Comments

  1. Varkey says

    Slavery often gets brought up, plenty of immorality in the bible to choose from.

    How do religious people defend Deuteronomy 21 and 22, it condones:
    Marrying a captive woman (kinda like ISIS do)
    Stoning a disobedient son
    Stoning a woman not a virgin on her wedding day

    This is disgusting. Thankfully most religious people apply their own morality filter, however some filters are better than others. A lot of anti-gay/lesbian/trans stuff still gets through.

    And Steve Harvey has the gall to ask where atheists get their ‘moral compass’. Dehumanises atheists.

  2. ezql says

    Maybe God gave me my inner moral compass. I don’t believe in any god, but it’s possible and I might be wrong.
    Then again, if my moral compass (and that of most people) is better than the Bible, what does that then say about the Bible?

  3. paxoll says

    Has anyone ever truly lost a belief, and their life became worse because of it? I lost my belief in santa, and it hasn’t hurt my life. Lost my belief in god, the after life, and everything involved in the christian religion, and it hasn’t hurt my life. I can’t think of anything that I can believe in that is not true but can improve my life.

  4. jacobfromlost says

    I lost my belief in alien abduction, etc., and I would say the flavor of the stories/myths lost something when I lost the belief. I probably spent hundreds–if not a few thousand–hours in the ’90s reading UFO books, watching “The X-Files”, and listening to Art Bell on AM radio. Strangely, I started reading a lot about it in college right when “The X-Files” started, but we didn’t have Fox at the time (the signal didn’t reach the house, lol), so it wasn’t until ’95 or so when we got PrimeStar (that later became Directv) that I even got to watch the show. I guess I can’t really claim I lost anything, though, because from this end of my life looking back, I better understand what I was thinking then and why, and why it was wrong, and how to avoid it in similar situations going forward. And for fun, I can get pretty darn close to the same mindset when suspending my disbelief for movies/fiction. I still find it extremely fascinating as a modern myth that took on a life of its own.

  5. Varkey says

    I didn’t believe in Nostradamus’ prophecies, but I used to be intrigued. Now I just see it as the Texas sharpshooter fallacy and just BS. Similar with water dowsing and Bigfoot.

    On a similar note, until the internet came around I genuinely had little idea what a-holes and idiots people could be (obviously I knew idiots and a-holes existed, but not to the volumes), now I am less impressed with BS. The internet has sadly made me more misanthropic.

  6. Varkey says

    Flat earth stuff, feels a bit like solipsism – how do we know anything beyond ourselves. But then they believe the Earth is flat so I guess they do claim to know stuff unlike a solipsist.

    Perhaps it is more a knowledge or source work thing. Why they think people would produce a cover-up is a bit odd, and that they think a cover-up is likely and can be pulled off throughout human history (until now!!). Their logic seems very indulgent.

  7. Samuel Gezelius says

    When Matt says that someone’s brain is flawed if it holds seemingly contradictory views, he reveals that he’s not studied how the brain works.

    The brain is not like one thing that works in one way. It is a conglomerate of neural networks that carry out different functions, and sometimes different brain regions compete with eachother.

    Studies have shown that the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere may express different beliefs, have different interests etc, as if they were two different persons. This has been tested by incapacitating the different regions in the test subject. (This is why people may have their personality change as a result of brain disease or trauma.)

    All brains are ”flawed” that way.

    You sure can train your brain to react in a certain way. For example you can train certain signals from the left hemisphere to over-run the competing signals from the right. I assume that is what Matt has been doing, and he seems content that that is the right way to do it.

    From a certain either-or position in philisophy he deduces that the biology of someone else’s brain is flawed.

    But I believe that when discussing the nature of the brain it’s better to use inductive reasoning.

    I recommend ’Descartes’ Error by Antonio Damasio, and books by Oliver Sacks and books and lectures by Robert Sapolsky.

  8. Murat says

    @Varkey
    Had the Earth been flat, and scientifically proven to be so, today’s Flat Earthers would be arguing it to be spherical, attributing some kind of a hidden agenda to this fact being concealed.
    It’s a stance.

