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The cool/lame quotient

That Anglican archbishop, Rowan Williams, is complaining about the atheists again.

I’m not avoiding the point that the coolness of atheism is very much in evidence. The problem is it’s become a bit of a vicious circle. Atheism is cool, so books about atheism are cool.

They get a high profile, and books that say Richard Dawkins is wrong don’t get the same kind of publicity because atheism is the new cool thing.

It’s difficult to break into that, but plenty of people are trying.

He’s making a very common error of perspective. I hate to break the news to all of you, but atheism is not cool. It’s not cool at all. It’s the domain of nerds and geeks and sciencey weirdos with beards and snarky women who are way smarter than the guys chasing them. We are not rock stars. We are not fabulously sexy (well, except for Brian Cox). We tend not to have loud movie star personalities (well, except for Neil deGrasse Tyson). Nothing personal, but if you put together a line-up of one of the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Daniel Radcliffe, and Richard Dawkins, and showed them to the average person on the American street, most of our citizens’ eyes would light up in recognition at the first four, and look quizzically at the guy on the end. And no, it wouldn’t help much to swap in Brian Cox for Richard Dawkins.

But that’s the point: cool is a relative thing. Coolness depends on what you contrast it with. And that’s really Rowan Williams’ problem.

It’s not the coolness of atheism. It’s the lameness of religion.

Look at me. I’m moderately popular, and I’m a schlubby college professor at a small college. I’ve got a beard and I wear nerdy ties. I’m nobody. But stand me next to a priest, or a creationist, and the contrast makes me look white-hot and super-cool, even though I’m not. It’s been my cunning trick for years.

So the problem for Williams isn’t that atheism is cool at all — it’s that our cool/lame quotient rockets to stratospheric heights whenever we’re in opposition to old geezy wankers who are chanting antique gobbledygook about magic rabbis and dead people. And those apologists trying break into our schtick? All they are doing is making us look cooler.

There’s only one solution. If the priests just fade away and stop looking like such gomers next to us, then atheism will look much, much less cool. We’ll have to compete with Michael Bay and video games and porn for attention, and then there won’t be anyone chattering about how cool we are any more.

OH NO! I just revealed the secret to making atheism irrelevent — for all the religious folk to disappear into the woodwork. Now we’re dooooomed!

Comments

  1. F says

    Yes, the lame quotient on the religious side is astronomically high.

    The book publicity statement is pretty damn out of whack as well.

  2. raven says

    So the problem for Williams isn’t that atheism is cool at all — it’s that our cool/lame quotient rockets to stratospheric heights whenever we’re in opposition to old geezy wankers who are chanting antique gobbledygook about magic rabbis and dead people.

    This post is cool, snarky, sexy, and geeky. But most of all, it is very funny.

  3. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    “We’ll have to compete with Michael Bay and video games and porn for attention”

    Havent our minds’ eyes suffered enough with the hosing imagery in the previous post?

  4. Sajanas says

    Here here…. Rowan Williams can’t even answer straight questions in debates with Richard Dawkins. And I feel for him, and the rest of the priests and pastors that got to study in seminary and get taught ‘Biblical’ history, textual criticism, and the history of the Bible itself, and then feel constrained by congregations that only want to hear that Jesus is real, and Jesus is love. I think when you compare the atheist popularizes and the religious, its clear who feels the most intellectually comfortable.

  5. raven says

    The vaguely humanoid toad fundie leaders who claim to speak for an Imaginary Sky Monster and want your cutest teenage boys and girls and your money, aren’t cool.

    They do make good bad guys for movies and books though without having to even try.

  6. Simon says

    Daniel Radcliffe is an atheist … but you knew that, as I’ve got this information from this very blog … so therefore you put him in there deliberately … which means, there is a secret meaning to decypher …

    … so, that’s how conspiracy theorists start to think.

  7. Martin Burn says

    Excuse me, but I am a sex god. I know this because I wrote as such on Facebook only the other day. Also, why else do women wilt whenever they see me? Hah! Take that, Brian ‘professor’ Cox!

  8. says

    I’ve been waiting to be recognized as cool. Finally.

    I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to say what’s cool in what context. I read one person complaining that evolution was often accepted by kids because it was cool, at least by comparison with ID/creationism, when he thought that evolution should be accepted due to the evidence. On that score, obviously most people aren’t going to be convinced by the evidence, as they’re simply not going to be that scientific.

    And it is important that evolution be cool by comparison to rank bilge like ID/creationism. It probably will continue to be, simply because the latter are so incredibly lame.

    Likewise, atheism can be reasonably cool, if it’s part of telling conventional ideas to fuck off. Most atheists aren’t all that cool, it’s true, but the idea of cutting through the BS and pieties can very well be cool.

    Glen Davidson

  9. says

    I am cool! My mummy says so!

    We do appear cooler than religion mainly because we do tend to have answers to questions. Not “silly answers” but ones people are beginning to associate with.

    That and religion isn’t really giving itself a great name what with Christianity and Islam attempting to set fire to their own reputations as fast as possible and Israel every so often doing the same to the reputation of Jews.

    The only people with relatively intact reputations in the west are the Hindus and other associated religions, mainly because people don’t get to hear about their crazy.

    That and I would point out that Ricky Gervais and Dara O’Brien are pretty cool atheists. As are Penn and Frank Zappa.

  10. IndyM says

    I beg to differ, PZ; I find “nerds and geeks and sciencey weirdos with beards and snarky women who are way smarter than the guys chasing them” ALL ridiculously sexy–whether they’re standing next to priests, Kardashians, Brad Pitt, or whomever. Give me an atheist with a brilliant mind, progressive liberal feminist leanings, and a kind and compassionate heart–and I’m a puddle of drool.

  11. says

    Two things:

    1. You ARE cool. Awesome and cool.

    2. You ARE right, if the religious go away, atheism (and all associated cool) goes away with it.

    No religion == no atheism == we go back to just being (awesome) nerds and (awesome) geeks.

  12. dunstar says

    I see it more as an issue of silliness. It gives me infinite amusement to think about the things Christians wholeheartedly believe and for some reason they can’t step outside of themselves and see how really silly it is those things that they actually believe in (i.e., the magic bearded man doing all his magical things, noah’s ark, adam and eve, etc. etc. etc.). So every encounter, argument, discussion I have with them it always just ends up being really comical in that you can’t do anything else but just laugh at the situation because if you replace all their statements with say a unicorn, or goblin, or trolls in place of Jesus then the entire silliness of the discussion becomes apparent to them. But at that point they just think you’re trying to make fun of them which I guess it’s something I cannot avoid. It’s just inevitable that they will get made fun of for believing silly things.

    So if cool/lame can be defined as lame being the one being laughed at and made fun of and cool being the person doing the laughing, then HELLS YEAH atheism is cool. lol.

  13. TODD says

    You forgot Sam Harris – he is sexy as heck. And deGrasse Tyson is also hot. Nerds are hot. And cool. Religion and all magical thinking (especially astrology) are lame.

  14. says

    Nice post. I have a problem with the Archbishop labelling atheism as ‘cool’, but for different reasons. It seems an easy way of dismissing nonbelief for the religious: ‘Oh, it’s just in fashion.’ Here’s the thing: atheists are persecuted around the world for not kowtowing to religious authority. I wonder what their reaction would be to having their situation regarded as frivolous.

  15. outaworkee says

    If we’re dooooomed is something dreadful in the future, what is the present tense phrase? The dooming has begun?

    And the sooner, the better.

  16. =8)-DX says

    “PZ: Its been my cunning trick for years.”
    *** Act 1 Scene 1
    Rewind some twenty, thirty years, PZ Myers in a basement contemplating a disected zebrafish embryo, random colleague walks by. ***

    PZ(cries out): I have a cunning plan!

    PERSON(stops, looks in the door quizically): Oh? What is it?

    PZ: Now I know, I finally know, what is my destiny!

    PERSON: *snark* Cutting up zebra fish the next few decades?

    PZ: NO! It is my destiny to become a hugely sexually attractive famous and adored atheist, with my own band of science-minded followers!

    PERSON: How do you want to accomplish that?

    PZ: I will walk about in a beard, wear lame ties, and constantly mention cephalopods! I will criticize and engage in debates with creationists and pompous religious fools! I will be so cool! I will be the tentacled overlord! MWUAHAHAHAHA!

    PERSON: Good luck with that then, I’ll just pop along, shall I.

    *** End of scene 1 ***

  17. Ing says

    Sort of the Limbaugh tactic of spouting nonsense that is unreasonably popular and demand to be hailed as brave for being so “politically incorrect”

  18. says

    Simon says:

    Daniel Radcliffe is an atheist … but you knew that, as I’ve got this information from this very blog … so therefore you put him in there deliberately … which means, there is a secret meaning to decypher

    Ah… I’ve got it. Daniel Radcliffe’s initials are DR, which stands for Delivery Room. Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t belong in the group to which he was assigned, which implies that the subject of PZ’s post is about to be born, but doesn’t belong in a delivery room. This in turn implies the imminent rising of a cosmic horror, too hideous to contemplate.

    PZ speaks of a “common error of perspective”, which clearly refers to monstrous non-Euclidean geometries not of this word. He also speaks of chanting and magic and dead people, suggesting savage cults worshipping god-like beings in states of death-like sleep.

    He finally speaks of doom. This can only mean one thing. Cthulhu is rising!

    Iä Cthulhu! Iä Cthulhu! Iä Cthulhu!

  19. says

    I don’t think that the coolness of atheism is the most important reason that Richard Dawkins’s own books outsell books like “The Dawkins Delusion.” I think it might also be related to the fact that Dawkins’s books are well written and interesting and usually very educational, while the other books really only exist to make money by capitalizing on Dawkins’s name to the tiny group of people who (a) know who Dawkins is, but (b) hate him.

    Most people have never heard of him. The group of Christians who know his name and would pay for a book criticizing him is probably a lot smaller than the group of people who have heard of evolution and would pay for a book explaining it clearly.

  20. says

    Why would it be a problem if atheism were cool? That only makes sense if you’re openly out to destroy it whether it’s a tenable position or not.

  21. Algernon says

    Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t love you as much as you love him:

    Tyson received the 2009 Isaac Asimov Science Award from the American Humanist Association. An essay (adapted from his acceptance speech) is also in the issue:

    Sometime later I stumbled upon my Wikipedia page, and what’s spooky is that my wiki page is more up-to-date than my personal home page. For example, two days after I appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart I thought, let me add that to my wiki page. I went there, and the link was already up. (The days of anonymity are long gone.) So I’m looking at the page and it says, “Neil deGrasse Tyson, a long-time atheist…” and I thought, where did that come from? I never said that. So I removed it and I put in “agnostic” because I think, based on all the folks who are agnostic historically, I come closer to the behavior of an agnostic than the behavior of an atheist. Three days later it was back to atheist. Then I learned that there are people who want to equate agnosticism with atheism. So I went back in, thinking I needed to be clever about this, and I changed the phrase to: “widely claimed by atheists, he is actually an agnostic.”

  22. growlybear says

    I wouldn’t have thought of the godless as more or less cool, but agree that placed next to religious people you can definitely gain some cool quotient simply by having answers.

    I recently encountered a former middle school teacher who was in my high school graduation class many years ago. I haven’t bothered to tell him directly about my atheism since it didn’t seem relevant. But then he sent me a link to an awful video produced by Liberty University. It was an attempt to show that Fibonacci numbers were found in nature because it was god’s secret finger print. I don’t think he was agreeing with the religious content, just liked the pictures and the apparent relationship between say the number of seeds in the head of a sunflower and the Fibonacci sequence. I sent him back a rather pointed explanation of why the religious explanation was totally bogus. Now he is emailing me all the time with requests to explain other things and their supposed religious meaning. The latest is guantum entanglement and dark matter. I’m no physicist, but I can understand scientific explanations enough to make sense of them to others (entanglement makes no sense at all of course).

    All of a sudden, I seem to be the ‘cool dude’ who knows stuff. I wasn’t the cool dude before. He must be realizing that I’m an atheist and is more interested than put off. A strange place for me to be. It’s nice to know I don’t have to upgrade my wardrobe either.

  23. HP says

    Perhaps Bishop Williams should appoint special “youth ministers” who grow out their sideburns, wear turtlenecks and love beads, and play folk music on flat-top guitars. They could point out how Jesus was a long-haired radical who didn’t trust authority, just like today’s young people.

    Surely that will make religion more cool, right? Can’t you will dig where I’m coming from, Bishop Williams?

  24. Algernon says

    I have a problem with the Archbishop labelling atheism as ‘cool’, but for different reasons. It seems an easy way of dismissing nonbelief for the religious: ‘Oh, it’s just in fashion.’

    I think this is his goal. It is trivializing but it is also positive to me. Because it’s something he’s forcing himself to deal with, which means there is enough presence to make him equivocate. It’s “just a fad” is bullshit, and we know it. Because thinking for yourself has never been a fad.

    It’s always been something people have had to fight for because there have always been people who will do just about anything to control others.

  25. Brownian says

    I thought we were done with using ‘lame’ as a pejorative.

    As for “not cool”, I don’t know what you folks are talking about.

    I carry my lunch in LuluLemon bag—posting this is today’s “one thing that scares me”—wear pants that are way too tight and show off my boxer-brief lines, and the ratio of frame-to-lens in my glasses is so high my prescription simply reads ‘camera obscura’.

    But, whatever. I like, totally don’t care about those sorts of superficial things. I just wear whatever feels good. No big deal.

  26. ing says

    Tyson could be bothered to edit his own page but not to click on the atheist wiki page link?

    Wiki:Person X is bald
    Person X: no I’m black
    Wiki edit: alough claimed to be bald by many bald people he is in fact black

    Makes about as much sense

  27. says

    PZ: I think the true secret of your success is you’re FUNNIER than the opposition:

    “It’s not cool at all. It’s the domain of nerds and geeks and sciencey weirdos with beards and snarky women who are way smarter than the guys chasing them.”

    I have to laugh when I see that.

    Yeah, Lennox, Hart, and McGrath are real dim bulbs, so slow they can barely catch a cold.

    You have heard of fads, haven’t you? Dan Brown was mildly good-looking, but that doesn’t explain the popularity of his schtick, either.

    The real difference between The God Delusion and The Truth Behind the New Atheism, is that I know what I’m talking about. When talking about religion, Dawkins is Dan Brown with a British accent.

    I know you’re really into this “cult of smart” thing — we Christians are stupid by definition, therefore I must be a moron. But what better explains your success, and that of Dawkins, is that you are good writers, and amuse people — sometimes, even when you mean to. That, and the fact that lies still make it half-way around the world, while the truth is putting its shoes on — we’ll win in the long run.

  28. Michael Swanson says

    Atheism isn’t cool at all! Hell, I’m still pissed! I grew up believing in reincarnation and advanced aliens from the Pleiades with amazing spiritual/technological powers, guardian angels, Atlantis, lost Venusian civilizations. That was cool! I thought that if I progressed enough spiritually I would be able to remember my past lives, talk to my dead father, astral project to the center of the galaxy. So. Fucking. Cool.

    And wrong. So stupidly wrong. So ridiculously completely fucking wrong. Instead, I now embrace real science, humanism, and knowing that this life is the life I need to live. It’s a good thing. It’s made me healthier, made me responsible for my actions and worthy of my good deeds.

    But it ain’t cool. I want astrally project back in time to Atlantis and hang out with unicorns! But then, I want a lightsaber, too.

  29. Gregory Greenwood says

    Dr Rowan Williams argued it has become difficult for the Church to convey its message because of the popularity of non-believers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

    Ah, poor Billy. Life was so much simpler in the ‘good old days’ when you could simply burn the pesky unbelievers at the stake. None of this namby-pamby free speach back then…

    “I’d want to know how many atheists [Richard Dawkins’ book] The God Delusion created,” he said…
    “The book sold, but did it make a difference to the number of people who were actually committed one way or the other?

    What Archbishop Williams doesn’t grasp is that books like the God Delusion exist to raise public consciousness about the unearned, privileged position religion is granted in our society and lay out the case for why religion should not be viewed as somehow inviolate and beyond criticism. They do not exist as part of some kind of atheist ‘mission’ dedicated to the accrual of ‘converts’.

    More often than not, it is not atheists or atheists publications that create more atheists:- it is the fact that religions – all religions – have no basis in fact, paired with the well documented abuses and corruption of the vast majority of those who claim any form of authority based upon the supposed will of an unevidenced sky-fairy, that leads many people toward atheism as the most rational and ethical course available to them.

    Atheists don’t make atheists so much as religion – the true (and very, very ugly) face of religion – does.

    The archbishop said that Christian witness is the strongest argument the Church has to rebut the claims of atheists such as Dawkins. He said the evolutionary biologist would struggle to explain the growth of the Church in Zimbabwe in the face of constant brutality and harassment.

    What a wonderful example of how not to construct a logical argument. Just because people believe something – even if they really, really believe it – does not make it true. The fact that the church is persecuted in certain countries says precisely nothing about the accuracy of the church’s claims about the existence of a putative afterlife or the claim that a carpenter who may have lived two millennia ago was actually the superpower-possessing demi-god product of the divine rape of a twelve year old girl. Nor does it prove the existence of a magic vapour that is supposedly the seat of the mind, or that a Bronze Age creator myth is the architect of the entire universe.

    It also does nothing to mitigate the harmful actions of the church. It doesn’t make clerical misogyny and homophobia any less repugnant, for instance. Nor does it make child-rape* OK.

    “The reality is we have a lot of parishes, a lot of very average people trying to make sense of their lives.

    “One of the things we’ve been trying to do in the last seven or eight years is find a strategy that says we as a church can’t just wait for people to turn up for us – we ought to be going to where they are.”

    The archbishop said there was a new emphasis on holding prayer groups in cafés and pubs, but added: “It doesn’t work in terms of huge figures and I don’t expect it to.”

    I don’t think that becoming as annoying as the JWs is much of a strategy for improving the CoE’s fortunes.

    Nearly half of those polled said the Catholic Church should take a moral lead in British society by defending the family

    That is a frightening statistic, if it actually applied beyond the small sample size. ‘Defending the family’ is almost universally recognised as code for rabid homophobia and misogyny. Apparently, we can’t have the gays marrying, no siree, because… um… marriage is sacred and… um… god hates queers. Or something.

    The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, said the findings showed there is sympathy for the Pope’s call for greater recognition to be given to religious faith in society.

    Why is it that, while he says ‘greater recognition’, I can’t help but feel that he means ‘greater power’, particularly over what goes on in people’s bedrooms, and most certainly not limited only to the bedrooms of the faithful.

    Then we get Cameron weighing in with his two cents worth and promptly proving, once again, what a prat he is;

    He continued: “The Pope’s message is just as relevant today. The shocking riots in the UK underline that we need more than ever to build a new culture of social responsibility.”

    What ‘message’ would that be? I seem to remember the Pope trying to blame ‘secularism (and thus atheists) for the rise of Nazism last time he was here. I wonder if Cameron really wants to be associated with such hate speach? As for ‘social responsibility’, well, I don’t think that Pope Palpatine is in any position to lecture on that, given the fact that he was so deeply involved in the cover up of clerical child rape, and still refuses to acknowledge the Catholic Church’s culpability in the matter, favouring blaming homosexuals or hippes or basically anyone else.

    And let us not forget his stance on contraception. By propogating lies about condoms, he has further exacerbated the acute and chronic overpopulation of many poor countries, thus contributing to ongoing poverty and the continued lack of opportunities and equality for women in those cultures, and is indirectly responsible for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of preventable deaths through HIV transmission.

    Ratzinger is hardly the poster child for responsibility. He is a wretched example of inflexible dogma trumping reason, ethics and compassion.

    Apologies for the lengthy post.

    * Yup. Anglican priests have been caught at it too.

  30. jimnorth says

    “I have a plan so cunning, you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel.”

    Thanks for the humor, PZ. My day has been…fml.

  31. fastlane says

    Ah, DM drops another turd. The long run has been the past 2000+ years. In case you haven’t noticed, the ‘long run’ trend is not going the way of the religobots.

    How’s that feel? Knowing that someday, most religions of today will probably be comparable to what the greek, norse, and other religions of the past are now.

  32. says

    David Marshall:

    That, and the fact that lies still make it half-way around the world, while the truth is putting its shoes on — we’ll win in the long run.

    Ah. I see you like to steal from those much more intelligent than you. That’s a good ploy, when you have very little original material yourself.

    Really, though, the reason atheism is growing, and Christianity is shrinking, is because atheism is simply more logical than theism. Lennox, Hart, and McGrath may be intelligent, but they are also deluded. Charles Manson is generally considered on smart fucker. That certainly doesn’t make his ideas right.

    It’s easy to point out where theism in general, and Christianity specifically, fail. The entire metaphysics of Christianity is based on question-begging. Every single shred of apologetics used to defend Christianity is based on fallacious and specious assumptions, with nothing of substance supporting them. No matter how logical the conclusions, the conclusions are suspect simply because they are based on faulty axioms.

    So, your assertion that atheists believe Christians are “stupid by definition” is simply wrong. Some are smart. Some are not. The only thing they have in common is that their theology is based on poor assumptions.

    But good try. You go on believing what you will. Go on stealing from your betters. Pretend you are superior because you believe in the sublimely ridiculous, if that makes you feel better.

  33. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    There’s so much fail in what DM posted, but this bit he quoted:

    “It’s not cool at all. It’s the domain of nerds and geeks and sciencey weirdos with beards and snarky women who are way smarter than the guys chasing them.”

    he was unable even to parse correctly. David, PZ’s saying the snarky (atheist) women are way smarter than the guys chasing them. You, of course, interpreted to mean that PZ thinks atheists are oh so much smarter than the Christians. Maybe have a complex about being a bit dull-witted, though, so we should excuse you.

  34. Sastra says

    Williams has it wrong: what’s “cool” in religion is being cool — meaning in the middle between hot and cold. “Whatever people want to believe is fine with me” — otherwise expressed as “whatever.” Believe in God? That’s fine. Don’t believe? That’s fine. The most important thing — the sine qua non of being “cool” — is that you shut up about it.

    Don’t argue for a position. You can state yours — but only casually, as a minor little mention. “The Ultimate Meaning in Life is God, which grounds all Being and gives worth to all things and without which there is no Hope, Love, or Purpose: but your mileage may vary. Whatever.”

    “Fundamentalists” are loosely defined, among the Cool, as “people who tell others they’re wrong.” They care about the issue. That includes Fred Phelps and Richard Dawkins. People have the right to their “faith” — which means they have a right to remaining untouched by any breath of criticism, analysis, or serious discussion. The Cool never, ever tell anyone their religion might be wrong. It’s always “I believe differently — but that’s no problem. I respect your belief. I leave it alone. I don’t care. It’s all cool.”

    The Cool are in the middle between the extremes. They can sneer at both sides while staying completely out of the debate and keeping all their passion for the people who already agree with them. Doesn’t Williams know that?

    If not, then he’s uncool himself.

  35. Jean-Paul says

    The limit of Atheism/Religion, as Religion goes to zero coolness, tends toward infinity, or something like that.

  36. Brownian says

    That, and the fact that lies still make it half-way around the world, while the truth is putting its shoes on — we’ll win in the long run.

    Tell us again that you’re an historian, Dave. I want to see just how fast that one makes it halfway around the world.

    Don’t get me wrong: I do consider it a step up for you to add ‘quotes folk sayings and calls them fact’ to your resume—’constantly name drops’ was beginning to look a little lonely. But the only way you’d be able to say something cogent about great minds is if one of them hollowed you out and used you like a ventriloquist’s dummy.

  37. David Marshall says

    PZ: I would have expected a better come back than that, but we all have our down days.

    Care to debate a “moron?”

    How about the proposition, “Christianity has done the world more good and less harm than atheism?”

    Or how about, “PZ Myers trusts too much in incompetent historians?”

    Or we can debate my intelligence, if that’s all the better you can do, and you don’t mind me holding all the cards AND the better looks.

  38. says

    But the only way you’d be able to say something cogent about great minds is if one of them hollowed you out and used you like a ventriloquist’s dummy.

    Brownian, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (’cause I repeat myself when I’m drunk): I want to have your children. Very, very, much.

    So, let me know when I can come and get them.

  39. Sastra says

    David Marshall #46 wrote:

    How about the proposition, “Christianity has done the world more good and less harm than atheism?” Or how about, “PZ Myers trusts too much in incompetent historians?”

    No. How about “does God exist?”

    If it doesn’t, then all your other arguments are moot. And we will win in the long run.

    Focus.

  40. says

    “It’s the domain of nerds and geeks and sciencey weirdos with beards and snarky women who are way smarter than the guys chasing them.”

    I am offended by this blanket statement, PZ. I am no where near smart enough to consider myself a nerd.

    That being said the atheists are the cool ones. Seriously, have you ever even tried to get group sex started with a bunch of conservatives?

  41. Brownian says

    David, PZ’s saying the snarky (atheist) women are way smarter than the guys chasing them. You, of course, interpreted to mean that PZ thinks atheists are oh so much smarter than the Christians. Maybe have a complex about being a bit dull-witted, though, so we should excuse you.

    It’s more of a stimulus/response sort of thing with Marshall. He reads something on Pharyngula, and then he drops some names. The context doesn’t matter—he just drops some names, and that’s it: an appeal to authority. That’s what he thinks an intelligent argument is: finding the smartest collection of names he agrees with, and latching on like a remora.

    Read through his posts here and see how often he drops names without even bothering to assert the positions of the individuals behind them. Remember that line by Vezzini in The Princess Bride? “Let me put it this way: have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?” That’s all he does here.

    We all do this to some degree, but David Marshall makes it abundantly clear that, for all his blather about being a Christian, it’s other Christian apologists who occupy his waking thoughts and give him reason to continue, not Jesus.

  42. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    “Christianity has done the world more good and less harm than atheism?”

    I think the citizens of Carcassone, Jerusalem, and Magdeburg, among thousands of others, would beg to differ with you on that. As would the European Jews of the 20th Century.

  43. IndyM says

    @ Gregory Greenwood: Bravo–wonderful post.

    OT question: it’s 4:54 PM here in NYC; why are the time stamps on the comments 4 hours ahead?

    Where is Josh? He needs to make short work of Dingleberry Marshall.

  44. says

    Hey David Marshall, guess what? Looks are also relative.

    You want to dance this dance? This can be decided by a squeeze-off.

    Groud Rules/ How to play:

    -At the sound of “Go”, the contender must flex their butt muscles in hopes of attracting the most amount of desired sexual partners as possible.

    I don’t think you want to step into my arena; I’ve launched a thousand ships, piloted by middle-aged women, with this ass.

  45. says

    How about the proposition, “Christianity has done the world more good and less harm than atheism?”

    Hardly an original proposition, Marshall… it’s been done several times, like this example, which admittedly is catholic-church-centric in focus… but they all pretty much end up the same way.

  46. Gregory Greenwood says

    David Marshall @ 31;

    Yeah, Lennox, Hart, and McGrath are real dim bulbs, so slow they can barely catch a cold.

    Intelligence does not amount to infallibility. They are smart people. They just happen to be wrong in this instance because the evidence does not support their claims.

    You have heard of fads, haven’t you? Dan Brown was mildly good-looking, but that doesn’t explain the popularity of his schtick, either.

    Atheism has quite the half-life for a fad. There have been atheists for thousands of years, despite the best efforts of charming theists like the inquisition to torture and murder them out of existnce. All over the world there are atheists who risk at best social ostracision and a loss of opportunity in their personal and professional lives, and at worst murder at the hands of fanatics (quite possibly with tacit or even open state sanction), all in the name of this passing ‘fad’. Hardly the same as blue being the new black, is it?

    The real difference between The God Delusion and The Truth Behind the New Atheism, is that I know what I’m talking about. When talking about religion, Dawkins is Dan Brown with a British accent.

    On what basis do you claim to know what you are doing, and that Professor Dawkins does not? As a scientist, Professor Dawkins is used to evaluating evidence and its ability, or otherwise, to support a hypothesis. As an evolutionary biologist, he has an intimate knowledge of the mechanisms by which living organisms develop. This seems like a very strong basis on which to say that he knows what he is talking about to me.

    I know you’re really into this “cult of smart” thing — we Christians are stupid by definition, therefore I must be a moron.

    There is no ‘cult of smart’. Most atheists are rationalists, and rationalists value evidence. The evidence does not support religious truth claims of any stripe. I am in no position to comment on whether you are a moron or not. ‘Christians’ are a very diverse group. Some are intelligent, some are less so, but none have any evidence for their religious truth claims.

    That, and the fact that lies still make it half-way around the world, while the truth is putting its shoes on — we’ll win in the long run.

    This quote is hardly appropriate. You are conflating your religious ‘truth’ (your unevidenced beliefs) with the interpretation of reality that best fits the available evidence – the ‘factual truth’ for want of a better phrase. The two are not equivilant. We do not share whatever ‘pesonal revelation’ lead you to your religion. We can only be convinced by evidence, and even then all conclusions are tentative and subject to reassessment should the evidence change. We do not trade in the absolute, so-called ‘revealed truths’ of religion.

    Also, I am curious. How would you define ‘winning in the end’? you cannot hope to convince everyone, because without evidence the rationalists will never be convinced. How else would you ‘win’? Without trying to silence dissenting voices, that is?

    I cannot speak for all atheists, but for me this is not about ‘winning’, in the sense of any final defeat or destruction of religious belief. The future I would want to see would still have religious people in it, it would simply be the case that religion could never be used as a source of authority, a basis for discrimination, or a means to accrue unccountable power. People could believe anything they want, but they couldn’t call it the truth without first making a rational case supported by evidence as to why it should be considered such. No more people would die or lives would be ruined to answer questions no more relevant than how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    I do not remember who said it, but the following sentiment about the US Republican Party is applicable to religion;

    ‘You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts’.

  47. Brownian says

    PZ: I would have expected a better come back than that, but we all have our down days.

    You think you’re going to win with wankery like that? It’s like you seriously stopped and thought to yourself, “Think, Davey, think: what worked when you were fourteen?”

    The problem with someone like you, Marshall, is that you don’t even recognise that you tripped over your own fucking shoes while stepping into the ring.

    Or we can debate my intelligence, if that’s all the better you can do, and you don’t mind me holding all the cards AND the better looks.

    Is that your attempt at ‘fronting’, or do you think question-begging is just as reasonable as appealing to authority?

    You’d best stop hanging around so many Christian apologists like yourself, David. You’re beginnning to believe your own bullshit.

    No. How about “does God exist?”

    If it doesn’t, then all your other arguments are moot. And we will win in the long run.

    Focus.

    Right. Live David’s got the courage to stick to the real argument. Even Christians know “the armour of Christ” is just a figure of speech.

  48. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    DM #31:

    The real difference between The God Delusion and The Truth Behind the New Atheism, is that I know what I’m talking about.

    Unfortunately you’ve yet to show us that you know what you’re talking about. You’ve set up a strawman atheist and attack it quite proficiently. Unfortunately, we real Gnu Atheists don’t recognize the atheist you’re beating into the ground. It certainly doesn’t resemble any of us.

    I know you’re really into this “cult of smart” thing — we Christians are stupid by definition, therefore I must be a moron.

    Christians are not necessarily stupid. You may be, but that’s you, not Christians in general. No, what Christians, and all other goddists, are is delusional. You believe in a figment of the imagination and think it’s somehow real. That’s delusion, not stupidity.

  49. IndyM says

    Gregory Greenwood:

    The future I would want to see would still have religious people in it, it would simply be the case that religion could never be used as a source of authority, a basis for discrimination, or a means to accrue unccountable power. People could believe anything they want, but they couldn’t call it the truth without first making a rational case supported by evidence as to why it should be considered such. No more people would die or lives would be ruined to answer questions no more relevant than how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    QFFT.

  50. says

    Meh, the atheist booksales combined don’t even get close to people like Rick Warren. The Purpose Driven Life sells over 52 million copies. Kind of puts the popularity of The God Delusion (which as far as I can see, is around 2.5 million) into perspective.

    Atheism isn’t cool, it’s a niche market that’s been largely untapped until the last 5 years or so.

  51. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Gregory Greenwood #58

    I do not remember who said it…‘You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts’.

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan

  52. Brownian says

    [David Marshall is busy compiling a list of smart people who he can claim think he’s smart, which he will paste here because he thinks that’s an argument.]

  53. says

    Matt Damon is cool, sexy, smart, and does not rely on skygawds and other doodads to guide his life (other than special effects in movies — but we know those are manmade).

    Furthermore, Matt Damon’s mother is cool.

    Damon is not taken in by the libertarian version of capitalism.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFHJkvEwyhk

    Damon also knocks “intrinsically paternalistic” views. He has come out against the misogyny of James Bond films.

    We should find out if Matt Damon’s mother is an atheist.

    And …. if your mother is cool, does the cool rub off on the spawn?

    Damon is cool because he’s smart and well-informed, so take that Rowan Williams

  54. Sastra says

    I know you’re really into this “cult of smart” thing — we Christians are stupid by definition, therefore I must be a moron.

    No, not stupid — and I think it’s more a matter of confusion than delusion in many cases. We’re into clarity.

    Consider a group of people who believe in the Loch Ness Monster and seem to have got it fixed into their heads that the Loch Ness Monster is like the proposition “it is good to help endangered species.” Attempts to get them to consider other explanations for Monster sightings — or even to get them to describe what the monster is supposed to look like or what it’s supposed to be or how it’s supposed to live — all end up sidetracked by impassioned defenses of appreciating the interconnectedness of the environment and plaintive appeals to empathy for animals and sneering condemnations of those who want to hunt for values with sonic radar.

  55. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    OT question: it’s 4:54 PM here in NYC; why are the time stamps on the comments 4 hours ahead?

    The time stamps are now Greenwich Mean Time, aka GMT, UTC, or Zulu time.

  56. IndyM says

    @ ‘Tis: Thanks. And that was a dumb question on my part. :/ (I was expecting USian time stamps on this blog…)

  57. monad says

    How about the proposition, “Christianity has done the world more good and less harm than atheism?”

    I’ve already heard this one. Maybe we can ask the question about countries? Then we could talk about how evolution is essentially an English tradition, but without the French we could never have known about oxygen, and so on.

    Because that’s exactly how this sort of “debate” usually goes. Only with countries, I think you might notice how vapid it actually is to scramble for triumphs and failures for one flag or another without any real overview or context to show how they matter.

