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Next year, we must wage the War on Christmas harder

I’m glad Christmas is over. This year seems to have been particularly awful in its encouragement of theological drivel, perhaps because the forces of churchy darkness are feeling increasingly desperate and irrelevant…so they marshal their paladins to go forth and wallop us with nonsense, in the hopes that we’ll become stupid enough to believe them. Unfortunately for them, the best they can do for paladins is that drone with all the expressivity of a dead mackerel, Alister McGrath, and the jolly old elf with dementia, John Lennox. I’m going to address their last-minute eructations of Christmas apologetics, but be warned — they’ll be back next year, like the hauntings of ghosts of Christmases Imaginary.

Let’s start with Lennox — he’s battier so he’s most entertaining. He’s written what is supposedly a review of Dawkins’ Magic of Reality, although the connection to the book is about as solid as Lennox’s mooring to reality, and he affects a clownish fantasist style, which I think is how he imagines Dawkins wrote, but only reveals that he hasn’t actually read the book.

Christmas is real magic – not the magic of wizards, wands and wishes, not the stage-magic of illusion, but the poetic magic that derives from supernatural reality. What could be more awe-inspiring and worthy of celebration than that unique turning point in history when supernature invaded nature, the creator entered his creation, the Word became flesh, God became man? What story could be more suitable to tell to every generation of children? Magic because it’s true.

Oh. It’s true? How do you know? Right away we see a major difference between Dawkins and Lennox: when Dawkins tells you something, he goes on to explain the evidence and how we know it’s true. When Lennox says something, all that evidential frippery is unnecessary — just believe. Or rather, believe because it is awesome.

Using that logic, though, leads to other conclusions about which Lennox might be less sanguine. For example, Zeus had sex with Metis, the goddess of wisdom, and she conceived. Afraid that her child would be greater than he was, he ate her, but to no avail: later, the goddess Athena erupted out of his forehead “and pealed to the broad sky her clarion cry of war”.

Now that is awe-inspiring. And unique. And worthy of celebration. So when’s Athena’s holy day? For that matter, swarms of gods and goddesses are unique and have imaginative origins. It’s just that pretty poetry and grand fables don’t make the stories true.

Lennox then proceeds to drive his allegorical conceit about magic right into the ground. Seriously, John, read Dawkins’ book — he takes his audience seriously and does not play the game you think he does.

But now a mighty wizard has arisen who wishes by his own magic (what he calls The Magic of Reality) to rob the world of Christmas. Standing on Mount Improbable, he waves his wand at the sun, at earth and living things. He summons lofty words to describe all these in wondrous detail so that all are caught in his spell and sense not the sleight of hand when he then tells them that this is all there is – no transcendence, no supernature, no Creator, no God.

The spell is strong, for nature is wonderful indeed and many of the wizard’s words are true. And yet the mighty wand of science that he waves did not create the sun, the earth and living things. That wand of science was forged long before the wizard’s day by those who believed that the universe was worthy of attention because God had created it. The wizard tells us of the greatness of Newton, but not about the God of Newton. He dares not disclose that his chosen weapon is borrowed from his enemy.

I don’t recall that Dawkins even mentions Christmas in The Magic of Reality, let alone is playing the grinchy game of trying to “rob the world of Christmas”. No one claims that science created the universe — science is a tool we humans use to overcome the failings of our minds to see and understand the world with greater clarity.

And no, this nonsense that religion is responsible for creating science is a damnable lie. In a culture saturated with religion, where everyone was a believer by tradition and lifelong indoctrination, where apostasy was punishable by death, some people came to the realization that the best way to understand the world was to study the world, rather than the sacred texts. Science was born out of an awareness of the inadequacy of faith; that some people early on thought it would be a way to glorify a god by studying his works is an artifact of cultural bias, not a consequence of science. What has happened in the centuries since is that an honest appraisal of the nature of reality has led to the understanding that the early fumblings at comprehension were wrong in many ways, and that one of the ways in which they were most wrong was the god assumption. There is no sign of it anywhere.

After torturing the history of science, Lennox moves on to butchering the philosophy of science even further. He has a weirdly tangled argument in which the scientists’ understanding of nature as a consequence of natural laws is not incompatible with his belief in miracles — they wouldn’t be special miracles, after all, if there wasn’t a pedestrian reality to contrast with them. And here come the analogies:

Miracles violate the laws of nature and so they cannot occur– his wand forbids it. This, too, is false. For these laws, what are they? Our descriptions of what normally happens. Indeed, from the theistic perspective, the laws of nature predict what is bound to happen if God does not intervene; though, of course, it is no act of theft, if the Creator intervenes in his own creation. To argue that the laws of nature make it impossible for us to believe in the existence of God, and the possibility of his intervention in the universe, is plainly fallacious. It would be like claiming that an understanding of the laws of internal combustion makes it impossible to believe that the designer of a car could or would intervene and remove the cylinder head. Of course he could intervene. Moreover, this intervention would not destroy those laws. The very same laws that explained why the engine worked with the cylinder head on, would now explain why it does not work with the head removed.

Uh, right. When was the last time you heard a scientist claim that auto mechanics violate the laws of physics? Or that opening up the cylinder in an engine leads to a suspension of thermodynamics? We’re not the ones making silly arguments that require violations of these laws: theologians are the people looking at the internal combustion engine and suggesting that there must be little angels inside, pushing on the pistons. We don’t argue that the laws of nature make it impossible to believe in gods. We argue that there is no evidence of the manifestation of any of these gods. Really, if mechanics popped off a cylinder head and spotted a wheezing, soot-covered, exhausted angel taking a nap on the piston head, then we’d have to rethink everything.

We’re not rejecting Lennox’s miracles a priori. We’re saying that a) the natural laws seem to be sufficient to explain many phenomena, and b) there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of these supernatural forces Lennox insists are there.

Also, I must say that anyone who cites C.S. Lewis as evidence of anything is a clown. This paragraph is absurd:

It is, therefore, inaccurate and misleading to say with Hume that miracles ‘violate’ the laws of nature. C. S. Lewis writes: “If God annihilates or creates or deflects a unit of matter, He has created a new situation at that point. Immediately all nature domiciles this new situation, makes it at home in her realm, adapts all other events to it. It finds itself conforming to all the laws. If God creates a miraculous spermatozoon in the body of a virgin, it does not proceed to break any laws. The laws at once take over. Nature is ready. Pregnancy follows, according to all the normal laws, and nine months later a child is born”.

When you mix the mundane with the miraculous, I’m afraid the miraculous becomes ridiculous. Here is the birth of a god: most of it is human physiology, fetus in an amniotic bag, oxytocin in mom’s circulatory system, cervical dilation, uterine contractions, expulsion through the vaginal canal. Before that, it was developmental biology, regulatory genes ticking through their pathways, cells condensing into bone and muscle, gut and brain, fibers and tissues gradually differentiating. But the most amazing, miraculous event of all was an ineffable invisible being suddenly magically poofing a blob of sticky spooge into a teenage girl’s vagina; the transcendental moment was the manifestation of semen. Behold, world, ME: I am like unto a god, with astonishing godly powers. But then, so is every post-pubescent boy on the planet.

Lennox is a kind of ebullient idiot, babbling cheerfully and with absolute certainty about total nonsense. It makes him entertaining, in a court-jesterish sort of way. I’m afraid no such humor lightens up the equivalent stupidities of Alister McGrath, who has a real talent for writing words that simultaneously clunk and drone. Don’t ask how he does that; perhaps it’s a miracle. He also uses Christmas and Dawkins’ Magic of Reality as a pretext to lecture us, badly, about how science works.

Some atheist scientists ridicule Christians for believing in a God whose existence cannot be proved. Yet science regularly posits the existence of things whose existence cannot be proved to make sense of our observations.

Thus we infer the existence of dark matter from observations that would otherwise be puzzling. We can’t see it, and we can’t prove it’s there. Yet this doesn’t stop most leading astronomers from accepting its existence.

We can’t see it; we can’t touch it; we can’t smell it; and we can’t hear it. Yet many scientists argue that it’s the only meaningful explanation of observed gravitational effects. Where the naive demand proof, the wise realise that this is limited to logic and mathematics.

Some things – though fewer than many realise – can indeed be proved. But we mostly judge theories by how much sense they make of observations. Power to explain is widely regarded as an indicator of truth. Observations don’t prove theories; rather, theories explain observations, and are judged on the quality of those explanations.

As is usual, he gets it wrong. We don’t mock Christians for believing in an unproved god; as McGrath notes, science isn’t about finding proof. We mock Christians for believing in a god with no evidence, and in contradiction to reason and evidence. The analogy with dark matter is interesting: we don’t believe in dark matter because our holy book says so, or because we would really, really like it to be true, but because we have a body of observations — testable, reproducible, empirical, quantified observations — that indicate its existence. There is no comparable collection of data that suggests the necessity of recognizing Jesus’ existence. There are no observations that require the theory of Christian supernaturalism for their explanation.

Also, I have a particular peeve with the morons who babble about seeing, touching, smelling, hearing things as somehow better evidence. It’s a stunt the gang at Answers in Genesis like to pull, too, so McGrath shares something else in common with the rank ignorance of biblical literalists. You can’t see a kinase, a dinosaur, the core of the earth, an ion flitting across a nerve membrane, but those things exist or existed — we have measured them, analyzed them, or manipulated them in ways that are far more convincing of their existence than if some photons were sprayed across my retina. What my eyes can detect is irrelevant, especially since those eyes are limited to such a narrow spectral range and such a feeble range of energies.

To my amusement, McGrath closes his homily on a note that must be illuminated by our previous reading of Lennox.

The Christian vision, enacted and proclaimed in the Christmas story, is that of a God whose tender affection for humanity led him to enter our history as one of us.

Specifically, as jism, spunk, love goo, a pizzle spurt, a squirt from the ol’ tallywhacker, pecker juice, twinkie filling, baby batter, dick dribble. “Tender affection” is such a nice euphemism for “bust a nut”. New bar pickup line: “Hey, baby, I’d like to enter your history.”

And you know, even if we were to believe in his god, by what reasonable moral foundation could we regard the impregnation of a young girl without consent as an expression of “tender affection for humanity”? This is another pathology of religion: when you’re imagining the grand cosmic significance of your mythology, you find it awfully easy to ignore the people affected by it.

Comments

  1. says

    Yet many scientists argue that it’s the only meaningful explanation of observed gravitational effects.

    Now, idiot, now. Find another good explanation, one with meaningful evidence, and it’ll be considered, as other models have been considered.

    Where the naive demand proof, the wise realise that this is limited to logic and mathematics.

    Where the naive confuse “proof” with “sufficient evidence,” sufficient evidence for “dark matter,” as well as what it is, continues to be sought. If, dumbass, you can ever provide the evidence for God that “dark matter” has, and further avenues of possible research, then that idea will also be considered. Good luck with that.

    And yet the mighty wand of science that he waves did not create the sun, the earth and living things.

    No, moron, it tells us about what “created” these.

    That wand of science was forged long before the wizard’s day by those who believed that the universe was worthy of attention because God had created it.

    Good thing, too, or they’d have met with persecution, likely execution.

    Ever wonder why even theists didn’t evoke God generally, and that Newton is considered to have failed when he did so?

    The wizard tells us of the greatness of Newton, but not about the God of Newton.

    Probably because science does things.

    Glen Davidson

  2. says

    Scooter’s Seasonal Lament:

    I really don’t care for Islam, Jews talk too much, Christians are insufferable, Buddhists are snobs, Hindus have too many arms and too many notes in their scales, Pagans just want to be naked and mysterious, Agnostics don’t know anything, Unitarians drink too much coffee, Satanists are rebellious Christians, and Solstice celebrations are bad for your liver.

    Football has gone Catholic and my attempt to get a FLAT SCREEN on the eBay Failed.

    I don’t know what to believe in anymore.

  3. cbrink says

    The amazing irony of McGrath’s Dark Matter analogy, is the process by which we understand Dark Matter is science at it’s best.

    1. We take data from things we don’t understand
    2. Document them anyway
    3. Then make a prediction at why that is
    4. Work at a test that proves/disproves
    5. If the tests work, and they are able to be replicated by someone else then we have something.

    The god of the gaps doesn’t even start at step #1. It’s just a bunch of hand waving and 50 cent words.

    If the god of the gaps infiltrated our society, we would have to write off things like the Positron (predicted before discovery).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positron#Theoretical_foreshadowing_and_prediction

  4. raven says

    Thus we infer the existence of dark matter from observations that would otherwise be puzzling. We can’t see it, and we can’t prove it’s there. Yet this doesn’t stop most leading astronomers from accepting its existence.

    We can’t see gravity. Or the strong and weak nuclear forces. Or quarks. Or a whole lot of things.

    This is just drivel. One wonders what audience Lennox was targeting. Morons for one, but morons aren’t noted for reading a whole lot.

  5. raven says

    This year’s War on the War on Xmas was another failure.

    I can’t recall much if anything happening.

    The usual fundie bigots whined a lot but nobody paid them any attention. Fundie whining is becoming the background noise of our culture.

    Oh well, it’s on to the War on Easter.

  6. shouldbeworking says

    Observations may not prove a theory, but they can support or disprove a theory.

    P.S. The closing homily led me the conclusion that gawd must be a Time Lord.

  7. Sastra says

    “What could be more awe-inspiring and worthy of celebration than that unique turning point in history when supernature invaded nature, the creator entered his creation, the Word became flesh, God became man?”

    Please explain — and show your work.

    Sorry, but if you’re putting this explanation up against a scientific explanation, you have to play by the same rules in order to rate the coveted title of “awe-inspiring and worthy of celebration.” Which means you have to provide the details. Explain exactly how all this happens, step-by-step. Process, mechanism, reduction to other elements. Otherwise, your so-called explanation is not an explanation at all.

    It’s no more revealing than saying that the car moved because movement “invaded” it. That’s not an answer: it’s a rearranged question. We caught that.

    “Of course he could intervene. Moreover, this intervention would not destroy those laws. The very same laws that explained why the engine worked with the cylinder head on, would now explain why it does not work with the head removed.”

    This tactic backfires and ends up screwing the person who uses it. If we can include the supernatural into a scientific fabric of explanation, then the supernatural has to meet the same criteria as all explanations: rational, empirical, objective criteria. No super-special rules.

    That’s why theists are usually quick to compare believing in God to feeling love for your mother or deciding to persevere in the face of obstacles. If they leave the claim in with other fact claims, then it has to meet the same standards.

    If dark energy was supposed to be a force of ‘love’ binding the universe together, it would probably be more testable, not less.

  8. Randomfactor says

    “Hey, baby, I’d like to enter your history.”

    Or at least hystera

    =====

    Oh well, it’s on to the War on Easter.

    Hey, SOME of us are still fighting the War on Kwanzaa! One front at a time!

  9. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    No doubt the effects currently explained by the dark matter/dark energy hypotheses could equally be explained as angels holding the stars in clumps and pulling the clumps outwards in defiance of gravity. No doubt, but I will wait for the revelation of what dark matter/dark energy is because the search for meaning in these hypotheseses is likely to produce something more interesting than it’s angels, folks.

    Dark matter is a place holder for future knowledge, the supernatural is an end to enquiry.

    ’nuff said.

  10. Jim says

    As I understand it, there is evidence of dark matter: it’s gravity has been caught on film “bending” light.
    Thus, dark matter is not logically unverifiable as is the christian god idea. (Although he didn’t state it that way, he was arguing that science uses logically unverifiable ideas just as theists do. He is wrong.)

  11. crissakentavr says

    Why can’t these guys be happy with their magical Christmas and not have to make themselves look like an idiot attacking science on the basis that they enjoy how nice people are at a holiday?

    All the lights wouldn’t exist without science. And it seems somewhat reasonable to have a celebration involving lots of them and giving when it’s dark and cold.

    But why must their metaphor trump LEDs somehow? Bizarre.

  12. says

    And you know, even if we were to believe in his god, by what reasonable moral foundation could we regard the impregnation of a young girl without consent as an expression of “tender affection for humanity”? This is another pathology of religion: when you’re imagining the grand cosmic significance of your mythology, you find it awfully easy to ignore the people affected by it.

    You know, that’s one rape that deserves more attention. It’s bad enough that fundie Christians practice rape apologia for the more “mundane” rapes of the modern era, but when you get right down to it, their religion has an act of rape performed by their “morally perfect” god as a founding milestone in its asserted history.

  13. says

    All the lights wouldn’t exist without science. And it seems somewhat reasonable to have a celebration involving lots of them and giving when it’s dark and cold.

    You know, I think these sorts of people are overdue for a visit from Krampus. He’s one of the lesser-known members of St. Nick’s crew who, IIRC, snatches up the most ungrateful children away from their warm, lit homes, stuffs them into a sack, and takes them out into the cold, dark mountains. This is where they can learn to appreciate what they had previously taken for granted before getting eaten or something.

    Of course, in the spirit of civility and charity, I’d settle for just scaring them. Getting eaten by a monster probably isn’t very nice.

  14. isilzhaveni says

    Why wait! I say we start the War on Xmas 2012 right now! Definitely need to start working on the applications to put up displays on court house lawns across the US.

  15. Loqi says

    But those sophisticated theists told me Christians don’t *really* believe in literal miracles and that arguing against them just shows that I don’t understand true Christianity. But then we have these two arguing “miracles, ergo God.” Were these guys not on the True Christianity mailing list, or were they just not sophisticated enough to read the memo?

  16. truthspeaker says

    Funny, I thought the universe was worthy of attention because we live in it and are a part of it.

  17. Aquaria says

    But those sophisticated theists told me Christians don’t *really* believe in literal miracles and that arguing against them just shows that I don’t understand true Christianity.

    They lie, and it’s always lies in the vein of “Heads I win/Tails you lose.” They lie when it gives them an advantage. And then they’ll like about telling that lie if they think it will benefit them.

    They’re liars. That’s why the phrase “Liars for Jesus” exists. Because christers lie. They lie with impunity, because they’ve spent a lifetime lying to themselves.

  18. says

    They lie, and it’s always lies in the vein of “Heads I win/Tails you lose.” They lie when it gives them an advantage. And then they’ll like about telling that lie if they think it will benefit them.