  9. says

    Re the invisible unicorn caller:

    Seems to me that the recent ignominious demise of American “missionary” John Allen Chau in the Andaman Islands is a cautionary tale about the potential dangers of believing things that are not true.

    Chau, on the off chance that someone here doesn’t know, unilaterally decided to approach the indigenous inhabitants of North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean, in an effort to “bring the word” of God and Jesus to them. The island is more or less legally off limits, per the government of India, which claims it, and the inhabitants are essentially Stone Age primitives whose language remains utterly untranslated and who have shown repeatedly that they will assault strangers who happen upon (or arrogantly deliver themselves) to their shores.

    Unsurprisingly, and despite being chased off with shouts and arrows on previous attempts, Chau waded ashore shouting about Jesus’ love and tossing trinkets and fish, and the islanders stuck him full of arrows and plunked him in an unmarked grave on the beach.

    Chau fervently believed, per now-published excerpts from his journals, that he was doing “God’s work” and was fully aware that approaching the islanders was dangerous. Indeed, he even wrote a sort of “take this cup away from me” passage, telling God that, y’know, he’d really prefer to stay alive, but if it were God’s “will” that he die, so be it.

    Chau wound up dead which, even per his own journal, was not his desired outcome, i.e. not particularly supportive of his own sense of personal wellbeing. He also believed that approaching the islanders was a “win-win” situation, in that if they *did* kill him, at least he’d be rewarded with eternal life at the foot of God’s throne in heaven.

    So, his unsubstantiated (and unsubstantiatable, to coin an awkward term) “invisible unicorn” were his beliefs that a) God exists (and whatever happened was “God’s will”) and b) his death in this world merely paved the way for eternal bliss. Those beliefs led Chau by the nose to his earthly destruction; it’s unlikely that he would have undertaken his fool’s quest if he did *not* have those beliefs.

    Now, if his beliefs are *untrue*, then there is no God and he doesn’t get eternal life for foolishly tossing his earthly life away. Game over, dead, kaput, rotting on the beach, etc. And despite their claims that they are thrilled he’s now in heaven, he presumably hurt those he left behind.

    His beliefs, in other words, killed him. And if they are wrong, then he risked the only existence he would ever have on an idiotic fantasy. Believing untrue things certainly *can* hurt you…..

    Also, re the purported use of “unnatural” by scientists: I’m not a scientist, but I would be *very* surprised indeed to learn that many (if any) scientists routinely use that word in peer-reviewed papers and research.

    The word is entirely too vague and ill-defined, and I’m struggling to think of a situation in which a scientific paper would resort to it. Rather, if an experiment yields *unexpected* results, I would expect resulting publications to use words such as “unexpected,” “unanticipated,” “surprising,” “unexplained” and so on. But I’ll have to see a paper that uses “unnatural” before I believe it.

    Am I right, any AXPers who also are scientists?

  10. Varkey says

    @Pony
    He risked the lives of the islanders with disease. An extreme event. Tragic what happened to him but so easily and better avoided.

  11. says

    @Varkey

    I wholeheartedly agree: He put the islanders’ lives at risk. Yet another consequence of his false/unproved beliefs.

  12. Yaddith says

    Murat:

    Regarding Mjolnir: I think Matt was refering to THOR: RAGNAROK, in which Odin tells Thor that he gave him Mjolnir as a prop, but that he didn’t really need it.

  13. Varkey says

    @Murat, comment 8
    When it’s flat Earth it does little harm, I doubt these folk work in science. But when it comes to climate change, which is more complex and more open to interpretation or BS, then it is annoying. Watching a guy smugly throw a snowball in the US senate is annoying.

  14. Varkey says

    When people pick sides in (science) debates over evidence, it puzzles me. If someone has no vested interest, just let science make it come out in the wash and say it is not known till then. It often turns into an ego laden debate contest, rather then genuine search for truth.

    I am thinking specifically of pornography. We are still learning its effects, we are relatively new to internet pornography. The left is usually seen as the more pro science, but I often hear pro-pornography arguments (to counter the conservatives anti-pornography arguments), when really the evidence is more complex (and not just for outliers) and still being gathered. It is was it is, and let the truth be known, when it is known, in all its complexity (anti or pro pornography).

