Sean Carroll Slaps Down Fine Tuning Argument

Christianity Fine TuningThis is the conclusion of a summary of the recent debate between philosopher William Lane Craig and cosmologist Sean Carroll. In part 1, I summarized Carroll’s response to the Kalam cosmological argument. Here, it’s a response to the other half of Craig’s argument, the fine tuning argument.

Carroll began with a compliment of sorts.

This is the best argument that the theists have when it comes to cosmology. That’s because it plays by the rules. You have phenomena, you have parameters of particle physics and cosmology, and then you have two different models, theism and naturalism, and you want to compare which model is the best fit for the data. I applaud that general approach. Given that, it is still a terrible argument. It is not at all convincing.

1. What fine-tuning problem?

Carroll raises five points. First, he’s not convinced that there is a fine-tuning problem. Yes, changes in the parameters that define our reality would change conditions, but it does not follow that life could not exist. “I will start granting that [life couldn’t exist with different conditions] once someone tells me the conditions under which life can exist.” We don’t even fully understand life on this planet, nor do we understand it on the other planets in the universe that hold life (if any), nor do we understand it within the other possible universes (if any).

For example, is life just information processing? That raises lots of possibilities for life. “They sound very science fiction-y,” Carroll admits, “but then again, you’re the one who’s changing the parameters of the universe.”

2. Don’t limit God

God can do anything, and he isn’t limited by the parameters of the universe. If life were impossible naturally, God could make it happen anyway. Carroll says about theism, “No matter what the atoms were doing, God could still create life.” That means that apparent fine tuning points to naturalism, since it must do everything naturally and has no fallback. If you insist that the parameters must be just so, then you’re arguing for naturalism.

Physicist Vic Stenger made the point this way in The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning:

Certainly an all-powerful creator could have made a universe delicately balanced to produce life. But he also could have made life exist in any kind of universe whatsoever, with no delicate balancing act necessary. So if the universe is, in fact, fine-tuned to support life, it is more—not less—likely to have had a natural origin. (p. 115)

3. Illusory fine tuning

Some apparent fine tuning vanishes on closer inspection. The expansion rate of the early universe is often cited as one example of fine tuning. In fact, Stephen Hawking in his A Brief History of Time says that it was tuned to 10–17, to the delight of apologists. What they avoid quoting is Hawking just a few pages later:

The rate of expansion of the universe [in the inflationary model] would automatically become very close to the critical rate determined by the energy density of the universe. This could then explain why the rate of expansion is still so close to the critical rate, without having to assume that the initial rate of expansion of the universe was very carefully chosen.

Carroll makes the same point when he says that the apparent fine tuning vanishes when you look to general relativity. The probability of the universe expanding as it did wasn’t 10–17; it was 1.

4. Multiverse

Apologist Richard Swinburne isn’t on board with the multiverse. He says, “To postulate a trillion trillion other universes, rather than one God in order to explain the orderliness of our universe, seems the height of irrationality.”

He doesn’t acknowledge that we have no supernatural precedents by which to evaluate the probability of his god proposal. He doesn’t seem to know that the number of other universes isn’t the point—there are an infinite number of integers, for example, but bringing integers into a discussion isn’t infinitely complicating. He doesn’t admit that the multiverse is a prediction of well-established science.

Carroll disagrees that the multiverse is extravagant: “It’s a prediction of a simple physical model.” The multiverse hypothesis can make testable predictions. He showed a graph of the density of dark matter in the universe as an example. “You do not see graphs like this in the theological papers trying to give God credit for explaining the fine tuning because theism is not well defined.”

5. Theism isn’t the default

Even if you reject naturalism as an explanation, you can’t fall back on theism. To be taken seriously, apologists must come up with a model of a universe that one would expect with theism and then compare it to the data to see if it fits. So, what would you expect a theistic universe to look like, specifically?

Theism would predict a just-right tuning of parameters, while we find that the entropy of the early universe (to take one example) was far, far lower than it needed to be for life. Theism would predict far less matter than the 100 billion galaxies (each with 100 billion stars) in our universe. Theism would predict that life would be important to the universe; naturalism says that it’s insignificant. Theism demands that we look at the Hubble Deep Field image of thousands of ancient and incredibly distant galaxies and conclude, “This is all here because of us!”

Over and over, the data shows a universe that matches the predictions of naturalism and not theism.

Which worldview predicts best?

He went on to contrast the predictive success of theism vs. naturalism.

  • Theism predicts that God’s existence would be obvious (in fact, the evidence is poor, and faith is not only required but celebrated)
  • Theism predicts that religious belief should be universal; there should be just a single, correct religion (in fact, we have thousands of denominations within just Christianity, plus many thousand more other religions)
  • Theism predicts that religious doctrines would be permanent (in fact, they evolve and adapt to social conditions)
  • Theism predicts that moral teachings would be transcendent and progressive (in fact, Western society rejected slavery and embraced civil rights in spite of Christianity, not because of it)
  • Theism predicts that sacred texts would provide practical advice like how to stay healthy
  • Theism predicts that life is designed (in fact, evolution explains life’s Rube Goldberg features)
  • Theism predicts a mind independent of the body (in fact, “mind” changes as the brain grows or is damaged, or even if one is tired or hungry)
  • Theism predicts a fundamentally just world without gratuitous evil (in fact, the Problem of Evil is often cited as Christianity’s toughest challenge)

Carroll is quick to agree that, yes, the theist can whip up reasons to explain away any of these problems. It’s not hard because theism is not well defined and can be reshaped as necessary, like clay. Ad hoc justifications are easy to come up with, but no, that’s not a good thing.

Contrast that with science—when new data causes problems for a theory, science looks for a new theory. And that is a good thing.

The reason why science and religion
are actually incompatible is that, in the real world,
they reach incompatible conclusions.
— Sean Carroll

Photo credit: strollerdos

How Does the Kalam Cosmological Argument Suck? Let Me Count the Ways. (2 of 2)
Innovative Responses to the Fine-Tuning Argument
The Christian Poses Tough Questions to the Atheist
Stephen Hawking Speaks
About Bob Seidensticker
  • MNb

    @1: Nobody will be surprised that a physicist, in this case Victor Stenger, tried to test it.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/did-the-universe-come-fro_b_739909.html

    “Computer simulations show that some kind of life is possible in universes over a wide range of parameters.”

    @2: Apologists will answer that god sustains the laws of logic, hence can’t break them and that this is not a limitation. Yeah, forget the Resurrection, we are not going to demand that apologists are consistent, are we?

    @3: Automatic mine-quoting alert when any apologist quotes A Brief History of Time. Hawking does what all good scientists do: he presents a model as good and as strong as he can, with all the supporting stuff. Only then – usually several pages later – he starts to provide objections. It’s a lie that he accepts fine-tuning. In the first place that isn’t the same as the two anthropic principles he discusses and in the second place he points out all the problems as systemetically.

    @4: “The multiverse hypothesis can make testable predictions.”
    I must admit that it took me too long to get this. For anyone with doubts:

    http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2011/10/28/why-we-think-theres-a-multiver/
    https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/728bc534496e
    http://www.space.com/18811-multiple-universes-5-theories.html

    @5: Theism is the default is in the end nothing but a god of the gaps.

    • Castilliano

      If I hadn’t already tagged this page as a favorite, to refer to in future discussions, your post would have been enough to warrant it.
      Thanks.

    • hector_jones

      Thanks for the links MNb. I’ve done some reading on things like string theory but nothing on the multiverse. I’ve been meaning to do so and these links look like a good place to start.

  • MenacingPhantom

    Theism also predicts a much simpler biology. I have often thought that humans not being made of animate dirt is a near disproof of divine design, just as humans being made of inexplicably animate dirt would be near to proof of divine design.

    • MGreen

      The Hebrew scriptures are full of puns that don’t translate to English. Adam was created from adamah. Is a hypothetical creator actually interested in the puns of a language that did not yet exist?

      Was he thinking: I could use rocks and fruit but I’d really like this to sound nice in Hebrew millions (or thousands) or years from now.

      • Greg G.

        Many Bible translations have footnotes that indicate alternative interpretations of a word or phrase, even variant wordings of different manuscripts. Why can’t one put in footnotes that explain the puns?

  • hector_jones

    @2 “If you insist that the parameters must be just so you are arguing for naturalism.” Exactly, because this would mean that God is limited in advance by physical reality to only those parameters for his universe that would lead to life. But theism says God could create a universe with any parameters he wants and by fiat it would be a universe suited to human life, if that’s what God wants.

  • http://skeptopathy.com/ Michael Fullerton

    Carroll needs to be much more careful in his terminology. As a pantheist I am a naturalistic theist. These concepts are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I know (and can prove) God exists as the sentient Universe and I know that God is purely natural and not in any way supernatural.

    • Rob

      OK, prove it. In ways demonstrable in modern science.

      Put up or shut up.

      • CodyGirl824

        Not to worry, Rob. God already has proven it. You just haven’t gotten the Word.

        • Rudy R

          Lame response from someone that the question wasn’t directed to. Let’s wait for Michael’s response.

        • pianoman

          so is this all we can ever expect from you in contribution to the discussion?

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

          I’m amazed that you’re so comfortable tossing out Christian platitudes and confident assurances. Wouldn’t some evidence or arguments be more appropriate at an atheist blog?

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob,

          My stats show that I have posted 315 comments. Are you claiming that I have made no arguments?

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

          None stick in my mind, though I’m sure that’s just my memory.

          My point is simple. I’m trying to help you out. Claims like yours above might be apropos where you normally hang out, but it only causes head scratching around here.

          Does God exist? Cool–tell us why we should believe this remarkable claim.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why is the claim that God exists so “remarkable”? Define for me what you mean by the term “God” and what you mean by the verb “exists” and if we are on the same wave-length, you will see immediately why the “claim” that “God” “exists” is not in the least bit remarkable.

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

          You’ve watered down the definition of God to mean “whatever created the universe, whether intelligent god or inanimate forces”? Sure, convert the most contentious claim made in society today into a tautology, and the problem goes away. I agree.

          By “God,” I’m talking about Yahweh from the OT. The dude Christians think created the universe and the afterlife, and who created hell where I’ll be spending a fair amount of time in another few decades.

        • CodyGirl824

          You are confusing Yahweh with the ancient Hebrews’ account of their relationship with Yahweh as they understood Yahweh.

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

          Wait–wasn’t it you who was bragging about the 2.3 quadrillion Christians on the planet? What is their definition of God? Very few will say “that thing, supernatural being or inanimate force, that created the universe.”

        • CodyGirl824

          Oh really? I’m surprised at this comment. Haven’t you read the very first sentence of the Bible? Genesis 1:1. The very first naming of God in the Holy Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity is as the Creator: “In the beginning, God created…”

          You can also consult the Nicene Creed that we Episcopalians recite in our Holy Communion rite, which you will find in our Book of Common Prayer: “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.”

          Is the problem here that you think the proper name for the Creator should be Bob instead of God?

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

          No, I think the problem is that you’re uncomfortable addressing the question.

          What is your definition of God, and is this a definition that most Christians would accept?

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, I really think that trying to define God for the purposes of a on-line discussion is difficult because my understanding (and I think this is true of all Christians) is complex and nuanced and is the product of a lifetime of related to/with God. I am addressing “the question” if, as I understand “the question” to be what is my understanding of what is meant by the name/term/word and concept of God. I am attempting to focus on the ancient Hebrews’ understanding (definition) of God since we both have equal access to a full and detailed elaboration of this understanding in Genesis 1. I also posted the Nicene Creed (which is very similar to the Catholic Nicene Creed) so that we can discuss how Christians “define” the God we believe in.I do not feel “uncomfortable” about this. If I did, I wouldn’t be posting here. I don’t understand where you even got that idea.

        • Kodie

          You are attempting to avoid being pinned down so we can criticize your definition point by point.

        • CodyGirl824

          Thank you for admitting that atheists only ask for a definition of God in the hope that they can “pin down” a believer.

