love others down the throats of people who insist that I do not. I am comfortable with that uncertainty just like I am comfortable with my uncertainty regarding the existence of a God.
          .
          I would say that your claim that what the lions did was supernatural (which it really is not) is potentially a soft scientific method (in reality it really isn’t). Your claims that the Bible has translated into your life are, at best, soft scientific methods (they really are not) but they lead to no more certainty regarding the existence of a God than they do the existence of love. And if God really is omniscient and omnipresent, don’t you think He is AWARE OF THAT? That is where I came at odds with Matthew 12:30, an omniscient and omnipresent God really should be aware of WHY I say “I don’t know” and WHY I feel there is not any physical evidence and WHY I think that emotional pleas are not demonstrable measurable evidence and WHY if I am intellectually honest with myself I have to say, “I don’t know.” If I said I knew for certain, which I don’t, it would be a lie, hedging my bets and an omniscient omnipresent deity would see through that. So why would Jesus claim that “If you are not for me then you are against me” if an omniscient omnipresent deity could see through such an emotionally manipulative statement?
          .
          When you say that “It is contradictary and hard to grasp” in response to that, it sounds more like you are deluding yourself because you WANT to believe because it gives you comfort, not that you are being intellectually honest with yourself. An omniscient and omnipresent being would see through that and know that it is a delusion, a lie that you tell yourself to be comfortable. Why would an omniscient omnipresent being punish me for being intellectually honest with myself?
          .
          So if you say, “I am not sure that there is a God,” and consider it as a possibility, you are NOT denying God. That is not being “against God,” it is just being honest with yourself. You ARE opening yourself up to new paths of learning, to REALLY understanding science (which I don’t think that you do) and not just reading about it (which you seem to have done). If you can’t get past that and be intellectually honest with yourself because you have too much invested in your belief in God emotionally and even considering the possibility that you are wrong is too hard for you, then maybe you should not have gotten involved in this in the first place.
          .
          It was mentioned on this show that William Lane Craig was asked if he would revise his belief in Jesus as the son of God if we could find Jesus’s bones and confirm that they were his, indicating that Jesus never ascended into heaven as stated in scripture. Craig said something to the effect of no, that even in the face of that kind of physical evidence he had the divine revelation of The Holy Spirit to guide him in his beliefs. In other words, he had no interest in ever revising his beliefs no matter what the physical evidence. So he is unwilling to revise his position in the face of evidence.

          THAT is intellectual dishonesty and an omniscient omnipresent being knows that. THAT is what saying, “I don’t know if there is a God” really is, not denial of God, but a willingness to be intellectually honest with yourself and revise your beliefs if presented with evidence, REAL physical evidence, hard proof that is not based on something soft like emotion. That is what intellectual honesty is about and what Russell said to you at the end of your call on the show, acknowledging that something MIGHT be false no matter how much you WANT it to be true. THAT is why I wanted you to say that “There may not be a God,” as it acknowledges your willingness to be intellectually honest and revise your position in the face of hard physical evidence. If you are unwilling to do that then you have no business being on here (sorry if that hurts but it is the truth).
          .
          Being willing to revise your position in the face of evidence is the heart of science and what makes it work and do so much good for the world and there are no exceptions to that. From what you have said Valerie it appears that you really are not willing to revise your position in the face of hard physical evidence, you just read about science and take out the facts that you like because they agree with your position and ignore everything that is contrary to what you feel emotionally. That is NOT learning, that is just repeating back what you want to hear and THAT is what I think you did when you say that you “studied science.” No matter how strongly you feel to the contrary, evolution happened and Adam and Eve probably (almost certainly) did not exist. THAT is something you should had read in science if you had really studied it, bu I don’t think that you did (or if you did you read it from apologists who have an agenda of trying to make you feel that it was wrong rather than from accredited scientists some of whom ARE Xtian, try Kenneth MIller just to get an example)..
          .
          If you really want to learn and are really willing to say that you are willing to revise your position, you will say to yourself and type on this board, “I do not know for sure if there is a God.” That is NOT denial of God and if there is a God then he knows that and won’t punish you for it. You can’t say that you are willing to revise your position but not say that because it is a denial of God, that is a lie because it is not being willing to revise your position and there are no exceptions to that. There is no way to say that you are willing to revise your position and learn but not when it comes to the existence of a God. That means that there is at least one thing about which you are unwilling to revise your position. The petulant children like Craig will do everything in the world rather than acknowledge that, but even Craig does not know.
          ,
          (Read this next part a few dozen times and don’t think of a counter response, say it out loud and try to absorb it without letting your emotions get in the way). Now try to say it to yourself and perhaps at some point you will be able to post it on this board without shame or without trying to make a counter argument, it will hurt to say it and you will find yourself rebelling and trying to fight it but just keep saying it, “I do not know for sure if there is a God.” This is not holding a gun to your head and telling you to deny God no matter how much you think that it is, that is just you fighting the emotional investment you have made into your beliefs. Acknowledging the possibility of there not being a God is NOT a denial of God and God knows that (he has to because he is omniscient and omnipresent right?), I know it, the people on this board know it, and YOU know it even though you deny it. Say it, “I do not know if there is a God.”

    5. 21.5
      CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

      (50:47):

      Russell: I don’t see a lot of talking snakes. Or indication that snakes have vocal chords.

      Valerie: I’ve never seen a talking snake, and I don’t wanna chase rabbit trails here… But did you hear the story about the lions in Ethiopia?
       
      In Ethiopia, girls who’re about 13 can get married, even if they don’t want to. And there were these men chasing after this girl. She had already been beaten and abused. And these lions hear her crying, and they actually form around her, and they chase the men away. They leave her alone completely unprotected ’till police officers – or guards – come. And they rescue the girl.

      Article: BBC News – Kidnapped girl ‘rescued’ by lions
       
      The question was about the talking snake, not Elisha’s bears. It wasn’t about whether animals occasionally do somewhat unexpected things, with timing conducive to a catchy story. The Genesis stories depict something which conflicts with what you know, from your own experience, about what snakes are capable of.
       
      This is not a distracting tangent. How do you determine when a non-fiction report is mistaken, or when you’re misinterpreting a story, or when an author, or editor, was mistaken? In this case: about a talking snake.

      1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

        * Sloppy editing on my part. ;)
        How do you determine when a non-fiction report is mistaken, or : when you’re misinterpreting a story, or when an author, or editor, was mistaken?

      2. Frank G. Turner

        Some view animals doing unexpected things that they are perfectly capable of doing as magical and unexplainable. Sounds like the fallacy of false equivocation to me.
        .
        Much like people equate belief with knowledge, to which one can say that you can believe all you want to that snails fly but that does not make them sprout wings and fly.

        1. kestra

          I think the seemingly bizarre significance of the lion story from a Christian perspective has more to do with Christian symbolism (Jesus as the “Lion of Judah”, an association derived from his supposed descent from King David) and I strongly suspect the young girl in question was involved in a Christian missionary group, tho I have no proof of the latter. I will say that almost all sources I found referencing the story are Christian-based, with a few exceptions. The highest hits are certainly the Christian websites, not the reputable news sources like NBC or the BBC. This is the kind of story that overseas missionary-types like to send back home as proof of “God’s hand” in everyday life. “Miracle stories” tend to always have that element of remove, amazing things that happened to a relative of a friend of a friend, or in a distant land but to someone you know. They almost always have a built-in mechanism that makes the facts impossible to check out, which is why I was pleasantly surprised to find actual news accounts of a kidnapped girl being protected by lions.

          The Christian tendency to ascribe explainable, if unusual, animal behaviors to divine forces has a lot to do with the common Christian attitude towards animals in general. The Christian view can be found in Genesis: Adam is put in authority over the animals, he tames them, names them, and is given provenance over them directly by Yahweh. This makes Adam separate and apart from the animal kingdom, with creation as a pyramid: God on top, Adam below him (Eve below Adam…) and animals beneath humans. (This attitude that the natural world is a divine gift to humanity, and humanity is above it, not of it, can be seen as one of the driving forces behind both anti-evolutionism and climate change denialism in right-wing religious circles.)

