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Medieval mind meets modern science

I have to rush off to more meetings today — Taslima Nasreen will be speaking this morning — but I got the day off to a laughing start with this review of Hawking’s Curiosity: Did god create the universe?. The reviewer is some conservative Christian minister, and he’s one of those fellows who is really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk. So he turned his television on to watch Stephen Hawking get in his face.

I’ve heard variants of this argument so many times…

Since there is no more proof that the universe began with the Big Bang than there is that Christ was resurrected from the dead we have to engage the element of faith to build the hypothesis. In fact there is a great deal more historical, archaeological and eye witness evidence for the resurrection of Christ than for the Big Bang but that is a subject for another time.

Historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus: None. There are no contemporary accounts of this miracle; even the books of the bible that mention it were written long after his purported death by people who weren’t there.

Archaeological evidence for the resurrection of Jesus: None. I don’t think the market for ginned-up relics to gullible Catholics counts as archaeology.

Eyewitness evidence for the resurrection of Jesus: None. A book saying that there was a guy who saw the resurrection doesn’t count as eyewitness evidence, and witnessing something is actually very poor evidence anyway. Go to a Las Vegas magic show.

Evidence for the Big Bang: ubiquitous and replicable. Aim your radio telescope at the sky and measure the cosmic background radiation. Look at the red shift of the stars as a function of distance, and see that they’re all expanding away. This isn’t a point of dogma, but a product of observation and theory.

Hawking knows a little bit about black holes, and one part of the show explained that time would stop as one entered a black hole — this is another subject that annoyed the reviewer.

The biggest leap Curiosity takes is where it completely misses the mark. Interspersed with Hawking’s remarks and surmising about using the simple kinder alternative of science to explain the universe, we are subsequently taken on a swirling thrill ride through the entire universe to arrive at an un-named giant black hole. It is there we are told that everything, matter, stars, planets and even science’s revered creator, the original sub-atomic particle, will be sucked in and even time itself will cease to exist.

No allusions to the Bible or the science of homeostasis is relied upon to explain fully how, or why, time ceases to exist and the sense of the doom of all things manages to prevail. In some way the entire idea is like a scientifically inspired version of hell. It is hopeless, final and indescribable. Again the faith that would have to be mustered to accept this theory is incomprehensible. The Bible’s version certainly is less cerebrally taxing, has a real historical context, and is for most people still far more credulous.

Oh, no, the bible doesn’t say anything about black holes, therefore, it’s just not believable. The bible also doesn’t say anything about people flying, therefore I’m going to have a really tough time getting home from Oslo on Tuesday.

I snorted a bit when I read “the science of homeostasis”. I’m sure it just sounded good to him, but homeostasis is a biological term that refers to the property of physiological or ecological systems maintaining a stable, constant system by regulatory feedback. We biologists don’t really have anything to say about black holes, I’m sorry to say, except maybe to mention that conditions of intense radiation and tidal forces great enough to shred bacteria probably aren’t going to be conducive to organisms; even space medicine becomes irrelevant in such situations.

But it’s the last line that is a real winner. Yes, I will agree: the bible is less cerebrally taxing, and certainly is the source for people with a willingness to believe any ol’ thing. I suspect he probably meant to write “credible” there, but God must have guided his hand to write the truth, instead.

Comments

  1. says

    The Bible’s version certainly is less cerebrally taxing,

    Unless, of course, you should actually think about it. Then it can be extremely taxing to the brain–at least when you actually try to believe it. If belief isn’t at issue, well, it’s about as deep as any fairy tale.

    has a real historical context,

    Yes, but unfortunately that context explains rather too much of why the Bible claims what it does.

    and is for most people still far more credulous.

    Well, for the credulous to take at face value (with important exceptions), anyway.

    Glen Davidson

  2. nemo the derv says

    In fact there is a great deal more historical, archaeological and eye witness evidence for the resurrection of Christ than for the Big Bang but that is a subject for another time.

    eye witness evidence?

    I would like to call Paul to the stand……oh he’s dead, ok.
    I call Luke…..dead
    John….
    Mathew….

    Wait, let me just jump into my time machine and ask them.
    I’ll come right back as soon as I invent it.

  3. Mark Plus says

    The preacher sounds like another Christian who lives in dread of the coming “Jesus who?” era.

  4. Mark Plus says

    Speaking of time machines, don’t atheists demonstrate that people from “the future” have come back to our time? I’ve met a few people who had the good fortune to grow up as atheists, and to me they seem like characters from an advanced civilization out of science fiction.

  5. says

    I find his skepticism concerning black holes ironic. His very mind is an example of a critical thought black hole from which no reason can escape.

  6. consciousness razor says

    That one is well and truly brainwashed.

    A brief summary of his arguments: “Bible, Bible, Bible. Jesus. Bible. I don’t understand science. Science is a faith. Bible. Jesus. Pascal’s Wager. Bible, Bible.”

    Did I miss anything important?

  7. says

    The biggest leap Curiosity takes

    science’s revered creator

    scientifically inspired version of hell.

    The Bible’s version certainly is less cerebrally taxing

    Well, it’s certainly easy to see why he prefers a less cerebrally taxing delusion, his grasp of reality seems to be on shaky ground.

    What always makes me shake my head is the overwhelming terror people like this have of non-existence. What an awful thing to be so frightened by the realization that yes, some day, you will no longer exist.

    Instead of waking up to the wonders of life, they just crawl further under the bed, cringing and scraping to a make believe psycho daddy.

    :shakes head:

  8. shakrilege says

    Ahh yes, the “No one has seen The Big Bang* happen, therefore it takes faith to believe argument”

    *Note: substitute evolution, abiogenesis, or any other of the many subjects theists don’t understand

  9. Jeebus says

    Quote: “The Bible’s version certainly is less cerebrally taxing”

    This moron is really trying to ape Prof. Gumby. “MY BRAIN HURTS!”

  10. Patricia, OM says

    Historical evidence for Sweet Buttfucked Baby Jesus – none. Yet, these morons continue to pay fuckwit preachers to lie to them.

    It’s down right embarrassing.

  11. Tim DeLaney says

    Historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus: None. There are no contemporary accounts of this miracle; even the books of the bible that mention it were written long after his purported death by people who weren’t there.

    You could add that the gospels were written anonymously, and relied on hearsay reports by unknown witnesses. It’s hard to imagine “evidence” more tenuous than that. I submit to you the best possible example of an oxymoron: “The gospel truth”.

    Take alien abductions as an example. If all we had to rely on were handwritten accounts and reports by people who claimed to have been abducted, we would have evidence that is much more compelling than we have for the resurrection.

    Actually, the most compelling evidence for the very existence of Jesus comes from Saul of Tarsus. Paul (Saul) is arguably just a religious nutjob given to–by his own account–hallucinations. Added to that, some of his epistles are suspected forgeries.

    The capstone of the New Testament, Revelation, is obviously the product of a deranged mind. To read Revelation seriously is to descend into utter madness, yet it forms the basis of many Christian cults. That early Christians considered it canonical is a testament to their gullibility.

    I’m willing to admit that there may have been a wandering preacher named Jesus who was executed by the Romans. Someday, historians will marvel that so much of human history has been heavily influenced by this speculation.

  12. Marella says

    The “I don’t understand it, therefore it can’t be true.” argument. It amazes me that people are prepared to admit such a level of ignorance in public. If I were this uneducated I’d want to keep it quiet.

    Mark Plus
    BTW I was raised atheist due to my atheist mother, and a lot of what goes on in the world makes me feel like I’m from the future (I hope). I just don’t get how grown-ups can believe this crap.

  13. raven says

    The Bible’s version certainly is less cerebrally taxing, has a real historical context, and is for most people still far more credulous.

    This isn’t true at all. Unless he defines members of nonxian religions as nonpeople.

    Xians only make up 28% of the world population. There are Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists, etc., who have their own creation stories (and/or accept astronomy) and could care less what the bible says.

    Even most xians worldwide don’t have a problem with the Big Bang.

    This minister does what the fundies do often.

    Real People = Members Of My Fundie Cult

    The large majority of the earth’s population are what? Background noise? Scenery? Fake People? Illusions? Subhumans?

  14. Rumtopf says

    Pfft. A black hole can’t be hell when time doesn’t exist there. Time needs to exist in hell so you can suffer forever, duhh.

  15. Alan Macphail says

    No..he didn’t go there did he…

    The difference between the believer and the secular scientist after that is, that one group can only be wrong; the other can be wrong and condemned. The best science can’t make men who can still think, gamble on a losing proposition as bad as that.

    …Ya, he did.

  16. raven says

    @17 Pascal’s Wager? Did he manage to get the false Trilemma in as well.

    The difference between xians and Hindus is that one can be either wrong and condemned to hell for eternity or wrong and set back on the wheel of life. It makes more sense to believe in Hinduism. Even if you are wrong, the penalty is less severe. LOL.

  17. Lenin's Clone says

    Hawking is brilliant! I can’t think of anything better than being like him.

    Except of course being able to go to the bathroom on your own.

  18. Tom S. Fox says

    … he’s one of those fellows who is really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk.

    Recently, I’ve been noticing more and more often that people write “one of the [plural noun] who/that [singular verb].” Why do people do that? It clearly should be “fellows who are,” not “fellows who is!”

  19. Ragutis says

    So, his argument is “Larninz hard!” therefore Jesus?

    I left a comment pointing to the Wikipedia article on Georges Lemaître. I’m not confident he’ll check it out, but perhaps someone who sees it there will.

    WTF is that place? WorldNetDaily.eh? Limbaugh isn’t the Rush I thought folks listened to up there.

  20. Arcadia's ashes says

    I find this weird Christian idea that there is a mound of historical evidence for Jesus’s anything very strange. Okay, so they have been told that it exists (it doesn’t) but why don’t they KNOW it doesn’t? Don’t they want to SEE it?

    @Lenin’s clone 3:30am

    I can’t think of anything better than being like him.

    Except of course being able to go to the bathroom on your own.

    Classy! coz he’s LOLdisabled!!

    Srsly, Don’t do that.

  21. Snoof says

    It makes more sense to believe in Hinduism. Even if you are wrong, the penalty is less severe.