  15. Varkey says

    If internet pornography is found not to have negative effects then that is fine. If it is found to have negative effects and people, namely adults, still choose to do it then that is their choice, like people choosing to smoke/drink accepting the risks.

    Qualiasoup mentions not letting ego or identity effect truth claims at 9:54 – 10:36 in the clip below:

  16. Varkey says

    I see the ego laden, polarised debate contest style a lot on US news, also online, especially in videos entitled so and so obliterates so and so. Rather than so and so made some good points.

  17. Daniel Ocean says

    @Pony
    It does seem fairly easy to establish that holding false beliefs can certainly be harmful to oneself, as if the world needed a reminder we get this missionary who basically martyred himself. If you have to create a hypothetical where false beliefs have positive benefits than you’ve already lost.

    But I also think it’s important to address some of the larger implications of the callers argument since it does seem to come up a lot. I’m not so concerned with any single individual having false beliefs, what really concerns me is when people en masse hold a demonstrably false belief. Religion grooms people to not only accept beliefs without evidence, but also to hold false beliefs despite demonstrable evidence to the contrary. Through group indoctrination, religion and other false beliefs give us all sorts of bad externalities. The easiest example that comes to mind is the rejection of consensus climate science. A large portion of Americans deny climate science – many for religious reasons! As a result the rest of our society will have to suffer all of the downside because our fellow citizens fail to see the harm in holding false believes.

  18. says

    qualiasoup, via @varkey:

    somewhere beneath the surface of pluto …

    … which brings to mind the briefly mentioned topic of on-air host errors. a favorite of mine is tracie’s attempt last year to construct a pure hypothetical that she didn’t realize was actually true. it’s a cute example of how forgotten knowledge can bubble up in surprising ways.

    in discussing a type of speculative object whose existence we might credibly extrapolate from our current understanding, tracie hypothesized:

    … a planet that has a predominant atmosphere of — whatever — nitrogen or something.

    clearly she believed that she was pulling the hypothetical out of thin air. but her example turns out to be too on-target to have been just the luck of the draw, because she unwittingly described the very planet she lives on, perhaps having channeled some long-forgotten high school earth sciences class or nova episode. earth’s atmosphere is 80% nitrogen; we often forget that detail because it’s the 20% oxygen that we care about.

  19. Varkey says

    People often misunderstand open-mindedness to mean accepting unproved claims, rather than being open to examining new ideas critically:

  20. Varkey says

    What annoys me also with climate-change is even if people don’t believe it, the consequence of being wrong is severe, and when the vast preponderance of evidence points to it being true, it seems prudent to take action even if your are not convinced personally.

    The fossil fuels are not going anywhere. There is some pain of transition but that can be managed. If after 50-100 years man-made climate change doesn’t come to pass (more), then go back to what you were doing (or at least future generations should).

  21. Varkey says

    ..assuming that some man made climate change does become more apparent in the future, even if societies act now to counter them.

  22. RationalismRules says

    @ezql

    Maybe God gave me my inner moral compass. I don’t believe in any god, but it’s possible and I might be wrong.

    Maybe we get our inner moral compass from fairies. I don’t believe in fairies, but it’s possible and I might be wrong.

    Without the comparison to another imaginary entity, your comment gives preeminence to the god notion as though it has some inherent value beyond other imaginary characters. ‘God privilege’, to use a current idiom.

    Within our society the ‘god’ idea is given undeserved legitimacy by everyone, including atheists, simply because we treat it differently from other imaginary things. It’s generally considered legitimate to be open-minded about the existence of ‘god’, but being open-minded about the existence of ‘fairies’ would be considered foolish by most people. And yet there is no substantive difference in validity between the two.
     
    This is not intended as an attack on you, it’s more a thought that arose from your comment.

  23. RationalismRules says

    @Samuel Gezelius #9

    I’m going to take the risk of assuming I know what Matt meant, beyond his actual words, based on having heard him make this point multiple times. I don’t think he actually means to say that holding contradictory ideas is an indication of a physically damaged brain, he’s talking about a failure of cognition. He chose his words poorly.

