Biblical Marriage: Not a Pretty Picture

same-sex biblical marriageThough the momentum in America is clearly toward allowing same-sex marriage, conservative Christians aren’t going gently. They imagine that the Bible is on their side. Let’s see if that claim holds up.

Jesus said, “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Mark 10:8). If the Bible said only that, the conservative Christian might indeed hold the winning hand, but it says much more. Things get messier the more we poke through the Bible.

Interracial Marriage. Deut. 7:3 says, “Do not intermarry with [those in the Canaanite tribes]. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons.” King Solomon got into trouble for violating this rule and marrying foreign wives (1 Kings 11).

So the Bible says that marriage is with someone of your own tribe.

Concubine Sex. King Solomon famously had 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). Four of Jacobs 12 sons were from servants of his two wives, and Abraham’s first child was from his wife’s slave.

So the Bible legitimates sex with and children from slaves and concubines.

Rape. What single person hasn’t seen an attractive person across the bar or dance floor and struggled to find a way to break the ice? Here’s a fun approach: “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her” (Deut. 22:28–9).

So the Bible says that if you see a woman and don’t want to go through that whole getting-permission thing, you can rape and then marry her.

Captured Women. “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” (Num. 31:17–18; see also Deut. 21:11) I don’t know what we’re talking about here—whether it’s wife, concubine, or sex slave.

So the Bible says that capturing women (virgins only, please) is a reasonable way to get a bedmate. It doesn’t much matter whether the woman is on board with the project or not.

Slave Marriage. Exodus 21:4 says that a male Jewish slave can be released, but any wife given to him by his master (and her children) remain the master’s property.

So the Bible says that ownership trumps marriage.

Levirate Marriage. Say a man is married but dies before he has any children. Who inherits his stuff? To solve this problem, the Bible demands that another brother must marry this sister-in-law, with the firstborn child considered the dead brother’s heir. The Bible does more than simply document a curious local custom; God enforces it with the death penalty (Gen. 38:8–10).

So the Bible says that getting children as heirs for a deceased brother is more important than having your own children.

Polygamy. Abraham had two wives. Jacob also had two (or four, depending on how you count them). Solomon had 700.

God said to David, “I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.” (2 Sam. 12:8). God has his complaints about David, but polygamy isn’t one of them.

So the Bible says that marriage is between a man and one or more women.

Apologists like to excuse the Bible’s craziness with its many variations on marriage by saying that it simply reflects the culture of the time. It applied then, but it doesn’t apply now. I can accept that—just do the same when the Bible says, “A man shall not lie down with a man.” Put that into the same bin as levirate marriage, polygamy, or killing everyone in a tribe except the hot women that are kept for your pleasure.

The Bible also argues against marriage

Today’s Christian enthusiasm for marriage certainly wasn’t mirrored by the early church. Here’s what Paul says: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman” (1 Cor. 7:1). So much for the celebrated role of procreation (which I reject here).

Paul also said, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry” (1 Cor. 7:8–9). In other words, marriage is the second best option.

Paul also rejected divorce (7:10–11). Those Christians concerned about the purity of marriage might want to look at their own house to see if they’re following the rules. (You could say that Paul rejected marriage only because he thought the end was near. This might help reinterpret his curious views on marriage, but of course his being dramatically wrong raises a whole new set of problems.)

Marriage wasn’t even a Christian sacrament until the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. This wasn’t a popular move among civil authorities of the time, because it granted the church the power to decide which marriages were legal and which not—and therefore decide which contracts (often based on marriages) were valid and which not. When the Pope didn’t like an alliance, he could just annul the relevant marriage.

The argument that the Bible and the Church make a clear and unambiguous declaration that marriage is between a man and a woman is in tatters. Sure, let’s celebrate marriage, but let’s not delude ourselves about how recent our view of marriage is.

For more on this subject: “Homosexuality v. Christianity

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—
and you are the easiest person to fool.
— Richard Feynman

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 3/5/12.)

Photo credit: patries71

A Defense of a Christian Homophobe
Conservatives Will Hold Their Breath to Get Their Way
The Sin of Sodom was Homosexuality … Or Was It?
Does the Church Face a Dietrich Bonhoeffer Moment? Maybe It’s Just a Case of the Vapours.
About Bob Seidensticker
  • Greg G.

    What about marrying your sister? Abraham did.

    • hector

      As long as you don’t gay-marry your sister, you should be fine.

      • wtfwjtd

        Hmm, now I’m not so sure about that. I don’t believe the Bible has anything to say about lesbians, I think they are A-OK as far as the Bible is concerned. Now men banging men is a big problem, and gets the Bible authors all worked up in a lather. Can one of you Bible scholars shed some light on this?

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

          Ask and ye shall receive, brother!

          Because of [mankind’s sinful desires], God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Rom. 1:26–7)

          The Bible is a sock puppet that’ll say just about whatever you want. That’s the beauty of it!

          Hallelujah!

        • wtfwjtd

          Drat,I forgot about Romans, I was thinking more of the Old Testament. I remembered Paul in Corinthians, but one could plausibly argue that he was specifically referring to men in that one. Oh well. Still though, you’d think that marrying your sister would be completely off the table under any circumstances, but not if you’re a bible-thumper I guess.

        • RichardSRussell

          “The Bible said it. I believe it. That ends it.”
          —bumper sticker

        • wtfwjtd

          Pass the plate, brother!

    • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

      Do you know their answer to that? Generally I’ve heard that genetic problems hadn’t had time to creep in, so it wasn’t dangerous back then. Give us a question, we’ll make up an answer!

      • Pofarmer

        Yep, they will say that it’s close enough to “the fall” that the genetics hadn’t gotten screwed up yet.

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

        That’s why you don’t marry your sister? Just for genetic reasons?

        I think there’s a gross-out factor in there somewhere. Thank you, evolution.

        • avalpert

          It’s called the Westermarck effect and the evidence isn’t as strong as you might suspect – evolution may have given you less here than you think. In any case it only applies to children raised together from very young ages.

        • hector

          Being raised together, rather than the genetic connection, seems to be the key. How else do you know someone is your sibling?

        • avalpert

          Well, some animals do it by scent and are able to detect more degrees of genetic relationship than just siblings – Jill Mateo has done some interesting research on this in squirrels in particular.

        • hector

          How is that relevant to human siblings?

        • avalpert

          Well, it shows that if there is truly an evolutionary advantage to being able to identify kin it could develop more effectively than relying solely on living together in early childhood.

        • hector

          I don’t doubt that there is an evolutionary advantage in being able to identify kin. I further don’t doubt that humans can identify kinship with strangers to a limited degree. But the evidence is that humans cannot identify kinship to that specific a degree. I linked to an example of a couple that had a child together and had no idea they were half siblings.

        • hector

          To clarify, what I am getting at is that the ‘gross out’ factor that Bob identifies could be entirely cultural and not adaptive.

        • avalpert

          Yes, we don’t disagree on that, as I said above – the evidence to date for the Westermarck effect is mixed at best.

        • RichardSRussell

          Turned out to be a tad troubling for Luke and Leia, I’ve heard.

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

          Yeah, but they had the Force to make their relationship clear to them.

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

          I’ve heard that there were cultures where children were promised in marriage almost at birth, and then the girl (I guess) would go to be raised with the boy. Problem was, they’d have some difficulty in the bedroom after they actually got married.

          Which gets to the point you were making.

        • wtfwjtd

          Is this where the saying “familiarity breeds contempt” comes from?

      • Greg G.

        I like the way he pimped her out to royalty because she was still irresistible after she had reached retirement age just to piss God off at the kings so they would pay Abraham a ton of gold to take her back.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yea, I’m sure those young kings found an 80-something year old lady much preferable to younger, hotter single women that were available to them. Now, where’s that keg of salt?!

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

      Kinky …

      • busterggi

        You sound just like Hedley Lamar!

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

          Well, who hasn’t pulled together a posse of hoodlums and ruffians once or twice?

    • RichardSRussell

      Shall we also delve into the 3rd generation of humans, the offspring of Cain and Eve? (Maybe that should be the 2.5th generation.)

  • hector

    “So the Bible says that getting children as heirs for a deceased brother is more important than having your own children.”

    Is that really what the Bible means? The children produced would still be ‘your own children’ even though the first born would be the heir of your brother’s estate.

    Your overall point still stands, of course, that this type of marriage doesn’t exist today so christians are full of it when they claim to be the defenders of biblical marriage.

    • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

      I always wondered what would happen if the brother was already married. It doesn’t really say.

      • hector

        I’ve wondered that too. I supose the answer depends on whether multiple wives were allowed in Levirate marriage. It makes no sense that the surviving brother would have to divorce his wife to marry his brother’s widow. But the bible isn’t really about making sense, so it’s hard to say.

      • avalpert

        Since polygamy was acceptable I don’t think the brother being married is much of an issue. From what I know of Ukungenwa as practiced in South Africa, the brothers existing marriage don’t impact the practice.

        For what it is worth, the Talmud explains that the woman was not obligated to accept the brother-in-law as a husband and seemed to generally discourage the practice. Whether that reflects how it was practiced initially who knows.

      • RichardSRussell

        Yup. Another puzzler that will never be tested in real life is the promise that, after you die, you’ll be reunited with your family. Would that be your parents or your own children? And if the answer is “both”, then that makes for an awfully big house when you start taking your parents’ parents, and their parents, etc. into account.

  • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

    Deuteronomy 17:17 forbids the king from taking “many wives”, yet in 2 Samuel David is promised that he will get them. Perhaps it hinges upon the definition of “many!”

    • Pofarmer

      Surely there couldn’t be a contradiction.

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

      How about: Deuteronomy came after David and Solomon?

      I think that’s the historic order.

      • http://pleonast.com/users/closetatheist Mr. Two

        This just hit me: Deuteronomy 17:16 says that kings can’t go to Egypt and get horses, and then 17 says he can’t accumulate wives and gold. Taken as believed by most people, these rules already existed and the very first thing Solomon did after being made the wisest man that ever lived was to violate these laws, which I enjoy pointing out in Bible class. But taken in the correct writing order, it seems that the writer is deliberately indicting Solomon. It makes so much sense now!

        • Pofarmer

          I think I just learned something.

        • Greg G.

          Me too. Thanks, Mr. Two.

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

          I think there’s a lot of that. The Criterion of Embarrassment (“They wouldn’t badmouth that guy unless it were true! :-) !”) is sometimes overused.

          Aaron gets slammed by God when he disses Moses’ wife … maybe because the writer of that section didn’t care for Aaron. Peter denies Jesus three times … maybe because the original author of that story didn’t like Peter.

  • wtfwjtd

    In any Biblical marriage discussion, we must also not forget that most important of the “Jesus rules” about marriage: If a divorced person remarries, it’s adultery, period, NO exceptions, and isn’t really marriage at all as far as Jesus is concerned. Now isn’t that nice? I guess something like half of adults in the United States are going to burn in hell for this.

    • avalpert

      I’m pretty sure Jesus had a specific exception for Newt Gingrich – it’s somewhere in the back I think

      • Greg G.

        The loophole required him to live on the moon. Remember when he wanted to build the moonbase?

        • avalpert

          Yes, if only that was the most ridiculous idea he had during the campaign

      • RichardSRussell

        footnote

        Just like the footnote the Supreme Court recently added to the Constitution after the words “We the People*”
        ––––––
        *includes corporations

  • Pofarmer

    Just an aside. My 10 year old asked their priest in religion class why if it is immoral for us to have slaves today, why wasn’t it immoral for the ancient Isrealites to have slaves? Best answer he could come up with is that people believed ot was o.k. back then. So much for objective reality.

    • wtfwjtd

      Objective what?

      • Pofarmer

        Morality dammit. Morality.

        • wtfwjtd

          Ahh…

        • MNb

          Advise: always read your comments back. If I don’t do that …

        • RichardSRussell

          I’m not sure how long it sticks around, but right after I post something, right next to “Reply” and “Share” I see “Edit”. It’s saved my ass more than once, especially from failure to properly format an HTML end tag.

        • Kodie

          It lasts a while if not forever. When patheos changed over to disqus, and all the bloggers had to make posts about it, I made a post that a few minutes I changed, and a few hours I changed, and a few days I changed again. I got bored with the experiment.

  • Kodie

    Marriage wasn’t even a Christian sacrament until
    the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. This wasn’t a popular move among
    civil authorities of the time, because it granted the church the power
    to decide which marriages were legal and which not—and therefore decide
    which contracts (often based on marriages) were valid and which not.
    When the Pope didn’t like an alliance, he could just annul the relevant
    marriage.

    I do not understand this part. What gave the church the power to call off marriages? It is the same today. Many weddings in the US are not officiated by a Christian or Catholic clergy person, or in a church. People in other religions get married that are not recognized by the church. Marriages are not considered legal unless they are registered with the state, and are bound by the rules of the state. There are laws that say two 14-year-olds can’t get married, but that might not stop a church from validating it themselves. They won’t be recognized by the state, but if god is all that matters, well, whatever. The state doesn’t recognize all sorts of marriages that can occur, like dog marriages. Certain kennel clubs require certificates for breeding. That’s sort of like saying two dogs are married.

    So I don’t understand what gives the church authority, then or now, to say who can and cannot be considered married. They might not recognize the marriage of a Christian and a divorced Jew, but the state can recognize it. They might not recognize two gay people being married, but nobody was asking them for permission. They don’t have to allow it in their church, but that doesn’t give them authority. When you say “it wasn’t popular with the civil authorities,” I am similarly confused. Some people getting married are fond of approval by people whose opinions do not really count – their church, their parents, society, etc. Is their marriage invalidated by any of those people’s disapproval? Disapproval can cause people to break off the relationship, if they really can’t stand the stares, or their father is going to disinherit them. That’s an influence, but it’s not an invalidation should the marriage go through.