          This has no bearing in reality, and artificially separates “humans” from “animals” in the Christian worldview. Humans ARE animals, and have learned and instinctive behaviors, just like all animals. And other animals are provably capable of all kinds of higher thought, group activities, social interactions and emotional outpourings that mirror our own. Gorillas, dolphins, parrots, and other animals can all be taught rudimentary language to communicate with humans. Elephants can learn to paint representations of themselves and others. Dogs often form nurturing bonds with abandoned animals of other species and act as surrogate mothers, even to animals that they would normally have an antagonistic relationship with. Absent the Christian dogma baggage of the pyramid of creation, none of these behaviors are particularly “miraculous”, even if they are unusual and deeply moving.

          1. Valerie

            kestra,
            I myself first heard the story on Animal Planet, and I couldn’t quite believe it. I then saw a article on NBC, and Perez Hilton (not perhaps a hard hitting news guy, but I would say secular.)
            I think what captivated me about this story was the intelligence of the animals. To rescue the girl and chase the bad guys is one thing, but to wait with her till authorities came, and then peacably leave her, seems a bit above and beyond animal behavior

          2. unfogged

            I know that the Bible has people in it with multiple wives, I would say that this is not portrayed as a good thing.

            Do you have any references? References to multiple wives that I remember seem to me to be either neutral or condoned, at least implicitly.

            I used to think it was metaphorical till I read the words of Jesus, and He referred back to Genesis in a literal way.

            Again, do you have a specific example that convinced you? I can see somebody today saying something like “the tortoise beat the hare” without meaning to imply that a hare and a tortoise literally ran a race. It is possible to talk about fictional events to make a point even when both the speaker and the listener do not believe that they actually happened.

            I think what captivated me about this story was the intelligence of the animals. To rescue the girl and chase the bad guys is one thing, but to wait with her till authorities came, and then peacably leave her, seems a bit above and beyond animal behavior

            It would be if there were reasons to attribute those motivations to the lions. The details in the versions I read were sketchy and allow for multiple interpretations. Example: the kidnappers were running with the girl which triggered the lion’s instinct to give chase. When the kidnappers abandoned her the girl collapsed in fright and the lions had recently eaten so they were more curious than anything and just watched her for a while. When a larger group of authorities approached, moving slowly and cautiously, the lions backed off out of self-preservation. Assuming that the lions intentionally waited for the authorities is simply not justified given the facts as presented. The lions may have just been doing what lions do and the specific circumstances made it easy to interpret the events as more meaningful than they really were.

          3. Narf
            I know that the Bible has people in it with multiple wives, I would say that this is not portrayed as a good thing.

            Do you have any references? References to multiple wives that I remember seem to me to be either neutral or condoned, at least implicitly.

            I often wonder about this sort of thing, myself. I’ve heard several Christians say this sort of nonsense, pointing to David and Solomon. Apparently, David was cut off from YHWH because he was a polygamist, according to those. Surely, it didn’t have anything to do with him setting that one guy up to die, so David could have his wife.

            What about Abraham? You really think that YHWH spent all that effort on Abraham and couldn’t be bothered to say, “Oh, and stop that immoral shit. I want you to be monogamous,” at any point? If Christians stopped and thought how their sweeping statements applied to the entire Bible, they wouldn’t make such stupid arguments.

            Why do so many people, referred to as good and righteous men, have so many wives and concubines? It’s so myopic, when Christians pull this crap.

          4. kestra

            @Narf, What I *really* don’t like about the hand-waving of patriarchs with multiple wives and biblical heroes who frequented whores and courtesans is that it totally erases the female characters and their lives. Which the bible actually has a surprising breadth of as named, significant characters that are often elided and forgotten by misogynistic modern Christianity.

            Some selected favorite biblical women who don’t get enough press:

            1. Rahab, the whore who helped Joshua’s army invade Jericho.

            2. Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter, who was the cause of an entire people being slaughtered by her brothers after submitting to circumcision just because their prince fell in love with her and would pay any price to have her, even a foreskin. Jacob’s sons were a bunch of total assholes. (Her story is continued in The Red Tent novel, check it out if you like feminist historical literature!)

            3. Esther, an obvious expy of the Babylonian goddesses Ishtar/Astara/Astart/Ester/et al, she who is the main character of the only book in the bible that doesn’t reference Yahweh, if you exclude Mordecai’s apocryphal speeches about the god at the city gates.

            Honorable mentions:

            Bathsheba, the woman that bathed so beautifully that David had her husband sent off to war to die so he could get her as a wife, and ended up being the mother of Solomon.

            Deborah, the only female Judge and a badass general

            Witch of Endor. She was a witch.

          5. Narf

            Yeah, I’ve always wondered why Christians ignore Esther so badly. I never even heard of the book until sometime in my 20′s. You’d think that books like that would have been brought up more often, during the anti-pagan insanity that the US went through in the 80′s.

            I’ve seen Rahab and Bathsheba used fairly well in some interesting pseudo-theological novels, but the others not so much.

            You might list Tamar beside Dinah. Tamar didn’t “cause” (by getting raped … the harlot) quite as much chaos and strife, but the stories that involve her are a bit more interesting, since the whole Saul/David/Solomon portion is one of the more interesting bits of the Bible.

            I don’t even remember Deborah. I’ll have to reread Judges. It’s been too long since I did my straight-through reading of the Bible, and I think I was still a bit dazed from Leviticus and Numbers, when I was going through Joshua and Judges.

          6. Frank G. Turner

            @Valerie
            Above and beyond animal behavior does not mean supernatural. Can I ask you to do us a favor?
            .
            Please don’t be like a petulant child who will argue over and over again that they are right even when all of the evidence points in the opposite direction. That is akin to sticking your fingers in your ears and going “la la la, I can’t hear you,” etc. THAT is what creationists and Biblical literalists do that makes them seem immature and closed minded.
            .
            Say this out loud to yourself if you can and then post it online (not word for word but you should get the basic idea).
            .
            “What the lions did is NOT indicative of something supernatural. While it may be beyond what you would expect it does happen.” You don’t have to believe that you are wrong about the lions behavior being divine intervention, but open your mind to the possibility. It takes maturity and strength to open your mind to the possibility of being wrong even if you don’t think that you are wrong.
            .
            I myself am opened to the possibility of their being a God a lot of us on here are despite the commonality of atheism here, we’ve just done a LOT of thinking about it and realize that their is not the dichotomy that others thing there is. Being opened to the possibility of there not being a God does not mean you believe that there is not one. “Not true” does not equal “Is false.” I don’t know if you can fathom that but please try.
            .
            You said that you gave atheism a try on the show. I don’t remember your exact words but based on some of what you are saying I am starting to think that you did not really immerse yourself in it and overwhelm your emotions and really do boatloads of research on the matter before you just turned away because it was uncomfortable. Giving something a try does not mean turning away when it is uncomfortable, it means putting your emotions aside and diving in head first and sticking with it even when it is uncomfortable to see how it changes you overall. Maybe you can try a little at a time, start by studying Job and the “Oath of Innocence.”

          7. valerie

            Kestra- Christians are quite fond of Esther actually, there are also other female figures in the Bible that are quite popular. My personal favorite is Ruth.

            Frank- I did not know I was acting petualnt. I didn’t turn away when it got uncomfortable, I decided to follow Jesus when some of the things I studied spoke to my heart.

          8. kestra

            *Of course* your favorite is Ruth. All she *ever* accomplished was getting married, twice. The only widely celebrated biblical woman more anodyne than her is the Virgina Mary. “We got married and made baaaaabies! Wheee!’ All they ever did is what they were told. The Ophelias of the bible, letting the currents of life take them away. Gag.

            Give me Give me Jezebel defiantly honoring her own god in a hostile religious court. Give me Princess Salome demanding the head of dangerous religious agitator John the Baptist. Give me Judith seducing the leader of the Assyrians and then chopping his damn head off! Hell, give me Delilah turning on Samson and betraying him to the Phillistines or Rebecca conspiring with her favorite son to disinherit Esau. Anything but a woman who behaves more like a brood mare or a piece of property her entire life.

          9. valerie

            Kestra-while I believe that Delilah, Princess Salome, Judith, and Jezebel are odd heros to have, the Bible does have it’s share of strong Biblical women. Ruth is my favoire because she left her culture, left her comfort zone, left the chance of possibly rebuilding a new life, to take care of her mother-in-law.
            Perhaps a less odious example to you would be another hero of mine, Queen Vashti, who King Xerxes divorced and banished because she would not parade herself in fromt of a group of men.