    And if you don’t notice, at least it wouldn’t be the exact same zombie argument raised a thousand times before.

  58. says

    OH NO! I just revealed the secret to making atheism irrelevent — for all the religious folk to disappear into the woodwork.

    This will only happen, I think, if the profit motive is taken out of religion. Calling attention to yourself is almost a prerequisite for making money, at least in the service industry.

  59. says

    David Marshall says:

    Yeah, Lennox, Hart, and McGrath are real dim bulbs, so slow they can barely catch a cold.

    I presume that was sarcasm, but it’s substantially true. However, in the case of Lennox and McGrath, it would be more accurate to describe them as “washed up”. Lennox used to be a mathematician; now he trades on his residual scientific reputation to bleat out stupidest-of-the-stupid creationist canards to gullible audiences. McGrath achieved a doctorate in Physics, but has done nothing of note since. (Incidentally, why do you never get washed up theologians becoming mathematicians or physicists?)

    I’m not sure who you mean by Hart. I hope you have someone better in mind that that pompous gasbag David Bentley Hart, whose only discernible talent is the ability to take the single argument “Dawkins is an idiot” and extend it into vast diatribes of pretentious sneering.

    The real difference between The God Delusion and The Truth Behind the New Atheism, is that I know what I’m talking about.

    Keep telling yourself that. It’s a more palatable truth than the fact that The God Delusion is a best-seller, whilst your vanity-published dreck is read by no one.

    If you want people to start respecting your awesome debating skills, why not actually present some proper arguments, rather than indulging in your usual empty boasting?

  60. David Marjanović, OM says

    The real difference between The God Delusion and The Truth Behind the New Atheism, is that I know what I’m talking about. When talking about religion, Dawkins is Dan Brown with a British accent.

    ROTFLMAO!

    I’m with comments 49 and 52. Cut the arguments from authority and from consequences. Show us there’s a god, or you might as well go to Sweden.

  61. David Marjanović, OM says

    Meh, the atheist booksales combined don’t even get close to people like Rick Warren. The Purpose Driven Life sells over 52 million copies. Kind of puts the popularity of The God Delusion (which as far as I can see, is around 2.5 million) into perspective.

    Admittedly, Rowan is implicitly talking about the UK*. I really don’t think The Purpose Which Is Called “Driven Life” Because It’s Missing A Fucking Hyphen And A Fucking Copyeditor has sold many copies there.

    * Americans have no monopoly on confusing their country with the whole world.

  62. Brownian says

    [David Marshall, fingers tired from Control-C-ing the positive reviews on his Amazon.com page, checks in, sees that PZ hasn’t accepted his challenge to fisticuffs behind the bleachers at 3:00, and breathes a sigh of relief.]

  63. IndyM says

    @ David Marjanović:

    The Purpose Which Is Called “Driven Life” Because It’s Missing A Fucking Hyphen And A Fucking Copyeditor

    Hee hee hee. I love you for this.

  64. says

    The real difference between The God Delusion and The Truth Behind the New Atheism, is that I know what I’m talking about. When talking about religion, Dawkins is Dan Brown with a British accent.

    Seriously though, who doesn’t think that their position is right? There are dozens of responses to The God Delusion, and I wonder how many of them have their author think that “I’m less informed on the topic than Dawkins is.” That’s the bias of personal introspection, we think it makes sense to us when we can clearly see where others went wrong.

    It might be that you’re better informed on religion than most, but are you in a way that matters? I’m sure pretty much every astrologer is more informed on astrology from I – I have no idea what the difference between the Age of Aquarius and Age Of Pieces means. Yet I’m pretty confident that astrology is hokum. Because while I know little about the details of astrology, I have a reasonable understanding of physics, astronomy and biology. I have read about studies done that looked at the empirical merits of astrology. And from those, no matter how deeply I look into astrology, those scientific problems are not going to go away. Actually knowing what you’re talking about when it comes to astrology doesn’t make astrology any less relevant to the case for astrology.

  65. Simon Willcocks says

    There’s a wonderful moment in a BBC live astronomy programme with Brian Cox and Dara Ó Briain where they show a video from the night before of their outside observer as he turned having just missed a shooting star. Brian mentions that it’s “almost as if he knew”, sees Dara’s cold stare and says “but that would be woo woo, and we don’t believe in that”.

    (All from memory, so I could easily be wrong on the quotes.)

  66. longpete says

    Hey – I’d always been told that you Murricans didn’t know the word “wanker”, that it was totally rightpondian. You’re not a hasher, are you, PZ?

  67. Brownian says

    Seriously though, who doesn’t think that their position is right?

    Perhaps it’s the comfort of one sort of delusion that makes one comfortable with others. For instance, Rowan Williams trots out this tired turd:

    The archbishop said that Christian witness is the strongest argument the Church has to rebut the claims of atheists such as Dawkins. He said the evolutionary biologist would struggle to explain the growth of the Church in Zimbabwe in the face of constant brutality and harassment.

    It’s the old “but why would people die for it if it weren’t true?” argument Christians like to use, when dazzled by their own god-inspired brilliance they forget that nearly every major faith (and no small number of minor ones), has had adherents sacrifice themselves for their devotion.

    Most teenagers grow out of the “I’m the only one who’s ever felt this way” self-centredness, but it seems integral to the arguments of shitty apologists.

  68. says

    I know you’re really into this “cult of smart” thing — we Christians are stupid by definition, therefore I must be a moron.

    How does that work? Plenty of smart people believe in the healing powers of alt-med; plenty of smart people believing in psychics and other mystical mental powers; plenty of smart people fall for scams; plenty of smart people believe in conspiracy theories; etc. Part of Dawkins book, along with many others, has been to look at why smart people come to believe in such beliefs. Part of the message of the sceptic and atheist literature has been just how easily it is we can be fooled. The only book I’ve read where it’s come out and said it’s because people are stupid was S. T. Joshi’s God’s Defenders.

    There is a difference between a stupid belief, and a stupid person. Homoeopathy is by all accounts a huge steaming pile of bullshit, yet it’s researched, defended, and pushed by very smart people.

  69. says

    I was having a good day until I read this. Now I’m having a frikkin’ awesome day.

    The line about smart, snarky women made me smile. Thank you so much for noticing.

  70. says

    * Americans have no monopoly on confusing their country with the whole world.

    Which is why I tried to give global sales figures. As far as I can see, The God Delusion has sold just over 2 million in English, and sold a few hundred thousand in others (the only figures I could find were from the German edition).

  71. Gregory Greenwood says

    IndyM @ 62;

    It doesn’t sound like such a bad vision of the future, if I do say so myself, and yet so many theists seem to assume that it is all just a front, and we baby-eating atheists are actually already planning the re-education camps for when the Grand Council of the High Priests of Atheism seizes power…

    ‘Tis Himself, OM @ 65;

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan

    Thanks for the catch.

  72. cag says

    But stand me next to a priest, or a creationist, and the contrast makes me look white-hot and super-cool

    So the lineup is: Liar, Liar, and a cool guy with a beard not on fire.

  73. IndyM says

    @ Gregory Greenwood:

    I totally agree with you. It’s a logical, rational, and tolerant vision of the future; however, theists absolutely can’t bear it when anything threatens their vision of a Norman-Rockwell-God-Fearing-Land-Ff-The-Free-Brave-Straight-And-White-AMERICA (which never really existed). It makes me so tired. Why are facts and logic so frightening to these people…?

  74. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    Why are facts and logic so frightening to these people…?

    Because they have been taught, from the moment they could talk, to believe in something which directly contradicts observable reality, has no basis in fact, no basis in history (Christianity itself has a basis in history, what it is based on left absolutely nothing in the historical record (though the Old Testament does have a basis in history — it completely contradicts much of what we know)), and is completely and totally illogical.

    Or, shorter, they are Christians. And reality and Christianity are mortal enemas.

  75. Gregory Greenwood says

    IndyM @ 90;

    theists absolutely can’t bear it when anything threatens their vision of a Norman-Rockwell-God-Fearing-Land-Ff-The-Free-Brave-Straight-And-White-AMERICA (which never really existed).

    Oddly, I think the fact that their idealised vision of America never really existed may be part of the appeal to them – they value what they see as the clean cut fantasy over the messy reality. They have an astounding ability to simply ignore anything that runs counter to their worldview. Thus, the idealised America-that-was is and will always remain the ‘shining city on the hill’ – the perfect ‘greatest country’. Little glitches like slavery and the attempted genocide of indigenous American peoples can be brushed aside as unimportant when set against the aspirational quality of the American dream. Of course, the American dream is only a dream if you are a privileged, white, christian male. To anyone else it can look a lot more like a nightmare.

    We even get a version of the same thing over here in the UK. There are still a few dire-hards who hold a ludicrously rose tinted view of the ‘civilising’ influence of the old British Empire.

    It makes me so tired.

    You and I both.

    Why are facts and logic so frightening to these people…?

    I cannot say for sure, but I think it might be that, at some deep, largely unacknowledged level, they know how ridiculous religion is, what with its magic, invisible sky fairy, holy necromancy, eternal ‘afterlife’ and the like. If your entire life is based upon believing something that you have a queasy feeling may be hockum, then you only have two choices:- behind door one we have the painful road of objectively and rationally examining your beliefs in the light of cold, hard evidence and, when it becomes obvious that those beliefs are erroneous, undertaking the difficult task of reordering your entire world view.

    Behind door two, however, is the option to simply deny anything that threatens your established worldview, declaring war on reality itself if that is what it takes. This is a far easier path. It requires no re-evaluation of your life, no need to develop self-awareness, and it comes with a bonus package of smug, self-righteous piety that encourages you to feel that you are extra special because your faith is so pure that reason cannot ‘corrupt’ it.

    Of these two options, path two is by far the easier at first glance. For all the rewards of rationalism, to some it must seem a thorn-strewn path to be walked barefoot, with no hope at the end, requiring much sacrifice for little reward, but this is because they place so little value on what rationalism offers – freedom. Freedom from dogma and delusion and a chance to understand the universe as it actually is, to the best of our current scientific ability to do so, and that is a thing far more precious and far more wonderous than any pale religious mythology.

    Of course, the options take on a new light if you belong to part of the religious authority structure. If your power and privilege are dependent upon religion, then it would be that much harder to honestly evaluate those beliefs that are your bread and butter. Easier by far to secure your comfort and power and call it virtue.

    To such a person – lets take Pope Ratzinger as an example – facts and logic that run counter to his proclamations as pontiff are a decided threat to his station and influence, hence his ludicrous claims that condoms are engineered with microscopic holes to allow the HIV virus through, among others.

  76. maureenbrian says

    I’m just popping in to mention that Rowan Williams is planning to retire early and to return to academic life where, one hopes, he will find the intellectual standards more rigorous than among wall-to-wall Christians.

    (And the dreadful password this new system has produced for me feels like discrimination against the elderly. I will never be able to remember it and will be able to copy it only when my eyes are having one of their better days. Like, is that a lower case “ell” or a capital “eye’? Boo!)

  77. Joachim says

    “We’ll have to compete with Michael Bay and video games and porn for attention, and then there won’t be anyone chattering about how cool we are any more.”

    Compete with porn and video games? And that´s different from now? What do you think I do now, watch creationist videos all the time? Naa, P & VG, that´s not a threat to atheist blogs. Quite complementary, indeed.

    Cheers, Joachim

  78. says

    I agree that Williams’ talk of atheism as “cool” is an attempt to trivialize it as just a passing fashion, a flavor of the day, soon to be replaced by the next.

    As to sexy atheists, I’d prefer Sasha Grey over Brian Cox, but that’s just me.

    ;)

  79. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    mortal enemas.

    Sounds painfull…

    Er, All Hail Tpyos? That was, of course, supposed to be ‘enemies,’ not enemas.

  80. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    DBM, fuckwitted idjit:

    The real difference between The God Delusion and The Truth Behind the New Atheism, is that I know what I’m talking about.

    That hasn’t been proven, so citation needed, along with you apologies for being a abject irrelevant idjit, presuppositionalist, and total intellectual vacuum.

  81. John Morales says

    [addendum + OT]

    Maureen, look above the comment box where it says “Logged in as maureenbrian” — your name should be a link to the “Dashboard” where you can change your display name and password, among other things.

  82. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Care to debate a “moron?”

    Care to actually show solid and conclusive physical evidence your imaginary deity actually exists, and your babble is anything other than mythology/fiction. IIRC, you got trounced into the ground when you tried that before due to your presuppositions, and lack of solid and conclusive physical evidence, making you that moron…care to try again fuckwittted idjit?

  83. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    And the dreadful password this new system has produced for me feels like discrimination against the elderly.

    Maureen, I keep a little black book (actually a little address book), with usernames and passwords for the sites I register at. Useful for the AARP aged crowd.

  84. dexitroboper says

    Its not so much that Marshall is a moron – its that he is completely dishonest. He doesn’t even know how to be honest.

  85. David Marshall says

    Gregory: Some of the other answers are amusing, at least to me, but you raise some serious points, so let me answer them first.

    I agree that atheism has been around for thousands of years: anthropologists find doubters in primitive tribes and villages. The fad I referred to isn’t atheism, it’s this particular brand.

    When I say I know what I’m talking about, and Dawkins doesn’t, I’m referring to many key issues he addresses in The God Delusion, not to his views on evolution, on which I would not dare debate him.

    On the “cult of smart,” I was responding to comments PZ has made, not to your apparently reasonable views.

    “How would you define ‘winning in the end’? you cannot hope to convince everyone, because without evidence the rationalists will never be convinced. How else would you ‘win’? Without trying to silence dissenting voices, that is?”

    I was answering PZ in the style of his OP. But I do think truth tends to endure, while fads come and go. Simply put, Voltaire, Marx, and Feurbach thought Christianity was on the way out centuries ago: it did not happen for them, nor do I see much reason to expect what John Loftus calls “the End of Christianity,” or Harris’ “The End of Faith,” any time soon.

  86. Robert Tobin says

    That old Welsh Git should clean up his own Church first – defrock Pedophile Priests and hand them over to the police.
    Then he should not use the word “Cool” unless he is referring to temperature.

  87. John Morales says

    David Marshall,

    … you cannot hope to convince everyone, because without evidence the rationalists will never be convinced.

    A revealing admission, though actually that should read credible evidence. But yeah.

    See, the difference between you and I is that all my beliefs are provisional — or do you dispute that? :)

  88. Aquaria says

    I am in no position to comment on whether you are a moron or not. ‘Christians’ are a very diverse group. Some are intelligent, some are less so, but none have any evidence for their religious truth claims.

    Don’t worry, the rest of us are in a position to do so from seeing this cabbage with legs vomit his delusion on every carpet he sees here.

    David scumbag Marshall is a moron, and a deluded fuckfaced one at that.

    Take it to the bank.

  89. John Morales says

    Heh. Perhaps I was a tad too subtle for David in my previous.

    His admission is that for his side to win, rationalists must cease to exist.

    (Then only the irrational will remain)

  90. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    When I say I know what I’m talking about, and Dawkins doesn’t, I’m referring to many key issues he addresses in The God Delusion,

    Citation needed fuckwit. You are no where as intelligent as you think you are, and his points need solid physical evidence to be disputed.

    I was responding to comments PZ has made,

    Why on a “Cult of Smart” are you even responding? If you were smart, you would have shut the fuck up months ago when we exposed you as a presuppositionalist liar and bullshitter. QED, you aren’t smart.

    My atheism is provisional fuckwit, but until you show me the eternally burning bush or equivalent, fuck off.

  91. IndyM says

    @ Gregory Greenwood: I also think (and forgive me if I’m stating the obvious) that theists are completely terrified of the fact that there’s “nothing” out there–that there’s no Magic Man in the Sky to commend them for being good; no afterlife as a reward for whatever hardships they endure in this life; no explanation for human cruelty or madness, or destructive natural phenomena etc. The notion of death itself–of nothingness, of meaninglessness–is their worst fear. Instead of trying to create meaning in their lives through their work or passions or talents, they’d rather just ascribe everything to the Great Sky Daddy and be passive followers of the cult (but picking and choosing those aspects of religion that are favorable to their stations and situations). Rationality is, as you say, the much harder path to take–as well as the much more frightening one. For, basically, one has to face him/herself and confront exactly what is and is not there. It’s much easier for the frightened sheep to write everything off to magic and fairy tales and not think about the things that are threatening to their mental comfort.

    And there’s also what you stated: “…it comes with a bonus package of smug, self-righteous piety that encourages you to feel that you are extra special because your faith is so pure that reason cannot ‘corrupt’ it.”

    I’m still blogcrushing on you, btw! :) And please dispense with that Marshall troll.

    @ Brother Og: Word. And I loved your typo. :)

  92. IndyM says

    @ Aquaria:

    Don’t worry, the rest of us are in a position to do so from seeing this cabbage with legs vomit his delusion on every carpet he sees here.

    Love.

  93. says

    But I do think truth tends to endure, while fads come and go. Simply put, Voltaire, Marx, and Feurbach thought Christianity was on the way out centuries ago: it did not happen for them, nor do I see much reason to expect what John Loftus calls “the End of Christianity,” or Harris’ “The End of Faith,” any time soon.

    It must thrill you that Islam is also true by that “standard” (mindless prejudice, in fact). Despite the fact that it is incompatible with Xianity, which is also true by that bit of trash.

    Yes, stupidity and lies have long been forecast to disappear, yet astrology and Mormonism remain, along with theism. There are good reasons relating to the fact that humans aren’t first and foremost evolved to discern truth, but I’m sure that you’re not interested in why you’re stuck in fallacious argumentation and stupid prejudice. You’re only interested in reinforcing your faulty thinking, while pretending that it makes you superior.

    And so stupidity propagates itself.

    Glen Davidson

  94. JohnnieCanuck says

    David Marshall and so many other outspoken theists like him are actually wielding their considerable intelligence in the defence of their emotional attachment to their beliefs. Clever apologists down through the centuries have come with many arguments for their favourite deities, just never any actual evidence.

    The annoying part is where they think that their rationalisations that have worked so well on themselves, must also work on others. Non-believing atheist/agnostic others, that is.

    That moron comment was simply a rhetorical red herring to distract his opponents, as I see it.

    Evidence, David. Evidence and not just argumentation, or you are wasting our time.

  95. Erp says

    @Robert Tobin

    That old Welsh Git should clean up his own Church first – defrock Pedophile Priests and hand them over to the police.

    I’m not sure how much trouble the Church of England has had with not handing over criminal priests. Note it does not obey the Pope (if anything relations are a bit icy right now). Williams does need to move on allowing women and gays full rights in his church and to stop preventing other religions (such as the Quakers and Unitarians) who want to solemnize same-sex civil unions from doing so (legally civil unions have to be completely secular with no hint of religion even if the couple wants some religion in the ceremony).

    In England and Wales btw in 2009 67% of all marriage ceremonies were civil (up from 62% in 1999).

  96. Gregory Greenwood says

    David Marshall @ 106;

    I agree that atheism has been around for thousands of years: anthropologists find doubters in primitive tribes and villages. The fad I referred to isn’t atheism, it’s this particular brand.

    Doesn’t that play into the myth of ‘New Atheism’. Like Christians, Atheists are also a diverse bunch – perhaps even more so, since we do not have any established dogma or formalised structures of authority. All that one needs, at the most fundamental level, to claim to be an atheist is a lack of belief in god(s). Many atheists are also rationalists and skeptics, but these are simply common associated characteristics, not requirements. In so heterogenous a, for want of a better term, ‘community’, we are each a ‘brand’ unto ourselves.

    If we are to speak of ‘new’ and ‘old’ atheism as loose labels, then the principle difference is that contemporary atheists are less inclined to engage in debate on convoluted theological grounds and instead cut straight to the chase – is there any evidence for god? If the god proposition cannot be established, then any other pontification on matters religious is instantly rendered moot.

    As of yet, no one I have ever met or even heard of has come close to presenting credible, still less compelling, evidence for the existence of any deity.

    When I say I know what I’m talking about, and Dawkins doesn’t, I’m referring to many key issues he addresses in The God Delusion, not to his views on evolution, on which I would not dare debate him.

    But isn’t it true that Professor Dawkin’s background in scientific disciplines and his advanced understanding of evolutionary biology lies at the very heart of his arguments for atheism? Evolutionary biology demonstrates how all manner of observed attribuites of modern life, including human intelligence, could have evolved without any need to refer to a creator deity. If, as seems to be the case, god is superfluous to the explanation of the existence of life, and further that this notional deity is regularly used to justify all manner of terrible acts of religious violence and oppression whilst remaining tellingly silent, is it not reasonable to state that not only is belief in god unevidenced and thus irrational, but that even a ‘faithist’ argument that such belief, even though in something untrue, may be beneficial to society fails because religious belief has caused terrible harm to human’s throughout history? What would be your counter-argument to such an observation?

    On the “cult of smart,” I was responding to comments PZ has made, not to your apparently reasonable views.

    Here we must differ. I do not believe that PZ indulges in any ‘cult of smart’. He simply demands evidence for any claims, and extraordianry evidence for extraordinary claims. You may not like his discursive style, but his rationality is unimpeachable.

    But I do think truth tends to endure, while fads come and go. Simply put, Voltaire, Marx, and Feurbach thought Christianity was on the way out centuries ago: it did not happen for them, nor do I see much reason to expect what John Loftus calls “the End of Christianity,” or Harris’ “The End of Faith,” any time soon.

    As I noted above, I (and I would guess many atheists) am less concerned with concepts of any metaphysical ‘truth’ as I am with actual, hard evidence to back up religious truth claims. On the topic of the future of theism, I would agree with you in so much that I am as close to certain as I ever get that religion will not die out entirely in the short to medium term. Even in the long term (I am talking many thousands of years), it is likley some people will cleave to some form of belief system that we would recognise as religious in character. However, I do not believe that Christianity is any special case among religions. Countless other faiths have come and gone over the aeons. Once upon a time, the Greek, Roman and Nordic pantheons had legions of devoted followers, some of whom doubtless had fervour to match even the most committed contemporary Muslim or Christian, but times and cultures changed and ultimately those religions were replaced by newer faiths – including Christianity. I see no reason why Christianity itself won’t ultimately suffer the same fate.

    To preempt a possible response of yours, if I may be so bold, atheism is different because, contrary to the statements of some prominent religious apologists, atheism is not a religion. It is a non-belief in gods, and so long as anyone believes in unevidenced deities, someone, somewhere will ask ‘where is the evidence for that?’ There will always be those who will not take extraordinary claims at face value, and that is all that is needed for atheism and skepticism to exist.

    Thomas Aquinas’ famous aphorism is insufficient – if no evidence is possible for those without faith, then the null hypothesis that god is simply a human social construct must hold, at least for those of us who prize reason over piety.

  97. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    David Marshall wrote:

    When I say I know what I’m talking about, and Dawkins doesn’t, I’m referring to many key issues he addresses in The God Delusion…

    Except for the key issue of the lack of evidence to support believing in a god or gods, of course. Which, as has been noted in this thread, is kind of the only issue that’s actually relevant when it comes down to it.

    It wouldn’t matter how smart or stupid a believer was if they could produce that evidence; it would speak for itself.

  98. says

    mikeg:

    Awww yeah! Do you home brew?

    Not nearly enough. But when I can, most definitely. I have a Mack & Jack inspired brew I’m working on called “Last of the Fireflies Ale.” And another I call “Mean Porter.” ‘Cause I took all the porter recipes I could find, and averaged them. Get it?

    Turned out pretty damned good, too.

  99. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    JohnnieCanuck #115

    Evidence, David. Evidence and not just argumentation, or you are wasting our time.

    Marshall, like every other goddist who argues with the heathen*, doesn’t actually have evidence. He’s got handwaving, tap dancing, the old shuck ‘n jive, and “everyone knows.” What’s more, he knows he doesn’t have evidence, because if he did he would have produced it for the awe and amazement of the heathen.

    *Heathen is everyone who doesn’t believe exactly the way he does. Marshall is very quick to label other Christians as “not true Christians,” especially if they act in a manner Marshall considers prejudicial to Marshall’s idealized Christianity.

  100. Gregory Greenwood says

    IndyM @ 112;

    theists are completely terrified of the fact that there’s “nothing” out there–that there’s no Magic Man in the Sky to commend them for being good; no afterlife as a reward for whatever hardships they endure in this life; no explanation for human cruelty or madness, or destructive natural phenomena etc. The notion of death itself–of nothingness, of meaninglessness–is their worst fear.

    QFT. I think you are right on the money here. For some people, the idea of a vast and fundamentally disinterested universe is terrifying. The idea that, in the grand scheme of things, not only does no individual have a special destiny, but even if the entire human race ceased to exist tomorrow then nothing much would change. The planets would contine on their stately voyages through the void, the stars would still burn with nuclear fire – business as usual for everyone and everything except one species of semi-sentient ape on a backwater planet on the spiral arm of one galaxy among… who knows? Billions? Certainly. Trillions? Quite possibly.

    To such people the idea of a hand on the tiller – any hand on the tiller – is preferable to the notion that the universe just is, and has no need for a steersperson or a creator.

    This is why so many religious apologists accuse atheists of ‘nihilism’. They assume that, since we see no meaning in the innate structure of the universe, that we can see no meaning in anything. The idea that it is up to the individual to create their own meaning in their lives is alien to them, because they believe that all meaning must ultimately flow from their god. For this to hold, all atheists must be ‘lost’. The idea of a happy and socially functional atheist blows a big hole in their worldview, because if atheists don’t need god, does anyone else?

  101. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    Technically a Christian would have to be presented with evidence before they can willfully ignore it and warrant “delusion”. Until then, any given individual may have been too sheltered/lazy/uninterested/preemptively-misinformed to have sought the evidence on their own. And a lack of reflection and critical thinking experience makes apologetic distractions and fallacious ‘evidence’ like revelation seem feel credible.

    And that’s without even considering the emotional manipulation and conditioning to set up fear/tribalism/identity/etc mental blocks.

  102. tushcloots says

    I really don’t think The Purpose Which Is Called “Driven Life” Because It’s Missing A Fucking Hyphen And A Fucking Copyeditor has sold many copies there.

    Please, I am at a Fundamentalist recovery program and I have to take this in class. I refer to that class as ‘Psychotic Demented Strife’, ‘Painfully Dreary Lives,’ ‘Pathetically Dreamy Lies’, and so on, but yours is brilliant! May I use that line? Hilarity will ensue, I promise!

    The real difference between The God Delusion and The Truth Behind the New Atheism, is that I know what I’m talking about.

    Oh, so you know you are full of shit. Perfectly acceptable marketing tactic for Christians. Bravo, keep up the good work ;)

    Kel says:


    21 September 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Meh, the atheist booksales combined don’t even get close to people like Rick Warren. The Purpose Driven Life sells over 52 million copies. Kind of puts the popularity of The God Delusion (which as far as I can see, is around 2.5 million) into perspective.
    Atheism isn’t cool, it’s a niche market that’s been largely untapped until the last 5 years or so.

    I wish I had a cool hat like the pope and his posse, maaaaaaaan.
    I wish I had an execution device as a symbol, that is seriously cool, duuuude. Popsicles are wicked cool – o – mundo, cat. ZOMFG, rad booksales are the kewl-EST of forever all! Suckers are deliciose, but cool? Of Course, they have the bitchinist book sales:

    Sadly, what is missing from Warren’s book is the message of contrition and true repentance, and that God will smite the world with judgement. Warren is a religious businessman and showman and reminds me of Phineas T. Barnum of circus fame. It was Barnum who supposedly said, “There is a sucker born every minute.” I feel so urged by the Holy Ghost to warn churches and pastors across this nation and overseas to stay in the Word of God. Do not be duped and driven by deceptive forces. Be led by the Spirit of God.

    Pastor David J. Meyer

    God doesn’t think you are cool, fuckface, he thinks you are forever hot stuff!

  103. says

    Simply put, Voltaire, Marx, and Feurbach thought Christianity was on the way out centuries ago: it did not happen for them, nor do I see much reason to expect what John Loftus calls “the End of Christianity,” or Harris’ “The End of Faith,” any time soon.

    There are two separate, but both interesting, issues at play here. The first is whether or not a belief any intellectual validity – creationism is dead, scientifically speaking, for example. The second is whether or not it propagates from person to person – creationism is well alive, culturally speaking, for example.

    That religion hasn’t died out isn’t really much of a problem considering what is known about human psychology. There’s no grounds to think any of it is true, and grounds to think that much of it is sheer nonsense, in needing to explain why religion propagates. It’s for the same reason that we don’t have to posit aliens in order to explain UFOs, crop circles, alien abductions, etc.

    I’m actually with you that religion will persist and win out; it has done so in the past and it’ll continue to do so again. But in terms of the intellectual content behind it – it’s already lost and had been lost for centuries. The fact that there are Mormon apologists should be indication enough that simply making a case for one’s beliefs doesn’t have anything to do with the validity of said beliefs.

  104. ColpulsoryAccount7746 says

    This is why so many religious apologists accuse atheists of ‘nihilism’.

    Bizarrely when liberal believers pull the postmodern/solipsistic “true for me” or devalue everything that isn’t their invisible buddy, they’re the nihilists.

    And because we devalue that one precious thing into nonexistence, obviously we can’t care about anything within reality which they ignore (at least while indulging that compartment).

  105. John Morales says

    CompulsoryAccount7746:

    Technically a Christian would have to be presented with evidence before they can willfully ignore it and warrant “delusion”.

    Indeed. And so they are (I call it ‘reality’). ;)

  106. says

    In other words, while people have X as a potential explanation, there will be people taking said explanation. Especially when X fits in well with our intuitive psychology. It’s why sleep paralysis was once thought demonic, and now is part of the alien abduction experience. If Christianity were to die, then people would interpret what Christians interpret as the holy spirit through whatever beliefs persist in the culture. And the fact of the matter is now, we have enough knowledge of other religions and other cultures that anyone who can profess to have being touched by the holy spirit should really doubt their interpretation!

  107. A. Noyd says

    Gregory Greenwood (#117)

    As of yet, no one I have ever met or even heard of has come close to presenting credible, still less compelling, evidence for the existence of any deity.

    Hell, it’s worse than that. Even if we were to extend theologists the epistemic charity of allowing them to build a case upon argument alone, they haven’t yet managed to produce a single such argument that doesn’t work equally well to justify belief in the god of a religion that contradicts their own!

  108. Seeker of Reason and Amusement and Beer says

    Paging Mr. Marshall, … Mr. David Dingleberry Marshall…

    Please pick your apologetics at the white courtesy phone…

  109. Rey Fox says

    Nigel @121: Let me channel David for a second and answer your question. *ahem* “Read my book.” Anything else you’d like to ask while he’s away?

  110. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    John Morales:

    CompulsoryAccount7746:
    Technically a Christian would have to be presented with evidence before they can willfully ignore it and warrant “delusion”.

    Indeed. And so they are (I call it ‘reality’). ;)

    Cute. I’ll add a hopefully obvious addendum anyhow…

    Confirmation bias and overconfidence in one’s own perception can play powerful roles in skewing one’s subjective model of reality. Add in sketchy positive reinforcement from peers who, in vague sloppy language, affirm they experienced the same things… you get the idea.

    Or you may be referring to soaking up science through cultural osmosis, in which case it’s a matter of how divergent a given kook is from the general population. See: History Channel.

    Claims like “apocalypse next Tuesday” are instances where the theist self-provides contradictory evidence to deludedly ignore.

  111. says

    Rey Fox:

    Nigel @121: Let me channel David for a second and answer your question. *ahem* “Read my book.” Anything else you’d like to ask while he’s away?

    Not nearly enough name-dropping or dancing around the subject. You’d suck as a David Marshall impersonator.

    And believe me, that’s a good thing.

  112. says

    Though Radcliffe is an atheist, theists (and perhaps even atheists that aren’t active in the “movement”) probably don’t think of him as a face of atheism or even care about his religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Or, to put it more bluntly, he is not famous for being an atheist.

  113. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    David Marshall

    I was answering PZ in the style of his OP. But I do think truth tends to endure, while fads come and go. Simply put, Voltaire, Marx, and Feurbach thought Christianity was on the way out centuries ago: it did not happen for them, nor do I see much reason to expect what John Loftus calls “the End of Christianity,” or Harris’ “The End of Faith,” any time soon.

    Ah, but Christianity today isn’t the same religion it was in the time of Voltaire, is it? There was a time when ordinary Christians wouldn’t have employed evasive rhetoric about “literalism” or argued from consequences when pressed on whether they really believed all the metaphysical claims of the religion.

    Sure Christianity may not go away completely, but keep in mind that there are still people around who worship Odin regularly. You might want to consider what that fact says about the veracity of viking cosmology.

    I expect Christianity will “win” in much the same way Asatru has. Some people will always find it alluring, because they like the stories, or because it helps them feel connected to their antecedents. If that’s the kind of winning you had in mind, then congratulations.

  114. David Marshall says

    Hyperdeath #74: The issue was intelligence, not career path. If you want to talk about the latter, Richard Dawkins veered off pure scientific research into “meaningless metaphors,” science popularizing, and theological diatribe long ago.

    Or if the question is, “Who’s cool?” I’ll go with Lennox.

    “I hope you have someone better in mind that that pompous gasbag David Bentley Hart, whose only discernible talent is the ability to take the single argument “Dawkins is an idiot” and extend it into vast diatribes of pretentious sneering.”

    Good Lord! I would think that talent would be appreciated here.

    “It’s a more palatable truth than the fact that The God Delusion is a best-seller, whilst your vanity-published dreck is read by no one.”

    I didn’t publish the thing, nor the new Spanish version. It’s a book of middling publishing success. But as has been pointed out, if numbers are the issue, all the Gnus combined fall behind Rick Warren OR Dan Brown. And they’ve got a long ways to go wo catch up with the word’s best-selling work by an atheist: Quotations From Chairman Mao.

    To answer your final question, why do you expect “proper arguments” from me, but put up with reams of indulgent dreck from fellow atheists? My books, and even blogs to a lesser extent, are full of detailed arguments. What I’m answering here is trash talk. There’s no reason to show off in a pig trough.

    When substantive claims are made, I have responded with as much or more substance than most posters, as you should admit, if you aim to be fair. It seems to me you’re indulging a curious double standard.

  115. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    David Marshall, the preacher formerly known as Googlemess, said:

    My books, and even blogs to a lesser extent, are full of detailed arguments. What I’m answering here is trash talk.

    Well, I think whoever bet that the answer would be “read my book” has won.