    I’d have to disagree with your cost-benefit analysis there. Consider the payoff matrix:

    Follow the tenets of Hinduism, Hinduism is true: reincarnation to a better life
    Follow the tenets of Hinduism, Christianity is true: eternal torment

    Follow the tenets of Christianity, Hinduism is true: reincarnation to a worse life
    Follow the tenets of Christianity, Christianity is true: paradise

    The traditional Pascal weighting for these payoffs is that paradise is worth positive infinity and eternal torment is worth negative infinity. I have no idea how you’d value the various reincarnations, but unless they’re also worth positive and negative infinity respectively, following the tenets of Christianity has a better payoff in this matrix.

    Of course, it’s still Pascal’s wager and all the standard critiques apply.

  22. Patrick Wm. Connally says

    Most of us have a little training in scholarship that unfortunately the young generation is missing. These folks are not following the literal Bible but what the chapter in Anthro 101 forty years ago call the “Morals and Folkways” of the fundimentalist subculture. Islamic and Christian and Jewish fundimentalists don’t literally follow their book, they try to follow the folkways which may or may not be written.

    Most students of history or art history read the Bible, it is so part of our Euro heritage. I can confuse most Bible people by quotes from the book, I am full of vinigar enough to have bookmarked a couople to use.

    So to help these I call the “pork eating Bible thumpers” but that will not get any one to change, but do a pr piece about the wonder of reality. Since coming to this site, truly I will look on octopui as something wonderful beyond Minoian art.

    If this was really about the Bible, Nancy Reagan would have been executed before she left California, Chrisitan fanatics would be shooting Bankers for charging interest instead of doctors and there would be no ferral pig population or tatoo parlors. We could start the stun gun sacrifice to saction meat, not to be cheap, but to be green by eating less. Yours for neo structural materialisum.

  23. Patrick Wm. Connally says

    I am sorry and now everyone knows why I not electable, I did not mean to give the impression Bankers or anyone should literaly be harmed except to be paid for what they produce.

    It is just so strange that for people who claim to have read the book, they focus on gay guys and not pigs or charging interest, which for hetrosexuals, health and finance should be more important.

  24. echidna says

    Oh, I made the mistake of going to his site to look. The minister dominates the comments as well. For example:

    But when science takes away auuthority from God and possibly leads people to their ultimate destruction that is no longer just human error, that is antichrist. even if you know little about the Bible I don’t think I need to tell you the source or the inspiration from which that is derived.

    He’s just plain anti-reality.

  25. echidna says

    Oh, and Tom Fox@20, “One of the fellows” Is not a plural noun – it is a singular “one” of the fellows.

  26. says

    Echidna, Tom Fox is right. Logically it groups as –
    He’s one of (those fellows who are really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk)

    Not, as you suggest –
    He’s one of (those fellows) who is really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk.

    The smaller the group of fellows he’s in, the better :-)

    /nitpicking

  27. DLC says

    Shorter Christian Theologist: “Science Hard, God Easy. Me Pick God. ”

    To which I can only think to say:
    “Candygram for Mongo! Candygram for Mongo!”

  28. Bookworm says

    The odds are much better than average that if you look at this minister’s bible, there will be extremely well-thumbed and bookmarked pages, and whole sections that remain pristine and only read to satisfy the demands of the ‘read it all once a year’ mentality. His ‘canon within a canon’ will be all the bits that he privileges to satisfy his sweeping ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ gestures. We used to start our bible students off with a lesson in perspective: take a sheet of paper, and write down the qualifiers you use for god. Lord, saviour, provider … Then imagine yourself to be a Canaanite mother who is about to be run through after watching her family slaughtered by Israelites because god told them the Canannites were in the way, and might lead them astray. It was so very hard for the students to articulate tyrant or murderer as descriptions of god, but at least they began to consider perspective. This minister hasn’t even begun his baby steps; I doubt he’ll ever be off his knees (all puns intended).

  29. ConcernedJoe says

    I say Santa Claus exists:

    Are there many eye witness accounts documented? Check!

    Do many people believe in him? Check!

    Does believing give many people hope? Check!

    Does what people believe he accomplishes make many people happy? Check!

    Does believing in him help people do the things we say they should do? Check!

    Are there social rituals that give joy that accrue to believers and do people capitalize on it? Check!

    Are there abstract upsides to believing and purported downsides for not? Check!

    Does thinking about it rationally cause cognitive dissonance? Check!

    Yup – all fits to together! I believe in Santa Claus – why not?

  30. echidna says

    Cath,

    You’re right, I think.
    I did need to think hard to unravel my misconception. Thanks.

  31. NancyNew says

    DLC@30 writes…
    Shorter Christian Theologist: “Science Hard, God Easy. Me Pick God. ”

    To which I can only think to say:
    “Candygram for Mongo! Candygram for Mongo!”

    WIN! WIN! WIN!

  32. sailor1031 says

    Well the Rev. is right about one thing; the holy babble is easier on the brain – no math in it! And if he don’t believe in black holes he only has to prove that Einstein’s equations are wrong – that shouldn’t be too hard for a guy with a direct line to the “creator of the universe”….

    And if he’s this angry about the big bang (so last century)he’s really going to hate the cyclic universe….and the math that goes with that!

  33. echidna says

    Carson,

    I mentioned this to my chum about there being no historical evidence for J.C.

    Get it right. There is no contemporary historical evidence for Jesus.
    There is only evidence for the existence of a religion based on such a character. Just like Horus.
    It’s a bit rude to put out links to apologetic sites, and expect us to read and critique them for you. Too many people have just thrown urls, and ignored the detailed explanations that have been given (kind of like a super-lazy Gish-gallop) for me to want to engage with urls.

    You need to put some skin in the game.

    What do you find compelling about these articles? What do you find questionable?

    Having said that, I did glance at the first article, which agrees that there are no contemporary secular writings about Jesus. It then ridiculously postulates that none would be expected anyway. It somehow fails to mention that there are no contemporary writings at all – even religious ones.

    Nobody at all, even those writing about Jewish history and religion, made any reference to Jesus during his lifetime. There are no contemporary records of any sort. This is expected? Really? For the son of a god, who will cast those who do not believe in Jesus in a lake of fire for eternity? Even thousands of years later?

    Only a monstrous god would behave this way. The only excuse for such behaviour would be non-existence.

  34. says

    We know time flows differently if you’re moving fast. We have super-precise clocks and things which move really fast. So much so that your wristwatch would be off by a second if you flew on the Concord, or that the clocks in every GPS satellite tick at a speed slightly slower than that of every earthbound one.

    Look up the ‘Gravity Probe’ missions. Fascinating stuff about direct observations of the curvature of spacetime, and how our universe is far more complex than it appeared to Newton.

    (My spouse was a programmer for the GP-B mission, which was really my dream position, but I can live vicariously through my spouse, right?)

  35. sailor1031 says

    @31; Carson – I don’t doubt that there was an itinerant jewish apocalyptic prophet named yeshue bar yussef who was executed by the romans as a subversive. But the available evidence, as sketchy and tenuous as it is, doesn’t support more than that. And don’t forget that yeshue was a very common name amongst the jews of that time and place – so we really don’t know if there has been conflation of myths about different people…..

  36. Dr. I. Needtob Athe says

    Again the faith that would have to be mustered to accept this theory is incomprehensible.

    It’s bad enough that he misunderstands scientific terms, he doesn’t even seem to know what faith is. He should have spoken for himself and shortened it to simply, “this theory is incomprehensible.”

  37. says

    Regarding ‘homeostatis:’

    To a person who doesn’t understand even the basics of science at all, reading science feels like reading normally for a while, then suddenly, randomly, a ‘science word’ appears, and that makes what you’re reading feel more ‘scientific.’

    To that person, then, it seems reasonable that randomly adding a ‘science word’ will make what he’s writing feel more ‘scientific.’

    The ‘science words’ are a sort of punctuation to make the writing sciency, just as adding a few exclamation points makes writing more exciting.

    I suspect the idea that ‘science words’ actually have specific meanings that other people understand has not occurred to this person.

    The gravitational peristalsis of his writing, though, is entirely cromulent. Quantum.

  38. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I’m certainly impressed by Bresciani’s argument from personal incredulity. But I’m not impressed in the way Bresciani would want me to be.

  39. Alan Macphail says

    @Snoof says #24

    The main failing of Pascal’s Wager ( other then the false dichotomy ) is the “believing” part. You can’t just follow the tenets. All gods can read minds, or at least the xtian one does, they claim. So it’s not like deciding who to vote for or with computer system to buy, oops OK, bad examples which laundry detergent to buy and hoping for the best. You actually have to believe. Of course, the advice xtians will give you is; “Fake it ’til you Make it”. But be quiet about it so you don’t discourage other doubters (i.e. Don’t frighten off the other punters)

  40. echidna says

    The gravitational peristalsis of his writing, though, is entirely cromulent. Quantum.

    Ramen.

  41. says

    I always find it hilarious when theists claim that it takes more faith to accept a particular scientific finding, thus implying that faith is A Bad Thing; then when pressed on some religious point such as the resurrection or other miracle claims, they barricade themselves behind their own faith. I would laugh if it weren’t so pathetic.

    Actually, I think I will laugh, heartily.

  42. DaveL says

    He wants to explain with references to homeostasis how time ceases to exist at a singularity? Let me give it a shot:

    As one approaches a gravitational singularity, the tidal forces experienced by a living being would become arbitrarily large. When they become large enough to rip apart living cells, homoeostasis gets owned.

    Does that help?

  43. Anubis Bloodsin III says

    Historical evidence for not only the mere existence of Christ but also the veracity of the tales that surround the invention is just xian meme, passed on and added to and twisted to fit human aspiration,

    When the moldy layers are peeled back, like an onion skin…there is just an ambiguous rumor….and it seems speckled with a great deal of latter days medieval wishful thinking and heavily influenced by a slowly crumbling roman empire with a politically expedient agenda.
    A political agenda that eventually fell by default to the pope-hood and the Holy roman Catholic Church…..”Domination”

    Paul was debatable the actual architect of the nonsense, but he was driven by base vision and thoughts of xian empire and, of course, an eye on more earthly rewards instead of the oft boasted divine revelation mantra!
    Seems he over egged the cake!

    ‘Christ’ was just a handy concept to hide behind and promote, the puppeteers had some skill, we see the results today.
    And it also demonstrates that some folks have, advantage and power, as a driving force, it had bugger all to do with some social terrorist espousing wishy washy liberalism, interspersed with a little megalomania gleaned from the comic book beliefs of his youth that dealt with older and more prosaic gods and goddesses anyway pissing off the Roman Garrison a couple of hundred years earlier, then first documentation, did not end well for him apparently,

    Again a conclusion that would seem to better fit the drift of a vague superhero story, a legend if you will!