          10. valerie

            Sorry if I posted this already, my computer doesn’t like me today.
            Kestra- though Jezebel, Princess Salome, Judith, and Delilah are odd hero’s to have in my oppinion, the Bible certainly has it’s share of strong women.
            I admire Ruth because she left her culture, comfort zone, and possible future pleasure to take care of her mother-in-law. This selfless act I admire.
            Perhaps my other Biblical hero would be less odious to you. I have always admired Queen Vashti, who king Xerxes banished because she would not show herself off to be oggled by his male friends.

          11. Narf

            I believe that Delilah, Princess Salome, Judith, and Jezebel are odd heros to have …

            When you look at the evil perpetrated by Yahweh, from a more objective, outside perspective, it’s quite easy to admire those who opposed him. The Jews of the OT were a bunch of marauding psychos. Hell, look at Sampson, who is appropriate, given one of the women in the list.

            Fortunately, the ancient Jews, as described in the OT, aren’t real. Read up on some modern archaeology sometime. It takes things a bit past skepticism, through to actively believing that they didn’t exist as described.

          12. kestra

            I didn’t say “heroes”, I said these were some of my favorite biblical characters. But then, I don’t need to see role models or read moral lessons into the lives of biblical characters, because to me they are just literary creations, not “real people”. I was more lamenting that the kind of biblical womanhood that modern Christians find most admirable are to me the least interesting, least dynamic women in the text, and they only serve as yet another means of delivering the message that women should place family, husbands, and babies ahead of all other pursuits. And since Christians place such reference on scripture, it irks me that they cherry-pick which women to emphasize, and the ones who don’t fit the housewifely mode tend to get memory-holed. Because they are the awesome ones!

          13. valerie

            Kestra- Did you even read my post. I said that I like Ruth, because of her sacrifice for an old woman who lost her family. I mentioned Queen Vashti as someone I admire because she disobeyed her husband and was banished.
            Also I did not touch on Mary at the time, but I would say that people admire Mary not because she was a mother, but because she was Jesus’s mother. That’s kind of the ‘horse-of-a-different-color.” The woman who gives birth to God is probably going to get some kudos.

          14. corwyn

            Also I did not touch on Mary at the time, but I would say that people admire Mary not because she was a mother, but because she was Jesus’s mother.

            She was a rape victim, who did not cry out. The punishment for that set out in the *inerrant bible* is death by stoning. She then entered into a criminal conspiracy with her intended husband to avoid punishment.

  22. 22
    Gary Walker

    Gee, I had no idea how foolish I have been, since the Bible says that a fool believes in his heart that the Bush/Cheney conspiracy theory is false, or something like that. May Bush forgive me. I will make an effort to visit the new temple to 9/11 and visit the relic shop for idols to 9/11. Perhaps I will be born again and gird my loins to stand in the gap for the official 9/11 conspiracy theory. I will prey on it. Agape.

    1. 22.1
      changerofbits

      You can try to fool us, but you will not succeed! The Snowden docs clearly show that the government has been funneling millions to an operative named P141. It must be you, given your liberal use of Psalm 14:1. We’ll see who the real fool is… I’m going to go register http://www.garywalkerisamossadagent.net and take you down a peg or two.

      Long live AWBNET: Atheists Who Bash Nine Eleven Truthers!

    2. 22.2
      Muz

      Interesting how Gary said at the start that he’d done all his own calculations to come to the conclusion that 9/11 was an inside job, but all he can do is spout rote truther canards and smug, empty mockery.

      1. Gary Walker

        When did I say I had done my own calculations, Muz? I realize you guys are emotionally attached to the impossible Bush/Cheney conspiracy theory like a Bible thumper to his Bible , so that might explain all the hostility. The evidence shows that the destruction of the WTC was a planned demo. Buildings cannot collapse at freefall speed through the area of most resistance unless that resistance is removed. Did Allah do it?

        1. Narf

          Are you referring to all three towers, or just 7? The two main towers that got taken out did not fall at free-fall speed.

          1. Gary Walker

            Yes they did Narf. 9 and 10 seconds app. That is virtually freefall.

          2. Narf

            Dude, we have videos. Freaking watch the videos and count. I have. You really haven’t looked into a damned thing, have you? There were a bunch of assholes screaming about how they fell in exactly that amount of time, but anyone who bothered to watch a video of it happening can see that it isn’t true.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjwDv_IONgA

            Have you even bothered to watch the freaking video? It started at 0:29, with the top corner of it caving in, and it took at least 20 seconds for it to reach the ground. It’s hard to tell exactly when the top part reached the ground, since there was a building in front of it, but it was right around 0:50, at the earliest. If that looked like free-fall to you, you’re an idiot. You can freaking see the corner cave in, and you can see the pancaking for the first 15 or 20 floors, until the outward spray of debris begins obscuring things. That is not the way that a controlled demolition works.

            What the hell is wrong with your head? All of the supposed evidence that the Truthers pull up is just as shit-stupid as you just demonstrated, when you examine it for more than 60 seconds … which is why we mock them so badly. The evidence for Big Foot is more solid.

          3. Narf

            Hell, as I watch it again, there was a portion on the right, which you can barely see, which didn’t even start falling until about 0:58. That was a top-down pancaking, not free fall. You guys are worse than evolution deniers.

        2. Muz

          You did say this Gary ” I have been studying this issue for 13 years now (if my math is correct) and have concluded that for the guvmint’s conspiracy theory to be true, it would have required more miracles than the amazing voyage of Noah’s Ark.”

          I had assumed this meant you might have put some work in. Guess not.

          And none of the buildings fell at freefall speed, outside of debris actually freefalling off the sides.
          No need to invoke Alah at all

          There is no evidence of a planned demo at WTC and no truther has ever presented such, ever. Only quibbles about the official story that barely at up to the vaguest hypothesis.

          What’s consistently amazing is how much people depend on it “looking like a planned demo” so therefore it is a planned demo, when it actually doesn’t look like a planned demo at all.

          1. adamah

            Muz said-

            What’s consistently amazing is how much people depend on it “looking like a planned demo” so therefore it is a planned demo, when it actually doesn’t look like a planned demo at all.

            That’s the part I don’t get:

            every piece of footage I’ve seen of planned demolitions includes OBVIOUS SIGNS of the detonation changes exploding, easily distinguishable from the rising cloud of dust from the building collapse.

            Apparently those sneaky CIA agents must be using the new-fangled invisible and completely undetectable charges? (That’s the truther equivalent of ‘Holy Spirit’.)

            Besides, the 9/11 truther hypothesis is built on the absurd assumption that the American public would simply shrug off the attack if the hijackers ran two planes into the Twin Towers without a total collapse. So the CIA had to take the additional risks of blowing their cover to make sure that the towers collapsed by planting explosive charges?

            Wtf? Anyone can be so dense as to accept that premise?

            Gary is worse than a believer who won’t allow even the most-obvious evidence stand in the way of what he REALLY REALLY wants to be true, and God help anyone who tries to tell him otherwise.

            The thing I usually do to side-step the crap arguments is to ask, “OK, so let’s just tentatively-accept your postulate that the CIA was behind it. So other than griping about it, what do you want EVERYONE ELSE TO DO ABOUT IT?

            In case you haven’t noticed, Bush and Cheney are long-gone.”

            That’s usually met by the sounds of crickets chirping, since they’ve never actually thought about that part before (presumably because they’ve been so preoccupied with trolling forums on the internet, they’ve never actually gotten that far with anyone before)…

            Yes, you can insert a rollie-eyes emoticon here….

            Adam

    3. 22.3
      Narf

      How the hell did half of this comment section turn into this guy’s bullshit, because he got rubbed the wrong way at someone being dismissive of idiots like him? I just read through the whole comment section, since I’ve been busy the past few days. Holy crap.

      1. Frank G. Turner

        I responded to an earlier post of yours below. Pardon me for not picking up that chain but it was getting long and hard to follow.