  116. David Marshall says

    Gregory: Yes, I agree atheists are highly diverse. That’s why I don’t compare “Christianity” or “Hinduism,” to “atheism,” but to atheist ideologies like communism or secular humanism. Deny God, and you can go a lot of different ways. I try not to generalize; though sometimes run into pockets of anger and obtuseness that make it tempting.

    Dawkins says surprisingly little about science in The God Delusion, and even with some of that, is unduly sloppy.

    Yes, I admit that evolution makes atheism more plausible.

    But you segue into an historical argument that really is central to GD, and that I think is just plain false, at least in emphasis. I think, and have argued, that in fact Christianity has acted as the greatest tool of liberation in history. Yes, I know all the contrary arguments: this is one of the fields in which I have the advantage over the 4 chief Gnus. (Hector Avalos and Richard Carrier try to rush into the breach, but they stumble right and left.)

    I don’t believe in a “faithist” argument, as you call it, and argue that that is one of Dawkins’ biggest mistakes. (Though all the Gnus regularly commit it.)

    On Myers, you misunderstand me. I like his style. That’s one reason I read his blog. I don’t care what he, or touchy followers, call me: insults detached from reality don’t really sting. It’s Myers’ facts I dispute.

    We obviously disagree about what we both see as the core issue: the evidence for the evidence for Christian faith.

    On the future of Christianity or atheism, of course all of us are just barking at the moon: God only knows.

  117. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    Or, shorter, they are Christians. And reality and Christianity are mortal enemas

    And we all know that the enema of my enemy is my friend.
    …Which sounded really good until Rule 34 occurred to me. I’m not going to do that particular google. I suggest you don’t either.

    PZ was making the mistake of thinking USA-centrically. You have to remember that Willy is a Church of Tory – err, sorry, – England capo di tutti capo and in the UK even the church knows that it is terminally uncool. Hell, even gamers are cooler.

  118. raven says

    DBM, fuckwitted idjit:

    The real difference between The God Delusion and The Truth Behind the New Atheism, is that I know what I’m talking about.

    This is an assertion without proof. Hitchens rule. Assertions without proof or data can be dismissed without proof or data. The troll is just wrong.

    Here is another assertion. Marshall is boring and predictable. The proof. His last 50 posts are just wild assertions without proof and lies.

    David Marshall also is mentally ill, Narcissistic Personality Disorder most likely. The proof. Read the DSM IV and wikipedia entries.

    FWIW, NPD is one of the bad ones. It is treatment resistant and a lot of killers and serial killers show this. I don’t have much data, but a lot of them seem to gravitate to religions as a cover and rationalization for their personality problems.

  119. UpAgainstTheRopes says

    “We’ll have to compete with Michael Bay and video games and porn for attention”

    I beg to differ, the above in regards to atheism are non-overlapping magisteria

  120. raven says

    Laughing Wild: Seen and Readlaughingwild.blogspot.com/2005/07/seen-and-read.htmlCached

    Jul 14, 2005 – I just finished reading Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of … story of a brutal murder commmitted by Ron & Dan Lafferty, two members of the fundmentalist Mormon community. While Krakauer is careful to note that most Mormons are … all insane – he had qualities of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, …

    Ron Lafferty was a LDS polygamist cult leader wannabe. He didn’t get too far after he slit the throat of a baby and killed its mother because he claims god told him too.

    He is thought to have NPD.

    A lot of cult religion on a personal basis is just a cover for mental illness.

  121. PlayMp1 says

    As a couple people have mentioned… Daniel Radcliffe *is* an atheist. Which is pretty cool for me, as a minor Harry Potter fan (I’m a youngun, gimme a break).

  122. A. Noyd says

    David Marshall (#139)

    What I’m answering here is trash talk. There’s no reason to show off in a pig trough.

    Once upon a time, there was a man who liked to excuse his shortcomings by pointing to those around him and saying they were no better. In fact, he would often talk of how, unlike everyone else, he could become the gentlest of gentlemen in the company of gentlemen, and the sagest of sages in the company of sages, but that he had no reason to show off in the company of lesser beings.

    For reasons he never could fathom, this did not endear him to anyone, and he increasingly found himself wanting for company till, eventually, so few people would invite him to their fire or share food with him that he ended up hungry and cold with nowhere to go. Wandering about, he happened upon a pigsty whose denizens had been thrown their slops not moments before. Of course, there was nothing for the man to do but get down on all fours in the mud and push his way between the fat flanks of the gorging swine to get his fill from the trough.

    When all but a scrap or two had been finished off, a few of his former acquaintances passed by and demanded to know what on earth he was up to. He raised his head and blurted that he was doing nothing worse than what the pigs were doing, and that there was no need to show off in a pig trough. And when the men and women shook their heads and turned away, he shrugged at their stubborn inability to be persuaded by his superior reasoning, then wallowed down against a bristled back, and fell asleep, just as the pigs were doing.

  123. thajarin says

    Um… we are really, really, cool when you compare us to people like Pat Robertson and Kent Hovind.

  124. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    David Marshall wrote:

    My books, and even blogs to a lesser extent, are full of detailed arguments.

    Liar. You’ve got no arguments, detailed or otherwise. If you had anything other than special pleading, goalpost shifting and other forms of intellectual dishonesty you’ve have posted it here to shut us up. You haven’t; ergo you’ve got nothing.

  125. DingoDave says

    I suppose a bunch of old men walking around wearing frocks could be considered cool in some circles.

  126. anteprepro says

    Glad that David Marshall volunteered himself to show the coolness contrast effect in this very thread. And was gentlemanly enough to talk about Christianity as if it were obviously true while not arsing himself to make the case for such a perspective, because he believes he has already made points of “substance” and we can just read his blog and book for the answers anyway. Grand. Wake me when David is done calling his evasiveness “substance” and actually decides to show why Christianity is oh, so obviously true.

  127. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    David Marshall wrote:

    We obviously disagree about what we both see as the core issue: the evidence for the evidence for Christian faith.

    No, you both agree there isn’t any – because if there was, you (or someone else) would have presented it by now, and there wouldn’t be any atheists.

    What you disagree on is whether that lack of evidence matters. Dawkins, being intellectually honest, believes – as do most, if not all, atheists – that it does matter; you, being a dishonest hack, lie and try to distract people from noticing that there is no evidence.

  128. Sally Strange, OM says

    David Marshall makes me feel like one of the popular kids. Or what I imagine the popular kids felt like, anyway.

  129. chigau (...---...) says

    David Marshall reminds me of my Auntie.
    She had a similar style of “debate”.
    She was schizophrenic.

  130. says

    David Marshall:

    When substantive claims are made, I have responded with as much or more substance than most posters, as you should admit, if you aim to be fair.

    Depends on what you mean by “most posters.”

    It seems to me you’re indulging a curious double standard.

    And it seems to me you’re indulging in a curious dance in which you answer nothing of note. You seem rather to focus on the trivial, the meaningless, and the trash talking, rather than anything of substance.

    For instance: what is the single key issue Dawkins gets wrong? That’s a simple, substantive question, which you ignore. I’m after a single point of debate, one that demonstrates your philosophical or logical superiority.

    Here’s another point you have failed to establish: a single bit of credible evidence for the existence of a god. Any god. I’m not even talking about establishing evidence for the Christian god, which is a far more difficult proposition.

    So, no, David Marshall. You don’t respond to substantive claims, let alone as much more more than most posters.

    …atheist ideologies like communism or secular humanism.

    Here’s a demonstration of your philosophical confusion. Communism is not a specifically-atheistic ideology. A case could be made that the Jesus-character from the Bible effectively espoused communism. There is nothing ideologically incompatible between communism and theistic Buddhism. The pushing of atheism in modern communist countries is an attribute of central governmental control, and not required of communism itself.

    While a better case could be made for secular humanism as an atheistic ideology, it too is not incompatible with Christianity. Ask Unitarian/Universalists about that. In spite of the common use of “secular” to mean “atheist heathens” in the Fox News crowd, “secular” does not require — or even imply — atheism.

    If this is the level of sophistication in your books, I question your assertion you know what you are talking about.

  131. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I have responded with as much or more substance than most posters,

    No you don’t. Show us solid and conclusive physical evidence that your imaginary deity exists, and the babble isn’t a book of mythology/fiction, or shut the fuck up. That would be substantive and honest. Any religion based on such false premises as an imaginary deity and book of fiction has no substantive answers. Just mental masturbation, tap dancing, and parlor magic tricks, like all your responses.

  132. says

    When substantive claims are made, I have responded with as much or more substance than most posters, as you should admit, if you aim to be fair.

    That’s a fairly common complaint here, which would mean something if there weren’t people making genuine argument. Of all the flaws of this place, there’s a lot of smart, well-educated people who do try to put forward arguments.

    So even if there are people who add nothing to the conversation (and really, who can blame them?), why not just ignore all that and address those who do? Because even if that’s a small percentage, they’re still the ones making arguments and not getting answers. Because there are some of us who do these discussions because we are interested; interested in seeing whether our own position stands up; interested in whether there are arguments or evidence they haven’t considered; interested in seeing how others approach the same question and evidence; and so on.

    At least for me, I’m sick of being told I don’t get it, or that I’m ignorant, or that I’m closed-minded, yet I’m never explained just what it is that I’m missing. I try to understand, I try to see it from a Christian perspective, read arguments, try to learn more, yet I really can’t seem to get what it is I’m missing. It’s so frustrating that I feel like writing it all of as obfuscatory bullshit.

  133. says

    The other interesting thing about the “new atheist” position is that it wasn’t something I was ever taught. When I became an atheist, I hadn’t read any atheist literature, I hadn’t heard any of the arguments for atheism, I hadn’t been preached to by atheists, and I certainly didn’t have the threat of hellfire if I chose to be an atheist. But I did have scripture, I did have preachers coming into my school, and I grew up a wider culture of belief. Yet with all that, I became an atheist. It wasn’t to shock my parents, it wasn’t to fit in with other children. It was that the notion of God seemed silly – much in the same way as Santa Claus or fairies, and especially in light of myths and legends from other cultures (I used to love to read different mythologies and stories).

    So I’m really not sure where this “fad” thing comes from, reading Dawkins et al. I see the arguments that make perfect sense in the light of modern knowledge. And the fact of the matter is that I’d be an atheist even if Dawkins had never published The God Delusion, as really there’s no good case for God. Or if there is a case, religious believers who try to make the case are keeping it from me. Or perhaps I’m too entrenched in my atheism to see a good case when it’s made. Who knows. Of course I think my case for atheism is fairly solid, but I’m interested in seeing if that’s not the case. It’s why I try to discuss it with others. It’s why I spend a lot of time reading books, listening to lectures, hearing interviews and debates.

    Maybe I’m wrong, and if I am I’d like to know why. And there’s only so much introspection one can do on their own cognition, I’m human after all…

  134. Gregory Greenwood says

    David Marshall @ 141;

    Yes, I agree atheists are highly diverse. That’s why I don’t compare “Christianity” or “Hinduism,” to “atheism,” but to atheist ideologies like communism or secular humanism.

    As observed by nigelTheBold, Wagering against Pascal @ 159, neither communism nor secular humanism are necessarily atheistic in character, and to call them ‘atheist ideologies’ is a stretch. Theistic communism is perfectly possible, and secular humanists simply place their humaism seperate from any religious belief, it does not mean that they are also automatically atheists, although many atheists (myself included) are secular humanists.

    Deny God, and you can go a lot of different ways. I try not to generalize; though sometimes run into pockets of anger and obtuseness that make it tempting.

    Here we run into a fundamental point of disagreement between us. I would say that, in order to ‘deny’ god, then the god proposition must first be established. Otherwise ‘denying god’ is equivilant to ‘denying leprechauns’. Certainly, ‘denying’ god is in no way comprable to the denial of phenomena that have the support of credible evidence, such as evolution or anthropogenic climate change.

    Dawkins says surprisingly little about science in The God Delusion, and even with some of that, is unduly sloppy.

    The God Delusion was written as a book for mass consumption, not as an advanced evolutionary biology paper. I found the arguments put forward to be logical and a reasonable series of objection to religion and its undeserved privileged status as being ‘beyond debate’ in the eyes of many within society.

    Yes, I admit that evolution makes atheism more plausible.

    You are streets ahead of the young earth creationists then.

    But you segue into an historical argument that really is central to GD, and that I think is just plain false, at least in emphasis. I think, and have argued, that in fact Christianity has acted as the greatest tool of liberation in history. Yes, I know all the contrary arguments…

    I would think that the weight of history is against you here. Christianity cannot have seemed to be much of a force of liberation when it was used to justify salvery (“hewers of wood and bearers of water”). Or when it was used as the basis for pogroms against jewish and other minority faith communities. Or when colonialism was put forward as a project to ‘civilise’ and bring ‘christian salvation’ (at the point of a firearm) to the ‘savage’. Or when christian ‘holy wars’ have been fought, such as the hideously brutal crusades. Or when women were murdered as witches without evidence, or ‘heretics’ were burnt at the stake for not towing the party line. It has also done little to emancipate women and homosexuals, and has instead been a continuing force against movements toward equality for these groups.

    I would say that only your own privilege and confirmation bias leads you to state that Christianity is such a great force for liberation. There are millions alive today whose personal experiences would lead them to differ with you.

    I don’t believe in a “faithist” argument, as you call it, and argue that that is one of Dawkins’ biggest mistakes. (Though all the Gnus regularly commit it.)

    I was simply including the ‘faithist’ perspective (that religion is a social good even without the existence of god) in the name of completeness.

    On Myers, you misunderstand me. I like his style. That’s one reason I read his blog. I don’t care what he, or touchy followers, call me: insults detached from reality don’t really sting. It’s Myers’ facts I dispute.

    You can only really counter evidence with stronger or more complete evidence. The trouble is, there is no evidence for religion, and so the null hypothesis is the fall back position for anyone who is viewing the religious phenomenon without any ‘perosnal revelation’. If genuine, compelling evidence for religion was forthcoming, then the vast bulk of atheists, PZ included, would re-evaluate their beliefs. But no such evidence is forthcoming.

    We obviously disagree about what we both see as the core issue: the evidence for the evidence for Christian faith.

    You have not actually put forward any evidence for christianity, so it seems to me that what we actually disagree on is the importance of evidence in relation to christianity. You seem comfortable to believe in its absence, but for an atheist and rationalist such as myself, that lack of evidence is a deal breaker. To me, belief in god is no more evidentially supported, and thus no more rational, than belief in vampires, werewolves or fairys.

    On the future of Christianity or atheism, of course all of us are just barking at the moon: God only knows.

    I agree that it is impossible to predict the future with certainty, but I would pharse it as ‘no one knows’. Not me, not you, not any human. Plumbing the precognitive abilities or otherwise of god is moot unless the existence of such a being is established. Otherwise we are left with a debate no more fruitful than asking; who is stronger? The Incredible Hulk or Superman?

  135. bastionofsass says

    I, for one, have always thought reason and reality were kinda cool, so it makes me happy that more people may be starting to finally see things my way.

    But then, I’m just one of those snarky women.

  136. says

    I think, and have argued, that in fact Christianity has acted as the greatest tool of liberation in history.

    Even if you have heard all the counter-arguments, I’m really perplexed how you can say that in light of slavery, inquisitions, witch burnings, conquistadors and other colonialism, the teaching of the inferiority of women and other races, persecution of homosexuals – something of which is still going on today, etc. The loudest voices against enlightenment values and individual autonomy are almost always the ones wrapped in piety.

  137. Hairy Chris says

    @David Marshall re: 141
    OK then. Evidence for the supernatural followed by evidence for your particular interpretation of it. That shouldn’t be too hard for you to produce.
    Chop chop. We’re getting tired of waiting here.

  138. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    The closest one can come to the shadow of a fraction of a grain of truth in DM’s assertions is that there have of course been some good people striving for the greater freedom of their fellow human beings who happen to be theists of one flavour or another. Of course he does not, however, come anywhere near showing that those who have done this have done so because they were/are theists: it’s blindingly obvious that theism – let alone any specific flavour of it such as xtianity (much less DM’s own preferred sub-flavour, whatever that happens to be) – is not a necessary or sufficient condition for doing, or attempting to do good. There’s nothing in DM’s wittering to counter Steven Weinberg’s well-known “With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

  139. Hazuki says

    And THIS is why I say we need more than science, why I say we need history and philosophy. So when shit-spraying obscurationists like DM show up, we can refute them on their own grounds.

    Learn philosophy and logic. Learn some koine Greek and some Hebrew. Read things by people outside the debate, neither Christian nor atheist, like Hyam Maccoby.

    As to “cult of smart,” this is why INT and WIS are separate stats. Apologists like DM are very good at using their formidable INT score to argue for their intuitions and beliefs, which go largely unquestioned at the core. This is the same pathology we see in Craig, the same one we saw in Bahnsen and van Til, and the same one we will continue to see across apologetics.

    No single field is going to shut these people up. It’s going to be the combined synthesized knowledge of the sciences, history, philosophy, logic, comparative religion, and text criticism.

  140. tushcloots says

    I think, and have argued, that in fact Christianity has acted as the greatest tool of liberation in history.

    LOL, I get no end of entertainment listening to bible thumpers claim christianity is the basis for almost everything in the world today, like democracy, our justice system, rational inquiry, and probably boats, medicine, bah blah blah…

    I don’t know how the fu*k they think society held together in Egypt, Greece, east Asia if everything came from christianity.
    The funniest irony I snicker about when they claim these things, is that every fucking thing in christianity is copied! I mean virgin birth, execution and resurrection 3 days later, 12 disciples, creation accounts, angels, God – His Son – spirit triumvirate, hell, conversations with the devil, among others, walking on water… In fact, it sure looks like Christianity is a direct rip-off of Krishna.(and several others, but of course, it must be coincidence that almost everything in the Bible just happens to be virtually identical to previous religions – down the the last frikking detail!

    Yeah, Christianity is the antithesis of justice, morality, democracy, liberation, I mean, c’mon! Unions are responsible for liberation

  141. Hazuki says

    Uh, tushcloots? The old Krishna link has been disproven nine ways from Sunday. I believe what the similarities show is that, in the transition from man to mythical figure, Yeshua bar Yousef was vested with these stories as a way of making him appeal to potential converts.

    Check your goddamn sources too. Anyone who takes Zeitgeist and ESPECIALLY Kersey Graves seriously is a kook. Acharya S., I’m less sure about, but am also leaning to crackpot territory for her.

  142. KG says

    I think, and have argued, that in fact Christianity has acted as the greatest tool of liberation in history. – David Brooks Marshall the Liar

    I rather think the majority of Jews and gays, to name just two obvious groups, would raise a cynical eyebrow at this typically dishonest hogwash.

    On a broader scale, it is remarkable that it is precisely as the hold of Christianity on the public sphere has weakened that various other social phenomena have strengthened: democracy and accountable goernment, freedom of expression and indeed religion, science, gender, racial and LGBT equality, and action against slavery and child abuse, to name just a few. Whatever Christianity’s effects in earlier centuries, this is undeniable by any honest and reasonably well-informed observer.

  143. says

    David Marshall:

    The issue was intelligence, not career path.

    The phrase you used was “dim bulbs”. McGrath and Lennox may have once been bright, but their light faded long ago. They may still be intelligent, but they show no sign of it.

    If you want to talk about the latter, Richard Dawkins veered off pure scientific research into “meaningless metaphors,” science popularizing, and theological diatribe long ago.

    Dawkins in primarily a science popularizer, and a good one at that. (No one here claims that he’s a working scientist.) As for “theological diatribes” he did so once. His last two books have been about science.

    Or if the question is, “Who’s cool?” I’ll go with Lennox.

    Since when was pig-ignorant creationism “cool”.

    I didn’t publish [my book], nor the new Spanish version. It’s a book of middling publishing success. But as has been pointed out, if numbers are the issue, all the Gnus combined fall behind Rick Warren OR Dan Brown. And they’ve got a long ways to go wo catch up with the word’s best-selling work by an atheist: Quotations From Chairman Mao.

    Yes, Dawkins doesn’t sell as well as Rick Warren or Dan Brown, but that doesn’t alter the fact that he achieves sales figures that most authors could only dream of. The difference is that between great success and phenomenal success.

    I have a very simple question for you: Did you at any point pay Harvest House money? If so why? If the book is anything even approaching “middling” success, then money should be regularly flowing in your direction. If not, why not?

    Who arranged the Spanish translation? Did you have to do anything besides approve it, and then cash the cheques?

    To answer your final question, why do you expect “proper arguments” from me, but put up with reams of indulgent dreck from fellow atheists? My books, and even blogs to a lesser extent, are full of detailed arguments. What I’m answering here is trash talk.

    Because the “trash talk”, although rude, often contains substantive comment. You’re indulging in the tedious Internet-moron tactic of priggishly criticizing rudeness, whilst completely ignoring actual content.

    There’s no reason to show off in a pig trough.

    Then why do so incessantly? Your boasting would be more tolerable if it had at least some substance.

    When substantive claims are made, I have responded with as much or more substance than most posters, as you should admit, if you aim to be fair.

    Where?

  144. Hazuki says

    More to the point, DM commits so many fallacies I don’t even know the names of that his reasoning is suspect. That little dig at “most popular atheist publication” is a prime example.

    Here’s a hint, Davey: “where your love is, there your religion is.” Can you honestly tell me that the cult of personality that arose around Mao (and other people like him), with its unquestionable dogma and repression of thought and complte stunting of moral and intellectual progress and utter disconnection from reality didn’t have all the trappings of religion?

    When you’re not allowed to look directly at Dear Leader’s picture because it will blind you, or told that Comrade President was born from heaven and heralded by a double rainbow, that is religious myth. Pure and simple.

    Those supposedly atheist regimes had all the hallmarks of religion, including, I would say, something that answers to God. You are not only wrong, but fractally, cosmically, 100%, 180 degrees off the mark wrong, and I will thank you to stop using this argument in the future. Good day, sir.

  145. John Morales says

    Hazuki:

    Read things by people outside the debate, neither Christian nor atheist, like Hyam Maccoby.

    In what sense is a Jew outside the debate?

    (Which AFAICT ain’t atheist vs. Christian, but atheist vs. theist)

  146. Hazuki says

    @176

    Much of the debate is Christian vs atheist here. Modern Judaism is, let’s be fair, mostly Deism, with the exception of the fundamentalist groups. And within their own religion, Jewish fundies are a small proportion compared to Christian fundies in theirs.

    Maccoby’s insight is important because he is extremely scholarly and approaches what is after all a Jewish story from a learned, Jewish perspective. He has fascinating things to say on the Triumphal Entry and what followed, in light of superior knowledge of Zecharias’ prophecies and what they mean for a Jewish milieu. Among other things, he points out that it is likely the Triumphal Entry happened around the feast of booths, not passover.

  147. Ha says

    ‘Welcome :) Sorry I don’t have much more to contribute now. I get too emotional about these things.

  148. Ewan Macdonald says

    Can someone explain to me why McGrath’s name frequently appears on these lists of “smart” theists? I’ve heard nothing from him to suggest that he’s capable of forming a coherent argument. He’s a bug-eyed simpleton.

  149. anteprepro says

    Ewan MacDonald: “Can someone explain to me why McGrath’s name frequently appears on these lists of “smart” theists? ”

    [Speculation alert! Speculation alert!]

    Probably the same reason why C.S. Lewis regularly appears as an example of a good apologist, according to Christians: Christians don’t care if the arguments are actually decent, because they already agree with the nonsense trying to be proved. All they want is something that sounds authoritative. Pretty much the only qualification for being one of the Great Sophistricated Theopologists is writing/speaking ability. Having objectively good arguments from an outsider’s perspective is entirely beside the point to the people who would herald these men and (sometimes) women as champions.

    It’s pretty much the same deal with Conservative “Intellectuals” as well. For the longest time, I was banging my head against the wall, wondering why idiots like Dinesh D’Souza and David Horowitz were lauded as paragons of Republican smartness. And I guess I know now: It’s because the way they write and speak reflect intelligence, even if their actual arguments are completely illogical and are so often blatant bullshit. Their target audience already agrees with them, so they don’t care if the logic is irretrievably flawed. It’s all about the writing/speaking ability and that thin scholarly veneer. That’s where the judgment that these people are good at their jobs begins and ends.

  150. Hazuki says

    CS Lewis is a TERRIBLE apologist though. His own personal beliefs hinged entirely on the idea that Jesus was myth given form…in other words, basically the inverse side of the “well Satan imitated Jeebus back in time!” argument Eusebius and other early apologists used.

    His other arguments are utter claptrap too. The famous Lord, Liar, or Lunatic trilemma is the canonical (har) example (to which we should add Mistaken, Mythological, and Misattributed).

  151. lazybird says

    David Marshall

    That’s why I don’t compare “Christianity” or “Hinduism,” to “atheism,” but to atheist ideologies like communism or secular humanism

    Not surprising that you are unaware of Christian communism. Ignorance seems to be a requirement for your position.

    When you compare Christianity to secular humanism, wtf do you need your god for? Selling your books?

  152. Ewan Macdonald says

    This makes sense. I also think McGrath cultivates an image of ever-so-slightly elevated dignity, i.e. he’s always very careful about his tone, always appropriates the language of ‘respect’, and as such has as his rhetorical redoubt the moral high ground.

  153. Brownian says

    To answer your final question, why do you expect “proper arguments” from me, but put up with reams of indulgent dreck from fellow atheists? My books, and even blogs to a lesser extent, are full of detailed arguments. What I’m answering here is trash talk. There’s no reason to show off in a pig trough.

    Then leave and never come back, you dissembling fucking jackass. If I could physically spit on you for your dishonesty and cowardice, I would.

  154. anteprepro says

    Agreed, Haruki. I would also add that Lewis’s much lauded “Mere Christianity” apologetics opus, where he makes his famous false trilemma, spends only the first quarter or so of the book trying to convince people that Christianity is true, and does it mostly through this argument:

    1. People have morals, and morals are (mostly) similar all around.
    2. Ergo, there are Moral Laws that exist out in the aether somewhere that all people are psychically aware of, and this is the only explanation for the similar moral codes between cultures.
    3. There must be a Moral Lawgiver, which I call God (because obviously Laws are Things, and not just abstract descriptions of the general way things behave…)
    4. And there’s a smattering of archaeological evidence showing that Biblical locations actually existed, so therefore Jesus is Lord. Now, let’s move on to talk about Christianity as if it were undeniably true.

    It’s truly fantastic tripe. But, like I said, that doesn’t matter to people who already believe 3 and 4, because they don’t care about the utter bullshit used to arrive there, as long as author does, and it happens in a way that seems well-written, rather than well-argued. I would say that the fact C.S. Lewis’s moronic arguments are so well-received is a key support for the idea that this kind of writing is not praised by its supporters for its actual intellectual merit. From what I gather, the same is true of the vast majority of The New Atheists’ fleas, with DM’s precious McGrath being foremost among them in inanity.

  155. Ing says

    Or we can debate my intelligence, if that’s all the better you can do, and you don’t mind me holding all the cards AND the better looks.

    Jesus christ…even by the standards of this blog which as people like me lowering the maturity level to age 7 you’re a fucking child.

    Goddamn, E-mail me and I’d gladly debate you. Soul subject is “The Christian God is Real”

  156. Brownian says

    Probably the same reason why C.S. Lewis regularly appears as an example of a good apologist, according to Christians: Christians don’t care if the arguments are actually decent, because they already agree with the nonsense trying to be proved. All they want is something that sounds authoritative.

    David Marshall’s continual name-dropping in lieu of evidence (or even argument) very much in evidence.

    In the land of the blind, the guy who can name ten other blind guys the fastest is king, apparently.

  157. Hazuki says

    I will be impressed if one of these people can answer the problem of evil. I have read several dozen theodicies (though they all boil down to less than half a dozen archetypes) and was more and more disgusted by each one.

  158. says

    I have to confess. I thought when I heard the basics of the Liar Lunatic or Lord argument was from Lewis’s pre-Christianity days and thought it was a good argument against Christianity.

  159. says

    A sample of how “full of detailed arguments” (if full of shit==full of detailed arguments) David’s books are

    See especially chapter 4, where idiot David simply assumes that the liars of the DI are in fact good faith critics of evolution, rather than the frauds and charlatans that they have always proven to be.

    He faults the evolution side for not being open to the evidence, obviously meaning that bullshit deserves respect. In that chapter, aside from attacking evolution over the matter of abiogenesis–when the two are only hazily connected–David never rises above mere tone trolling and acceptance that his fellow mindless apologists are every bit as worthy as those who have honestly pursued the matter. Berlinski is treated as if he were a meaningful critic, rather than an ignorant supercilious whiner, which anyone knowledgeable recognizes him to be (David hardly being knowledgeable, of course).

    Anyway, everything available in this preview is lame and dumbass, basically trite nonsense that one might hear from a middling pastor or some such person.

    Glen Davidson

  160. says

    Ing #192:

    Yeah. It always seemed a copout to choose “Lord,” when the other two are almost infinitely more probable. Hell, by C.S. Lewis’s logic, David Koresh was a prophet, and Charles Manson is God. And that argument applied equally to Mohammad even during Lewis’s lifetime.

    When I was a young and self-labeled agnostic (though I was an atheistic agnostic), my girlfriend gave me Mere Christianity and some book in which I first encountered the second law of thermodynamics argument. She said, “These wil change your life.”

    Yeah. They sure did. After reading them, I was more than willing to call myself an atheist. After all, I reasoned, if this is the best Christians can do, it is lukewarm water posing as strong hot coffee.

    As it turns out, it’s not the best Christians can do. The best they can do is as my daughter did: she said, “Look, Dad, I feel the presence of God in my life. It’s not logical, and there is no proof. But he helps me, and I see his influence every day. It doesn’t always make sense to me, either.”

    So far, that’s the best apologetics I’ve ever heard: “I accept the existence of a god against all reason and evidence.” That’s weak herbal tea posing as weak herbal tea.

  161. says

    Glen Davidson:

    See especially chapter 4, where idiot David simply assumes that the liars of the DI are in fact good faith critics of evolution, rather than the frauds and charlatans that they have always proven to be.

    Yeah. That’d fit with his arguments here, in which he derides atheists for the most pessimistic possible interpretation of Christianity’s influence on history, while he himself takes the most pessimistic, and often completely distorted, view of the influence of atheism on history. It seems David Marshall must own a pair of the world’s rosiest glasses, tinted to a Christian hue.

  162. David Marshall says

    Ante #152: This thread is not about the truth of atheism or Christianity, and no one has given any evidence either way. PZ claimed Gnus are really smart and more “cool” than their critics. In support of those contentions, his followers have offered such stunningly clever rejoinders as “you’re functionally a moron,” “you’re just trying to sell your book,” “fuckwit!” and debated whether the non-conformist (myself) is mainly stupid or dishonest.

    I doubt any objective observer could follow this thread, then go back and read the OP, without amusement.

    But I never really aspired to being “cool,” anyway. So I’m happy to give PZ and his followers that crown, if they want it, and to think, if they like, that their responses have been witty and clever. Maybe one reason I like Lennox is that he is NOT cool: he’s a rolly-polly grandfatherly type with an Irish brogue who makes serious, adult (even magisterial) arguments, treats opponents with old-fashioned kindliness, and carries himself with good cheer and dignity.

  163. KG says

    That’s why I don’t compare “Christianity” or “Hinduism,” to “atheism,” but to atheist ideologies like communism or secular humanism – David Brooks Marshall the Liar @141

    You really would be better advised not to tell lies when you have already demonstrated their falsehood in the same thread:

    Care to debate a “moron?”

    How about the proposition, “Christianity has done the world more good and less harm than atheism?” David Brooks Marshall the Liar @46

    But I guess you’re just too stupid to keep track of what you’ve said.

  164. KG says

    But I never really aspired to being “cool,” anyway. So I’m happy to give PZ and his followers that crown, if they want it – David Brooks Marshall the lackwit

    Read the OP again. PZ’s whole point is that atheism is not cool, but appears so (only) when compared with the spewings of apologists for religion.

  165. anteprepro says

    Funny you should mention the problem of evil, Haruki. I was just thinking of Plantinga when thinking of examples of Sophistricated Theopologists and was looking into his Greatest Resolution of the Problem of Evil Evar: Transworld depravity and the free will defense. Basically, God needs us to have complete free will in order for moral good to be truly good, and in every possible world where we have free will and are able to do evil, there will be people doing evil. Of course, he doesn’t show how free will makes sense with an omniscient God. He doesn’t try to justify his belief that preventing evil actions would impinge on free will in light of the fact he is defending a God that supposedly intervened a lot in our history. He doesn’t ever seem to contemplate the possibility that evil actions be allowed, but the consequences of those actions on others rectified by God. He doesn’t even seem to think of the possibility that there are actual good and neutral actions, and that we could have free will limited to good actions and harmless but still ultimately selfish actions, and still have a distinction between good and not-good, without having unprovoked violence still on the table. And, of course, he does nothing to address natural disasters, disease, etc. that have nothing to do with human free will and which are the FAR greater indication that God isn’t good or is impotent than the fact that humans are able to do bad things.

    It is a defense against one of the weaker points of the problem of evil, it introduces free will as something vital to God despite the fact that it highlights inconsistencies in the same way the problem of evil does, and it lacks the creativity to imagine scenarios where a God could surely prevent human evil while allowing good to be meaningful. Yet, according to wikipedia, Plantinga’s free will defense is considered to be good by philosophers, and appears to be highly esteemed as an answer to the problem of evil. Truly amazing.

  166. Brownian says

    But I never really aspired to being “cool,” anyway.

    And that’s why you’ve spent so much time in this thread to refute PZ’s position? Because you don’t really care after all?

    Do you actually believe the shit you write? Do you care so little for honesty?

    Maybe one reason I like Lennox is that he is NOT cool: he’s a rolly-polly grandfatherly type with an Irish brogue who makes serious, adult (even magisterial) arguments, treats opponents with old-fashioned kindliness, and carries himself with good cheer and dignity.

    Then try emulating him, instead of being the smarmy, dishonest piece of shit you are.

    Nobody here thinks you’re kindly, serious, adult, or dignified.

  167. Sally Strange, OM says

    This thread is not about the truth of atheism or Christianity, and no one has given any evidence either way.

    No one needs to give evidence for the non-existence of gods. It is the very lack of evidence that leads us to conclude that your god is imaginary, a quirk of your neural circuitry. However, since you came in talking about how Christianity is “the greatest liberator EVAR”, it is now about the truth, both of Christianity itself, and of your patently false claim.

