Open thread for #20.14: Matt hosts Sarah Morehead and Neil Carter


Sarah and Neil discuss their project “Removing the Fig Leaf” with Matt.

At the “About” section of their blog:

Those of us who will be contributing to this blog have plenty to say about the deleterious impact of religion on our sexuality. Each of us has shouldered the burden of guilt and shame placed on us by our religious upbringings. Each of us has had to “remove the fig leaf” in our own way, and perhaps we will never be completely done with that process.  When you are taught to be ashamed of your humanity during your formative years, the baggage stays with you for the rest of your life.

But it does get better. Each of us has worked through these issues to some level of personal satisfaction (heh), and this digital space has been created to talk about how we’ve progressed. We will use this blog platform to unpack our own religious hangups around our sexuality, picking apart those ideas which shackled our own enjoyment of ourselves and of others. Just about anything related to sexuality is fair game, since it’s all connected, although the focus of this blog will be on the intersection of faith, skepticism, humanism, and sexuality.

Comments

  1. says

    This topic is way overdue. And the way they’re addressing it is fantastic. This is probably one of the most interesting shows I’ve seen in awhile. I love this project. Thank you so much to Sarah and Neil for coming forward and making this dialog a reality in an organized and coordinated, and very human way. Reminds me a bit of when I first heard Darrel Ray.

  2. adamah says

    Great show, peeps!

    On the 2nd caller, I’m so sick of theists who suggest that without God, humans can’t possess morals (i.e. a sense of right and wrong).

    It’s like they haven’t read their own Bible (or are calling their God a liar), for in Genesis 3:22, God clearly says this:

    “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”

    Of course, in the Genesis account God said this after Adam and Eve ate God’s magical wisdom-bestowing fruit (which supposedly imbued anyone who ate it with WISDOM, the missing ingredient needed to determine right from wrong: even modern Xians believe wisdom is needed to use one’s “Bible-trained conscience” to make independent moral decisions).

    Of course, the rest of us humans are claimed to be their offspring, and thus are supposed to share in their “eyes being opened”.

    The forbidden fruit account has a long list of logical problems with it, the most obvious being that Eve made the decision to eat the magical wisdom-bestowing fruit BEFORE she ate it, hence BEFORE she actually possessed wisdom (the requisite missing ingredient needed to make independent moral decisions, which would’ve been a nice capacity to have understood that disobeying God was wrong).

    And how wise is God made out to be by planting the delicious fruit in the middle of the Garden, where foolish Adam and Eve could be tempted by it, and gain easy access to it?

    (Remember, the account says God stationed cherubs with fiery swords around the Tree of Life to prevent the human pair from accessing it AFTER eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Shouldn’t God have stationed a pair of cherubs on the Tree of Knowledge, if He clearly had the capability to order cherubs to protect His fruit garden from human trespassers?)

    And even if someone believes in a non-prescient God (which the Jews who wrote the Account didn’t: they conceived of a God who didn’t know the future), what kind of God would actually expect a pair of humans deprived of wisdom from making other than foolish decisions?

    (As the account reads, God created them as ‘perfect’ fools, since they lacked wisdom, and God ordered them to remain that way, due to God’s Divine prohibition.)

  3. says

    Regarding the “My parents are my God” caller,

    I’ve noticed a pattern where some people get attached to the words themselves. Whether the definition of those words makes sense or not, doesn’t appear to matter, as long as they have the words.

    It’s like doing character creation in a role playing game, and you’re being asked to fill out the “Deity”, “Divine Power” or “Worship Topics” attributes for this fictional person. Being at least somewhat skeptical/scientific minded, they can’t bring themselves to fill out the standard options, so they start looking around the room, trying to figure out what to plug in.

    So they end up saying that “Coffee” is the deity, “Javascript” is what they what the character worships, etc. They’re silly superficial answers, but hey – at least those fields are filled out. That’s what matters.

    They’re either unaware that those questions could be left blank, or they’re severely uncomfortable with doing so… so it doesn’t matter what they grasp for… throw anything in.

  4. Monocle Smile says

    @Jasper
    I probably won’t be able to find it, but Ask an Atheist talked about this for a bit. Religious people often don’t fundamentally understand lack of religion. They just think they can take their worldview, replace all the nouns, and then they have an accurate portrayal of another person’s belief structure. They often just don’t get that we don’t even have the same template.

  5. adamah says

    @Jasper of Maine,

    Sometimes even acknowledged geniuses will engage in that type of word-trickery, e.g. when asked if he believed in God, Einstein would answer that he believed in Spinoza’s God, allowing believers (who likely didn’t know Spinoza was a deist, or even what ‘deism’ is) to improperly claim Einstein was a theist, since he said he believed in God.

    I’ve often wondered if Einstein knew something the rest of us atheists don’t (about the wisdom of letting people believe what they really want to believe, damn the evidence), and if we may have an unnatural obsession with brutal honesty…. (I’m not excluding other possible alternatives, of course, eg intellectual integrity, etc). 🙂

  6. Monocle Smile says

    Neil hit a home run during Brian’s call. I’ve been impressed in both appearances on the show. Brian, on the other hand, is a dunce. He’s completely lost.
    My favorite line: “You can just explain how. Can you explain why?” Brian has unwittingly appealed to teleology. Good job, fool. That call was never going to go anywhere.

  7. zorg says

    Great show today Matt. Sarah and Neil were a great addition to the discussion, they really helped with the flow and balance. Matt didn’t even get mad today. Ha, thanks for your insight Matt.

  8. jeffh123 says

    The finely tuned universe argument irks me to no end. Add to that the WLCraig routine of if God then God. I ask Christians “Why your God if science is wrong?” They all answer like Jack. I just stay away from them.

  9. timeflier says

    I used to think that the fine tuning argument used to be somewhat convincing, but now that I’ve heard a lot more about it, it’s just rubbish. Even if a God was a sufficient explanation, it’s not in any way be demonstrated to be necessary. Super technologically advanced aliens that did an experiment to create a Universe could be sufficient, but not necessary.

  10. adamah says

    BTW, in regards to the “God is my parents” caller, I was getting a heavy whiff of ‘style over substance’ fallacy, wherein the caller was seemingly impressed with his own cleverness to the point where his idea operated as a ‘thought-stopper’, completely overwhelming his ability to use cogent analysis.

    BTW, even some of us atheists are susceptible to S.O.S. fallacies (gasp, I know!).

    I remember a recent show wherein the co-host was saying something to the effect that there’s no way to be an atheist improperly (I believe his exact words were based on turning a noun into a verb, i.e. “You’re atheisting wrong”. Sure, that kind of word-play is clever enough to elicit a laugh, but the idea may crumble given only a moment’s thought).

    I obviously don’t agree: I think it IS possible to be “atheisting wrong”.

    We’ve all heard of Xians who claimed to be atheists until they ‘found God’. They in fact likely were “atheisting wrong”, not professing atheism for RATIONAL reasons, but for irrational emotive reasons (e.g. they ‘wanted to sin’, etc). Hence they’re often only projecting their motives onto us, inadvertently revealing their own bad motives (instead of uncovering ours).

    Without flat-out saying those who profess to be atheists MUST be able to present cogent rationale to back up the claim, there in fact are “weak in their faithlessness” atheists who cannot back up their non-belief with reason, but instead must rely on thought-stopping emotional appeals and clever (but potentially false) slogans.

  11. Monocle Smile says

    @adam
    Martin’s point was in response to callers and emails complaining about the discussion of topics other than dictionary atheism on the show. If you don’t believe in a god, you’re an atheist. Sure, one may be an atheist for bad reasons, but that doesn’t make one not an atheist. And holding certain social or political stances doesn’t make one not an atheist or a bad atheist, either. AXP just gets calls and lots of emails to the contrary. What you’re talking about is skepticism, and while I’d prefer atheists hold their titular positions as a result of skepticism, not being a skeptic doesn’t mean the “atheist” label does not apply.

  12. says

    jasper @ 3:

    “They’re either unaware that those questions could be left blank, or they’re severely uncomfortable with doing so… so it doesn’t matter what they grasp for… throw anything in.”

    my armchair diagnosis is an untreated chronic inflammation of “belief in belief”, where the afflicted in this case has yet to eradicate implicit assumptions that theistic frameworks are intrinsically good and beneficial (even if specific religions aren’t) and must be constructed using whatever intellectual models are at hand. until the victim feels whole without relying upon pseudo-religious surrogates or crutches, the prognosis is uncertain …

  13. citizen_scriv says

    quality show, it’s really lovely to hear some other voices, send more guests 🙂

  14. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    Regarding the “parents are god”/”god is whatever the hell is particularly useful to me right now” guy, I suspect he was actually a humanist who was just trying to be funny… this is based purely on the fact that I could hear a huge grin in his voice, though, so I could easily be wrong about that. I could also believe the “I’m so smart” angle proposed by adamah @9, but I’m not really convinced of that.

    Speaking of…
    @adamah, 9

    I obviously don’t agree: I think it IS possible to be “atheisting wrong”.
    We’ve all heard of Xians who claimed to be atheists until they ‘found God’. They in fact likely were “atheisting wrong”, not professing atheism for RATIONAL reasons, but for irrational emotive reasons (e.g. they ‘wanted to sin’, etc). Hence they’re often only projecting their motives onto us, inadvertently revealing their own bad motives (instead of uncovering ours).

    While I agree that those would be poor reasons to not believe in a god, I think it’s less that they’re atheisting wrong, and more that they’re actually not really atheisting at all! From my conversations with those types of people, what I’ve picked up is that they believed the whole time, but were simply rebelling against their god. A fairly comment sentiment I’ve heard is, “coming to God was the last thing I wanted!” Which is quite different from not believing that there was a god to come to. That’s probably why so many of them are able to accept that atheists really do believe and are acting out, or that we’re secretly satanists

  15. Yaddith says

    If a theist asked me: “Where do your get your morals from,” I would ask him the same question. I would hope that he doesn’t get them from the god of the Bible, who condones (and sometimes orders) rape, slavery, theft, genocide, and human sacrifice.

  16. says

    I’m really digging Matt’s “how does god help to explain this?” rebuttals I’ve heard more recently. I think he’s demonstrated he can thoroughly dig into secular morality, but rather than go on the defensive, he’s asking the caller how their “god” actually addresses the issue–when in fact it doesn’t.

    The caller asking “why” rather than “how” is not understanding that an explanation of “how” is often integral to even beginning to understand “why.”

    If my brakes begin to fail, and I take my car to the shop, and they fix the car, but I don’t know anything about how they fixed it, then I also can’t begin to understand WHY the brakes failed. But let’s say they explain how. They come to me and say “Your brake line appears to have been cut.” Well, that’s an entirely different scenario than “your pads were getting worn.” It changes the “why” aspect a great deal. In one case, is someone trying to proactively harm me? [which is a “why”] In the other, seems to be simple wear and tear. [which stops at “how,” and leaves no room for “why”]

    Saying we can accurately assess “why” without any understanding of “how” is naive. And that’s if there even is a “why”–since not all things in reality are caused by agency.

    And when you ask “how was the universe created?” And someone responds “God did it.” They are, in fact, saying “we have no explanation, so it must be magic.” And that translates to “We don’t know how.” And we’re right back to “If you don’t know how, you’re working with one arm tied behind your back with trying to understand why.” In fact, if you can’t say “how”–then you really can’t even suggest “a god did it.” You can’t possibly know that if you aren’t able to understand or explain the mechanism. “I don’t know how…but I know a god was the cause,” makes no sense. “My house burned down…and I don’t know how…but I know it was magic.” It’s like saying “I don’t know what color this shirt is, but it’s red,” except “red” would have to be another term for “we don’t know what color it is.”

  17. says

    @15

    I’m really digging Matt’s “how does god help to explain this?” rebuttals I’ve heard more recently. I think he’s demonstrated he can thoroughly dig into secular morality, but rather than go on the defensive, he’s asking the caller how their “god” actually addresses the issue–when in fact it doesn’t.

    I think in many cases, these people do fundamentally operate on a secular morality at their core. But when asked, they start engaging in a ransom-note theology, where they cut out snippets of the Bible, and reassemble them in such a way that conforms with their secular morality… and then simply give the credit to the holy book, with holed-pages.

    But of course, that’s just more backseat diagnosis from me.

  18. Devocate says

    @15:

    Even that isn’t helpful. Do the morals I have come from god, in which case I can use those morals to show conclusively that the bible is immoral.

  19. jenleequick says

    I feel our current cultural moral norms are evidence that morality is a natural characteristic that evolves over generations to the benefit of social animals. If it was an innate supernatural endowment then we would still have barbaric, intolerant, tribal moral laws that are dictated by old testament. I don’t believe that it’s by pure accident the majority of world powers have become more and more humane over time and continue to progress to more human standards despite conservatives efforts against progress. It’s to our evolutionary advantage.

  20. Cousin Ricky says

    Message for Ajith: You’re a fucking atheist. Just accept it, and welcome to the club. 🙂

  21. rudyrotten says

    @Tracie Great analogy with the brakes. In regards to how the universe was created, especially in the argument “something can’t come from nothing” or “complex things need an even more advanced creator”, both being things that anyone who discusses or debates theists regularly has heard far too many times, I’m still a fan the response “then since God is something, what did he come from?” and “so if complex things like humans need a more complex creator, by your definition, God is complex…..so tell me, what uber super complex being created god?” You’d think I’d get more special pleading type responses, but to your every day theist, it’s been my experience that these responses have been effective in getting them to start thinking logically about their argument, and even about their god. Are you hearing less and less special pleading than you used to hear?

  22. Conrad WInchester says

    In my view, the fine tuning argument is so fundamentally flawed.

    If god exists why does the universe have to be tuned at all?

    Gravitational constant out a bit – no problem! god can hold the stars together.
    Omega out by a tiny fraction – not problem! god can hold the universe together.

    Basically, if there is an omnipotent god who can do anything then we can never trust that the universe will behave in a consistent manner and there is no need for physics.

  23. Grace of Oklahoma says

    This really doesn’t have anything to do with the actual topic of discussion, but I’m really curious about it. I’ve been getting into AXP over the last week, watching previous episodes and specific clips, and I’ve notice that (namely Matt) that he has like a little notebook and writes in it. He’s not writing long when he does like taking notes, just a quick scribble motion. So I was wondering what are writing when you do this?

  24. says

    Ya.. Keep talking about sex, guys, it s 2016 it shouldn’t be a taboo anymore. Great job.

    As per the discussion about innate desire to live, I actually think we human don’t care much about live and die, we simply prefer pleasure to pain. So cuz dying usually involves pain, we try to avoid it. Also, it involves unknown too, we don’t like unknown either so the majority of us would just like to live, wait and see.

  25. Mobius says

    @4 Monocle Smile

    I agree 100%. I post regularly on one atheist forum and the fundamentalist on the site have not a clue how skeptics and atheist think. But, of course the do think they know, and as you said they just start with their own worldview and think everyone else must think the same things. Atheism is a religion, science is based on faith, and so on.

    One aspect of this that really bothers me is that this leads them to have virtually no empathy for others. They can’t see something from someone else’s viewpoint because they can’t see any viewpoint other than their own, or some slightly modified version of it.

  26. rudyrotten says

    @Conrad…. That’s a great point. If God existed, why would there be constants in the universe? Wouldn’t we see true randomness and few constants in a god governed universe? After all, what would be the point of all the extra work creating a universe that is incredibly complex in its rules and structure when God could simply hold every molecule together any way he wanted with a tiny fraction of is will?

    Extremely valid point imo.

  27. says

    @25/Mobius:

    >One aspect of this that really bothers me is that this leads them to have virtually no empathy for others. They can’t see something from someone else’s viewpoint because they can’t see any viewpoint other than their own, or some slightly modified version of it.

    This is dead on. And also reminds me of how I felt when I started to actually read firsthand accounts of what other people believe. There was an actual incident I had with my preacher where I went to him to tell him that what he was saying from the pulpit about Buddhists/Buddhism was not correct. I explained to him what was correct, because I’d been studying it on my own, and he replied to tell me that it was dangerous for me to be doing self-study without “guidance.” This stunned me, because I was just alerting him to a mistake, and thinking he’d be glad to be better informed and not make that same mistake in the future. But the response was to tell me I shouldn’t be studying things that interest me, because dangerous…because I might not understand it as well as the preacher who gets it wrong during his lecture and won’t take private correction–and who thinks he should be guiding ME in my studies on this issue?

    The irony here, without getting too much into Church of Christ doctrinal weeds, is that the CoC denounces other churches that use other authorities or supplements to the Bible. They actually say that if you let someone read a Bible and Catholic Church papal traditions, they will become a Catholic. If you let someone read a Bible and a WatchTower tract, they will become a JW. If you let them read a Bible and the writings of Joseph Smith, they’ll become a Mormon. But if you just give them a Bible, they’ll become a Christian.

    So, it’s a church that actually promotes that people should self-study and avoid influence of others when trying to discern the truth of a writing. But apparently that only works with Bibles, and with Buddhist historic texts you need a Christian to tell you what they mean, because they don’t seem to mean anything like what they actually say, according to my ex-preacher.

  28. Ethan Myerson says

    @27 – Tracie

    That’s horrifying, but not entirely unexpected. If I were designing a religion, I’d also try to make sure the adherents never got “unfiltered” access to other viewpoints.

    I was raised in a fairly liberal Jewish household. One of the tenets of Judaism, as I was taught it, was that Jews have an obligation to study, to investigate, to question. I was happy to do so, but even as I did, I thought “this is no way to propagate a religion”. You can’t simultaneously promote skeptical investigation AND hope to defend claims based on faith.