    If the state allows two people to be married, then it is considered valid. If the state is asking the church’s approval, or society’s approval before they can consider two people to be married, I just don’t get it.

    • wtfwjtd

      I believe the Pope’s armies gave him the authority. At this point in time in Europe, Church and State were often indistinguishable.

      • Kodie

        History, especially European history (well, least of all, the history of the rest of the world), is my weakest subject. I can’t retain chronologies. We didn’t learn this deep stuff in school and I didn’t try it on my own. I’m aware of major events but can’t place them in order or names and dates at all. I feel like an idiot if I totally didn’t click the link in that part of the post and comprehend we’re talking about the crusades or something. Sometimes, I think I should try to be really awesome at history but I don’t think I would be able to retain it.

        Anyway, Bob says “it wasn’t a popular move with civil authorities at the time.” If they were forced, there’s a reason to submit to the church. Does anyone think it’s kind of strange that they had to force people to believe? I know that’s a stupid question. If you’re a dictator, you might force people to be under your command. But god’s really nice, right? The Crusades wasn’t part of the Old Testament before god got nice.

        • wtfwjtd

          You might be interested in a quote by Ben Franklin to the effect: “the religion that must rely on civil government to prop itself up isn’t serving much of a god”.

        • Greg G.

          How can we inject into the conservative culture the meme “if you put your religion into your government, your government will be in your religion”?

        • Pofarmer

          Too many of them think that would be a good thing.

        • wtfwjtd

          And that same culture doesn’t seem to get that’s the main reason why most of us around here give a hoot. It’s one thing for people to believe in Bronze-age mythology and enjoy it as a counter-culture, live-and-let-live kind of thing, but when you want to use the government to cram it down everyone’s throats….that’s a whole different ball game. I realized a long time ago that my sense of compassion,ethics and morality was what disqualified me from being a Christian, rather than any belief or non-belief in a god. And its those same things that compel me to want to stand up to the bullies, and call them out on the barbarity of the government policies they wish to foist upon society in the name of their religion.

        • MNb

          “especially European history”
          That’s very forgiveable. European history between 500 and 1500 is hardly more interesting than a modern soap opera. Everything revolved around personal relations. As a result borders changed at least twice a century (don’t believe me? Look up Neustria, the Duchy of Burgundy and the County of Burgundy). One silly example: the Habsburgs ruled the Austrian Empire for many centuries, but lost Habsburg Castle in 1415 CE. Another one: our head of state is William Alexander of Orange-Nassau. Orange is French, Nassau is German and yes, his ancestors ruled those towns many centuries ago.
          From a politicological point of view the struggle for power between the Holy Roman Emperor (usually a German) and the pope isn’t that boring, but basically you only have to remember that the pope won and within 100 years became so corrupt nobody took him seriously anymore.

        • Jason Wexler

          I don’t know if you will have seen it before you see this comment but look elsewhere in this thread I have just posted a brief explanation of how medieval Europe formed and what caused the initial situation which is the core of your question.

          However in addition, after reading that part to further answer your question about forcing people to believe; what’s actually going on by the thirteenth century when the fourth Lateran Council took place is that the emerging states of Europe I previously discussed have had time to become more established and stable and are starting to resent sharing power with the church. This isn’t so much a matter of belief in Christianity being weak or what have you, but rather an instance of political pissing match, not in fact to dissimilar from “states rights” arguments in the contemporary United States. By making marriage a sacrament the church “Federalized” marriage instead of leaving it to the individual states where it had traditionally resided (and with somewhat good reason). Throughout Medieval and very early Early Modern history the power of the church as a state in relation to the power of secular/civil authorities waxed and waned, while it was waning in the eighth and ninth centuries that I previously described it was very much waxing in the thirteenth century because of the crusades and also because of papaly influenced, growing animosity between the more stable and established secular authorities. Keeping in mind that at this time marriage was limited to wealthy and powerful aristocrats and nobles anyway (poor people had separate institutions which weren’t regulated or observed by the church or state for the most part), the church establishing itself as having authority in marriage was a double attack on civil authorities, the first and most obvious is that it curtailed the ability to form strong alliances of civil authority which could threaten clerical authority, this means not only is it unlikely that France and Germany or England will unify, it weakens the authority of central governments by making it harder for successive kings to bring “independent” nobles to heel by forming alliance through marriage; secondly it tells secular authority that the churches power is strong right now and you can’t do anything about it.

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

          “Marriage” was reserved for the nobility? What was this separate institution that the peons had to rely on?

          And I assume that everyone had the same “marriage” after 1215?

        • hector

          The peons had broomsticks to jump over.

        • Jason Wexler

          I misspoke… I should have said custom instead of institution.

          Marriage is a continually changing enterprise as you suggest, so no not everyone had the “same marriage” after 1215. Marriage was a transfer of property something you mention yourself in if not this post another recent one.

        • smrnda

          I suspect documenting the marriages of common people who had little property to fight over wasn’t a huge priority. From what I hear, actual marriage by a member of the clergy was rare in the US colonies for quite some time, owing to a sparse population and a small number of clergy in some regions.

        • Kodie

          Thank you for explaining it for me. It’s not only that I never learned this stuff in the first place but I think there is something wrong with me. History is kind of like… I don’t know if this analogy fits, but it’s like a game with rules I don’t understand. People are playing it without mass communications or transportation, in a sprawling disorganized land mass. It’s a matter of record, and modern humans read about it, and aren’t too confused to talk about it. I am much more able to fathom other aspects of history like what people lived like. What a day in the life of this kind of person or that kind (classwise or somesuch) in a certain part of the world is certainly impacted by whatever form their government took at the time, but the politics is like the game with the rules I couldn’t figure out and can’t follow even when it’s explained to me. Maybe it’s because I’m so guileless, lol. I don’t seem to have a strategic bone in my body where it counts. I could list maybe dozens of political or political-adjacent events in the era we’re talking about but I don’t always know what they refer to or mean or what order they came in or who was involved or how they knew what they were doing because it’s a game I don’t understand.

          It is not like modern history is easier for me but it is only more familiar, it was still my weak subject in school. A lot of it may have to do with how they teach it. As I remember school, it was short chapters of isolated incidents, and then skipping over peaceful times to emerge sometime later with another event with no context or reason.

          As MNb describes a lot of it like a soap opera, I watch one daytime soap currently, and on and off for probably almost 40 years. I watched it when I was young with my mom but went to school. I watched it every summer. I missed chunks of it when I went to college, and since then, many years have been missed in a row. If you were just starting to watch it, the summaries available online are not exactly satisfying to fill in why who is with who and why they are married when they used to be enemies or why they already have children together if they’re just getting together now. Kind of, but the build-ups and story lines are a daily thread that makes the story a little richer. But I can still pick it up and follow it no matter how long I have spent away. Another soap comes on and I don’t change the channel right away, and after several months of this habit, I still have no idea who is who or anything.

          The episodes of political history for the most part are like watching a show you’ve never seen before and if it is intriguing, you might go binge-watch it from the beginning, and if it’s not, you don’t know what’s going on and you’ll never know what’s going on. Or imagine going to a movie – I’m the kind of person who doesn’t know what’s going on 5 minutes in, while the person sitting next to me totally grasps it. Not with every movie, just the kinds with political intrigue or something, where you’re supposed to notice the significance of something that happens at the beginning, and if you don’t, you don’t know why they are reacting to it, it just makes no sense.

        • RichardSRussell

          I can’t retain chronologies.

          And, back before the Internet, that might have been a problem. Now I can’t imagine why we would waste kids’ time in school by making them memorize stuff that’s so easy to look up. Better to teach them how to think than what to think.

        • Kodie

          I think more I mean that I can’t comprehend the scope or context of events as they occurred. Not enough to talk about them or pick up on context cues, or like when people reference certain episodes of history while others understand what all that entails and how it applies to whatever they’re talking about.

          If you’re reading some kind of article or book that references these things with footnotes for background context, imagine the kinds of people who don’t need the footnotes to follow, while I find there’s just too goddamned many footnotes, I will never be able to keep up, or just get sidetracked – going to the source of a footnote finds another book with its own footnotes. It’s not that I don’t remember history as should have been taught to me, or that I can just look up what I don’t know, because what I don’t know just comes with its own stuff you need to know before any of it makes sense. Maybe the high points version makes sense to some people, enough to follow the conversation, but I can’t remember any of it for the next time it comes up. It’s slippery like that in my brain. It doesn’t stick. I will always have to look it up again and again, and maybe that wouldn’t be such a problem for one thing, if I could remember it, but it’s a lot of things all over the place.

          The way I imagine it for most people is, they don’t know something, they want to know, they look it up, they go “huh, now I’ve learned something,” but I am like Memento guy. (I saw that movie one time and I’m not sure if that’s even relevant reference here, maybe Clean Slate or 50 First Dates but I didn’t see either of those).

        • RichardSRussell

          You had me at Memento, a brilliant film and a sterling piece of evidence for the very phenomenon you’re talking about. I had been raving about the movie for years to my friends, but it wasn’t until Christopher Nolan also had a couple of excellent Batman: The Dark Knight films under his belt and was being touted for Inception that I was able to make the association stick that he was also the director whose work I had so admired on Memento.

      • Jason Wexler

        That isn’t quite correct. The church and state were distinguishable, the issue was that the church was a state, it was a parallel pan-European government. You can almost think of it as a type of EU situation or some other type of federalism.

        This traces itself back to the collapse of the Roman Empire which was a centuries long process not an event of a single battle or year. Because of a long drought in central Asia, various nomadic and foraging peoples pushed their way west displacing local populations who in turn displaced their neighbors and so on until we got the “Migration Period” and several groups “invaded” the Roman Empire/Europe between the third and and eighth centuries. This led to chaos and an inability for secular authorities to establish themselves in any sort of cogent stable way. So the Church stepped in and started administering Europe, then in the sixth century the Franks began to establish a stable(ish) secular authority. By the late eighth and early ninth centuries the Church was starting to wane in power because of fighting Muslim invasions in Italy, but along comes Charlemagne, who not only helps to defeat invading Muslims, but also has the “inspired” (or insipid depending on your perspective) idea to use the Churches extant governing network to help administer his fairly massive empire, and they would “divide” the responsibilities of authority and governance in a sort of federalist way between church and state. That worked fine for a few years until the empire broke apart to form the kernels of Germany and France, and those proto-states ended up strengthening their civil authorities and creating their own stable(ish) governance systems. This ended up creating what I initial called the parallel governments of Europe where the church was a state that had authority over all of Europe, while civil authorities had carved out independent states from the whole.

        Also to whomever said that people respected the authority and “divinity” of the Popes pronouncements, it is really more the case that popes were able to effectively play secular rulers off of each other and relied heavily on their innumeracy to let civil authorities believe that going against the pope would bring down upon them not only the popes massive military might (not nearly as mighty as people believed) as well as that of all the good and loyal Christians who did what the pope said and had their own “mighty” militaries.

        • wtfwjtd

          Thanks for the history Jason. At that point in time, the church and its minions has a frightening amount of influence over how people were allowed to live their lives, and this sometimes included some pretty powerful people too. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine the founders of the US government firmly had this history in mind when they were developing a framework for government.

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

      There’s a story of some king/emperor who got on the wrong side of some pope, so the pope excommunicated him. To show repentance, the king walked barefoot in the snow to the pope’s residence. The pope deigned to see him and grant absolution after he was out there for a couple of days.

      (Roughly stated.)

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

        The story I was thinking about was that of Henry IV, the Holy Roman Emperor in the 11th century.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yep, it wasn’t until Henry VIII that the English crown “broke up” with the Roman Catholic Church–and sponsored their own, the Church of England. And this was over marriage too, I believe.
          I’ve always found it ironic, Europe has state-sponsored religion, that very few people attend any more( attendance has really plummeted in the last few decades). The USA, on the other hand, technically has separation of church and state, but still has relatively high church attendance rates(that are also dropping, BTW).

        • Joe

          One would guess that Henry didn’t mind having a good pretense to be the boss of his own church anyway, crazy authoritarian dictator that he was. Probably one of those “I had to do it” things that should be put in dictator irony quotes. Yeah he “didn’t have any choice” in the matter.

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          That’s very possible. Secular rulers had been feuding with the Popes for centuries over power. It hardly surprises me that many German princes went Lutheran, with incidents like the above Bob mentioned.

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          Some have theorized this is because having a state church makes religion less popular, since to some degree it’s been forced on you, whereas with none it’s a sort of “free market.”

        • smrnda

          Yes, Henry VIII wanted to get a new wife to get a male heir; the Catholic church wasn’t down with divorce, so they split. It wasn’t even really over a theological difference, just Hank8 was sick of the Pope having power and telling him what to do.

        • RichardSRussell

          As some waggish historian later observed of the Holy Roman Empire, they got it wrong 3 times in a row.

    • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

      At the time, the Pope was believed to be God’s spokesman, and that was taken very seriously to a degree which is (thankfully) not the case now. They didn’t actually require that all marriages be performed by clergy, but set down certain rules to follow that made them valid or invalid.