        • 90Lew90

          It’s perfectly reasonable when you say “God exists” to ask you what you mean by “God”; mainly because your god seems so overwhelmingly personal to you and so far from Christianity and its obligations that not so long ago you’d have been burnt as a heretic. It also weighs any kind of debate heavily in your favour. Too convenient and too incoherent. In fact, what I’ve seen you describe as your faith in the past couple of days seems a lot more like pantheism than Christianity. Debate works by both sides being clear about the premises at the outset. It doesn’t matter if it’s about god or the price of grain on the commodity market. We must know what is included in the term “grain”. We must know what is and what is not “grain”. Otherwise we get nowhere. Yuh see?

          Further, when you say “[my] god exists”, then the burden of proof is entirely on you. And your “intuition” or “feeling” about that, in other words your subjective experience of it, does not count as proof. And that’s all you have to offer. The weight of evidence is stacked against there being a creator god who makes a series of demands of his believers on everything from their sex lives to what they wear and eat and when they eat it; who in turn gives favour and succour and protection to the well-behaved believer over the rest of his “creation”, and all the other incongruous, nonsensical claptrap that goes along with it. The burden of proof that this is not claptrap is entirely on you. And you bring nothing to the table.

        • CodyGirl824

          What you are describing here is the process of stipulation in argumentation, where both parties to the debate (argument) come to an agreement at the beginning on definitions of important terms that are crucial. Which points out the difficulty of using a formal argumentative structure in a forum such as this. By the very nature of the website, you and I, atheists and people of faith, cannot arrive at a stipulated definition of what we mean by the term/word/concept “God” Because of this fact, we cannot also arrive at a common definition of what it means for “God” to “exist”. For example, here is a dictionary definition of the verb “to exist”:

          Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary
          http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exist
          a : to have real being whether material or spiritual

          Are you willing to stipulate that “existence” can be either a material or spiritual or both?

        • 90Lew90

          The problem is entirely yours. Not mine. If you can’t define your own premise, ie. god, then you have no argument, and you must admit that “god” is meaningless. I could say: “Barabajagal exists.”

          What’s Barabajagal? You’d be entitled to ask. I wouldn’t dare say, ‘Oh, it’s this kinda sorta thingy that lots of people talk about and my parents believed in it and if you’ll just read this book, which is one of many, none of which agree, you’ll arrive at your own idea of what Barabajagal is, then we’re hunky-dory…’ How do we know we’re talking about the same Barabajagal?

          There’s no point in trying to shift this on to the meaning of “existence” (for which there are several agreed definitions from which we could choose to proceed). We need to know what we’re referring to as existing before we start worrying about the meaning of “existence”. You see, in formal terms, what you must understand is that you’re beat before you can even really begin. That’s how formal argument works.

        • Kodie

          You have to define spiritual. If you mean abstract or emotional, yes, things like that can be said to exist. If they come from a secret realm and intervene in the real world or by thinking of them, form a connection to a literal person-figure at the other end of the line, then, no, I would say that stuff doesn’t exist. If you are willing to abstract god to a concept, then yes, that god exists. If that is not what you mean by god and he has literal qualities and accomplishments and person-like qualities such as wants and preferences, then you are going to have to do the work here.

          Both parties have to come to an agreement about the definition, and you have a stated mission to presume we’re the ones with the wrong definition. You want us to say what that definition is – my answer is “any”. You have not defined what you mean, only what you presume we reject, a caricature. But if we are going to come to an agreement about the definition, it’s your definition. We can’t read your mind.

          It is not very helpful of you to suggest that the nature of this website, after 300 (new) posts, is not sufficient for you to reveal your definition so that we can talk about something we can agree on. It is another stall tactic so you don’t have to define god and you can continue your offensive prejudice against “what atheists don’t believe in”. The evidence points to no god. Your usage of the word “evidence” over 300 (new) posts is not what we usually mean and a very poor working of logic. So, lacking any definition, we start with that. Not with the evidence you won’t share, but of your expressed standard of evidence, which is biased to confirm your beliefs, and not at all logical or sensible in reaching the conclusion for any god. You don’t apply it fairly, and you don’t respond to posts calling you out on it.

        • MNb

          For the same of argument I’m willing to accept that “existence” can be either material or immaterial, if that’s what you mean. That’s why this is wrong:

          “By the very nature of the website, you and I, atheists and people of faith, cannot arrive at a stipulated definition of what we mean by the term/word/concept “God””
          There are a few atheist exceptions outside of this website, but here all atheists are willing over to accept your stipulated definition of what you mean etc. My position is that atheists actually don’t have any other option exactly because they don’t believe. As soon as an atheist tries to stipulate a definition he/she runs the severe risk of building a strawman.

        • CodyGirl824

          I agree. I think you understand the problem. It is really futile to debate about a straw man. That’s why I often try to focus the conversation on God as described and defined in the Book of Genesis or elsewhere in the Bible, specifically quoted by chapter and verse, so that we can be sure that we are talking about our understanding of the same ideas of/about God.

        • Kodie

          God the creator, deification of monotheism, anthropomorphization of a natural process. I don’t believe in that god. There is no evidence. You have only asserted that we don’t know what you mean by pretending it’s obvious. How is god a person-like-thing and how do you know? If you want to keep insisting we don’t understand, don’t stop not explaining what the fuck you’re talking about, because we are back to ramblings of a crazy person. Are the walls padded where you are? Are you rocking in the corner repeating the same thing over and over? Because that’s all you sound like to me. I assert that you are. I have enough evidence to make that conclusion.

        • Kodie

          Well, you must be scared of something if you continue to be so evasive about it. I can determine your definition of god is wrong simply by you being wrong as a direct result of glorifying your own definition, but on the chance I’m wrong and you’re right about something just one time, you don’t care to give it an open discussion. I don’t care because you define atheism likewise as whatever half-assed cockamamie flutterings of your gut tell you it is, and have no interest in addressing what it really is.

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of Christianity.

          Your stated mission is to disregard atheist testimony on your quest to confirm your biases, and open the window of opportunity to explain something that’s essential to our understanding of Christianity, which after 300 (new) posts, you have yet to even do. It’s more like you want to hold it against atheism for disbelieving in the wrong definition of god than talk about what monotheism deifies. You are not up to defend it, so you remain on the offense. In this regard, you remain like any other Christian, most of whom you would disagree fundamentally on the definition of god.

          It’s that none of us understand each and every Christian’s individual personal interpretation. We simply disagree that there is evidence for any of them, and loads to suggest that Christians just have a low standard for evidence due to confirmation bias.

        • MNb

          Well, yes, that’s how physicists discuss definitions of say mass and energy (which is a very difficult business btw). Oh wait – your god can’t be addressed by the scientific method. Hence we fall back again on “I accept what I like and call silly what I don’t like”, with the addition of “what I like I keep as vague as possible”.

        • CodyGirl824

          I don’t know why you have so much difficulty with the idea that science is not a method of inquiry for studying God. I also don’t think that science is an applicable methodology for studying justice or love or art or politics. What’s your problem?

        • Kodie

          So you admit your definition of god is abstract and subjective?

        • CodyGirl824

          Any definition of God (with a capital G meaning the God of monotheism) is, inevitably abstract, as is the nature of definitions. It is also the nature of the concept “God,” which is a complex and abstract idea or understanding. Subjective, no. This is why I have attempted to steer us in the direction of “third party” definitions of God such as the Book of Genesis and the Nicene Creed. Simply defining God as whatever created the universe or the Creator is plenty to go on.

        • Deanjay1961

          Did your version of God create the universe on purpose? If yes, that’s enough of a definiton to proceed.

        • pianoman

          hmmm…no further replies from her.

          I always wonder what people like her are attempting to accomplish coming on sites like this. whether they honestly think they’ll suddenly convince us by the using the same arguments and vague definitions over and over; or if it’s just a game.

        • CodyGirl824

          If you recall, I offered this statement as a departure point: I believe that God is whatever or whoever caused the Big Bang. Now pin away to your heart’s content.

        • EmmettBrown

          You see that you are contradicting yourself when you say that you believe that God is whatever or whoever caused the Big Bang, and at the same time you say that “Science cannot and does not research God.”, don’t you?
          You know that science can and does research what caused the Big Bang, don’t you?

        • Kodie

          Whatever- not god. Whoever – god. If you come to find it’s a whatever, congratulations, you’re an atheist. But that’s not a definition and we’ve already discussed this. Your evidence would define your creator from what a Hindu believes and how you know your god is only one, the Christian god and not more than one god or a belief that is not Christianity. Your evidence for intervention from an immaterial spirit, or even your definition, and again, how you know these experiences derive from your Christian god and not any one of the Hindu gods. You make no motion to show how you got there.

          Your answer to that from the very beginning is that you are a monotheist and monotheists don’t practice idolatry. But you demonstrate that you practice idolatry. Not just a little token here or there, but that it’s the foundation of your faith. You can’t get your shit straight. You want it every way you want it, which is exactly the same way most people arrive at their faith, most of which does not agree or avidly contradicts your version, even within Christianity.

          We have talked about this and getting nowhere with you. A departure point which we have discussed and explained to you at length and you are still of the fiction that we misunderstand you. We misunderstand your method for arriving at your conclusion, because you never said what it was. That’s not my problem.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I have a question about this. Would you consider whatever causes us to fall down (gravity) to be something we can have a relationship with? I only ask, because you said you defined God as whatever caused the Big Bang, and you also said that you have a relationship with God. So basically you’re saying that you have a relationship with the cause of the Big Bang. I asked if you can have a relationship with gravity because, as far as we know, whatever caused the Big Bang is no more likely to have relationship with a human being as gravity is.

          Also, to understand what caused the Big Bang is a scientific question. Since you use the word “God” to denote “whatever or whoever caused the Big Bang”, to understand God is a scientific endeavor.

        • Deanjay1961

          If you’re okay with God being a quantum vacuum fluctuation or ‘brane impact, what’s your beef with atheists?

        • MNb

          “complex and nuanced and is the product of a lifetime of related to/with God.”
          Too difficult to explained and you only can get it by accepting it. Yeah, that works.

        • CodyGirl824

          If you weren’t so intent on being flip, you might get my meaning. The only understanding of God I have as a point of reference is my own. I am merely explaining the origin and sources of my understanding of God. Atheists clearly have an advantage regarding simplicity and brevity in terms of their/your understanding of God since you reject the very notion.

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

          I got the idea because I’m getting different answers. Perhaps I’ve conflated your comments with those of other people, so let me know if I’m misremembering below.

          Here’s what I’m concerned about: you tell me that God is simply that which created the universe. Hard to argue with that, right? If we assume that the universe had a cause (not a good assumption, but let’s put that aside), we’re singing from the same song book. See? Atheists and Christians aren’t really that far apart.

          But my concern is that, in another context, you’ll turn, Janus-like, and tell your fellow 2.3 quintillion Christians that you and they are singing from the same song book. The god that walked in the Garden, that shot the breeze with Moses in the tent near Sinai, and that spoke the universe into existence? Oh, yeah–that’s totally the god you believe in.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, please don’t confuse or conflate metaphorical and allegorical theological treatises from the sacred writings of Judaism and Christianity with the understanding of God as the Creator. Think about the structure of the Book of Genesis. The first sentence identifies that what is being talked/written about is the creator of the universe “..the heavens and the earth.” Then the text tells the Hebrews (the intended audience) in mytho-poetic language and through allegory, metaphor, and symbolism about how the named God (Elohim) performed this act of creation. The God I believe in is my understanding of the reality of God that comes from many sources, not just the Bible, but primarily from my life-long experiences with and relationship with God, as I understand God.

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

          It’s been a long time since I’ve had any apologetic that is an interesting challenge. This isn’t one of them. The topic dribbles away like the air in a balloon as it morphs before my eyes.

          We were talking about something interesting before, this isn’t it, and I’ve lost any interest in continuing. Another successful interaction for you, I guess.