      2. Frank G. Turner

        @Narf
        Pardon me for responding here, easier to follow.
        This is the sort of thing that makes me mock your statement about science supporting the Bible. This is the kind of thing that the so-called creation scientists do, as well. Whenever something contradicts your preconceived notions, you’ll spin-doctor like crazy, rather than admitting that you might have it wrong.
        .
        You might have noticed from my other post that she can’t even seem to understand that acknowledging the possibility of something being wrong is not the same as admitting that it is wrong. To her it seems that “I don’t know if there is a God” is that same as “there is no God.” It seems that people who seem to live in that kind of universe that has nothing but binary dichotomies don’t seem to understand scientific principles very well.
        .
        For that matter, organizations like the Discovery Institute don’t even have a research arm. They’re not even pretending to do science. The only branch is their propaganda branch … oh, and they probably have a fundraising department, as well, since you know they’ll never turn up anything useful that could help fund the organization. Scientific organizations do not have a statement of faith.
        .
        Like I said below, I don’t think they have any interest in creating anything useful, they are just making money off of the gullible islanders.
        .
        So, God created the world from absolutely nothing, a few thousand years ago, but he left evidence all over the landscape, indicating that the universe is billions of years old. What kind of trickster god do you worship
        .
        I have a feeling that the science that the ministry allowed her to read did not include any of that. It is much like the stories of the medical students who came from evangelical insular communities who wanted to learn medicine in order to help humanity and keep people alive and from suffering. Then when they go to Universities and have to take advanced biology courses on evolution and genetics realize that their parents had been telling them lies or being dishonest by shielding them from understanding or discovering anything else.
        .
        And what does growing things in the usual way even mean, within the context of universe creation, star and planet formation, the evolution of species …
        That’s a completely nonsensical statement.

        .
        More spin doctoring. If they loose the argument they think they will loose their humanity and everything they have to live for and that their lives will have no meaning so they emotionally shield themselves. Of course that is not what happened to a lot of people that deconverted. It does not kill you. Maybe she needs to call the show and talk to Matt Dillahunty. Of course I doubt that she will think he was ever really a true Xtian. Maybe she should email him and have him describe the process of deconversion in detail.

        1. Narf

          You might have noticed from my other post that she can’t even seem to understand that acknowledging the possibility of something being wrong is not the same as admitting that it is wrong. To her it seems that “I don’t know if there is a God” is that same as “there is no God.”

          This is definitely a thing, yeah. I’ve seen it in the writings of a lot of the more vapid apologists. They don’t seem to be able to properly comprehend the idea of thought experiments, because of this mental block.

          This is why we get the crap about atheists really just hating God. They don’t grasp how people can make an evaluation and come to a conclusion about that thing (yeah, Yahweh is a Bronze Age myth and doesn’t exist), then set aside that initial conclusion and evaluate another characteristic of that thing (if Yahweh existed, he would be evil as fuck).

          Of course a lot of the big-name apologists are pandering assholes and are just plain dishonest. With some though (think Ray Comfort), it’s hard to tell if they’re dishonest or are really just that stupid.

          Like I said below, I don’t think they have any interest in creating anything useful, they are just making money off of the gullible islanders.

          Why does Ray Comfort debate (foolishly) atheists? Because people will give him a lot of money to do so.

          I have a feeling that the science that the ministry allowed her to read did not include any of that.

          Ohhhhhhh yeah. At various times, I’ve known people who were in those borderline-cultish sects of Southern Baptistery and Pentecostalism. The amount of control that they allowed their preachers to exert over their information sources and entertainment was freaking mind-blowing. There’s a reason that I used the past tense, in reference to knowing those people.

  23. 23
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Unrelated to Valerie’s Q&A…
     
    @Frank G. Turner (above):

    we respect observed evidence, putting rational observance AHEAD of our emotions.

    a whole lot of people who could give less of a damn if they actually solve any problems or help anyone. They just want to win the argument and are willing to hurt others and lie just to get power and make others believe that they are right

    You may want to review previous blog posts’ comments before building pedestals. While the “intellectual honesty taking priority over comfort” theme is clear from the context of your post, self-congratulation and the “straw vulcan” stereotype are potential pitfalls to be wary of. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming people, who agree with you on one point, share your values and apply them consistently.
     
    “If someone is nice to you but rude to the waiter, they are not a nice person.” -Dave Barry

    1. 23.1
      Frank G. Turner

      While the “intellectual honesty taking priority over comfort” theme is clear from the context of your post, self-congratulation and the “straw vulcan” stereotype are potential pitfalls to be wary of. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming people, who agree with you on one point, share your values and apply them consistently.
      .
      I definitely see your point. I am not trying to be self congratulatory, it has more to do with me being honest with myself but pride is difficult to avoid and I can definitely see why it would be considered a “sin.” (FYI, even as an agnostic or as an atheist I might still use the word “sin” as I still believe that there are unjustifiable selfish deeds and hurting others for no solid reason). I guess a better word would be “immoral” vs “sin.”
      .
      About the Straw Vulcan. I recognize that despite rationality I have emotions and feelings. It is a matter of priority. I emote differently and in some cases not at all. That is the kind of person that I am, but I do get upset and sad and angry and happy, etc, just not in response to the same things. I get accused of being a brick wall a lot for my lack of emotional response in some situations and it can bother people then surprise them when I get upset over the emotional implication of something they did not even think of at the time (or ever).
      .
      And believe me I know that there are differences on other points. I would have suspected that Gary on here was a conservative theist based on what is on here if I did not know better from other posts. Thanks for the reminder though.

      1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

        @Frank G. Turner:

        I emote differently and in some cases not at all.

        Oh, I wasn’t referring to your writing style (I do that too).
        It was the deprecation of emotion, emotional self, etc., which conjures the stereotype.
         

        I recognize that despite rationality I have emotions and feelings.

         
        The “straw vulcan” link above is to Julia Galef’s talk on rationality and emotion. Granted it is a full lecture (51:25), but well worth adding to the queue.
         
        From the talk at 29:15:

        This is essentially the Spock model of how emotions and rationality relate to each other: You have a goal, and use rationality, unencumbered by emotion, to figure out what action to take to achieve that goal. Then emotion can get in the way and screw up this process if you’re not really careful. This is the Spock model. And it’s not wrong per se. Emotions can clearly, and frequently do, screw up attempts at rational decision making.
        [...]
        The problem with this model is that it is just incomplete. And the reason it’s incomplete is that “Goal” box. Where does that “Goal” box come from? It’s not handed down to us from on high. It’s not sort of written into the fabric of the universe. The only real reason reason that you have goals is because you have emotions– because you care about some outcomes of the world more than others

         
        Not that you needed a whole lecture on the matter. ;)
        I like to share relevant links when I see an opportunity.

        1. Frank G. Turner

          I am familiar with the concept as I have read about the Straw Vulcan before. Thank you though.

  24. 24
    Brandon Osborn

    Concerning the prevalence of foreign mormon missionaries in SLC.

    I was a practicing mormon for most of my life (so far), I’m happily atheist, but I can contribute something on the topic of mormon missionaries. I never served a mission, but as a priesthood leader in the church, I spent a lot of time with a lot of missionaries over the years.

    The church hand-picks missionaries from foreign countries to serve in temple square, the church offices, and other locations central to the church with the intent that those young people will get a sense of how the church functions. These are the people who will return to their home countries and be groomed for leadership as they get older. The competition for these positions is quiet and fierce – the decision is made behind closed doors by the mission training center leadership. Those girls John was talking about (from Cambodia and, I think, South Korea) may have been put into the position as tour guides in order to force them to improve their English skills. The kids have to learn a foreign language (the assignments are given out after 2 weeks at the mission training center), have a maximum of 10 weeks to learn the foerign language they will speak on their mission. Those young women were likely on a par with some farm kid from Idaho who finds out he’s going to be sent to Tokyo for 2 years, and Japanese is a bitch to learn.

    1. 24.1
      John Iacoletti

      Thanks, Brandon, that makes sense. Cambodia and Thailand. They seemed to speak and understand English very well — I just had trouble with their accents.

    2. 24.2
      Frank G. Turner

      @ Brandon
      The church hand-picks missionaries from foreign countries to serve in temple square, the church offices, and other locations central to the church with the intent that those young people will get a sense of how the church functions. These are the people who will return to their home countries and be groomed for leadership as they get older. The competition for these positions is quiet and fierce – the decision is made behind closed doors by the mission training center leadership.
      .
      Even more on an indication that the missions have very little to do with faith or truth and more to do with making money for the organization. I wonder if we could start to tax religious organizations if that would help.

      1. Narf

        Couldn’t hurt our national debt.