  • Pofarmer

    Ya know, it’s the fucked up ascetism of Paul that got the Catholic church started down the screwed up path of sexuality they refuse to depart from today. Paul, and Jesus if you believe his few quoted words, were apocalyptists, they beleived the end was nigh, shouldn’t have kids, why bother with a job, etc, etc. It’s said one of the early church fathers castrated himself, and there were actual religious groups around the turn of the 1st century where this was common. The
    Essense were one such sect. It got bad enough, that by the later Gospels you have the quotes of, “they who do not work shall not eat” because people were just laying around waiting for the end. Well, when he end didn’t happen, rather than say, “well shit, we sure missed that one”. They continued on the path laid out, well just in case, because the end might come any day now. Well, guess what, the end didn’t come, it’s 2014 and we don’t need 12 kids to get 3 or 4 healthy ones anymore. Let’s come into the modern age and get some modern theology, but noooo , you’ve got John Paul and the fucked up “theology of the body” written by a 50 year old virgin. Really? Yep. So you get no change, no modernization. Makes me despair sometimes.

    • Kodie

      I try to maintain hope that this is what kills it. If they modify, they gain credulity. They complain that people leave the church because god is too mean, well, that’s what he is, isn’t he? I sort of hate for people to turn their back on church just because they don’t like the rules, though. That means they do still believe it. I overheard someone on a bus a couple years ago talking about her new church and how hard it was to get used to it being all plain inside and modern, and lacked all the goofy ornament of the Catholic Church. People really get sucked in with that ancient symbolism and stained glass and old wooden pews and giant wooden doors and the big bell and the fancy costumes and props. I don’t hear why she left it, only that she matched her set of beliefs to another church that didn’t attract people with grand theatre and it lacked sentimentality for her.

      • Pofarmer

        Maybe. I’m teaching my boys to evaluate the bible as a book, and to evaluate the Church based on it’s actions. Too many people blindly believe. Even though I pretty much fell away from church in
        College, I still had some level of beleif. Kind of an ID Mindset. I was never forced to really evaluate my beliefs. When I was forced to intellectually examine my faith, it crumbled under the onslaught from Hitchens and Dawkins and Harris, among others. Kids today read so much myth and fantasy, and see so many fantasy movies, that it seems like it should be easier for them to put two and two together. The thing about Catholicism, is that it really is a belief SYSTEM even moreso than just a religion. The theology is meant to touch every part of a persons life. It is pervasive. I imagine when Catholics peak their head up to look at the world, the dissonance sometimes can be striking, Theodore Seeber, a commenter on the Catholic blogs, is a perfect example of this. Hismthinking is so far from reality, you can’t even get him within sight of it till you get another layer of Catholic Nonsense.

    • MNb

      Wholeheartedly yes. One thing I’ll never forgive the abrahamistic religions is the sick attitude towards sex.

  • Pofarmer

    I’ve just got to listen to the soothing tones of Theoretical Bullshit sometimes after these long debates with literalists.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvRPbsXBVBo

    • Greg G.

      You may be interested to know that TBS is a daytime television actor in the US.

      • Pofarmer

        THink he even won a daytime emmy.

  • Ron

    Bob, here’s another item for that list…

    Go get thee a ho; God commands it.

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

      Another good one. Thanks.

  • Pofarmer

    Kind of looking back through the last read a little bit, and it’s interesting. You’ve got no less than tree distinct posters, Jenna, Steve, and Rick, making points and regurgitating information that was debunked not in the 20th, not in the 19th, but in the 18th century. They don’t take scholarship seriously that is done mainly by other christians. They employ fallacious thinking that has been counterd and published innumerable times, yet here it comes again. It makes me despair that this kind of obscene ignorance is still alive in the 21st century, when folks like Andrew Dickson White and Thomas Paine thought it should be settled 250 years ago. And yet with all we’ve accomplished, all we’ve acheived, all we’ve learned, here it comes again.

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

      I was at the Thinking Christian site, where Jenna hangs out, and got it from the other direction. I’m happy to have my statements or claims challenged, but give me a frikkin’ chance to respond. I think that Christians will find a tough audience here, but if they make a bold statement and then back it up, they’ll get the appropriate respect for that.

      • Pofarmer

        I can see disagreeing about Kalam, or fine tuning. I can’t see dissagreeing aboit things like the authorship and dating of the Gospels, which is taught in seminary schools all over the world. If you don’t understand that, you aren’t a very thinking christian.

        • MNb

          Well, as a teacher math and physics I say you are not a very thinking person either if you don’t see the problems with Kalam and fine tuning, especially not because all the relevant physics is so easy accessible on internet (on Wikipedia for starters).

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, I agree, a few minutes with wikipedia, Laurence Krause, Steve Carroll, Neil Degrasse Tyson, or many others should dispel those notions. But, hey, we had, was it Steve,? Trying to use Aquinas 5 ways argument on us. The Catholics still use Accidents and Substance to explain transubstantiation. They like to use the Aristotlean metaphysics of “If man can think it, then it must be possible,” They don’t care that they are using theories that were debunked multiple hundreds of years ago. Then you have Rick, talking about growing back limbs. “Talk to the guys that saw it Happen!” Well, O.K. none of them had a camera phone? Talk about suspension of disbelief. It’s not that these people are uneducated, they are purposefully misseducated, and it should be a scandal. They aren’t lying, because they believe this nonsense, and it leads them to believe all kinds of other nonsense.

        • wtfwjtd

          Over the past several months, Christianity has been thoroughly debunked for me from several angles. I’m not interested in bashing people, just for the sake of bashing them, I just want to figure out the likely story for myself. With that in mind, I have visited several places on the web, read hundreds of articles, watched multiple hours of video, and it all points to the same inevitable conclusion. Like others here, I’m not looking for the weak stuff, I want the best arguments that Christianity offers, and I must say I have been (depressingly) unimpressed. I welcome new input, and I like having Christians who can behave to stop by for some back and forth. But I understand your frustration Pofarmer, it does get a little tedious sometimes having to go over the same thoroughly debunked stuff over and over, as most Christians who stop by here haven’t even done a basic glance at what they are trying to defend. The Thinking Christian? If only…
          I was a champion bible quizzer when I was a teen, and I must admit to a personal fascination with debunking Christianity by its own book. The New Testament especially makes a lot more sense when read with an open mind, and you can just allow yourself to go where the evidence points, rather than trying to shoehorn it all into a pre-conceived box where it never fit for me.
          As for the miracles? All I know is, the James Randi Foundation still has an unclaimed $1 million prize for the first demonstration of such. When that prize is paid out, I’ll happily sit up and take a closer look.

        • MNb

          “When that prize is paid out, I’ll happily sit up and take a closer look.”
          That’s the essential difference, isn’t it? So would I. I have been looking for the best theist (not necessarily christian) arguments for more than 5 years now and I have learned that all apologists do the same in the end: neglect counterarguments, neglect damning empirical evidence, just bring up the same stuff ad nauseam. It’s telling that I learned more about the Bible from agnosts and atheists than from christians.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, my wife won’t tAlk about the bible with me because she says she doesn’t know enough, yet won’t accept any of my criticisms of faith or the bible as relevant. A lot of it stems from fear. At this point, I am trying to figure put how to fully extract my boys from Catholicism without ending my marriage,

        • wtfwjtd

          You walk a very fine line Pofarmer, that’s a tough place to be. As for your kids, I would encourage you to encourage them to not take your word for things, help them to do their own exploration and research. My teen daughter has always been an internet junkie, so this route was a natural for her. She’s a home-schooled kid, we were involved with several highly religious groups for several years, and even had Christian curriculum up through about the 6th grade. Yet even with all that, she flat out rejected not just Christianity, but also a god belief. This was even before my wife and I got around to it. So don’t despair, kids can learn independent and rational thought on their own, if they have the freedom and opportunity to do so.
          And you are right-on about the fear, getting over that is a tall order.

        • MNb

          It was the same with my son.

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

          There must be sites where people in your situation can go to chat, no? Recovering From Religion comes to mind, but that’s not the best fit.

          Since kids often notice what their parents do more than the parents realize, simply modeling the life of the thoughtful, moral atheist is a good first step.

        • MNb

          Ah – here I can be helpful. After all my ex-wife was religious too and he went to religious schools until 12 (albeit liberal ones). It’s enough they know that you’re an atheist. Always remain positive. Don’t criticize catholicism when they are around, because they will feel that they will have to choose between you and your wife and that’s a traumatic feeling. Just tell them, if they feel like listening, about science. You’ll have conversations like this:
          “Dad, how old is the Universe?”
          “Science says about 13,7 billion years old.”
          “But the Bible says 6 000 years old!”
          “No, that’s actually not in the Bible. Some people have calculated those 6 000 years with the aid of the Bible, but the RCC doesn’t have an official position.” (there is a catholic website confirming this). Anyhow, I think science is more reliable.”
          “And mom?”
          “You should ask her; she might have different ideas.”

          Keep in mind that kids are not capable of critical thinking until they’re 12, 13 years old. Then they become pig-headed anyway, so just give them all the relevant information they can stomach. Before it’s enough to know that there are different positions.
          They might become catholics anyway, but if you give the good example they won’t become bigots. Teaching them liberal moral values is far more important. Do that by setting a good example. Like BobS writes underneath that’s a good first step. It also is crucial.
          It’s what I tried to do; my son figured out the rest basically himself – I didn’t even realize he was busy figuring things out until he declared himself an atheist! But really, I wouldn’t have minded if he had become religious, as long as he tried to be a thoughtful, moral person.

        • wtfwjtd

          I see you are way ahead of me MNb, and your findings haven’t changed. I guess I’m going to have to lower my already basement-level expectations even lower.

        • MNb

          “I see you are way ahead of me”
          I’m not sure about this. You seem to be a lot faster. When I started I knew basically zilch about the Bible; even now the only book I have read entirely in one go is Revelations (man, is the rest boring – with some exceptions).

        • wtfwjtd

          Revelations is a doozy, it was big in the fundie circles back in the ’70′s when I was growing up. You don’t hear much about it these days, I guess with all those “the world’s going to end” deadlines that have come and gone people kinda lost interest.
          I attended a local debate that was titled “Does God exist?” a few days ago, and the guy arguing for God’s existence flatly stated that the Bible “contains not one contradiction”. A collective groan went up from the audience, and inside I laughed ’til I cried. That’s what makes biblical study so useful, it’s such a productive (and easy) information source for the atheist to use in his/her arguments.

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

          And yet the Christians’ confidence remains boundless. There’s a sociological/psychological puzzle there that I don’t understand. (Not that it would change much if I did.)

        • wtfwjtd

          I believe it was Einstein that once said that confidence in wrong information is even more dangerous than the wrong information itself.

        • Pofarmer

          ANd the thing is, in the past, when the wrong information was challenged, they might happily kill you. I don’t know how you can cling to a world view when events are so easily explained by things that are quite understandable in this realm, without switching into the metaphysical. Thing is, christians and other religious jump into the metaphysical first.

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

          That’s an interesting angle. I’ve talked with Christians and pointed out two things that don’t fit together. And they’ll often cheerfully agree. Secular interpretations can make more sense of these puzzles.

          I spoke with someone 2 days ago at a local Reasons to Believe chapter. (If you’re not familiar with them, that’s Hugh Ross’s group. He’s an astrophysicist by training and, no surprise, he accepts conventional science for the Big Bang. But he has no doctorate in biology, so he things that evolution is BS.)

          Anyway, I encouraged her to check out the Documentary Hypothesis, which neatly explains some of the bizarre elements (2 creation stories, 2 flood stories, etc.).

          And great point about the JREF prize.

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

          Rick has promised to put me in touch with people who’ve seen these miracles. I suspect that I’ll be a hard sell, but if I come to Jesus, I’ll let you know.

      • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

        I posted over at Thinking Christian last year for about a week or so. That Tom Gilson is a trip. He told me: “I respect you too much to go easy on you.” Like I said, it was a brief stay.

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

          Yeah, my reception was similar. We were talking about the FSM, and he was saying that it not doing my case any good to use it as an example, etc.

        • SteveK

          Tis true.

        • MNb

          Because you say so?
          Now that’s some debunked information for you.

        • SteveK

          No, it’s not because I say so. The FSM is not the same being as God and because of that the analogy fails. Bob might succeed in showing that belief in FSM is silly (I agree), but that’s as far as it would go. This should be obvious.

        • wtfwjtd

          But that’s the whole point Steve, how’s it any sillier to believe in the FSM than believing in the Christian God?
          Not the same being? Show us how they’re different please. The Christian God is invisible and undetectable, just like the FSM. From where I sit they pretty much look the same.

        • MNb

          “FSM is not the same being as God”
          Because you say so? I see a lot of similarities: creation story, unfalsifiable theology, unexplained interaction between an immaterial entity and our material reality. Many god-proofs apply to the FSM as well as to your christian god or even better. Lots of made-up stories which spread relatively fast.
          So let’s talk about the differences. One I see is that the FSM is imperfect, while your god isn’t. That’s actually a plus for the FSM, as it solves the Problem of Evil, which depending on your god image makes your god either impossible or highly unlikely. After all the FSM was a bit tipsy during the Big Boil. Moreover the FSM is far less hidden; he has no problems with making images. That’s also a plus for the FSM.
          So there is more reason to believe in the FSM than in the christian god.

          “This should be obvious.”
          Nothing is a priori obvious to me. That’s why I’m an atheist. But I guess it’s different for you, you being religious. You know things with 100% absolute eternal certainty at beforehand, don’t you? No? Then I’d very much like to know what kind of evidence (in the broadest meaning of the word, ie not only scientific) could refute your theism.
          But I think you won’t tell us. That’s why you never get any further than arguing for a pre-determined conclusion.

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

          A nice summary.

          The popular Christian arguments these days are deist arguments–fine tuning, design, moral, ontological, etc. These argue for the FSM as much as Yahweh, Allah, or any other creator(s).

