“I Used to be an Atheist, Just Like You”

I can believe that you used to be an atheist. An atheist is simply someone without a god belief. It’s the “just like you” part that I’m having trouble with.

Lots of Christian apologists introduce themselves as former atheists. Lee Strobel, for example, often begins presentations with a summary of his decadent, angry atheist past. The implied message is that people like me convert to Christianity all the time. With the ongoing prayer experiment, I want to revisit this question and make a few changes.

Here is my original argument. First, consider three groups of people.

Group 1. Christians are here.

Group 2. The atheists need two groups. People in Group 2 are technically atheists because they don’t have a god belief, but they don’t know much about arguments in favor of Christianity, rebuttals to those arguments, or arguments in favor of atheism. Nothing wrong with that, of course—the God question doesn’t interest everyone—but they’re not well informed about atheism.

Group 3. These are the well-informed atheists. They understand both sides of the ontological, teleological, cosmological, transcendental, fine-tuning, and moral arguments and more. They are at least well-educated amateurs on evolution, evolution denial, and the Big Bang. They can make positive arguments for atheism, not just rebut Christian apologetics. And so on. I put myself into this group.

For each of these groups, how likely is it for people in these groups to be argued into the opposite camp?

Group 1, Christians. Lots of Christians have deconverted: Rich Lyons from the Living After Faith podcast. Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Community of Austin. Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Bob Price, the Bible Geek. Bart Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus. The hundreds of pastors in the Clergy Project.

They’re now all in Group 3, and they’re particularly interesting because they were very well informed Christians. Education turned them away from Christianity.

Group 2, Uninformed Atheists. Many in this group have converted to Christianity. This sounds like the group that the imagined former-atheist-now-Christian came from.

Group 3, Well-Informed Atheists. But here’s my point: I’ve never heard of anyone in Group 3, the well-informed atheists, who converted to Christianity because of intellectual arguments. Of course, this makes me vulnerable to the No True Scotsman fallacy—rejecting any counterexample with, “Oh, well that guy wasn’t truly a well-informed atheist”—but I invite you to comment with anyone I’ve omitted.

Well-informed Christians deconvert to atheism (and are happy to explain, using reason, why they left), but well-informed atheists don’t convert to Christianity through reason. More education about the history and origins of Christianity increases the likelihood that the Christian will deconvert, but more education increases the likelihood that the atheist will stay put.

This is an asymmetry that I don’t think apologists appreciate. Becoming a well-informed atheist is a one-way street. It’s a ratchet; it’s a gravity well. Once you become a well-informed atheist, you’re stuck. (What about conversion through non-intellectual reasons? Let’s set that aside for the moment.)

Here’s why I argue that no well-informed atheists convert to Christianity through intellectual arguments. By their fruit, you would recognize them.

Well-informed atheists, now Christians, wouldn’t make the arguments that apologists make. They wouldn’t make arguments to which I have a quick rebuttal. Indeed, they would focus on those arguments which they knew (since they’d been just like me) I had no response to.

These former atheists would know all the secret passwords and trap doors to get into my secret atheist lair, and, as Christians, they would walk back in and blow it up. But we never see this. Christians are still making the same old arguments, banging on the atheist stronghold with a rock hammer. I never see an “ex-atheist” who hits me where I live, who explains why my arguments are wrong from my perspective.

Next time: Let’s take a look at some prominent atheists who have become Christians. Do they disprove this argument?

Of all tyrannies
a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims
may be the most oppressive.
It may be better to live under robber barons
than under omnipotent moral busybodies.
The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep …
but those who torment us for own good 
will torment us without end,
for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
— C.S. Lewis

(This is a modified version of a post originally published 10/5/11.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • baal

    “I never see an “ex-atheist” who hits me where I live, who explains why my arguments are wrong from my perspective.”
    I’ve been looking for these people and their arguments for at least 15 years and with some diligence in the last 5. They don’t exist or are so completely cut off from the internet that you don’t even see their fingerprints.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      When you see what happened when Antony Flew became a deist–he was carried aloft on the shoulders of adoring Christians despite his credulous acceptance of creationist arguments–you can bet that if any serious atheist claimed that he could undercut atheists’ arguments, he’d get a similar welcome.

  • Rebecca Horne

    I am not 100% sure of the last part of this–the sorts of arguments an educated ex-atheist would make. I used to be a well-informed Christian–the sort who valued and studied science and gave significant, honest thought to my religious beliefs. I eventually became an atheist for reasons that are maybe 90% intellectual and 10% emotional.

    And I’ve found that with my new perspective and priorities, I find much more significance in certain arguments than I ever did as an Christian. For example, as a Christian, the “problem of evil,” felt like nothing more than word-play–the sort of argument that, even if you can make it work logically, carries no real significance. As an atheist, it seems much weightier.

    As an atheist I am now convinced, or at least moved, by arguments that did not seem convincing when I was Christian. If I was arguing about the existence of gods (which I don’t actually do very often), I would likely end up using some arguments that I *know* can be rebutted, and trying to insist that my opponent just *take this seriously! It actually means something!*

    I can very much imagine the same thing happening in reverse. Though, as you hint at, this may be due more to emotional conversion than intellectual.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      The way I condense this down: I see no apologist who would be like I would be if I became a Christian for intellectual reasons. If I knew the many intellectual ways that my old atheist arguments were flawed, I would eagerly share them with the world.

      I hear nothing like this, just the same weak Christian arguments.

  • Danel Maloy

    Maybe it’s because nobody gives a flying fuck about religion anyway, and would simply like to live their life without contributing to the war-mongering religion debate.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    By the fact that I once considered myself an atheist, and now do not, according to Bob I must not have been “well-informed”. I wonder what vital piece of information I lacked such that I just couldn’t hold onto my atheism. What book didn’t I read? What fact didn’t I know?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      No, I suspect that you weren’t well informed.

      But perhaps I’m mistaken here. Perhaps you knew all the arguments that I do, you became a Christian for intellectual reasons, and now you know why all my cherished arguments are wrong.

      Tell us. Don’t be shy.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        No, I suspect that you weren’t well informed.

        What evidence do you have of this beyond your “No True Atheist” fallacious argument?

        You have no idea of my level of education, what I have read, what I haven’t read, what I have heard and what I haven’t heard. Absolutely none at all. Yet you believe that somehow I’m less informed (and/or less intelligent) perhaps simply because I cannot consider myself an atheist anymore.

        But perhaps I’m mistaken here. Perhaps you knew all the arguments that I do, you became a Christian for intellectual reasons, and now you know why all my cherished arguments are wrong.

        I stopped being an atheist once I realized that beyond critiquing other people’s worldviews and an undeserved sense of intellectual entitlement, that atheism has nothing else backing it. Once I applied the same arguments atheists use against Christianity, against the arguments atheists use to show that one should not believe in God, they all fell away. I wonder if you have ever done that? Have you ever been open minded enough to apply the same “critical thinking” skills you think you have to your own argumentation? I doubt it, as part and parcel of atheism is the asymmetry of argumentation. Everyone else must give evidence and arguments for their beliefs, not you. So of course if you need not make any arguments in support of your own worldview, then you have nothing to critique.

        I understand that you find the evidence for God “insufficient” Bob. You have every right to your opinion, but it is just that. Your opinion. Unless you can provide some actual evidence or argumentation showing why your opinion is the most rational, or most well informed opinion possible, and an opinion I should share, I have no particular reason to share it.

        Finally you assume I am a Christian. That is not correct. At one point I may have called myself that I suppose, but if I did I was wrong then. I am not an atheist, and I am not a Christian.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What evidence do you have of this beyond your “No True Atheist” fallacious argument?

          It’s all in the post. Shall I repeat it for you for your convenience?

          You would know such a Christian by his fruits. A Christian who knew all of my intellectual arguments and converted for intellectual reasons (that is, he knew that his old arguments were flawed) would likely take the time to share publicly these new reasons why his old atheist arguments were flawed. I’ve never seen such a summary. Doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, but that’s good evidence.

          You have no idea of my level of education, what I have read, what I haven’t read, what I have heard and what I haven’t heard. Absolutely none at all.

          Yeah, see, again that’s all in the post.

          Yet you believe that somehow I’m less informed (and/or less intelligent) perhaps simply because I cannot consider myself an atheist anymore.

          Wrong again.

          I wonder if you have ever done that? Have you ever been open minded enough to apply the same “critical thinking” skills you think you have to your own argumentation? I doubt it, as part and parcel of atheism is the asymmetry of argumentation.

          Well, yeah. You don’t think that someone who lives in a glass house like me will throw stones at his own house, do you?

          But, snark aside, yes, I apply those critiques to my own view most of all. It’s embarrassing when someone else shows the flaws in my position, and I’d rather discover those flaws (and correct them) in private, thank you very much.

          You think I’ve missed something? I invite critique. If you actually have anything useful to say, that’d be great. I don’t remember much from you besides bile and hate, but perhaps you’ve mellowed.

          You have every right to your opinion, but it is just that. Your opinion. Unless you can provide some actual evidence or argumentation showing why your opinion is the most rational, or most well informed opinion possible, and an opinion I should share, I have no particular reason to share it.

          Obviously. All I get from you, however, is that I fail to convince you. Doesn’t help much.

          I am not a Christian.

          OK.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I’ve already shared why I think the atheistic arguments are flawed in my last post, and why even if your arguments were absolutely 100% correct, you are still missing any evidence supporting your actual position. I guess you missed all that, since you didn’t seem to want to address it.

          The idea that you “invite critique”, and that you want to discover the flaws in your position is quite frankly, ridiculous. I’ve already pointed it out to you in my last post here, and you’ve already missed / dismissed it. Even if all of your posts on this blog are absolutely 100% correct in every detail, you have not provided a scrap of evidence as to why I should believe that no God exists. It’s not so much that your “arguments” are wrong Bob (though you very rarely post things that amount to arguments at all), but its that your very perspective is wrong. So claiming victory because nobody has addressed your arguments to your satisfaction is completely irrelevant, and is nothing more than an intellectual cheap shot.

          As for the each individual post, most of what you have here on this blog is nothing but reiterations of what you had in the previous discussion board you haunted. You weren’t able to deal with my critiques of your points then, and I don’t have the time or energy to copy all of my points to address each one of your arguments now. You can Gish Gallop me all you want I suppose.

          Obviously. All I get from you, however, is that I fail to convince you. Doesn’t help much.

          So what am I missing Bob? Since you claim that no well-informed atheist could ever turn away from atheism, and yet I did, I must be missing something. Some fact that you know that I don’t. Or perhaps you’re more intelligent than me?

          Or perhaps, just perhaps, you are simply wrong on this point. As you are wrong on so many other things.

          I understand though, that its very comfortable to believe yourself to be more “well-informed” and “smarter” than all those other people who aren’t atheists. I truly do. I used to think I was more “well-informed” than the theists I knew as well. When I couldn’t find any evidence supporting that assumption though, I rejected it. Shame you will still hold onto your beliefs in spite of having no evidence to support them.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Even if all of your posts on this blog are absolutely 100% correct in every detail, you have not provided a scrap of evidence as to why I should believe that no God exists.

          I have no idea what this means so, yeah, I missed it.

          One wonders why you hang around here.

          Since you claim that no well-informed atheist could ever turn away from atheism, and yet I did, I must be missing something.

          Yes, you are missing something. I’ve stated it in the post and in a comment. I don’t want to waste your time with another repeat.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          One wonders why you hang around here.

          Good question. I supposed I dropped by because was curious to see if your arguments were any better. I like to have my beliefs challenged.

          Yes, you are missing something. I’ve stated it in the post and in a comment. I don’t want to waste your time with another repeat.

          Shame. I guess I will have to forever remain in the dark then, forever ignorant of whatever factoid or piece of knowledge that I would need so I could finally see your arguments for the masterpieces that they truly are, instead of the non-arguments that I see them as.

          Oh well.

          Keep thinking you’re better than me Bob. It isn’t true, but it is a nice delusion to be in. I was there for awhile myself.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I like to have my beliefs challenged.

          I’m certain you won’t find anything to challenge you here.

          Keep thinking you’re better than me Bob. It isn’t true, but it is a nice delusion to be in. I was there for awhile myself.

          I have your picture on the corner of my monitor. It motivates me to do better. There you are, every day, giving me encouragement and showing the path to gentle wisdom.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I’m certain you won’t find anything to challenge you here.

          You’re right. I won’t. It is a shame.

          Since Bob is obviously unwilling / unable to point out exactly where or how I was ill-informed as an atheist, I am wondering if someone who agrees with his argument in this post of his can set me on the path to true atheistic enlightenment.Should I read Dawkin’s? I’ve never read any of Christopher Hitchens, perhaps he will set me on the path to true and correct rationality?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Should I read Dawkin’s? I’ve never read any of Christopher Hitchens

          Dude, I’m a Christian and I’ve read Dawkins and Hitchens (and Harris and Dennett, for that matter). You must have been a damn lazy atheist if you’ve never read God Is Not Great.

          Tell the truth, I wish more believers would read Hitchens instead of making up their minds about him through soundbites and YouTube debates. Hitch might have been a shameless showboater and a tough talker, but his nonbelief was motivated by real compassion for the victims of antiquated, institutionalized dogma.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          To be clear, I’ve read some of Dawkins, but not all his works. I have never read Hitchens though. I did read Harris and Dennett. Mostly I was unimpressed.

          Hitch might have been a shameless showboater and a tough talker, but his nonbelief was motivated by real compassion for the victims of antiquated, institutionalized dogma.

          I find that hard to believe, but maybe you’re right.

          So, if I read him, would he turn me into an atheist? Would fill this gap in my knowledge that apparently (according to Bob) I have? Would he set me on the path to true secular enlightenment?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          I did read Harris and Dennett. Mostly I was unimpressed.

          I thought they were both engaging writers with good ideas. Darwin’s Dangerous Idea was a real mental workout, and Breaking the Spell was definitely the most astute examination of religion that the New Atheists have done: instead of looking at religion as a set of claims about reality, Dennett defines it as a meme-complex that has co-evolved with humanity. I think this is a much more effective way to examine the complicated dynamic of contemporary belief.

          So, if I read him, would he turn me into an atheist?

          It’s always possible. But at the very least it might make you more inclined to see nonbelief as something you should engage with rather than ridicule.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Dennett defines it as a meme-complex that has co-evolved with humanity. I think this is a much more effective way to examine the complicated dynamic of contemporary belief.

          When you said you were a “Christian”, does that mean that you simply subscribe to a “meme-complex that has co-evolved with humanity”? Or does it mean that you believe that certain statements about reality are true?

          Or both? Or neither?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          When you said you were a “Christian”, does that mean that you simply subscribe to a “meme-complex that has co-evolved with humanity”? Or does it mean that you believe that certain statements about reality are true?

          I’m sure in your oh-so-careful reading of Dennett’s book, you realized that the meme’s-eye-view of religion makes the actual beliefs themselves irrelevant. As long as the religion makes people profess belief, and behave a certain way, the construct perpetuates itself regardless of what its adherents literally believe.

          Just so you know, I approach Christianity as a mythos, a symbolic construct that’s supposed to give shape and meaning to human knowledge and endeavor. As far as any of the Bible’s specific claims being literally true, that’s not what my belief is based on.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          As long as the religion makes people profess belief, and behave a certain way, the construct perpetuates itself regardless of what its adherents literally believe.

          Perhaps.. but that doesn’t really address the question of if the religion is true or false (unless a meme by definition, must be false.. which I suppose is a possibility).

          As far as any of the Bible’s specific claims being literally true, that’s not what my belief is based on.

          That truth or falsehood of any claim in the Bible may not be what your belief is “based on”, but do you think that the claims are true or false?

          If you think the claims in the Bible are true, then why treat them symbolically? If they are false, why pay attention to them at all?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not interested in playing the literalist game. Symbols aren’t true or false; we don’t do justice to the value of a mythos by only examining its meaning on the most superficial level.

          I don’t believe Adam and Eve literally existed, no. But if I thought that the vast library of human mythology was useless unless it functioned as reportage, I’d be ashamed of my lack of imagination.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Symbols aren’t true or false; we don’t do justice to the value of a mythos by only examining its meaning on the most superficial level.

          I’m fine with examining the value of a mythos on many different levels. Where I think we differ is:

          1. I don’t consider matters of truth and falsehood “superficial”.. where apparently you do.
          2. I want do determine the truth and falsehood of a claim first, while to you that seems irrelevant.

          Yes, if the Gospels are all false, we can still talk about their value. That will be an entirely different value than if they are true. (At least, IMO).

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          I don’t consider matters of truth and falsehood “superficial”.. where apparently you do.

          I didn’t say truth and falsehood are superficial. I just question their relevance when it comes to something that’s symbolic.

          We’re talking about the human search for meaning here, and the narratives we’ve constructed to make sense of our absurd universe, our finite existence, and our limited perception. Whether we’re looking at empirical inquiry or the symbolism of mythology, we’re dealing with storytelling.

          So when we define the truth of a claim according to how well it agrees with how reality is, first we have to affirm the validity of a means of understanding how reality is. And that’s fine. But it’s not reality, it’s ideology.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          You sound vary post-modernist.. everything’s a story, everything is “ideology” and there’s no real way to know what reality really is.

          As long as a story helps us to “make sense” of our universe, then its good? Is Creationism as good (true) as Atheism is as good as Evangelical Christianity? Or is one more true, or in some way better than another?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          You sound vary post-modernist.. everything’s a story, everything is “ideology” and there’s no real way to know what reality really is.

          I’m not necessarily being that nihilistic. I just mean that there’s no way of knowing what reality is except through the narratives we’ve created and whose validity we already affirm. The stories, in other words, that make sense to us.

          As long as a story helps us to “make sense” of our universe, then its good?

          I didn’t say that either. Certainly I don’t believe creationism works in the framework of a scientific construct, which is where it purports to belong. But if it’s just a way to re-legitimize the concept of the Creator God for religious nostalgists, then the fact that it’s not scientifically sound is irrelevant. People affirm its validity for non-scientific reasons.

          And plenty of these stories appear to have been deliberately devised so our ancestors didn’t have to feel guilty about massacring their neighbors and mistreating their female citizens. It’s unfortunate that we don’t realize that we can come to a reasonable consensus about these stories, keeping the bits that we think make for a good society, and relegate the rest to literature.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I’m not necessarily being that nihilistic. I just mean that there’s no way of knowing what reality is except through the narratives we’ve created and whose validity we already affirm. The stories, in other words, that make sense to us.

          I guess that’s a consistent opinion at least. I don’t agree with it, but that sort of post-modern approach is at least a “valid” one.

          Certainly I don’t believe creationism works in the framework of a scientific construct, which is where it purports to belong.

          Why doesn’t creationism “work” in the “framework of a scientific construct”?

          And plenty of these stories appear to have been deliberately devised so our ancestors didn’t have to feel guilty about massacring their neighbors and mistreating their female citizens.

          What if in the narratives that they created.. there was no problem in massacring their neighbors and they weren’t actually mistreating their women?

          I mean, in reality interpreted in your set of narratives, it was a massacre, and “mistreatment”. In their narratives, it might not have been.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Why doesn’t creationism “work” in the “framework of a scientific construct”?

          Um, because it’s nothing more than a garbled bunch of factoids, and not a comprehensive, coherent approach to empirical research.

          I mean, in reality interpreted in your set of narratives, it was a massacre, and “mistreatment”. In their narratives, it might not have been.

          My point exactly. We’re under no obligation to respect the moral righteousness of a narrative merely constructed to dodge blame for such behavior. As a community we can decide that’s not something we accept as valid anymore, like slavery.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Um, because it’s nothing more than a garbled bunch of factoids, and not a comprehensive, coherent approach to empirical research.

          How so? Certainly to a creationist researcher and his “narrative” its possible to do creationist research. Otherwise he wouldn’t do it.

          Your narrative is different of course, but why say his is wrong, and yours is right? Or is it not a right / wrong thing, but a “better” thing, where yours is simply better than his? I suppose you could argue that there cannot exist a creationist narrative that is logically valid, yet also allows scientific research.. but you haven’t done that.

          My point exactly. We’re under no obligation to respect the moral righteousness of a narrative merely constructed to dodge blame for such behavior.

          They could just as easily say that they are under no obligation to respect the moral righteousness of a narrative merely constructed to blame them for their perfectly acceptable behavior.

          As a community we can decide that’s not something we accept as valid anymore, like slavery.

          Sure. Of course we could just as easily decide to accept it once again in the future. It’s just a change of narratives after all, right?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          How so? Certainly to a creationist researcher and his “narrative” its possible to do creationist research. Otherwise he wouldn’t do it.

          Okay. No one has ever really explained what “creationist research” is, demonstrated how it forms an independent narrative about the development of life on Earth, or outlined protocols for such a framework of study. It’s much more comprehensible as a conspiracy theory, intended to delegitimize mainstream biology by accusing its proponents of anti-religious bias.

          The way it operates not by building a literature of research but by persuading podunk school boards to teach creationism to students who aren’t equipped to critique it, certainly seems like conspiracism. The way it conducts its campaigns on message boards among amateurs and not in legitimate academic institutions makes it appear much more like conspiracism than a proper mode of inquiry.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That they have their own journals because the conventional ones are mean and won’t let them publish is another clue.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Okay. No one has ever really explained what “creationist research” is,

          Really? Nobody? I mean, 5 minutes of Google searching turns up a fair number of institutions and a people dedicated to what at least they are calling research. Sure, you might not, but that’s just a different “narrative” right? I mean, I can definitely understand how in your narrative, there is no such thing as creationist research (currently). Their narrative is constructed differently. Who are you to impose your beliefs on them?

          The way it operates not by building a literature of research but by persuading podunk school boards to teach creationism to students who aren’t equipped to critique it, certainly seems like conspiracism.

          Again, 5 minutes of a Google search turns up a fair number of papers that, at least to creationists are examples of “creationist research”. You may not think that way, your “narrative” might be different, but what of that?

          The way it conducts its campaigns on message boards among amateurs and not in legitimate academic institutions makes it appear much more like conspiracism than a proper mode of inquiry.

          Only narratives that have been vetted by “legitimate academic institutions” are good?

          Before you said:

          I just mean that there’s no way of knowing what reality is except through the narratives we’ve created and whose validity we already affirm.

          The implication of this is that (at least with regards to truth and falsehood) all narratives are equal. Some may be better or worse in some utilitarian sense, but if the only way we can judge what reality is, is through these narratives, we lose the ability to say that one narrative is better than the other at judging reality. We lack the standard by which to do that.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          The implication of this is that (at least with regards to truth and falsehood) all narratives are equal. Some may be better or worse in some utilitarian sense, but if the only way we can judge what reality is, is through these narratives, we lose the ability to say that one narrative is better than the other at judging reality. We lack the standard by which to do that.

          Where did I ever say that the issue was truth or falsehood? I only ever described the way creationism as a narrative appears to be simply a conspiracy theory and online hoax. Since its sphere of influence is limited to message boards, churches, and small-town boards of education, it’s fair to say that its function isn’t to work in legitimate scientific or academic contexts. It only inspires amateur debate in online forums, not among professionals in scientific associations. It doesn’t appear to be of any more pragmatic value to scientific inquiry than astrology.

          Certain constructs, like creationism and 9/11 Truth, demonstrate a sort of convergent evolution of ideas. The construct might adopt the jargon of scientific or historical inquiry, and talk about such concepts as evidence, but it’s more about pandering to people’s paranoia and resentment rather than forming a coherent knowledge construct. If creationism is more often argued online by amateurs than among professionals in scientific disciplines, that’s a big scary red flag that should tell us this isn’t about inquiry.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Where did I ever say that the issue was truth or falsehood?

          True, you didn’t. I made an assumption. Being concerned about truth and falsehood is part of my narrative not yours. I apologize.

          I only ever described the way creationism as a narrativeappears to be simply a conspiracy theory and online hoax.

          In your narrative it does yes. In theirs it does not.

          Since its sphere of influence is limited to message boards, churches, and small-town boards of education, it’s fair to say that its function isn’t to work in legitimate scientific or academic contexts.

          Of course in their narrative, they are being denied this chance.

          If creationism is more often argued online by amateurs than among professionals in scientific disciplines, that’s a big scary red flag that should tell us this isn’t about inquiry.

          What defines a “professional” vs an “amateur”?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          What defines a “professional” vs an “amateur”?

          That’s a serious question?

          In Among the Truthers, his book about modern-day conspiracists and millennials, Jonathan Kay talks about the “cult of the amateur,” the modern-day belief that there’s no such thing as real expertise. This is what allows people on message boards to pretend they’re delegitimizing the entire edifice of modern biology with factoids about the bombardier beetle, or that they’re qualified to correct NIST’s engineers on the details of the collapse of the WTC buildings on 9/11.

          I think it’s fine to ask questions about “official” or dominant narratives, but it has to be in the context of honest inquiry. Accusing people of bias and dishonesty doesn’t constitute scientific or historical inquiry. I don’t think the Christians who tout creationism, or the nasty cranks who push 9/11 Truth, are involved in a sincere quest for answers. It’s pretty clear they’re involved in a self-aggrandizing crusade to demonize and harass their online foes.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          This is what allows people on message boards to pretend they’re delegitimizing the entire edifice of modern biology with factoids about the bombardier beetle, or that they’re qualified to correct NIST’s engineers on the details of the collapse of the WTC buildings on 9/11.

          I think we both agree that the random individual on a message board is an amateur.

          What about a published author with a graduate degree in a scientific field. Is he/she an “amateur” as well? Must that person have a degree in the exact field? Will a relevant field work?

          Accusing people of bias and dishonesty doesn’t constitute scientific or historical inquiry.

          True. Does that mean it shouldn’t be done?

          I don’t think the Christians who tout creationism, or the nasty cranks who push 9/11 Truth, are involved in a sincere quest for answers.

          I’m certain most of them would disagree. Again because they have a different narrative than yours.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          I’m certain most of them would disagree. Again because they have a different narrative than yours.

          When I say narrative, I’m talking about a coherent construct that (in the case of creationism) is supposed to represent a valid alternative to evolution by natural selection in explaining the diversity of life on Earth and forming the foundation for study in the life sciences. I’m just pointing out that this narrative has been promulgated not by appealing to the experts in the relevant fields, but by appealing to the sort of people least likely to be able to judge its validity.

          When you say narrative, I assume you mean opinion.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          When you say narrative, I assume you mean opinion.

          I do not, though I will say that as far as I can see, subjective opinions make up “narratives” along with other things. From what I can see based on your comments, a narrative is not just an opinion or a set thereof, but what I don’t see is how you compare and contrast narratives in any sort of objective sense. You, from your narrative, might say that some other narrative is wrong, or insufficient or any number of things. Unless someone shares your particular narrative.. why should they care?

          When I say narrative, I’m talking about a coherent construct that (in the case of creationism) is supposed to represent a valid alternative to evolution by natural selection in explaining the diversity of life on Earth and forming the foundation for study in the life sciences.

          What do you mean by “valid”? I am certain most creationists consider creationism valid, at least from the standpoint of their narrative. If you do not, do you have an objection to it that is formed on the basis of objective facts and data? Or is your objection based on some parts of your narrative? Or both?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          I am certain most creationists consider creationism valid, at least from the standpoint of their narrative.

          Conspiracists usually tout the robustness of their chosen construct, and dismiss all opposition as bias. If most experts remain unconvinced of its validity, it could be there’s a huge conspiracy in mainstream biology. But it’s more plausible that the construct simply has no utility.

          If you do not, do you have an objection to it that is formed on the basis of objective facts and data?

          As I said before, I don’t think conspiracy theories are about facts and evidence. Conspiracists are armed with a slew of factoids with which they bait people into engaging them, and then they mock any sincere effort to contextualize their incoherent critique.

          Not that that describes anyone here.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          As I said before, I don’t think conspiracy theories are about facts and evidence.

          That’s fine, your opinion is noted. You didn’t answer my question though. I asked if you had any objection to creationism that is based on objective facts and data. You responded by simply saying that to you, its a conspiracy theory, and as such it should be disregarded. That is not objectivity.

          Which is a shame, as there are objective facts and data which can be used to argue against creationism, so one does not have to rely on one’s own subjective opinion as you seem to be doing.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          I asked if you had any objection to creationism that is based on objective facts and data. You responded by simply saying that to you, its a conspiracy theory, and as such it should be disregarded. That is not objectivity.

          But the reason I can characterize it as a conspiracy theory is that I’ve looked at its claims, its method of promoting itself, and the way it characterizes its aims. It’s an incoherent slew of factoids, fallacies, and accusations, totally without scientific meaning. That’s why it has to rely on inspiring amateurs to push it on message boards, and bullying school boards into teaching it to children who aren’t equipped to give it the critical scrutiny such a subject deserves.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          You maintain that creationism is nothing but “inspiring amateurs” who “push it on message boards”. You do this without evidence, and indeed in spite of other evidence.

          As an example of this, I asked you about if a published author with graduate degree(s) would qualify as an “amateur”. You didn’t answer. I presume you didn’t, because you know that there are people like that whom argue the creationist position. They are a lot harder to simply ignore as being “amateurs”. They are not necessarily right (most of them are not), but one cannot simply fob them off.

          Perhaps you are too tied into your “narrative”.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I asked you about if a published author with
          graduate degree(s) would qualify as an “amateur”.

          The scientific consensus is that Creationism is bullshit. That’s what we laymen need to accept as our best explanation at the moment.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Conspiracists never have a problem touting someone as an expert. If I had a dime for every time Lehigh biochemist Michael Behe was held up as an unassailable expert on everything from cetacean evolution or molecular biology to paleontology, well, I’d have a nice pile of dimes. He’s entitled to his opinion, but in the context of the entire scientific industry, his opinion doesn’t seem to be of much consequence.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          In my view, to say that Behe (or Jonathan Wells, a Disco Institute biochemist) said something so therefore I’ll accept it is indefensible by a layman when it goes against the scientific consensus.

        • MNb

          Would you say the same about the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics? These days it goes against the scientific consensus as well – only a minority (but a respectable one) of physicists adhere it nowadays.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’d heard that it was still a majority opinion, but whatever.

          To answer your question: I go where the scientific consensus goes. Of course, in some areas, there really isn’t one (perhaps this is one).

          Aside: the Copenhagen Interpretation is quite relevant to my arguments because it says that quantum events could have no cause. That defeats the Kalam Cosmological Argument® (famed in song and story).

        • MNb

          Oh no, even laymen don’t need to stop here. We can study the Wikipedia list of logical fallacies and notice that creationists make full use of them. That’s very much against scientific standards. We can try to find out how much empirical research creationists actually do. Answer: close to zero. That’s very damning. We can ask ourselves – and creationists – which testable predictions creationism makes. Answer: none. We can ask creationists, like Adam Lee has done, which empirical evidence they would accept as a falsification of their particular brand of creationism. No creationist has ever answered that question.
          If creationists actually addressed these points we had something to talk about.
          Conclusion: we don’t need to look at the scientific consensus to conclude that creationism is bullshit. Science has quite some fringe ideas which still aren’t rejected exactly because these ideas actually do meet the points I just mentioned. We don’t have to be experts to judge that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If your point is that laymen can educate themselves to understand why the consensus is the way it is (and why a particular argument is discarded by the scientific community), I agree of course.

          My point is that when a laymen feels tempted to reject the scientific consensus, they should lie down until the feeling goes away.

          No creationist has ever answered that question.

          Reasons to Believe is a ministry (which rings alarm bells in my head when they want to splash around in the adult pool, but anyway), headed by an astrophysicist, that enjoys rejecting evolution. They claim to have a list of predictions (though I haven’t hung out there for years and don’t know where that would be—I presume it’s obvious).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          the modern-day belief that there’s no such thing as real expertise.

          My favorite obnoxious new meme is the idea that everyone has biases, so I have no need to correct or even consider my own.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          True,
          you didn’t. I made an assumption. Being concerned about truth and falsehood is
          part of my narrative not yours. I apologize.

          You make the error, but you turn it around to make the other guy look bad?! Nicely played, sir!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Creationists have lost within the academy of science, so they’re forced to play in the sandbox of public opinion. Yes, they can do damage there, but it ain’t science.

        • MNb

          “at least they are calling research”
          Calling you a duck doesn’t mean you’re a duck – it means my narrative doesn’t make sense.
          Calling what creationists do research doesn’t make any more sense – within a proper definition applying the whole Wikipedia list of logical fallacies to meticulously selected texts is not research, just like you are not a duck within a proper definition of that bird.
          But let me take that narrative thing of yours a step further – or rather back in time. If the inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki August 1945 had chosen their narrative a bit more carefully they wouldn’t have suffered from the nuclear bombs, according to your logic.

        • MNb

          “Certainly to a creationist researcher and his “narrative” its possible to do creationist research.”
          All evolutionary biologists, including Miller, Collins, Myers and Coyne, are eagerly waiting for the reports of creationist field and lab research. They are not holding their breath though or they would have died 20 years ago or more.

        • MNb

          “Why doesn’t creationism “work” in the “framework of a scientific construct”? ”
          Because creationism doesn’t make testable predictions (like Evolution Theory predicted where to find a fossil a la Tiktaalik) nor can’t be falsified by empirical data.
          Design is perfect? Goddidid.
          Design is imperfect? Goddididtoo because he/she/it had his reasons, blessed be him/her/it.
          This is another good indication that you’ve never been an atheist like BobS and me.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Also, what do you mean when you call yourself a “Christian”?

        • MNb

          ” that doesn’t really address the question of if the religion is true or false ”
          Typically the simple black and white approach of the theist. This is exactly why I prefer science. Even Flat Earthers are correct within strict prerequisite constraints – an option that seems to be a priori impossible to theists.
          You probably don’t realize it and won’t admit it, but this is quite an indication (not evidence of proof) that you’ve never been an atheist like BobS or me indeed.
          Reread BobS’ comments above and this time unbiased; you may notice that he specifically makes room for reasonable doubt. He never writes that atheism is true; he argues that it’s the correct standpoint as far as he knows and as far as he can see. The two attitudes are not the same.
          And that might very well be the difference between former atheist you and nowadays atheist BobS (and me).

        • MNb

          Thanks for the compliment. I never read God is not Great and neither do I plan to.
          Or perhaps I don’t need the four atheist horsemen to argue for my atheism and to feel real compassion. Btw could you explain to me what unreal compassion is?
          Or I am inclined to think that I’ve met just another theist who loves meaningless expressions.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          MNb,

          I didn’t think I’d catch such a ration of shit just for recommending that someone read Hitchens’s book. But I guess this is the season for giving and all.

        • MNb

          “So claiming victory …”
          “You’re right. I won’t. It is a shame.”
          And another theist contradicts himself without even noticing.
          The simple and respectable interpretation is of course that BobS doesn’t care about loss and victory, but about relevant information, which you fail to provide.
          All in all your comments say a lot more about yourself than about this blog.

  • Brad Cooper
    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I just had a long and fruitless conversation with someone else on this subject. He was determined to not understand, and I’m guessing you’ll be better able to at least understand my point.

      I disagree. The just like you part is key. Also note that I’m only talking about conversion for strictly intellectual reasons.

      Let’s start with me as an example. And then imagine that I convert for intellectual reasons. That means that I know how all (or at least a majority of) my cherished intellectual arguments are flawed. I might just be a quiet Christian and sit in the corner, but if I have any interest in apologetics at all (likely, since it was a passion of mine as an atheist), I’ll focus on the thing that I uniquely can do—show the atheists the flaws in their arguments.

      Where are such atheists and their arguments? I see none.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    I think the key thing here is “from my perspective”.

    Bob is basically saying that since nobody accepts exactly his perspective, and all that that entails, and the shows how his arguments are wrong, that every converted atheist must be an idiot or mis-informed.

    If it is in fact the case that Bob’s very perspective is wrong, then of course he will never find someone who argues “from his perspective” that he is wrong.

    Its a very convenient sort of test “Accept everything that I accept, but then show how I’m wrong!”. For Bob it’ll never be the case that someone is actually showing that his arguments are wrong… its always the case that someone is not “arguing from his perspective”.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Wrong again.

  • JamBar

    Many misplaced criticisms in the comments say that “Atheism has nothing [] backing it.”

    This argument fails a logical test right out the gate. Atheism is the one religious worldview that does not require evidence “backing” it. Just like “off” is the one TV channel that doesn’t require power to the TV.

    -EDIT-
    I should expand the analogy.
    I was born an Atheist, like everyone. Then I was raised to the age of 6 or so in the Episcopal church because a child raised churchless in Texas is doomed to be ostracized. I self-identified as agnostic for many years out of fear of bullying and other petty persecution by the children of the religious majority. I wasn’t sure enough of my own strength to positively identify as Atheist until adulthood.

    Why am I atheist? Because I’m inquisitive. I’m a scientist, and as a child I was always bound to become one or something like it. I readily accept my lack of knowledge, I’m intensely critical of my own assumptions that lack a solid basis in repeatable observation, and I’m persistent in revisiting and questioning my old assumptions on a regular basis. For me, this is merely professionalism.

    I’m an atheist because it’s the null hypothesis. I’ve never seen anything to convince me that Thor walks the sky, causing thunder with his hammer. I’ve never seen Zeus or any of his demi-god progeny. I’ve never heard a bearded sky-god talk to me. I do, however, understand Thunder, I’m very familiar with genetics, and I’m familiar with a host of pernicious psychological phenomena such as confirmation bias.

    It would take one – only ONE – verifiable supernatural event to cause me to change my mind. There have been none in the 28 years I’ve been alive, and none recorded in a trustworthy source ever.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      If you were told that Thor caused the thunder and had no better explanation, you couldn’t be faulted for buying it. But with modern science? That’s a different story.

      I like the TV analogy.

    • TheRealRandomFunction

      This argument fails a logical test right out the gate. Atheism is the one religious worldview that does not require evidence “backing” it.

      In a way you’re right. Depending on how one defines “atheism”, atheism doesn’t need anything backing it. If to you “atheism” is simply “There isn’t enough evidence for me”.. well it’s just your opinion. It’s no different than if you were to say “There isn’t enough hot sauce in my chili”. You don’t need any evidence to justify or back any of those opinions.

      What I find interesting is how atheists usually go from “There isn’t enough evidence for me personally to believe in God” to “If you are being a rational, educated and “open minded” there shouldn’t be enough evidence for you either”. That actually needs some evidence backing it.

      I readily accept my lack of knowledge, I’m intensely critical of my own assumptions that lack a solid basis in repeatable observation, and I’m persistent in revisiting and questioning my old assumptions on a regular basis.

      Are you saying that any sort of assumption / belief that lacks a solid basis in repeatable observation should be rejected?

      I’ve never seen anything to convince me that Thor walks the sky, causing thunder with his hammer. I’ve never seen Zeus or any of his demi-god progeny.

      Fair enough. Of course there are other people who would say that they have seen, or have heard, or have somehow experienced something that makes them think that a God(s) exist. Again, it is one thing for you to say “There isn’t enough evidence for me” . It is another to claim that there isn’t enough evidence for any rational / thinking / educated person. While I’m certain such claims make you feel better about yourself (after all, you’re enlightened “enough” apparently).. those kind of claims do need evidence.

      It would take one – only ONE – verifiable supernatural event to cause me to change my mind. There have been none in the 28 years I’ve been alive, and none recorded in a trustworthy source ever.

      How do you define “verifiable” or “trustworthy”?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        If to you “atheism” is simply “There isn’t enough evidence for me”

        That’s quite an odd definition. I’m sure no atheist gives that as a definition of “atheism.”

        That actually needs some evidence backing it.

        Oh, so you’re one of those empirical guys? You’ve peppered your comment with demands for evidence. OK, I can respect that. So what’s your evidence for God?

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I’ll give that evidence whenever I hear some evidence demonstrating the idea that

          “If you are being a rational, educated and “open minded” there shouldn’t be enough evidence( of the existence of God) for you either”

          Otherwise I’ll call your request for what I really think it is, a cheap tactic to try and evade a relatively simple question that you have no answer to.

          Perhaps you’ll surprise me though.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Perhaps you’ll surprise me though.

          Not possible. You’ve got it all figured out.

          To your question: I’ve already patiently made clear my position on this subject. I never said the quote you cited, and that’s not my position.

          To your eternal dodging the challenge for evidence: my request was to some extent rhetorical. You dislike giving evidence and prefer to sit at the sidelines and hamper the discussion. Why defend something when you can make the other guy do it, right?