    The xian meme was found to be a handy tool to encourage corruptness and political maneuver it is that meme that the church promotes today…not the ‘hero!’.

    But evidence a ‘son of a sky fairy’…zilch…there is none…never was… never will be!

  44. Aquaria says

    he’s one of those fellows who is really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk.

    Recently, I’ve been noticing more and more often that people write “one of the [plural noun] who/that [singular verb].” Why do people do that? It clearly should be “fellows who are,” not “fellows who is!”

    Were you sleeping during the classes about subject-verb agreement and antecedents?

    The who refers back to “one”, not “fellows”. Prepositional phrases are like adjectives or adverbs–they’re modifiers, and you don’t have the verb match what’s in the prepositional phrase, but what it’s modifying.

    So, in this case, “of those fellows” is modifying/describing “one.” So you make the verb match “one.”

  45. René says

    Aquaria

    Were you sleeping during the classes about subject-verb agreement and antecedents?

    Your teacher must have been very bad at logic, Aquaria, and probably did not know a thing about sets.

  46. says

    The biggest lie peddled by this credulous fool and his ilk:

    All propositions are of the same quality.

    They accuse non-believers of moral relativism by using false assumptions: The only certain morality comes from god, therefore morality from other sources is relative to the situation. They say this as if it’s a bad thing, as if moral relativity is the same as amorality. Some theists go so far as to declare the theory of general relativity as bad, simply because it has the word “relativity” in it.

    But then they go on to promote epistemological relativity. “What you view as real depends on your worldview,” they say. “My proposition that the universe started 6,000 years ago with a single Word is worth just as much as your stupid, unwitnessed, unevidenced Big Bang thingee.”

    Sure, What you believe depends on what you believe. That tautology is self-evident, and worthless. But the reality of the universe is independent of what you believe.

    Yet this reality-based relativism is exactly what these yahoos are peddling. They have to strip away the epistemological underpinnings of science in order to put their own favorite beliefs on equal footing. Then they arbitrarily declare their belief superior.

    That is the only thing he is doing here. It’s the single note he’s singing.

    It’s like they’re tone-deaf to the music of reality.

    And it pisses me off.

  47. says

    René:

    Your teacher must have been very bad at logic, Aquaria, and probably did not know a thing about sets.

    Unfortunately, English is not based on mathematical logic, nor set theory.

    The subject of the sentence is “one,” not “fellows.” “Fellows” is a modifier to “one.” Therefore, for subject/verb agreement, “is” is proper.

  48. G.Shelley says

    There is historical evidence for the existence of Christ – the gospels. It isn’t contemporary, but it is evidence. Very weak evidence, written by unknown people at an unknown time and copied for several centuries by more unknown people an unknown number of times till we find the first actual physical copies several times later.
    Common counter arguments are that we wouldn’t expect there to be contemporary reports, that the historians who were around at the time wouldn’t have mentioned Jesus. This is only true if we strip out all the extraordinary events, such as the zombie uprising, the sun vanishing and even the tearing of the veil in the temple.
    Few of the people who claim that the historians would have had no reason no mention Jesus are also willing to reject these events.
    They will also claim that this was an oral culture and that the people close to Jesus were to entrenched in this to want to write about it, and that Paul didn’t mention any of the events of Jesus’ life when he was writing as the people who he was writing to already knew all the details so there would be no reason to. I’ve never been able to comprehend how they hold this view.

  49. says

    G.Shelley:

    There is historical evidence for the existence of Christ – the gospels.

    That’s about the same as saying there’s historical evidence for Gilgamesh, or Beowulf, or Odin, or John Titor.

    The gospels aren’t even evidence of the weakest sort. The weakest sort would be first-hand eyewitness accounts. Stronger would be a record of his trial and execution (which would exist, if he were truly execute by Romans. They did like their records.) Stronger still would be physical evidence, of course. There should be physical evidence of the Zombie Uprising of 33.

    The gospels are no more evidence for Jesus than the Iliad is evidence for Achilles near-invulnerability.

  50. Toiletman says

    Let’s just assume there is a god that does reveal itself to people to spread a message. I’m a megalomanic so I substitute god with me because it’s shorter to write. I have now several problems. Is that person capable of spreading the message?Is the person and the culture it domintes capable of bringing the same message to generations to come. What about the other people? Should I punish them for something they never knew? (That’s what medieval Christianty invented the “limbo” for, virtuous non-christians but this was not part of the bible).

    Ok now let’s have a look at Judaism 1. There are absolute no archeological evidence for anything from the bible except for those when the Bible mentions other peoples. The biblical time jews had no writing system. Epic fail. Judaism was an oral tradition and as thus altered every generation.
    Then there seemed to be a revolutionary rabbi who said some stuff that was not acceptable for the jewish temple elites. He had some followers. Some of them later wrote something about it but most people only wrote about something they already heard from somebody so the NT is no authentic source but had also decades or even centuries to take. So Judaism 2.0 does not much better than the previous entry of the show.
    The third one is not a sequel but a reimagined version of the whole series with a different ending. The main part was done by a central director without historical knowledge ofthe time he wrote about. But what he did was more day to day rule as a godking and Quran and Hadith were only compiled after his death aswell.

    So what I want to say: Even if there is a god and it revealed himself to somebody, it is still very very very unlikely those religions still have much to do with it.

    Of course, it’s easy to dismiss all religions as bullshit, which they actually are but one needs such kind of arguments to make people believing in god atleast realise the truth about religion even if they still believe in a deity.

  51. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Contented Reader,

    It is called cargo cult science… It’s not real science, but it is perfectly adequate to make your arguments orthochronous!

    Crissa,

    Good grief, you must have spent millions of years on transatlantic flights :)

  52. Iain Walker says

    Snoof (#24):

    The traditional Pascal weighting for these payoffs is that paradise is worth positive infinity and eternal torment is worth negative infinity.

    And notice just how problematic this assumption is.

    First of all, if the infinite utility is supposed to be a consequence of an afterlife that is infinitely prolonged, then it seems questionable that the utility of such an existence sums arithmetically. There’s a certain amount of subjectivity involved here, but it seems at least as plausible that the utility of an infinitely prolonged existence asymptotically approaches a finite limit. And it gets even worse if the “eternity” of the afterlife is conceived of as being timeless, since (a) the “bliss” or “torment” would be a single, frozen, unvarying experience and it’s hard to see what positive (or even negative) utility one could put on such a diminished existence, and (b) the notion of nontemporal experience is in any case incoherent.

    An alternative justification of infinite utility might be in terms of the intensity of what is experienced in the afterlife – infitely itense bliss or infinitely intense torment. But this seems even less plausible – it seems entirely reasonable to suppose that for any beings with finite senses there is a finite limit beyond which degrees of bliss or torment can no longer be distinguished.

    Secondly, it’s not at all clear that the “blissful” afterlife of traditional theism actually has much positive value to begin with. This is partly because it’s rarely spelt out very clearly what the afterlife is supposed to consist of, but when it is, it’s not always very appealing. The notion of the beatific vision, for example, in which believers are rewarded by getting to sit around adoring God and basking in his radiance, is liable to strike a lot of people as a banal, dehumanising existence – being a Disney princess on a methadone drip, as (I think it was) Aquaria once memorably put it.

    So quite apart from all its other flaws, the Wager demands that you place your bets in the hope of a vague and dubious payoff, when it’s not even clear how (or indeed whether) that payoff can be realised even if what you’re betting on is true. In other words, the guarantee of the promised payoff if you bet correctly is questionable at best, but it’s that very guarantee that gives the Wager what little traction it has.

  53. René says

    Nigel, I don’t buy that at all. It happens in my language all the time, too. It’s just simply obeying a rule. Dumb.

    As somebody in the above already mentioned the who refers to the fellows not to one.

    Just one of the dollars that were stolen, was ever found again. So, it was one of the dollars that were stolen.

  54. Quodlibet says

    Of all the dollars that were stolen, one was red.
    One of the dollars was red. One was.
    “of the dollars” is a modifying prepositional phrase.

    .

    “…he’s one of those fellows who is really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk.”

    Of all the fellows who are annoyed, he is one. He is.

    “of those fellows” is a modifying prepositional phrase; it is not the subject of the sentence.

    /pedantic

  55. raven says

    But when science takes away auuthority from God and possibly leads people to their ultimate destruction that is no longer just human error, that is antichrist. even if you know little about the Bible I don’t think I need to tell you the source or the inspiration from which that is derived.

    This show the minister is a crackpot among other things.

    science = antichrist derived from satan, the devil.

    It’s a very common fundie doctrine. Henry Morris, one of the founders of modern creationism (ICR) claimed that the theory of evolution was invented by satan and handed down to Nimrod at the Tower of Babel in Shinar. Of course, he has no evidence for this but that never stops them from lying.

    Science created our modern Hi Tech 21st century civilization and is responsible for US world preeminence. All fundie xianity has done is hold our society back, sponsor xian terrorism, and assassinate a few MDs here and there.

  56. Pierce R. Butler says

    In fact there is a great deal more historical, archaeological and eye witness evidence for the resurrection of Christ than for the Big Bang…

    Technically speaking, he has a point. None of the evidence for the Big Boom comes from history, archaeology, or eye-witnesses.

    As for the historical Jesus, we do have accepted contemporary documentation for one:

    … the trial before Pilate, with the Jewish rulers standing by, filled as it is with fatal implausibilities, must be a fiction, and its origin is, again, not far to seek. Mark borrowed it from Josephus’s story of another Jesus, Jesus ben-Ananias.
    An incident more alarming still had occurred four years before the war at a time of exceptional peace and prosperity for the City. One Jeshua, son of Ananias, a very ordinary yokel, came to the feast at which every Jew is supposed to set up a tabernacle for God. As he stood in the temple he suddenly began to shout: “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the Sanctuary, a voice against bridegrooms and brides, a voice against the whole people.” Day and night he uttered this cry as he went through all the streets. Some of the more prominent citizens, very annoyed at these ominous words, laid hold of the fellow and beat him savagely. Without saying a word in his own defence or for the private information of his persecutors, he persisted in shouting the same warning as before. The Jewish authorities, rightly concluding that some supernatural force was responsible for the man’s behaviour, took him before the Roman procurator. There, though scourged till his flesh hung in ribbons, he neither begged for mercy nor shed a tear, but lowering his voice to the most mournful of tones answered every blow with “Woe to Jerusalem!” When Albinus – for that was the procurator’s name – demanded to know who he was, where he came from and why he uttered such cries, he made no reply whatever to the questions but endlessly repeated his lament over the City, till Albinus decided he was a madman and released him (The Jewish War VI 302). Four years later, his prophecy was fulfilled by the Roman siege, during which Jesus ben-Ananias was killed. … Jesus comes to Jerusalem for one of the great festivals and creates a prophetic disturbance in the temple. He preaches soon-coming judgment, the destruction of the temple, and he says it will spell the end of ordinary life, for example, weddings (Matt. 24:38). The elders of the people haul him before the Roman procurator, who interrogates him but gets only silence for an answer. Puzzled, the procurator asks him where he is from (John 19:9) He decides to have him flogged and let him go (Luke 23:22b). Which Jesus are we talking about here? Both. Yet again, Mark has retrojected the events of the subsequent generation into the time of Jesus.
    — Robert M. Price, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition?, pg 314

  57. chigau (*_-) says

    That eternal blissful boredom will be alleviated by not having a brain to be bored with. (take that, grammar police!)
    What would it take to bore a soul?