  25. 25
    Gary Walker

    Adam, it doesn’t look like a planned demo? Really. It does to me, and many news reporters of the day. Sorry, but can I question the guvmint’s conspiracy theory, or is it verbotten? People have been trying to do something about it for a long time. It took about a year and a half for family members of the victims to even get the coverup commission, controlled by Phillip Zelikow, a member of the Bush gang. Not it that it matters to you true believers in the guvmint’s conspiracy theory, but Tom Daschle the Senate leader who was going through normal operating procedures to investigate the crime, was sent an anthrax letter, Patrick Lehey also. Just a coinkidink I’m sure. The coverup commission did not discuss the destruction of the buildings and never even mentioned building 7. Many Americans, even unto this day, do not even know building 7 fell at freefall speed (6.2 seconds) straight down at 5:21 in the afternoon. Even the NIST cons were forced to admit it was in freefall speed. This was missing from the media. Oh my. I hope you are comforted with your myth of 9/11, but some of us prefer the truth, and justice. Oh, and there was molten metal in the basement holes of towers 1,2 and building 7 for three months. Jet fuel and office fires cannot produce that. And there were huge steel beams in the rubble that were turned into pretzles. Oh. and there was a steel beam ejected into a near by building, stuck into its wall. Ejected horizontally. And many fragments of body parts found on the roof of the near by Deutch building. Am I forbidden to wonder about these things and am I accused of heresy? You guys remind me of Bible thumpers. Agape.

    1. 25.1
      Muz

      I don’t think anyone’s accused you of heresy yet. I will accuse you of being an astonishingly vacuous regurgitator of nonsense and irrelevances. It is right that you be insulted.

      You want to question the official version? Boy I wish you would. I wish your whole tribe would. But no. Just the usual spurious nonsense and quibbles and smarter than though smugness. You’re a joke.

    2. 25.2
      Narf

      Adam, it doesn’t look like a planned demo? Really. It does to me, and many news reporters of the day.

      Watch that video I linked above. If you think that that looks like a planned demolition, there’s something wrong with you. There are plenty of reporters who are also pretty stupid. Bring me some demolition experts who think that looked like a planned demolition, rather than a top-down pancaking.

      Demolition experts who can’t count past 9 should not be handling dangerous explosives. Freezing up at 9 and not knowing what comes next is the only way I can think of that someone would think the north tower collapsed in 9 seconds.

      1. Narf

        You’re not even going to respond, are you Gary? You’re just going to run away and ignore everything I’ve said, and in a year or so, you’re going to pop up somewhere, screaming about how the WTC towers fell at free-fall speeds, aren’t you?

        You don’t give a damn about what’s actually true, do you? You just want to feel special and know the “truth” and that the gov’mint is lying to us. You’ll make up any bullshit that sounds plausible, if you don’t look at it too closely, and scream cover-up at anyone who pokes the most obvious holes in your pet hypotheses.

        Well, guess what, dumbass; the government is lying to us, just not about this. If you wouldn’t focus on idiotic things like this, we might have more people who will help deal with the horrible things that the gov’mint is actually doing.

        Here’s a series of videos that explains how things actually happened. I know you’re not even slightly interested in learning anything about it, Gary, but anyone else who wants an interesting listen and wants to learn some points for dealing with idiots like Gary, in the future, here you go:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmIjDfpTeMc&list=PLthPsWmE3cefpc2sBzI9gamfS9eJRdgEK

        1. Frank G. Turner

          You’re not even going to respond, are you Gary? You’re just going to run away and ignore everything I’ve said, and in a year or so, you’re going to pop up somewhere, screaming about how the WTC towers fell at free-fall speeds, aren’t you?

          You don’t give a damn about what’s actually true, do you?

          .
          Sounds like a lot of creationists and evangelicals doesn’t it? They don’t care about what is factually correct, they just want to win the argument and denying proof is just fine and dandy with them. (Of course there are plenty who just don’t understand the concepts). I didn’t think that I would not see that among atheists and agnostics, I was sure that I would.

          1. Narf

            Nope, nope, he called us bible-thumpers first, so we are. We can’t trump him with the comparison, since he called dibs.

        2. unfogged

          Thanks for posting that link; it was an interesting series of videos. Truthers sound a lot like theists.

          1. Narf

            Specifically creationists, yeah.

            And yes, the shell of building 7 fell at roughly free-fall speeds, after being gutted by the fire. We know why it fell at roughly free-fall speeds. There’s no conspiracy there.

            Sadly, that doesn’t fit their narrative, though, so all three had to fall at free-fall speeds.

  26. 26
    Frank G. Turner

    @ Narf
    Pardon me for starting this as a separate chain but it is getting kind of hard to follow the other chain.
    .
    . I think Valerie genuinely believes that poking holes in the prevailing theory (all together now: “It’s just a theory!”), without presenting any evidence for a replacement theory, somehow supports her worldview. I don’t know how to break that bubble.
    .
    Definitely an issue and I have suspected the same thing actually, that Valerie here either has only been reading stuff from scientific journals approved by her ministry, who will of course obscure and restrict anything that does not agree with their view as they have an agenda, or reads stuff outside of this and does not understand it but knows some terms like the names of chemicals and such. I have met the second group before and it is rather funny when they give their sources and you check out the source and it says nothing to the effect of what they were talking about. They just filtered out what they did not want to hear and only listened to the parts that they THOUGHT backed up their opinion. Like those nutheads who think that Darwin was claiming that the eye could not be a result of evolution because of the paragraph he presents about it in “On the Origin of Species,” which from my background I recognize, he was presenting a null hypothesis.
    .
    This is one of the failures of religious types, like Valerie. She claims that science has proven the fundamentalist perspective of the Bible, probably referring to the activities of the Discovery Institute or the nuts who go off to find the Ark (again) to film a new hoax video to con money from the gullible faithful. She probably doesn’t genuinely understand that what they’re doing is not science.

    And when you tell them that, they don’t grasp that we’re saying it isn’t science is because they don’t follow the scientific method. I’ve heard creationists respond that if creationism isn’t science, evolution isn’t science either, because it also happened in the past.

    .
    I was reading somewhere about the cargo cults in the Phillipines (I know the topic has been on TAE as well, who saw the planes coming in and goodies like clothes and food being brought down. The Soldiers wearing uniforms and marching in step with one another and talking to electric devices which seems to talk back and shuffling papers which seemed to have no purpose so they thought it was some sort of religious ritual to satiate some God who sent the goodies. (I remember reading a document about an islander who said that God sent giant birds to them that did not flap their wings when they flew, you know, airplanes?). They thought that some divine being was sending down the clothes and food in response to said rituals. Then when the American soldiers left those islands the islanders starting building mock runways and control towers and putting on uniforms and marching around and shuffling papers and talking to little radio like boxes they cult themselves. Of course, no planes actually landed with clothes or food.
    .
    I think someone on the show in the past said how the people like Ken Ham and people at The Discovery Institute are like the islanders except they put on lab coats and write things in notebooks and do stuff with flasks and beakers and fire and they think what they are doing is real science when they are just going through the motions like the islanders. (This may have been on “The Thinking Atheist” or I may have read it somewhere else). It makes me feel sad as I am one of the soldiers in this analogy.
    .
    I think Valerie genuinely believes that poking holes in the prevailing theory (all together now: “It’s just a theory!”), without presenting any evidence for a replacement theory, somehow supports her worldview. I don’t know how to break that bubble.
    .
    How do you tell the islanders that the goodies are never going to come? That they never will be published in accredited scientific journals? I guess after years of producing no working principle that adds anything to scientific discovery or some pragmatic concept people might start to figure it out, but Ken Ham’s mock up of a museum will still make money and the Discovery institute stills gets donations. (I often think that this is the real reason for Ken Ham and Ray Comfort’s BS, making money which is why they had to leave their island and come to this one to find a few gullible islanders).
    .
    Maybe she is just happy being one of the islanders. I went through the motions for a while myself.

    1. 26.1
      CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

      @Frank G. Turner:

      I think someone on the show in the past said how the people like Ken Ham and people at The Discovery Institute are like the islanders except they put on lab coats

      Originally from Feynman.
       