          I pretty much knew that you’d dodge it, yet again. But perhaps someday you’ll surprise me though.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Why defend something when you can make the other guy do it, right?

          This quote illustrates the methodology of a great many atheists perfectly.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Then I’m startled that you allow yourself to be tarred with it.

          Why swim in the slime with those gosh-darn atheists? Show that you’re made of better stuff. Show us how it’s done. Make your position clear and defend it.

          Maybe those atheists can learn a thing or two from your soon-to-be-less-mysterious position.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Why not? You think its obvious completely ok not to shoulder the burden of having to prove or argue anything yourself. You just sit here on your blog attacking other people’s beliefs, not ever having to defend your own.

          If you see no problem with it, and your (obviously) the more well informed individual out of both of us, I don’t see why I should see a problem with it either.

        • Pofarmer

          What proof would you have atheists provide? I think the success of science in itself is enough proof. I think the fact that science has overturned a great many of theologies precepts, while religion has overturned none the other way, is proof enough. Maybe that’s not what you mean? I think Atheists know we don’t know things, and are O.K. with that. Theists generally assume that we know way more than we do, and, generally, those assumptions are based on other assumptions that are verifiably false. It’s like peeling back an onion, and it becomes intensely frustrating. It’s layer upon layer built upon a first false assumption. “The fall.” “The divinity of Mary.”, “Original Sin”, theology is littered with them, and proceeds to introduce monumental works of theology from them. And you wonder why Atheists want theists to support their positions, when typically the Atheist position is “This is what we know now and this is what we’re working towards…….?”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          But note that the burden of proof is on the believer’s shoulders. Proving that God exists is impossible, which is precisely why RRF loves that challenge. He has no interest in advancing the conversation or learning anything, just in annoying atheists like a fly (though even there he’s unclear about his motives).

          The believer has the burden of proof, that burden is not met, so we are obliged to reject the hypothesis that God exists.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Proving that God exists is impossible, which is precisely why RRF loves that challenge.

          I would talk to MNb and Herman Philipse about that… I think they disagree.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why not? You think its obvious completely ok not to shoulder the burden of having to prove or argue anything yourself.

          You know, I almost thought I had you there. I thought that you might just take up the challenge. Y’know—show us what how a real man uses evidence to build a strong position.

          My mistake. I’m guessing you don’t have a position worth defending. You’re brave enough to cobble together attacks on others but not enough to put forward your own views and defend them.

          You just sit here on your blog attacking other people’s beliefs, not ever having to defend your own.

          I invite critique (and get it) with every single post. I guess things look different within RandomWorld—is that kind of like Opposite Day?

          If you see no problem with it, and your (obviously) the more well informed individual out of both of us, I don’t see why I should see a problem with it either.

          So, a plain and simple, “No, I am not able to put forth and defend my position.”

          Fair enough. I just thought I’d ask to see if you wanted to contribute to the conversation. Guess not.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          You’re brave enough to cobble together attacks on others but not enough to put forward your own views and defend them.

          Beyond “the arguments for Christianity are wrong!” I have never seen you put forth your views and actually defend them.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’ve got a sharp eye! Yep, every single post here makes the same boring and unsubstantiated claim, that the arguments for Christianity are wrong.

          I marvel at your patience. Why are you here?

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I already stated why I was here. I’m looking to see if I have any reason to actually become an atheist.

          Unfortunately, I’m unwilling to play along with the usual games. I don’t think you’re smarter than me, I don’t see any reason to believe that you are more well informed than me, I don’t think you are more rational than me. So why I should care about the fact that in your biased, subjective opinion the evidence is insufficient to believe in any God.. is not something I know.

          But hey, according to you I’m not well informed, and there’s just some fact that apparently once I know it, I should immediately jump ship and become an atheist. Shame you are unwilling to tell me about it. Why are you keeping me in the dark Bob?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m looking to see if I have any reason to actually become an atheist.

          Given the analysis that you’ve helpfully shared with us, it’s obvious that you’ll find no such reason here. Ever.

          since I’m unwilling to play along with the usual games.

          Like the request that you clearly state your position and defend it with evidence? Yes, I’ve noticed.

          there’s just some fact that apparently once I know it, I should immediately jump ship and become an atheist. Shame you are unwilling to tell me about it. Why are you keeping me in the dark Bob?

          427 posts and you pretend that I’m keeping you in the dark about my opinions?

          Your job has been to scan my posts and write an ill-informed rejection. And you’ve done that well.

          I now free you of this obligation, my son. Fly free like a bird!

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Given the analysis that you’ve helpfully shared with us, it’s obvious that you’ll find no such reason here. Ever.

          Most likely not. I mean it is a lot to expect you to provide something more than subjective criticisms of the points made by others.

          That being said, I may not find such evidence for you. As I’ve stated repeatedly, MNb at least started down the right track of providing evidence, logic and reasoning for his beliefs. I didn’t agree with what he had, but he’s done more than anyone else here so far.

          So I may not find such evidence and reasoning from you personally.. no. From the individuals who comment here… maybe.

          427 posts and you pretend that I’m keeping you in the dark about my opinions?

          No. Not about your opinions Bob. I know what your “opinions” are all too well. What you seem to be keeping me in the dark about is whatever fact / argument I need to hear in order to understand the truth of atheism and immediately convert. Not an opinion. A fact. An argument. Whatever it is that I don’t know, that if I were to know it, the most “rational” choice of action would be to become an atheist.

          That’s what you are keeping me in the dark about. I know about your opinions all to well.

        • MNb

          Is breaking the Law of Non-contradiction enough evidence for you?

          “I’ll give that evidence whenever I hear …..
          Yeah, and I’ll stop stealing from other people the moment all samples of Homo Sapiens do.
          Great example of christian ethics in practice again.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Evidence enough for what? The non-existence of God? Sure, that’d be enough. If you have some logical argument demonstrating that the existence of God is logically contradictory, state it.

        • MNb

          It comes from Herman Philipse’s God in the Age of Science (I hope BobS doesn’t get bored; it’s the third or fourth time he has to read it).
          God is defined as an immaterial being. As such he/she/it doesn’t have the means to interact with our material reality. Example: X loves Y. If X and Y are human beings X can express his/her love by means of language, body language, facial expressions and behavior. These are all material, ie dependent on matter/energy. Now if X is an immaterial being he/she/it doesn’t have those means available. As such god makes as little sense as a square circle.
          Mutatis mutandis for all other kinds of divine interaction with our material reality.
          Now let’s see if you are going to live up to your words; you would be the first.
          The only escape route is to become a believer a la Kierkegaard (here I disagree slightly with Philipse). That’s OK with me, but then you have to drop about everything you have written here.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No problem–thanks for repeating Philipse if he’s relevant to the conversation.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          If you define “immaterial” as nothing, then that argument is circular. Yes, if God is nothing, then God has no means by which to interact.

          If you define “immaterial” as anything other than “nothing” however, then you must show how under that other definition, “immaterial” being cannot interact with “material” things.

          Your argument rests on the idea that the “immaterial cannot interact at all with the material”.

        • MNb

          Nice try – shifting the burden of proof, a well known apologist tactic.
          “Immaterial” at least is defined as “not material”. According to dualists – and all theists are – there are two aspects to our reality. The material aspect is what can be observed because it’s related to matter/energy. The immaterial aspect is the rest (the official theological terminology is “transcend”).
          Theists are claiming that an immaterial entity transcending the material reality exists and that that entity can interact with our material reality. They are the ones who have to show how, by which means and following which procedures. Concrete: they have to show what “God loves TRRF” means, how God expresses his/her/its love and how TRRF knows or can know.
          But we can take it a bit further. If an immaterial entity could interact with our material reality we could observe the effects, which implies that he/she/it uses material means, which implies that he/she/it has material features, which is impossible by definition.

          “Your argument rests on the idea that the “immaterial cannot interact at all with the material”.”
          As stated above your counterargument rests on the idea that “the immaterial can interact with the material after all, but I haven’t the faintest idea how or even what this means”. To me that sounds like “square circles do exist but I haven’t the faintest idea how or even what this means”.
          f someone claimed a square circle you would demand some serious explanation as well. You wouldn’t be satisfied with “no, you prove that mathematical figures can’t be square and round at the same time, unless you define round as nothing, which is circular”.
          As I’m not a professional philosopher I further refer you to Herman Philipse’s God in the Age of Science. He devotes one or two chapters to this issue.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Nice try – shifting the burden of proof, a well known apologist tactic.

          This statement is just laughable. The entirety of atheism rests on the idea that they have no burden of proof, and everyone else does. To say that shifting the burden of proof is an “apologist tactic” is.. ridiculous.

          If Herman Philipse wants to prove that God does not, and in fact cannot exist… he has the burden of proof.

          Theists are claiming that an immaterial entity transcending the material reality exists and that that entity can interact with our material reality. They are the ones who have to show how, by which means and following which procedures.

          Say they can’t do that, after all if such an immaterial being transcends matter/energy it is highly unlikely that any sort of scientific methodology can be used to analyze how such a being operates. Does this show that this being is somehow illogical? Not in the slightest. This is just the God of the gaps argument in reverse. “You theists can’t explain how God does X! Therefore he doesn’t exist!”. Color me unimpressed.

          But we can take it a bit further. If an immaterial entity could interact with our material reality we could observe the effects, which implies that he/she/it uses material means, which implies that he/she/it has material features, which is impossible by definition.

          You make two assertions here that so far, remain unsupported by any evidence. One is at least reasonable, though trivial one is not.

          1. If an immaterial entity could interact with our material reality we could observe the effects. This is true, but trivial. If anything could interact with our reality, we could in theory observe its effect… based on what it means to “interact”. Whether or not we could assign these effects back to the immaterial entity is debatable.

          2. If an immaterial entity could interact with our material reality.. he/she/it does so by using material means. This is completely unsupported (so far).

          To me that sounds like “square circles do exist but I haven’t the faintest idea how or even what this means”.

          I don’t really care what it “sounds like” to you. You, or Herman, must show that something that transcends matter / energy is logically incapable of interacting with matter and energy. “I don’t know how” doesn’t mean “It’s logically impossible”.

          I don’t know about Herman Philipse..but if you are accurately portraying his argument… I am extremely not impressed. It sounds just like a great number of other atheist arguments which basically boil down to “I don’t understand how it works therefore its obviously false. “

        • Pofarmer

          This has got to be the dumbest line of argument ever.

          “Sure, we believe in something outside of our space and time but that can influence our space and time. We admit This force is undetectable and unprovable, in fact, it’s untestable, because we can’t detect the effects of this something either, but, it’s up to the Atheist to disprove that this undetectable, unprovable, untestable thing doesn’t exist.”

          What a maroon.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          This has got to be the dumbest line of argument ever.

          I’m not sure where you go that I was trying to make an argument in favor of something.

          We admit This force is undetectable and unprovable, in fact, it’s untestable, because we can’t detect the effects of this something either, but, it’s up to the Atheist to disprove that this undetectable, unprovable, untestable thing doesn’t exist.”

          I never said any of this.

          Are atheists so wrapped in their ideology that they don’t understand how to make an argument anymore? MNb actually seemed to try and offer one, so points to him, but when I point out that he’s made several assertions without a shred of evidence.. his response was to accuse me of shifting the burden of proof. That’s now how making an argument works. You don’t just get to say anything, then when somebody critiques you, claim that you are “shifting the burden of proof”, or as you have done develop a strawman and attack that.

          I still away an actual argument from an atheist. Any atheist. So far I haven’t seen one yet that doesn’t rely on unsupported assertions, or unsupported leaps of logic. Perhaps there is one somewhere.. but I haven’t seen it yet.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t know what kind of argument you want? Atheism itself, as has been explained to you before, doesn’t make any positive statements. It is simply a denial that God’s do exist, or are not sufficiently proven to warrant the justification by believers. There is no other argument for the Atheist to make. Now, if you want an argument from the scientific, then the argument would go something like “We understand our world through science, and use it to develop information on how the world around us works to help understand the natural world and interact with our surroundings.” A further statement would be to the effect that “Theology does nothing to help us understand our world, or interact with it, and, has, in fact, generally acted as an agent to hamper our understanding.” But, those aren’t statements that an Atheist would be required or expected to make in order to be an Atheist. Atheism is a denial of evidence for proof of theistic claims. You are trying to shift the burden of proof onto Atheists, when, in fact, the statement of Atheism is that theistic proofs have failed. That stance generally then diverts to some degree of naturalism.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I don’t know what kind of argument you want?

          Well, MNb seemed to at least try and offer one. You could examine that. I don’t agree with the argument, nor do I think its valid, but its definitely something.

          Atheism itself, as has been explained to you before, doesn’t make any positive statements.

          Atheism is either an opinion, or it does make some positive claims. It’s either that the evidence is simply not good enough for you, which tells me more about you than about anything else, or that the evidence really isn’t good enough for anyone who’s rational, well informed, and intelligent (which is basically Bob’s argument).

          If all you want to say is that the evidence isn’t good enough for you, fine. You’re biased. I understand. If you want to argue that anyone who’s intelligent, well-informed, and rational must hold to your views, you can’t rely on simply criticizing everyone else and claiming you win by default.

          Atheism is a denial of evidence for proof of theistic claims.

          I agree. You deny that there’s evidence. Why should I care about the fact that you deny that… unless I too should do the same?

          You are trying to shift the burden of proof onto Atheists, when, in fact, the statement of Atheism is that theistic proofs have failed

          To you they’ve failed. To other’s they have succeeded.

          Atheists to me, must answer one fundamental question. Why should I care what you think? Theists (in my experience) are at least willing to try and answer this question in an objective sense. Atheists.. really aren’t.

        • Pofarmer

          “Atheists to me, must answer one fundamental question. Why should I care what you think? Theists (in my experience) are at least willing to try and answer this question in an objective sense. Atheists.. really aren’t.”

          So, what about Hindu’s, Buddhists, Pagan’s, Animists, Wiccans, etc, etc, who don’t believe in the Christian view of God, but believe in something divine, do you propose to require the same of them?

          ” It’s either that the evidence is simply not good enough for you, which tells me more about you than about anything else”

          So, what does that tell you about me?

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          So, what about Hindu’s, Buddhists, Pagan’s, Animists, Wiccans, etc, etc, who don’t believe in the Christian view of God, but believe in something divine, do you propose to require the same of them?

          That they should at least try and support their beliefs through some process of citing facts and making logical arguments, instead of constantly working to shift the burden of proof, criticizing others, and then claiming victory?

          Yes, I would require such things of those other groups (unless of course they are just saying that it is simply their subjective opinion, nothing more).

          So, what does that tell you about me?

          That its highly likely that you are biased and close-minded, at least in some respects. I reject the myth that it is the atheist who is the “freethinker”, the “open-minded one”, the “objective” one, the “bright”.

        • Pofarmer

          Look, the positive statement is that the THEISTIC arguments fail. All of them, every one. You want a positive argument of all the theistic positions that have been overturned in the last 4000 years? You want someone to argue against the whole of theistic thought? The fact of the matter is, if you could prove Theistic claims, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, at all. The fact that you think you need to shift the field, to where you will have some imagined advantage, is telling. You don’t just want to move the goal posts, you want to move to a new stadium. I’m sorry, my position, and the position of most Atheists, is that your arguments FAIL. That’s it, that’s the sum of it. Theistic arguments tell us nothing about the Universe, the nature of man(well, other than what you can tell about the men who made up the stories). Basically, my argument boils down to your argument sucks. Science and reason inform us, theism does not. How hard is this? I would think the past 250 years of progress after 1800 years of stagnation would be argument enough, but I suppose not. I believe in humanity, I believe we know what we know because of our own toil and effort, not because of some divine intervention. I believe theistic arguments are fruitless to actually explain and understand the human condition as it exists. I considered myself a Christian for about 97% of my life so far, I don’t think “closed minded” applies here. And the argument is simply this. Catholic arguments-fail. Deistic arguments-fail. Scientific arguments-progress.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Look, the positive statement is that the THEISTIC arguments fail. All of them, every one.

          You obviously think they fail. Lots of individuals do not. Why should I care about what you think, over what they think? I’m not a philosopher. There is no “philosophical consensus” to the same degree as anything amounting to a scientific consensus.

          I’m sorry, my position, and the position of most Atheists, is that your arguments FAIL. That’s it, that’s the sum of it.

          Fine. Why should I care what your “position” is at all? You have never answered that.

          You’ve given me lots of opinions, yet no reason why I should believe them at all.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Let me put it another way. You say that all the theistic arguments fail. All of them. Every one. Fine. That is your opinion.

          I could believe that you hold onto your opinion because you are wise, intelligent and well-informed, and that your opinion is the most rational conclusion to the facts. That everyone should share your opinion, or if they do not (as Bob as implied in this article) that they are somehow not well-informed, or unintelligent, or perhaps irrational in some way.

          On the other hand, I could believe that you hold onto your opinion because you are biased against religion and the supernatural, and biased towards scientism, rejecting theism, and naturalism. That you hold your opinions, not due to some sort of inexorable result of applying logic and reasoning to facts, but because of biases, and close-mindedness.

          I don’t see anything so far that makes me think that the first option is true. In fact, in my experience, it is far more likely that the second option is true. I don’t see too much in the way of a rigorous logical argument, instead I see bias, scientism and a general dislike if not outright hatred of religion and religious people. You don’t have any sort of real argument beyond (and I quote) “Well your argument sucks.. so I must be right!”.

        • Pofarmer

          Honestly, if all you’re going to do here is sling mud and name call. I’m done. If you think you are going to get some unified theory of the Universe based on Atheism, I think you are going to be disappointed. Go looking to simple minded theists for that.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I would be happy to get a single argument for atheism that even approaches the level of being logically valid. MNb put forth one. I don’t think it works, but he’s done better than both you and Bob have so far, and at least in Bob’s case, better than he ever has.

          As for slinging mud, what is calling theists “simple-minded”? Just calling it like you see it I guess?

        • Pofarmer

          Look. The typical Christian argument starts like “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” There is simply nothing like this in Atheism. Nothing at all. If you want to talk about sociology, then we can talk about that. If you want to talk about Cosmology, then we can talk about that. If you want to talk about origins of religion, then we can talk about that. If you want to talk about physics, then we can talk about that. If you want to talk about Mathematics, then we can talk about that. If you want to talk philosophy, then we can talk about that. In fact, that’s really all Christian theology is, is Philosophy, and I think that’s where you are messed up here. Theists make wide ranging claims from a philosophical background, assuming that some priors are true, they proceed from there. Atheists typically don’t do that. At least not the ones I see. It’s a case by case basis. And, anyway, why is the null hypothesis that there IS a God, and If I don’t believe in a hypothesis that says something that can’t be seen or detected controls my world and my life, that I must provide proof otherwise? Shouldn’t the null hypothesis be that what we can see and detect and interact with be all there is? The screwed up thing here, is that Theists, even with all the myriad incorrect positions and theories and findings over the centuries, still presume to tell someone that they need a simple logical argument. Clue phone, that’s what religion has tried to do, and it fails in the face of science and reality. That’s it, it’s that simple. If you have a Theistic argument where you think the naturalistic argument fails, then fine, make it, but quit this silly game you are attempting to play.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Look. The typical Christian argument starts like “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

          Really? I’ve never heard this beginning from a “typical Christian argument”. I suppose you could say that the sentiment involved is one of the bases for presuppositional apologetics I guess.

          Theists make wide ranging claims from a philosophical background, assuming that some priors are true, they proceed from there. Atheists typically don’t do that.

          Atheists have no priors whatsoever? Really? I personally find that claim quite extraordinary.

          And, anyway, why is the null hypothesis that there IS a God, and If I don’t believe in a hypothesis that says something that can’t be seen or detected controls my world and my life, that I must provide proof otherwise?

          I didn’t say that the null hypothesis is that there is a God. Mostly, I reject the idea that one must proceed on a “null hypothesis” basis at all, whether that hypothesis is atheism or theism.

          The screwed up thing here, is that Theists, even with all the myriad incorrect positions and theories and findings over the centuries, still presume to tell someone that they need a simple logical argument.

          Yes, how dare people want atheists to use logic and reason. Obviously you don’t have to. That’s just a requirement for everyone else.

          If you have a Theistic argument where you think the naturalistic argument fails, then fine, make it, but quit this silly game you are attempting to play.

          That would require me to know what you mean by this “naturalistic argument”.

          Clue phone, that’s what religion has tried to do, and it fails in the face of science and reality.

          What has religion failed to do exactly? Make a logical argument? You certainly haven’t shown that nor has any atheist I’ve ever seen. Understand then natural world? Perhaps, but then again, is that really the object or goal of any religion?

          What exactly has religion “failed” at?

        • Pofarmer

          I notice which parts of my post you left out. It seems that you want an overarching argument based on Philosophy. Here’s the deal. Philosphy and science have largely seperated. Philosophy rather started it, and spun off Biology, Physics, Cosmology, Psychology, Medicine, Mathematics, and much, much more. But, to be any of those things, you don’t need to be a Philosopher. Each of those fields is different. So if you want an article dealing with a single part of a problem or issue, it could probably be provided. But you simply aren’t going to get on overarching, all encompassing, all knowing argument from Atheists. It isn’t going to happen. I’ve made several general Statements about Science. About Science searching for truth, etc, and you ignore them. I’m sorry, that’s all there is.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          It seems that you want an overarching argument based on Philosophy.

          I’d take any argument that’s logically valid.

          But you simply aren’t going to get on overarching, all encompassing, all knowing argument from Atheists. It isn’t going to happen.

          Fine. I just want something. . It doesn’t have to be “all-encompassing” or “all-knowing”.

          I’ve made several general Statements about Science. About Science searching for truth, etc, and you ignore them. I’m sorry, that’s all there is.

          Then basically you have no argument, Got it,

        • Pofarmer

          “Why should I care what you think? ”

          Because the forum that we are communicating on here is the culmination of a long list of scientific and technical achievements. This is how we progress. Theism has nothing.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Science is useful and as such true? Is that you what you are saying?

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t think anyone could state that Science is true. However, I think you can safely say that Science, by definition, searches for the truth.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          RRF is like Bartleby the Scrivener–“I’d prefer not to” is his response to requests for evidence. He’d prefer that everyone else do so.

          Odd, since “God exists” is his position. You’d think that he’d acknowledge the need to offer evidence.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          This is where you are wrong. “God exists” is not the position I am taking. If I had to take any position here it would be something like this.

          “Atheists are no more well-informed, smarter, rational or otherwise better than theists on average.”

          and perhaps:

          “Just because an atheist rejects the arguments for Christianity does not make them wrong, or somehow makes the atheist right in his subsequent rejection of God.”

          That’s pretty much it. I don’t believe I’ve ever tried to argue for the existence of God here, or anywhere else. I’m much more interested in the arguments (or lack thereof) made by atheists.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “God exists” is not the position I am taking.

          I stand corrected. I should’ve realized that something so specific and crying out for evidence is nothing Dr. Fog would ever defend.

          “Atheists are no more well-informed, smarter, rational or otherwise better than theists on average.”

          and perhaps:

          “Just because an atheist rejects the arguments for Christianity does not make them wrong, or somehow makes the atheist right in his subsequent rejection of God.”

          Sounds good to me. Shall we also cross swords on other bland points? Boxers vs. briefs, anyone? Chocolate vs. vanilla?

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Sounds good to me.

          Given that you have an entire article on your blog dedicated to the idea that any ex-atheist must have been ignorant, I don’t think that these points “sound good” to you.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Some atheists are ignorant about a particular issue, and some are not. Ditto with Christians.

          I’m glad we could clear that up.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          There is a difference between “some atheists are ignorant about a particular issue as well as some Christians” and “Christians (and theists) are only that way because of ignorance, while atheists are atheists because they are just that much smarter / wiser/ more knowledgeable than anyone else. The first statement, while I’m glad we agree on it, is trivial. The second statement is what your article (and the words of so many other atheists) imply. So no, nothing is “cleared up”.

          I’m still waiting for whatever it is I don’t know that, if I were to know it, would force me (if I was being rational) to become an atheist.

          I suspect I will have a very, very long wait.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “Christians (and theists) are only that way because of ignorance, while atheists are atheists because they are just that much smarter / wiser/ more knowledgeable than anyone else.

          The product of a fevered imagination. You should be a novelist!

          I never said that. Surely you have enough to whine about with simply the things I actually have said.

          I’m still waiting for whatever it is I don’t know that, if I were to know it, would force me (if I was being rational) to become an atheist.

          I suspect I will have a very, very long wait.

          And I’m certain it will be.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          If you never stated that

          “Christians (and theists) are only that way because of ignorance, while atheists are atheists because they are just that much smarter / wiser/ more knowledgeable than anyone else.”

          Are you willing to state unequivocally that Christians (and theists in general) may be just as smart, just as rational, just as intelligent, and in all ways equal in mental capacity and ability to atheists?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What, are we in kindergarten now? It’s all explained above.

          Yeah, I know you find some odd eroticism in antagonizing people. Sorry, bro, but I can’t add to what I’ve already said. It’s a shame you can’t get it.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Nothing is explained above. Sure, you said that you’ve never said:

          “Christians (and theists) are only that way because of ignorance, while atheists are atheists because they are just that much smarter / wiser/ more knowledgeable than anyone else.”

          But given my past experience with you and other atheists, I cannot conclude from your statement that you do not believe what I stated above, or that you do not believe something that is extremely close to what I said above, and its just that you never said those exact series of words.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s interesting. I don’t know about the typical Atheist. Some are just Atheist because they weren’t brought up in a Christian household. But what about those of us who were Christian but no longer consider ourselves Christian? I’ve read some Ingersol, Helms, Russel, White, Harris, Hitchens, Dennet, Ehrman, Spong, Carrier, Price, Lewis, Craig, Slick, and many others as well as watching videos of many of them as well as Tyson, and Kraus, among others. I personally came to this position while searching FOR the truth of Catholicism. I dunno, does that make me right? Obviously I think it does. Does that make me well informed? I think I would be better informed than the average theist who reads “Soup for the Soul” books and refuses to read anything contra their belief system. How may Theists can pull quotes from the Bible and from Christopher Hitchens?

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Some are just Atheist because they weren’t brought up in a Christian household.

          True, though at least in my experience such individuals may not call themselves “atheist”. They are certainly functionally atheists, but they are not atheists because of some sort of process / argument.

          I suppose I should clarify and say that when I use the term atheist, I am usually thinking of those individuals who will freely and openly call themselves atheist. So a Buddhist, while he/she may be an atheist (depending on what exactly they believe) will not call himself / herself an atheist.

          I’ve read some Ingersol, Helms, Russel, White, Harris, Hitchens, Dennet, Ehrman, Spong, Carrier, Price, Lewis, Craig, Slick, and many others as well as watching videos of many of them as well as Tyson, and Kraus, among others. I personally came to this position while searching FOR the truth of Catholicism. I dunno, does that make me right? Obviously I think it does.

          Obviously. The question is are you? If all you did during that reading was think “Well, I’m not convinced by Lewis, Craig, Slick et al”.. then what belief do you have to be “right” about?

          “I’m not convinced is not really a truth claim. It’s just your opinion.”

          If there was something in the writings of Hitchen’s, Dennet, Ehrman or others that convinced you that most likely there wasn’t a God.. then please share.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, I started out reading Slick and a bevy of other Apologists while searching for “truth” in the Doctrine of the Catholic Church. At some point, I realized that the textual criticisms that Slick was using against Catholic Dogma, also applied to the whole work. That’s when I found Ehrman et al, well, and Patheos. Probably when researching transubstantiation miracles. Actually yes, I found Patheos researching the “Miracle at Lanciano.” So, anyway, Ehrman was the first technical textual criticism of the Bible I had ever read. Harris and Hitchens were really the first qualitative discourses on the morality of the bible and contemporary morality I had ever read or heard, along with Richard Dawkins. Then I started listening to Neil De Grasse Tyson and Lawrence Kraus, among others, on science. At some point I just finally realized that the Bible, the Christian image of God, factually doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Now, since that period, actually only about 8 months ago or so, I haven’t found a) anything to persuade me that that is wrong, or b) anything to convince me that there is, or ever has been, a God, at least not in the Christian sense. And once you disbelieve in one God, it’s pretty easy to disbelieve them all. I mean, I already didn’t believe in Zeus or Poseidon, or Krishna, or Muhammad, or Joseph Smith, for instance. Why not take the leap? There wasn’t a specific argument, just an accumulation. As far as what belief to I have to be “right” about? Here we are. Life is meaningless unless we make it mean something. We are evolved Primates not fallen Angels. I love my family and kids, regardless of whether God is real or not. Why does their need to be one overarching overall belief set? I think that is what Theists expect, and it’s a desire we have, but I’m not sure that it’s really necessary, and is probably actually counter productive, as thinking that we have all the answers, leads us to ignore looking at the questions.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          At some point I just finally realized that the Bible, the Christian image of God, factually doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

          Exactly how does the Bible not hold up to scrutiny? You fail to mention this.This is the sort of thing I might actually find interesting.

          I haven’t found a) anything to persuade me that that is wrong, or b) anything to convince me that there is, or ever has been, a God, at least not in the Christian sense.

          Fine. You aren’t convinced. Why should I be unconvinced as well?

          And once you disbelieve in one God, it’s pretty easy to disbelieve them all.

          I disagree. Sure, that is sometimes true if your disbelief is founded more on biases or simple apathy, but if its founded on logic and argumentation, unless that argument applies to all concepts of God one should only believe the conclusions brought forth by the argument.

          There wasn’t a specific argument, just an accumulation.

          For what, your unbelief?

          Here we are. Life is meaningless unless we make it mean something.

          You assume that it is possible for us to make life “mean” something. What evidence do you have for that?

          We are evolved Primates not fallen Angels.

          The Bible never says we are fallen angels. If you want to reject Christianity, at least get it right.

          I think that is what Theists expect, and it’s a desire we have, but I’m not sure that it’s really necessary, and is probably actually counter productive, as thinking that we have all the answers, leads us to ignore looking at the questions.

          And thinking that there are only questions, leads us to never finding any possible answers.

          I tend to like finding answers, and solving problems. That may not be what you are interested in. That’s fine, its your opinion.

        • Pofarmer

          “Exactly how does the Bible not hold up to scrutiny? You fail to mention this.This is the sort of thing I might actually find interesting.”

          Really? It’s cosmology is wrong, it’s biology is wrong, it’s geology is wrong, it’s theory of humanity is wrong. It’s stories don’t hold up to modern Archaeology, Geology, or science. This should have been settled 200 yrs ago. And no, I’m not going to right a book explaining these positions, they are already out their copiously on Amazon.

          “Fine. You aren’t convinced. Why should I be unconvinced as well?”

          I don’t care if you are convinced or unconvinced or not, personally. All of my evidence is out there and available. I find that the evidence for a deity is not generally that sort of evidence.

          “You assume that it is possible for us to make life “mean” something. What evidence do you have for that?’

          What evidence is there that life is any other way? Why should our existence be any different than a dogs or a cows or a mountain lions except for our powers of cognition? Biologically we are the same as pretty much every other mammal on the planet. To me, that indicates that our meaning for being here is the same as the meaning for every other creature. YMMV. What evidence is there that this isn’t the case?

          “The Bible never says we are fallen angels. If you want to reject Christianity, at least get it right.”

          Humorless much?

          “And thinking that there are only questions, leads us to never finding any possible answers. ”

          There is teh stupid again. The only thing that leads to answering questions is asking them, then looking at the evidence and see where it leads. Theism answers the question then tries to shoehorn the evidence to fit the conclusion.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Really? It’s cosmology is wrong, it’s biology is wrong, it’s geology is wrong, it’s theory of humanity is wrong. It’s stories don’t hold up to modern Archaeology, Geology, or science.

          Let’s take one of these things.. say theory of humanity. Care to give a specific example of how it’s “theory of humanity” is wrong? Or should I just believe you?

          This should have been settled 200 yrs ago.

          I guess people just weren’t smart enough until you and Bob came along.

          Biologically we are the same as pretty much every other mammal on the planet. To me, that indicates that our meaning for being here is the same as the meaning for every other creature. YMMV. What evidence is there that this isn’t the case?

          Fair enough. I don’t see how, in an atheistic worldview, you can assign any meaning to the existence of a dog, or a cow or a mountain lion. They are here due to blind, pitiless indifferent processes, they eat, they sleep, they mate (maybe), they try to survive, and eventually they fail to do so and they die.

          If you want to say that’s the meaning you find in “your” life, then that’s fine. At least, it’s logically valid. If you want to say you can create some other meaning for your life, I’d need some evidence / argumentation before I’m ready to believe you.

        • Pofarmer

          “Let’s take one of these things.. say theory of humanity. Care to give a specific example of how it’s “theory of humanity” is wrong? Or should I just believe you?”

          Fine, Prove Original Sin.

          “I guess people just weren’t smart enough until you and Bob came along.”

          Actually no. The arguments were being made, and science was winning/had won. Theism though, was such a powerful force, that it has continued on. At least, that’s my position.

          “If you want to say you can create some other meaning for your life, I’d need some evidence / argumentation before I’m ready to believe you.”

          What else is there? We interact with other humans. We love, we build, sometimes we destroy. What is the evidence that there is something more?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          It’s cosmology is wrong, it’s biology is wrong, it’s geology is wrong, it’s theory of humanity is wrong. It’s stories don’t hold up to modern Archaeology, Geology, or science.

          At least its apostrophe usage is correct.

        • Pofarmer

          Eh, never claimed to be an English major. Punctuation is not my strong suit. Besides, it had editors! d;0)

        • Pofarmer

          I think I’m just going to ignore him here out. The thick headedness is impressive, though.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I guess we all need a hobby. His is to annoy.

      • JamBar

        Thanks for engaging. There are very few things I enjoy more than an interesting argument. I’m navigating something like an interfaith relationship at the moment, so these topics have been at the front of my mind.

        You assume correctly that I hold to my atheism as an opinion. It’s mine alone, and I don’t have the time or desire to evangelize for the atheist worldview. However, I think it’s also fair for an atheist to suggest the very thing that you disapprove. Religious claims as to miracles and the afterlife are quite extraordinary and should (this is my opinion) be closely scrutinized before being accepted. By analogy, if a scientist discloses that they have discovered something as profound as the origin of the universe, or the source of mass, or the origin of the human species – the claim is descended upon by armies of scientists who work to discredit, refine, resubmit, and iteratively improve upon the theory, using nothing but repeatable and observable experimentation.

        The fact that religious dogma is to be accepted on faith rather than observation raises red flags for me, and I see no reason that it shouldn’t for you, too.

        I’m not saying that any assumption that lacks a basis in fact should be rejected, because I’m uncomfortable with absolutes. However, most such assumptions should be rejected, because holding unsupported assumptions is often counterproductive and dangerous. A line of cases in Oregon comes to mind, relating to religious families who have refused to seek modern medical care for their young children and instead rely on prayer.

        I think that it’s also dangerous to trust the word of people who claim to have seen the supernatural. I’ll accept that it’s possible that some really have – but in exchange I’ll ask you to recognize that some are really just trying to sell something, for profit or self-aggrandizement. I think that there’s nothing wrong with asking these people to prove their claims in some way that can be repeated and observed.

        One thing to note, and perhaps I didn’t give it enough treatment in the first instance, is the power of the combination of early childhood indoctrination and confirmation bias. To me, because I didn’t have religious indoctrination, Atheism elicits no negative gut reaction. I would define atheism as my own “null hypothesis” – in the absence of belief in a religion, this is the nonthreatening little starting point in my own search for meaning. I find that it’s quite the opposite to people who were raised in a religious household. To many of them, Atheism is very threatening and elicits sadness, confusion, frustration, and fear (for my soul, if they are a friend; for their own soul on account of the association, if they are an acquaintance).

        Verifiable and trustworthy sources are sources that stand up to scientific inquiry. Have you ever noticed that the UFO people seem only to own really awful cameras? At one extreme, I’d want to see something clearly supernatural, caught on video in HD from a few angles. In this day and age, it shouldn’t be too hard to find something like that, if the supernatural exists. There are literally billions of people searching for proof of the supernatural. I don’t know what, at the low end, I might accept as proof. I would probably defer somewhat to voices in the scientific establishment that I trust.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Have you ever noticed that the UFO people seem only to own really awful cameras?

          I wonder if there’s a law of human nature in there!

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Religious claims as to miracles and the afterlife are quite extraordinary and should (this is my opinion) be closely scrutinized before being accepted.

          I’m fine with scrutiny. I’m not fine with the idea of “extraordinary”. In my experience that is a rather subjectively defined, ever shifting definition.I also find it interesting that (at least amongst the atheists I know of), it is only the claims they reject that are deemed “extraordinary”. I have never heard “I did think this claim is extraordinary (in the same sense that I claim that supernatural claims are “extraordinary”) but there was just so much evidence that I believe it is true anyway.”

          The fact that religious dogma is to be accepted on faith rather than observation raises red flags for me, and I see no reason that it shouldn’t for you, too.

          It raises some, but not nearly as many as it does for you I suspect. This may come from different definitions of faith.

          I’m not saying that any assumption that lacks a basis in fact should be rejected, because I’m uncomfortable with absolutes.

          You didn’t say “fact” before, you said “repeatable observation”. To me, these are different things.

          I think that it’s also dangerous to trust the word of people who claim to have seen the supernatural. I’ll accept that it’s possible that some really have – but in exchange I’ll ask you to recognize that some are really just trying to sell something, for profit or self-aggrandizement.

          Oh sure, some people are. No question. This is not unique to the supernatural or even pseduo-scientific however. I don’t reject all of science because of pseudo-science.

          Verifiable and trustworthy sources are sources that stand up to scientific inquiry.

          Is that the only way of being deemed “verifiable”? I would say that most historical sources would not hold up to that, as a great many historical claims do not hold up to “scientific inquiry”.

          At one extreme, I’d want to see something clearly supernatural, caught on video in HD from a few angles.

          Would that really be enough for you? After all, we live in a world of video tampering, Criss Angel, David Blaine and all sorts of other ways of making the supernatural appear on video quite frequently.

          If I accept all of the atheist methods of argumentation as being true and/or valid, I find I can’t think of a way such that there could ever exist a “verifiable”/”trustworthy” account of a supernatural event.There is always some argument that could be made that maybe.. just maybe.. its not supernatural and as long as that can occur.. then should one not (to paraphrase you) simply accept the null hypothesis?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          In my experience that is a rather
          subjectively defined, ever shifting definition.

          That matter is made up of subatomic particles that in turn are made up of quarks is insanely extraordinary. We demand extraordinary evidence, as do the scientists. And they provide it.

          If I accept all of the atheist methods of
          argumentation as being true and/or valid, I find I can’t think of a way such that there could ever exist a “verifiable”/”trustworthy” account of a supernatural event.

          Seeing through opaque objects was supernatural. After the discovery of x-rays, it was natural.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          That matter is made up of subatomic particles that in turn are made up of quarks is insanely extraordinary.

          So every supernatural claim ever made, and the fact that matter is made up of subatomic particles are both apparently “extraordinary” claims?

          What makes both these claims extraordinary? Beyond your say so? (Hopefully its something objective).

        • JamBar

          Enough about me for now. I invite you to support your particular religious views anytime.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A fair question. “Dr. Fog” typically prefers to make random snipes at others’ arguments rather than defend his own, I’m afraid.

        • JamBar

          It’s unfortunate. His criticisms are incisive and carry the discussion better than most internet apologists’ I’ve encountered. I’d like to see how he supports a positive assertion.

          Thanks for the forum Bob.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          He has a lot of energy for the subject, though I haven’t seen much incisive comments.

          He prefers to pull the conversation down into sniping and angry exchanges. On several occasions I’ve encouraged him to respond honestly by pointing out errors or omissions, but he’ll have none of it. He seems to be interested in only the shallowest of conversations.

          We’ve just seen his favorite trope: “Yes, you atheists demand a lot of evidence, but what about evidence for that claim??” He’ll trot it out for just about anything, whether it fits or not.

          Honestly, he could be an asset to the conversation if he’d drop the rage.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Yes, how dare I ask for evidence. That is obviously the wrong thing to do.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sure, or you could respond to what I was actually talking about.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I reject the idea that the atheist must support nothing, while the non-atheist must support everyone of his views to the atheist’s satisfaction.