  58. raven says

    This crackpot minister also missed a few more of antichrist-inspired-science’s findings that contradict the bible.

    According to the bible, the earth is flat, and the sky is a dome held up by pillars. The dome has doors in it so god can open them and pour water on us when he is annoyed. The stars are just lights stuck on the dome.

    The sun orbits the earth which is the center of the universe and the moon is a self illuminated disk.

    26% of the US fundies are Geocentrists and have no problem with the earth being the center of the solar system. Many of them believe the moon glows by itself despite the findings of the Apollo missions, among other data.

    The Flat Earthers still exist but aren’t too common. It’s not clear how many think the stars are just lights stuck on a dome. Might be a few. In for a penny, in for a pound. If you are going to be a crackpot might as well believe a hundred dumb things as one.

    BTW, the true enemy of fundie xianity and this minister isn’t the antichrist, or science. It is reality. Science is just the messenger.

  59. Dhorvath, OM says

    If we saw in infrared we could get pretty close to eyewitnessing the big bang. We can point our telescopes at the far distant past and take pictures of it in a fashion dramatically different from relying on heresay documents composed after events and recorded even later still.

  60. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    @Pierce R. Butler

    None of the evidence for the Big Boom comes from history, archaeology, or eye-witnesses.

    I do not agree with the latter statement. You can see the big bang with “your own eyes” only 400000 years into it – just point a radio dish at the sky and map the 2.7 Kelvin signal. There’s even a picture
    (Warning: NSFWITBB)

    Does it not count as an eye witness account only because the light has been traveling 14 billion years rather than 10 nanoseconds as in your average traffic accident?

  61. Frank B says

    or that the clocks in every GPS satellite tick at a speed slightly slower than that of every earthbound one.

    According to Ohio State’s Astronomy website GPS satellites tick faster (38 microseconds per day) than ground clocks. General Relativity has a greater affect than Special Relativity in this case.

  62. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Frank B.,

    The way in which these two subtle effects within the theory partially, but not entirely cancel, and in the end give the correct prediction to great accuracy, is clearly an illustration of how devious and cunning Satan can be to lead us astray from the wisdom contained in… errr… some old books.

  63. Erp says

    The gospels aren’t even evidence of the weakest sort. The weakest sort would be first-hand eyewitness accounts. Stronger would be a record of his trial and execution (which would exist, if he were truly execute by Romans. They did like their records.) Stronger still would be physical evidence, of course. There should be physical evidence of the Zombie Uprising of 33.

    The gospels are no more evidence for Jesus than the Iliad is evidence for Achilles near-invulnerability.

    Actually they are historical evidence, historical evidence often is hearsay or we wouldn’t have much. Historians will look at the biases of the writers (they considered themselves followers of Jesus), will look at what is physically possible and likely to be known (throw out miracles, the conflicting birth stories) and look at what makes sense given that Christians did exist (something started the religion). As for the Roman records, they could have existed and were most certainly destroyed within a few decades (the area was wracked by war and Jerusalem sacked before the end of the first century CE). Information would have been sent back to Rome only in the case of a major figure (e.g., Roman citizen, socially prominent local figure such as a high priest, or a rebel who had successfully started an insurrection that required a major crackdown); Jesus was none of these (at most he was a rebel that has unsuccessfully started an insurrection) and Pilate was not exactly known as a merciful ruler. The records at Rome themselves have long since been destroyed unless copied into the few histories that have survived (and frankly Christians weren’t that important in the greater scheme of things until several centuries later by which time decay if nothing else had taken care of any records).

  64. raven says

    There is historical evidence for the existence of Christ – the gospels.

    If that is all they have, they have nothing.

    The gospels are clearly fiction, a popular literary form. We know of ca. 60 gospels even today, besides the ones in the bible. They all contradict each other.

    There are some serious dogs that didn’t bark about the jesus story.

    1. Jesus himself didn’t leave a single writing behind. C’mon this is god here. Any third grader could write something and a 6th grader could write a lot. Why couldn’t jesus/god leave a comprehensible and concise instruction manual behind?

    Daniel Crossans thinks jesus and his followers might have been illiterate. People from their class commonly were.

    2. There are no contemporary historical accounts about the life and death of god on earth, despite a lot of historians being alive at that time. Jesus/god was a rather obscure figure while he was slumming on earth.

    3. There were potentially tens of thousands at least eyewitnesses to the life and death of jesus/god on earth. He wasn’t very convincing. Today we call these people, the Jews. Jesus/god was (supposedly) seen by lots and lots of people, very few of whom bought his story.

  65. says

    Sigh. Chalk another one up to the “I don’t get science. Therefore, The Bible!” club.

    The Bible’s version certainly is less cerebrally taxing, has a real historical context, and is for most people still far more credulous.

    The irony is strong with this one.

  66. raven says

    Actually they are historical evidence, historical evidence often is hearsay or we wouldn’t have much.

    No they aren’t. They are fiction, as convincing as Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars.

    This comes from ancient and modern form criticism and higher criticism mostly. From studying the documents themselves.

    We know when they were written, approximately. Long after the supposed events.

    We know how they were written to some extent. Matthew and Luke just took Mark’s story and rewrote it. They freely changed things, rearranged things, and dropped things out. Clearly they didn’t consider Mark the inerrant sacred word of god. Mark was just a spare parts bin to them.

    We know why they were written. Social, political, and religious reasons. These aren’t history, they are propaganda for one sect or viewpoint. That is why there are many dozens of gospels.

    Dozens of books and countless articles have been on this and it is taught in most seminaries and a lot of secular universities. Read Ehrman, Crossans, Borg, Spong, Mack and many more scholars before you start babbling like an idiot.

  67. nemo the derv says

    contented reader @41

    To that person, then, it seems reasonable that randomly adding a ‘science word’ will make what he’s writing feel more ‘scientific.’

    You just explained every Star Trek episode ever.

  68. Pierce R. Butler says

    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis @ # 64: You can see the big bang with “your own eyes” only 400000 years into it – just point a radio dish at the sky and map the 2.7 Kelvin signal.

    I – and I suspect just about every court – would not consider an instrumental reading as eye witness.

    Erp @ # 68 – pls read my # 60. Do you think Jeshua son of Ananias qualified as “a major figure”? Even better, read, e.g., Pliny the Elder – would he have missed the sun going black or the Jerusalem Zombie Pride Parade?

  69. says

    But when science takes away auuthority from God and possibly leads people to their ultimate destruction that is no longer just human error, that is antichrist. even if you know little about the Bible I don’t think I need to tell you the source or the inspiration from which that is derived.

    This show the minister is a crackpot among other things.

    science = antichrist derived from satan, the devil.

    The scary thing about statements like this is that people often take it one step further and imply that ANYTHING that “takes away authority from god” is “of Satan” and therefore to be shunned. Which means no independent thought, no independent sense of morality, no independence period, because to be independent means you’ve rejected god and accepted Satan. People like this preacher have thoroughly accepted the idea that it is impossible for anyone to be “good without god.” They’re the ones who think so little of humanity that they can’t comprehend people being able to live and work together without the threat of eternal damnation hanging over our heads – it’s “be good or Dad will punish you” writ on a cosmic scale.

  70. nemo the derv says

    In support of raven’s argument @71

    People acutally practice Jedism. It’s mostly a joke but there are those that are serious.

    There have been suicide attempts of persons who wanted to be reincarnated as a Navi (Yes, the blue Avatar people).

    Scientology was started by a writer of bad science fiction who pretty much admitted he wanted to start a cult.

    Religion has bearing on reality in the same way that some movies are “based on a true story”. Fiction inspired by truth is still fiction

  71. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    I – and I suspect just about every court – would not consider an instrumental reading as eye witness.

    You mean someone watching a murder with night vision goggles is not acceptable evidence in a court? Did not know that…

  72. raven says

    People acutally practice Jedism.

    People actually practice Mormonism, Scientology, and Rev. Sun Myung Moonism. Jesus the second is still kicking around in Korea.

    We’ve seen a lot of religions made up in the light of recent history. Happens often.

    It doesn’t take much to start a new religion. The level of evidence required is more or less zero.

    A lot of people believe Moon, a divorced Korean excon, is jesus christ the second. For no other reason than because he says he is.

  73. Alan Macphail says

    @Lenin’s Clone #19

    I’ve just discover BBC’s Mock the Week of you tube. You would be Frankie Boyle in disguise would you.

  74. RSA says

    This is not a mere review of the program but rather it is a purview of the premise on which it is based.

    The author certainly likes to use big words.

  75. nemo the derv says

    I mispelled actually and it ended up in a blockquote
    *cringe*
    I hate it when I do that.

  76. Pierce R. Butler says

    Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis @ # 76: You mean someone watching a murder with night vision goggles is not acceptable evidence in a court?

    Dunno if that’s ever happened, but if so have no doubt some defense lawyer had a field day with it.

    All I know of night vision tech comes from tv (does that count as witnessing it? hah!) and articles, but I get the distinct impression that, say, facial recognition with same wouldn’t be too reliable.