  29. RationalismRules says

    @22/Conrad

    Your argument looks good on first reading, but the counter would simply be ‘God chose to do it through fine tuning”.

    I find the fine tuning argument deeply frustrating because although as you say, it’s fundamentally flawed, it’s the one argument that my brain ‘likes’. I know it’s wrong, and I know why it’s wrong, but my mind intuitively wants to accept it – like an optical illusion for the brain.

    Perhaps a consequence, I haven’t yet managed to shape a clear & simple counter. The reality is, life is fine-tuned by the conditions of the universe, not vice-versa, but try to get that point across to someone…. oy veh!

  30. StonedRanger says

    @ Grace
    I don’t know for sure, but Im thinking he is writing down keywords of things callers are saying. Sometimes they try to assert many things one right after the other and it is sometimes hard to keep track of them. Also keywords help him form a response to specific points in the callers arguments. Or he could be writing haikus, what do I know?

  31. Joel Rudy says

    @Rationism The fine tuning argument does the opposite for me. It sits wrong…partly because, as you said, we’re basically tuned to the universe, but I wouldn’t say we’re fine tuned for it at all….much the opposite. We’re designed well enough to have survived our primitive stages, and developed brains that overcame the severe shortcoming of having weak, soft bodies. We can die from electrical discharge from the sky standing in our back yard for crying out loud….and plop us is 99.9999999% of the known universe…dead in seconds. So for me, the fine tuning argument fails on both fronts.

  32. says

    @RationalismRules #29

    I can imagine that once a person has a particular cause/effect directionality in their head, it can be hard to reverse that.

    On his blog, Richard Carrier examines the logic of fine-tuning. If you accept, for sake of argument that a particular fine-tuning is required for human life to develop, then, by necessity, a finely-tuned universe is the only kind of universe we could find ourselves in, regardless of whether that universe also contains a god. So, fine-tuning by itself is not evidence for existence of a god.

    And, to Conrad’s point, Carrier states that a god could make intelligent life happen without fine-tuning, so it is somewhat less likely that a universe created by a god would be fine-tuned.

  33. adamah says

    RR said:

    Your argument looks good on first reading, but the counter would simply be ‘God chose to do it through fine tuning”.

    Yeah, true.

    And although it’s not stated anywhere in Genesis 1/2, many believers are imagining God creating the Laws of Physics by saying, “Let the gravitational constant be X”.

    If they’re able to comprehend such philsophical topics, I might point out that mathematics is the ‘language’ of physics, and although it allows us to describe and predict certain physical phenomena quite well, I point out that a model ISN’T reality itself, but rather a useful man-made tool of the mind.

    Unfortunately many of the physicists centuries ago were theists, and hence even the language we use today is stacked against us, eg the phrase, “Laws of Nature”. Their thinking reflected that laws always require an intelligent law-maker to hand them down to His subjects (where ‘thou shalt not kill’ is a law given to humans by God, and they imagine God saying, ‘let the gravitational constant be X’ as if creating a physical constant, a ‘Law of Nature’).

    That’s why rather than using the phrase, ‘Laws of Nature’, I prefer to use a more neutral (although more wordy) phrase such as, ‘regular patterns of observed behavior in Nature’.

    As far as countering the fine-tuning claim, there is no “magic bullet”, but you can point out that God must be an exceedingly wasteful and extravagant builder, as we know that there are literally billions of stars, planets, etc. which weren’t even a twinkling in the eyes of ancient men who committed the Genesis stories to writing.

    Also, Douglas Adams famously pointed out the hubris of the puddle concluding it’s environment was build specially for it, since it fits their contours so well (when the water in the puddle conforms to the shape of the hole in which it resides).

    I modify that approach slightly by saying it’s like the micro-organisms living in the puddle thinking the puddle was fine-tuned for them, when the emerging sun which dries up their puddle will soon leave them high and dry, struggling to come up with another hypothesis.

    The problem with using that type of approach is although it might be compelling to some, it’s actually an ‘argument from analogy’, which are often hamstrung due to their weakness from being potentially fallacious (i.e. the existence of ‘false analogies’ limits their effectiveness).

  34. adamah says

    Athywren said:

    While I agree that those would be poor reasons to not believe in a god, I think it’s less that they’re atheisting wrong, and more that they’re actually not really atheisting at all!

    From my conversations with those types of people, what I’ve picked up is that they believed the whole time, but were simply rebelling against their god. A fairly comment sentiment I’ve heard is, “coming to God was the last thing I wanted!” Which is quite different from not believing that there was a god to come to. That’s probably why so many of them are able to accept that atheists really do believe and are acting out, or that we’re secretly satanists.

    Agreed for the most part, but I suspect many people vacillate in their beliefs more than we may think.

    Some truly are confused on the God question, and will believe one minute, and not believe the next (depending on their immediate need for a warm psychological comfort blankie).

    And to add to your point, upon direct questioning, some will claim to be atheists, but then will describe believing in an invisible omnipotent being, who for all intents and purposes happens to align with most people’s concept of ‘God’.

    But do they call themselves a theist?

    No, since such labels often come with baggage, and these ‘theist deniers’ likely don’t want to carry the burden of the stereotypical image of a dogmatic Xian hypocrite that’s often associated with the ‘theist’ label.

    So obvious guy asks: is someone who claims to be an atheist (but is in all likelihood a closeted believer, or afraid of the implications of being a theist) “atheisting wrong”?

    Or do we just ignore the ghastly contradictions in what they say? Ie Is it impossible to “atheist wrong”?

    BTW, it was interesting to see the guests explaining that human sexuality exists on a spectrum, and such emotionally-driven responses will even change with time; but some atheists don’t seemingly appreciate that ALL human behaviors (including religious practices) exist not only on a spectrum, but on an ever-changing sliding scale, as well.

    In their minds, the God question is reduced to an eternal forced-choice alternative (perhaps reflecting their background in theology), where some atheists are intolerant of others who believe any differently than they do.

    So God help any believer who hesitates, or flip-flops in their response!

    Point being, most human beliefs are plastic, fluid, hence can fluctuate and evolve over time. But rather than recognizing that as a fundamental human beneficial trait and treating individuals with patience and respect, some (eg the chat room participants whom Matt chided on-air) will be tempted to use it as a pretense to feel superior to others, or to hurl insults.

    I’m awaiting any responses (and bonus points for anyone who can avoid a “special pleading” argument to justify why religious beliefs are exceptions to the rule).

  35. adamah says

    @MS said:

    Martin’s point was in response to callers and emails complaining about the discussion of topics other than dictionary atheism on the show. If you don’t believe in a god, you’re an atheist. Sure, one may be an atheist for bad reasons, but that doesn’t make one not an atheist. And holding certain social or political stances doesn’t make one not an atheist or a bad atheist, either. AXP just gets calls and lots of emails to the contrary.

    I suppose this question hinges on whether Martin was referring to not just claiming to be an atheist, but not actually believing in God.

    Of course, they’re not the same, since deception cannot be ruled out.

    I attempted to rewatch the show (posted on YT) so I could consider Martin’s comment in its original context, but the audio track was missing: unfortunately I never took that lip-reading course!

    I suspect a conspiracy exists @ AXP to cover-up for him (but then I tend to leap to conclusions with all the finesse of an Olympic Gold-medalist competing in the long-jump event).

    🙂

    Oh, on this:

    What you’re talking about is skepticism…..

    No, what I’M talking about IS rationalism: believing in things supported by sound reasoning.

    I don’t know what’s going on in your head to interpret my words to think I’m talking about skepticism, but then again, I readily admit to not being able to enter others minds (nor would I want to: from here, it seems kinda spooky in your head….)

    And wasn’t it you who recently chastised others for challenging the inner emotions of trans-individuals, saying they’re in the best position to know what they think and feel? Flip-flop much?

    I suspect many mental health professionals would disagree with that claim, for if individuals were able to accurately understand why they do what they do, humans needn’t have bothered with developing the fields of psychology and psychiatry.

  36. George Haw says

    Just finished watching the caller addressing the fine tuning argument. I’m sure you, Matt, have heard it all a million different ways, so I’m not surprised that you didn’t react with any surprise to his take on how that argument fails, but I actually liked what he had to say about it as it was the first time I’ve heard it addressed that way (I’ve watched every single debate on youtube I can find with seemingly rational non-believers). I’m not saying that the caller’s debunking of it was eye opening because I’ve always noticed the blatant flaws in claiming that our universe is fine-tuned. But I really liked his idea to respond to the argument (if the god being represented is all powerful) by saying that if he can do any and everything then he had the option to create our universe out of an infinite or nearly infinite number of other possible universes. If he didn’t then it would seem to follow that he is not all-powerful as his power would have been limited by some other force(s). So, if he had the option to create our universe out of an infinite number of other universes and wanted to create our universe so he chose to do so, then that choosing to create our specific universe would be such an improbable choice it would be almost statistically impossible.

    That means that god’s own desire/choice to create our universe was the product of a fine tuning (according to their fine-tuning argument) to, well, create our universe. So one would have to explain as to how god came to decide to create our universe in a way that didn’t result in chance (since it would be so unlikely that he’d randomly choose our universe). This would mean that one would have to go outside of god to explain external reasons leading to god’s choice or that god was in fact not all powerful and could only desire to and/or was only capable of creating our universe which would then mean that he wasn’t all-powerful and didn’t have free will and also that there was no fine-tuning. I mean if you have a dial with only one setting one it, you can’t tune anything as there is and will always be just one setting….ain’t nothing else to tune to!

    I literally just watched that section of the show and kinda stream of consciousness-like wrote out my understanding of what he was getting at. If anyone can poke some holes into what I’ve said, please do. But remember I’m going along with the caller’s premise that an all-powerful god who wanted to create our universe exists and did create it, and following it to his conclusion that (i think) is the fine-tuning argument doesn’t logically hold up.

    My first time posting here, but thanks to anyone who took the time to read it! And I love what y’all do and I’ve just started getting involved with Richmond (VA) Atheists and Agnostics!

  37. Monocle Smile says

    @adam
    I’m going to save this thread a ton of space and just tell you to go fuck yourself for the dozenth time, at least. There’s a bit of extra asshole in that last post.

  38. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    @adamah, 34

    I was commenting specifically about those theists who have the story about how they used to be an atheist, and so they understand how we all think and we’ll grow out of it eventually. Whenever you dig into those stories, they were just rebelling against and trying to run away from a god that they genuinely believed existed, and they’re calling that atheism because, to them, an atheist is just someone who is denying their god, not someone who doesn’t believe in it.
    Obviously there are atheists and ex-atheists who genuinely don’t/didn’t believe in any gods, but for ridiculous reasons, and there’s probably an argument to be made that, since their reasons are laughable, then they’re atheisting wrong (although that does imply that “correct” atheism is rational and well considered, and I no longer hold to that view, and now consider it to be a dangerous opinion to hold, especially of yourself, that leads otherwise rational people to dive head first into absurd conspiracy theories, while being perpetually reassured that they’re rational because they’re atheists so they’re rational). Obviously, whether the truth of an issue is limited to an all or nothing yes or no or not has no bearing on the certainty and clarity of what a person believes about that issue, but that doesn’t particularly apply to those theists who call their period of simply rebelling against the god that they desperately believe in atheism – they weren’t atheisting wrong; they simply weren’t atheisting.

  39. RationalismRules says

    @36/George Haw
    This argument fails because of agency. The god chose to create the universe this way. The god has free will, there is no reason to assert that some external force was steering its choice.

    The properties of our universe which appear ‘finely-tuned’ to support life – ie. if they were a couple of percentage points different life would not exist – do not possess agency, so could not have arranged themselves deliberately, hence the argument that external agency appears to be required.

    Also,

    choosing to create our specific universe would be such an improbable choice it would be almost statistically impossible

    Probability can’t be used on a single event in this way. It is almost statistically impossible that you chose to make a comment on this blog today if you consider the infinite number of other choices you could have made instead. The statement is effectively meaningless.

  40. RationalismRules says

    @31/Joel Rudy
    I enjoy the 99% argument, but it fails on two counts:

    1. The argument “99% of the universe doesn’t support life” actually strengthens the fine-tuning argument rather than weakening it. For our planet to support life in this vast hostile universe, it must have been finely-tuned ie. we are special = goddidit QED

    2. The argument “consider the many ways humans can die on this earth” addresses the life of individuals, whereas the fine-tuning argument is about Life ie. the fundamental concept (the wrong word, but I can’t think of the right one at this moment). The fact that the earth is teeming with life, and in particular human life, refutes the “lots of ways to die” argument.

    By the way,

    (We) developed brains that overcame the severe shortcoming of having weak, soft bodies.

    You have an unorthodox view of human evolution!

  41. George Haw says

    I don’t see how agency has anything to do with probability in this context if the agent has “free will”. I quote that because I myself don’t believe free will exists but regardless, you seem to have strengthened my point. If he had free will in choosing to create our universe, and he was all powerful while doing so, then he also had the choice to create a nearly infinite (if not actually infinite) number of other and different universes. That means that the choice of his to create a universe in which we come to be as we are here and now is one choice out of an infinite number of other possible choices, making the probability of it being us he chose, infinitely improbable.

    Whether or not you start with an agent like god or a material occurrence like the big bang, I don’t see how that matters. If god had chosen differently, everything would be different… And, if any of the physical laws we know of were different, things would be different. In fact, it almost seems like you’re arguing for what I’m saying because the laws don’t choose to be what they are, they just are they don’t have the free will to change whenever they want. God, on the other hand, because of his free will, does have the ability to change any and everything whenever he wants so it still seems infinitely improbable that we are here right now according to that worldview.

    As to your point about probability, I completely agree. That’s one big reason I think the whole fine-tuning argument is terrible. Under the same premise, every single point in life can be thought of as so improbable that it shouldn’t have been able to happen because if anything were different in the past it would not have happened that way. Of course that’s ridiculous!

  42. RationalismRules says

    @Fair Witness #32

    a finely-tuned universe is the only kind of universe we could find ourselves in, regardless of whether that universe also contains a god. So, fine-tuning by itself is not evidence for existence of a god.

    Agreed, but this is not the rebuttal I’m looking for.

    I should clarify my earlier comment #29 – I don’t find the fine-tuning argument persuasive of a god (I’m a lifelong atheist). What I was trying to express is that my brain ‘innately’ accepts the flawed argument that fine-tuning appears significant and I have to use rational thought to overcome this and remind myself that the significance is illusory.

    Carrier’s argument, while valid, doesn’t rebut the ‘causality’ issue that I believe to be the heart of the problem. So I shall keep looking…

    Carrier states that a god could make intelligent life happen without fine-tuning, so it is somewhat less likely that a universe created by a god would be fine-tuned.

    This I don’t buy at all. How does one assess the ‘likelihood’ of such a proposition? Sounds like hubris to me.

  43. RationalismRules says

    @41/George Haw
    Agency vs chance:
    You roll 2 dice, chances of a double-six are 1 in 36.
    You want a double-six, so you put the dice down with a double-six.

    Obviously it’s a simplistic example, but I feel like I’m missing something in your argument. How can agency not make a difference?

    Also, you accept that the probability argument is invalid, but aren’t you using it as the basis of your counter-argument?

    So, if he had the option to create our universe out of an infinite number of other universes and wanted to create our universe so he chose to do so, then that choosing to create our specific universe would be such an improbable choice it would be almost statistically impossible.

  44. George Haw says

    I’m arguing using their own argument. I’m assuming the validity of the fine-tuning argument to show how even if it were internally sound (which it isn’t), it still wouldn’t work. And one the choice is made, sure the probability is 1 because the agent has chosen the double six. But if each side of the die represented a possible universe and the choice hadn’t been made yet and there were no factors at all, other than pure free will, that went into the agent choosing a side on each die, then there would be a 1/36 chance that the agent chose anyone one combination.

    From your view of free will, for the agent to have true free will I can’t see it being able to have any reason at all for making the choice other than some magical desire that was founded on absolutley nothing, therefore making the choice truly free and random and making it just as likely as any other choice. And actually I don’t even see that as being free because then the agent couldn’t appeal to a free will because the choice was purely random and therefore couldn’t have been willed. If it had any reason for choosing then you would have to investigate the reason for that reason and if there were none then we’re back to magical random States of will, so on and so on.

  45. RationalismRules says

    @44/George Haw

    But if each side of the die represented a possible universe and the choice hadn’t been made yet and there were no factors at all, other than pure free will, that went into the agent choosing a side on each die, then there would be a 1/36 chance that the agent chose anyone one combination.

    For a choice made with agency you can’t claim to know there is equal probability of all outcomes in advance of the choice, because you simply don’t know the factors that are influencing the agent. With the dice example, it may be that the chooser considers some outcomes more desirable than others, which would clearly skew the probability to selecting those numbers.
    Your “no factors other than free will” is a begging-the-question fallacy. If all the chooser does is make a random choice, that’s random chance, not agency.

    for the agent to have true free will I can’t see it being able to have any reason at all for making the choice other than some magical desire that was founded on absolutley nothing,

    Sorry, I don’t understand why you would think this. Having reasons for making a choice doesn’t negate free will. Example: smoking – there are a multitude of reasons to not smoke cigarettes, yet millions of people still do it. Nobody is forcing them to. How is this not the exercise of free will?

    I’m arguing using their own argument. I’m assuming the validity of the fine-tuning argument to show how even if it were internally sound (which it isn’t), it still wouldn’t work.

    Okay, I think I get it now – it’s kind of like countering “how did the universe begin, if god didn’t make it?” with “how did god begin?”, except here you’re countering “the universe is finely-tuned for life, so an external agent must have done it” with “so what finely-tuned the choices made by the external agent?” I still think the notion of agency pokes a big ‘ol hole in this one, I’m afraid.