          I’m much more interested in support evidences and arguments for why I should be an atheist, not defending any particular view I happen to have. It’s a shame that atheists are so shy about giving reasons why I should believe as they do.. they seem to believe that if they can simply attack whatever it is someone does believe enough… then they must become an atheist for some reason.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I reject the idea that the atheist must support nothing, while the non-atheist must support everyone of his views to the atheist’s satisfaction.

          Join the club.

          It’s a shame that atheists are so shy about giving reasons why I should believe as they do

          Like what? What’s wrong with the arguments that you see? Specifics, please.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I’ve given you on a vast number of arguments you’ve made Bob. Both here, and in the other message board. The fact that you are playing ignorant on this matter is just… crazy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So then no, you don’t have specific issues that you can share.

          If any do come to mind, be sure to let us know.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Fine Bob, if you want to pretend ignorance, that’s alright.

        • JamBar

          Awesome.

          First, you’ve presented a straw-man argument. Nobody else characterized atheism as a belief system at all, much less one that requires you to “support nothing”. Atheism just means that you don’t subscribe to belief in a deity – it says nothing about affirmative beliefs. It’s a sister category to theism, of which Christianity is a subcategory, making it somewhat inappropriate to directly compare any particular religion with atheism – it is better to compare the aggregate.

          Atheists remain free, as does everyone, to hold and abide by moral concepts. Fairness, justice, kindness, altruism (proper behavior while unobserved) – I hold these ideas deeply. I honestly couldn’t tell you whether they were trained into me, whether they are self-evidently proper, or whether I’m biologically wired to exhibit them. The one thing I can guarantee for you is that, for me anyway, they didn’t come from a religion.

          I’ll give you a reason why I think it’s good to at least consider atheism. In exchange, please reciprocate. I won’t cite anything controversial. If you need support, use some google.

          The number one predictor of a person’s religious inclination is the religiosity of their home environment – parents and caregivers. The result is that religion is geographically and culturally distributed. There are hundreds of religions that behave this way, and almost all of them claim exclusive correctness. I would posit that where you were born has much more to do with your religiosity than any other factor, including correctness. This implies that religion is a facet of culture, and thus originates from man – or at least implies that “originates from man” is a valid and simple starting hypothesis. It’s at least as valid, from basic principles, as the concept that religion “originates from a god”. There is evidence that religion changes to accommodate political will, and in fact many forms of Christianity have done so over time – this phenomenon supports the “religion originates from man” hypothesis. Hard evidence of actual miracles is much harder to find – accounts are found only in theological sources, and their validity is suspect. Therefore, support is sparse for the “religion originates from a god” hypothesis.

          I won’t call that proof, but I think it makes a case to ponder seriously whether your particular religion is divine in origin, or nothing more (or less) than ancient oral traditions of your cultural heritage. Both are valuable, but for very different reasons.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Nicely stated.

          The result is that religion is geographically and culturally distributed.

          There are eight countries that are 99+% Muslim (and plenty more that are almost that homogeneous). When a baby is born in any of them, guess what religion it will be when it’s an adult.

          I would posit that where you were born has much more to do with your religiosity than any other factor, including correctness.

          Agreed. And as an adult, you use your intelligence to reframe reality so that it looks like the intellectual arguments support your belief and it wasn’t just an accident of birth.

          Hard evidence of actual miracles is much harder to find – accounts are found only in theological sources, and their validity is extremely suspect.

          I’m stupefied by modern Christian apologists pointing to stories of miracles as strong evidence that should convince people today. That’s almost as silly as pointing to Harry Potter books as evidence of magic.

          (Sorry–I guess that comment wasn’t directed at me.)

        • Pofarmer

          “Agreed. And as an adult, you use your intelligence to reframe reality so
          that it looks like the intellectual arguments support your belief and
          it wasn’t just an accident of birth.”

          Not only that, but many adults wave away or dismiss any little hint of doubt or evidence that something might just be a little wonky. Seen it too often.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          JamBar,

          Welcome to the forum.

          As a progressive Christian, I agree that religion is a human creation. I also take no issue with the way you characterize the way religion has historically been used to oppress people or prey upon their weaknesses. But I wonder if you’re not focusing on the finger instead of what it’s pointing to. Dennett describes religion as a meme-complex that has co-evolved with humanity, and the construct has developed defenses that ensure its perpetuation.

          The core experience reported by mystics and visionaries has nothing to do with the dogma and edifice of religion. Sam Harris appears to believe that nonbelievers are wrong to dismiss these subjective experiences as delusions, because they form the basis of the human belief in divinity. All the online slapfights about evidence for God are missing the point, that religion is a philosophy that helps conceptualize the human condition —and extraordinary experiences— and not a set of beliefs about the empirical world.

          With all their talk about miracles and ontological proofs for God, Christians have invited the sort of debates at which our host Bob excels. But I don’t think many believers base their worldview on appeals to their rational faculties. It’s subjective experience, and how the symbology of religion resonates in the believer’s imagination, that creates and reinforces religious belief.

          So if it’s all psychology or neurochemistry, does that mean religious belief is something we should just dismiss? I’m wondering if there’s some way we can separate the Crusades and the creationism from something that’s potentially useful for the individual and society.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I don’t think many believers base their worldview on appeals to their rational faculties.

          Agreed. And if it affected their role within society no more than their choice of socks, there’d be no problem. But you’ve got this non-rational driving force that makes actual changes in the real world—kids who are prayed for instead of taken to the doctor, prayer and Creationism in schools, and so on. By what route can we minimize the harm of this meme?

          I’m wondering if there’s some way we can separate the Crusades and the creationism from something that’s potentially useful for the individual and society.

          Are you saying that Christianity isn’t true but that it’s useful? Or maybe: it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not because it’s useful? ’Cause I could agree with that to a limited extent.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Are you saying that Christianity isn’t true but that it’s useful? Or maybe: it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not because it’s useful? ’Cause I could agree with that to a limited extent.

          How can you judge a symbol true or false? How can we judge a philosophy, a way of conceptualizing human consciousness and purpose, valid except in its usefulness to the person using it and the society that person lives in?

          Progressive Christians in general have been trying to say that religious conservatives have made it all too easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Making patently untrue claims about science and history is inexcusable, but it shouldn’t be the essence of religious belief either.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          How can you judge a symbol true or false?

          Santa is a symbol. “Santa delivers toys to children every Christmas Eve” is a false statement.

          “Jesus is part of the Trinity that created the universe” is also a statement that’s either true or false.

          Sounds like you’re talking about something else, though.

          Making patently untrue claims about science and history is inexcusable, but it shouldn’t be the essence of religious belief either.

          I’m still unclear about your position. Christianity makes truth claims. Is your point that they can be useful? Again, I would (to a limited extent) agree. But can we not also address the validity of those claims?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Santa is a symbol.

          No, Santa is a fictional character. The notion of a species is a symbol that helps us conceptualize something that is far too complex to be comprehensible to us. As a Platonic ideal, a species doesn’t exist. But the concept is of great use to biology. In the same way, God is a symbol for something we can’t objectify and comprehend, but it becomes problematic when it’s turned into a fictional character who says and does things and demands things of human beings.

          Christianity makes truth claims. Is your point that they can be useful? Again, I would (to a limited extent) agree. But can we not also address the validity of those claims?

          I don’t think people should characterize the Eden story or the Flood story as truth claims, but if they do, I think you have every right to point out their mistakes. Trying to contextualize Scripture is a big issue for some people who can’t accept the value of myth. But it’s not like anybody here has a problem with ambiguity or anything.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          In the same way, God is a symbol for something we can’t objectify and comprehend, but it becomes problematic when it’s turned into a fictional character who says and does things and demands things of human beings.

          What is God’s role in reality? For example, did God create the universe? Did any of the stories about Jesus actually happen?

          Is the God concept merely useful in a similar way to how “species” is useful?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          What is God’s role in reality? For example, did God create the universe? Did any of the stories about Jesus actually happen?

          Zeus and Horus and God are all myths, symbols that humans have concocted to give meaning to human consciousness of phenomena. And their role in our perception of reality is the important point. Empirical inquiry can explain the material existence of our universe, which is a staggering feat. But it’s up to us to ascribe meaning to it.

          I think the story of Jesus and the wheelbarrow full of bricks probably happened, the rest I dunno.

          Is the God concept merely useful in a similar way to how “species” is useful?

          To my way of thinking, yes. And again, when all-important Homo Sap can only conceptualize the unknowable in terms of an anthropomorphic deity, the symbol starts taking on the rest of our irksome traits too.

          Fine, call me an atheist Christian. It’s not like plenty of Christians haven’t already.

        • Pofarmer

          “But it’s up to us to ascribe meaning to it.”

          I think the takeaway, is, there is no meaning. The only one worried about meaning, is, us.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I don’t think you’re deliberately trying to be opaque, but this isn’t especially clear. We’re always one step away from the punch line.

          Zeus and God are myths, and you don’t believe that Zeus actually existed anywhere except in people’s imagination. Same for God? And if so, why call yourself a theist?

          (I don’t remember the story of the wheelbarrow and the bricks. In the New Testament?)

        • TheNuszAbides

          the symbol starts taking on the rest of our irksome traits too.

          this observation didn’t sink in for me until, during my sloppy-relativism days, i read some Neale Walsch. the drive-it-home moment was to the effect of “…and you have postulated a ‘war in heaven’ – because you imagine that God solves problems the same way you do.”

        • JamBar

          Hi Anton, thanks for the welcome. I agree with your open-minded stance.

          Your philosophical perspective on the value of religion is non-confrontational and nonthreatening. I would have a hard time imagining that you would forbid a family member from associating with an atheist out of fear for their soul, or that you would refuse to medicate your children, or that you would raise the call to stone an adulterer to death.

          Nonetheless, those behaviors are integral to well-recognized religions, some more mainstream than others. If you value religion even though you acknowledge that it doesn’t come from “rational faculties”, then who are you to say that your personal religion is more proper than theirs?

          And, if any religion is valid except for the ones that do harm, how do you determine what does harm? If your morality is tied to your faith, how do you claim that your morality is better than that of another man whose morality is tied to HIS faith, just because the result of his morality might be destructive?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          If you value religion even though you acknowledge that it doesn’t come from “rational faculties”, then who are you to say that your personal religion is more proper than theirs?

          If your morality is tied to your faith, how do you claim that your morality is better than that of another man whose morality is tied to HIS faith, just because the result of his morality might be destructive?

          I never made either of these claims.

          Using Scripture as morality is one thing I think we could use a lot less of. Our host here has said that if more Christians emulated the forgiveness and love that Jesus displayed, he’d have a lot less problems with Christianity. But we all know how believers love to use the Bible and Church doctrine to excuse their worst transgressions, not as a demand to act more ethically.

          I happen to agree with Sam Harris that if we could establish an arbitrary-but-humane basis for morality —like increasing the well-being of conscious organisms— we could have meaningful discussions about moral issues and how to resolve them. But as long as we’re pretending that the prejudices of Bronze Age nomads are relevant to our ethical decisions, we can’t.

        • JamBar

          Jesus also cursed at a fig tree ’till it died. Mark 11, 12-14 and 18-22.

          I don’t think you made claims that your personal religion is more valuable than someone else’s and I didn’t mean to imply that you had expressed as much. But if it’s not the case that you value your religion more than any other religion – why do you subscribe to the one in particular? Have you shopped around to find a faith that matches your inclinations better than whatever you were raised with?

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Jesus also cursed at a fig tree ’till it died.

          That’s cool the way you’re channeling Jesus by walking across the surface of a metaphor.

          But if it’s not the case that you value your religion more than any other religion – why do you subscribe to the one in particular?

          Like Bob said, it’s a cultural thing. Christian symbology still resonates with me. I’m not looking for a new philosophical wardrobe.

        • Pofarmer

          The symbology still resonates with me too. At 43, I’ll never get it out of my head, and never be free of it in this culture. It’s frustrating that I can argue biblical questions intelligently with friends from the theistic perspective, but I don’t believe a whit of it. What I’m against, I suppose, is all the supernatural bullshit being pushed. The sense of entitlement by theists. The notion that anybody who doesn’t believe in the correct deity in the correct way is going straight to hell. The idea that it’s the NON believer who must be the crazy one. I’m going to stop now, before I really get on a roll.

        • Pofarmer

          “I happen to agree with Sam Harris that if we could establish an
          arbitrary-but-humane basis for morality —like increasing the
          well-being of conscious organisms— we could have meaningful
          discussions about moral issues and how to resolve them. But as long as
          we’re pretending that the prejudices of Bronze Age nomads are relevant
          to our ethical decisions, we can’t.”

          More of this. I’ve got some bible literalist fundies on anther site that are driving me CRAZY.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Nobody else characterized atheism as a belief system at all, much less one that requires you to “support nothing”. Atheism just means that you don’t subscribe to belief in a deity – it says nothing about affirmative beliefs.

          I would be much more inclined to believe that if it wasn’t the case that all those I’ve met so far who profess themselves as atheists have several beliefs in common, namely, rejection of God (not just a lack of belief), some variety of naturalism, secularism, and in general a belief that science is the only possible means of arriving at truth.

          I understand that in order to maintain the idea that atheism is free from any burdens of proof, you must continue to maintain the claim that you only have a “lack of belief”, and not a set of actual beliefs.

          But, for the sake of an argument, let’s say you are right, that atheism is nothing but a “lack of belief”. Then atheism is not in itself, a belief system of any type. If its the case that I don’t know what you believe just based on the fact that you are an atheist, then I would say atheism doesn’t deserve to be in the same category of any other belief system.

          I suppose you could extend it, and say that atheism is a “lack of belief” based off of the idea that there is insufficient evidence (for you). That doesn’t really solve the whole “not really a belief system” problem, (I still don’t know what you believe), but at the same time if you say that there is not enough evidence for you to believe.. that says much more about you than about atheism. As in, maybe its not the evidence that’s at fault, maybe its you.

          Atheists remain free, as does everyone, to hold and abide by moral concepts. Fairness, justice, kindness, altruism (proper behavior while unobserved) – I hold these ideas deeply.

          Umm.. ok? When did I say you didn’t?

          I would posit that where you were born has much more to do with your religiosity than any other factor, including correctness.

          I agree.

          This implies that religion is a facet of culture, and thus originates from man – or at least implies that “originates from man” is a valid and simple starting hypothesis.

          I disagree. What religion you have may be a facet of your culture. It is invalid to go from that to all religion in general is a facet of culture (and thus false).

          Sure, “originates from man” is a “valid” hypothesis. Stargate religion is a “valid” hypothesis.

          When you give me a good one, I’ll reciprocate.

        • JamBar

          rejection of God (not just a lack of belief)

          You’re using a definition of “rejection” that is unfamiliar to me. If I take the hypothetical existence of a god or gods, and decide that there is insufficient supporting evidence to make it credible, this is both rejection of the hypothesis and a lack of belief.

          But, for the sake of an argument, let’s say you are right, that atheism is nothing but a “lack of belief”. Then atheism is not in itself, a belief system of any type.

          Damn straight. I already covered this. “Atheism” is a category on the same level as “Theism”. You’re a theist. I’m not. I assume you’re also some type of Christian, but I have no idea what type. For all I know, you might think the Pope is infallible, or that vaccinations are evil for supplanting prayer, or that you need to wear magic underwear to get into heaven. None of these would make you any less a theist. I fit all the criteria of a secular humanist, but this isn’t something you can assume just from the moniker, “Atheist”.

          Umm.. ok? When did I say you didn’t?

          You didn’t. I’m anticipating and heading off the common (and insulting) religious trope that faith is necessary for morality. There are a million things that religious people say that just drive me up the wall. That’s one of them. Why do you suppose so many religious people persist in making that argument? (Not implicating you in this – just genuinely curious.)

          What religion you have may be a facet of your culture. It is invalid to go from that to all religion in general is a facet of culture (and thus false).

          It’s perfectly valid to go to “religion in general is a facet of culture”, because evidence. In general, cultural mores dictate religion. Also, the comparison between “originates from man” and “originates from Stargate” is logically unsound, and a hollow attempt to make “originates from man” sound ridiculous by association. We have modern examples of religions being derived from charismatic conmen. (Scientology, LDS). We have older but well-recorded examples of religions evolving by politics or charismatic leadership, as in the creation of the Anglican church, southern baptists, etc. The evolution of religion to serve political or populist ends is evidence that the earthly, and not the divine, is a primary driver of religious dogma. The only response that seems logically consistent with historical evidence, and the belief in any particular religion that was so affected, is that “God willed for the understanding of the people to change in accordance with His plan.” However, taken to its logical conclusion, this implies that whatever change occurs in the world, if not miraculous, the change will be subject to both secular and divine explanations. In that case, what need for the divine? Atheists and Theists the world over are waiting – have always been waiting – for the world to change in a way that could only be explained by divine intervention.

          -EDIT-

          I want to extend that last thought a little bit. It doesn’t imply that theism is incorrect. It only implies that theism is unnecessary as a way to understand the world.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          If I take the hypothetical existence of a god or gods, and decide that there is insufficient supporting evidence to make it credible, this is both rejection of the hypothesis and a lack of belief.

          To me, a true “lack of belief” would be ignorance. People who profess themselves as atheists, in my almost universal experience, do not consider themselves ignorant about the question of God’s existence. They may have a proviso that they would accept such things given “enough” or “extraordinary” evidence, but for all intents in purposes atheists affirm the contrary statement.

          Are you ignorance about the question of God’s existence? Or do think he most likely does not?

          I fit all the criteria of a secular humanist, but this isn’t something you can assume just from the moniker, “Atheist”.

          I have yet to meet an atheist who does not also fit into the secular, naturalistic worldview as well (I did not mention humanist).

          Why do you suppose so many religious people persist in making that argument? (Not implicating you in this – just genuinely curious.)

          I would think that some of them are simply getting the argument wrong. It is not that if you are an atheist you somehow cannot, or will not be moral. It is that there is no logical, objective basis for morality that comes from atheism, secularism, materialism or whatever.

          We have modern examples of religions being derived from charismatic conmen. (Scientology, LDS). We have older but well-recorded examples of religions evolving by politics or charismatic leadership, as in the creation of the Anglican church, southern baptists, etc.

          Yes, there are conmen, and yes there are denominations. To go from that to say that every aspect of all religions (or at least that which concerns the supernatural) is a product of human culture and as such is false, is to take an unsubstantiated leap of logic.

          One might as well assume that since there have been (and probably still are) scientific conmen, and that there have been, (and probably still are) political forces driving scientific publication, that all of science is false.

          It only implies that theism is unnecessary as a way to understand the world.

          If one accepts certain premises, I agree.

        • MNb

          “I never heard “I did think this claim is extraordinary (in the same sense that I claim that supernatural claims are “extraordinary”) but there was just so much evidence that I believe it is true anyway.”
          Then you haven’t paid enough attention to physicists talking about Quantum Mechanics. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is so extraordinary that it took the most intelligent people of the world two, three decades to grasp its consequences. Schrödinger, more intelligent than you and I, thought it so extraordinary that he mocked it his with his Cat. We know what happened to this mockery: it became a successful metaphor.

          ” I can’t think of a way such that there could ever exist a “verifiable”/”trustworthy” account of a supernatural event.”
          I can. Remember the Japanese tsunami of 2011? Now if all the potential victims had had a collective nightmare warning them a week before and this happened on a statistical significant scale I would accept that as a supernatural event. BobS asked me how I could be sure that it wouldn’t be the result of some advanced alien technology. My reply is that it wouldn’t matter to me; I would be willing to worship those aliens like gods.
          Still you have a point. Personally I am not satisfied with “there is no evidence” indeed. Note btw that this is even for Dawkins reason not to grant himself a 7 on his own scale.
          I think Herman Philipse has a conclusive argument. But my point today is that the line between agnosticism and atheism is blurry.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Schrödinger, more intelligent than you and I, thought it so extraordinary that he mocked [Heisenberg’s UP] with his Cat. We know what happened to this mockery: it became a successful metaphor.

          Sounds like the story told of Fred Hoyle: that he was mocking Big Bang theory and so gave it that name. (Actually, I understand that he did give it that name, and he did reject the idea, but he meant no derision.)

          BobS asked me how I could be sure that it wouldn’t be the result of some advanced alien technology. My reply is that it wouldn’t matter to me; I would be willing to worship those aliens like gods.

          That makes sense, but then you broaden the definition of “gods” to be super aliens as well as supernatural beings.

    • Karen

      I would suggest that by identifying as an atheist, you are placing your faith in the fact that there is no God, so it is not necessarily choosing not to believe in anything. You are believing in the fact that you don’t think He is true. To me that is a HUGE leap of faith. You are braver than I am….I am going with God! Verifiable supernatural events? How about the sun coming up every morning, babies being born, etc. etc. and this is aside from Christ’s resurrection which was documented by secular scholars in addition to Jewish writings.

      If atheism is the one world worldview that doesn’t require evidence to support it, I would say you have been deceived…what if you are wrong? I would want evidence if I was going to choose to go with it! The consequences of being wrong will be hanging around your neck for a long horrific eternity! My heart goes out to you when you say if there was just one verifiable supernatural event, you would believe, they are all around you! It reminds me of the rich man in the Bible when he asked God if he would send Lazarus back to tell his brothers and that then they would surely believe…ironically Someone (Jesus) already had come back form the dead, and they still didn’t believe. (Luke 16) Would you really believe if you perceived there to be even one supernatural event? What if you did it the other way around and put your faith in God, and then saw all the ways He works around us! You have nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain, in my opinion.
      I hope you think on these things some more, and really check out the Bible. Lee Strobel’s ‘The Case For Christ’ DVD, is a great watch about a Chicago legal journalist who set out to prove that Christianity is false. it took him two years of in-depth research, after which time he had to conclude that he believed it to be true. (Not the first person to do so!) As a scientist, you might be able to identify.

      • JamBar

        Hi Karen,

        Thanks for engaging.

        I agree that being an atheist requires bravery, and I thank you for the recognition. I was born in Texas to a nontraditional family, and all my life I’ve suffered various forms of mild and moderate discrimination by Christian communities. This has taken the forms of being ostracized, attacked, and having relationships disrupted. I don’t blame Christianity, rather, I blame the ignorance and self-righteousness that can come to anyone who grows up in the “safe majority”. Turns out, being in any sort of minority is difficult, and it’s hard to understand what that means without having experienced it firsthand.

        As a preface to addressing your point, I should tell you that I never chose to be an atheist or reject Christianity or any other religion, nor was I raised or indoctrinated to become a “strong atheist,” which is what we call atheists who don’t believe in any gods and also express relative certainty about it. Rather, my belief was never recruited successfully by any church. (And some tried.) As a small child, the Episcopal church was part of my community. I questioned the Sunday-school teachers relentlessly from the time I could talk about the logical problems in the Bible, and I was eventually labeled a problem. I was unsatisfied, and the church and I agreed to part ways. I was six. I’m best categorized as a “weak atheist”, or an “agnostic atheist”, because my lack of belief is predicated entirely on a lack of satisfaction with the evidence. Also, I simply was not raised to put much importance in spiritual matters. Religion is important to me because of how it impacts the real world – the people in it. The tenets of religions themselves, however, concern me about as much as Ghosts, UFO’s, Crop-Circles, Aztec End-of-world myths, etc.

        Now, to address your point – what you’ve done is to commit a basic straw-man fallacy. I don’t have absolute faith that there is no God. Rather, I have doubt – too much doubt to adopt your view – that Christianity is factually true. These are very different things. This is where you and I actually differ.

        You can see why this difference is important when you consider the ways in which you and I are the same. I don’t have absolute faith that Islam is factually true, and neither do you. I don’t have faith that the cycle of rebirth in Buddhism is true, and neither do you. My lack of faith in the existence of God is not, as you portray it, a bluff and simple proclamation of “faith in non-faith”. Rather, the view results from failing to be compelled equally by the apologetics of not only mainline Protestant Christianity, but a sufficient number of the other representative religions as well. You say, “It takes too much faith to reject Christianity,” but I would say back that it takes far, far more faith to accept one religion and reject all the rest.

        There is one thing that I suspect is a fundamental difference between us, that makes this thing (of withholding faith) so much easier for me than it is for you. I was never subjected to indoctrination. The concepts of heaven and hell, or fear of death or of punishment after death, or of a spiritual life independent of the world; all these were introduced to me only after I had obtained the basic maturity to question ideas. There are tropes that most of the major religions and certainly all of the Christian religions have in common; and I think that people raised in a religion from an early age tend to bear a feeling that at least that framework must be right, or that it “feels right.” For me, nothing about the religions resonates in my subconscious, and so (unlike your Christian apologist, Lee Strobel) I don’t have an inherent bias, nor do I have any reason to believe that spirituality is the answer to my own compulsion to find meaning in my life.

        Being a scientist means, first and foremost, this: Seek truth for its own sake. It is far better not to know, and to be aware that you don’t know, than to know incorrectly. Be comfortable not having the answer, because you will be there often, and because that’s the only place from which you can make true progress. We call this “having an open mind.”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Nicely stated. I duplicated many of your points in my reply.

        • JamBar

          It’s almost like our view can be derived organically from logical premises.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        I would suggest that by identifying as an atheist, you are placing your faith in the fact that there is no God, so it is not necessarily choosing not to believe in anything.

        Speaking just for myself, I have no god belief (just like I have no Thor or leprechaun or Bigfoot belief).

        As JB mentioned, atheism is the null hypothesis. That’s where we start. You think leprechauns exist? OK, I’m listening. But if your argument isn’t compelling, I’m obliged to reject it.

        You are believing in the fact that you don’t think He is true. To me that is a HUGE leap of faith.

        You have the burden of proof. By shirking it, you show that you realize how weak your case is.

        How about the sun coming up every morning, babies being born, etc. etc.

        When we have natural explanations, those win. Sorry.

        and this is aside from Christ’s resurrection which was documented by secular scholars in addition to Jewish writings.

        Uh … I think you need to go back and read what these scholars actually said than just listen to what you’ve been told.

        what if you are wrong? I would want evidence if I was going to choose to go with it!

        You pick worldviews based on which one you want to exist rather than which one has the best evidence. Am I right?

        The consequences of being wrong will be hanging around your neck for a long horrific eternity!

        That’s a good point. Which is why I lie awake, sleepless, worried that you’ve snubbed Allah. Or Quetzalcoatl. Or Shiva. Or Thor.

        Sucks to be you, I’m afraid.

        My heart goes out to you when you say if there was just one verifiable supernatural event, you would believe, they are all around you!

        And that’s why I’m amazed that, when you see Shiva’s handiwork, you continue to reject Him. How can you be so blind??

        ironically Someone (Jesus) already had come back form the dead, and they still didn’t believe.

        Dionysus came back from the dead, and you don’t believe. Why is it so hard to believe in the case of Jesus?

        Lee Strobel’s ‘The Case For Christ’ DVD, is a great watch

        Gotta disagree with you there. If you’re gullible and want a pat on the head, Strobel is your man. Don’t be confused about the “research” claim, however. His books are one-sided apologetics.

    • Seed Planter

      But the point is, you cannot prove that there is no God. You cannot prove a negative.

  • lesterthegiantape

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned him already, but Gore Vidal — who knew from atheism — became a Christian late in his life. I talked to him about it. He said he knew it was ridiculous, but he needed faith in anything to carry on living. As everything real had proven unreliable, he went with Christ.

    The caveat there of course is he knew it was a false belief. He was very old and frail and searching for something to carry him to the end.

    • http://batman-news.com Anton

      Vidal wrote one of the laugh-out-loud funniest books I’ve ever read, Live From Golgotha, about the beginnings of Christianity. As a Christian, I should probably be offended. But I defy anyone —believer or nonbeliever— to read it and not howl with laughter.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Perhaps that was also a factor for Antony Flew.

      • Seed Planter

        But Flew was a Deist and refused to entertain the idea of an afterlife. He was quite clear that he thought of Jesus as nothing more than an influential teacher.

  • Matt

    Hmm, interesting article… but not sure it holds much weight. I have a really hard time believing that CS Lewis or Francis Collins (and many others) didn’t know why they were atheists when they were atheists.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Oh? Then why don’t we see their arguments against atheists’ arguments that are compelling?

      Likelier: Lewis and Collins didn’t become Christian for intellectual reasons. That explains why they haven’t offered new, compelling intellectual arguments.

      • Brian

        Lewis was brought up Christian, and by his own admission in Mere Christianity, he left the church because he didn’t want to have to do the church thing, and got angry at God. He never stopped believing in the existence of god, which somewhat neuters his claims of being an atheist.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Interesting. Thanks.

  • Sdrey45

    Nice to meet you. I was atheist for most of my twenties after questioning my religion in my teens. I studied Biological Chemistry at this time in my life so there was and still is a scientist within me that wanted to know the reality and fact of things.I questioned the Bible and I know every single punch line in the book that atheist use to discredit Christianity or any religion for that matter. I do understand why people are atheist and what they believe. I understand the anger toward Christians, because they are waiting for their God’s commands and don’t do more to make this world better for our future children. I understand it all. I was deeply one of these people..Then something changed. I don’t know when or why it happened. I like to think it was a part of growing up and understanding the bigger picture. “They say if you’re not a liberal when you’re young then you have no heart. If you are not conservative when you are older then you have no brain.” I started feeling disconnected and depressed about the future.I have two very young boys and I started to pray with them at night..just out of no where and didn’t want them to feel that emptiness. Most Atheist will tell you that they feel liberated, but it slowly came to a point in my life that I didn’t feel that way anymore. Let me remind you that I never prayed since I was a small child so this was very out of the water for me.I think science and spirituality can work side by side.I knew I didn’t want to go back to Christianity, because I still can’t give credit to one religion when there are people all over the world that believe that their religion is the “one and only” as well. I understand the comfort and security in religion. It gives hope and peace far greater than any non spiritual way can give me. I like to know that “magic” however magic means to you, exist in the world. I want my children to know they are never alone and someone or something loves them the way they are. It is hard to describe…thank you for letting me share..

    • Norm Donnan

      Well this will be interesting,studied biology and has come to acknowledge a spiritual realm .But you still believe in evolution right?
      Ive often said atheism is like adolescence,failing to see the big picture,why doesnt God do what I say He should NOW.
      You could be just what Bob has been looking for,someone to give him a good debate eh Bob!!

    • MNb

      Norm is expecting a good debate – but I’d like to know how I’m supposed to debate someone who doesn’t give evidence, doesn’t give reason, only an emotional drive. Mind you, I don’t say anything is wrong with an emotional drive; it’s just utterly subjective and thus there is nothing to react at.

      “I understand the anger toward Christians”
      What anger? I work with plenty of christians. They do enough to make this world better. Of course they are not like Norm, who doesn’t even want to know the difference between “believe” and “accepting a scientific theory”. But I’m not angry towards him either – he is too ridiculous.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      I understand the comfort and security in religion. It gives hope and peace far greater than any non spiritual way can give me.

      To some extent, so do I, though religion does nothing for me personally.

      You seem a little unusual in that the value of religion is personal and you don’t need a congregation. Is that right? Most on-the-fence Christians find value in community and the majesty of the building or service.

    • Seed Planter

      Thank you for sharing. When you mention atheists thinking that Christians are waiting for a command, I’m not sure exactly what you mean. I’m assuming you refer to environmentalism? If that is the case, i think there is a divine directive right in Scripture, but the problem comes when it is thought that the government has all the solutions (i.e. Al Gore’s notion of an oxygen tax to save rainforests).

      It just seems like a lot of these atheists don’t really know how much of a difference Christianity has made in terms of society and the like. Missionaries such as William Carey who fought against Sati in India, etc.

      And then of course, there is the notion that creationism impedes science, never mind that science grew out of the creationist framework.

      It all just seems like a lot of puff and smoke to me, but maybe I’m just more open minded.

  • ron

    Great Scientist and former Atheist Dr. Francis Collins, the
    person who deviphered the DNA code, has announced that changed his mind and now believes in God due to the Inderect Scientific Evidence.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGu_VtbpWhE

    • MNb

      Collins converted because he saw a waterfall. Well, good for him. Not good for me.
      Why don’t you tell us something new?

      • Seed Planter

        Collins’ conversion wasn’t quite that simplistic. Nevertheless, may I ask you where beauty comes from? Why do we have an eye for art and an ear for music? Why do you tell your love how much she means to you, if you actually think of her as a deterministic physiological being that is reacting to electro-chemical changes in her brain? There is a reason why Sartre abandoned his agnosticism and I wouldn’t consider beauty an empty delusion, but perhaps to you, it is. Good luck!

        • adam

          Then why isnt beauty universal and absolute.
          Why do you not ‘love’ everyone as you do your ‘love’
          How can love be desolved chemically, if it is not chemical in nature.

          Why would any considering beauty an empty delusion, what is empty about it?

          A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. Friedrich Nietzsch

          Do you have any REAL evidence of any ‘god’s’?

        • Seed Planter

          “How can love be desolved chemically, if it is not chemical in nature.” Great question. If the total summation of our existence is physical matter, then love and beauty are nothing but an illusion. The way you speak of love is as if you rather like the feeling of being close to someone. But, if physicalism is true, that is to say, there is no soul, then when you look at your love in the eyes under a starry sky, the notion of there being an actual person in front of you is only a mirage. You are the product of natural evolution and as such, it is the elctro-chemical reactions playing tricks on you to make you think that you are something other than what you really are. You are nothing more than an animated physical object.

        • adam

          ‘You are the product of natural evolution and as such, it is the
          elctro-chemical reactions playing tricks on you to make you think that you are something other than what you really are.’

          Not a trick at all and not an illusion but who you REALLY are.
          Regarless of what one thinks.

          “Love” is just a chemical bonding mechanism that has an evolutionary advantage for procreation.
          We all interpret love like we do beauty all differently based on our perspective, but the chemicals are still the base cause.

        • Seed Planter

          So now you do recognize the subjective element. Lol

        • adam

          But do you?

        • MNb

          ” If the total summation of our existence is physical matter, then love and beauty are nothing but an illusion.”
          “If the total ……., then gravity and electricity are nothing but an illusion” is an equally silly non-sequitur.

          “the notion of there being an actual person in front of you is only a mirage.”
          “the notion of falling down and your computer working is only a mirage” again is an equally silly non-sequitur.
          Of course exactly the opposite is true. Love, the notion of there being an actual person in front of me, gravity and electricity are all real exactly because the are all just products of physical matter/energy – unlike gods, souls, elves and ghosts.

          “You are nothing more than an animated physical object.”
          Yes. I don’t have any problem with this and don’t get why you believers do.
          The seed you try to plant is not rotten this time; it’s imaginary.

        • Seed Planter

          So, you would disagree with naturalists who consider humanity no more important than a flea on an elephant’s ear?

        • MNb

          How do you mean “so”?
          Which naturalists consider humanity no more important than a flea on an elephant’s ear?
          Importance from which standpoint?
          Your question is way too ambiguous to answer.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Collins is indeed a famous scientist (quite important for showing Creationists that you can be a Christian and still respect science), but he didn’t decipher DNA but instead was the head of a team that contributed greatly to that project.

      You have some good intellectual arguments for God? I’d like to hear them.

      • TheNuszAbides

        he didn’t decipher DNA but instead was the head of a team that contributed

        pretty hard to dislodge Great-Man-ism from a lot of TrueBs.

  • ron

    For years, Dr.Antony Flew has been a figurehead for atheists. Antony Flew is not just any atheist. For decades, he has been a dominant figure in the philosophy of
    religion, among the most influential of atheist philosophers. He lectured on
    philosophy at the University of Oxford and the University
    of Aberdeen, and subsequently held professorships at the University of Keele and the University of Reading. He is the author of the celebrated essays “Theology and Falsification” and “The Presumption of Atheism”. Now, though, he has abandoned his atheism and accepted the existence of God. In a recent interview for Philosophia Christi with Gary Habermas, Flew explained his new beliefs. Though Flew has not embraced Christianity, he now accepts the existence of God, saying that he “had to go where the evidence leads”.

    http://www.existence-of-god.com/flew-abandons-atheism.html

    • MNb

      You’re silly. I have been an atheist for 25 years and I had never heard of him until well after his death.

      “Now, though, he has abandoned his atheism”
      He died four years ago. His latest book was not written by him, but by a ghost writer.
      Finally – so one atheist converts. So what?

      • Seed Planter

        The reason why you have probably not heard of Antony Flew is because you are likely only familiar with pop writers such as Dawkins and you probably limit yourself to Internet blogs, which is evident in your description of his book. Although he did not accept the basis of God communicating to mankind, he most certainly changed his mind in regard to the existence of God. He was not an Alzheimer’s patient, slipping in and out of reality when he converted to Deism. He was actually quite lucid in interviews in which he talked about why he changed his mind.

        • adam
        • Seed Planter

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHUtMEru4pQ&index=12&list=PLQD9WSbZgLL7_Pp4ZIVM4YSWpK6nsegiB

          You can see for yourself that nobody was leading him on or tricking him into believing something contrary to what he had always held. THE ONLY thing that he consented to was that there is an intelligent being that is logically necessary for the complexity found. The fact that he did not become a Christian is evidence of this. If he was getting old and senile, incapable of logical deductions and desiring to live forever, then he would have not argued for a Deism that offers no hope of eternity. As you can see, he sharply disagrees with religious systems as man made.

        • 90Lew90

          Flew was shamelessly exploited in his infirmity by absolutely disgusting Christian propagandists who were all over him like wolves. Dementia is a progressive illness. In 2003 Flew signed the Humanist Manifesto, affirming his naturalistic worldview. He was ill then but still had his faculties. Almost two years later his “conversion” to deism was first reported. The book with Varghese came out late in 2007. Twenty-nine months after that he died of his illness. What was done to Antony Flew was abhorrent.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/magazine/04Flew-t.html

          http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/books/review/Gottlieb-t.html

        • adam

          When THEY have to LIE and DECEIVE to promote THEIR ‘god’ then THAT demonstrates what KIND of ‘god’ they are promoting

        • 90Lew90

          They can lie all they want when they’re dealing with people who can see through it, but to deceive and exploit and put words in the mouth of someone who was such an intellectual giant as Flew, diminished by Alzheimer’s, is just despicable.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Always fun, such a judgmental christian who forgets Matth. 7:1, probably my favourite quote of the Bible. I had never known that Dawkins was an atheist either until well after I declared myself an atheist more than 25 years ago. From The God Delusion (Dawkin’s only book I tried) I have only read the introduction and one paragraph (on NOMA) and I thought it so bad that I’ll never read the rest. Hence Flew certainly was not “the world’s most notorious atheist”. He was largely unknown.

          “He was actually quite lucid in interviews in which he talked about why he changed his mind.”
          Apparently it’s too much effort for you to provide links.
          That one Roy Abraham Varghese was the ghost writer is just a fact btw.

          “limit yourself to Internet blogs”
          Well, as I live in the developing country of Suriname with a salary of about 700 USD a month I can’t afford to buy myself too many books. The ones written by Flew, Dawkins, Harris and several other (new) atheists have a very low priority.
          At the other hand on internet the theses of two Dutch philosophers of religion are available:

          http://www.gjerutten.nl/towardsarenewedcasefortheism_erutten.pdf
          http://dspace.library.uu.nl/bitstream/handle/1874/215178/Riemersma.pdf?sequence=1

          I have followed their blogs for quite a while as well.
          Plus I have read some stuff – on internet, I admit – written by Haught, Plantinga, Feser and the Flemish theologian Erik Buys.

          https://erikbuys.wordpress.com/tag/erik-buys/

          Thanks for not answering my question: “One atheist converts. So what?”
          The seed you try to plant is rotten.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      MNb stated my main points. He was no figurehead for me. I’m usually unimpressed with philosophical arguments.

      I’ve critiqued “Flew’s” weak book. What a philosopher thinks about a scientific argument interests me very little.

  • Brandon Roberts

    good for you i’m not an atheist i am a christian but no offense to anyone

  • aisiantonas

    Much depends on what counts as converting because of intellectual arguments. Did I discover a knock down argument that I’d never heard before? No, of course not. But the standard arguments did come to seem more plausible to me than they had done previously. You may have quick rebuttals to those arguments, but flourishing quick rebuttals to every popular apologist is no substitute for slowly and carefully considering the best contemporary and historical work in the philosophy of religion. You read and think a bit, and take one view, you read and think a bit more, and you change your mind. Meanwhile, two people study the same ideas and come to different conclusion. That’s just how philosophy goes. The expectation that someone who changes his mind should also be able to convince everyone else is silly. If one politician defects to an opposing party, for example, no one would expect the party he left to collapse all at once. It’s no different in the religious case. Aside from philosophy, I should also say that learning more about the history and doctrine of Christianity was a major factor in my conversion.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You’ll know him by his fruits: the well-informed atheist who converts to Christianity for intellectual reasons would be able to tell the rest of us atheists what he found that convinced him that most or all of his old arguments were wrong. We never see that.

