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Can Christian Scholars be Objective?

In a 2010 book, New Testament scholar Michael Licona said that the zombie apocalypse of Matthew 27:52, where many of the dead came back to life after Jesus died, didn’t literally happen. To many of us that’s an unsurprising observation, but this caused quite a controversy within the scholarly evangelical community.

According to Christianity Today:

[Norman] Geisler accused Licona of denying the full inerrancy of Scripture. He also called for Licona to recant his interpretation, labeling it “unorthodox, non-evangelical, and a dangerous precedent for the rest of evangelicalism.”

“Recant”? Is this the Inquisition? Was Licona, like Galileo, shown the instruments of torture and encouraged to choose the correct path?

To be clear, the only objectionable item in Licona’s entire 700-page book was the reinterpretation of this one incident in Matthew, and yet he was pressured out of his job as professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES), and his position as apologetics coordinator for the North American Mission Board was eliminated. A single question about biblical inerrancy was, for some, intolerable.

The other side of the issue

We can try to see this from the standpoint of SES. They have a purpose statement, which says in part that the institution assumes “the infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures.” Licona was likely asked to commit to this statement, and his book could be seen as a breach of this commitment.

These kinds of statements of faith are common, and I found them for Bob Jones University, Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, and others. I attended the International Academy of Apologetics in 2011 (admittedly an odd place for an atheist to be for two weeks, but that’s another story), and their statement of faith, binding on the faculty, said that the Academy “accepts the Holy Scriptures as the revealed and inerrant word of God.”

Biola has a statement of faith that students must sign. No pretense of free intellectual inquiry here—students must accept the conclusions before their first lecture. In a scene vaguely reminiscent of the Inquisition, in 1997 Biola put three suspect faculty members “through multiple interviews to gauge their adherence to Biola’s doctrinal stances.”

Unexpected consequences

Let’s grant that a university can dismiss a professor for breaching a contract, even one so odd as the one at Licona’s former home. What’s rarely discussed is the consequence of these mandatory statements: they mean that Christian scholars at evangelical institutions are unable to be objective. With their job on the line, their hands are tied. They can’t always follow the facts where they lead. The public pillorying of Licona shows the consequences of intellectual honesty.

This incident has opened my eyes. Whenever I see or hear claims by Christian scholars, I will now wonder if a statement of faith applies. The next time I read an article by William Lane Craig, for example, I will read it with the caveat that he’s bound by Biola University’s doctrinal statement that says, in part, “The Scriptures … are without error or defect of any kind.” When he argues that the Bible is accurate, I won’t know if that’s really his honest conclusion or if that’s just his institution talking.

This even affects Norm Geisler, Licona’s chief accuser. Geisler is a professor at Veritas Evangelical Seminary, whose statement of faith says, “We believe the Bible … is verbally inerrant in the original text.”

How can we take seriously anything said about Christianity by Craig, Geisler, or indeed any scholar who is intellectually constrained in this way?

A thorough reading and understanding of the Bible
is the surest path to atheism.
— Donald Morgan

(This is a modified version of a post originally published 11/14/11.)

Photo credit: Vectorportal

About Bob Seidensticker
  • GubbaBumpkin

    Bart Ehrman nailed Craig on this issue during their debate. Craig, of course, did not have an adequate answer.

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

      Interesting. I hadn’t heard anyone bring this up. I agree that it’s a great point to make in a debate.

  • Stephanie Austin

    After reading that travesty of a book, Did Jesus Exist? I would put Ehrman in the no they can’t be objective column.

  • smrnda

    I don’t know of anyone ever being kicked out of a normal academic department for reaching an unusual conclusion. The work might be reviewed extensively by others, but you’d only really get kicked out for something like plagiarism, faking sources, or violating ethics. If scholars had to worry about getting kicked out just for reaching conclusions that went against prevailing opinions, they couldn’t do research since it makes it a huge risk just to question basic assumptions.

    In fact, most of the time, if you make a new finding that challenges old ones, provided your research is solid, people just have to accept that the old conclusions weren’t correct.

    That’s not scholarship, it’s promotion, and its inherently biased. It reminds me of alt-med and dietary and herbal supplements. They can make any claim, provided they add the caveat that the FDA hasn’t weighed in on their product.

    Though one thing is the issue of funding as well – if Evangelical colleges quit toeing the party line, donors and students will take their money elsewhere.

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

      Ah, money vs. the truth–the age-old problem. But anyone who follows Christ should know how to find the straight and narrow, right?

    • WalterP

      If scholars had to worry about getting kicked out just for reaching conclusions that went against prevailing opinions, they couldn’t do
      research since it makes it a huge risk just to question basic
      assumptions.

      Here’s a google project for you: find out how many scientific organizations voted to dismiss Albert Einstein and actively rallied against his work.

      Well established scientific consensus is no different from religious dogma when it comes to dealing with those challenging the status quo. Every field has its heretics and witch hunts. Historians have pointed this out again and again.

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

        Well established scientific consensus is no different from religious dogma when it comes to dealing with those challenging the status quo.

        Identical. Except when religious belief demands you sign on to the conclusion before you begin your “research.” So they’re actually very, very different.

        Here’s a great story from Richard Dawkins from The God Delusion:

        I have previously told the story of a respected elder statesman of the Zoology Department at Oxford when I was an undergraduate. For years he had passionately believed, and taught, that the Golgi Apparatus (a microscopic feature of the interior of cells) was not real: an artifact, an illusion.

        Every Monday afternoon it was the custom for the whole department to listen to a research talk by a visiting lecturer. One Monday, the visitor was an American cell biologist who presented completely convincing evidence that the Golgi Apparatus was real. At the end of the lecture, the old man strode to the front of the hall, shook the American by the hand and said—with passion—“My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years.” We clapped our hands red.

        No fundamentalist would ever say that. In practice, not all scientists would. But all scientists pay lip service to it as an ideal—unlike, say, politicians who would probably condemn it as flip-flopping. The memory of the incident I have described still brings a lump to my throat.

        • MNb

          Well, he is a kind of exception too. But Schrödinger and Hoyle don’t have many fans anymore these days. In fact their jokes (cat and big bang) are taken seriously nowadays.

      • Norm Donnan

        Darn good point,what short memories denialists have eh

      • smrnda

        Einstein is one of the rare examples of this happening. I used to think the way you did, until I realized that most scientific advancement is far more mundane and battles like that are extremely rare. How many other examples can you name? Everybody seems to know this about Einstein, but how many thousands of scientists just simply added slight improvements to old ideas? Plus, ground-shaking new theories are extremely rare.

        A similar example (one of my favorites) was once Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem was proven, people accepted it but felt any ‘undecidable’ propositions would be trivial, unimportant, bizarre curiosities. Turned out that one of Hilbert’s Major Problems (the Continuum Hypothesis) was undecidable (proved by Paul Cohen, his proof approved by Godel.) I can’t think of much bigger paradigm shifts than Godel proving that the last several thousand years of LOGIC were flawed, but yet again, not only within his lifetime were his views accepted, but they were then seen as actually relevant. The idea of a ‘science heretic’ is one that’s drawn up as a rhetorical point, but it happens so rarely (and is usually corrected for quite fast) that comparing religion and science ‘heresies’ is ridiculous.
        The whole field of physics got turned around *within Einstein’s lifetime* and he became probably the most well-known scientist around.

        The difference is scientific consensus is built on evidence. Once the evidence was decided for Einstein, his opponents fell from view. Once the proofs were examined, Godel’s conclusions had to be accepted.

        • WalterP

          Go read Thomas Kuhn or Karl Popper and get back to me.

          Atheists know surprisingly little about science for how much they sacralize it.

        • smrnda

          Already read them, but I did request *scientists* not philosophers of science. Was thinking you’d name Semmelweis.

          Science tests hypothesis in order to provide us with a ‘best yet’ provisional hypothesis. Theories sometimes get totally demolished, other times they just get updated. Newton’s equations aren’t correct at certain scales, but they work well enough for many applications.

          However, I think I should take a statement you made, since to me, it shows the difference between science and theology:

          Here’s a google project for you: find out how many scientific
          organizations voted to dismiss Albert Einstein and actively rallied
          against his work.

          Well established scientific consensus is no different from religious
          dogma when it comes to dealing with those challenging the status quo.”

          If the ‘establishment’ doesn’t like someone’s theory, if we’re talking about science, we *can* actually settle the dispute over who is right and who is wrong conclusively. If someone thinks a disease is caused by a nutritional deficiency instead of a pathogen, that can be tested.

          Ideology often warps science, but the good thing about science is that if something is not true, you can falsify it.

          I don’t see anything similar with religion. There’s no way to investigate the claims systematically and no way they can be falsified. If someone at present was worried that GMOs caused health problems, their worries could be settled by adequate testing. I see no such means of testing available for religion.

        • WalterP

          …that can be tested…

          You didn’t read Kuhn and Popper very closely. The real story of science is the methods of “testing” change along with the paradigms themselves. If you studied history, you’d see that science doesn’t have the fail-safe lifeboat you think it has.

          But to your credit, you may know history more than any other atheist on this thread, so hats off to you there.

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

          If you studied history, you’d see that science doesn’t have the fail-safe lifeboat you think it has.

          If you’d stop trash talking and think for a bit, I think you’d find that you, me, and smrda all agree that science isn’t fail safe. It makes mistakes. The point is: it has a mechanism for detecting and correcting its errors despite the fact that fallible people are behind it.

        • WalterP

          Philosophy of Science 101: that “mechanism” changes from paradigm to paradigm.

          This isn’t even my argument, and it’s not a religious argument, it’s just what history tells us.

          I’m sorry it’s not as simple as you want it to be.

        • Nox

          So you’re complaining that science is too dogmatic in reacting to new information, and complaining that it changes its mind as new information becomes available.

          This is what we call mindlessly following the script even when it makes absolutely no sense to do so.

          Do you find it telling at all that when you wanted an analogy to say science is closed off to anything which challenges it preconceptions, the best analogy you could think of was to compare it to religion?

          How does religion deal with new information? What is their method for determining which theologian is right when there are disagreements?

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

          So science corrects its errors with peer review today but they did something else to correct errors 50 years ago?

        • WalterP

          Are the suggesting the peer review process is somehow free from the influence of the fallible and status-quo-preserving scientists who oversee the process?

          Again, lady history would like to have a word with you.

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

          No.

        • WalterP

          Welcome to the philosopher of science camp, then. Congrats on coming closer to rejecting scientism. It’s a nasty religion, one of the nastiest really.

        • smrnda

          I’m well aware that we get better testing methods. Germ theory
          becomes much less controversial once you have high powered microscopes.
          Takaki Kanehiro wasn’t able to necessarily say exactly what nutrient
          deficiency cased beriberi among Japanese sailors, but he was able to
          find ways of preventing it.

          Don’t know where I suggested that
          science has some ‘fail safe lifeboat.’ It’s just outside of the
          scientific method, I don’t see any better way to gain information about
          the physical universe. I notice that label ‘scientism’ getting thrown around a lot. Am I a proponent of ‘scientism’ because, aside from the scientific method (which does change and improve) I don’t see any other reliable means of gaining information? Am I somehow close-minded for disbelieving that disease is caused by magic or evil spirits? Exactly what do you have to believe to believe in ‘scientism?’ I just want to know.

          On new information – on one hand, it’s important to be open to new information. At the same time, it’s good to demand that new theories come supported with adequate evidence. The peer review process isn’t perfect, but people look into its flaws and attempt to improve it.

        • WalterP

          You sound like a curious chap. Why don’t you pick up a book…say…this one:

          http://books.google.com/books?id=zSIy9yAoJgkC&lpg=PA17&dq=scientism%20new%20atheism&pg=PA17#v=onepage&q&f=false

        • smrnda

          I would actually be a lass and not a chap (though I can’t exactly expect the name to be obvious :-). Might check it out.

          Part of my view of ‘proof’ is that I was a mathematician (now a tech entrepreneur) and proof in mathematics is a totally different affair than scientific evidence. I’m actually perhaps unusual among maths people as I’m a formalist and not a Platonist.

        • WalterP

          You sound wise enough to escape scientism. Throw off your chains and liberate the others…hurry before it’s too late.

        • Nox

          There’s nothing to escape. There aren’t people being chained by their adherence to scientism. There are no adherents of scientism.

          “Scientism” as described by you here and in that book you linked, is a belief system which has never been believed by any real person anywhere. It was just made up by christian publishers as a way to give you a false impression of the motives of atheists.

        • WalterP

          Listen, I’m going to lay out the facts for you because what you’ve posted here doesn’t have a shred of truth behind it. Please, respond/challenge/dismiss as you see needed.

          Scientism…

          is a belief system which has never been believed by any real person anywhere.

          First of all, nearly all of Western analytical philosophy believed it in the 1950s; scientism is a variant of positivism that ruled the day mid-century. It made pretty good sense for a while, that is, until it came crashing down in the next decade. The major issue is that scientism refutes itself in laying out propositions about science that science itself cannot verify. But there were also other problems: scientism claims all knowledge must be subjected to scientific testing, yet every scientific test must depend upon certain “background assumptions” that are not being tested. And scientists have historically tended to over-generalize their finite observations to a much wider set of phenomena than what should be derived. Historians were quick to point out scientism was mostly wishful thinking when it came to how science actually works.

          While philosophically it is a “dead” argument it has taken on a new life within a certain group of anti-philosophical people you may have heard of: Dawkins, Harris, etc. Dawkins ends the God Delusion dreaming of a day when science can understand everything, a core tenant of scientism. Harris is desperately trying to root morality in science because science is presumed the only reliable source of knowledge. Most atheists who read these books–and not more rigorous philosophical works–will tell you they wouldn’t believe anything that science can’t verify. That’s scientism 101.