          Christianity has lots more believers, but surely the story isn’t, “We’re number 1, so our story must be true.” That’d be a foolish argument for any religion to make, because none was biggest at its beginning.

          In fact, the argument “But no one believes the FSM; it’s just a joke” may not even be correct. You heard about that Austrian guy who won a court case to have his driver’s license photo taken with a colander on his head. He might be joking (bravo if he is), but maybe he believes. There are apparently people who like the Force idea so much that there is a Jediism religion. I’d be surprised if there isn’t a Pandora/Na’vi religion. Maybe there are actual Pastafarians.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, deism is just a baby step from atheism, and it doesn’t get religions anywhere near where they need to be philosophically to justify all the doctrinal and theological BS that they like to shovel by the truckload.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, and when they switch from the all powerful God to the one worried about your foreskin, the comedy can ensue.

        • MNb

          Pastafarianism is the best Poo ever, exactly because we can’t know how serious it is. It is a mystery!

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

          “Poe,” I’m assuming?

        • Kodie

          Come here and look at this!

        • wtfwjtd

          Great summary, I’d only add a couple of things–everything we know about the Christian God is via revelation, just like the FSM.
          And, both religions love eating their god, but I’ve got to give the edge to Pastafarianism here. All Christians get is wine and wafers, which is kinda boring. We Pastafarians, on the other hand, get to choose from all kinds of delicious pasta, and have our choice of topping it with anything from Alfredo sauce to meat and tomato sauce. Mmm! And it can even be gluten-free! Now where’s that Parmesan?

        • SteveK

          >> Then I’d very much like to know what kind of evidence (in the broadest meaning of the word, ie not only scientific) could refute your theism.

          The kind that would refute the 5 ways arguments. Refute the arguments, not merely cast doubt upon them. Here is a very brief summary.

          http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasfiveways_argumentanalysis.htm

        • MNb

          What do you mean with “refute”? Let me guess: 100% absolute eternal certainty – which is impossible. If this guess is correct you are guilty of double standard again (I remember you denied it the first time, but your denail was utterly unconvincing). You demand something from me you don’t provide yourself.
          Anyhow: prove causality. Note that modern physics is thoroughly probabilistic. There is no cause for the exact moment a radioactive decays. Assuming so means rejecting lots of modern physics since say 1930. That’s not 100% absolute eternal certainty, but shows that the second way (which doesn’t provide 100% absolute eternal certainty either) conflicts with science, including the nuclear bomb.
          In other words: before the second way can be accepted as valid you have some work to do in the field of physics. That’s good enough a refutation for me.
          But I predict it won’t be for you (because you are arguing for a predetermined conclusion and because I exactly had this discussion before with a Dutch philosopher of religion) and that you will take the cop out I described above.

        • MNb

          “FSM is not the same being as God”
          Note that you have totally neglected this. That’s not very honest.

          As a contrast I’ll admit that my prediction was wrong. Instead of refusing to tell us you set the bar impossibly high and keep your demand deliberately vague. It’s equally effective of course – in deluding yourself.
          In contrast I can prove a quite specific description of what I would accept as evidence for god. I can even specify what I would accept as evidence for the christian god.

        • MNb

          The first and third way are essentially the same as the second. The fourth contains a howler:

          “The maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus.”
          The maximal velocity possible according to modern science is slightly less than 300 000 km/s. Thomas of Aquino says here that the speed of light causes all velocities.
          That’s not even wrong – it’s utter nonsense.

          “We see that natural bodies work toward some goal, and do not do so by chance.”
          In fact we don’t. A single radioactive atom doesn’t work work to any goal. And it works so by chance – probability.

          “Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.”
          According to one prediction of physics the end of our Universe is the Big Freeze.

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

          If this is correct Thomas of Aquino says this is what his god had in mind when “creating” the whole thing. Good luck with the theological implications.

          Another one is

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

          If this is correct there will be no end.
          But wait – you are going to say “this is merely casting doubt”. Yup, but that’s not the point. The point is that because of theology you are restricting the options of physics as long as you accept the five ways. You only accept scientific outcomes when they suit you; when they don’t you handwave them with “just casting doubt”, because you know that science cannot provide 100% certainty. If this is correct you are antiscientific. If this isn’t correct you have to reject the five ways as they conflict with modern physics – and deconvert. What’s it gonna be, faith or modern physics?

        • SteveK

          >> The first and third way are essentially the same as the second.

          No, they are not the same. I linked to summaries of the arguments. The full treatment is hundreds of pages long. It’s okay. This is obviously your first time seeing these. Wow.

          >> Thomas of Aquino says here that the speed of light causes all velocities.

          Uh, no he would not say that.You just revealed, again, that you have no clue. Nice job.

          >> In fact we don’t. A single radioactive atom doesn’t work work to any goal. And it works so by chance – probability.

          Understand the details of the argument before you put your foot in your mouth by dismantling a summarized version of the arguments. Oops, too late.

          That’s enough commentary. Go read a book.

        • Pofarmer

          Tell ya what Steve, just tell me where, in modern astrophysics, that these 5 ways are used.

        • SteveK

          Nowhere.

        • Pofarmer

          Then why do they matter? The arguments have known problems, even by those who like to use them, and further more, they presuppose the answer. They have no result that is actually useful for science. Therefore, simply for lack of any utility, they are refuted. Simply because ideas or old, doesn’t mean that they are good.

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

          So they’re fundamental truths about reality that have no use? There seems to be a disconnect somewhere …

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

          A 13th-century dude won’t have a lot to say about physics and reality compared to the last two centuries of science.

          Take care that you don’t overextend yourself as you laud Aquinas’s simple ideas. They don’t support much.

        • SteveK

          >> They don’t support much.

          The ideas support enough to justify the conclusions, and that’s all that matters. If they did not, you would quickly be offering up a list of refutations – but you aren’t. MNb doesn’t even understand the arguments. Do you?

        • Pofarmer

          Steve, the Conclusions are theological, not scientific, as Auinas was attempting to meld Aristotles philosophy(much of which was wrong too) into Christian Theology.

        • SteveK

          I’m still waiting for you to tell me how these arguments have been debunked. That was your claim, right?

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

          If there were any benefit to me, I might drop everything and write up a post or two with an analysis of the 5 Ways. Nothing I wrote would change your mind, so it’s not high priority. Maybe I’ll get around to it eventually.

          Tomorrow’s post will touch on this subject.

          There are other arguments that I have spent some serious time researching. We could talk about those if you’d like.

        • MNb

          “This is obviously your first time seeing these.”
          “Go read a book.”
          Ah – another easy cop out; I admit I didn’t see it coming. As the typical modest christian you are you feel too good too point out where I’m supposed to be wrong.
          Enough commentary indeed.

        • SteveK

          >> As the typical modest christian you are you feel too good too point out where I’m supposed to be wrong.

          You could look for it yourself. Show some initiative. I did. Are you just lazy?

        • Kodie

          Maybe you don’t understand it well enough to guide people, maybe you are satisfied enough that you understand it not to explain it to anyone who is interested in your take. If you’re not going to participate in the discussion, can we assume you know nothing? Is this a case where you are happier to let us assume you’re a fool than open up your mouth and prove you are?

        • SteveK

          If you don’t show the initiative to *first* read it yourself and attempt to understand it, can I assume you are lazy and uninterested in learning?

        • Kodie

          I was interested in learning what you know about it. That’s how a discussion works. If you don’t want to participate, I can understand you’re not that confident to explain it to people who have heard it before and defeated you, and you don’t understand why, when you think the material is solid and speaks for itself – why don’t you speak for it then? No time? You have enough time to jabber on for a few days about what you don’t feel like talking about.

        • SteveK

          >> I was interested in learning what you know about it.

          I know it’s a complex topic that requires a lot of study to understand, even at surface level because the metaphysical terms used are very nuanced. I know that a person can’t appreciate the arguments until they learn the basic metaphysics. I know you can’t learn the those basic metaphysics in a combox.

        • Kodie

          I’m not even the least bit intrigued. You are very poor at this debate stuff.

        • SteveK

          I’m not debating anything, I’m answering questions, so that’s okay.

        • Kodie

          You didn’t answer any questions. You are pretty hostile, as witnesses go.

        • MNb

          Yeah – instead of doing some explaining it’s so much easier to cop out because your opponent is too dumb and too ignorant.
          Heck, over at a Year of a God there is a JW. It’s not exactly a friendly discussion either, but because he like me is willing to explain we still are getting somewhere.
          It seems to be typical of liberal christians.

        • MNb

          “the metaphysical terms used are very nuanced.”
          Then define those terms and show how they relate to our material reality. According to

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aquinas/

          ToA makes empirical claims. Just one example: “Consider an ordinary physical change, a substance acquiring a color.”

          “I know that a person can’t appreciate the arguments until they learn the basic metaphysics.”
          Weird. I can explain the essence of quantummechanics and relativity quite easily. Sure, I can’t explain the essence of the multiverse hypothesis, but I can quickly refer you to a site where a physicist totally does this.

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

          Isn’t it odd that something so fundamental and pervasive as God requires such nuance and effort to see? Not to understand, mind you, but to simply perceive.

          This guy desperately desires to have a relationship with us, and yet he can’t be bothered to get up off the couch to make himself known. Weird.

          “God moves in mysterious ways,” and all that, I guess.

        • MNb

          No. You are too lazy to correct mistakes. Moreover it’s judgmental to assume someone hasn’t attempted to understand it. Remember Matth 7:1, one of the best quotes of your favourite book?
          If I’d take your attitude I would be fired quickly (I’m a teacher math and physics) for showing ill-will.

        • Kodie

          To be totally fair, he called me lazy because I said he must not know what his material actually says, because he won’t put it in his own words. It’s not his argument we’re having, we’re supposed to read the Aquinas thing and rebut it, he is staying out of it. He won’t stand up for it or expound on it. You are right about the ill-will – that is pretty much what I feel like I’ve wanted to say about him and a few other Christians for a while, participating but not participating, making assertions second-hand and not standing by them by explaining or reviewing them for the current discussion.

          Like I made note of in a previous thread, they believe the arguments, and they have managed to convince others of these arguments, so they conclude that we are just resistant and that the arguments are perfectly sound. Get a lot of huffing and puffing that we wouldn’t believe them anyway so they don’t bother. That’s technically true, and reason enough for me to suspect their arguments are terrible, they just don’t want to hear about it again.

        • SteveK

          >> You are too lazy to correct mistakes.

          I’m prudent.

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

          you are going to say “this is merely casting doubt”.

          To which I’d say: “I’m glad we agree. My work here is done.”

          The burden of proof is on Aquinas.

        • SteveK

          He put forward an argument. If it’s invalid, you need to put forward an argument for that. This is how these things work, Bob.

        • Kodie

          Aquinas isn’t here and you are. This is how these things work, Steve.

        • SteveK

          And you’re here to offer a rebuttal to his arguments. Go ahead.

        • Kodie

          As far as I know from you or anyone else, metaphysics is a big word you think makes you intellectual and not an actual thing. It’s the field of study that you think gives the supernatural all the credibility it needs. I don’t see you making the case. I will not do whatever you say, because you know what? I’ve seen what you do post, and I kind of think you’re just a gullible idiot with nothing to say. What makes you think I have to study to talk to you?

        • Kodie

          I just googled aquinas debunked you go read something.

        • SteveK

          Thanks!

          The first link on the search shows that he doesn’t understand the argument. Here’s what was said about the First Way.

          “Unfortunately for St. Thomas, relativity means that motion is no longer a property of one thing. Motion is a property of at least two “things”, the observer and the object. There can be no “unmoved mover” since all motion is now known to be relative to the observer, and not to some unmoving reference.”

          It’s not about motion, and only motion. It’s about change – any change – going from potentially some state to actually that state. Relativity of motion doesn’t discredit the argument.

          But you knew that, right????

        • Kodie

          Please continue to engage with the links you find.

        • MNb

          “any change”
          Like the decay of a radioactive atom. Hey – I addressed that one already; the best theories of physics describing these are all probabilistic, not causal (actually an expansion of causality, but whatever). The exact moment the atom decays doesn’t have a cause; nor can it be explained in teleological terms.
          But the arrogant apologist you are – as such betraying Jesus’ most important point – you refuse to address this “because you have to study 10 000 pages first”. You simply don’t have enough christian modesty to admit that there is a problem for ToA here. Of course he is not to blame for this problem, but you totally are.

        • SteveK

          >> The exact moment the atom decays doesn’t have a cause; nor can it be explained in teleological terms.

          You believe that some things change for no reason whatsoever? Magical.

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

          Science, actually.

        • SteveK

          Gravity doesn’t drive the change? Nothing does – really?

        • MNb

          No, gravity doesn’t determine at which exact moment a radioactive atom will decay. Note that gravity isn’t causal either in Modern Physics:

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

          The first paragraph suffices. So I quote:

          “Our current understanding of gravity is based on Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which is formulated within the framework of classical physics. On the other hand, the nongravitational forces are described within the framework of quantum mechanics, a radically different formalism for describing physical phenomena based on probability. The necessity of a quantum mechanical description of gravity follows from the fact that one cannot consistently couple a classical system to a quantum one.”

          Especially since the higgs-boson has been found thanks to the principle of probability and not causality you can safely bet that the Grand Unified Theory will be probabilistic as well.
          See? – unlike you I’m totally OK with addressing your ignorance. You see, it’s not a shame. It’s not a reason to get pedantic. It’s not a reason to postulate “read 1200 pages of modern science first and try to grab all the subtle definitions before I condescend to answer you”.
          Perhaps now you understand why I wrote that the first three ways are essentially the same? They all three assume causality and as such contradict Modern Physics.
          Now the question is: is contradicting Modern Physics enough evidence for you to admit that the first three ways are refuted as long as there is no causal theory working as well as all the probabilistic interpretations of Quantum Mechanics?