        • 90Lew90

          How do you decide which bits are allegory and which bits are fact? It was all taken as fact until, as Thomas Hardy put it, “Uncompromising rude reality/Mangled the Monarch of our fashioning”. In other words, science put your god out, so what was once fact became metaphor or allegory and not without a very hard fight. With every fundamental discovery of hard, unassailable knowledge, your god shrinks more and more into the realms of metaphor and allegory. How and where do you draw the line? Or are you (as some have said) trying to have it both ways?

        • CodyGirl824

          It’s really not that difficult if/when you understand the differences in the many literary genre employed in the Bible.

          Why do you think that “science has put God out”? Who told you this?

        • 90Lew90

          That’s just bullshit. When Galileo stated his evidence for heliocentrism, he was brought before the Inquisition. When Darwin knocked man off his pedestal, Christians reeled. Before the Enlightenment, it was heretical to even suggest that human beings did not begin with Adam and Eve and to suggest an Old Earth was also anathema. Every advance in hard science and moral knowledge has been vociferously and ferociously attacked by church authorities. Read some history. And frankly, sorry to put it so strongly but this needs to be said, get your head out of your ass. And don’t proffer terms from modern literary criticism as though the Bible authors were engaged in sophisticated literary tom-foolery. They were not. Don’t be ridiculous.

          Answer the question: How do you know where to draw the line between fact and metaphor? There has to be a line. Your only option otherwise is to say it’s all fact or it’s all metaphor. If the former, you’re out. If the latter, why should we bother with this big poem any more than we should bother with Homer?

        • CodyGirl824

          Metaphor is a literary device. Facts are facts.

          Your claim that science and religion are in conflict is just an urban legend embraced by atheists. You would understand this if you read Plantinga’s book that I recommended.

        • 90Lew90

          You’re being obtuse. I know full well what the difference is between metaphor and fact. That was not the question. The question is: How do you distinguish between what is metaphor in the Bible and what is fact in the Bible, because you obviously must take some of it as being fact. How do you draw the line between what is metaphor and what is fact? I can’t put the question any more simply for you. Maybe this: How do you distinguish between what’s real in the Bible and what’s not? On whose authority? These are very important questions.

        • Deanjay1961

          Yeah, that atheist urban legend has nothing to do with the fact that 44% of Americans believe God created man in the last 10,000 years because that’s what their churches are teaching them. Most of the rest believe God guided the process, which would not be a ‘what’ but necessarily a ‘who’. It’s way more Christians and Muslims fighting science than science fighting them.

        • MNb

          You don’t understand Cody. She has faith. So she rather listens to her underbelly than considers empirical data.

        • Kodie

          That’s a pretty meaningless definition of a god. It’s a creation story, but it doesn’t tell us anything except the faulty opinions of people who didn’t yet have enough information to rule god out like we do now.

        • CodyGirl824

          Rule god out? Yes, indeed. Atheists are merely folks who have faith that they have defined God out of existence.

        • Kodie

          As opposed to defining god into existence? That’s what atheism is the opposite of, so yeah. I’m against your definition of god because you seem to be defining it as you go. It’s whatever you want, so you’re god. I’m against your definition of god as whatever Jenna wants, because I’ve seen Jenna be stupid and wrong as a direct result of this definition. So it must be a bad definition, and I definitely do not believe in that god. You don’t have a problem with me not believing in any other definition of a god, so we don’t need to talk about those.

        • MNb

          The problem is that the word “created” is meaningless without any further explanation. Let’s assume our Universe began as a quantum fluctuation. Well, according to your five words that quantum fluctuation is “God”. That adds exactly zilch to our understanding and in no way justifies any form of theism.

        • Kodie

          Or is it you who are redefining Yahweh any way that pleases you Jenna? Who has chronological snobbery? God was so poorly understood by the ancient Hebrews for no logical reason that indicates there is the Christian-preferential god. Ancient Hebrews had a superstition and a myth and you are only in the business of refining it. Not all Christians understand Yahweh like you understand Yahweh, and they all think they have it correct.

        • Greg G.

          When an atheist says “I am not convinced any god exists”, it means any sort of actual god and any sort of actual existence. When you say “God exists”, it is up to you to explain what that means to you and what you are trying to convey.

        • CodyGirl824

          I am doing just exactly that, Greg. I am trying to convey my understanding of God and my reasons for believing that the question of God’s “existence” is nonsensical. When an atheist tells me that he is not convinced that there is an “actual god” that/who has an “actual existence” he is communicating a fact about himself and your understanding of what is meant by the term, concept or idea of God. The atheist’s understanding of God is the problem here. If the atheist’s understanding of God is that God does not exist, he/you and I are not talking about the same thing since my understanding of God leads me to conclude that there is no possible way that God does not exist. Again, I state that I believe that God is whatever caused the Big Bang, which makes God the Creator of the universe. This is what I understand the term/name God to mean.

        • Kodie

          There’s no chance that you could be deluded? Because you show plenty of signs of it. It’s called confirmation bias.

        • Pofarmer

          You can believe whatever you like, but you certainly haven’t even begun to give evidence that would prove anything you believe to anyone else.

        • CodyGirl824

          I am not required to “give evidence” to “prove” what I believe, nor are you. This statement brings up this point. Atheists believe everything they believe about God, by their own admission, based on a lack of evidence. I believe everything that I believe about God based on evidence. This is why I’m a believer and you’re an atheist. If I believed about God what you believe about God, I wouldn’t believe in God either.

        • pianoman

          “I am not required to “give evidence” to “prove” what I believe, nor are you.”

          Huh? you’re the one making a claim. Of course you need to back it up.
          See, once I was a Christian. And it got chipped away not by atheists, but by christians who would dance in circles around their beliefs, unable to give me the slightest confidence that what i was taught growing up was even remotely true. Instead, they were just completely unable to defend this almighty religion. Completely unable, just like the string of comments from you have indicated.

        • Kodie

          You do not believe anything about god based on evidence. You believe it because you believe what you use is also called evidence. If that were true, we could test it, but you won’t let us.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie, it appears that you think the only evidence that is acceptable is evidence that can be tested. As I have pointed out before, I don’t think that the Big Bang can be tested, but there is lots of evidence that a/the Big Bang occurred and therefore, it can be said that the Big Bang and whatever caused it exist.

          This is also true: There cannot be any evidence of something that does not exist. Non-existence leaves not a trace. This is the reason why I think atheists are so intent on denying and discrediting any and all evidence of God, because any evidence whatsoever challenges the belief that God does not exist or IOW, is non-existent or in the vernacular, nothing.

        • Kodie

          I think your system for determining if god and then what god exists is faulty. If you have arrived at the Christian god via natural evidence, ie., the universe, then you have made an error. Unless you can show the work in relating the big bang and ending up with an alleged Jesus allegedly being resurrected, you are making a logical error. I am making a prediction model based on your history of making and missing logical fallacies (really obvious ones) and having them be explained to you at length while you stand there with your gaping maw still not getting what you did wrong. WE have done a lot of work for you, to explain the errors you make to you so you won’t continue to make them, and in turn, you provide nothing. The genesis sense of god by ancient Hebrews describes a god who made the earth divided the earth by water, light, divided the day, man and then animals and then had man name the animals, and then a mate for the man (pretty much if not exactly in that order, you get the drift???). You know this is not what happened, and every culture has an origin myth. So, what is your point?

          Have you ever thought why would god create this expansive universe, take billions of years for earth to form, and millions of years for life to begin, and millions after that for Jesus to save people from a neurosis given by his father thousands of years after he lived so you could badger people on the internet. If you don’t believe in Adam and Eve literally, why does Jesus become necessary? How does god become necessary to explain any of this? You have many myths to choose from, so how did you come to the Christian one, and how did you verify it? You treat us as though we’re in denial of the evidence, but it’s confusing to me what educated adult functional person could consider such a fairytale to be evidence. Obviously the universe exists. It’s not obvious it was created. It’s not obvious that Jesus lived, much less died and had magical abilities both to walk around and to forgive you of sins. It’s not obvious where that comes from out of the big bang. It is one among many myths, and all we asked you was how you affirmed your myth instead of another one, or how you know all the other myths are myths and yours is not without checking their evidence. That’s why I call you a hypocrite. Your bad logic that you’ve demonstrated predicts for me your bad logic in arriving at this conclusion – that you have no evidence, only that you are easily persuaded by typical marketing techniques.

          Like I said, theology has no place in any academic field except theology (and as such, it is the creation of analysis of a work of fiction, like a Star Trek fan might compile.

          It doesn’t matter what your god is really like. It doesn’t matter if we don’t understand correctly what he’s like. You never answered us how you know, show your work, show us A to B. It’s bad logic, an error in labeling arbitrary events according to preconceived beliefs as evidence. If it doesn’t lead one to believe in your god alone, then it’s evidence for none. Looking at a rainbow or a tree or a night sky, whatever, and seeing god is not how evidence works. We would not call that evidence, if that is your evidence, that is why we say you have no evidence.

        • MNb

          “I am trying to convey my understanding of God”
          No, you’re not, or you’re even more miserable than I thought, because you even haven’t made clear what you mean with the word and how the concept of the word is meaningful. You only have told is that it’s meaningful by default because we happen to discuss it.
          Well, we can discuss a square circle too. Doesn’t imply it’s a meaningful concept.

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

          I believe that God is whatever caused the Big Bang, which makes God the Creator of the universe.

          And is this how the other 2.3 sextillion Christians define God (or most of them)? If not, how do you deal with that incompatibility?

        • Kodie

          You are asking atheists what we mean by god to shoot down our definition and apply a different one. Yes, of course, we completely misunderstood. You wouldn’t believe in what we think god would be either. What you keep failing to do is show your cards so we can shoot it down. (Actually, you’ve shown your cards all over the place). If you have a definition, and that is the real god, then clear it up so we can all be convinced how wrong we’ve all been this whole time.

        • pianoman

          if the username is of the same person, this idiot spent a lot of time on HuffPo making similar comments.

        • Kodie

          You have made assertions. You have shilled books. You have stated your assumptions, and defined your sense of what evidence is. None of that is an argument.

        • MNb

          I am. Indeed in 315 comments you haven’t got any further than “the Resurrection has happened because I like it and because I think other stories with supernatural elements silly.”

        • MNb

          Your god proves himself. It’s not often that this circularity is presented so unhidden.

        • hector_jones

          In a comment she posted a couple of days ago Cody/Jenna basically said that she is a presuppositionalist, although she didn’t use that specific term.

        • CodyGirl824

          What is a presuppositionalist?

        • hector_jones

          So you think God is purely natural and not in any way supernatural. Yet you claim that ‘ethical’ scientists aren’t allowed to delve into research about God, only his creation. These views are contradictory.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, they are not. Science cannot and does not research God. It can and does research God’s creation because it is a useful tool for figuring out how things (material objects and forces) work. “God” cannot be studied as a variable in an empirical study or scientific experiment that requires the application of accepted scientific research methods. Science is not a tool that can be used to figure out how God works. That’s what theology is.

        • hector_jones

          God is a material object and force according to the Pantheism that Michael Fullerton says he believes in. That’s what he means when he says his god is purely natural. You indicated that you agree with Michael Fullerton’s conception of God when you replied to Rob’s request for Michael Fullerton to prove his Pantheism with “God already has proven it”.

          Next you acknowledged that the very thing science does is figure out how ‘material objects and forces’ work. It follows from all of this, from your own logic, that it is perfectly acceptable for science to study God.

          However, in many other comments you opined that God falls outside the realm of what ‘ethical’ scientists can or should study because God and his creation are different in some way. It follows from this position that you believe God is NOT a material object or force, since that is how you describe his creation. Therefore you have contradicted yourself.

          What theology does is make up interesting and deep-sounding ad hoc explanations for how an unproven, ill-defined ‘God’ works, using too little evidence and too much assertion to support its premises and conclusions. This is exactly what I did when I said the Flying Spaghetti Monster made the multiverse and God used a piece of it to create the universe. What I did there was PRECISELY what theologians do. Yet you scoffed at it. And the only argument you have for distinguishing between my theology and yours is 1) I don’t believe my theology (irrelevant) and 2) Lots of people believe your theology and essentially no one believes mine (argumentum ad populum).