    They’re liars. That’s why the phrase “Liars for Jesus” exists. Because christers lie. They lie with impunity, because they’ve spent a lifetime lying to themselves.

    That’s definitely one way I intend to frame the issue next time I get in an argument. Creationists are by an large a very dishonest people. Another aspect I think I’ll focus on: They don’t have a coherent strategy or methodology, just a bunch of dishonest “gotcha” PRATTs.

  19. cheyeoh says

    I’m a Christian and I want to ask a question. What would you actually accept as evidence of God? Are you looking for physical evidence, historical, miracles, experiential? I’m not looking for a fight, but I’m genuinely curious.

  20. says

    Depends on your definition of God.

    The Christian God is already ruled out due to self contrary accounts and claims. The Bible invalidates itself and the most you can say is that there may be some phenomena the various Bible writers observed and tried to make sense of but clearly were not at a consensus.

    Frankly, it comes down to thinking what the world would be like if such a thing existed. If gods did exist the idea of needing to prove them to atheists wouldn’t be raised. It would be easily demonstrated.

    It’s an uphill battle because you’re competing with a plethora of atheistic or polytheistic supernatural claims that would fit an actual factual supernatural event even BETTER than God if one were observed.

    Example: say you have a virgin marry cry blood. Could be God…could also be poltergysts or Robin Goodfellow. Since the existence of the later two has less of an impact on the world as we know it it is more likely the explanation until ruled out. And that’s even discounting mistaken phenomena, hallucination, delusion or hoax.

  21. shouldbeworking says

    Actual physical evidence with reproducible results that can not be explained by any scientific theory we currently have
    Nothing that relies on the “bible” as an authority.
    Something along the lies of the 2nd coming, assuming there was a first.

  22. says

    There’s tons of things I would accept as evidence for God. You should know that we atheists get asked that question all the time and that the Christians inevitably expect us to drop our jaws and say “Wow, my belief is faith-based after all!” Quite the opposite–we just pull out our well used lists and rattle them off.

    Since my standards of belief are actually quite low compared to some of my fellow non-believers I’ll just start off by giving one that many atheists would call questionable.

    If there were solid evidence that people of one faith were actually more moral, happier, and more successful than the rest of us.

  23. says

    What would you actually accept as evidence of God? Are you looking for physical evidence, historical, miracles, experiential?

    We’re not looking, since God appears to be no more than a fiction.

    We’d want, however, “sufficient evidence” of whatever kind. Generally, this would be “physical evidence,” although it could be considered to be “phenomenological evidence” without anything being lost or gained scientifically (some of us think that philosophically “phenomenological evidence,” etc. is the better term).

    Miracles would presumably do, if they are “reproducible.” Of course there we don’t necessarily mean that the miracle has to be reproduced at some point, we mean that others can verify the observations. Magicians are probably better at determining whether something truly uncanny occurred than scientists, but if it were a miracle really open to investigation scientists would probably do well enough.

    “Historical evidence” is generally useless for deciding that any gods existed, as nearly everyone properly discounts all miracle claims except those bolstering their own beliefs, if they have any.

    Evidence in general could be considered to be “experiential,” but the way many theists use it the claim is usually that “I have experienced God” or some such thing. Not useful evidence, since people “feel” all sorts of things, including ghosts, and neither science nor courts are, or should be, impressed with such “evidence.”

    What won’t do is something not being well explained by science now, with the illegitimate “conclusion” that God did it. Fine tuning, abiogenesis, whatever might be well enough explained by a fictional super being, but for which being we actually have no evidence.

    Glen Davidson

  24. Owlmirror says

    What would you actually accept as evidence of God?

    Given a definition of God as “an invisible person with magical superpowers”, the evidence for this alleged person would be the alleged person speaking for itself, and demonstrating its alleged powers, in such a ways as to rule out, as much as possible, delusion, fraud, and deliberate trickery.

  25. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    What would you actually accept as evidence of God? Are you looking for physical evidence, historical, miracles, experiential?

    I have been thinking about this question a lot lately, since I nearly facepalmed myself to death when a cousin of mine talked about how awesome “Finding Bigfoot” (on Animal Planet) is and how its so obvious that bigfoot exists, etc. I said nothing, but he knows me well enough to know that I would not agree on that point and challenged me, “what would make you believe sasquatches are real?”

    That’s an easy answer, isn’t it. A living specimen, verified by impartial scientists. Or the corpse of one, verified by impartial scientists.

    Such simple evidence for god is impossible (and not just because no gods exist). I agree with this: “Actual physical evidence with reproducible results that can not be explained by any scientific theory we currently have. Nothing that relies on the “bible” as an authority.”

    Which is my main issue with the “Finding Bigfoot” show. It’s credulity in action. They see a track in the mud that isn’t immediately identifiable, therefore BIGFOOT! Some random dude has a grainy, decade old video of something walking across a country road, therefore BIGFOOT! Someone claims to have seen something in the forest that they couldn’t immediately identify, therefore BIGFOOT!

    This is exactly what religious people do. Don’t understand something? GODdidit! Can’t explain something? GODdidit. And, conveniently, don’t like someone? GOD doesn’t either!

    Since religious people tell us god is all-powerful and all-knowing, he both knows what evidence would convince me and is capable of producing this evidence. So, where is it?

    And, just to add a little sociopathic frosting to this deity-cake, he also would have created atheists, planned for them to remain atheists, and THEN send them off to eternal punishment for doing exactly what he planned.

    He’s a sicko, that dude. I’m glad he doesn’t exist.

  26. Owlmirror says

    What would you actually accept as evidence of God? Are you looking for physical evidence, historical, miracles, experiential?

    Here’s a story in which theistic miracles occur on a regular basis: Angels visit; miraculous cures and defects occur; heaven can be seen and will have a physical effect on those who see it; when people die, their souls can be seen to rise to heaven or descend to hell; the dead sometimes visit from heaven, or can be seen in hell.

    If we lived in a universe as depicted in the story, there would be sufficient evidence of God to make it reasonable to believe that God exists.

    Hell is the Absence of God, by Ted Chiang

  27. says

    Another thing about “evidence for God” is that we’d need to know what we’re talking about with respect to “God.” PZ has generally dismissed any possibility of “evidence for God,” since clearly just something unexplained doesn’t obviously point to anything, and “God” is a rather nebulous term. He has tended to modify his position somewhat as we brought up specific “gods” like Zeus or whatever, that at least had some sorts of characteristics that, if found, might support Zeus claims, anyhow.

    The whole range of the Abrahamic God is rather difficult for which to propose a “test,” since many claims are contrary at the least, and some see Jesus as a sort of superhuman, others see “God” as some kind of something beyond “existence.”

    Narrow the definition enough, though, and we can probably come up with some sort of test. The Second Coming of Jesus as depicted in one or more books of the Bible certainly might do it. Even praying for Jesus to move a mountain into the depths of the sea by some devout Christian would at least cause me to pay attention, even though there’s certainly no hard and fast connection between a prayer and the existence of a purported entity.

    Glen Davidson

  28. raven says

    What would you actually accept as evidence of God? Are you looking for physical evidence, historical, miracles, experiential?

    Which gods? There are thousands at least.

    Any and all evidence. In the entire history of us, there hasn’t been any evidence, period.

    Most reasonable scholars, religious and otherwise regard the existence of the gods as so far unprovable and/or unfalsifiable.

    All falsifiable claims made by the religions have been…falsified.

  29. raven says

    What would you actually accept as evidence of God? Are you looking for physical evidence, historical, miracles, experiential?

    What do you have? In the last few thousand years, there has been no evidence whatsoever for the existence of the gods.

    If the gods existed, they would have their own website, Youtube channel, radio show, and TV channel. A task within the reach of most ordinary humans.

    The existence of the gods would be as obvious and noncontroversial and the existence of trees and water.

  30. says

    Another way to put it, what sort of evidence would a Christian accept that Raven is God, or Brahma?

    Basically, we’d accept whatever courts or science would accept as evidence for any phenomena.

    We’re not putting up any roadblocks to evidence for God, in other words. Indeed, we’d probably be rather less stringent in our standards for evidence for Baal or Ishtar than most Xians would be, we just would want good evidence for those, or for Jesus as God.

    Since we haven’t been given good reason to believe any of the gods we don’t accept any of them, which is also true for Christians, other than their exceptionally credulous belief in their own claims.

    Glen Davidson

  31. says

    I’m a Christian and I want to ask a question. What would you actually accept as evidence of God? Are you looking for physical evidence, historical, miracles, experiential?

    Experiential evidence is worthless as evidence for anything other than that a particular mental phenomenon exists. And that people have experiences they interpret as divine/supernatural is already well established, but it’s not actually evidence for the existence of those gods/supernatural forces/whatnot.

    I’m not entirely sure what historical evidence for a god could possibly be. at most, you can have historical/archaeological evidence for a religion existing, or for a religious work to contain certain accurate elements to make its historical fiction more believable. But historical evidence for a god doesn’t make any sense, unless that god is dead and we find its body (for example, the Egyptian gods were part animal part human; if we found a decidedly non-fake corpse like that, that would be decent evidence that the beings that the Egyptians worshipped as gods existed; but then, it still might be more parsimonious to wonder about mutations or even aliens, rather than supernatural beings.

    “miracles” is a vague term. They really fall under the other categories, mostly under “physical” and “experiential”

    That leaves physical evidence for gods, which yes, would be acceptable. However, keep in mind that such evidence would have to break the laws of physics to such a degree that it becomes unparsimonious to assume that the likely explanation is a natural force we don’t yet understand. Having the stars rearrange themselves to spell out “I am God” would be such a thing, since stars are not naturally that mobile (they’d have to move faster than light to do this), and it would be a too great coincidence to have that sentence spelled out, since it wouldn’t be readable as such in any other spot in the universe except right here in our solar system.

  32. SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says

    I’m a Christian and I want to ask a question. What would you actually accept as evidence of God?

    So, you believe in YHWH then? A supernatural genocidal asshole who raped a teenage girl in order to provide a sacrificial lamb to mollify his anger over sins committed by an entirely different group of humans several generations prior?

    What evidence do you have for the existence of this magical tyrant? If he does exist, I’d like to know how I can best oppose him.

  33. says

    Jadehawk:

    Having the stars rearrange themselves to spell out “I am God” would be such a thing

    Or having a God introduce itself to every single person on the planet at the same time in their native language.

  34. KG says

    cheyeoh,

    Well, you’ve had a few answers. Like some others, I’d start by asking what sort of god you mean. For the god of doctrinally orthodox Christianity, there could be no evidence, as its existence is logically impossible: nothing can be “wholly God and wholly man” or “true God and true man”, as the doctrine of the hypostatic union says, because “God” and “man” have incompatible attributes. If you mean an omnipotent and benevolent creator, the evidence against such a being’s existence is so overwhelming it is hard to conceive of positive evidence sufficient to outweigh it. Do you really think this is the best of all possible worlds? If you just mean some sort of creator, then a clear message from that creator embedded in the value of the nuclear fine structure constant, or the digits of pi, would do.

  35. shouldbeworking says

    I’m reminded of Arthur C. Clarke’s story “the Nine Billion Names of God”. How about putting the stars out, one by one?

  36. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    @christinelaing,

    If there were solid evidence that people of one faith were actually more moral, happier, and more successful than the rest of us.

    Why would this demonstrate the existence of a god? They could have simply happened on what every self help manual claims to provide.

  37. cybercmdr says

    While we’re on the topic of proof of God, it would be helpful to have a good understanding of statistics. If an improbable event has no personal impact (such as a sequence of heads or tails in a coin flip series), most say that was improbable but statistically possible. Events like surviving a car crash or an aggressive cancer are often called miracles, because people are involved and we want to ascribe a cause. Personal events that are not as welcome (like dying in a freak accident) are not called miracles, but are often explained as being part of God’s plan.

    It is still just statistics; with many people and long periods of time these improbable events will occur to somebody (like winning the lottery). By our natures we want to understand why, and the simplest answer is God did it. Many find that more comforting than understanding that the randomness in the universe can drastically impact our lives.

  38. says

    I wonder if McGrath would promptly whip out the ole No True Scotsman gambit if it was pointed out to him that his claimed “Christian vision” of a God of “tender affection” isn’t shared by all Christian sects. For that matter the Old Testament itself contradicts that vision, with its God who gets pissef off and kills everyone except Noah and his brood.

    Ooops, silly me, that didn’t actually happen, I’m taking the Bible literally, which you aren’t supposed to. You’re supposed to use sophisticated theology instead.

  39. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    @Owlmirror,

    Given a definition of God as “an invisible person with magical superpowers”, the evidence for this alleged person would be the alleged person speaking for itself, and demonstrating its alleged powers, in such a ways as to rule out, as much as possible, delusion, fraud, and deliberate trickery.

    This wouldn’t rule out mischievous aliens for me (though they would be awesome in a completely different way :D)

  40. anubisprime says

    #43

    “I’m reminded of Arthur C. Clarke’s story “the Nine Billion Names of God”. How about putting the stars out, one by one?”

    Well to be fair that is no miracle that would be, and apparently is, the destiny of the Universe…when it attains maximum entropy!

    A simpler more accurate ‘test’ would be for xians to lose all the hatred, fear and self loathing…all the bigotry, pompousness and self administered ignorance, all the bile and toxic nastiness, and to realise that living a worthwhile happy and fulfilled life does not…nor ever has… required a deity of any way shape or form or belonging to any random religion.

    Now that would be a miracle.

  41. says

    What would you actually accept as evidence of God?

    If I woke up one morning and found myself believing in a god, I’d be pretty amazed and (by definition) convinced.

    Failing the more subtle approach, if there suddenly appeared 500 foot-tall solid diamond letters in geostationary orbit reading “Cthulhu fghtan! Ia! Ia!” or some other custom diety marketing slogan, that’d be hard to pass off as a quantum fluctuation.

    But more simple still would be, since ‘god’ is all-powerful and whatnot, to just poof everyone into believing in h* and be done with it.

  42. says

    Well to be fair that is no miracle that would be, and apparently is, the destiny of the Universe…when it attains maximum entropy!

    Actually, as the universe expands, eventually the light from distant stars will, literally, go out as it’s no longer able to reach us. Clarke had no way of realizing how right he was.

  43. shawnthesheep says

    As for magic religious stories, christianity is kind of wanting. It’s pretty boring and mundane stuff. What about hinduism? They have a four-armed, elephant-headed god who rides around on a rat. I want some of what those guys were smoking.

  44. raven says

    it was pointed out to him that his claimed “Christian vision” of a God of “tender affection” isn’t shared by all Christian sects.

    There are many different xian gods that have nothing in common.

    1. The god of love is a modern invention who, at least, is less malevolent than some of the other xian gods.

    2. The fundies worship the OT Sky Monster. Some of them even acknowledge that the Monster god is in fact, a monster.

    3. The Trinitarian god and the Nontrinitarian gods of the Mormons and JWs.

    4. The up and coming god is Deos, hiding behind the Big Bang but in danger of being evicted once again by science.

    This BTW is one of the many evidences against the xian god. Xians can’t even agree on what their god is or does. Monster, ineffable ground of all being, three gods in one, or one god and a bunch of helpers.

    They have no way of deciding among the various possibilities except by fighting wars and letting the victor dictate the theology.

  45. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Marcus Ranum:

    diety

    Diety: someone to pray to prior to mounting the scales for the first time after the winter holidays.

    I’m sorry, I had to.

  46. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Last year, at Richard Dawkins’ website, Steve Zara considered “God and Evidence”:

    The theists can’t win. They can’t talk about evidence when they base their beliefs on faith. They can’t describe us as flawed beings and yet claim that we can get to truth through revelation … Theists hide God beyond rules and logic in the supernatural, and then claim that we can get to God through the rules and logic of theology. We are supposed to use logic to demonstrate the illogical.

    And finally, what I consider the most absurd position of all – theists claim that we are far more than material beings, that we can exist beyond death of our bodies, that our true selves have a supernatural foundation, and yet they insist that we could not exist unless God had tuned the universe just so, to make the physical, natural world perfect for our existence, an act which would seem absurd if our true selves were non-physical.

  47. madscientist says

    “The very same laws that explained why the engine worked with the cylinder head on, would now explain why it does not work with the head removed.”

    So – miracles *don’t* happen, therefore god. Hahahahahahahahaha! I hadn’t heard that one before. As for CS Lewis, even at the age of 8 I could see he was nothing but an infantile imbecile. I was shocked when I learned that some people believe he was an intelligent person.

    For all of Lennox’s carping about miracles he produces absolutely no evidence for any miracles and completely ignores the problem of evil raised by most claimed miracles. (Some claims of miracles such as a dancing sun don’t seem to be fundamentally entwined with the problem of evil.)

  48. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Cheyeoh asks what we would accept as evidence for deities. Well, a burning bush could be simulated by a hologram. Even if said deity rearranged the stars, how would we know it was not some technology beyond our understanding that manipulated the Universe or our perceptions? Were we to allow supernatural explanations, how would we know it was the work of a deity and not a demon.

    We know that as Arthur C. Clarke said, technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic. How do we know the a deity’s magic tricks are not instead the tricks of
    1)a malicious advanced alien race
    2)a benevolent alien race trying to save us from ourselves
    3)a prank by an advanced alien race
    4)humans from the future returning to punk us/save us…

    The problem here is not our skepticism. It is, rather, the fact that no deist has ever defined sufficiently specifically exactly what they mean by their deity. What is it that their deity can do that nothing else could do.

    Of course, in the reality I see, there is precious little for their deity to do in the first place. The Universe seems to run itself. There doesn’t seem to be any particular benevolence–quite the contrary, as the Universe seems more consistent with the dictates of chance and necessity than of benevolence. I think perhaps the greatest miracle from my point of view would be a deity who could convince me that despite all I see, said deity is in fact benevolent.

  49. madscientist says

    “Some things – though fewer than many realise – can indeed be proved.”

    I think the number of things that can be proved are far more than McGrath’s pimplebrain can handle. I would suggest that McGrath survive any of the following to demonstrate that they are not proven killers: (I can go on with the list for weeks and still not get anywhere near exhausting the proven facts.)