  46. George Haw says

    The problem with that view of free will is that the will is determined by factors like, in the case of smokers, addiction, dopamine levels, frequency of past use, availability of nicotine to smoke. None of those factors can be regulated by the agent at the time of the choice. So how is that free? you’ve even stated that in the case of God, an agent, he has other factors influencing him, I’m not sure what external influences would influence God before he created anything but regardless, you’ve just pushed the problem of free will back a degree.

  47. Devocate says

    @42:

    This I don’t buy at all. How does one assess the ‘likelihood’ of such a proposition? Sounds like hubris to me.

    Here is the simple version:
    Two possible occurrences 1) God made the Universe 2) The Universe happened naturally.
    Two possible observations: A) The universes seems fine-tuned. B) The Universe seems not fine-tuned.
    What are the probabilities we can assign to those four choices? 2B is easy, it is zero. No observer will ever observe a naturally made Universe which is not capable of producing observers. Therefore 2A is 100% of all possibilities involving 2. The question about the god created universe is “Is the god powerful enough to create life in a Universe not finely tuned to life?” And if you want to include free will, “Is the god powerful enough and free enough to create life in a Universe not finely tuned to life?”
    If the answer to either of those questions is “Yes.” then the probability of 1B is non-zero. And the probability of 1A is 100% – the probability of 1B. Therefore in that case, since we DO find ourselves in a Universe that seems to be fine tuned. There are only two choices 1A and 2A. 2A is 100%, and 1A is something less than 100%. So without other information, we must conclude that we are more likely in a natural Universe than in a god created Universe.

    If the answer to the question is “No.”, then of course, the probabilities are the same, and we know nothing.

    I don’t see how hubris could even enter into this probability calculation.

  48. RudyRotten says

    @devocate. I don’t see how 2b is zero… you said zero on the premis that one can not assess.probability if there is no one around to calculate probability. My question is, how can you conclude under scenario 2b that life wouldn’t have come to be? I could be wrong, but it seems like a presupposition that in a non fine tuned seeming universe, there’d be no one around to assess it. True, life wouldn’t look like it does now if the things that some argue look like fine tuning didn’t look like it, but to jump to no life at all? Maybe I’m missing something.

  49. RudyRotten says

    @Rationalism
    Sorry, I was very tired when I wrote that response. I chose my wording poorly. Obviously, I don’t view human evolution to be how it seemed I view it in that post. Everything in our evolutionary process happened simultaneously, and the fact that by today’s standards in the animal kingdom we would have soft and weak bodies doesn’t mean that was always so. More accurately, my point was that if the universe and ourselves were created by an all powerful being, why design us with the incredible limitations challenges we face when put out into most of the known universe. JT Eberhard said in one of his lectures that the simple fact we were designed to need food, and because of that, millions starve to death. An all knowing, all powerful god could have so easily designed us where we didn’t require food, but for whatever reason, chose not to.

    I personally think that if God created the universe, he fine tuned the universe, but then didn’t spend any time fine tuning his ultimate creation (us), in correlation to the universe he chose. If he did, why make us corporeal at all? Why not make us incorporeal, able to flit through space and matter, and not beholden to the limitations of a physical body?

  50. RationalismRules says

    @47/Devocate
    I was responding to @FairWitness #32, who said

    Carrier states that a god could make intelligent life happen without fine-tuning, so it is somewhat less likely that a universe created by a god would be fine-tuned.

    This, as read, is a claim is about a universe created by a god. Claiming to be able to assign probability to the actions of a capricious omnipotent entity seems to me to be akin to claiming understanding of the mind of god, which I would definitely characterize as hubris.

    Your argument addresses whether the universe was created by a god vs whether it occurred naturally, which is an entirely different proposition from the one I responded to.

    Having said that, I am interested in your argument, because it seems to me there are multiple flaws to it.

    The point of the fine-tuning argument is that certain parameters of the universe only support the existence of life within such a narrow range of operation, that were they ‘set’ slightly differently, life could not exist, and that this is indicative of an external agent.
    Thus, the opposite of this is a broadly-tuned universe, where those parameters could support life across a broad range of operation.
    What you refer to as “non fine-tuned” seems to be a universe that doesn’t ‘of itself’ support life. This is not a counter to the fine-tuning model, it’s examining a different idea altogether.

    Next issue: your A/B scenario is couched in the terms ‘observation’ and ‘seems’, which is important for your 2B claim (“no observers”). Yet your conclusion asserts “we are more likely in a natural Universe than in a god created Universe” which is not supported by your initial ‘inputs’. Based on your starting point, the correct end result of your argument is “we are more likely to think/believe we are in a natural Universe…etc.” which is an entirely different conclusion, with entirely different ramifications.

    What are the probabilities we can assign to those four choices? 2B is easy, it is zero. No observer will ever observe a naturally made Universe which is not capable of producing observers.

    If you are examining the fine-tuning argument, this fails because a broadly-tuned universe would be at least as likely to produce life as a finely-tuned one, so not zero.
    If you’re examining ‘inherently life-supporting’ vs ‘inherently non-life-supporting’ this still fails, because the existence of a universe is not dependent on whether there is anyone there to observe it.
    The only way this point works is if you are purely dealing with probabilities of an observed universe, in which case, your conclusion is invalid as per my previous paragraph.

    The question about the god created universe is “Is the god powerful enough to create life in a Universe not finely tuned to life?” And if you want to include free will, “Is the god powerful enough and free enough to create life in a Universe not finely tuned to life?”
    If the answer to either of those questions is “Yes.” then the probability of 1B is non-zero.

    No. Just because the god has the capacity to do something does not mean there is any probability it will do it. You are conflating ‘possibility’ with ‘probability’. There is no basis for claiming that the probability is non-zero.

    This argument is so full of holes that it would make a very nice hat for a Pastafarian!

  51. RationalismRules says

    @George Haw #46

    The problem with that view of free will is that the will is determined by factors like, in the case of smokers, addiction, dopamine levels, frequency of past use, availability of nicotine to smoke.

    The problem here seems to be that you and I have different definitions of free will. Looking back at previous comments I gather you define ‘free’ as ‘without any influencing factors’, which is exactly equivalent to ‘random choice’.

    I can’t see any value in this definition. An agent who makes decisions purely at random would have exactly the same effect as if those things simply happened on their own by chance, so positing such an agent doesn’t advance any discussion of anything in any way, as far as I can see.

    I use free will in the sense of ‘non-coerced’. Anything other than purely random choice has influencing factors, but if the agent can ultimately make a choice to go with or against those influences, that’s what I refer to as free will. (And yes, I accept this implies there are degrees of freedom).

    you’ve even stated that in the case of God, an agent, he has other factors influencing him, I’m not sure what external influences would influence God before he created anything but regardless, you’ve just pushed the problem of free will back a degree.

    I never claimed external influence. When I said “you don’t know the factors that are influencing the agent” the example I was thinking of was internal motivation. If the god has a goal to create life, then the choice is immediately shaped by this, and is not purely random.

  52. Serge Rubinstein says

    As the french philospopher Jean-Paul Sartre pointed : an action is moral if it matches the criterium of universality. You must be ale to answer the question : “what if everyone did the same ? “

  53. adamah says

    Athywren said:

    I was commenting specifically about those theists who have the story about how they used to be an atheist, and so they understand how we all think and we’ll grow out of it eventually. Whenever you dig into those stories, they were just rebelling against and trying to run away from a god that they genuinely believed existed, and they’re calling that atheism because, to them, an atheist is just someone who is denying their god, not someone who doesn’t believe in it.

    Perhaps, but it seems you’ve only carefully defined (cherry-picked) a select sub-set to construct your sample (by labeling them as theists who believed all along, only denied God). For all intents, that strikes me as a ‘sharpshooter fallacy’, since although such people likely DO exist, we lack the specificity to identify which actual individuals are ‘guilty as charged’. You’re claiming to know their ‘true beliefs’, when how is that even knowable?

    Perhaps you saw the recent episode where Don tore apart a republican candidate who suggested that only Syrian Xians (and not Syrian Muslims) should be granted asylum in the U.S.? Don rightly objected, due to the sheer impracticality: we have no objective means to read someone’s inner-most thoughts and determine what they actually believe.

    The same restriction obviously applies to the current discussion, since in 2016 we lack a method of objectively determining who truly DOESNT believe in God(s), i.e. we don’t have a ‘lie detector’.

    Instead, we can only rely on their statements about their beliefs to be honest and accurate (and as I say, some wishy-washy people will flip-flop almost hourly, vacillating in their beliefs). Then we can use our own rational capacities to evaluate if its something worthy of adopting or not.

    I’d dare say the reasons for not believingshould be logically-consistent (e.g. not believing in the existence of the spirit-being named ‘God’, but then claiming to believe in other invisible spirit beings (AKA angels). That, I’m my book, would be an example of ‘ atheisting wrong’, even setting aside such confounding issues, such as deception and self-deception).

    Restated, people should be able to present sound reasons to justify their beliefs (or lack thereof). If you don’t agree, then perhaps the crew should just call off today’s AXP and roll up the endeavor? The hosts ask callers what they believe, but more importantly, WHY they believe what they do, using the scales of rationalism to determine whether their beliefs hold water.

    And if not relying on rationalist methodology to explain WHY we are atheists, then what other justification could we possibly present?

    An appeal to our emotions?

    (“I’m an atheist because I just don’t feel like believing in God.”)

    An appeal on anti-authoritarian grounds?

    (“I claim ‘self-determinism’ as my guiding principle, so I reject the concept of God due to my anti-authoritarian principles, as don’t WANT anyone telling me what to do.”).

    Although real, those kind of loosey-goosey explanations for avowing atheism also aligns with the stereotypical Xian charge that we don’t believe because of our lustful sinful desires that make us want to be able to sin without facing consequences.

    While in some cases that accusation may in fact be true (!), it’s an over-generalization to slap those kinds of explanations on ALL atheists. I don’t believe, due to overwhelming evidence that points against God(s).

    Many theists would readily agree that it’s quite possible to “theist wrong”: hence all the various denominations of Xianity (not to mention all the different flavors of other major religions). I suspect there’s a strong temptation for some atheists (like Martin) to want to draw a sharp distinction between dogmatic religions by stating its impossible to improperly claim to be an atheist, but it’s a questionable assertion to make, IMO. It’s a false distinction.

    Regardless, there’s a strong temptation to stereotype and over-generalize on both sides of the question, with both groups claiming to know what others actually believe, when it’s actually quite impossible to determine anyone’s beliefs with any degree of certainty.

  54. Devocate says

    @50:

    Carrier states that a god could make intelligent life happen without fine-tuning, so it is somewhat less likely that a universe created by a god would be fine-tuned.
    This, as read, is a claim is about a universe created by a god. Claiming to be able to assign probability to the actions of a capricious omnipotent entity seems to me to be akin to claiming understanding of the mind of god, which I would definitely characterize as hubris.

    Carrier is saying IF a god could make intelligent life happen without fine-tuning….
    which matches my argument. You should note that neither of us are actually assigning a probability to the actions of a capricious omnipotent entity. If you claim that the probability is zero, it is YOU who are limiting the actions of a capricious omnipotent entity. Not recommended.

    Thus, the opposite of this is a broadly-tuned universe, where those parameters could support life across a broad range of operation.

    Ah, I see your trouble. No, by fine-tuned all I (or Carrier) mean is “at least well enough tuned to support life without supernatural intervention” Broadly tuned, would still qualify as fine-tuned in my argument.

    Next issue: your A/B scenario is couched in the terms ‘observation’ and ‘seems’, which is important for your 2B claim (“no observers”). Yet your conclusion asserts “we are more likely in a natural Universe than in a god created Universe” which is not supported by your initial ‘inputs’. Based on your starting point, the correct end result of your argument is “we are more likely to think/believe we are in a natural Universe…etc.” which is an entirely different conclusion, with entirely different ramifications.

    Yes I phrased it sloppily. The probability that we are in a Universe created by a god is REDUCED by the evidence that we see it as tuned (finely or broadly) to support life. And thus the probability that we are in a naturally produced universe is INCREASED by this evidence.

    No. Just because the god has the capacity to do something does not mean there is any probability it will do it. You are conflating ‘possibility’ with ‘probability’. There is no basis for claiming that the probability is non-zero.

    Nope, this is just a simple misunderstanding about words. Capable MEANS there is a non-zero chance that it might happen. If there is a zero chance that someone might do something, that means they can’t.

  55. RationalismRules says

    @Devocate #54

    You should note that neither of us are actually assigning a probability to the actions of a capricious omnipotent entity. If you claim that the probability is zero, it is YOU who are limiting the actions of a capricious omnipotent entity. Not recommended.

    This all arises from me responding to a mis-statement of your argument, so it’s moot now, but I can’t resist pointing out your egregious attempt to shift the burden of proof. 😉
    Moving on…

    No, by fine-tuned all I (or Carrier) mean is “at least well enough tuned to support life without supernatural intervention” Broadly tuned, would still qualify as fine-tuned in my argument.

    Then you are not addressing the fine-tuning argument. The whole point of the fine-tuning argument is the “fine” bit.
    You are addressing the “able to support life without supernatural intervention” argument, which is something entirely different.

    Capable MEANS there is a non-zero chance that it might happen. If there is a zero chance that someone might do something, that means they can’t.

    I have some reservations about this in regards to agency, but I will concede these definitions for the point of the argument.

    Yes I phrased it sloppily. The probability that we are in a Universe created by a god is REDUCED by the evidence that we see it as tuned (finely or broadly) to support life. And thus the probability that we are in a naturally produced universe is INCREASED by this evidence.

    OK, but increasing from what, reducing to what? This type of numerical tapdancing can easily be used to show that, absent evidence of tuning, a life-containing universe is more probably god-created than naturally-occurring. (Happy to provide the proof if you want it). So your argument shows that the larger probability is reducing and the smaller probability is increasing, but not by how much, or from where, or to where. You cannot use it to draw any conclusions about the end point of either number, so ultimately it tells us nothing about the relative likelihood of god-created vs. natural.
    Your restated conclusion is valid, but valueless.
    Ho-hum. Ho-the-fuck-hum.

  56. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    @adamah

    Perhaps, but it seems you’ve only carefully defined (cherry-picked) a select sub-set to construct your sample (by labeling them as theists who believed all along, only denied God).

    I was responding to you. You defined the subset:

    We’ve all heard of Xians who claimed to be atheists until they ‘found God’.

    Maybe you’ve only heard of them, but I’ve heard their arguments. The ones who make that a large part of their sales pitch are, in my experience, the ones who define a teenage/early adult rebellion against the god that they believed in as atheism. Those who genuinely didn’t believe there was a god, in my experience, tend not to make a big deal out of it, you don’t really hear of them, except as arguments from authority from other theists (you know, like that apparently extremely famous atheist philosopher whose name I’d never heard of (before theists started using his conversion as a gotcha) and can’t remember now who became an atheist a few years back and wrote a book with someone). Presumably, this is because they know that the reasons they changed their mind are far more relevant than what they used to think. It might come up in conversation, but it’s rarely something they just volunteer.

    You’re claiming to know their ‘true beliefs’, when how is that even knowable?

    The same restriction obviously applies to the current discussion, since in 2016 we lack a method of objectively determining who truly DOESNT believe in God(s), i.e. we don’t have a ‘lie detector’.

    They use words to communicate. I read or listen to those words. I’m not claiming to read minds. What they – those who claim ex-atheism in argument – present, with their words, as atheism is not atheism; it is rebellious theism.
    Someone who says, “I was running from God”? Rebellious theist.
    Someone who says, “I really wasn’t convinced that God was real”? Atheist.
    Mind reading? Lie detectors? Entirely unnecessary.
    Ok, sure, they could be lying, but why would an ex-atheist pretend that they always believed when they would obviously know for a fact that atheists actually don’t believe, and that this would be utterly unconvincing? Why would someone deceitfully claiming to be an ex-atheist make convincing statements, and then not follow it up with anything? There’s no point for either ex-atheists or “ex-atheists” to be lying if their statements remain constant, and their intent is truly to convert.

    Restated, people should be able to present sound reasons to justify their beliefs (or lack thereof).

    That’s not atheisming right, it’s rationaling right. Irrational atheists are not bad atheists, they are bad rationalists.

    If you don’t agree, then perhaps the crew should just call off today’s AXP and roll up the endeavor?

    I do agree, but that has absolutely nothing to do with atheism (except tangentally when the beliefs being justified relate to theism & atheism) and everything to do with rationalism… and I have no power over the AXP crew either way. Their decision to continue or abandon AXP should probably be based on their agreement with that statement.

    And if not relying on rationalist methodology to explain WHY we are atheists, then what other justification could we possibly present?
    An appeal to our emotions?
    (“I’m an atheist because I just don’t feel like believing in God.”)

    An atheist who disbelieves for emotional reasons rather than rational reasons is a bad rationalist, not a bad atheist.

    An appeal on anti-authoritarian grounds?
    (“I claim ‘self-determinism’ as my guiding principle, so I reject the concept of God due to my anti-authoritarian principles, as don’t WANT anyone telling me what to do.”).

    An atheist who disbelieves for ideological reasons rather than rational reasons is a bad rationalist, not a bad atheist.

    Although real, those kind of loosey-goosey explanations for avowing atheism also aligns with the stereotypical Xian charge that we don’t believe because of our lustful sinful desires that make us want to be able to sin without facing consequences.