    Now, if those amazing CMB images came out showing a bearded old badass apparently shouting commands, the science-proves-Dog people would have a much better case than they do…

  77. Abelard says

    The so-called corroborating evidences of jesus’ life in Tacitus and Josephus are not even as rock solid as christians would hope. The earliest manuscripts of these texts that we have are from the 9th and 10th century. That’s almost a 1000 year historical difference, during which time the texts were copied by the hands of undoubtably a few christian cultists. In the josephus case, the testimonium flavianum, it is clear from variant readings that this passage was tampered with, and perhaps even forged. It is difficult to determine forgery in tacitus but, given the time period, and the well-attested phenomena of christian antiquity forgery, many would say the chances of a monastic forgery are not insignificant. The cultist Justin Martyr wrote at the time of the evangelists when the myth of jesus life was being created, and his reference to the so-called contemporary acta pilati is the only one in existence. The references by Sextus Julius Africanus to thallus and Phlegon are from the 3rd century, well after the myth was created. Sextus’ chronographiai was one of the first christian attempts at a continuous history from Creation to the present day, including all biblical accounts, and influenced Eusebius’ history which would come to dominate christian medieval historiography in later centuries. (Why this website doesn’t mention this important point is unknown. I guess they wanted to make it seem that Sextus was a secular historian on the same level with tacitus in order to add credibility). The other Greco-Roman sources, Pliny and Lucian, don’t mention jesus’ life at all but only christian cultists. There is no doubting that there were christian cultists in the 2nd century but this evidence doesn’t speak at all about jesus’ life. The rabbanic literature points to the practices of the mystery cults in palastine. The only non-metaphorical reference dates to the 2nd century, well after the myth was created.

    I find it rather funny that christians will hold up these extremely tenuous sources, especially tacitus and josephus, from the 9th and 10th century, but not mention the explosion of apocryphal material about jesus’ life in manuscripts of the 10th century onward. All textual and archaeological evidence points to the creation of a religious myth on par with the Greco-Roman myths of antiquity and largely designed to supplant them.

  78. consciousness razor says

    To that person, then, it seems reasonable that randomly adding a ‘science word’ will make what he’s writing feel more ‘scientific.’

    You just explained every Star Trek episode ever.

    I think we all do it to some extent. We tend to use words as a placeholder for actual explanations. Once we’ve learned the word, we feel as if we understand what it refers to, even though we don’t. Then we can make up all sorts of pseudo-explanations with our new, fancy piece of jargon.

    It’s usually not nearly as bad as this preacher though. I get the feeling he couldn’t explain how his shoes got tied this morning without ranting about Jesus for twenty minutes. (Perhaps he’s velcro man. I shouldn’t make assumptions.)

    Anyway, just make sure to read the manual for your Volatile Lunar-Powered Uncertainty Compensator, lest you produce an undesirable ASSYMETRICAL INTERFACE SIGNAL. (via NeuroLogica)

  79. David Marjanović, OM says

    I don’t doubt that there was an itinerant jewish apocalyptic prophet named yeshue bar yussef who was executed by the romans as a subversive.

    I do, because crucifixion isn’t how they got rid of people who made too much noise in the marketplace. It’s what they did to the leaders of big insurrections. The whole “king of the Jews” thing would actually fit this very nicely!

    And, well, that kind of insurrection would have made news in Rome, I guarantee you.

    The subject of the sentence is “one,” not “fellows.” “Fellows” is a modifier to “one.” Therefore, for subject/verb agreement, “is” is proper.

    I find it very interesting that English does that, because no other language I know does.

    After all, there are fellows who are really annoyed at all this Big Bang talk, and the apologist here is one of them.

    This isn’t even a case of “agreement with nearest” (something else fairly common in English and just about absent elsewhere), because “is annoyed” is closer to “fellows” than to “one”.

    Stronger would be a record of his trial and execution (which would exist, if he were truly execute by Romans. They did like their records.)

    This does not in the least guarantee that such records have survived till now.

    However, not one church father quotes from those records, and neither do anybody else’s writings as known today first-, second-, third- or whateverthhand.

    “…he’s one of those fellows who is really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk.”

    Of all the fellows who are annoyed, he is one. He is.

    (emphasis added)

    That’s why PZ correctly wrote “He‘s one of those fellows” instead of “He are one of those fellows”. That’s not the is we’re talking about.

    “of those fellows” is a modifying prepositional phrase; it is not the subject of the sentence.

    Well, it isn’t the subject, but neither is “is … annoyed” the verb of the main clause.

    “of those fellows who are really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk” is a fake-genitive object. And yes, it really is that long. I can demonstrate this by adding a verb and an accusative object behind it and a subject in front of it: “One of those fellows who are really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk spreads bullshit.”

    This lengthy object contains the relative clause “who are really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk”. This in itself contains the causal attribute “by all this Big Bang talk”.

    Trust me. I coach people in this stuff now (albeit in German). :-)

    As for the historical Jesus, we do have accepted contemporary documentation for one:

    *scales falling off eyes*

    Dude.

    I really must read The Jewish War sometime. And The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, too.

    If we saw in infrared we could get pretty close to eyewitnessing the big bang.

    Well, microwave, not infrared anymore. :-)

    And 380,000 years, not 400,000.

  80. Nom de Plume says

    The gospels are clearly fiction, a popular literary form.

    Sure, as gospels they are obviously fiction. All the supernatural claims they make are bunk. But the question is, were they based, if only loosely, on an historical figure? I tend to think it’s possible. There were certainly itinerant rabbis walking around at that time screaming about deliverance and apocalypse and such. The biblical Jesus may be a composite/archetype of such characters, or possibly even based on one particular guy who was perhaps a bit better public speaker than the norm.

    What’s always struck me is the incredibly rapid spread of Christianity. By 64 AD (~30 years after Christ’s putative death), it had already spread all the way to Rome, and had enough followers that they were worth persecuting by the emperor. Sure, it may have all been based on a purely fictional character. Lack of contemporary records isn’t that big a deal, IMO. This is ancient history we’re talking about, and it’s full of holes.

  81. Zinc Avenger says

    What, not one person weighing in on the side of the Christian minister?

    I’m disappointed.

    This place is always so much more fun when someone stumbles in armed with Teh God’s Righteousnessness and Teh God’s True Truth to do battle with the Evilutionists. I like to think of it like the Rutherford experiment to determine the structure of the atom – bounce snark off them to find where their density is concentrated.

  82. raven says

    But the question is, were they based, if only loosely, on an historical figure? I tend to think it’s possible.

    IMO, quite likely. There were a lot of Jewish apocryphal prophets running around at this time. Josephus mentions several. IIRC, a few were even named jesus, a common name at that time. Jesus is just the Greek version of Joshua, originally the hero of the OT for genociding the Canaanites and stealing all their land, women, and stuff.

    But I couldn’t really prove it by what we mean by “prove” today.

    It’s been too long and the data simply isn’t there anymore, if it ever was. That’s why this question never gets settled, just keeps going on for millennia.

  83. Pierce R. Butler says

    Nom de Plume @ # 89: By 64 AD (~30 years after Christ’s putative death), it had already spread all the way to Rome…

    The trip by sailboat only took a few weeks.

    … and had enough followers that they were worth persecuting by the emperor.

    Nero had a serious need for scapegoats; nobody yet having invented building inspectors, he couldn’t blame government regulation.

    The “evidence” you cite doesn’t say anything about any Jesus – but it does support the case for the real existence of a very energetic preacher named P/Saul of Tarsus, working the urban underclass market across the southeastern Empire.

  84. Nom de Plume says

    Pierce R. Butler @ 93: The trip by sailboat only took a few weeks.

    It would be interesting to compare this to the spread of legends generally. The fact that Christianity spread so far so rapidly isn’t evidence of any truth in it, of course. But it certainly stands out historically. Islam spread pretty damn fast too, but that was started by someone who was definitely historical.

    The “evidence” you cite

    I don’t recall using that word.

  85. says

    I think that there’s a reasonable possibility that there may have been a preacher named Joshua son of Joseph. He maybe even had a loyal group of disciples who preached his message after his death. But I think that the gospels were written by people trying to promote a religion, and there’s no way to know now what the real guy said and did.

    It’s possible, but not certain, that he did magic tricks to impress his audience. Or maybe the gospel writers added that part.

    I’m pretty sure he did not come back from the dead. I’m positive that his death wasn’t accompanied by the rising from the grave of every single person in Jerusalem. I really, really think there would be other contemporary sources that would have written about that. It seems like kind of a big deal.

  86. consciousness razor says

    All the supernatural claims they make are bunk. But the question is, were they based, if only loosely, on an historical figure? I tend to think it’s possible.

    Yes, it is possible, once you take out all of the impossible stuff. The problem is getting from possible to there is evidence it happened.

    The biblical Jesus may be a composite/archetype of such characters, or possibly even based on one particular guy who was perhaps a bit better public speaker than the norm.

    Lots of possibilities. If the Jesus character was based on a composite, then the historical Jesus didn’t exist, because claiming that there was a historical Jesus is claiming that there was a single person, not some possible amorphous conglomeration of any number of people.

    What’s always struck me is the incredibly rapid spread of Christianity. By 64 AD (~30 years after Christ’s putative death), it had already spread all the way to Rome, and had enough followers that they were worth persecuting by the emperor.

    There were Jews well before that, split into various factions…. You’re also assuming here that the date of his putative death is of any significance. The cult could’ve started many years earlier for all we know.

  87. Rey Fox says

    Am a day behind due to flying to Idaho, am probably on well-trodden territory here, don’t care, shall make my comment.

    The Bible’s version certainly is less cerebrally
    taxing,

    Ladies and gentlemen (and others), the Pastor Roy Mummert Award winner for 2011.

    Doesn’t this tell you something, Bresciani? If the origin of the universe were something simple, then people wouldn’t have spent hundreds of years investigating and gathering data* on it. Doesn’t it ever strike you that the real science of the matter makes the Bible look like the tawdry wish-fulfillment of ancient peoples that it is?

    * The important step that separates this enterprise from masturbatory text worship.

    has a real historical context

    Well, if it’s one thing that science tends to lack, it’s tales of bloody conquest by ruthless patriarchs. Generally not many “thee”s and “thou”s either.

    and is for most people still far more credulous.

    Aww, isn’t it cute when they look at a few skeptical sites and start trying to use the language? Yes, it’s cwedulous. Now turn on the dawnzer so we can have some lee light.

    (500 points to whoever gets that reference)

  88. Francisco Bacopa says

    The kinds of things that that count as evidence for Jesus and the kinds of things that count as evidence for the Big Bang are different kinds of things.

    The life of Jesus is a set of events that happened in a human historical context. The evidence would would be historical documents, artifacts, and archeological finds.