    + climb Mt. Everest naked
    + wear a diving belt, hop off a boat in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, and walk along the bottom of the ocean until he reaches dry land
    + put his head in the gamma beam line of an experimental reactor for a full minute
    + eat 2g of ‘sugar of arsenic’
    + become a genuine ‘breathearian’ for 3 months

    I doubt anyone but McGrath wouldn’t agree that it would be trivial to extend the list to many thousands of entries. I wonder how many ‘proven’ ideas McGrath believes there are? One thing is for sure – his god (despite ridiculous claims by people) is among the disproven, not the proven. Then again I guess I could turn that around and say that McGrath’s fairydaddy is proven not to exist.

  50. Loqi says

    Ironically, if all the Christians simultaneously realized that there is no god, I’d consider that a miracle and be pretty well convinced.

  51. says

    If the Christian God exists, in opposition to all reason and despite the inconsistencies and contradictions in the text set forth by his followers, he would do well to hide himself well before I die.

    Whatever magical essence was left of me would be coming His genocidal ass.

  52. kemist says

    As for magic religious stories, christianity is kind of wanting. It’s pretty boring and mundane stuff. What about hinduism? They have a four-armed, elephant-headed god who rides around on a rat. I want some of what those guys were smoking.

    And their religious stories are actually entertaining instead of hopelessly boring like the xian’s ones. Some of their gods like to play jokes.

    And they have lots and lots of festivals, which are mostly about food, music and dance.

  53. Amphiox says

    We know that as Arthur C. Clarke said, technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic. How do we know the a deity’s magic tricks are not instead the tricks of
    1)a malicious advanced alien race
    2)a benevolent alien race trying to save us from ourselves
    3)a prank by an advanced alien race
    4)humans from the future returning to punk us/save us…

    The corollary to Clarke’s law is that a “sufficiently advanced ETI is indistinguishable from God.”

    However, there is no set of circumstances in which the existence of a deity as described in the bible or any other earthly religious text could be proven, because ALL such descriptions are self-contradictory, and thus have already disproven themselves.

    Similarly, there is no single observation of any kind that could prove the existence of a creator god wholly responsible for life on earth, because the mountains of pre-existing evidence demonstrating that life on earth arose and attained its present forms via the process on unguided natural evolution would still remain, and would still be wholly valid. The best that such could do would be to show that a superhuman intelligent agency (which could be either a deity or an advanced ETI, as we can’t distinguish the two) tweaked the natural processes here and there from time to time. We would be simply adding one additional mechanism to the existing theory of evolution. Everything else would still stand.

  54. No One says

    I’m a Christian and I want to ask a question. What would you actually accept as evidence of God? Are you looking for physical evidence, historical, miracles, experiential?

    I’m cheap:

    1) While driving down the road with the windows closed a lottery ticket with the winning numbers for a $150 million pops into my mouth…

    AND

    2) Three extremely voluptuous women who have Phd’s in rocket science, law, and particle physics all fall madly in love with me, move into my mansion, take flex hours so that they can cook and clean, and we all live in perfect harmony.

    THEN I’d know something was up.

    Please pray for this. My immortal soul is on the line here.

    P.S. And some obscure sports team would have to make an amazing 1st place seasonal victory.

  55. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    What could be more awe-inspiring and worthy of celebration than that unique turning point in history when supernature invaded nature, the creator entered his creation, the Word became flesh, God became man?

    Awe-inspiringly stupid is what it is, because what’s never explained – and what runs contrary to the claim that the Christian’s god is omnipotent – is why God was forced to do this before he was allowed to forgive humanity instead of just doing it.

    And that’s putting aside the idiotic notion that he had to forgive humanity for doing exactly what he created them to do in the first place; really, it should have been God begging humanity for forgiveness for being such a fucking awful creator.

  56. Azkyroth says

    So – miracles *don’t* happen, therefore god. Hahahahahahahahaha! I hadn’t heard that one before. As for CS Lewis, even at the age of 8 I could see he was nothing but an infantile imbecile. I was shocked when I learned that some people believe he was an intelligent person.

    Heh. Remind me of when I was 12-13 and interested in dating a particular girl who, it turned out, came from a rather uptight religious household. I got invited over, once. She asked me if I was familiar with C.S. Lewis. I had read most of the Narnia books and found them a bit boring, but I confused the name with Lewis Carroll and replied that as I recalled he was “a famous author of nonsense.” She wasn’t amused, but I was later at realizing how right I’d been.

  57. harbo says

    I’m with Sally and tkreacher.
    If this bastard and his kin exist,
    We need to organise an underground………..Oh we are here already..

  58. shouldbeworking says

    I might believe in a god if the Toronto Maple Leafs win a Stanley Cup in the same year I am awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

  59. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    Sorry shouldbeworking, that’s Fairy Godmother™ territory.

  60. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    Nothing could convince me the Christian concept of god exists because it’s just too incoherent; similarly, I have no doubt that Islamic and Judaistic gods are non-existent (at least the ones described by their religious traditions) because they’re so obviously the product of the humans of the time, which contrasts way too much with how we know human society inevitably changes.

    I could in principle be convinced that a god exists, but it’s only going to be through science, i.e. we reach a point where we’re able to measure something on a larger (or smaller) scale than we can now, and happen across evidence to support the notion.

  61. McCthulhu awaits the return of the 2000 foot Frank Zappa says

    The ‘what evidence would you accept for god(s)’ question is getting as predictable as the seasons. The problem is that we have the technology and imagination to see situations that incredible proofs could be reconstructed by civilizations with vastly superior technology to our own.

    The rearranging of the stars is based on our visual capabilities. Having aliens simply mess with the signals going to our brain so it appears all the stars winked out or spelled ‘ROWAN ATKINSON IS GOD!’ would be insufficient.

    Having a parlour trick of ten thousand random people select 100 people within ten minutes and then the said god under scrutiny introducing itself to each of those people simultaneously around the globe AND telling those people 20 items of personal information like social security numbers and credit card numbers would be remarkable but also reproducible if a suitably advanced species arrived that could read synaptic activity and memories (even those we don’t remember ourselves…we know that we have seen those numbers even if we can’t recall them immediately). That’s a very decent trick and you could call such an display god-like, and we can be impressed by such a being. Obviously their technology level could reduce ours to rubble if it desired. Heck, even if the entity did that trick with every person on the planet it could still be a very high technology.

    All of the senses can be manipulated in such a manner so it is difficult to conceive of a situation where a display of power is taken as purely supernatural and not technology. Even if everyone on the planet suddenly developed Methuselah-length lifespans we could accuse the being of having developed nanotechnology to repair our telomeres.

    All this process is telling me is that gods are just ourselves in the future, if we are capable of surviving our own stupidity that long. Since there are articles in science magazines about creating universes in labs, all the superstition and ceremony attached to the religions we have created are nice comfort for people that can’t or won’t understand science, but unnecessary for those that do. If not us, some other civilization somewhere and somewhen will be the ‘gods’ we created in our myths.

  62. McCthulhu awaits the return of the 2000 foot Frank Zappa says

    Ay Carumba! I lost a sentence fragment in the preview process. After ‘creating universe in labs,’ I meant to write ‘we can match with technology all of the criteria of being a god from religious myth.’

  63. says

    @Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes)

    As I said, I know of many people that would not accept my evidence. I figured someone else would come along and state the old canard about the stars rearranging themselves to spell “Allah Akbar,” and of course someone would counter with the fact that it might have been done by an alien with extreme powers who was not in fact all-knowing/all-good/all-powerful. Christians of course would say that the devil had done it to trick us all into converting to Islam.

    All this ultimately harks back to the definition of God, as said. I doubt if you could prove a being was all-powerful no matter how approachable and cooperative He was. My particular choice of evidence relates to the fact that believers regularly claim that God does interfere in human lives in ways that really should be measurable. I’ve heard people say that God helped them pick out their furniture, and everyone knows that God decides the outcome of every high school basketball game. My point is that if God does interfere in our lives then we ought to be able to find something that is distinguishable from ordinary science.

    Obviously if we are talking about a group that simply has a superior self-help manual that would doubtless be leaked, investigated, shared with the general public, and eventually improved upon by good scientific investigation. So I wouldn’t worry too much about being fooled by that in the long run.

  64. No One says

    shouldbeworking says:
    27 December 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I might believe in a god if the Toronto Maple Leafs win a Stanley Cup in the same year I am awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

    No lotto or voluptuous partners? You are cheap. Shit if the christian god won’t deliver how about the other what’s his name… Stan?

  65. McCthulhu awaits the return of the 2000 foot Frank Zappa says

    Shouldbeworking @67: Well, at least you had the serendipity to be the 67th comment. The leafs won last won the cup in 1967. IT’S A SIGN!!! ∴ Jesus!

  66. says

    Can’t recall what it’s called, but a very few women have a condition where they have an internal functioning testis. Haven’t heard if it’s happened, but these women could, theoretically, impregnate themselves.

    What if Mary was one of these women, and her fetus developed as a male?

    If it did happen that way it would pretty much put the kibosh on the whole sacred bloodline malarky. Jesus would be a sterile male, having the wrong set of instructions for his equipment.

  67. Pan says

    What would you actually accept as evidence of God?

    Nothing.

    At least, if “God” means something like “Skydaddy, who created me, loves and watches me and wants to spend eternity with my ‘soul’”.
    This guy doesn’t exist. Otherwise, believers wouldn’t disagree on every single thing that there is.
    I would accept the fact of god like I accept the fact of gravitation, if we lived in an entirely different universe right from the start. A universe, where prayers are answered and where everyone gets the same response to the same question. A universe, with one single religion and one single interpretation of god’s words, not a few thousand on one tiny speck of dust. A universe, where god’s existence wouldn’t be questioned any more than we question the existence of cows. A universe, that actually contains a god.

  68. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

    @christinelaing,

    As I said, I know of many people that would not accept my evidence.

    I wasn’t being deliberately dismissive, I simply don’t see your assertion as requiring a god.

    I find it difficult to answer the what evidence would you accept question because I can’t imagine anything that would do it. There always comes a point where it would boil down to hallucination, technologically advanced aliens, or whatever.

    Basically, the question for me is syntactically empty despite being grammatically correct: substitute fairy or leprechaun for god and you see the problem. If I saw a leprechaun I would be unlikely to presume that they exist, I would presume something prosaic (hallucination, most likely.)

  69. says

    I’m not keen on what seems to be a meme that Mary was raped. There’s a big deal made of her consent in many churches – phrased rather slavishly, “I am the handmaiden of the lord, go ahead and do what you want”, but still it’s consent. You could perhaps make a case for statutory rape, but her age isn’t canon. It’s from one of the books that got left out when they codified the bible.

    I also like what Christinelaing says. Sure, it’s not proof, but at least it would be a small skerrick of evidence. And so far most Xians haven’t even got that.

    If there were even a small indication that there were actually something there, then it would be worth following up. Scientific progress tends to start with “hmm, that’s funny”, and that would be a good little datum to start on.

  70. ikesolem says

    Come on people – religions exist that don’t posit the existence of God, the alpha-male dominant of chimpanzee society (this is where belief in a god comes from, a derivation based on primate social structures, with God being the ultimate alpha male).

    For example, state communism was a religion based on the Book of Marx. Scientology is based on L. Ron Hubbard. Christianity, the Bible, Islam, the Quran or Koran, etc. etc. Rather than going on about God this and God that, why not focus on the respective ‘holy books’ – which, we can be sure, were invented by human beings from scratch.

    Real knowledge isn’t the product of some drug-induced dream process, but rather, the result of careful experimentation, observation, and theoretical efforts to explain the results (couched in mathematical terms). Guess what – science tells us there’s a lot we don’t know. It’s not all figured out, and those who think it is, they’re the religious crowd.

    You have to keep an open mind, if you want to adopt the scientific perspective. If not, go pick some nonsense to ‘believe in’. It doesn’t really matter what nonsense you choose, it’ll only mean that reality was too mysterious for you to accept on its own terms.

  71. Sili says

    If the god of the gaps infiltrated our society, we would have to write off things like the Positron (predicted before discovery).

    The positron is an interesting example since it was likely seen before prediction, but Millikan told off his post doc for making a mistake, because the idea of small positive particle didn’t fit into his world view. (He believed cosmic particles were in some sense God’s messages to us. I kid you not.)

  72. Amphiox says

    Before one can coherently consider what could be accepted as evidence for God, one must first define God.

    Because the second determines the first.

    In other words, you need a testable hypothesis about God. It is that hypothesis that makes the prediction that one should observe X if God, and Y if not God. Only then can you even begin to attempt to analyze any amount of data or evidence to see if it is more consistent with X or more consistent with Y.

    Without a testable hypothesis in which to frame the observation, evidence on its own is incoherent. And this is true for all claims in general. That is why the first step in the scientific method is the formulation of at least one null hypothesis.

  73. madscientist says

    @Azkyroth#65: “famous author of nonsense” is indeed apt for CS Lewis – what a fortunate coincidence. I never even heard of the Narnia series until I was in my late teens; my early exposure to CS Lewis was with his paltry (and utterly uninteresting) attempts at christian apologetics and humor such as “Screwtape”.

  74. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    Amphiox wrote:

    Before one can coherently consider what could be accepted as evidence for God, one must first define God

    Which means the only version of the Christian god that could possibly exist is the asshole one the Calvinists worship, and which they admit is a complete monster – while, of course, lying about it not being evil.

    Because a god that was as good as the (other) Christians claim theirs is would never have allowed the suffering we see to exist in the first place.

  75. tomh says

    I have never seen anyone who claims there could be evidence for a god, get around the advanced aliens or hallucination problems, both of which are more plausible than magic.

  76. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    I’m not sure that I could tell the difference between experiencing a miracle and psychosis. So, I doubt I could be convinced of god(s), no matter the evidence.

  77. Sandiseattle says

    chigau @ 23: i think its more that if things go right the world WILL BE ending when Xmas ’12 rolls around. :-)

  78. Brother Ogvorbis, OM: Reading Comprehension Fail Warning! says

    The spell is strong, for nature is wonderful indeed and many of the wizard’s words are true.

    Odd that Lennox admits that ‘some’ science is true. Especially since the reason we know it is true (or we have sufficient evidence to support the theory that we can accept it as true) is because of evidence. And the parts of science that he rejects (no evidence of gods, the supernatural, miracles, evidence for evolution) are supported by just as much, if not more, evidence than the parts he accepts. Kind of makes me wonder what it is like in his mind — is he aware of the extreme cognitive dissonance necessary to maintain his delusions?

  79. says

    Me@ #60

    would be coming His genocidal ass.

    *for His genocidal ass.

    Normally I’d own up to my (embarrassingly frequent) error in text.

    However, I blame this fully on a broken screen that blots out letter and word sized vertical swaths of surface area.

    That, or it was God manifesting himself in the gap between coming and His.

    No, the latter can’t be it, as written it could have been taken sexually, and we all know how the Christian God feels about man on man action.

  80. Alverant says

    #78

    I’m not keen on what seems to be a meme that Mary was raped.

    First, she was told she was pregnant and offered herself to her god after the fact so I wouldn’t call that consent.

    Second, what would have happened if she said no? This is a god who torched people for questioning him and turned a woman into salt for looking at a city. If her god said, “Turn around, I’m going to shove it up your ass.” she would have while begging not to be turned into a gnarled old shrub.

    Third, she was created for the express purpose of being a walking womb for her god. She is the one not born into sin, not her bastard child. How could it even be considered that she gave consent since she had no idea she could refuse?

  81. No One says

    I’m not keen on what seems to be a meme that Mary was raped.

    Mary was not raped because there was no god to rape her. Joseph probably got the poor girl preggers, perhaps with out penetration.

    “Oh! I never broke her hymen, she’s still a virgin, It’s a miracle from god!” How’s that for a meme…

  82. SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says

    More likely she had premarital sex and lied about it.

    And of course there is no god to rape her. But if the story were true, it would certainly qualify as supernatural sexual assault.

  83. demonhype says

    @Alverant, #90:

    Very true. Also, though I seem to remember them talking about all this “handmaiden of the lord, do what you want” stuff regarding Mary, I also seem to recall an emphasis on her holy (one might say “bovine”) obedience to the Grandest of all Grand High Alpha Males. Kind of a master-slave dynamic sort of thing. And not precisely the kind of dynamic in which any meaningful and ethical sort of “consent” could be said to exist.

  84. kreativekaos says

    ** “Observations don’t prove theories; rather, theories explain observations, and are judged on the quality of those explanations.” [Lennox] **

    Mr. Lennox…. as one scientist interviewed in a doc concerning string theory, (paraphrasing) if there’s no experimental evidence, is it a theory/representation of reality or a philosophy? (which could easily be applied to the Christian/religious explanatory method)

    Am I wrong in stating that empirical, measurable, recordable, reproducible OBSERVATIONS/DATA constitute evidence of a HYPOTHESIS, thereby supporting–or not supporting– said hypothesis, leading to explanatory THEORY (when supported)?

    And, looking from the other end, when radically new empirical, measurable, recordable, reproducible OBSERVATIONS/DATA come in unexpectedly, HYPOTHESES are put forth, and with additional testing, reproduction and verification, incompatible Hypotheses are eliminated, leading to establishment of a new theor(y/ies)??

    Viewed this way, the arrow can work both ways. It’s not necessarily an either/or structure. Consistent, accurate, reproducible observations can SUPPORT/REINFORCE theories or evolve hypotheses into theories; theories are SUPPORTED/REINFORCED by repeated and consistent observations/data.

  85. says

    Given that we really can’t prove most claims in the New Testament it’s just as likely, assuming she and Jesus existed at all, that Mary got pregnant by her lawfully wedded husband Joseph, and the virgin birth claim was added later to conform with prophecy regarding the Messiah.

  86. stephenfoster says

    Proof of existence of a god: see Carl Sagan’s novel, *Contact*. Remember the circle embedded in the value of pi?

  87. says

    Actually there’s a very old story that Mary was raped. It’s all mixed up with Yeshu ben Pantera who may or may not have been the historical Jesus (however you define him) but who was certainly identified with “the” Jesus by some early Jewish scholars. Some versions of the story have Mary being a loose woman, even a prostitute, other versions have her being raped by the Roman soldier Pantera.

    Since Mark doesn’t discuss Jesus’ birth or childhood at all and Matthew flat out states both that Jesus was descended from David through Joseph and that Jesus was born of a virgin, my best guess is that the whole thing was a later fabrication.