      Article: Wikipedia – Cargo Cult Science

    2. 26.2
      Narf

      … that Valerie here either has only been reading stuff from scientific journals approved by her ministry …

      Err, is there such a thing? :D

      … or reads stuff outside of this and does not understand it but knows some terms like the names of chemicals and such.

      I doubt she even does that much. The creationists have a whole assortment of posers who run around proclaiming what True Science^TM tells us about the Bible. Take this John Morris Pendleton asshole: Hello, I’m a Scientist.

      Like those nutheads who think that Darwin was claiming that the eye could not be a result of evolution because of the paragraph he presents about it in “On the Origin of Species,” which from my background I recognize, he was presenting a null hypothesis.

      “Ah, yeah, I see. Darwin said that it’s preposterous that the eye evolved. I see. Could you read me the sentence that comes immediately after the part you quote-mined? You know that that isn’t the end of the book or even the end of the chapter, right?”

      Maybe she is just happy being one of the islanders. I went through the motions for a while myself.

      Well, I enjoyed the crackers. I can’t say I was happy to go through the motions, though; I was under 18 and couldn’t refuse going to mass. I even became an altar boy for several years, just so I would have something to do during mass. I didn’t realize the risk to which I was subjecting my asshole, at the time.

      1. Frank G. Turner

        Take this John Morris Pendleton asshole: Hello, I’m a Scientist.
        .
        Yeah I am familiar with him, he has no idea what he is talking about. He was the person whom I felt best indicated the cargo cult scientists, i.e.: they put on lab coats and boil chemicals in labs and cut open animals and write in little notebooks and think that they are doing some sort of science when they are not (aside from their own personal exploration).
        .
        I would not be surprised if that is who Valerie had been watching (or someone like him) when she “studied science” as she claims (yet seems to have no idea how the scientific method works). I pretty much knew she had no idea what she was talking about when she talked about what she “deemed to be correct.” That was a dead giveaway for me I would not be surprised if that is what she thinks peer review is all about, you get it reviewed by fellow scientists and if they agree with it they “deem it to be true.” I just had a huge face palm (as you might have noticed from my response) when I read that line.
        .
        “Ah, yeah, I see. Darwin said that it’s preposterous that the eye evolved. I see. Could you read me the sentence that comes immediately after the part you quote-mined? You know that that isn’t the end of the book or even the end of the chapter, right?”
        .
        The point I was making is that when you actually DO study science you learn that people don’t just form hypothesis and then do experiments to see if the data supports the hypothesis. Sometimes you might take a default position that is opposite your actual preposition then see what evidence speaks AGAINST that default position. You don’t claim that the default position must be what the person believes because it might be what they have evidence AGAINST, what they are trying to “disprove” or suggest is faulty (which I think is what Darwin was doing in that chapter).
        .
        that Valerie here either has only been reading stuff from scientific journals approved by her ministry …
        .
        There are some ministries that recognize that mathematics and science are becoming a big part of the world we live in and that they can’t hold out and deprive people of information forever. That is probably WHY they have those posers too. So they do “approve” some things that fit with their agenda to give the impression that they are not holding out. It is becoming a much more free market of ideas where you can find tons of stuff all over the internet. JW’s children are no longer are restricted to the approved journals and I am sure that the parents HATE that.
        .
        ON a side not I was thinking about this old Disney cartoon from the 1980s, it was very short lived called “The Wuzzles.” It featured all of these cartoon animals that were combinations of two different (mostly) unrelated animals like an Eleroo (Elephant + Kangaroo) or a Bumble-Lion. I started thinking of how Matt on the show talks about people digging up New York thousands of years form now and thinking that Spiderman actually existed (in reference to the Bible being fiction) and also thought of Ray Comfort and the whole Croco-Duck crap. And it hit me that the Croco-Duck is essentially a Wuzzle. Well it got me to thinking further that maybe Ray Comfort saw the Wuzzles as a cartoon and thought that someone was trying to make a serious claim about evolution rather than just interesting fiction. (I don’t think that as he demonstrates other indications of a poor understanding of evolution but I tend to think Ray is just in it for the money and does not buy his own BS)
        .
        Nonetheless, that sounds like a good name for someone who claims to have “studied science” or some other BS like that (Pendleton being a good example) but obviously has no idea what they are talking about with regards to real professionals, a “Wuzzle.” Like it?

        1. Narf

          Yeah I am familiar with him, he has no idea what he is talking about. He was the person whom I felt best indicated the cargo cult scientists, i.e.: they put on lab coats and boil chemicals in labs and cut open animals and write in little notebooks and think that they are doing some sort of science when they are not (aside from their own personal exploration).

          Yup, he’s probably the most explicit demonstration of the term that I’ve ever seen. It almost makes me start wondering if he’s a faker, except for the consistency. No one could be as consistently ignorant of the pronunciation of scientific terms, unless he really is that ignorant.

          I have to vehemently disagree with you on one point, though: “… they put on lab coats and boil chemicals in labs and cut open animals and write in little notebooks …”
          I don’t think they made it past the point of putting on the lab coat, before flipping on the camera. :P

          The point I was making is that when you actually DO study science you learn that people don’t just form hypothesis and then do experiments to see if the data supports the hypothesis.

          No, no, I got you. That was just me adding to it, with a response to an actual fundie who was presenting the eye quote in all seriousness. Thus the quotation marks, in my response.

          There are some ministries that recognize that mathematics and science are becoming a big part of the world we live in and that they can’t hold out and deprive people of information forever. That is probably WHY they have those posers too. So they do “approve” some things that fit with their agenda to give the impression that they are not holding out.

          I was mostly just expressing incredulity at the idea that she had read anything in a real scientific journal. I’m not sure that there’s enough for them to glean from a real scientific journal without going back to the 30′s or 40′s, maybe. I have heard of the creationist journals that some assholes have set up, though.

          ON a side not I was thinking about this old Disney cartoon from the 1980s, it was very short lived called “The Wuzzles.”

          I watched it, yeah.

          Nonetheless, that sounds like a good name for someone who claims to have “studied science” or some other BS like that (Pendleton being a good example) but obviously has no idea what they are talking about with regards to real professionals, a “Wuzzle.” Like it?

          So, first Michelle Glavan ruined Glow Worm …
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18i1aJfR434
          Well, okay, maybe not exactly ruined, but I’ll never look at him the same.

  27. 27
    xscd

    Gosh, there are just way too many comments for this article and show. So I might as well add one more.

    I’ll play Devil’s advocate for a bit–

    God is a personal God. That means that he reveals himself to us personally, from the inside out. We cannot look for God in His creation, because He is behind it all. In a sense, God is hidden in plain sight. Those who have opened their hearts to God, and for whom God has then opened their eyes, can see our benevolent and awesome God everywhere, in everything. Those whose minds are clouded by doubt and whose eyes are closed by skepticism see only what they want to see.

    All it takes is just one true deeply cathartic person experience to prove that God exists, and no amount of voodoo science can unprove that universal fact.

    Etc.

    Actually, I’m curious as to others’ opinions about the following series of statements and ideas–

    We know things for which we have evidence, and we gather evidence through our senses. But what if our primary sense and perceptive mechanism is our consciousness itself? What if all our physical senses only work because (and while) we are conscious of them?

    What if our conscious activity stimulates the observable brain activity, and not the other way around? What if our consciousness is not merely “chemical actions in the brain”?

    What if consciousness is not “supernatural,” but instead very natural? What if physical reality is just a subset of reality, and all reality is composed of consciousness, and what if all of that consciousness could be described as “God”? And what if this God has a purpose for us and wants us to bow down and worship Him, because, after all, He’s GOD!

    Heathen atheists have just turned their backs on almighty God, and it’s a testament to His almost infinite patience that he has not struck down the unbelievers and atheists already! God is infinite, but He’s not infinitely patient. We are angering our Dear Father, and we will pay the price!

    Ah! Glad to get that off my chest. Maybe there’s a god, maybe not, who knows?

    1. 27.1
      CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

      @xscd:

      But what if our primary sense and perceptive mechanism is our consciousness itself?
      What if all our physical senses only work because (and while) we are conscious of them?

      These terms need elaboration.
      I’m imagining an artificial sensor, which may or may not be connected to a brain interface.
       

      What if our conscious activity stimulates the observable brain activity, and not the other way around?

      The soul antenna argument?
      That’s usually countered by tweaking the brain to demonstrate an arrow of causality.
       