        • CodyGirl824

          I get it. This is really a stretch. You think that by making a comment in response to a comment by a self-identified pantheist that I somehow declare myself to be a pantheist and that therefore, “…it follows from all of this, from your own logic, that it is perfectly acceptable for science to study God.” I have said many times before this morning that science is the methodology for acquiring knowledge about how God’s creation works. I have also pointed out that science is a limited methodology (an idea with which the vast majority of scientists agree) and that the question/issue of God is not within the scope of science. I even posted previously the statement to this effect by the National Academy of Sciences: statement “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”

          Do you call the cause of the Big Bang the Flying Spaghetti Monster? I just want to get this straight for future reference.

          You are overworking this, hector. I don’t know why, but you are.

        • hector_jones

          “You think that by making a comment in response to a comment by a self-identified pantheist that I somehow declare myself to be a pantheist”

          Honestly, no. I think you responded to Rob the way you did because you are a self-righteous asshole and lack the tools to assess whether what you say is logical or consistent.

        • Kodie

          I have said many times before this morning that science is the
          methodology for acquiring knowledge about how God’s creation works.

          As you go on to say, this is not science’s stated mission, so I don’t know why you think it is. You are imposing theological implications that nobody but you can see.

        • Kodie

          Theology is the analysis of speculative fiction. When you think you are learning about god’s creation, and not finding god, and you have to add fiction to learn about god? Remember how no field of study needs theology to explain it, but theology borrows, steals, and misrepresents from every field based only on whether it does or can be interpreted or twisted to support it, or conceding at the very least if it does not contradict it?

          Science (stuff) is not evidence of god, or else we would all make the same conclusion. That would be a testable route to an untestable conclusion if it were evidence. Don’t let your misuse of the term “evidence” lead you wrong. Well, don’t expect us to be led by your ignorance and fantasy.

        • Rob

          Cut the crap, no platitudes.

          God doesn’t fit ANYWHERE in modern science. It’s completely inconsistent. There is no word, there is no god.

          There is no place, zero, zilch, nada, nothing, nowhere where any god can interact with reality.

      • http://skeptopathy.com/ Michael Fullerton

        It’s a logical proof, see below. I won’t discuss it here. If you must respond and are able to construct an intelligent argument, you can respond at the link below.

        The No God Delusion: Deconstructing The Atheist Myth
        http://skeptopathy.com/wp/?p=71

        We’ll note that it has never ever been “demonstrable in modern science” that mental states magically arise out of nowhere as all atheists falsely believe. If you were rational and understood that mental states are physical processes (and vice versa) you’d be a pantheist not an atheist.

        Back on topic, we’ll also note that no one has disputed my observation of Carroll’s serious terminological errors.

        • Castilliano

          Because they aren’t serious.
          If Carroll had to tune his language to address every permutation of epistemology, he’d be bogged down by minutiae.
          I’m sure in a debate with a pantheist (or perhaps deist) he’d address your views on naturalism accordingly. He’s polite that way. But given that a majority of the population doesn’t even know your position exists, it’s not his job to inform them. Accept that you’re a sliver of the population, and Carroll overlooked you. Sorry?

        • http://skeptopathy.com/ Michael Fullerton

          The fact that the population of pantheists include Michio Kaku and seemingly Neil De Grasse Tyson as well as those important people below suggests that this population though small is an important one. How many people understand QM? Because few do he should misuse QM terminology?

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

        • MNb

          Like every theist (pan or not) consistently missing the point. Carroll adapts his terminology to the guy he is debating with. I’m sure WLC will make exactly your complaint when Carroll uses your terminology. As long as WLC and you can’t decide which is the correct one it’s indegenous to blame Carroll. But Craig and you won’t even try, because you don’t have a standard to decide the issue.

        • Pofarmer

          You can make a logical proof say anything you want it to by adjusting your priors. It means exactly nothing.

        • http://skeptopathy.com/ Michael Fullerton

          What means exactly nothing are entirely unsupported pronouncements like your asinine comment above.

        • Pofarmer

          Eh, whatever. Modern theoretical physicists will tell you that all of their philosophizing and mathematical tinkering aren’t considered as anything like confirmed until there is empirical evidence to prove them. Many mathematical and Philosophical proofs get thrown away, dozens for any one that may be kept, and even the ones that are kept, are wrong to whatever degree. A philosophical proof is nothing more than speculation unless you have evidence to back it up. Sorry.

        • MNb

          Mistake 1: “because it is not possible to prove or even provide evidence that every concept of God does not exist.”
          The burden of proof rests on him/her who makes a claim, not on the one who denies it.

          Mistake 2: There is actually a strong positive argument against theism. It’s meaningless because an immaterial entity by definition doesn’t have any means available to interact with our material reality.

          Mistake 3: “If the Universe were a sentient thinking entity.”
          If.

          Mistake 4: “Many people seem to believe that thought magically arose out of nowhere at a certain point in the evolutionary process”
          Science (of which Evolution Theory is a part) can’t explain it (that’s what the word magically meanse here), hence god. Confirmed by “This is impossible”. That’s a god of the gaps.

          Mistake 5: “The only way for thought to not magically arise out of nothing is if thought is a fundamental property of the building blocks of matter.”
          Replace “thought” by “state of matter” and the mistake is clear. State of matter is not a fundamental property of molecules. It’s meaningless to say that a single molecule in a vacuum is solid or liquid. State of matter results from the relations between molecules. It’s totally possible – even the approach of neurobiology – that this applies to thought as well.
          The mistake is repeated a little further: “If thought is a fundamental property of the building blocks of matter ….”

          Mistake 6: “Note that energy is the ultimate building block of matter.”
          It isn’t as expressed by the formula E = mc^2. Matter and energy are equivalent, hence it’s utterly correct to speak of matter/energy. The ultimate building blocks of matter/energy can be found in the Standard Model.
          Once again I’m reminded of an excellent quote from a famous atheist compatriot of mine, Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis: to derive a divine world from the concrete world requires a salto mortale. That’s exactly what Fullerton does.

        • http://skeptopathy.com/ Michael Fullerton

          I said I would not respond further about this here as it is off-topic. So I’m guessing you’re too frightened to post these limp-wristed pseudo-points where I would rip them to bloody shreds.

        • hector_jones

          So yours was in essence just a drive-by posting designed to draw traffic to your little-read blog?

          Do you also present your thoughts on 9/11 Trutherism at your blog?

        • MNb

          You have my permission to copy and paste my comment to your website. If you don’t I assume you’re too frightened to put your money where you mouth is and rip it to the bloody shreds as you promise.
          That you wrote that you won’t discuss it here is of precisely zero relevance for me. To me you are a nobody, like I’m a nobody to you. So there is no reason for me to mind any intention of yours.
          Your attitude is authoritarian. Fortunately you don’t have the means to enforce it.

        • MNb

          Because you gave exactly zero example of those “serious terminological errors”.

        • Rob

          There is no logical proof.

          There is no “arise from nowhere”, consciousness is an emergent property. That’s not “nowhere”, that’s a second and higher order effect of physical interactions. How the hell does that in any way imply a god of any sort?

          The universe is not tightly coupled enough for those higher level effects to exist on a major scale. There is no sentience in the universe, and even if there were, that’s not a god. Even if the universe was sentient, that doesn’t imply omniscience. Do you know what every neuron or every blood cell is doing?

          So no logical arguments, demonstrate god. No bullshit, no platitudes, demonstrate. As I said before, put up or shut up. Evidence wins.

        • http://skeptopathy.com/ Michael Fullerton

          I have repeatedly said I won’t respond on this article here as it is off-topic. If you’re too frightened to respond directly to my undeniable proof, why don’t you or someone else write a response article on this?

          It won’t happen because no atheist can hobble together an intelligent response to my rock solid logic without using BS logical fallacies. Every one of your pitiful statements above is an entirely evidence-less hand-waving pronouncement (bare assertion fallacy). Take your own advice for Pete’s sake.

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

          If you’re too frightened to respond directly to my undeniable proof …

          Note to self: I gotta check up on this argument. Looks like a sensitive and thoughtful analysis of the atheist position.

    • hector_jones

      Have you emailed Professor Carroll about this?

    • GubbaBumpkin

      … and I know

      You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • Deanjay1961

      Proof of God ought to be worth a Nobel. What is it?

      • MNb

        Something with consciousness and atoms. Somewhere on this blog (maybe underneath) he has provided a link. But he only wants to discuss his proof on his own site.
        Sorry, I couldn’t find the link by googling and am too lazy to look for it manually on this page.

        Edit: it’s nice to contradict myself. A second attempt was successfull:

        http://skeptopathy.com/wp/?p=71

        Have fun.

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

          I read it. Unimpressive.

          The guy is a 9/11 Truther (which doesn’t prove that he’s an idiot; that’s just a curious data point).

        • http://skeptopathy.com/ Michael Fullerton

          It’s only a curious data point as a red herring. Using fallacious reasoning proves someone an idiot. I never do that.

        • http://skeptopathy.com/ Michael Fullerton

          I’m happy to discuss it somewhere here if someone creates a post about it. On this thread though it’s off topic.

  • wtfwjtd

    Here a while back, I read an essay by Richard Carrier (which I can highly recommend,) entitled “Why I am not a Christian”. This excellent “mini-novel” has 4 slap-downs, any one of which in and of itself demonstrates Christianity to be false: 1) God is Silent; 2) God is Inert; 3) Wrong Evidence; and 4) Wrong Universe. The above summary “Which worldview predicts Best?” dovetails nicely with the last two points of Dr Carrier’s essay, and are well-presented, and very powerful. Thanks for a great write-up Bob, I find these subjects very helpful.

    • Castilliano

      Here it is:
      http://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/whynotchristian.html
      Or you can watch an interview/summary here:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4WBTlAPJ-4
      I haven’t read it yet, but certainly will given how excellent the interview is. He’s so deft with his language. Admirable.
      Cheers.

      • wtfwjtd

        Thanks for posting the vid link Castillano. I totally agree, I consider Dr Carrier a wordsmith of the highest order. In his essay he talks of Christians that call him a wicked liar to his face, who know that “their belief in Christ *has* to be true, therefore *right from the start* everything I say or do is always going to be a lie or the product of some delusion. They don’t need any evidence of this, because to their thinking it *must* be the case. Such people are trapped in their own hall of mirrors, and for them there is no escape…”
        Describing the imaginary god of Christianity as “Inert” is pure poetry. I can’t think of a better word–and over the years I’ve had plenty of time to think up lots of them!

  • Nemo

    I disagree with the Problem of Evil, as I’ve stated in the past. It isn’t a problem for polytheists, since the gods of justice are no more omnipresent than the gods of rain. It isn’t a problem for the God of Spinoza, who doesn’t concern himself with wiping your nose anymore than you would with an ant. And it isn’t a problem for the God of Abraham, who boasts of his ability to inflict pain. Furthermore, most Christians will argue that it is humanity’s fault for evil. As to the first prediction, again, Christians have a verse early in Romans that they like to trot out: everyone secretly agrees that Yahweh exists, but they enjoy being James Bond villains, so they pretend not to. A weak argument, I’ll admit, but should still be addressed just because of how often it gets trotted out.

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

      Most Christians won’t embrace the SOB god of Abraham. That’s not their god, they’ll tell you.

      They have imposed a different challenge on themselves, how a good god who’s sincerely looking out for you and demands justice will allow a sucky reality like our own to persist.

      I assume you’re referring to this one: “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:18–20).

      • CodyGirl824

        Yep, St. Paul was talking about atheists! They are without excuse.

        • Nemo

          I wouldn’t be shocked if the Quran also claims that nonbelievers, including Christians, secretly “know” that Muhammad’s revelations were legit. Looks like Christians are also without excuse. Whatever criteria you use to reject the Quran, I can easily use to reject the Bible. Care to prove me wrong?