    An atheist who disbelieves for irrational reasons rather than rational reasons is a bad rationalist, not a bad atheist.

    While in some cases that accusation may in fact be true (!), it’s an over-generalization to slap those kinds of explanations on ALL atheists.

    I agree. How is that relevant?

    I don’t believe, due to overwhelming evidence that points against God(s).

    That’s lovely, but an atheist who disbelieves for rational reasons rather than irrational reasons is a good rationalist, at least on that issue, not a good atheist.
    Good reasons, bad reasons, totally unrelated reasons, it doesn’t matter – if you don’t believe in any gods, then you’re an atheist. You can be an absolute failure of rationality, or a paragon of logic, but it’s not believing in any gods that makes you an atheist.

    Many theists would readily agree that it’s quite possible to “theist wrong”: hence all the various denominations of Xianity (not to mention all the different flavors of other major religions).

    Religions have rules, prerequisites for membership. The only prerequisite for atheism is lacking the belief in a god, and that’s only a requirement because it’s what the word means.

  57. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    Damn it.
    @me

    (before theists started using his conversion as a gotcha) and can’t remember now who became an atheist a few years back and wrote a book with someone)

    That should be “became a deist,” not, “became an atheist.”

  58. adamah says

    Athywren, I think the source of the problem likely stems from your equivocating over usage of the word, ‘atheist’.

    #1 usage is making the claim of not believing in God, and #2 usage is honestly not believing in God.

    Although on their face they may appear to be saying the same thing, they’re not: the former carries the risk of deception (if only self-deception), and as I pointed out above, the latter is quite impossible to determine with any degree of accuracy.

    In post 14, you said this about Xian ex-atheists who re-discovered God:

    While I agree that those would be poor reasons to not believe in a god, I think it’s less that they’re atheisting wrong, and more that they’re actually not really atheisting at all!

    Of course that’s the seeming equivocation, since you’re concluding that they’re not atheists at all, when determining another’s truthful and honest beliefs is impossible to determine with any certainty. Who are you to say they weren’t actually atheists?

    But in other posts you (and Martin’s claim) relied on usage #1, since they’ve claimed to be atheists; so they DO in fact qualify for full and unrestricted membership in the atheist club (and are entitled to all the benefits, therein: public derision, mockery, etc).

    For if the only requirement for admission to the atheist club is by saying the magic phrase, “I don’t believe in God”, they don’t need to justify their rationale (or irrationality) to you or anyone else. As you point out, they are to be admitted for good, bad, or no reasons.

    (I’d also note that by saying they clearly weren’t “true atheists”, you’re tottering dangerously close to committing the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, a post-hoc rationalization.)

    Anyway, this topic is likely the atheist version of discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin (which OBVIOUSLY depends on the style of dance the angels are performing: a jitterbug would require more space vs bumping and grinding to rap). 🙂

    Both questions ultimately are without firm answers (esp if one doesn’t believe in angels).

  59. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Okay, I enjoyed this episode, Sarah & Neil are awesome.

    Brian was just jumping all over the place, that was a nice repeat of the many same arguments and crappy reasons people stay tangled in things that become rather clear once you start tuning your standard for believing through interactions with other people & with how science goes about evaluating reality. He fell flat on everything. I like that Matt let it be known that in his eyes, whether you demonstrate respect for him or not the truth & whether you can demonstrate that truth are what matter to him. Being rude is something that is also inconsequential to me, either you can demonstrate the truth or stop wasting my(& your) time.

    The “God is whatever I happen to need” shows that there are people who like to label things differently for unnecessary reasons. Calling any and everything you happen to need god is so needless to me I don’t imagine why someone would do it.

    Jack & others who find the fine tuning thing worth something befuddle me. That argument illustrates & does nothing that I’d consider believable at this time, I like how the panel handled that, they dropped the spatula on that burger patty fast.

    I liked that Sarah knocked the nail in about different dynamics within the universe of sex that work for different people, that seems to be lost on a couple of people. Sex is just a lot of stuff for everyone and that’s fantastic. I’ll definitely check out Removing The Fig Leaf as being informed is something that I value.

    I like what Mike’s call brought up, in that when people postulate that a god exists whether we’re atheists or not there is a tendency to believe that this being wants to communicate with us.

    Larry’s call was weird to me, a believer wanting incite from a now atheist on what scripture meant. Though I can kinda see why he’d want Matt’s take on it.

    Anyway, great show!

  60. vince says

    @rudyrotten

    That’s a great point. If God existed, why would there be constants in the universe? Wouldn’t we see true randomness and few constants in a god governed universe? After all, what would be the point of all the extra work creating a universe that is incredibly complex in its rules and structure when God could simply hold every molecule together any way he wanted with a tiny fraction of is will?

    It seems to me if God exists then he could create the universe any way he wished with or without order. I don’t think we can say if god exists we would expect more randomness and fewer constants. If god can hold everything together with a tiny fraction of his will then he can make a universe that has complex rules and laws with a tiny fraction of his will as well. Not really being extra work if he has infinite power.

    Extremely valid point imo.

  61. vince says

    @adamah, 33

    As far as countering the fine-tuning claim, there is no “magic bullet”, but you can point out that God must be an exceedingly wasteful and extravagant builder, as we know that there are literally billions of stars, planets, etc. which weren’t even a twinkling in the eyes of ancient men who committed the Genesis stories to writing.

    Why do you think god is a wasteful builder just because people will never see some of it?

  62. adamah says

    My take on the Argument from Fine Tuning (AFT) is that it represents an attempt to update theology to force it to harmonize with findings of modern science.

    The ‘weasel phrase’ in the AFT is, “life as we know it“. Point being, the constants being any different than they are may favor the emergence of, e.g. silicon-based life forms, vs carbon-based life. So who’s to say what we’d be looking at, if these laws were any different than they are?

    The AFT is a fairly-recent development, but is exceedingly similar to prior attempts to update Bible theology to force it to align with scientific findings, be it Galileo’s discovery of other planets and Heliocentric model, or Pasteur’s germ theory of disease (vs Jesus’ “sin theory of disease”).

    AFT is thus yet-another attempt to harmonize concepts from the world of modern physics (eg suggestion of existence of multi-verse) with millennia-old theologies.

    Even the use of word ‘universe’ in the AFT is WILDLY anachronistic and trying to slip one under the radar, since anyone who’s read the Bible (even just the Book of Job) would realize the authors had no concept of a ‘Universe’, much less of a ‘Solar System’.

    The Hebrew model of cosmology is limited to “the Heavens and the Earth”, with the Sun, Moon and stars all dangling from ‘the firmament’ (the dome-like metallic ceiling that covers the Earth, and separates it from “Heaven”, which is ABOVE the stars, Sun, and Moon. Per Job, it had openings in the top, through which angels would dump buckets of water from “Great Storehouses” in heaven to make it rain).

    Fortunately for NASA astronauts, there was no hard metallic firmament observed over the Earth (whew!).

    Nowadays, many believers claim the firmament to be merely a figure of speech, but a figure to refer to WHAT physical entity, I ask?

    Cricket chirps inevitably follow, since they have no idea….

    Vince said:

    It seems to me if God exists then he could create the universe any way he wished with or without order. I don’t think we can say if god exists we would expect more randomness and fewer constants.

    Yeah, I agree.

    And how would we even know how many of these so-called ‘constants’ (some of which aren’t very ‘constant’, BTW, e.g. the gravitational constant ‘g’ varies widely, oscillating periodically) would be required in another Universe which we haven’t even observed?

    If god can hold everything together with a tiny fraction of his will then he can make a universe that has complex rules and laws with a tiny fraction of his will as well. Not really being extra work if he has infinite power.

    Extremely valid point imo.

    I think most theists wouldn’t find that approach so compelling, since they’d simply counter by saying God used his will to create all these physical laws, i.e. they are an expression of God’s will.

    That’s one reason I object to using such loaded language (such as, “laws of nature”), where there’s no evidence of being anything more than ‘patterns of recurring behavior seen in the natural world’.

    In fact, both physics and mathematics are merely MODELS of reality, and not the very-real phenomena they’re attempting to model.

    Unfortunately, that distinction is lost on most believers….

  63. adamah says

    Vince said:

    Why do you think god is a wasteful builder just because people will never see some of it?

    Yeah, most believers I’ve spoken to in the past simply ‘appeal to ignorance’ at that point, saying its not known at the present time what God has in store for the rest of the Universe (since the Bible doesn’t tell us), so it’s important to stay tuned for further details….

    So they effectively manage to turn a bald-faced ‘appeal to ignorance’ into a selling feature, since their theology borders on them participating in a Flash Gordon sci-fi adventure in the future (with Jesus in the role of Flash).

  64. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @adamah #63:

    the gravitational constant ‘g’ varies widely, oscillating periodically

     
    Article: Wikipedia – Gravitational Constant

    Published values of G have varied rather broadly, and some recent measurements of high precision are, in fact, mutually exclusive.
    […]
    A controversial 2015 study of some previous measurements of G […] suggested that most of the mutually exclusive values can be explained by a periodic variation. The variation was measured as having a period of 5.9 years, similar to that observed in length of day (LOD) measurements, hinting at a common physical cause which is not necessarily a variation in G. A response was produced by some of the original authors of the G measurements [noting] that Anderson et al. not only omitted measurements, they also used the time of publication not the time the experiments were performed. A plot with estimated time of measurement from contacting original authors seriously degrades the length of day correlation. Also taking the data collected over a decade by Karagioz and Izmailov shows no correlation with length of day measurements. As such the variations in G most likely arise from systematic measurement errors which have not properly been accounted for.
     
    Under the assumption that the physics of type Ia supernovae are universal, analysis of observations of 580 type Ia supernovae has shown that the gravitational constant has varied by less than one part in ten billion per year over the last nine billion years.

  65. adamah says

    Yeah, Sky Capt, I was referencing this article:

    http://m.phys.org/news/2015-04-gravitational-constant-vary.html

    Despite the close correlation between LOD and G, the scientists note that the maximum percentage variation of the LOD is on the order of 10-9, which is large enough to change G by only 10-5 of the amplitude—not enough to explain the full 10-4 percentage variation in G. Since this means that the LOD variations cannot cause the G variations, the researchers surmise that both variations are caused by changing motions in the Earth’s core, or perhaps some other geophysical process.
    Although the results also raise the possibility that new physics could explain the variations, the scientists believe this is unlikely. One of the 13 measurements of G used in this analysis is the first-ever quantum measurement, called LENS-14, performed in 2014. The G value obtained by the quantum measurement is the larger of two outliers in the data, with the other outlier being a 1996 experiment that is known to have problems. Further quantum measurements of G are needed to understand why the quantum measurement deviates from the classical measurements.

    The scientists are also not fully convinced that the G/LOD correlation is the full story, and they plan to search for other correlations in the future.

    “We plan to look into the possibility of a connection with the Earth flyby anomaly, which also seems periodic, and perhaps other anomalies,” Anderson said.

    Point being, as we develop more-sensitive methodology to measure G, some of these so-called ‘constants’ seemingly aren’t as ‘constant’ as believers may claim them to be (and a figure that fluctuates quite predictably over a 5.9 yr period isn’t ‘constant’: it still fluctuates, whether due to measurement errors or some geophysical cause).

    I don’t have a problem with any of that, as I don’t think we have all the answers in 2016, as if everything that can be learned has already been discovered.

    I understand that physics is simply a MODEL, which often need to be ‘tweaked’ to make them perform more reliably….

    What’s interesting to me is how in the AFT, God is depicted as the Great Scientist, spinning knobs to fine tune his creation. But in one of the Genesis accounts of creation, God is depicted as a potter, molding mankind out of clay?

    Rather curious how God is forced to fit into whatever career is in vogue: it’s as if men were creating God in their image, rather than vice-versa? 😉

  66. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @adamah #66:

    a figure that fluctuates quite predictably over a 5.9 yr period

    You just repeated your/their error.
     
    Article (PDF): arXiv – Recent measurements of the gravitational constant as a function of time

    A recent publication […] presented a strong correlation between the measured values of the gravitational constant G and the 5.9 year oscillation of the length of day […] A least squares regression to a sinusoid with period 5.9 years still yields a better fit than a straight line. However, our additions and corrections to the G data reported by Anderson et al. significantly weaken the correlation.
    […]
    We caution users of these data that it is very possible that much or all of the apparent G time variation simply reflects overlooked systematic error, with underestimated systematic uncertainty.
    […]
    The situation is disturbing – clearly either some strange influence is affecting most G measurements or, probably more likely, measurements of G since 1980 have unrecognized large systematic errors. The need for new measurements is clear.

     
     

    it still fluctuates

    Unless the measurements can be tied together (by being shown to describe the same thing(s) or sharing the same error), referring to figures produced by them all collectively as “it” as “a figure” to fluctuate is an equivocation. That attempts to measure G have yielded inconsistent results is not the same as saying the model’s constant G (or a referent in reality) fluctuates.

  67. vince says

    @adamah

    Yeah, most believers I’ve spoken to in the past simply ‘appeal to ignorance’ at that point, saying its not known at the present time what God has in store for the rest of the Universe (since the Bible doesn’t tell us), so it’s important to stay tuned for further details….

    As a believer I can say the bible does have an answer to why the universe is so vast. The summary is that god is uppermost in his affections for himself. Put another way the chief end of god is to glorify himself.

    Ps 104:31 says the lord glories in his works. Acts 17:25 says god is not served by anyone other than himself. Ps 19:1 says the heavens declare gods glory. This is the reason for the universe as it is today, so god can glorify himself through his creation. If you think this through, if he gave glory to anything else then god would be an idolater.

    I know this strikes us as god is conceited or full of himself and we generally don’t like those people (unless they are in our political party), but our happiness sand salvation depend on it.

    I am not asking you to agree but just know that there are answers to this question even if other christians don’t have one. In my opinion “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer for a christian just as it is for a skeptic if we don’t have an answer.

  68. vince says

    @ Adamah

    The Hebrew model of cosmology is limited to “the Heavens and the Earth”, with the Sun, Moon and stars all dangling from ‘the firmament’ (the dome-like metallic ceiling that covers the Earth, and separates it from “Heaven”, which is ABOVE the stars, Sun, and Moon. Per Job, it had openings in the top, through which angels would dump buckets of water from “Great Storehouses” in heaven to make it rain).

    Nowhere does it say the stars are dangling from a metallic dome. Only the older translations such as the KJV use the word firmament. All modern translations use the word expanse which is the correct translation. The Hebrew word is raqia which Strong’s defines as expanse. I cannot find your Job reference where angels cause the rain with buckets of water.

  69. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @vince:

    I know this strikes us as god is conceited or full of himself

    Understatement.
     

    we generally don’t like those people

    Narcissism is among the least of His faults. Better reasons to “not like” that character are the monstrous things that book depicts him doing to sate that narcissism.
     
    Article: How many has God killed? Complete list and estimated total
     
     

    our happiness sand salvation depend on it

    Your use of “our” is ambiguous and certainly not universal. Atheists are quite capable of happiness. Theists can be happy in secular contexts.
     
    What is this “salvation” you speak of? Salvation from what/whom and why is that needed? What difference is there between someone who has versus lacks salvation?

  70. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @vince #69:
    Article: Wikipedia – Firmament

    The word “firmament” is used to translate raqia, or raqiya, a word used in Biblical Hebrew. It is derived from the root raqa, meaning “to beat or spread out”, e.g., the process of making a dish by hammering thin a lump of metal.
     
    Like most ancient peoples, the Hebrews believed the sky was a solid dome with the Sun, Moon and stars embedded in it. According to The Jewish Encyclopedia:
     

    The Hebrews regarded the earth as a plain or a hill figured like a hemisphere, swimming on water. Over this is arched the solid vault of heaven. To this vault are fastened the lights, the stars. So slight is this elevation that birds may rise to it and fly along its expanse.

    […]
    The Copernican Revolution of the 16th century led to reconsideration of these matters. In 1554, John Calvin proposed that “firmament” be interpreted as clouds. […] Calvin’s “doctrine of accommodation” allowed Protestants to accept the findings of science without rejecting the authority of scripture.

  71. vince says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    The Hebrews can believe whatever they want. Expanse does not always equate to hammering a solid object flat as it is used in Ezeiel when he refers to the expanse of an angels wings or PS 150:1 where it refers to the expanse of gods power. Same word. Also, god defines raqia himself in Gen 1:8 where he said the expanse was the heavens. Gen 1:20 says birds fly above the earth in the open expanse. How can a bird fly in a metal object?

  72. vince says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Your use of “our” is ambiguous and certainly not universal. Atheists are quite capable of happiness. Theists can be happy in secular contexts.

    What is this “salvation” you speak of? Salvation from what/whom and why is that needed? What difference is there between someone who has versus lacks salvation?

    I agree atheists can have happiness. The salvation I am speaking of is salvation from the wrath of god for our sins we committed against him as I believe the bible teaches. The only difference is eternal life or not.

  73. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @vince #69:
    Article: Wikipedia – Biblical cosmology, Cosmography

    The Hebrew Bible imagined a three-part world, with the heavens (shamayim) above, earth (eres) in the middle, and the underworld (sheol) below. After the 4th century BCE this was gradually replaced by a Greek scientific cosmology of a spherical earth surrounded by multiple concentric heavens, but even so the New Testament writers continued to assume a flat earth and it was not until the Middle Ages that spherical earth was accepted by the Church.
     