    PZ claimed Gnus are really smart and more “cool” than their critics. In support of those contentions, his followers have offered such stunningly clever rejoinders as “you’re functionally a moron,” “you’re just trying to sell your book,” “fuckwit!” and debated whether the non-conformist (myself) is mainly stupid or dishonest.

    It’s cute that you think being a Christian is non-conformist. But anyway, yeah–insulting you is definitely cooler, according to the traditional definitions of “cool,” than making claims you can’t back up, name-dropping, and trying to get people to think a fairy tale is true. Clever or not.

  168. anteprepro says

    David Marshall @ 196: “This thread is not about the truth of atheism or Christianity, and no one has given any evidence either way.”

    VS.

    David Marshall @ 31: “The real difference between The God Delusion and The Truth Behind the New Atheism, is that I know what I’m talking about. When talking about religion, Dawkins is Dan Brown with a British accent….That, and the fact that lies still make it half-way around the world, while the truth is putting its shoes on — we’ll win in the long run.”

    You see that quote? That’s what you came in here with: an insulting diatribe about how you are so much smarter than Dawkins on the topic of religion, that atheists are lying, and that Christianity will win. Not about the subject of coolness. So, where are the fucking facts supporting your position? You were called a moron for your first post as well as your history of doing this same shit, and your response is to handwave about the issue at hand (even daring to suggest debate topics in your second comment on this thread that have NOTHING to do with the veracity of your views like you suggested in your first post) and act aggrieved about receiving *gasp* insults in response to your own insulting first post. But you can’t just shut up, or actually try proving your views so that we can say “hey, maybe he’s not just a pompous moron”. You just keep acting offended and coming up with excuses for why you can’t show that you are so obviously right in this thread. And you do it over and over and over again, pretending that you did nothing to prompt the insults and the demands for actual support for your position. It’s transparent and annoying.

  169. chigau (...---...) says

    David Marshall

    PZ and his followers

    We are not PZ “followers”.
    Pharyngula is not a religion, it is a neighbourhood pub.
    PZ is not a priest, he is the bartender and bouncer*.

    *speaking of which…

  170. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    PZ claimed Gnus are really smart

    No he didn’t. It’s already been pointed out to you how you stumbled, why not retract, admit you were wrong, and move on?

  171. David Marshall says

    Glen: I would be shocked if you accurately represented my book, or anything else in the sphere of reality, but of course you don’t:

    “In that chapter, aside from attacking evolution over the matter of abiogenesis–when the two are only hazily connected . . . ”

    Baloney. I never “attack” evolution. The chapter is called “the RIDDLES of evolution” not the “errors” of evolution. It follows a chapter in which I argue FOR common descent. I certainly don’t claim the difficulties of abiogenesis in any way discredit, say, natural selection.

    “David never rises above mere tone trolling and acceptance that his fellow mindless apologists are every bit as worthy as those who have honestly pursued the matter . . . ”

    More nonsense. Those chapters, which in no way depend on the work of any apologist, though they cite both sides, and offer original arguments as well (though I don’t claim to be a scientist) were critiqued and passed by anti-ID scientists in related fields at Oxford, Oregon State, and SPU, before publication. Chapter three criticizes creationist views that I think are wrong, arguing that “Darwin was a great scientist,” “the world is old,” “life is connected,” and “evolution can make you an intellectually fulfilled atheist – if you don’t ask too many questions.”

    But I would be amazed if you had described my arguments accurately.

  172. David Marshall says

    DM: “PZ claimed Gnus are really smart”

    Waffler: “No he didn’t. It’s already been pointed out to you how you stumbled, why not retract, admit you were wrong, and move on?”

    PZ, again: “(Atheism is) the domain of nerds and geeks and sciencey weirdos with beards and snarky women who are way smarter than the guys chasing them.”

    Are you claiming that PZ only means that Gnu WOMEN are smart, and that only compared to “the men chasing them?” (Apparently because only stupid men are attracted to female atheists, for some reason?)

    And it is a total misread on my part to suppose that “nerds,” “geeks,” and “sciencey weirdos with beards” is intended, in PZ’s off-hand way, as the male counterpoint to the “smarter women?”

    Come on, now! I’m supposed to be the moron, here! Put your bloody thinking caps on, already!

  173. says

    David Marshall:

    Maybe one reason I like Lennox is that he is NOT cool: he’s a rolly-polly grandfatherly type with an Irish brogue who makes serious, adult (even magisterial) arguments…

    Interesting choice of words.

    mag·is·te·ri·al
    adjective /ˌmajəˈsti(ə)rēəl/ 

    1. Having or showing great authority
    – a magisterial pronouncement

    2. Domineering; dictatorial
    – he dropped his somewhat magisterial style of questioning

    Almost all of your arguments are essentially magisterial — that is, arguments from authority. You seem the eschew logic and reason in favor of of the assumption that you are right. It doesn’t surprise me that one of your favorite apologists does essentially the same thing.

    David Marshall, #205:

    “evolution can make you an intellectually fulfilled atheist – if you don’t ask too many questions.”

    And which questions would those be, exactly? Or do you merely hint that there are questions, without actually asking those questions?

  174. says

    David Dunning Kruger Marshall:

    Baloney. I never “attack” evolution. The chapter is called “the RIDDLES of evolution” not the “errors” of evolution. It follows a chapter in which I argue FOR common descent. I certainly don’t claim the difficulties of abiogenesis in any way discredit, say, natural selection.

    The contents of your book is bog-standard I’m-not-a-creationist-buttery. Yes, you accept common descent. Good for you.

    That’s a bit like a holocaust denier conceding that yes, Hitler probably was antisemitic. It’s such a pathetically small concession, that it counts for nothing.

    Your “riddles” are bog standard creationist drivel. You many not quite plumb the same depths as Ray Comfort and Lee Strobel, but you’re still a scientifically illiterate kook.

  175. says

    Glen: I would be shocked if you accurately represented my book, or anything else in the sphere of reality, but of course you don’t:

    Liars like you don’t expect honestly from those about whom you lie, due to projection.

    Since you can’t actually deal competently or honestly with anyone or anything, you resort to the usual, lying your ass off.

    “In that chapter, aside from attacking evolution over the matter of abiogenesis–when the two are only hazily connected . . . ”

    Baloney. I never “attack” evolution. The chapter is called “the RIDDLES of evolution” not the “errors” of evolution.

    First of all, you do attack evolution in the only way you know how, by tone trolling, you idiot.

    Secondly, abiogenesis isn’t properly a “riddle” of evolution at all. It’s a “riddle” of what came prior to evolution, at least for the most part. Fuckwit.

    It follows a chapter in which I argue FOR common descent.

    Say, moron, why do you think I linked to your idiot book’s preview? Would I do so in order to show that I was improperly representing your twaddle? Of course not, it’s to back up what I say about it.

    And I don’t care if you accept “common descent.” Behe does too, but the evidence that shows common descent is actually the evidence of reproduction plus mutation, natural selection, and other known mechanisms of evolution, so evidence of common descent (when that’s all there is evidence of) is ipso facto evidence against the intervention of “design.”

    So don’t play your idiot word games here, shithead. We mean “evolutionary theory” when we say you argue against “evolution,” which both conventionally and for good reason indicates that you’re lying again. But of course, you’re commenting, hence lying.

    I certainly don’t claim the difficulties of abiogenesis in any way discredit, say, natural selection.

    Here’s what you say, lying hound:

    But trust is fragile and can be easily undermined. Any hint that scientists are too biased, any reaction that looks more like defending territory than seeking truth is bound to undermine confidence in a theory. Reading up on evolution, one doesn’t have to go far to come across troubling signs.

    And then you choose quotes from the people you normally malign, rather than dealing with the actual literature of evolution, all the while not recognizing what liars your type really are. It’s a truly sleazy spectacle, clearly designed to cast aspersions on evolution via your misuse of quotes. Fallacious buffoon.

    “David never rises above mere tone trolling and acceptance that his fellow mindless apologists are every bit as worthy as those who have honestly pursued the matter . . . ”

    More nonsense. Those chapters, which in no way depend on the work of any apologist, though they cite both sides, and offer original arguments as well (though I don’t claim to be a scientist) were critiqued and passed by anti-ID scientists in related fields at Oxford, Oregon State, and SPU, before publication.

    Lying fuck, you deliberately took my statement out of context–and without the proper ellipse to indicate what you cut out. I wrote:

    In that chapter, aside from attacking evolution over the matter of abiogenesis–when the two are only hazily connected–David never rises above mere tone trolling and acceptance that his fellow mindless apologists are every bit as worthy as those who have honestly pursued the matter.

    So, liar, why did you leave out what I acknowledged and then pretend that I was denying the legitimacy of the complaints that abiogenesis is lacking in results? Obviously because dishonesty is first nature to you.

    Chapter three criticizes creationist views that I think are wrong, arguing that “Darwin was a great scientist,” “the world is old,” “life is connected,” and “evolution can make you an intellectually fulfilled atheist – if you don’t ask too many questions.”

    So what, moron? The issue I raised is the fallacious manner in which you attack evolution, both through sleazy tone-trolling bias and the illegitimate implication that difficulties in abiogenesis raise doubts about evolution. You’re an egregious fuckwit.

    But I would be amazed if you had described my arguments accurately.

    I did, and you lied in your standard dimwitted fashion, taking care to dishonestly misquote what I had stated.

    Holes and the way you dig them deeper in order to show that you never dug them in the first place.

    Glen Davidson

  176. anteprepro says

    From David’s book.

    Chapter 3, page 55: “All humanity came from one man and one woman,” we read….Genetics has settled the matter in favor of Moses. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, notes that one of the surprises from the research into human genes is the discovery that people of all races on earth share 99.9 percent of their DNA. This is unusual, he added…We are, he concludes, “truly parrt of one family”.

    Chapter 4, page 64: At times like this, the scientific community can resemble a tree fort with a sign affixed to the wall: “Gurlz Kepe Out!” Only instead of girls, the excluded party is identified as creationists, fundamentalists, or even (in one strange instance) Republicans.

    65: arguments against evolution as “antiscientific” (assaults on our club) and “doctrinaire” (carrying the odor of a rival, theological club).

    66: Nor should we pay attention to people who waste time debating whether Intelligent Design or evolution are “real science” or not. David Bohm once defined science as “openness to evidence”. The best scientist-or theologian- is not someone who shouts, “Heresy!” when he hears strange views, but one who listens carefully and responds with reason and evidence.

    *****

    Sure, he accepts evolution in Chapter 3, but he harps on creationists being Expelled! and deliberately caters to the “teach the (non-existent) controversy” mindset.

  177. anteprepro says

    nigelthebold: “And which questions would those be, exactly? Or do you merely hint that there are questions, without actually asking those questions?”

    The short answer is: Don’t these things looked so very designed?

    The long answer: Don’t these things looked so very designed? Wouldn’t God want to leave wiggle room for doubt? Aren’t people who see subtle workings of God in biology and evolution and have their faith justified just so darn smart? Isn’t the alternative to seeing God in natural phenomenon holding out until you see God’s hand “push the moon across the sky every day”?

    The most accurate answer: The same old borderline IDiot bullshit.

  178. says

    I notice that David Marshall is being very coy on whether or not he had to pay “Harvest House” to publish his book.

    It seems like it was vanity published after all.

  179. Hazuki says

    @199

    That was PRECISELY the defense I had in mind, Plantinga’s version. And it is trash. It also shows that the man has zero acquaintance even in passing with neuroscience. I wonder what he makes of split-brain patients and primary sociopaths.

    Leaving aside all the question-begging about free will it does, he has to answer this:

    Is there free will in heaven? If not, it is not the ultimate value, and the defense fails. If so, can you sin? If not, there is no free will. If so, then it follows that God IS capable of making a “possible world” with free will and beings who can sin but never wish to. In which case, a) why create a world aside from Heaven? and b) why create something worse after you create something better?

    This is pathetic if that’s the best they have. If there is a God I hope it God-smacks them for making it look so bad.

  180. Toiletman says

    If you put that line on in the UK, atleast half of them will know him because the BBC, like most other European public TV stations, also gives atheism a voice while it usually does not give evangelicals a voice so here it’s usually liberal christian vs. atheist. Oh, and those public tv stations are actually made for information and not just for making profit by showing whatever people want. Thanks Odin I live in Europe

  181. lazybird says

    David Marshall:

    …stunningly clever rejoinders as “you’re functionally a moron,” “you’re just trying to sell your book,” “fuckwit!” and debated whether the non-conformist (myself) is mainly stupid or dishonest

    …[Lennox] carries himself with good cheer and dignity.

    Exactly. You are being persecuted for being right, and atheists are rude and nasty and therefore wrong. So now we have your evidence for god!

  182. anteprepro says

    Hazuki, brilliant additions. I am beginning to wonder if apologists are secretly striving to be the first to make an argument that is truly fractally wrong.

  183. says

    Not that I hold out much hope of actually getting a substantive response from him, but:

    David Marshall, here are some questions from reading the sample of your book linked above.

    1. What are your thoughts on radiocarbon dating? Are you still taken by the comic from all those years ago?

    2. Why do you suppose atheists understand theology less than those who study theology? What is the cornerstone of theology that makes it amenable to study? What is its epistemology?

    3. In what way is “God is three in one” lucid?

    4. How was the triune god discovered?

    5. What is the oldest dog breed? How long has humanity been breeding dogs for specific characteristics? How is eugenics indistinguishable from the breeding of dogs or other domestic animals?

    6. Where does Genesis say the universe came from nothing?

    7. Did Dr. Richard Sternberg follow established editorial process when publishing the Stephen Meyer paper?

    8. What is the meaning of the word “antiscientific?”

    9. Was Meyer’s paper scientifically sound, or did it contain scientific errors? (I figured I’d give you a hand on that one.)

    10. Do any current models of biogenesis rely on the spontaneous self-assembly of DNA?

    There. While some of these are multiple-question entries, each item represents essentially a single question. 10 substantive questions culled from the free section of your book. I hope you are still willing to provide substantive answers.

  184. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    Are you claiming that PZ only means that Gnu WOMEN are smart, and that only compared to “the men chasing them?”

    I’m claiming that the only place PZ mentioned anybody being smarter than anybody else (in his post) was when he clearly claimed that the ‘snarky women’ were ‘smarter than the guys chasing them’*. Explain who these ‘guys chasing’ the nerdy/geeky/sciencey types are supposed to be, in your interpretation. Priests, evangelists, and theologians are ‘guys chasing’ the nerdy/geeky/sciencey types? That would be a particularly odd thing to say. You have some basic reading comprehension problems, which show up all over the place.

    Come on, now! I’m supposed to be the moron, here!

    You’re not supposed to be. It’s just how things worked out.

    * – I don’t claim to know whether PZ is correct about ‘snarky women’ atheists and ‘guys chasing them’. I think it was a throwaway line that only a particularly challenged reader would pay much attention to.

  185. Hazuki says

    @217

    That’s “brilliant?” Apologetics is in much worse shape than people think, then. I don’t even have any formal training in theology or philosophy o_O

  186. says

    Hazuki:

    That’s “brilliant?” Apologetics is in much worse shape than people think, then. I don’t even have any formal training in theology or philosophy o_O

    Apologetics is in terrible shape. But then, it doesn’t have much to work with, does it?

    Anyone of above-average intelligence with an education in skeptical thinking can take on pretty much any apologist. Apologists tend to wrap their writing up in philosophical jargon to give it a veneer of respectability, so a moderate level of reading comprehension is required, but otherwise, it’s fairly easy to take on an apologist on their own turf.

    That’s why I had no problem offering to debate David Marshall. He’s no Marty Fields (a fellow I once debated who had far more subtle apologia, and from whom I learned a lot). (Hey! I just did some name-dropping of my own. Oh, frabjous day!)

    Hell, he’s not even a Plantinga.

  187. Hazuki says

    @222

    I think I may have wasted too much time worrying over apologists *sweatdrop* Plantinga is one of the best, and that was one of his best arguments, and I wasted it after about 60 seconds of thought. These people bluster on and on.

  188. says

    Rhetorical question here, presumably what a lot of people are thinking: Why didn’t David himself link to a substantial preview of a book of his out there, rather than just referring to some supposedly great stuff that is out there?

    Any chance he really knows that it’s hardly going to blow away anyone who asks hard and probing questions? And that it’s really aimed at ignorami who he hopes know little about how analytical thinking is done?

    Even if he’s in denial of the fact, one rather suspects that he knows on some level that this is pathetic stuff.

    Glen Davidson

  189. says

    Rey Fox:

    Nigel, those questions aren’t what this thread is about!!!

    What? I thought it was about demonstrating our total intellectual dominance, and flexing our superior coolness muscles.

    Drat. My teeth aren’t nearly sniny enough for Rhinebeck. I only have three weeks to get back into fighting shape.

    You won’t let us have any fun. I pout in your general direction.

    PS: It doesn’t matter anyway, as David Marshall has yet to answer any questions directly posed to him.

    PPS: You are right. Tearing apart David Marshall’s lame arguments aren’t what this thread’s about. But it’s so much fun!

  190. anteprepro says

    The fact of the matter, Hazuki, is that the reason why I found your observations “brilliant” was simply that they attempted to look at whether the arguments were consistent with objective scientific observations relevant to subject matter, and whether the arguments attempting to prop up Christianity were consistent with other aspects of Christianity. These are the two major ways that philosophers and theologians offering up apologetic arguments consistently fail. I am not a theologian or a philosopher myself, but you don’t need to be to see how these arguments are lacking. You just have to a decent grasp of logic and a decent knowledge of scientific facts and principles. Because, apparently, apologists don’t.

  191. tushcloots says

    Hazuki says:


    22 September 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I will be impressed if one of these people can answer the problem of evil. I have read several dozen theodicies (though they all boil down to less than half a dozen archetypes) and was more and more disgusted by each one.

    Yes, and free will is a completely moot point, as Adam and Eve where created with free will first, but were pure and innocent. I often ask, since they had no knowledge of good or evil, how could they even form the intent to be bad or disobey God if they couldn’t conceive what that even meant? Further more, since God told them they would surely die, they didn’t even have the concept of self preservation or that dying was *bad*. They couldn’t form moral values yet God punished them and tiny infants for immorality. Also, if God didn’t give them the concept of good and evil, why did he give it to the snake? WTF?
    Yet more to that, why didn’t God have them die when He explicitly outlined that they would if they ate from the tree? He could easily have made a new pair of pure humans, and be done with it. Obviously, he immediately took the cruel and dishonest road using patently false reasoning, in order to, what, inflict pain and suffering and preserve and foster this new reality He inflicted?
    In fact, this is good argument(AFAICT) that God valued, to the point of dishonest encouragement, judgement, pain and suffering, and condemnation above, or to the exclusion of, love? It appears He completely set the stage in order to unleash vindictive cruelty as His primary purpose for making anything and everything, FFS!
    Fuck, it happened again! Every time I read or talk about the bible, I see new reasons that it is technically Fucked Right Up!
    It’s exactly opposite the claim that if I only read and understood the bible, I would see the truth and be converted. I, in fact, become disgusted to ever greater depths, is what happens.

    Let’s ask God:
    “Isaiah 45:7

    I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”

    Fuck, dude, I even treat my socks better than that.

  192. Josh Andrews says

    Amazingly, I don’t think that is the most absurd claim of the afternoon. About 10 1/2 minutes in he comes up with this gem of an idea

    I’m even inclined sometimes to think, and this is pushing it a bit I know, but without some kind of religious approach to reality. It is actually rather difficult to find things funny. Things are funny because they are in congruent. They jar against something. If anything is as predictable as anything else nothing is very funny.

    In fact the only explanation for the idiocy that he and Frank Skinner came out with was that they had a bet on who could come out the most dodgy ideas about atheism.

  193. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Unfortunately, most apologetics concerning the problem of evil don’t even rise to the Plantinga level. What’s usually said is “gawd moves in mysterious ways” and “if gawd does it, it ain’t evil.”

    Most apologists won’t admit that according to their own propaganda the Abrahamist god is a sadistic bully who kills people just because he can. The most extreme form, the Calvinistic god, doesn’t give a shit about the people he supposedly created. Your actions and motivations can be good, bad or indifferent. If you win the lottery then you’re going to Heaven, if you lose then you really lose. And this is supposed to be a “loving,” “omnibenevolent” deity.

  194. says

    Chapter 3, page 55: “All humanity came from one man and one woman,” we read….Genetics has settled the matter in favor of Moses.

    I really hope you’ve taken David Marshall out of context on this, because if you haven’t…. woah!

  195. says

    Kel:

    I really hope you’ve taken David Marshall out of context on this, because if you haven’t…. woah!

    It’s not out of context. He also uses the idea that the universe came from nothing as proof that Genesis is correct, even though I can’t find a line in Genesis that states the universe came from nothing. In fact, it seems to have been formless and empty, with water over which God could hover. That’s a long way from empty, unless he’s retconning the fuck out of it.

    He likes to usurp the findings of science to shoehorn his ancient book of myth into the cracks.

  196. KG says

    What a laughable load of tawdry trash David Brooks Marshall the Liar’s book is, to judge by the section available! For example, Marshall scolds the “New Atheists” for their scepticism about personal testimony, without reflecting for a moment that if we are to accept such testimony in the case of the resurrection of Jesus, we must certainly accept it in the case of alien abductions: there are far more witnesses to the latter than to the former, and they give first-hand accounts, unlike the gospels. Again, DBMtL claims we do (and must) trust our reasoning and senses – and tries to make out that this is similar to faith in God. But only an idiot or a young child has faith in their reasoning and senses in anything like the way Christians are exhorted to have faith in God: to carry on believing and trusting in God whatever happens. Those of us who are not idiots or young children realise that both our senses and our reasoning powers are fallible, and in particular, prone to lead us to the conclusions we prefer.

    Oh, by the way, DBMtL, do get yourself a better editor (my guess is, you edited this putrid pile of piffle yourself, which would admittedly have been the most humane course of action). The possessive form of Dawkins is Dawkins’ or Dawkins’s. It is definitely not Dawkin’s.

  197. dogofman says

    What’s the opposite of ‘cool’?
    Shouldn’t that be ‘hot’?

    What’s so preferable about being ‘cool’ again?

  198. says

    I can’t find a line in Genesis that states the universe came from nothing.

    Yeah, Genesis was very clear that the universe was created by God. “1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

  199. says

    Kel:

    Yeah, Genesis was very clear that the universe was created by God. “1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

    Right — but I don’t see anything about the method of creation, or that there was specifically nothing. In fact, Gen 1:1 reads more like a prologue: “God created the heavens and the earth, and this is how.” I surmise that from the intentionally-vague first verse, and the very specific following verses.

    But then, how anyone can get concrete ideas of reality from the poetics employed is beyond me. I am perhaps too intellectually limited.

  200. says

    The interesting thing about faith is that it commits one person to defend a position, no matter how absurd. Given what is known about mythology, and the history of the universe, it’s fairly safe to say that Genesis is myth – derived Babylonian myth at that. It’s not meant to be a modern account of history. So it’s surprising just how much people try to make Genesis into an actual account of history, and try to fit modern scientific fact in with Genesis – or even go so far to argue that modern science supports Genesis!

    Now I don’t know if David Marshall believes this, hopefully when he says “he knows what he’s talking about” he has enough knowledge as to not take Genesis as an accurate or God-given account of Big History*. But this is the problem when arguing for something held by faith – it’s a commitment to a particular point of view, and as such all evidence has to be made to fit it.

    * To use the term of David Christian

  201. David Marshall says

    DM: “But I never really aspired to being “cool,” anyway.”

    Brownian: “And that’s why you’ve spent so much time in this thread to refute PZ’s position? Because you don’t really care after all? Do you actually believe the shit you write? Do you care so little for honesty?”

    Do try to follow. The point of Myer’s OP is to dis “apologists” and “religion” as “lame,” “uncool,” and stupid, even by comparison to nerdy but clever atheists.

    This position does not need to be “refuted,” because anyone with any sense will just laugh at it: the “cool” part because it is so adolescent (who cares?), the “smart” part because it is so obviously untrue.

    Richard Carrier is what, a more accomplished historian than Allan Chapman, or even Gary Habermas?

    And that’s what I did, from the first post: Laugh. And the more tightly bound the poster, the more ridiculous he or she has made PZ’s comments seem by trying to defend them.

    But carry on.

  202. Therrin says

    But carry on.

    Yes, carry on with not addressing any of the issues brought up above. You said to read your book for your arguments, arguments you made in your book were brought forth and discredited, and all you can do is whinge over how no one here but you has any real “sense”.

  203. Therrin says

    And before you complain about how terribly off-topic that would be, I would wager PZ has no qualms with allowing you to present your proof (as oppose to your “proof”) in any thread even remotely related. We’re all waiting to convert based on your irrefutable evidence, there’s no reason to hold back.

  204. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The point of Myer’s OP is to dis “apologists” and “religion” as “lame,” “uncool,” and stupid, even by comparison to nerdy but clever atheists.

    Yep, the truth is hard to take, isn’t it.

    This position does not need to be “refuted,” because anyone with any sense will just laugh at it: the “cool” part because it is so adolescent (who cares?), the “smart” part because it is so obviously untrue.

    No, you being smart is obviously untrue. Especially compared to the regulars here, who are laughing at your stupidity. All apologists have is misinformation (lies), and handwaving. Your attitude I quoted is an example of both.

    And that’s what I did, from the first post: Laugh

    And that is what we have been doing at your fuckwittery. LAUGHING AT YOU!!!! You are nothing but comic relief. Nothing intelligent or cogent or pertinent, just comic relief. Bwahahahahahahahaha

  205. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    Simple answers to simple questions:

    Q: the “cool” part […] is so adolescent (who cares?)

    A: The Archbishop of Canterbury.

  206. David Marshall says

    Ante: Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not “offended.” People can say any fool thing they like, and often do, here.

    But when I’m outnumbered 20 to 1, I can’t answer every single silly jibe, or go back and read every prior post, so I tend to start with people who seem to have something serious to say. When all that is left are the dimmer remnants of the Puppy Pack, and the conversation is going every direction but the point of the OP (did Harvest pay me, or did I pay Harvest? — heh), it’s probably time to pick up the marbles and go home.

    Addendum:

    Kel:Actually, Nigel did take the quote from page 55 badly out of context.

    Waffler: You essentially admit your earlier claim that I was wrong in saying PZ claims Gnus are “really smart” was itself wrong, but decide to snark it out and pretend I’m the one with the reading problem! Impressive!

  207. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    Waffler: You essentially admit your earlier claim that I was wrong in saying PZ claims Gnus are “really smart” was itself wrong, but decide to snark it out and pretend I’m the one with the reading problem! Impressive!

    Where do I “essentially admit” that? Be specific!

  208. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    Is it normal to have pangs of regret over verbally abusing somebody like David Marshall? I’ve come to the tentative conclusion that he really doesn’t understand the things people say to him, and it may not be willful. He just doesn’t read much of what anybody says very carefully. He misconstrues, misinterprets and misunderstands what seem like the simplest of points, but maybe he’s not intentionally misrepresenting anything: he just doesn’t get it.

  209. says

    David Marshall:

    Kel:Actually, Nigel did take the quote from page 55 badly out of context.

    Hey, now. Get your attributions right. That was anteprepro doing the quoting. That kind of sloppy scholarship will win you no friends here.

    All I did was back it up. It seemed you were indeed attempting to validate the Adam and Eve creation with using Francis Collins quotes. And even after re-reading it, if that wasn’t your intent, then either I can’t read for comprehension worth a tinker’s damn, or you were being sloppy in your argument.

    In which case, it would be nice if you were to explain your intent, rather than just say it was taken badly out of context.

  210. says

    David Marshall:

    …the “smart” part because it is so obviously untrue.

    Obviously untrue? Research indicates atheists tend to have higher IQs than theists — 3 points higher than liberal theists, 5 points higher than fundamentalist theists. Your “obvious” here seems to not correspond to reality.

    But when I’m outnumbered 20 to 1, I can’t answer every single silly jibe, or go back and read every prior post, so I tend to start with people who seem to have something serious to say.

    It seems you can’t be bothered to answer any post, actually. All of #246 was spent whinging (“puppy pack” — I have to admit, that’s pretty fucking cute), and expressly not answering even the simplest of direct questions or rebuttals.

  211. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    DM #241

    This position does not need to be “refuted,” because anyone with any sense will just laugh at it: the “cool” part because it is so adolescent (who cares?),

    Obviously you care or else you wouldn’t spend so much time and energy whining about being declared uncool.

  212. Brownian says

    Do try to follow.

    Okay, David I really, really will. But you see, it’s very hard when after you made the point you claim to make in comment 31 because the argument is so very obviously self-refuting, you feel the need, 20 hours and 165 comments (seven of those yours) later, to drop in and snivel that even though we atheists so obviously aren’t cool, so what and it doesn’t really matter and you never even wanted to be cool anyway, and we can keep our crown if we want it, so there.

    Very much like a petulant child on the playground.

    And, since your point was that we’re so obviously childish that the very thought of us being smarter or cooler is laughable on its face, you decided to spend a day, on and off, roughhousing with the pigs in the trough.

    And that was to prove exactly what?

    YOu’ve claimed that you’re uninterested in sharing actual arguments—yeah, yeah, they’re “in the book”—so that really only leaves wallowing in the trough as your intent.

    I hope you enjoyed it. I mean, nobody here asked you to come. You popped in on your own.

    But if you just came here to enjoy rolling around in the pen, what does that say for your thesis that we’re so-o-o-o-o-o much more childish than who? You? The guy who shows up to a blog, admits he thinks he’s too much better than us to even bother to make arguments, and by the way the claim isn’t worth refuting anyway.

    Right. The gulf between our behaviour is how wide again? Just because you don’t drop f-bombs?

  213. says

    Waffler:

    He misconstrues, misinterprets and misunderstands what seem like the simplest of points, but maybe he’s not intentionally misrepresenting anything: he just doesn’t get it.

    I think this goes back to Kel’s point in #240. David Marshall and folks like him are stuck trying to reconcile their belief with their knowledge. Reading the bits of his book available linked above, he does seem to be an intelligent person. He’s just an intelligent person stuck in the unenviable position of reconciling fact and fiction.

    Take, for example, his analysis of Dawkins on intelligent design (beginning on page 63). He notes that Dawkins says in one breath, “An example of irreducible complexity would indeed be a blow to Darwin’s theories,” followed by, “A search for an irreducibly-complex organ would be unscientific.” From this, David Marshall concludes that Dawkins admits irreducible complexity is a potential threat, but then claims that Dawkins disallows irreducible complexity as unscientific.

    This is, of course, a strange interpretation. What Dawkins is saying is that, should we run across a demonstrable example of a liver evolving from nothing, evolution would be thrown into disarray. However, a search for a liver evolving from nothing is an unscientific way to approach this potential shortcoming of evolution. Which it is. And that’s essentially what Behe and his ilk attempt. This is no different than admitting finding a rabbit fossil in the cambrian would be a blow to evolution (an example David Marshall uses), vs actually searching for that rabbit fossil in the cambrian. The former is scientific; the later is ideology.

    This is a subtle distinction, one that David Marshall exploits (out of ignorance rather than malevolence, I think) for his own end — the rationalization of his beliefs. He would allow cherry-picking of data (like Behe does) rather than a rigorous application of the scientific method: follow the evidence, wherever it may lead, and whatever sacred cows it might tip. (SEE today’s faster-than-light particles for a specific example of real science in action.)

    What David Marshall seems to think should happen in science is the pursuit of data in the service of ideology (such as happens in the intelligent design circles). And so this colors his presentation of Dawkins’ comments.

    In any case, I think this all is tied to Kel’s analysis in #240. It isn’t exactly David Marshall’s express intent, but in the end, he has such little material to work with, it’s all he can do.

  214. Hazuki says

    I notice DM (what is it with people named DM and batshit insanity?) is simply ignoring all the things he can’t answer. He reminds me very much of a person called Zilche in Undernet #apologetics, though somewhat less frothy than ol’ goose egg.

    This seems to be a common thread among apologists :D

  215. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    Has the lying pissant coward David Marshall provided any evidence that supports the validity of a belief in the Christian god? No?

    Has he whined about every other possible issue he can in order to hide the fact that he knows there is no evidence that supports the validity of a belief in Christian god? Yes?

    I guess I’m now two colours of unsurprised.

  216. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    Okay, Mr. Marshall, I’ll toss you a softball: Can you point to one bit of evidence, evidence which can be independently verified, of the existence of any god?

  217. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    what is it with people named DM and batshit insanity?

    Danger Mouse isn’t batshit insane. A little slow on the uptake occasionally, but not even really bonkers.

  218. Hazuki says

    Yes, but Danger Mouse is a cartoon. We expect him to act like a cartoon. We don’t expect people to act like cartoons.

  219. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I’d be happy if David Marshall would act like a cartoon. They’re generally logical (okay, it’s often internal logic, but there’s still logic) and there are usually few unanswered questions at the end of the cartoon.

    Unless Marshall is in a Krazy Kat cartoon. There logic does not always apply.

  220. amphiox says

    What Dawkins is saying is that, should we run across a demonstrable example of a liver evolving from nothing, evolution would be thrown into disarray. However, a search for a liver evolving from nothing is an unscientific way to approach this potential shortcoming of evolution. Which it is.

    Interestingly, IR is a reasonable explanation for the opposite phenomenon – for an apparently useful adaption which somehow is not observed in nature, despite in many cases being a relatively easy thing to achieve for even human-level intelligent design, with all it’s limitations.

    Things like macroscopic full-axle wheels, communication with radio-waves, organic control of fire, metallic skeletons, etc.

  221. amphiox says

    The difference between Dawkins and Marshall is that, unlike Marshall, Dawkins is honest with his definitions. He spends the first full chapter of “The God Delusion” defining exactly what he means by “God”, and describing exactly what kind of god he is going to argue against in the rest of his book. And he also explains exactly why he has chosen to use that particular definition of god (it’s the definition of god that the majority of regular religious people believe in, and the definition that motivates the religious crusade against science).

    He lays that right out for the reader at the very beginning. No waffling, no wishy-washiness, no vague concept-begging, no goalpost shifting.

  222. says

    amphiox:

    Things like macroscopic full-axle wheels, communication with radio-waves, organic control of fire, metallic skeletons, etc.