      You ask for slow and careful study. Browse around this blog and see what I’ve studied. Seems fairly thorough to me.

      • aisiantonas

        But I’ve explained why your fruits rule is implausible. You might as well say no one ‘converts’ from determinism to compatibalism for intellectual reasons, because if they did they would be able to give some decisive explanation of what’s wrong with pro-determinism arguments and what’s right about pro-compatibalism arguments. But the convert almost certainly won’t have come up with entirely new arguments or objections – he’ll just have come to a different assessment of the relative merits of existing arguments. That’s how intellectual life often works.

        And I asked for slow and careful study of the best work in historical and contemporary philosophy of religion. You seem mostly interested in discussing popular apologetics, and assuming a vague simulacrum of evangelical doctrine. Try taking a look into top analytic phil. rel. journals, or indicating an awareness of atonement theories beyond the grimmest variant on penal substitution next time you write about the crucifixion.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          he’ll just have come to a different assessment of the relative merits of existing arguments

          I don’t know if it works that way in this domain. It’s not like someone who weighs the determinism vs. compatibilism question 60/40 and then later decides that it’s 40/60 and so switches his allegiance.

          The Design argument, Moral argument, and other deist arguments aren’t also-rans; they’re not even in the race. Someone who found new intellectual reasons not just for one of these but for most of them would have something very new to say to his former fellows.

          I asked for slow and careful study of the best work in historical and contemporary philosophy of religion.

          I have found this category to be nothing but a rearguard action and have little patience for it. The last thing I’m interested in is curling up with a good philosophy of religion journal. However, if you can point me to the best argument I’ll take a look. Or, if you have something specific to say about any argument that I make here, I’d be interested in that.

        • aisiantonas

          You’re made it your business to critique theism; it’s your intellectual responsibility to engage with the best case for theism when you do so. If analytic philosophy of religion is indeed a rear-guard action, then you can either press forward and break through the rear-guard, or you can quit the field, stop worrying and enjoy your life.

          You say that the design argument is not ‘even in the race’: I disagree. I think the philosophy of religion, like most other areas of philosophy, is capable of sustaining reasonable disagreement. If you think theism is simply wrong, then fair enough, but this further idea that it’s somehow beyond the pale of reason I think is unwarranted and uncharitable.

          As for specific bests, I’d take Collins on fine-tuning http://home.messiah.edu/~rcollins/Fine-tuning/FT.HTM , this on theism and explanation http://www.indiana.edu/~scotus/files/All_Men_Call_God.pdf , and Franks Davies 1989 on religious experience. I make no claim that any of these arguments are obviously right, but it also seems excessive to claim that, when taken together, they are still obviously wrong.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          it’s your intellectual responsibility to engage with the best case for theism when you do so.

          Agreed. My distaste for philosophy wasn’t decided on a coin flip. It grew from reading too many (deliberately?) obtuse philosophical arguments with no there there.

          But I’m interested in recommendations for the best in this area.

          If analytic philosophy of religion is indeed a rear-guard action, then you can either press forward and break through the rear-guard

          I do, and yet Christianity still exists. I’m sure you’ll agree that a defeating argument for Christianity would do little to make Christianity go away.

          You say that the design argument is not ‘even in the race’: I disagree.

          I’ve written more about that here.

          I think the philosophy of religion, like most other areas of philosophy, is capable of sustaining reasonable disagreement.

          Put some smart guys on the task of defending any idea, and they’ll come up with some defenses. That’s what I think is going on here. Philosophy of religion is like alchemy.

          Maybe you’re right and there’s some good arguments within this domain that I just haven’t seen. That seems doubtful. You seem dismissive of popular apologetics, but the popular apologists (the Wm. Craigs of the world) are doing my work for me, scrounging through the literature looking for arguments that they can pass along.

          Thanks for the links. (Did you notice that today’s post was a summary of a response to a Robin Collins argument?)

        • aisiantonas

          I think there are fairly strong atheistic arguments, and fairly strong responses to theistic arguments, but nothing decisive in either category. I suppose a natural comparison for your view would be that it’s like a conspiracy theory: if a smart person is convinced that 9/11 was an inside job, they’ll mount a detailed thorough argument for it that most people would find it difficult to refute unaided. But with conspiracy theories, there’s always the fact that you re relying on a few amateurs as against the consensus of experts. But there is no such parallel for religion – the only real experts are those who have thought hard about the philosophy of religion, and of those, some have reached theistic conclusions and others atheistic conclusions. Anyway, I enjoyed the latest piece – I think that’s exactly what you, qua critique of theism, should be doing. Stuff like the article on the crucifixion, though, I think is less good. To do that kind of thing well would require a much surer grasp of the inner structure of Christian doctrine. I can understand why you might think that a waste of time, but it’s a necessary waste of time if you’re going to criticise Christian doctrine well.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I think there are fairly strong atheistic arguments, and fairly strong responses to theistic arguments, but nothing decisive in either category.

          And you’re talking just intellectual arguments here (no appeals to emotion or feelings)?

          You’ve weighed these arguments and find that the theistic arguments win. Is that right?

          Stuff like the article on the crucifixion, though, I think is less good. To do that kind of thing well would require a much surer grasp of the inner structure of Christian doctrine.

          If I were to critique, say, the Roman Catholic approach to the eucharist vs. the Lutheran view (to take just one of many ongoing disagreements), I would indeed need to learn the minutia about that issue, but that’s not what I’m doing.

          My goal was to make a sensible critique of the claims (not a straw man of the claims) from outside Christianity. The Christian could say, “Well, it makes perfect sense to us.” I suppose it does, but I don’t see that as much of a rebuttal.

        • aisiantonas

          i now think that the theistic arguments do probably win. Though why I in fact converted is more complicated: not only thinking that theism stood up pretty well at the level of arguments, but coming know to more about Christianity and finding that it made sense as a worldview, being drawn into Christian practice, coming to think, from a philosophical point of view, that some religious epistemology along the lines of Plantinga’s was plausible, and eventually it’s seeming to me at times that God was present and that He loved me.

          My concern regarding doctrine is that you just can’t make a fair criticism of something like the Christian emphasis on the crucifixion without digging pretty deeply into the doctrine. You made some cogent points about an understanding of the crucifixion which (roughly speaking) is prominent among evangelicals, but there’s a lot more than can be said about the atonement that you don’t touch on. For starters, here are two considerably more sophisticated versions of the traditional satisfaction/substitution view: http://www.lastseminary.com/atonement/ (look for the Aquinas article near the bottom, though others might be good too) and http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5895 . And remember also that pretty much everyone agrees that the significance of the crucifixion is best grasped through multiple, complementary models. Once the basic satisfaction/substitution framework is in place, the most important aspect for me is crucifixion as theophany: the cross as God’s ultimate revelation of His own nature. The best creaturely image of God is not, as it turns out, the pomp and might and splendour of human kings, but rather one broken and rejected by human folly, who forgives his persecutors, and suffers all things for love.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m sure you can see why I stressed that I’m focused on just intellectual arguments. If you feel that God loves you or you’ve found an affirming Christian community, that’s great, but neither is an intellectual argument that you can use to convince someone else to make the same jump.

          i now think that the theistic arguments do probably win.

          Intellectual arguments are my interest, so if you want to point to one or two that you think would be compelling to an outsider, please do so.

          I’d like to read “Aquinas on the Atonement,” but your link is bad.

          My concern with doctrine is that you just can’t make a fair criticism of something like the Christian emphasis on the crucifixion without digging pretty deeply into the doctrine.

          You’ve heard of the Courtier’s Reply fallacy? I fear that’s the trouble here.

          In response to your last paragraph, I’m still not seeing your point. You’re certainly right that I have a long way to go before I understand the many subtleties of various denominations’ interpretation of the atonement. But so what? That’s just theology. I don’t have a complete understanding of that, so therefore I can’t explain that theology, but I don’t intend to. I simply look at the public explanation Christians have about the crucifixion and why it’s important, and I critique that.

          If the Christian explanation is, “Well, you have to be an insider to truly get it,” fair enough. You’ve proven my point, that this makes no sense.

        • aisiantonas

          Sorry about the link – I think I fixed it, but shout if it still isn’t working.

          Re: intellectual argument. I agree that my own experiences aren’t much use to anyone else. I was simply making the point that a) I did convert for intellectual, but also b) I didn’t convert solely for intellectual reasons. It’s worth stressing that I would probably have responded differently to my experiences had I not come to think that Plantinga’s epistemology was probably along the right track.

          Re: courtier’s reply. Unless you want to mount the ambitious ‘Christian doctrine is so inherently compelling that it must have been divinely revealed’ argument (which in some suitably modest form, I might actually be a bit partial to), then bringing up theological niceties isn’t an appropriate response to an argument against the existence of God. If, however, you’re going after doctrine, then here’s as always you should tackle your opponents best case. I think the crucifixion story does make sense, and the points you’ve made barely connect with the way it sense to me at all. And it doesn’t just make sense from the inside, if by that you mean to a believing Christian, but in order to make sense of it you do have to get a feel for the way the system as a whole works.

          A concise explanation of why I think the penal aspect of atonement makes sense. Say I’ve trampled over your flower beds. Now you like me, you want us to enjoy good neighbourly relations, and you certainly don’t feel any desire for me to suffer. You want, in short, to forgive me. But, for genuine, meaningful forgiveness, and a sincere restoration of good relations between us, some conditions must be met first. Firstly, I have to recognise, deeply and truly, that what I did was wrong. Then I must make some effort to realign my will, which, in trampling your flower beds, has become opposed to yours, so that it is now in harmony with yours.

          So to the cross. The death of Jesus expresses God’s absolute rejection of sin. In recognising the wretchedness of what happened on the cross, I recognise the wretchedness of all human wrongdoing, my own included. Thus the first condition for forgiveness is met. Then, if I accept Christ’s suffering as an attempt to make things right between myself and God, and try to identify with that attempt, I can realign my will with God’s will. So the second condition for forgiveness is met. The reason why there are conditions on God’s forgiveness in the first place is not because of anything lacking in God, no deficiency of mercy, but rather because the relationship between us and God just is broken, and there must be a change in us if it is to be fixed. The crucifixion is what enables the requisite change in us.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I was simply making the point that a) I did convert for intellectual, but also b) I didn’t convert solely for intellectual reasons.

          Yes, I think (b) is the key point. Because I don’t duplicate whatever that is in my own mind, I suspect that that’s why I don’t share your worldview.

          I think the crucifixion story does make sense, and the points you’ve made barely connect with the way it sense to me at all.

          Is it like I’m speaking in Mandarin? Or can you appreciate why I raise the concerns that I do?

          And it doesn’t just make sense from the inside

          I’m not sure this is relevant. If I were a believer, I guess I’d be a believer. Not much interesting there. But the interesting viewpoint is from the outside. The Christian gives arguments A, B, and C to the outsider and says that these are why the crucifixion make sense. The Christian worldview is irrelevant now; it’s the outsider’s worldview that matters, it’s the outsider’s worldview that must evaluate and approve of the arguments. You can’t say, “Ah, but you can’t you use your worldview to interpret A, B, and C!”—what other worldview would I use? I evaluate the arguments from the outside, and they come up short. I’m still missing the problem.

          Say I’ve trampled over your flower beds …

          Yes, this example makes sense.

          I recognise the wretchedness of all human wrongdoing, my own included.

          Yes, we’re imperfect, but God made us that way. We come out of the box imperfect. I’m not going to apologize to my Creator for being the way he made me.

          if I accept Christ’s suffering as an attempt to make thing right between myself and God

          Substitutionary atonement? Makes no sense. If God is offended (which, as I’ve explained, is ridiculous), he can just forgive me. That’s what you do.

          because the relationship between us and God is just broken

          Don’t blame me.

          The crucifixion is what enables the requisite change in us.

          Isn’t a blood sacrifice a bit Stone Age?

        • Pofarmer

          “Substitutionary atonement? Makes no sense. If God is offended (which, as
          I’ve explained, is ridiculous), he can just forgive me. That’s what you
          do.”

          It seems to me, that if God is offended by me, he ought to be able to get the pound of flesh directly. Isn’t this really another argument for God’s powerlessness? Someone else has to die for what he supposedly could freely give?

        • TheNuszAbides

          nah, the jehovah that got bored with overt displays of power is more interested in the ‘gotcha’ of hell. come to think of it, if he saves the ~real~ punishment for the afterlife, even non-believers should be thanking him for the opportunity to be our bad selves! ;P

        • aisiantonas

          re Mandarin speaking. I think your comments are a mixture of fair criticisms of views that I don’t hold, and objections that seem to be beside the point entirely (yes, Prometheus endured more than Jesus. But it’s not part of the story or why it matters that Jesus endured the greatest conceivable quantity of suffering, as opposed to a very great deal of suffering).

          Re: inside and outside. I think the whole system makes sense, but the atonement doesn’t make sense outside of the context of the system. Objecting to that, though, is a bit like starting the Lord of the Rings at the end and wondering why everyone’s so excited that an item of jewellery fell into a volcano.

          It depends on what you mean by ‘offended’. God’s ‘wrath’ is more like righteous anger at injustice than it is bitterness at a personal slight. You seem to be thinking in terms of God’s letting go of a grudge. What’s going on is, as I’ve said, the repair of a relationship. The problem is in my will, insofar as it has become opposed to God’s. Substitutionary atonement makes sense in as much as it makes sense for my parents to buy you new flowers even though it was me who destroyed the old ones, as long as I recognise what they’re doing and why it matters:

          ‘Suppose that Nathan shows no signs of any interest in restitution or reconciliation with his mother. If Anna were, like the mother of Aeneas, endowed with the power of transforming herself, and if she really loved her son, she might appear to him in disguise and in that disguise try to talk him into letting her make his restitution for him. If we think of the problem between Nathan and Anna as consisting in her loss of flowers or her distress over the damage to the flowers, then, of course, this story is just farcical, for in this story Anna is in effect giving flowers to herself. But if we understand, as Aquinas does, that the real problem lies in Nathan’s will, which is turned away from his mother’s, and if we suppose not that Anna is
          wrathful and vengeful towards her son but rather deeply loving, then the story makes good sense. For by this
          complicated and somewhat demeaning method Anna may succeed in turning her son’s will and love back to
          her, so that the harmony of their relationship is restored.’

          Also, you’re focussing on blame, where the issue is not so much personal guilt as the brokenness of the relationship itself. But of course I have done many things that I have known to be wrong in the course of my life, and it seems idle to deny that I am indeed guilty for doing those things.

        • Pofarmer

          Lke i said, dude, you got issues. You seem to be projecting.

        • MNb

          But as his “me seeking forgiveness for trampling your flowers” analogy shows, projecting is exactly what christianity is about. See what I wrote above about “god’s forgiveness”. Exactly the same applies to “god feeling offended”. Just ask the question: “How do I know that I have offended you? Which means to you use to express that you’re offended?” Next: “How do all the possible answers apply to god?” The only logical conclusion is that the whole concept of god is meaningless.

          “he ought to be able to get the pound of flesh directly.”
          Again: god being immaterial, the question is: how? I vividly can imagine how you do it when one of your sons offends you. But not regarding god.
          Like I discussed with Kodie a few days ago this is why I am a 7 on the scale of Dawkins.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          But it’s not part of the story or why it matters that Jesus endured the greatest conceivable quantity of suffering, as opposed to a very great deal of suffering

          Which is it—a great deal or the greatest conceivable amount?

          I think the whole system makes sense, but the atonement doesn’t make sense outside of the context of the system.

          Then agree with me. My point was simply that, seen from the outside, the crucifixion story makes no sense for many reasons.

          It depends on what you mean by ‘offended’.

          As we continue, we’re stuck with the same problem though, right? I’ll tell you why your argument is silly, and you’ll respond that I simply don’t understand the correct vantage point from which it’s not silly.

          God’s ‘wrath’ is more like righteous anger at injustice than it is bitterness at a personal slight. You seem to be thinking in terms of God’s letting go of a grudge.

          Righteous anger that I am imperfect and I act imperfectly? Just like I was made?

          Substitutionary atonement makes sense in as much as it makes sense for my parents to buy you new flowers even though it was me who destroyed the old ones, as long as I recognise what they’re doing and why it matters:

          In the flowers case, it probably cost me time and money to put in those flowers. That’s where the analogy fails. God isn’t out any time or money for my actions. He’s got his standard and (surprise!) imperfect me didn’t make the grade. He can’t just be the big man and let it go? Apparently not, so we God sacrificing himself to himself (which makes no sense) so that “perfect justice” is satisfied or something. But then, of course, that avenue is still not open to me because there’s a further entrance requirement: belief.

          For by this complicated and somewhat demean ing method Anna may succeed in turning her son’s will and love back to her, so that the harmony of their relationship is restored.

          I have zero desire to rescue the Christian worldview. If it fails, it fails, and it does me no good. If you’re saying that if you stand on one leg and squint, you can kind of make it work, OK, but I’m still not interested. I simply follow the evidence where it leads. “Here’s how the Christian presupposition can be maintained” is of no interest.

          I have done many things that I have known to be wrong in the course of my life, and it seems idle to deny that I am indeed guilty for doing those things.

          Yes, and me, too. That seems off topic.

        • aisiantonas

          Jesus suffered a great deal, and not the greatest conceivable amount. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

          I agree it doesn’t make sense from the outside. My concern is that that you’re scoring a very cheap point by drawing attention to that. The conclusion of the Lord of the Rings doesn’t make sense unless you’ve read the rest of the book; heard out of context for the first time, Isolde’s Liebestod can sound like random caterwauling, but after four hours of music drama it can seem like the most beautiful sound in the world.

          That’s just to get the full sense of it. My reply to your continued complaint that my argument is silly is not that you haven’t read City of God, Summa Theologica, and Church Dogmatics, and so your opinion is worthless. My reply is that you haven’t understood the argument that I am making to you now.

          God is not angry with you for being imperfect. God is angry that racism, domestic violence, global economic inequality, etc exist. He’s also angry that small things happen that mean his creation isn’t as good as it could be. This isn’t unreasonable frustration with our imperfection; it’s just a passionate desire that we do better and things get better.

          As I’ve already said, it’s not about the big man letting small things go. It’s about restoring the relationship – which, as you seemed happy to accept in the initial analogy, involves on our part recognition of what’s wrong, and a realignment of the will.

          Time and money have nothing to do with it. The point is that you value the flowers, and I’ve destroyed what you value. If your deceased sister had put all the time and money into the flowers, we’d still have a problem, despite your not being out of any time or money. The portion of the Aquinas article quoted above was pretty clear about this.

          Of course you don’t want to rescue the worldview; you want to criticise it. I’m just saying that you should criticise the best version of that worldview.

          The point about guilt was that you seem determined to talk generally about imperfection rather than acknowledge that human beings are responsible for doing bad things. We all are responsible for doing bad things, so it makes sense to ask for forgiveness. But, as I say, the responsibility for bad things is really a secondary concern; what’s important is that the relationship is broken, and certain things need to happen for it to be mended.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I agree it doesn’t make sense from the outside. My concern is that that you’re scoring a very cheap point by drawing attention to that.

          It’s good that we agree.

          You may think that the crucifixion story is just an internal story that Christians tell each other, but most of your compatriots disagree. They’re out telling people like me that this is actually a compelling story and, therefore, that it makes sense. That was the point of the post.

          The conclusion of the Lord of the Rings doesn’t make sense unless you’ve read the rest of the book

          And the crucifixion of Jesus doesn’t make sense to an outsider. If you’re saying that it does make sense if you skip over all the parts where it doesn’t, I’ll agree, but it’s still not much of a story.

          God is not angry with you for being imperfect.

          Then tell me what adjective to use. He’s something that consigns me to hell for being the way he built me to be. (Frustration at his own ineptitude?)

          God is angry that racism, domestic violence, global economic inequality, etc exist.

          That’s weird. He never does anything about them. We used to have slavery; now we don’t. We thank people (Christians included) for that, not God. We used to have smallpox; same thing. Society still has issues—perhaps it always will—but God is relevant only in that imagining him might be a comfort to some. If those hurting people need that crutch, I’m in no position to say anything about that, but let’s not celebrate God’s beneficence when he doesn’t do anything.

          He’s also angry that small things happen that mean his creation isn’t as good as it could be.

          As an aside, isn’t it weird that you’re here defending him rather than him being here to defend himself. It’s almost like he’s just pretend.

          I’m just saying that you should criticise the best version of that worldview.

          That’s true, but what I hear you asking for makes no sense. You’re saying that from the inside, it’s a good story. Let’s just accept that; that’s not the issue. We seem to agree that from the outside, the story makes no sense. That’s all I’m saying. You shouldn’t be talking to me; you should be talking to your fellow Christians who insist that the crucifixion story is actually compelling to outsiders. We agree that it isn’t.

        • aisiantonas

          I suppose my gripe eventually boils down to presentation. Sure, I agree that waving around the evangelical understanding of atonement is a bad apologetic move. But that’s not what you said – you said that the crucifixion story makes no sense. And it does makes sense – what doesn’t make sense is the decontextualised evangelical story. I’ve also been trying to present the basics of a proper understanding of satisfaction/substitution, which you’ve not really engaged with much, which I guess is fine if your target is just bad things that apologists say. If your target is Christian doctrine as such, though, then should look carefully at Stump on Aquinas and some other things on that website (the Wright was longwinded, and I think pieces on the other site made similar points more succinctly).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          But that’s not what you said – you said that the crucifixion story makes no sense. And it does makes sense

          No it doesn’t—not from the outside. We agreed on that, didn’t we?

          If your target is Christian doctrine as such, though, then [you] should …

          My focus is on apologetics. If you’re saying that Christians can start with a handful of evidence-less assumptions and then make sense of it all, OK. That’s not my thing.

        • Pofarmer

          “I think the crucifixion story does make sense, and the points you’ve
          made barely connect with the way it sense to me at all. And it doesn’t
          just make sense from the inside, if by that you mean to a believing
          Christian, but in order to make sense of it you do have to get a feel
          for the way the system as a whole works.”

          Good luck.

          “I recognise the wretchedness of all human wrongdoing, my own included. ”

          Dude, you’ve got issues.

          “The reason why there are conditions on God’s forgiveness in the first place is not because of anything lacking in God, no deficiency of mercy, but rather because the relationship between us and God just is broken,”

          Who broke it?

          “The crucifixion is what enables the requisite change in us.”

          I don’t think one follows the other. The idea that someone must die because someone else sinned, is very 1st century B.C. Jewish thought. How does someone being killed, in whatever manner, somehow remove the sin from someone else? And If Jesus death on the Cross Atoned for sins, then why is there still sin? Why are things pretty much the same as they ever were? I mean, shouldn’t that have taken care of it?

        • MNb

          “The death of Jesus expresses God’s absolute rejection of sin.”
          Don’t you see the flaw in your analogy? After you trampled BobS’ flowers it was you who tried to put things right. After. Jesus died almost 2000 years even before I got the chance to do things wrong. Moreover I didn’t get the chance to put things right either; I’m supposed to believe that Jesus did that for me. In other words, in your example of trampling flowers you are responsible for your own deeds, but the christian doctrine of Jesus’ crucifixion makes me hand over that responsibility to Jesus.
          Unlike BobS I’m not only interested in the intellectual reasons to reject christianity, but also in the emotional reasons. You just gave the essential example. The idea that I’m not responsible anymore for my wrongdoings, but that it suffices to say “I accept Jesus as my Saviour” – which is the outcome of the crucifixion story as you present it; two youngsters from Youth for Christ already told me so when I was just 13 – disgusts me and not only me.
          A girl in my class asked those two YfCers if Pinochet (it was the end of the 70’s) would go to heaven if he repented on his deathbed. Totally in line with your presentation they answered “yes”. Since then I’m lost for christianity, because I immediately realized that this is a way to say “screw the victims”.
          To be honest since then I’ve lost all appetite for heaven as well.

        • wtfwjtd

          You can take the revulsion one step further–the Catholic church allows you to buy forgiveness before you commit a crime/sin. Indulgences, I think they call them. Disgusting is what I call it.

        • MNb

          Yes. I was saving the word disgusting for later.

        • aisiantonas

          The principle behind vicarious satisfaction is explained in the Aquinas article on this website: http://www.lastseminary.com/atonement/ The important point is the realignment of the will. If by accepting Jesus as your saviour, your will is realigned with God’s, then the satisfaction has succeeded.

          Yes, forgiveness is for everyone. That’s the whole point. But I do reject the whole evangelical idea that salvation is the issuing of a ticket to heaven. I believe that there will come a judgement, and that the outcome of that judgement will be something close to universal reconciliation – man with God and man with man. Of course that’s hard to imagine here on earth, and the instinctive difficulty with it shows just why the cross is so important: forgiveness is costly.

        • MNb

          Thanks for not addressing my two points (which are connected):
          1. the flaw in your analogy;
          2. the morally sick transfer of responsibility to a dead man.

          “The important point is the realignment of the will.”
          No, the important point is that people should be responsible for what they do themselves and that christians have figured out a way to avoid this.
          Like all apologists when discussing this you produce a lot of nice sounding and beautiful words but don’t give a dime for the victims.
          Concrete example: Josef Fritzl, who locked up his daughter in a basement to rape her two, three times a week. You offer him a nice escape route. According to you he only has to utter a few words (yeah, and sincerely mean them, but it’s not up to us to judge that, so we can’t say anything relevant about this) and he has a clean conscience. What do you have to offer to the victim, his daughter?
          You don’t care. Like the RCC basically cares more about the pedophile priests than their victims.
          The only way for you to escape this sick consequence are empty, abstract words, disconnected to the problems of our human lives. That may be sufficient to convince yourself, but in my eyes you have made your case only worse.

        • aisiantonas

          I directed you to an essay that addressed both of those points, or at least the latter implicitly. There is no transfer of responsibility – Fritzl is still responsible for his crimes. What Christ does is allow for the alignment of Fritzl’s will with that of God.

          How would you arrange things differently if you were the creator? Do you want to see Fritzl dead, or burning in hell fire forever, or what? What option will really help his victim, whom I care so little about (but for whose welfare you, no doubt, are passionately and actively concerned)?

          If Fritzl seeks forgiveness, he can be sure that God offers it. But what he did, he still did, and he is responsible for it. Turning to God with absolute sincerity, and being truly conformed into the image and likeness of God, will involve recognising the full horror of what he has done. Is that outcome not worth hoping for, more so than simple death or suffering?

        • Pofarmer

          You do realize that this view justifies the very worst in human behavior on two fronts? First of all, how can I be wrong if I am doing the will of God? Hence things like the inquisitions, and suicide bombings. Second, if I am wrong, I’ll just ask Gods forgiveness. There is no accountability. It’s horrible theology. Devoid of accountability.

        • aisiantonas

          You can’t be wrong if you do the will of God, any more than you can be wrong if you do the good. But people can be wrong about what the will of God is, just as they can be wrong more generally about what the good is.

          And, I say again, what is this accountability you are looking for? What, in your view, would be better than for wrong-doers to recognise the full horror of their wrongs?

        • Pofarmer

          Accountability right here right now, whether intellectual or physical. Accountability in the hereafter is no detraction if it is essentially free.

        • aisiantonas

          Still not clear what your point is. Do you want there to be a deterrent for evil-doing? We can still have an earthly deterrent. And there is a deterrent anyway: coming to terms with the reality of your own evil in inherently horrible.

        • Pofarmer

          All I’m saying is that your conception of God isn’t really a deterrent, because you can always be forgiven for anything. Reality and morality should be deterrence enough.

        • wtfwjtd

          “You can’t be wrong if you do the will of God…”

          This kind of thinking has been used to justify the most horrific of atrocities against humanity imaginable, from modern-day suicide bombers to the God-commanded genocide of the Old Testament. And you’re saying that you don’t have a problem with this, as long as someone claims doing it under the guise of the “will of God?”

        • 90Lew90

          “You can’t be wrong if you do the will of God, any more than you can be wrong if you do the good.”

          This raises an interesting (old) question. Is something “good” because God wills that it is good, or is it good because it is good in itself?

        • hector_jones

          “But people can be wrong about what the will of God is …”

          Excellent point. If people can be wrong about the will of God, then a lot of people don’t know how to figure out what the will of God is. What method do you suggest?

        • Pofarmer

          I hear reading Goat entrails works well. Astrology comes highly regarded, as well.

        • MNb

          “You can’t be wrong if you do the will of God.”
          As you show yourself this is meaningless. Ask two believers what the will of god is and you get three answers. There is no way to determine the correct answer, which means wrongdoers won’t have a reason to recognize the full horror of their wrongs.
          I live in a very religious community (almost all of the liberal kind). It strikes me how often the believers I know use pure secular arguments to determine if something is wrong or not. Possibly they realize the practical problems with a concept like “the will of god”. It’s important here to notice that despite this community being very small it’s very multireligious.

        • 90Lew90

          The statement: “You can’t be wrong if you do the will of God” suggests the believer thinks that all that is good comes from God. The question that then comes up is, ‘What if God wills that the heads of the infant children of a certain ethnic group should be dashed on rocks?’ (This happened to the Amelekite babies. Psalm 137:9. “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”)

          So, if God wills that you take infants by the ankles and swing them against rocks, then that is “good”? Is a thing good because God says so, or is it good because it is good in itself? If the former, then smashing infants’ heads on rocks must be good. If the latter, then “good” can not come from God. Euthyphro’s dilemma.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          people can be wrong about what the will of God is, just as they can be wrong more generally about what the good is.

          Is there any reliable algorithm to find out this elusive “will of God”? Second question: will all Christians agree that yours is the right one?

        • MNb

          In addition to what I wrote underneath: what does it mean to say “god forgives us”? How does he express that he has forgiven me? Which means does he have to express his forgiveness to me? Which means does he have to tell me I’ve done something I would need his forgiveness for?
          When you trample my flowers and you seek my forgiveness you have such means: language, body language, behaviour, facial expression. Based on them I’ll decide if I can and will forgive you or not. These means are all thoroughly material. Your god being an immaterial being doesn’t have these means available. Hence my questions.

        • aisiantonas

          Hence the incarnation.

        • MNb

          Thanks for the non-answer.

        • Pofarmer

          Not to be overly harsh, but you sound like you’re rationalizing an emotions decision, not making a purely rational one.

        • aisiantonas

          I think there’s a dubious anthropology behind that comment. Did I convert because evensong makes me feel happy? No. Did I convert because I locked myself in the library and read through all of Mackie and all of Swinburne side by side? No. But I’ve spent much of my life thinking about the philosophy of religion, and the last three years studying philosophy and Christian theology intensively. As time has gone on, I’ve moved gradually from firm atheism towards theism and Christianity. One decisive turning point for me was, I admit, the last college carol service. But that had the effect it did because I’ve read the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon and ‘get’ the doctrine of the incarnation. And once the moment had passed, the experience continued to influence the way I thought because I’ve read Plantinga on warranted Christian belief and Alston on Christian doxastic practices. So it wasn’t ‘purely rational’ – it was plenty rational, and it involved my whole being rather than just my ratiocinative faculty working on its own.

        • MNb

          Yes, I get that, but how much have you read from the opposite point of view? Herman Philipse spends more than two chapters on the warrant of christian belief and claims that Plantinga has failed. If you haven’t read stuff like this you have betrayed your own principle of “addressing the best arguments” and your claim of rationality is false.

        • Pofarmer

          You do realize that between 70 and 80% of philosophers are Atheists, right? That isn’t the way it is because the Apologists answers are so convincing. You can “get” the doctrine of incarnation. But it doesn’t matter any more than if “get” the secrets to winning at Dungeons and Dragons. Both are completely made up human constructs. I’ve not seen anything from Plantinga that would challenge a serious philosopher. Once again, the problem with philosophy is that you can prove anything. Ancient Greek philosophers “proved” that you couldn’t actually move because of infinite divisibility of space. It took advances in Mathematics to prove this philosophy wrong, although it obviously was. The same thing with Aquinas and Aristotle. Much of their philosophy is wrong and modern science has disproved it. The only parts left are the metaphysical parts, and they are just as wrong, just not as easily dissproven. I fear that you’ve deluded yourself, and by your other posts you seem to have a very poor self image. A little counseling would have been a lot better road than a lifetime believing you are a horrible sinner who needed the death of someome 2000 years ago to justify your life today.

        • aisiantonas

          My self-image is perfectly fine, thank you – after all, it is my self-image that I am made in the image of God and a co-heir with Christ. But I acknowledge that I am a sinner, whether horrible or not. My main sin is, and always has been, pride, particularly of an intellectual kind, a sin towards which I am being greatly tempted today. As I rather suspected, you are just as much against philosophy as you are against theism. If you think you can dismiss Aquinas and Aristotle as perfunctorily as that, then I’m afraid that it is you who are deluded. As for the below, I haven’t read Philipse specifically, but of course I have read criticism of Plantinga, and I don’t think that Plantinga is entirely right: just that some view in the vicinity is plausible.

        • Pofarmer

          “it is my self-image that I am made in the image of God”

          Then you have deluded yourself. Not only are you believing things with no evidence, you are believing things with reams of contradictory evidence, as well.

          And I don’t perfunctorily dismiss Aquinas and Aristotle. Much of their ideas of the physical have been proven wrong by modern science. Why would I trust their ideas of the metaphyscial without verification? That’s a rabbit hole I’d just as soon not go down.

        • aisiantonas

          We now have better techniques for investigating the physical then they did, but we still have broadly the same techniques for investigating the metaphysical. You’re not supposed to trust them; you’re supposed to read them and engage with their arguments. ‘They were wrong about physics’ won’t do as a response to their philosophy.

        • Pofarmer

          “They were wrong about physics’ won’t do as a response to their philosophy.They were wrong about physics’ won’t do as a response to their philosophy”

          Sure it will, because it’s all grounded in ths same (wrong) place. To say we have the same techniques for discovering the metaphysical is disengenuous. We have , xray, gamma ray, microwave, infrared, spectroscopy, and on and on, and ya know what? It still ain’t there. It’s always just around the corner where we can’t see. Neil Degrasse Tyson says that “God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance.”

        • aisiantonas

          But their philosophy was grounded in the right place: thinking carefully, weighing reasons, constructing arguments. If you want to say anything responsible about their philosophical conclusions, you’ve got to use the same methods.

        • wtfwjtd

          …but based on the wrong evidence. Not exactly confidence-inspiring going forward.

        • aisiantonas

          Some of it is, sure. If you’re going to take an informed position, you’ve got to take a look and identify the premisses to be rejected.

        • MNb

          In the case of Aristoteles that affects his metaphysics as well.
          “Some of it is, sure.”
          Almost everything, if not all Aristoteles wrote about the natural sciences is wrong.

        • Pofarmer

          But he thought about it really hard.

        • TheNuszAbides

          perhaps more to the point, they both wrote about it really hard. if we skip past the part where theologians were perfectly content for centuries to be elite shepherds who ‘got it’ (or invested copious time in ~striving~ to understand) but only delivered to the masses the bare minimum required to supposedly keep the illiterate wretches from Doing Wrong …

          then in a sense it’s easier to avoid all kinds of Sinful Things if the only way to comport with God’s image/will/symbological-term-du-jour is to ‘engage’ the ideas, i.e. read and write and discuss a lot.

          i would kill–metaphorically–to be ‘called’ to read and write all day (on pretty much any topic!) and not be dependent on a society that largely doesn’t comprehend or acknowledge value in such ‘frivolous’ behavior.
          but of course i might still have some remnants of the more extreme forms of mind-over-matter-ism.*

          *i’m sure there’s a single word for that but it’s not coming to me; my vocabulary’s none too shabby and i had never heard nor seen ‘doxastic’ until today…

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, no, their philosophy was grounded on the presupposition of the supernatural. Let’s take this statement. “I believe in invisible pink unicorns. I know they are invisible because I’ve never seen one, I know they are pink because of faith.” How do you dissprove that philosophically.

        • MNb

          Well, Aristoteles’ First Cause Argument, taken over by Thomas of Aquino, is a mixture of metaphysics and physics. the latter part is and remains wrong as WLC recently learned in a painful way. The metaphysical part hence becomes totally ungrounded.
          This is just an example. You see, Aristoteles was such a genius and deserves admiration exactly because he build such a coherent and consistent system. Problem is that when you remove a large chunk (like his physics plus his methodology, because he didn’t care about empirical data) the whole system hangs in the air.

        • Pofarmer

          To be fair, Aristotle didn’t have the tools to gather the emperical evidence. That doesn’t excuse our friend here, though.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i hope there is or will some day be a treatment like Aristotle: Points for Effort!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sean Carroll makes a fascinating argument that, given mankind’s extensive though incomplete knowledge of reality, there is no place for God to hide anymore.

          My post here.

        • aisiantonas

          I have finals to work towards, and I can’t stay responding to all of these posts indefinitely, though it has often been an interesting discussion. I leave you with one last point. I’ve thought long and hard about these issues, and come to different conclusion from you. What is your response to this? You accuse me of deluding myself. Don’t you realise how shrill, how narrow-minded that sounds? And , of course, I must have other mental health problems too, and as others have said, I lack empathy, and don’t care about rape victims, and so on. Everyone who has played this game should think hard, not only about whether these are appropriate comments to make in an intellectual discussion, but why you are saying these things, and what they might indicate about yourselves. May peace and wisdom reign.

        • Pofarmer

          Blah, blah, blah. I’m 43, have 3 kids and don’t want to see them grow up in a world controlled by dumbassed religions. BTDT. If you got your sensibilities hurt too bad. I don’t accuse you of anything. You show it yourself. This is 2014, grow up

        • MNb

          The only reason Collins’ piece is not obviously wrong is that the physics involved is of such a high level that only physicists can evaluate the validity of his arguments. I just can follow what he writes but I’m certainly not capable of pointing out any flaws.
          However I noticed that Collins adds teleology to physics and there is no way to justify this.

        • aisiantonas

          So you’re convinced that he’s wrong, but can’t point out any flaws. Quite the paragon of rationality you are.

        • MNb

          For someone who thinks it so important to address the best arguments you do a terrible job in this respect yourself. Because this is totally your interpretation and not what I write; your comment is close to a strawman.
          You make it hard for me to take you seriously.
          But let me still try.
          When I write “I’m not capable of pointing out any flaws” this implies that I postpone any evaluation of Collins’ arguments. Collins is a physicist. So I leave it to other physicists – like Carroll, Stenger and Krauss – to react. It’s likely I won’t be able to evaluate their rebuttals either, just like I’m not able to evaluate all the details of Sean M Carroll’s arguments in his debate with WLC.
          It’s my hypothesis that christian apologists lack empathy and thus betray a core element of their very belief system. You nicely confirm that hypothesis.

        • aisiantonas

          That doesn’t help you in the least. Your claim: ‘the only reason that Collins’ piece is not obviously wrong is that the physics involved is of such a high level that only physicists can evaluate the validity of his arguments’. This claim suggests to me that you think Collins is wrong, and are very confident that he is wrong. And your evidence? Not only do you give no evidence, but you admit that you’re not even competent to evaluate what evidence there might be. So it looks to me an awful lot like your degree of credence that p (= Collins is wrong) is way out of line with your evidence that p.

          As for the higher-order point. You didn’t even give me an argument to address. Instead, you just waved away someone else’s argument despite the fact that, by your own admission, you are not competent to evaluate it. I haven’t compromised the best arguments principle, while you have.

          And suddenly I – and all Christian apologists, apparently – lack empathy. Yes, I responded to a dismissive comment non-comment in kind. That’s not turning the other cheek, I concede. To you and to my maker, I apologise – and I apologise again for that apology, I confess, still being tempered with exasperation and, indeed, some scorn. Still, I think it would be prudent for you not to tell your intellectual opponents that they lack empathy.

        • Pofarmer

          THe point is, that high level astrophysicist like Laurence
          Kraus, Neil Degrasse Tyson, and Sean Carrol aren’t persuaded.