    The three-part world of heavens, earth and underworld floated in Tehom, the mythological cosmic ocean, which covered the earth until God created the firmament to divide it into upper and lower portions and reveal the dry land; the world has been protected from the cosmic ocean ever since by the solid dome of the firmament.
    […]
    The raqia or firmament – the visible sky – was a solid inverted bowl over the earth, coloured blue from the heavenly ocean above it. Rain, snow, wind and hail were kept in storehouses outside the raqia, which had “windows” to allow them in – the waters for Noah’s flood entered when the “windows of heaven” were opened.

     

    I cannot find your Job reference where angels cause the rain with buckets of water.

    I only did a very cursory search, but I didn’t notice the angels with buckets in Job either. The storehouses of precipitation, yes.
     
    Verse: BibleHub – Deuteronomy 28:12
    “The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land”
     
    Verse: BibleHub – Job 38:22-23:
    “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?”
     
     
    /Pauses editing to reload this page…
     
    @vince #72:

    The Hebrews can believe whatever they want.

    Alrighty then.

  74. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @vince #73:

    The salvation I am speaking of is salvation from the wrath of god for our sins we committed against him as I believe

    God calls the things that he shall find offensive “sins”, and by his own criteria, he decided he should be mad, and it’s up to US to placate HIM, or he threatens to express wrath upon us?
     

    The only difference is eternal life or not.

    If that’s the “only difference”, your use of “wrath” is unclear to me.

  75. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Nowhere does it say the stars are dangling from a metallic dome. Only the older translations such as the KJV use the word firmament. All modern translations use the word expanse which is the correct translation. The Hebrew word is raqia which Strong’s defines as expanse. I cannot find your Job reference where angels cause the rain with buckets of water.

    That was the standard conception of cosmology at the time, of the Jews, and of all neighboring cultures. Dittos with the four pillars holding up the Earth, and another set of four pillars that hold up the firmament, which are also mentioned in the Old Testament. That really was how they viewed the cosmos. It would be extremely unlikely if they used the same terminology as neighboring cultures to describe a radically different model.

    Of course, with the New Testament, they had a slightly better conception of the cosmos. It was still geocentric instead of heliocentric, but at least the Earth was a sphere.

  76. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #76:
    Sounds like vince is going for a “The ancient authors were inspired to take dictation, but God chose not to inform them properly. Some folks today know how to interpret their words better than they did. The words stay true even in times when everyone misunderstands: thinking them false, or thinking them true in a way that eventually turns out mistaken.” spin on the book.
     
    Luckily, we have vince to explain it.

  77. vince says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal

    Of course, with the New Testament, they had a slightly better conception of the cosmos. It was still geocentric instead of heliocentric, but at least the Earth was a sphere.

    Both of those models are correct in a way. The “center” of the solar system can be picked arbitrarily. I am pretty sure we can mathematically describe the solar system using any object as the center. Isn’t the real fact that everything is orbiting the center of mass of the solar system which I think is somewhere inside the mass of the sun at this moment in time?

  78. vince says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal

    That was the standard conception of cosmology at the time, of the Jews, and of all neighboring cultures. Dittos with the four pillars holding up the Earth, and another set of four pillars that hold up the firmament, which are also mentioned in the Old Testament.

    The only place I know that references the pillars holding up the earth is in 1 Samual 2:8. In the context of that passage he is talking about people.. It is a reference to the leaders of earth, kings and such. Rev 3:12 & 1 Tim 3:15 also talk about the pillars of earth and the church as people. Job 26:7 says god hangs the earth on nothing which seems to be an accurate description and in context there is no reason to believe it is figurative.

  79. adamah says

    Vince, as this article written by Xians points out, ancient cosmological views throughout the region (eg Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, etc) which were influential on the authors of the Bible all considered the sky to be SOLID, not “an expanse”.

    http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/the-firmament-of-genesis-1-is-solid-but-thats-not-the-point

    Vince, you are anachronistically “reading” your modern views INTO the text, thus giving the authors credit for knowing what they didn’t even know; worse, you’re aided in that effort by millennia of Bible translators who “updated” the Bible with word choices in an attempt to make it harmonious with scientific findings, all in the name of ‘service to God’ (AKA as deceiving in the name of God, and not in the search for Truth).

    I can provide links to more-scholarly theological and historical discussions of Hebrew cosmological views, if you like, but there’s mountains of evidence against your “expanse” argument.

    Sky Captain, as far as ‘G’, the broader point I made above stands: claiming the existence of ‘constants’ is somewhat disingenuous, since we cannot reliably measure them to confirm that they ARE “constant” (eg we don’t know if they hold true under different locations in the Universe, etc).

    I suppose the AFT question makes for strange bedfellows, with those who think God sat at the Heavenly Creation Console ‘fine-tuning’ constants (to set them to be as they are) are joined by physicists who argue in the existence of absolutes, when we cannot measure them with accuracy.

    As I said, I understand that physics and mathematics are MODELS of reality, but models are NOT the same as the reality they are attempting to represent.

    I also don’t find it difficult to swallow that there remains much to be learned in 2016: just as it would represent human hubris to claim to know it all in 1916, it seems extremely likely we’ll know more about physics in 2116 than we do now.

  80. adamah says

    BTW, Vince, wouldn’t you expect God to know that the human brain is the center of cognition, and not the heart?

    That’s a basic lesson from anatomy that many moderns take for granted, but the authors of the Bible quoted God as saying differently (the same goes for the kidneys, which ancients considered as important organs for decision-making, and not simply as the organs that filter wastes from the bloodstream).

    Instead, the Biblical authors once again were influenced by the Egyptian experts on medicine in their day, who erroneously concluded that thinking occurs in the HEART, not the BRAIN.

    Hence when preparing mummies, ancient Egyptian physicians simply discarded the brain, instead focusing on preserving the heart for the journey to the after-life (where Osiris would weight it on a scale, in order to determine their thoughts).

    Millennia of hesitation to correct gross Biblical errors has left us referring to the heart in a poetic manner, as a figure of speech, when it once was believed as the literal truth ( why? Because it’s in the Bible: it MUST be true!).

  81. vince says

    @adamah

    Vince, as this article written by Xians points out, ancient cosmological views throughout the region (eg Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, etc) which were influential on the authors of the Bible all considered the sky to be SOLID, not “an expanse”.

    http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/the-firmament-of-genesis-1-is-solid-but-thats-not-the-point

    Vince, you are anachronistically “reading” your modern views INTO the text, thus giving the authors credit for knowing what they didn’t even know; worse, you’re aided in that effort by millennia of Bible translators who “updated” the Bible with word choices in an attempt to make it harmonious with scientific findings, all in the name of ‘service to God’ (AKA as deceiving in the name of God, and not in the search for Truth).

    Interesting blog post, something to think about. I was getting at the point earlier that the Hebrews can believe what they want, I was meaning they could have believed in a hard firmament but that is not what the bible supports as a whole in my opinion. This is a non essential point in Christianity. Whatever a Christian believes on this point is not related to their salvation in any way. I do agree that the bible is not a science book and is hard to reconcile with science today. Example is evolution, the bible and science don’t agree and well meaning people (not liars) that try to, such as biologos tend to stretch the biblical text beyond recognition forcing the text to comply with science or simply setting some text aside as false instead of being ok with the conflict.

  82. adamah says

    Sky Captain said:

    I only did a very cursory search, but I didn’t notice the angels with buckets in Job either.

    Yeah, I was engaging in a bit of ‘atheist eisegesis’ there, my comment based on the following observations:

    1) buckets have existed since ancient times (and mechanically-driven floodgates hadn’t yet been invented),

    2) angels would be involved as slave-labor to carry out God’s will (otherwise, they’d have alot of time on their hands, presumably otherwise spent by dancing on the heads of pins).

    🙂

    Vince said:

    Both of those models are correct in a way. The “center” of the solar system can be picked arbitrarily.

    Arguably true, but what exactly does the word ‘SOLAR’ in the phrase “SOLAR System” imply to you?

    Are you actually arguing that the Earth and other planets (and their respective moons) don’t orbit about the Sun?

  83. vince says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    God calls the things that he shall find offensive “sins”, and by his own criteria, he decided he should be mad, and it’s up to US to placate HIM, or he threatens to express wrath upon us?

    It is not up to us to placate him, the bible is clear we cannot save ourselves. We cannot do any works to make god look past our sins (would he be just if he did?). God himself solved that problem for us in Jesus resurrection.

  84. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @adamah #80:

    claiming the existence of ‘constants’ is somewhat disingenuous, since we cannot reliably measure them to confirm that they ARE “constant” (eg we don’t know if they hold true under different locations in the Universe, etc). [..] physicists who argue in the existence of absolutes, when we cannot measure them with accuracy.

    Well hello there, Sam from the UK.
    Tell us more about the hubris of scientists and theories of gravity and planetary formation…
     
     

    as far as ‘G’, the broader point I made above stands:

    Citing physicists to say “Silly theists, G is periodic! Lol.” Then throwing those physicists in bed with the theists when the same authors say you’re “probably more likely” wrong.

  85. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @vince #82:

    This is a non essential point in Christianity. Whatever a Christian believes on this point is not related to their salvation in any way. I do agree that the bible is not a science book and is hard to reconcile with science today.

    You discard all those inaccuracies in the Bible…
     
    #84:

    It is not up to us to placate him, the bible is clear we cannot save ourselves.

    Why would you expect that book to be accurate about salvation?

  86. adamah says

    Vince said:

    Interesting blog post, something to think about. I was getting at the point earlier that the Hebrews can believe what they want, I was meaning they could have believed in a hard firmament but that is not what the bible supports as a whole in my opinion.

    “As a whole”? On the firmament issue, the Bible remains consistent throughout, and Jesus endorsed the veracity of the Torah, saying not a tittle is wrong.

    And what happened to “all scriptures are inspired by God, beneficial for teaching”?

    Instead, God is quoted as saying in Genesis 9 that He apparently believes the same misconceptions of mortal Egyptian physicians, implying that humans think with their hearts.

    You mean to tell me that God, who supposedly created humans (endowing them with the crowning achievement of His creation that gave us cognitive capabilities, the human brain) wouldn’t know the true role of the human brain?

    M’kay, so it’s probably good that you acknowledge the Bible is not a science textbook, since God would fail kindergarten-level anatomy (ask a preschooler to point to where their thinking occurs, and they’ll point to their head, not their torso: ancients believed the opposite, thinking the organs of cognition are located in the torso and not the head.)

    This is a non essential point in Christianity. Whatever a Christian believes on this point is not related to their salvation in any way.

    Way to miss the big picture, since you’re begging the question.

    Point being, if the Bible was written by non-inspired mortals who failed to miss basic facts about the World but instead believed the same incorrect things about the World as their neighbors did, then why expect it to be any more accurate on the misadaptation of the Hebrew concept of ‘redemption’ and salvation?

    The question you should be asking yourself is, why do you believe in this ‘salvation’ concept, when it rests on no more solid ground than the Bible’s imaginary ‘firmament’ concept?

    Or Jesus’ infamous “sin theory of disease” (vs Pasteur’s “germ theory of disease’)?

    Or a flat circular (vs spherical) Earth?

    Understand we’re NOT talking about miracles (eg Noah’s flood) here, which despite their scientific impossibility are easily dismissed from all challenge due to being claimed as ‘miracles’ in the text.

    Instead, we’re talking about God apparently having no problem with being depicted as being ignorant of basic human anatomy (as was true for most ancient uninspired men).

    I do agree that the bible is not a science book and is hard to reconcile with science today. Example is evolution, the bible and science don’t agree and well meaning people (not liars) that try to, such as biologos tend to stretch the biblical text beyond recognition forcing the text to comply with science or simply setting some text aside as false instead of being ok with the conflict.

    Yep, you either didn’t read the biologos article, or if you DID, you didn’t comprehend it’s conclusion:

    they, like you, aren’t arguing to reconcile the MAJOR discrepancies between the Bible and science.

    As stated above, you position actually AGREES with their conclusion (if you had bothered to actually read that far, you’d know that).

    This all boils down to values….

    Which do you value more:

    1) The truth (regardless of how uncomfortable and vulnerable it may make you feel), or,

    2) The way your beliefs make you feel?

    In this thread, you’ve gone from defending Biblical infallibility to being OK with the contradiction. Care to explain the mental flip-flop that would make a young Russian gymnast envious?

    And despite the analogy, it’s not all the hard alleviating the conflict between the actual evidence and your currently-held beliefs: it simply requires the liberal use of cognitive-dissonance suppression techniques (e.g. compartmentalization).

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compartmentalization_(psychology)

    People unconsciously use such techniques all the time to justify holding two mutually-exclusive ideas simultaneously….

  87. vince says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    You discard all those inaccuracies in the Bible…

    No, I don’t discard them. But I am ok with biblical text being in conflict with science. I never read once where Jesus said we need to believe the genesis account, or reconcile the bible with science to have faith or be saved. All it says is that we have faith and repentance. Christians can believe the bible is in error, in evolution or that the pope is gods vicar on earth for example and still be saved if they have faith in the god of the bible. That is why most division sin the Christian church are unnecessary in my opinion.

  88. vince says

    @adamah,

    Are you actually arguing that the Earth and other planets (and their respective moons) don’t orbit about the Sun?

    Yes I am. The sun is not stationary in reference to the other planets. All the mass in the solar system is orbiting the center of mass of all the matter in the solar system which is not the center of the sun. The planets do go around the sun but they are orbiting the center of mass which is in the suns mass but not at the center. The sun is orbiting this center of mass as well. The center of mass changes as the planets positions change. Since the sun is almost all of the mass of the solar system the center of mass is close to the suns center. At least this is how I understand it.

  89. vince says

    @adamah,

    Which do you value more:

    1) The truth (regardless of how uncomfortable and vulnerable it may make you feel), or,

    2) The way your beliefs make you feel?

    In this thread, you’ve gone from defending Biblical infallibility to being OK with the contradiction. Care to explain the mental flip-flop that would make a young Russian gymnast envious?

    I was never defending the entire bibles infallibility, only that I believe the bible was right on that one point. I believe there is an explanation as to why the bible and science don’t line up where both can be correct. I am ok with saying I don’t now how that is the case.

    Do you think two people can be dedicated to finding the truth and come up with different ideas of what that truth is? If not, then you must think that you are correct on everything you believe or you would be a liar.

  90. vince says

    @adamah,

    Or Jesus’ infamous “sin theory of disease” (vs Pasteur’s “germ theory of disease’)?

    John 9 says Jesus told everyone the blind man was not blind because he or his parents sinned. Where does he say to the contrary?

  91. vince says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Why would you expect that book to be accurate about salvation?

    My answer is that I have faith. God gave me faith to believe the gospel, that is why I believe. Now before you tell me everything that is wrong with that statement I know it is illogical and circular etc. Monocle Smile already called me a bunch of names because of that statement (I am not saying that you were going to).

  92. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @vince #92:

    I know it is illogical and circular etc.

    Following the ramifications of illogic can be fun.
     

    My answer is that I have faith. God gave me faith to believe the gospel, that is why I believe.

    You believe it was *God* that made you particularly susceptible to believing only certain Christians’ claims about parts of an old book, from an unfamiliar culture, and the characters it depicts?
     
    Interesting. So God made physical changes to your body (and/or the environment your body is constantly reacting with) so that you wouldn’t need physical evidence. Or God systemically fed you information, threats and promises, which excuse failures such that degrading confidence in those claims is especially difficult.
     
    You are aware that it doesn’t require a God to do that, since you acknowledge other religions are mistaken. They still function as institutions where people develop shared identity, tell stories, and influence each other.

  93. adamah says

    Vince said:

    John 9 says Jesus told everyone the blind man was not blind because he or his parents sinned. Where does he say to the contrary?

    ‘Inheritable sin’ is what you’re referring to. There are many scriptures that document the evolution of Hebrew theology that occurred to move away from the “sons are responsible for the sins of their forefathers” thinking.

    The exception is found in the Book of Job, wherein God sometimes allows apparently faithful humans to experience illness ‘as a test’.

    But regardless, God was nevertheless thought of as the source of illness or misfortune.

    The Bible clearly depicts Jesus as believed in what moderns might refer to as the ‘Sin Hypothesis of Disease’ (and the related, ‘Forgiveness Hypothesis of Curing Disease’).

    I wrote an article about it here:

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

  94. sawhowhatnow says

    Could anyone point me towards the Podcast Matt mentions near the end of the show where the Christian host was terrified of a One World Government? I’d like to listen to that.

  95. vince says

    @adamah,

    I wrote an article about it here:

    So I read your article. Why did you only quote Mark 7:1-4 and not the entire passage verses 1-23? Jesus point here is that the Pharisees were putting man made rules on people and attributing them to god as you say in your article. But you go further and say that Jesus was indifferent or even hostile to hand washing. As if hand washing was his main point. He was not addressing hygiene here but theology. I am sure he would have been ok with the Pharisees washing their hands if they did not claim you were sinning if you didn’t.

    When Jesus called others around as you call “going all in” (v 14-23) he was obviously talking about our sinful actions, attitudes and thoughts. The defilement was not germs but sin (v 21-23). He did not “dismiss the early hygienic practices of the Jews” as you said, he was rejecting the connection to pleasing god with them and putting additional rules that were not necessary to please god. He was not dismissing hygiene here. In verse 17 they understood it was a parable, talking about theological truths using everyday physical things.

    In my opinion to say Jesus was against hygiene here because he was ignorant of germs is severely missing the point.

  96. vince says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    You believe it was *God* that made you particularly susceptible to believing only certain Christians’ claims about parts of an old book, from an unfamiliar culture, and the characters it depicts?

    Interesting. So God made physical changes to your body (and/or the environment your body is constantly reacting with) so that you wouldn’t need physical evidence. Or God systemically fed you information, threats and promises, which excuse failures such that degrading confidence in those claims is especially difficult.