    Exactly. If we were to see these things, with no biological antecedents at all, then we’d have to fall back, regroup, and try to figure out where evolution through natural selection went wrong. This could very well lead us to intelligent design (say, like that from David Brin’s Uplift series).

    It would be foolish of us to assume our genome has been meddled with until we observe some actual evidence of meddling, though. That’s all Dawkins was saying. Yet David Marshall interprets it into something far more sinister.

    Again, I don’t think that’s a conscious choice. I think he does it reflexively, out of a desire to reconcile his knowledge with his faith.

  223. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    David Marshall:

    Can you point to any evidence, evidence which can be measured or independently observed, pointing to the existence of any god?

  224. Hazuki says

    I would LOVE to see his theodicy too. That should be amusing, if the fact that even Plantinga doesn’t have a working one means anything. We could play a logical-fallacy drinking game, except I only have one liver and will die without it :(

  225. says

    Okay. I drank 3 beers in preparation for tonight’s debate, but it seems David Marshall will not engage, even with a fair handicap.

    So, I shall go to bed.

    However: the offer still stands, David Marshall. I am more than willing to participate in a debate with you, in the forum of your choice. You give me a menu of three topics, from which I choose one. Then we debate.

    While it seems you are more comfortable sniping from the snuggly-warm comforts of the vanity press, I suspect you’d like a fair chance at one of us “New Atheists” that has all the hep kids dancing these days. I’m a minor player, certainly — but, in all of my New Atheist arrogance, I suspect I’d give you a run for your money.

    And I’m completely serious about the 3-beer handicap. You’re gonna need it.

  226. Sally Strange, OM says

    Danger Mouse isn’t batshit insane. A little slow on the uptake occasionally, but not even really bonkers.

    What are you talking about? Danger Mouse is amazing! The Gray Album was pure genius. Plus all that stuff with Cee-Lo in Gnarls Barkley? Well, perhaps he is a bit insane, but in a good way.

    I was really looking forward to Nigel’s 3-beer handicap debate with David Marshall. Why don’t debate societies do that more often? That’s such an awesome idea, a 3-beer handicap.

  227. anteprepro says

    Ah, so I am accused of quoting something out of context by the Honest and Honorable David Marshall? Laughable. Do I look like a creationist?

    The original quote I made in an earlier comment, from page 55 of DM’s book: “

    All humanity came from one man and one woman,” we read…Genetics has settled the matter in favor of Moses. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, notes that one of the surprises from the research into human genes is the discovery that people of all races on earth share 99.9 percent of their DNA. This is unusual, he added…We are, he concludes, “truly parrt of one family”.

    A fuller quote, including paragraphs before and after and excluding an omitted sentence and phrase:

    The world has often quarreled with Genesis, and gotten the worst of it. Let me give some quick examples.

    The Book of Beginnings says the universe came from nothing. We have tried alternative theories: everything from an egg, elephants all the way down, “cosmic crunch,” “steady state” – but the biblical idea of cosmic origin has now been vindicated.

    “All humanity came from one man and one woman,” we read. Greek philosophers, Gnostics, Hindus, the Nation of Islam, and some Social Darwinists said no, people are a mixture of free and slave, of spiritual, psychic, and physical, different parts of the body of Brahma, or separately evolved species. Genetics has settled the matter in favor of Moses. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, notes that one of the surprises from the research into human genes is the discovery that people of all races on earth share 99.9 percent of their DNA. This is unusual, he added: most animals are far more diverse. We are, he concludes, “truly part of one family”.

    Karl Marx convinced a third of the world, and many professors in the other two thirds, that money was the real problem. Communism then proved conclusively that people can hate one another in a cashless society.

    I believe that all of you who are not David Marshall will find that the extra context adds fuck all, and doesn’t vindicate David Marshall’s idiotic statements and insinuations. Surprise, surprise.

  228. says

    Maybe that page is out of context, that there’s some point in between the beginning and end that puts all that into perspective. Because if not… :S

    “All humanity came from one man and one woman,” we read. […] Genetics has settled the matter in favor of Moses.

    Seriously? I mean, seriously?

  229. Archibald says

    Karl Marx convinced a third of the world, and many professors in the other two thirds, that money was the real problem. Communism then proved conclusively that people can hate one another in a cashless society.

    David Marshall has no understanding of basic Marxism. Marx was promoting a “classless” society, not a “cashless” society.

  230. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    “All humanity came from one man and one woman,” we read. […] Genetics has settled the matter in favor of Moses.

    Probably got his knickers so twisted over the names coined for “mitochondrial eve” and “y chromosome adam” that he’s conveniently forgotten that these individuals lived some 60 to 140 thousand years apart, and were both members of viable (obviously) human populations; he’s also forgotten that these are merely the unbroken matrilineal and patrilineal lines. To try and twist this into some sort of specious argument “in favour of Moses” is terminally stupid or terminally dishonest; take your pick (well, could be both stupid and dishonest, I suppose)

  231. says

    …conversation is going every direction but the point of the OP (did Harvest pay me, or did I pay Harvest? — heh), it’s probably time to pick up the marbles and go home.

    That pretty much speaks for itself. It would have been simpler had you just admitted that your book was vanity published in the first place.

  232. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It would have been simpler had you just admitted that your book was vanity published in the first place.

    Ah, but then it would have been much, much harder for his inane and vain attempt to pretend to be an authority. Most of us knew he wasn’t the authority he pretended to be after his second post months ago. Since then, we have been laughing at him.

  233. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    David Marshall:

    Can you point to any evidence, evidence which can be measured or independently observed, pointing to the existence of any god?

  234. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    What are you talking about? Danger Mouse is amazing! The Gray Album was pure genius. Plus all that stuff with Cee-Lo in Gnarls Barkley? Well, perhaps he is a bit insane, but in a good way.

    There is only one true Danger Mouse. and his prophet is Ernest Penfold.

  235. says

    Brother Ogvorbis:

    David Marshall:

    Can you point to any evidence, evidence which can be measured or independently observed, pointing to the existence of any god?

    Sigh

    I can’t believe how short-sighted you puppies in the pack can be! It doesn’t matter if any gods exist. Christianity freed the slaves. It cured cancer. It invented ice cream. It built the pyramids. Christianity put the bop into bop-op-a-doo-wop. It sent men to the moon, and brought them home again, and caused them to testify in congress that NASA is embarrassing. Christianity invented science. It taught folks how to nap flint arrowheads. It brewed the first beer. In invented writing for the sole purpose of providing you with God’s word (the word? “Fuck you, heathens” which is technically three words).

    Why, without Christianity, there’d be no smiles on children’s faces, no outstanding special effects in your movies, no thrill rides at Cedar Point, no grilled steak and mushrooms in port reduction, no missionary position, and no female orgasm (yes, Christianity even solves that Riddle of Evolution).

    So please. Show a little respect.

  236. says

    Wow. I made the mistake of going to the Amazon page for Marshall’s book and reading the comment threads. Boy, does David Marshall spin like a jet turbine when someone writes a detailed, negative review outlining the deficiencies of his book.

    It seems one of Marshall’s attacks on evolution is the “there are no beneficial mutations” canard. And this after he admits evolution is probably true! In a strangely-lamarckian turn, he wonders why baseball players haven’t developed cow-like hides on one hand.

    At least, that’s what I glean from the conversation I read.

    I may have to check his gook out from the library, take it out behind the woodshed, and give it a good sound thrashing.

  237. ACN says

    If you did that in written form, I’m sure we’d all be amused!

    Also, that was a very awkward spelling error in the last paragraph :)

  238. says

    I may have to check his gook out from the library, take it out behind the woodshed, and give it a good sound thrashing.

    If you have access to a copyright library, then good luck to you. (It will probably be in some annexe to an annexe of the level three basement, stored in a rack of mobile shelving.)

    As for a regular library having it… Bwahahaha!

  239. Brownian says

    Brilliant!

    Is it just me, or did anyone else hear Nigel’s description of the wonders of Christianity as a 1960s propaganda reel narrated by Troy McClure?

    Now, if we can just get a freckled, tow-headed kid named Billy or Butch to stand in for the audience (“Gosh, mister! Can Christianity fix my scooter?”) and get chucked on the chin by Troy (“It sure can, kid, it sure can!”)

    Don’t snigger! Those films taught a generation of children that hiding under their desks will protect them from a nuclear strike by the Reds. Surely one could do wonders for a religion that’s as least twice as absurd and half as useful.

  240. says

    Brownian:

    Is it just me, or did anyone else hear Nigel’s description of the wonders of Christianity as a 1960s propaganda reel narrated by Troy McClure?

    I didn’t, but I do now.

    Oh, I’m so doing this. I might have to start a blog, but I’m doing it.

  241. Hazuki says

    @284

    In order to give it its proper place of honor, no. It will be stored in a dark basement past a broken staircase with no lights in a disused lavatory with a sign on it saying “beware of the leopard.”

  242. says

    hyperdeath:

    As for a regular library having it… Bwahahaha!

    Yeah. I’ve been having a similar problem with Dawkins’ The God Delusion. It seems my library never has it, though they have 3 copies listed. It seems it’s always checked out.

    Yep. Almost exactly the same problem you describe. Almost exactly.

  243. Brownian says

    Well, there’s your problem, Rev. You’re supposed to jam the pen into HIS eye.

    Some offices won’t let attendees bring potential weapons into a meeting, but innovators can easily turn board tables, chairs, laser pointers, or even powerpoint slide transitions into deadly instruments. The prevailing idea now is to remove all content from meetings, so that individuals that might be potentially dangerous (or useful) are lulled into a state of non-threatening torpor.

  244. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    Is it just me, or did anyone else hear Nigel’s description of the wonders of Christianity as a 1960s propaganda reel narrated by Troy McClure?

    My mind jumped to the Cowardly Lion’s song song about courage. (“What put’s the ‘ape’ in ‘apricot’?”).

  245. KG says

    Karl Marx convinced a third of the world, and many professors in the other two thirds, that money was the real problem. Communism then proved conclusively that people can hate one another in a cashless society. – DBMtL

    The depths of historical ignorance revealed in these sentences is truly impressive. Both hatred, and class oppression (which was Marx’s target), long preceded the invention of money (about 600 BCE, in the Anatolian kingdom of Lydia). It is true that in Marx’s eschatology, the arrival of communism would involve the abolition of money, and a society organised on the principle: “From each according to ability, to each according to need.” But of actual communist regimes – none of which IIRC have claimed to have reached communism – only the Khmer Rouge actively* suppressed the use of money, and while there was certainly plenty of hate involved in their rule, it seems odd to associate it specifically with that policy when they were also enslaving, torturing and murdering people in large numbers.

    *During the Russian Civil War the peasants refused to accept the money in circulation as payment for agricultural produce (trade and industry had largely collapsed so there was nothing to buy), and the Bolsheviks resorted to seizing it without payment to feed the urban population. But this policy of “War Communism” was a desperate expedient, and they established a new currency as soon as they were able.

  246. says

    How about the proposition, “Christianity has done the world more good and less harm than atheism?” David Brooks Marshall the Liar

    How about the proposition “David Marshall does know how to pick a single issue debate topic” I will be arguing against the assertion.

    “Chocolate is better than vanilla and less salty than chips” is a similar question. And it’s either the cause of a) stupidity and being unable to narrow focus or b) an intentional attempt to set up a situation where you can use 1 unrelated assertion to assert the other is true. It’s taking two dichonomys and acting like they’re really one. I’ve seen other apologists use this rhetorical trick before. (A1) Either there is a God and (B1) there is objective morality or (A2) there is no God and (B2) there is no morality. Statements A1+A2 are a proper dichotomy as are B1+B2, by linking them this way you attempt to sneak in and convince people that A1 is true if you can show B1 or some other combination.

    Also FFS, hasn’t David M been here long enough and done enough slagging, book whoring and general insipidity to be boring to anyone else?

  247. says

    How about the proposition, “Christianity has done the world more good and less harm than atheism?” David Brooks Marshall the Liar

    You can’t get ought from is, but apparently you can get is from ought.

    Or so the fallacy-wielding “scholar” supposes.

    Glen Davidson

  248. Brownian says

    Hmm. Last comment was foiled by tabbed browsing. Mentally put that one into the Fantastical Dr. Fox thread. Anyhoo…

    The depths of historical ignorance revealed in these sentences is truly impressive.

    Isn’t that just like a Christian apologist? Can’t be bothered to get the fucking details of actual history or biology right—stuff that can be looked up in any old textbook.

    But, when it’s time to discuss the nebulous and divisive nature of the god that ~30,000 different sects of Christianity call the One True God™, why it’s practically a fucking crime that Dawkins didn’t perfectly refute the one in DBMtL’s head.

    But it’s just that kind of out-of-the-box thinking that translates one group of Christians advocating against the slavery practiced by another group of Christians into overall win for humanity. Kinda like fake sacrificing your godly mortal body to pay yourself reparations on behalf of a third party whose crime was learning what constituted a crime or not.

  249. Brownian says

    David Marshall also is mentally ill, Narcissistic Personality Disorder most likely. The proof. Read the DSM IV and wikipedia entries.

    FWIW, NPD is one of the bad ones. It is treatment resistant and a lot of killers and serial killers show this. I don’t have much data, but a lot of them seem to gravitate to religions as a cover and rationalization for their personality problems.

    Okay, raven, you have got to stop doing that. It’s inflammatory, it’s discriminatory against individuals with mental disorders, it’s discriminatory against otherwise mentally-healthy religious people, it’s poor argumentation, and it’s just all around bullshit.

    To suggest that, based on his behaviour here, that DM has NPD (rather than just being a blowhard), and then to conflate that with some likelihood of being a serial killer is the absolute fucking height of intellectual dishonesty and irresponsibility. It’s disgusting. Don’t fucking do it anymore.

  250. Brownian says

    When you put it like that, it does sound kinda silly.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that Christianity isn’t true because it’s silly; I’m saying that it’s absurd on its face to then argue that YHWH or his sorta sacrifice is logical, rational, or even ethically-binding.

  251. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Brownian #291

    The prevailing idea now is to remove all content from meetings, so that individuals that might be potentially dangerous (or useful) are lulled into a state of non-threatening torpor.

    So you’ve heard of my company’s executive leadership meetings.

  252. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I’m saying that it’s absurd on its face to then argue that YHWH or his sorta sacrifice is logical, rational, or even ethically-binding.

    I’ve never understood the concept of Christian redemption. Yahweh is pissed at humanity because supposedly two of them failed a test which they were set up to fail. So several thousand years later Yahweh rapes a girl who gives birth to Yahweh Junior who’s actually Yahweh himself, only kinda different, but not different enough to be a separate god but sort of a slightly different version of Yahweh, if you don’t look too close or you if you do look close enough or something like that but inscrutable, really inscrutable, maybe, perhaps.

    Anyway, Yahweh Junior, who’s called Jesus for short, gets tortured to death so Yahweh Senior is all happy with humanity again, maybe, perhaps. But Jesus didn’t really die. He had a bad afternoon and a day and a half later he’s all better, rolling big rocks around and having folks stick their hands inside his body and shit like that. Because Jesus didn’t really die since he’s god and gods don’t really die (it’s in their contract, just ask Osiris). Why Yahweh Senior didn’t poof himself all happy (he’s omnipotent, it’s in the Big Time God contract, just ask Zeus or Odin) is another one of those inscrutable things that only Sophisticated Theology™ can explain, maybe, perhaps.

  253. Brownian says

    So you’ve heard of my company’s executive leadership meetings.

    No, but my organisation’s executive leadership clearly has.

  254. Brownian says

    I’ve never understood the concept of Christian redemption.

    That’s because it makes about as much sense as slapping an “I support the troops bumper sticker means you’re ‘patriotic’. Don’t think. Just place your hand over your heart and watch for any sign that somebody else isn’t doing it with as much fervor as you are. They’re probably a Jew or a Communist.

    He had a bad afternoon and a day and a half later he’s all better, rolling big rocks around and having folks stick their hands inside his body and shit like that. Because Jesus didn’t really die since he’s god and gods don’t really die (it’s in their contract, just ask Osiris).

    And even if he did die, isn’t death just what God ordained for everybody? If your spouse does the laundry every day, and you pop into the basement exactly once to toss in a load of dirty socks, would you be justified in asking your spouse to revere you for eternity because of your sacrifice? And, if you were the one to invent dirty laundry in the first place, wouldn’t your spouse be justified in cubing you for stew meat?

         “Hi God! Thanks for getting around to beta test the idea of life you condemned all of us to, after we’ve been doing it for 150,000 years. What’s that? You died? It was painful and unpleasant?

         Altogether now, everyone: Awwwwwww, poor fucking cupcake!

         Next time, try dying of cancer. Or being eaten by a lion. Or freezing to death. Or drowning. Or starving to death. Or dying of thirst. Gosh, there are just so many methods of death you invented that you just have to try.

         Come back soon. See how long you fucking last this time around. We don’t have Romans anymore, but we’ve got Sicilian mafiosa. They’ll have you begging to be crucified, if they leave you your tongue.”

  255. says

    I’m sad David Marshall went away in a crybaby huff. He’s missing out on some fairly sophisticated theology.

    I realize theology is as hard as physics, biology, and knitting, all rolled up into one, but I am having a dandy time. And, I’m learning a lot.

    Brownian. Sir. Please continue. ‘Tis and Ing, feel free to jump in at any time.

    David Marshall just doesn’t know what he’s missing. But I guess he has a bunch of negative Amazon reviewers to deal with. Character assassination doesn’t happen all by itself.

  256. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Poor David Marshall. He has so much to learn from us.

    How to avoid presupposition.
    What evidence is and how to use it
    Why his deity is imaginary
    Why his babble is a book of mythology/fiction
    Why Xiananity is built on mental quicksand, and isn’t rational
    Why religion has held back civilization
    How to think skeptically
    Why theists and apologists are full of bovine fecal matter
    How not to fool yourself
    How not to show abject fuckwittery to people smarter than you

    He has nothing to teach us, but he has a lot to learn.

  257. says

    I’m disappointed he went away after explaining it was out of context – but not clarifying what he meant. After reading that passage, I’m getting the distinct impression that he’s arguing that modern genetics supports the biblical narrative. And surely David Marshall knows what he’s talking about so that’s got to be out of context – because if he knows anything about genetics or mythology, then I don’t know why he thinks a) that genetics supports the biblical account, b) why anyone should expect the biblical account to be accurate, or c) that the biblical account was written by Moses.

    I really hope he comes back to clarify, because if not…

  258. Brownian says

    I’m sad David Marshall went away in a crybaby huff. He’s missing out on some fairly sophisticated theology.

    It’s for the better. After all, we’re too lowbrow to understand his sophisticated thought, and he’s too highbrow to descend to our level, so what good reason could he possibly have for coming here? To scout the enemy? He’s already told us he thinks we New Atheists are faddish pifflers. We’re a Little League team. What’s he learning from us?

    Brownian. Sir. Please continue.

    What do I know? The only theology I know is my own fear-based musings as a young Catholic boy. I haven’t spent the time in the lab dissecting God’s eyes and titrating Holy Spirit into Erlenmeyer flasks and whatnot, like the theologians have. I just thought about it.

    But even then, I frankly never got the ‘comfort’ aspect. I was terrified of hell, and what’s more, I came to think (I have no idea why) that the gate to heaven was narrow and only a few found it. And the key had something to do with sin. But since everything was some sort of sin, and nobody came up with a scale (one masturbation was worth two little lies, or whatever), nor a cutoff point beyond which you were destined for hell, the idea of getting into heaven was a sort of lifelong job interview where you never knew if your CV was just one publication short of welcome aboard.

    So, when Jesus tells the one thief at Golgotha, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise,” I thought the thief was the luckiest man on earth, because none of us can ever know for sure we’ve earned our place in heaven (evangelicals who think they’re saved because they spoke some majick are the most self-deluded assholes in history). And then it occurred to me that Jesus himself lived his whole life knowing he’d be having dinner with Dad as soon as he died. And if you have nothing to fear from the afterlife, then what is death but an incovenient ‘bad afternoon’, as ‘Tis puts it?

    In short, even according to the universe in Christian mythology, Jesus’ death was nothing, because he was immune to one of the most important motivations in Christianity—the fear of eternal damnation. Hell, the very story of the Martyrs themselves illustrate that death is nothing for those who do not fear hell.

    Since Jesus could not possibly know the fear of damnation, then how could his death possibly mean anything, unless one simply declares it does by assertion?

  259. Rey Fox says

    I really hope he comes back to clarify, because if not…

    If you were to get clarity with David Marshall, he’d completely disappear.

  260. says

    If you were to get clarity with David Marshall, he’d completely disappear.

    Really, clarity shouldn’t be too much to ask for; especially in light of this supposedly being an intellectual pursuit.

  261. says

    Brownian:

    In short, even according to the universe in Christian mythology, Jesus’ death was nothing, because he was immune to one of the most important motivations in Christianity—the fear of eternal damnation.

    And this is why I’m glad you continued.

    I was never much of a believer. I found out when I was 20 that my mom was an atheist. Mom and dad figured we kids should make up our own minds. Dad kinda believed in something. He called himself a Christian, but never stepped foot in a church, that I ever saw. (These days, he’s a deist at most.)

    Aaaanyway, even without any faith, I realized the Jesus-on-the-cross thing never made any sense. I mean, he’s God, right? So he knew he wasn’t going to die.

    And at this point, my Sunday School teacher would interrupt. “Uhm, nigel, he was also mortal.”

    I figured, as long as Jesus was God, his sacrifice on the cross was no real sacrifice. I mean, “Sacrifice” means giving something up, right?

    “Uhm, nigel, eight-year-olds aren’t supposed to ask questions like this. Can you hush up now? Please?”

    I didn’t even consider the additional burden of the fear of hell. Probably because I never really feared hell.

    That’s an interesting twist.

  262. says

    I don’t know why y’all keep questioning him. He knows what he’s talking about.

    I thought that was the best reason to question him. What’s the point of asking people who don’t know what they’re talking about? David Marshall is in the know, therefore he’s the best point of information to gain that knowledge.

  263. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I don’t know why y’all keep questioning him. He knows what he’s talking about.

    *Snicker, tee-hee, bwahahahahahahaha*

  264. John Morales says

    I’m pretty sure DM is reading this, and “laughing” at us laughing at him. Me, I’m laughing at the thought his “laughing” at our laughing.

    (And much joy was brought into the world!)

  265. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    How did Moses write the account of his own death?

    See, this is where Sophisticated Theology™ comes into play. Sophisticated Theologians™ like David Marshall know these things and, if you’d just buy his book, you’d know too.

  266. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    if you’d just buy his book, you’d know too.

    If it isn’t available for free download, it isn’t worth the price. For free, it is over priced…

  267. David Marjanović, OM says

    * Americans have no monopoly on confusing their country with the whole world.

    Which is why I tried to give global sales figures.

    I bet the vast majority of the copies was sold in the USA, so Williams likely doesn’t know it was a bestseller anywhere. The God Delusion, in contrast, has certainly been sold a lot in the UK.

    Simply put, Voltaire, Marx, and Feu[e]rbach thought Christianity was on the way out centuries ago: it did not happen for them, nor do I see much reason to expect what John Loftus calls “the End of Christianity,” or Harris’ “The End of Faith,” any time soon.

    But surely you agree that Christianity has faded out a lot in the First World over the last 100 years?

    I also think (and forgive me if I’m stating the obvious) that theists are completely terrified of the fact that there’s “nothing” out there–that there’s no Magic Man in the Sky to commend them for being good; no afterlife as a reward for whatever hardships they endure in this life; no explanation for human cruelty or madness, or destructive natural phenomena etc. The notion of death itself–of nothingness, of meaninglessness–is their worst fear. Instead of trying to create meaning in their lives through their work or passions or talents, they’d rather just ascribe everything to the Great Sky Daddy and be passive followers of the cult (but picking and choosing those aspects of religion that are favorable to their stations and situations). Rationality is, as you say, the much harder path to take–as well as the much more frightening one. For, basically, one has to face him/herself and confront exactly what is and is not there. It’s much easier for the frightened sheep to write everything off to magic and fairy tales and not think about the things that are threatening to their mental comfort.

    And there’s also what you stated: “…it comes with a bonus package of smug, self-righteous piety that encourages you to feel that you are extra special because your faith is so pure that reason cannot ‘corrupt’ it.”

    QFT!

    yours is brilliant! May I use that line?

    Of course. I just think it’s somewhat beside the point, somewhat.

    Sure Christianity may not go away completely, but keep in mind that there are still people around who worship Odin regularly.

    Not “still”. Again. It’s an outgrowth of 19th/early 20th-century romanticism/nationalism.

    the word’s best-selling work by an atheist: Quotations From Chairman Mao.

    Was it sold that much? It was mostly distributed for free…

    capo di tutti capo i capi

    FIFY.

    Hitchens rule. Assertions without proof or data can be dismissed without proof or data.

    A lot older than Hitchens!

    Once upon a time, there was a man who liked to excuse his shortcomings by pointing to those around him and saying they were no better. In fact, he would often talk of how, unlike everyone else, he could become the gentlest of gentlemen in the company of gentlemen, and the sagest of sages in the company of sages, but that he had no reason to show off in the company of lesser beings. […]

    So true!

    And THIS is why I say we need more than science, why I say we need history and philosophy. So when shit-spraying obscurationists like DM show up, we can refute them on their own grounds.

    Logically speaking, we don’t need to. We only need to point out that they aren’t standing on any grounds whatsoever.

    No evidence, no belief.

    So far, that’s the best apologetics I’ve ever heard: “I accept the existence of a god against all reason and evidence.” That’s weak herbal tea posing as weak herbal tea.

    Agreed.

    It’s cute that you think being a Christian is non-conformist.

    It means he thinks Christianity has faded out even more than I imply above.

    Are you claiming that PZ only means that Gnu WOMEN are smart, and that only compared to “the men chasing them?” (Apparently because only stupid men are attracted to female atheists, for some reason?)

    The whole thing is an obvious allusion to the Rebeccapocalypse.

    Leaving aside all the question-begging about free will it does, he has to answer this:

    Is there an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god?

    As long as this isn’t answered with “yes”, the questions you ask have only entertainment value. They’re like asking how time travel works under the assumption that Star Trek is true.

    Right — but I don’t see anything about the method of creation, or that there was specifically nothing. In fact, Gen 1:1 reads more like a prologue: “God created the heavens and the earth, and this is how.” I surmise that from the intentionally-vague first verse, and the very specific following verses.

    Actually, that’s all a mistranslation. It’s all a single sentence: “In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the Earth, when the Earth was confused and empty and God’s breath hovered above the waters, God said: ‘Let there be light’, and there was light.”

    Brownian: “And that’s why you’ve spent so much time in this thread to refute PZ’s position? Because you don’t really care after all? Do you actually believe the shit you write? Do you care so little for honesty?”

    Do try to follow. The point of Myer’s OP is to dis “apologists” and “religion” as “lame,” “uncool,” and stupid, even by comparison to nerdy but clever atheists.

    PZ was deliberately using Williams’ wording.

    And do pay attention. Just after you’re informed that you can’t get to “Dawkin’s” from “Dawkins”, you make “Myer’s” out of “Myers”? Embarrassing.

    I can’t answer every single silly jibe, or go back and read every prior post

    Liar!!! If I can read every comment, and I do, then so can you.

    We’re communicating in writing here. Even if we tried, we couldn’t pull a Gish gallop on you. You have all the time in the world to answer every single tiny jibe, however silly, one by one.

    Really, man, what are you doing on a blog when you don’t read every comment on the very threads you “contribute” to!?!

    (what is it with people named DM and batshit insanity?)

    *innocent whistle* :-°

    I was really looking forward to Nigel’s 3-beer handicap debate with David Marshall. Why don’t debate societies do that more often? That’s such an awesome idea, a 3-beer handicap.

    Seconded!

    It seems one of Marshall’s attacks on evolution is the “there are no beneficial mutations” canard. And this after he admits evolution is probably true! In a strangely-lamarckian turn, he wonders why baseball players haven’t developed cow-like hides on one hand.

    *headdesk*
    *headdesk*
    *headdesk*
    *CRASH*
    *headfloor*
    *headfloor*
    *headfloor*

    We don’t have Romans anymore, but we’ve got Sicilian mafios[i]. They’ll have you begging to be crucified, if they leave you your tongue.”

    Naaah. The Honorable Gentlemen will simply blow you up with the entire width of the highway you’re driving on. That’s a better way to make a statement.

  268. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    In short, even according to the universe in Christian mythology, Jesus’ death was nothing, because he was immune to one of the most important motivations in Christianity—the fear of eternal damnation.

    Damn, Brownian, that’s good. I’d never considered this. It means that Jesus’ “sacrifice” was even more trivial than I’d previously thought. We’ll have to keep this in mind the next time David Marshall or one of that ilk shows up to harangue us.

  269. chigau (曇) says

    When I “clarify” butter I get a lovely, pale yellow, translucent substance on top, with a bunch of whiteish, lumpy stuff on the bottom.
    Is there a metaphor in there, somewhere?

  270. says

    Hitchens rule. Assertions without proof or data can be dismissed without proof or data.

    A lot older than Hitchens!

    Hume’s Fork, correct?

    I bet the vast majority of the copies was sold in the USA, so Williams likely doesn’t know it was a bestseller anywhere. The God Delusion, in contrast, has certainly been sold a lot in the UK.

    Agreed. Though I thought that PZ made the topic global when he said “and showed them to the average person on the American street”. But I’m not sure how that takes away from my point that The God Delusion, and other books like it, are catering largely for a previously unexploited niche market.

    Looking at the bestsellers in the UK over the last 13 years or so, The God Delusion doesn’t even feature in the top 100. Bill Bryson’s A Short History Of Nearly Everything came in at #23. So it should, it’s a fantastic book…

  271. ACN says

    In an unrelated query, do cephalopods lend themselves to being dipped in clarified butter, or is that more of an arthropod thing?

    Is it in poor taste to discuss the consumption of the cephalopodic overlords? :)

  272. David Marshall says

    Lazybird: “Not surprising that you are unaware of Christian communism. Ignorance seems to be a requirement for your position.”

    Sigh. Sometimes I think arrogant stupidity is a prerequisite for yours.

    I wrote a paper on a Liberation Theology for my Marxist Philosophy professor 30 years ago. He was a practicing communist revolutinary, but he called it a “thoughtful paper.” Had you even crawled out of your egg by that time?

    Honestly, there was a time I almost bought some of the propaganda about “Brights.” Interacting with this kind of presumptuous inanity has disillusioned me.

  273. ichthyic says

    He was a practicing communist revolutinary

    uh, practicing where, exactly?

    and just how long until the glorious revolution takes place?

    Interacting with this kind of presumptuous inanity has disillusioned me.

    well, you know what to do then.

    FUCK OFF.

  274. chigau (曇) says

    David Marshall

    I wrote a paper on a Liberation Theology for my Marxist Philosophy professor 30 years ago. He was a practicing communist revolutinary, but he called it a “thoughtful paper.”

    Is that in your book?

  275. David Marshall says

    David Marj: But surely you agree that Christianity has faded out a lot in the First World over the last 100 years?

    No. There seem to be more practicing Christians in the US than there were 100 years ago. Fewer in Europe, but that has waxed and waned for a thousan years – check out Rodney Stark’s Secularization, RIP.

    Whoever you’re quoting, is garbling my argument something fierce. Try not to believe what you read secondhand too often.

  276. ichthyic says

    When I “clarify” butter I get a lovely, pale yellow, translucent substance on top, with a bunch of whiteish, lumpy stuff on the bottom.
    Is there a metaphor in there, somewhere?

    Probably a labored one, at best.

    stop churning out one liners…

  277. ichthyic says

    There seem to be more practicing Christians in the US than there were 100 years ago.

    there seem to be more Americans in the US than there were 100 years ago, too.

    fuckwit.

  278. ichthyic says

    Whoever you’re quoting, is garbling my argument something fierce.

    frankly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out he was quoting you.

    hack.

  279. Brownian says

    Try not to believe what you read secondhand too often.

    Like the accounts of the life of Jesus Christ?

  280. chigau (曇) says

    David Marshall
    It works like this:
    you type one of these: < (it is usually above the comma “,”)
    then you type:
    blockquote
    then you type one of these: > (it is usually above the period “.”)
    then you paste whatever you have copied (I assume you know how to do that)
    then you type one of these < followed by one of these /
    then you type
    blockquote
    then you type one of these: >
    <blockquote>whatever shit you are quoting</blockquote>
    .
    It’s so easy, a child could do it.

  281. says

    It’s interesting that David Marshall has the opportunity to chastise people over his knowledge of Marxism, but won’t take the time to defend the claims where he claimed it was out of context.

    What gives?

  282. First Approximation says

    There seem to be more practicing Christians in the US than there were 100 years ago.

    As ichthyic mentions, looking at the absolute number of Christians is silly. What you should do is look at the percentage. I don’t have the numbers from 100 years ago, but in 1990 86% of the population in the US identified as Christian. In 2009, it was 78%. (Source). The ‘no religion’ category was the fastest growing one during that time. The first world has been getting less religious for a while now and the US seems to finally be joining them.

  283. KG says

    He was a practicing communist revolutinary – DBMtL

    But evidently had no more success at that than you have had at scholarship – maybe he just hadn’t practised enough. He might at least have taught you how to form a possessive, though.

  284. KG says

    It’s interesting that David Marshall has the opportunity to chastise people over his knowledge of Marxism, but won’t take the time to defend the claims where he claimed it was out of context.

    What gives? – Kel

    He’s a habitual liar. When called on a lie, his usual technique is to ignore the challenge completely.

  285. John Morales says

    KG, that makes him a liar and a coward.

    Oh yeah, and learning the most basic of HTML is apparently beyond his level of competence.

    (I guess religion has ossified his brain)

  286. says

    Externally, because Jesus’ human body was perfectly constituted and so its physical faculties were more acute.

    ummm, how could anyone possibly know this?

  287. KG says

    But surely you agree that Christianity has faded out a lot in the First World over the last 100 years? – David Marjanović

    It will be interesting to see if the ‘First World’ remains First over the next 100 years. – horrorshow

    You should live so long! Are you suggesting that if it doesn’t, that will be because of the decline in Christianity? If so, on what grounds?

    It will also be interesting to see how Christianity develops in China.