        • MNb

          Good. We will do as soon as you have finished

          1. all the relevant books written by Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens (so you may skip The Selfish Gene);
          2. the complete works of Ingersoll;
          3. relevant works of Mencken and Bertrand Russell;
          4. relevant writings by David Hume;
          5. Walter Kaufmann’s The Faith of a Heretic and Critique of Religion and Philosophy;
          6. Herman Philipse’s God in the Age of Science;
          7. I’d like to add Anton Constandse’s The Misery of Religion, God is Evil, The Foundations of Atheism and The Self-Destruction of Protestantism, but then you’d have to learn Dutch first. As far as I know they are not translated.

          Of course to fully appreciate several of these works you also must follow some basic courses in several modern sciences (physics, biology, psychology and history) or you will never be able to recognize all the gods of the gaps, nor won’t you understand methodological issues. For instance: what does Herman Philipse mean when he writes “theism is improbable on our background knowledge”?
          See you in what shall we say? Five years? Ten?

        • aisiantonas

          I’m not sure what to make of being condescended to by someone who recommends the work of Dawkins, unless of course the recommendation is part and parcel of the condescension. Anyway, I’m sure my tutors will be most disappointed when I tell them I have to take ten years’ rustication because some guy on the internet thinks that that’s how long it will take me to understand probability theory.

        • MNb

          If you experience my recommendations as condescending you should stop recommending books yourself for exactly this reason. That’s what you should make of it.

          “I asked for slow and careful study of the best work in historical and contemporary philosophy of religion.”
          Or are you just another christian lacking empathy? Because the only thing I can make of this quote is that you’re condescending atheists. If not, than I’m not condescending either and you’re just a whiner.
          Your last line “to understand probability theory” shows that you don’t understand what Philipse means with “theism is improbable on our background knowledge” indeed.

          Edit: after reading some more comments of yours underneath it seems to me that you got my point indeed, so afaIc you can forget the list I gave.

        • aisiantonas

          There’s nothing condescending in being recommended (good) books. The expectation that it will take me ten years to read them is rather condescending though.

          The ‘slow and careful reading’ bit was a comment on the line in the post about being able to offer quick rebuttals to the argument of any apologist. My point was merely that that attitude was not really in the spirit of open critical enquiry: a better attitude is to seek out the very best arguments and take your time over them. Admittedly I could probably have expressed myself better.

    • MNb

      Please tell me what you consider the best contemporary and historical work in the philosophy of religion.

      “The expectation that someone who changes his mind should also be able to convince everyone else is silly.”
      That’s why science is superior to philosophy, because in science this is not silly at all, but normal practice. It’s because scientists compare there conclusions with empirical data.
      It follows that any belief system that contradicts science immediately can be directed. Question: is to your understanding your christian god a causal one? If yes he’s finished.

      • aisiantonas

        Yes, the methodology of science is better at deciding between alternative theories than the methodology of philosophy. If that’s all you mean by ‘superior’, then sure, science is superior to philosophy. But you can’t get by intellectually without taking some position or other on distinctively philosophical issues, and the only methodology we have for tackling distinctively philosophical issues is the methodology of philosophy. As for what the best work is, I don’t have a top ten list or anything. The important point is where you look – at popular apologetics, or at academic work in the philosophy of religion. You’ll encounter more of the best work by looking at the latter.

        As to your question, my understanding of God most certainly is a causal one. Care to explain why it follows that he’s finished?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’ll encounter more of the best work by looking at the latter.

          And I’m sure there are places to get poor and not-as-poor treatments of alchemy. If I’m right, religion is in the same category, and smart philosophers are doing a good job patching up the leaky dinghy.

          Some compelling arguments would convince me that this comparison is flawed. Haven’t seen any.

        • MNb

          Of course it’s always better to look at academic book. Unfortunately that is often not possible. You probably won’t read treatises on Quantum Mechanics either. Hence you ask me – for a popular version. Fortunately we have internet. Now alas not all academics publish on internet. Craig does for instance plus a few Dutch ones, but not Plantinga as far as I know. I may presume that they are representative for what they think, just like the average physicist publishing on internet is representative for physics.

          For your request I call a famous and respectable physicist: Albert Einstein.

          “It seems hard to sneak a look at God’s cards. But that He plays dice and uses “telepathic” methods… is something that I cannot believe for a single moment.”
          What he meant can be found here:

          http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/einstein/section9.rhtml

          “Einstein remained deeply troubled by the notion that atoms seemed to emit photons at random when their electrons change orbits. He considered this element of chance to be a major weakness of the model, but he hoped that it would soon be resolved when the quantum theory was fully developed.”
          This element of chance is expressed amongst others by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle:

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

          An excellent example is the Potential Well:

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

          In popular terms: if you try often enough you might once walk through a wall. The chance is incredibly small, but it’s there. Quantum tunnelling has been observed though:

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

          Sometimes you can read “yeah, but QM only applies to subatomic phenomena”. That’s incorrect. QM is a universal theory and describes all daily life events correctly as well. That’s why I’m justified to give the banging the wall example. The reason we still can use Classical Mechanics is the Correspondence Principle:

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

          It says that CM is a simplification of QM. Indeed I have done a calculation in this respect myself as a student. It makes sense, because from a statistical point of view causality is an extreme form of probability (namely with correlation 0 or 1).
          A causal god creating (a causal action itself) a Universe whose very foundation is probabilism doesn’t make sense.
          This becomes especially clear when we interpret Gen. 1:3 in terms of Modern Physics. The bearer of light is the photon, an elementary particle of the Standard Model.

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

          The photon is the bearer of light and in the Standard Model it’s described by a quantum field.

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

          So you can interpret Gen. 1:3 as “And God said: Let there be quantum fields.”
          Then we have a god playing dice indeed.

        • Pofarmer

          The problem with relying on philosophy, is that philosophy can give you an incorrect answer as easily as a correct one. That’s why science is important to sort the wheat from the chaff.

        • aisiantonas

          Science is better at sorting wheat from chaff – a more Biblical way of saying that science is better at deciding between alternative theories. But, as I say, science can’t help in every case. Philosophy is often the best we’ve got.

        • MNb

          That’s correct.

          “science is better at deciding between alternative theories”
          Science – specifically biology – has decided that humans don’t rise from death. Hence the Resurrection didn’t happen and we can safely dismiss christianity. You only have philosophy/theology to oppose this.
          Hence if you value rationality as high as you have claimed you should de- or reconvert today.

        • aisiantonas

          Yes, I do have philosophy to oppose this – or, to put in other way, clear thought. It is contrary to the order of nature for human beings to rise from the dead, but this is no obstacle to an omnipotent God raising someone from the dead. So I don’t feel the least bit rationally impelled to abandon my beliefs

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’t it intersting that a couple thousand or so years ago people got raised from the dead all the time, and today, nuthin’?

        • aisiantonas

          Perhaps what it shows is that God walked on earth a couple of thousand years.

        • Pofarmer

          Remember, many OT prophets raised people from the dead too, and the NT says that anyone who beleives would be able to do these works and greater. So, what’s more likely, that God, or his emmisaries walked the Earth raising the dead, or that people made up stories to justify and magnify their religion? Have you ever read “age of
          Reason” by chance?

        • $133323962

          Ya, it seemed pretty commonplace back in the bronze age. There’s even that story in Matthew 27 that states, after Jesus was crucified, that graves opened up and zombies meandered about, likely looking for their last paycheck or maybe a coffee.

        • Greg G.

          Or brains.

          Many times I have brought that passage up in conversation with Christians and they think I am lying.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i don’t think there’s fruit here. easy rejoinder: “today, there are fewer people Willing to Believe…” (i.e. “maybe it does happen and nobody wants to hear about it and scientific instruments can’t confirm it” etc. etc.)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We know that humans don’t rise from the dead, but here’s this completely ungrounded rationale that explains why they actually can. So we’re good.

          You can handwave whatever you want to rationalize your own stand. But you’re not saying that this would be convincing to someone else, are you?

        • Pofarmer

          Science can sort what is reasonable from what is unreasonable. It can sort what is true from what is false. It can sort the possible from the impossible. It can sort the likely from the unlikely. Philosophy is not well equipped to do this. Without applying inductive and deductive reasoning( science) to the “logic” of philosophy you have basically an empty shell of rhetoric waiting to be filled with scientific results, or deflated and discarded into the realm, of the unreasonable and/or unlikely or impossible. If you are relying on philosophical results without emperical scientific backing then you are just as likely to base your worldview on comforing, empty rhetoric as on solid thinking, with no real way to differentiate between the two than one makes you feel good.

        • Christine

          Science has a philosophical basis. Science is based on three major assumptions:
          1. The physical world can be systematically observed.
          2. The physical world can be understood by systematically observing it.
          3. These systematic observations most be empirical and objective.
          None of these assumptions can be proven ( No science can’t prove them that would be circular reasoning.)

        • MNb

          That’s not a basis. That’s the assumptions science uses. Formulating them is an important part of philosophy of science.

          “None of these assumptions can be proven.”
          So what? Science never proves anything anyway. Anyone who understands the philosophy of deduction and of induction recognizes that.
          The justification of these assumptions is very simple. Science works. Just compare how the world looked like 200+ years ago with how it looks like now.
          Pofarmer’s point stands. Science uses both deduction and induction and compares the results. Philosophy only uses deduction. That’s why science is more reliable than philosophy.

        • Christine

          I tend to agree that science works. My objection was to saying philosophy doesn’t work

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I wonder at your hesitation. Is there any area of science that doesn’t work?

        • Christine

          Just experience from within the system. There is a lot of politics that go on behind the scenes. So no I don’t think science works a 100%. Also scientist are falible human beings just like everyone else. It is also prominently white males. I think there is a severe diversity problem. But I will say it does work the majority of the time.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Be careful. Those rationalizations are what many Christians use when they want to jettison uncomfortable scientific conclusions like evolution.

        • Christine

          So I’m guessing you think none of my points are valid.

        • Pofarmer

          Christine.

          If you are going to be commenting here, could you do us a favor and register for a disqus account? You can easily set it to where we can’t see your other postings, history, etc. The reason for this is that without a disqus account, there is no way to link back to your posts to get there from the sidebar, and it makes it very hard to comment on, or even find and look at a string of posts, that one might like to see. It’s really kind of a courtesy thing. Thank you.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Your points are valid. Just in case my point was unclear, I’ll rephrase it. Those people who aren’t scientists but want to judge science use arguments like this to justify their declaring which parts of science are valid and which aren’t. I don’t know what Christian circles you hang out in, but I imagine you’ve seen this yourself.

        • Christine

          Yes, I have. I tend to be fairly moderate from a religious . Not to mention I am Democrat most ultra conservative Christian tend to steer clear. But yes I have heard these arguements used to question the validity of science in general, but that is not what I’m trying to do. I am just saying everything has its limits and nothing in this world is perfect.

        • Susan

          I am just saying everything has its limits and nothing in this world is perfect.

          What does that have to do with the article?

          Or the discussion?

          Humans are fallible. That nothing is perfect doesn’t mean some things aren’t vastly superior to others.

          What has made you a convinced christian?

        • Christine

          It is a long story.

        • Susan

          It is a long story.

          The article is about the arguments that support christianity.

          I’m confused.

          You’ve mentioned that philosophy is useful, that science is flawed because humans don’t always live up to its standards and that you’re familiar with “most of the atheist arguments” and you’ve said nothing about why you are convinced that christianity is an accurate model of reality.

        • Christine

          Primarily because I am not trying to convince you.

        • Susan

          Primarily because I am not trying to convince you.

          I didn’t say you were.

          But when you entered this discussion, you said::

          So well informed Christians usually become Atheist? I consider myself fairly well informed Christian. I have heard most of the Atheist arguements and read about other religions and I am still Christian.

          You seemed to be implying that you are well informed with the arguments (which would mean you were aware of the flaws in the arguments from apologetics).

          You self-reported as a well-informed christian who had considered all the arguments and still chose christianity.

          I thought it was reasonable to ask you what that means.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Can you give us the brief version? Are you a Christian because of your environment, or do you believe because of evidence and argument? If the latter, you might share some of that here to see if they’re convincing to others.

        • MNb

          All granted. Immediately. Nobody here claims that science is perfect.
          The claim is that we don’t have anything else that provides knowledge and understanding of our reality.
          But you didn’t answer BobS’ question.

          “Is there any area of science that doesn’t work?”
          even if not 100%? The only area I can think of is the supernatural – and that’s exactly the big problem: despite trying for thousands of years nobody has developed a method to research the supernatural.

        • Christine

          He also thought I was hesitant to fully embrace science. I was explaining why. My reason didn’t really include a specific area of science I object to because there isn’t a specific area of science I object to.

        • DrewTwoFish

          But that’s not a problem with the scientific method per se but, rather, how it is sometimes applied.

        • Christine

          This is going to seem random. Why do you blog about Christianity?There are plenty other religions out there. I am guessing you find them equally irrational. Why this particular religion? Is it that you find it particularly problematic or that it is the most common one in this country?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I live in the US. The 800-pound gorilla here is Christianity, so that’s the one that I critique the most. Of course, many of my objections apply to other religions as well.

        • Christine

          So you get the Christian free America you want which religion are you heading to next?

        • Pofarmer

          What troubles you so much about the idea of a Christian free America?

        • Christine

          Nothing actually. My faith would be unaffected either way. I honestly could care less if people approve of my life. I am who I am if you have a problem with that you can always avoid me. I’m just trying to understand Bob here.

        • Pofarmer

          Then pen a note to your coreligionists. Practice your religion all you want, just refrain from practicing it on others.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sadly, religion is still a requirement for public office in the US, despite what article VI of the Constitution declares. Christians are trying to get Creationism into public schools. And Christian monuments onto public property. And Christian prayers into city council meetings. And make abortion and same-sex marriage illegal. And so on.

          When those problems are resolved, I’ll move on. I think I have a job for life.

        • Christine

          Oddly I agree with you on most of that. So basically you want parity for atheist? Or do you you just want to get rid of Christianity? Or you think the best way to reach parity is by getting rid of Christianity?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s good to hear that we’re on the same page.

          One way, yes, would be a world with no Christianity.

          Easier would be a world with what I’ve called in this blog “Christianity 2.0,” which is all the ritual, singing, and good works of Christianity but without the supernatural belief.

          And easier still would be an America where all Christians saw the First Amendment as their friend rather than an enemy or a challenge. It baffles me when Christians are eager to bend the rules. Don’t the rules help them as well??

        • Christine

          I agree with you the first amendment protects all. In all honesty it’s a right I value above all others. You take away my ability to practice my faith you might as well take away my ability to breathe. As for why some Christian feel threatened. I think they believe if they give more rights to others, groups such as Atheist may use their new found rights to take away rights from Christians. All the extreme rhetoric just worsens the fear. You have right-wing politicians talking about how the values of Christians are under threat and persecution is imminent and people like Richard Dawkins basically saying religious people are pathetic lunatics. This only enhances the fear. Personally I think some Christian are being paranoid. Besides even if Atheist have some secret evil plot to oppress us, I personally would still fight for their rights. Sometimes doing the right thing will cost you. Not to mention the reality that some of Coptic brothers and sisters face. They face real persecution. They routinely treated as second class citizens and occasionally killed for their beliefs. Do they complain about how unlucky they are? No. Instead they often get Coptic cross tattoos on their wrist. Recently these tattoos literally marked a group of Christians for death, ISIS went door to door in a Libyan town looking for Christians. My Coptic brothers and sisters courageously live out their faith in the face of real persecution and some of my American brothers and sisters get angry at Starbucks Coffee cups. This strikes me as a bit ungrateful and self absorbed. If my American brothers and sisters want to fight persecution they should fight for the rights of our middle eastern brethren.

        • Susan

          people like Richard Dawkins basically saying religious people are pathetic lunatics.

          Where does he say that? Citation please.

          If my American brothers and sisters want to fight persecution they should fight for the rights of our middle eastern brethren.

          Or just human rights in general.

        • Christine

          My point about middle eastern christians was that American Christians have a good life they should stop complaining so much.

        • Susan

          My point about middle eastern christians was that American Christians have a good life.

          I’m not trying to miss your point. I just meant that there’s a lot of persecution on this planet.

          I agree with you that it’s not a problem for American christians.

        • Susan

          I agree with you the first amendment protects all.

          I wanted to upvote your comment based on this but ran into some trouble with some of the rest of it.

        • Pofarmer

          That comment is such an unselfaware mess it’s hard to start.

        • Christine

          How do I lack self-awareness?

        • Michael Neville

          people like Richard Dawkins basically saying religious people are pathetic lunatics.

          There’s a lot of ungood that Dawkins can be accused of but that is not one. Dawkins says that religious people are deluded about their beliefs. If you’re going to complain about what someone says, at least don’t misrepresent them.

        • MNb

          “they believe if they give more rights to others, groups such as Atheist may use their new found rights to take away rights from Christians”
          And why would that be? Because christians have put that principle in practice for centuries themselves?

          “people like Richard Dawkins basically saying religious people are pathetic lunatics”
          And why do christians feel threatened by this? Because of their own history?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adriaan_Koerbagh
          This is not meant as a defense of Dawkins, an atheist I don’t think very high of (unless he writes about biology). I just can’t help being reminded of Mattheus 7:3-5, one excellent Bible verse that’s way too often neglected by christians.
          I mean – whenever christian authorities (clergy etc.) were in charge, what did they do to protect the rights of minorities?

        • Christine

          You forget that clergy people marked with civil rights protesters and the church (in the northern states) was active in abolition movement. As for my Richard Dawkins I simply sharing how many Christians feel about his rhetoric and how it leads to greater fear.

        • Christine

          Marched

        • MNb

          No, I don’t forget that.
          Those clergy people you mention typically hadn’t any political power, ie weren’t in charge.
          Just compare Josef Tiso with Titus Brandsma. You can find both names on Wikipedia. The first one was in charge, the second was not and became a hero. What I’ve yet to find is a christian authority in charge who became a hero too.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Christianity was used as a tool in the civil rights movement, and that’s a good thing. But the Bible, read fairly, isn’t much of a diatribe against tribalism, racism, and slavery, and it isn’t a manifesto for civil rights.

        • Susan

          Christianity was used as a tool in the civil rights movement

          It was also a very significant tool in the slavery movement.

          For much, much longer.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Quite right. I was just trying to see Christine’s position from a positive angle.

        • Susan

          Quite right. I was just trying to see Christine’s position from a positive angle.

          I understand.

          I don’t want to pick on her but she is relying on the same sort of reasoning that generally gets shredded here because it’s unreasonable.

          I agreed with your comment but added the context.

        • Christine

          You don’t want to pick on me but you keep following around my post ? No you don’t want to pick on me at all lol. I really need to stop now or I’ll never finish. Off I go to ride unicorns with BFFs Jesus and Santa. Lol ( Yes that last sentence was a joke).

        • MNb

          The question remains what that joke actually means ….
          You’re quite unfair towards Susan. If she hadn’t shredded your reasoning someone else would have done it – like me. And I’m far less civic than her.
          You have a tendency not to address the points we bring up (nothing new to us). Then we will repeat them until we get through – hammer them through your skull, so to say.

        • Christine

          The joke is my way of saying I have made peace with your perception of me and realized that I do not care anymore. My whole life I have been trying to prove people wrong. As the daughter of a black Puerto Rican man and White Puerto Rican growing up in a lilly white town in the south, I was chronically underestimated. In some ways it has lead to excellence at least from an academic standpoint. My way of saying ” You think I can’t do … WATCH ME”. Which is why when atheist have told me I am pathetic, I believe in fairytales (insert insensitive condescending comments), I have always found it so frustrating. But talking to you guys has made me realize that I don’t need your approval or anyone else’s. So if you want to think of I nuts, pathetic, illogical, or anything else go ahead. Thanks for the epiphany it is probably not the one that you wanted me to have though. I wish you guys the best.

        • MNb

          “The joke is my way of saying …”
          That’s one interpretation.

          “I was chronically underestimated”
          Many of my pupils look like this:

          http://www.starnieuws.com/index.php/beyond_files/get_image/acbd19bdbdff27eeb37cdecbea4d6a56.jpg/397

          though I teach teens. The guy in red (remember his name, Miquel van Assen – he is a very talented athlete) is a former pupil of mine.
          Some of them I think have a higher IQ than me. So chances are small that I underestimate you.

          “I have always found it so frustrating.”
          Weird. Smart people can believe all kind of nutty stuff, you know. And that includes atheists. I have believed some nutty stuff myself.

          “But talking to you guys has made me realize that I don’t need your approval”
          Good to read you got something positive out of our discussions. If you’d really think that you need my approval it would make me feel very uncomfortable. My female counterpart believes. No way she ever asked for my approval. I don’t only talk equal rights, I try to practice them as well.

          “Thanks for the epiphany”
          You’re welcome, though I think it a bit sad you needed me/us to get one.

          “probably not the one you wanted me to have though.”
          It’s also sad you’re not totally cured of your prejudices yet. You have no idea what I want you to have or have not, because I never told you. If you think I aimed at deconverting you you are seriously mistaken again. I even don’t care if you accept my corrections of your errors regarding science and philosophy. I am not your intellectual guardian or something.

          “I wish you guys the best.”
          Same to you.

        • Christine

          They literally tried to put me in ESOL even English is my first language and I grew up in Florida. The whole maternal side of my assumed I would amount to nothing because my dad’s black. So yes I have been underestimated. No I didn’t say you underestimated me.

        • MNb

          It’s the middle of the month now, ie time for our blog pet. I dedicate this cute guy to you.

          http://amolife.com/image/images/stories/Animals/Animal/sloth_photos_11.jpg

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “Cross Examined blog: more fun than a bucketful of sloths! Or slugs!”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Thanks for sharing. But I’ll echo other commenters and say that it’s difficult to kinda put your toe in. If you want to participate, then do so. Or not. But don’t make declarations (like the ones about Dawkins) without expecting either pushback or a request for the evidence.

        • Christine

          “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.” That definitely suggest he thinks we are lunatics. As for the pathetic here is  a link to an exchange he had with a muslim reporter for believing in the tenets of his faith http://m.huffpost.com/uk/entry/8880950. Another thing that makes me think he thinks we’re “I don’t believe you until you tell me, do you really believe, for example, if they say they are Catholic, ‘Do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?’ Mock them. Ridicule them. In public. Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits. Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”  Anyone who thinks it is okay to publicly humiliate someone for any reason has a seriously warped sense of morality. Why didn’t I post this earlier? Well I had a review paper that was due and couldn’t remember the exact quote or where I read it. I though the review was a bit more important proving things to you. As for the tweets you can easily google them yourself, so I didn’t feel the need to find them for you when they can be easily found. As for date rape did you really use  an arguement straight out of the 50s. Date rape is really just a woman regretting sex in the morning? I thought society had progressed more than that, apparently I was wrong.  I honestly hope you don’t actually believe that and you were just defending Richard Dawkins at all cost. 50% of adolescents that experience date rape say they attempted suicide, but no biggie it’s not like you were raped at knife-point you really need to suck it up. I am sorry but you don’t get to decide how bad someone’s rape was the victim does.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It sounds like you’re just fishing around for something to disagree about. Is there actually a disagreement?

          Date rape is really just a woman regretting sex in the morning? I thought society had progressed more than that, apparently I was wrong.

          I have no idea. I didn’t say that.

          If you’re concerned that I don’t understand “date rape,” let’s use your definition. What is “date rape” and how is it different from “rape”?

          50% of adolescents that experience date rape say they attempted suicide

          That’s not “date rape.” If you contemplate suicide afterwards, that’s rape.

          I’d like to see the source of this 50%.

        • Christine

          I not trying to pick a fight. I just get really annoyed when people make insensitive comments about rape. Sorry I can’t provide the link to the study I accessed through my institutional account and I don’t think the journal’s open access. As for date rape and women regretting sex in the morning. You referenced me saying “He tweeted that date rape is not as bad as violent rape.” And then shortly after stated ” But it seems to me that a woman with her underwear stuffed in her mouth with a knife to her throat wondering if she will be killed is different from one who wakes up the next morning regretting having had sex with someone she knows.” This sort of implies that you are equating date rape with simply regretting having sex in the morning. Also I can’t figure out why both you and Richard Dawkins seem to suggest being raped by a stranger is worse than being raped by someone who knows you. Couldn’t being raped by someone you know who presumably feel somewhat safe around make rape in some ways worse? Couldn’t that shatter your ability to trust to feel safe around anyone? In all honesty Richard Dawkins comments seem like a sexist man’s dog whistle. Accounting for the fact that science is dominated by old white guys I wouldn’t be surprised if that was exactly his intent.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          This sort of implies that you are equating date rape with simply regretting having sex in the morning.

          I’m pushing back against the concept that rape is rape. Seems to me that there are levels. Some kinds of rape are worse than others. Indeed, you seem to be agreeing with me (“Couldn’t being raped by someone you know who presumably feel somewhat safe around make rape in some ways worse?”) so I’m not sure where the disagreement is.

          I’m still missing what’s inherently wrong with Dawkins’ statement. He said, “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse.” Is this in error?

        • Christine

          Rape is rape. Again if anyone gets to rank rape experiences it is the victims not you.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m not.

          Ask the victims. Do they rate “Damn–I really should’ve just said No more clearly last night” as equal to getting beaten almost to death while being raped?

        • Greg G.

          Some women consider all sexual intercourse to be rape:

          PIV is always rape, ok?.

        • Christine

          Maybe you should ask the victims what they think. While your at it you might want to ask them what they think of Richard Dawkins tweet. Maybe you’ll learn something.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ll do that. But since you’re here, perhaps we can get some early returns on this question. You tell me: are these two examples equal? Seems to me that they’re not.

          I’m puzzled by your determination to find differences. I’m not sure we have any significant differences in opinion at all. If this is just hair splitting on your point, that doesn’t hold my interest, and I’ll let you have the last word. If you say that a big point is being missed/overlooked, however, then I would like to understand better what that is.

        • Michael Neville

          Rape is rape. Wives being raped by their husbands are still raped. One cannot be just a little bit raped.

          My objection to Dawkins is not his artificial distinction between stranger rape and date rape. I get annoyed when he says that someone who disagrees with The Dawk™ cannot think. Dawkins, like a lot of intelligent, educated people, thinks he’s smarter and more knowledgeable than he actually is. (I admit I suffer from this malady myself.) It’s possible to disagree with Dawkins for reasonable, logical reasons but he doesn’t like to admit it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Rape is rape. Wives being raped by their husbands are still raped. One cannot be just a little bit raped.

          I don’t think anyone here is saying anything different. Dawkins certainly didn’t. Here is the offending tweet.

          Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.

          Read this article for context.

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/richard-dawkins-says-date-rape-is-bad-stranger-rape-is-worse-on-twitter-9634572.html

          Now, whether anyone agrees with Dawkins comment as a specific point is academic. Society supports the comment. This is reflected in the sentencing of a rapist depending on the category. The law says there are some rapes worse than others and as a society we agree. This is no consolation to the victim of course.

          http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/p_to_r/rape_and_sexual_offences/sentencing/

          “Rape is always a serious crime. Other than in wholly exceptional circumstances, it calls for an immediate custodial sentence. . . . A custodial sentence is necessary for a variety of reasons. First of all to mark the gravity of the offence. Secondly to emphasis public disapproval. Thirdly to serve as a warning to others. Fourthly to punish the offender, and last but by no means least, to protect women. The length of the sentence will depend on all the circumstances. That is a trite observation, but those in cases of rape vary widely from case to case.”

          http://www.rasasc.org/advice-guides/rape-sentencing/

          My objection to Dawkins is not his artificial distinction between stranger rape and date rape.

          Whether or not you or anyone else thinks its artificial, it remains a fact in law that there is a distinction.

          http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/man-jailed-11-years-raping-11075169

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3503996/Appeal-Court-judges-consider-new-evidence-today-review-footballer-Ched-Evans-s-conviction-raping-19-year-old-woman.html

          I get annoyed when he says that someone who disagrees with The Dawk™ cannot think. Dawkins, like a lot of intelligent, educated people, thinks he’s smarter and more knowledgeable than he actually is. (I admit I suffer from this malady myself.) It’s possible to disagree with Dawkins for reasonable, logical reasons but he doesn’t like to admit it.

          That is a different argument.

          Christine came on here and used Dawkins tweets to defend a position. She has misrepresented the man and has been shown where, but chooses to ignore where and why she is wrong. She is trying to use Dawkins tweets to atheist bash and making an eejit of herself in doing so because instead of doing minimal research, she fired from the hip.

          The rape issue is really a red herring. Dawkins didn’t say what she thought he said. He certainly didn’t mean what she thought he meant. And what he did say is in line with society. So who is the issue with?

        • Christine

          Let me make this abundantly clear I am not bashing atheist by criticizing Richard Dawkins. He doesn’t represent all atheist (thankfully). Some of the most decent wonderful honorable people I have meet are atheist. If I am bashing anyone it is Richard Dawkins.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Let me make this abundantly clear I am not bashing atheist by criticizing Richard Dawkins. He doesn’t represent all atheist (thankfully).

          No he doesn’t represent all atheists. He doesn’t represent any atheists as a matter of fact, although lots of atheists might identify with some, or all of what he says. Even his atheism is not representative of all atheists.

          Why did you bring Richard Dawkins into the debate? What purpose did his tweet examples serve for this discussion? Be careful Christine, your veil is slipping.

          Anyone who thinks it is okay to publicly humiliate someone for any reason has a seriously warped sense of morality.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/10/i-used-to-be-an-atheist-just-like-you-2/#comment-2650175709

          First, you have yet to show where and when Dawkins publicly humiliated anyone. Calling someone out for insulting intelligence is not public humiliation, boy do you love your hyperbole. Dawkins debates believers, it’s one of the things he does. Part of the debate process is challenging ridiculous unsupported assertions. A wafer and wine turning into the body and blood of a 2000 year old myth is bug nutty bar shit crazy, to quote Penn Jillette. A person making such a claim has the burden of proof. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is a ridiculous claim with no basis in science and saying so is not humiliating. Calling Muslims out for giving credence to such things as death for all apostates is not public humiliation. Ripping into folk who demand the teaching to children in science class that the world is circa 6,000 years old and that all humans stem from a first couple as per Genesis is not public humiliation, it is called for and you need to sort yer self out as to what public humiliation means.

          Some of the most decent wonderful honorable people I have meet are atheist.

          Well that’s nice….and what?

          If I am bashing anyone it is Richard Dawkins.

          So much for showing everyone respect, hypocrite.

          We all KNOW exactly what you were at with the Dawkins references, ya can’t kid a kidder.

        • Christine

          Really since you are a mind reader what did I secretly mean?

        • Ignorant Amos

          No requirement to be a mind reader, reading comprehension is all that’s needed.

          I’ll answer when you have the decency to answer some of the many points being put to you which you ignore while favouring stupid questions like this in reply. But here’s a wee clue, you’ve already answered your own question right here on this thread.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Bringing the sentencing angle in is helpful. That’s a useful addition to the conversation.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          My objection to Dawkins is not his artificial distinction between stranger rape and date rape.

          His tweet has been objected to by many. I never saw the problem. Perhaps you’re on the same page.

          My concern with “rape is rape” is that conflating the two extremes diminishes the knife-at-the-throat one in my mind.

        • Ignorant Amos

          My concern with “rape is rape” is that conflating the two extremes diminishes the knife-at-the-throat one in my mind.

          Of course “rape is rape”, but those complaining about the Dawkins tweet, like Christine, believe that Dawkins is already diminishing date rape, though the law and society in general, already agrees with Dawkins if that’s what one believes he is doing.

          Folk like Christine want date rape elevated to the knife-at-the-throat kind for sentencing…worse than that, she has said she would opt for sentencing guidelines to be set by the victims. Sounds like the Christian thing to do, let’s get back to the Dark Ages post haste.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Of course “rape is rape”

          Is not knife-at-the-throat rape worse than the other kind?

          those complaining about the Dawkins tweet, like Christine, believe that Dawkins is already diminishing date rape

          I can’t speak for Dawkins, so I’ll just speak for myself.

          I don’t want to diminish date rape; I want to keep elevated knife-at-the-throat rape. When they are munged together, I fear that we diminish the latter kind.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is not knife-at-the-throat rape worse than the other kind?

          I don’t want to diminish date rape; I want to keep elevated knife-at-the-throat rape. When they are munged together, I fear that we diminish the latter kind.

          I fear you have not been following the the thread.

          My position is that there are gradations of rape as with all other crimes.

          I agree with the later, as can be witnessed by my interaction with Christine here for example. I was merely making an observation as to the attitude of the likes of Christine.

          Anyway….

          Is not knife-at-the-throat rape worse than the other kind?

          No.

          I don’t want to diminish date rape; I want to keep elevated knife-at-the-throat rape. When they are munged together, I fear that we diminish the latter kind.

          Agree 100%.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s this sort of crap I was on about.

          Killing is killing and stealing is stealing.

          Do the victims get to rate the crime? Catch yerself on.

          The forms of rape may be specified based on who is committing the rape, who the rape victim is and the specific actions involved in the rape. Some types of rape are considered much more severe than others. For example, any type of rape resulting in someone’s death is punishable by death in the United States.

          http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/rape/types-of-rape-the-different-forms-of-rape/

          Degrees of rape. Some states divide rape into degrees. First degree rape may consist of rape accompanied by severe physical injuries; it carries a harsher punishment than second degree rape, which may involve no physical injuries beyond the rape itself.

          http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/rape-statutory-rape-32638.html

          Rape can be categorized in different ways: for example, by reference to the situation in which it occurs, by the identity or characteristics of the victim, and by the identity or characteristics of the perpetrator. These categories are referred to as types of rape.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_rape

          Whether we like it or not, it is what it is.

        • MNb

          What did you write above again?

          “realized that I do not care anymore.”
          Apparently you care again.

        • Christine

          Nope still don’t care if you think I am an idiot. I am fairly certain some of you do. I won’t lose a wink of sleep over it. Now if you are refering to me pushing on IA’s comments I think I have a right to defend myself.

        • Susan

          You don’t want to pick on me but you keep following around my post ?

          I keep participating in discussion, a discussion you willingly participated in yourself when you chose this topic and implied you were familiar with the arguments and chose christianity.

          No you don’t want to pick on me at all lol.

          Of course I don’t. If you think someone asking you to support your claims is picking on you, then I can’t be held responsible. When asked to support your claims, you just added more and more unsupported claims, including this one, and imply that I’m picking on you by respectfully trying to engage you in a public discussion that you chose to participate in.

          Off I go to ride unicorns with BFFs Jesus and Santa. Lol ( Yes that last sentence was a joke).

          It’s hard to tell what the joke is. Of course if you have to explain it, then I am too hopeless to get it. Or maybe it’s just not that funny.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Christine “I’m here to tell you I am a very clever Christian who thoroughly knows all the arguments and none of them have swayed me away from my belief, but I can’t make any of those arguments here because,…well, it’s personal, so am just not going to, okay” Silly Pants.

          Comparing her Jesus with unicorns and Santa…ohhppps, that’s a joke…but the joke is on who? Like I said, Silly Pants.

          Dunning-Kruger might apply.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I think she’s mocking the universal atheist notion that Christians think that unicorns, Jesus, and Santa are all real.

        • Christine

          “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.” That definitely suggest he thinks we are lunatics. As for the pathetic here is  a link to an exchange he had with a muslim reporter for believing in the tenets of his faith http://m.huffpost.com/uk/entry/8880950. Another thing that makes me think he thinks we’re “I don’t believe you until you tell me, do you really believe, for example, if they say they are Catholic, ‘Do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?’ Mock them. Ridicule them. In public. Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits. Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”  Anyone who thinks it is okay to publicly humiliate someone for any reason has a seriously warped sense of morality. Why didn’t I post this earlier? Well I had a review paper that was due and couldn’t remember the exact quote or where I read it. I though the review was a bit more important proving things to you. As for the tweets you can easily google them yourself, so I didn’t feel the need to find them for you when they can be easily found.
          As for picking on me the actual comment that started this whole ridiculous conversation on Richard Dawkins was about the fact that Christians should not be afraid of atheist and respect their rights. I reach out with an olive branch and you choose to bonk me on the head with it. Not hostile at all. You accuse me of helping to spread lies. Again not hostile at all. You made this completely Unnecessary jab at my beliefs by commenting on how I can’t make statements I can’t support and then saying ” At church, you can. In philosophy, you can’t. And you are appealing to philosophy.” You seem to take issue with me being “well-informed” and a Christian. I believe you said something about me bringing it up first. You seem to suggest that I am required to prove this to you. Well first of all I qualified it in my original statement. Primarily because I did not want to be a presumptuous arrogant twit and you never know if one of the people with whom you are talking to is actually more informed. Second the point I was trying to make was not about whether I was well-informed I am but that you should not lump all Christians together in one. Bob divided atheist into two groups informed and uninformed, but lumped Christians all together. Then in one of his comments he seemed to suggest that well-informed Christians end up becoming atheist ( he of course said that was not his intent). I was trying to say you shouldn’t stereotype groups of people. Also this may seem rude but I don’t feel obligated to prove how well-informed I am went I don’t know what your qualifications are to access this. Don’t get me wrong you seem intelligent and well-educated and for all I know you have several PhDs or some other accomplishment, but I still don’t feel obligated. On another note you have all made statements without providing proof. For starters liars for Jesus please provide a reference ( preferable one that doesn’t have a stake in the theist/atheist debate). Also Christians lied about Richard Dawkins statements on child molestation and hell please provide a reference if you are going to accuse people of lying you should probably provide some proof. I didn’t ask you earlier because typically when I want to verify something that someone has said I go and verify it myself.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Bob divided atheist into two groups informed and uninformed, but lumped Christians all together. Then in one of his comments he seemed to suggest that well-informed Christians end up becoming atheist ( he of course said that was not his intent).

          There was no need to divide Christians into groups.

          I don’t argue that well-informed Christians always become atheists. Rather, I say that well-informed atheists never become Christians for intellectual reasons.

        • Christine

          Yes I know. You clarified that I think after my first comment. I was explaining the background for my comment to Susan.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Some tripe ranted out in that comment.

          “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.” That definitely suggest he thinks we are lunatics.

          It depends who ya ask doesn’t it?

          No point in asking you.

          Freud seems to think so, but it seems to be a matter of opinion and in my opinion, a lot of religious folk are most definitely lunatics.

          In clinical practice, no clear guidelines exist to distinguish between “normal” religious beliefs and “pathological” religious delusions. Historically, psychiatrists such as Freud have suggested that all religious beliefs are delusional, while the current DSM-IV definition of delusion exempts religious doctrine from pathology altogether. From an individual standpoint, a dimensional approach to delusional thinking (emphasizing conviction, preoccupation, and extension rather than content) may be useful in examining what is and is not pathological. When beliefs are shared by others, the idiosyncratic can become normalized. Therefore, recognition of social dynamics and the possibility of entire delusional subcultures is necessary in the assessment of group beliefs. Religious beliefs and delusions alike can arise from neurologic lesions and anomalous experiences, suggesting that at least some religious beliefs can be pathological. Religious beliefs exist outside of the scientific domain; therefore they can be easily labeled delusional from a rational perspective. However, a religious belief’s dimensional characteristics, its cultural influences, and its impact on functioning may be more important considerations in clinical practice.

          Peter Sutcliffe is doing life in Broadmoor high security hospital for just such a delusion.

          The basis of his defence was he claimed to be the tool of God’s will. Sutcliffe claimed to have heard voices that ordered him to kill prostitutes while working as a gravedigger. He said the voices originated from a headstone of a deceased Polish man, Bronisław Zapolski, and that the voices were that of God.

          Yet Dubya Bush is free to roam as is his want, even though he claimed…

          God told me to strike at al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them“

          Abraham hears God tell him to sacrifice his son…patriarchal founder of the worlds biggest group of deluded….but for Deanna Laney and many others that obeted the voice of God in their deluded minds…mental institution is the order of the day.

          “The dilemma she [Delaney] faced is a terrible one for a mother,” Files said. “Does she follow what she believes to be God’s will, or does she turn her back on God?”

          What would you do?

          for the pathetic here is a link to an exchange he had with a muslim reporter for believing in the tenets of his faith http://m.huffpost.com/uk/entry….

          But the nonsense in the Quran is pathetic and in saying so is just being honest. When the pathetic nonsense is fucking up childrens heads, it should be ridiculed.

          I’ve seen a number of Dawkins debates where he has shared a platform with Muslim clerics and he has challenged them to denounce death for apostasy. They never do. Do you think that infidels and apostates should be beheaded because Allah says so?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOyV-WS4u4c

          Do you think such indoctrinated nonsense is rational? Be careful how ya answer now.