        • Kodie

          While we’re talking about atoms and stuff you don’t really understand, you believe an invisible fairy man acts in your life and cares about what happens to you, even after you die. Please draw a line between your unmoved mover and your forgiveness of sin.

        • SteveK

          Not sure what to make of this. Okay, I drew a mental line. What’s next?

        • Kodie

          Evasive.

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

          A wise man recently made the following comment about metaphysics. I’ve changed it so that it applies to physics. Might be some good advice here, FYI.

          I know it’s a complex topic that requires a lot of study to understand, even at surface level because the [physics] terms used are very nuanced. I know that a person can’t appreciate the arguments until they learn the basic [physics].

          If you don’t understand the physics, you might want to do a bit of study before you jump into the conversation.

        • MNb

          Ever heard of Heisenberg? It’s not 1200 pages, but even if you won’t read it I can explain: it’s not magic, but probability.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heisenberg_uncertainty_principle
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probability_density_function
          Is it typical christian, if something is counterintuitive, to call it magic? WLC has the habit as well.

        • avalpert

          I don’t know if it is typical of christians generally – but from someone who is sincerely trying to push arguments rooted in Aristotelian physics as if the premises haven’t been abandoned by everyone without a preordained interest in a particular outcome to see modern physics as anything but magic? I mean the very first argument of Aquinas’ doesn’t even survive Newton’s first law of motion and you want him to account for quantum physics?

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

          It’s not about motion, and only motion.

          Fair enough, but let’s focus instead of changing the subject. By making a mockery of the Unmoved Mover idea, he does neatly skewer that argument.

        • SteveK

          Mockery skewers an argument. Wow!

        • SteveK

          >> As far as I know from you or anyone else, metaphysics is a big word you think makes you intellectual and not an actual thing.

          So you’re saying you don’t know much about it, okay. There are college courses on the subject. The philosophy of science has a metaphysical view of the universe. Did you even know that?

        • Kodie

          Will you just go pout to your friend Jenna if I tell you to go fuck yourself? You haven’t engaged at all.

          EDIT: And while I”m at it – you’ve been told on several occasions that actual science does not regard Aquinas 5 thingamabobs. We get by alright without any of it. So what does that have to do with anything? Metaphysics also covers ghosts and paranormal bullshit, like your superstition, I mean religion.

        • Pofarmer

          Let’s think about this for a minute. Thomas Aquinas was in around 1250. This was before Copernicus, Bruno, Kepler, Newton, and Galileo. The work of these men didn’t refute Aquinas argument, they rendered them obsolete. You don’t need a mover when you have Gravity. Then you use Gravity to explain Planetary Motion, then you develop modern physics from that, and Aquinas is not only obsolete, but irrelevant. The only realm then, that this argument can be said to have any validity is in the metaphysical realm, which gives us no method whatsoever to understand the mechanisms of the world around us. So, why are we discussing this again? It’s merely theistic navel gazing.

        • Kodie

          I notice they like to elevate their nonsense to pseudo-academic fields of study for the sole intention of being taken seriously, and the rubes like Steve and Jenna and Rick eat it up.

        • MNb

          I rather think that SteveK takes the Edward Feser route: make claims about our material reality and pretend it’s just metaphysics. That’s certainly not how Aristoteles and ToA thought, so it’s dishonest. Moreover if he is consistent and totally restricts himself to metaphysics the argument becomes meaningless. It’s like developing a coherent and consistent mathematical system postulating that the Earth is flat (something that is very possible); then when you bring up some empirical evidence that contradicts it you shout “but it’s just metaphysics!” and still maintain that you have shown that the Earth is flat indeed.

        • SteveK

          >> Moreover if he is consistent and totally restricts himself to metaphysics the argument becomes meaningless.

          The arguments are not restricted to metaphysics as you can see by the fact that they also include observable aspects.

        • Kodie

          When?

        • MNb

          “You don’t need a mover when you have Gravity.”
          Actually in Newtonian mechanics you do. The mover is identified as well: mass. And mass has to come from somewhere – set in motion if you like. Of course you have to define standstill as motion as well (Aristoteles certainly didn’t mean that, so probably ToA neither, but it’s still not a problem for the argument), but like SteveK wrote somewhere else it’s not about the relativity of motion. That’s one reason why Newton didn’t have any problem accommodating physics and christianity.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, yes, but the idea is that we don’t have to go the route of the unmoved mover to explai what’s going on around us. Furthermore, if there were such a mover, we should be able to detect it.

        • SteveK

          >> Furthermore, if there were such a mover, we should be able to detect it.

          We can. The problem is all material things can change, so material things cannot be the unchanging mover and therefore we are limited as to how we can detect its existence.

        • Kodie

          So we can, we just can’t.

        • SteveK

          Huh? Surely you’ve “detected” non-material realities like truth, justice, purpose and reason. You make it seem like this is an impossibility.

        • Kodie

          Surely we talked about this a few days ago, but you slithered out of it.

        • Pofarmer

          Do tell. And, why can’t Gravity and Mass be the unchanging mover?

        • adam

          It is in this TINY gap that god hides……

          For now.

        • SteveK

          >> We get by alright without any of it. So what does that have to do with anything?

          A lack of utilitarian use for a fact, in the moment, doesn’t negate the fact itself. You should know this. Think of all the facts that you learned that you never use in your life.

        • Kodie

          You mean the verifiable ones? You mean the ones used by other people to make the world go ’round? That I benefit from someone knowing and using? Or do you mean the unverifiable facts that people want to be true but are useless and inapplicable to anything outside itself?

        • Pofarmer

          Steve, I asked you what your “metaphyscal foundation” was, and you never replied. The metaphysical view of the universe is why many top scientists think that the philosophy of science is irrelevant.

        • SteveK

          >> The metaphysical view of the universe is why many top scientists think that the philosophy of science is irrelevant.

          If you don’t see the irony yet, keep looking.

        • Pofarmer

          There is no irony involved. The problem with “philosophy of science” is that you are just as likely to get an erroneous answer as a correct one. Science then comes in and determines, through observation and experimentation if the philosophical result is warranted or not. This is why, for the most part, you simply start with the observation and experimentation and skip most of the philosophical part. It avoids starting out with an incorrect supposition right off the bat.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          I love the way you make scientific inquiry sound like a Mexican wrestling match, with El Maldito Philosophy getting bounced out of the ring by Señor Science wearing the blue mask.

          It looks like Christians don’t have a monopoly on idealized fantasies and oversimplifications.

        • Pofarmer

          Eh, whatever. Let’s say you have a philosophical question with a philosophically derived answer. How do you determine if that result is reasonalble? You examine empirical data regarding your answer to see if the examined data match your expected philosophical result. Let’s say now, that you have a set of data that you would like to verify. How do you test your data? You collect more data to compare it to. It’s a one way street.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          Wow. It’s like having someone at the Elks explain the scientific method.

          Maybe your aversion to philosophy of science is the reason you sneer every time someone brings up biases like scientism and reductionism. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here.

        • Pofarmer

          Perhaps you could stop the passive aggresive nonsense and actually make a statement of what you beleive.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          I believe you only know as much science as you need to for these amateur slapfights.

          I’m fine with mainstream scientific theories like the Big Bang, unguided species evolution, and climate change. But I dispute the notion that science inevitably leads to atheism, or that reason and logic and science are the bases for anyone’s beliefs.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, that was close to a statement. And, no, I’m not a scientist or a philosopher by trade, but I have worked in academic research and have been published as a co author on a paper. So, I do have some experience setting up studies, controlling for variables, analyzing data, etc. This particular thread doesn’t have anything to do with your last statement, so I’ll let that go. But, this thread has been about the idea, that to be valid, philosophical suppositions need emperical evidence to be valid. Much of ancient philosophy on the heavens, on God, whatever, wasn’t grounded in emperical evidence, because they simply hadn’t aqcuired it, and so much of it is simply incorrect. There is no comparison, for instance, between something like Aquinas 5 ways, and Newtons Gravity.

        • SteveK

          >> The problem with “philosophy of science” is that you are just as likely to get an erroneous answer as a correct one.

          Not really. Take the demarcation problem as one example of a philosophical issue that science is concerned with. Does a particular answer to some question fall under the umbrella of science, or not? If the problem is as you say, then there’s really no way to sort this out. Is this what you are choosing to believe?

        • Pofarmer

          What I believe, is that both you and Thomas Aquinas started out with your answer, and then detailed your question to fit. It’s called Summa Theologica.

        • MNb

          Yes – in fact there isn’t exactly consensus about it. Funnily not too many – certainly not you – ask physicists what their view is. As such you run the risk of postulating nonsense, because far from all philosophers understand what physics has to say about the Universe.

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

          Huh?

          Aquinas put forward an argument that must be iron-clad. I win by either (1) putting forward a rebuttal that is iron-clad or (2) casting doubt, to make his argument not iron-clad.

          That’s how these these work.

        • SteveK

          There are reasons to doubt any argument. All you have to do it cast doubt on any of the premises. It’s very easy to do, even with the most robust of arguments. I’m more interested in whether or not the premise holds up even with the doubt.

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

          You point us to a thorough summary of Aquinas’s arguments. I didn’t go through them thoroughly, but I assume that they’re all valid. If one premise is doubtful, that argument is then unsound.

          So now the argument is as likely true as that premise is likely true. Is that your point?

        • SteveK

          >> If one premise is doubtful, that argument is then unsound.

          I don’t share your doubt though – at least to the same level that you seem to have. Pofarmer claimed these arguments had been debunked. I think it’s safe to say that he overstated his case.

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

          We agree that an argument with a doubted premise is now unsound?

        • SteveK

          I doubt it.

        • MNb

          Finally (I’m working upwards; this is the most recent reaction) this

          “The kind that would refute”
          is actually a non-answer to my question: what kind of evidence?
          It’s similar to
          Q: “what kind of chair you want to have?”
          A: “the kind you can sit on.”
          Kind of dishonest to keep it this vague; not that I’m surprised. You have your escape route, no matter what I bring up, already build in. Of course that’s an anti-scientific attitude too. That’s relevant here, because Aquino’s five ways make claims regarding the domain of physics.
          Not a good start, SteveK.

        • SteveK

          You said “not only scientific” so what were you expecting? If the logic is valid, then what’s your complaint?

        • MNb

          Valid logic is not enough for “evidence”.
          My complaint is clear: you gave a non-answer. As a result I had to guess what you exactly meant with “the kind that would refute”. Actually I have no idea what kind of evidence you would accept as refuting the five ways.
          Your post underneath shows my complaint is justified.

        • SteveK

          >> Valid logic is not enough for “evidence”.

          All the arguments start with evidence that is available to each of us. That’s the empirical part of the argument. Metaphysics is involved in the arguments. That’s the non-empirical part.

          If the logic is valid, then the conclusions follow.

        • Pofarmer

          Because it’s well known that the results of a logical excercise rest on the suppositions that it’s based on. A valid logical excercise may or may not result in a result in an outcome that has any meaning in the real world.

        • Kodie

          Now make that short enough for a bumper sticker.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Each of Aquinas’s 5 Ways arguments contains two errors: each one says (1) X must exist, and (2) X is God.

          The first three are quite similar: there “must” be a first mover, a first cause, and an uncaused being. No, these things are not logically necessary (for example, the chain could extend back in time infinitely, or time itself could have begun with the big bang). The things Aquinas calls “necessary” are merely possible, so his claims are incorrect.

          Furthermore, it is emphatically not true that any “first mover/cause/being” is called “God” by “all men,” much less all people. It is even less true that such a being is agreed to be the god in which Aquinas believed.

          Ways 4 and 5 are a little different, but still incorrect.

          #4: It is not true that just because there are gradations of something, there must exist somewhere a perfect version of that thing. For example, the fact that some people are taller than others does not mean there exists a “perfectly tall” person somewhere. Still less does it mean that there exists an infinitely tall person somewhere.

          #5: The statement that “We [emphasis added] see that natural bodies work toward some goal, and do not do so by chance” is false. I do not see that at all. To me, the patterns we see in the world are more plausibly explained as the unfeeling interactions of natural forces than as the actions of a designer, or at least a designer who cares about humans. In fact, when I stopped trying to see God’s will in everything around me, the world made much more sense.

        • SteveK

          >> No, these things are not logically necessary (for example, the chain could extend back in time infinitely, or time itself could have begun with the big bang).

          The First Way is addressing what is going on NOW, today. There must be an engine that drives the chain of causality – even if somehow it turned out to be infinitely long. So the conclusion must be true. There must be an engine, a first mover.

          >> Furthermore, it is emphatically not true that any “first mover/cause/being” is called “God” by “all men,” much less all people.

          Assigning a different label to the same reality doesn’t make the argument false.

          >> For example, the fact that some people are taller than others does not mean there exists a “perfectly tall” person somewhere. Still less does it mean that there exists an infinitely tall person somewhere.

          If you were to actually read the argument rather than rely on a summary you would know that Aquinas isn’t making this point at all. Strawman.

          >> I do not see that at all.

          This argument is explaining the order that we see. This order needs an explanation – and no, “chance” isn’t an explanation that has causal power, it’s a description of an explanation. Regarding natural objects, you always see the same effect (goal) result if the same causes are in play.

          The argument is that efficient causation, such as X causing Y, cannot be understood except in light of directedness, or what is commonly called final causation. If in X there was no inherent end directed towards the effect Y, it would be impossible to account for why X results in effect Y all the time (unless something is different). A struck match generates fire and heat rather than frost and cold.