          Another small point: the people you see in this thread asking “if there’s no scientific consensus on it, how can we know it?” are also genuflecting at the holy altar of scientism. Their minds can’t recognize how much of our knowledge simply isn’t verified (or for that matter verifiable) in a laboratory somewhere. For instance: beliefs in naturalism or materialism, quite popular in these parts, can’t come from finite scientific experimentation. Scientism adherents don’t want to hear that. As Dawkins says, just give us time. (Philosophers get a real kick out of that)

          So you are in the midst of scientism worship service right now, believe it or not.

          It was just made up by christian publishers…

          No. The Romantic Age railed against early forms of it long ago, Nietzsche scoffed at it, but in the 20th century it was mostly Leftish Marxists who decried scientism. Neo-Kantian and postmodern philosophers also joined the fun. Feminists have also been frequent critics, correctly noting it to be a system of power that kept certain experts at the top of the power hierarchy. Now you have respected atheists like John Gray, Anthony Flew, Terry Eagleton, and Thomas Nagel–a philosopher someone above cited incorrectly–who repeatedly call out new atheism for their misplaced adherence to scientism.

          If it has never existed, as you claim, you probably need to let all these groups know they’re imagining it.

          …as a way to give you a false impression of the motives of atheists.

          Is that a false impression? Wouldn’t most new atheists proudly say, with Dawkins, science either has everything figured out now or WILL figure everything out? I imagine there are so very out-of-the-closet scientism-ists out there ready to come forward and profess their faith… they’ll call me crazy and denounce all the philosophers and atheists I’m simply echoing. That seems to be what a great portion of new atheism is about: an identity movement that will rail against religion at all costs, even if it requires being irrational and anti-intellectual.

          I for one miss the atheism that made good arguments, not dead ones.

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

          the people you see in this thread asking “if there’s no scientific consensus on it, how can we know it?”

          My point is different, and I assume we agree: laypeople have no option but to accept the scientific consensus (where it exists) as our best provisional estimate of the truth.

          As Dawkins says, just give us time. (Philosophers get a real kick out of that …

          … as they sit around discussing, what now? I know what science has given us (here is a list of 2012’s top scientific discoveries, for example). But what has philosophy given us lately? Frankly, I may simply be uninformed about what the cutting edge of philosophy gives us, but I can’t think of anything lately. And the things that come to mind—Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, for example—seem to me more science than philosophy.

          Wouldn’t most new atheists proudly say, with Dawkins, science either has everything figured out now or WILL figure everything out?

          About nature, you mean? That sounds like a good bet. Every trend line is pointing in that direction.

          Am I missing something?

          That seems to be what a great portion of new atheism is about: an identity movement that will rail against religion at all costs, even if it requires being irrational and anti-intellectual.

          I see a bit of that in some atheist bloggers. Maybe it depends on what you look for, but what I focus on continues to delight me with smart arguments and ideas that I hadn’t heard before—Greta Christina, the Atheist Experience TV show, the Reasonable Doubts podcast, and so on.

          I for one miss the atheism that made good arguments, not dead ones.

          You have something good to say about any atheists? Who are these atheists who made good arguments?

          What’s wrong with the arguments here? (Or are you again going to say that others have dismissed them so your inability to do so means nothing?)

        • WalterP

          See Nox, adherents do exist!

          You seem to have a very strange relationship with philosophy. You yourself are essentially playing an amateur philosopher who defends your thoughts as “rational” and logical,” and you spend most of your day debating arguments. But you’re dismissive of the people our society pays to do this, trains to do this, and acknowledges as the foremost experts on adjudicating between good and bad arguments. Your valorization of your sideshow lay-philosophy and resistance to engage the “professionals” seems to be a form of anti-intellectualsim, much like creation “scientists” who don’t like those big scary University thinkers. I don’t understand this.

          But you also just voluntarily professed to an irrational, self-contradictory, and intellectually defeated worldview, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised…

          To answer your question, all the atheists mentioned above make great arguments. So did Marx, Nietzsche, and Rorty. Give ‘em a try sometime.

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

          Given that you’ve avoided my question above about what philosophy has delivered, I assume that you have no answer. Correct?

        • WalterP

          What has your amateur philosophy delivered?

          Your anti-intellectualism also brings you to a new dilemma: you are rejecting a “scholarly consensus” on scientism right now. Don’t we lowly laypeople have to trust the consensus when it exists? What happened to that argument?

          Suddenly Nox looks wiser than most on here: he realized it was a bullshit view right away.

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

          What has your amateur philosophy delivered?

          Translated: “Now that you mention it, Bob, philosophy has been rather stingy in actually delivering the goods lately.”

          Your anti-intellectualism also brings you to a new dilemma: you are rejecting a “scholarly consensus” on scientism right now.

          Do I?

          Don’t we lowly laypeople have to trust the consensus when it exists? What happened to that argument?

          The argument is about the scientific consensus. Is that what we’re talking about?

        • WalterP

          You failed to respond to any of these arguments. I’m judging by your unwillingness to acknowledge
          a) your embrace of a philosophically irrational belief system
          b) your anti-intellctual rejection of actual trained people doing what you do without training
          c) your inconsistency in deferring to scholarly consensus UNLESS you find it disagreeing with your own view..

          that you’re refusing to engage in a much-needed discussion on the intellectual shortcomings of new atheism. Frankly I’m disappointed.

        • WalterP

          But it will be rather obvious the next time you point out that religion is a) irrational b) anti-intellectual or c) inconsistent, you’re bringing charges that you yourself are equally guilty of.

          And this is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

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

          That punch line just keeps getting funnier!

        • WalterP

          I’ll again affirm Nox: he found scientism so foolish he claimed no one could possibly believe in it.

          Then Bob stopped forward…

          Carry on with the show.

        • Norm Donnan

          I dont know what the you guys are talking about but you wooped em Wal,to quote my favorite philosopher,youve shaken their windows and rattled their walls.,

        • Nox

          Thanks Walt, but that isn’t quite what I said.

          So just to clarify real quick (and I’ll be back to respond to, challenge, and dismiss your “facts” in more detail later today or sometime tomorrow), what I said was not that scientism couldn’t possibly be believed by anyone. Pretty much any idea you could describe could be potentially believed by someone.

          My point was that no one actually does believe the set of beliefs you are randomly attributing to people here. Your reason for thinking scientism is a thing is not that you have seen people advocating scientism, but that you have seen people complaining about other people advocating scientism.

          In response to this you gave me a (heavily misattributed) list of people complaining about other people advocating scientism, a (heavily misinformed) book review of a book you clearly haven’t read, and pointing to something Bob said which does not fit with your own description of what scientism is (the clue you missed was the caveat about nature).

          Can you give me any examples at all of someone in their own words describing their own beliefs in a way that would indicate they were an adherent of scientism as you have described it here?

        • WalterP

          Bob’s not backing down from scientism, Nox, he has publicly professed his faith many times. No need to introduce a spin campaign for him… he’s proud of his beliefs and who he is.

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

          You’re good at making charges, not so good at providing the evidence. So what precisely is my crime this time?

        • Nox

          WalterP,

          Where did he say any of that? As far as I could tell he’s still just trying to figure out what the f*ck you’re talking about.

          But rather than just putting words in his mouth (which is an unreliable way to detect people’s opinions), let’s ask him.

          Bob,

          Would you say you agree or disagree with these statements:

          (1)
          Not all questions are scientific in nature.

          (2)
          Not all true statements can be empirically tested.

          (3)
          When dealing with scientific questions, the scientific method is the most effective way to find right answers, but in dealing with nonscientific questions it is unlikely to come up.

          It may seem a little silly that I’m asking you to explain such elementary sh*t. Since Walt hasn’t stated his own reasoning I’ll just go ahead and clarify why these questions are the relevent ones.

          The crime you are being accused of is scientism, a pejorative term made up by the christian press to paint atheists as narrow minded, generally defined as something like “belief that scientific data is the only form of knowledge”.

          The evidence before you today is that the apologist who told WalterP what to expect from atheists assured them that there was such a thing as “new atheists”, and that these new atheists could all be counted on to believe certain things, primarily strict adherence to scientism (the next step in his script is to say you have a self defeating worldview since the statement “all true statements can be tested in a lab” cannot itself be tested in a lab) (no, I’m not making that up, that’s literally what he’s going to say next).

          So far you have not stated the distinction in a way that Walter can understand.

          How do you plead?

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

          1. Agree.

          2. Agree.

          3. Agree. (I think I’d say “when dealing with questions about nature”)

          How do you plead?

          Since I’m in Walter’s courtroom, it doesn’t much matter how I plead. I’m already found guilty. (It’s so much easier that way, I’m sure.)

        • WalterP

          The crime you are being accused of is scientism, a pejorative term made up by the christian press to paint atheists as narrow minded, generally defined as something like “belief that scientific data is the only form of knowledge”.

          If you say this enough without evidence, does it just become true? The term existed before anything you could consider the “Christian press” existed.

          Bob seems to not understand the scientific method if he thinks the existence of gods or spiritual forces could fall under its parameters. (rule of thumb: can we do it in a lab? and have I ever read this in a peer-reviewed scientific journal? Answer is now to both)

          Again, a little philosophy of science would go a long way with you guys.

        • Kodie

          So, basically you resent science because god is unable to be proven. That’s not science’s fault. Your responses, while you try to sound well-read and intellectual, amount only to repetition of the sentiment that we’re just not open-minded enough to believe in something that does not evidently exist outside of anyone’s imagination, and goes to great lengths to churn out malarkey about how science just gets so many things wrong and not to trust it, to run the other way into the safe arms of the misinformed figurehead, “god”. “God” as an answer answers no questions about anything. People ask and people answer those questions as they imagine a god would. Why are things this way instead of that way? Dunno! God! Same answer!

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

          while you try to sound well-read and intellectual

          Is that what he was going for? I was picking up spiteful and venomous. (Whoa—I want to join that church!)

          Why are things this way instead of that way? Dunno! God! Same answer!

          And you can never prove them wrong. So the Christians win, every time. As it should be. Or something.

        • Kodie

          Yes, he actually thinks he is the intellectual superior one here and acting smug. He read a book, Bob! You’re wrong about everything because Walter read a book!

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

          Bob seems to not understand the scientific method if he thinks the existence of gods or spiritual forces could fall under its parameters.

          Walter seems to not understand that any claim about god(s) or spiritual force(s) acting on our world is, in principle, a testable claim.

          rule of thumb: can we do it in a lab?

          Chemistry, yes. Cosmology, no. Have we learned anything about what is science and what isn’t? I vote No, but then I’m always wrong in your book.

        • WalterP

          …any claim about god(s) or spiritual force(s) acting on our world is, in principle, a testable claim.

          Scientism it is, then. Philosophical contradictions be damned, this man wants to believe it, and he will.

          I’d be curious how to affirm any historical events or persons within your belief system. But I imagine it will just lead to more contradictions and inconsistencies…

        • WalterP

          Materialism and naturalism can also never be proved by science (they’d have to make an infinite amount of observations, for one).

          Really, I’d be curious what a “non-scientific” question is, as Nox defines it. Metaphysical questions are certainly non-scientific. I imagine you realize this in other cases, but not when it comes to religion, which your own prejudices lead you to other criteria….

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

          Nothing is ever proved by science. Your statement tautologically follows.

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

          Or, you could drop the words with magical powers and just tell me what about my statement was, y’know, wrong. Perhaps responding directly is against your religion?

        • WalterP

          If you haven’t taken the initiative to click on the google book link above–the one that helped Nox realize how foolish views like yours are–I can safely say you have no interest in seriously considering counter-arguments to your beliefs. Why argue with someone who doesn’t want to hear counterarguments? I can’t remove the fingers from your ears through my computer, so why try?

          Your lack of initiative in engaging people who disagree with you says a lot about the intellectual flaccidity of your movement. Again, I miss the old atheism.

        • Kodie

          I read it, you turd. It presumes god exists and blathers on about no proof the god doesn’t exist. That’s about it. That’s your whole “counter-argument”, we can’t prove god doesn’t exist, nana na na na. You’re not smarter than Nox or Karl Udy (who is a theist), you’re a little smarter than Norm.

          What you think we lack in initiative is not half as great as what you lack in argument, and only a minute fraction of what you possess in argument by repetition that you have stated your argument. Where I come from, they call people like you “blowhards”.

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

          Summarize my crimes so that I can understand your points. You’ve pronounced the sentence without making clear the charges.

          b) your anti-intellctual rejection of actual trained people doing what you do without training

          I made clear that I’m not aware of the latest in philosophy (which could easily be a lack on my part) and asked you to inform me. You didn’t, so I guess I’m right that in terms of delivering the goods, philosophy doesn’t do much compared to science.

          I wouldn’t call that a rejection of anything. You want to make clear all the great new things that philosophy gives us? Go for it.

          c) your inconsistency in deferring to scholarly consensus UNLESS you find it disagreeing with your own view..

          Changing the subject, are we?

          We agree that accepting the scientific consensus is the best approach for the layman. If you want to broaden this to any consensus in any branch of thought, make clear the limits of that domain and make your case.

          you’re refusing to engage in a much-needed discussion on the intellectual shortcomings of new atheism.

          I’d be delighted to discuss the shortcomings of atheism, new or otherwise.

          Frankly I’m disappointed.

          Dang! And I’d been doing so well. Oh, well, there’s always a first time, I suppose.

        • MNb

          I guess that’s why Einstein still received a Nobel price after all.