      What if physical reality is just a subset of reality, and all reality is composed of consciousness, and what if all of that consciousness could be described as “God”?

      Several of us have addressed “subjective idealism” in comments under another episode.
       

      And what if this God has a purpose for us and wants us to bow down and worship Him

      It’s not terribly effective at achieving its goals… Unless whatever happens to happen is the intended purpose, in which case its purpose is often NOT worshiping. It doesn’t seem to care about caricatured idols people call “God” either.
       

      He’s GOD!

      What does God need with a starship?
       

      [all reality, composed of consciousness] is infinite, but He’s not infinitely patient. We are angering our Dear Father, and we will pay the price!

      So… we should round up some children/virgins/prisoners to keep the sun rising?
       
      Theism often boils down to the fear, or threat, that induction doesn’t work, and reality could go bonkers (or the hope that it will, just a little, to one’s own benefit).

      1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

        The idealism discussion was looong, spanning several threads.
        This is a better starting point.
         
        Just keep scrolling down till you see David Lowery.

    2. 27.2
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      @xscd
      So those who trick themselves into believing will believe. Talk about an empty truism.

      What if our conscious activity stimulates the observable brain activity, and not the other way around? What if our consciousness is not merely “chemical actions in the brain”?

      That implies that violations of physics regularly happen in the brain. That’s a testable prediction. I’m willing to bet that it will be falsified every time.

      1. corwyn

        What if our conscious activity stimulates the observable brain activity, and not the other way around? What if our consciousness is not merely “chemical actions in the brain”?

        Sadly, this has been shown to be false. Studies have shown that decision making happens in unconscious portions of the brain, and is only observed in the conscious part of the brain, AFTER it is already being acted upon. If consciousness is not merely “chemical actions in the brain’ then it is merely an observer. To be frank, I would rather have it be “chemical actions in the brain” rather than not involved at all.

        1. xscd

          Corwyn says:

          Sadly, this has been shown to be false. Studies have shown that decision making happens in unconscious portions of the brain

          Very interesting. How was that determined? How was any scientific observer able to observe a decision being made in an unconscious portion of the brain? And what exactly does “unconscious portion of the brain” mean? Interesting–

          1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

            Article: Wikipedia – Neuroscience of Free Will, Experiments

      2. xscd

        EnlightenmentLiberal says

        That implies that violations of physics regularly happen in the brain.

        Just out of curiosity, which violation(s) of physics?

        1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

          @xscd:
          Descartes had a dual “non-physical mind + physical body” model with a little snag, the “mind-body problem”…
           
          Article: Wikipedia – Dualism (Philosophy of Mind)

          The intention to “cross the room now” is a mental event and, as such, it does not have physical properties such as force. If it has no force, then it would seem that it could not possibly cause any neuron to fire. However, with Dualism, an explanation is required of how something without any physical properties has physical effects.

           
          Among other things, that crisis of physics led to fun workarounds of Parallelism:
          Matter and minds don’t affect each other or anything else; it just looks that way. :P
           
          Pre-established harmony: God pre-programmed everything and every mind at the beginning of time to mimic cause and effect. We’re all passive observers (actually not even observing, just experiencing programmed sensations). The matter’s still there, changing forms over time as if reactions happen, not that anyone but God can see it.
          Occasionalism: God micromanages every interaction everywhere, live: your body and mind are on his marionette strings, as well as every atom involved in chemical reactions.
           
          Idealists, although classified as monist (only the mental exists), can still be framed as dualists of a different sort: Minds and Ideas instead of Minds and Matter. Thus physics studies patterns of those ideas of objects. For more on that, see the prior idealism discussion I linked above.

        2. EnlightenmentLiberal

          Frank covered it above, but let me be more clear.

          Are you talking to me now? Is your physical body taking action based on conscious choices in your mind? Then obviously your conscious mind has a material effect on your material body. Either:
          1- The conscious choices affect the brain in a way that that distinguishable from mindless forces acting on material objects, which means that I should be able to find particles somewhere in your body which break physics whenever you talk, or
          2- The conscious choices affect the brain in a way that is indistinguishable from physics, which means that your mind is synonymous with your brain.

          The second choice leaves some room for idealists. To really sink that position, consider the plethora of examples of where physical damage to the brain fundamentally damages or changes the mind. With that granted, any remaining idealism is simply homologous to conventional materialism. On this account, once the material brain goes away, so does the mind, whether you call it materialism or idealism. Thus indistinguishable, and thus worthless.

          1. EnlightenmentLiberal

            And by Frank, I mean skycaptain…

      3. AhmNee

        And it goes against everything we know about how the brain works.

        Sam Harris on the Brain and the Soul:

        1. AhmNee

          Damnit! I hate those inline video links. I always forget to tinyurl them to avoid that.

          1. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Indeed! Basically my point. We are agreeing, right? Lol.

          2. AhmNee

            Yes. My comment was in support of yours.

          3. AhmNee

            And Sky Captain’s.

    3. 27.3
      corwyn

      Maybe there’s a god, maybe not, who knows?

      This is better place to start, then to end.

      If you don’t even know if there is a god, how can you say things like:

      God is a personal God

      That is what Tracie was talking about in a previous thread. Assigning attributes to a god you don’t even have evidence exists. Also known as ‘making shit up’.

      1. xscd

        corwyn says

        That is what Tracie was talking about in a previous thread. Assigning attributes to a god you don’t even have evidence exists. Also known as ‘making shit up’.

        It’s not “making sh*t up” if you know for a fact that God exists, even if you have only the evidence of your own experience and can’t provide evidence to an unbeliever sufficient to make him understand that God exists, right? I mean, what difference does it make if you don’t believe in God? If you’re happy and healthy with an atheistic belief system, why not? It’s not like anything bad’s going to happen if you don’t believe.

        I think that part of the problem that Christians and Muslims have is that they feel that everyone must believe in their particular god. They are personally invested in what they see as an urgent need for other people to accept their religious beliefs, when in fact God may not care at all whether people believe in Him or not, since it doesn’t affect His existence or the quality of His rich experience.

        I think that God allows everyone to live and die before they decide whether to believe in God. There’s always room for one more in Heaven, if one wishes to go there. God loves everybody, which of course might make for some awkward moments when Hitler walks into a roomful of nice people in Heaven. But Hitler is probably mortally embarrassed at his own actions and their disastrous, horrible effects during his brief, very misguided life.

        You know, religious people (myself excepted) often talk as though they are convinced of things that are–even on their face–so ridiculous as to make it seem as though they are seriously deluded. It makes me wonder why religious people (I’m not really religious myself) get a free pass for sounding like crazy people when if any of the rest of us spouted some of the nonsense that is regularly espoused as truth on religious TV and other religious media outlets, we would be looked at suspiciously or considered possibly in need of psychiatric help or observation.

        1. AhmNee

          So you’re completely off the ranch and making shit up whole cloth. I was there when I was a believer, too. None of the established religions made sense to me. The bible was written by fallible mortals. So I made shit up, too.

          I wonder how I would have reacted had I found a place like this before I stopped believing instead of the other way around. Would I spewed my make believe all over or would I have been persuaded by reasonable, logical arguments.

          1. xscd

            AhmNee says: “making shit up whole cloth. I was there when I was a believer, too … Would I spewed my make believe all over.”

            Good point. And then there’s this guy, David Barton–

            http://youtu.be/UOj9UxMX2rQ

            What kind of religious crazy is that?! It makes me cringe to listen to this guy–

          2. Narf

            The actions are a lot different, yeah, but the baseline belief isn’t much more rational.

          3. changerofbits

            So you’re completely off the ranch and making shit up whole cloth. I was there when I was a believer, too. None of the established religions made sense to me. The bible was written by fallible mortals. So I made shit up, too.

            I wonder how I would have reacted had I found a place like this before I stopped believing instead of the other way around. Would I spewed my make believe all over or would I have been persuaded by reasonable, logical arguments.

            I’ve often wondered the same. I’m pretty sure I would have just spewed, with confidence in the argument from ignorance. I wasn’t much of a believer, but I was sure that there was some sort of God out there. It wasn’t until becoming a parent, and feeling obligated to figure this God thing out, that I really started to tighten the epistemological and rational screws on my own beliefs. So, at least based on my personal experience, it seems to require the right kind of motivation to undo the God indoctrination, not just reading things that contradict your personal God concept.