          Another thing that makes me think he thinks we’re “I don’t believe you until you tell me, do you really believe, for example, if they say they are Catholic, ‘Do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?’ Mock them. Ridicule them. In public. Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits. Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”

          It is called not giving undeserved respect. For too long religions have had it their own way. Not any more though, the gloves are off and religion is getting a right royal thumping.

          Anyone who thinks it is okay to publicly humiliate someone for any reason has a seriously warped sense of morality.

          Awwww…poor diddums. Just imagine, poor Yahweh/Jesus arguments so pathetic that mere mortal humans can humiliate them. If you are in my company and start talking religious ballix then I’m going to counter and call yer nonsense out. If that turns out to be humiliating, hard fuckin’ cheese. Get over yerself.

          Why didn’t I post this earlier? Well I had a review paper that was due and couldn’t remember the exact quote or where I read it. I though the review was a bit more important proving things to you. As for the tweets you can easily google them yourself, so I didn’t feel the need to find them for you when they can be easily found.

          It is incumbent upon you to cite your sources if ya want to be taken seriously. Show your work or be ignored.

        • Christine

          Clearly you and I have different understandings of morality if you think it is okay to humiliate people who don’t share the same view of the world as you. If anyone needs to get over themselves it is you, as your bullying and obnoxious behavior clearly illustrates. I hope someday you correct your behavior.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Reading comprehension not a strong suit a take it?

          Why are you here with all this whinging?

          I think it is just fine to ridicule the ridiculous where I find it, if you find it humiliating, don’t get involved in the first place.

          I find it ironic you use the word ‘humiliate’ in complaint when that’s what Christianity was founded upon and could not have survived without, but then maybe you didn’t know that.

          “Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central event the humiliation of its God.”

          https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2012/03/ten-turning-points-the-humiliation-of-the-cross/

          Good enough for God/Jesus, but not his followers in you eyes, some Christian apologist you are?

          As for obnoxious and bullying. You came here to lay on your crap. I find that obnoxious and insulting. If you think that kicking back is bullying, you need to check definitions. You can’t go into someone else’s back yard and punch them on the nose, then when they smack you back, start burning about being bullied. That’s not how it works unfortunately.

          If ya can’t stand the heat, get out of the frying pan. Don’t go complaining about the temperature.

        • Christine

          I have no point treated anyone with disrespect so no I don’t think I deserve to be called a dickhead. If you were to walk into my church trying to debate I would treat you with respect and I certainly would not call you a dickhead.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If I’m being a dickhead, i.e. stupid person, I’d expect to be called out on it. If I agreed that I was being a dickhead, i.e. stupid person, I’d hold my hands up and admit it. But if the accusation was unfounded in my opinion, I’d defend my position vehemently. No undeserved respect given.

        • Christine

          That I guess is a fundamental difference between you and me. I believe every human deserves a basic level of respect you seem to think you have the right to determine who gets respect.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That I guess is a fundamental difference between you and me.

          I guess so.

          I believe every human deserves a basic level of respect you seem to think you have the right to determine who gets respect.

          Respect must be earned.

          I have no respect for someone that beheads another human being because of faith, gender, race, sexuality, desire for education, ear for music, neglect for dress code, etc. You may differ, as is your prerogative.

          I have no respect for someone that thinks its not a problem to sexually abuse and rape children, or their followers, or their institution that protects same. You may differ, as is your prerogative.

          I have no respect for ignorant nutcases who thinks its okay to teach children millennia old rubbish as fact. You may differ, as is your prerogative.

          I have no respect for arseholes that deny abortion to rape victims. You may differ, as is your prerogative.

          This list goes on to some length as you may or may not be able to imagine.

          Don’t come along here with your nonsense, get called out on it, cry like a baby at a bit of ridicule and name calling, then claim you have some sort of moral high ground because you respect every rotten, oxygen thieving piece of human trash on the planet. You don’t.

          You misrepresented Dawkins and you haven’t got the decency to admit your mistake, who is the one with morality issues and lack of respect? Give me a break with hand wringing martyr complex, I personally don’t give a flying fuck.

          So yes, in my world, I get to decide who I’m going to respect and why.

        • MNb

          Yeah, but IA doesn’t walk into your church. You voluntarily jumped into BobS’ frying pan.
          The difference is essential. Or are you so arrogant that you want to prescribe your etiquette to the entire world iso just your church?

        • Christine

          No I didn’t stepped into a frying pan. I stepped in here to have a respectful good faith dialog. I happen to believe that people shouldn’t spend their whole entire life in an echo chamber only talking to those like them. I believe people should reach out to each other. I also so believe though we may vehemently disagree with each other but we should still try to respect each other and try to see each other’s perspective. If wanting and expecting that out of humanity makes me arrogant, then yes I am arrogant. I hope I never stop being arrogant.

        • MNb

          Yup, this blog is a frying pan and you stepped into it. Voluntarily.
          See, you are not the one who gets to define “respect” on this blog.
          What you believe is up to you and has exactly zero relevance for us. I also hope you will never stop being an arrogant christian Christine. It makes your belief system totally void as your Big Hero preached against your attitude.
          In the end you’re just another believer who clings to her theist privileges. People like you make the world a worse place. You want to make the world a bit better, you say? Then quit this blog. Your arrogance makes you not doing that? That makes me happy as you just have given me the excuse I need to get nasty on you.
          You mean nothing to me. I don’t know you, I have never met you, I will never meet you. What you are wanting and expecting from humanity can oxidate at the lower bottom of my digestive system. As so many christians you get your priorities wrong. You should care about your loved ones in daily life. We don’t need you and are better off without christians like you. And as long as you stay on this blog I’m going to hammer that through your thick christian skull.

        • Christine

          What crap are you talking about. When I said Christians should not be lumped together in one group? Or when I said Christians should be less paranoid about atheists? If it was the later I will be sure to tell my fellow Christians to be more paranoid about you .

        • Greg G.

          Clearly you and I have different understandings of morality if you think it is okay to humiliate people who don’t share the same view of the world as you. If anyone needs to get over themselves it is you, as your bullying and obnoxious behavior clearly illustrates. I hope someday you correct your behavior.

          Do you think it is OK for Jesus to do it?

          Matthew 5:22b
          and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ will be in danger of the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of Gehenna.

          Yet Jesus says in Matthew 23:17-33:
          “You blind fools!” (twice)
          “You blind guides”
          “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (four times)
          “You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how will you escape the judgment of Gehenna?”

          Jesus was ridculing scribes and Pharisees who didn’t “share the same view of the world” as Jesus did.

          It is not like we are using a whip of cords as Jesus did in John 2:15.

          IA is saying that ideas and beliefs should be ridiculed, not people. It is when people hold ridiculous beliefs so closely that they identify with them that cause a problem. If a belief is ridiculous, one shouldn’t make it an identity. If someone points out that you hold a ridiculous belief, it is a sign of respect for you as a person, that you are capable of separating yourself from ridiculous beliefs. If you don’t think your belief is ridiculous, then you should defend it and show that it is not ridiculous. Many of us held similar beliefs that you hold but realized those beliefs were ridiculous and dropped them.

        • Christine

          So you mean when IA called me a dickhead and said I could not do anything, he was simply ridiculing my beliefs. It is not like those were personal attacks at all.

        • Greg G.
        • Christine

          I can’t open the link, but from what I get from your comment you completely missed the sarcasm in my comment. Anyways, if you are seriously defending all the personal ( not on my religious beliefs) IA has made you and I have different understandings of morality. Likely irreconcilable ones. I see no point in continuing in this unproductive discussion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Exactly.

          It’s not that I’m adverse to calling folk names as you well know, if the cap fits and all that.

          Christine brought up the Dawkins tweets without due diligence on context, meaning and explanation. Her methods are poor. She has yet to address any and all corrections to her erroneous understanding. If she is going to be dickheadish about this, then the label will remain. So far she has decided to play the victim card while ignoring the clarifications of others here. It is telling that Christine chooses not to focus on the meat of the issue she raised first and now prefers to skirt about perceived attacked sensibilities.

        • Christine

          Actually I did look up the context of Richard Dawkins tweets and read about the back and forth on why or why not they were offense. I also read about what he supposedly meant by these things . I still found them offensive. As I stated above to Susan people in power should be held to a higher standard than the average person. I feel that his comments general tend to divide not unite. We have to many shared problems for that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Actually I did look up the context of Richard Dawkins tweets and read about the back and forth on why or why not they were offense. I also read about what he supposedly meant by these things.

          I don’t believe you and here’s why. At no point have you made any effort to support your claim to be offended with the offence committed.

          It is a pity, however, that the pantomime has succeeded in obscuring the fact that what Dawkins had to say was true. He affected surprise at the “absolutist terms” used by his opponents, even though these noisy voices have dominated the rape debate for decades. The childlike simplicity of “no means no” has sought, successfully, to equate the stranger-in-the-bushes-wielding-knife sexual attack with an unpleasant breakdown of communication between two equally inebriated adults, even though — and I write as a survivor of both — they are so obviously different.The stranger case involves premeditation, arming oneself and clarity of thought at the moment of attack; none of those applies to the social occasion gone so hideously askew, and if there really are people who refuse to differentiate between the two, we can but pray they never sit in judgment on a killing.~ Carol Sarler

          http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article4163560.ece

          I still found them offensive.

          What did you find offensive? Be clear now. Is it the statement…“Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse.”, was it that renowned atheist Richard Dawkins said it in a tweet. You still appear ignorant of the context even though you claim to have researched the debacle….strange.

          As I stated above to Susan people in power should be held to a higher standard than the average person.

          Don’t be bloody ridiculous.

          You don’t hold your ultimate power to a higher standard when it suits ya, hypocrite.

          People in power should be held to the same accountability as everyone else, that they are very often not, is where the problem lies. People in power in religious institutions predominantly so.

          I feel that his comments general tend to divide not unite.

          I shouldn’t think Dawkins is too bothered about how you feel, especially as your feelings are skewed. He is more concerned with being right rather than being wrong.

          We have to many shared problems for that.

          Yeah, religion being top of the list.

        • Susan

          when IA called me a dickhead and said I could not do anything, he was simply ridiculing my beliefs.

          Greg G. explained that he was calling you out on your methods. Not your beliefs. Your inability to support your beliefs and your reliance on assertions in lieu.

          I noticed you don’t care about the stories about what Jesus said.

          Those stories say that he called people “blind fools” and “blind guides” and “hypocrites”. “Serpents” (what’s wrong with serpents?) “offspring of viners”.

          You completely ignored Greg’s questions and fixated on your personal offense.

          It’s OK for the Jesus in the story to say things that might upset someone but not OK for IA to suggest your methods in discussion are dickheaded?

          If personal offense is your goal here, then you’ll find it wherever you can.

          You’ve repeatedly demonstrated that.

        • Christine

          Primarily because I just don’t agree with how he is interpreting those verses. It is about holding those in power accountable especially those within the church. It is not saying you should say hurtful things to normal people. Those in power should be held to a higher standard than the average person especially when demand a high standard of behavior to everyone else. So no I don’t think it is endorsing saying harsh things to random people.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Primarily because I just don’t agree with how he is interpreting those verses.

          Of course you don’t. It doesn’t suit your apologetics does it? Nevertheless the verses show Jesus name calling and that is humiliating as far as you are concerned.

          It is about holding those in power accountable especially those within the church.

          What church? That is a non sequitur btw, it is of no consequence the reasons for his name calling. According to you, having a good reason is irrelevant. Where is all this respect you crave?

          It is not saying you should say hurtful things to normal people.

          The veil has finally slipped. Who are the “normal people”? So it’s okay to call not “normal people” names then? You seem to be wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

          Those in power should be held to a higher standard than the average person especially when demand a high standard of behavior to everyone else.

          So it is fine and dandy to call some people names, but not others? Or is that just a Jesus call? You wonder why I think you are stupid.

          So no I don’t think it is endorsing saying harsh things to random people.

          No one here is suggesting it is an endorsement, but it is an example of your blithe hypocrisy on this thread. People in glass houses should refrain from chucking stones.

          BTW, the issue with multiple biblical interpretation of scripture means Greg G doesn’t have to care very much whether you agree or disagree. There’s a reason why there are 45,000+ flavours of Christianity.

        • Christine

          If you don’t care about my opinion on the Bible verses why bother asking? Trying to bait me. I figured as much when I read so I initially ignored it.

        • Susan

          If you don’t care about my opinion on the Bible verses why bother asking?

          He didn’t say he “didn’t care”. He simply pointed out that you would say that the Jesus character was justified in insulting people while anyone else can be dismissed on that basis.

          It’s called special pleading.

          You are suggesting that there are certain circumstances in which it is justified to call people names. Something Amos argued for quite a while back.

          You haven’t explained how your criteria are different than IA’s.

          Just that the Jesus character gets a pass and Amos doesn’t.

          If you’d said, “Only under these circumstances is it justified to call people names” and been consistent about it, then you would have a point.

          You haven’t.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yet again, you avoid everything said to cry and lie.

          Opinions on bible verses are nice things to have at dinner parties and like arseholes, everybody has one.

          I have pointed out that your opinion on the verses is a non sequitur. It matters not who Jesus is calling names, just that he is name calling. The circumstances of that name calling are irrelevant as far as you are concerned. NOBODY should be called any names whatsoever regardless of reason.

          Jesus called the temple money changers thieves for doing money changers do.

          The Jesus figure in the stories was a name caller and publicly humiliates, according to the scripture, end of. Your making excuses for him while erroneously berating me and others for the same is hypocritical, while at the same time highly amusing.

          According to your morality, what Jesus did is public humiliation and disrespectful and you never do it. So I can only guess that you are better than your Lord and saviour at this point, better than God. Excellent.

          Trying to bait me.

          Nope. Just showing how religion can fuck up a persons thinking process.

          I figured as much when I read so I initially ignored it.

          No ya didn’t, because ya didn’t and you still haven’t addressed the points I raised even after not ignoring it. No surprise there then.

        • DrewTwoFish

          Bad ideas that hurt people need to be exposed for what they are.

        • Christine

          Calling people pathetic or a dickhead is not calling out “bad ideas” it is just plain rude.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, it is rude, but it is your choice to be offended by the rudeness. You don’t have to play a victim to it.

          Sticks and stones
          may break my bones,
          but then I can sue you.

          Or something like that.

          IA happens to live in a country where Protestants and Catholics have been known to kill one another over religious differences within living memory. Nothing he could possibly say compares with that.

        • Christine

          So in other words it is up to the victim of bullying to not to be victimized. Is it up to the murder victims to not be murdered? As for IA I’m guessing he lives in Northern Ireland. Let me start by saying that it deeply grieves me when other Christians murder people in the Christ, but I am not sure how that justifies mistreating others.

        • Greg G.

          Being called names in an online forum is being bullied? That has happened to me many times and the thought never occurred to me. I have responded in kind (and in jest because I thought it was funny), I have ignored it, I have ignored the person, and I have moved on to other forums when I got tired of it. If you are so sensitive that words from a stranger (who knows you only by the name you provide and what you post) causes you fear, pain or suffering, then you should find a forum that is less threatening to you.

          If a person follows you to other forums or tries to get personal information, they you have a real problem.

        • Christine

          First of all I am objecting to the premise that the person who is getting called the names is not the guilty party. It is not their duty to not be hurt, it is the other person’s duty to not hurt. Whether or not I am in fear or not is beside the point.

        • Myna A.

          It is not their duty to not be hurt, it is the other person’s duty to not hurt.

          In the best of worlds, it would be the duty of both, but since no one can say anything that will, to some measure, offend another, I refer to a great lady, Eleanor Roosevelt…

        • Susan

          I am objecting to the premise that person who is getting called the names is not the guilty party.

          I’ll assume you mean “is the guilty party” and will respond on that basis.

          Correct me if I missed something.

          You haven’t made a single point since you got here. The whole discussion began with you stating that you were “familiar with the arguments” and that you remain a christian.

          You haven’t made a single argument to support your position since you got here.

          You have accused me of “following you around” and of accusing you of being an idiot when I never did so.

          On top of that, rather than engage in the original discussion, you decided to cherry-pick quotes by Richard Dawkins without engaging in the subjects at all, except to say that all rape is equal because you said so. None of this has to do with your claim that you have a reasonable belief in christianity.

          You say “Ask the victims.” A victim of date rape has been violated. To compare that to a victim of war rape and to state outright that it’s all equal and that we are to just accept your proclamation and any discussion of the subject is off-topic because you say so and it upsets you is just as silly as you accusing me of picking on you because I made an effort to engage you in discussion on the original topic of this article.

          Date rape is bad. Not a single person you’ve quoted or who’s attempted to engage on that off-topic discussion has suggested anything to the contrary.

          You were offended by Bob’s original article, in which he stated that no atheist becomes a christian for solid logical and evidentiary reasons.

          You started your discussion here by taking offense without showing solid methodology. All attempts to engage with you respectfully on that topic you took offense to.

          Thank goodness IA showed up and used the term “dickhead” to shore up your original assumption. It’s not plain rude when that pattern has been well-established to point out “dickhead” methods.
          I never did that and you still found a way to take offense.

          You took offense from Bob. You took offense from me. Everything’s just about being offended for you.

          No one said you were dumb but you thought they did. Dawkins doesn’t think that religious people are stupid but you haven’t read anything more on his statements than those few cherry-picked phrases over all his years of engaging in these subjects.

          Please do what you claimed you did when you first got here.

          Which is to explain why you are “familiar with all the arguments” but that you still accept “christian arguments”.

          What are they? Why do they convince you?

        • Christine

          I don’t believe I ever accused you of calling me an idiot or dumb. I did mention that I have had atheist call me that, but I never said that anyone here called me that. The main reason I haven’t gone over Christian arguements with you is because my original arguement wasn’t about why I am a Christian. It was about the suggestion that well informed Christians don’t stay Christians. Once Bob clarified there was no point in continuing in that conversation. You seem to really want me to get into Christian Apologetic arguements. I never said Richard Dawkins thinks every single religious person is an idiot, but I do think he has shown a certain degree of contempt for religious people as a whole. As for rape I from what I understand rape by someone familiar to you is far more common than rape by a stranger.http://www.911rape.org/campus-rape/what-students-need-to-know/stranger-rape-vs-acquaintance-rape This myth that rape only occurs in dark alleys at knife-point is disstructive. It leads people to question rape victims when they do not have the stereotypical rape story. Why didn’t you fight back? If he didn’t beat you and he didn’t have a weapon to threaten you with how could he have raped you? Why didn’t you fight back? Why didn’t you say no more forcefully? These questions which blame the already traumatized victim from coming forward before the statute of limitations is up (I don’t know of they have something like that where you’re from) which helps perpetrators get away with rape. As for are completely arbitrary ranking of rape, I believe somebody mentioned that violent rape is typically punished more harshly than nonviolent rape. If most rapes do not occur in a violent stranger rape way aren’t we letting most rapist get off with relatively easy sentences. How does that help prevent rape? Wouldn’t more rapes be prevented if we punished them equally as harsh? As for asking the victims, we should ask the victims what they think about sentencing guidelines instead of imposing our nonvictim view points on this. Regardless of what we perceive the severity of their rape they could still be facing devastating psychological consequences . This study actually suggest that regardless of the type of rape victims experience their are about equal psychological consequences http://m.pwq.sagepub.com/content/12/1/1.abstract
          As for Richard Dawkins he decides to give an incredibly disstructive example of a logical syllogism, which is incredibly insensitive to rape victims, he should have known better. As a public figure he should be more responsible. So no I don’t feel I am giving him undue criticism.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As for rape I from what I understand rape by someone familiar to you is far more common than rape by a stranger.http://www.911rape.org/campus-rape/wh

          Another Red Herring…who has said otherwise?

          This myth that rape only occurs in dark alleys at knife-point is disstructive.

          Another Red Herring…who here has promoted such a myth?

          The greater pity, though, is that it is exactly the same voices who refuse to accept any kind of gradation in rape who also most loudly bemoan the rape conviction rate — currently about 6 per cent of incidents reported — without seeing that this small figure is, to a very great extent, a consequence of their vocal presence and their lobbying. It is not 6 per cent because 94 per cent of the accused men walk free from a court; it is 6 per cent because most cases never get to court in the first place. ~ Carol Serle

          It leads people to question rape victims when they do not have the stereotypical rape story.

          Well there is another example of ignorant thinking. It is a whole lot harder to prove date rape when it is a matter of hearsay. Violent rape leaves all sorts of physical evidence that strengthens a case exponentially.

          Our strangers-in-bushes, once arrested, do get tried and convicted as they always have — more easily now than ever, courtesy of advances in forensic evidence, including the potential to match DNA. ~Carol Serle

          Why didn’t you fight back? If he didn’t beat you and he didn’t have a weapon to threaten you with how could he have raped you? Why didn’t you fight back? Why didn’t you say no more forcefully? These questions which blame the already traumatized victim from coming forward before the statute of limitations is up (I don’t know of they have something like that where you’re from) which helps perpetrators get away with rape.

          No statute of limitations here. You are not describing date rape in this part of your comment. You seem confused.

          These days, however, most incidents fall into the category of what Dawkins called “date rape”; an event where there are no witnesses and where forensic investigation is unnecessary because the fact that intercourse took place is rarely denied. The issue is simply one of consent — he-said-she-said. The Crown Prosecution Service is less concerned about whether an arresting officer — or even the CPS itself — believes a woman than about whether a jury will believe her. Time and again it is forced to conclude that a jury will not. ~ Carol Serle

          As for are completely arbitrary ranking of rape, I believe somebody mentioned that violent rape is typically punished more harshly than nonviolent rape. If most rapes do not occur in a violent stranger rape way aren’t we letting most rapist get off with relatively easy sentences.

          Oh ffs…you wonder at why you are being called a dic…, asinine commenter?

          Where do you get the idea that the gradation of rape is “completely arbitrary”? Source please?

          In the meantime, let me help you with your asininity….

          http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/sentencing_manual/s1_rape/

          How does that help prevent rape? Wouldn’t more rapes be prevented if we punished them equally as harsh?

          And all thieves should get the same punishment.
          And all killers should get the same punishment.
          And all drunk drivers should get the same punishment.
          And all speeders should get the same punishment.
          And all drug takers should get the same punishment.
          And all blackmailers should get the same punishment.

          Sounding silly yet?

          What about if I agree, but the powers that be decide that the the harsh punishment is deemed to be at the lower end of the scale, how would that sit with you?

          As for asking the victims, we should ask the victims what they think about sentencing guidelines instead of imposing our nonvictim view points on this.

          Are you fucking mental? Why don’t you just cut to the chase and bring back lynching?

          Regardless of what we perceive the severity of their rape they could still be facing devastating psychological consequences . This study actually suggest that regardless of the type of rape victims experience their are about equal psychological consequences http://m.pwq.sagepub.com/conte

          You are intent on smashing a straw man aren’t you?

          Let me use an analogy. Not all killing is deemed equal, though the psychological effect on the families of the victims may differ very little.

          Again, robbery has different gradations. Credit card fraud and the stealing of granny Greys life savings will have different psychological impacts on the victims.

          Laws can’t be involved in the psychological impact of individual victims as it is different for every individual.

          As for Richard Dawkins he decides to give an incredibly disstructive example of a logical syllogism, which is incredibly insensitive to rape victims, he should have known better.

          No he didn’t…that you think he did shows complete ignorance.

          X is worse than Y does not imply acceptance of Y

          Now with that in mind, please point out the problem with the statement as asked of you more than once already.

          “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse.”

          As a public figure he should be more responsible.

          Spooooiiiiing! From a Christian that just blew a whole box of meters.

          So no I don’t feel I am giving him undue criticism.

          You have not yet defined what that criticism is other than you criticise.

          Get your own house in order first I say.

          http://www.rawstory.com/2015/06/there-is-no-such-thing-as-marital-rape-christian-website-says-wives-must-yield-for-sex-no-questions-asked/

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which is to explain why you are “familiar with all the arguments” but that you still accept “christian arguments”.

          Not a chance in hell when it is easier to obfuscate with the old smoke and mirrors routine of “you lot are nasty atheists, I only came here to share my superiority and educate ya’ll in your error, but with no substance, then one of the nastier among you called me a mean and hurtful name”…victim card played, everything else can be therefore ignored. Luke Breuer much?

          Excellent comment btw, oh to be so articulate.

        • MNb

          But …. but …. searching for Dawkins quotes that indeed deserve to be criticized and provide that criticism takes, you know, effort, something that seems too much for christian Christine.

        • Greg G.

          A mature person should be able to handle an insult without making such a big fuss of it. You should pay more attention to people who talk nice to you while manipulating you. You have no reason to expect everybody to like you. There are benefits to having people express how they feel about you over people who hide their contempt behind kind words. Tone trolls are far worse than taunters.

          You are free to express your opinion but everybody else has as much right to express disagreement with you.

          Do you have anything interesting to say about religion? It’s the general topic of conversation around here, certainly more than how an old soldier expresses himself.

        • Christine

          So IA insults me repeatedly and I decided to ignore, when I finally get annoyed and say something I am being overly sensitive. As for people who are excessively nice I tend to lump them in the same category as the jerks I don’t trust either. No I don’t expect to be liked be everyone but I do expect a certain amount of respect. Which I do everything in my fallible ability to give to others. Yes I did start talking about religion at some point. I believe Bob asked me why don’t Christians respect the first amendment rights . I did my best to explain why. Tried to make the point that rhetoric on both sides can make some Christians paranoid. I then explained that I believe this paranoia is unwarranted and that Christians should fight for atheist rights. Somehow this had led to a long-winded discussion about Richard Dawkins and whether or not I am mischaracterizing his comments. Whether or not Richard Dawkins thinks religious people are pathetic lunatics. I gave some quotes that explain why I think honestly I was told I am still mischaracterizing his position. Honestly two reasonable people can read the same quote differently based on life experiences. But my opinion still remains basically the same about Richard Dawkins so I feel it would be disingenuous to take back what I said. This Richard Dawkins conversation some how got sidetracked at date rape. So I am about as clueless as you are as to why we are still talking about this.

        • Greg G.

          In a perfect world, there would be no insults or tone trolls. There are both insults and tone trolls in this world. Therefore, this is not a perfect world.

          You can take the high road by ignoring the insults while showing that the insults were misplaced. You can take the low road and respond in kind. You can take the lower road and tone troll.

          You were insulted for tone trolling Richard Dawkins in a forum where he has never posted over something you read or heard so long ago that it took you two months to cite it.

          If you have anything else to converse about, please do. You have run your tone trolling into the ground.

        • MNb

          “but I do expect a certain amount of respect.”
          On this blog you have to deserve it. That’s why I call it a frying pan. You seem to deserve less and less respect, basically because you provide lots of whining and very little, if any, of substance.
          Get used to it, christian Christine. We won’t treat you any different from anyone else. If we would we would actually discriminate you. If you don’t want to get used to it quit. Nobody will miss you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So IA insults me repeatedly and I decided to ignore, when I finally get annoyed and say something I am being overly sensitive.

          Repeatedly? Is that more hyperbole?

          As for people who are excessively nice I tend to lump them in the same category as the jerks I don’t trust either.

          Excessively nice people and excessively rude people are equally untrustworthy jerks? Hmmmm! By what metric do you decide each extreme?

          No I don’t expect to be liked be everyone but I do expect a certain amount of respect.

          Your going to be fresh out of luck on both scores if you behave like a dickhead then, aren’t ya?

          Which I do everything in my fallible ability to give to others.

          Except Richard Dawkins and…

          Let me ask you straight, do you respect in any way someone who promotes the death of apostates or sexually interferes with young children?

          Yes I did start talking about religion at some point. I believe Bob asked me why don’t Christians respect the first amendment rights . I did my best to explain why.

          So you admit that Christians don’t respect the first amendment rights?

          Somehow this had led to a long-winded discussion about Richard Dawkins and whether or not I am mischaracterizing his comments.

          Somehow? Seriously? You introduced Dawkins Red Herring into the debate, specifically his tweets, although you have yet to make it clear what it is exactly that you think he meant by them, even though you’ve been pressed on that point.

          Why did you bring Dawkins into a debate where there was no relevance? If you believe there was some relevance, please explain where it is.

          Whether or not Richard Dawkins thinks religious people are pathetic lunatics. I gave some quotes that explain why I think honestly I was told I am still mischaracterizing his position.

          No, you are starting to lie now. The “quotes” you gave were examples of why the religious are viewed as pathetic lunatics. The list you gave That is not where you were mischaracterising Dawkins and got pulled for it.

          You offered the example of transubstantiation.

          Dawkins tweeted…

          “Transubstantiation: Magic trick in which wafer turns into 1st Century Jew. Performer needs no skill or talent, but testicles essential.”

          A person who honestly believes that a wafer and wine turn into the blood and body of a 2000 year old myth are bug nutty bat shit crazy. They should not admit such bug nutty bat shit crazy beliefs in public lest they get mocked and ridiculed for being pathetic lunatics.

          You offered the example of the HuffPo article [link broken] where Dawkins challenged the tenets of Islam. No mischaractisation accusation of his position there from me.

          http://www.spectator.co.uk/2013/08/forget-about-richard-dawkins-fight-the-real-fanatics/

          The problem here is that he is right. For example, Sharia Law is some fucked up religious based repugnant shit and those that support it are pathetic lunatics. Someone with the balls to publicly condemn it using mockery and ridicule amongst other tools, is to be highly commended as far as I’m concerned. You talk about the public humiliation of an ignorant journalist by Dawkins for calling out Sharia…the irony stings me blind.

          Honestly two reasonable people can read the same quote differently based on life experiences.

          Yeah, but unless the quote is totally ambiguous, one is going to be wrong. The Dawkins quote on rape is a prime example of this. He couldn’t be more clear, but self confessed Dawkins bashers like yourself refuse point blank to see your error.

          But my opinion still remains basically the same about Richard Dawkins so I feel it would be disingenuous to take back what I said.

          Who gives a fuck about your opinion? Something you have yet to clarify btw, but like I say, we can all make a educated guess about.

          This Richard Dawkins conversation some how got sidetracked at date rape.

          It got sidetracked at date rape because that was one of only two issues you were prepared to address…the other being the other side track of name calling and hurt feelings.

          So I am about as clueless as you are as to why we are still talking about this.

          We know.

        • Christine

          “Let me ask you straight, do you respect in any way someone who promotes the death of apostates or sexually interferes with young children?”
          Yes I do respect them. In the sense that I believe they have the right to not have their head kicked in or be starved. I don’t believe any human being deserves that. Do I like those people? No. Is there a small part of me that wants to kick their head in. Yes. Does that mean I should actually follow through with those impulses? No. So yes I believe even horrible human beings deserve some respect.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Let me ask you straight, do you respect in any way someone who promotes the death of apostates or sexually interferes with young children?”

          Yes I do respect them.

          That’s some fucked up repugnant shit right there.

          In the sense that I believe they have the right to not have their head kicked in or be starved. I don’t believe any human being deserves that.

          This is the sort of thing that got you called a dickhead in the first place…too stupid.

          Do I like those people? No. Is there a small part of me that wants to kick their head in. Yes. Does that mean I should actually follow through with those impulses? No. So yes I believe even horrible human beings deserve some respect.

          More repugnant shite.

          Someone needs to buy you a dictionary because you are struggling with definitions badly. Unless you are using a definition of respect that I am unfamiliar with, not impossible.

          Define your version of respect?

        • MNb

          If I may take a shot: according to Christine respect means not saying anything that makes her feel uncomfortable.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A wouldn’t doubt it.

        • Christine

          re·spect
          rəˈspekt/
          verb
          verb: respect; 3rd person present: respects; past tense: respected; past participle: respected; gerund or present participle: respecting
          1.
          admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
          “she was respected by everyone she worked with”
          synonyms: esteem, admire, think highly of, have a high opinion of, hold in high regard, hold in (high) esteem, look up to, revere, reverence, honor
          “she is highly respected in the book industry”
          antonyms: despise
          2. have due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of.*
          “I respected his views”
          synonyms: show consideration for, have regard for, observe, be mindful of, be heedful of; formaltake cognizance of
          “they respected our privacy”
          antonyms: scorn
          3. avoid harming or interfering with.
          “it is incumbent upon all boaters to respect the environment”
          4. agree to recognize and abide by (a legal requirement).
          “he urged all foreign nationals to respect the laws of their country of residence”
          synonyms: abide by, comply with, follow, adhere to, conform to, act in accordance with, defer to, obey, observe, keep, keep to
          “her father respected her wishes”
          antonyms: disregard, disobey
          The second and third definition is how I would define respect.

        • Ignorant Amos

          2. have due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of.*

          “I respected his views”

          synonyms: show consideration for, have regard for, observe, be mindful of, be heedful of; formaltake cognizance of

          “they respected our privacy”

          antonyms: scorn

          So the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of ISIS deserve respect in your view?

          You don’t think people who arbitrarily cut the heads off individuals because of their religious beliefs, sexual orientation, ethinicity, desire for education, yearning for popular culture, etc, etc, etc, should be scorned at the very least?

          Paedophile clerics should have their feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions respected and not scorned?

          3. avoid harming or interfering with.

          “it is incumbent upon all boaters to respect the environment”

          Riiiiigggghhhht!

          We should avoid harming scum sucking cunts that wantonly murder innocents because of their different beliefs and none?

          We should avoid harming scum sucking cunts that wantonly abuse young children because they are clerics that think they are above the secular rules that everyone else must adhere to?

          The second and third definition is how I would define respect.

          Like I said, some repugnant thinking and you have the barefaced check to come on here and challenge my morality ya dickhead?

          Only the fact that I believe you are lying when you say you respect everyone that I withhold a barrage of other colourful expletives.

          You are not as nice a person as you think you are Christine.

          To paraphrase the great Richard Sharpe…

          “Christians? I’ve shit’em.”

        • Christine

          I never claimed to be nice. And yes even members of ISIS have rights and yes said rights should be respected. Trust me I don’t like ISIS anymore then you do.

        • MNb

          I’m pretty sure that IA respects you too in the sense you have the right not having your head kicked in or be starved. I certainly do.
          Another deflection manoeuvre. It’s not the kind of respect you ask for, whining Christine.

        • Christine

          I am currently not asking for respect. I am answering his question. For the record I don’t think we should parade around horrible people mocking them either. Even if we really want to.

        • MNb

          We? Why should I care what you think what we – apparently including me – should and should not do? Just like I am nobody to you you mean nothing to me.
          For the record: I don’t parade around horrible people mocking them. I mock horrible people parading around me, especially on internet, for instance on this very blog. It seems hard for you to understand the difference; it’s crucial.

        • Christine

          We as in human beings in general including myself. I wasn’t singling you out, you’re reading way to much into that. As for what you are to me, you are fellow human being.

        • MNb

          I’m not your fellow.
          I didn’t claim you singled me out; I just noticed that I am also one of those human beings in general. So you again try to dictate entire mankind (hence including me) how to behave and how not. That kind of totalitarianism is typical for christianity. Weird how you repeat the deeds of white male in the past you don’t appreciate – when white males used to oppress coloured people and such. It’s exactly why I’m not your fellow.

        • Christine

          “Weird how you repeat the deeds of white male in the past you don’t appreciate – when white males used to oppress coloured people and such.” What?! Are you pulling things out of your rear end?

        • MNb

          No. For instance with your “rear end” remark you regarding me now show exactly the same lack of respect you have whined about for more than a week now. You’re parading around me mocking me, something you explicitly condemned just above. You publicly humiliated me in exactly the same way IA publicly humiliated you, while you wrote that such behaviour is unjustified. Thanks for confirming that you’re only interested in your christian privilege – something christian white males have stubbornly defended for more than 16 Centuries now.
          You belong to the same category as this fellow.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobus_Capitein

          Licking the feet of your former masters.

        • Christine

          ” I’m not your fellow.” Last time I checked us humans are all members of the same species. That includes you and me. Like it or not we’re all stuck on this planet together (unless we build a moon colony). We can either try to get along with each other or make each other miserable.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am currently not asking for respect. I am answering his question.

          If only.

          Yes I do respect them. In the sense that I believe they have the right to not have their head kicked in or be starved.

          That is not showing respect, that is showing tolerance. One cane show one without the other.

          For the record I don’t think we should parade around horrible people mocking them either. Even if we really want to.

          That would be public humiliation, not showing a lack of respect…you still need to do some work on these terms.

        • Christine

          Again here is the definition of respect pay attention to the capitalized word:
          have due regard for the feelings, wishes, RIGTHS, or traditions of

        • adam

          Respect?

        • Christine

          Yes you should totally do that even when it is completely unsolicited. You should tell everyone you think has stupid beliefs just how stupid regardless of the timing or how unwanted your input. Cause that is what humanity needs you to distinguish between stupid and non stupid beliefs. (Yes that was sarcastic). Not to mention I am not even talking about the beliefs themselves I am talking about the people holding said beliefs they indeed deserve to be respected.

        • adam

          So people with stupid beliefs should be respected for those stupid beliefs?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c0e93f5919ca792c516f3ad080bb6bd5588638850b5c2bf9b0c5a030db1f613f.jpg

        • Christine

          They should be respected in spite of those beliefs.

        • Christine

          As for the whole Dawkins I repeatly tried to defuse the situation and get back on topic. Everyone insisted I find quotes to support so I provided them. I am honestly tired of talking about him. If I knew how long we would have spent discussing him I would have never mentioned him.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As for the whole Dawkins I repeatly tried to defuse the situation and get back on topic.

          Nah…ya didn’t.

          You got called out on your erroneous use of the quotes and have been repeatedly asked for what purpose you had in introducing them onto this thread and you’ve been fudging it ever since.

          Everyone insisted I find quotes to support so I provided them.

          Nah…ya didn’t.

          You provided a couple of comments made by Dawkins, not unreasonable comments btw, and when challenged, have ignored the challenges, preferring the smoke and mirrors game of playing the victim. Let’s try again.

          Do you think it is wrong to challenge the recommendation in Islamic thought that apostates be put to death?

          Do you think it wrong to challenge that a wafer and wine literally turn into the body and blood of an 1,970 year old dead guy according to the story in an ancient book?

          Is the crime of date rape and violent-knife-at-the-throat stranger rape the same?

          Is asking those questions, or asserting that those people taking the affirmative position are stupid, a “public humiliation”?

          I am honestly tired of talking about him.

          Of course you are and now you want to shy away from the can of worms you opened. Why did you bring Dawkins into the debate again?

          If I knew how long we would have spent discussing him I would have never mentioned him.

          Why did you mention him? You haven’t made that clear other than to declare you are Dawkins bashing, which is fine a suppose albeit disrespectful, but then you don’t like it when you are challenged on this and now you prefer to run away from the issue.

          At least we know now.

        • Christine

          I didn’t say I was bashing Richard Dawkins. I said if I am bashing Richard Dawkins. Which doesn’t mean I think I am bashing Richard Dawkins or that that was my intent It simply means that I am willing to admit that possibly I was unintentionally doing that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope, what you actually said in reply to my accusation that you were using Dawkins tweets to atheist bash was…

          If I am bashing anyone it is Richard Dawkins.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/i_used_to_be_an_atheist_just_like_you_71/#comment-2654283266

          Again I ask, what was the purpose of using Richard Dawkins in this discussion?

        • MNb

          Then stop talking about him.
          Also stop talking about how pitiful you are ‘cuz you don’t get no respect.
          You know, you don’t get punished for quitting a discussion you don’t like (anymore).
          For a change try to talk about something substantial. Would be refreshing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          First of all I am objecting to the premise that the person who is getting called the names is not the guilty party.

          FTFY.

          Look, if you write something that in my opinion is stupid, I’m entitled to call it stupid. If my choice of synonym for stupid upsets you, tough shit, deal with it.

          Now, you’ve already admitted to being rude yourself, but I guess when you are being rude, it doesn’t count. How Christian.

          Also this may seem rude but I don’t feel obligated to prove how well-informed I am…

          Let me explain how the format of discourse around here is supposed to work. A person makes an opening declaration with evidence most times, but sometimes not. If someone disagrees with that declaration or the evidence provided is unsatisfactory, a follow up request is made. A back and forth ensues until a satisfactory outcome is attained. You decided that these rules of common parlance in discourse such as that here, don’t apply to you. Now that is no great surprise to the regulars here, Christians have this cheeky arrogance that they are above what they expect from everyone else…but that is rude, obnoxious and insulting to the rest of us…silly name calling aside.