    The rape story is probably bogus, but it does seem to neatly fit the facts: she was a virgin in her heart, but not technically a virgin at all, Joseph realized it wasn’t her fault and defied Jewish law to marry her anyhow, the biological father was impulsive and violent, the son may have been paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur. Again, probably not true but sounds like an excellent story.

  88. papalinton says

    cheyeoh says:
    27 December 2011 at 1:38 pm
    “I’m a Christian and I want to ask a question. What would you actually accept as evidence of God? Are you looking for physical evidence, historical, miracles, experiential? I’m not looking for a fight, but I’m genuinely curious.”

    What evidence did you use, cheyeoh, to accept the existence of a god? This will give me an indicator of what constitutes evidence from your perspective.

  89. Owlmirror says

    @Serendipitydawg:

    This wouldn’t rule out mischievous aliens for me (though they would be awesome in a completely different way :D)

    Oh, I agree. Really, I think the matter is more semantic than anything else.

    But I think it’s at least logically possible that some entity could turn up, and even say that it isn’t omnipotent, nor omniscient, nor omnibenevolent, nor eternal, nor the creator of the universe — but could still be sufficiently powerful enough that many people might well treat it like a God, or think of it as a God.

  90. crocswsocks says

    I just learned that I am like unto a god.

    Probably the god Atum, who splooged the universe into existence.

    There is universe all over my sheets. Also ass-sweat.

  91. says

    What I don’t like about the rape story is mostly that it seems to be used as a gotcha. Hur hur, ur god is a rapist LOL, Xians suck. Not as a serious discussion of rape.

    And to make this ha-ha gotcha story work, you have to go against canon. So it isn’t a very good gotcha, even if you have the stomach to use sexual abuse for the lulz like that. Which I don’t.

    And how is a miraculous pregnancy even a sex act? Is in vitro fertilisation sex, or is artificial turkey baster insemination sex? I don’t think so. And according to canon, no, Mary remained a virgin forever (catholic) or until after the birth of Jesus (protestant).

  92. says

    Alethea H. Claw #103

    I’m really not with you at all on this.

    1. It isn’t a gotcha or a “lulz”. When I talk about the genocide of biblegod it isn’t a lulz or a gotcha. It is a “the god you worship is a genocidal monster.” The implication being that one who follows such a being is disgusting, in my opinion, and in need of a serious re-evaluation of either their personal morality, or a major lesson in reading comprehension.

    2. I still don’t see how it goes against cannon. As far as I recall she was not aware of the magic still-a-virgin baby-making until after the fact. As others have mentioned, post-act consent is not consent. Especially if it is an all powerful, genocidal and malicious entity to which you are choosing whether or not you will consent to, after the fact.

    3. Yes. If someone impregnates someone in vitro while the victim is sleeping, without and prior to consent, that is an incredible assault – and equivocation on “sexual” is pretty fucking trivial to me.

    And the turkey baster example?

    Are you kidding me? If I use a turkey baster on a sleeping woman, without her consent, to fill her with my semen and get her pregnant… you wouldn’t consider that sexual assault?

    Just, wtf?

  93. drummer25 says

    Just a small foot note on the war on Christmas. Replacing Happy Christmas with Happy Holiday is an own goal. The word holiday is derived from Holy Day, so wishing people a Happy Holy Day should be acceptable to xians. Deleting religious references from the ‘winter solstice celebration’ is going to be difficult. Even the innocent sounding ‘goodbye’ is a condensed version of ‘god be with ye’.

  94. says

    In the context of the story, it is magic. Women in fairy tales and myths get pregnant from eating magical fish, or wishing, or picking up feathers, all sorts of things. There are even other (highly desired) magical pregnancies in the bible. Is that also sexual assault? Is it not trivialising sexual assault to equate it to a totally unrealistic fairytale?

    There are plenty of horrible things in the bible. Genocides, human sacrifice, slavery, and also several rapes are right there in the bible, but this is one story where explicit consent is actually given. You won’t shock any Christians into a new view by going against that strongly canonical point.

    The god you worship is genocidal monster? Yes, that’s canon. Right there in so many words. The god you worship is a rapist? The ONE time in the book that a big deal is actually made out of a woman’s consent? You just look stupid.

    BTW, if you go by KJV the angel says “thou shalt conceive” not “thou hast conceived”, so your timing is wrong. And it still reminds me of this. I mistrust it; I find it creepy and trivialising.

  95. says

    Thus we infer the existence of dark matter from observations that would otherwise be puzzling. We can’t see it, and we can’t prove it’s there. Yet this doesn’t stop most leading astronomers from accepting its existence.

    We can’t see it; we can’t touch it; we can’t smell it; and we can’t hear it. Yet many scientists argue that it’s the only meaningful explanation of observed gravitational effects. Where the naive demand proof, the wise realise that this is limited to logic and mathematics.

    This is complete nonsense.

    We don’t have theories that have gods that we can detect as evidence to back them up.

    We do have theories that have real objects that we can detect as evidence to back them up.

    The most sensible thing to do is use these theories to infer the existence of real objects that we can’t detect directly (like dark matter). We simply can’t do that with God.

    Say if a star were observed revolving around what is apparently empty space. We could either say that it really is orbiting nothing, when no theories we have support that position, or we could use the well-established theories that we do have to infer that it really is orbiting something invisible to our eyes. The latter is reasonable, and the former is not.

  96. Anri says

    I’m a Christian and I want to ask a question. What would you actually accept as evidence of God? Are you looking for physical evidence, historical, miracles, experiential? I’m not looking for a fight, but I’m genuinely curious.

    In the – almost certainly futile – hope that cheyeoh might actually pop back in to engage, rather than just dropping this off and scarpering*:

    We get this question a lot, as you can maybe you can tell from the rather quick answers you’re getting. I think “you have to define just what you mean by ‘god’ first” is pertinent.

    For myself, it might be a bit unfair, but I’d tend to turn the question around. What evidence would you, cheyeoh, consider so overwhelming that you’d expect anyone encountering it to convert? To put it another way, if you were god, and you truly wanted to save someone’s soul, if you loved them more than anything else and wished to save them from your eternal torture chamber, how would you go about it?
    I’m not actually expecting an answer, but it’s a question that might be worth thinking about a bit.

    - – -

    *Not meant as an insult – it’s just the most typical thing that happens.

  97. says

    What my eyes can detect is irrelevant, especially since those eyes are limited to such a narrow spectral range and such a feeble range of energies.

    A quote for the ages, but not as good as this one:

    pecifically, as jism, spunk, love goo, a pizzle spurt, a squirt from the ol’ tallywhacker, pecker juice, twinkie filling, baby batter, dick dribble. “Tender affection” is such a nice euphemism for “bust a nut”. New bar pickup line: “Hey, baby, I’d like to enter your history.”

  98. pj says

    If I woke up one morning and found myself believing in a god, I’d be pretty amazed and (by definition)convinced.

    And that, of course, would be totally insufficient evidence for anyone else but you. An impartial observer would conclude that there’s something funny going on in your brain and hopefully take you to doctor.

  99. cheyeoh says

    I’m not going to run off, Anri. I’ll answer as best I can.
    If I were God, and genuinely loved my people, this is what I would do. I would come off my holy cloud, strip myself of my powers, and take on a physical form that they understood, but at their invitation only. I would walk amongst them and heal their sick. I would allow them to do what they willed with me, even if it meant that they tore me to pieces. That is why I believe in Christ and no one else, Anri. Because he is the only god who was willing to undergo this. It also answers the alien question, because no intelligent alien would willingly allow rampant humans to kill them; they would make their escape in some way.

  100. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    cheyeoh #113

    According to the propaganda, Jesus didn’t strip off his powers. Water into wine, feeding a multitude with a couple of loaves and fishes, healing folks, resurrecting Lazarus. resurrecting himself, all call for miraculous godlike powers.

    Also Jesus didn’t die. He spent a miserable afternoon hanging around the cross and then, a day and a half later, he’s good as new. And he knew that’s how it would happen (it’s that omniscience thing).

    So do you have any other reasons for following the Jesus delusion? Other than you were raised as a Christian and taught Christianity was The True Religion™ since you were a small child.

  101. shawnthesheep says

    #113,

    How convenient that you “believe in Christ and no one else.” Have you studied all other mythologies? If you had, you’d know that the story of a god coming off his cloud, stripped of his powers and walking among us is not that uncommon of a story. There are plenty of other non-xtian myths that involve self-sacrifice by god(s). Just a few examples:

    “Many creation myths involve self-sacrifice by gods or primal beings. In an early Hindu myth, Purusha is the primal being who allows himself to be dismembered so that creation can take place. His eye becomes the sun, his head the sky, his breath the wind, and so on. Purusha became a symbol of the acts of sacrifice that kept the cosmos stable. The mythology of the Aztecs of central Mexico told how two of the gods formed the universe by splitting a goddess in half, so that one part of her became the sky and the other part became the earth…In Norse* mythology, Odin, the chief of the gods, made a kind of self-sacrifice by hanging on the World Tree Yggdrasill for nine days to gain magical knowledge.”

    Personally, I think if you want to worship a god that comes off his cloud, strips himself of his powers and walks among us, then you should worship Christopher Reeves from Superman II. It’s a far better story than the Bible.

  102. truebutnotuseful says

    cheyeoh says:

    If I were God, and genuinely loved my people

    A god who genuinely loves his people doesn’t drown all but a handful of them in a global flood. Even if they were being naughty. He also doesn’t order his children to murder other of his children for being born in the wrong city. If there’s one thing your god doesn’t have, it’s genuine love.

    strip myself of my powers…heal their sick

    Sounds like the power-stripping process was incomplete, what with all the sick-healing, water-walking, water-to-wining, fish and loaf-multiplying, etc.

    That is why I believe in Christ and no one else, Anri. Because he is the only god who was willing to undergo this.

    Except for the gods of other religions with similar mythology, many of which predate Christianity.

    It also answers the alien question, because no intelligent alien would willingly allow rampant humans to kill them; they would make their escape in some way.

    Does it? Are you an expert in Xenopsychology?

  103. cheyeoh says

    I’m fairly certain that neither Odin or Parusha was mentioned by Tacitus or Pliny the Elder, shawnthesheep. Jesus is a historical figure whether you accept that he was a god or not. Odin and Parusha ain’t.

    truebutnotuseful; if it helps, I’m a Christian and that means that the Gospels take precedence over the Old Testament. Jesus didn’t strike down people, he didn’t wage war on them and didn’t condemn them. The Old Testament’s man’s view of God. The Gospels are the recording of what he actually was like when he came here. He had to do it, because people were doing all kinds of crap in his name.

    With regard to aliens, I suppose I’m being presumptive but I don’t know any creature that would willingly allow itself to be killed unnecessarily. If you assume that Jesus was an alien, then you need to figure out why that alien would allow itself to be murdered when it had consistently displayed powers that would allow it to escape and why it would feel any obligations to those not of their own race.

  104. Owlmirror says

    If I were God, and genuinely loved my people, this is what I would do. I would come off my holy cloud, strip myself of my powers, and take on a physical form that they understood, but at their invitation only.

    Why would you only do it once?

    Why would you have to become a human via a pregnancy, rather than just doing it?

    Why would you need to “strip yourself of your powers”? If you’re going to demonstrate that you are actually God, and not some schmuck like everyone else, don’t you need something to demonstrate your bona fides?

    I would walk amongst them and heal their sick.

    Why some sick and not all sick? And don’t you need powers to heal the sick? What happened to stripping yourself of them? Make up your mind, already.

    I would allow them to do what they willed with me, even if it meant that they tore me to pieces.

    Why would you do something so stupid? If you’re going to actually demonstrate love, you don’t do it by being so stupidly passive that you let yourself be killed when you presumably can do something to prevent it.

    That is why I believe in Christ and no one else, Anri. Because he is the only god who was willing to undergo this.

    So, you believe the story you’ve been told, because you’ve been convinced that acting like a complete moron isn’t completely moronic in this one special case.

    Does that about cover it?

    It also answers the alien question, because no intelligent alien would willingly allow rampant humans to kill them; they would make their escape in some way.

    If intelligent aliens healed all the sick humans on Earth (rather than just a few that they happened to meet), prevented crime (by warning victims and paralyzing perpetrators), and generally provided wisdom and generous gifts, and asked to be called “Gods” just for the sake of convenience — would you do so, or would you refuse because they weren’t so stupid as to needlessly get themselves killed?

    I’m fairly certain that neither Odin or Parusha was mentioned by Tacitus or Pliny the Elder, shawnthesheep.

    *eyeroll*

    Tacitus and Pliny mentioned Christians. They did not not know Jesus, only people who already believed that Christ existed.

  105. says

    In the context of the story, it is magic. Women in fairy tales and myths get pregnant from eating magical fish, or wishing, or picking up feathers, all sorts of things. There are even other (highly desired) magical pregnancies in the bible. Is that also sexual assault? Is it not trivialising sexual assault to equate it to a totally unrealistic fairytale?

    Magic doesn’t make it rape. And it’s not a magic fish or picking up feathers or that.

    It is one conscious entity forcing its will on another. sexually.

    Is it not trivialising sexual assault to equate it to a totally unrealistic fairytale?

    Since the fucking argument is that if it happened it was rape you’re begging the question, so shut up.

    Is it an emotional blow? Yes. It’s also accurate, that’s why it should be used.

  106. says

    If I were God, and genuinely loved my people, this is what I would do. I would come off my holy cloud, strip myself of my powers, and take on a physical form that they understood, but at their invitation only.

    How would that help? I mean…see I would actually use powers to DO something.

  107. Owlmirror says

    Jesus is a historical figure whether you accept that he was a god or not.

    Only if you accept your stories as being true, and reject those you don’t like as not being true.

    I’m a Christian and that means that the Gospels take precedence over the Old Testament.

    Or rather, it means that you want them to take precedence, rather than having any good reason for it.

    Jesus didn’t strike down people, he didn’t wage war on them and didn’t condemn them.

    Of course Jesus struck people down. He viciously attacked some small-business owners minding their own businesses in Jerusalem, for example.

    And of course Jesus condemned people. Good grief, have you not read the bible? Everyone that he didn’t like was condemned to hell.

    The Old Testament’s man’s view of God. The Gospels are the recording of what he actually was like when he came here. He had to do it, because people were doing all kinds of crap in his name.

    Well, gee, people still are doing all kinds of crap in his name, and have been for the past few centuries. Where the hell is God now, if he “had” to do it back then?

    With regard to aliens, I suppose I’m being presumptive but I don’t know any creature that would willingly allow itself to be killed unnecessarily.

    Because being killed unnecessarily is stupid.

    If you assume that Jesus was an alien, then you need to figure out why that alien would allow itself to be murdered when it had consistently displayed powers that would allow it to escape and why it would feel any obligations to those not of their own race.

    Since Jesus didn’t die, the putative alien clearly had powers that did allow itself to escape.

    and why it would feel any obligations to those not of their own race.

    What obligation was fulfilled? You could argue that the alien hung around for a while, did some magic tricks, had some shitfits, and presumably bailed when it got bored.

  108. Forbidden Snowflake says

    If you assume that Jesus was an alien, then you need to figure out why that alien would allow itself to be murdered when it had consistently displayed powers that would allow it to escape and why it would feel any obligations to those not of their own race.

    Now go back and apply the same reasoning to gods instead of aliens. Why would a god do that? Why would a god even be interested in creating lifeforms and following up on them? The gap between a god and us is necessarily larger than the gap between any kind of aliens and us, after all.

    As to this part:

    If I were God, and genuinely loved my people, this is what I would do. I would come off my holy cloud, strip myself of my powers, and take on a physical form that they understood, but at their invitation only. I would walk amongst them and heal their sick. I would allow them to do what they willed with me, even if it meant that they tore me to pieces.

    WHY? What good would it do? OK, so the small handful of humans who saw you work miracles would be totally impressed. The small handful of sick people you healed would be, well, healed. And what about the rest of them? What profound difference have you made? What would be the heritage of your divine stay in meatspace three, ten, a thousand generations later?

    If you were god, you would have the ability to just magically grant everyone enlightenment as to your true nature and make them see the way to the best possible life on earth. Or you could just skip the life part and create enlightened magical souls directly in heaven. Instead, you choose to create humans who would fight amongst each other and against the elements, enduring suffering and death… and make it all better… How? by joining them for a little while and then taking off, leaving them with their misinterpretations of the meaning of your visit as one more thing to fight over? WHY? What sense does your plan make?

  109. says

    With regard to aliens, I suppose I’m being presumptive but I don’t know any creature that would willingly allow itself to be killed unnecessarily.

    If you could easily make new ones or retrieve and repair why not let an avatar or drone be destroyed? Not exactly the same amount of risk as if you were doing a manned mission

    and why it would feel any obligations to those not of their own race.

    Human kind before it has encountered alien races has started to think about and address what sort of obligations it would feel towards less developed aliens or even alien peers. Hell we’ve started to think about what morality is due sentient machines. If we’re able to imagine morality and decency towards hypothetical alien beings why would it be so hard to believe that other aliens would develop a sense of ethics beyond simple tribalism?

  110. says

    Regarding #113:

    Actually this always seemed to me to be one of the weaknesses of Christianity and why I seriously considered converting to Islam or Judaism before I came to terms with atheism. You see if an omnipotent God wanted to forgive us, wash us of our sins and send us all to heaven, why not just do it? And why send people who are born into a non-Christian culture to hell just because they don’t understand the theology? Why send your son to suffer, then resurrect him, then have him leave and promise to come back but never fulfill the promise?

    As others have pointed out, the historical record on Jesus is spotty, contradictory, and far from objective, but based on the evidence my best guess is that Jesus thought he was the messiah who would raise a supernatural army to slaughter the Romans and create a Jewish dictatorship. It does not appear that he thought of himself as some sort of cosmic sacrifice. Rather he thought God would intervene in his execution. The redemption interpretation was invented by his followers after his failure. This may be wrong of course, but I just don’t agree that the gospels and other historical records unequivocally support your interpretation.