    The Big Bang is part of a theoretical construct that involves other theories and observations. It was to an extent suggested by General Relativity (though Einstein munged it out of GR), and also followed as a possible consequence of Hubble’s observations of an expanding universe. The evidence for the Big Bang involves un-munging GR and combining it with other theories to make a coherent whole, testing GR to the extent of our abilities (and GR has held up very well) and observing things like the cosmic background radiation. We’ve done pretty well so far. There is more to do and we’re doing it.

    Big Bang and Jesus are different kinds of things and require different kinds of investigation. You can’t really compare them that closely.

  89. Pierce R. Butler says

    Nom de Plume @ # 94: The fact that Christianity spread so far so rapidly isn’t evidence of any truth in it, of course. But it certainly stands out historically.

    If a meme doesn’t propagate rapidly, it probably lacks the psychological resonance to last very long either.

    Islam spread pretty damn fast too, but that was started by someone who was definitely historical.

    Ibn Warraq & others present some reason to doubt that. Unfortunately, the scholars they cite (who apparently need not to antagonize various major Muslims) don’t much address the issue directly, and won’t even allow IW et al to use their writings in anthologies, so the case against Mohammed’s existence has thus far only been made in piecemeal fashion.

    I don’t recall using that word.

    Quite so – my apologies.

  90. PeteJohn says

    Oh, so another theistic idiot who thinks that “feelings” and “thoughts” are better measuring sticks of reality than science and empirical observation. How about that…

    I suppose this gentleman’s mind would be blown if he ever read one of Bart Ehrman’s books. Ehrman dismantles any literalist reading of the New Testament and demonstrates the NT was a hodge-podge of copies of copies of copies of oral traditions with a gazillion errors and edits. To call the Gospels and Epistles a reliable source of solid information about the life of the apocalyptic rabbi Yeshua is to be thoroughly ignorant of any serious research on the topic whatsoever.

    In fact there is a great deal more historical, archaeological and eye witness evidence for the resurrection of Christ than for the Big Bang but that is a subject for another time.

    Bullocks. There wouldn’t be archaeological or eye witness evidence for the Big Bang by definition anyway, and as it turns out there’s not a shred of reliable evidence for the resurrection anyway. This dude has his head so far up his theist ass he could probably watch his brain rot everytime he opened a Bible.

  91. F says

    In some way the entire idea is like a scientifically inspired version of hell. It is hopeless, final and indescribable.

    I wonder if this bloke realizes that anywhere other than the surface of the Earth would essentially be hellish for human life. How hopeless!

  92. Nom de Plume says

    The problem is getting from possible to there is evidence it happened.

    Let’s put it this way: if early Christianity had been snuffed out by Nero in 64 AD, and had never spread any further, and all we had was this passage from Tacitus:

    Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome

    then I think historians would be inclined to think Jesus was a real guy, since for many historical figures, that’s as much evidence as you’re likely to get. People seem to be under the impression that 1st century Roman records are like the Library of Congress or something, and for every noteworthy or semi-noteworthy event there exists copious records. If only! I read a lot of Roman history, and that would be awesome. But unfortunately, the historical record is pretty sparse.

    So if Jesus of Nazareth were a mere historical footnote, mentioned in passing (kind of like Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo were mentioned briefly in Julius Caesar’s memoirs), I think the tendency would be to take his historicity for granted.

  93. nemo the derv says

    I was watching a show with the “Naked Archeologist”. Anyone familiar with that guy?

    Anyway, in this show they speculate about how a massive volcanic eruption in the Mediterranean could have caused the 9 plagues of Egypt described in Exodus.

    Now, If did find it interesting and thought the very long chain of events they described as being plausible(remotely).
    However, as usual, Naked Archie took it too far and declared all that was presented as confirmation of the “truth” in Exodus.
    It’s kind of sad considering that their was some pretty decent science used in the show.
    I guess, when you have faith, speculation counts as proof.

  94. Rey Fox says

    Big Bang and Jesus are different kinds of things and require different kinds of investigation. You can’t really compare them that closely.

    *sigh* There you go again, thinking rationally about the subject.

  95. Pierce R. Butler says

    Nom de Plume @ # 102: … this passage from Tacitus…

    Who was born circa 56 CE, and at best relied on a second-hand account.

    Christus, from whom the name had its origin…

    Not much of an etymologist, old Tacky.

  96. 'smee says

    There are two things that bother me here.

    1) Historical Jeebus. Who. the. fuck. cares? Was he the Son of God and did he perfrom miracles and blah di blah di blah.

    A) No actual evidence (not even tenuous… but circumstancially tenuous from tacitus, josephus & c…)
    B) The growth of a Cult that eventually became ‘politically useful’ for the emperors to use to reaffirm their power… (Constantine… if otherwise, why do so on his deathbed?)

    2) Homeostasis: I think the poor pastor is confused – he thinks the definition is probably “Stop the Ghey” or somesuch. Patently does NOT know what it actually means (as defined properly upthread)

  97. Nom de Plume says

    Who was born circa 56 CE, and at best relied on a second-hand account.

    That’s kind of the point. Ancient history is rife with secondhand accounts. And accounts given long after the fact. And most of them copied and re-copied by monks over many centuries. And the historicity of most of it is taken for granted.

    Basically, to sum up, I’m agnostic on the historicity of Jesus. Maybe yes, maybe no. But the lack of firsthand accounts is not by itself all that damning. Like I said, if there were no such thing as a worldwide religion called Christianity, and Jesus were just a footnote by historians from the first couple of centuries AD (or however we’d keep time in such a world), we’d probably take his existence for granted, simply by the fact that they mentioned him at all.

  98. consciousness razor says

    Like I said, if there were no such thing as a worldwide religion called Christianity, and Jesus were just a footnote by historians from the first couple of centuries AD (or however we’d keep time in such a world), we’d probably take his existence for granted, simply by the fact that they mentioned him at all.

    Taking it for granted is exactly what you’re doing when you drop your standards down to practically nothing. And anyway, that’s happening now, with a worldwide religion called Christianity. We’ve got a boatload of Biblical scholars whose careers depend on arguing that Jesus was a real person (divine or not). No Jesus, not much of a market for Jesus-books or Jesus-diplomas, may as well go to a trekkie convention where the parties are more fun.

  99. René says

    @89:

    By 64 AD (~30 years after Christ’s putative death), it had already spread all the way to Rome…

    Enter Carotta, tropaeum, Divus Julius.

    Nom de Plume:

    Islam spread pretty damn fast too, but that was started by someone who was definitely historical.

    Citation(s) definitely needed.

  100. Pierce R. Butler says

    Nom de Plume @ # 108: Like I said, if there were no such thing as a worldwide religion called Christianity, and Jesus were just a footnote … we’d probably take his existence for granted, simply by the fact that they mentioned him at all.

    Yabbut that religion did exist (though nobody in it would recognize it in its modern forms), and did interpolate its mythos (inadequate etymology and all) into many documents at every opportune re-copying. What reason have we to suspect the same shenanigans from the cult of Titus Pullo?

  101. Nom de Plume says

    Citation(s) definitely needed.

    Here’s a couple of places to start:

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/faith-europe_islam/mohammed_3866.jsp

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

    And for what it’s worth, Christopher Hitchens in “God is not Great” takes his historicity for granted:

    …while there was little or no evidence for the life Jesus, the figure of the Prophet Muhammad was by contrast a person in ascertainable history.

    Really, folks, at some point we’ve got to just decide whether any history at all is to be believed.

  102. says

    This article was… mystifying, to say the least.

    “Curiosity, it seems, used a series of hypothesis followed by giant leaps to unverifiable conclusions that begs to be scrutinized and subjected to calm reasoning and a great deal more hard science instead of sweeping speculation. First it depended heavily of the meager findings of the all new fledgling science of quantum mechanics.”

    Meager findings? Fledgling science? I’m tempted to think that the reviewer doesn’t know QM is the single most successful theory in scientific history in terms of making predictions that matched up to reality with mind-boggling precision. I’m tempted, but no one would be arrogant enough to review something without knowing such a fundamental fact about it, would they?

    “Trusting the conclusions of quantum science to explain the universe is not to be compared with something like the hard and tangible product of Einstein’s theory of relativity”

    Oh. Well. I guess they would.

  103. Pierce R. Butler says

    A distinctive feature of all the Arab religious institutions during the Sufyani and on into the Marwanid one is the complete absence of any reference to Muhammad. Neither the Prophet himself nor any Muhammadan formulae appear in any inscription dated before the year 71/691.

    — Yehuda D. Nevo, “Towards a Prehistory of Islam” (1994), in What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text & Commentary, edited by Ibn Warraq, pg 133

    It is perhaps significant that such documentary evidence as survives from the Sufyanid period (661-684) makes no mention of Muhammad as the messsenger of God, and the coinage invokes Allah without mentioning his prophet, but by the Marwanid period (684-744) coinage was being struck which identified Muhammad as rasul Allah, and thereafter reference to Muhammad as messenger of God becomes standard on Arab coins. It was the caliph ‘Abd al Malik (685-705) who devised the classical solution for Arabic/Islamic coinage, when he produced a coin with no images, only Arabic script containing a distinctly Islamic message: “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his messenger who He sent with guidance and the religion of Truth to make it supreme over all others whether the polytheists like it or not.” Since the caliph was in effect the state, the crystallization of the idea of Muhammad as messenger of God and Islam as a distinct religion had been adopted by that institution within seventy years of its foundation. At the same time, there was at least an incipient version of a collection of texts that was eventually canonized as the Koran, as witnessed by the inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock, also completed in the reign of ‘Abd al Malik.

    — Ibn Rawandi, “On Pre-Islamic Christian Strophic Poetical Tests in the Koran: A Critical Look at the Work of Günter Luling” (nd), in What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text & Commentary, edited by Ibn Warraq, pp 693-694

  104. René says

    Have you even read the first paragraph of your first link, Nom de Plume?

    Muhammad historical? No more convincing than the historicity of Jeebus. (Who, accidentally, may well be the one referenced by the name “Muhammad”. Islam started possibly — and in my perception most likely — as a Xian anti-trinitarian sect among Arab border troop of the Byzantine empire.)

    Really, folks, at some point we’ve got to just decide whether any history at all is to be believed.

    Oh, irony of ironies. Some (independant) sources would do nicely, instead.

  105. Kichae says

    Since there is no more proof that the universe began with the Big Bang than there is that Christ was resurrected from the dead we have to engage the element of faith to build the hypothesis.