        • CodyGirl824

          As I understand it from your comments, you are an atheist, correct? Then I assume you reject (your word, not mine) both the Bible and the Quran because you reject the holy scriptures of all theistic religions because you don’t believe in God. I do not “reject” the Quran. It is simply not the Holy Book of my religion, Christianity.

        • Greg G.

          You embrace one book and do not embrace the other. It is nothing but a semantic argument to say that a failure to embrace one is not a rejection of it. Have you studied the Quran or do you intend to do so or have you rejected the possibility? If you have studied it, how is the failure to embrace it not a rejection? Is your religion based on the Bible or do you accept the Bible only because of your religious apologetics?

        • CodyGirl824

          “Embrace”? No, in fact I have not studied the Quran. If I were to do so, I am sure that I would learn about how Muslims understand and worship God. I read the Hebrew Bible to gain a knowledge of the ancient Hebrews’ understanding of God and how they related to God. IMO, it is essential for Christians to read and study the Hebrew Bible (OT) in order to understand Christianity. As you may have noticed, I am an avid reader of books on theology and religion and I deeply appreciate religious diversity as an artifact of geographic, cultural and linguistic diversity. A failure to “embrace” the holy scriptures of another religion is not a “rejection” of the truths that those books may contain about other people’s experiences and relationship with God as they understand God.

        • Kodie

          You don’t give them your courtroom trial treatment. You are a hypocrite Jenna.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie,

          I fear that you are in danger of falling into idolatry, making your participation here all about attacking me rather than about a discussion of atheism vs. Christianity.

        • Kodie

          I am attacking your silly ideas because you keep sharing them.

        • CodyGirl824

          You’re becoming obsessed with me. That’s the problem.

        • Kodie

          Because I figured out you’re a sock puppet?

        • hector_jones

          She’s saying if you stop replying to her she’ll go away.

        • CodyGirl824

          Not a chance!

        • MNb

          No, the problem is rather that Kodie threatens to become obsessed with the nonsense you produce. You are not your silly ideas; in fact you are idolizing yourself with your accusation.

        • Greg G.

          No, in fact I have not studied the Quran. If I were to do so, I am sure that I would learn about how Muslims understand and worship God. I read the Hebrew Bible to gain a knowledge of the ancient Hebrews’ understanding of God and how they related to God. IMO, it is essential for Christians to read and study the Hebrew Bible (OT) in order to understand Christianity.

          I agree with that. I also look at other writings of the era, plus archaeological evidence, to understand their environments. We can see where their religion goes off the rails when the people are oppressed, as seen in the verses about smashing babies on the rocks. I do the same with Christian documents, too.

          As you may have noticed, I am an avid reader of books on theology and religion and I deeply appreciate religious diversity as an artifact of geographic, cultural and linguistic diversity.

          I have noticed!

          A failure to “embrace” the holy scriptures of another religion is not a “rejection” of the truths that those books may contain about other people’s experiences and relationship with God as they understand God.

          It is presumptuous to assume the books of any religion contains “truths” without evaluating them. I don’t put deepities that produce warm, fuzzy feelings in the truth category, unless the truth value is verifiable.

          Christianity is founded, in part, on the Jewish rejection of other religions. It’s the first 30% of the Ten Commandments. If your version of Christianity does not “reject” other religions, then it rejects basic Christianity, or they would reject yours.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, you should really try some books you don’t agree with to broaden your horizons,

        • CodyGirl824

          I’ve read many books written by atheist authors. I don’t reference them here because I assume that atheists will bring them up or bring out points these authors make if they find it relevant.

        • MGreen

          Koranic Jesus is slightly more honest. He actually admits he’s not a god. In the next “revelation” I expect him to fight the Joker.

        • MNb

          Explain why the Quran is not the Holy Book of your religion and you’ll understand why according to Nemo (and me) we should not have any Holy Book at all.

        • CodyGirl824

          …because you don’t have (practice) a religion!?. That follows logically. Enough said.

        • MNb

          Nemo and I are interested in why the Quran is not the Holy Book of your religion, not why I don’t have one. The latter I already know. But I guess you’re too stupid and too malevolent to understand the difference.

        • CodyGirl824

          Well, one simple explanation that is neither stupid nor malevolent is that Judaism and Christianity pre-date Islam.

        • MNb

          That’s the explanation why the Bible is your Holy Book and not the Quran? That’s not malevolent indeed, just plain stupid. Oh wait – you prefer to answer a question nobody has asked you.

          “It is simply not the Holy Book of my religion, Christianity.”
          Why christianity with the Bible, why not islam with the Quran?
          Until you give a grounded answer my take is “because I like christianity better than islam”, just like you dislike my supernatural story how you robbed the local bank yesterday.
          Once again you confirm that you have offered exactly zero arguments in the few 100s of comments you have posted here. You’re not even capable of answering the simple question why you call the Bible your holy book and not something else.
          All you offer is baked air.

        • pianoman

          ah…all done with HuffPo??

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

          I’ve never met an atheist who thinks that that claim in Romans makes any sense. You’ll have to justify it for us.

      • Nemo

        That’s the verse. It seems to be a staple of Christian apologetics. No doubt for the same reason presuppositionalism is becoming more popular: they are losing the argument in terms of evidence, so they are just trying to assert their case as forcefully as they can and hope we’ll be impressed.
        As I have said, I don’t like the problem of evil because it appeals to emotions rather than cold, hard facts. Any Christian who has thought about their worldview even a little can answer this as easily as I can answer Pascal’s Wager. I say this as a former Christian who, in debates on Youtube, would tell atheists that humans create evil, that it is the absence of God that causes pain, and that God will fix everything once you die if you would only believe. Christian answers to the problem of evil might not be emotionally satisfying, but they are an answer nonetheless. At best, the Problem of Evil calls into question whether or not the god you are arguing for is in fact “all good”. But let’s face it: the Bible does that for us without even trying to.

        • CodyGirl824

          Nemo,

          Of course you realize that the Bible is the ancient Hebrews’ account of their relationship with God as they understood God. I would be very wary if I were you of judging God based on what any particular group of people say about Him.

          Have you read the book by Paul Popan (2011), “Is God a moral monster? Making sense of the Old Testament God.” I also recommend Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz,(2000) “The Genesis of Justice: Ten stories of biblical injustice that led to the Ten Commandments and modern law.”

        • MNb

          “I don’t like the problem of evil because it appeals to emotions rather than cold, hard facts.”
          That’s a bit weird, because I like the Problem of Evil exactly because it reflects how I feel about the idea of an omnipotent god: I would be mad at god if he existed and can’t buy the theist concept of justice.
          It means though that I don’t use it to disprove god, only that the belief systems which suffer from it don’t even provide what they promise – comfort to the ones who need it most.

        • Kodie

          I don’t really get the Problem of Evil except as concerns most Christians’ assertion that god means love, and that love is a form of abuse and control. If love means abuse and control, then yes, god can be love and not contradict itself. If love means threatening gay people for their own salvation, because someone really doesn’t want gay people to end up in hell, if someone really believes it’s their job to do so and not god’s, then the problem of evil isn’t a problem, because god isn’t actively smiting anyone. The god of love is said to give you more than you deserve, which is eternal life in paradise, and the god of love determines if you are worthy. He doesn’t have to but he can choose to, and gratitude for that love is just the expression of believing it’s all doom anyway except if he selects you personally for more than any human “deserves” i.e. can plan on.

          I pretty much take this to be a deification of chance. The earth is dangerous and violent and yet we, as an animal, continue by the skin of our teeth to not go extinct, as if by the grace of a deity. I do listen to religious people talking and all these myths and beliefs only form a poetic and metaphorical sense for me always. It tells me what’s in the human heart (the metaphorical center of emotion) and that is judgment, fear, ego, and a violent sense of justice. Many people do not feel maximum multiple consecutive sentences is quite enough, while I feel, personally, life in prison is the worse punishment, while death is freedom. It is strange that the prospect of heaven is a release from this strange and stressful world, that many people would rally to exterminate a violent criminal for the purposes of “justice”. Rather than fear death as the end of the individual, it’s been deified as the comfort of release. Kind of like how awesome naps are.

          If you really want to punish someone, let them live and take away their freedom. And if life courses through their veins, and they have mental faculties, it’s supposed that we can never really be sure they feel punished. Imagination can free a person if they want to be. For justice to take place, we like them to feel punished, definitely and absolutely. If we can say there’s another place, of torment, we can, as humans, judge these heinous criminals to be bound for hell. And yet…. it’s still up to god. I think it’s funny that people are sure that god wouldn’t forgive someone, if god is perfect and humans are all flawed. Would god forgive someone who judged someone on death row as worthless, because that’s a human flaw? Is it worse to god to kill someone or to place oneself before god and judge the killer? Not objectively as in court, but subjectively in an editorial. It’s ok if god is a genocidal maniac because he’s obviously judged those people to not be fit for living. It’s not ok for Hitler or Stalin, and we’d all be surprised that they repented and arrived safely in heaven. We don’t know what god really prefers, but we have some indication he favors genocide, because death is framed as a glorious retreat, and Hitler could very well be his appointed travel agent. We don’t like it but who are we to say? In summary, is this a problem of evil?

          But what I really wanted to talk about was an indifferent god. I mean, you’re not mad at earthquakes and volcanoes, and maybe a little at traffic – damn all those people trying to go somewhere the same time as me. As we talked about before, the forms of god that I considered, I still consider the god that’s indifferent. The universe may be one of many universes, and the god may be one of many gods. Something out of our scope because we’re too small, and the unknowable movements of a large being create forces in our environment, such as we are bugs. We know as much about the universe as a bug knows about the whole earth. We are intelligent but can there be an intelligence greater than that? Even on earth, there is. We try to measure intelligence and what it really means in animals and even plants. Is it a specialized function or something that can be measured like temperature or size?

          We have a legend about this being caring for us in particular because we want to be cared for, but like a parent because we can conceive of that, while on the other end, we’re as insignificant as we fear we are, and even adult children seek the validation and approval of their parents, so it can be a pretty painful effect. It’s evident to me that we’re insignificant to the universe or such a creator. Religious constructs are the want to be acknowledged and the hope to be loved, which the universe does already, just not the whole thing. That would be more than we deserve.

          All we want is more than we can have – that’s religion. If I can get it, so can’t you because that wouldn’t be fair because I … I think I’m much better than you and more favorable in some way – evidence of wealth and beauty, or my pain and suffering, or my job helps more people than yours or implications of white privilege, etc. Look at all the filthy terrible humans, we can’t all go to heaven, there must be some way I win and they lose. Religion creates division and wants us all to become the same thing. The stated goal is to bring us all to one, and yet the execution is to make sure only a select few can achieve this. This is life on earth.

        • CodyGirl824

          Judging by the way Christians are treated on this website, including by you, I’m surprised to hear you blaming religion for being divisive when it’s the atheists who are abusing Christians. Double standard, perhaps?

        • Kodie

          What is Christians’ problem with atheists?

    • Greg G.

      The Problem of Evil argues that a God that is both omnipotent and benevolent cannot exist. Epicurus would ask why you would call a malevolent being “god”.

      It is interesting how people who believe in a benevolent omnipotence will jump on the fact the PoE doesn’t rule out an omnipotent being nor does it rule out a benevolent being, then they go right back to believing in the being that the PoE disproves.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    God can do anything, and he isn’t limited by the parameters of the
    universe. If life were impossible naturally, God could make it happen
    anyway.

    Well there you go. If the universe is suited for life, then God did it. If the universe is not suited for life, but life exists anyway (as we already know since we are here to pose the question), then God did it. Heads I win, tails you lose.

    • hector_jones

      Consequently, theists can’t point to fine tuning as proof of a creator god.

      I know you realize this but I just wanted to point out the conclusion that follows from what you say, in case any theist reading this might have missed it. They tend to do that.

    • MNb

      I add to Hector underneath this shows that any theist using the fine-tuning argument is undistinguishable from the IDiots from Seattle, who argue: “perfect design? Hence god. Imperfect design? Hence god.”
      This is basically why Herman Philipse postulates that theism doesn’t have any predictive power.