  111. truebutnotuseful says

    cheyeoh says:

    I’m a Christian and that means that the Gospels take precedence over the Old Testament. Jesus didn’t strike down people, he didn’t wage war on them and didn’t condemn them. The Old Testament’s man’s view of God. The Gospels are the recording of what he actually was like when he came here. He had to do it, because people were doing all kinds of crap in his name.

    Then your religion is quite different from that of any Christian with whom I have ever been acquainted. Because they typically seem to either worship as separate entities both Jesus and the god of the Old Testament – who is a deplorable, capricious, genocidal, barbaric monster; or they worship some odd trinitarian amalgamation where god, Jesus, and the holy goat evidently were welded together in some freak Nicene laboratory accident. Either option involves worshiping something that is one part barbaric monster.

    With regard to aliens, I suppose I’m being presumptive but I don’t know any creature that would willingly allow itself to be killed unnecessarily. If you assume that Jesus was an alien, then you need to figure out why that alien would allow itself to be murdered when it had consistently displayed powers that would allow it to escape and why it would feel any obligations to those not of their own race.

    Well now, it’s not really murder if you know you’re coming back to life in a few days, is it? Besides, any alien in possession of technology enabling interstellar travel would likely find it trivial to fake its death for three days.

  112. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    If I were a god and wanted to show my love for my creations the first thing I’d do – presuming I was of the inclincation to require them to act a certain way – provide an unambiguous set of instructions on what they needed to do in order to make me happy rather than have some incoherent, inconsistent, self-contradictory piece of crap like the bible.

    Second thing I’d do is make sure there was enough food to go around.

  113. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    I’m fairly certain that neither Odin or Parusha was mentioned by Tacitus or Pliny the Elder, shawnthesheep. Jesus is a historical figure whether you accept that he was a god or not.

    Considering Jesus was only mentioned by Pliny as the god worshiped by early Christians and Tacitus was only repeating what Pliny said, then your historicity falls flat. And please, don’t try to push Josephus at us. There’s good reason to think that the passage in Antiquities of the Jews that mentions Jesus was a forgery written by a Christian apologist to provide historical evidence of Jesus’ existence. Parallel sections of Josephus’ Jewish War do not mention Jesus, and some Christian writers as late as the third century, who quoted from the Antiquities, do not mention the passage.

  114. cheyeoh says

    Hi owlmirror,

    This is the relevant passage from Tacitus’ annals. The report that Tacitus refers to, is just after the Great Fire of Rome which Nero had ordered and then placed the blame on Christians;

    “Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind”.

    For the other questions from other folk, I’ll try and cover as many as I can, simply.

    1) You shouldn’t worship someone simply because they have power, whether that’s a god or an alien.

    2) You’re torn between whether you would want God to intervene or not. It might seem good to have a celestial policeman to intervene with a well placed lightning bolt when things got out of hand, but at some point you would get fed up with it and see him as a tyrant. Just as parents need to let their kids grow up and learn right from wrong, God’s got to do it with us.

    3) Christ didn’t stay on earth, because again, he wanted us to learn, not him do it all for us. He gave us an example to follow, had it recorded, promised to be with those in spirit that tried to do what he asked and then let us get on with it. It’s called free will.

    4)Why did Christ choose to come as a baby etc? Because we wouldn’t have accepted him any other way. The great gap between God and us is that we think he doesn’t care and has no idea of what it is like to be human and limited ; that he just created us to lord it over us and push us around. The only way that that could be countered would be as I say, for him to lay down his power and become like us and know what it was like to be limited and what suffering and helplessness was.

    5.)Why did God create us? Why the universe? Why not? Whether you believe in God or not, life is precious and the world is a miracle.

    6.)Hell. Forget the flames; it is quite simply a place without God. It exists because of free will, because God has to allow those who want to live without him, somewhere to go and for that to be a lasting choice.

    7.)How God judges; the rule of thumb is whether you gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, looked after the sick and the lonely. If you do those things you belong to God; at least the one I worship. If you don’t, then you don’t belong to him, not even if you call yourself a Christian. Read the gospels and you’ll find them full of examples of words versus actions.

    Right, it’s late where I am. Good night.

  115. says

    You’re torn between whether you would want God to intervene or not. It might seem good to have a celestial policeman to intervene with a well placed lightning bolt when things got out of hand, but at some point you would get fed up with it and see him as a tyrant. Just as parents need to let their kids grow up and learn right from wrong, God’s got to do it with us.

    Horseshit.

  116. says

    )How God judges; the rule of thumb is whether you gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, looked after the sick and the lonely. If you do those things you belong to God; at least the one I worship. If you don’t, then you don’t belong to him, not even if you call yourself a Christian. Read the gospels and you’ll find them full of examples of words versus actions.

    Horseshit. If that were true why the fuck is it important to know about Jebus? People do that anyway.

  117. says

    Why did Christ choose to come as a baby etc? Because we wouldn’t have accepted him any other way. The great gap between God and us is that we think he doesn’t care and has no idea of what it is like to be human and limited ; that he just created us to lord it over us and push us around. The only way that that could be countered would be as I say, for him to lay down his power and become like us and know what it was like to be limited and what suffering and helplessness was.

    Horseshit.

    I mean. Really. This is fucking lame.

  118. John Morales says

    cheyeoh:

    Hell. Forget the flames; it is quite simply a place without God.

    You’re already living in a place without God. :)

    (It would be a far better place, of course, were it not for people like you, with your imaginary celestial tyrants)

    Right, it’s late where I am. Good night.

    Don’t dream naughty dreams, godbot. God knows all, and will give you a lump of coal instead of a pressie, if you’re naughty!

    (And don’t engage in recreational sex, or even have a wank, for fuck’s sake!
    ‘Tis very naughty, because the Babble says God says so.)

  119. says

    Christ didn’t stay on earth, because again, he wanted us to learn, not him do it all for us. He gave us an example to follow, had it recorded, promised to be with those in spirit that tried to do what he asked and then let us get on with it. It’s called free will.

    Horseshit. The Prime Directive is in place specifically because people are not 100% moral and 100% omniscent or all powerful. The Prime Directive seeks to prevent people from intentionally or unintentionally taking advantage of a less powerful people AND from interfering in ways that would trap them in a quagmire of responsability that they are unable to face. Solve a plague-> leads to a population boom that leads to a famine-> solve the famine, the population boom continues to grow and a war breaks out over resources-> End the war by preventing the other sides from fighting and you now are occupying the world etc etc. Humans aren’t magic and can’t fix problems perfectly which is why there’s the idea of trying to limit intervention in a less advanced culture as much as possible. But it also leads to what we see later on in Trek with a dark side, of the Prime Directive being used as a excuse to avoid real moral imperatives. Save an entire species form extinction due to terrorism or misadventure? Nope can’t do it, prime directive. Even though there’s no way the culture is better by our inaction we must avoid interfering even if everyone dies. That is what God is doing now. he has the power, AND the wisdom to use it perfectly BY DEFINITION and refuses to do so.

    What your God has done is the exact reason WHY the Prime Directive is in place. Look what he did? Show up to a few people, cure some, and then leave the species mired in CENTURIES worshiping him and killing each other in massive wars for his favor. People are dying RIGHT NOW in attempts to win his favor or prepare for his return. And he does nothing to clarify or solve these issues. What sort of childish irresponsible being intervenes to save a sick person but considers it a breach of free will to correct his followers to prevent a war. It’s fucking obscene.

  120. says

    Why did God create us? Why the universe? Why not? Whether you believe in God or not, life is precious and the world is a miracle.

    I think you don’t understand the atheist position if we think life is a miracle.

    Life may be precious because of the rarity or unlikelyness of it. But that doesn’t matter a fuck as to motive.

  121. says

    Hell. Forget the flames; it is quite simply a place without God. It exists because of free will, because God has to allow those who want to live without him, somewhere to go and for that to be a lasting choice.

    Because God is so loving and forgiving that he will lock you in to a decision and be a hardass about it and call no take backs.

    Because God is the parent who will let his kid kill himself because, meh.

  122. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    I’ll address a few points in 4):

    Why did Christ choose to come as a baby etc? Because we wouldn’t have accepted him any other way.

    Why do you think that coming as a baby is the best way for it to have happened? How do you know what we – or anyone for that matter – would or wouldn’t accept?

    The great gap between God and us is that we think he doesn’t care…

    We know that (if he exists) he doesn’t care. His inaction demonstrates that. The quibble is over why he doesn’t care, not whether or not he does care – that’s beyond argument.

    …and has no idea of what it is like to be human and limited

    Who said that? I’ve never thought it, and I’ve never heard anyone else say it either. How could he (if he exists) not know? He knows everything.

    that he just created us to lord it over us and push us around. The only way that that could be countered would be as I say, for him to lay down his power and become like us and know what it was like to be limited and what suffering and helplessness was

    A better way to counter it would be to just appear tell everyone that he didn’t create us to ‘lord it over us and push us around’, and to explain exactly why he made things the way they are, and (most of all) apologise for doing such a shitty job of conveying his wishes to us.

    Re: being limited: as others have noted, he had plenty of power – enough to heal the sick, smite an innocent fig tree and resurrect himself – why do you insist that he was limited?

    2,000 years on and it easy to see that the Jesus experiment was yet another failure on God’s part – the others being, of course, the creation of humans in the first place, and then the attempt to start again with Noah and his family after drowning every man, woman, child and animal on the planet but those on the ark. Christians are still a minority (in terms of the overall population of the planet) and the Christianity practiced today is far removed from what Christ actually taught that it shouldn’t even bear his name.

  123. truthspeaker says

    Regarding #132 – that just proves the point the other poster made. Tacitus mentioned Christians, not Christ. No one denies that, by the time of Nero, Christians existed.

  124. says

    The most stunning part of the God character is how arrogant he is and how remarkably little he knows about the nature of his own creations.

    Even the idea of Jesus. he became human so we could understand him, he failed to apparently realize that he desperately needed to learn about us.

  125. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    Hell. Forget the flames; it is quite simply a place without God. It exists because of free will, because God has to allow those who want to live without him, somewhere to go and for that to be a lasting choice.

    A choice between two different eternities, with no third option of choosing neither? How does that equate to ‘free will’?

  126. cheyeoh says

    truthspeaker,

    “Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.”

  127. Owlmirror says

    This is the relevant passage from Tacitus’ annals. The report that Tacitus refers to, is just after the Great Fire of Rome which Nero had ordered and then placed the blame on Christians;

    Which simply confirms what I wrote: The existence of Christians, who believed that Christ had existed.

    You shouldn’t worship someone simply because they have power, whether that’s a god or an alien.

    So why make an exception?

    You’re torn between whether you would want God to intervene or not. It might seem good to have a celestial policeman to intervene with a well placed lightning bolt when things got out of hand, but at some point you would get fed up with it and see him as a tyrant.

    For pity’s sake. There is a balance between lightning bolts and a complete non-interventionist policy.

    God could just say “I don’t approve of what you’re doing”, for example.

    Just as parents need to let their kids grow up and learn right from wrong, God’s got to do it with us.

    Parents do manage to often at least attempt to strike a balance. God appears to be completely silent.

    How are people supposed to learn anything from silence?

    Christ didn’t stay on earth, because again, he wanted us to learn, not him do it all for us. He gave us an example to follow, had it recorded, promised to be with those in spirit that tried to do what he asked and then let us get on with it.

    Uh-huh. And there are now 30,000 sects of Christianity, and many would argue that we weren’t supposed to learn anything from Jesus, just have faith in him and his sacrifice.

    And what exactly was supposed to be learned? Symbolic cannibalism? Hating your parents? Never divorcing, ever? What, exactly?

    Why did Christ choose to come as a baby etc? Because we wouldn’t have accepted him any other way.

    That’s ludicrous. How are “we” supposed to know if some person was ever an infant or not, other than as an inference? If Jesus hadn’t brought up the topic, why would anyone else?

    Really how is this supposed rejection supposed to happen? “Hey, you! Were you ever an infant? No? Well, then fuck the hell off, you not-ever-a-baby-man!”

    Really, this makes no sense at all.

    The only way that that could be countered would be as I say, for him to lay down his power and become like us and know what it was like to be limited and what suffering and helplessness was.

    That’s still idiotic. If you want to help someone else, you don’t suffer and make myself helpless, as if that was somehow good enough. You actually try and relieve their suffering and helplessnes.

    Suffering and not doing anything about anyone else’s suffering is just stupid. It doesn’t help anyone!

    Hell. Forget the flames; it is quite simply a place without God. It exists because of free will, because God has to allow those who want to live without him, somewhere to go and for that to be a lasting choice.

    Ah! I repeat again the link to the story I linked to above @#31:

    Hell is the Absence of God, by Ted Chiang

    Is that what you think God is like, and Hell is like?

    How God judges; the rule of thumb is whether you gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, looked after the sick and the lonely. If you do those things you belong to God; at least the one I worship. If you don’t, then you don’t belong to him, not even if you call yourself a Christian. Read the gospels and you’ll find them full of examples of words versus actions.

    The gospels contradict themselves over what brings salvation. Some say that faith alone is enough; some say that works are necessary too. Some imply that works are sufficient, but those are rare.

    It’s pretty clear that God damns at least some people for nothing more than just not believing in him, regardless of their works, at least according to some verses.

  128. cheyeoh says

    hivemind groupthink,

    )How God judges; the rule of thumb is whether you gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, looked after the sick and the lonely. If you do those things you belong to God; at least the one I worship. If you don’t, then you don’t belong to him, not even if you call yourself a Christian. Read the gospels and you’ll find them full of examples of words versus actions.

    Horseshit. If that were true why the fuck is it important to know about Jebus? People do that anyway.”

    Actually, they don’t. That’s the problem.

  129. says

    If I were God, and genuinely loved my people, this is what I would do. I would come off my holy cloud, strip myself of my powers, and take on a physical form that they understood, but at their invitation only. I would walk amongst them and heal their sick. I would allow them to do what they willed with me, even if it meant that they tore me to pieces. That is why I believe in Christ and no one else, Anri.

    Congratulations. You’ve constructed a god in your own image by cherry-picking the qualities you think he should have from an ancient scripture that presents a smorgasbord of qualities to choose from.
    None of this is any reason to think it’s actually true.

  130. Ariaflame says

    Are you asserting that no non-Christians do good works? Cause you better have proof of that.

  131. cheyeoh says

    No that’s not what I’m saying, hivemind groupthink. What I’m saying is that people in general don’t just do these things; they have to be taught and encouraged to do it.

  132. truthspeaker says

    You’re ignoring the context where he’s talking about how the Christians describe Christos. This is obvious, since Tacitus was writing in 116AD and couldn’t have had first or even second hand information on Jesus.

  133. Owlmirror says

    Actually, they don’t [give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, look after the sick and the lonely]. That’s the problem.

    What prevents them from doing so? There were charitable people and groups back then, and there still are.

    If that was the most important thing to do, then shouldn’t that have been the only thing that Jesus said? But there’s a lot more crap, some of it quite stupid, some of it quite unpleasant.

    Say, isn’t Islam better than Christianity? It commands charity right up front there as one of the five pillars.

    Muslims are going to heaven, if they keep to that pillar, right?

    But then why be Christian?

  134. truthspeaker says

    cheyeoh says:
    28 December 2011 at 9:26 pm

    No that’s not what I’m saying, hivemind groupthink. What I’m saying is that people in general don’t just do these things; they have to be taught and encouraged to do it.

    Right. They don’t have to believe in fairy tales to do it. They do it because they learned the behavior from other humans.

  135. says

    Not to mention the societies in Europe with the least God belief are the ones that seem the most concerned about the welfare of their fellow citizens.

    In the US it is THE most religious segments that are against the idea of efficiently feeding the hungry and treating the sick because it goes against their xian views of responsibility.

  136. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Personally I prefer Judaism’s outlook towards charity. Christianity sees charity as a good action by the donor, Judaism sees it as relief for the recipient. But then Christianity is fully of the “hey look, Jesus, see how good I am” principle.

  137. cheyeoh says

    It’s also a logical fallacy to call yourself a Christian and not follow what Christ taught, Tis Himself. That point is made again and again in the gospels.

    Look, this is your corner of the internet. As I said at the start, I didn’t come here for a fight, but by not replying to your points, Arni said that I was running away, which is why I came back. I’m bothered by what’s written on this blog about Christians and what we believe, because none of it even vaguely resembles what my faith is or what we’re about. I asked the question what evidence you were looking for, because I think there needs to be a dialogue between us, instead of all the ‘aint Christians/atheists dumb’ crap. But if you want me to go, I will.

  138. says

    So far today you’ve said

    A) I deserve punishment for not believing in the story of Jesus because I find it unbelievable, and that God will be doing me a favor for this because he loves me…by putting my soul in a loveless existence.

    B) I’m a selfish bastard. Who can’t understand charity. Along with all the other nonbelievers, pagans, Jews and Muslims.

  139. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    cheyeoh wrote:

    I’m bothered by what’s written on this blog about Christians and what we believe, because none of it even vaguely resembles what my faith is or what we’re about

    You listed a bunch of things in post #132, and they were responded to by several different posters, myself included. How is that not addressing what your ‘faith is or what we’re about’?

  140. Owlmirror says

    It’s also a logical fallacy to call yourself a Christian and not follow what Christ taught, Tis Himself. That point is made again and again in the gospels.

    But Christians don’t agree on what Christ taught, and what (of what Christ taught) should be followed. That’s probably because Christ taught at least some contradictory things, or inconsistent things.

    I’m bothered by what’s written on this blog about Christians and what we believe, because none of it even vaguely resembles what my faith is or what we’re about.

    It’s not our fault that Christians can’t even agree among themselves about what they believe.

    I asked the question what evidence you were looking for, because I think there needs to be a dialogue between us, instead of all the ‘aint Christians/atheists dumb’ crap

    Dialogue, though, requires more than just repeating dogma.

    But if you want me to go, I will.

    I’m not telling you to leave. But I will keep pointing out problems with your assertions.

  141. Anri says

    1) You shouldn’t worship someone simply because they have power, whether that’s a god or an alien.

    Good point. Worshiping anyone who administers infinite punishment for a finite crime is sick, wrong and bad.
    Can you think of anyone like that?
    ‘Cause I can.