    It’s just not a creationist critique of science without “science is built on faith,” is it? Try as I might, I have never been able to fully wrap my brain around this mentality. “Faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, science requires faith, science is bad, faith is good…”

    We’re all hypocrites, at least sometimes, but Jesus F. Christ.

    Let’s see, the evidence supporting the big bang hypothesis includes the redshifting of distant galaxies (galaxies are almost universally moving away from us, and doing so at a measurable speed. These measurements being done using the same principles behind Doppler radar, so denying this is equatable with denying weather forecasting. Everything moving away from us now, of course (for the benefit of people who can’t add 1 and 1 together) suggests that in the past everything in the universe was much closer together. That’s the fundamental statement of the big bang – things were much closer together at some point before now. It’s so controversial!), the Cosmic Microwave Background (thermal radiation detected in every direction, suggesting that at some point in the past the universe was much, much hotter on average than it is today – something that would have to be true if everything in the universe was more tightly packed in the past, since denser systems are warmer. This lends great support to the obvious conclusion drawn from the observations of the redshifted galaxies.), visual surveys of very distant galaxies (pictures of the very distant (and, thanks to the finite speed of light, very young) show that galaxy collisions were much more common far in the past, suggesting that the distances between galaxies was much smaller (i.e. everything was much closer together in the past), and primordial chemical ratios which suggest that nuclear fusion took place nearly uniformly throughout the universe at some point in history (something that requires both very dense and very hot conditions).

    That the universe was very hot and very dense at some point in history is the big bang theory.

    Meanwhile, the evidence for Jesus is that his name’s in an old book. There’s as much, if not more, evidence for Zeus, Prometheus, Aeneas, Paris, Odysseus, Hercules, Mars, the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos, Harry Potter and Voldemort, or James Kirk and the USS Enterprise.

    And it’s not like the big bang isn’t mentioned in books, or on TV, or in movies, or in paintings and illustrations.

    The biggest leap Curiosity takes is where it completely misses the mark. Interspersed with Hawking’s remarks and surmising about using the simple kinder alternative of science to explain the universe, we are subsequently taken on a swirling thrill ride through the entire universe to arrive at an un-named giant black hole. It is there we are told that everything, matter, stars, planets and even science’s revered creator, the original sub-atomic particle, will be sucked in and even time itself will cease to exist.

    The fact that the black hole is un-named is really an issue for this guy? I haven’t seen the show myself, but even given that I can’t imagine that Hawking was talking about a specific black hole. Would it make any difference if we called it Unicron?

    And I wasn’t aware that there was an “original sub-atomic particle,” let alone that this sub-nanoscopic speck was the creator of the universe.

    Seems a pity that Unicron ate it.

    No allusions to the Bible or the science of homeostasis is relied upon to explain fully how, or why, time ceases to exist and the sense of the doom of all things manages to prevail.

    The Bible isn’t referenced when talking about time stopping, therefore… what exactly? If Hawking had said something about the Sun standing still, on the other hand, it would all make perfect sense, right?

    Right?

    The Bible isn’t referenced when scientists talk about Newton’s universal law of gravitation, either. Does this mean this particular minister expects things to not fall to the ground?

    The Bible doesn’t mention Uranus or Neptune, Phobos or Deimos, that the stars are suns (nor (I hope I used that right) that other planets, also unnamed in the Bible, orbit around them)… Hell, the Bible doesn’t even mention Australia, Antarctica, or the Americas. I sure hope that this minister doesn’t live in the United States, because by his (all too common) logic of if-it’s-not-in-the-Bible-it-doesn’t-exist the very land beneath his feet is make-believe.

    Actually, on that note, I somehow suspect the Bible doesn’t mention him by name, either.

    And I’m not even going to bother trying to figure out what homeostasis has to do with any of this. Unless it’s just another manifestation of creationists thinking that all of science is biology for some reason, I don’t think there’s any chance that I’ll understand the connection.

    In some way the entire idea is like a scientifically inspired version of hell. It is hopeless, final and indescribable. Again the faith that would have to be mustered to accept this theory is incomprehensible.

    It requires faith!!!1!eleventyone! No, I’m not going to explain how it requires faith. I’m just going to repeat that it does over and over again.

    After all, what isn’t founded on faith and faerie wishes?

    And that faith is a good thing! Pure and virtuous!

    Unless it’s not.

  106. nemo the derv says

    dexmac@13
    Maybe he has the same problem with QM that I do.
    I have read all kinds of articles and books about it but if you asked me to explain it I would utterly fail.
    I’m willing to declare myself stupid on the subject.
    Bresciani is not.
    What he cannot understand or explain is invalid to him.

  107. Pierce R. Butler says

    René @ # 116: Islam started possibly — and in my perception most likely — as a Xian anti-trinitarian sect among Arab border troop of the Byzantine empire.

    As mentioned, everything I’ve found related to this thesis is fragmentary at best. Can you recommend further reading?

    (Above, shorter: c/n!)

  108. Nom de Plume says

    Here’s much more from Hitchens, who has obviously done extensive research:

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/928-was-muhammad-epileptic

    Again, he takes it very much for granted that Muhammed was historical, and I know from reading a lot Hitchens that he’s done his homework on religious history.

    Please don’t be under the impression that I’m attempting to “prove” something. I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in “prophets”. I have absolutely nothing at stake in the historicity of Jesus or Muhammed. If they didn’t exist, fine. I just think their historicity is being dismissed because of what they represent, rather than any available historical evidence. Evidence that is at least as good as lots of other ancient history that is taken utterly for granted by historians.

  109. consciousness razor says

    It’s just not a creationist critique of science without “science is built on faith,” is it? Try as I might, I have never been able to fully wrap my brain around this mentality. “Faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, faith is good, science requires faith, science is bad, faith is good…”

    It’s not necessarily hypocritical. Perhaps some of them honestly believe it. They want their faith to be on a par with science; and once you throw them that bone, they immediately claim superiority. Or if they’re especially delusional, they imagine their faith can do the same “magical” things science can — and so much more! It can move mountains, heal the sick, blah blah blah blah, all without the need for mucking about with sinful things like evidence which brings with it the possibility of damnation.

    So, I can see how a goddist maintains a positive concept of “faith” through this whole line of argument. It just has to be at odds with reality, one way or another.

  110. René says

    Nom de Plume:

    Here’s much more from Hitchens, who has obviously done extensive research

    I smell an argument from authority. I greatly admire Hitchens, save his political views. But Hitch probably extensively researched the established muslim (“mohametan”) sources — which aren’t very open to criticism.

    I have to call it a day. Sorry ’bout that.

  111. says

    Tacitus was right.

    Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition,…

    At least about that, he was.

  112. Nom de Plume says

    I smell an argument from authority.

    That it is, though in its defense it is an argument from an atheist, profoundly skeptical authority, who also has a fair degree of credibility as an historian.

    Thanks for the discussion.

  113. Kichae says

    consciousness razor @121:

    It can move mountains, heal the sick, blah blah blah blah

    2000+ years ago (if you want to even throw them that bone). They never bother to answer the question “What have you done for me lately.”

  114. Midnight Rambler says

    I especially like how the guy pretty much comes out and says that Hawking is an agent of Satan:

    At one point Hawking says he does not want to offend those who have faith in God. Not once does he seem to notice that what he is suggesting would require even more faith and it ultimately is an answer that could cost many people dearly. Hawking is heralded as one of the most brilliant minds of the day but I would warn that all that shines out of a person in talent, virtuosity or intelligence does not necessarily come from God. Christ remarked that the light within may be noticeable to all but it could very well be darkness and he asks the question that Hawking and every other secularist should carefully weigh. “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Mt 6: 23)

    Also, does anyone else find it a little odd that on a Canadian web site, all the political stuff is focused on Obama’s supposed ineligibility? (check the “photo gallery” link on the right) Is it run by expat militia nuts or something?

  115. Pierce R. Butler says

    Nom de Plume @ # 119: … Hitchens, who has obviously done extensive research…

    As things stand now, only someone steeped in the necessary languages, history, archaeology, etc, can have much to say of real value about this controversy.

    I have absolutely nothing at stake in the historicity of Jesus or Muhammed…

    Likewise, unless you count some fascination with the questions.

    René @ # 120: … if you are fluent in Dutch.

    I have been fluently and fully “in Dutch”, but that doesn’t seem to help now.

    You may want to google “Luxenberg”…

    Pls note the put-down of him in Prof. Crone’s article at NdP’s link. (The Nevo & Koren book cited there looks intriguing, though Crone’s link provides non-trivial criticism of same as well.)

    It also bothers me that Ibn Warraq & company don’t mention the unnamed “false prophet … among the Saracens” written of circa 634, according to Crone (who ignores IW). This whole debate seems stuck in polemical mode, lacking any comprehensive overview to indicate maturity of the field.

  116. says

    Physicist “nitpick”:

    “Hawking knows a little bit about black holes, and one part of the show explained that time would stop as one entered a black hole — this is another subject that annoyed the reviewer.”

    I don’t recall how precise the show was with this statement, but we should emphasize that “time would stop” refers to the view observers have from outside the black hole. If you or I fall in we don’t see time grind to a halt, it is only those watching us from a safe distance that observe time slow down and stop as we approach the event horizon. (Hence black holes have also been described as frozen stars.)

  117. jpf says

    I think his use of “homeostasis” in this context is a confusion of terms over the Steady State Theory of cosmology, an alternative to Big Bang Theory considered refuted by the cosmic microwave background radiation. Homeostasis is a type of steady state system in physiology, so maybe he thought it was a generic — and an impressively sciency sounding — term for any steady state system.

  118. Kichae says

    The inversion of the temporal and radial coordinates as you cross the (inner) event horizon, though, completely change what we think of as time, though. Time doesn’t stop, or cease to exist, or whatever for someone who crosses the event horizon, but it sure as hell stops making sense.

    Then again, it still makes more sense than our minister friend here.

  119. Kichae says

    Thought I really, though, need to, though, stop over, though, using, though, though, though.

    Although…

  120. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    I think you are giving him to much credit, extrapolating from a black hole to steady state cosmology.

    The wording “time would stop” is misleading, because it is not clear which time frame one talks about, that of the in-falling observer, or the observer formally at infinity. For the latter, time at the event horizon stops. What one can say is that the proper time of the in-falling observer slows down to an arbitrary extent wrt to the observer at infinite or finite distance.

    Someone once claimed that frozen star was the russian word for black hole. Can someone confirm that, because google results were ambiguous.