  • Rudy R

    Theists have yet to prove that life can’t exist outside a divinely-created universe.

    • CodyGirl824

      Rudy, have you examined in what is meant by a “divinely-created” universe? This term, which you introduce in your question, refers to the fact that we humans deify the forces that created the universe. It is nonsense to talk about the creation of a non-divinely created universe since divinity is merely a mental construct or concept that humans (most of us) attach extraordinary value to. This is because of our awe and gratitude for the gift of life. Theists don’t have anything to “prove” because we sanctify and venerate whatever it is that created the universe that we inhabit.

      • Greg G.

        It is nonsense to talk about the creation of a non-divinely created universe since divinity is merely a mental construct or concept that humans (most of us) attach extraordinary value to.

        You have that backwards. It is sensible to talk about a non-divinely created universe because the divinity is merely mental constructs. It was not sensible to talk about a spherical planet even when most people thought the world was made flat by a deity only because you could be tortured or killed for pointing out how ridiculous their ideas were.

        • CodyGirl824

          It is perfectly fine with me that science studies the creation of the universe and how it works without considering the concept or theological/religious construct of divinity or deification. This is the beauty of science!

          Please list for me the names of people in history who were tortured or killed (martyred) for pointing out that the earth is spherical and please cite your sources.

        • Pofarmer

          THe Greeks, Ptolomey maybe, had figured out that the earth was probably round, and probably orbiting the sun before Christianity became a “thing”. Augustus even writes about it some.

        • Greg G.

          I didn’t say that anyone had been killed for it. We wouldn’t have a record of it if they did. Hebrew cosmology was that aflat disc of earth floated on the waters below and the waters above were supported by a firmament, as in Genesis 1. If a person disputed that model, it would have been seen as a rejection of their religion and could have been put to death by stoning.

          Deuteronomy 13:5
          But those prophets or those who divine by dreams shall be put to death for having spoken treason against the Lord your God—who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery—to turn you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

          Deuteronomy 17:2-7
          2 If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, 3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky, 4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. 6 On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 7 The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.

      • Kodie

        Deification=anthropomorphism. How do you explain what took god such a long time to get around to his favorite creature? You venerate an inanimate object for creating yourselves because in all the time of the universe, it was all made for you. And you think atheists have the bigger egos?

        • CodyGirl824

          To venerate an inanimate object is what is called idolatry.

        • MGreen

          Like the relics of the saints, fragments of the cross and the remains of Yahweh’s temple in Jerusalem? Or like the bible itself?

        • CodyGirl824

          Some people may consider these to be idolatry, yes. My interpretation of the commandment against idolatry is that the worship of the object, like the Golden Calf, must not interfere with a true understanding of and relationship with the one invisible God of all. This is why I consider the “monster God” interpretation of the Bible common among atheists to be idolatry. It interferes with their having a true understanding of God. The Bible itself is not the problem. For example, Jews venerate the Torah in a way that I think is very healthy, respectful and appropriate.

        • MGreen

          idolatry is just the Israelite’s slanderous view of other religions. As if there were no traditions, thought or ritual behind the golden calf. Today we know better because we have the writings of Baal worshippers. It’s just another religion with its own ideas. Many of them later borrowed by Yahweh worshippers.

          The Israelites slandered all of their neighbors. It was one of their favorite things to do.

        • CodyGirl824

          I disagree. Idolatry is a real human problem. Have you heard what Pope Frances had to say just yesterday about the idolatry of money? Idolatry comes in many shapes and forms.

        • MGreen

          Those are theological interpretations thousands of years after the initial writing. The Israelites were clear about what they meant and you yourself mentioned the golden calf.

        • Kodie

          Idolatering your god is also a problem. I don’t care what Pope Francis said, and he’s not an original thinker. I’m kind of surprised that people think of him as refreshing – for a pope, I guess? Using your god as both a weapon and a shield to hide behind, and the fact that you, you Jenna, not you Christians (them too), say so many wrong things, they must come from the wrong place. Knowing this about religion and cognitive dissonance, I observe Christians seeking to adjust this world to them for their god and not not adjust to it while they wait for heaven. Your god is as false as any of them and worshiping it must then be idolatry. You are fixated on a source of bad information and bad logic to help you make decisions in life, not just for yourself, but for me too. That source is actually humans, not god. Humans make up this figure to agree with them and threaten others, like an imaginary big brother who is going to beat me up after school if I don’t do your homework for you.

        • CodyGirl824

          Yes, humans, like you and me.

        • Kodie

          Your response is cryptic.

        • Kodie

          Ah, it interferes with having your personal interpretation of god. You can easily ignore it because you’re a psychopath and a hypocrite. You don’t have a figure to look at, because your friend is invisible, so Christians often feel the need to place that persona into an object, and feel personally affected if something happens to that object. Theists have a warped idea of atheist idolatry as well – they seem to think, despite everything that’s been written about it by atheists (and you are no different, because you never listen before you speak), that we react to the placement of a cross anywhere visible like a vampire (mythical creature) would, because Satan. We react in context based on the 1st amendment. Religious symbols have no place on public government property – that is an individual freedom. They cackle like maniacs thinking we have a problem when they place symbols on their church property and “ha! this will get them!”

          They think the power of the symbol is something it isn’t and has power it doesn’t. If anything, theists shriek in horror at the mention of the existence of atheists, vandalizing billboards and issuing death threats and attempting to limit the extent of healthcare that does not fit in with their dogma. They think if we mean what we say and the cross has no power to us, that it should be just fine to put the cross up on taxpayer property, which does violate my freedom and infringe on my liberty of free speech and free belief (freedom from belief). It is a statement by the government that my freedoms count less than theirs, and that is something entirely different, a not subtle “nuance” Christians routinely fail to recognize, not out of sheer ignorance, but out of duplicitousness. So don’t preach to us about ethics OR idolatry.

        • CodyGirl824

          Atheists have some valid arguments about the placement of religious symbols in/on government-owned properties and buildings in terms of how these may violate the First Amendment. But do you really think that attacking the religious freedoms of Christians with this scatter-gun fashion and trying to destroy or eradicate religious expression altogether is an effective approach? And of course, these battles over symbols are purely symbolic, an artifact of the culture wars and the war against Christianity being wages by many atheists.

        • pianoman

          “religious freedoms of christians”

          It’s too bad you didn’t say that on video so we could see if you’d actually get through that with a straight face.

        • CodyGirl824

          If there is no religious freedom of/for Christians in this nation, there can be no religious freedom for atheists. We share a common interest in preserving this most precious freedom.

        • pianoman

          yeah, and christians have plenty of it thanks to majority priviledge

        • 90Lew90

          No, *you* have an interest in secularism. It’s of no consequence to those who *don’t have religion* because it refers specifically to the establishment by the state of one religion over another. In case it had passed you by, atheists don’t have religions.

        • CodyGirl824

          Okay. Then we can use the term “freedom of expression.” But surely you recognize that the “establishment” problem must apply equally to having atheism established by the state as the official ideology, with accompanying bans against religion, as in Cuba or communist Russia and China, for example. Why the sarcasm? I suspect that our views on the separation of church and state are quite parallel and compatible.

        • Kodie

          Which drugs are you on?

        • MNb

          I’m sure our views on how to end the cultural war between privileged christians and secularists (many of whom are also christians btw) in the USA are totally incompatible, as long as you continue to blame those 4% atheists for it.

        • wtfwjtd

          ” atheism established by the state as the official ideology, with accompanying bans against religion, as in Cuba or communist Russia”

          Have you ever heard of Pussy Riot? Get a fucking clue Jenna, you keep opening your mouth and jamming your foot down your throat.

        • CodyGirl824

          My reference is historical as well as contemporary. But your example only reinforces my argument that religious freedom and/or freedom of expression are vitally important in all societies. I really don’t understand why you are so hostile.

        • 90Lew90

          Secularism protects your right to belief what you want and protects your chosen religion from having to play second-fiddle to someone else’s. It begins and ends there. Freedom of expression is an entirely different matter, separated in the text of the US Constitution by *or* from the bit about religion, which does protect the freedom of an atheist to say, maybe, ‘religion is a pile of shite’. It’s a different matter. I am a secularist through and through. But you said if you don’t have your religious freedom then atheists can’t have religious freedom either. Do you see what you did there silly? Secularism protects my right to freedom “from” religion by not allowing yours or anyone else’s to become established. If there were no religions then we wouldn’t be having this argument and the people who most work to undermine this principle in the US Constitution are Christians. So give me a break!

        • CodyGirl824

          The Constitution protects us by prohibiting the state (government) from establishing an official state religion and from preventing the free expression of religion. IOW, the government must remain secular. There is no protection in our Constitution against other-than-governmental interference in religion, such as in the case of strained religious majority-minority relationships in the society.

          What break is it that you want me to give you? I’m not the giver of breaks here.

        • 90Lew90

          The text reads [asterisks for emphasis are mine]:

          Article [I]

          “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, *or* prohibiting the free exercise thereof; *or* abridging the freedom of speech, *or* of the press; *or* the right of the people peaceably to assemble, *and* to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

          There are a whole lot of distinct clauses in that paragraph, the “establishment clause” being just one, the protection of “free exercise” clause being another (NOTE: “exercise” not “expression” of religion). Note not just the “or’s” but also the semi-colons.

          The clause on freedom of speech and the press refer specifically to what is meant by freedom of expression, free assembly and petitioning the government being closely related, and the whole referred to in the paragraph pertain to expression generally including religion and irreligion.

          So the atheist does not rely on the existence of religion for his rights to be upheld as per this paragraph, contrary to what you were trying to make out when you said: “If there is no religious freedom of/for Christians in this nation, there can be no religious freedom for atheists.”

          That’s just nonsensical rubbish. I think what you’re confusing here is what you’ve said with the dictum: ‘In order for there to be freedom of religion there must be freedom from religion.’ That refers to the religious only. Those without religion can go happily on their way, knowing that with proper secularism, they’re not about to be victimised either. But the point is that if there were no religion, then this rule wouldn’t be needed. Perhaps you’re right in a funny sort of way insofar as if there were no religion then there would be no atheists. But then there would still be no need for this rule. Atheists do not rely on a guarantee of religious freedom for Christians in order for their freedoms to be protected. The protection afforded them by this rule is against people like you. All they need is freedom of expression. Which as I’ve explained (badly, I know), is a different matter.

        • CodyGirl824

          I was and am trying to affirm our common interest in upholding the Bill of Rights and protecting our freedom to practice or not practice a religion. I don’t want the government telling me I can’t practice Christianity and I also don’t want the government telling you that you can’t be an atheist, for the same reason. It is our inalienable right. I don’t understand why you call this “nonsensical rubbish.”

        • 90Lew90

          What I said was nonsensical rubbish was your statement: “If there is no religious freedom of/for Christians in this nation, there can be no religious freedom for atheists.”

          Atheists have an interest in a government not establishing a religion, because invariably they would end up being treated unfairly. That is as true of Islam as Christianity. But atheists rely more in the protection of free expression, which is something you confused with religious freedom, and it still doesn’t touch the simple fact that the rule exists only because of the religious impulse to impose itself on absolutely everything once it gets a toe-hold. Given an inch, religion will take a mile.

          The establishment clause protects your freedom *to* practice your religion and my freedom *from* you religion altogether. The right to free speech, more importantly for the atheist, protects the atheist’s freedom *to* say, ‘a plague on all your houses’.

          In other words, as per Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Forms of Freedom”, the establishment clause protects a positive freedom for you and a negative freedom for me, whereas the right to freedom of speech protects a much more positive freedom for the atheist.

          For you to say that if Christianity was to be banned then atheists would suffer just isn’t so. It wouldn’t be nice for Christians, and I would oppose it all the way on principle, but if I chose not to care, it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to me.

        • CodyGirl824

          I think you gave a perfect counter-example to your statement that if Christianity was banned atheists would suffer in the case of Islamic countries where speaking against the Prophet Mohammed can bring the death penalty. I’m sure such a law is applied with equal severity to a Christian who blasphemes against Islam as to an atheist. The Framers of the Constitution had no way of knowing what was going to happen in our nation as to what the religious affiliation (or lack thereof) of the majority might be. The Constitution protects us against a tyranny of the majority, whatever that majority is, or even when a religious or non-religious minority has the power of government.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why this is so hard for them to understand.