    No, The only claim I make is that I believe god gave me the faith to believe the truth of the gospel as it says in the bible he does. How he does it I do not claim to know. I do not think I would believe the gospel on my own without god giving me the faith. At some point fait is irrational, there are arguments for god and some are good and compelling but at some point you need to have an irrational faith a jump to knowledge not supported by science.

  97. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @vince #97:

    I do not think I would believe the gospel on my own

    THAT is your claim.
    How you came to believe what you do… you say have no access to that.
     

    it says in the bible he does […] you need to have an irrational faith

    The bible says a lot of things. People say a lot of things. People write books. People reinterpret familiar stories to express their own concerns..People bond. People trust. People can trust recklessly.
     
    Your happiness does not depend on that book. If someone scares you, that doesn’t mean they have a point. If someone makes grand promises, those promises are worthless without a demonstration that they can/will follow through.
     
    When you aren’t being a Christian ™, you are a hobbyist, a professional, a concerned citizen, a family member, etc. If you were to stop being a Christian, you would still be any/all of those things.
     
    The Hebrews can think whatever they want, and you don’t have to take anything they wrote seriously.

  98. vince says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Your happiness does not depend on that book. If someone scares you, that doesn’t mean they have a point. If someone makes grand promises, those promises are worthless without a demonstration that they can/will follow through.

    When you aren’t being a Christian ™, you are a hobbyist, a professional, a concerned citizen, a family member, etc. If you were to stop being a Christian, you would still be any/all of those things.

    I clarified this point already. I do not believe you need to be a Christian to be happy. I was happy and had purpose before I became a Christian. There is no time I am not being a Christian. I agree Christianity is not needed to get through this life. You can be happy and fulfilled without Christianity. That is not the point. It is taught in many seeker sensitive type churches in America but that is not found in the bible. Eternal life is the point. Jesus was resurrected so we can have eternal life, not so we can be happy or fulfilled in this life. He did command us to do good works but that is not why we are saved.

    The Hebrews can think whatever they want, and you don’t have to take anything they wrote seriously

  99. vince says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    The Hebrews can think whatever they want, and you don’t have to take anything they wrote seriously.

    I agree.

  100. RationalismRules says

    @vince #92

    My answer is that I have faith. God gave me faith to believe the gospel, that is why I believe. Now before you tell me everything that is wrong with that statement I know it is illogical and circular etc.

    Faith cannot be used as a reason for belief, because it is a subset of belief – belief without evidence. To say “I believe because of faith” is the same as saying “I believe because I believe”. It’s not even circular or illogical, it’s just straight-up meaningless.

    In fact, you do have reasons for your belief, whether or not you want to acknowledge and examine them.
    (Some examples might be: the religious background you were brought up in; positive feelings you have experienced at various times which you have attributed to god; discomfort with the notion that we cease to exist when we die etc. etc.)
    The problem with acknowledging these reasons is they can be shown to be invalid, which is presumably why you attempt to take refuge in the non-statement “I believe because I believe”, rather than actually examine the real reasons for your belief.

    Let me rephrase Sky Captain’s question. Why should anyone else believe that your book is accurate about salvation? It’s jam-packed with things that you are happy to either discard, label as allegory, or interpret to suit yourself, so why should anyone accept your claim that the bits about salvation are the exception?

  101. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @vince #100:

    “The Hebrews can think whatever they want, and you don’t have to take anything they wrote seriously.”
     
    I agree.

     
    Same goes for the pagans, samaritans, essenes, zealots, the various canonized NT authors, apocrypha authors, marcionites, gnostics, arians, church fathers, muslims, lutherans, armenians, calvinists, baptists, positive christianity and christian identity proponents, prosperity evangelists, JW watchtower, adventists, mennonites, amish, mormons, rastafarians, apologists, saints, prophets…
     
    Anyone expecting you to adopt claims about theology and salvation when they can’t answer: “Why should anyone accept your claim?” And ideally, you should audit things you’ve already accepted now and then.
     
     
    #99:

    Jesus was resurrected so we can have eternal life

    What does Jesus being dead, then not so dead, in several quite different stories, have to do with God, wrath, and you living eternally, thousands of years later?
     
    Video: 43alley – Animated side-by-side readings of the empty tomb narratives (5:10)

  102. Monocle Smile says

    @vince
    You sound surprised that you were ridiculed for saying laughable bullshit. Why is this surprising?

  103. vince says

    @RationalismRules

    Faith cannot be used as a reason for belief, because it is a subset of belief – belief without evidence. To say “I believe because of faith” is the same as saying “I believe because I believe”. It’s not even circular or illogical, it’s just straight-up meaningless.

    As I said earlier, I agree with you on this.

    Let me rephrase Sky Captain’s question. Why should anyone else believe that your book is accurate about salvation? It’s jam-packed with things that you are happy to either discard, label as allegory, or interpret to suit yourself, so why should anyone accept your claim that the bits about salvation are the exception?

    They shouldn’t. The bible says in Romans 10 our faith comes from understand the gospel message not from anything I say.

    In fact, you do have reasons for your belief, whether or not you want to acknowledge and examine them.
    (Some examples might be: the religious background you were brought up in; positive feelings you have experienced at various times which you have attributed to god; discomfort with the notion that we cease to exist when we die etc. etc.)
    The problem with acknowledging these reasons is they can be shown to be invalid, which is presumably why you attempt to take refuge in the non-statement “I believe because I believe”, rather than actually examine the real reasons for your belief.

    That is my reason even if someone on the internet says they know better. I did not believe before I heard the gospel message, God gives us our faith and I see many reasons to not believe but in the end I do.

  104. vince says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    What does Jesus being dead, then not so dead, in several quite different stories, have to do with God, wrath, and you living eternally, thousands of years later?

    I have a feeling you do know the gospel message already.

  105. vince says

    @Monocle Smile

    You sound surprised that you were ridiculed for saying laughable bullshit. Why is this surprising?

    Not really. I find that how many skeptics treat people is proportional to how much others agree with them. Remember, you lied to me when you said you would give arguments back if I told you why I believed, instead you threw insults and ridicule and never addressed the problems with why I believe. You could take some lessons from Sky Captain and RationalismRules on how to treat others you disagree with. Why do you think it is appropriate to insult others for having a different opinion or even a meaningless argument?

  106. Monocle Smile says

    You could take some lessons from Sky Captain and RationalismRules on how to treat others you disagree with

    I was perfectly polite until you stopped engaging honestly. I’m not the only one who became frustrated.

    Why do you think it is appropriate to insult others for having a different opinion or even a meaningless argument?

    You think poorly and you defend thinking poorly, and thus you are my enemy.
    http://whatstheharm.net

  107. adamah says

    @Vince,

    Vince said:

    So I read your article. Why did you only quote Mark 7:1-4 and not the entire passage verses 1-23?

    Thanks for reading it, although it was primarily geared for JWs (they don’t believe in the Trinity, hence don’t think Jesus was God assuming a mortal form, but the archangel Michael in mortal form).

    Anyway, as I explained in the first paragraph, the author of Mark added a parenthetical (background) comment which indicates he considered the man-made rituals of the Pharisees (washing hands before eating, and washing dishes) as unnecessary, when science has subsequently validated both practices to be beneficial.

    My goal in the article wasn’t to examine the interchange between Jesus and the Pharisees in the entire Chapter (where Jesus went on a tangent, accusing the Pharisees of violating the commandment to honor one’s father and mother with their practice of ‘Corban’ (Jesus even repeated the punishment for dishonoring parents: give the brats the death sentence!).)

    Instead, my goal was to focus on the hand-washing tradition which Jesus clearly denounced as unnecessary and useless.

    Fact is, pathogenic (disease-causing) micro-organisms exist, and they don’t care one whit about the religious beliefs of their hosts: they respond equally-well to hand-washing performed by an atheist or Xian, alike.

    What I didn’t mention in the article was that hand-washing before meals was a ‘cultural marker’, a practice which served to identify to others the person’s status as a Jew (at the time, hand-washing before meals wasn’t practiced by Gentiles, so if you saw someone washing and praying before eating, it was likely they were Jewish).

    Hand-washing and reciting the accompanying prayer before meals was a practice which, along with the clothing and dietary restrictions (which forbade eating non-kosher foods) made it almost a certainty that Jews would be easily identified as a separate group.

    Of course, most Jews would eat their meals in the privacy of their own homes, but the homeless Jesus and his entourage didn’t have such privacy: constantly in the public eye when traveling, their hygienic practices were exposed for others to scrutinize (bringing them on the radar of the Pharisees and rabbis).

    As to why I didn’t get into other subjects, the article was long enough as it stands, and analyzing the entire Chapter would be way OT to the MAIN point I was attempting to make: Jesus’ objected to hand-washing, based on his unquestioned acceptance of the ‘sin theory of disease’.

    Jesus viewed himself as authorized by God to forgive humans their sins, which was manifested by their being healed of their diseases. THAT was the mechanism by which Jesus healed the sick, cured the blind, lame, etc.

    It’s amazing how many Xians find that concept hard to swallow, when it’s part and parcel of basic Xian theology, although placed in scientific terms.

    (I still need to heavily edit the article, as it’s too lengthy as it stands for most readers.)

    Jesus point here is that the Pharisees were putting man made rules on people and attributing them to god as you say in your article.

    As I explained in the beginning of the article, the Jews in 20CE believed their rabbis were just as Divinely-inspired as Moses was (who was just as mortal as us). Jews believed their rabbis and priests were equally capable of serving as vessels of God’s will, “fleshing out” specific laws that were in keeping with principles found in the Torah.

    That’s the Pharisee philosophy in a nutshell, and it’s still the thinking of modern Jews.

    There were many other trivial regulations and rules which were issued by God (and supposedly dictated to Moses) in the Torah, some with the goal of protecting health and welfare of his “chosen people” (e.g. Manna was sent from heaven, the rule saying not to defecate in the camp, etc).

    So the idea of hand-washing was not as radical or new-fangled as you may believe: it had been widely-adopted by the time Jesus walked the Earth, since it was so common as to serve as a cultural marker, even earning the title of a “tradition of the elders”, per Jesus’ own admission.

    But you go further and say that Jesus was indifferent or even hostile to hand washing. As if hand washing was his main point. He was not addressing hygiene here but theology. I am sure he would have been ok with the Pharisees washing their hands if they did not claim you were sinning if you didn’t.

    Which only begs the question: since the Pharisees accidentally stumbled upon a cheap and easy method to increase public health by reducing food-borne illnesses (and long before the discovery of germs), why would a truly Divinely-inspired Jesus poo-pooh a beneficial practice, esp. when his objection was based purely on authoritative theological grounds?

    It’s as if God were playing a game of “Mother, May I?” with humans, throwing a tantrum if they don’t follow a good rule He hadn’t thought to implement.

    And as I point out in the article, Jesus didn’t say or do lots of things to clarify his point: instead, the Bible actually reveals his arrogant ignorance, calling his disciples dense.

    And Jesus is said to be the great communicator for using parables?

    You admit that Jesus used hand-washing as a pretense to wage a theological battle over, only to end up on the wrong side of scientific history.

    When Jesus called others around as you call “going all in” (v 14-23) he was obviously talking about our sinful actions, attitudes and thoughts.

    Uh, yeah, that’s EXACTLY my point: Jesus didn’t even know about the existence of germs, just like any other person of his day.

    He only knew about ‘sin’, and Jesus claimed to be able to cure disease (along with the Temple priests, who also were seen as being able to atone for sins) by virtue of having being delegated the Divine authority to forgive other humans of their sins.

    It’s like the old saying, when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail to you. Except in Jesus’ case, all he saw was sin.

    The defilement was not germs but sin (v 21-23)

    Now you’re going against what your own Bible says, as the author of Mark 7:2 unambiguously states that unwashed HANDS themselves are ‘defiled’.

    And athough the Pharisees didn’t understand germ theory, they were on the right track….

    The policy of the Pharisees recognized that eating with unwashed (or ‘defiled’) hands was a problem, when Jesus said exactly the opposite, claiming that nothing can enter from outside of us to cause sin (and hence, disease), when he was wrong on both counts:

    1) pathogenic germs CAN cause disease, and,

    2) SIN doesn’t cause disease.

    In verse 18-19, Jesus “doubles down” (and fails Human Anatomy 101, to boot) by saying that it’s not what enters the mouth from outside that defiles a person and leads to sin and disease (since food is purified in the stomach and eliminated, per Jesus), but that which defiles comes out of the mouth from the heart (and as I explained before, Jesus was referring to the ‘brain’, the center of cognition where thoughts are formed).

    Read the article (and that scripture) again, as you may have missed the significance of uncleanliness as the most-obvious sign of something being defiled.

    He was not dismissing hygiene here. In verse 17 they understood it was a parable, talking about theological truths using everyday physical things.

    Actually, his apostles wouldn’t have needed to ask Jesus for clarification in verse 17 if they heard his schtick the first time, and hadn’t understood what he said.

    Jesus rebuked them (yet again, by asking if they were dullards) for failing to understand the incomprehensible paradoxical nonsense he spouted, for not following what he said.

    But back to the main subject:

    As I pointed out in the article, Jesus claimed to believe in a literal interpretation of the Torah, including the passage that says not a word or tittle should be added to or taken away from the Law of Moses.

    And Jesus also said that the Law of Moses would remain in effect until “the Heavens and Earth passed away” (which, last time I checked, hasn’t happened yet: thus the Law of Moses is still in effect, including its dietary restrictions, per Jesus Himself).

    The point I didn’t make is the sheer hypocrisy of Jesus’ words in Mark 7:18-19, when he said this:

    18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foodst clean.)

    Again, the author of Mark 7 proclaims in parentheses how Jesus just eliminated the Torah’s dietary restrictions, thus effectively rewriting the Torah in the process….

    Jesus implied the dietary restrictions (kashrut) of the Torah were negated, even though another NT scripture quotes him as saying that not even a tittle of the Law of Moses will not be rendered obsolete “until the Heavens and Earth have passed away”.

    Jesus, contradict yourself much?

    He objected to the idea of the Parisees tinkering with the Law of Moses, when Jesus seemingly felt entitled to cut large swaths of it at will.

    Speaking of cultural markers, one of the long/standing taboos involved drinking human blood: an observant Jew would rather die than violate that longstanding taboo, which was strongly associated with ‘pagan’ cult worship. Even the act of a Jew simulating the drinking of blood was verboten, and he faced the death penalty for worshipping a false God (respect for blood is laid out to Noah, just after the Flood).

    So when Jesus introduced the concept of symbolically eating his flesh and drinking his blood, many of his Jewish disciples were abhorred at Jesus’ words; some reportedly fell away from him, choosing to abandon him rather than violating a strict Jewish taboo which theoretically carried the death penalty.

    So just felt entitled to ignore longstanding rules and principles found in the Torah, but no one else could do so? Talk about a MASSIVE sense of entitlement!! Who does Jesus think he is: the Son of God?!? 🙂

    Anyway, I doubt you’ll find any of this convincing enough to change your beliefs: that’s what happens when someone decides to allow faith, and not evidence, to rule their lives.

    BTW, this site has trolls. I mostly ignore them, and grant other readers possess the same ability to recognize trollish behavior when they see it.

  108. vince says

    @adamah,

    Jesus viewed himself as authorized by God to forgive humans their sins, which was manifested by their being healed of their diseases. THAT was the mechanism by which Jesus healed the sick, cured the blind, lame, etc.

    It’s amazing how many Xians find that concept hard to swallow, when it’s part and parcel of basic Xian theology, although placed in scientific terms.

    I disagree. I think you need to make a case for this from the bible. If you believe this then anyone that has a disease cannot be a Christian. As I pointed out earlier Jesus made it clear that sin did not cause the man in John 9 blindness. This seems to go against your ideas here.

    You admit that Jesus used hand-washing as a pretense to wage a theological battle over, only to end up on the wrong side of scientific history.

    Again, you are forcing the text to say something it doesn’t. It is not talking at all about hygiene but theology. You yourself said the Pharisees brought up the subject in the first place. Jesus was using that to make a point about the Pharisees theology that was man made and wrong.

    Now you’re going against what your own Bible says, as the author of Mark 7:2 unambiguously states that unwashed HANDS themselves are ‘defiled’.

    No, it states that the Pharisees thought that unwashed hands were defiled. Jesus made the point that they were not. That the act of washing hands had no bearing on defilement. Jesus went on to say that defilement was an internal sinfulness and thoughts that manifested in the words we say. He said that what comes out, our words, shows us our true heart and attitudes. You cannot force this to be about physical germs, that is not what the text is about.

    In verse 18-19, Jesus “doubles down” (and fails Human Anatomy 101, to boot) by saying that it’s not what enters the mouth from outside that defiles a person and leads to sin and disease (since food is purified in the stomach and eliminated, per Jesus), but that which defiles comes out of the mouth from the heart (and as I explained before, Jesus was referring to the ‘brain’, the center of cognition where thoughts are formed).

    Oh, come on, you know that when Jesus and people today say what comes from the heart they are talking about our thoughts, emotions, attitudes etc. You also added the word disease as if it is actually in the passage. It is not.

    As I pointed out in the article, Jesus claimed to believe in a literal interpretation of the Torah, including the passage that says not a word or tittle should be added to or taken away from the Law of Moses.

    This same passage says He fulfilled the law and did not destroy it. And no, the law of Moses is not still in effect. He said the law is in affect until He fulfilled it. Read the entire passage. He never destroys the law as it says but he fulfills it.

    Anyway, I doubt you’ll find any of this convincing enough to change your beliefs: that’s what happens when someone decides to allow faith, and not evidence, to rule their lives.