    2) You’re torn between whether you would want God to intervene or not. It might seem good to have a celestial policeman to intervene with a well placed lightning bolt when things got out of hand, but at some point you would get fed up with it and see him as a tyrant. Just as parents need to let their kids grow up and learn right from wrong, God’s got to do it with us.

    Parents do that in the understanding that their children will eventually become adults just like they are, with the same – or ideally better – understanding. Does that happen with god and man? If not, your analogy is badly constructed.

    3) Christ didn’t stay on earth, because again, he wanted us to learn, not him do it all for us. He gave us an example to follow, had it recorded, promised to be with those in spirit that tried to do what he asked and then let us get on with it. It’s called free will.

    “Do what I say or I will punish you”. That’s free will?
    Sure about that?

    4)Why did Christ choose to come as a baby etc? Because we wouldn’t have accepted him any other way. The great gap between God and us is that we think he doesn’t care and has no idea of what it is like to be human and limited ; that he just created us to lord it over us and push us around. The only way that that could be countered would be as I say, for him to lay down his power and become like us and know what it was like to be limited and what suffering and helplessness was.

    Except that, according to the book you presumably consider to be the ultimate truth, god appeared to a lot of people in a lot of different forms, and there was no problem with time accepting him then. Moses, Noah, etc, etc.
    Also, as has been pointed out to you elsewhere, he didn’t set aside his powers, and he did specifically use them to convert people.
    Just not people in China, who… what?
    Went to hell?
    Went to heaven?
    Something else?

    5.)Why did God create us? Why the universe? Why not? Whether you believe in God or not, life is precious and the world is a miracle.

    And god’s ultimate plan is to end the former and destroy the latter.
    Yes?

    6.)Hell. Forget the flames; it is quite simply a place without God. It exists because of free will, because God has to allow those who want to live without him, somewhere to go and for that to be a lasting choice.

    So, hell’s not a punishment?
    What’s the difference between hell and heaven?

    7.)How God judges; the rule of thumb is whether you gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, looked after the sick and the lonely. If you do those things you belong to God; at least the one I worship. If you don’t, then you don’t belong to him, not even if you call yourself a Christian. Read the gospels and you’ll find them full of examples of words versus actions.

    So, a wicked person can’t convert on their deathbed?
    At what point in your life is it too late? Age of majority?

    And for the record, I didn’t say you had left, just that it was likely that you would.
    You didn’t, which I appreciate.
    Of course, now you’re talking about leaving again, so…

  142. janine says

    I’m bothered by what’s written on this blog about Christians and what we believe, because none of it even vaguely resembles what my faith is or what we’re about.

    I am bothered by some people who consider themselves christian who think that I will receive eternal torment and that I will deserve it.

    So? What do you think your big sky daddy and his tiny earth bound son wants queer people to do?

  143. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Why did God create us? Why the universe? Why not? Whether you believe in God or not, life is precious and the world is a miracle.

    I’m glad that your life is sufficiently satisfying and free of suffering for you to say that, but there are plenty of people and other animals who would tell a different tale. There is much suffering in the world, and none of it is necessary from the point of view of an omnipotent creator (if you can’t achieve an end without suffering, then you’re not omnipotent).
    “Why not” doesn’t cut it, try again.

  144. throwaway says

    Funny thing about Christians is that they perpetrate the most cruel acts against supposed loved ones. All for their fantasy of mattering on a cosmic scale. Prime example: my mother. She has told me, as a matter of fact, I will be going to hell, and when she is with my deceased brother and all my family in Heaven she won’t miss me. Parse that shit…

    But by the definition of Heaven as the absence of suffering and infinite bliss, she is correct in that context. It doesn’t hurt me so much that she thinks she won’t suffer, of course I don’t want that for her; but the thing that stings the most is that this eventuality gives her comfort now, in the real world, where I should still matter.

  145. cheyeoh says

    “So far today you’ve said

    A) I deserve punishment for not believing in the story of Jesus because I find it unbelievable, and that God will be doing me a favor for this because he loves me…by putting my soul in a loveless existence.

    B) I’m a selfish bastard. Who can’t understand charity. Along with all the other nonbelievers, pagans, Jews and Muslims.”

    Please point out where I said any of this, hivemind groupthink. Because I didn’t, and it’s not what I believe and I don’t understand when you come from a Christian tradition (assuming it’s one of the mainstream churches) why you would think for a minute that I believed this.

  146. says

    I would come off my holy cloud, strip myself of my powers, and take on a physical form that they understood, but at their invitation only.

    1)you’re going to have to show me where in the bible it says the Jews requested Jesus to be born
    2)he didn’t strip himself of his powers, or else he wouldn’t be able to heal the sick
    3)In the OT, god somehow manages to walk among humans in human form, without this weird rebirth trick. Did he forget how to do that in the meantime?
    4)You know there’s no historical evidence for this Jesus character having ever existed, right?

    That is why I believe in Christ and no one else, Anri. Because he is the only god who was willing to undergo this.

    that’s not true. walking among humans is actually a pretty standard mythological trope. Krishna does this several times, even.

    I’m fairly certain that neither Odin or Parusha was mentioned by Tacitus or Pliny the Elder, shawnthesheep. Jesus is a historical figure whether you accept that he was a god or not. Odin and Parusha ain’t.

    this is false. Jesus as a person is not mentioned in any historical documents. What is mentioned in a few ancient roman texts is the belief of Christians in a person named Jesus, which is exactly the same degree of evidence we have for Odin or Zeus or any number of gods.

    It also answers the alien question, because no intelligent alien would willingly allow rampant humans to kill them; they would make their escape in some way.

    point of interest: your god didn’t precisely do that, either. He was back alive 3 days later, which means at most, he allowed humans to inconvenience him for a weekend.

    The Gospels are the recording of what he actually was like when he came here.

    that’s actually not true. if it were, they wouldn’t contradict themselves so thoroughly about his actions and his personality. They’re actually propaganda tracts (each written for a different purpose, even), not unbiased historical retellings.

    With regard to aliens, I suppose I’m being presumptive but I don’t know any creature that would willingly allow itself to be killed unnecessarily.

    again, killing assumes the “staying dead” part. you god only temporarily “died”, and we have no reason to assume that an alien who knew they would be resurrected might not want to experience “death”. There are even Star Trek episodes about exactly this.

    Also, interesting that you think his death was unnecessary; isn’t it necessary to save humans? Well, plenty of mothers both among humans and most animals, have gladly died (permanently even) to save their children. Such self-sacrifice is actually not uncommon.

    and why it would feel any obligations to those not of their own race.

    why not? even humans are capable of compassion for those “not of their race” (even if by race you mean species). Plenty of environmentalists have died to protect some critter or plant, and Jainists also rather die than injure an animal in self-protection.

    This is the relevant passage from Tacitus’ annals. The report that Tacitus refers to, is just after the Great Fire of Rome which Nero had ordered and then placed the blame on Christians;

    we’re quite familiar with that passage. And it’s precisely what Owlmirror said it was: a retelling of the beliefs of Christians (which he had no reason to doubt; disbelieving other people’s mythology wasn’t really the Romans style). It’s not actually historical evidence for the existence of Jesus.

    It might seem good to have a celestial policeman to intervene with a well placed lightning bolt when things got out of hand, but at some point you would get fed up with it and see him as a tyrant.

    we’re talking about an omnipotent being. he could have solved that problem by simply making people not assholes, something human parents don’t have a choice on. and don’t come with “free will” here. that argument pretty much means that either there’s no free will in heaven, or there’s crimes in heaven the same as here on earth. If heaven can be a place where everything is fine but people have free will, then the intermediary step of having an earth is entirely unnecessary and cruel.

    It’s called free will.

    no such thing, especially not with an eternal omniscient, and omnipotent being around.

    Because we wouldn’t have accepted him any other way.

    after the fact rationalization; and wrong on two accounts: for one, plenty of people worship gods that didn’t come as infants; and two, all those people don’t seem to give a fuck about your infant god.

    The great gap between God and us is that we think he doesn’t care and has no idea of what it is like to be human and limited ;

    he still doesn’t. for one, if he went around preaching and performing magic tricks, fully remembering himself to be god, he didn’t live the life of a normal human; and two, not having actual, finite death hanging over your head all your life means he never really experienced the human condition

    Now, if he’d given himself amnesia, and lived his life as a normal human being without ever knowing he was a god, then this might make sense.

    Whether you believe in God or not, life is precious and the world is a miracle.

    define “miracle”. because as far as I can see, the existence of life doesn’t defy any laws of physics.

    It exists because of free will, because God has to allow those who want to live without him, somewhere to go and for that to be a lasting choice.

    an omnipotent being doesn’t “have to” anything. This comment also already assumes eternal existence, which is unproven. Simply dying and ceasing to exist would be an alternative to Hell; another alternative would be to have created humans in such a way that they never chose to be against god (conversely, only letting those people be born who were going to chose to be christians anyway. An all-knowing god could absolutely do this)

    IOW, the particular arrangement you believe in is not a necessary one; if it exists, it would be because your God chose it to be so.

    the rule of thumb is whether you gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, looked after the sick and the lonely. If you do those things you belong to God

    you a Catholic by any chance? Because plenty of Christians would very much disagree with you on that one and say that none are so good as to “belong to God”.

    No that’s not what I’m saying, hivemind groupthink. What I’m saying is that people in general don’t just do these things; they have to be taught and encouraged to do it.

    that’s not entirely true. It just looks that way because children, having limited theory of mind, are not really able to be as altruistic as adults. However, empathy and group cooperation is a natural human trait. The only thing people need to be taught is which people are the “in-group” they are supposed to feel these things towards. And as stated above, there’s plenty of people whose empathy and altruistic instincts spill over into assorted out-groups.

    It’s also a logical fallacy to call yourself a Christian and not follow what Christ taught, Tis Himself.

    “logical fallacy” is a term with a specific meaning. Do not misuse it to mean simply “hipocrisy” or to commit the No True Christian fallacy yourself

    I’m bothered by what’s written on this blog about Christians and what we believe, because none of it even vaguely resembles what my faith is or what we’re about.

    there’s 38000 different flavors of Christianity, all equally Christian and often contradictory. That your particular flavor deviates from the generic descriptions here is not surprising.

    I think there needs to be a dialogue between us

    theoretically, sure. the problem is that no Christian has ever brought new arguments to the table, so it’s not really a dialogue, it’s Groundhog Day, but with different people each time.

    Because I didn’t, and it’s not what I believe and I don’t understand when you come from a Christian tradition (assuming it’s one of the mainstream churches) why you would think for a minute that I believed this.

    because that’s what they teach. Sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly.

  147. truthspeaker says

    6.)Hell. Forget the flames; it is quite simply a place without God.

    That is not what Jesus taught. Jesus said that people who don’t follow him will be cast into a lake of fire. He didn’t say anything about “a place without God”.

    How can you claim to be a Christian while rejecting what Jesus is said to have specifically taught?

  148. truthspeaker says

    cheyeoh says:
    29 December 2011 at 7:41 am

    “So far today you’ve said

    A) I deserve punishment for not believing in the story of Jesus because I find it unbelievable, and that God will be doing me a favor for this because he loves me…by putting my soul in a loveless existence.

    B) I’m a selfish bastard. Who can’t understand charity. Along with all the other nonbelievers, pagans, Jews and Muslims.”

    Both A and B come directly from the Bible, and A is explicitly taught by all mainstream Christian churches.

  149. cheyeoh says

    ” “So far today you’ve said

    A) I deserve punishment for not believing in the story of Jesus because I find it unbelievable, and that God will be doing me a favor for this because he loves me…by putting my soul in a loveless existence.

    B) I’m a selfish bastard. Who can’t understand charity. Along with all the other nonbelievers, pagans, Jews and Muslims.”

    Both A and B come directly from the Bible, and A is explicitly taught by all mainstream Christian churches.”

    Please see the parable of the Good Samaritan, the parable of the two brothers asked to do a job by their father, the reference to ‘other sheep’ by Jesus, the cure of Naaman the leper, not to mention the Magi from the East. Also check out Muslim references to ‘People of the Book’ and Jewish references to ‘Righteous Gentiles’. And if you have time, look up baptism of fire, baptism of desire. I will double check Tacitus, but it seems to me that he has given a straightforward historical account of the death of Christ and that is how it is generally accepted, even by those who do not believe in him. That way maybe we will both get something out of this. It’s been interesting anyway, if somewhat bruising. Thanks for talking to me.

  150. says

    cheyeoh, the existence of a set of stories with one moral does not in any way invalidate the existence of another set of stories with another moral (“narrow is the way”, “by their fruits” etc. as one example), nor the deeply embedded self-image of many Christians (including priests and pastors) as the moral ones, and god as the one which makes morality in a person possible through faith. Lastly, punishment for disbelief is the very core of the heaven/hell mythos, and rather undeniable unless you claim that every good person regardless of belief goes to heaven, and everyone just dies permanently.

    it seems to me that he has given a straightforward historical account of the death of Christ

    you’re not a historian, are you. a historical account of the death of someone relies on primary sources. What Tacitus does is to straightforwardly retell the beliefs of the Christians, whom he has no reason to disbelieve, as I just said. But that’s not evidence for anything other than the beliefs of Christians.

  151. says

    I would allow them to do what they willed with me, even if it meant that they tore me to pieces.

    So…you’d be just like Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, then, devoured in the name of love, eh?

  152. David Marjanović says

    That is why I believe in Christ and no one else, Anri. Because he is the only god who was willing to undergo this.

    By saying “the only god who”, you give away that you believe in several gods – you just worship only one of them and disdain all the others, you misotheist.

    Of course, the Bible contradicts itself on this point. There are plenty of passages that espouse exactly the monolatry you hold. Others, like Isaiah 45, are explicitly monotheistic instead…

    Now, if he’d given himself amnesia, and lived his life as a normal human being without ever knowing he was a god, then this might make sense.

    Reminds me of Thor the Marvel superhero.

    you a Catholic by any chance? Because plenty of Christians would very much disagree with you on that one and say that none are so good as to “belong to God”.

    Unsurprisingly enough, the Bible contradicts itself on this a lot.

  153. anteprepro says

    Mmm, one sentence referring to Jesus’s execution in a passage devoted to talking about persecution of Christians. That’s some hardcore historical evidence, right thar.

    Anyway, on intervention: Your perspective that intervention doesn’t occur is at odds with many Christians. 80% of Americans in general believe in miracles, while 70% believe in demonic and angelic influence. 58% of believers have a conception of a God engaged with the real world, with roughly 50% of believers claiming to pray daily (an act that would be irrelevant if not thanking God for divine influence and asking for more). It is very consistent with your throwing the OT under the bus, but it reeks of inconsistency to say that we would tire of regular intervention when supposedly the world was once full of God’s divine interventions (since Jesus himself was one of them). Again, it is very convenient that God stopped showing himself around the times that we would best be able to check the accuracy of those revelations.

    On Jesus not staying: If he wanted us to learn without him, he could have stayed around physically but just refused to do much. Things would have been much easier if everyone asking “What would Jesus do?” could actually go and ask the man, instead of asking priests to interpret a book for them. If you don’t see the problem with relying on human records of the divine in a world full of mythology and human mistakes, then you are beyond help.

    On people thinking God doesn’t know what it is like to be human: What the fuck ever happened to “all-knowing”? Are you seriously saying that God needed to LEARN something himself? Or are you suggesting that people who actually believed God existed didn’t think the all-knowing God that they believed made them didn’t know how being a human felt? Because, either way, it’s idiotic and beggars belief. But then we hear that God’s solution to this wasn’t to just scoff and to maybe just try to be more helpful to humans or reveal himself more often, but to come down as a human for a whole 32 years, perform a few magic tricks, and then vanish to never be seen again. What. The. Fuck.

    On Hell: Free will regarding morality doesn’t exist with a good God that:
    1. Created everything via omnipotence.
    2. Is omniscient regarding past, present, and future.

    God set everything into motion and knew all events that would transpire due to the parameters he set at creation. Granted, this set-up also makes divine intervention completely unnecessary, but that’s just another testament to how incoherent your religion is.

    And why the existence of an eternal Hell is necessary instead of simple oblivion simply escapes me. As does the presumed inability of anyone to change their mind once sequestered in the Eternal No God Zone (now brimstone free).

    Also: Baptism by desire is Catholic handwaving that only applies to Catholic converts and is an excuse to not use an actual baptism (whatever ridiculous purpose one believes that baptism serves). I can’t parse what the other passages/references are meant to do except to quibble over presenting non-Christians as “selfish” by finding cases of altruism in the OT and outside of Christ’s crew in the NT. Just can’t address the one about Hell, huh?

  154. truthspeaker says

    I’ve read all of those, cheyeoh.

    Have you read these?

    John:
    3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins

    15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

    Mark:
    16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    2 Corinthians:
    6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

    Romans:
    14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

    2 Thessalonians:
    1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
    1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power

    Hebrews:
    3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

    11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him

    There’s more, but you get the idea.

  155. truthspeaker says

    Oh, OK, one more:

    1 John:
    4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
    4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

  156. cheyeoh says

    If I were a historian and I was asked to get a primary source for a 1st century Middle East preacher whose public life lasted three years, ended by crucifixion, I might think my boss was out to get me. Being mentioned by Tacitus and others isn’t half bad under those circumstances.

    anteprepo – I did answer the Hell question way back in the comments. It exists because of free will, because if people (or other entities) want to live without God and want that to be a permanent choice, then God is obliged by his nature to provide it. Who knows, maybe there is a third choice of oblivion, but the option of continued existence, therefore Hell, has still to be there. And I also noted that Christ’s definition of a believer was someone who fed the hungry and thirsty, visited the sick and looked after the vulnerable, not what your name tag said.

    On intervention; I do believe that God intervenes in peoples’ lives, but only when he is invited to do so.

    Re God knowing how we feel; of course he knows. The point is; we needed proof of that. Maybe that’s more important to me as a believer, because I have to struggle with why suffering is permitted, whereas you don’t as an atheist. It is important, very important to me that God knows what human suffering is and has experienced it. On him ‘disappearing after 33 years; well, we didn’t make him particularly welcome, did we? But he did promise to help those who asked for his help.

    Re knowing what is going to happen and making divine intervention unnecessary, that doesn’t follow. Knowing that something is going to happen isn’t the same as making it happen; conversely it doesn’t preclude intervention.