    It’s interesting that you cited Oliver Sacks. An extraordinarily fascinating author, but, as I understand it, one who is in fact dealing with flawed brains, as opposed to simple cognitive failure in a ‘normal’ brain.

  24. Varkey says

    To stretch the topic, advertising often does not meet a full burden of proof. There are standards (sometimes) but it can still be misleading even if it makes true claims (misleading by omission). We are bombarded with claims all the time, some are not made explicitly just implied, eg using a certain aftershave makes you more attractive. A car ad won’t talk about bad emissions (eg Volkswagon diesels), it is propaganda.

    Here is a controversial ad campaign (mentioned in the first 5 mins) on laxative drinks for flat stomachs.

  25. Jake3D says

    Sad to hear the book is on hold and the speaking events are cancelled for Matt. 🙁 Hopefully everything goes ok for pangburn philosophy. But I was really looking forward to the book. Good Luck Matt moving forward with the book and your speaking events. PS any pans to visit Washington State?

  26. Honeytone says

    @ Daniel Ocean #21

    I cringe at the use of the term “martyr” in connection with Mr. Chau. It lends a slight air of undeserved nobility to his death. He may have died because of his religious beliefs but that’s not the reason the islanders killed him. I doubt there is any evidence the islanders had any clue what his beliefs were or why he was even there.

    Mr. Chau acted in determined opposition to reality. Essentially, he jumped off a cliff because he believed his god would neutralize gravity. There’s a word for that, but “martyr” ain’t it.

  27. indianajones says

    @RR 27. I second the god privilege thing. I feel the same way about appending christian to whatever in order to imply good or virtuous or whatever. Drives me wild when I hear that.

  28. twarren1111 says

    Scariest article I’ve read in a long time. The changes we are making are just too fast for biological species. The entirety of this report is well worth the time. We’ve gone beyond the tipping point. Note is made that in the rain forests in Puerto Rico more than a 2 degree Celsius increase has occurred. Many organisms, especially more primitive ones use temp to determine sex. And insect fertility appears to globally decline with temp increase. Sure the earth was hotter in the past. But did the change in temperature happen over hundreds and hundreds and thousands of years or from 1880 to about 2000 or about 120 years. First resources go. Then fear comes. Then populations migrate in mass. Then conflict. Until someone uses something nuclear. And then…..

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/27/magazine/insect-apocalypse.html

  29. Murat says

    @RR

    It’s generally considered legitimate to be open-minded about the existence of ‘god’, but being open-minded about the existence of ‘fairies’ would be considered foolish by most people. And yet there is no substantive difference in validity between the two.

    This depends on what kind of a god it is that one is talking about.
    The god of Abrahamic religions -though known to originate from the tradition of solid, in-the-flesh type of deities- is approached by today’s followers (and also by almost every deist) as an abstraction, a metaphysical source of power. Fairies are much more solid and better defined.
    I know that “vagueness” is considered not to have any weight on such discussions among skeptics, but I differ. I think it can pass as a substantiative difference between belief in two different things, depending on the context.
    If a teen with no medical education of any sort wakes up in the morning and says to his parents “Shit, I guess I have lactic acidemia with pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphatase deficiency”, this is more prone to making fun of than him going “Shit, I feel sick”.
    The vagueness of the latter statement brings with more of a reason to think the kid really is sick, whereas the first sounds like a joke.

  30. Varkey says

    Climate change is a bit like Pascal’s wager, except based in evidence and directed at the non-believers in science, or apathetic.

  31. Varkey says

    The bible seems very incompatible with science, despite what some theists claim. Aside from the nonsense creation story etc, the second commandment (in the more established, for whatever reason, set of commandments) makes conducting and publishing and peer reviewing science very difficult:

    “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth:”

    But then this is the tower of Babel God, so seems consistent, even for this mercurial god.