          4. Narf

            It’s an even more distant proposition, for me. I was pretty resolved in my disbelief, probably sometime around the age of 10 or 12. I’m certain that the declaration to my parents came at 14, so it must have been a good while before that.

        2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

          @xscd:

          It’s not “making sh*t up” if you know for a fact that God exists

          It’s not uncommon for people to… stray beyond evidence available to them… in explaning phenomena, incorporating fallacies, assumptions, and ad hoc rationalizations, often without realizing what they’re doing. Depending on their confidence in their faculties and/or their ignorance that such mistakes happen, they may know they’re correct nonetheless.
           

          even if you have only the evidence of your own experience and can’t provide evidence to an unbeliever

          If this god makes revelations to more than one person, their accounts can be compared for inconsistencies. Of course, a trickster god could do that deliberately, but that kinda undermines the religion(s) the believers are trying to adhere to.
           
          Video: Non-Stamp Collector – Personal Relationship
           

          It’s not like anything bad’s going to happen if you don’t believe.

          Video: QualiaSoup/TheraminTrees – Betting on Infinity
          Video: QualiaSoup/TheraminTrees – Betting on Infinity, Rebuttals

        3. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

          Article: Not Exactly Rocket Science – Creating God in One’s Own Image

          Through a combination of surveys, psychological manipulation and brain-scanning, he has found that when religious Americans try to infer the will of God, they mainly draw on their own personal beliefs.

        4. corwyn

          It’s not “making sh*t up” if you know for a fact that God exists, even if you have only the evidence of your own experience

          Sure it is. Leaving aside that issue of whether you can ‘know for a fact’ something that you only have personal experience of, assigning attributes, as opposed to observing behaviors, is making shit up.

          I think that God allows everyone to live and die before they decide whether to believe in God.

          Like this. Have you had long conversations with your god about what they allow, or did you just decide that that is the sort of god you want to exist? Since you don’t actually quote his words, I am left thinking it is the latter. Have you researched whether he is true to those words? Have you personally experienced dying?

          It is, in fact, so ridiculous as to make it seem as though you are seriously deluded.

          1. xscd

            corwyn says–

            assigning attributes, as opposed to observing behaviors, is making shit up.

            No it’s not, if one understands some of the attributes of God from one’s own personal experience and perception. In that case, it’s not “assigning attributes” but instead “observing behaviors.” So a person can have intimate, personal knowledge of God and come to an understanding of some of His behaviors and attributes through that direct, personal experience, whether you believe it or not, whether you have any confirming similar personal experience or not, etc.

            The thing is, where believers (really) go astray is in thinking that everyone else should believe as they do, when their own experience should be enough.

            The truth is, our beliefs are more important than facts, because our beliefs determine both which of innumerable facts and data that surround us all the time we consider significant or meaningful, and our beliefs determine what we think that data actually means. This means that our beliefs format our entire experience and determine our decisions, and reality or fact don’t.

            Unfortunately, beliefs of some kind are a pragmatic necessity, or we would be overwhelmed and paralyzed, adrift in a sea of data we cannot comprehend and don’t know how to react to. Our beliefs aggressively limit our experience to something that we can make some sense of, something that at least appears mostly coherent.

            However, because beliefs are so important, it’s also important that they be examined and scrutinized from time to time, so that we aren’t just walking self-delusion factories.

            Just my view. :-)

          2. corwyn

            No it’s not, if one understands some of the attributes of God from one’s own personal experience and perception. In that case, it’s not “assigning attributes” but instead “observing behaviors.”

            Isn’t that exactly what I said?

            Our beliefs aggressively limit our experience to something that we can make some sense of, something that at least appears mostly coherent.

            Maybe yours do. Mine don’t. I include quantum mechanics in my beliefs. Doesn’t mean I can make sense of it. It doesn’t “make sense” in the strictest meaning of the phrase; it doesn’t match the experience of our senses.

          3. EnlightenmentLiberal

            The truth is, our beliefs are more important than facts, because our beliefs determine both which of innumerable facts and data that surround us all the time we consider significant or meaningful, and our beliefs determine what we think that data actually means.

            So, you’re advocating that believers should live in a dreamworld of their construction and be in willful denial of anything which is contrary to the predetermined conclusions? Gotcha.

            In my world, which everyone else in the thread seems to share, facts are those things which are indisputable or not in dispute, and we form our beliefs to conform to the facts. You seem to have it backward.

          4. AhmNee

            No it’s not, if one understands some of the attributes of God from one’s own personal experience and perception. In that case, it’s not “assigning attributes” but instead “observing behaviors.”

            How reliable can that possibly be? You have a more substantial interaction with me than you do your god and what exactly can you tell about my attributes?

        5. EnlightenmentLiberal

          @xscd

          if you know for a fact that God exists, even if you have only the evidence of your own experience and can’t provide evidence to an unbeliever sufficient to make him understand that God exists, right?

          If it’s only first-hand personal experience, then you likely do not know that god exists.
          http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2013/01/21/the-argument-from-it-just-makes-sense-to-me/

          I mean, what difference does it make if you don’t believe in God? If you’re happy and healthy with an atheistic belief system, why not? It’s not like anything bad’s going to happen if you don’t believe.

          What difference does it make? A lot. As Sam Harris says, beliefs are operative. We operate according to our beliefs. If someone is just as happy or more happy with their life believing in god vs not, I would say it’s a fluke, and that’s not a sound course of action, or they’re stuck in a culture where religious belief is demanded, and everyone would be happier off if they ditched religion.

          Further, the idea of a non-proselytizing believer is a fiction. Except in rare cases, most believers are going to talk about it. Even if not conventional evangelization, it puts it in a positive light to other people, which is still evangelizing. It’s almost impossible to hold a belief and not evangelize for it in some fashion. Further, these people vote, which means they are going to be enacting public policy to some degree which is in line with their beliefs. Again, the person who perfectly partitions religious belief from the rest of their life is so rare that it is effectively a fiction.

          What’s the harm in believing a falsehood? Sometimes not that much. Is that a reason to let someone persist in falsehood and not argue them out of it? Hell no.

          decide whether to believe in God

          Heaven

          God loves everybody,

          Sorry – those are mutually exclusive. If there is any punishment whatsoever for non-belief, then the god creature is evil, and worthy only of my scorn and ridicule. Further, we should seek its destruction. If Stargate SG-1 taught me anything, it is that the proper response to evil gods is not worship, but to blow them up. Nuke god! Worked just fine on the goa’uld. And if the god creature is resistant to conventional explosives, then find some magical explosives, like the heroes of Sstargate SG-1 did for the Ori. And if that doesn’t work, then at least “I die free”.
          http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IDieFree
          I die with the satisfaction that I am not a slave, and that I am not an accomplice to the evils perpetuated by that god.
          Related: “I am Spartacus!” “Give me liberty, or give me death!” “Live free or die!”

          1. AhmNee

            To add to what EL said, moderate beliefs that aren’t grounded in rational reasoning give shelter to extreme beliefs that aren’t grounded in rational reasoning. After all, if your beliefs are completely subjective, how do you determine who is right and who is wrong.

            My mother is a buffet theist and tries to espouse that ideal that everyone can believe what they want to believe. But she has no answer when I challenge her to put that to the test for other beliefs. She’s a feminist and so I ask if I have that same right to believe that women are inferior to men? Does she still respect everyone’s beliefs. Of course not. Religion is the only place we seem to give that idea a free pass because there is to real grounding with which to challenge someone else’s batshit-crazy beliefs. Logic, reason, skepticism give one that grounding and help to inform what is objectively true.

            (I do not believe women are inferior to men, BTW. Just to be clear.)

  28. 28
    gshelley

    “Does the Christian God have fee will?” is an interesting question. Not only from the angle of him not being able to go against his nature, but from the omniscient angle.
    If god knows everything that can happen, can he change something? If he is outside of time (whatever that means, it is something that is often claimed), can he make decisions? Can he even think? Can he be confronted with some information and make any sort of choice about what to do?

    1. 28.1
      Narf

      I think fundies would say that he doesn’t have to make decisions, change his mind, or even think, because he already knows everything and is perfect … despite the obvious statements to the contrary, within their own perfect holy book. I’m not sure they would even try to reconcile the contradictions, since … you know, thinking is painful.

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