          I find the Bible rude, obnoxious and insulting. It is a book that has resulted in the real hurt of more people than any other book in the history of the human species and it continues to hurt millions to this day. Bullying piece of shite that it is…can I be offended? Should I demand the destruction of every bible and do I have a good point in doing so?

          It is not their duty to not be hurt, it is the other person’s duty to not hurt.

          Did being called a dickhead really hurt you Christine? Seriously? Your skin is that thin that getting called a dickhead “hurt” you? Hurt so badly that it took you two months to vent your anger at such hurt? Would you have been less hurt had I called you asinine?

          You probably think the journalists at Charlie Hebdo brought it on themselves for the feelings of Muslims they hurt? Nah, a didn’t think so.

          http://theshake.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/offended.jpg

          Whether or not I am in fear or not is beside the point.

          No, no, no, if you are going to accuse someone of bullying, the action has to fulfil the definition otherwise you are belittling the crime, which you seem to have issues with others doing, hence this argument.

          Calling you a dickhead, i.e. stupid, is in no shape nor form any kind of bullying. I’ll chalk it up to ignorant hyperbole for full effect, but try and learn a bit about the words you choose to bandy about.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullying#Cyber-bullying

        • Ignorant Amos

          But it’s okay to prance into here and start talking unsubstantiated bollocks that is insulting to the intelligence of others…even to the simplest amongst us such as I…and then play the victim card when called on it, while all the time ignoring the points being made. All very Christian of course, witnessed ad nauseum here on a regular basis when the interlocutor has no argument. Jesus just loves a martyr.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So in other words it is up to the victim of bullying to not to be victimized.

          So tell me again who it is that is being bullied and victimised again? Remember to show your work.

          Is it up to the murder victims to not be murdered?

          Whaaaaa? Seriously Christine? You really have issues. You are comparing being called a dickhead, i.e. stupid, for being a dickhead, i.e. stupid, with being a helpless murder victim? Now you really are being a dickhead, i.e. stupid.

          As for IA I’m guessing he lives in Northern Ireland.

          No need to guess, it’s right there on my profile.

          Let me start by saying that it deeply grieves me when other Christians murder people in the Christ, but I am not sure how that justifies mistreating others.

          So you’ll be able to point to Christian forums where you have voiced just such grievances then? Mote eye time.

          How have you been mistreated?

        • Ignorant Amos

          This is public humiliation…two colleagues, brutally murdered in public, stripped bare, beaten, then shot in the head while facing each other…good Christians.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporals_killings

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/84/MILLTOWN_PRIEST_DC_1_copy.jpg

          This is public humiliation…burnt to death while out enjoying a meal in a hotel restaurant…good Christians.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Mon_restaurant_bombing

          http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/hstrike/docs/robinson5.gif

          My idea of public humiliation and Christine’s somewhat differ…but then I’m well used to getting called names, proper, nasty, vile, insidious names, by good Christians, so her gurning here is falling on deaf ears as far as I’m concerned.

        • Greg G.

          I gave her the benefit of the doubt but she appears to be heavily invested in her martyr complex.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I know ya did pal, that’s why you are good cop and I am bad cop.

          As long as she can keep the thread derailed with her crusade against hurt feelings and claim the persecuted Christian, she won’t be addressing any on topic or searching questions. The hard stuff can be hand waved away.

          I’m guessing a one way ticket to Croydon will be next.

        • Christine

          What makes you think that I approve of that behavior from anyone? I actually tend to find it especially morally repugnant when Christians do stuff like that. I am sorry you were insulted by Christians that is completely inappropriate.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nice to see you completely missed the point being made.

        • Christine

          No I understand what your point is that Christians go around murdering people so we have no right to complain about being publicly humiliated. But according to that logic (assuming you are a white male) I should be able to publicly humiliate you on regular basis. People of my racial/ethnic background have experienced nothing but abuse at the hands of white males. If you want to play the historical blame game you will quickly find we all have blood on our hands.

        • Greg G.

          Remember that those white males would be Christian white males whose actions are due to biblical justifications. The slavery and indentured servitude in the US were following the Bible instructions regarding slavery.

          The atheists I know are not racist or sexist while many Christian men I know are racist and especially sexist because of their Bible readings.

        • Christine

          Really I have meet some atheist that are pretty bigoted. To be fair I have met some bigoted Christians. By the way they were still white male Christians. When was the last time you heard of Coptic Christians conquering places in the name of Jesus? Christianity has been in Egypt for as long if not longer then some places in Europe. So definitely a European Christian thing.

        • Greg G.

          Here’s a white female doing it at the International House Of Pancakes of all places.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmyT4CuPpww

          Apparently, freedom of speech means people are free to speak in any language she wants them to speak.

          I had an argument that was very much like this lady’s with a very religious white male Christian. He thought foreigners should start speaking English in their homes as well. A few months after that, I met my wife-to-be who is from another country. I can’t imagine my wife and her family speaking nothing but English.

        • Christine

          Yeah, unfortunately there are idiots everywhere in just about every group. Good thing there are also wonderful people in every group so I guess it balances out.

        • Greg G.

          I agree.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Me too.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hmmmmm…indeed.

        • adam

          “especially sexist because of their Bible readings.”

          Yes, like Timothy

        • MNb

          You’re still missing IA’s point. I’m pretty sure he thinks this a public humiliation as bad as what he presented above:

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/Stedman-hanging.jpg
          The public “humiliation” you whine about pales compared with both.

        • Christine

          Yes it does pale in comparison. Still doesn’t make it justified.

        • MNb

          “Yes it does pale in comparison.”
          Apparently this was so hard for you to recognize that it took you a long time and many diversionary manoeuvres – you still can’t do without one:
          “Still doesn’t make it justified.”
          I didn’t write anything about justification. IA doesn’t need me to justify anything for him.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bingo! Exactly on the money.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No I understand what your point is that Christians go around murdering people so we have no right to complain about being publicly humiliated.

          Like I said, you completely missed the point being made.

          But according to that logic (assuming you are a white male) I should be able to publicly humiliate you on regular basis.

          Whaaaa? WTF has my sex and colour of my skin got to do with anything?

          People of my racial/ethnic background have experienced nothing but abuse at the hands of white males.

          Fer fuck sake get over yourself and stop whinging about everything and anything. What you have experienced at the hands of white males because of your racial/ethnic background has fuck all to do with this debate. If you think it will garner you sympathy for some unknown reason to me, you are going to be sadly mistaken. It is irrelevant to the conversation. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that all this white male persecution was not committed solely by just atheist white males, so leave the non sequiturs out.

          If you want to play the historical blame game you will quickly find we all have blood on our hands.

          More asinine dribble. Like I’ve said already, you didn’t understand the point I was making in my posting that comment. Now your crap is getting tedious, so bore off and go talk your shite to someone, somewhere, who is impressed by your martyrdom, I’m not.

        • Christine

          I highly doubt I would be able to get you to feel any sympathy and that wasn’t my intent. What exactly was your point exactly since I am so incapable of understanding it?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I highly doubt I would be able to get you to feel any sympathy and that wasn’t my intent.

          Oh I can be as sympathetic as the next person. I could even be sympathetic to the prejudice foisted upon you by bigots. I’ve been the victim of bigoted prejudice myself on many occasion. But not in this argument because it is irrelevant.

          So now can you tell the forum what the intent was in bringing up the issue of your anecdotal racial abuse?

          What exactly was your point exactly since I am so incapable of understanding it?

          You have a severe distortion on the definition of the term “public humiliation”. You levelled the charge at Dawkins for calling out a Muslim and you levelled the charge at me for calling you a dickhead for being dickheadish on this thread. Making light of the term as you have is ridiculous. Why don’t you first try to understand the terms you use first. I’ll try and help you out a wee bit here….

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_humiliation

          In what whacky world is what Dawkins did with the Muslim and what I did here a “public humiliation” or anything near it?

          Did I even humiliate you?

          http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/humiliate

          I don’t believe I did, so the charge is erroneous and stupid.

          Was I rude? I guess it could be construed I was, but I don’t give a fuck. You will find it where you look for it and use it rather than address the awkward issues. I’ll call out stupid comments where and when I see them in the lexicon of my choice and I would expect nothing less in return.

          You are rude too, so what? Ya don’t see me gurning about it, instead, I’ve attempted to show you where your rudeness is stupid.

          If ya wanted the kid gloves treatment you are in the place saying the wrong things.

          Anyway, if rudeness is good enough for your mythical hero, I guess we are all in the same boat.

        • Christine

          “So now can you tell the forum what the intent was in bringing up the issue of your anecdotal racial abuse?” I was answering a direct question. I was asked if I could understand why an atheist might feel the need to be rude/insult a theist being that theist enjoy a great deal of privilege. I was explaining that while I understand the impulse as someone who has experienced something similar I could not get behind such behavior.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well that’s not strictly true either, is it?

          First you were not answering a direct question.

          However, try putting yourself in the shoes of those who have been battered, oppressed, and had violence done against them because of theology, i.e. bad ideas (vs. empirical evidence). Pit that against hurt feelings resulting from rudeness. That doesn’t justify being an a**hole but it may put things in perspectives.

          I don’t where you’re coming from but assuming that you’re a Christian who holds a traditional outlook (if there is such a thing) consider the decades of privilege that you have enjoyed. I would think that Christians might be able to handle a little push back.

          You answered with this comment.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/i_used_to_be_an_atheist_just_like_you_71/#comment-2656174316

          The problem is, being called a dickhead is commensurate with neither of those two positions.

          If your skin is so thin that you can’t handle being called a dickhead when you are acting like a dickhead, which is just a common pejorative for stupid, then you need to be in a place that will be more sympathetic and sycophantic to your methods.

          It’s also telling that of all the questions in that comment of mine, you answered just this one.

        • Christine

          Dude you didn’t just call me a dickhead. You have made a snide or obnoxious comment to about every comment I have made. You have also openly mocked me at various points. For some time I ignored you until I got ticked off. In case you’re wondering this isn’t just about you. I was also commenting on how some people seem to think that Richard Dawkins comments on mocking religious people in public. I can’t get behind that behavior even if on some level I understand it. By the way answered only this question because it is the easiest one to answer. Believe it or not I have other things to do, so I answer the easy questions first and then try to get around to the more involved ones with time.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Good to know that a white European atheist male can get you so easily ticked off, while you have the utmost tolerance and respect for the lifetime of racial prejudice and abuse, lest I say public humiliation, from gud ole white southern American Christian males.

          Way-ta-go respectful Christine.

          I see you…you are so transparent I can see right through.

        • Christine

          I never said white racist males don’t tick me off they have from time to time. Yes I have lashed out from time to time. I still try not to respond as I did for a time with you. Also it is a little bit harder to go around calling people racist when you live with them on a daily basis, you kind of have to adapt. You learn to pick your battles quickly. In contrast I live no where near you, so telling you off is unlikely to affect me. Also while the people who have mistreated me were probably at least nominally Christian it is not like I asked what their religious affilition so to be honest I have no clue. No you don’t see right through me you have never met me. So you know relatively little about me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A cowardly fecker ta boot too…feck off Christine, your holier than thou whinging has peaked and is boring the bloody trunks off me at this point. Go find someone who cares.

        • MNb

          You’re asking something impossible.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A complete troll at this point.

          If only she could’ve taken a wee bit of her own advice.

          We should just take responsibility for own stupidity.

        • Christine

          I am coward. Lol I am to believe that you walk around treating the Christians you met on a daily basis like you have me? If not I guess you are as much of a “coward” as I am. If so then you are clearly a jerk.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • adam

        • Christine

          So I am guessing you are saying that I am being deceitful? While I agree since people do play the victim. For instance as I stated earlier the “Christian right” in America is not persecuted as they claim. While on they might occasionally be mistreated for being a Christian on the individual level, no one is systemically being abused. It is equally common for a bully to shift the blame to their victims. I have seen it quite a bit when it comes to racial issues. For instance I have heard more than once in my life that minorities are at blame for being racially profiled if they didn’t commit crimes so often there would be no need to racially profile them. I have heard countless times when a person of color ( I hate that phrase because everyone is a color even if it is a very pale color) points out systemic racism they are playing the race card to get some sort of special treatment. All I am saying is you should not go around insulting random people for their religious beliefs like Richard Dawkins seems to suggest and that their is a respectful way to disagree with someone and it doesn’t include openly mocking them or making snide comments. And saying that they are stupid or their views are stupid is not an excuse to act like that. Once you do that, even if you were a victim yourself in the past, you become a bully. (On a side note you seem to really like using others quotes.)

        • adam

          ” All I am saying is you should not go around insulting random people for
          their religious beliefs like Richard Dawkins seems to suggest and that
          their is a respectful way to disagree with someone and it doesn’t
          include openly mocking them or making snide comments.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f7d7c509c0a71dd0336cc31cc621e99ab64270b90e6def8b704c624a1728368e.jpg

        • Christine

          Will you please answer for yourself and stop using other people’s words. And we have already addressed this quote. I said : “Yes you should totally do that even when it is completely unsolicited. You should tell everyone you think has stupid beliefs just how stupid regardless of the timing or how unwanted your input. Cause that is what humanity needs you to distinguish between stupid and non stupid beliefs. (Yes that was sarcastic). Not to mention I am not even talking about the beliefs themselves I am talking about the people holding said beliefs they indeed deserve to be respected.”

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Christine

          Again criticize the ideas all you want. But treat the people with respect regardless. Telling someone they are stupid is not criticizing their ideas it is insulting them. There is a difference.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Christine

          So respect needs to be earned? Who gets to make the decision about who earns respect?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Who gets to make the decision about who earns respect?

          The person the respect is to be earned off of course.

          You want everyone given respect regardless.

          I start from a default position of ignorance of an individual or group. Respect setting at zero.

          An individual or group will earn my respect as I learn more about that person or group in the positive. If what I learn about an individual or group is in the negative, then no respect is earned and you or anyone else can whistle Dixie.

        • Christine

          So basically everyone gets to completely subjectively decide if other people get respect?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Psssst! Here’s a wee heads up for ya.

          Whether you like it or not, for the respect you are talking about that’s the way it is in the real world.

          Have a wee read of this…

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/respect/

        • Christine

          Also you base who gets respect base off of groups. Sounds like a recipe for discrimination to me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          This is somewhat depressing.

          For someone who prides themselves on their cleverness, nothing wrong with that in general, you can’t half be a stupid twat.

        • Christine

          “stupid twat” classy…

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Ignorant Amos

          If I am being ignorant, I appreciate being educated out of that ignorance.

          If I am being stupid, I appreciate my stupidity being pointed out to me so I can try and discontinue being stupid and therefore looking the dick.

          If you are happy enough to want to stew in your stupidity, so be it, but don’t expect me to respect you for it.

          Never gonna happen.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Christine

          Again feel free to criticize religion. Just don’t use criticizing religion as an excuse to treat others like they are subhuman.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh ffs…you do love your hyperbolic nonsense.

          Calling someone stupid is not treating them like they are subhuman.

          That said, people who act subhuman should expect to be treated like they are subhuman. And guess what? As a civilised society, that’s exactly what happens.

        • Christine

          I never said calling people stupid is treating someone like they are subhuman, but under the right/wrong conditions it could lead to one group of people viewing the other that way. I would caution you about using the terms uncivilized society and civilized society. Such terms are usally used by the “civilized” society to justify all kinds of atrocities.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I never said calling people stupid is treating someone like they are subhuman, but under the right/wrong conditions it could lead to one group of people viewing the other that way.

          To be honest, I’m not sure what you are saying any more. This whole debacle began because of my calling you a dickhead on a certain matter…i.e. stupid. The rest is just assumption on your part and nothing to do with our difference. If what are trying to assert that you think Dawkins criticism of religion is treating those he is criticising as subhuman, then you are being stupid again. That being said, some of those he criticises are subhuman.

          I would caution you about using the terms uncivilized society and civilized society. Such terms are usally used by the “civilized” society to justify all kinds of atrocities.

          I have no use for your stupid caution and I won’t be lectured by a follower of a religion whose track record on committing atrocities, is in the gutter. And again, this is yet another non sequitur to the sub argument we have been engaged in having.

        • adam

          “Such terms are usally used by the “civilized” society to justify all kinds of atrocities.”

        • Christine

          Completely missing my point.

        • adam

          But you got mine, right?

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Christine

          Again criticize the ideas all you want but respect the people.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…for example, fucked up fundamental Muslims who murder innocent people because of a ridiculous ideology do not deserve respect, nor should any be given…anyone claiming otherwise is a dick that also should be criticised, mocked and ridiculed.

          The same goes for other similar scenarios also regardless of favoured woo woo, religious or otherwise.

        • adam

          “Cause that is what humanity needs you to distinguish between stupid and non stupid beliefs. ”

          Somebody needs to do it.
          And the people with the stupid beliefs can’t because of their stupid beliefs.

        • Christine

          How do you know that person is you? If as you say stupid people can’t determine whether or not they are stupid, you could be stupid and not even know it. How do you really know who is stupid or not? Do you just go based on personal preferences isn’t that a bit biased?

        • adam
        • Christine

          So basically anyone who is religious. Nope not biased at all. By the way understanding science and being religious are not mutually exclusive.

        • adam

          “Nope not biased at all. By the way understanding science and being religious are not mutually exclusive.”

          Believing in science and the supernatural are mutually exclusive. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c920120a892876434cc7ace0c8d5c9e466908eb2ff4a251a6b1209d12ce3e21a.jpg

        • Christine

          Sure…… I guess they should take my Master’s degree back. After all I am just a silly religious person. Lol

        • adam

          You have a Master’s degree in supernatural?

        • Christine

          Nope.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Don’t be pernickety.

          A master’s degree is a master’s degree…. never mind the details.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha ha…you think you can’t be a silly person aka dickhead, just because you have a master’s degree?

          Makes me doubt yer claim to have a master’s in the first place. A really clever person knows their limitations.

          You might be a clever dick at some stuff, but your ego is fucking itself over if ya think you are clever at everything.

        • Christine

          Doubt it if you want. I never said I was clever at everything actually you ask me about insects or astrophysic I am unlikely to be able to help you. I was objecting to the suggestion that religious people can’t understand or be good at science. If you want to insert a better example by all means do so.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I was objecting to the suggestion that religious people can’t understand or be good at science. If you want to insert a better example by all means do so.

          Who made such a suggestion?

          There’s a wee thing in psychology called compartmentalization. I’d have thought you’d have heard of it?

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

          Supernatural woo woo get’s left in the locker room when the lab coat is donned.

        • Christine

          Religious beliefs or the lack of them, your ideological view point, and political leanings should be left in the locker room. Anything of that sort can compromise the process.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yay-hey!

          We agree on something.

          So now that we agree on this issue, as would every regular here, can you explain this comment…

          I was objecting to the suggestion that religious people can’t understand or be good at science.

        • Susan

          I was objecting to the suggestion that religious people can’t understand or be good at science.

          That is NOT what was suggested. Religious people can be very good at science when they do science.

          The reliability of the scientific method is demonstrable as is the unreliability of the religious method.

          Religion truly DOES just get to make stuff up and carry on from there.

          Science doesn’t.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m sure there was a reason for Christine’s curriculum vitae being posted, I’ve just not worked it out yet.

        • Susan

          When Christine showed up months ago, she was offended that the OP suggested that atheists don’t become christians because of intellecutal arguments. She claimed she knew all the arguments and remained a christian.

          When asked to explain why she was a christian, she said it was personal.

          She went on to misrepresent Dawkins as though it was some sort of argument for theism. She was corrected although her misunderstanding was clarified by many people.

          She fixated on you using the word “dickhead” when describing an idea after her attempts to find offense by people trying to gently engage her in discussion were called out.

          She hasn’t contributed a single thing to the original discussion, she hasn’t backed up a single point, she hasn’t retracted a single misunderstanding based on standard cherry-picked Twitter bits, she has managed to find almost all of us disrespectul (including me, when I genuinely attempted to engage her in discussion in the beginning and she accused me of “following her around” when I said I explained that I wasn’t picking on her but was genuinely hard-pressed to figure out what we were going to talk about).

          She has asserted that all humans must be respected no matter what their ideas unless Jesus finds reasons to be disrespectul, in which case it is hunky-dory.

          I honestly don’t care any more. All I know is that, while she was offended by the original article, she hasn’t provided a single reason to question the point it was trying to make.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh I remember the history full well okay. It even took her a fortnight to get offended. Yet a life time of racial abuse has a hole bit in her tongue. I guess that the worse thing that can happen to such a high intellectual is have that level of intellect challenged.

          Anyway, I was merely alluding to the first comment that set out an extensive list of Christine’s academic credentials, impressive though they are, but to what point if they are not relevant. Which apparently they are not given her reluctance to follow up her opening salvo with anything nearing a support for understanding all the intellectual arguments, the subsequent asinine posting history, then this latest straw man.

          I was objecting to the suggestion that religious people can’t understand or be good at science.

          A ridiculous statement right on the face of it that no one, even with an amoeba sized brain, could rationalize. Certainly no one here has suggested such a thing afaik, so her objection is ridiculous. Of course a citation would help her case.

          The caveat in this for me being that any scientist bringing a god or religion into their method, is probably not doing good science. There is a massive difference.

          Christine is firing hyperbole from the hip like a 5 year old with a nerf gun, which is just more silliness.

        • Susan

          I’ve just not worked it out yet.

          It’s simple. Christine prefers to believe that people who ask her to support her ideas are calling her stupid and all manner of nasty things, no matter how clearly they make the point that they are asking her to support her ideas.

          Adam’s meme about “science” vs. “religion” was clearly a statement that christians are stupid, even though it said nothing about christians.

          She will not retract that claim. She will go out of her way to rationalize it and change the subject when necessary.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It seems she is quite happy to see stuff that just isn’t there and react to that rather than the point being made.

          The word “stupid” and its synonyms, seem to cause all manner of strife.

          Folk can be stupid, ignorant and intelligent, all at the same time. In varying proportions depending on the subject at hand may I add.

          I’d rather be called out as stupid and have the opportunity to rectify that stupidity than be left to think I’m not being stupid and continue to be sniggered at, but then perhaps that’s just me and I’m being stupid about it.

        • adam

          “She will not retract that claim. She will go out of her way to rationalize it and change the subject when necessary.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          How do you really know who is stupid or not?

          It’s not an exact science, but if you are smart enough and your ego allows for it, a good argument being made for ones stupidity should suffice.

          A consensus works too.

          Otherwise I think yer fucked.

        • Christine

          “It’s not an exact science” my point exactly. ” A consensus works too.” What if everyone is simultaneously being stupid? How do you define a good arguement?

        • Ignorant Amos

          “It’s not an exact science” my point exactly.

          A yes, the fallacious tactic of the quote mine. So disingenuous.

          A consensus works too.” What if everyone is simultaneously being stupid?

          I thought you were a scientist?

          Now don’t be confusing stupidity with ignorance.

          How do you define a good arguement?

          One that is cogent, convincing and persuasive is a start.

          A good argument is an argument that is either valid or strong, and with plausible premises that are true, do not beg the question, and are relevant to the conclusion.

        • Christine

          My point is that we should all have a dose of humility when classifying others as stupid. While consensus is a good way of determining whether something is a good idea or not occasionally everyone has the same bad idea at once. The “stupid” person in this case would be right. What is stupid or not isn’t always clear and is subject to change as new information is acquired. So humility is necessary.

        • DrewTwoFish

          I don’t think the two things are mutually exclusive.

          I did a page search. It may not have been exhaustive and I haven’t read your entire conversation with Ignorant Amos but I couldn’t see where he called you a dickhead or pathetic directly. Happy to be corrected on that. Perhaps you were referring to Dawkins and his crowd.

          I agree that you’re probably not going to win anyone over by calling them a dickhead. However, try putting yourself in the shoes of those who have been battered, oppressed, and had violence done against them because of theology, i.e. bad ideas (vs. empirical evidence). Pit that against hurt feelings resulting from rudeness. That doesn’t justify being an a**hole but it may put things in perspectives.

          I don’t where you’re coming from but assuming that you’re a Christian who holds a traditional outlook (if there is such a thing) consider the decades of privilege that you have enjoyed. I would think that Christians might be able to handle a little push back.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The full comment is here….

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/10/i-used-to-be-an-atheist-just-like-you-2/#comment-2573472590

          Read it in it’s entirety with the comment it was addressing for context.

          I am an uncouth bugger for sure. Dickhead is a colloquialism for being stupid where I come from and I’m not going to be lectured on tone or morality by a Christian of any stripe.

          Christine took two months to get bent out of shape at the name calling. She also holds me to a different standard to that of fellow Christians and the main Christian in particular.

          Her method of engaging here is ridiculous and silly.

          But the whining about name calling is a game of sleight of hand obfuscation to avoid the addressing of her real shortcomings in this conversation.

          To be quite honest, it is tedious getting…I withdraw dickhead unreservedly and replace the term with asinine if it gets her to give over already.

        • DrewTwoFish

          Thanks for the clarification.

          I’m getting sick of having to be polite to people who peddle ideas that result in serious harm to others yet whine about getting their fee fees hurt.

          Unfortunately, the left is not immune. Case in point: all this unscientific nonsense about triggers that has infected university campuses.

        • Christine

          While I agree with you on most of that. I will admit that Christians have privilege. I still have a hard time understanding some of the obnoxious behavior. Trust me the privilege I get from being is greatly minimized by the fact I am Puerto Rican my mother’s a white Puerto Rican and my dad’s a black Puerto Rican. Not to mention I grew up in the south in a lilly white town. I have been called am anchor baby ( because apparently all hispanics are Mexican and we are all in the USA illegally). I have had a random guy at the supermarket insert himself into a private conversation between me and my parents to yell speak English at us. I have had to sit through rants from white people (including ones I actually cared about) about black people always pulling the race card to cover up for their laziness. All the while biting a hole in my tongue, it is a miracle I still have a tongue. In spite of this I typically don’t go around insulting random white people. I typically don’t demand accountability from random white people. I typically don’t ask them to explain why my Native American ancestors culture is extinct or my African ancestors came on slave ships. I typically don’t insult them for having privilege. I even try to be kind to racist, because while they are racist they are still human (I don’t always succeed I am only human). So while I understand the desire for people to fight oppression, I have a hard time understanding being a jerk even if it is with the best of intentions. As for religion really all bad ideas about feeding the hungry is that a bad idea. Even as a religious person I will admit that religion has lead to some ridiculously bad ideas. But empirical evidence can be misused to come up with bad idea, like well eugenics. How data on African Americans having lower IQs has been used to argue blacks are dumber that whites. You can use just about anything to come up with stupid ideas. The problem isn’t religion or the empirical data it is people. We should just take responsibility for own stupidity.

        • DrewTwoFish

          A lot going on there. Clearly, you have experienced things from a variety of positions.

          One of the problems that I have with religion is that it is its own justification. So, yes people will be people but at least with empirical data one has a leg to stand on. E.g. Is “A” harmful or beneficial to children, individuals, society and so on because an ancient texts says so or is this borne out in observable, measurable reality?

        • Susan

          Christine,

          I’m sorry that people are so ignorant. The crap you had to deal with growing up is unacceptable, and all too common.

          Even as a religious person I will admit that religion has lead to some ridiculously bad ideas.

          Agreed. One example is the incoherent and unevidenced claim that an immaterial agent plucked all of reality out of metaphysical nothingness and became human.

          But empirical evidence can be misused to come up with bad idea, like well eugenics.

          Show me how empirical evidence leads us to eugenics.

          How data on African Americans having lower IQs has been used to argue blacks are dumber that whites.

          What data leads there? Cherry-picked data. It fails empirically.

          If it succeeded empirically, or if the claim that whites are dumber than blacks succeeded empirically, then we would have to acknowledge it. But it doesn’t. All of that would require definining impossible categories like “white” and “black”, which are hugely murky and seem irrelevant. There are so many more requirements of those sort of claims that must factor in all sorts of empirical evidence. Adequate nutrition, equitable opportunities, access to education…

          It is broad gathering of empirical data that undermines the strawmen you brought up against empirical data.

          The problem isn’t religion or the empirical data it is people. We should just take responsibility for own stupidity.

          How would we recognize our own stupidity without appealing to empirical data? Something from which christianity wants special exemption.

          It relies on special exemption.

        • Ignorant Amos

          We should just take responsibility for own stupidity.

          Instead of incessantly whinging about what word for stupidity someone uses to describe it…I agree.

        • Greg G.

          I have had a random guy at the supermarket insert himself into a private conversation between me and my parents to yell speak English at us.

          I have responded to people who say that by saying that people should be able to say anything they want in any language they want to say it in. If they can’t do that in the US, right here in [insert present location], where? (It doesn’t have to be “the US”, of course.)

          One very opinionated lady thought for about 15 seconds and then said she had changed her mind. The other two times, the other person didn’t respond.

        • MR

          I learned Spanish by spending a couple years in Spain. On my return, I recall sitting next to a table of Mexicans speaking Spanish and someone at my table, knowing I now understood Spanish, asked me if they were talking about us. I listened for a moment and said that, no, they were talking about stupid shit just like everyone else. That scenario played out a couple of times and I came to realize how self-centered we are that we can worry that a stranger at the next table might be talking about us behind our back.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Same thing with German, though the situation was that they were in fact backstabbing in their native language.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          My own favorite bit of Matthew is the Parable of the Sheep and Goats.

        • adam

          ” You take away my ability to practice my faith you might as well take away my ability to breathe.”

          When the ‘god’ you have ‘faith’ in declares slavery acceptable and the killing of homosexuals,
          witches’ and others, your ‘ability to practice your ‘faith’ NEEDS to be taken away.

        • Christine

          Good to know you don’t stand for the basic human right of freedom of religion (or lack of religion).

        • adam

          When the ‘god’ you have ‘faith’ in declares slavery acceptable and the killing of homosexuals, witches’ and others, your ‘ability to practice your ‘faith’ NEEDS to be taken away.

        • Christine

          You do realize by quoting me when I said taking my ability to practice my faith is basically taking my ability to breathe. Then saying my right to practice my faith should be taken away from me, you are kind of implying you want me dead.

        • adam

          You dont need faith to breathe.
          Evidence is all the breathing people who dont have your faith.

          “you are kind of implying you want me dead.”

          No, I am not, you are bearing FALSE WITNESS.

          Of course YOUR ‘god’ wants homosexuals, witches and others ACTUALLY DEAD and commands its followers to do exactly that.

          . https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/723c153c1526c59485eb92558b6bcafd98b185a3ba886ce520a42f01ae9ea262.jpg

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          You take away my ability to practice my faith you might as well take away my ability to breathe.

          Nobody wants to take away your ability to practice your faith unless your faith requires you to practice it on other people in a way that infringes their rights to do what they want to do. My right to swing my fist ends at your nose. Religions that require human sacrifice are not allowed to practice that part of their faith. Neither should an evangelical be allowed to stick their nose into another person’s love life.

        • Christine

          I never said you did. That is actually the exact opposite of my point. I am saying Christians should not fear giving Atheist more rights because it is not like Atheist have an evil plot to oppress us. I am simply saying American Christians should be less paranoid.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          As for why some Christian feel threatened. I think they believe if they give more rights to others, groups such as Atheist may use their new found rights to take away rights from Christians.

          My view is that American Christians have had an unfair advantage for generations and resist when the pendulum is put right. Their protests of unfairness are simply the response to losing their privileges.

          You have right-wing politicians talking about how the values of Christians are under threat and persecution is imminent

          If your free speech rights are under attack, so are mine.

          and people like Richard Dawkins basically saying religious people are pathetic lunatics.

          I don’t know what you’re referring to, but I’m guessing this is a message that is filtered through conservative leaders (political or Christian).

          My Coptic brothers and sisters courageously live out their faith in the face of real persecution and some of my American brothers and sisters get angry at Starbucks Coffee cups.

          Yes, that nicely summarizes the dichotomy.

        • Christine

          My problem with Richard Dawkins is the inflammatory statements he makes in the media and via tweer on a variety of topics (rape, Islam, child molestation). In all honesty the man need to stop tweeting, if isn’t going to be responsible about it. The ones on Islam are particularly troubling to me being that Muslims are marginalized enough in the west already. No need to fan the flames.

        • Susan

          My problem with Richard Dawkins is the inflammatory statements he makes in the media and via tweer on a variety of topics (rape, Islam, child molestation).

          But that’s not what you said originally. You said that he “called religious people pathetic lunatics”. You should retract it.

          I’m not on Twitter and don’t want to get off-topic. I don’t think I ever heard of him tweeting about child abuse, although it’s possible. I know he wrote a thoughtful article on the subject.

          Please stick to your original claim. Where did he call religious people “pathetic lunatics”?

        • Christine

          I never said he said that exactly. If I did it would be in quotes. I am saying his rhetoric makes it seem like that to Christians.

        • Susan

          I never said he said that exactly

          You said: (I quote)

          “people like Richard Dawkins basically saying religious people are pathetic lunatics.”

          You as much as said it. That is, you have summed his position up as that. And it’s flat out untrue.

          What do you know about what Richard Dawkins has said except what christians have told you?

          Did you ever watch his discussion with fellow scientist Fr. George Coyne?

          I mean, I’ve read an awful lot of Richard Dawkins and, though it’s been a while now, I never, ever, ever saw him “basically saying religious people are pathetic lunatics”.

          See, that’s the problem. Liars for Jesus head actual discussion off at the pass by lying about the people who are trying to have actual discussions.

          (Sort of like “Atheist philosopher(s) say(s) it’s A-OK to kill newborns!”)

          I can’t help it, Christine. I’m not trying to give you a particularly hard time. You seem very nice.

          You showed up here claiming that you’d heard most of the “atheist arguments” (which doesn’t give me confidence that you have because many of the most basic “atheist arguments” are about burden of proof), that you were “well-informed” and that you remain a christian.

          Then, you told us science isn’t perfect, that philosophy isn’t useless and that Richard Dawkins “basically calls religious people pathetic lunatics” which I don’t remember him ever on record doing.

          That is, you are repeating apologetic tactics that, though they might convince you, are a shambles.

          I am saying that his rhetoric makes it seem like that to christians.

          That is their problem. He simply asks them to support their positions. They lie about it because they can’t.

          Rather than check into their lies, you repeat them.

          If you could support your belief, you wouldn’t have to repeat lies.

          Mirrors can be horrifying.

        • Christine

          Actually I typically don’t discuss Richard Dawkins with any Christians. Actually I never have to my knowledge. So nope didn’t get these ideas from other Christians.

        • Susan

          didn’t get these ideas from other Christians.

          Wherever you got them, you didn’t check your work. You accepted them whole hog.

          The only reasonable place you could claim you got them is from Richard Dawkins himself. I asked you to show that you did that. But you’ve done nothing to demonstrate that you’ve even read what the man said.

          Your inability to support your accusation should be a problem for you. Whether or not it is, it is a problem for me.

          If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.
          .
          Wherever you got your information, you didn’t bother to check it. And you can’t support it.

          That’s key. It’s not exclusive to christians but on a Venn diagram, in the space where one would shade in “can’t support and deflects with lies and evasion”, christianity falls well within.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L15e2sNZsU

        • Christine

          Has it ever occurred to you that I have not explain the reasoning behind my beliefs is because I find that deeply personaI? I typically don’t even share that with my friends why would I share that with you a random person on the Internet? Because you demand me to? I don’t owe you anything.

        • Christine

          I meant to post that further down but it was still directed at you Susan, so it still works.

        • Susan

          I meant to post that further down but it was still directed at you Susan, so it still works.

          Sorry Christine. It’s Disqus. Things get jumbled.

          Were you referring to your comment:

          Nope wasn’t visited by angels or jesus. So your not even close.

          Or did you mean to attach it to another comment?

          (The most effective way to attach a comment to a previous comment, as far as I can tell, is to blockquote the previous comment even in part.

          Welcome to Disqus. :-) It’s the dog’s breakfast but it’s ours… )

        • Greg G.

          Fair enough. We would be interested if you had logical reasons that could be presented dispassiontely.

        • Christine

          Again why would I share that with you if I don’t share that with my friends?

        • Greg G.

          I didn’t say you should. If you had good logical reasons, there should be no hesitation. Logical reasons show that the sum of the exterior angles of a polygon is 360 degrees. If you have personal reasons for thinking the sum is any other value or that the sum is dependent on the number of sides of even that it is 360 degrees, you have bad reasons for your conclusion. But the logical reasons should not be personal.

          Often religious people claim that they have personal reasons for their beliefs. They think that God sent a messenger to themselves alone. They are lying in bed but fully awake when an angel, or a deceased loved one, or even Jesus himself comes to them. Many times the person finds that they are immobilized or paralyzed. When it is over, they can move and there is no trace of evidence beyond the memory.

          But that experience is not unlike the reports of aliens abducting a person from there own beds, they awake find themselves on a spaceship being examined or having some procedure done to them but they cannot move. They find themselves in their own bed with nothing but the memory and there is no trace of what they thought was implanted in them.

          Police get calls of intruders in a house, especially at night, with no evidence that there was an actual intruder. I had something like that. A heard the back door thrown open and footsteps coming toward my bedroom. I was familiar with waking dreams and the night paralysis and was pissed that it was happening at that moment. I was finally able to force my head to turn and then throw the blanket at him but it fell to the floor. I searched the house but it was only when I saw that the back door was still closed that I realized that it had all been a waking dream. I told a friend about that and he said that he had gone to bed and heard a loud crash while feeling the house shudder. He immediately called the police to report that someone had crashed into his living room. But when he walked out, everything was normal. The police told him that they get lots of calls like that.

          The waking dream phenomenon is reported in about a third of the population and stops happening when a person reaches the mid-30s in age.

          It has been my personal experience that those with a religious experience refused to accept that the experience could have been a waking dream, just like I couldn’t believe at the time that the intruder was part of my waking dream even though I knew I was having one. A person feels so awake and alert during the dream that it is hard for the person to believe that they are not actually awake.

          Others have experiences with “angels” when they are rescued by someone who cannot be found later. A similar case was solved when a person came forward and explained that he had someplace to be and left as soon as he saw the person was OK.

          Theses are sorts of experiences that a believer in the supernatural thinks is a personal experience but are actually not good reasons to believe in the supernatural.

          You can keep it to yourself if you want. I don’t care. But I will continue to think it was something like the example above.

        • Christine

          Nope wasn’t visited by angels or Jesus. So your not even close.

        • Christine

          As for your comments that if I had logical reason I wouldn’t have any hesitations, you underestimate how reserved I can be. This is the girl that hated solving math problems in front of people. No I wasn’t bad at math I was actually pretty good at it. No I wasn’t inserting emotion into it. I am kind of guarded with my reasons for things even if they are logical.

        • Greg G.

          But that does not mean that you have a valid reason for your beliefs. Since no supernaturalist has ever presented a good reason for such a belief, we should not expect yours to be either. You should also consider your own reasons in this light.

        • Susan

          Because you demand me to?

          I don’t.

          I don’t owe you anything.

          Of course you don’t but as a fan of philosophy, you should understand that we can disregard your opening comments here. That you are ‘well-informed’ and remain a christian for what you seemed to imply are solid intellectual reasons.

        • Christine

          The man has said that Islam is on of the world’s greatest evils in a recent interview. No I didn’t read it on a right wing site. I think it was on a huff post or one of the other places I read news from. I know you probably don’t care but if someone said Atheism is one of the world’s greatest evils you would probably be upset. He tweeted that date rape is not as bad as violent rape. Got that one from huff post. Not to mention picking on the Muslim kid in Texas who was arrested for bringing a clock to school. Comparing him to on of the children ISIS has beheading people. Can’t remember which news agency I got that one from possibly also huff post. So let’s just say I have many reasons to not like this guy. Mostly based on his tweets. You can look this up if you don’t believe. This is just the highlights.

        • MNb

          Yeah, well, I already wrote that I don’t think high of Dawkins except when he writes about biology. And I’m far from the only atheist.
          Now what?

        • Christine

          I was responding to Susan’s comments.

        • MNb

          And I asked you a question.
          Now what?
          Thanks for not answering. That makes it look like you think your own point irrelevant.

        • Christine

          Because I do think it is irrelevant. I had no intention of starting a long-winded discussion about whether or not I have maligned Richard Dawkins. The intension of my original post was that Christians should be less paranoid about Atheist.