    So you know you are right? I would ask that you reread those passages I pointed out and consider my points. If not, how are you any different than what you describe above?

  109. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @vince #104:

    Romans 10 our faith comes from understand the gospel message not from anything I say.

     

    I have a feeling you do know the gospel message already.

    Apparently I do not understand the message, or Romans 10 was mistaken. Many different theologies have been created to make sense of the resurrection narratives in different ways, both in regard to salvation and even what resurrection does.
     
    Some christians said Jesus was a spirit that only appeared like a man. Muslims say God miraculously turned someone else into a stunt double, and Jesus ran off to preach in the East! Some folks said Jesus only returned as a vision.
     
    Some folks said the dead body’s atoms were recycled to rebuild Jesus, others said a whole new body was created (considering incomplete/destroyed bodies and mass resurrections).
     
    Some folks said it was good to kill Jesus, since they worshipped a god that accepted blood sacrifice and still had a grudge ever since Eve ate fruit in one of the Hebrew stories; killing the best person made the best gift!
     
     
    Connect the dots for me, in the way that works for you.
     
    What does Jesus being dead, then not so dead, in several quite different stories, have to do with God, wrath, and you living eternally, thousands of years later?

  110. RationalismRules says

    @Vince #104
    I said:

    Faith cannot be used as a reason for belief

    You responded:

    I agree

    Two lines later you said:

    That is my reason

    (referring to faith)

    Why would you agree with me that it cannot be used as a reason, then immediately assert it as a reason?

  111. adamah says

    Vince said:

    I disagree. I think you need to make a case for this from the bible. If you believe this then anyone that has a disease cannot be a Christian.

    Uh, say what?

    Are you forgetting your own schtick?

    You know, the part where Xians proclaim that all humans are sinners, being the offspring of Adam and Eve (and hence the inheritors of their original sin)? This all humans require the redeeming blood of Christ to atone for their sins, a necessary step to attaining eternal salvation?
    I suspect you are like alot of other Xians, being unfamiliar with the Jewish roots of these concepts (eg ideas like ‘atonement’, ‘redeemer’, etc) which were ripped from the OT .
    Jesus was a Jew, and obviously he’d be familiar with what those words meant when spoken in their original Aramaic/Hebrew context.
    At the very least, you need to look a bit deeper into the Jewish conception of ‘redemption’, since Xianity stole it (or to be more polite, ‘borrowed’ it) from Judaism to use in their new religion.
    I wrote an article that touches on the topic of ‘redeemer’ here:
    http://awgue.weebly.com/why-did-god-seemingly-allow-cain-to-get-away-with-murder.html

    As I pointed out earlier Jesus made it clear that sin did not cause the man in John 9 blindness. This seems to go against your ideas here.

    And as I also responded to you earlier, Jesus was essentially repeating the lesson to be gleaned from the Book of Job, wherein God tests humans after Satan (literally, the accuser”) questions their loyalty, so God afflicts them with disease, loss of wealth, etc, as a “loyalty test”.
    The point of the parable of Job is that if some person is undergoing hardship, it’s incorrect to assume they’ve committed some egregious sin for which they’re being punished by God. In fact, Job’s so-called ‘friends’ were chastised for jumping to the hasty conclusion that Job had committed some unknown sin for which he was being punished.
    Instead, the account offers an ‘out’ to address the question of why illnesses and other bad things happen to seemingly good ‘righteous’ people.
    (The sentiment is repeated in the scripture that says how unforeseen events and misfortunes befall all.)
    However, none of that changes the fact that per the Bible (as one example, Deut 19, as I quoted in the article), God is the source of, the cause of, disease.
    Are you questioning the truth of your own Bible now?

    It is not talking at all about hygiene but theology. You yourself said the Pharisees brought up the subject in the first place. Jesus was using that to make a point about the Pharisees theology that was man made and wrong.

    Simply repeating what you said above 100x won’t make it any truer.
    As despite what you posted, history has shown conclusively that Jesus ended up on the wrong side of science, since hand washing before eating HAS been demonstrated to reduce the incidence of deaths from food-borne illnesses.
    I explained all this above, so re-read my post, specifically paying attention to the part where I explained what the view of the Pharisees was (using the analogy of the US Constitution containing principles; on the other hand, laws need to be very specific in order to “flesh out” the high-minded principles found in the Constitution (such as “the pursuit of happiness”)).

    Adamah originally said:

    Now you’re going against what your own Bible says, as the author of Mark 7:2 unambiguously states that unwashed HANDS themselves are ‘defiled’.

    To which Vince said:

    No, it states that the Pharisees thought that unwashed hands were defiled.

    Yeah, no kidding. You’re actually agreeing with me at this point (whether you realize it or not).
    As I explained in the article (and on here, multiple times), the author of Mark provided parenthetical background information (i.e. a short synopsis) of the beliefs of the Pharisees, who considered eating with unwashed hands as defiling the person.
    The author of Mark correctly sums up the Pharisees’ position, and we can confirm this actually was their position from other para-extant sources (e.g. surviving Midrash, etc).
    And no kidding, Jesus objected to their position, disagreeing on the grounds that washing hands before eating was a ‘ritual of the elders’, a ‘man-made’ rule.
    But you’re missing the point that hand-washing IS an effective means to remove disease-causing germs, which obviously proves of benefit in reducing the incidence of deaths from food-borne disease.
    Jesus ironically objected to their man-made rules that in his opinion invalidated the law of Moses by issuing a new man-made rule of his own, proclaiming all food to be clean ( kosher) thus throwing out large swaths of the Torah’s dietary restrictions (specifically scriptures forbidding the eating of pork, shell-fish, etc).
    Mark 7:18 thus constitutes Jesus redacting the Law of Moses, something he said in Matthew 5:17 he would NEVER do (more on that scripture below).

    That the act of washing hands had no bearing on defilement.

    Let’s try this again, using a different approach.

    Please answer the following ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions:

    1) do you accept that food-borne germs are the cause of certain human diseases?

    1a) If ‘yes’, then whom do you believe created these deadly bacteria and viruses, if not God?
    2) do you wash your hands after going to the restroom, or after working with your hands in a dirty environment? (And if not, do you at least wash your hands before eating a sandwich with your dirty bare hands?)
    If your answer is ‘no’, why are you demonstrating such little faith in the inspired words of Jesus in Matt 7:18-19?
    3) Do you believe when the Bible tells you (e.g. in Deut 19) that God is the source of ALL diseases, which at times He uses to punish sinful humans (or at other times to test their loyalty to Him, e.g. Job)?
    3a) If ‘no’, then to what do you attribute as the source of human diseases?

    Adamah said:

    (and as I explained before, Jesus was referring to the ‘brain’, the center of cognition where thoughts are formed).

    To which Vince said:

    Oh, come on, you know that when Jesus and people today say what comes from the heart they are talking about our thoughts, emotions, attitudes etc.

    At this point, I highly doubt you actually read the article, as I already covered that objection in it.
    But since you seemingly didn’t read it, I’ll repeat myself:
    Sure, by NOW the phrase has been relegated to the status of being a ‘figure of speech’ (and often used in a poetic manner in the Renaissance), since the evidence is overwhelming against the concept. As I say, any modern-day kindergartner knows that the brain is the center of cognition, not the heart.
    Such a slow evolution of language speaks more to the power of the Bible to stunt the advancement of human knowledge, since what was once believed as literal truth (based on it being in the Bible) slowly transitions to becoming a useless ‘figure of speech’.
    As you clearly didn’t read the article, I posted a link to, ‘Aristotle on the Brain’, an article which looks at surviving historical writings in which ancients discuss the roles of the human organs.
    As I pointed out in my article, even smart Aristotle was wrong, since he tried to answer the question using rationale alone, and he failed to conduct clinical research on patients who actually experienced head trauma (and hence brain damage). There were plenty of test subjects available: soldiers wounded in the battles between the Persians and Greeks).
    Which brings us to Matt 5:17, where Vince said:

    This same passage says He fulfilled the law and did not destroy it. And no, the law of Moses is not still in effect. He said the law is in affect until He fulfilled it. Read the entire passage. He never destroys the law as it says but he fulfills it.

    That particular bit of legal and Xian Biblical ignorance is a pet peeve of mine, for how does anyone FULFILL a set of laws?
    Does that mean if I drive the posted speed limit perfectly for a decade or two, I’ve “fulfilled the vehicle code”, so that’s it: I don’t have to ever observe the posted speed limit ever again? Didn’t I fulfill it, by virtue of the fact I respected it perfectly the years before?
    News-flash, Vince:
    Laws are never ‘fulfilled’.
    That’s why we call it the “law of gravity”: it’s constant (well, kinda constant and everlasting …. At least, close enough for gov’t. work). 🙂
    Instead, laws may be ‘modified’, ‘changed’, ‘rendered obsolete’, ‘redacted’, or even ‘stricken from law books’ ( i.e. ‘repealed’), but laws never get ‘fulfilled’.
    On the other hand, PROPHECIES are often described as becoming ‘fulfilled’ (i.e. their predictions come to pass).
    But laws? Nope.
    I dare say if you look more closely at that scripture (Matt 5:17), you’ll see Jesus actually said he didn’t come to abolish (repeal) the Law (of Moses), but to fulfill the PROPHECIES found in the writings of ‘the Prophets’ (in Hebrew, these writings are called the ‘Neviim’, corresponding to the ‘writings of the prophets’ (e.g. Joshua, Isaiah, etc) in the Xian OT).
    This is where your ignorance of 1st century Jewish tradition leaves you in the dark, since for well over two millennia, Jews have referred to their canonized holy writings as ‘the Tanakh’.
    That term is actually an acronym, referring not just to the Torah (aka the ‘Law of Moses’), but also includes the ‘writings of the prophets’ (AKA the ‘Neviim’).
    From Wikipedia:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_5:17

    France notes that “law and prophets” was a common expression for the entirety of what Christians today call the Old Testament, though it more correctly refers to the Mosaic Law and Neviim, see Biblical Canon.[1]

    So a Jewish Jesus was using a commonly-understood phrase to say he didn’t come to abolish the law of Moses, but to fulfill the messianic prophecies found in the ‘writings of the Prophets, e.g. Isaiah (in which Isaiah described the criteria for the Jewish messiah).
    So Jesus wasn’t saying he came to ‘fulfill the Law of Moses’, as that idea would makes absolutely no gob-smacking sense to his Jewish audience.
    It makes no more sense than Jesus saying he didn’t come to ‘abolish the Prophets’ to refer to the individuals (and not to refer to their prophetic writings) for how could he abolish mortal prophets who had already been deceased for a few centuries?

    So once again, the paucity of punctuation marks in ancient Hebrew (and Aramaic) makes it extremely problematic for you to accurately understand what a Jewish Jesus was actually saying, esp. when you’re unfamiliar with what we DO know about the beliefs of the Jews (although the lack of punctuation greatly aids the task of eisegesis, forcing the scriptures to say whatever you want them to mean to fit into ones desired theology).
    Vince asked:

    So you know you are right? I would ask that you reread those passages I pointed out and consider my points. If not, how are you any different than what you describe above

    Unlike many believers, I think there’s few (if any) absolutes out there in an inherently uncertain World. I suspect many people actually prefer basking in the comfort of a warm blankie for the brain given by believing in a God, but I personally prefer dealing with cold-sober reality directly, rather than adopting a narcotized false comfort (whether it’s from drugs, drinking, or religion).
    Hence I deal in probabilities of what most likely is true.

    As I always say, if you make it past the first 9 chapters of Genesis with raising an eyebrow, you may not be as rational as you may think you are.

    But hey, it’s your life to waste as you wish: believe it or not, I agree there’s worse ways to spend one’s life than living in fear of a non-existent God….

  112. says

    I won’t call you any names, Vince, but I am genuinely curious as to why you would embrace these kinds of beliefs, knowing and freely admitting they are illogical and circular and so on. I mean, a lot of people do things they know are foolish, I suppose, like smoking. But…you know…why?

  113. adamah says

    @Vince, the New Living Translation is the only one that gets closest to Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus was addressing an Aramaic- and Hebrew-speaking crowd who immediately understood what Jesus was referring to when he used a common phrase that referred to both the Law (of Moses) and (writings of the) prophets.

    The NLT handles the translation like this (bold is mine, for emphasis):

    Matthew 5 (NLT):

    17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

    Now THAT translation at least makes some logical sense (despite Xian apologetic sites to the contrary, laws don’t get “fulfilled”: on the other hand, prophecies DO become fulfilled).

    And both laws and prophecies have a purpose: the former to maintain order, and the latter to serve as evidence (although questionable) of some truth.

    The passage continues, Jesus now focusing on the ‘Law of Moses’ (and not the messianic prophecies found in the Nevi’im):

    18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Of course, per bog-standard Xian theology, the Jewish messianic prophecies found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. weren’t fulfilled, and the so-called New Covenant didn’t go into effect until Jesus’ death (which is an absolutely INSANE interpretation of the prophecies found in the Nevi’im, e.g. the promised Jewish messiah wasn’t prophecized to be killed (!), but to lead the way to rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, restoring the earthly Kingdom and serving as a leader to the Gentiles, etc).

    But back to Xian theology, Jesus said in his Sermon that ‘not a jot or tittle would pass from the law’ until the New Covenant went into effect (upon his death).

    But what do we find in Mark 7:18, but a very-alive Jesus single-handedly abolishing the dietary restrictions of the Law of Moses, and teaching his apostles to do so?

    So in Jesus’ own words from his sermon, does that mean Jesus himself is to be ‘the least in the Kingdom of Heaven’, since he taught his apostles that it was OK to eat ‘unclean’ (defiling) food?

    As I said above: Jesus, contradict yourself much?

    If you need to, ask your pastors or ministers for assistance with resolving this discrepancy, and get back to us here with their answer.

    While faith may cover a multitude of logical sins, there MUST be a breaking point for anyone who even remotely considers themselves to be a rational person….

  114. vince says

    @adamah,

    Uh, say what? Are you forgetting your own schtick? You know, the part where Xians proclaim that all humans are sinners, being the offspring of Adam and Eve (and hence the inheritors of their original sin)? This all humans require the redeeming blood of Christ to atone for their sins, a necessary step to attaining eternal salvation?
    I suspect you are like alot of other Xians, being unfamiliar with the Jewish roots of these concepts (eg ideas like ‘atonement’, ‘redeemer’, etc) which were ripped from the OT . Jesus was a Jew, and obviously he’d be familiar with what those words meant when spoken in their original Aramaic/Hebrew context.

    At the very least, you need to look a bit deeper into the Jewish conception of ‘redemption’, since Xianity stole it (or to be more polite, ‘borrowed’ it) from Judaism to use in their new religion. I wrote an article that touches on the topic of ‘redeemer’ here:

    Nowhere in the bible does it say that sin causes all disease. I should clarify, disease is the result of the original sin by adam and eve; However, all disease is not from a person’s sin. The bible says disease can be from god, satan, demonic attack or just from normal scientific explanations. IN the end god is responsible since he has the ability to stop someone from getting sick. But your claim that all disease is from a person’s sin is not supported form the bible.

    As I explained in the article (and on here, multiple times), the author of Mark provided parenthetical background information (i.e. a short synopsis) of the beliefs of the Pharisees, who considered eating with unwashed hands as defiling the person. The author of Mark correctly sums up the Pharisees’ position, and we can confirm this actually was their position from other para-extant sources (e.g. surviving Midrash, etc).

    I disagree that it is parenthetical information. It is actually what the Pharisees said.

    Do you believe when the Bible tells you (e.g. in Deut 19) that God is the source of ALL diseases, which at times He uses to punish sinful humans (or at other times to test their loyalty to Him, e.g. Job)?

    Deut 19 does not say anything about where disease comes from. I believe you put down the wrong reference by mistake. God is responsible for all disease and he does use disease to punish and discipline Christians.

    As you clearly didn’t read the article,

    Why do you find this necessary. Why not assume I read the article but misunderstood it rather than accuse others of lying? Just a question.

    That particular bit of legal and Xian Biblical ignorance is a pet peeve of mine, for how does anyone FULFILL a set of laws? Does that mean if I drive the posted speed limit perfectly for a decade or two, I’ve “fulfilled the vehicle code”, so that’s it: I don’t have to ever observe the posted speed limit ever again? Didn’t I fulfill it, by virtue of the fact I respected it perfectly the years before? News-flash, Vince: Laws are never ‘fulfilled’.

    If Jesus meant that the law was still in effect, then it contradicts Romans 10:4, Gal 3:23-25 and Eph 2. As defined by Jesus the law can be fulfilled by him never sinning and fulfilling the prophetic verses. He was proving that he was the messiah by obeying the entire law and actualizing the prophesies.

    You want to read into the text what you think it means without looking at whet the context and what other Christians wrote about what he said in the bible. The other biblical writers do not think as you do about what fulfilled meant.

    but I personally prefer dealing with cold-sober reality directly, rather than adopting a narcotized false comfort (whether it’s from drugs, drinking, or religion).
    Hence I deal in probabilities of what most likely is true.

    That is fine but what gives you the authority to judge others that think differently? Why is your way the best way? Why is truth better than delusion? Why is good better than bad?

    But hey, it’s your life to waste as you wish: believe it or not, I agree there’s worse ways to spend one’s life than living in fear of a non-existent God…

    In the end it does not matter. The Universe is on a course that will destroy all living beings so this conversation and our lives will not ever be known to exist. So really whatever I believe or you believe will ultimately not matter. Or do you have a different idea on that?

    Most Christians do not have a fear of god but have gratitude.