  157. Sastra says

    cheyeoh #185 wrote:

    Re God knowing how we feel; of course he knows.

    Is God happy?

    Is God, the all-powerful, all-knowing Perfect Being, happy?

    This is a dangerous question. That’s because, from your standpoint, every answer is dangerous. Think.

  158. says

    On people thinking God doesn’t know what it is like to be human: What the fuck ever happened to “all-knowing”? Are you seriously saying that God needed to LEARN something himself? Or are you suggesting that people who actually believed God existed didn’t think the all-knowing God that they believed made them didn’t know how being a human felt? Because, either way, it’s idiotic and beggars belief. But then we hear that God’s solution to this wasn’t to just scoff and to maybe just try to be more helpful to humans or reveal himself more often, but to come down as a human for a whole 32 years, perform a few magic tricks, and then vanish to never be seen again. What. The. Fuck.

    No that was me criticizing how little the character of God in the bible seems to understand humans.

    Maybe that’s more important to me as a believer, because I have to struggle with why suffering is permitted, whereas you don’t as an atheist. It is important, very important to me that God knows what human suffering is and has experienced it. On him ‘disappearing after 33 years; well, we didn’t make him particularly welcome, did we? But he did promise to help those who asked for his help.

    So Jesus’s death was not the point then? I mean, didn’t he come to die for our sins and forgive us, for some reason?

    And really, blaming us for killing him? This is what I mean for apparently not understanding people at all. Read the Gospel, the guy does fucking everything he can apparently to get himself killed. If he fucking explained the situation to the Priests and demonstrate it, as he clearly could…being GOD, there’d be no problem. Hell if he did a public demonstration like he did for a bunch of drunks at a wedding or hungry fishermen for the local Roman government there’d be no QUESTION of Pilot washing his hands. Pilot would override any decision, consequences be damned, because he would be in the presence of a GOD. You don’t fuck with the gods, the pagans knew this. If he tried to actually prove his innocence to Pilot rather than acting like a crazy man he would have been swept away to Rome to meet with Ceaser ASAP.

    But no, he does everything right; presuming his goal was to scare a bunch of ancient people into thinking he was a sorcerer or a demon and then convince the government authorities that he was at best no one of importance.

    You know why this never happens to other gods? because they’re not idiots! The Doctor never has this problem because he doesn’t just talk in riddles and jerk people around. He talks in riddles, messes with people and oh by the way here’s my box that’s bigger on the inside proving I’m not just a crazy man.

    You’re basically saying that jesus having divine knowledge, did the equivalent of walking into a bank wearing a hockmask and waving around a toy gun, got himself shot, but didn’t die…and then blamed the bank and refused to do jack shit to help them when it was in trouble.

  159. janine says

    If I were a historian and I was asked to get a primary source for a 1st century Middle East preacher whose public life lasted three years, ended by crucifixion, I might think my boss was out to get me. Being mentioned by Tacitus and others isn’t half bad under those circumstances.

    The big sky made use of a piss poor PR.

  160. says

    I did answer the Hell question way back in the comments. It exists because of free will, because if people (or other entities) want to live without God and want that to be a permanent choice, then God is obliged by his nature to provide it. Who knows, maybe there is a third choice of oblivion, but the option of continued existence, therefore Hell, has still to be there.

    So you get heaven, and because I don’t see the magic sky man I get to either exist unconnected to love and goodness (yes I know this theology… that isn’t at all better than a literal Hell, it’s still insanely cruel) or cease to exist. And you think that’s my choice?

    Um…my choice is not to die. If I have to make a choice come death I want a regeneration, maybe someone taller…and ginger.

  161. says

    If I were a historian and I was asked to get a primary source for a 1st century Middle East preacher whose public life lasted three years, ended by crucifixion, I might think my boss was out to get me. Being mentioned by Tacitus and others isn’t half bad under those circumstances.

    Again. THE ALL KNOWING GOD. Didn’t think this was a problem?

    This is like me giving my kid an allowance by hiding it in someone elses house…and mentioning it in passing once…while he’s half asleep.

    God apparently didn’t give a shit about the Chinese?

    At least Vishnu does this trick routinely!

  162. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    cheyeoh wrote:

    It exists because of free will, because if people (or other entities) want to live without God and want that to be a permanent choice, then God is obliged by his nature to provide it. Who knows, maybe there is a third choice of oblivion, but the option of continued existence, therefore Hell, has still to be there.

    Did you choose to exist, cheyeoh? Because if you didn’t, you can’t say there’s such a thing as (God-given) free will.

  163. John Morales says

    cheyeoh:

    Please see the parable of the Good Samaritan, the parable of the two brothers asked to do a job by their father, the reference to ‘other sheep’ by Jesus, the cure of Naaman the leper, not to mention the Magi from the East. Also check out Muslim references to ‘People of the Book’ and Jewish references to ‘Righteous Gentiles’. And if you have time, look up baptism of fire, baptism of desire.

    You imagine we’re not at least as knowledgeable about the Babble, its genesis and milieu, or Abrahamic monotheism than you? ;)

    (Your arrogance is unwarranted, godbot)

  164. says

    @cheyeoh

    Did you read the blog post I linked to you? I explained there why I feel from a narrative stand point, Jesus fails and give examples of characters I think do it better

  165. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    I know I didn’t at any point say to God, ‘Yes, I wish to exist for eternity at the whim of your caprice.’

    No choice = no free will.

  166. says

    @Wowbagger

    Why not? I believe was the answer.

    Generally, in fiction, we consider the being that creates a slave race and then punishes them or other wise impedes their freedom to be a monster and a villain.

  167. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Being mentioned by Tacitus and others isn’t half bad under those circumstances.

    It isn’t half bad for a regular person, but it’s not nearly good enough for a god. Extraordinary claims, extraordinary evidence, all that stuff.
    If hard evidence from that period is hard to come by, it means that we should come to terms with the uncertainty, not that we should lower our standards enough to feel certainty with flimsy evidence.
    In other words, the proper response is “All we have is Tacitus? Shit, I guess we’ll never know for sure whether Jesus existed”, not “All we have is Tacitus? I guess we have no choice but to believe his every word as the literal truth”. Especially since, whether Tacitus believed in the existence of Jesus or not, he was merely repeating what he was told about him.

    [Hell] exists because of free will, because if people (or other entities) want to live without God and want that to be a permanent choice, then God is obliged by his nature to provide it.

    God has no free will, then?

    Re knowing what is going to happen and making divine intervention unnecessary, that doesn’t follow. Knowing that something is going to happen isn’t the same as making it happen; conversely it doesn’t preclude intervention.

    Knowing that something is going to happen isn’t the same as making it happen… unless you are the creator who set the whole chain of events in motion, that is.

  168. John Morales says

    Forbidden Snowflake,

    God has no free will, then?

    Of course not — no omniscient being can possibly have that; since they know precisely everything they will think and do until the end of time from the very start, and therefore it would be paradoxical if they did other than what they knew they would do, or cause other than what they knew would happen to happen.

    (Yup. Omniscience ineluctably implies pre-determination)

  169. gravityisjustatheory says

    timgueguen says:
    27 December 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Given that we really can’t prove most claims in the New Testament it’s just as likely, assuming she and Jesus existed at all, that Mary got pregnant by her lawfully wedded husband Joseph, and the virgin birth claim was added later to conform with prophecy regarding the Messiah.

    Which isn’t even a particularly novel claim, because numerous historical and legendary characters (e.g. Alexander the Great, Conaire Mór, Gilgamesh) claimed (or their followers claimed) that on the night they were conceived their mother was visited by a god, and that as such they are half-god themselves. (Or, given that people in those days didn’t quite understand how conception worked, that they were one third god (or two thirds in the case of Gilgamesh)).

  170. Anri says

    Of course not — no omniscient being can possibly have that; since they know precisely everything they will think and do until the end of time from the very start, and therefore it would be paradoxical if they did other than what they knew they would do, or cause other than what they knew would happen to happen.

    (Yup. Omniscience ineluctably implies pre-determination)

    And yet still allows free will – it’s a contradictory concept.

    It’s just the old ‘can god microwave a burrito so hot he can’t eat it’ questions in different terms. The answer is: yes, he could do this. And then again: yes, he could still eat it.

    So long as we grant god ‘pure’ omnipotence (rather than assuming an ‘all powerful’ being might still be confined by the bounds of the possible), we can state with absolute certainty that god both knows his own future with perfect certainty, and still has complete free will. In my experience, most religious people who think about this question that deeply, when thus cornered, simply throw up their hands and say “Well, god’s just beyond our understanding, yanno.”

    At that point, someone pulls out the video clip of Jack Nicholson ranting about people being unable to handle the truth…

  171. cheyeoh says

    We are Ing,

    I haven’t read your blog post yet, but I promise that I will.

    John,

    I did assume that you knew all the scriptures that I mentioned. If I thought you didn’t, I would have quoted them in full. What I am struggling to understand here is why you don’t understand their message about what constitutes a believer and non believer.Truthspeaker, that applies to the quotes that you gave as well. On the same subject and baptism of desire, I double checked my catechism. It says this at column 1260;

    “Since Christ died for all and since all are in fact called to the one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers..of the Paschal mystery. Everyone who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved.”

    I’ll answer the other things later, but I’m going out just now.

  172. cheyeoh says

    “Is God happy?”

    Happy has two meanings. There’s short term happy when you’re enjoying or not enjoying doing something, and then there’s long term happy, which probably would be better defined as contentment. To give an example; Martin Luther King was probably not happy with all the hassle that he got pursuing equal rights for blacks. He was probably frightened, stressed and despairing. But he pursued it because he would not have been happy with himself if he hadn’t. It was about inner contentment and integrity that made him do it. So I would say that he was happy and would have been happy with the outcome. In a similar way, God’s not happy with a lot of the crap that’s going on just now and I’m sure our inhumanity to each other makes him sad. Yet I would say that he is happy in that he is content, because he sees the longer picture and will resolve everything.

    Re the burning hot burrito or the unliftable rock, this paradox is actually what Jesus was living out; what we call the hypostatic union of God and man. So he would get tired, hungry, cold, hot and so on. It is actually a paradox that we live with and accept.

    Re why Jesus didn’t perform a miracle to threaten Pilate and the Pharisees; again it was about choice. They wanted to kill him, so he allowed them to do that. They wanted to live without him (hell again) so he had to allow them to do that. Christ is the God of love, and love does not force itself on the other person. And surely they knew they were dealing with a god; by that time he had healed the sick, walked on water and raised someone from the dead. How would they not know?

    There is a theological idea that Christ came when he did, because that was the point when people wanted God to intervene enough in order for that to happen and that it was a unique time that will not be repeated. And that is why we celebrate Christmas.

    Anri, have you finished your popcorn, or is there anything else?

  173. Sastra says

    cheyoeh #202 wrote:

    In a similar way, God’s not happy with a lot of the crap that’s going on just now and I’m sure our inhumanity to each other makes him sad. Yet I would say that he is happy in that he is content, because he sees the longer picture and will resolve everything.

    I think there is a conflict with this folksy, personal, human-like use of short term/ long term happiness and the idea of a God which is all-powerful, all-knowing, and Perfect. You’ve got a concept of Perfection which now includes frustration. An omnipotent being could not, by definition, have its aims and desires frustrated, to any degree. There’s a logical contradiction.

    Two ways of understanding God are at war with each other: God as like a person working IN the universe and limited by what happens, and a God which is in complete, total control of the universe and everything that happens.

    There is also a problem with the idea that God is happy because He knows that everything will be resolved in the Big Picture. Well, several problems.

    First, there are horrible things which have happened which are hard to reconcile with the “you’ll be glad later on” view of reality. Imagine to yourself an atrocity, perhaps the gratuitous rape and murder of a woman’s children by soldiers, as she is forced to watch. Is it really conceivable that there is some later outcome which would not only make this sort of pain and grief bearable — but optimal? The best of all worlds? Heaven would not be so good or so sweet had any tittle of suffering been spared? This is problematic.

    Second, there is the problem of the people in Hell (assuming you believe in Hell in some sense.) Whatever you think Hell is, it is filled with real people in anguish. Whether they “deserve” it or “ask for it” or any of the other usual excuses doesn’t really get around the fact that you’ve got a Being which loves all things perfectly and totally who is now faced with an eternity of watching loved ones suffer. Focus on them. God could do no less.

    If God is still happy, then how?

  174. says

    If I were a historian and I was asked to get a primary source for a 1st century Middle East preacher whose public life lasted three years, ended by crucifixion, I might think my boss was out to get me.

    you’re ignorant. if I were a historian and my boss asked me where my primary sources for some claim (be it the existence of a specific individual, a specific event, or a specific place) were, I’d actually have the decency to blush if I couldn’t provide them. Or, if I were more arrogant and desperate, I’d try weaseling out by saying my work was speculative.

    Being mentioned by Tacitus and others isn’t half bad under those circumstances.

    you do not understand how evidence works. being mentioned by Tacitus is not evidence for his existence, it’s evidence for the existence of Christians who believed in his existence and weren’t shy about saying so. Being mentioned by Tacitus is worth about as much as the descriptions of Romulus and Remus in Plutarch’s works (and Plutarch at least was what passed for a historian back then, unlike Tacitus)

    very important to me that God knows what human suffering is and has experienced it.

    so here’s the question: do you believe this to be true because he’s said to be omnipotent, or because he’s said to have lived his life as Jesus?

    If the former, then he didn’t need to do the latter; if the latter, then he never experienced what human suffering is like.

    Knowing that something is going to happen isn’t the same as making it happen;

    omnipotent and omniscient; knowing is exactly the same as making it happen, that’s what it means to be both omniscient and omnipotent. hell, even the bible says that’s the case: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”

    What I am struggling to understand here is why you don’t understand their message about what constitutes a believer and non believer.

    because you’re cherrypicking. other christiand cherrypick differently, and have different beliefs than you what constitutes a believer. You are not the final authority on how to correctly interpret the many contradictory passages of the bible on this subject; in fact, there is no such thing as a final authority on this matter; the bible is noting more than a ginormous rorschach test.

    On the same subject and baptism of desire, I double checked my catechism. It says this at column 1260;

    knew you were a Catholic. BTW, most christians don’t accept the catechism as valid for interpreting christianity. why do you think you’re right and they are wrong?

    And surely they knew they were dealing with a god;

    nope; even if we take the stories at face-value, that part of the world was neck-deep with “prophets” and “miracle-men”. telling the “real deal” from the fakes would have required direct evidence, since every single one of those wannabe messiah’s would have had followers swearing up and down that they’ve seen him perform miracles.

    Also, we’re talking about Ancient Rome here; they thought supernatural shit was happening left, right, and center. A man performing such feats wouldn’t stand out nearly as much as in our secular age.

    And that is why we celebrate Christmas.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA
    no, that’s not why christians celebrate christmas.
    1)if we take the christ-birth stories at face-value, he’d been born in spring
    2)we can’t take them at face value, since they contradict each other
    3)”Christmas” is a universally celebrated pagan celebration (yule, saturnalia, sol invictus, etc.) temporarily coopted (decorations and symbolism included) by christianity. And not even universally coopted, since now and in the past there have always been flavors of christianity that reject christmas as a valid christian holiday and focus instead on easter.

  175. says

    incidentally, this is what the bible actually has to say about winter solstice celebrations:

    10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
    10:3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
    10:4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

  176. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Hey, Pharingulites? The following comparison kind of felt like a big insight when it first occurred to me, so I would appreciate your constructive criticism if it is actually drivel.

    Re the burning hot burrito or the unliftable rock, this paradox is actually what Jesus was living out; what we call the hypostatic union of God and man. So he would get tired, hungry, cold, hot and so on. It is actually a paradox that we live with and accept.

    I just realized that the song Common People describes quite eloquently the same paradox. I’m sure you know what it’s about, and the relevant parts are these:
    And still you never get it right,
    ‘Cause when you’re laying in bed at night,
    Watching roaches climb the wall,
    If you called your dad he could stop it all

    A rich hipster girl slumming it like common people can never experience the lack of options typical for actual lower class life. Likewise, Jesus, in temporarily choosing to become human and even more temporarily choosing to abstain from working miracles, cannot feel what it’s like to have no choice but to be born human, to be unable to work miracles and to be frightened of what happens after death.

    The “paradox” of the hypostatic union is actually not a paradox, but merely a contradiction, and I see no good reason to live with and accept it.

  177. cheyeoh says

    Ok Anri,

    I don’t care if you’ve finished your popcorn or not, this is positively my last comment on this thread. In no particular order;

    1.) Since when did having feelings mean that you were imperfect? Are rocks more perfect than us because they have no feelings? Of course the God of love has feelings and all that’s tied up with that.

    2.)To God, the past,present and future are one. He lives on a different plane from us, so some of this is impossible for us to understand. In science, we try to understand this to some extent in dealing with different dimensions where time can bend. But there are going to be limits to what we can understand, because we are limited. If you haven’t already read it, try the book ‘Flatland’ which is about this.

    3.) Jesus is not a rich hipster girl slumming it. God already knew, knows how we feel about stuff, but the only way he could prove it was to give a demonstration. And Jesus didn’t call on his daddy to rescue him; he died in case you’ve forgotten.

    4.)Jadehawk, at the risk of repeating myself, here is Tacitus again;

    “Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.”

    Note; he does not go into Christian beliefs; he describes them as superstitions. He is not relating something from a Christian source; he refers to ‘one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus’ as someone whose existence he knew of. He is against Christianity, calling it evil. Of course, if I were a good historian, I might override my atheistic prejudice and study the letters of Paul, dated to 50AD and cross reference them with Acts, Pliny, Josephus and archeology from regions such as Laodicea, but I thought on this board you would only stomach the secular references, so that’s what I stuck with.

    5.) I’m not interested in religious sectarianism. I have my beliefs and others have theirs, but to me and my fellow believers, people divide into only two categories; those who love God and those who don’t and the criteria is that handsome is as handsome does.

    That’s it.

  178. says

    Note; he does not go into Christian beliefs;

    actually honey, that’s precisely what he does. the line “Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus” is a christian belief

  179. Sastra says

    cheyeoh #208 wrote:

    I don’t care if you’ve finished your popcorn or not, this is positively my last comment on this thread…

    Oh, and no response to my nice post at #203?