    Indeed it will. Its apparently explosive growth there in recent decades coincides with a move to a much more economically unequal society and the end of the “iron rice bowl”, in which the state, in return for obedience, guaranteed a level of provision in housing, education, care for children, the sick and elderly. My hunch is that the relationship was causal – that times of socio-economic insecurity favour religion – and that the adoption of a replacement social welfare system, which is happening in a somewhat piecemeal fashion, will slow the process. There is support for the general hypothesis that socio-economic inequality correlates with individual religiosity (and favour for religious involvement in politics) in recent research: see Tim Müller’s multilevel analysis of survey data from 55 countries, and the references therefrom. Differences in Gini coefficient on income partly (but only partly) explain differences between the USA and European countries. Incidentally, this paper also provides some evidence (contrary to what Rodney Stark’s 1999 article Secularization: RIP* would lead one to expect, that modernization (as measured by the Human Development Index) does correlate negatively with individual religiosity across societies, at least for the countries studied, which were predominantly Christian or Muslim by tradition. Hypotheses derived from Stark’s “supply side” theory of variation in religiosity across societies were not suppported.

    *Cited by David Brooks Marshall the Liar above. Unlike Marshall, Stark is a respected scholar in the field of sociology of religion, although he is, like Marshall, a bit of an IDiot when it comes to evolution.

  288. KG says

    The Christian teaching is that the pain of Christ’s Passion was greater than all other pains. Intellectual knowledge of the coming Resurrection would not negate the external and internal pain of the Crucifixion. Why was that pain greater than all others? Externally, because Jesus’ human body was perfectly constituted and so its physical faculties were more acute. Internally, primarily because Christ was perfectly good and innocent and so the agony of injustice was proportionately greater. – horrorshow

    Like most of Christian teaching, this is simply pulled out of some theologian’s arse. AFAIK, there is not a particle of evidence that healthy bodies suffer more physical pain than unhealthy ones, or that punishment justly inflicted is any easier to bear than punishment unjustly inflicted. Moreover, horrifying as it is, crucifixion is relatively brief – particularly so in Jesus’s case if the gospels are to be believed; many people have suffered repeated torture for years on end. In any case, you are ignoring Brownian’s main point: that according to Christian doctrine, Jesus knew he would not only survive his physical death, but would not then risk eternal damnation, but would get to “sit on the right hand” of his father in heaven.

  289. Brownian says

    He’s a habitual liar. When called on a lie, his usual technique is to ignore the challenge completely.

    Technically, in this case, he answered the challenge with a bald assertion.

    “Oh, I’m wrong on communism am I? Well, some nameless guy before you were born didn’t think so when I wrote a paper—now lost to the ravages of time—and he was a real communist so there.”

    What person older than 8 would think this was any kind of rebuttal whatsoever?

  290. Brownian says

    The Christian teaching is that the pain of Christ’s Passion was greater than all other pains. Intellectual knowledge of the coming Resurrection would not negate the external and internal pain of the Crucifixion. Why was that pain greater than all others? Externally, because Jesus’ human body was perfectly constituted and so its physical faculties were more acute. Internally, primarily because Christ was perfectly good and innocent and so the agony of injustice was proportionately greater.

    Like most of Christian teaching, this is simply pulled out of some theologian’s arse.

    Well, there’s certainly nothing else in the gospels to suggest he’s Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Unbreakable. Furthermore, if Jesus propensity for suffering were so much greater, then how would he have survived fasting in the desert at all? If your character has super extra-pain feeling characteristics, it’s usually a good idea to mention them, and to do so long before the painful climax on which your character’s motivation hinges.

    As for the greater sense of injustice, this gets dicey. First of all, children of varying levels of innocence are killed all the time in unjust circumstances. Hell, other than the idiotic taint of original sin, fetuses are presumably just as innocent as Jesus. If they are not; say, that they commit sin via their fetal thoughts, then the concept of sin starts to become meaningless and indistinguishable from being human. If that’s the case, then Jesus also sinned, or he wasn’t human. Likewise, if Jesus was too perfect, too innocent, he was also not human.

    And the story again falls apart as soon as Jesus is no longer human.

    And, as KG points out, this doesn’t touch the aspect that Jesus still knew he was going to end up in heaven as soon as he died. Since we’ve established that whatever he was, he wasn’t fully human. So, he was a god. The problem with gods (especially omnipotent ones) is that they can (and in the case of YHWH, they do) do everything. It’s still a stretch beyond the ludicrous to claim that a deity that created a universe 13-14 billion years ago and over 90 billion light-years in diameter still couldn’t hack a bad afternoon.

  291. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    KG said:

    Stark is a respected scholar in the field of sociology of religion, although he is, like Marshall, a bit of an IDiot when it comes to evolution.

    Perhaps more than a bit. He appears to have embraced the “teach the controversy” ideology:

    I write as neither a creationist nor a Darwinist, but as one who knows what is probably the most disreputable scientific secret of the past century: There is no plausible scientific theory of the origin of species! Darwin himself was not sure he had produced one, and for many decades every competent evolutionary biologist has known that he did not. Although the experts have kept quiet when true believers have sworn in court and before legislative bodies that Darwin’s theory is proven beyond any possible doubt, that’s not what reputable biologists, including committed Darwinians, have been saying to one another.

    […]

    The word miracle crops up again and again in mathematical assessments of the possibility that even very simple biochemical chains, let alone living organisms, can mutate into being by a process of random trial and error.

    […]

    I believe that one day there will be a plausible theory of the origin of species. But, if and when that occurs, there will be nothing in any such theory that makes it impossible to propose that the principles involved were not part of God’s great design any more than such a theory will demonstrate the existence of God. But, while we wait, why not lift the requirement that high school texts enshrine Darwin’s failed attempt as an eternal truth?

    Rodney Stark,
    Fact, Fable, and Darwin
    , The American Enterprise Institute.

    I also liked this little excerpt from the same text:

    Within each genus (mammals, reptiles, etc.) are species (dogs, horses, elephants, etc.)

    I’d be careful before citing Stark as an authority.

  292. anteprepro says

    Horrorshow:

    Externally, because Jesus’ human body was perfectly constituted and so its physical faculties were more acute.

    Seriously? Jesus suffered the ultimate pain because he had a perfect body? How the fuck does that make the least amount of sense? One could just as easily argue that Jesus barely suffered at all, because the perfect body would make one more resistant to pain than our imperfect, normal-mortal bodies. But, of course, the idea that Jesus had a “perfect” body is nowhere mentioned, anywhere, and is entirely contrary to the point of Jesus living as a mortal in the first place. Are you sure you aren’t thinking of Heracles?

    Internally, primarily because Christ was perfectly good and innocent and so the agony of injustice was proportionately greater.

    Ah, the “agony of injustice”. Brilliant excuse. Far more so than making shit up about perfection meaning super pain senses.

    Oh, but I note you’ve done nothing, in either of these “explanations” to address the fact that Jesus would have been certain about his afterlife, an eternity of bliss and peace to compensate for a day of suffering and dying. While other people who are executed suffer more because they lack such comforting knowledge. To say nothing of those who executed wrongfully, but aren’t Christian, so they get tortured forever for their troubles. The feeling of being unjustly executed pales in comparison to the certain knowledge that you will live in on a perfect world, forever. You claimed that knowledge of this would not “negate the pain”, but I also see no reason why the feeling of “injustice” would increase the “pain” more than the certain knowledge of death being impermanent would decrease it.

    I’m glad that someone came around to give us an example of the quality of theopologism for us. David Marshall’s pathetic dodging could only cut it for so long.

  293. says

    chigau (曇) #323

    When I “clarify” butter I get a lovely, pale yellow, translucent substance on top, with a bunch of whiteish, lumpy stuff on the bottom.
    Is there a metaphor in there, somewhere?

    Ghee, I don’t know.

  294. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    No. There seem to be more practicing Christians in the US than there were 100 years ago.

    By sheer numbers, yes. But considering the increase in population, and looking at percentages thereof, maybe not. That is the problem with your answers. They aren’t complete enough to make real sense. Just white noise to cover your lack of truthfulness.

  295. says

    horrorshow:

    The Christian teaching is that the pain of Christ’s Passion was greater than all other pains. Intellectual knowledge of the coming Resurrection would not negate the external and internal pain of the Crucifixion. Why was that pain greater than all others? Externally, because Jesus’ human body was perfectly constituted and so its physical faculties were more acute. Internally, primarily because Christ was perfectly good and innocent and so the agony of injustice was proportionately greater.

    Wow. That all makes perfect sense.

    Y’know, it’s like the Trinity. While Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit are all three separate aspects of a single God (the one we call God, or YHWH, or Jehovah), they’re all the same, even though one of the three is God. In that way Christianity is not a polytheism. When you pray to Jesus, you’re really praying to God, even though Jesus was also a mortal human, though he couldn’t really die.

    And the transitive death/long-nap-in-a-cool-cave of Jesus was a substitute for the immensity of punishment promised by God for sinners: eternal damnation, and a nice suite in Hell.

    How does one afternoon of pain make up for all the millions who were supposed to suffer eternal unbearable pain and torture? How is it in any way equivalent? By what algebra of pain does Jesus’ crucifixion (a punishment many went through) in any way make up for the 1*10^8 people * (infinity) seconds * excruciating pain?

    Even if I accept your explanation as even vaguely not pulled out of someone’s ass, horrorshow, it doesn’t make fucking sense. The algebra is simply all wrong. The punishment suffered by Jesus simply doesn’t add up to the clemency granted. So the claim that Jesus “paid due” simply doesn’t hold water, even with your bullshit rationalization.

  296. says

    This whole not-pology of God’s makes clear one thing:

    God’s punishment for sinning was completely fucking arbitrary.

    If the debt of sin could be paid with such slim currency, if God could commute our sentence on such flimsy pretext, then his entire system of justice was not based on some innately-divine need for justice, some balancing of the scales. The original punishment wasn’t necessary, even with the rather bullshit setup of original sin. If an infinity of unbearable torture for millions of people can be negated by an hour of exquisite, loving pain by a single man-god chimera, then the original punishment was patently greater than the crime.

    It was a rigged system, where God had his thumb on the scales of justice. It was an arbitrary system constructed at the whimsy of a capricious deity.

    Christianity makes a mockery of God.

  297. says

    David Marshall:

    Honestly, there was a time I almost bought some of the propaganda about “Brights.” Interacting with this kind of presumptuous inanity has disillusioned me.

    Did you, or did you not, write this:

    Karl Marx convinced a third of the world, and many professors in the other two thirds, that money was the real problem. Communism then proved conclusively that people can hate one another in a cashless society.

    Your understanding of Marx isn’t in question here. Your understanding of the historical context of the application of Marx is. You claim directly that we have learned from the application of Marx “that people can hate one another in a cashless society.”

    Question: which communist state was cashless, and under what circumstances?

    Your reading for comprehension is about on par with your writing for clarity.

  298. Hazuki says

    @309, 313

    Sounds like me in CCD. Right down to being told to shut up because good girls don’t ask so many questions. Fuck, but they screwed me up badly.

    @David Marshall

    You are done here. We fact checked your claims and they run the gamut from weasel-wording and twisting and taking things out of context to absolute, fractally-wrong bullshit. Your constant name-dropping and refusal to answer direct questions further weakens your standing. And like all apologists I’ve encountered, you flee direct challenges and leave a cloud of diarrhea in the water to cover your escape, much like a pygmy sperm whale. Only dumber. Please do the world a favor and jump into a volcanic crater.

  299. Inane Janine, OM, Conflater Of Arguments says

    Inane question here. If the christ had the perfect body, would not the christ have perfect control over that body? Would not the christ be able to decide that he will not feel pain?

    Theological questions are so much fun because they do not need to be based on reality.

  300. chigau (曇) says

    Seen on a t-shirt:
    “Pain is weakness leaving the body”
    but Jesus was perfect, not weak.
    Unless weakness was part of hHis Perfection.
    You can never tell with deities.

  301. David Marjanović, OM says

    Hume’s Fork, correct?

    e

    No idea. :-) You know way more about philosophy than I do.

    David Marj: But surely you agree that Christianity has faded out a lot in the First World over the last 100 years?

    No. There seem to be more practicing Christians in the US than there were 100 years ago.

    1) Evidence?

    2) What kind of Christianity are they practicing? Will they treat you as subhuman if they find out that you “live in sin”? Will they boycott stores that are open on Sunday? Will they spend day and night preaching to (or fighting) their neighbors who belong to a slightly different denomination and are therefore hellbound? You know, there are plenty of Christians left in Europe; but very few of even those who go to church every Sunday will do any of these things.

    Fewer in Europe, but that has waxed and waned for a thousan years – check out Rodney Stark’s Secularization, RIP.

    I just read it (it’s on Google Books). It’s interesting, but mostly beside the point – my point being that Christianity has bleached out in Europe. It’s still there, there aren’t many atheists, but what kind of Christianity is it that most people believe in?

    It’s also remarkably superficial on a few issues that seem to be outside the authors’ field of expertise. For instance, it’s true that when communism ended, religion came back, but church attendance and other indicators of religiosity never reached pre-1917/1948 levels; they only reached western European levels (as the authors point out, suddenly oblivious to what that means), and in some countries (East Germany, the Czech Republic) they have stayed well below that.

    It’s even borderline dishonest in comparing medieval ignorance to today’s nonbelievers, many of which have ceased to believe precisely because they understand several religions full well.

    Whoever you’re quoting, is garbling my argument something fierce. Try not to believe what you read secondhand too often.

    I was quoting you.

    It will be interesting to see if the ‘First World’ remains First over the next 100 years.

    Sure, but that’s beside the point, isn’t it?

    It will also be interesting to see how Christianity develops in China.

    Catholicism is a roaring success there, simply because it’s an alternative to the official ideology (outward communism plus quite ruthless capitalism). I wonder how far it will go. Short answer: what KG said.

    Externally, because Jesus’ human body was perfectly constituted and so its physical faculties were more acute.

    ummm, how could anyone possibly know this?

    Theo-logic !!

    Fact, Fable, and Darwin, The American Enterprise Institute

    *barf*

    …Sorry. I’ll clean that up. Right after I…

    *barf*

    Stark clearly is ten times as stupid as I thought.

    Within each genus (mammals, reptiles, etc.) are species (dogs, horses, elephants, etc.)

    The ignorance! It burns!

    Is there a metaphor in there, somewhere?

    Ghee, I don’t know.

    Thread won.

  302. KG says

    David Marjanović@363,

    Stark’s “Secularization R.I.P” article also, as a commentary on it I found noted, moves the goalposts concerning what counts as religion in making his case:

    although Stark warns that in assessing religion today we must remember not to restrict ourselves to Christianity, he violates that principle in insisting on proper religion when assessing medieval society.

    – that is, any supernaturalist beliefs seem to count as evidence against secularization in the present, but not in the past.

  303. says

    Whoever you’re quoting, is garbling my argument something fierce. Try not to believe what you read secondhand too often.

    I was quoting you.

    that’s the most hilarious thing I’ve read today, especially since ichthyic called it

  304. says

    Damn. I realized I mixed something up.

    David Marshall:

    Lazybird: “Not surprising that you are unaware of Christian communism. Ignorance seems to be a requirement for your position.”

    Sigh. Sometimes I think arrogant stupidity is a prerequisite for yours.

    David Marshall, I’d like you to take that argument up with David Marshall. He’s the fucking mutton-headed ninny-muggins who called communism an “atheist ideology.”

    That’s why I don’t compare “Christianity” or “Hinduism,” to “atheism,” but to atheist ideologies like communism or secular humanism.

    Why don’t you save us all some time and just start contradicting yourself in every single post?

    Oh. That’s right. You already do.

    I wonder how we can make this more efficient? We already assume you’re going to misrepresent not only us, but yourself.

  305. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s a very good question. The answer is yes, but He didn’t choose to.

    Citation needed.

  306. Therrin says

    It’s a very good question. The answer is yes, but He didn’t choose to.

    OMG you were there? Quick, page DBM!

    You mean anywhere in the Bible. You must understand that Sacred Scripture is a cornerstone of Christianity, but not the only one. Another is Sacred Tradition. The Church guards the transmission and interpretation of both.

    The important question is, how many Christians are Scotsmen?

  307. KG says

    Jesus suffers His Passion for all eternity. The Sacred Heart is always wounded. – horrorshow

    I take this as an example, but pretty much everything you say has the same quality – bare assertion (the figleaf of “Christians believe” doesn’t hide this, especially as it’s quite obvious that many Christians do not share all of your beliefs that you are presenting in this way, e.g. many Protestants do not accept the “Sacred Tradition of the Church”), without even a pretence of evidence or rational justification. It’s boring, and, on a sceptical blog, rather rude.

    You must understand that Sacred Scripture is a cornerstone of Christianity, but not the only one. Another is Sacred Tradition.

    Sacred Tradition == Pulled Out Of The Arse Of Some Theologian.

    Capitalising words doesn’t actually add anything to a statement.

  308. John Morales says

    horrorshow:

    I said Jesus’ intellectual foreknowledge did not cancel out His [sic] physical and emotional agony.

    Physical, fair enough.

    Emotional agony? Emotional agony despite of intellectual foreknowledge is a form of irrational insecurity.

    Strange that Christians (or so you claim) consider Jesus to have been physically perfect yet emotionally crippled, eh?

    (Hardly admirable, that)

  309. First Approximation says

    Assertions without proof or data can be dismissed without proof or data.

    I find myself repeatedly using this rule when reading horrorshow’s comments.

  310. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    horrorshow said:

    I was saying what Christians believe about Jesus.

    In view that you’ve talked about “The Sacred Heart”, “the Mass”, “the Church”, and the Immaculate Conception, I think what you meant is that you were saying what Roman Catholics believe about Jesus.

    Now I ask, when you say:

    the economic and cultural dislocation of such a decline might lead to a revival of Christianity

    are you referring to Christianity in general or Roman Catholicism in particular?

  311. says

    horrorshow:

    Jesus suffers His Passion for all eternity. The Holy Victim offers Himself as the supreme and sufficient Holocaust at every Mass.

    This is rationalization. It is, at best, an effort to stave off actual logical fallacies inherent in the most sacred text of Christianity, the Bible. It’s this kind of patent silliness that makes Christianity so obviously made-up.

    But even once a year is still only 1/365th that which each of his other sufferers would’ve paid, had they not been saved. So again, the algebra just doesn’t work. This is not an equation, but the inequality:

    Jesus’ suffering < suffering saved

    In fact, I'd say:

    Jesus' suffering << suffering saved

    (That's "far less," and not a shift operator.)

    So my argument still stands.

  312. KG says

    It’s a very good question. The answer is yes, but He didn’t choose to. – horrorshow

    Apart from the fact that this is just another turd extruded from a theological rectum, it makes nonsense of the claim about the extra-special-super-dooper injustice of the crucifixion: since Jesus already knew he was going to heaven, and since he could have chosen not to feel pain, it’s obvious that he was punishing himself. Now I know we’re now bound to get another theological turd about how wonderfully self-sacrificing this was, but you can’t consistently claim something is self-inflicted and that it’s the greatest injustice the world has ever seen. It’s absurdities like this which mean that really, I’m no more interested in your ludicrous tower of rationalisations for Catholic gobbledegook, than I am in hearing a scientologist expatiating on the evils of psychiatry, or how I could become an operating Thetan.

  313. KG says

    nigelTheBold@374,

    I’m not sure where you get “once a year” from. Catholic Mass is said every day IIRC. It doesn’t make horrorshow’s nonsense any less nonsensical of course.

  314. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    You must understand that Sacred Scripture is a cornerstone of Christianity, but not the only one. Another is Sacred Tradition. The Church guards the transmission and interpretation of both.

    To be fair, maybe priests raping children is one of those Sacred Traditions. At least 1,000 years of tradition.

  315. KG says

    Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin’ Hominid!@378

    Well in that particular case, they surely have Biblical warrant. Did not Our Lord Himself say: “Suffer, little children!” (Luke 18:16)?

  316. Anteprepro says

    What pathetic fucking dodges, horrorshow.

    Well I said Jesus’ body was perfect, not just healthy. And it doesn’t matter if there’s no “evidence” that unjust punishment is harder to bear than just punishment. I wasn’t making a general claim about human psychology, I was saying what Christians believe about Jesus.

    That’s great: This Christian belief about Jesus makes no sense unless the problems brought up are actually addressed. I’m glad that you find them indefensible enough to not actually bother to defend them as logical, preferring to simply handwave them way as a “Christian belief,” and therefore not needing justification or consistency with reality.

    Jesus suffers His Passion for all eternity. The Sacred Heart is always wounded.

    Wow. So this isn’t about torture or death or anything that is actually imagined when one thinks of sacrifice: Jesus’s sacrifice was getting his feelings hurt due to suffering things related to normal people’s sacrifice that he didn’t really suffer as much as a normal person. Theopologetics at its finest!

    I didn’t ignore Brownian’s main point. I said Jesus’ intellectual foreknowledge did not cancel out His physical and emotional agony. If a student has a big exam tomorrow, he may know he’s revised well and has a good grasp of the subject and so can be confident of a good grade, but that wouldn’t necessarily stop him dreading the exam.

    But, here’s the problem that you seem to deliberately avoid: The student prepared for the exam will dread it less than one who isn’t. Do you understand that? Do you understand that it doesn’t need to “cancel out” the pain completely, but may slightly lessen it? Especially since you invoke “emotional pain”, since what would lessen “emotional pain” more than knowledge that the torment, death, and humiliation doesn’t ultimately matter?

    No. You see, the whole point is Original Sin is not humanity’s natural condition. God did not create humanity with Original Sin, it’s something that was once acquired and is now unfortunately inherited. The fact that Jesus and Mary were free of Original Sin means they were exemplary examples of humanity as it was meant to be.

    This doesn’t even address what the quote you “responded” to was saying!

    I wasn’t making an argument, I was saying what the traditional teaching says was actually the case.

    That’s just fucking grand. Care to actually tell us why it actually makes sense, or is the fact that it is a “traditional teaching” sufficient for you to believe it? And the doctrine (obviously not an argument) is even more ridiculous than you were originally given credit for: In Mark 15, Pilate remarks that Jesus died so soon, after six hours on the cross. People dying through crucifixion can last for hours, like Jesus, or last for days. Jesus’s perfect body had a lot of quit in it for someone made so legendary for his suffering and sacrifice.

    You mean anywhere in the Bible. You must understand that Sacred Scripture is a cornerstone of Christianity, but not the only one. Another is Sacred Tradition. The Church guards the transmission and interpretation of both.

    Oh, a Catholic. Still, what is the justification for this “perfect body” doctrine?

    Yes but as you’re not Jesus, what you think isn’t really relevant, is it?

    Yeah. Logic and facts don’t matter, because “were you there!?”.

    Jesus suffers His Passion for all eternity. The Holy Victim offers Himself as the supreme and sufficient Holocaust at every Mass.

    lol, now I wonder if he’s just yanking our chain.

    It’s a very good question. The answer is yes, but He didn’t choose to.

    Jesus chose to suffer and die. But he obviously suffered more than any other human in that same position, without that choice, and without the certain knowledge that they will live on after dying. But don’t believe me, the traditions I refuse to cite say it is true. [eyeroll]

  317. pelamun says

    re Chinese religiosity:

    it’s not only Catholicism that’s a hit, but also Falun Gong…

    From my own experience, the traditional religions of China (and also Japan) are quite ritualistic and do not offer answers some people are seeking in a turbulent environment with an increasing degree of inequality. As a Buddhist/Taoist/Shintoist, you go to the temple/shrine to make your offerings and buy your talismans and make your prayers, but the vast majority does not concern itself with the teachings in any detail (only a tiny minority does). So when a religion offers a personal relationship to god and more or less clear answers, then it will be more attractive.

    Now, I wonder if the fact that Catholicism is losing adherents to more aggressive forms of Evangelical Protestantism in Latin America and Asia (not sure about Africa, but probably there too) is also due to the fact that Catholicism has become too ritualistic in parts… I ran into books by Joel Osteen translated into the respective national language in Asia…

  318. Brother Ogvorbis, Hominy Lovin' Hominid! says

    Did not Our Lord Himself say: “Suffer, little children!” (Luke 18:16)?

    I thought it was, “Suffer, little children, that I may come into them.” Or onto them. Anyway, the actual verbage rarely matters with the bible or sacred tradition. Anything can be justified through creative interpretation of any sacral writings. Or traditions.

  319. David Marjanović, OM says

    Stark’s “Secularization R.I.P” article also, as a commentary on it I found noted, moves the goalposts concerning what counts as religion in making his case:

    although Stark warns that in assessing religion today we must remember not to restrict ourselves to Christianity, he violates that principle in insisting on proper religion when assessing medieval society.

    – that is, any supernaturalist beliefs seem to count as evidence against secularization in the present, but not in the past.

    Indeed Stark does this. Good catch.

    I’ll read the paper.

    Jesus suffers His Passion for all eternity.

    Complete news to me, and I grew up Catholic, had religious instruction in school, and my mom still goes to church almost every Sunday.

    Catholic Mass is said every day IIRC.

    Every priest is obliged to read a mass every day, even if nobody else participates. That’s usually done very early in the morning. Laypeople are only supposed to attend on Sunday and holidays (and were obliged to do so till the 2nd Vatican Council in the 1960s).

  320. Rey Fox says

    “Oh, I’m wrong on communism am I? Well, some nameless guy before you were born didn’t think so when I wrote a paper—now lost to the ravages of time—and he was a real communist so there.”

    The lurkers support David in e-mail.

    If the christ had the perfect body, would not the christ have perfect control over that body?

    Well no, because the yellow sun of Earth…wait, we are talking about Superman, right?

    Yes but as you’re not Jesus, what you think isn’t really relevant, is it?

    *spoing*

  321. Brother Ogvorbis says

    I missed this in Horrorshow’s comment:

    Yes but as you’re not Jesus, what you think isn’t really relevant, is it?

    Does any fictional character actually think? Or, if we accept the words attributed to the fictional character Jesus as real, then which version? The bible has been tranlated multiple times (with the inherent difficulties regarding translating words to keep the nuance), edited, expurgated, added to, and miscopied so many times that even biblical scholars are unsure of the original meanings behind many of the political statements in the New Testament. So, Horrorshow, how do you know what Jesus is/was thinking and how do you know that you are not creating a Jesus, your own personal Jesus (who happens to hate those you hate and approves of those of whom you approve) out of your beliefs?

  322. Brownian says

    It’s a very good question. The answer is yes, but He didn’t choose to.

    That’s not an answer. That’s an assertion. (And, it’s not at all as good as the question would seem to deserve.)

    If the question was “what do a bunch of apparent fucking morons tell themselves to quell the niggling doubts about the divinity of a person who lived and died very much like a regular ol’ human”, then what you wrote would be an ‘answer’.

    The only unfortunate aspect of Original Sin is that those who believe in it seem capable of other extraordinary feats of self-delusion.

    Don’t do that again, horrorshow. Don’t spout a bunch of bullshit that’s nothing but question-begging and appeals to authority, and then hide behind “that’s what the church teaches”. I won’t speak for others (that’s your shtick), but I’m actually not interested in the 1,209,837th example of how Christian theology relies on individuals having absolutely no ability to discern a claim with content from one with none. Maybe that shit will silence a clever and precocious child in Sunday school, but it has no place here.

    If there’s a theological claim that relies on an understanding of non-Jesus humans (other than their propensity to believe absolute garbage if delivered with authority) or the natural universe, then by all means, share. Otherwise, just write ‘goddidit’ and save us all the ts;drbwih*. Because whenever you write something as stupid as “I know what I say doesn’t jibe with human physiology, but I’m talking about Jesus” that’s all you’re saying.

    *Too stupid; did read, but wish I hadn’t.

  323. Anteprepro says

    Brother Ogvorbis: I believe the “answer” to that is “The Sacred Tradition” (i.e. The Worldwide Child-rape Protection Racket told me) and other assorted non-answers. I eagerly await horrorshow’s attempts to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge every line of inquiry.

  324. Brownian says

    Jesus suffers His Passion for all eternity.

    Complete news to me, and I grew up Catholic, had religious instruction in school, and my mom still goes to church almost every Sunday.

    Same here. But if you and I were True Catholics™, David, I suppose we’d still be drinking the wine and calling it blood.

  325. David Marjanović, OM says

    The lurkers support David in e-mail.

    *snortle*

    Well no, because the yellow sun of Earth…wait, we are talking about Superman, right?

    *clenched-tentacle salute*

    Same here. But if you and I were True Catholics™, David, I suppose we’d still be drinking the wine and calling it blood.

    (Except that: 1. I’ve never drunk any wine, because I like neither grape juice nor alcohol; 2. even when I still believed, I was certain that the entire church had been getting it obviously wrong for 2000 years and the whole “this is my body/blood” business was meant symbolically.)

  326. Hazuki says

    @389

    And regardless of how long he suffers it or not it’s a moot point. The entire atonement is ridiculous. The more these people try to explain their beliefs the worse they make their God look. Omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving, and the best he can do is sacrifice himself to himself to stop himself from thowing his creations into the hell he created for the sins he knew they would commit. Brilliant!

  327. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    even when I still believed, I was certain that the entire church had been getting it obviously wrong for 2000 years and the whole “this is my body/blood” business was meant symbolically.

    But the whole transubstantiation thing is a cornerstone of Catholicism. Having the guy in a dress mumble the hocus pocus* means the cracker becomes a Jebus Cracker with extra added Jebus just for you to take to the pew to show your non-Catholic friend, thereby getting cursed by Bill Donahue.

    *There’s an argument that “hocus pocus” originated from a corruption or parody of the Roman Catholic Latin liturgy of the Eucharist, which contains the phrase “Hoc est enim corpus meum.”

  328. tushcloots says

    It depends who you talk to about Stark, but sociologists, in general(AFAICT), don’t have much regard for Stark:
    Abstract(paid article)
    Rodney Stark has recently argued that secularization theory stands or falls with the historical existence of an “age of faith,” which is thought to present a contrast with our present religiously-mixed situation. He presents much recent evidence that the medieval period does not fit that description. But he misconceives the issues. First, faith is not the most natural description of medieval religion, which is better seen as religious culture. As Lucien Febvre pointed out, those populations literally could not express themselves outside of a religious idiom, unlike today. Therefore, we commonly adopt a different sense of the term “secularization” in reference to culture (things or institutions) than when referring to people (beliefs). Second, although Stark warns that in assessing religion today we must remember not to restrict ourselves to Christianity, he violates that principle in insisting on proper religion when assessing medieval society. Third, he assumes that in speaking of secularization, one must mean secularization theory. This ignores a descriptive sense used in historical scholarship. Thus, Stark is announcing the demise of the concept of secularization just when it is becoming a larger and more important problem for scholars.

    Also

    Stark’s age of faith argument and the secularization of things: a commentary
    Rodney Start has repeatedly attempted to bury secularization. But his latest effort, “Secularization, R.I.P.” (Stark 1999) involves some common and serious mistakes. In that article he refutes the idea that medieval Europe can be described as an Age of Faith. He presents much evidence that “lack of religious participation was, if anything, even more widespread in medieval times than now.” And since “the only shred of credibility” for secularization theory is the supposed contrast between such an age of faith and our present situation, he thinks that dismissing that Age of Faith makes it impossible to speak confidently of a decline of religion. So, in line with his title, “secularization” would cease to be a live concept.

    In the course of his argument, Stark makes some other points that need to be addressed. First, he questions the connection so often made between secularization and “modernization,” and most especially with science. Second, he notes that secularization theory does not limit itself to a discussion of social or cultural differentiation, but makes explicit claims about belief. Third, he challenges the assumption that secularization is irreversible. And finally, he reminds us that we should not be talking just about Christianity, but about religion generally.

    […]

    At the risk of summarizing work presented elsewhere (Sommerville 1992), 1 must make good on these bare assertions. Showing how many things were secularized will show, by implication, how many things were a part of medieval religious thought and practice. We might not even think to associate them with the concept of faith. It should make us aware of the fact that to ask whether one was religious (had religious faith or belief) was not as relevant back then as to ask how one was religious.

    Sir Isaac Newton is famous as a pioneer of modern thought for having pictured a uniform grid of space on which a rational age could plot all activity within the universe. The fact that it was an Englishman who accomplished this may not be surprising given the fact that the religious geography of England was the first to be destroyed. Henry VIII removed the religious landmarks that had provided a locus for grace. Shrines disappeared, taking pilgrimage with them. Monastic lands were sold, taking a whole way of life with them. Friaries and chantry lands were now available for urban development, ending many social services sponsored by the Church. The spaces inside churches lost their different uses and new church buildings were designed as auditoriums, for the Word of faith rather than for the lost rituals. Protestants offered a religious justification for all of this, asserting that God was everywhere, and nowhere. In this, they showed the shifting ratio between culture and faith.
    […] Full article

    Sorry for the long quotes, just thought I’d make it easier for D. Marshall to see how easy it is to make clear reference to supportive information, or supportive bullshit in his case.

    One more. I’ve stated, around here somewhere, That I have been involved with a fundamentalist society for several years. They have never once, in church or class or informal discussion, nor prayer, for that matter, said anything remotely indicative of any suffering by Jesus, the Christ Almighty, after he lied to his disciples(return before you sleep/this generation passes) and then scurried off to a life of profound pleasure and serenity. In fact, the bible tells of heaven being utterly without any pain or suffering or anger or evil or sin et-fucking-cetera.
    It’s been pointed out to them, fundies here in chapel, that how in the name of heavenly bliss and all that is pure and holy, if there is no evil possible in heaven, did God’s number two in command, Eosphorus, later Lucifer, declare war on Big Daddy God?
    To which they replied, “That’s a very deep question. Obviously you are very smart, but this requires a complex answer not fit to be discussed right now(in church/revival/bullshit hour). I would love to discuss this with you and explain later, how does next Tuesday, March the 23rd, 2112 sound?” (I made the last part up, but she really did say all this, except she said “later” instead of Tuesday, March 23rd, 2112, (when the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx are holding their bake sale and later the guitar bonfire/marshmallow roast.))

    We now have Catholic and Charismatic/evangelical testimony that have no idea what horrordoh is talking about re: JC eternal pain or suffering.

    What did I miss… Oh, yeah. HorrorHo, when I knew my shit down cold, I couldn’t wait to write my exams. The only apprehension I felt was after our gr. 12 math test where I somehow added -4 + -2, and got 7. After that I learned to settle down and quit thinking ahead to the beer soiree and double check my answers and quit trying to finish in half the time of the next fastest nimrod (who was 1 of 4 school reps in the Reach for the Top competition). Yes I was very anxious before exams, but only because I couldn’t wait for the good times to follow. I find it curiously illuminating that you chose such an analogy, as if it indicates something, but I can’t quite make the correlation.