          We need to be oppressed to have freedom? But not the Christians. They’re projecting a fear of being taken over, they have to react by taking over so we don’t take over. How about nobody gets to take over? We cool?

        • Kodie

          Where do you imagine it’s atheists who are overstepping our bounds?

        • MNb

          Go tell the American christians. The christians from Western Europe have understood that several decades ago, with the consequence that there never has been a cultural war. Unfortunately way too many American christians think there can and must be religious freedom for christians, but not for others.

        • Kodie

          The religious freedoms of Christians? You mean the one where they are free to have a relationship with the lord on their own turf and I don’t have a problem with that? What scatter-gun approach are you fantasizing about Jenna?

        • MNb

          You’re silly. The percentage of atheists is considerably higher in Western Europe than in the USA. There are no battles overthere and the reason is simple: since several decades christians in countries like The Netherlands have granted atheists and adherents of other religions the same rights. Result: in every single Western European country, except France, the state-church separation is less strict than in the USA.
          You American christians do it to yourselves by clinging to your precious privileges.

        • 90Lew90

          Once again, the Torah is not the Bible. The “monster-god” is perfectly reasonable to surmise given even the most cursory reading of the Old Testament. Maybe you should read it.

          “My interpretation of the commandment against idolatry is that the worship of the object, like the Golden Calf, must not interfere with a true understanding of and relationship with the one invisible God of all.”

          Do you realise how ridiculous this seems? Read it back to yourself out loud.

        • CodyGirl824

          I know what the Torah is. It would be inaccurate for me to have said that Jews venerate the Bible, since this is not the case. The Torah is THE holy book of Judaism.

        • MNb

          What’s the difference between true understanding and false understanding? Let me guess – what you like is the first and what you don’t like the second.
          The meaning of “like” incorporates here “healthy, respectful and appropriate”.

        • Kodie

          I don’t like to use theistic terminology suggesting there is a god, but that would make you an idolater, which I know you hate. You anthropomorphize the universe, the big bang. You said “God is whatever caused the Big Bang”, meaning you anthropomorphize a natural cause, and not only that, you define it as the Christian god. It’s hard to tell how you made that assumption, since you don’t tell us what your evidence is. Your “evidence” is “stuff”. That doesn’t tell us about a god with Christian priorities.

        • CodyGirl824

          “A god with Christian priorities”? Evidence of a God with Christian priorities is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

          Anthropomorphism is merely a way for humans to cognitively and linguistically interpret and express our understanding of our reality by giving phenomena human characteristics or personifying a natural phenomenon. I really don’t understand why this is so difficult to understand and so problematic for atheists. It’s just part of being human and a means of communicating with each other.

        • Kodie

          So you have it every way you want, but you still don’t explain how you get there. Deifying the universe is hardly necessary to communicate with other people, and if you ascribe it to human nature, well that’s obvious, but it doesn’t lead to a Christian god except from confirmation bias (another popular human trait). You think that many humans can’t be fooled because you’re one of them.

        • Pofarmer

          Deifying the universe sounds like paganism or druidism or wicca to me.

        • 90Lew90

          Pantheism.

        • CodyGirl824

          Yes, deification is a feature of human nature. Language is what we use to communicate. When you speak of “a Christian god” I take your language to mean that which we Christians (monotheists) deify and label, name and speak of/about as “God.” What do you mean by “lead to”? The common language, concepts, ideas, etc. that a community of faith, such as Christians, adopt and use within our community are artifacts of our history, our cultures and our languages that express our understanding of, experiences with and collective and individual relationship(s) with God.

          Thank you for acknowledging that I’m human. I was beginning to doubt that you thought so.

        • 90Lew90

          You slippedy-slide around every hard question put to you and pick up on things you think you have an answer for. What about this pantheism of yours? It’s not Christianity just because you choose to call it Christianity. Look at what happened to Bruno.

          You’ve said you’re Episcopalian. Presumably at church you mouth the following:

          I BELIEVE in God, the Father almighty,
          creator of heaven and earth.

          I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
          He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
          and born of the Virgin Mary.

          He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
          was crucified, died, and was buried.

          He descended to the dead.
          On the third day he rose again.
          He ascended into heaven,
          and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
          He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

          I believe in the Holy Spirit,
          the holy catholic Church,
          the communion of saints,
          the forgiveness of sins,
          the resurrection of the body,
          and the life everlasting.

          Amen.

          Deifying the universe is pantheism. Not Christianity. It is, in fact (no getting around this) heretical to Christians, even the most liberal. It is idolatry. Plain and simple. Your god is already defined for you. You are either with him or against him, as it were.

        • CodyGirl824

          Deifying the Creator of the universe is monotheism.

        • 90Lew90

          OK, so now you make that distinction clear. So the Creator is outside the universe, but is none the less continuously involved in it and has the power to effect it according to its will, right up to and including individual believers who eat, fuck and dress correctly? That’s closer to Christianity. The question now, if we allow this “creator” (and we have no reason to, I’m indulging you here), is: how? At what point between the material realm and the supposed immaterial realm this being occupies does the immaterial interact with the material?

        • Kodie

          You also deified the universe. You have no way of knowing the creator is one and not many or several or a generated product of a programmable machine. You assert but you do not support. So we have only your words to go by, your expressions. If we are misunderstanding you, it’s because you’re not clear, you don’t define, you are making it up as you go along to suit your fancy, who knows.

        • 90Lew90

          To restate the question I put below: At what point between the material realm that we occupy and the immaterial realm that this being [your god] occupies does the immaterial interact with the material? How does this interaction take place?

        • Kodie

          Of course you’re human, I’d even go so far and call you a true Christian.

        • hector_jones

          All too human. And far too Christian.

        • 90Lew90

          “Evidence of a God with Christian priorities is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

          I’d like to read this “Gospel of Jesus Christ.” First I’ve heard of it.

          And what you go on to describe is pantheism, not Christianity. In fact what you describe as being your faith is so far removed from Christianity and its obligations that not long ago you’d have been burnt as a heretic.

        • CodyGirl824

          Christians refer to the four canonical gospels (the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) together as the Gospel, which means the Good News.

        • 90Lew90

          No Christian who knows what they’re talking about refers to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

        • CodyGirl824

          What makes you think that? Who made this rule?

        • 90Lew90

          There is no “Gospel of Jesus Christ”. LOL. The rule makes itself.

        • MNb

          “Evidence of a God with Christian priorities is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
          Confirming your triple standard:
          1. When things can be investigated by science, then the scientific method;
          2. When things can’t be investigated by science and you like them (such as the Gospel of JC) then you accept it;
          3. When things can’t be investigated by science and you don’t like them (like my story about you robbing our local bank) then they are silly.
          That works totally for nobody but you.

        • CodyGirl824

          I don’t remember having either read or commented on the story about robbing a local bank. Sorry I missed it if it is really relevant to the conversation, as an analogy or metaphor perhaps.

          But in general, it is accurate to state that I investigate different areas and domains of human knowledge using different methodologies (epistemology) just as I don’t try to cut a board using a hammer or pound a nail using a saw.

        • adam

          EXACTLY….

          This is what happens when people create gods in their own images…

          This is why there are tens of thousands of denominations of ‘christianity’ alone, none can agree on which idol is true.

      • MGreen

        Are you selling crystals?

      • Rudy R

        “because we sanctify and venerate whatever it is that created the universe that we inhabit”, based on faith with no evidentiary proof.

        • CodyGirl824

          So you claim that there is no evidentiary proof that the universe was created, meaning that it was caused to exist? Have you consulted any cosmologists about this recently? They will be very surprised to hear this but then again, maybe not, since there are a lot of theories in cosmology that we must take on faith. Last I heard, they hold to the theory of the Big Bang as being what caused the universe to exist. So far, I don’t know that they have a theory about what caused the Big Bang but they do have a universe full of evidence that the universe exists.

        • Rudy R

          I don’t take any cosmology theories on faith, and for that matter, any scientific theories. I just find them more compelling and probabilistic than the theists explanation. And I’m not asking you to take theories on cosmology on faith. You either feel the theories are compelling or you don’t. But what you are doing is taking on faith that a god is the creator of the universe, because there is no scientific evidentiary proof. You may have a philosophical argument for a god-creator, but there are philosophical arguments against a god-creator as well. Science doesn’t have the answers for what caused the Big Bang and theists believe they do, but would you prefer that science just give up searching for the answers and defer the answers to theists?

        • Greg G.

          The Big Bang is the result of the universe coming into existence. I think the latest hypotheses are that universes are uncaused quantum fluctuations.

        • CodyGirl824

          “Uncaused”? What does this mean? Fluctuations implies deviations from something that is uniform, correct? Again, IMO, it is important to keep the discussion of science and the theological implications of science as different domains in mind.

        • Greg G.

          There is a video on the Patheos Atheist main page of Lawrence Krauss. He touches on fluctuations and nothingness put covers a lot of physics of the universe.

          Krauss argues in A Universe from Nothing that “nothing” cannot exist. There is a only a sea of quantum fluctuations.

          Fluctuations implies deviations from something that is uniform, correct?

          From Quantum Foam and Loop Quantum Gravity:

          By combining the laws of quantum mechanics and general relativity, it is
          deduced that in a region the size of the Planck length (10-33 cm.), the vacuum fluctuations
          are so huge that space as we know it “boils” and becomes a froth of
          quantum foam. In such a scenario, the space appears completely smooth
          at the scale of 10-12 cm.; a certain roughness starts to show up at the scale of 10-20 cm.

          AIUI, virtual pairs of particles can pop in and out of existence as if they are self-caused because the time scale of their creation and annihilation is so short and the energy required for the production is provided by their annihilation. An anti-particle can annihilate with an actual particle leaving the virtual particle as the actual one.

          Again, IMO, it is important to keep the discussion of science and the theological implications of science as different domains in mind.

          That sounds like you are intentionally protecting your theology from reality by means of cognitive dissonance.

        • hector_jones

          There’s no evidence that the universe was created by something that needs to be thanked for it.

        • CodyGirl824

          The desire (not the need) to worship the Creator of the universe comes from my/our awe, wonder and gratitude, which is a natural human inclination. The best book I’ve read on this topic is this one. Note in the title that it is about “the biology of belief” and how we humans are “hard-wired” biologically for belief in the transcendent, by whatever name we call it.

          Andrew Newberg, Eugene d’Aquili and Vince Rause. (2001). Why God won’t go away: Brain science and the biology of belief.

        • hector_jones

          Once again you prove that you do not read for comprehension. I was referring to the need of the creator to be thanked, not your need to thank the creator. It’s because you do things like this that I call you dishonest and stupid.

          Everything you say about your desire to worship may be true as far as it applies to your mental state, but it is irrelevant to my point and proves nothing at all about the thing you worship.

          You have absolutely no evidence or knowledge that the thing you worship has a need or desire for your worship, or that it even has a comprehension that you are worshipping it in the first place. Worse, you can’t prove this object of your worship even exists. You might as well go worship a rock or a tree like our ancestors did. At least you could prove to me the rock or tree exists.

          But that’s the beauty of your god – make him completely invisible and immaterial and it becomes so much easier to fool yourself into believing he notices and approves of your worship than it is with an existing object, like a rock, and at the same time you get to think of him as something truly profound, instead of just a rock. But to me, he’s not even a rock. He’s nothing at all.

        • Kodie

          can order put any Words be sense make Jenna to.

        • Pofarmer

          So, Ignorance.

        • Kodie

          You would admit to sanctifying and venerating a natural process with no consciousness? Because that’s not what you said.

        • CodyGirl824

          What? I don’t understand what you’re asking.

        • Kodie

          You don’t understand what you said?

        • Pofarmer

          You realize, that you are commenting on a thread, where a Cosmologist indeed said, that there doesn’t need to be anything to cause the Universe to exist. Your performance here is deluded and sad, I’m sorry to say.