        • Kodie

          The First Way is addressing what is going on NOW, today. There must be
          an engine that drives the chain of causality – even if somehow it turned
          out to be infinitely long. So the conclusion must be true. There must
          be an engine, a first mover.

          How come you believe there must be a first mover when convinced by poor logic, but it doesn’t faze you when someone points out that if there was a mover before there was anything else, what moved him?

          And you did not answer my question about how you conclude that this first mover you (poorly) deduce is the same one who plotted out the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, who defines for you what is sin and what isn’t and takes care of all your problems? You “mentally” drew a line from A to B, but you failed to describe how you know there’s a god (prime mover) and you know that he is in your life, the Christian way (a logical leap).

          I.e., if you could use you shitty logic to convince someone that something can’t come from nothing, therefore A god, how do you then make a logical path to THE specific bible god and supernatural interferences that refer to him? I mean, you could get someone to believe there’s some kind of god that accounts for causation, how do you steer them directly to the god of your choice with all his particular concerns about you and them?

        • SteveK

          How come you believe there must not be a first mover when all you have to offer as a reason for your belief is your skepticism and doubt there must be one?

        • Kodie

          Perhaps you are not understanding me. If there is a prime mover scenario, what makes you think it is a conscious, creative, concerned being? And if he is first, why don’t you consider that something else must have caused it? Some deity doesn’t just come from nothing. You don’t apply the same logic to your god. You are perfectly content with the answer as given to you on the strain that “something cannot come from nothing,” but you do not apply that logic to feel the least bit uncomfortable with your conclusion. And for no reason. You just wave it away. Why can’t I just wave your conclusion away?

        • SteveK

          >> If there is a prime mover scenario, what makes you think it is a conscious, creative, concerned being?

          That’s a different argument. Those arguments are found in the 4th and 5th way arguments.

          >> Some deity doesn’t just come from nothing.

          I think everyone agrees with this. Fortunately the arguments don’t commit this error.

          If you favor the principled conclusion that things can come from nothing in order to save your position, well, that comes with a host of problems.

          >> And for no reason. You just wave it away. Why can’t I just wave your conclusion away?

          You can wave it away. Many do. But don’t say the arguments are based on “no reason”. There are plenty of justifiable reasons given. Again, you don’t have to agree they are justified and you can wave them away if you’d like.

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

          If you favor the principled conclusion that things can come from nothing in order to save your position, well, that comes with a host of problems.

          And you’re arguing that opposite? That “nothing comes from nothing; nothing ever could,” as the song goes? I await the evidence. Weird stuff happens at the edge of science.

        • SteveK

          You’re saying there’s no principled objection to a resurrection event then?

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

          Huh? Are you changing subjects? I see no connection.

        • SteveK

          As a matter of principle, if something can come from nothing then why not resurrected bodies?

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

          I’m not saying that something can come from nothing. I’m saying that the person who claims that something can’t come from nothing has some ‘splainin’ to do.

          I’m quite happy to be in the position where I admit that I don’t know the answers to the myriad questions at the frontier of science. Science is, too.

          Does a resurrected body really fit in here? A universe where there wasn’t one before might be something from nothing. A live body where there had been a dead body isn’t that.

        • SteveK

          The ‘splainin’ comes from the fact that since you cannot observe, study or detect non-existence, the conclusion must be inferred from experience and observation. Your conclusion isn’t based on experience and/or observation.

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

          Conclusion? Which conclusion?

        • Kodie

          So they’re from a different argument, so you are going to pass on responding again? I’m starting to think your arguments are just hypocritical and you are just a fanboi.

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

          Is more required?

          Aquinas makes an argument, and we show that it’s unsound. That doesn’t make it useless, but it means that you can’t point to a logical argument to support it.

        • SteveK

          You didn’t show that it’s unsound. You doubted that it was sound. If doubt is all it takes, I can muster up the same amount of doubt to render any argument unsound. I’ll start with yours.

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

          A valid argument with doubtful premises isn’t unsound?

          You and I must be reading different dictionaries.

        • SteveK

          Have it your way. Your argument is now unsound.

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

          Gee–that was easy!

          I await your repudiation of Aquinas.

        • SteveK

          Yes. Every argument is unsound because doubt exists in the mind of someone. Universal acid.

        • Kodie

          Translation: “It just is shut up!”

        • SteveK

          Uh, not really. I’m applying Bob’s argument and getting the same result he did.

        • Kodie

          Is that what you think you did?

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

          There must be an engine, a first mover.

          How do you know? This seemingly unwarranted confidence is what my latest post about philosophy is about.

        • SteveK

          >> This seemingly unwarranted confidence is what my latest post about philosophy is about.

          Okay, so you believe in the basic principle that things are able to move/change without being moved/changed by something else. And you think my beliefs are silly?

          I will read what you have to say about philosophy. Should be interesting.

        • Kodie

          If god exists as a prime mover, what caused him to think of the idea to create the whole entire universe all for one planet that one day may lead to the living humans that he prides himself on creating it all for? Do you just spontaneously create things or do you sort of spitball your ideas off someone or sketch out some plans? If he’s been there forever, there was one point in time where he decided to start getting to work. What instigated or inspired him to pick that moment?

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

          Just got bored. Gods are people too, y’know.

        • Kodie

          So boredom was the prime mover, or at least the one immediately before the creation of the universe.

        • avalpert
        • SteveK

          I don’t know. I don’t need to know these answers to follow the arguments being made.

          If I needed to know how life came to exist before knowing that it did, then I would be in deep trouble wouldn’t I?

        • Kodie

          Well you seem to favor the conscious concerned creator. The big bang is the same thing except it doesn’t care if you are gay and there’s no place called heaven. You kind of have to give some reason that makes sense to you, or at least acknowledge that even a god creator had to have some mover of his own to put his plan into action, therefore he is not the beginning. Imagine yourself as a prime mover, just for the sake of argument. You’re just sitting in a chair for a couple hours and then you move and cause things to move. Is it the clock on the wall, did your phone ring? Did an idea pop into your head? If god has an idea, where did it come from if he didn’t have it before? And why do you think that a supernatural event is more reasonable than a natural event? Do you really lack that much imagination or education?

        • Scott_In_OH

          Taking your points in order:

          1.a. I’m not sure what you mean when you say “the First Way is addressing what is going on NOW, today.” I mean, yes, he’s arguing that the motion we see today must be the result of a chain that was begun sometime in the past (and that the one who began it was the Christian God), but he’s wrong about that (or at least he’s not necessarily right and therefore hasn’t shown that his god exists).

          1.b. Regarding infinite regress, Aquinas assumes that such a thing is impossible (you seem to think it is possible). He says there must have been a first mover, because something had to start it all. The two alternatives I gave (and there may be others) refute his claim that it must have happened as he says.

          2. This is not a case of “to-MAY-to”/”to-MAH-to.” If it turns out, for example, that the big bang was an uncaused event that began time as well as space, then that’s not the same thing as a God who cares about humans and has a plan for our redemption so that we can live with him forever. Those two things have two different names because they are two different things.

          3. Aquinas is making the Aristotelian argument that gradation implies the existence of a perfect example. He says that, because we see better and worse things, there must be a perfectly good thing out there somewhere. He is wrong. “Better” and “worse” do not imply the existence of a “perfect” or an “utterly bad.”

          4.a. In the Fifth Way, Aquinas writes, “We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result.” So as to obtain the best result? How can someone possibly say that? Only if he or she has already decided that whatever happens must be the “best result” because he or she already knows a benevolent god is in charge. I reject the assessment that “natural bodies, act … so as to obtain the best result.”

          4.b. As far as your own example, yes, it’s possible that the match produces fire and heat every time because an unseen God wants it that way. But it seems more plausible to me that this outcome is the result of the characteristics of the materials involved. How do we judge between those two hypotheses? (This is why people start asking how we know the fire doesn’t come from Loki or Allah or leprechauns, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.)

        • SteveK

          I only have a moment….

          >> Aquinas assumes that such a thing is impossible (you seem to think it is possible). He says there must have been a first mover, because something had to start it all.

          I think all Aquinas is saying is whatever moves (or is changed) must be moved by something other than itself. That seems true enough. The conclusions that follow are either (a) some things can move on their own, or (b) some things are unmoveable.

          Both result in difficulties that need to be dealt with. Perpetual motion and a violation of the conservation of energy being one such difficulty. The other difficulty being God. I didn’t claim it was easy to figure out.

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

          The conclusions that follow are either (a) some things can move on their own, or (b) some things are unmoveable.

          (c) some things are cause-lessly moved?

          I’m just making sure we consider all options. If quantum physics enters into it, we flush common sense down the toilet.

        • SteveK

          How is (c) different than (a)? That is my intended meaning.

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

          (a) A turtle can move on its own. So can a car. Those aren’t causeless (carbohydrates and hydrocarbons would enter into the respective explanations).

          (c) like (a), but without the cause. Subatomic particles, perhaps (I have no examples).

        • avalpert

          Radioactive decay is the common example of c – quantum mechanics clearly demonstrates that the world does not behave as Aristotle thought it did and makes pretty much all this medieval philosophy rooted in an Aristotelian understanding of motion moot.

        • SteveK

          You cannot observe what isn’t there to be observed. Science is in the business of observation so an empiricist could not “see” non-causes. You’re making a philosophical statement and doing your best to dress it up as science. Next thing you know, you’ll be telling me that “design” can be seen in DNA. Just look. It’s there. Science!

        • avalpert

          With all due respect, you have no idea what you are talking about. You haven’t from the start. I don’t have the same patience these others do for this silliness.

          If you want to hypothesize that there is some mystical cause behind everything that only gives the world the appearance of consistently modeled randomness go right ahead but at least recognize that that has nothing to do with Aquinas’ arguments and are something he wouldn’t hold up as evidence or the outcome of them.

          And if anyone tells you that design (in the literal sense) can be seen in DNA based on anything having to do with science you should ask for your money back. The products of evolution, like radioactive decay, have been clearly shown to be the result of randomness – not design.

        • SteveK

          >> With all due respect, you have no idea what you are talking about.

          Then correct me. I said that an empiricist could not “see” non-causes. Is this true?

        • avalpert

          True? It’s not even coherent. Why don’t instead of putting quotes around see you say what you actually mean – do you think science cannot test if an event consistently matches a probabilistic distribution?

        • SteveK

          >> do you think science cannot test if an event consistently matches a probabilistic distribution?

          Is this the question? I thought the question was can science observe a non-existent cause that results in some effect? To me that sounds a lot like saying God did it. I’m a Christian and I wouldn’t even want to allow that as a scientific answer.

        • avalpert

          Like I said, I don’t have patience for this silliness – if you even think what you are saying is a coherent argument you have spent too much time in an internet bubble.

          Of course science can’t observe something which is non-existent, since it doesn’t exist. Science can rule out or not rule out things it cannot directly observe. But you twisting your own incoherent question as if it is something someone else said is a pathetic tactic – not an argument. So on behalf of all scientists out there I am grateful that you little Christian wouldn’t allow as a scientific answer an answer that nobody (let alone a scientist) gave.

        • MNb

          “Science is in the business of observation so an empiricist could not “see” non-causes.”

          That’s philosophical bull on what physicists can and can’t do. It’s not even wrong; it’s meaningless. Read chapter 4 of Hawking’s A brief History of Time. You can find it as a pdf and it’s a lot shorter than the 1200 pages of Aquino you demanded from me recently. As I’m a helpful guy here is the link:

          http://www.fisica.net/relatividade/stephen_hawking_a_brief_history_of_time.pdf

          Perhaps then you’ll know the difference between non-causality in decaying atoms and design in DNA.

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

          OK, that might work. The cause of the electron flying out is the decay, but then the buck stops there.

        • SteveK

          Nothing causes a car to move, they just back out of the driveway and head to work all on their own? You haven’t shown me that you understand Aquinas’ argument. If you did, you wouldn’t say stuff like this.

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

          I’m certain that I’ll never satisfy you, Professor.

        • MNb

          While the examples provided by BobS aren’t particularly good indeed your reaction doesn’t address the main problem with causality a la Aquino. Moreover you even don’t seem to understand Newtonian Mechanics either.
          Let’s begin with the beginning.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_laws_of_motion

          Movement doesn’t require a cause according to the First Law. Change of movement does. Aquino and Aristoteles were wrong here; this is why the first three ways sound so clumsy.
          But we have already addressed this and Newtonian Mechanics being thoroughly causal (as well as Einstein’s Relativity) I agree with you that this doesn’t affect the three ways, provided that they are formulated in another way; just replace “realizing potentiality” by “force causing change of motion”. Of course doing so we get the Cosmological Argument in its modern form. I mean, philosophers aren’t dumb and have realized long ago this reformulating was necessary.
          Sticking to the moving car the relevant point can be found here.

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

          Pay attention to this: “In physics, the correspondence principle states that the behavior of systems described by the theory of quantum mechanics (or by the old quantum theory) reproduces classical physics in the limit of large quantum numbers. In other words, it says that for large orbits and for large energies, quantum calculations must agree with classical calculations.”
          In other words: every single event, like moving cars, accurately described in causal terms by NM also can be (more) accurately described by probabilistic QM. That should surprise nobody who understands some basic statistics. Causality assumes a correlation of either 0 or 1 (causality is more than that, but this is the relevant part here). Probability allows the whole spectrum between 0 and 1 and thus is an expansion.
          Quantum phenomena have been totally observed (so far your nonsense about “not seeing non causes” elsewhere). Now the interesting task is to reformulate the first three ways of Aquino in probabilistic terms. Good luck with it; you will end with the god playing dice so despised by Einstein.
          And Einstein was wrong here.
          Of course all this doesn’t refute pastafarianism and polytheism, but you are defending a causal god and thus have a serious problem with modern physics. Of course you could reconvert and become a Hindu.