  329. says

    Hazuki:

    Omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving, and the best he can do is sacrifice himself to himself to stop himself from thowing his creations into the hell he created for the sins he knew they would commit. Brilliant!

    Hey, wait a second. You make God sound like a Bond villain.

  330. says

    Kel: “It’s interesting that David Marshall has the opportunity to chastise people over his knowledge of Marxism, but won’t take the time to defend the claims where he claimed it was out of context. What gives?”

    Just skim all the stuff aimed at me in this forum, and tell me how long it would take you to answer half of it. I’m skipping #165, also on Marxism, for want of time. (Though more careful reading would solve that one.)

    But reflecting on this dispute, I think I’ll post a blog entitled, “Zombie Attack! The Intellectual Laziness of the New Atheism,” this evening, after the sun goes down, appropriately. Need to take the dog for a walk first.

    I’ll be sure to focus on Nigel’s challenge. He can bring the beer.

  331. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    I think I’ll post a blog entitled, “Zombie Attack!

    While you’re into it, you could as well write a book with the same title: “Zombie Attack! Jesus is back and he’s coming for your brains.” I’m sure it would sell much more than Zombie Laden.

  332. says

    Just skim all the stuff aimed at me in this forum, and tell me how long it would take you to answer half of it.

    Earlier you said: “But when I’m outnumbered 20 to 1, I can’t answer every single silly jibe, or go back and read every prior post, so I tend to start with people who seem to have something serious to say. When all that is left are the dimmer remnants of the Puppy Pack, and the conversation is going every direction but the point of the OP (did Harvest pay me, or did I pay Harvest? — heh), it’s probably time to pick up the marbles and go home.”

    So the Marxism knowledge jibe is worth responding to, but clarification on you claiming you were taken out of context isn’t? Yet you’ve had times to make several jabs at the posters here, as well as at the new atheists. Yet you can’t even take a few seconds to clarify what you meant. What’s the point of even responding?

  333. says

    Also aggrandising one’s own knowledge is pathetic. If you really know what you’re talking about, why do you have to point it out instead of actually demonstrating it?

  334. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I’m a Corpus (Oxon.) man myself.

    Pardon me, sirrah, but you must have mistaken us for people who give a shit about what college you went to.

  335. says

    horrorshow:

    …if for no other reason, you have what seems to me a reasonable case for regarding that as a normative benchmark for “Christianity”.

    Y’know, I didn’t know catholics outnumbered protestants to such a degree, but it’s true. And, as you say, if you add the “Orthodox” along with that (and my experience with Russian Orthodox is that it’s much closer to catholicism than protestantism), that’s quite a large number.

    That actually gives me a bit of hope. Not that I think catholics are any less batshit-insane than fundamentalist protestants, but at least their crazy seems to be devoted to quantifying the amount of suffering Jesus endured (and, apparently, continues to endure, all through choice), rather than trying to exclude the teaching of evolution in school.

    Now if only we can get the pope on our side for same-sex marriage and reproduction management. That’d be fucking great, in an align-yourself-with-batshit-crazy kinda way.

  336. Brownian says

    But reflecting on this dispute, I think I’ll post a blog entitled, “Zombie Attack! The Intellectual Laziness of the New Atheism,” this evening, after the sun goes down, appropriately.

    Or call it, “There weren’t falling for my emphatic assertions that I’m so very, very smart, so I retreated here to engage in tu quoque.”

    Just, y’know. If you wanted to be honest.

  337. says

    Oh, and it’d be nice to get the pope to start actually doing something about the child and teen molesting that goes on in his organization. That’d also be really keen.

    horrorshow, could you get on that? ‘Cause really, before we tackle same-sex marriage and reproduction management together, we’re gonna hafta clear up that “cover up for the sexual abuse of children” thing.

  338. says

    Marshall is a thoroughly tiresome turd, and I’m beginning to get the impression that his primary purpose for posting here is simply to spam his feeble blog. I’ll probably get around to banning him someday soon if he keeps this up, but for now, I’ve put his url in the blacklist. He might dry up a bit if he can’t advertise.

  339. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    horrorshow said:

    Well the RCC is far and away the largest Christian denomination; add to that the fact that the Orthodox share much of the same theology;

    This doesn’t sound as a good reason for using the word “Christians”, which clearly includes people that don’t agree with Catholic dogma, when there’s a perfectly good word to describe those who share your beliefs about the Sacred Heart, Immaculate Conception, the Mass, etc.

    add to that the fact that both have the weight of millennia of tradition behind them, unlike the Protestants

    I’m sure other groups of Christians have their own rationalizations as to why they’re the true followers of Jesus. Even if this includes magic appearances of angels, or having the most perfect translation of the Bible…

    On reflection, I would say religion in general

    Fair enough. (I’ve still not seen any change in the trend of secularization, though.)

  340. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    PZ Myers said:

    I’ve put his url in the blacklist. He might dry up a bit if he can’t advertise.

    How dare you, PZ? I’m sure Marshall will be so angry he’ll write a blog post about that, too.

  341. says

    “Zombie Attack! The Intellectual Laziness of the New Atheism,”…

    Because, y’know, the height of intellectual achievement is the determination of the amount of agony suffered by Jesus, the number of angels that can dance on the head of a penis, and the precise vintage of wine Jesus would prefer to transubstantiate to his blood. (And don’t get me started on those over-priced crackers — did you know most of them were made from people? From people!)

    Here’s what the intellectual laziness of the new atheism amounts to:

    “Hi. I’m nigel. I’m a new atheist. Well, really, I’ve been an atheist all of my life, and the atheism I subscribe to is no different than the atheism that has been around for thousands of years. But whatever. Insecure Christians hafta call you somethin’, I reckon.

    “In any case, here’s my intellectual laziness: I refuse to entertain as reality anything which you can simply daydream. I mean, if it doesn’t have an empirical presence, anyone can make up anything about it, amiright?

    “Aaaaanyway, I’m lazy because I just can’t be fuckered to bother with any of that shit. If anyone can make up anything, what’s the point? All it is is a contest to figure out which make-believe set of bullshit laws is accepted by the most people. (As a hint: it helps if the person making shit up wears ridiculous though stunning robes, and a really funny hat.) So really, what’s the point? A popularity contest between Bible-inspired slash fiction? I mean, everyone knows Jesus and Mary Madelene got it the fuck on. She was there to redeem Jesus, not the other way around.

    “So next time you’re thinking you’re all hot shit because you know which way the divine wind blows, blow on this: it ain’t true if it ain’t real. And reality is what we can touch, feel, measure, compute, or otherwise detect. Mmmkay? Making shit up about shit that ain’t real doesn’t count as morality, ethics, history, reality, or anything else that really counts.

    “It just makes you a particularly sad player in the world’s most pathetic MMORPG.”

  342. Anteprepro says

    So:
    -David Marshall comes back to, once again, respond to one person by saying that he can’t respond to everyone. And leave that as his only comment. Oh, aside from calling us zombies and intellectually lazy. Project much?
    -Horrorshow disappoints by cherry picking a few tangential points he can sort of address instead of dealing with the meat of the objections here: That his little nugget of theologetics makes no fucking sense, and doesn’t make fucking sense in several different ways. Slightly better than David Marshall in this thread, but that’s an increasingly low bar.

    I am disappointed, but not very surprised. Needs better handwaving, and I honestly don’t think these two are up to the job. Defending the indefensible is hard work, and these two have proven themselves too thick to do anything except regurgitate the ideas of others (horrorshow) and act like a pompous, indignant asshole who refuses to address anything of merit (DM). Guess I’ll need to find someone else who will finally convince me that Christianity makes any sense at all.

  343. says

    David Marshall:

    Just skim all the stuff aimed at me in this forum, and tell me how long it would take you to answer half of it.

    How long would it take you to answer even one post? Because you haven’t, so far.

    I’ll be sure to focus on Nigel’s challenge. He can bring the beer.

    Strangely enough, I think it’d be great to sit around drinking beer with you. And that is completely separate from the debate challenge. (And I’m absolutely sincere.)

    But I’m still serious about the challenge. Though not tonight. Crantinis are far more interesting right now.

  344. says

    Nigel:

    If anyone can make up anything, what’s the point?

    Well, there’s the invisible fire-breathing dragon that lives in my garage. She doesn’t leave footprints and she came from Russell’s Teapot. I keep telling her she’s made up, but it just doesn’t do any good…

  345. says

    Caine:

    Well, there’s the invisible fire-breathing dragon that lives in my garage.

    Is she well-trained? If so, might I borrow her for a short time? I have a need for an invisible fire-breathing dragon. I won’t say what that need is, but David Marshall’s refusal to engage in serious debate is pissing me the fuck off right about now.

  346. says

    Caine:

    She’s quite affable and fairly well-trained. Of course you can borrow her!

    Exxxxccelent! I plan to use her to counteract the power of David Marshall’s god, and the sidekick Jesus. That will leave David Marshall exposed, leaving my army of ninja-trained monkeys to finish him.

    And now is the time I cackle maniacally.

    Bwahhh-hah-hah-ahahahahaha!

    Or is that too predictable?

  347. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    horrorshow also said:

    (As for the cool/lame quotient, we got this (Qing Dynasty).

    I almost missed this. I admit it’s interesting, but I can’t really call it cool. Maybe that’s because I’ve been bombarded by Virgin Mary imagery till I was sick of it.

    Anyway, I’d rank Dies Iræ much higher in the Catholic cool scale.

  348. A. Noyd says

    horrorshow (#398)

    Well I don’t agree that pain voluntarily accepted is the same as self-inflicted pain.

    So, you’re saying you… er, sorry, that Christians don’t believe god is omnipotent or omniscient. That, when it comes to this universe at least, your god isn’t the highest of the higher powers, and there’s something else doing the real string-pulling.

  349. ichthyic says

    that’s the most hilarious thing I’ve read today, especially since ichthyic called it

    I’ll add it to my scoreboard.

    ;)

  350. ichthyic says

    Why don’t you save us all some time and just start contradicting yourself in every single post?

    Oh. That’s right. You already do.

    I wonder how we can make this more efficient?

    the answer is obvious, isn’t it?

    2+(-2)=0

    IOW, just delete his posts to save time.

  351. says

    But reflecting on this dispute, I think I’ll post a blog entitled, “Zombie Attack! The Intellectual Laziness of the New Atheism,” this evening, after the sun goes down, appropriately. Need to take the dog for a walk first.

    In the time it took you to write this needless jab, you could have answered my question and clarified your position. Complaints about lack of time ring hollow when you still have time to complain.

  352. John Morales says

    horrorshow:

    Emotional agony despite of intellectual foreknowledge is a form of irrational insecurity. Strange that Christians (or so you claim) consider Jesus to have been physically perfect yet emotionally crippled, eh?

    You are right, Cyberleader – these humans are weak, irrational, inferior creatures of flesh and blood. Their puny emotional nature will prove no match for superior Cyber-efficiency.

    Well, of course I’m right—not for the reason you imagine—but because I’ve restated your own claim.

    I am mildly amused* by your attempted sarcastic barb, wherein you imagine the possible alternatives are either being emotionally crippled (as you claim Christians claim Jesus was) or being emotionless.

    (Revealing it is that, as a Christian, emotional health is beyond your conception)

    * Amusement is an emotion.

  353. KG says

    horrorshow,

    The RCC is, in some ways, uniquely well-placed to step into the breach, but I’m not optimistic that its present clergy are up to the job. They seem to be suffering from a similar crisis of leadership and confidence as the various secular establishments.

    Indeed. Do you think this might be anything to do with the number of the hierarchy caught shielding child-rapists?

    since Jesus already knew he was going to heaven, and since he could have chosen not to feel pain, it’s obvious that he was punishing himself. … you can’t consistently claim something is self-inflicted and that it’s the greatest injustice the world has ever seen. – me

    Well I don’t agree that pain voluntarily accepted is the same as self-inflicted pain.

    A feeble quibble. The point is that the supposed voluntary nature of Jesus’s suffering is incompatible with a claim that his crucifixion was the greatest injustice evar. If you choose to keep your hand on a stove as it heats up, you have no cause for complaint if you get burned.

    Omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving, and the best he can do is sacrifice himself to himself to stop himself from thowing his creations into the hell he created for the sins he knew they would commit. Brilliant! – nigelTheBold

    Indeed. So brilliant no human could ever have thought of it!

    A neat trick, but entirely spurious. You are evidently quite unable to show that the doctrine of the atonement makes any sort of sense, and so take refuge in pretending to misunderstand sarcasm.

  354. Brownian says

    They seem to be suffering from a similar crisis of leadership and confidence as the various secular establishments.

    Yeah. If only the god they claim to believe in were real, he might have some interest in distinguishing his one true church from every other organisation on Earth, but alas.

  355. Anteprepro says

    Brownian:

    Yeah. If only the god they claim to believe in were real, he might have some interest in distinguishing his one true church from every other organisation on Earth, but alas.

    Oh, but hasn’t He? I’d say the mass child molestation cover-up makes the Roman Catholic Church quite the distinct institution. Others may try child molestors in their midst, and still others may try to cover-up a case, but none comes close to the Catholic Church in sheer numbers of rapists hidden from the light of day and shuffled around to assure that the Catholic Church saved face. An example of true Biblical morality if I’ve ever seen it. But, yeah, the real problem with the Church is it isn’t confident enough.

  356. Brownian says

    I’d say the mass child molestation cover-up makes the Roman Catholic Church quite the distinct institution.

    Commenters here have demonstrated that similar things go on in Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist synagogues, mosques, and temples. So, God’s one true church isn’t even unique in its kiddie-fucking douchebaggery.

    But, yeah, the real problem with the Church is it isn’t confident enough.

    Yes, unlike our resident theologians and Christian ‘experts’, who dodge, duck, weave, and run away. Christ’s armour is flimsy indeed.

  357. David Marshall says

    Nigel, Kel: OK, it took longer than expected to finish Zombie Attacks: The Intellectual Laziness of the New Atheism. In it, I also answer your challenge, and show how The Truth Behind the New Atheism is taken out of context, above. The two of you seem to know how to argue, and I’d be happy to hear your rebuttals.

    PZ is looking more and more like the head zombie, here. He posts yet another nasty shot at Christians, one of an unending series of such shots. I show why his claim is incoherent, and challenge him to debate. Rather than stand up to the challenge directly, or show why I am wrong, he simply calls me names, and now threatens to ban me from the site.

    Intellectually lazy, indeed. Well, I guess grant proposals, exotic sea creatures and a stable of tame sycophants don’t argue back, anyway.

  358. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    He posts yet another nasty shot at Christians, one of an unending series of such shots. I show why his claim is incoherent,

    No, your alleged rebuttal was incoherant. And the truth of such matters isn’t solved by debate. It is solved by the facts. The facts are you are an Xian apologist of dubious honesty, integrity, and intelligence. You are nothing but a presuppositionalist. You did nothing but continue your long line of foolish posts, all assertion and no evidence. You can’t even prove your imaginary deity exists, or your babble is inerrant. All you have is posturing and trash talk. Which is why you should just fade into the bandwidth. You have nothing cogent to add to any discussion.

  359. David Marshall says

    PZ: And I’m beginning to get the impression that you can’t stand up and argue your claims, fairly, against a Christian who can argue back.

    You post yet another nasty shot at Christians, one of an unending series of such shots. I show why your claim is incoherent, and challenge you to debate. Rather than stand up to the challenge directly, or show why I am wrong, you call me childish names, and now threaten to ban me from your site.

    Here you’ve got all the advantages. This is your blog, and you direct conversation any way you like. You have hundreds of fans who will light into any Christian who shows up, and use the nastiest language to try to intimidate them, and as a substitute for thought. (Language which you, hypocritically, claim to detest when directed, say, at female atheists.)

    I have an atheist friend, whom I’ve been debating on-line for about 11 years, who used to work with you in a lab in Oregon. He said you seemed like a nice guy, and he’d like to see us debate.

    Maybe the “glory” has gone to your head. A pity: I like your blog, in some ways – the cool pictures, the humor, the suffer-no-fools pretence, and most of all the fact that you’re wrong about almost everything. It’s a pity you’re teaching your disciples how to be sure to lose the debate in any less friendly environment.

    Another friend, a biologist, told me he doesn’t like your site because it’s too nasty. I tried to look beyond that, and almost thought I saw something more impressive. But I should have take a hint from the fact that you seem to have weeded out all real opposition here, long since.

    Calling me a “moron” and a “turd” is stupid and childish. But if I call you a “coward,” and a “bully,” I think those words might sting, because the evidence seems to point (I am sad to say) more and more towards just those qualities.

  360. Anteprepro says

    Glad that David Marshall was courageous enough to make his argument about why he was “taken out of context” on his personal blog, instead of in this thread. Guess he doesn’t want to ruin his streak of posting contentless noise.

    Commenters here have demonstrated that similar things go on in Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist synagogues, mosques, and temples. So, God’s one true church isn’t even unique in its kiddie-fucking douchebaggery.

    Not unique, just prominent in the magnitude of its cover-up. Like being a mass murderer among serial killers.

    As for the armor of Christ: I’m beginning to suspect its meant to match with tinfoil “helmets”.

  361. Anteprepro says

    David Marshall sez:

    (Language which you, hypocritically, claim to detest when directed, say, at female atheists.)

    Are you sure you aren’t actually a moron? Are you very, very sure? Because you seem to not understand what the nature of the opposition to gendered insults around here, conflating that kind of language with any other form of vulgarity/insult. Do you genuinely not understand, or are you trying to score cheap rhetorical points?

  362. Rey Fox says

    Is anyone else seeing David Marshall sitting in a room full of stuffed animals? One of whom is his friend who thinks the atheists are mean, one of whom is his atheist friend who is a really nice guy and never ever disparages religion in any way, one of whom is a publisher, several of whom are respected academics who reviewed his book, a few of whom are the most intelligent apologists in the word who would wipe the floor with any of us in a debate, one of whom is his mother, etc.?

  363. Rey Fox says

    By the way, I know PZ claims that we’re uncool and all, but to me, you guys are the fucking bee’s knees.

  364. ACN says

    Ahhhh DM, yet another angry blog post published at your personal blog…Sorry bro, not going to help you build traffic.

  365. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But if I call you a “coward,” and a “bully,” I think those words might sting,

    And what do we call theists like yourself, who are afraid of folks who don’t believe in their imaginary deity too? And who get upset, and try to force us to acknowledge their imaginary deity, and not criticize their religion despite it being based on the twin lies of an imaginary deity and a book of fiction?

    Like they say, a debate looks better on your resume than PZ’s. He’s too busy for the likes of your limited abilities. Besides, he has the twin handicaps of truth and ethics. You have neither.

  366. Anteprepro says

    I’ll do a favor for Brave Sir David, and post some snippets from his much talked about blog over here. You’re welcome.

    In some ways, almost any absolute claim about “what is not,” in a cosmos that includes at least one universe as vast, unexplored, and perhaps unexplorable as our own, would seem premature. There are no pink unicorns? Did you check the meadow behind the hop shed? OK, have you checked every meadow on every planet in all 200 billion visible galaxies?

    David Marshall: Firm advocate of the existence of pink unicorns in distant galaxies.

    (Note to David: That was a joke. I know you wouldn’t have gotten it because you are the kind of person who thinks that one must believe in something because we can’t , with 100% certainty, prove it doesn’t exist, despite having no proof that it DOES exist.)

    A mild example is Victor Stenger’s critique of my chapter on faith, in his book The New Atheism. Dr. Stenger’s critique is not mean or unpleasant, but it seems distracted. It is as if Stenger simply skimmed the chapter and picked out a dozen or so passages to quote for his own purposes. Stenger apparently did not feel the need to really read the book, still less think through its arguments: when preaching to the choir, quote-mining is more than enough.

    Irony, anyone?

    Most of the hundred or so responses were obscene and / or vacuous. PZ called me a “moron,” and many of his mob followed that trail to the castle wall. Others accused me of “lying,” even madness. Obscenities and empty scoffing were about equally in evidence.

    These attacks are zombie-like becasue they do not attempt to find my real vulnerabilities. “Christians are stupid” is one of PZ’s favorite conceits, and “liars for Jesus” is a default mode for many in the skeptical memosphere. Of course scoffing and obscene remarks are even more predictable and lemming-like behavior: nor were many of the insults even a little bit witty.

    Yeah, who would ever suspect David Marshall of lying. (/Foreshadowing)

    The apparent assumption is that I mean genetics has proven that humanity passed through a bottleneck of exactly one man and one woman some time in remote antiquity. Probably the name of that man was “Adam,” and the woman, “Eve.”

    But is that what I meant? Not at all. Read the whole paragraph, and it is clear that its clear meaning is that, contrary to many alternative theories, genetics shows Moses right in maintaining the genetic unity of the human race: [quote I provided after being accused of misquoting David]. Anteprepo has not casually misquoted me. And Nigel is not just a little wrong. Anteprepo deliberatedly chopped complete sentences out of the original, changing its meaning, to produce the “woah” effect on gullible skeptics….My real argument — that Genesis got a lot right, not that Adam and Eve can be proven genetically — is bypassed, and serious argument avoided, by the misunderstanding.

    No, I did no such thing, you insufferable fuckwit. I excluded one sentence that seemed to have no bearing on anything. And I quote the whole fucking thing once you accused me of misrepresenting you, because you refused to actually defend yourself other than to say that I misrepresented. I didn’t intentionally misrepresent you, because your writing was so poor that I wasn’t quite sure what you were trying to say. But according to you, that first sentence of the paragraph has no bearing on anything at all. “All humanity came from one man and one woman”, in your paragraph, is an idea challenged by a mish-mash of other random points of view and the presentation of these ends with “Genetics has settled the matter in the favor of Moses”. If you didn’t mean to suggest that the first quote had anything to do with the second, then you are just an incredibly inept writer. The idea of Moses advocating the idea of human genetic unity is nowhere even hinted at in the text. You are a dishonest slimeball, DM.

    Skeptics are “bright,” to use Daniel Dennett’s term. Often even the dimmest atheist seems to accept that theoretical advantage as his birthright. This seems to make it hard for many atheists with the goo-goo-googling fingers to really listen and take seriously opposing arguments: having taken the stance that “religious” people are by definition cretinous fools, they think they can win arguments like Neil beats Mr. Smith, standing in place and lazily deflecting his blows. * It’s easier for anyone to dismiss the opposition as a liar, a fool, or even a lunatic, scoff, and swear.

    Double dose of irony.

    And, it was as pathetic as I expected. I await the arrival of a decent theopologist.

  367. Rey Fox says

    Wait a minute. Marshall is seriously arguing for Russell’s Teapot? Now I’ve seen everything.

  368. says

    David Marshall:

    You have hundreds of fans who will light into any Christian who shows up…

    While I like and respect PZ, I’m not so much a fan of him as I am of this site, of the people who post here (like Sastra and Kel and Caine and Brownian and Cuttlefish and the whole great horde).

    These forums aren’t an extension of PZ. He’s the keeper of keys and poster of posts, certainly. But your assumption that we are merely an obsequious gang of ne’er-do-wells who jump at PZ’s beck and call simply ignores the fact that we are making arguments of our own. The fact the arguments line up nicely is because we have an epistemological source that is both objective and consistent.

    It’s a pity you’re teaching your disciples how to be sure to lose the debate in any less friendly environment.

    Again with the “disciples” assumption. Is your world so authority-driven to assume we’re disciples? I brought my attitude here. I didn’t learn it from PZ. The reason I’m here isn’t because I’m PZ’s follower. It’s because I like his attitude, and the attitude of the people around me. That’s the difference. We’re here because we like the group, and not because we like the head of the group.

    Religion, meanwhile, seems to thrive on authority-based gatherings.

  369. CJO says

    Read the whole paragraph, and it is clear that its clear meaning is that, contrary to many alternative theories, genetics shows Moses right in maintaining the genetic unity of the human race

    So how exactly did Cain find a wife in the land of Nod, again, according to “Moses”? The clear implication in Genesis 4 is that the earth outside of Eden is already populated. Else, who is it that Cain is afraid will find and kill him?

  370. says

    I work at a science museum, and many of the people I work with have never heard of him.
    On the other hand, I don’t think most of those people are very cool…

  371. says

    pelamun:

    Nigel, maybe someone should start a page over at the wiki along the lines of “Topics people have openly disagreed with PZ on Pharyngula” for easy reference whenever that particular charge comes up.

    That is an excellent suggestion. An excellent suggestion indeed.

  372. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    genetics shows Moses right in maintaining the genetic unity of the human race

    He’s right. I remember now there’s a verse in Genesis that says exactly that: “And God said, let there be race of hominids, and let them share most of their genetic material. And God called them Homo sapiens: and so it was created the binomial nomenclature”. It’s right after “Let there be saber-toothed tigers” and before “Beware of the mighty llama”.

  373. ichthyic says

    Marshall is seriously arguing for Russell’s Teapot? Now I’ve seen everything.

    yup. As I think has already been pointed out, Marshall is nothing if not self contradicting.

    Sometimes in the very same post!

    but now it’s just getting tedious.

  374. ichthyic says

    And I’m beginning to get the impression that you can’t stand up and argue your claims, fairly, against a Christian who can argue back.

    where, where?

    *looks around*

    oh, wait, you meant YOU?

    ROFLMAO

  375. ichthyic says

    If only the god they claim to believe in were real, he might have some interest in distinguishing his one true church from every other organisation on Earth, but alas.

    hell, he evidently can’t even be bothered to do it for the 40 thousand or so CHRISTIAN sects, let alone all other religious organizations.

  376. Big Brother Ogvorbis: I am Watching says

    And DM still will not answer a direct question. Even when the same softball has been tossed his way three times. Almost like he has no answer at all.

  377. ichthyic says

    I await the arrival of a decent theopologist.

    I stopped holding my breath on that one over a decade ago.

  378. Brownian says

    I think those words might sting, because the evidence seems to point (I am sad to say)

    You’re sad to say?

    Words mean nothing to you, do they David? Just a collection of sounds you use a shibboleths, eh? You’ve done nothing here but revel in the excuse to avoid substance in favour of whinging about tone. Why else would you come here and do the same thing every time?

    But, since truth means nothing to you, then I’ll cop too: I’m absolutely heartbroken to know that you’re a dishonest lying shit. I’d really hoped that you might have some compelling arguments rather than smug jibes about “intellectual laziness among atheists.” I’m practically despondent that you treat truth so lightly, and I’m fucking depressed that you’re at all representative of the community of apologists.

    You and me, we’re just swimming in pools of tears, eh, David?

    Of course scoffing and obscene remarks are even more predictable and lemming-like behavior: nor were many of the insults even a little bit witty.

    If you think any aspect of your whining, from the “I thought you were supposed to be smart” to your “I’m just so disappointed in you, PZ,” is not completely par for the course for trolls, then you’re an even worse scholar than we thought, David.

    I think there’s an iPhone app now that physically zaps you if you use the terms “lemming”, “hive mind”, or “echo chamber” on the internet, those terms being so ubiquitous among the complaints of trolls without anything substantive to say.

    As for being sure to lose debates in a less friendly environment, by less friendly do you mean “verbal debates, where one can’t simply scroll to see what I’ve previously written and contradicted myself”? Because it’s noteworthy that you think of yourself as witty for having chided David Marjanović for relying on secondhand sources when such sources are the very crux of your faith, and your apologetics nothing more than attempts to justify hearsay.

  379. A. Noyd says

    David Marshall (#428)

    Rather than stand up to the challenge directly, or show why I am wrong, you…now threaten to ban me from your site. … A pity: I like your blog, in some ways – … the suffer-no-fools pretence….

    It’s not a pretense, which is why you are being threatened with a banning. When you try to add two and two you always get something besides four, don’t you?

  380. says

    I had managed to remain unaware of Russell’s Teapot somehow. One less thing I’m ignorant about.

    That’s one of the big reasons I like this place. Thanks, horde!

  381. ichthyic says

    You and me, we’re just swimming in pools of tears, eh, David?

    Have I told you today how much I love you?

  382. tushcloots says

    Rey Fox says:


    26 September 2011 at 6:08 pm

    By the way, I know PZ claims that we’re uncool and all, but to me, you guys are the fucking bee’s knees.

    Although I think I’m missing an allusion here, I agree that you people are the bee’s knees.
    And this place is the cat’s ass.

  383. Rey Fox says

    All I was alluding to was the original post.

    I hate to break the news to all of you, but atheism is not cool. It’s not cool at all.

    I think he’s conflating “cool” with “popular” here. For my money, some of us atheists are the epitome of cool. And then some atheists are fascist nerds. But not devoting your life to groveling before a magic man in the sky should be automatic cool points whatever your measuring system is.

  384. says

    … to me, you guys are the fucking bee’s knees.

    Why thank you. And you, sir, are the cat’s meow. The Darb. As Jake as they come. Hittin’ on all sixes, I say.

    Getting back to 2011…

    Is your world so authority-driven to assume we’re disciples?

    You probably already know this. But yes, his world absolutely is.

    Beyond this revealing bit, and his previously remarked-upon (and comically vapid) direct appeals to authority, look also at his every ‘request’. His whole attitude here simply screams (a deeply presumptuous) authority. He still seems to figure he’s somehow in a position, effectively, to demand a hearing, from anyone he chooses, and even, specifically, who shall make that time, give him a podium on which to spew his deliriously vacuous brand of cosmological codswallop. That’s just the way it works in his world. He’s serving a deity’s interest, and thus he gets the authority to do so. Figures he may demand of any unbeliever that they hand him the mic and the concomitant implied stature for a one-on-one any time he likes. Respect mah authoritah, ye craven unsaved! I am proselytizer, hear me blather!

    ‘Tis the very nature of such faiths, bred in the bone, the nature of what he is and what his lot always have been, and always shall be, so long as there are such pestilential boors and bores on this Earth. For when you’re selling hokum of such magnitude, you aren’t going to get anywhere unless you have this manically inflated sense of your own and its importance. It helps, indeed, enormously to believe, ultimately, that they must listen to you, must accord you respect, however much you have failed on the actual merits of your offerings so far to earn it, for the simple reason that your god commands as much.

    This is why dealing with the religious is always so like dealing with an oddly (and incredibly unwarrantedly) arrogant door-to-door brush salesman. If they didn’t simply assume beforehand your time and attention was theirs to waste, and that it wasn’t somehow already their right simply presumptuously to stick their foot in the door continually and repeatedly to hawk their tawdry wares, there’d be none of ‘em left around. The incompetent mangle of superstitions they flog would quickly become extinct.

    … indeed, stretching the metaphor a mite, I wonder if there might have been something in the way of recent selection in this department for ever-increasing levels of cravenly desperate, stubborn salesmanship. Seems to me it’s what should happen, on balance, the more the product itself is revealed by the cold light of history to be such dreadful rubbish.

  385. says

    Nigel, Kel: OK, it took longer than expected to finish Zombie Attacks: The Intellectual Laziness of the New Atheism. In it, I also answer your challenge, and show how The Truth Behind the New Atheism is taken out of context, above.

    Why can’t you just post it here? Indeed, why are you spending the time telling me that you’re going to do it instead of just doing it? I see you have the time to chastise PZ and the people here:
    “You have hundreds of fans who will light into any Christian who shows up, and use the nastiest language to try to intimidate them, and as a substitute for thought.”
    I have been trying to argue with you on point. So far, you’ve given one response to me that was to one of the points I was arguing, and even that was a throwaway comment. Yet you have time, again, to have a jab at people here while you still don’t engage with a single person in debate.

    How about instead of complaining about intimidation, drop the petulance and actually show that you “know what I’m talking about”. Because while you can complain and jab at the people here about the use of language, at least the people here are trying to put arguments. A 7 paragraph jab at PZ and the people who post here while not even answering a simple question is not the way to show that it’s everyone else who is intellectually lazy.

    All I asked was for a simple clarification, because it seemed to me like you were suggesting that modern science has vindicated the Christian origins stories. Yet you’ve spent several posts since then having a go at people, and with no irony intended complained about their language and tactics. What kind of substitute for intellectualism is that?

  386. Therrin says

    Calling me a “moron” and a “turd” is stupid and childish

    Better to use direct language than to passive-aggressively pretend you’re not. You suffer from Faux Syndrome, where you believe loud declarations become facts because they’re loud. Why would someone want to debate, or even discuss, anything with you, when you are unable to answer questions? I’m quite ready to believe in religion as soon as it’s proved to me (as are most here), yet you seem unable to do that.

  387. says

    How’s this for a substitute for thought?

    Plenty of people come here with the strongest conviction that it is they who knows what they are talking about, and that the people here are ignorant to their truth. That there are people who will complain constantly about the tone and attitude of people here, yet don’t give any arguments to support their position, nor engage with any of the serious points or posters.

    There are intelligent, well-read people who do engage in discussion here. It’s easy to ignore the hostility of this place and focus on the points; I really can’t see what you gain from adding to that hostile attitude without having at least some intellectual substance too. That you can spend the time insulting the people here who are trying to engage with your arguments is being cowardly; it’s being a child; it’s being intellectually vacant – and intentionally so.

    Grow up David!

  388. says

    But is that what I meant? Not at all. Read the whole paragraph, and it is clear that its clear meaning is that, contrary to many alternative theories, genetics shows Moses right in maintaining the genetic unity of the human race: [quote I provided after being accused of misquoting David]. Anteprepo has not casually misquoted me. And Nigel is not just a little wrong. Anteprepo deliberatedly chopped complete sentences out of the original, changing its meaning, to produce the “woah” effect on gullible skeptics….My real argument — that Genesis got a lot right, not that Adam and Eve can be proven genetically — is bypassed, and serious argument avoided, by the misunderstanding.

    Actually, when I was saying seriously it wasn’t to the Adam & Eve, but that the bible in any way has an accurate description of the story of our species. The only sense in which it is right is what people read into it once we have the knowledge!

  389. amphiox says

    genetics shows Moses right in maintaining the genetic unity of the human race

    That would be kind of hard for him, seeing as he had no power or influence over the affairs, the Chinese, Indians, Northern Europeans, Greeks, Amerindians, Australians, Polynesians….

    Not even the Egyptians, beyond a single evening’s worth of culling.