  32. RationalismRules says

    @Varkey #37
    Hmmm. You left off the bit that immediately follows:
    “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them”

    If you split the first part from the second you get two separate issues, iconography and idolatry, which makes that commandment fundamentally different from the other nine which are all single-issue commandments. And if all iconography is forbidden, it’s redundant to command that the worshiping icons is forbidden, because how could it be any other way? Put back in context, it’s pretty clear that the prohibition is on making images/idols for the purpose of worship, not just making images themselves.

    In effect, old buddy, you’re quote-mining. Tsk, tsk!
     
    [I learnt something, though: I was aware there some prohibitions of images in Islam (not just of the prophet, of living things generally) but I wasn’t aware of anything similar in Xtiany. Turns out there is in fact some history of anti-iconography within some branches of Xtianity, and apparently even today some Mennonite sects still eschew photography. Who knew?]

  33. RationalismRules says

    @Murat #34
    Returning to your old argument that vagueness somehow confers legitimacy?

    Let me just check if the world has changed since you last put up this argument… nope. ‘Less falsifiable’ still does not equate to ‘more valid’.
     

    The god of Abrahamic religions -though known to originate from the tradition of solid, in-the-flesh type of deities- is approached by today’s followers (and also by almost every deist) as an abstraction, a metaphysical source of power.

    An ‘abstraction’, seriously? You do understand that an abstraction is a concept, not a real existent thing?
    So you’re saying that Abrahamic followers don’t believe their god actually exists. That would actually make them atheists, wouldn’t it?

    Fairies are much more solid and better defined.

    No, they aren’t actually. If you break it down into component properties, instead of just making a sweeping statement, it’s clear there is no substantive difference between their ‘solidity’ or ‘definition’.

    Both fairies and gods are mythological characters, created in the human imagination.
    Neither are bound by the constraints of the natural laws.
    Both exist in many different concepts within and across different cultures.
    Both have a varying relationship to the natural world, depending on the particular concept – some have physical existence, others don’t. Some interact, others don’t.

    ‘God’ is not a more special idea than ‘fairies’, no matter how much you want it to be.

  34. Monocle Smile says

    @RR
    There’s yet another problem

    The god of Abrahamic religions -though known to originate from the tradition of solid, in-the-flesh type of deities- is approached by today’s followers (and also by almost every deist) as an abstraction, a metaphysical source of power.

    Murat has claimed to have visited a number of undie-heavy areas in the US (mostly for masochistic reasons, it seems), but he doesn’t seem to have actually listened. This statement, as presented, is a lie. Most US believers have faith in a real god that does real things and is a real person that really sent a real flesh-and-blood “son” to this planet. Claiming that today’s Abrahamic godbots are basically deists is singularly dishonest.

  35. says

    Caring about well being isn’t arbitrary. It is evolved into us. Those that don’t care for themselves and their well being tend not to survive and have children. Those that don’t care for their children’s well being are less likely to see their kids survive to reproductive age. Any hard wiring that makes people care about their own well being is likely to result in people caring about themselves and their kids, so that hard wiring will tend to get passed on. So it just “Is” that we care about our well being. What we “ought” to do flows from that concern and our understanding of that facts of reality. That’s the “Is of Ought”.

  36. RationalismRules says

    @MS
    Entirely agree. It’s an odd claim, in that it so obviously fails to correspond to the real world.

    [Undie-heavy areas: places where people are so afraid of human sexuality that they wear multiple pairs of underwear to keep their recalcitrant genitalia under control – I bet they exist somewhere in the US, but I don’t know whether Murat has visited them. LOL.]

  37. Varkey says

    @RR
    So no one is valid to, or does, interpret the way I said? Tsk Tsk yourself. The second sentence does not say it is therefore okay to make graven images otherwise.

    It is like don’t make them and don’t bow down to them. Like the law in some places saying effectively: don’t possess weed. Don’t sell it. Someone can’t then grow weed to eat it or make hay from it, just cos they aren’t selling it. The first sentence still counts until exemptions are made. The bible does not make exemptions.

    God is a terrible communicator.

    Would block as you just irritate me. But can’t old buddy. I’ll just pretend as usual.