  • Jason

    The funny thing is, so many evangelicals are suspicious of secular academic methods on issues like evolution and biblical criticism! Most secular academics I know just love evidence and following the logic wherever it leads. For some reason the academics with the Christian mission statements are the ones who are suspicious of everyone else’s methods and motives.

    As an academic and non-believer, I think, yes, Christian academics can do trustworthy, objective scholarship. The problem is that this is ONLY true as long as they are doing research on topics that don’t overlap with their beliefs, and this is the really amazing part to me. In my field there are plenty of fundamentalist Christians who do good work based on empirical evidence with a clear awareness of their methodologies. But as soon as there is a conflict with belief, they can immediately abandon normal standards for scholarship and research. Then they write popular press books that are based on their religious assumptions and that don’t have to go through normal peer review process. Then the masses read those books and think they are reading real scholarship since the books were written by a PhD. This is a problem.

    So, Bob, as long as you are reading work by evangelical Christians that has nothing to do with hot-button issues like evolution or the history of the Bible, no worries. Otherwise, don’t even bother.

    • Greg G.

      As an academic and non-believer, I think, yes, Christian academics can do trustworthy, objective scholarship. The problem is that this is ONLY true as long as they are doing research on topics that don’t overlap with their beliefs, and this is the really amazing part to me.

      If they can only do objective scholarship in an extremely narrow portion of the field, then they cannot do reliably objective work because nobody, including them, would know when their religious beliefs are skewing their study.

      • smrnda

        I can imagine someone who is very good at compartmentalizing being both a devout Christian and say, a decent engineer. I’ve met a few, but I’ve also met Christians who tell me they disbelieve in evolution who have studied it well enough to pass a test on it. Some fields might keep you safely away from the conflicts – evolution informs medicine, but on a day to day basis, I can imagine a Christian doctor who disbelieves in evolution doing their job without it coming to mind.

        The problem is compartmentalization causes all kinds of trouble and instability, and just isn’t possible in some areas.

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

      New rule, people: you can’t do scholarly work in the domain of your own faith system. It must be within some other supernatural belief system.

      Muslims will do the scholarly analysis of the Christians, and Christians will critique the Hindus, and so on. Because the scholar is a believer in the supernatural, no one can say that their scholarly work is being done by a nonbeliever and is therefore biased.

      • Norm Donnan

        And so an atheist wouldnt be able to work in any science field then?

        • Greg G.

          Science comes from critical thinking. So does atheism. There is no conflict. Critical thinking is lethal to religion. A religious person can excel in some fields where there is no conflict. Other fields require that the religion change, the believer does ridiculous compartmentalization, or the science suffers.

          Creation science has made no progress ever. The field has never produced an idea that has lead or could lead to a better understanding of anything. It fears making a testable prediction because creationists understand at some level that its not real science. The field cannot stand critical thinking.

      • WalterP

        Why stop there: let’s get all those insanely biased women out of women’s studies departments! Who knows when their gender is biasing their work? Certainly not them! Go study some men issues, then we’ll trust your conclusions.

        And sorry African Americans doing African American studies–your “beliefs” in the merits of African American culture have compromised your work for too long!

        Meanwhile Friendly Atheist has collaborated with and is now publicizing a study of atheists conducted by a self-identified, actively “practicing” atheist. How fortunate are we to be the only subset of the population capable of studying our own kind without bias! Lucky us.
        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/07/19/what-else-can-we-learn-from-the-six-types-of-atheists-study/

        • Greg G.

          The insane bias in the work of insanely biased women will show through. The beliefs of African Americans in the studies can be supported by evidence or not. If the Friendly Atheist’s study is flawed, the flaw can be pointed out. Theology is different because it’s based on imaginary claims and survives by keeping those claims untestable within reality.

        • WalterP

          …You’re showing a lot of ignorance on what theology is: only a portion of it is abstract metaphysical claims.

        • Greg G.

          When you separate out the anthropology and the history of theology, you are left with theology, which is metaphysical in nature, as opposed to the physical. You didn’t provide any examples of the other portions of theology.

        • MNb

          Yes, that’s my usual answer as well.

        • Greg G.

          You’re showing a lot of ignorance on what theology is: only a portion of it is abstract metaphysical claims.

          Still waiting for you to dispel my ignorance with an example of theology that is not metaphysical mumbo jumbo.

        • MNb

          Theologians tend to be proud of Girard’s scapegoat theory. That’s indeed a good one.

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

          Read my “Why a map of world religions but not world science?” and you’ll see the point.

          One point is supernatural belief. Where those exist in women’s studies, let’s highlight them. And the point of this article is signing on to the conclusion before you’ve done the work. Does that exist in women’s studies?

        • WalterP

          I get the sense your “new rule” for researching one’s own domain only applies to religious people; everyone else is somehow immune to bias.

          This what we would call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

          Not sure how your little map changes anything.

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

          My “little map” changes things because religion has one and science doesn’t. Figure out why and you’ll see what my point is

        • WalterP

          Since most of the world would probably assign spiritual causes to diseases and birth defects, actually yes, one could make a map about scientific belief variation. Same with the effects of genetically modified foods, or even global warming.

          Strangely, we don’t feel that our scientific conclusions are threatened by the varying levels of acceptance they garner from other cultures.

          But I suppose you’re suggesting religious people SHOULD feel their conclusions are threatened by varying levels of acceptance.

          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

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

          Since the advent of modern science and quick modern communication? I don’t think so.

          Strangely, we don’t feel that our scientific conclusions are threatened by the varying levels of acceptance they garner from other cultures.

          Where are there “varying levels of acceptance” for the scientific consensus within the scientific community across the world?

          But I suppose you’re suggesting religious people SHOULD feel their conclusions are threatened by varying levels of acceptance.

          Religious people should consider the fact that there is a map of world religions but no equivalent for science to see that religion and science are two very different ways of looking at the world—one that’s backed by evidence and one that’s not.

        • WalterP

          So you’ve shifted now: we COULD make a map of worldwide science belief variation, just as we have a worldwide religious belief variation. But now, the important thing is consensus within the “scientific community.”

          And I presume we’ll define scientific community as those who adhere to the same scientific beliefs we do. This is circular logic.

          For religion, survey everyday people across cultures, find variation, declare all hypotheses null.

          For science, survey only a group of “experts” defined post hoc by their adherence to Western “scientific consensus,” find said consensus, declare all hypotheses valid.

          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

        • Kodie

          Bob’s not shifting anything, you idiot. Science is science. What’s true in the US is also true in Australia and Venezuela or Thailand or Antarctica. It doesn’t depend on beliefs to be true. NOBODY discussed a map of scientific beliefs. That’s your misapprehension.

        • WalterP

          It doesn’t depend on beliefs to be true.

          Are you saying reality isn’t changed one way or the other by diversity in belief?

        • Kodie

          Scientific reality doesn’t change. We discover it and sometimes use discovery to manipulate it and innovate new technology, medicine, and all that.

        • WalterP

          I don’t know what “scientific reality” Is.

          You seem hesitant to answer my question…do you think reality doesn’t depend on beliefs to be true?

        • Kodie

          I answered your fucking question loud and clear. Read it again, dummy.

        • Pattrsn

          ..do you think reality doesn’t depend on beliefs to be true?

          I’ll answer that one for you, and from reading your posts you might find this a little subtle or perhaps too complicated but I’ll give it a try.

          No

        • WalterP

          Then down goes Bob’s religious map argument.

        • Pattrsn

          No Walter it doesn’t. In order to invalidate Bob’s argument you’d first have to actually address it. Perhaps the problem is is that in order to address it you’d first have to comprehend it, and we both know that’s not gonna happen.

        • WalterP

          Yeah it’s fairly straightforward: there’s diversity in beliefs about religion, therefore, they’re all bunk.

          If you’re as smart as I thought you were, you’d recognize whatever deity is or is not sitting at the center of the universe, sits or does not sit independently of what people believe. Essentially ontology stands outside epistemology: reality happens whether people believe it or not. So maps are a poor way to disprove an argument about what is. Reality doesn’t give a fuck who believes in it.

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

          there’s diversity in beliefs about religion, therefore, they’re all bunk.

          Wrong again.

          Reality doesn’t give a fuck who believes in it.

          And yet the elephant in the room—how do we best figure out truth—is still there, ignored and getting smelly. I’ve repeated my approach (accept the scientific consensus where it exists) so often without any backtalk from you so that I assume that you accept it also.

          Since we then agree, why the fuck are you so annoyed?

        • WalterP

          Oh I’m not annoyed. Again, if you cared about this argument, you would have already done enough research to know how flawed it is.

          But we all know evolutionary theory says our brains weren’t designed to discard flawed arguments when we ***want*** to believe them. That’s where we get fundamentalist religion and non-philosophical atheism.

        • WalterP

          And i can see your argument: you put your faith in a gerry-mandered map of scientific consensus which you yourself recognize is entirely fallible and must be patched together selectively to even get a consensus. The real flaw is you a) won’t allow your opponents to gerry-mander their religion map (a double standard) and b) seem to think logic dictates that diversity in belief undermines every belief system but your own.

          That isn’t logic. It’s arrogance. This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

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

          Gerrymandered? Now you’re really reaching. If you get the scientific credentials, you’re pretty much in the community. Make the map yourself of evolution or Big Bang or whatever. And in some areas, of course, there isn’t a consensus (abiogenesis, string theory).

          Uh, no, it’s not gerrymandered. Nice try, though.

          I do understand your frustration. When you look out at theologians, each one a partisan of his own particular religion, the idea of objectively following the facts does kinda go out the window. You don’t have people swayed by superior evidence like you do with science. But I’m afraid that’s just the reality you’re stuck with.

        • WalterP

          If you get the scientific credentials, you’re pretty much in the community.

          Great, I’ll build my mono-color religious map that way too.

          If you’re a theist, you’re pretty much in the community.

          Boom, theism proved.

          Again, reality doesn’t give a fuck what your gerrymandered belief map says.

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

          You don’t understand. Yes, I get it. No need to keep harping on it.

        • Kodie

          I still don’t think you understand why a map of religions over the world differs from a map of science. You’re actually just a blowhard who read a book that supports your conclusion because it starts with your conclusion.

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

          Again, if you cared about this argument, you would have already done enough research to know how flawed it is.

          So, again, you wish you could destroy my argument but can’t, but that’s OK because it has been destroyed somewhere. You just take that on faith, I guess?

          But we all know evolutionary theory says our brains weren’t designed to discard flawed arguments when we ***want*** to believe them.

          And that’s the value in science. It’s self-correcting.

        • WalterP

          Great, I’ll be eagerly awaiting your self-correction…

        • Pattrsn

          Reality doesn’t give a fuck who believes in it.

          So god isn’t real then.

          I think you’ve missed the point of the religion map, which is that religion is a product of culture, and a persons concept of god, whether an impotent uncaring creator of the universe sky god, incapable of acting in the world, an omnipotent eternal all knowing being, intimately involved in human affairs, or just another illusion to be discarded on the road to enlightenment is also a product of culture.

          What this means is since that since scientifically there is no need for the existence of god to explain anything, and since there is no way to disprove the existence of a thing that for all intents and purposes doesn’t interact with the universe in any observable/meaningful way, the only reason to believe that this deity exists is that you want to.

          And also you have the problem of defining what god is. There seems to be a whole lot of assumptions about what constitutes this god thing, such as personality, intelligence, consciousness,self awareness. So you can say that religion being a product of culture doesn’t negate the existence of a deity, but without religion we don’t even have the most basic concept of deity or even a definition of the word.

        • WalterP

          Those are nice beliefs about how religion works, thanks for sharing.

          Actually, science is a product of culture too (with no culture we would have no science–Mars has no science, for instance). Yet science also seems capable of revealing an underlying reality that stands outside of culture. That underlying reality doesn’t give a fuck who on the map believed it–or if anyone on the map believed it: microbes existed, geese didn’t grow on trees, theory of relativity worked when the map turned against it.

          So I suppose for philosophically uninformed atheists, it works like this: science is a product of culture, varies culturally and temporally, but can tell us a reality that stands outside it. Religion is a product of culture, varies culturally and temporally, therefore everyone’s full of shit except me.

          But your atheist beliefs in a materialistic reality is a product of culture, contingent on cultural and temporal factors, and is somehow pure gold. This is arrogance. This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

        • Pattrsn

          Actually, science is a product of culture too (with no culture we would have no science–Mars has no science, for instance).

          Lets see what a “philosophically uninformed atheist” can do with your logic. Mars has no trees therefore trees are a product of culture, Mars has no waterfalls therefore waterfalls are a product of culture. Do you have any arguments that aren’t just plain silly?

          And no science doesn’t vary with culture either, that’s why scientists in Bolivia, Denmark and India can work together and expound on, add to and learn from each other’s work. Scientific discoveries in China can be replicated in America, or Australia, because science works the same way, produces the same result regardless of the culture of the scientist practising it. Also the only reason science varies with time is because it makes progress. Science is constantly adding to what we know about the universe, that’s how it works.

          Sorry Walter but that’s all from me. All your arguments are dissembling and repetitive. when someone points to a flaw you just rephrase them again and again. And you have yet to make any serious rebuttal to my previous post. Essentially you’re just a waste of time.

        • WalterP

          Oh if I had but a day to teach you the difference between epistemology and ontology…

        • Pattrsn

          Seriously Walter? You don’t even know what science is.

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

          Those are nice beliefs about how religion works, thanks for sharing.

          “I know you are, but what am I?” Bazinga!

          That underlying reality doesn’t give a fuck who on the map believed it

          And you continue to not answer the question: yes, our beliefs don’t always match up with reality, but how do we best find good approximations of this reality?