    Hell, his control over even the Hebrews was, per the available documentation, rather piss-poor. So poor and ill-managed, as it were, that the Big Kahuna in the flaming pillar forbid him from entering the Promised Land as punishment for his ineptitude.

  390. ACN says

    Hell, his control over even the Hebrews was, per the available documentation, rather piss-poor.

    Heh. And let’s not forget that this documentation has a, say…particular…slant to it that is unverified in any of the OTHER documentation.

  391. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    I agree that you people are the bee’s knees.
    And this place is the cat’s ass.

    Not forgetting the dog’s bollocks. And doesn’t the cat have pyjamas as well as a meow?

    I must say, this DM chap is rather ill-mannered. To complain endlessly about other people’s intellectual standards while consistently neglecting to address a single specific question – well it’s just shoddy, really.

    Sadly I know nothing about cricket and care less, or I might conjecture that he probably bowls underarm too (or tries to, but even so he still misses the point).

  392. ichthyic says

    I have been trying to argue with you on point. So far, you’ve given one response to me that was to one of the points I was arguing, and even that was a throwaway comment.

    I have to admit, Kel, that after watching so many of these attempts at back and forth with creationists over the years, you appear to have some sort of remarkable invisibility field or something, but it only seems to work towards the very creationists you try to engage.

    I’m betting even the bolding will be insufficient to mark you as visible to your intended audience (DM in this case).

    have you considered leasing your invisibility tech to the US military?

  393. says

    I have to admit, Kel, that after watching so many of these attempts at back and forth with creationists over the years, you appear to have some sort of remarkable invisibility field or something, but it only seems to work towards the very creationists you try to engage.

    lol, though now that you’ve said creationist David Marshall is going to get outraged that you haven’t read him properly and it’s symptomatic of the poverty of the new atheists ;)

  394. John Morales says

    Kel,

    … it’s symptomatic of the poverty of the new atheists ;)

    No worries; Matthew 5:3 has it covered.

  395. John Morales says

    horrorshow:

    [1] Of course I don’t believe the only alternatives are being emotionally crippled or emotionless. [2] Neither do I think emotional agony despite intellectual foreknowledge is a sign of being emotionally crippled. [3] (And remember, Jesus’ emotional agony was as much for the fate of others as for His own.)

    1. Your concession is noted.

    2. Irrational psychic agony is hardly indicative of emotional health, is it? :)

    3. Well, you’ve just now introduced this addendum to your contention; your original claim (my emphasis), to which I responded, was: Intellectual knowledge of the coming Resurrection would not negate the external and internal pain of the Crucifixion.

    (You specified pain both physical and internal (i.e. emotional) and gave the reason as the Crucifixion*. Clearly, the physical pain was not due to the fate of others!)

    * Why the capitalisation? Thousands upon thousands were crucified by the Romans; he was just another rabble-rouser.

  396. John Morales says

    horrorshow:

    I think that’s referring to humility of spirit rather than dearth of intellect or empathy.

    You mean humility of spirit as exemplified by such aphorisms as Psalm 14:1? :)

  397. says

    horrorshow:

    So how are morality, ethics and history touched, felt, measured, computed or otherwise detected? Or don’t they count as reality?

    Since they can be measured, of course they are real. They are emergent behavior of the complex information processing system known as the brain. So, not only can these things be measured independently (that is, by observing behavior and/or performing psychological tests), they can be measured directly, by observing changes in the brain.

    This is such a ridiculous gotcha! question. It does nothing to further your goals of proving some shit about the existence of God, and simply demonstrates that, yes, the application of science can be used to investigate even the intangible.

    Meaning that, since you can’t detect or otherwise measure your god, it probably simply doesn’t exist.

  398. says

    Okay, history isn’t an emergent behavior of the brain. History is measured and computed based on historical evidence (duh). One of the reasons history is sometimes contentious is because the records left are often incomplete, and so the margin of error in the measurements* is often large, and open to wildly differing interpretation.

     

    * Measurements, as in judgements of the veracity and importance of particular records, for instance.

  399. says

    ichthyic:

    I have to admit, Kel, that after watching so many of these attempts at back and forth with creationists over the years, you appear to have some sort of remarkable invisibility field or something, but it only seems to work towards the very creationists you try to engage.

    It’s because Kel’s so nice, I think.

    I stumbled on Pharyngula at the time of “Expelled from Expelled.” I had read articles linked here before, but I’d never wandered into the comments. Not long before Expelled, though, I had come to a strangely incongruous conclusion: being nice doesn’t help in these discussions.

    In my experience, the theists that engage nice people are generally the ones that don’t require much engagement. They’re like the John Shelby Spongs of the world — nice, fairly liberal in the theistic beliefs, and already involved in the discussion. I mean, really involved. They’ve done more than paint up their face and put on a Team Creationist jersey in preparation for screaming judgements from the sidelines. They don’t need a neophyte like me trying to challenge their beliefs. They’ve real philosophers and biologists and essayists for that. While I’d hesitate to call their arguments for a god “sophisticated,” they themselves are sophisticated — or at least, their rationalizations are very much built on complex chains of reasoning that isolate their assumptions from direct attack.

    No. The ones at my level are ones like David Marshall, or good ol’ horrorshow here. While horrorshow doesn’t seem to require much poking at with a stick, people like David Marshall do. He’s not ready to have an actual debate about his beliefs. He’d rather pop in, drop his magisterial (to use his word) turds (to use PZ’s), ignore anything that might demonstrate his utter ignorance, and move on.

    David Marshall just wants to demonstrate his superiority. It’s his intellectual equivalent of humping our legs, or peeing on our carpet (the one that ties together the whole room, dontcha know). Folks like him are so used to ignoring anything but direct confrontation, they don’t even notice the nice folks, the ones who provide polite intellectual debate.

    Anyway, I finally delved down into the Pharyngula comments not long after I started realizing all this. It was a revelation to find folks who’d already come to the same conclusions.

  400. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I see horrorshow still hasn’t proven his imaginary deity exists, or that babble is anything other than a book of mythology/fiction. He just unintellectually wants to pretend both his deity and babble aren’t fiction, which is typical of Xian presupposition proselytizing. The problem with Xian theology is built on the two lies which horrorshow hasn’t proven. Ergo, nothing but bullshit.

  401. Brownian says

    Sigh. Let’s have a look at the original exchange with Brownian:

    You claimed that knowledge of this would not “negate the pain”, but I also see no reason why the feeling of “injustice” would increase the “pain” more than the certain knowledge of death being impermanent would decrease it.

    Yes but as you’re not Jesus, what you think isn’t really relevant, is it?

    Like I said, we’re talking psychology, not logic. Just because Brownian “sees no reason” why someone should feel something in a particular situation doesn’t mean Brownian’s opinion will correspond to the reality of what that person actually feels.

    St. Thomas Aquinas, being so holy and intelligent, might have known that the particular exchange you quote was with anteprepro, not me.

    I see all kinds of fucking reasons for the shit you write. I was Catholic once, too. So I understand self-serving intellectual cowardice very well. I spent time in churches full of it.

  402. Ing says

    How did Moses write the account of his own death?

    If Jesus was real and the Bible is a 100% true account why does the Bible itself give 4 versions of the story?

  403. Brownian says

    If Jesus was real and the Bible is a 100% true account why does the Bible itself give 4 versions of the story?

    Well, the only argument either horrorshow or David Marshall have made here is: smarter people than you believe it so shut your sass mouth.

    I remain…unconvinced.

  404. says

    Brownian:

    Well, the only argument either horrorshow or David Marshall have made here is: smarter people than you believe it so shut your sass mouth.

    David Marshall has gone one further: he insists that he is one of those smarter people. That, in spite of the evidence to the contrary.

  405. Anteprepro says

    Horrorshow:

    I assume by “the meat of the objections” you mean your own post @381. OK, let’s take a look at them, shall we?

    You have trouble reading, don’t you? I said what “the meat of the objections” was in the very quote you lifted, and it’s not just to do with my objections, but everyone’s. Luckily, you actually do try to touch on some of the relevant aspects in your latest post. Try.

    But it is absurd to say that “evidence” or “logic” will help us decide whether unjust punishment is harder to bear than just punishment. In this instance, “consistency with reality” can only refer to the particular reality of an individual’s psychological state, which is going to vary from person to person and from time to time.

    There is no logical reason nor any evidence to believe that it is the case, you drooling ignoramus. That’s why the original claim you made, whether it was original or just a point of doctrine vomited out, makes no fucking sense because it assumes something that has yet to be proven. Can you follow at least that much? And your last sentence seems to deny the idea that we can know anything about people’s psychological states. Please inform the field of psychology that it should just quit while its ahead and go home.

    I’m sorry, I don’t understand what that even means. Who’s saying Jesus “didn’t really suffer as much as a normal person”? Not me.

    I did, you fucking idiot. And you support that with every fucking inane argument you make for why Jesus really suffered most of all, despite knowing that death isn’t very serious, having the choice to suffer, living on in paradise, and only “suffering for all eternity,” according to you, because of the injustice of being executed. Do you not see how piss-poor the argument is for his suffering is, from an objective perspective?

    You’re making an unwarranted assertion because you’re trying to picture psychological/emotional states in crudely quantifiable, quasi-mathematical terms. Granted that Jesus had one less thing to fear from death, it doesn’t automatically follow that He feared death less, even if you or Brownian or anyone else think it should.

    Yeah. Because everyone fears everything the same exact amount, it’s only fear or not fear, nothing resembling soemthing quantifiable involved. Nosiree. You are trying to be difficult here: You believe that it makes perfect sense that injustice would increase suffering and state it as undeniable truth with no need for evidence, but don’t believe it makes sense that people who know they will live after death will fear death less. That is blatantly inconsistent, that is the point I’m trying to point out, and that is the point that flies right over your fucking pinhead every time.

    What the fuck do you mean it doesn’t address it? Of course it addresses it. The claim was this: If Original Sin is such a fundamental part of the human condition as Catholic theology claims, then Jesus’ sinlessness effectively means he was not truly human. I responded by pointing out that Original Sin may be a fundamental part of the human condition now but “from the beginning it was not so”. Thus, there is no contradiction whatsoever between Jesus’ sinlessness and His humanity.

    ORLY? Better explanation, but still, the relevant quote.

    As for the greater sense of injustice, this gets dicey. First of all, children of varying levels of innocence are killed all the time in unjust circumstances. Hell, other than the idiotic taint of original sin, fetuses are presumably just as innocent as Jesus. If they are not; say, that they commit sin via their fetal thoughts, then the concept of sin starts to become meaningless and indistinguishable from being human. If that’s the case, then Jesus also sinned, or he wasn’t human. Likewise, if Jesus was too perfect, too innocent, he was also not human.

    You only addressed his last sentence or two. You didn’t address the main point: That fetuses and children are arguably as innocent as Jesus was. And that a concept of sin that makes even fetuses sinful is a ridiculous one. But, yes, you did address something that he said in that quote at least. Good for you.

    Oh, I think St Thomas Aquinas mentions it somewhere.

    Ah yes, thank you. It does seem that he is the source of this particular nugget.

    Sigh. Let’s have a look at the original exchange:
    …If the Catholic theological understanding of Jesus’ physical perfection – its definition of what ‘perfection’ means in this instance – is completely arbitrary, then your definitions (less susceptible to pain, more likely to endure longer) are equally arbitrary. On the face of it, neither is more obviously likely or “makes more sense” than the other, since neither you nor I have any direct experience of what such perfection actually entails. So why do I choose to accept the traditional teaching? Well, for one thing, because I am a Catholic who believes St Thomas Aquinas is far more holy and intelligent than you.

    Nice argument from authority you got there. And essentially admitting that what you Church considers “perfect” doesn’t actually have to make sense. You realize that you presented this as a matter of philosophy, and not just Catholic wankery, right?

    Sigh. Let’s have a look at the original exchange with Brownian…
    Like I said, we’re talking psychology, not logic. Just because Brownian “sees no reason” why someone should feel something in a particular situation doesn’t mean Brownian’s opinion will correspond to the reality of what that person actually feels. I “see no reason” why so many posters here get so aggressive, but neither do I expect them to run their feelings past me for approval before venting.

    Sigh, why don’t you just leave if interacting with us is such a chore for you? (I guess I should ask myself the same question, because your incredible obtuseness is wearing my patience thin). Psychology is a science, based on logic and evidence in case you were unaware of that. And the original “doctrine” is in the form of a philosophical argument, relying on logic and if that logic is shown to be faulty, then the “totally not an argument” is shown to make no fucking sense. The “psychology” assumed to be at work in your defense of your Aquinas copy and paste job bears little resemblance to actual human psychology, and yet you keep invoking it as an attempt to shield your petty little “totally not an argument” from criticism. It’s especially transparent because your precious Jesus is supposed to be God himself, and yet apparently this only makes him suffer more than the average human and fear death as much as people who are actually mortal. Invoking human psychology to defend the illogical presumed thought process of a mangod is an entertaining ploy, but it is even more entertaining that you’ve needed to present your mangod as something so pathetic in order to defend the idea that he suffered.

    Everything you’ve offered up so far has been complete and utter tripe, horrorshow. And has been getting progressively worse. You do realize that, right?

  406. Brownian says

    David Marshall has gone one further: he insists that he is one of those smarter people.

    In any case, the paucity of actual content in their appeals to authority screams more loudly than any dying deity, no matter how holy* the intelligence trying to shore up the plot holes in the resurrection story.

    *And to even use ‘holy’ as an adjective of authority on a skeptic’s blog is just so question-begging…English doesn’t have the word to sufficiently convey how idiotic that is.

  407. says

    Seriously, does anyone here deny that say Superman is braver than most knowing that he will survive an artillery shell? Or that the Doctor is more likely to take a bullet for someone because he knows that if he dies he will probably get better?

  408. A. Noyd says

    horrorshow (#466)

    Even if our Lord had chosen to feel no pain during His Passion, He would still have been the victim of injustice.

    So, do you agree with my statements about your Christians’ beliefs about god at #417 or do you disagree but overlooked that I was talking to you? Here they are again, just in case: “So, you’re saying you… er, sorry, that Christians don’t believe god is omnipotent or omniscient. That, when it comes to this universe at least, your god isn’t the highest of the higher powers, and there’s something else doing the real string-pulling.”

  409. Brownian says

    Even if our Lord had chosen to feel no pain during His Passion, He would still have been the victim of injustice.

    No, he wasn’t a victim, since he was the one that created the law requiring himself to be killed. God himself decreed that the only possible payment for original sin was his own death. Any humans involved were simply the executioners. The sentence was his own.

    So effectively, Jesus commited ‘suicide by Roman’.

  410. says

    @Ing:

    I, in particular, consider Superman to be incredibly weak, actually. The man is unbelievably strong, invincible, and fast. He is a super-human and continues to go and rescue people knowing full well he cannot be harmed no matter what the consequence (aside from Kryptonite of course.)

    It is Batman who is the stronger hero. Bruce Wayne is a guy, a man. He’s got human qualities, he’s got human strengths. If he’s punched, stabbed, or shot – he gets hurt. He can die, and he knows he can die. He still, however, will go in to rescue Gotham despite this, despite the knowledge that his next rescue could be his last.

  411. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    Ing said:

    why does the Bible itself give 4 versions of the story?

    I just made up some theological explanations, none of which can stand close scrutiny. You can pick any number of them, even if they are mutually contradictory:

    ___

    a. Because God’s Mysterious Ways.

    ___

    b. Because only The Lord could write Four different Accounts of the same Sacred Story. No mortal would be capable of such a Magnificent Feat.

    ___

    c. To test your Faith. If He had revealed Himself to the World through a single accurate version of The Gospel, the Gift of Belief would be reduced to a mundane activity such as higher mathematics and brain surgery.

    ___

    d. Prophecy! In the Old Testament, God said: “There be four things which are little on the earth, but they are exceeding wise” (Prov. 30:24). These Four Things are the Gospels, which The Lord promised to His People and which were delivered by His Son. God says they are “little” because the Gospels are short in comparison to the whole Holy Scriptures. Nevertheless, they are “exceedingly wise” and would spread throughout “the earth”.

    ____

    e. For HIS OWN GLORY, GOD did not record all HIS TEACHINGS in a single narrative, as a man would have done. Instead, HE SO LOVED humanity that left ALL HIS WISDOM registered in FOUR GOSPELS!

    ___

    f. There is no contradiction: just as The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost are just One God, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John form a single Book.

    ___

    g. Even prominent non-believers agree that the narrative presented in the Christian New Testament represents one of the greatest stories ever written. It is remarkably humane in how it portraits the protagonist surfacing from among the Judæan working classes to a position of prominence and leadership of his people, before being abruptly and unjustly condemned to a painful death. During his saga, the Son of God is subject to all types of human experiences, from the certitude of being betrayed and angst in face of an brutal destiny to highest peaks of joy. All this multitude of feelings could not be transmitted to the reader by a single linear account. Instead, the Bible magistrally describes its climatic story not once or twice, but four times. In each turn, the experience is reinforced and enriched by the personal touch of each of the narrators, who also take part in the narrative. This divine work is still unmatched in matters of art and spiritual insight, and modern authors still vainly try to emulate it, as Lawrence Durrell did in his “Alexandria Quartet”.

    ___

    h. Only a dilettante in theology could seriously attempt to criticize the apparent “contradictions” in τα Ευαγγέλια, as if they posed a challenge to modern scholars. The oxymoron is easily solved if one understands the context in which the early Christian writings first appeared and how they spread in a miraculous rhythm among the lower strata of the Roman Empire (Empalatinaikos, 1982). In such a diverse environment where the worldviews of the Roman pragmatism and the Hellenic philosophy strived against a substract of Germanic, Hyberian, Celtic, Dacian, and Egyptian belief systems for a spotlight in the marketplace of ideas (Frankel and Wolf, 2003), it would be extremely naïve to suppose that a sect recently emerging from The Levant (and persecuted by Emperors and Barbarians alike) would be able to outcompete all the concurrent ideologies in a few centuries while keeping the same tone originally conveyed to win the hearts of the people of Jerusalem. The four Gospels attributed to early followers of Christ and the different perspectives that they represent to the prospective believer are not simply caprices of the authors who “could not be bothered to produce a coherent narrative”, in the words of an impatient skeptic. On the contrary, they are part of a carefully contrived strategy to successfully communicate the new faith to the largest number of people in the shortest possible time (Ipinsky and Caramazzo, to be published). History records the success of this carefully conceived plan, which resulted in the conversion of the whole Europe to Chistianity. Such an enormous enterprise could not have been the mere work of chance: as Albert Einstein puts it, “God does not play dice”.

  412. says

    @Phalacrocorax:

    I’m personally most fond of the argument thus:

    “If I said I met John, Joe, and Mark at the store, and Mark later says he met John at the store, it’s not a contradiction! Mark’s just not recounting meeting Joe and I, that fully explains the ‘contradictions’ in the Gospel!”

  413. Brownian says

    Re: Phalacrocorax

    If something ever happens to Nigel and as such Pharyngula loses one of its top parodists/satiricists, I want one of you to write “That boy was our last hope,” to which I’ll reply “No, there is another.”

  414. says

    Just wanted to say thanks for a very enjoyable thread, Pharyngulols! And, option h is my favorite answer to the Paradox of the Gospels from Phalacrocorax’s list of theological explanations.

  415. Therrin says

    f. There is no contradiction: just as The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost are just One God, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John form a single Book.

    The Bible is Voltron? Who forms the head?

  416. says

    How much conversation can someone have over whether Han shot first? Doesn’t at some point a sense of futility kick in?

  417. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Horrorshow, still no evidence for your imaginary deity, or your babble is inerrant. Which means the inane theology you keep mentioning is nothing but mentally masturbated lies, based on two false premises. What an intellectual loser if you can’t see that problem. Your deity doesn’t exist, and your babble is mythology/fiction. Deal with the truth elsewhere.

  418. John Morales says

    horrorshow:

    Christ’s Crucifixion was His formal enthronement as Rex Iudaeorum after He had been robed, crowned and sceptered. Or so I have it on good authority.

    Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum was mockery.

    (You know how Passiflora edulis got its name?)

    PS One needs context when reading the Babble.

  419. John Morales says

    Ah, I can’t resist.

    We-ell, terms like ‘irrational’ and ‘emotional health’ are slippery…

    I adduce Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34.

    (MPD Jebus?)

  420. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    horrorshow said:

    Or maybe you just don’t understand the concept of Original Sin.

    Well, I admit I don’t. I mean, I understand the fundamentalist concept of original sin:

    “One day, a talking snake convinced a female hominid to offer an apple to a male hominid, which prompted the so-far vegetarian T-Rexes who were roaming around the Eden to attack the giant sloths. This really pissed off a super-powerful humanoid entity, who then expelled the humans, cursed them with eternal damnation, and chopped the snake’s legs off.”

    ___

    I can even imagine the scholarly approach to the problem:

    “The mere fact that you have to question me about the concept of Original Sin clearly proves the naïvité and general intellectual laziness of the so-called “New” Atheists. Even Voltaire, an avowed unbeliever, admitted the inherently sinful essence of human nature and dared not to question the Church about this teaching. I laugh at the scholarly bankruptcy of the commenters of this blog, who parrot the same sophistical inanities like a band of drunk dockmen, unaware of the works of Stuttenberg, Salasviescu or a even Charleston. Merely setting your eyes at any of the essays of Pierre Danois would be sufficient to settle the matter, but I won’t ever demand that from this gang of philosophically illiterates.”

    ___

    However, I’m not aware of the Catholic instance. Can you tell me approximately when the Original Sin occurred and what’s the mechanism of inheritance?

  421. Brownian says

    Yes but the executioners weren’t thinking to themselves “OK, let’s fulfill God’s plan for the salvation of mankind!” as they went about their work. The motives of both Jews and Romans were impure and so they jointly committed an injustice. The fact that they were unwittingly fulfilling God’s plan does not remove their moral guilt any more than it does Judas’.

    I removed the stupidity for you. God’s plan was to kill himself. Say it with me. Pray it with me. God’s plan. No matter how many dupes he suckers into his scheme, he’s the one the first decided the trigger had to be pulled, because he’s a fucking moron, apparently.

    I’m not arguing the guilt of everyone else. I’m arguing for God’s guilt, which even you have admitted to.

    So, let’s dispense with the “Poor, poor, poor innocent li’l Jesus never meant nobody no harm nohow.” He decided he had to die, and he decided it had to be done by others’ hands.

    Suicidal individuals do this to the police all the time. It’s even called ‘suicide by cop’, and the cops who get dragged into it by a manipulative suicidal individual often have a hard time dealing with the guilt afterwards. I hope the Romans and Jews felt none when they fulfilled your deity’s sick fucking wish.

  422. says

    @horrorshow

    So if Professor Bigdome Labcoat cranks up his Acme brain imaging device, he can measure how good someone is?

    For relative (and likely conventional) values of good, of course he can. But you don’t need a brain imaging device. Just put the subject (with their consent) in situations that demand a “good” or a “bad” action from the person and observe what happens. Or interview the subject and people who know the subject and find out about that person’s life. Or, you could always spy on the subject over a long period of time and record your observations. (How else do you think Santa Claus–oops, I mean God–does it?)

  423. Brownian says

    Or maybe you just don’t understand the concept of Original Sin.

    Well, to hear you use it, it’s two words you think you can say when you can’t otherwise argue against the reality that the entire salvation concept of Christianity is dumber than fuck, so you need to invoke some magic goddidit.

    I’d argue that since that’s exactly how you use it, you have no fucking idea what it means.

  424. Anteprepro says

    Horrorshow sez:

    Dude, since you are to syntax what Torquemada was to heretics, I don’t think I can be blamed if I have trouble figuring out what you’re trying to say.

    Dude, what do you think <a href="http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/colon.htm&quot; colons are for ? I admit my sentences can get convoluted, but that’s no excuse in this case.

    Oh, come on. The “field of psychology” is just pasture for quacks. Yes, let’s relieve our purses of the burden of supporting these frauds and our ears of the burden of listening to their inane jargon. Of course I don’t deny that we can know anything about people’s psychological states; I deny that such knowledge is anything like an exact science. Are you suggesting that had Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe and Dostoyevsky lived to see the rise of psychology as a ‘scientific discipline’ and studied the results of ‘psychological research’, their works would have been more penetrating? If so, you’re an idiot.

    Are you seriously making a dodge about the truth of your not-argument in saying that “well, old literature wouldn’t more ‘insightful’ if they referenced modern psychology, so nyah”? You sink to new depths with each response. Also, you are ignorant of the field of psychology if you think it is all, or even mostly, quacks. Who would’ve thought horrorshow would be ignorant!?

    Seriously, how do you suggest we “prove” the matter in question? Perhaps Professor Labcoat could crucify 10 test subjects (five murderers and five innocent men) and measure their suffering via electrodes attached to their temples? Give me a break.

    It doesn’t actually matter: the onus is on you, asserting that suffering is increased by injustice. There is no way to prove my speculation about Jesus’s knowledge of the afterlife either way, because no other person would have such certainty in the face of death. The only other way is to look at death anxiety in people facing imminent death and look at to see how it corresponds to their confidence in an afterlife. All I was able to find was only roughly close to that mark:
    Here belief in God and belief in afterlife are negatively associated with death anxiety
    Here it is negatively related to religiosity
    Here Christians score lower in death anxiety than non-believers (and Muslims, for some reason).
    And here only the very religious and the not-so religious have the least amount of death anxiety in old age, and religious practices need to line up with belief about afterlife well in order to alleviate death anxiety. It says “The findings support the hypothesis that firmness and consistency of beliefs and practices, rather than religiousness per se, buffers against death anxiety in old age.”

    Though I doubt any of this matters to you, because psychology is just quackery, right? Which justifies your regurgitating Aquinas’ assumptions regarding psychological phenomena. He’s just so intelligent and holy that what he says trumps the deamnd for evidence, 750 years later.

    There is no “objective perspective”. People are different.

    “Objective perspective” is a theoretical perspective that the average hypothetical person with no dog in the fight would have. Not like that statement you responded to even mattered. But, sure, quibble over that. Go right ahead.

    Honestly, you are so fucking stupid it’s a wonder you’re able to feed yourself. Of course people will react to certain things with different amounts of fear and you can call that “quantifiable” if you insist. But you can’t make exact scientific or mathematical predictions about how a particular person will react in a particular situation. You can’t say “average person + crucifixion + injustice = 25 fear-units”.

    Ugh. Why do you even bother responding to people? You clearly don’t understand a fucking thing and dig deeper with every response. Did I ever suggest the existence of “fear units”? No, you said that I was using a “quasi-mathematical” of psychology by saying that it was possible to have a reason to fear something more or to fear something less, and that they have different orders of magnitude. Injustice wouldn’t make you feel fear/pain by an order of magnitude greater than certain knowledge of life after death would make you feel less fear/pain. That’s what I said. I never attempted to make exact mathematical predictions in the first place, you fucking moron.

    I’m not saying it makes no sense that people who know they will live after death will fear death less. I’m saying you cannot lay it down as some kind of immutable law.

    And I’m saying the same thing about your fucking harebrained idea that injustice increases pain, and pointing out that you are being inconsistent. But you are too fucking thick, so it hasn’t sunk in yet.

    Or maybe you just don’t understand the concept of Original Sin.

    Yeah, I just don’t understand it. It’s not that it is a wretched belief that I would hope most believers wouldn’t be swayed by in judging the innocence of fetuses or infants. No, it’s just too sophistimicated for me.

    I am aware psychology claims for itself the status of a science, a claim I regard as entirely spurious. The American Psychological Association’s “vision statement” states that it aims to promote “methods to facilitate the resolution of personal, societal and global challenges in diverse, multicultural and international contexts” and the values of “social justice, diversity, and inclusion”. Nope, no cognitive bias there.

    The word you’re looking for is just “bias”, not “cognitive bias”. “Cognitive bias” is a psychological term, referring to the ways that humans think that deviates from what would be expected if humans acted/thought perfectly logically and unselfishly , with heuristics being a prominent example. But, again, I wouldn’t expect you to know that, since you are willing to discount the entire field of psychology because the APA sounds overly liberal in a grand total of two parts of its “about” page. You’re just a master of logic. I’m glad you’ve taken it upon yourself to be the Grand Arbiter of What Is and Is Not Science. Whatever would we do without you?

    But you haven’t shown the logic to be faulty, merely asserted that it is.

    Except that I’ve cited a Biblical passage to show why all of this is just handwaving bullshit, in addition to pointing out that the assumption that injustice leads to more pain is flawed and getting you to concede that “perfect” doesn’t actually mean anything except what is needed for Aquinas to spin his yarn. But whatever, I’m the only one merely asserting things here, right Mr. “Psychology isn’t real science because I said so”?

    More unsupported assertion.

    Whatever you say, Spewer of Someone Else’s Not-Argument.

    Apparently so…“Pathetic” is in the eye of the beholder, no?

    You sure like to be the relativist, don’t ya? Strangely common among Christists.

    So, you have thus far thrown an entire scientific field and the definition of “perfect” under the bus in your attempts to respond to me. Can anyone in the audience predict how much further horrorshow can dig himself into his hole?

  425. says

    horrorshow:

    So if Professor Bigdome Labcoat cranks up his Acme brain imaging device, he can measure how good someone is?

    Don’t be intentionally dense.

    While, yes, it’s possible to image people’s brains as they do activities (such as answer questions about morality), that’s not the way it’s typically done. In this case, there are measurements for morality based on psychological evaluation. No fancy-shmancy brain imaging equipment needed. Run a battery of psychological tests, evaluate the responses, and blamo!, instant morality measurement.

    It seems you are making the mistake of assuming there is some kind of substance called “morality” that is measurable like an electric current. In that sense, morality isn’t real. It isn’t physical. Morality is merely a set of behaviors within the context of social interaction.

    Morality requires interaction. A person lost in the desert can’t be moral or immoral. They can only operate within the context of being lost alone in the desert. They can destroy cactuses, and whatever they want, and it’s neither moral nor immoral.

    (Some might argue any interaction between an intentional agent and other living things may constitute a moral decision — in that case, substitute “lost in a lifeless desert” instead of just “desert.”)

    This rather proves that morality itself isn’t a substance or energy or self-existing ideal, and it doesn’t have existence outside the framework of the complex system of the brain. Without conscious thought, without the understanding of the repercussions of your actions, morality simply doesn’t exist. At all.

    So please. Don’t pretend you don’t know how measurement of these things go. You measure love every time you judge whether or not a person is fond of you. If you want clinical measurements, you can take someone into a lab, where they can measure galvanic skin responses, heart rate, and eye dilation (among other things) in order to measure the amount of “love” a person has for you.

    Just in case you really are dense, though, I’ll break it down for you.

    Emotions and moral judgement are a result of complex interactions within the brain. These emotions and judgements affect your actions. That is, they have a direct, measurable affect on reality. Thus, they are real.

    While we’re getting better at directly measuring the complex interactions within the brain, it’s a lot easier to measure the results of the emotions and judgements — your actions. Some of your actions (or reactions) are involuntary, such as the increase in heartrate when in the proximity of someone you desire. Others are completely within your control, such as the actions you take on moral judgements. For instance, you may recognize an action as immoral, and perform that action anyway. Or, you may think an action is perfectly moral, but choose not to perform that action.

    All of your actions are measurable. And as it turns out, these measurements provide an excellent way to indirectly measure your emotions and morality.

  426. Brownian says

    Who would’ve thought horrorshow would be ignorant!?

    Uh, dude references Aquinas and bolsters his appeals to authority with capitalisation. Classicalists who put that much effort into demonstrating their classicalist nature often do so because they daren’t let the conversation move on from the old masters and reveal how little they know about anything else.

    This fucknut may not know anything about psychology, but I do.

  427. Anteprepro says

    *Facepalm*

    Well, I really fucked up those links.
    The first link, which is obviously borked, is to here: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/colon.htm. (It was mostly a joke link)

    There is no link for the “Christians score lower”, which is here:
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13674670802351856

    The giganto link still works, but was supposed to end well before it does. It ends before another link on the second “cognitive bias” in my response, leading to a relevant wikipedia page.

    Let no-one accuse me of being tech savvy.

  428. says

    Religious organizations and apologetics have been losing ground ever since they lost the right to imprison, torture, and execute people who disagreed with them, around 1700. Social strictures can keep the lid on the right to think for oneself only so long.

  429. says

    horrorshow:

    But you haven’t shown the logic to be faulty, merely asserted that it is.

    You haven’t shown any logical reason to believe Jesus existed, let alone that he experienced pain much more intensely than the others crucified that day. Your entire argument is nothing but a series of unsupported assertions.

    Isn’t there a Biblical passage about motes and beams?

  430. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    The American Psychological Association’s “vision statement” [etc.]

    Perhaps you are ignorant of this, but the APA is primarily a professional organization dominated by clinical practitioners, not research scientists. Therefore its varied statements and practices are generally not that relevant to the science of psychology.

  431. says

    Speaking of cool apps (“hive mind,” etc.), a university student has designed a wallet that gets slimmer as your bank balance goes down, so you know by feeling it whether you can afford to splurge.

  432. Anteprepro says

    Waffler: I’m sure he’ll just find another inane reason to dismiss psychological research. He will defend his irrational hunches and misunderstandings until the day he dies, when his body finally reaches the state that his brain has been in for years.

  433. Brownian says

    Don’t pretend you don’t know how measurement of these things go.

    I think “knowing what measurement is” is like Original Sin: it works when horrorshow needs it do, and it doesn’t when he needs it not to.

    Voilà: horrorshow’s very first comment, number 294:

    PZ:

    stand me next to a priest, or a creationist, and the contrast makes me look white-hot and super-cool,

    This ought to empirically verifiable.
    PZ
    Priests (OK seminarians)

    He chose those two photos for a reason, and he knew that we’d generally agree with the assessment of physical attractiveness: his point depended on it.

    When apologists pray, they should pray for a better memory of what they themselves write than people like me have.

    And you, nigel, are much more kind to this dishonest ass than he deserves.

  434. says

    Brownian:

    And you, nigel, are much more kind to this dishonest ass than he deserves.

    I know. I know.

    I don’t know why horrorshow’s equivocation and sophistry doesn’t bother me as much as David Marshall’s — I guess because horrorshow’s rationalizations are so patently and humorously ridiculous. It’s almost like watching an episode of Ax Cop.

    On second thought, it might be more like watching Battlefield: Earth.

    In the future, I’ll watch my language.