  38. Varkey says

    The sentence was as I said, not:
    Do not make graven images or idols of….. for the purpose of worship, or worship them at all. The creation by yourself, or others of graven images or objects for purposes such as art, communication, study are allowed.

    God needs a better lawyer to draw up contracts. ‘Clearly’ the way I said is right!

  39. Murat says

    @RR

    An ‘abstraction’, seriously? You do understand that an abstraction is a concept, not a real existent thing?

    Concepts do exist. They are not physical. The difference between a fairy and an abstract god comes from one being physical, the other not so. Metaphysical and fake are adjectives that define two separate features. A concept can correctly be tagged with both of them. Still, they address different aspects.

    So you’re saying that Abrahamic followers don’t believe their god actually exists.

    I was saying a great deal of them did not believe their god to physically exist. But yes, I also think that corresponds to quite a lot of them practically not believing it to actually exist as well. And not just me. Lawrence Krauss and many other people say the very same thing.

    That would actually make them atheists, wouldn’t it?

    Yes.
    But them being woke about this is another issue.

  40. RationalismRules says

    @Murat

    Concepts do exist. They are not physical.

    Okay, I should have been more specific in my language: concepts do not have independent existence – they only exist within the brain. But how does this make any difference to the argument? A concept/abstraction is simply a way of thinking about something, a cognitive framework. Both gods and fairies both exist as concepts – the issue is whether they have actual independent existence, other than merely as a figment of the imagination. When you take away the brain, does the god/fairy continue to exist?
     

    The difference between a fairy and an abstract god comes from one being physical, the other not so.

    It is not a given that fairies are physical entities. It is not a given that gods are not physical entities. As I already pointed out:
    “Both have a varying relationship to the natural world, depending on the particular concept – some have physical existence, others don’t. Some interact, others don’t.”

    Inasmuch as a god can simply exist as an abstraction, so can a fairy. Or, more accurately, inasmuch as you choose to label a concept of a god as ‘god’, we can also label a concept of a fairy as ‘fairy’.

    Once again, you are attempting to manufacture a difference that doesn’t actually exist.

  41. Varkey says

    General forum question, how do people do the grey text with a vertical line on the left hand sign and quotation mark, when quoting a previous poster?

  42. Murat says

    @RR
    I believe the difference to actually exist.
    And I also believe that, what Krauss is pointing to when he talks about the flesh and blood thing in Christian ceremonies is directly an outcome of that very understandable difference: Had people not been lead in the course of centuries to consider such stuff just as “metaphors” that glorify a “transcendental” god, had they still been forced to literally believe in the physical, visible, touchable “Christian God” of 20 centuries ago, then, they would much more rapidly leave the religion behind.
    Now, there is this gray area where a once-flesh-and-blood-but-now-not-so-much kind of god keeps hanging on, denying the origins of its very self.
    This is why many theist callers of the show keep equating god to love, love to everything, everything to infinity, infinity to anything and anything to god and so on. When the references to a supposed agency are all concepts and not solid things, then the agency in question becomes more and more abstract itself.
    The more questions got answered by science, the more vague this god became.
    Science has cornered religions into a corner where they need to adapt to dramatically different measures. Religions are, in their own way, facing natural selection. Those who will manage to evolve their gods into vaguely defined abstractions will survive longer.

  43. Varkey says

    Further to my comment 1
    I should have mention when citing Deuteronomy 21 and 22, it says a rapist MUST marry the person they raped.

    Well known, but just for more completeness in showing how lacking in wisdom the Bible is.

  44. paxoll says

    Varkey it is html. to quote someone you use copy paste text, (remove the * for it to work).
    There is other html I don’t know, but you can use the “preview” post button before submitting to see that you got it working correctly.

  45. paxoll says

    Well, there ya go, I didn’t use the preview and it simply cut everything out, apparently I used an html code I didn’t know about.
    Use (blockquote) quoted text (/blockquote) to do the grey quoted text but replace the ) with corresponding version of >

  46. RationalismRules says

    @Murat

    I believe the difference to actually exist.