          Let’s close this one chapter. Agree with me that accepting the scientific consensus (where it exists) is the best avenue we laymen have for finding good approximations to the truth.

          So I suppose for philosophically uninformed atheists

          Thanks for the Philosophy 101. I was embarrassed to ask for it. Very helpful.

        • WalterP

          Agree with me that accepting the scientific consensus (where it exists) is the best avenue we laymen have for finding good approximations to the truth.

          The majority of practicing scientists adhere to theism…should I anticipate your immediate conversion?

          Why don’t you agree with me on this point: reality doesn’t give a fuck what your belief map says. It never has in the past and it never will.

        • Kodie

          Belief in god conflicts with reality a whole lot, so go ahead, rationalize all you like, but reality doesn’t give a fuck what your beliefs are.

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

          You can change reality by belief? So that thing in Peter Pan where all the kids in the audience are supposed to clap to make Tinker Bell get well after she drank the poison might actually have saved a real life?

        • WalterP

          Good example. So maybe the cosmos contains a deity, maybe it doesn’t: what we can say for certain is that, as Klodie said, “It doesn’t depend on beliefs to be true.”

          Unfortunately this means your world belief map doesn’t matter at all…there’s either a deity or there’s not, diversity in belief is entirely irrelevant to the question of what exists in reality. Same with microbes and the higgs boson particle and Neptune.

        • Kodie

          There is not only no evidence that a deity exists, evidence contradicts the assertions of people who believe any particular deity exists. So you can deny evidence because it contradicts what you wish to be true. Microbes existed before we invented microscopes to look at them. So far, any intent on finding god involves looking at the bible again to see if it says anything else or if there’s another translation that might get us any closer to finding this hidden speck, or not reading the bible at all and just believing a lot of stupid horseshit. Bob is right, you don’t know what science is. You don’t know what a superstition is. You don’t know when people talk about “god” they are really saying they don’t know, they give up, they’re not looking anywhere for the actual answer. Science says fuck that, I’ll look for the actual answer.

        • Nox

          What the diversity in religious beliefs demonstrates is that people cannot fact check their religious beliefs.

        • Norm Donnan

          Or maybe people have differant spiritual experiences? Who are we to deny what other people experience just because science fails in being able to fact check it.

        • Kodie

          You got tingly and you think Jesus touched you. Good. Now fuck off.

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

          Hold on–Norm may have the makings of a sexual harassment lawsuit if Jesus touched him.

        • Norm Donnan

          Dont encourage her please Bob,l pick up sexual frustration is one of her issues,just saying

        • Nox

          Religions do not merely claim that people have certain experiences. They often claim that certain information has been revealed by god. But what one person says god has told them often conflicts with what another person says god has told them. With no god showing up in the real world to let us know which one is right, humanity has no way to ever figure out which god is real. They are all tied at zero evidence. Whereas with science, scientists from different cultures are still looking at the same data. If any one religion were true, we would see the same type of convergence among theologians on theological issues that we see among scientists on scientific issues.

        • Nox

          Also, if your god is real and spiritual experiences are supposed to be an indicator of that, there shouldn’t be any people anywhere having spiritual experiences that don’t fit with your god.

        • Kodie

          You deny other people’s spiritual experiences all the time, and you have no scientific expertise or evidence that they’re wrong. Your spiritual experiences amount to swallowing whole and digesting everything the Discovery Institute has written and warding off reality with witless insults that are off-topic.

        • Norm Donnan

          Your trolling me again Kods

        • smrnda

          I might not be able to deny them, but I can dismiss them as something that cannot be investigated in any systematic way, and that spiritual experiences can often simply be explained away by psychological factors

        • arkenaten

          No body really takes issue with individul spiritual experiences, Norm. Nobody.

          What becomes the issue is such people have a nasty habit of writing it down, calling it Divinely Inspired then rush off to convert everyone else.

          And in times past if you didn’t agree they had a tendency to burn you, or go to war.

          These days it’s not so brutal..oh, wait a moment I forgot the Twin Towers.

          Oh, and there are probably a few wars going on here and there between Muslims and Christians and wotnot.

          Oh, and there was Wako of course. Oh ,and we have ID and Ken Ham, and that wonderful Museum and absolute twats like William Lane Craig.

          And last but not least we have Norm….

          And these people teach this stuff to kids…

          Er….are you seeing there might be a teeny weeny problem yet, Norm, or are you going to remain a Dickhead for your entire life?

          Just asking.

        • Norm Donnan

          well arki you say nobody has an issue but you do,I dont tell you my personal spiritual experiences because of the closed minded people here,like you.People who think your freethinking but dismiss what most other people understand because you dont get it.You carnt comprehend something as obvious and basic as God, so lets not get into the bigger picture to include satan,even though you use examples of religion being the excuse to wield destruction you have such limited understanding of the most basic principals of whats going on,and you call me a dickhead.The sad thing is so few here actually say anything,only make a critical statement and then mock any replies.Good examples are like smrnda below,she disagrees and says why,a nice person.Jason disagrees and asks why,good question.You ,and your typical disagrees and mocks.Then theres Kodie,well shes under counseling so shes getting help.What lm saying is man up,unless your an adolescent I expect more .

        • Kodie

          You are not really having a discussion Norm. You keep asserting god is real and nothing else. You keep putting down science but not have a reason why. You have trouble keeping up with discussions and only find yourself saying the same thing over and over again. If you think I have other problems and taking them out on you, why would I direct my comments to you? You don’t read my comments, they are about you. You should take them personally. I know you think I’m mad about something else so you pretend this is not about how ignorant you are, and not just ignorant – anti-social about what it takes to keep up your end of an intelligent conversation. Instead, you think it is my fault and you just brush it off. I know you said you got banned at Friendly Atheist a long time ago and you think it’s because they didn’t want to hear the truth that you came to spread.

          You are just in deep denial about why people react to you with nasty comments. I used to be nice to you too, but I haven’t really been lately because there is no reason to be. You are a hostile presence. You stink up the place. You don’t even achieve the level of “bad argument”. You don’t have any argument. When asked for evidence, you just keep patting yourself on the back and sliding to the next square like the oily liar you are. I am not nice to you because you are beyond help.
          You are beyond the kind of thoughtful discussion I would like to have, even if I think you’re wrong, that would be better than this. You are the failure here.

        • arkenaten

          God knows my Address, Norm like he knew yours, yes?

          So what’s so bloody special about you that he knocked on your door and not mine?

          Like all religious folk when confronted by reality you hide behind obsfucation.

          Your religion/faith/relationship was bought at the cost of millions of lives, Norm.

          It was one reason why Luther broke away, not that he was such a nice feller, eh?

          I am not doubting you believe in your personal spiritual experience, but I’ll be damned if you have the right to spread it like an STD and inculcate defenseless kids or vulnerable adults with it.

          ”You carnt comprehend something as obvious and basic as God,”

          This about sums up EVERYTHING I detest about religious people, and why they are dingbats.

          After 2000 plus years being nice should no longer be an option.
          And while you proselytize your nonsense I will call you and every other religious person I come across out for it.

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

          On the Jews and Their Lies, Martin Luther (1543).

        • Norm Donnan

          God does know your address Arki but people like you remind me of suzi quatro’s song,you keep a knockn but you carnt come in. Your closed spiritually,mentally,and emotionally.The bible calls it being hard hearted.We dont need to hide behind anything when youve personally opened the door and known it,thats why with all the derogatory putdowns,even martyrdom hasnt silenced Christianity.Yes youre right it has been bought with a very high price,thats why you have the freedom you do to criticizes me and l tell any who will listen of my faith.The fact that you detest anyone for not believing as you do says more about you than them.That is does have such a reaction in you says to me you want to know the truth so keep looking Arki,it does say in the good book,”those that seek Me will find Me,when they seek Me with all their heart”.Position yourself to find God.

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

          Your closed spiritually,mentally,and emotionally.

          The Holy Spirit is the one who opens hearts. I guess he doesn’t care about the god-man Arkenaten.
          I guess you’re one of the lucky ones.

        • Norm Donnan

          Sorry Bob,wrong again,this door only has a handle on the inside,You and Arki are also lucky to be in a country and time in history where its easy and safe to find God but as the saying goes,there is none as blind as those who dont want to see.You too need to position yourself.I hope to meet you both one day as a brother.

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

          So God chooses in his own fabulous way who to inform about his presence and who to roast in hell for eternity. But before I blame God for being a sadistic butcher, you’re quick to point out that it’s actually my fault.

          Sweet!

        • Norm Donnan

          No,its your choice,its called free will.Its just that humanism says to God,”ill do life my way,and i want you to do it my way as well”.This is why atheists are always saying,”if theres a God,He should do this or that,and because He doesnt He doesnt exist.”Hes God,you will find out later why,until then follow Him.

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

          No, it’s called “taking responsibility.” If God flits around like a pixie, anointing whoever he chooses (but omitting me), then don’t try to then say that it’s all my fault.

        • Norm Donnan

          Then do it,your called.(personally l think all these atheist blogs are just using reverse psychology on yourself)keep searching and asking the hard questions.Hes just behind you tapping you on the shoulder.How Seattle today?Its cold and cloudy in Melbourne Australia

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

          there’s either a deity or there’s not, diversity in belief is entirely irrelevant to the question of what exists in reality.

          And?

          We could sit on our hands or we could gather the evidence to argue one way or the other. We could make progress toward a consensus of some kind.

          Just because it’s the scientific consensus doesn’t mean that it’s right, but I wonder what laymen like you and I can do besides accept it as the best provisional explanation that we have.

        • WalterP

          A consensus is absolutely meaningless for what is and is not true.

          Yet you think a world religions map means something in this debate, for reasons you don’t seem to be able to express.

          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

        • Kodie

          I think you are also prejudiced against most of the same people. Take a poll of the world’s theists and ask what they believe.

          Why don’t they all believe the same thing?
          How do you know which one is legitimate if they can’t all be?

          How can you decide to just not believe something if it only contradicts what you do believe? If you are a Christian, how do you know Hindu isn’t the right belief?

          With science, you could test them. You could test Christianity and Hindu to measure how true they are, you should be able to hold them out for experiment. Somewhere along the way, you’re just going to find that neither one can be demonstrated to be true and you just pick your preference, what your “heart” feels is true.

          Is that how you think science works? That they just picked something out of the air, published it, taught it in schools and just simply insist that it’s true? No, it is worked by testing it and retesting it and retesting it. Everyone who tests it gets the same result, even if they want to believe something else is true. If you are not getting the same result, it is because you start with your conclusion and deny what is right in front of you, lie to make what you want true and what is true, false.

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

          A scientific consensus is the best provisional guess we have at the moment for the truth of that particular question. You got anything better? I’m all ears.

          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

          Some punch lines do get funny as you repeat them over and over, but this one has fallen flat, I’m afraid.

        • WalterP

          Double standard number one: You freely delegate and authorize your selected “scientific expert pool” to arrive at a consensus for you on matters of science. There may be diversity in thought on disease, but not in your selected pool. But you certainly won’t authorize a selected “religious expert pool” to arrive at a consensus on religion. You’ll survey everyone for religion because every opinion suddenly matters in religion. You have to make this move because if you compared apples with apples, the science and religion map would both be multi-colored. Oops, not good.

          Double standard number two is that you already are on the record to say you don’t think reality is altered by diversity in belief anyway: even if every scientist in Europe wanted to throw Einstein out of the science academy, his theory of relativity still corresponds to reality.

          For science, a multi-color map on the theory of relativism doesn’t matter: reality conforms to that theory anyway.

          But mutl-color map on religion? Well in that case reality conforms to no theories whatsoever; it is dependent on beliefs somehow.

          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

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

          You freely delegate and authorize your selected “scientific expert pool” to arrive at a consensus for you on matters of science.

          Weird, isn’t it? I demand that “biologists” actually be biologists. Same for doctors, physicists, and airline pilots. I’m funny that way.

          But you certainly won’t authorize a selected “religious expert pool” to arrive at a consensus on religion.

          Wrong again. I’m happy to look at the pool of theologians. Since you haven’t corrected me, I assume you agree with my hypothesis that there is no consensus on anything here.

          You’ll survey everyone for religion because every opinion suddenly matters in religion.

          Not me. I’m consistent. Like you, I hate double standards. I look for scholars for biology, and I look for scholars for theology. You’re not in either pool unless you have the credentials.

          even if every scientist in Europe wanted to throw Einstein out of the science academy, his theory of relativity still corresponds to reality.

          You don’t read so good. If physics rejected Einstein, then so would I. (Once again, I call out but hear only my own echo: you got something better?!)

        • WalterP

          If physics rejected Einstein, then so would I.

          I can’t tell, are you saying you would reject Einstein, and therefore the theory of relativity would be false at that point?

          Or are you saying you would reject Einstein but the theory of relativity would still be true?

          If it’s the latter, sounds like we can throw belief maps out the window when it comes to what is true about reality. This includes religious beliefs map. Again, reality doesn’t give a fuck.

        • Kodie

          If

          sci-en-tists
          dis-cov
          ered
          that
          Ein stein’s

          Theory

          was

          wrooooonng,
          and

          con clu-ded
          it

          was

          wrong,

          and

          pub
          lished
          mul-ti-ple
          ar-ti-cles
          aboooooout

          in

          what
          ways

          it

          was

          wronnnnnnnnnng,

          then
          a dummy

          like you
          or Bob
          or me
          would

          have

          to

          agree.

          It

          would

          not

          be

          den-i-al
          of

          some thing
          that

          was

          still

          truuuuuue.

          It

          would

          be
          accepting
          that
          something

          else

          was

          truuuuuue.

          That
          is

          science.

          That
          is

          how

          science
          worrrrrrks.