        • SteveK

          That’s a lot of philosophy of science you just spouted. Yes, philosophy.

        • MNb

          Sure. I don’t share BobS’ views on philosophy in general.

        • SteveK

          >> Movement doesn’t require a cause according to the First Law.

          What law? This law doesn’t exist. It’s a description of events.

          We are also talking about change, not just movement. Like when a ball goes from hard to soft due to exposure to heat.

          At best you are correct about radioactivity and perhaps some quantum events. This doesn’t dissolve the First Way argument entirely. There’s every other kind of change that doesn’t work this way.

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

          “entirely”? So it does dissolve the First Way to some extent? Perhaps we’re all on the same page then.

        • Scott_In_OH

          You are right that Aquinas argues that whatever moves must have been moved by something else. He also (implicitly) argues that time doesn’t extend back infinitely, so there must have been a first mover. He believes that that mover was the Christian God.

          He is wrong both that a first mover is the only possibility and that if there was a first mover it must have been the Christian God (or any god, for that matter).

        • SteveK

          >> He is wrong both that a first mover is the only possibility

          What other options are there?

          >> He also (implicitly) argues that time doesn’t extend back infinitely,

          I believe Aquinas agreed that we can’t know if time goes back infinitely. The 2nd Way argument doesn’t depend on this though. See Feser’s discussion on some common objections and why they miss the point.

          http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-think-you-understand.html

        • Scott_In_OH

          As to other options, I mentioned two: (1) the chain of causes could extend back infinitely, or (2) time could have begun with the big bang, so there was nothing there before the universe in order to cause it. There may be other options that I’m not thinking of.

          As to the Feser post, thanks for the link. I’m intrigued to know more, so I went and read the post, but it’s maddening how much time he spends appealing to authority and telling critics of Aquinas that they’ve misunderstood him, rather than showing what Aquinas supposedly DID say.

          The idea that someone needs to read two full-length books to even have a hint of what Aquinas was talking about is just hard to swallow. I don’t understand relativity inside and out, but a skilled science writer can give me some sense in an article or even a blog post. Likewise for most any other topic that comes up in life: someone can give me the gist; I can ask questions; and the conversation can continue. When someone tells me they can’t possibly explain something until I’m fully committed, I get suspicious.

        • SteveK

          >> When someone tells me they can’t possibly explain something until I’m fully committed, I get suspicious.

          You were reading one blog post so don’t jump to the wrong conclusion. You can understand this stuff with a little effort. Feser has a book on Aquinas for beginners, which includes snippets of what Aquinas DID say. It lays the groundwork pretty well. I’m sure others have put something together in similar fashion. Amazon is a good place to start.

        • Kodie

          So Scott has actually addressed your agenda, point by point, at least twice, and you think he has to read more to really understand it? Why don’t you rather respond to what he did say in your own fucking words as you fucking understand it. That would be having a discussion.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Oh, I’ll look at his books, but I don’t think I’m jumping to conclusions when his blog post says this:

          I’m not going to present and defend any version of the cosmological argument here. I’ve done that at length in my books Aquinas and The Last Superstition, and it needs to be done at length rather than in the context of a blog post. The reason is that, while the basic structure of the main versions of the argument is fairly simple, the background metaphysics necessary to a proper understanding of the key terms and inferences is not.

        • MNb

          The third problem – the biggest – is probability a la Quantum Mechanics. The two you mention may be difficult to figure out for you or myself, but fortunately smarter guys than you and me have done this for us. The result is the Cosmological Argument in its modern form, which doesn’t have any problem with Newton’s First Law and the Conservation of Energy.
          You’re a perfect example of the danger involved with being sucked in totally in some metaphysical system: neglecting information that doesn’t fit.

        • Kodie

          Why don’t your principles apply to god?

        • Kodie

          4.a. In the Fifth Way, Aquinas writes, “We see that things which lack
          intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is
          evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so
          as to obtain the best result.” So as to obtain the best result? How
          can someone possibly say that? Only if he or she has already decided
          that whatever happens must be the “best result” because he or she
          already knows a benevolent god is in charge. I reject the assessment
          that “natural bodies, act … so as to obtain the best result.”

          It really says this????

        • Scott_In_OH
        • hector

          FSM is FAR more powerful than God. FSM put God in charge of the universe, but FSM rules the multiverse.

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

          Almost like the next level of Mormonism. Cool!

        • wtfwjtd

          Awesome!

        • MNb

          I have always suspected that FSM created all the thousands of gods too during the Big Boil, including YHWH.

        • avalpert

          Of course they aren’t the same being – I believe they are second cousins on God’s mother side but it may have only been through marriage.

          In either case, they are equally plausible explanations.

        • SteveK

          Different things can offer equally plausible explanations? It doesn’t often work out that way in practice.

        • MNb

          Practice is sooooo material ….. you are not going to embrace scientism to refute the FSM, are you?

        • SteveK

          No.

        • MNb

          Great. Then this

          “It doesn’t often work out that way in practice.”
          is irrelevant.

        • avalpert

          As plausibility of the explanation approaches zero many different things converge to the same point – including both God and FSM.

        • Kodie

          If you came home to find your front door open, what are your plausible explanations? Only one thing can be true, but if you never find out what it was, even if you can eliminate some, like an intruder, an alien, a bear, some explanations can still be plausible and yet never go explained. You are saying it’s just as likely to be your dead grandfather stopped in for a visit as it is your kid forgot to shut it, and as long as you prefer a visit from a ghost, you’re going to go ahead and believe that one, and if anyone says it’s not a ghost, you just say nobody can prove it wasn’t. In practice it was not a ghost, but you are saying it was whatever you want it to be until someone can absolutely prove to you what actually caused the door to be left open when you found it.

        • Kodie

          SteveK, you skipping over posts you don’t want to address again?

        • Kodie

          How do you know the analogy fails SteveK? You never did follow up on my question about my friend’s friend resurrecting.

          You are saying it’s not because you say so, but you are also saying it’s not the same because it just isn’t shut up! No reason to find it different, not from the unforthcoming SteveK or any other Christians lately.

      • wtfwjtd

        I looked at the “Thinking Christian” website, and came to the conclusion it’s an oxymoron. Let’s just say, dissent is frowned upon, and quickly silenced.
        Are you still looking for some on-line debate opportunities? I went to a local debate with JT Eberhard and a local preacher a couple of days ago, and found the experience to be thoroughly enjoyable. I have some family that is nuts about apologetics, if you want I’ll see what I can dig up. I’m not real hopeful though, in my experience many of these types like to talk about “defending their faith with reason and precision” a lot more than actually doing it.

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

          Yes, I am still looking for people interested in debate. If you find someone who’s interested, please make the connection.

      • Kodie

        My take-away from reading through that thread is the thing they don’t like about atheists or the FSM is that they think they’re being mischaracterized. Their god is real and their perceptions are real, and cannot be illustrated by a made-up cartoon character. They get that it’s a mockery for something they take seriously, and if you don’t know what’s wrong with it, you obviously don’t understand what it is to really believe something.

        On the other hand, they are separated from what it truly means to look at their bizarre superstition for what it is. They have no concept to allow for an objective comparison. They are in some place, let’s compare it to Italy, that they think is the best. Some people want to travel to Italy, some people can never find the money or time, and some people have it on a list of dozens of equally fascinating places on this earth to visit. That is completely different than living in Italy. To grow up in a culture or to transplant oneself to live somewhere else, you experience something else than only being a tourist. But then, Italians do not know what it’s like to live somewhere else. Name another place and ask an Italian why they want to travel there, and their answers will be as superficial as anyone’s reasons to visit Italy for a week or two. The sights, the shopping, the history, etc.

        To a theist, where they are is the best place, and tourists looking at it in a brochure just don’t get it. And they’re not interested in any other places they could go. Everything else is flat to them, a pale imitation of the real place they live. It is not like travel at all, where nearly everyone can see some photos and get a little wanderlust here and there. I have a friend who has to go on at least two trips a year, she cannot stand just staying home. She is not like a normal person to me, she has extreme needs to go places, like all over the earth. Most people seem to like to travel, but she needs to not only get away, but to be somewhere else or else she will curl up and die, and she’s arranged her life to allow for it. A theist is the opposite of her. Inside their bubble is amazing, no matter what it looks like to a stranger. They can look at a picture of a tropical beach compared to their worship and feel nothing. It is “just a place”, sure the hedonist sinners will like it a lot, but it’s not the same. The FSM is not the same. From outside the bubble, it is, but we just don’t understand what it’s like inside the bubble.

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

          From my book:

          “I met a woman in Boston once. The conversation turned to travel, and I asked her where she liked to go. She said, ‘Why should I travel? I’m already there!’ Extraordinary—and yet that’s the way many Christians think. ‘Why should I critique my position or evaluate someone else’s? I’m already there!’”

        • MNb

          Spot on.

        • Kodie

          I live in Boston, lol. That woman was fictional, right? My main point is that even if you love where you live, most people can dig that other people like where they live too. Where you like to live or maybe where you dream of living isn’t as some ideal place to live. But people from out of town might think it’s awful to live there or maybe pretty neat, it’s not a good assessment of actually living in a place until you do. Traveling somewhere is not a good assessment for what it will actually be like to live somewhere because tourism is not the same experience as day-to-day life.

          Where I grew up was stifling. I always miss my river and my mountains, but that doesn’t make it a great place to live for me. Nevertheless, I think up to 90% of my high school graduating class still lives there, and it’s just about perfect for them. I can’t live from the river and the mountains, although a famous art movement and Pete Seeger managed to. The Charles is not my river, it’s sort of just a river, it’s alright. I used to want to move to Colorado until I backed out after looking at a map. Did you know it’s landlocked??? I’m sure the rivers and especially mountains are something to see, but it’s not where I can see myself. I am from the East Coast, but that does not mean that people from other places don’t like their places too. I don’t get to the ocean very often, but I like a lot that it’s there. I’ve lived other places I simply hated – for lack of familiarity as well as stuff to do. I don’t see moving anymore since I know my way around now unless I move back to NY.

          Theism is more like, where I live is where everyone should live. If everyone had any sense, they would move here right away and it wouldn’t get crowded. For some people who see cactuses and think of home, I think that’s kind of weird because I can’t conceive of it, but if that’s their experience, I don’t try to convince them to suffer the winters up north. Theism doesn’t seem to regard another experience or observation legitimate because you just don’t understand what it’s like to live inside of Christianity. If the woman in your book is fictional, maybe you don’t know what it’s like to live in Boston, or maybe you based that off a real person who feels differently about the city than I do. It’s not that exciting. It’s not for everyone. I don’t get when some contestants on a game show win a trip to Boston and get excited, because, unless you are an American History fanatic or the trip includes time at the Cape, I can’t imagine a more boring city to visit for a week. You’d run out of interesting things to do that you couldn’t do at home really quickly, which is different than living here, then the city becomes your home and there is more to do here than a lot of other places, but it closes really early and the mass transit blows.

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

          The woman in the book is fictional. I heard that anecdote somewhere, though I think I changed the city.

          Yes, I know Boston winters. I was there during the Storm of ’78 (that’s what I like to call it, anyway), when the city was shut down and only emergency vehicles were allowed on the road. Conditions are milder (though admittedly also gloomier) here in Seattle.

        • Kodie

          The first time I moved here was after the storm of ’96 or maybe it was ’95, because I moved in early January. I moved away and came back almost 10 years later, and have lived here almost 9 years. Most of the winters aren’t that bad if you can stand the cold. Some winters snow a lot, brutally, and some do not. School was cancelled a lot this winter but I don’t have a kid, I don’t think it overall snowed that much, just at inconvenient times. Last year, we got 3 feet in one day, but I feel like that’s the only time it snowed. One year, I never had to shovel my car out because it melted again before I had to drive anywhere.

          Where I came from, Rochester, NY, it snowed every day from October to April because of this shitty thing called “lake-effect snow”, so you get a daily inch of snow even when there’s no storm. My first winter was over 100″. The striking difference in winters is that in Rochester, it never gets warm enough to melt. In Boston, you get low freezing temperatures and then mid-40s, so it melts and gets a new dangerous texture for walking on sidewalks, for instance.

          My favorite difference is it’s boring as shit in Rochester. I don’t know that I need a lot of exciting things to do, but I can tell when it’s even too boring for me. That’s probably why I moved to Boston instead of NYC. I have an idea there’s such a thing as too exciting.

          Seattle was on my list a while ago, I think it is probably a lot like Boston except for the weather. My reservation was being so far away. From? I don’t know. The west coast in my 20s seemed like something vital and intriguing and interesting, and I didn’t count it out for a long time, but it’s just too far away. I’m not a pioneer, I don’t want to go west anymore. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to live for people who like it though.

    • SteveK

      I’m curious…what information did I regurgitate that has been debunked?

      • Pofarmer

        Didn’t you try to whip out Aquinas 5 ways argument?

        • MNb

          My guess: this wasn’t debunked. Because he knows. A priori. With absolute certainty. So he can’t be debunked. QED.

        • SteveK

          If you have debunked them, please share it with us

        • MNb

          Define “debunk”. I refer to my other reaction. Core: I speculate that using a double standard you set the bar impossibly high for accepting “debunked”, but are willing to accept all kind of unwarrented assumptions for the five ways themselves.

        • SteveK

          Ask Pofarmer, he/she is the one who used the term.

        • Pofarmer

          I think it’s enough to note right now that modern Astrophysics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, or biology use exactly zero of them.