    Sigh. We’ve been here before Murat. You get some idea that you’re partial to, and despite being shown that it doesn’t hold up when it’s broken down and the component elements are examined, you refuse to let go of it. (‘Everyone shares the same concept of a soul’, remember that one?)
    It’s faith, Murat, that’s what you’ve got. Your belief is contrary to the evidence, but you hang onto it anyway. That’s Faith with a capital F.
     

    …what Krauss is pointing to when he talks about the flesh and blood thing in Christian ceremonies…

    Krauss is absolutely wrong when he says “nobody actually believes that the wafer turns into the flesh of Christ”. Catholics do believe that. No matter that it’s asinine. No matter that you can question them on the components, like “When exactly does it turn into flesh? Is it in your mouth, or in your stomach, or somewhere in between?” and “If we cut you open, would we find human flesh in your stomach?”, and even though they see that those questions are hugely problematic, that doesn’t change their core belief on the issue and they will resort to all manner of convoluted explanations to attempt to circumnavigate the problems “It’s not human flesh, because Jesus is no longer human, but it’s still his flesh”. (You should be able to relate to this: it’s the exact same thing you do with your cherished ideas).
    To claim that Catholics accept that transubstantiation as a metaphor is like saying they know that the sign of the cross is just a meaningless gesture. It’s just plain wrong, and Krauss would know that if he had ever bothered to actually listen to an old-school Catholic.
     

    …had they still been forced to literally believe in the physical, visible, touchable “Christian God” of 20 centuries ago

    I grew up in a fundie Xtian environment, and I can assure you that every one of my Xtian acquaintances, including the non-fundies, believe in actual existent god, not an ‘abstraction’. Their god is utterly real to them, it has the ability to interact with the physical world, and they will meet it after they die. It isn’t made of flesh and blood, but it can and did make itself into a flesh and blood human. To a Xtian, Jesus is God, in human form. That is not a metaphor to them, it is real.
    You don’t seem to understand that, and yet it’s fundamental to Xtianity.
     

    This is why many theist callers of the show keep equating god to love, love to everything, everything to infinity, infinity to anything and anything to god and so on. When the references to a supposed agency are all concepts and not solid things, then the agency in question becomes more and more abstract itself.

    The key issue that you are ignoring is cognitive dissonance. When a Xtian equates god to love, they are not abstracting their god, they are regurgitating what their scripture says. They genuinely believe that ‘god is love’ is a meaningful statement, but they also genuinely believe that god is a real existent entity with real physical powers. Yes, those are conflicting ideas. Yes, they still believe them both. That’s cognitive dissonance, not abstraction.

  47. Murat says

    @RR
    For I do not disagree with what you are saying, I do not think you are really in disagreement with me over what I’ve been saying.
    You may be reading me in a way that focuses on something I am not actually advocating.
    In some instances, literally and visibly so:
    Check your comment in #50.
    You quote my statement “The difference between a fairy and an abstract god comes from one being physical, the other not so.”
    And in your reply, first you point out to fairies not necessarily being pyscial, and then you go on to explain that “It is not a given that gods are not physical entities”, even though in my statement I had already narrowed down the type of deity I was talking about by placing abstract as an adjective in front of god.
    Taking into consideration the possibility of such a miscommunication engulfing the whole exchange here, please read my initial comment in #34 and tell me what part of it strikes you as “faith”.
    I never argued the teen in the example just had to be sick if he was vague in his way of communicating it. What I said was that “The vagueness of the latter statement brings with more of a reason to think the kid really is sick, whereas the first sounds like a joke.”

  48. says

    We always bring up slavery, stoning people etc but I have never heard of the repeated practice of human sacrifice done by some of the big names in the Old Testament brought up.

    King David let seven sons of King Saul be hung on a sacred mountain to end a famine. ( 2 Sam.21:7-9)

    King Solomon allowed his foreign wives to sacrifice to Molech (which was associated with child sacrifice) in a temple he built for them (1Kgs.11:7.8)

    King Ahab let Hiel of Bethel rebuild Jericho, and Heil killed and buried his first-born son under the walls, and his youngest son under the city gates.(1 Kgs 16:33-34)

    And there is a whole string of later kings of Israel and Judah who practiced human sacrifice, or allowed the population to practice human sacrifice. THEY are condemned in the OT but obviously the practice was common. There is no word of criticism however of King David.