          Slo
          enuf
          4
          u?
          ?????

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

          It’s hard to see how these are actually puzzles. Neither is correct.

          I thought I’ve made this very clear many times, but let me have another go. I accept the scientific consensus (wherever it exists; of course, many questions have no consensus conclusion) as the best provisional answer that we have. I see no option for laymen like myself than to do likewise.

          No one knows whether relativity is true or not. Science never proves anything. We can know some things with great confidence, however. (Relativity being one of them. GPS corrects for errors due to both special and general relativity. If it didn’t, the locations it gave you would drift at the rate of feet per day.)

        • WalterP

          No one knows whether relativity is true or not.

          Let me get this straight: you’re holding out a degree of provisional skepticism toward the theory of relativity because “science never proves anything.” In other words there may be room for doubt here.

          Yet you’re….an… atheist?

          Theory of relativity?: eh, looks good for now, but we’ll see…science can never be certain.

          Possibility of God? Absolutely not, and you’re a fool to think differently. **I** can be certain.

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

          In other words there may be room for doubt here.

          Then we agree here?

          Possibility of God? Absolutely not, and you’re a fool to think differently. **I** can be certain.

          Who says that? Not me.

        • WalterP

          So we can be open to the possibility of theism, excellent.

          Now we just need you to recognize that your little belief map is absolutely irrelevant to whether it happens to be true or not. Again, reality doesn’t give a fuck.

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

          So we can be open to the possibility of theism, excellent.

          Translation: “Whoa—sorry about that last little outburst, bro. I had you pegged completely wrong. My bad.”

          Now we just need you to recognize that your little belief map is absolutely irrelevant to whether it happens to be true or not. Again, reality doesn’t give a fuck.

          Just gonna keep asserting this to see if it sticks? (It ain’t sticking.)

          Religion has a map. Science doesn’t. There’s a reason.

          If you don’t get it, then let’s move on.

        • WalterP

          I’m just amazed you’re putting your faith in belief maps that, centuries ago, would have had you believing geese grew on trees. And then you’re saying “Well, for all we know, geese really did grow on trees if the authorities said they did!”

          But alas I get the sense you’re beyond rationality here: you would probably die before abandoning your faith in the epistemic fallacy. And the idea that belief maps can tell us something about what exists and what doesn’t (except that historically they haven’t done that, at all, in any case, but don’t let that challenge your faith in them).

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

          It’s tough going with you since I must continue to correct your misunderstandings.

          I’m talking about modern science, which started roughly 200 years ago.

          And then you’re saying “Well, for all we know, geese really did grow on trees if the authorities said they did!”

          Nope.

          Aside from getting an argument for free, you’re not much use, are you?

          But alas I get the sense you’re beyond rationality here: you would probably die before abandoning your faith in the epistemic fallacy.

          Demonstrate a fallacy, and we have something to talk about. Otherwise, it’s just a mindless drive-by.

        • WalterP

          Pattrsn may be the smartest atheist here: he recognizes reality doesn’t depend on beliefs. There’s a guy (or gal) who understands epistemology and ontology.

          You can keep your maps. Again, they have no bearing what is real because reality doesn’t give a fuck.

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

          I’d get excited if you would at least recognize what my argument is. Ah, well–if you can’t put up a credible rebuttal you can just bluster, eh?

        • WalterP

          You know, jumping up and down excitedly pointing at a map really isn’t much of an argument. I’m doing the best I can here….

        • WalterP

          …but I should say it does give me comfort to know that even if ***I*** can’t show you the flaw in your arguments, atheist philosophers have long ago recognized the “problem of pluralism” fails to be a significant objection to religion. Mostly because atheism itself gets struck down by the same argument. Oops.

          But carry on with show.

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

          Whoa. I’ve never been completely blown out of the water by a nonargument before. Nice. You’ve got nothing to say, but you’re certain that someone has shown my argument to be laughable, so here I am laying on the sidewalk wondering where the punch came from.

          Wouldn’t it be nice if I had any confidence that you actually understood my argument? Ah, well. Maybe next time.

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

          Yes, I imagine that you are doing the best you can. My bad for pushing you beyond your capabilities.

        • Kodie

          You might be utterly blown away that science does not stop. For a person so smug about science history, you sure don’t seem to know how this works at all.

        • smrnda

          If I poll people as to whether Mr Rogers was in the military, thanks to an urban legend, many people might think he was. Am I prejudiced against these people because it’s not true?

        • Greg G.

          There is either a deity or there is not. There is either a teapot orbiting the sun or there is not. There is either a species of blue whales that can grow to 100 feet long. There is at least one monsters that hides under children’s beds or in their closets or there is not. There are pixies who live in gardens or there is not.All of these statements would be ridiculous to believe without evidence but one of them is not like the others. We have evidence that blue whales can grow to 100 feet in length.

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

          (A bit of a duplication of what Kodie said.)

          So you’ve shifted now: we COULD make a map of worldwide science belief variation, just as we have a worldwide religious belief variation.

          We could make such a map of science belief, but what’s the point? It would all be one color.

          But now, the important thing is consensus within the “scientific community.”

          I’m missing any change but yes, as a layman, I have no choice but to accept the scientific consensus.

          And I presume we’ll define scientific community as those who adhere to the same scientific beliefs we do.

          “We”? I don’t know about you, but my vote isn’t counted in the scientific consensus. I’m an outsider.

          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

          I sort of admire your dogged tilting at windmills, but I still don’t see the prejudice.

        • WalterP

          We could make such a map of science belief, but what’s the point? It would all be one color.

          If I’m following you: yes, the world may hold sharp disagreements about spiritual causes of diseases, but let me limit my “science map” to what a very small pool of Western, elite highly-educated people think about diseases, and like magic, disagreement disappears and we have a one-color map!

          To be consistent, you’d have to allow me to pull the same move: let’s limit my “religion map” to what Catholic bishops believe about God. I’ll get you a one-color map too!

          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

        • Kodie

          Walterp – you are kind of stupid beyond comprehension. You are conflating “scientific consensus” with “secret elite cabal of science-makers”. They publish all their studies, and if you find something to disagree with them about, go ahead. If your only disagreement with their findings is “it’s too secret and contradicts my dearly held beliefs”, then you don’t have an intelligent disagreement with science. You just hate it because you hate it. On the other hand, if some Catholic bishop writes some crap, we are all over what’s wrong with it, in depth. It’s not because it’s Catholic that it’s wrong, it’s because there are so many logical problems with supernatural beliefs that contradict the real world. It is fantasy. There is no consensus on what you like to believe is true.

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

          Ixnay on the abal-kay! Don’t you know what “secret” means?

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

          If I’m following you: yes, the world may hold sharp disagreements about spiritual causes of diseases, but let me limit my “science map” to what a very small pool of Western, elite highly-educated people think about diseases, and like magic, disagreement disappears and we have a one-color map!

          It’s like you don’t understand what science is. I don’t know where the incredulity and snarkiness comes from, but, yes, that’s right.

          let’s limit my “religion map” to what Catholic bishops believe about God. I’ll get you a one-color map too!
          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

          Wrong again. My net captures every frikkin’ person who is qualified to comment on a particular scientific field. Every single practicing biologist for Biology, every practicing physicist for Physics, and so on.

          Let’s capture every theist and ask them: Did Jesus rise from the dead? Did Mohammed visit heaven on a winged horse? Did Shiva drink poison to save the world? On what question would we have a consensus?

        • WalterP

          My net captures every frikkin’ person who is qualified to comment on a particular scientific field.

          “every frikkin person who is qualified…”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_definition

        • WalterP

          You can certainly bite the bullet on committing this logical fallacy. But then you have to allow me to survey “every frikkin (theist) who is qualified…” and again, I’ll get monochromatic map too. We both win.

          Or you could not allow me to do that because you hold inconsistent, arbitrary criteria for validating religious knowledge.

          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

        • Kodie

          Superstitious people who believe a fantasy that sharply contradicts reality.

          What is your problem against science? Why do you distrust it? Why do you equate strong scientific interrogation with your weak make-believe stories? I want to know what about science you disagree with, when it has steered you in the wrong direction and why you are trying to pull it down to your level instead of bring your evidence up here where science sits?

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

          You can certainly bite the bullet on committing this logical fallacy.

          Or perhaps I didn’t actually commit the fallacy.

          But then you have to allow me to survey “every frikkin (theist) who is qualified…” and again, I’ll get monochromatic map too. We both win.

          Wrong—I win.

          When the topic is in Biology, we get all the biologists (that excludes me). When the topic is a question about religion, we get all the religious scholars, not just the ones that happen to already believe in that religion.

          Or you could not allow me to do that because you hold inconsistent, arbitrary criteria for validating religious knowledge.

          Arbitrary? It’s arbitrary to note that people who’ve already decided that Christianity is correct for religious reasons may be biased when the question is “is Christianity correct?”?

        • WalterP

          How are biologists not “biased” toward particular answers? They all assent to a common methodology of investigation, a common canon of knowledge, a whole set of conventions and unspoken doxa, particular presuppositions about how causal factors, etc. etc.

          You can’t see that gathering all the biologists together to come up with a consensus on biological explanations for the world is exactly the same process as gathering all the Christians together. Both presuppose a particular worldview that will lead to a particular conclusion.

          Again, you’re allowing yourself to weed out dissenting views through a circular definition of “who knows science” and declaring it a win for scientific consensus. But then you realize you can’t allowing religion the same right, to do the same pre-weeding, because it’s really stacking the deck in that case.

          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

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

          How are biologists not “biased” toward particular answers?

          You have an odd definition of “bias.”

          The whole point of science is to avoid personal bias. I’ll come to a conclusion and put out a paper summarizing it. Then you come along, find an error, and publish your own paper. It’s all out in the open, and scientists get rewarded for finding the mistakes, including biases.

          You can’t see that gathering all the biologists together to come up with a consensus on biological explanations for the world is exactly the same process as gathering all the Christians together.

          Now you’re getting it! I do indeed reject that idea. Science and religion have their conclusions, but their approaches are quite different. (The better comparison might be history and religion. The consensus view within history universally rejects supernatural conclusions, so I’m afraid you don’t do any better in that contest.)

          If you read this post, you’ll see Mike Licona as a counterexample to your point. The guy comes to the wrong conclusion (“wrong” because it is different from the conclusion we agreed to before we did the research) and he loses his job.

          Again, you’re allowing yourself to weed out dissenting views through a circular definition of “who knows science” and declaring it a win for scientific consensus.

          Wait—is this a trick question? The ones who know science are the scientists … right?

          This is what we call not thinking clearly.

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

          Warren: I found a great video to nudge you along in your understanding of science. It’s short.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWSe2qezhm4

        • WalterP

          Sounds like “scientific consensus maps” of previous decades had no bearing on how reality happened to be. Reality didn’t need a consensus, cuz reality doesn’t give a fuck. Geese don’t grow on trees regardless.

          But when it comes to religion? Your take seems to be: no consensus=no one is right. What happened to reality doesn’t give a fuck about belief maps?

          There either is a god or there isn’t, but a belief map doesn’t mean squat.

          You’ve brought a very poor argument to the table here, one painted by your own anti-religious biases.This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

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

          Sounds like “scientific consensus maps” of previous decades had no bearing on how reality happened to be.

          Pre modern science, uh, yeah.

          Reality didn’t need a consensus, cuz reality doesn’t give a fuck.

          Oh? You have a better way to find the best approximation of reality that’s not the scientific consensus? I’m all ears. But I don’t expect much.

          But when it comes to religion? Your take seems to be: no consensus=no one is right.

          Since you’re foaming at the mouth now, let’s step back to see what we’ve actually been talking about. The map of world religions shows that science and religion approach things from different viewpoints. The consensus view, which has been so phenomenally useful within science, doesn’t even exist within religion. Might some religion have drunkenly stumbled upon the supernatural truth? Yeah, I guess. I await compelling evidence.

          There either is a god or there isn’t, but a belief map doesn’t mean squat.

          It means that, unlike science, the consensus view won’t help us out.

          You’ve brought a very poor argument to the table here, one painted by your own anti-religious biases.

          And what are these biases?

        • Greg G.

          Bob

          I think you could take a map of the worst educated populations to show the areas that don’t adhere to the scientific consensus to give WalterP the map he is asking for.

          He seems to think creation “scientists” do legitimate science.

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

          I hadn’t really considered creation “scientists.” Maybe that’s the key.

          But I think Walter is determined to misunderstand.

          We all gotta have a hobby, I guess.

        • Kodie

          Religious beliefs are invented by humans and spread culturally. You have no reason to believe yours is true and another is false except a high likelihood of one over another due to your location or the location of your upbringing. Upon closer examination of these cultural mythologies, they don’t stand up to reason and they don’t compare one over the other for truth. You easily reject one that’s not yours on the sole principle that it’s not yours. It contradicts yours, so you know it is not true.

          Well, if you have evidence that yours is the lucky true one out of the whole world’s cultural tendency to bind themselves in stories that inflate the human importance within the universe, and tell comforting fairytale bedtime stories about what neat things happen when you die, if you have evidence that yours is correct, we sure would like to look that over, before you say another thing.

        • smrnda

          The difference is that biologists study things that nobody disputes are real. They can show us stuff under microscopes, perform experiments, that sort of thing.

          If a pastor tells me he’s an expert on Jesus, he can’t even pray something in the name of Jesus and get it to happen.

        • smrnda

          So, given your belief that ‘elite western educated people’ and their medicine and science is some kind of conspiracy maintained by circular reasoning, who do you go to when you’re sick? A doctor, or some kind of magic man?