  115. vince says

    @adamah,

    Sure, by NOW the phrase has been relegated to the status of being a ‘figure of speech’ (and often used in a poetic manner in the Renaissance), since the evidence is overwhelming against the concept. As I say, any modern-day kindergartner knows that the brain is the center of cognition, not the heart.

    The disciples in verse 17 the disciples ask Jesus about what they called a parable. They at least understood that Jesus was not talking literally but in a parable. Also this figure of speech was used by Augustine and man other early Christian writers and not taken literally way before the renaissance.

  116. vince says

    @Martin Wagner

    I won’t call you any names, Vince, but I am genuinely curious as to why you would embrace these kinds of beliefs, knowing and freely admitting they are illogical and circular and so on. I mean, a lot of people do things they know are foolish, I suppose, like smoking. But…you know…why?

    Because I believe it to be true and have not reason for that other than god gave me the belief. I have also gone down the apologetics road and have found that all arguments for god have shortcomings, some are more compelling than others. Listening to this show reveals many shortcomings with theist arguments that has helped me see that there is no proof of gods existence and probably never will be.

    On another note most skeptics I have listened to say the science is not equipped to test something supernatural or outside the physical universe as god is defined, but then want scientific proof that god exists from believers. Do you think this is accurate or am I misunderstanding skeptics. Matt even talked about how there can never be proof. Even if god came to him and said he was god how would god prove it or how would matt know it was the real god? So why does he still ask for proof from theists?

  117. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Do you think this is accurate or am I misunderstanding skeptics. Matt even talked about how there can never be proof.

    To others: If this is honest, case in point of reasons for having a strong pet peeve against promoters of “(intrinsic) methodological naturalism”.

  118. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @vince #117:

    I believe it to be true and have no reason for that [… drumroll …] other than god gave me the belief.

    That is false. You have been told several more reasons – reasons which apply to other people in competing faiths as well as your own. It is dishonest to continue claiming ignorance of any other explanations.
     
    RationalismRules #101:

    In fact, you do have reasons for your belief, whether or not you want to acknowledge and examine them.
    (Some examples might be: the religious background you were brought up in; positive feelings you have experienced at various times which you have attributed to god; discomfort with the notion that we cease to exist when we die etc. etc.)
     
    The problem with acknowledging these reasons is they can be shown to be invalid, which is presumably why you attempt to take refuge in the non-statement “I believe because I believe”, rather than actually examine the real reasons for your belief.

     
    Yet you exempt yourself from ordinary human social behavior to say it would take a god to make you believe what Christians have told you about stories in a book.

  119. says

    have not reason for that other than god gave me the belief

    Then why are you here? You seem content with your untestable, un-reasoned (which means it’s unreasonable) belief.

    Do you think this is accurate or am I misunderstanding skeptics. Matt even talked about how there can never be proof. Even if god came to him and said he was god how would god prove it or how would matt know it was the real god? So why does he still ask for proof from theists?

    Matt has said that if the god of the bible is real, that god would know how to convince Matt that it is real and could do it if the god wanted to. Do you accept that this is possible? Maybe you’re the one god chose to convince him (good luck!). The point is that if there is some supernatural realm, with a god of some sort, that does interact with our natural world in a way that can be tested, there should be proof that we can find. But we we haven’t found any yet, and most atheists, especially atheists that are skeptics, don’t hold a “there is no god at all” dogmatic position from this. You admit that we (atheists) have taken the apologetics seriously and there doesn’t seem to be anything there. The skeptic’s position is to simply withhold belief until something has been confirmed to be true. We don’t know if there is proof of god out there, or not. Of course, some atheists do assert that there are no gods, and that we could never provide proof of god (scientifically or otherwise) since god cannot be proven, but that’s assuming things we don’t know for certain to be true. Maybe tomorrow god will descend to earth and write a new testament in the sky in all currently understood languages and also say it clearly in all those languages to everyone who can’t read can hear it and the whole planet will believe in god. But, that hasn’t happened yet, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to believe any of the current god hogwash, so…

    Most Christians do not have a fear of god but have gratitude.

    But how do they know that god won’t test them like Job? There are a lot of bad (and good) things in this world, and sometimes Christians are on the receiving end of the bad things.

    @EL

    To others: If this is honest, case in point of reasons for having a strong pet peeve against promoters of “(intrinsic) methodological naturalism”.

    Heh. +1 “I told you so” for you. 🙂

  120. RationalismRules says

    @vince #117

    Because I believe it to be true and have not reason for that other than god gave me the belief.

    Vince, if you met someone who said “I believe fairies exist, because the fairies make me believe in them” would you accept that as a meaningful statement?

  121. vince says

    @CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain,

    That is false. You have been told several more reasons – reasons which apply to other people in competing faiths as well as your own. It is dishonest to continue claiming ignorance of any other explanations.

    I never claimed ignorance of other possible reasons. I just don’t think they are the reasons for my faith.

    Yet you exempt yourself from ordinary human social behavior to say it would take a god to make you believe what Christians have told you about stories in a book.

    Like I said before, I have been down the apologetics road and it leads nowhere. Its ok to disagree with me but I am not lying about what I think my reason is. I don’t think it is lying to say something believing it to be true but is actually false.

  122. vince says

    @changerofbits,

    Matt has said that if the god of the bible is real, that god would know how to convince Matt that it is real and could do it if the god wanted to. Do you accept that this is possible?

    Yes, I agree that god should be able to do that. I think the atheist position is a reasonable position based on the current lack of evidence.

    But how do they know that god won’t test them like Job? There are a lot of bad (and good) things in this world, and sometimes Christians are on the receiving end of the bad things.

    I agree, sometimes god tests believers. 1 Peter 1:6-9 and 2 Cor 12:7-10, but not all calamity is a test and the bible does not promise a good life for believers. I do worry about things in my life and am fearful of others but God actually helps me with those concerns. My wife has a chronic illness that is not terminal but she will never get better and has some pain on most days. We have had a great many talks together and with friends, elders about if this is testing or not. I don’t think it is but who’s to know. So we as believers do struggle with these things and don’t have answers for everything. I just feel like some Christians don’t want to admit that we don’t know some things about god and the bible.

  123. vince says

    @RationalismRules

    Vince, if you met someone who said “I believe fairies exist, because the fairies make me believe in them” would you accept that as a meaningful statement?

    I would not believe that it is true, I would believe they thought it was true. I don’t find it meaningless because it could be true but without proof of fairies and what they do we couldn’t know. I would be a fairy atheist.

  124. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @vince #117:

    I believe it to be true and have no reason for that other than god gave me the belief.

    #127:

    I never claimed ignorance of other possible reasons. I just don’t think they are the reasons for my faith.

    If you accept that there are other possible reasons, you can’t get to: accepting what the book says is THE reason, on the basis of the lack of alternatives.
     

    I am not lying about what I think my reason is

    You’ve somehow ruled out all ordinary reasons in favor of… [thing you don’t understand] did [something completely mysterious] to you, so that you’d believe that [thing you don’t understand] did [something completely mysterious] to you, so that you would believe what Christians have told you about stories in a book.

  125. vince says

    @skycaptain,

    If you accept that there are other possible reasons, you can’t get to: accepting what the book says is THE reason, on the basis of the lack of alternatives.

    Unless you have ruled out other possible reasons or at least other most likely reasons. My 117 post was not meant to mean there were no other possible reasons only that I don’t think the other possible reasons are the real reason.. Other possible reasons don’t mean that there is not one actual reason that is true.

  126. RationalismRules says

    @vince #129

    I don’t find it meaningless because it could be true but without proof of fairies and what they do we couldn’t know. I would be a fairy atheist.

    Well there we have it. You repudiate all other reasons for your belief, and now you are left with a single reason that has exactly the same value as a statement of belief in fairies.

    If what you have just said is honestly true, it would be no problem for you if you had an intelligent 12 yr old child who still believed passionately in unicorns (the magical rainbows-out-the-bum kind), whose sole reason was “because they make me believe in them”.

    You see, I don’t believe that for a second. I think you would be concerned. I think you would question why, at an age when most children have mostly put magical thinking behind them, yours seemed to be lagging behind. I think you would worry that their thinking was not appropriate to their age, and that maybe there was a problem with their development.

    What I do not believe is that you would unquestioningly accept it as a perfectly valid belief.

    If you examine the scenario honestly, Vince, I don’t see how you can possibly convince yourself otherwise.

  127. adamah says

    Vince said:

    Nowhere in the bible does it say that sin causes all disease.

    Cool, but show me exactly where I EVER said that per the Bible, “sin causes ALL disease”. I never said that, since I know the Bible doesn’t say it.

    So unless your purpose was to intentionally misrepresent my position (AKA straw-manning), just realize it’s considered a violation of the rules for engaging in a rational discussion.

    As I repeatedly explained in the article (and in this thread), per the Bible itself, ALL DISEASE results from God, sometimes to serve as punishment for one’s own sins, sometimes to serve as punishment for the sins of others (2nd Samuel 24), as a loyalty test (Job), or even so God could display His power to ‘glorify’ His name (e.g. sending pestilence upon the Egyptians, in the Exodus account).

    Per the Bible, God uses disease as a threat, promising to keep his people free of disease if they please Him by not sinning:

    Deuteronomy 7:15 (NIV)

    The LORD will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you.

    At other times, God uses disease as a threat as His punishment, if someone in their midst sins:

    Deuteronomy 28:21 (NIV)

    The LORD will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess.

    Other than disease, God’s lil’ ‘bag of tricks’ includes famine, droughts, floods, military defeat, slavery, etc.

    In ancient times, ALL of these events were seen as signs of God’s unhappiness, sending their leaders off to build altars, etc, in an attempt to satiate an unhappy Jehovah.

    But in ALL examples from the Bible, God remains in control of diseases at all times, e.g. God sets the boundaries of the suffering humans are forced to undergo (e.g. Satan was told Job would be tested up to the point of death, but Satan was told by God that he couldn’t kill Job).

    A similar situation is seen in 2nd Samuel 24, where an angel does the actual ‘dirty deed’ of spreading pestilence, etc, but God is calling the shots and doesn’t need to get his hands dirty.

    Vince, in the account of Job, did you ever stop to ask yourself what Satan was even doing in Heaven, in the first place?

    Why was Satan in the immediate presence of God (when sinful Adam and Cain were driven from God’s presence, since Gods holiness won’t allow Him to be in the presence of sinfulness)?

    The answer is simple: at one point, Jews thought of Satan as an angel, a full-fledged and loyal angelic member of the ‘Elohim’ (the Hebrew plural form that refers to the ‘Heavenly Divine Counsel which God presided, overseeing a Heavenly counsel of those angels who served Him). Satan served in the role of “the accuser”, analogous to a modern-day D.A. who questions and prosecutes the citizens.

    So in a certain time in Jewish beliefs (before Zoroasterian views of ‘good vs evil’ were introduced into some strands of Judaism, with Zoroastrianism’s concept of an arch-enemy ‘bad guy’ to fight God, a good guy), Jews viewed Satan as just another loyal servant of God.

    Satan is thus quite analogous to the unnamed angel in 2nd Samuel 24 who killed 70,000 innocent people for David’s sin of taking a census of the troops (!), where this unnamed angel actually did the dirty work, but God directing the angelic killing spree (God spared Jerusalem, ordering the angel to stand down).

    If nothing else, you really need to learn the learn the roots of your mythological beliefs (e.g. by watching a video called the ‘origins of Satan’ on YouTube), to see how Satan transitioned from being seen as a loyal servant of God, to becoming his independent arch-nemesis.

    Vince said:

    The bible says disease can be from god, satan, demonic attack or just from normal scientific explanations.

    Come on, Vince: who exactly do you think you’re dealing with here?

    OK, you made the claim, so prove it: show us the Biblical scripture which suggests disease results from “normal scientific explanations” (e.g. germs, auto-immune conditions, in-born errors of metabolism, etc.), and not from God, for the many reasons explained above.

    That claim is complete and utter hog-wash and you’re now making up Bible theology, since “normal scientific explanations” (as you put it) hadn’t yet arisen when the Bible was written: Pasteur’s ‘germ theory of disease’ wasn’t even confirmed until over 1,500 yrs later!

    You repeatedly admitted there’s no proof of God: as I said in my article, don’t you think a scripture prophecizing the discovery of miniature invisible critters that cause disease in humans would indeed serve as compelling evidence of God, as proof of the Bible’s Divine Inspiration?

    Instead, we’ve got PLENTY of scriptures which reflect an ignorance of human anatomy (e.g. the kidneys don’t have any role in decision-making, the heart isn’t the organ of cognition, etc), but worse, it reflects many disproven ancient Jewish superstitions (eg Jesus’ suggestion of an ‘evil eye’, a common belief in the culture at that time; hence why he said you should gouge it out).

    A ‘Divinely-Inspired’ Jesus didn’t know anything about germs and viruses, because (wait for it…..) he was just another delusional Jewish messiah claimant:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Messiah_claimants

    Vince said:

    I disagree that it is parenthetical information. It is actually what the Pharisees said.

    Uh, YEAH: then you agree with me…

    Because that’s exactly what the phrase ‘parenthetical (background) information’ implies: in this case, it’s a short explanation offered by the author wherein they explain something to the reader (in this case, the author of Mark provides a summary to the reader to fill them in on the Pharisaical views of the necessity of hand-washing).

    What did you think PI meant?

    Vince said:

    Deut 19 does not say anything about where disease comes from. I believe you put down the wrong reference by mistake.

    Yes, I did: my bad.

    So whatever chapter/verse I cited in my article still stands for all to see (unless it magically disappeared from Bibles all around the World).

    God is responsible for all disease and he does use disease to punish and discipline Christians.

    Yeah, we agree (although getting you to admit it was like pulling teeth)!

    Vince said:

    If Jesus meant that the law was still in effect, then it contradicts Romans 10:4, Gal 3:23-25 and Eph 2.

    Bingo! I think Vince is finally catching on that the Bible contains many such irreconcilable contradictions.

    BTW, this is typically the point where believers insist that Jesus HAD to follow the law perfectly, otherwise it would mean Jesus’ death meant nothing (not to mention considering the possibility that they’ve wasted their entire lives on a ancient myth). God forbid even considering THAT possibility!

    That thinking is what’s known as ‘teleologic reasoning’, where one’s desired conclusion controls what evidence the person is willing to examine, rather than vice-versa.

    Vince said:

    He was proving that he was the messiah by obeying the entire law and actualizing the prophesies.

    Jesus didn’t obey the law “perfectly”: in fact, he violated it, doing exactly what he said he would never do by changing it.

    In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus adds to the law of Moses by saying “you’ve heard it said that X”, then exceeds it by insinuating that, e.g. even looking at a woman with lust constitutes adultery (this exceeded Moses’ law).

    And Jesus had the nerve to complain that the Pharisees ‘man-made’ rules were “burdensome”? Yikes!

    Jesus even had the audacity to tell his followers they should mutilate their bodies (cutting off hands, gouging out their eyes), for per Jesus, it was better than the whole body ending up in Gehenna.

    Yeah, I’d say nothing is an ‘burdensome’ as telling others to intentionally amputate their hands, or blinding oneself.

    Believers typically excuse those passages by saying, “Jesus didn’t mean that LITERALLY!” No?

    So, if not literally (as a means to avoid eternal destruction), then please explain what figurative meaning Jesus had in mind, since as I said above, Jesus seemed to believe in ‘evil eyes’, etc.

    Here’s only one mentally-unsound person who took Jesus words quite literally, and ended up completely blind (total blindness is quite burdensome):

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2044605/Horrific-scenes-British-born-worshipper-tears-eyes-Mass-BARE-HANDS.html

    That is fine but what gives you the authority to judge others that think differently? Why is your way the best way? Why is truth better than delusion? Why is good better than bad?

    Unlike you, Vince, I try to lead an evidenced-based life, that why. I don’t allow my emotions to control the decisions I make, where can you say the same?

    I see where you’re going with this line of thinking, down the road of “without objective morality from God, mankind is adrift”.

    Well, per your own Bible (which I don’t believe, BTW), God admits that humans are able to know good from evil after having eaten of the Tree of Wisdom, able to operate independently of God-bestowed wisdom.

    So you’re now disagreeing with your own Bible?

    In the end it does not matter. The Universe is on a course that will destroy all living beings so this conversation and our lives will not ever be known to exist. So really whatever I believe or you believe will ultimately not matter. Or do you have a different idea on that

    Although I’m not as nihilistic as that (!), I hold that life is precious, and unlike a JW, I’m not willing to die for an otherwise-preventable reason (eg by refusing a blood transfusion, or dying in a Nazi concentration camp, etc).

    Most Christians do not have a fear of god but have gratitude.

    For what: promising to fix problems (eg healing ones leprosy) which God supposedly inflicts and controls?

    Hmmm, lemme see. So if I had leprosy, would I hope and pray for a miraculous healing in the New System, or would I simply take a short course of inexpensive oral antibiotics prescribed by a doctor, and move on with my life?

    Vince, I hope you’re sitting down right now, since we’ve known for over 150 yrs. without a doubt that leprosy is caused by a bacteria (ad not God, as a punishment for some sin or test).

    Literally millions of people have effectively been cured of their debilitating leprosy, not by a miracle (as Jesus claimed performing), but with a short course of inexpensive oral antibiotics.

    In the words paraphrased from the movie, “There Will Be Blood”, man-kind is drinking God’s milk-shake, and all but the most-brainwashed are able to see (and benefit from) it.

    As far as the ‘gratitude’ bit, I don’t suppose you’ve ever heard of “Stockholm Syndrome”?

    Google it sometime…..