    Reference from “The Unspoken Bible” website, chapter “Child sacrifice in Ancient Israel”.

    As King David is such a darling of the bible-thumping fundies it is surprising they never mention those seven royal sons or even try to defend David for his actions.

  49. RationalismRules says

    @Murat
    Yes, it looks like we are arguing at cross purposes. My comment (the one that you quoted) was about the general attitude to gods vs. fairies. Your response was to talk about some specific types of god being less falsifiable than some specific types of fairy.
    If I was thinking more clearly, I would have simply realized that that wasn’t actually a response to my point. My bad.

  50. elcabong says

    I would like to know the ACA or the Atheist Experience party lines on reincarnation. If reincarnation is a real thing, it does not necessarily have anything to do with a belief in god. However, it might tend to lend some credence to some “paranormal” claims being true.
    .
    Now of course we we all agree that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and we trust the scientific method. But there are people who claim that there is scientific evidence to support reincarnation.

    Here is an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=390&v=CkKGEkr0v1Q

    What say you Atheist experience and ACE community? Do you acknowledge the possibility of there being scientific evidence to support this claim? If not, why not? If it is supported by scientific evidence then do we agree that it could be true or real? At the very least, is it worth scientific study and investigation?

    Just as an aside, I have read reports of young children remembering past lives from cultures all over the world and different religions, going back as far as into the 70’s. I think it’s hard to dispute that there is legitimate evidence to support the claims.

    I would be very interested to hear the community’s comments.

  51. Varkey says

    @elcabong, #64
    My guess is reincarnation is anecdotal and poorly carried out gathering of data, eg. like a person believing a fortune teller, not realising that they are being cold or hot read or are giving information, or they are applying Texas sharpshooter thinking or reading too much into Barnum statements.

    If it is proven then fine, but the evidence is dodgy so far for me. I expect claims of reincarnation are higher in areas where it is believed. Seems a bit fishy to me.

  52. Varkey says

    And of course some of the greener, rich countries are largely atheist or low-key religious, like in parts of Europe.

  53. jacobfromlost says

    The problem I have with the “evidence” of reincarnation is that it is just stories…and sometimes stories of stories of stories (fourth hand accounts of hearsay). It’s the same kind of evidence people give when they say prayer works, or ghosts are real, or Bigfoot scared grandma in 1953 (all very compelling stories). There is no controlled test to see if something unexplained at ALL is happening, and a dozen good reasons to think something very ordinary is happening. Plus, the very obvious problem is that if reincarnation were real, wouldn’t we all know it? And wouldn’t it be easy to verify using falsifiable methodology? I do have to say I absolutely love the idea when used well in fiction (I love Christian symbolism in fiction as well–call me weird). I had a blast reading the novel “Cloud Atlas”, and loved the movie as well–the biggest budget, labor of love indie movie that ended up being a flop…and now probably a cult classic. (Ironically, I think it may have done a little better without a Christian bias against the entire notion of reincarnation, even in fiction.)

  54. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I am thinking specifically of pornography. We are still learning its effects, we are relatively new to internet pornography. The left is usually seen as the more pro science, but I often hear pro-pornography arguments (to counter the conservatives anti-pornography arguments), when really the evidence is more complex (and not just for outliers) and still being gathered. It is was it is, and let the truth be known, when it is known, in all its complexity (anti or pro pornography).

    The argument here is simple: Even if there’s some subtle net harm, which IMHO is probably wrong, that has to be weighed against the liberal values of anti-censorship, free speech, and self determination, and a hypothetical law to censor internet porn is going to fail the test against those values every time.

    PS: I see from your links that they’re just talking about age-checkers to ensure that kids cannot see porn online. Meh. It’s perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I don’t see the pressing need to protect kids from all sorts of porn. This sex-negative attitude is IMHO incredibly harmful to kids. It’s also rooted in this nonsense that kids of the previous generations were somehow less horny, or had less sex, or something, which is all nonsense.

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