          Am I prejudiced to put my faith in medicine (which is tested experimentally) rather than say, “Traditional Chinese Herbal Remedies?” Am I somehow biased for rejecting something based on the fact that, aside from tradition and hearsay, one has no evidence in its favor?

        • MNb

          Then please give me the theist equivalent of the Newton laws or show me a substantial amount of people who reject them, anywhere in the world.
          If you can’t you’re sucking your thumb as we Dutch say.

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

          You’re far too quick for me. If there’s a circular argument here, I missed it. You’re going to have to slow way down for me to see the error because, as far as I can tell, there ain’t one.

        • smrnda

          The problem is that we can actually perform experiments which more or less prove the ‘elite Western educated people’ are correct. The Catholic bishops have no such means of ‘proving’ their own beliefs to be true.

          Why not just pull an Elijah and the Catholic bishops get their god to light some wet wood in fire? Prove that praying to Baal, Athena, Zeus, Loki don’t provide the same result.

        • Kodie

          We could make such a map of science belief, but what’s the point? It would all be one color.

          No it wouldn’t. People all over the world believe their superstitions and deny science. Walterp is conflating science belief with science because he is also one of those like Norm who thinks it’s all a conspiracy and we’re making it up as we go along just to deny Christian Truth with a capital T. Even though I would not say scientific consensus is consistent – we learn something new and it overtakes the old consensus. We are humans groping through this world. I don’t know what they expect us to determine it perfectly in one session and never change it. It’s taken all of human history. It’s taken one checkpoint to start toward the next one. Two competing hypotheses (for example), there is no consensus. Something is true but we don’t yet know what. For another example, people used to believe the sun revolved around the earth. I would guess that was something of a scientific consensus, but it was discovered that the earth revolves around the sun instead. FACTS don’t change. The earth has always revolved around the sun, even when nobody understood that to be the case. A map of science … I kind of find it hard to believe that it would be all one color. Some things are yet to be determined or refined, but I could not guess that scientists in one area of the globe agree with one good hypothesis and differs on what scientists lean toward based on location.

          People like Norm and Walterp think that science changes or exists because satan planted evidence for foolish god-deniers. Science doesn’t change. Scientific understanding does, it understands closer and closer to truth, and that might mean something we used to believe was true is actually the opposite. They are too stupid to know anything, that’s why they think we are just changing our minds and that science is fickle, whereas though religion may differ worldwide, Christianity stays the same. God was always god and nobody has ever made up new shit. Intelligent Design is some awfully new shit. It relies on science to make up its new shit. If science didn’t come up with DNA, Intelligent Design wouldn’t have anything to talk about. If science didn’t take pictures of a developing embryo, the pro-life movement would not be able to manipulate the facts to support their agenda. Without science, these idiots would be writing with a stick in sand instead of on the internet.

        • Norm Donnan

          No Kods wrong again,science isnt a conspiracy at all,but evolution is an embarrassing example of what you all claim to pass as un biased science.You do sum it up so well with we are all groping through this world.Because science has a bit of an idea where they think everything originated from is interesting in itself but not the absolute truth you all claim it to be ,in fact its as true as Greek mythology,but science hasnt worked that out yet.Your desperation to want it to be true is based on your need to convince yourselves you wont be held accountable to God,maybe thats why youre such an angry girl.

        • Kodie

          Well, you’re trolling me, and you’re delusional. You’re so brainwashed, you lack critical thinking skills, and you change the subject any time it gets time for you to reveal your magical god. You’re just a turd here. You’re not up to the level of discussion. Take your friend Walterp and go to Pharyngula for a while.

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

          No one claims that science has absolute truth (except you when you set it up as a straw man).

          Gimme a little something here: at least admit that it’s insanely ironic that you’re belittling science while you’re typing on a computer (that relies on principles of quantum physics) and communicating via the internet.

          It’d be great if religion was a competitor and we actually had some sort of contest here, with science and religion each showing off their stuff. But religion hasn’t delivered anything. Progress instead comes from science.

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

          On an issue that is a scientific consensus, it’s one color. On issues where there is no developing consensus at all (maybe abiogenesis?), the map isn’t colored at all. On a few things in flux (maybe string theory vs. quantum loop gravity vs. other competing theories) we do have different colors, but that’s just because there is no consensus.

        • MNb

          I dare to say that Newton’s Laws are unanimously accepted all over the world, even by Flat Earthers.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think you get it, so I’ll spell it out for you:

          Science doesn’t care if anyone agrees with it. 100% of people can be wrong (in one single way or a variety of ways) and what is true is still true. There is no map of “scientific acceptance.” That is what you came up with from what Bob wrote? Science doesn’t have a world map of variation because science doesn’t vary by location.

          Scientific acceptance is a different thing. Plenty in the US don’t believe in evolution and persist in trying to legitimize Intelligent Design on par with the scientific consensus. People in Asia believe something to do with tigers making them strong if they eat it, or sharks. I don’t know. That is all local made-up bullshit. They deny science because they are ignorant, but science is the same everywhere.

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

          Yeah, except that Korean fan death is for real. Or so I’ve been reliably informed by a chain email.

        • smrnda

          A note – after Mao came to power, a big problem was the fact that the regime couldn’t deliver on a high standard of living, and that they didn’t have enough engineers, doctors, and other educated types. Solution? Take divergent beliefs about healing and create “Traditional Chinese Medicine (TM)” and send TCM practitioners all over to make people think that you’re giving them something worthwhile.

    • Norm Donnan

      While this may have some truth exactly the same applies to the likes of Dawkins and other atheist academics work. Im sure they all have their beliefs and agendas that would influence their conclusions.

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

        And that’s not what we’re talking about. Believers have supernatural beliefs; atheists don’t.

        • WalterP

          Atheists have unverifiable metaphysical beliefs about the universe, but they seem incapable of realizing it.

          Don’t spoil the secret, Norm, it’s more fun this way.

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

          There are fundamental axioms upon which everything is built (1 + 1 = 2 probably isn’t an example, but something fundamental like that). But let’s not pretend that they’re taken on faith. These axioms are there because they’ve been tested countless times and are still being tested and have shown themselves to be reliable.

          As an aside, you seem to be doing what I see lots of Christians doing, which is arguing, “So I’m an idiot for taking stuff on faith, am I?! Well … well, you’re an idiot, too, ’cause you take stuff on faith, too!”

          Not celebrating faith, not justifying it as a respectable path to the truth, but trying to pull the naturalist down to your (admittedly lower) level.

          That may not be what you think you’re doing (and I could be misunderstanding), but that’s how it looks. FYI.

        • WalterP

          Atheism is a posited belief about how the universe is.

          And not a scientifically verifiable one, as Dawkins has said in distancing himself from “hard” atheism.

          Norm is correct: it’s a faith commitment like any other.

        • Kodie

          Norm can’t find his ass with both hands.

        • Pattrsn

          Except when he’s looking for his head.

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

          More precisely: it’s a rejection of another belief.

          So every belief is built on faith? There is no such thing as evidence?

        • WalterP

          Rejection of another belief is itself a belief. If I don’t believe Neptune exists, I am positing a belief about Neptune, or more precisely, I am positing a belief about a Neptune-less reality. Still a belief.

        • Kodie

          Neptune really exists and I can show you? So rejecting Neptune after I have shown you would be a denial. Nobody cares. Nobody cares, least of all the planet Neptune, if you believe that it’s there or not. Neptune doesn’t care if I can’t show you well enough so you believe it exists. I don’t care, Neptune doesn’t care, get on with your life.

          God doesn’t really exist. No one has seen him. You talk about him like he’s real but you have no evidence. My whole existence is in peril if I don’t believe you! God can’t get over that he’s imaginary so you (not god) threaten me with hell if I don’t listen to you (not god).

        • WalterP

          You’re arguing with somebody else, Kodie. Someone you appear to be very, very hurt by…

          I’m sorry I can’t respond for whoever it is that you’re arguing with.

        • Kodie

          Ha ha, theist. Back into a corner, make up shit. I’m not mad at someone else. I’m talking to you and your skull is very thick.

        • Norm Donnan

          Bingo Wal, it shows doesnt it.This is why l choose to not respond to Kodie in the same way.Theres a lot of pain there.

        • Kodie

          Less than a week ago, you called me Penny and implied that I’m stupid like on the Big Bang Theory. “There’s a lot of pain there” is your delusion. Both of you are insulting to the intelligence of the average house cat.

        • Norm Donnan

          No silly,its because shes pretty,meowww

        • Pattrsn

          Seriously Norm? All your “arguments” so far have been the sulky whiny “open your heart
          to Jesus and you will see that I am right” crap. Oh wait I believe there was also “evolution is false! I tell you False!”

          Please do stick around though, it’s always fun to see you guys have your little breakdowns.

        • Norm Donnan

          yeh and we all come from stardust dont we,and were serious because we like science and stuff so your just so so so …dumb

        • Pattrsn

          Ah, whiny petulance, how refreshing.

        • Norm Donnan

          Oh Patto dont you have anything deep and meaningful to say,I will even settle for your analyzing of a scientific principal,come on refresh us all,lol

        • Pattrsn

          You’re right there Walter. She’s under the illusion that the person she’s arguing with is capable of arguing back.

        • Kodie

          Alternately, Neptune is a god and of course you don’t believe he exists. You have denied the existence of a god with no real interrogation into whether Neptune exists, you just shoot down that idea. You don’t have to give a good reason why the god Neptune doesn’t make any sense to you and you figure that he’s just a myth. Why do you hate Neptune???????

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

          The burden of proof changes depending on whether I say, “I don’t accept your claims of a god” or “There is no god.”

        • WalterP

          Sounds like your personal views (about what is and what is not) get the status of the “default” view. Meaning, you don’t need evidence, but everyone else does. You get beliefs without evidence and it’s somehow not faith; no one else gets that privilege.

          This is not philosophically or historically supported.

          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

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

          I’m not sure what we’re talking about anymore. My view is the default view only in that you’re the one making the extraordinary claim. You want to tell me that unicorns exist? OK, I’m listening. But if your case is unconvincing, I’m obliged to stay with the null hypothesis.

          Still flogging the prejudice thing, are we? I don’t think it’s working out so good.

        • WalterP

          You are positing a belief in materialism: a closed world made up of only material things. Scientists–true scientists who understand the philosophical underpinnings of science–will say science alone can’t “prove” that in a laboratory or a controlled experiment, So you’re going to need to produce some evidence if you want to say you hold your metaphysical views by anything other than faith.

          Or perhaps you demand evidence for everyone else’s metaphysical beliefs, but your own are exempt. Two different standards.

          This is what we call being prejudiced against a particular type of people.

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

          You are positing a belief in materialism

          No, I’m rejecting a belief in theism. The burden of proof rests on your broad shoulders. Enjoy.

        • WalterP

          Nope sorry, while rejecting theism, you’re positing a belief in a materialistic reality. And I reject your belief and hold the null hypothesis. You show me proof.

          You’ve got the same burden of holding metaphysical beliefs that I do. Or is this a double standard too?

          Unless you want to go soft agnosticism on me.

        • Kodie

          “There is a god” is not the null hypothesis and you are still dumb. That video did not make you less dumb. I want my money back.

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

          Nope sorry, while rejecting theism, you’re positing a belief in a materialistic reality.

          Nope, sorry. If I say, “Walter, Walter—I just saw a unicorn!” then the null hypothesis remains: unicorns don’t exist. If you’re open minded, you might listen to my argument that unicorns exist. If I failed to convince you, you’d fall back to the null hypothesis and be justified in doing so.

          What isn’t the case is that my coming up with that statement now means that we both are positing a claim. I make my case, and then I say, “Well? Watcha got to rebut that? You may not think much of my story, but it’s something. It’s evidence, even if very small evidence. You got nuthin’ to respond with. Guess who’s the winner? You’re lookin’ at him!”

          Back to the Jesus topic, yes, I could (and very often do) take the offensive and make a claim and shoulder the burden of proof. But I don’t have to—that’s the point.

          And as a side point, I’m surprised that you would go there. The burden of proof of arguing for Jesus is actually, y’know, a burden?

        • WalterP

          No, it’s more like you’re saying:

          “Walter, I know you profess belief in a non-unicorn reality, but I’m here to tell you: you’re a fool. I simply know–not believe, know–there are unicorns. It’s so rational and logical I don’t even need evidence for my unicorn beliefs–er, knowledge. In fact, it’s really just a null hypothesis: I find your posited non-unicorn reality insufficient so I’m rejecting it. Then I fall back to the default pro-unicorn position that any logical person should hold.”

          later…

          “Provide ‘proof’ for my belief in unicorns??? You must be mistaken: I have no beliefs, just a null hypothesis.”

          returning to Norm’s point:

          “Well of course I can conduct the unicorn population count without any bias! I have no agenda–I don’t even have beliefs, remember? It’s you unicorn-deniers that can’t be trusted…”

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

          The first straw man is just a result of your overexcited imagination. That’s not me. Never was.

        • WalterP

          My mistake: let’s return to the part where atheists holding unverifiable metaphysical beliefs was a secret

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

          Is there a logical error here? If not, stop wasting our time.

        • WalterP

          More an error of self-reflexivity.

        • Kodie

          Can you expound on that idea? I mean, after you clean all the shit off of it.

        • Kodie

          You’re really bad at basic things like reading and understanding words. You are the one falling back to your default pro-unicorn status. Where are all the fucking unicorns then? Where is god? You are on the side of fantasy. Produce evidence of this fantasy so we can take an examination of it.

        • MNb

          What’s more – the average christian also accepts the metaphysical assumption that unicornds don’t exist. So christians still have more metaphysical assumptions than atheists and they more than agnosts and they more than nihilists.

        • MNb

          Never heard of Thomas Nagel, I suppose.