        • MNb

          OK. Frankly I didn’t get that intention of yours, so thanks for clarifying.

        • Susan

          whether or not I have maligned Richard Dawkins.

          You misunderstand. It’s about accuracy. Not about Richard Dawkins himself.

          I am familiar with him from pre-Twitter days. He wrote thoughtful articles that invited criticism. He tirelessly worked to confront creationism and the inherent assumption that religion should not be questioned and should be given privileged status. He demonstrated patience I don’t know I would have when confronted with the same fallacious arguments again and again. I do try to have patience.

          In pre-Twitter days, no matter how carefully he tried to raise the discussion, he was always accused by christians of calling religious people “basically pathetic lunatics” though I never saw him do it. Did you watch the Fr. Coyne interview that I linked? Or his discussion with the Archbishop of Canterbury?

          I’m frustrated Christine. You showed up to explain that you were familiar with the arguments and remained a christian despite the arguments and haven’t provided a single argument. You immediately began to recite apologetic red herrings and have never made good on your statement that you are “well-informed” and still a christian.

          As I said, I’m not trying to scare you off. I hope you stick around. You seem nice and I would like to have a conversation with you.

          But it doesn’t sound like you know what an argument is.

          You’re familiar with “most Atheist arguments”, you say. (By the way, no need to capitalize it… please don’t, actually.)

          You don’t provide one of your own although you have the burden if you care to participate. But you don’t. It’s “personal”.

          I’m happy that you’re here but you chose a strange article to introduce yourself. You’ve brought an elephant into the room on the subject of the article.

          That leaves me sitting here, thinking you are nice enough and I hope you stay a while but what on earth are we going to talk about?

          We can solemnly nod in agreement about the first amendment of the U.S.A. constitution and I am happy (very happy and I’m not an estadounidense) that we can do that.

          But you showed up implying that you had reasons for your theism and then scattered red herrings around that get smelly if we let them sit there too long.

          I’m trying to figure out what we should talk about.

          What should we talk about?

        • Christine

          Honestly I have nothing left to say to you.

        • Susan

          I have nothing left to say to you.

          Understood.

          May I ask why?

          You made a lot of statements and I tried to follow up on them respectfully.

          Is there anything I could have done short of nodding along that would improve your opinion of my efforts to engage?

          On the internet, I worry that that might sound sarcastic when it isn’t meant to be.

          My questions are all sincere.

        • Christine

          Because I have a deadline I have to meet and I keep procrastinating.

        • Susan

          I have a deadline I have to meet and I keep procrastinating.

          Understood. Deadlines come first. They matter. Hunker down. :-)

          You don’t have to answer right away. It’s the internet.

          I hope you meet it well and that you come back and respond.

          I asked you fair questions and asked you to support your statements. If that makes you go away for good, I won’t blame myself. I’m past that.

          I hope you do come back. Please don’t hit the reset button on the way in. You can’t make claims without supporting them.

          At church, you can. In philosophy, you can’t. And you are appealing to philosophy. .

        • Christine

          But is has been amusing.

        • Susan

          But it has been amusing.

          Glad you were entertained.

          Please hurry back when you are willing to support things you state.

          That’s what the article meant by ‘arguments’.

        • Susan

          So let’s just say I have many reasons to not like this guy.

          As I said, I’m not on Twitter and am unable to discuss those subjects.

          But none of them have to do with your original claim that he “basically said religious people are pathetic lunatics”.

          Unless you can support that, you should retract it.

          It sullies the discussion.

          It’s important.

          Your dislike for him based on his tweets on other subjects has nothing to do with your original claim.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          He tweeted that date rape is not as bad as violent rape.

          Yes, I’ve heard that. And I’m a little perplexed at the reaction.

          I’ve never raped nor been raped, so I’ll admit at the outset that I’m no expert. But it seems to me that a woman with her underwear stuffed in her mouth with a knife to her throat wondering if she will be killed is different from one who wakes up the next morning regretting having had sex with someone she knows.

          I have no desire to minimize date rape. What I want is avoid minimizing is regular rape.

          So let’s just say I have many reasons to not like this guy. Mostly based on his tweets.

          Next time, give us the actual tweet with the link. Then we’ll have something to talk about.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Am glad you went there and made that comparison…I was going to post something similar the other day but a bottled it. Too much of a minefield to walk into for me. It was a cert that my opinion might be misconstrued as meaning something else. If it can happen to Dawkins, I’d have no chance.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I remember the concept of date rape being introduced to the conversation decades ago. I like the idea to some extent–“no” means no, and ignoring that is not just “boys being boys.” Rather, it’s a kind of rape. My only concern is when that elevates date rape at the expense of regular rape.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course…and the Dawkins issue is exactly what you suggested. I think Dawkins shouldn’t go near twitter, I don’t, it’s too much just sound bites that are prone to be misunderstood when it comes to subjects that 140 characters won’t do justice too without creating a controversy. Here’s the tweet.

          Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.
          — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) July 29, 2014

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/richard-dawkins-says-date-rape-is-bad-stranger-rape-is-worse-on-twitter-9634572.html

          Only a complete moron would have trouble understanding that tweet, but then there are enough of them about.

          Of course the media and the holy rollers just love it. so why would they let the truth get in the way of some juicy tid-bit taken out of context?

          The Texan schoolboy bollocks Christine brings up un-cited is the same kind of trope…out of context nonsense. But clever Christine…well, she’s just a dickhead.

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/richard-dawkins-compares-clock-boy-ahmed-mohamed-to-child-soldier-forced-by-isis-to-behead-victims-a6747811.html

          What about poor Christine, for someone professing such smarts, she is not very smart at all. Of course credentials are not a necessary metric of ones intellect as we all know too well. But what a way ta go in making an arse of oneself girl.

          A see Christine has obfuscated the conversation with this Dawkins shite in order to draw the focus off herself, and her inability to do…well… anything, before pissing of to Croydon. Surprise, surprise?…NOT!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I think Dawkins shouldn’t go near twitter

          Agreed.

          Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.

          — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) July 29, 2014

          What’s to disagree in that? That works for me.

          Of course the media and the holy rollers just love it. so why would they let the trut h get in the way of some juicy tid-bit taken out of context?

          Worse is the PZ Myers of the atheist world who gleefully point out every PC infraction. If someone in my own community does something stupid, I’m happy to have that pointed out. But much of FTB seemed to have gone off on the tangent where that’s all they want to talk about.

          A bunch of those bloggers are now posting on The Orbit. I’m all for atheists focusing on civil rights and do much of that myself. I wish them well. It’s the apparent focusing on nothing but rumors of dickish actions by prominent atheists that turned me off.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What’s to disagree in that? That works for me.

          My point in posting it.

          A bunch of those bloggers are now posting on The Orbit. I’m all for atheists focusing on civil rights and do much of that myself. I wish them well. It’s the apparent focusing on nothing but rumors of dickish actions by prominent atheists that turned me off.

          Indeed. I get regular notifications from Carriers FTB site which gave a heads up on The Orbit, but it isn’t for me and it’s one aspect of Carrier I don’t warm to either, not that he has much to warm to in the first place…though I do enjoy a lot of his work om Jesus studies.

          I don’t think there is as much need for so much back biting, the community has enough to contend with from the outside. Let’s deal with that issue before dealing with the in house bitching I say.

        • Christine

          As for my comments on philosophy. I was simple making the point that science has it roots in philosophy. Actually it was derived from philosophy. So if science works so well philosophy can’t be all that bad. As for science having its faults, it has them just like every other aspect of society government the financial sector etc.

        • Susan

          I get your point. It’s not necessarily well-developed.

          Couldn’t you as reliably say “If chemistry works so well, alchemy can’t be all that bad.”?

          About science, you seem to be saying that it isn’t perfect because humans are fallible.

          The strength of science is that it recognizes that humans are fallible and takes measures to compensate for that. The results speak for themselves.

          But what does this have to do with anything?

        • Christine

          You’re the one that brought up my previous comments on science.So I was responding to you.

        • Christine

          Understanding the history of Alchemy is actually useful. Allows you to understand how chemistry got to the point it is at now. It gives you historical perspective. So in that sense Alchemy is useful.

        • MNb

          “Actually it was derived from philosophy.”
          Actually it wasn’t. The first known scientific prediction in a western society was not derived from philosophy:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eclipse_of_Thales

          Thales got his information probably from Babylonia:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_astronomy

          This scientific work was actually inspired by religion – specifically the idea that the movement of the heavenly bodies could tell something about the intentions of the gods. That idea was based on the lack of distinction between the natural and the supernatural reality.
          Unfortunately we know preciously little about the scientific work of the Egyptians; we do know that that neither the Babylonians nor the Egyptians cared much for philosophy though.
          Something similar seems to apply to Mayan culture. Indian and Chinese science seem to have developed largely independent from both philosophy and religion.
          Science is older than philosophy.
          So you’re both wrong and eurocentric.

          “So if science works so well philosophy can’t be all that bad.”
          I already showed that this is a non-sequitur. Worse – nobody, not even BobS, ever claimed that philosophy is “all that bad”.
          That makes you not even wrong.

        • Christine

          Here is a link about Natural phylosophy: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_philosophy&ved=0ahUKEwixxdjNh77LAhVBmh4KHe62A7sQFgg0MAQ&usg=AFQjCNEluY9d9fa2rznZApLECD9q0C2lVw&sig2=yWbjGB14csjEIllcLD8tlg
          I responding to Susan’s comments implying that I can’t possibly be well informed and see value in phylosophy. So no I want dating everyone in this discussion or anyone for that matter said phylosophy is all bad.

        • MNb

          Nothing in that link contradicts what I wrote. Your “science is derived from philosophy” is simply wrong and your “philosophy can’t be that bad” nothing but a strawman.
          I’m not interfering with Susan’s and your beef. She is perfectly capable of handling it herself and doesn’t need me in the least. However if you write incorrect things like the two quotes I just refuted your chances to hold your own are very grey. So my suggestion is to formulate your position better, so that it doesn’t contain errors like the ones I corrected. These errors indeed suggest you’re not well informed.

        • Christine

          How do the two links you posted refute what I said? The first states that a solar eclipse was predicted by Thales and that it is the first eclipse that was predicted. It even says it is unclear if it was truly predicted by him. No mentions of BabylonIan Astrology. The second goes into the history of Babylonian Astrology mentioned that it was influenced by religion and later by phylosophy.

        • MNb

          Science came first – then philosophy. Possibly the Egyptians, certainly the Babylonians (as the second link confirms), the Maya, the Indians and the Chinese started to do science without philosophy. Hence science cannot have been derived from philosophy, which was your claim.

          Notes as you seem to be determined not to get it: Thales’ prediction had nothing to do with his philosophy (as the first link confirms). Babylonian astrology and astronomy were completely intertwined. Collecting data is a scientific activity.
          Saying that philosophy at certain points in history influenced science is not nearly the same as saying that science is derived from philosophy.
          It isn’t. It never was.

        • Susan

          responding to Susan’s comments implying that I can’t possibly be well informed and see value in phylosophy.

          I don’t remember saying anything of the sort. .

          Could you provide a link to that?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’d not heard of that eclipse prediction. It’s interesting to imagine how he might’ve known and to speculate how a prediction of an eclipse might’ve become attached to a story.

        • Pofarmer

          While it’s true that philosophy uses science, metaphysical naturalism, for instance, it’s also true that philosophy can’t make any kind of a specific claim without science. If philosophers want to prove that some idea they are working on is true, then they must rely on science to make the determination. Theoretical physicists are sometimes doing philosophy, but it’s always subject to emperical verification. Without that step, philosophy is essentially blind.

        • Christine

          I am not saying phylosophy should be used to the exclusion of science. I am saying it has it uses.

        • MNb

          With that one I heartily agree – in fact I sometimes like to tease BobS with it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s true. Never let it be said that the atheists here are just sycophantic ditto-heads.

          (But wait until I’m the ruler of the universe …)

        • Susan

          wait until I’m the ruler of the universe…

          As ruler of the universe, I hope you will have learned that christians pointing at “philosophy” as some kind of Hail Mary that deflects from the philosophically robust (they love the word robust) principles of science often violate basic rules of philosophy.

          I understand your distaste for ‘philosophy’ but you use philosophy all the time.

          That christians fling words around doesn’t mean they get to define them.

          Philosophy is a tool that includes induction.

          Yelling ‘philosophy’ at science is like yelling ‘big-boned’ at the bathroom scale when you don’t like what it tells you.

          Christians don’t win philosophy just because they type it.

          They ignore philosophy when they claim it ‘trumps’ science.

          Your aversion to it is because you talk to christians who think typing the word is as good as a get-out-of-jail-free card when it is anything but.

          They fail philosophically before anything else. You point that out all the time.

          Philosophy is a tool and it’s a good one.

          At its best, it shows that ‘philosophy’ doesn’t get to boss the universe around.

          The philosophy of (and results of) science are all about that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s not really philosophy that’s the issue for me but philosophers.

        • Susan

          It’s not really philosophy that’s the issue for me but philosophers.

          Which ones?

          Honestly, I think the issue for you is theists claiming that philosophy trumps science without explaining how that makes any sense. It doesn’t. It doesn’t philosophically. Notice they never show their philosophical work when they show up here.

          Remember the ‘false dilemma’ a few days back? General philosophy weeds out that sort of idiocy before science has to lift a finger.

          Theists are terrible philosophers.

          They rely on special pleading which has been a philosophical no-no for a very long time.

          Also, they shift the burden of proof.

          They claim they have ‘proofs’ when they have ill-defined premises that aren’t necessarily true which leaves them with unsound arguments.

          I could go on.

          It’s not ‘philosophy’. It’s theism’s abuse of the term that twists your girdle.

          I don’t blame you. I get an eye twitch every time a theist mentions philosophy and attempts to advance a fallacious argument or just evades their burden altogether. That they claim “philosophy” as often as they do when they don’t bother to do philosophy has probably put you off the word.

        • MNb

          I presume specifically philosophers of religion.. Well, you’re not the only one.

          http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=6482
          http://religiondispatches.org/a-philosopher-of-religion-calls-it-quits/

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, they are the ones that annoy me. And it’s good to have company. Thanks for the links.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But not them all surely?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Right. As MNb noted, it’s philosophers of religion who IMO overstep their bounds. Daniel Dennett, atheist philosopher extraordinaire, would be a counterexample.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah, I’d worked that out shortly after getting here.

          “Philosopher’s of Religion” is a highly dubious term in it’s own rights.

          Religion took bits and pieces of all the open ended philosophies, of all the great thinkers throughout history, put them in a box, closed the lid and called it a doctrine (name of their choosing). They constructed tenets and moral guidelines, claiming absolute knowledge, without proof, of the existence of the ultimate deity and after life destination and how we were to conduct ourselves in order to reach this specific after-life to the exclusion of all unbelievers. They enforced their doctrine by force, intimidation and fear mongering. They basically came along one day and ordered an end to the discussion.

          While Philosophers spoke of postulations and possibilities, the religions spoke of absolutes and consequences.

          At some point the two, now separate, teachings had become divergent to the point of becoming polar opposites, from a literal standpoint, but yet somehow still maintain the same definition in our languages?

          I kinda like this approach…

          “Philosophy is just not oriented to the outlook of someone who needs to resolve the issue, implement the corresponding solution, and then find out – possibly fatally – whether they got it right or wrong. Philosophy doesn’t resolve things, it compiles positions and arguments. It would be one matter if I could just look up the standard answer and find that, lo and behold, it is correct. But philosophy, which hasn’t come to conclusions and moved on from cognitive reductions that I regard as relatively simple, doesn’t seem very likely to build complex correct structures of conclusions.” —Eliezer Yudkowsky, artificial intelligence researcher.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          When theologians (to broaden the category of “philosophers of religion”) reach a consensus, I’ll sit up and take notice.

          Right now, they can’t even tell us how many gods there are, how to please them, or what their name(s) are.

        • Ignorant Amos

          When theologians (to broaden the category of “philosophers of religion”) reach a consensus, I’ll sit up and take notice.

          Probably best not to be holding yer breath while waiting though.

        • MNb

          Not even that is the problem – philosophers never reach consensus either (for instance on all kinds of ethical topics). The problem is that theologians/ philosophers of religion claim to offer more than mere speculation – and that not even their speculations are good.

        • Greg G.
        • MNb

          Yes, it was all over the Dutch media.
          Unfortunately it doesn’t make the Dutch any more rational. Geert Wilders, who is worse than The Donald, may very well become the leader of the biggest political party after next elections.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not a multi-omni attribute ruler of the universe though, just like every other universe ruler ever posited, so you are in some decent company, though not that turd Yahweh/Jesus, nothing decent about that one.

        • Greg G.

          (But wait until I’m the ruler of the universe …)

          Grant me to sit at your right hand in your glory.

        • Pofarmer

          Philosophy can help define issues. It’ not very good at actually answering qustions.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Whaaaaa? How do you know that all those Christian’s you cited believe Dawkins thinks/said they are a bunch of pathetic lunatics?

          Sucked it out of yer thumb then? Or ya just made it up because it felt right? Or lied about it here for hyperbole purposes? Tut, tut…that won’t do, that won’t do at all.

          Way ta go such a highly educated rational thinker…keep digging.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So you paraphrased Dawkins?

          “people like Richard Dawkins basically saying religious people are pathetic lunatics.”

          Now show where he sorta said something like that…even basically…never mind what his rhetoric seems like to Christian’s…or even some of them.

          What he has said is that certain views in religions are pathetic, and they are…something that the religious also claim about other religions and guess what, their own too, so his views and opinions are not at all unusual. But why let the truth get in the way of a good bit of hyperbole.

          Pathetic: 1. Arousing or deserving of sympathetic sadness and compassion. 2. Arousing or deserving of scornful pity.

          So, either or of these definitions apply in my opinion

          The Christian world-view that the universe is only 6,000 years old IS pathetic. The Islamic belief that Mohamed rode a winged horse to visit an archangel IS pathetic.The Mormon ritual of wearing magical temple undergarments that have life protecting attributes IS pathetic…the list would fill books.

          If one holds ridiculously unreasonable concepts in their heads then they should not be surprised if there are those that think they are pathetic. As for lunatic…let’s just say there are hospitals full of folk that fit that description. But guess what, context is everything and that is not the definition that I apply. I pick the following one.

          Lunatic: 2. So senseless as to be laughable

          Are there Christian lunatics? Of course there are, and plenty of Christians have no qualms with this concept.

          Among these neo-fundamentalist evangelicals are some out-and-out lunatics. I don’t use that word in a technical sense—if it has one. I use it in the popular sense, the one most people think of now, of extremists who would be dangerous if their beliefs were to gain traction, momentum, real influence in the social realm—including especially politics. I do not mean they are literally insane in any DSM-5 sense. They may be religiously and politically delusional, but they are not literally mentally ill (so their extremism cannot be dismissed that way).

          Even most American Christians, especially relatively educated and enlightened ones, those whose main “compass” is driven by Jesus and the New Testament and who are reasonable people even if others strongly disagree with their beliefs, reject the ideologically-driven proposals of these “evangelical lunatics” on the movement’s extremist fringe.

          Roger E. Olson

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/biography-2/

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2015/12/a-call-for-american-evangelical-leaders-to-confront-evangelicalisms-lunatic-fringe/

          Ya don’t hear the same rhetoric when a fellow Christian actually does call some Christian’s lunatic’s because of their views…but let’s kick that shrill and strident outspoken atheist when he is misrepresented.

          Are these Christian lunatics pathetic? I’d say so…wouldn’t you?

          But that is not your assertion here and someone with your level of claimed intelligence should know and do much better.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Perhaps you’re right that it would be smart if he stopped tweeting. But for our purposes, you must give me a specific tweet if you want to back up that charge. I try to ignore Twitter as much as possible, so I don’t know what he’s said.

          “Dawkins said something rude about Islam” doesn’t help us. Quite a few rude things about Islam pop into my own mind, so I’m not sure that I won’t agree with him.

        • MNb

          It doesn’t.

          http://calltoreason.org/?p=5479

          Again: so what? Philosophy isn’t meant to work. Philosophy is all about what we can’t know (yet), without relyng on revelation. As Bertrand Russell wrote:

          “Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or that of revelation. All definite knowledge–so I should contend–belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man’s Land, exposed to attack from both sides; this No Man’s Land is philosophy. Almost all the questions of most interest to speculative minds are such as science cannot answer, and the confident answers of theologians no longer seem so convincing as they did in former centuries.

          ……

          The studying of these questions, if not the answering of them, is the business of philosophy.”
          Then follows a question BobS almost certainly will like:

          “Why, then, you may ask, waste time on such insoluble problems?”
          The answer, as we should expect from Russell, is excellent. It’s in the introduction of his History of Western Philosophy.
          Just don’t expect philosophy to work. Expecting, let alone claiming philosophy to work just repeats a Greek error of 2000-2500 years ago.

        • Pofarmer

          Assumptions based on experience. And?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          None of these assumptions can be proven

          Who cares? They can be tested! And they’re tested continually. As soon as scientists find a counterexample, that will be noted and taken into consideration going forward.

        • Christine

          The philosophical assumptions that science is based on can be tested. How?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Take your list of 3 above. You’re saying that you can think of no way to test any of them?

          That I’m communicating to you using electricity, the internet, and computers (for starters), it seems like any fundamental claims on which the science behind those technologies lies is being tested.

        • Christine

          So you arguement is that science works therefore the assumptions that it is based must be true. Fair enough. But you are still not directly testing these assumptions though.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Huh?

          Take your “1. The physical world can be systematically observed.” Now try to observe the world. Is it observable? Can you state facts about it? Can those facts then be tested and caveats added (“Water always boils at 212 degrees F … unless you’re not at sea level or the air pressure is for some other reason not 1,013 millibars”)?

          You test the assumptions by assuming them and then seeing if that assumption holds up.

  • Wick Samuel

    ’ve never heard of anyone in Group 3, the well-informed atheists, who converted to Christianity because of intellectual arguments

    just a few:

    Larry Darby – Former Holocaust denier and former member of the American Atheists.

    Seraphim Rose – Hieromonk and religious writer. In early adulthood he considered non-theist ideas of God and the Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche that God is dead. He became Russian Orthodox in 1962.

    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – Nobel Prize-winning dissident author who converted to Russian Orthodoxy.

    Steve Beren – former member of the Socialist Workers Party (United States) who became a Christian conservative politician.

    Francis Collins – physician-geneticist, noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes, and the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (former atheist)

    Tamsin Greig – British actress raised as an atheist then converted at 30.

    Nicky Gumbel – Anglican priest known for the Alpha course, from atheism.

    Peter Hitchens – Journalist who went from Trotskyism to Traditionalist conservatism, and estranged brother of late outspoken anti-theist and Vanity Fair writer Christopher Hitchens.

    C. E. M. Joad – English philosopher whose arguing against Christianity, from an agnostic perspective, earned him criticism from T. S. Eliot.[6] He turned toward religion later, writingThe Recovery of Belief a year before he died and returning to Christianity.

    C. S. Lewis – Oxford professor and writer; well known for The Chronicles of Narnia series, and for his apologetic Mere Christianity.

    Alister McGrath – Biochemist and Christian theologian. Founder of ‘Scientific theology’ and critic of Richard Dawkins in his book Dawkins’ God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life

    Enoch Powell – Conservative Party (UK) member who converted to Anglicanism.

    Michael Reiss – a British bioethicist, educator, journalist, and Anglican priest. Agnostic/Secular upbringing.

    Dame Cicely Saunders – Templeton Prize and Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize winning nurse known for palliative care. She converted to Christianity as a young woman.

    Fay Weldon – British novelist and feminist.

    Anthony Flew: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed his Mind

    John Warwick Montgomery, Renowned Christian Apologist, Lutheran theologian, and barrister. As a philosophy major in college, he investigated the claims of Christianity “to preserve intellectual integrity” and converted.

    Marvin Olasky – former Marxist turned Christian conservative, he edits the Christian World magazine.

    George R. Price – Geneticist who became an Evangelical Christian and wrote about the New Testament. Later he moderated his evangelistic tendencies and switched from religious writing to working with the homeless

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

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You do understand, though, that mere atheist converts to Christianity don’t make counterexamples, right?

      • Pofarmer

        No, I doubt he does, and we’ve already discussed several of these. I wish you’d banned him weeks ago like several other blogs did.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m tempted. He is becoming tiresome.

        • Pofarmer

          He’s not just tiresome, he simply, like most of the apologists who show up, won’t learn.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What’s there to learn? He’s already got it figured out!

      • Wick Samuel

        is this one of those tricks you do? like

        Bob: “I’ve never heard of anyone in Group 3, the well-informed atheists, who converted to Christianity because of intellectual arguments”

        Me: “well, here’s a long list of people that did exactly that. Deeply atheist, investigated and converted.”

        Bob: “Well, they didn’t do it for intellectual arguments though”

        Me: “?? that’s exactly what each one claims to have done, that they were atheist but followed the evidence where it lead”

        Bob: “chortle… you ready?”

        Me: “um, sure”

        Bob: “no, I mean, are you really ready?”

        Me: “um, sure”

        Bob: “There are no intellectual arguments by definition!!! No rational person can believe it, so by definition all arguments are anti-intellectual!!! Whee!! Atheism wins! booya!”

        Me: “well, arent you making two errors:

        1. assuming that naturalism is true, that God does not exist
        2. defining “intellectual argument” as an argument that you agree with.”

        Bob: “now you’re just avoiding the question, being evasive again!..”

        me: “ah..”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Bob: “I’ve never heard of anyone in Group 3, the well-informed atheists, who converted to Christianity because of intellectual arguments”

          Me: “well, here’s a long list of people that did exactly that. Deeply atheist, investigated and converted.”

          You’re not bothering to read again. You need (1) well-informed atheists (unlike Antony Flew, for example) who (2) convert for intellectual, not emotional, reasons (unlike Leah Libresco). Ball’s in your court to show both for each of these people. Obviously, neither trait is claimed by the source of your list.

          If you actually want to engage in the discussion honestly (your past record leaves me with doubts) re-read the last 4 paragraphs.

        • Wick Samuel

          Antony Flew, one of the worlds most widely know atheists, who for years defended atheism, was not a “well-informed atheist” according to you.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_Flew#Prominent_atheist

          Is this another one of those tricks? “well, if he was well-informed, he would never have converted, so obviously he wasnt well informed!!”

          now, the one thing I know you WONT do, is clearly define what you mean by “well-informed atheist”, you’ll probably just accuse me of evasion?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Is this another one of those tricks? “well, if he was well-informed, he would never have converted, so obviously he wasnt well informed!!”

          Things would be a lot easier if you’d not assume duplicity and answer honestly and completely.

          The last 4 paragraphs in the post are key to understanding my point: I can’t be certain that no well-informed atheist has converted for intellectual reasons, but you would certainly expect this new Christian to return to his former buddies and point out the many ways their intellectual arguments fail.

          I certainly would. And yet we don’t see this happening.

        • TheNuszAbides

          yet again, Wick flings out flimsy ‘justifications’ for disagreement, pre-emptively accuses you of **crickets**, and then … **crickets**

        • Pofarmer

          “Deeply atheist, investigated and converted.””

          Actually no. Collins, for instance, is clearly an emotional conversion.

          It’s really pointless to go through the rest of the list though isn’t it?

    • ziddina

      “Things that made me go “Hmmm….”

      “Larry Darby – Former Holocaust denier” – already had a behavior pattern of denying evidence.

      “Seraphim Rose – Hieromonk and religious writer. In early adulthood he considered non-theist ideas of God…” – but not actually an atheist before he ‘converted’.

      “Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – Nobel Prize-winning dissident author” – dissident authors are well known for their highly charged arguments – not so well known for sticking dispassionately to the facts of a situation.

      “Steve Beren – former member of the Socialist Workers Party (United States) who became a Christian conservative politician” – As a shrewd politician, did he just decide it would help his political career to switch from atheism to Christianity? Also, not a scientist nor very knowledgeable about the real origins of the bible gods.

      “Francis Collins – physician-geneticist, noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes, and the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (former atheist)” – I’ve heard him speak briefly on the subject; he appears to lack the most rudimentary understanding of how the bible, especially the New Testament, came into its present form.

      “Tamsin Greig – British actress raised as an atheist then converted at 30.” – Nothing more needs to be said on this one.

      “Nicky Gumbel – Anglican priest known for the Alpha course, from atheism.” – Just looked his biography up; he went from one Anglican church to another, with no mention of any dalliance with atheism.

      “Peter Hitchens – Journalist who went from Trotskyism to Traditionalist conservatism” – no indications that this journalist was qualified to understand the real origins of the bible?

      “C. E. M. Joad – English philosopher whose arguing against Christianity, from an agnostic perspective… He turned toward religion later, writingThe Recovery of Belief a year before he died…” – First of all, a philosopher. Secondly, people who have a poor understanding of the origins of religious fervor, and who fear death, are prone to convert to Christianity (or other religious beliefs) if they sense their lives are coming to a close.

      “C. S. Lewis – Oxford professor and writer” – again, a philosopher, not a scientist.

      “Alister McGrath – Biochemist and Christian theologian.” – That should be, ‘Christian theologian (degrees in theology & “Intellectual History” i.e. philosophy) and biochemist.

      This post is becoming far too long, but there is a preponderance of non-scientists & philosophers in the list.

      • TheNuszAbides

        “Tamsin Greig – British actress raised as an atheist then converted at 30.” – Nothing more needs to be said on this one.

        she was great in Black Books!

    • TheNuszAbides

      r.o.f.l.
      calls Peter Hitchens a journalist but Christopher’s career is just ‘Vanity Fair writer’. oh, veils of ignorance…

    • TheNuszAbides

      george r. price : very much worth reading. i might even take a peek at his religious phase beyond biographical notes some day.

    • jh

      I clicked on the nontheism link just to read the definition.
      Here’s an excerpt …

      “Nontheism covers a range of both religious[1] and nonreligious[2] attitudes characterized by the absence of espoused belief in a personal god or gods. The term nontheism is generally used to describe apathy or a noncomment toward the subject of God and differentiates from an antithetical, explicit, atheism. Nontheism does not necessarily describe atheism or disbelief in God”
      (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nontheism)

      Please note the very last sentence. I believe the blog writer was specifically mentioning atheists. Not only that – his premise was that IF the atheist converted, it wasn’t because of the superiority of the christian ideas and the truthfulness of the Christianity ideology. The conversion was based on some non-intellectual rationale.

      (Trust me – if there was a good enough thing to justify an atheist to convert, they would be using it all the time instead of using poorly made Pascal’s Wagers or other arguments to justify their religion. Just give me evidence in the form of 1 billion dollars in my bank account that I own free and clear that was deposited without any human interaction and I’ll become a christian that fast. Unfortunately, I have yet to see that amount in my bank account.)

  • TheNuszAbides

    If they allow themselves to get distracted by other potential partners or situations instead of defending their decision against temptation or neglect, it would be rather easy to discard something formerly regarded as precious.

    to say nothing (unsurprisingly) about the problems for those who confuse/conflate ‘precious’ and ‘expected’… however, i don’t mean to presume that you’d expect sincerity to be sacrificed for the greater good…

  • TheNuszAbides

    indeed. i think i’d like to try my hand at a paper on errors of attribution … hopefully not too heavy on the petty philosophy 😉

  • TheNuszAbides

    but oh, joy, it reinforces the Personal Relationship model which effectively allows a ‘unique’ bubble of solipsism per Lamb.

  • TheNuszAbides

    it also sounds like a lot of the ‘first trip’ stories on Erowid and elsewhere.
    sadly, the intrinsically ‘unplanned’ nature of nearly anything lumped under ‘spiritual experience’ is just as conveniently untestable as most elements used to posit the distinctions of religious groups. (now recalling C.Hitchens’ occasional assertion that it’s taboo to discuss the differences between religions.)
    add to that the widespread, [un/dis/mis]informed prejudices regarding any psychotropic that hasn’t been as well marketed as, say, aspirin; almost convenient how that narrows down the number of people who can even begin to tackle the notion of ‘distinguishing between’ these experiences. but fMRI and some recent epilepsy studies provide some hope (from where i’m standing).

  • TheNuszAbides

    If you realize you were deluding yourself about the existence of either one,

    ah, a variant on the ‘Canadian girlfriend’ narrative!

  • TheNuszAbides

    how much of a difference Christianity has made

    positive action/change attributed to the religion (or its central figure) of the human(s) who enacted the change (and either declining to apply the same ‘analysis’ to negative action/change or handsweeping with some absurdly unjustifiable of unquantifiables, “more good than harm”). so many tangents by which to contest this, but i found myself floundering to focus on articulating just one. maybe i need more sleep. more appropriate thread, other suggestions, thoughts?

  • labarum

    Perhaps you have not considered it, but there is an unfair bias in your groupings. Now a blog at Patheos is bound to have bias – it is the unfair bias to which I refer. By dividing atheists into informed and uninformed atheists but restricting Christians to a single group (with the presumption they are uninformed), you have shown you cannot possibly think outside the atheist box. In fact, by positing “atheist” as the negation of “Christian,” you have denied the existence of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. There are numerous Christian converts from these religions (were they atheists before ?) and converts to one of those religions from Christianity (are they atheists now?).

    I could argue uninformed Christians are far more numerous than uninformed atheists. There are lots of nominal Christians who are in church every Sunday because that is the day they go to church. They have not ever considered the alternative and they likely never will unless confronted head on. Some might agree with atheist arguments but still remain because they just like going to church.

    I would bet that many conversions are (or at least begin) between the nominally religious and the apathetic irreligious. Both are malleable groups who are open to change. For them, it is not a question of the existence of God or the truth of the Bible but how to spend a more fulfilling day off. Lots of megachurches have professional entertainment and yuppie appealing self-help sermons that are big draws for your average career-minded suburbanites raising a family. Or someone might be on some sort of quest for meaning and an intellectual pastor from a prestigious seminary might just fit the bill. For them, going from the apathetic irreligious to the nominally religious is a piece of cake. Going the other direction is equally easy. They may just decide they would rather sleep in on their day off or have to work on Sunday and decide the church was not a big part of their life anyway. They just stop going.

    The jump between active atheists and active Christians that is more interesting. There is certainly more of the second group to the first, but this is as much because there are a lot more of them than any inherent natural movement. At points in the last few hundred years, there have been swings towards atheism and towards theism. In the last few decades of the 1800s, atheism was very much on the upswing. By 1960, it was close to nonexistent. Only those with no sense of history see each change of the pendulum as the impending end of one or the other.

    As has been pointed out by others, there are many informed atheists who have become Christians and informed ones at that. If you have not heard of them (or have convinced yourself they converted for reasons that do not include intellectual ones), they you need to wake up and smell the coffee. Fact is that any conversion of the last type indicated will include both intellectual and non-intellectual factors for both sides and to think otherwise only indicates either hubris or ignorance.

    • adam

      ” If you have not heard of them (or have convinced yourself they
      converted for reasons that do not included intellectual ones), they you
      need to wake up and smell the coffee.”

      Demonstrate for us….

      Especially the “many informed atheists” who have converted for intellectual reasons.

      I want to see these ‘intellectual reasons’ myself.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      restricting Christians to a single group (with the presumption they are uninformed), you have shown you cannot possibly think outside the atheist box.

      Nope. Dividing Christians into informed/uninformed simply isn’t necessary for this model. I’m delighted to accept that there are Christians who are very well informed. That’s where many atheists come from, after all.

      In fact, by positing “atheist” as the negation of “Christian,” you have denied the existence of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc.

      There are indeed more groups in the picture than just these three. I’m simplifying the picture by ignoring those religions, and I don’t think anything is lost from the argument.

      If you think that the existence of Hindus muddies the conversion between Christians and atheists, point out how that would work.

      I could argue uninformed Christians are far more numerous than uninformed atheists.

      Yes, I agree with that. How does that change things?

      going from the apathetic irreligious to the nominally religious is a piece of cake. Going the other direction is equally easy.

      Precisely my point.

      As has been pointed out by others, there are many informed atheists who have become Christians and informed ones at that. If you have not heard of them (or have convinced yourself they converted for reasons that do not included intellectual ones), they you need to wake up and smell the coffee.

      I’ve addressed this. My hypothesis is that no well-informed atheist becomes a Christian for intellectual reasons. Those that seem to violate this rule either weren’t especially well-informed (Antony Flew, for example) or did so for emotional reasons (Leah Libresco, perhaps?).

      As I stated above, you would know such counter-example Christians by their fruits: they would eagerly tell us how the intellectual arguments that I think are sufficient actually fail. I continue to search for the blog from ex-atheists with these overturned arguments.

      • Christine

        So well informed Christians usually become Atheist? I consider myself fairly well informed Christian. I have heard most of the Atheist arguements and read about other religions and I am still Christian. Yes I have actually read the Bible front to back. I am not anti-science either actually I read peer-reviewed journals in my spare time. I would like to think I am intelligent I graduated at third in my class in high with 38 hrs of college credit. I finished my undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences in 3 years with a 3.59 GPA. Got a Master’s degree in 1 year in Medical Sciences with a Concentration in Aging and Neuroscience with a 3.78 GPA. I will be attending medical school in the fall. I hope to become a clinician/researcher. No science hasn’t caused me to lose faith either, if anything it has enhanced it. No I don’t deny climate change or evolution. I am actually fairly politically liberal although I am personally fairly orthodox (I value secular government). I guess you could argue I have been brainwashed because I was raised in a Christian household. I don’t think so. My parents raised me to be curious and to value intellectual achievement. They were honest about their doubts and fears. They didn’t discourage me from having Atheist friends or from loving science. When they couldn’t answer my curious questions about God they would be honest and tell me they didn’t know. I was often encouraged by pastor father to debate him on ethics, theology, politics, international affairs. I can remember a time when my father told me I would have to take responsibility for my own faith and decide what I believed on my own. He told that he could not believe for me I would have to decide that on my own. I still chose Christianity and will continue to choose Christianity. We are not all far right-wing fundamentalist evangelicals.

        • MNb

          Nothing you wrote after “So” is relevant for BobS’ hypothesis. Sorry.

          “My hypothesis is that no well-informed atheist becomes a Christian for intellectual reasons.”
          Were you even a well-informed atheist?

        • Pofarmer

          I’m trying to think how any of that is relevant? If you read all these peer reveiwed papers you should be aware that mental patterns laid down as a child are hard to break.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So well informed Christians usually become Atheist?

          Nope, that’s not what I said (but wouldn’t it be nice if that were so?). I’m saying that well-informed atheists never become Christians for intellectual reasons.

          I consider myself fairly well informed Christian. I have heard most of the Atheist arguements and read about other religions and I am still Christian.

          Famous Christian William Lane Craig would be a better example—he does little besides deal with atheist arguments and nothing will change his mind.

          We are not all far right-wing fundamentalist evangelicals.

          Yes, I appreciate that Christianity is a big tent. I don’t think I contradicted that in this post or even in this entire blog.

  • Ignorant Amos

    I see that piece of work Christine has fucked off to Croydon after deleting half her silly comments and her Disqus profile.

    Such a pillar of Christian morals and ethics. She pitched up here with a holier than though stick up her arse and misrepresented, lied and besmirched Dawkins. Was disingenuous about other commenter’s…mostly Susan, responded to to nothing worthwhile and whined for over a week about the lack of respect around here because she was called out on her asininity. But had scholarly credentials up the kazoo.

    This was her parting comment to me, though it has been removed…

    My point is that we should all have a dose of humility when classifying others as stupid. While consensus is a good way of determining whether something is a good idea or not occasionally everyone has the same bad idea at once. The “stupid” person in this case would be right. What is stupid or not isn’t always clear and is subject to change as new information is acquired. So humility is necessary.

    Humility?

    Spoiiiiinnng!

    From the person that arrived here claiming to be the big I am on the intellectual stage.

    Poor girl had issues with her words and definitions. More than once.

    Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~ Philippians

    Christians? And she claims she was among the best of them. Humility, my arse.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      She pitched up here with a holier than though stick up her arse and misrepresented, lied and besmirched Dawkins.

      The good news, though, is that, once she was presented with an error, she quickly corrected herself.

      Wait, what? It’s not April Fool’s Day?

      • Ignorant Amos

        Haaa haaa haaa…that’s one of the things a love about you Bob…yer wicked sense of humour…soz, make that humor.

      • Ignorant Amos

        She had this uncanny knack to confuse the word “stupid” with “ignorance” for some reason.