    Do you think God would be happy about that???

  180. says

    Of course, if I were a good historian, I might override my atheistic prejudice

    you’re one prejudiced little twerp, aren’t you.

    Of course, if I were a good historian, I might override my atheistic prejudice and study the letters of Paul, dated to 50AD and cross reference them with Acts, Pliny, Josephus and archeology from regions such as Laodicea, but I thought on this board you would only stomach the secular references, so that’s what I stuck with.

    already done; conclusion: no evidence for a Jesus person, since the only contemporary writing (Josephus) is a fake. Mind you, that’s not synonymous with Jesus not existing; but there really isn’t any evidence for any such person.

    Seriously, you need to acquaint yourself with serious, non-prejudiced (meaning, not requiring a pre-determined conclusion, i.e. usually non-christian) biblical scholarship. I’d suggest Bart Ehrmann, Thomas L Thompson, and Hector Avalos, for starters (not that I think they’d convince you; but you could at least stop being so arrogantly ignorant)

  181. Forbidden Snowflake says

    3.) Jesus is not a rich hipster girl slumming it.

    No, he’s a god who takes a break from his godly blissful state in heaven to briefly hang out with us lowly fleshy beings. And that is, like, TOTALLY DIFFERENT AND NOT AT ALL ANALOGOUS, because..?

    God already knew, knows how we feel about stuff, but the only way he could prove it was to give a demonstration.

    A demonstration of himself living as a regular human by carefully orchestrating miraculous events in preparation for his own birth as a human, performing miracles left and right, and resurrecting after death? Yep, god was really doing his best down-to-earth-regular-Joe act there…
    I’m not seeing it, so I guess the demonstration was at least part failure. Right?

    And Jesus didn’t call on his daddy to rescue him;

    Neither does the hipster girl in the song; but they both could have called their dads, and so did not really experience the helplessness associated with the conditions they attempted to imitate.

    he died in case you’ve forgotten.

    I’m sorry, but my definition of death includes still being dead two days later. So no, I haven’t forgotten, I just never agreed that he died.

  182. changeable moniker says

    Like a dog lying in the corner,
    They will bite you and never warn you, look out!
    They’ll tear your insides out
    ‘cos everybody hates a tourist
    Especially one who thinks
    It’s all such a laugh
    And the chip stains and grease
    Will come out in the bath

    You will never understand
    How it feels to live your life
    With no meaning or control
    And with nowhere left to go
    You are amazed that they exist
    And they burn so bright
    Whilst you can only wonder why

    This makes me happy. Imaginary Jeebus will never understand us.

  183. Sastra says

    cheyeoh #208 wrote:

    I have my beliefs and others have theirs, but to me and my fellow believers, people divide into only two categories; those who love God and those who don’t and the criteria is that handsome is as handsome does.
    That’s it.

    Not quite. What happens if someone refuses to love God because they love their neighbor as themselves? Do your collective heads all explode?

    It’s not handsome, but it has a good personality and can cook. People divide into more than two categories.

  184. says

    those who love God and those who don’t and the criteria is that handsome is as handsome does.

    so which is it? are good (“handsome”) atheists actually secret Christians, or is it that it’s impossible for atheists to be as good as christians, thus you can recognize a christian “by their fruits”?

    Not quite. What happens if someone refuses to love God because they love their neighbor as themselves? Do your collective heads all explode?

    oh sastra, you’re made of so much win…

  185. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    cheyeoh, you’re contradicting yourself. In #208 you wrote:

    God already knew, knows how we feel about stuff, but the only way he could prove it was to give a demonstration.

    But upthread you wrote this:

    The only way that that could be countered would be as I say, for him to lay down his power and become like us and know what it was like to be limited and what suffering and helplessness was.

    So, which is it? God already knew and sent Jesus as a ‘demonstration’, or that he didn’t know and came down as Jesus so he could find out what suffering and helplessness was?

  186. Forbidden Snowflake says

    changeable moniker, thanks for linking to the proper version. I knew there was something wrong with the one I linked to (beyond having the word “screw” bleeped out by some filthy prude). I’m glad you see my point about the song’s relevance to Christianity.

  187. Sastra says

    Come on, people. This is the one and only correct version of “Common People.”

    That Jesus was both fully God and fully man is called a ‘paradox’ in theology. In real life, it’s called a ‘logical contradiction.’

    As for the quality of ‘perfect’ entailing that God has feelings and emotion (or that it doesn’t), all that’s really obvious here is that ‘perfection’ is such a slippery, ambiguous, subjective term that it means too many things to too many people, sometimes simultaneously. Eastern religions (and forms of ‘sophisticated’ Christian theology) will have God as transcending ALL humanly recognizable categories in order to be properly High and Mighty, thereby transcending God right into incoherence and mystery.

    As I posted today on WEIT:

    I think theists would have a hard time choosing which of these versions of God is “more perfect:”

    1.) A God that is totally Other, an indescribable, mysterious force beyond our comprehension and transcending our understanding of good and evil.

    2.) A God that deeply cares, feels, and partakes in our lives, approving of what is right, disapproving of what is wrong, and helping us with His intervention like a parent would a child.

    A really sophisticated theologian would know how to explain that God is actually both!

    They just wouldn’t know how to do that very well.

  188. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    A really sophisticated theologian would know how to explain that God is actually both!

    They just wouldn’t know how to do that very well.

    Indeed. Wouldn’t stop them trying, though – [cough] special pleading! [cough].

  189. says

    Ah yes Ing, I’ll read your explanation to understand your POV….later…..Because…..Handsomness!

    And again it all comes down to basic out group bigotry.

  190. says

    Also as I might have mentioned before

    If you want a better version of the story, Doctor Who took it and spun it on its head.

    The sacrifice the god makes in that story isn’t giving up the godly powers to die for someone…it’s giving up being mortal and connected to people who love him to take up the responsibility of being godlike for the greater good.

  191. Sastra says

    Wowbagger #223 wrote:

    Indeed. Wouldn’t stop them trying, though – [cough] special pleading! [cough].

    Oh, let me try!

    I’d bypass Special Pleading for the amazing and devastating Argument from Analogy. Ahem…

    Now, how could God be both Totally Beyond Comprehension AND a Loving and Caring Parent?

    Consider your hand. Your thumb is not a finger, is it? No. But if someone asks you to wiggle your fingers and you hold up your hand and wiggle your fingers and thumb — is there any sense of disharmony? Is there a failure to follow directions? Is there any inherent contradiction? Again, no.

    God’s nature, then, can be understood as similar to that.

    (The above is a prime example of theological handwaving…)

  192. David Marjanović says

    if I were a historian and my boss asked me where my primary sources for some claim (be it the existence of a specific individual, a specific event, or a specific place) were, I’d actually have the decency to blush if I couldn’t provide them.

    QFT.

    Or, if I were more arrogant and desperate, I’d try weaseling out by saying my work was speculative.

    “Not intended as a factual statement”!

    oh sastra, you’re made of so much win…

    Seconded.

  193. David Marjanović says

    (The above is a prime example of theological handwaving…)

    Complete, even, with the obligatory casual distortion of facts. In anatomical nomenclature, the thumb is of fucking course a finger. Look at a bear’s forepaw and dare tell me otherwise. But theologians don’t look at bears, or at anything. They think about what they’d like to be true, and then they write it down; that’s all.

  194. truthspeaker says

    cheyeoh says:
    30 December 2011 at 10:07 am

    John,

    I did assume that you knew all the scriptures that I mentioned. If I thought you didn’t, I would have quoted them in full. What I am struggling to understand here is why you don’t understand their message about what constitutes a believer and non believer.Truthspeaker, that applies to the quotes that you gave as well

    Yes, it’s very clear that a true believer is someone who worships Jesus as God. That’s why almost all Christian denominations have defined it that way for 1700 years or more.

  195. anteprepro says

    I hate what passes for “responses” among the godly.

    If I were a historian and I was asked to get a primary source for a 1st century Middle East preacher whose public life lasted three years, ended by crucifixion, I might think my boss was out to get me.

    Getting unbiased sources that slightly mention the man within his actual lifetime, when he was merely born of a virgin, received gifts from wayward kings at birth, regularly performed miracles during his stint as preacher, had a large and devoted following, was executed by the government for his beliefs, and allegedly came back from the dead when his tomb was found empty? That’s just a ridiculous expectation!

    It exists because of free will, because if people (or other entities) want to live without God and want that to be a permanent choice, then God is obliged by his nature to provide it. Who knows, maybe there is a third choice of oblivion, but the option of continued existence, therefore Hell, has still to be there.

    Who knows: Maybe God just doesn’t fucking exist. Ever think that one through? Who, if God actually existed, was actually good, and this became perfectly clear after death, would want to live away from him forever? Who would actually make that choice? No, even the most stalwart atheists would relent if one could actually choose Heaven in the afterlife instead of Heaven being a reward for only belief in life. Who would choose Hell? Why does it even exist as a possibility? And if Hell isn’t actually the choice, but rather is the consequence of choices…an eternal prison sentence for a finite life of crime is still fucking wrong. Do you get that? Even granting the idea that God will consider people who do good deeds as a believer, it does not follow that those who both don’t believe and did bad deeds deserve to suffer forever.

    On intervention; I do believe that God intervenes in peoples’ lives, but only when he is invited to do so.

    Which is consistent with the Old Testament accounts of divine intervention…how?

    The point is; we needed proof of that…On him ‘disappearing after 33 years; well, we didn’t make him particularly welcome, did we? But he did promise to help those who asked for his help.

    Hah. Yeah, people needed proof that God understood humans, so he proved it to people over the course of the 3 years that you claim he was active, 2000 years ago, and to no-one else. What a great god. Oh, and he hasn’t tried again because people were mean to him. Pay no attention to the fact that the majority of the world population are members of religions specifically worshiping his human avatar now. He hasn’t come back to our predominantly Christian modern world because humans in the ancient non-Christian world executed him. Brilliant! Also: He’s doing a grand job of helping people who ask for his help. That’s why prayer is shown to work and why Christians are always better off in life then counterparts of different religions, right? Right?

    Knowing that something is going to happen isn’t the same as making it happen; conversely it doesn’t preclude intervention.

    What is wrong with Christians? No, knowing that something is going to happen isn’t the same as making it happen. Creating everything in the universe when you know everything that is going to happen, however, IS making it happen. Anyone with at least a quarter of a functioning brain could see the clear case for this, but the vast majority of Christians just drool and say “whelp, knowing the future don’t mean he caused the future”, completely removing the whole “God also created fucking everything” from their own view in order to such a truism as if it wasn’t beside the fucking point. And no, omniscience doesn’t preclude intervention: Omniscience in addition with creating everything in the universe just makes intervention fucking moronic.

  196. anteprepro says

    Oh, this little tidbit was too lulzy to pass up:

    Re why Jesus didn’t perform a miracle to threaten Pilate and the Pharisees; again it was about choice. They wanted to kill him, so he allowed them to do that. They wanted to live without him (hell again) so he had to allow them to do that. Christ is the God of love, and love does not force itself on the other person. And surely they knew they were dealing with a god; by that time he had healed the sick, walked on water and raised someone from the dead. How would they not know?

    -Jesus is so all about free choice. Except for the free choice to be moneychangers in a temple and the choice to stone people according to OT law. Guess he needed to follow God the Father’s grand tradition of allowing free will for everyone He doesn’t kill, order to do something via revelation, or whose hearts he doesn’t harden.
    -We all know that not forcing love on someone means that you have to let them kill you. That’s Relationships 101.
    -I’m sure it was well known and accepted by the Jewish people killing Jesus that Jesus was God. They were rejecting and refusing to love God, instead of simply not believing that Jesus was Him. What evil God-hating Christ-killers they be.
    -Of course, healing people and walking on water are the only criteria one needs to believe that the human performing such acts is actually a God! It’s so obvious! It is the only possible explanation. I will begin worshipping Criss Angel, Benny Hinn, and any doctor who has ever successfully defibrillated someone as the incarnated gods they undoubtedly are. You’ve finally shown me the light!

  197. says

    On intervention; I do believe that God intervenes in peoples’ lives, but only when he is invited to do so.

    Sorry, this cannot stand. This is sick and evil. I give the benefit of the doubt that you havnt’ throught through the implications (snark: supported by your lack of imagination /snark) but stop this bullshit right now.

    A youth group leader is short on cash for a church trip, but manages to find 20 bucks on the street and can afford to go. She invited god in so he intervened

    A mother in Maurutania watches are her children are taken from her by slavers and she is raped.

    Which one of those Christians do you think prayed harder.

    You’ve taken this problem that God doesn’t seem to care about the poorest or most unfortunate (almost a Calvinist position because if God was intervening for them they wouldn’t be unfortunate as they are) and placed the blame ON THOSE WHO SUFFER.

    Why do the poor starve, the innocent get attacked and children die before they’re even able to understand the situation they’re in? Because they or someone around them didn’t love God enough…otherwise he would been invited to intervene.

  198. says

    Re why Jesus didn’t perform a miracle to threaten Pilate and the Pharisees; again it was about choice. They wanted to kill him, so he allowed them to do that. They wanted to live without him (hell again) so he had to allow them to do that. Christ is the God of love, and love does not force itself on the other person. And surely they knew they were dealing with a god; by that time he had healed the sick, walked on water and raised someone from the dead. How would they not know?

    Bullshit. Like I said, Jesus did everything to portray himself as someone not worth their time. They didn’t CHOOSE to live without him, they had no idea who he was. According to the Bible Pillate just thought he was a harmless loon who upset the apple cart. The Pharisees thought he was a necromancer. And they reached that conclusion due to the second and third hand sources they got of him. He never gave them the choice because he never provided them with clear knowledge and information. he spoke in riddles and hide his messiahship, from a group of people who were DESPERATELY WAITING FOR THE MESSIAH.

    These people, even in the context of the story weren’t ‘evil’ they were misinformed! The only one in the story who was clearly actively silicious when you think about it was Herod.

    Jesus performed magic which could be seen as sorcery, outlawed by GOD HIMSELF, started a riot at the sacred temple OF GOD HIMSELF, and seemingly failed to fulfill messianic prophecy. Then he chooses not to defend himself or explain himself clearly and properly and blames the others for reaching a reasonable conclusion and sentencing him to a standard punishment for the time. Hell, Jesus got off easier than others would have because they had to take him down early. This is like finding out that fucking Charles Manson IS Jesus and him judging you for not believing in him.

  199. says

    And this wasn’t even a secret test of character to see how they’d act towards a weak lowly wretch because a) he built a following of personality so he wasn’t just some random lowly figure, b) he actually did shit that deserved valid punishment.

    He attacked seemingly unprovoked citizens of the Roman Empire, in the Jew’s most sacred of temples and managed to occupy it for a period of time. In the day that would be inciting a revolt or a riot. He got the punishment that was standard for the time.

  200. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Janine:

    Call it a Hot William?

    (I am so sorry.)

    Well, that’s a mouthful of coffee that just shot out my nose.

  201. KG says

    Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. – Tacitus, quoted by cheyoeh

    Well if we’re to take this passage as accurate historical reportage, the 1st-century Christians were thoroughly evil people, practising abominations and hating mankind. One is inclined to cheer for the lions.

  202. Sastra says

    We Are Ing #236 wrote:

    These people, even in the context of the story weren’t ‘evil’ they were misinformed!

    But in the context of the ‘meta-story,’ nobody is misinformed. The meta-story I’m talking about isn’t the Bible; it’s the religious narrative per se.

    What I can make out is that most religions/spiritualities assume the existence of what amounts to ESP — a sensus divinitis, an underlying mind-connection to the supernatural forces which lie below the surface. Sometimes all people have it; sometimes it’s only available to those who are especially sensitive, loving, open, or members of the right blood-group or tribe. The logic of who has it and who doesn’t will vary, but it’s always a factor. Every damn religious mindset has it, somewhere.

    And God ESP is always 100% reliable — as reliable now as God. If you follow it, you are good and obedient. If you refuse it, ignore it, doubt it, or pretend to yourself/others that you don’t have it, then you are accountable. There’s no excuse for the second “choice.”

    If you think about it, it’s not only the only way the stories in the Bible makes sense, it’s also the only way to make sense of faith and the religious insistence on rejecting objective evidence for subjective certainties as a sign that you’re being properly humble and ‘seeking.’ Extra-sensory perception. God placing you, the apostles, the people in the temple, the Egyptian pharaoh, the sinners and saints of the Bible, the saved and the damned all over the world, all on the exact same footing. You’re ultimately all epistemically equal.

    Isn’t that neat? Solves all the problems — for the faithful.

    Nasty for us, of course. It’s not true. Which makes believing it is, downright wicked. Original sin.

  203. says

    How our good liberal christian starts talking about how people CHOOSE it, ignoring the questionable premise of judging all people on their choices when the starting data points are different for them, and how God will help if you INVITE him just shows how toxic it is. He may scoff and take offense to me mentioning how this is basically bigotry but that doesn’t stop him from demonstrating how it is exactly bigotry in his defense of it.

    Those who are saved are becaues of innate goodness where they choose God, those who aren’t are because they apparently choose not God. This inevitably leads to bigotry as they from that insist that said people wouldn’t have chosen God even with full knowledge, which is why we get Atheist villains who are cartoonishly stupid.

  204. KG says

    Re the burning hot burrito or the unliftable rock, this paradox is actually what Jesus was living out; what we call the hypostatic union of God and man. So he would get tired, hungry, cold, hot and so on. It is actually a paradox that we live with and accept. – cheyoeh

    No, the paradox being pointed out by Anri@199 is not the same as the doctrine of the hypostatic union. We might call the former the paradox of omnipotence. It is just as relevant to religions that do not claim their omnipotent god has not manifested itself in human form, as to Christianity. The doctrine of the hypostatic union is the reason we know Christianity is false, to a far greater degree of certainty than any other religion. The doctrine states that Jesus was “wholly God and wholly man” or “true God and true man”. However, since the concepts designated by “man” and “God” have incompatible attributes, nothing can be an example of both.

    Incidentally, your failure to distinguish between these two entirely distinct questions is only too typical of the Christian mushy-headedness you exemplify so well. In truth, you can’t afford to think straight, because that would reveal to you how exquisitely ridiculous your beliefs are.