  121. Physicalist says

    we should emphasize that “time would stop” refers to the view observers have from outside the black hole.

    I haven’t seen the show, so I can’t be sure what was said, but my guess is that Hawking was talking about the spacetime singularity at the center of the black hole.

    A spacetime singularity is a “point” at which some path ends in a finite amount of proper time. Thus if you fall into a black hole, you will reach the singularity in a finite amount of time, and it’s geometrically impossible to go any farther. Spacetime runs out.

    My favorite line from the Bresciani column is this:

    We are strictly warned that because time as we know it is temporal we should heed and obey every edict of God.

    And I’m strictly warning you, that because space is spatial, you better obey my every edict. Now bring me a chocolate milkshake!

  122. Physicalist says

    Someone once claimed that frozen star was the russian word for black hole. Can someone confirm that, because google results were ambiguous.

    Kip Thorne says this in his Black Holes and Time Warps, and I take him to be an authority. (I haven’t myself looked at the literature from this era, but I accept it as true.)

  123. nemo the derv says

    So Time is temporal?
    No shit.
    I guess that means that water is wet and sound makes noise.
    Definite proof of god there

  124. says

    René:

    Nigel, I don’t buy that at all. It happens in my language all the time, too. It’s just simply obeying a rule. Dumb.

    Sometimes these rules make sense. Not always, but they do occasionally.

    As somebody in the above already mentioned the who refers to the fellows not to one.

    Except it doesn’t.

    Consider: “…he’s one of those fellows who is really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk.”

    Vs: “…he’s one who is really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk.”

    “Of those fellows” can be dropped without changing the antecedent of “who” at all. “Those fellows” is not the subject of the sentence. “He” is the subject of the sentence, to which “one” refers, which is the antecedent of “who”.

    Just one of the dollars that were stolen, was ever found again. So, it was one of the dollars that were stolen.

    This is a different sentence structure. There is no pronoun for “dollar” or “dollars” to be an ambiguous antecedent.

  125. Physicalist says

    Trying to restrain myself from entering into a grammatical fray that doesn’t concern me . . . but failing. (I’m so weak.)

    “He’s one of those fellows who is really annoyed by all this Big Bang talk.”
    “Of those fellows” can be dropped without changing the antecedent of “who” at all. “Those fellows” is not the subject of the sentence.

    The basic sentence is “He is one.”

    “who is/are really annoyed” is a clause (a relative clause, if I recall — I’m not going to check), with the (relative?) pronoun “who” as the subject.

    Grammatically, “who” could refer either to “one” or to “fellows,” but in this case it clearly refers to “fellows.”

    We are not saying “He is one of those fellows, and he is is really annoyed.”

    We are instead saying “He is one of those annoyed fellows.” Thus the clause “who are really annoyed by Bang talk” modifies the fellows.

    Colloquially, “who is” sounds better to the ear, but grammatically, “who are” is correct.

    Yours in pedantry,

    P

  126. Physicalist says

    “Just one of the dollars that were stolen, was ever found again. So, it was one of the dollars that were stolen.”
    This is a different sentence structure. There is no pronoun for “dollar” or “dollars” to be an ambiguous antecedent.

    The pronoun is “that” and it refers to “dollars” not to “one.” (Compare to the pronoun “who” that refers to “fellows” not to “one.” (And yes, I realize my punctuation above is flawed.))

    (Somebody stop me. I’m stopping.)

  127. jpf says

    @132 I’m not giving him credit by saying he’s arguing for steady state cosmology. I’m saying he probably heard somewhere that there’s something called “steady state theory” that’s an alternative to big bang theory, and he also heard somewhere that there’s something called “homeostasis” that’s some sort of “steady state system”, and so he decided to throw in that fancy sounding word not knowing that it isn’t the same as the cosmological theory nor that that cosmology theory isn’t viable anymore.

  128. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Some of you guys write the English gooder than some others does.

  129. says

    Physicalist:

    The pronoun is “that” and it refers to “dollars” not to “one.” (Compare to the pronoun “who” that refers to “fellows” not to “one.” (And yes, I realize my punctuation above is flawed.))

    In this case, “that” is a demonstrative adjective, not a pronoun.

    I will grant that this whole discussion hinges on the ambiguity of the antecedent of “who”. It’s clarified by the use of the singular “is,” though. “Are” would’ve changed the antecedent to “fellows,” rather than “one.”

    This ambiguity probably indicates it was a poorly-constructed sentence, which could’ve been tightened up a bit. However, it is grammatically correct.

  130. Physicalist says

    “Just one of the dollars that were stolen, was ever found again. So, it was one of the dollars that were stolen.”

    No, “that” is a relative pronoun and is the subject of the clause “that were stolen.” We aren’t saying “that dollar” which would be an adjective.

    And we can’t have the “who” refer to “one” in the sentence “He’s one of the fellows who is/are annoyed” because if we did, then the prepositional phrase “of the fellows” would be meaningless. What fellows? The only meaning we can attach is the fellows who are annoyed by the Big Bang.

    (I hate myself for continuing this conversation even more than y’all hate me for doing so.)

  131. says

    Physicalist:

    No, “that” is a relative pronoun and is the subject of the clause “that were stolen.” We aren’t saying “that dollar” which would be an adjective.

    You are right. I am wrong. Sorry about that. It’s been a few years since I’ve had to be a grammar nerd.

    I’ll get out of this discussion now, before I dig myself any deeper.

  132. Timinane says

    I think I know the evidence the guy was talking about.

    I saw it in some documentary where some guy claimed not to be the messiah and in the end was crucified while singing.

    It was on TV so it must be true.

    I think he said something like blessed are the cheesemakers.

  133. says

    Also, does anyone else find it a little odd that on a Canadian web site, all the political stuff is focused on Obama’s supposed ineligibility?

    Almost as odd as its tagline, “because without America there is no Free World.” I’ve heard of self-loathing gay conservatives, but I’ve never heard of self-loathing Canadian conservatives before.

  134. Otrame says

    Did I miss the comment where someone else noticed that our painfully ignorant preacher said “credulous” when context suggests he meant “credible”? To me, that one clanged against my nerves rather badly.

    As for the article, I find it funny. When I don’t understand something that hundreds or thousands of people educated on the subject tell us about the universe, I do not assume that they are wrong. True, it is technically possible that they are, but before I tried to claim they are wrong, I would feel the need to read more than one book on the subject. In fact, I’d want to become an expert in the “standard model” before I tried to prove it was wrong. Because if I didn’t, I might end up sounding like a blithering idiot.

  135. beechnut says

    This is weird. Here followeth a short course in
    .
    Elementary English Grammar
    (for Phuddled Pharyngulans).
    .
    .
    Chapter 1 (Wherein is discussed the Main Sentence)
    .
    .
    “He is one of those fellows.”
    .
    He=Subject, is=Copulative Verb, one-of-those-fellows = Partitive demonstrative expression as Complement of “is”.
    .
    The verb “is” is a copulative verb: it doesn’t take a direct object, instead it requires a complement to complete the definition of the subject.
    .
    A Partitive denotes one or more members of a group (one of them, a dozen of them…). “Of” is the partitive preposition and precedes the group noun.
    .
    “He is one of those fellows” is a complete clause and comprises the main sentence (or main clause).
    .
    .
    Chapter 2 (Being a Discourse upon the true Nature of the Relative Pronoun)
    .
    .
    “Who” is a relative pronoun and conjunction. It introduces an adjectival (qualifying) clause of which it is the subject and stands in place of (relates to) a noun or pronoun ["those fellows"] in the preceding clause.
    .
    “who are…annoyed” is a Relative Clause, qualifying “those fellows”.
    .
    “Fellows who are annoyed” identifies the group of which the subject of the main clause (“he”) is “one” member. Because “who” stands for “those fellows” it is plural, and requires a plural verb.
    .
    So:
    .
    He is one-of-those-fellows
    [Singular Subject -- Verb -- Complement (partitive)]
    .
    who are annoyed
    [Plural Subject -- Verb -- Complement (participle/adjective)].
    .
    .
    Exam question:
    .
    Parse the following sentence:
    .
    Of all those pedants who annoy everyone else from time to time Beechnut is likely to be considered a prime example.

  136. Midnight Rambler says

    It’s not just a low bitrate, but according to my player, it’s only 12.86 fps. Very weird.

  137. Midnight Rambler says

    Sorry, wrong thread. That’s the trouble with keeping two tabs open at the same time.

  138. Erp says

    Dozens of books and countless articles have been on this and it is taught in most seminaries and a lot of secular universities. Read Ehrman, Crossans, Borg, Spong, Mack and many more scholars before you start babbling like an idiot.

    I have read them except for Mack and I know that Ehrman, Crossan, and Borg all accept a historical Jesus (with a lot of legends accreted since). Spong isn’t exactly a scholar of the era like the others but he also accepts a historical Jesus. A google search shows Mack also accepts a historical Jesus. If anything I think Crossan and Borg may be spinning more out of what they have than is possible.

    If you want a discussion with a Biblical scholar on Jesus mythicism, I’m certain James McGrath over at Exploring Our Matrix http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ would be pleased to talk about it.

    Note, since people seem to have difficulty reading, I think that the birth stories, the miracles (including the resurrection and the ‘zombies’) did not happen. The latter because they are physically impossible and the first in part because they are physically impossible, and, second, because even after you strip out the miracles, they were so obviously made to fit into prophecies about the messiah’s birth (especially since they came up with two different ways to explain that he was born in Bethlehem) and have major historical inaccuracies. It is not at all unusual for real figures to acquire legends (think of George Washington and the cherry tree or Joseph Smith and the whole slew of legends about him [many admittedly created by him]).

  139. The Lone Coyote says

    revisionism scares me. Accurate knowledge of history depends in large part on people being… well…. accurate. At least until such time as we invent a time machine, which will create a whole new set of problems all of its own.

    History is one of those things where if enough people believe something it becomes ‘true’. Much like the historicity of Jesus, and how many people blindly accept that Jesus was a real person. (He might or might not have been, but clearly a huge number of average people, many of them not even particularly religious, are pretty convinced that Jesus at least existed.)

  140. Joffan says

    I’ve always wondered about the “time will stop” business that attaches to the outside observer’s view of the event horizon. It seems to me that it kind of solves the singularity problem because it pushes the formation of singularities out beyond the end of the universe – from our external-to-the-black-hole point of view.

    But then I’ve never really grokked the way that gravity works in the presence of an event horiszon, either. Are we in communication with the black hole (eg. via gravitons) or not?