        • SteveK

          Huh? Nobody here uses most mathematical proofs in their daily life, but so what?

        • Pofarmer

          Not talking daily life taking scientific research but you knew that.

        • SteveK

          Again, so what?

        • Pofarmer

          Whadda ya mean, they purport to unlock the secrets of how/why the universe functions! You would think scientists would eat that shit up!

        • SteveK

          They aren’t the kind of arguments that science can eat up, but you knew that didn’t you?

        • Pofarmer

          So, you are saying they are useless to science?

        • Kodie

          I would say we’re all pretty much the beneficiaries of mathematical proofs in our daily lives. Just because you can take elevators for granted doesn’t mean god made the elevator for you.

        • SteveK

          Yes, I did.

  • Pofarmer

    Another school update. I’ll quit these if they are annoying or if Bob asks me to, but, I think they are interesting for attitudes within the church. So, it’s lent. Now, every friday afternoon, they have basically an optional class, a whole bunch of fun classes the kids can sign up for and participate in. Well, they already took one a month away for a “prayer assembly” type deal. Now, for the 40 days of lent, they are taking Fri afternoons to do “stations of the cross”. Now even the good catholic kids are starting to grumble. Church every day, religion class, signs of the cross, all taking away what used to be either study hall or free time, and adding prescribed prayers in on top of it. It will be interesting to watch the effect this has on the kids, and I intend to talk to a few other parents about it and kind of see what their feelings are.

    • wtfwjtd

      If past experience is any guide this extra stuff will wear thin pretty quickly.

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

      No problem sharing your situation. It’s something with which I haven’t had to wrestle.

    • MNb

      “I’ll quit these if they are annoying”
      No. They give us evil atheists a chance to show some, you know, empathy.
      Have you asked your sons what they wanted? In an unbiased way? I’d like to know their reactions.

      • Pofarmer

        The boys? My middle boy who just turned 13, asked the other day how he could register to be an Agnostic. My oldest boy, who is 14, thinks “the bible is bullshit” to quote him, and their mother goes on oblivious. The next big thing is going to be confirmation. Neither one of them want to go through with it. It’s going to be rather-delicate. Like you said, If they want to be religious, I can be O.K. With that, as long as they aren’t the brain dead Catholic variety. We actually talk about this stuff a Lot. As they have been going through the bible I have been explaining the scholarly consensus view of various things, and have directed them to several different blog posts and you tube videos.

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

          I read a Children’s Bible to my kids when they were young. That’s some great innoculation against nonsense. Your guys are too old to be read to, though Catholic education doesn’t encourage Bible reading. Perhaps you could occasionally say, “Hey, look at this weird thing I saw in the Bible” and show them some of the hideous stuff–genocide, slavery, etc.

          Assuming your wife doesn’t think that that’s underhanded …

        • Pofarmer

          That’s one of things I don’t care if she, or anyone else thinks is underhanded or not. If I’ve got the likes of Bart Ehrman on my side, I figure I have a defensible position.

        • wtfwjtd

          I think your 13- and 15-year-old kids are ready for some of those Weird Textual Features (or WTF)’s that are found in the Bible. Definitely good for a laugh or two, and who knows, they might share with their friends at school. Well, maybe scratch that last part, although it does seem strange to me that kids at a religious school could get in trouble for discussing Bible stories at school!

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

          Kids will talk about lots of taboo subjects at school–sex, for example. They’re becoming adults and are eager to learn about the new world that they’re entering. That the Bible is bullshit might fit right in to that conversation.

        • wtfwjtd

          I don’t know if I’d go that far–I’d advocate something a bit more nuanced, something like “the *belief* that everything in the Bible is literally true is bullshit”. I mean the Bible is valuable as literature, if only to remind us of how barbaric, sick, and twisted, that people and their God can be, right?

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

          Yes, that’s better.

        • Pofarmer

          14 year olds aren’t really aren’t really far down the nuanced path yet.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’d be willing to bet they’d get and appreciate that one.

        • Pofarmer

          The view I advocate to them, is that it’s an ancient book that shows us what ancient people beleived and how they interacted with their world. I’ve pointed out other claims of virgin births, resurections, etc. I’ve also pointed out the historical and archeological problems in both the old and new testament. It’s fun having a factual conversation with them versus telling them to just “give it all up to God”. Man I have gotten tired of hearing that crap. If you got a problem, fixit.

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

          I remember reading an autobiography about someone raised in a strict Catholic home in Ireland. He enjoyed reading the stories about the saints, which got him points with the librarians and teachers.

          When they discovered that he was just reading the parts about the gruesome tortures and martyrdoms they endured, the teachers weren’t so pleased.

        • MNb

          Ah, reminds me of the middle part of A Clockwork Orange, the scene where Alex enjoys reading about the road to Golgotha. Especially pay attention to the facial expressions:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa12tvOTQx8

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

          Ah, the many ways the Lord uses to drive an inquisitive young man to Christ!

          [cue swelling organ music]

        • wtfwjtd

          The Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways!

        • Pofarmer

          Any suggestions of some good WTF’s to start with?

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

          Biblical support for slavery? Polytheism in the Old Testament? William Lane Craig’s hilarious (or nauseating) support for genocide?

          You can find posts about that by searching here.

        • Pofarmer

          O.k. Been all those places already.

        • wtfwjtd

          Ask, and ye shall receive:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY0cniU30zk

          Amen, & Hallelujah!

        • MNb

          Pick your choice:

          http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

          Now I don’t buy all the comments. You know what kids of that age especially like? If you explain why you think some of the comments are very good and some others suck. The last thing they want you to do is to parrot any atheist authority.

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

          And the Skeptics Annotated Bible is also available in old-fashioned formats as well.

        • wtfwjtd

          …I think you just discovered the reason for the doubling-down on all things religion in school referenced above. If your boys feel free enough to express a few –um, doubts, they are obviously not alone. This has obviously sent a few people into a sort of panic mode, and hence the double-down response.

        • Pofarmer

          They had been talking to a few of the kids at school about science and so forth, and I told them to back off that a little bit before they get into trouble. Don’t know if that is the right thing to do or not. Some doubt would do some of these kids good. There are kids there that believe that Adam and Eve were real. Beleive that Noahs flood was real, etc. I am afraid if they engage too much, then the school will come down on them.

        • wtfwjtd

          It sounds like they are well on their way to a healthy free-thinking mind-set. Now, they’ve got to figure out how to navigate the mine field, learning how to survive with their intellectual integrity intact in a sea of ignorance, without getting ostracized. This can be tricky business, and good, solid support at home will be a useful asset in this process.

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

          In a normal school, you might have to worry about your kids blowing the Santa Claus thing too early to the other more gullible kids.

          Sounds like the same kind of thing, except with far higher stakes in the minds of the other adults.

        • MNb

          It never hurts to tell your kids to be a bit cautious. You’re not Jesus; you aren’t responsible for the silly beliefs of other kids. Proselytizing is soooo christian.

        • MNb

          Ah, 13 and 14 – I had the impression they were much younger. Then as an experienced teacher who has had many pupils of this age I can tell you one thing: as soon as they start to question things nothing can stop them.
          Of course they still might decide later to become religious anyway, but there is no way anymore you can prevent it. That’s good news, because it means your wife and their teachers can’t prevent them anymore to remain unbelievers either. Just make clear you don’t really care as long as they keep using their ability to think critically and as long as they keep on developing ethical responsibility.
          Just be relieved that your parental responsibility has declined a bit.

  • wtfwjtd

    Let’s not forget Paul’s great advice on marriage to those who are married in I Corinthians 7:12– “From now on, those who have wives should live as if they had none”. I’m sure following this gem of Biblical wisdom on marriage will result in many happy couples!

  • Christopher Johns

    The bible says “Man shall stick to his wife” not wives.
    God created woman from the rib of man. Not women.
    The Mosaic law was not in affect when many of the ancients had more than one wife.

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

      God is A-OK with polygamy.

  • nate paz

    most of these rules were made before christ had come and died on the cross. when He was crucified he made a whole new rule book, making most of the old testament rules irrelevant.

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

      Then make sure Christians don’t go rifling through the Old Testament looking for oldies but goodies to attack homosexuals with (for example).

      And how far can you distance yourself from the insanity of the Old Testament? The god who made those nutty rules and supported genocide and slavery looks just like any of the other Canaanite gods. In other words, he looks made up.

      • nate paz

        my Lord has shown himself to us in many ways, not all see it, perhaps if you were to investigate the book (bible) he left us you might see it more

        • Kodie

          You have to have a very special, god-given delusion to see it. Lots of people know the bible inside and out and no longer buy that trash as anything but a made-up story.

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

          Most people around here demand evidence. Your just saying so is not evidence. Were mistakes made? OK–back up that charge and explain the mistakes.

          God exists? Show us.

          God is plainly visible? Show us.

        • MNb

          In which ways? Please open my eyes.
          And yes, I have investigated the Bible last five years. The more I read in it the more it becomes clear to me that christianity is bullocks.

    • MNb

      Then abandon the OT. The muslims – who basically argue the same – showed up with an entirely new book. Why not you?
      Of course I’d also like to know what Jesus meant with Matthew 5:17-19.

      • nate paz

        when jesus was talking about “fulfilling the law” he meant he was here to release us of having to sacrifice in order to be clean with God Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins, through him we are saved, its always fun to see someone try to twist the bible for their advantage

        • adam

          Actually it is SAD to see people twist the bible for their advantage:

          King James Bible
          For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

          Heaven and earth have not passed….

        • Kodie

          Of course your twist is the correct interpretation. That’s always fun.

        • MNb

          “he meant …”
          How do you know? Oh wait, you answered that one already: you walk by faith, not evidence. So do all the others who give other interpretations.
          As soon as everyone on Earth who calls him/herself a christian manages to agree on how the Bible should be interpreted I might take it seriously. It seems to me you’re active on the wrong forum; if you mean what you write you should convince your cobelievers that your interpretation is the correct one first.

      • Erwin

        Re ‘Matt 5;17-19′,

        ref John 5:39,36-47; Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3;

        John 6:35; John 1:1,14; Psalm 119:89-91.

        • Greg G.

          Your verses disagree with everything nate paz said.

  • Brandon Roberts

    my parents have a traditional marriage and they are happy together

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

      Cool. The point remains: using the Bible to figure out what marriage should be will produce a pretty crazy result.

      • Brandon Roberts

        that’s fair and your beliefs i respectfully disagree but i won’t argue you on that point

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

          What’s to disagree with?

          You can’t be saying that the Bible’s many kinds of marriage are the way you think it should work in society, right?

        • Brandon Roberts

          no i was just saying in the bible i think god defines marriage as 1 man 1 woman but i have no problem with homosexual people thay are good decent humans i think we can all agree there

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

          Huh?? Did you not read this post? That’s the point: the Bible doesn’t define marriage as one man one woman! There are all sorts of bizarre combinations, so don’t point to the Bible and pretend it will support your idea of what marriage should be. It doesn’t.

        • Brandon Roberts

          ok thank you for informing me bye

  • Erwin

    Re ‘marriage’:
    “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

    This is a profound mystery – but I’m talking about Christ and the Church (what marriage is symbolic of ).”
    Ephesians 5:31-32.
    ref 1Corinthians 6:13-20.

    • Greg G.

      You are cherry-picking a verse that discusses one type of biblical marriage while trying to do a sleight of hand to distract from the examples above and others. You are not refuting verses, only identifying contradictions.

      The symbolic marriage relationship between Christ and the church is more like the Canaanites genocide where everybody is killed except for a few choice girls. It also like being forced to marry your rapist.

      • Erwin

        ref 1Corithians 2:14; 1Corinthians 1:18 in rebutal to your argument.

        • Greg G.

          Many people say they are spiritual but the word has only an imaginary meaning. You discernment is as imaginary as your spirit.

          In response to those two verses, I’ll throw the 1 Corinthians 1:19 quote of Isaiah 29:14:

          19 For it is written,

          “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

          So the things you are discerning according to 1 Corinthians 2:14 will be thwarted.

        • Erwin

          That’s ‘wise in their own eyes, ( like you in yours ) not God’s’ ref Isaiah 5:21; Proverbs 3:7.

          Much better to ‘fear God and shun evil’ (end of vs 7).

        • Greg G.

          But you think you are being wise by chucking out Bible verses. Matthew 7:3-5 was written for you. You have no assurance that Matthew 7:22-23 isn’t about you, too.

          Matthew 7:3-5; Matthew 7:22-23

      • MNb

        Actually I think it very wise to cherry pick verses from the Bible. I do it myself; my favourite is Mattheus 7:1.
        The thing is that to cherry pick you need some standard – an unbiblical one. Christians do have such standards as well, but the ones wo are like Erwin are simply too dishonest to admit it.

        • Erwin

          ref Matthew 5:11-19.

          “… And such were some of you
          ( and did and said those things you do and say also),…’
          1Cor6:9-11,

          ‘…But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,( ref John 3:16 )..,’ Ephesians 2:1-10.

    • MNb

      “I’m talking about Christ and the Church”
      You could as well be talking about Quetzalcoatl and Montezuma. Nobody cares, especially as you systemetically refuse to tell us why we should. You won’t do so now either – you will reply with some Bible quotes. You already know my reply: irrelevant, ’cause been dead for 2000 years.

      • Erwin

        Exactly,
        ‘Christ and the Church’ are represented in marriage. Until you are part of His Church ( Body )
        you’ll continue to do as you and your spiritual father choose. ( ref John 8:42-47; 1John 3:7-10.

        • MNb

          Quetzalcoatl and Montezuma are represented in marriage etc. bla bla bla.


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