        • WalterP

          Oh I have heard of him…he’s tearing the new atheist crowd a new one lately with how bad their arguments are. They’ve essentially deemed him a heretic at this point for challenging their group-think. Give it a google….

        • Kodie

          Prejudiced against people who make stuff up and never bring the evidence to people who do not see it, you mean? That’s exactly what you mean. A closed world of materialism is all that we can detect. If there is something else, it would either fit in that system or have no way of interacting with that system. Your task is to bring the evidence so I can accept it. I cannot accept your assertions and avoidance of the topic to tell us the same old “can’t prove a negative – gotcha!” as proof of god.

        • MNb

          You don’t even know the difference between materialism and atheism. Not all atheists are materialists. So you are moving goalposts.
          But even regarding materialism you are wrong. Once again materialists have less metaphysical assumptions than non-materialists (unless the latter reject science, but only very few do).

        • smrnda

          I think that this is a good time to discuss the ‘null hypothesis.’ If someone tells me that something outside of the physical universe exists, like gods or spirits or demons and angels, the burden of proof rests on them to prove that to me. It is not my job to prove that it *cannot* exist. If you tell me you have a jet-pack that enables you to fly, it’s up to you to come out, strap on the pack and fly. I mean, you can’t *prove* that I don’t have such a jet pack, but given that it’s a fairly bold clam, you’d be right to demand evidence.

          Some people I know believe in ghosts and are convinced some buildings are haunted. It’s up to them to prove this to me – I’m not *prejudiced against them* they’re just making a claim that requires better evidence than a few people telling me about vague ‘presences’ felt in a building at night. That’s a bias, but it is a justified one. I’m not unfairly biased to believe that eating McDonalds will be bad for my health, it’s just a conclusion you get from evidence.

          So on materialism, ascribing to materialism seems fairly defensible. If the supernatural cannot be investigated systematically, then no conclusive evidence on it can ever be obtained and it’s an area where there’s nothing but speculation.

        • Norm Donnan

          I think youve got them covered Wal,you will have Kodie spitting on you soon,lol

        • Pattrsn

          I see, so there’s no difference between the belief that when you press your cars brake pedal your car will slow down and the belief that the sun won’t come up tomorrow if you don’t sacrifice a goat to the god cheesepuddle?

        • smrnda

          Great point.

        • Norm Donnan

          This is where atheism does fail badly,science does produce evidence absolutely.But theorys like evolution arnt based on evidence only very biased deductions,which fits in so well with what you so desperately need to be true that you embrace it as an absolute.Same with abortion,science proves absolutely that this embryo at any stage is a human being,no faith involved.But it doesnt fit your agenda if you dont want the responsibility so its twisted around by the disingenuous reasoning,”ah,but is it a person”.Ignore absolute evidence. .

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

          This is so content free that there’s not much to respond to.

          science proves absolutely that this embryo at any stage is a human being

          So science produces nonsense until it shows something you care about and then it’s the absolute truth?

          Yes, the embryo is a human being. So what?

        • Norm Donnan

          No ,its absolute truth regardless of your interest or opinion,and so if a fetus is a human being then to kill them is murder no matter how they will affect a persons life.

        • Norm Donnan

          Oh,and this has nothing to do with religion or being biased but physical evidence proven by science.This is why it is beyond me that virtually all the atheist sites are strongly pro abortion

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

          Yeah, stop getting excited about the fact that it’s “a life” and it’s “a human being.” Everyone agrees, assuming you define “human being” as “Homo sapiens.”

          They’re pro-choice because they think about the issues and aren’t susceptible to shallow emotional arguments.

        • Norm Donnan

          Ok so taking “a life”,and killing a “human being” are shallow emotional arguments eh. My parents will be so annoyed l have to get rid of “it” is a shallow emotional argument,imo

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

          Define “human being” broadly enough, and it doesn’t mean much.

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

          If “human being” isn’t the same thing as “person,” then why is killing a human being murder? Why not killing a person?

        • Norm Donnan

          Personhood isnt something to be earned or achieved as pro abortionist say,their one and the same.

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

          There is a spectrum, no matter what the anti-choicers say.

        • Norm Donnan

          A spectrum of reasons yes,my wife didnt have a problem with abortion when we married and was devastated when she fell pregnant 3 months later.We were heavily committed financially,she had started a new job,had been sick for a year,was not emotionally ready for kids,but abortion wasnt an option for me.She was sick all through the pregnancy,he was a terriable baby,didnt sleep through till he was 2,and that was a one off,but is an awesome son and the father of our grand children,and l now have a pro life wife because she knows the person she would have aborted.

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

          Cool! And now you want to impose your way of thinking on everyone else in the world. By law.

        • Norm Donnan

          Only because my belief in the evidence that science provides so convincingly has left me without excuse.

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

          You’re using science here? I dunno–maybe you’re using too much. I say that it denigrates humanity to say that there’s no meaningful difference between an adult, a child, and a newborn on one hand, and a single microscopic cell on the other.

        • Norm Donnan

          They used to say black people were degenerate compared to white people,even now in India they still have the “untouchable “class.The single cell myth might have a tiny bit of relevance until you see a fetus a few weeks old,and with all the whining with Texas limiting abortion to under 20 weeks when the child is totally human is beyond me,but conveniently ignored by you.

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

          What part of my argument do you not understand? You’re agreeing with me that there’s a huge change from a single microscopic cell to a 20-week-old. That’s the spectrum argument.

          (As for “a fetus a few weeks old,” show me a photo of this fetus and tell me how large it is, and then we’ll talk about its relevance to the discussion.)

        • Norm Donnan

          Ok Bob how long is a newly conceived human a single cell ? 1day.Who has an abortion then ,no one,they dont even know.Now why is size an issue,a 2yo child is small to an adult and irrelevant in all areas of doing anything practical,they have as much potential as a 2month old.They all have value because they are people.

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

          So you’re agreeing with me. You say that a single cell is far less important than a newborn.

          Right??

        • Norm Donnan

          Right….and other people are far less important than my family aswell,especially annoying,ugly poor,non christian,and a host of other reasons I personally consider worthwhile.But there all irrelivent,I still carnt kill them.

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

          Do you really not understand my argument? Or do you see your rebuttal crumbling into uselessness so that you’re tossing out nonsense rather than admit that you’re wrong?

          The difference between your family and a stranger is pretty small. The difference between your family and a single microscopic cell is very, very large.

          Get it now?

        • Norm Donnan

          Oh please Bob are you serious?is that it? This isnt a rebuttal, its juvenile,it makes me look like an intellectual giant.Even if all abortions were carried out in the first six weeks,(which most arnt) the whole value issue that you place on an individual at a certain time in their life sounds to me like a way of thinking used to justify atrocities from our not to distant past when people from a certain race or religion were seen as microscopic in their worth as well.Why are the retarted,handicapped and bed ridden,not disposed of as well, they will never be any value to society,nothing but a drain of time and resorces.Lets move them on as well eh,the small ones in particular.,

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

          Why are the retarted,handicapped and bed ridden,not disposed of as well

          Huh?? Because a 6-week-old fetus is about the size of a sesame seed and looks like a tadpole. Not much of a person.

          If you want to operate like that, that’s fine. Just don’t impose your morality on the rest of the country.

        • Norm Donnan

          Iam afraid it doesnt work like that.If you believed people by the millions were being exterminated as pro life does and someone said,”oh he’s the countries dictator,its his choice,its whats best for the country economically,socially and politically,dont worry about it.How would you react?

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

          Iam afraid it doesnt work like that.

          My response is too withering to respond to directly?

          If you believed people by the millions were being exterminated

          Yes, that would be bad. No, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about a collection of cells the size of a sesame seed.

          Convince me that these cells are identical in every relevant way to people like you and me.

          Ya gotta stay on target, otherwise everyone will realize that you’ve conceded the argument.

        • Norm Donnan

          If you really dont get science Bob,wait a few weeks and then even you will have answered your own questions and will concede a thorough wipping when the little ones are crying in their mothers arms

        • MNb

          WalterP is probably thinking of stuff like “the Universe is consistent and coherent, hence laws of physics apply everywhere”.

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

          I think you’re right that this is what he’s thinking of.

          Unverifiable in an absolute way? Sure–everything is. But the hypothesis that the universe is consistent is tested wherever possible. It’s never taken on faith.

        • MNb

          Atheists have less unverifiable metaphysical assumptions than theists, specifically regarding gods.

      • Kodie

        You’re sure? How are you sure? They are looking at evidence – if god were evident, and Intelligent Design were evident, that would become scientifically legitimate. Right now it is just a bunch of wishful thinking bullshit. Nobody takes it seriously because it is imaginary and if we used it as a basis for anything real, it would fall down and we’d all die.

        You are really lucky that science is real and nobody who is doing really important stuff takes your beliefs literally.

  • RichardSRussell

    As the Red Queen insisted to Alice, “Sentence first, verdict afterward.”

    I’m reminded of Richard Dawkins’s observation that theology shouldn’t be considered an academic discipline at all.

    • Jason

      Actually, I think Dawkins is really off-base with that statement. Should mythology also not be a discipline? How about folklore studies? “Theology” as a discipline doesn’t imply belief. It implies the study of what people have believed about god.

      • RichardSRussell

        And if that’s the way it actually worked, I’d have no more beef with it than you do. Heck, nothing in English literature actually happened in the real world, and that’s clearly a legitimate field of study.

        The difference is that no professor of English lit is going to claim that an actual Jane Eyre survived an actual fire in an actual house, but theologians are perfectly willing to make even more outrageous claims in their own field, and nobody gigs them for it.

        Dawkins wasn’t the first one to notice this, either. “Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: ‘My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.’ This stranger is a theologian.” —Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French encyclopedist and philosopher

        • Jason

          Non-religious scholars can and do write good work on theological topics but probably more often within departments like religious studies, medieval studies, etc. I think the problem is that departments that are actually theology departments tend to only exist in religious institutions. So again, the problem is not that theology shouldn’t be a field of study (as Dawkins claims) but that it should be primarily a sub-discipline within the secular study of religion, church history, etc. Similarly, mythology is most often a sub-field of classics, literature, etc. If some neo-pagan started teaching Greek myth from a religious perspective, would you then say that mythology should no longer be a discipline? No, you’d say it should be taught from a different perspective. That’s my criticism of the Dawkins quote. He wants to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The Diderot quote is funny.

        • MV

          Theology is not a valid field of study because it starts with the answer (what is true) and looks for the justification. Reality and what is true isn’t important (or is at least secondary).

          You have aptly described the difference between mythology, which is a discipline, and theology. When you stop treating it as myth, when you turn it into a religion, it’s theology. It’s the same reason that religious studies is not theology.

        • MNb

          That might apply more to philosophy of religion than to theology. The two are not the same.

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

        What is Theology – belief? Is it Anthropology? Or perhaps History?
        I like Anthropology and History.

        • MNb

          In principal everything related to Holy Books.

    • MNb

      While I don’t think high of theology either I also realize that the same argument could be made for the study of economy. So I’m a bit careful with statements like these.

  • Lewis C.

    Licona’s pressured out his job for violating a sacred creed of his seminary. Much like Lawrence Summers was pressured out of his job for violating a sacred creed (of gender equality) of Harvard.

    There aren’t many places where one can universally “follow the facts where they lead.”

    • Greg G.

      As if the Shleifer and the West cases had nothing to do with Summers’ resignation.

  • arkenaten

    I enjoyed this post when I first read the original. It is still brilliant and such issues need to be brought to the attention of anyone who would consider quoting such people or using them as part of a ‘consensus’ of notable scholars.
    I shall post a link to this post.
    There are some real idiots over at Word Press that need to read this.

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

      :-)

      • arkenaten

        No post on Apollo 11?

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

          I remember being woken up to watch the moon landing. Pretty cool event. I don’t have much to add that would be relevant to this blog, however.

        • arkenaten

          Well, it’s nice to tip our caps to those guys.

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

          Happy We’ve-been-to-two-worlds Day!

  • Michael Phoenix

    Intellectually honest… I like that… And although I’m a bible thumper myself, I agree with your assessment of being intellectually honest. I think there are many who have strangled their minds in actually coming to know the truth by assuming the “infallible” clause, simply due to the fact that many believe their interpretation is what’s true. And often they assume a literal interpretation.

    Anyway… good stuff bro…

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

      Great! I’m glad we have a point of agreement.

      • Michael Phoenix

        May I ask you a question about your particular point-of-view on existence? … and no, I’m not gonna ask you if you’ve “been saved”… lol

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

          Ask away. “Existence” doesn’t sound like a very interesting topic, but I’ll do my best.

        • Michael Phoenix

          What do you see our base nature is, as human beings. And when I say base nature, I’m not referring to a behavioral context, but more a “physical construct” context. Meaning, what is it that allows us as individual entities to exist as objective constructs in reality?

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

          No idea. I don’t think I’m a good one to ask this to.

        • Michael Phoenix

          Was just curious as to what you thought… that’s all…

  • Y. A. Warren

    The purpose of scholarship is testing theories for accuracy in light of new experience and knowledge. Anything that has to be accepted “on faith” is, by definition, not true scholarship.

    The paradigm for learning has changed from rote memorization to teaching of the ability to reason. This leads to radical change. Jesus was a radical Jew, and was put to death for his thoughts and teaching. After more than 2,000 years, we still have people afraid to put their heads out of the caves of our earliest ancestors.

    Unfortunately, there are many born with no ability to reason, and others who prefer not to learn to exercise their free will, based on the ability to reason.

  • smrnda

    Thought I would add a personal anecdote, since a point has been made over and over again that experts in science are being respected as being allowed to draw conclusions, but not experts in religion. I am not a Christian, but I’ve been mistaken for one by actual Christians for knowing a lot about the Bible and stuff Christians
    believe.

    Q – is a personal faith in the truth of a religion necessary to be an expert? Can an expert in a religion be an unbeliever, and if that’s true, then being an ‘expert’ in a religion doesn’t make it any more real than the existence of ‘experts’ on Star Wars make Darth Vader real.

    You can be an expert on something that is not ‘real’ in the way that the objects of scientific investigations are real. I might know a lot about a movie, but the movie is still fiction. How do we verify that theologians are actually talking about real things?

    I will agree that you can sort of ‘defensible’ from ‘indefensible’ conclusions in a religion (to some extent) by looking at the texts and the traditions, but it still doesn’t tell me that the underlying assumptions are true at all. If someone asks me “was ‘thou shalt no take the name of the Lord in vain one of the ten commandments?’ I can say, ‘yes,’ but that doesn’t mean the events in Exodus actually happened.

    • Norm Donnan

      Good question and comparison to star wars.The simple answer is yes,totally. This is why Christians say dont waste your time with religion,its about the relationship with God that has any meaning.Anyone can be taught all about what any religion or theory believes but doesnt mean for one minute that you think its true.Personally l dont think God is into religion at all.

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

        Yeah. I hear Christians saying all the time that religion has nothing to do with anything, least of all their religion. Pretty much 100% say that, I’d guess.

        • Norm Donnan

          Hows your sunday afternoon going Bob?

        • Greg G.

          You didn’t ask me but I’m in Waikiki and having a blast!

        • Norm Donnan

          Sounds awesome,a mate came back last week from there,said he hired a convertable mustang and loved it hooting round the hills

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

          Meh. Same old, same old. I’ve got a pile of comments from nuts to go through.

        • Norm Donnan

          Dont let them get you down,its just that they dont know Jesus.Hahaha,oh my,l make myself laugh ha.l could have just put lol but apparently its so uncool

      • smrnda

        I will add that the notion of a ‘personal relationship’ and not ‘religion’ seems a particularly American Christians way of saying things, but I also agree that wording is important to people. I just have a hard time since the ‘personal relationships’ people claim to have with gods seem totally unlike what I mean by ‘personal relationship.’ There are people that I see fairly often who I still would not claim to have a personal relationship with.

        There’s also the problem that people other than Christians make this sort of claim – a personal relationship with the Christian god and somebody’s personal relationship to Thoth, the Egyptian god of scribes can’t both be possible, but yet I can find at least one person to make each claim. How am I supposed to figure out whose personal experience I take seriously?

        • Norm Donnan

          well your question was can you know all about a religion,which is yes,whether you take any seriously is entirely up to you

        • MNb

          “seems a particularly American Christians way of saying things”
          You’re wrong here. It’s a very common idea in The Netherlands as well, in several denominations. I see it as a way to modernize religion.

        • Kodie

          I think the religious don’t grasp atheism and exactly what we do reject. A personal hallucination that you can’t share with someone else is what this is about. Maybe hallucination is too harsh, it’s usually just strong emotions that overwhelm someone so limited in mind that they jump to the conclusion that it is a sign from a god. Why do they follow through that feeling with very specific signs of adhering to a specific religion?

          I don’t disbelieve they’ve had strong emotions.

      • Pattrsn

        It doesn’t bother you that this “personal relationship” exists only in your head?

        • Norm Donnan

          no,if lm happy who cares what you think

  • Jim Hoerst

    On theology Thomas Paine get my nod for for making most the definitive statement:

    “The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not any thing can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is not the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing.”

    Religion is crazy town and it always has been. That is why disputes are not resolved by reason. If disputes are resolved they are resolved by appeals to authority. You can study religion forever and never learn anything except what religious writers have said. What you will not find is objective means of verifying their doctrines, unless of course the theologian was blood enough to predict the return of the messiah.

  • MNb

    You are still too kind and forget to ask a few questions. Why are they so willing to subject to faith statements like these? Why doesn’t anyone criticize them? Money is not a sufficient answer – in that case we would expect criticism after leaving such an institute.
    I strongly suspect that Craig and co actually agree with such faith statements. It’s what Bertrand Russell wrote at the end of the chapter on Thomas of Aquino in his HIstory of Western Philosophy: they already know which conclusion to arrive at.
    This is confirmed in The Netherlands. No Dutch university has issued any faith statement. Still Dutch philosophers of religion (to a less extent theologians) are in my personal experience exactly the same.
    One, who also has a degree in maths, thinks finetuning a valid argument. He has chosen christianity – or he says that he has chosen it – because “historians agree that the empty tomb is a historical fact”. Another wrote on his blog that the Evolution Theory is based on randomness. After I pointed out, with a reference to TalkOrigins, that this was wrong he still wrote it in his thesis. When I criticized him again he answered that “he needed this statement for his argument”. He has received his degree nonetheless.
    So I suspect that religious deepthinkers tend to be intellectually dishonest with or without faith statements. I know only one (Dutch) exception. There may be more, but I understand fully why Chris H. writes that philosophers of religion are generally looked down upon.

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

      Why doesn’t anyone criticize them?

      Why still put on the pretense of scholarly objectivity? Why no embarrassment at these faith statements? Why the contrast between scientists and these fundamentalist scholars? You’re right—lots of unanswered questions.

      One, who also has a degree in maths, thinks f inetunin g a valid argument.

      Typo?

      When I criticized him again he answered that “he needed this statement for his argument”.

      Ouch! Translated: “I know my argument is built on sand.”

      So I suspect that religious deepthinkers tend to be intellectually dishonest with or without faith statements.

      But do they know this themselves? Or suspect it? Or are they completely unaware?

  • SparklingMoon-

    Matthew 27:52, where many of the dead came back to life after Jesus died, didn’t literally happen. To many of us that’s an unsurprising observation, but this caused quite a controversy within the scholarly evangelical community.
    ———————————————————————————————–
    It states in the the Gospel of Matthew: ‘And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his
    (Jesus’) resurrection and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.’ (Matthew 27:52.)

    There is not the slightest doubt that the story mentioned in the gospel, namely, that after the resurrection of Jesus the saints came out of the graves and appeared alive to many, is not based on historical fact. The accounts like these are of the nature of a vision, seen after the Crucifixion by some holy persons; that the dead saints had been brought back to life and had come to the city where they paid visits to the people. This vision also had to have an interpretation of its own; and this interpretation was that Jesus had not died on
    the Cross; that God had rescued him from death on the Cross.

    How can one believe that hundreds of thousands of saints who, from the time of Adam up to the time of John the Baptist,had been lying in their graves in that blessed earth, should all be brought back to life? Such beliefs have a highly injurious and evil effect — the beliefs, namely, that one should say that these hundreds of thousands of dead persons, or any dead person before that time, had been brought back to life by Jesus.

    In short, ordinary people, endowed with little intellect, are pleased with such ‘miracles’ but the wise become the target of other people’s criticism and are thus worried over it. They are put to shame before those to whom such silly stories are being related.(Jesus in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmed)

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

      Great to hear that you dismiss nonsense. Why not the rest of the gospel story?

  • SparklingMoon-

    Their statement of faith, binding on the faculty, said that the Academy “accepts the Holy Scriptures as the revealed and inerrant word of God.”
    ——————————————————————————————
    There are many statements of the Bible that contradict one another, and
    the word of God cannot contain such contradictions. It is certain that these statements were added to the Bible by writers who entertained contradictory ideas. A book which contains such contradictory statements cannot be attributed to an ordinary rational human being, much less to God. But Moses was an
    honoured Prophet of God, and the Torah was certainly a revelation of God received by him. We have, therefore, to assume that those contradictions are later additions. Because of them, no blame attaches to God or to Moses. Only we must say that when God decided to replace the Bible by a book of lasting value, He withheld His protection from the Bible and it was no longer safe from human interference and from the ravages of time.

    In Genesis 22 : 14 we read : ”And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh : as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall beseen.
    But in Exodus 6 : 2-3 we read : And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord, And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, and by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”

    The contradiction between these two passages is obvious. The passage from Exodus says that the name Jehovah was first revealed to Moses. Before his time no Prophet, Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, had his name revealed to him. But the passage from Genesis says that this name was revealed even to Abraham and that he named a mount after it Jehovah-jireh.

    Similarly in Numbers 33 : 38 we have : ”And Aaron the priest went up into mount Hor at the commandment of the Lord, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the first day of the fifth month.”

    But in Deuteronomy 10 : 6 we read : And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth of the children of Jaakan to Mosera ; there Aaron died, and there
    he was buried ; and Eleazar his son . . .

    It is evident that one and the same person could not die in two different places. There can be no doubt that these two contradictory passages were entered in the Bible by two different scribes who have written down their own speculations
    in it and presented them as the word of God.

    In II Samuel 6 : 23 we read : “Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.” But in II Samuel 21 : 8 we read :. . . and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. The same book describes Michal as childless in one place and the mother of five sons in another.

    If the claim had been that the Torah is a collection of statements made by many hundreds of thousands of Jewish writers, even then the book would have possessed some value. But we find that, on the one hand, this book is offered as the very word of God, and that, on the other, it contains thousands of contradictions. This unwarranted claim on behalf of the Bible takes away even such value as it would have possessed, had no such claim been made on its behalf. Such a book cannot serve as a guide, and who can say that after such a book we did not need another ?

  • MNb

    The comments on this thread provide a nice example how theists run more risk to be intellectually dishonest than atheists. Let me for the sake of argument forget their strawmen, bad reading etc. Let me also for the sake of argument grant their claim that atheists make metaphysical assumptions as well, specifically “there is no god”. They place this opposed to their “there is a god”. Then they conveniently forget that the two are not equivalent.
    Because the theist doesn’t stop here.
    2. There is only one god – unless you’re say a hindu.
    3. God is a trinity – unless you’re say a muslim.
    4. God is immaterial – unless you’re say a mormon.
    5. God is omnipotent – or not, according to certain theologians.
    6. God is omniscient – or not.
    7. God is omnivolent – or not.
    8. God is omnipresent – or not.

    That’s a hell of a lot, if you ask me. And depending on the christian you’re debating the list might grow.
    But still I have to meet the first christian who brings this up him/herself. Still these assumptions are widely known. So there can be only one explanation – the one BobS provides in his header.

    • WalterP

      You’re inching toward the fallacy of abstemious pluralism. Bob’s there already, so you’re in good company. Let me try to help you out. I’ll quote liberally from a philosopher since I’m short on time today:

      Your argument, and Bob’s map argument, stated more succinctly:

      Even if a Christian were to suppose her trinitarian belief to be significantly more likely to be true than each of the various Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist . . . alternatives, the application of the approach here described could still yield the conclusion that her belief was probably false. For it might upon reflection seem intuitively obvious or at any rate very likely to the Christian that the degree of superiour probability she could credibly claim would not be sufficient to prevent the combined probability of the relevant alternatives from outweighing that of the beliefs she holds.

      The response:

      …The pluralist objector can say that the right course is to abstain from believing the offending proposition, and also abstain from believing its denial; call him, therefore, ‘the abstemious pluralist’. Does he thus really avoid the condition that, on the part of the exclusivist, leads to the charges of egoism and arrogance? Not really. Think, for a moment, about disagreement. Disagreement, fundamentally, is a matter of adopting conflicting attitudes with respect to a given proposition. In the simplest and most familiar case, I disagree with you if there is some proposition p such that I believe p and you believe ‐p. That’s just the simplest case, however; there are also others. The one that is presently of interest is this: you believe p and I withhold it, fail to believe it. Call the first kind of disagreement ‘contradicting’; call the second ‘dissenting’.

      My claim is that if contradicting others is arrogant and egoistical, so is dissenting. For suppose you believe some proposition p that I don’t believe: perhaps you believe that it is wrong to discriminate against people simply on the grounds of race, while I, recognizing that there are many people who disagree with you, do not believe this proposition. I don’t disbelieve it either, of course; but in the circumstances I think the right thing to do is to abstain from belief. Then am I not implicitly condemning your attitude, your believing the proposition, as somehow improper—naive, perhaps, or unjustified, or unfounded, or in some other way less than optimal? I am implicitly saying that my attitude is the superior one; I think my course of action here is the right one and yours somehow wrong, inadequate, improper, in the circumstances at best second‐rate. I realize that there is no question, here, of showing you that your attitude is wrong or improper or naive; so am I not guilty of intellectual arrogance? Of a sort of egoism, thinking I know better than you, arrogating to myself a privileged status with respect to you?

      The problem for the believer was that she was obliged to think she possessed a truth missed by many others; the problem for the abstemious pluralist is that he is obliged to think that he possesses a virtue others don’t, or acts rightly where others don’t. If one is arrogant by way of believing a proposition others don’t, isn’t one equally arrogant by way of withholding a proposition others don’t?

      • MNb

        This has nothing to do with my point: theists make more metaphysical assumptions than atheists and never admit this by themselves.

        I don’t frigging care if a trinitarian belief is true or not. It’s irrelevant to me. My point is that it is an extra metaphysical assumption. And you prefer to neglect it. You are moving the goalposts. As such you confirm BobS’ article.

        • WalterP

          Are you holding theist responsible for holding the metaphysical views of all religions? Don’t they just hold their own, just as you do?

          The reality is: theists hold one set of metaphysical views about the universe. You, in dissenting, hold another set. I don’t know how you’re quantifying “holding more” or on what grounds you see yourself as holding less. Everyone has a particular belief system about how the universe is and isn’t.

          And whatever they believe, it does not align with a global consensus because there simply is none.

        • Kodie

          Theists hold an imaginary view about the universe.

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