        • wtfwjtd

          Pofarmer, I just had a sobering thought: Do you think Jenna here is one of the smarter ones from The “Thinking” Christian? I wonder just how low the bar goes?

        • Pofarmer

          Not a clue. I just finished watching last Sunday’s episode of Cosmos. What is actually out there and going on, is so much more astounding than CodyGirls contrived theology.

        • CodyGirl824

          Just because one scientist says it does not mean that it is established scientific theory. Do you mean to say that cosmologists are not attempting to discover the cause of the Big Bang because there was none? Could you please provide a source where I can read about this decision or consensus among cosmologists to not search for an explanation of the Big Bang? Besides, the theory that our universe is/was “uncaused” universe has many theological implications but does not defeat theism.

        • Pofarmer

          “Great scientific minds, from Claudius Ptolemy of the
          second century to Isaac Newton of the seventeenth, invested their
          formidable intellects in attempts to deduce the nature of the universe
          from the statements and philosophies contained in religious writings….
          Had any of these efforts worked, science and religion today might be
          one and the same. But they are not.

          The Sky Is Not the Limit, p. 183″

          [A]s they are currently practiced, there is no common
          ground between science and religion….Although just as in hostage
          negotiations, it’s probably best to keep both sides talking to each
          other.

          Death By Black Hole, p. 347

          I simply go with what works. And what works is the
          healthy skepticism embodied in the scientific method. Believe me, if
          the Bible had ever been shown to be a rich source of scientific answers
          and enlightenment, we would be mining it daily for cosmic discovery.

          The Sky Is Not the Limit, p. 188

          “One increasingly hears rumors of a reconciliation between science and
          religion. In major news magazines as well as at academic conferences,
          the claim is made that that belief in the success of science in
          describing the workings of the world is no longer thought to be in
          conflict with faith in God. I would like to argue against this trend, in
          favor of a more old-fashioned point of view that is still more
          characteristic of most scientists, who tend to disbelieve in any
          religious component to the workings of the universe.”


          Sean Carroll

          “At heart, science is the quest for awesome – the literal awe that you
          feel when you understand something profound for the first time. It’s a
          feeling we are all born with, although it often gets lost as we grow up
          and more mundane concerns take over our lives.”


          Sean Carroll,

          The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World

          “Science and religion both make claims about the fundamental workings of
          the universe. Although these claims are not a priori incompatible (we
          could imagine being brought to religious belief through scientific
          investigation), I will argue that in practice they diverge. If we
          believe that the methods of science can be used to discriminate between
          fundamental pictures of reality, we are led to a strictly materialist
          conception of the universe. While the details of modern cosmology are
          not a necessary part of this argument, they provide interesting clues as
          to how an ultimate picture may be constructed.”


          Sean Carroll

          f all that you see, do, measure and discover is the will
          of a deity, then ideas can never be proven wrong, you have no predictive
          power, and you are at a loss to understand the principles behind most
          of the fundamental interconnections of nature.

          Universe Down To Earth, p. 34

          Richard Feynman
          used to go up to people all the time and he’d say “You won’t believe
          what happened to me today… you won’t believe what happened to me” and
          people would say “What?” and he’d say “Absolutely nothing”. Because we
          humans believe that everything that happens to us is special and
          significant. And that — and Carl Sagan wrote beautifully about that in
          The Demon-Haunted World — that is much of the source of religion.
          Everything that happens is unusual and I expect that the likelihood that
          Richard and I ever would’ve met. If you think about all the variables:
          the probability that we were in the same place at the same time, ate
          breakfast the same. Whatever. It’s zero. Every event that happens has
          small probability… but it happens and then when it happens; if it’s
          weird, if you dream one million nights and it’s nonsense but one night
          you dream that your friend is gonna break his leg and the next day he
          breaks his arm… *sound of revelation* So the real thing that
          physics tell us about the universe is that it’s big, rare event happens
          all the time — including life — and that doesn’t mean it’s special.

          “A Universe From Nothing” by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009 Closing words (01:03:20 – 01:04:30)

          The
          illusion of purpose and design is perhaps the most pervasive illusion
          about nature that science has to confront on a daily basis.

          Lawrence M. Krauss

          Keeping religion immune from criticism is both unwarranted and dangerous.

          Lawrence M. Krauss

          “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”


          Carl Sagan,

          The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

          “Some piously record ‘In the beginning God’, but I say ‘In the beginning hydrogen’.”


          Harlow Shapley

          “Science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on
          fact. To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came
          into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the
          natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine. Nothing enters our
          minds or determines our actions which is not directly or indirectly a
          response to stimuli beating upon our sense organs from without. Owing to
          the similarity of our construction and the sameness of our environment,
          we respond in like manner to similar stimuli, and from the concordance
          of our reactions, understanding is born. In the course of ages,
          mechanisms of infinite complexity are developed, but what we call ‘soul’
          or ‘spirit,’ is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the
          body. When this functioning ceases, the ‘soul’ or the ‘spirit’ ceases
          likewise.

          I expressed these ideas long before the behaviorists,
          led by Pavlov in Russia and by Watson in the United States, proclaimed
          their new psychology. This apparently mechanistic conception is not
          antagonistic to an ethical conception of life.”


          Nikola Tesla,

          Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla

          “The role played by time at the beginning of the universe is, I believe,
          the final key to removing the need for a Grand Designer, and revealing
          how the universe created itself. … Time itself must come to a stop [at
          the singularity]. You can’t get to a time before the big bang, because
          there was no time before the big bang. We have finally found something
          that does not have a cause because there was no time for a cause to
          exist in. For me this means there is no possibility of a creator
          because there is no time for a creator to have existed. Since time
          itself began at the moment of the Big Bang, it was an event that could
          not have been caused or created by anyone or anything. … So when people
          ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them the question itself
          makes no sense. Time didn’t exist before the Big Bang, so there is no
          time for God to make the universe in. It’s like asking for directions
          to the edge of the Earth. The Earth is a sphere. It does not have an
          edge, so looking for it is a futile exercise.”


          Stephen Hawking

          “The Hartle-Hawking derivation of the unconditional probability of the
          existence of a universe of our sort is inconsistent with classical
          theism. The unconditional probability is very high, near to 1. For
          purposes of simplification, we are saying the probability is 99 percent;
          there is a 99 percent probability that a universe of our sort—I will
          call it a Hartle-Hawking universe—exists uncaused.

          The universe
          exists uncaused since the probability amplitude is determined by a
          summation or path integral over all possible histories of a finite
          universe. That is, the probability that a Hartle-Hawking universe exists
          follows directly from the natural-mathematical properties of possible
          finite universes; there is no need for a cause, probabilistic or
          otherwise, for there to be a 99 percent probability that a
          Hartle-Hawking universe will exist.

          This is not consistent with
          classical theism. According to classical theism, if a universe is to
          have any probability of existing, this probability is dependent on God’s
          dispositions, beliefs, or choices. But the Hartle-Hawking probability
          is not dependent on any supernatural states or acts; Hartle and Hawking
          do not sum over anything supernatural in their path integral derivation
          of the probability amplitude.

          Furthermore, according to classical
          theism, the probability that a universe exist without divine causation
          is 0, and the probability that if a universe exists, it is divinely
          caused, is 1. Thus, the probabilities that are implied by classical
          theism are inconsistent with the probabilities implied by the
          Hartle-Hawking wave function of the universe.”


          Quentin Smith

          There is a massive, irreconcilable conflict between science and
          religion. Religion was humanity’s original cosmology, biology and
          anthropology. It provided explanations for the origin of the world, life
          and humans. Science now gives us increasingly complete explanations for
          those big three. We know the origins of the universe, the physics of
          the big bang and how the basic chemical elements formed in supernovas.
          We know that life on this planet originated about 4 billion years ago,
          and we are all descendants of that original replicating molecule. Thanks
          to Darwin
          we know that natural selection is the only workable explanation for the
          design and variety of all life on this planet. Paleoanthropologists and
          geneticists have reconstructed much of the human tree of life. We are
          risen apes, not fallen angels. We are the most successful and last
          surviving African hominid. Every single person on this Earth, all 7
          billion of us, arose 50,000 years ago from small bands of African
          hunter-gatherers, a total population of somewhere between 600 and 2,000
          individuals.”


          J. Anderson Thomson

          “…in principle, one can predict everything in the universe solely from
          physical laws. Thus, the long-standing ‘first cause’ problem intrinsic
          in cosmology has been finally dispelled.”


          L.-Z. Fang

          “For modern cosmology God cannot be a working hypothesis because God is
          not given to us in the observable nature of things. The poetic and
          theological idea that the universe is an expression of God’s creative
          power is false. And yet the possibility that underlying the nature of
          things is an undiscoverable force of unimaginable simplicity that one
          may call God haunts and frustrates modern science. If this principle
          exists, then it cannot be different from our experience of it: it must
          be inherent, not transcendent; purely natural, therefore, not a
          violation of its own being, and hence intelligent, in the sense it
          requires coherence rather than chaos and confusion to exist at all–as
          the ancient myths tell us; impersonal to the extent that we cannot
          attribute moral purposes or even will, classically understood, to what
          we can observe of its operations. It is entirely coextensive and if it
          has a limit coterminous with what is–a perception that dates in
          theology from Anselm to Tillich and in natural philosophy from
          Democritus to Planck. It does not exist in gaps of undiscovered data or
          models or as an unsolved mystery but in the givenness of the world and
          the intelligent life form that has arisen to ponder it.”


          R. Joseph Hoffmann

        • 90Lew90

          “Besides, the theory that our universe is/was “uncaused” universe has many theological implications but does not defeat theism.”

          Are we talking about your own personal theology here again? Of course it doesn’t defeat that! It’s unassailable because at any stage when new knowledge is thrown into the mix, no matter how much it flatly contradicts what was previously held as “truth” by religious authorities, to the extent that they would kill people who dared to challenge that supposed “truth”, then you just turn around and announce that this somehow simply “enriches” your knowledge of your god.

          Religious authorities who have learnt their bullshit better than you must be more careful in admitting this new knowledge, thus we have John Paul II, for instance, calling evolutionary theory “more than just an hypothesis”. Well thanks, JP. In doing so, he sows doubt where there need be none. Likewise Benedict, who called much of modern science “science fiction” but with the qualifier that by that he doesn’t mean “made up” but that it is a creative enterprise with anticipations and educated guessing. Yes, broadly speaking this is the scientific method he describes, but in choosing language which has a specific meaning in the popular imagination, and then in the “small print” saying that’s not the meaning he actually intends to convey, what is he doing? More lately still, we’ve had Francis inveighing against “the spirit of curiosity”.

          Do please elaborate about these “implications” for theology of an “uncaused” universe. I’m all ears.

        • Pofarmer

          The Catholic Church also spreaks of believing in evolution, but they teach “special evoution” for homo sapiens. So, they are just basically disshonest, which is nothing new.

        • CodyGirl824

          It’s really pretty simple and logical. To call the universe “uncaused” means that the universe is eternal. God is understood to be eternal, i.e. eternity is another name for God. Consequently, cosmologists who claim to know or theorize that the universe is eternal are simply “tapping into” theoretical descriptors for God.

        • Pofarmer

          You are wrong, again, as usual, in a thread about a debate where prof Carroll talked about this very thing.

        • 90Lew90

          You really should read the article you’re commenting on. The uncaused cause (as Aquinas had it) or the unmoved mover (as Aristotle originally called it) relies on a notion of causation which does not apply in the kind of physics we’re talking about. What we understand of the Big Bang is that the universe began as a point of singularity, where, because there was no “space”, there was no “time” — ie, no “before” — time being, on one view, reliant on space to “exist” as a tangible concept. No need for your god here.

          Further, on the Aristotelian view, the insertion of an “unmoved mover” is illogical, since on this view of causation, *everything* must have a prior cause, so the logic of it is infinite regress, not an “unmoved mover” or an “uncaused cause”. That’s what we call special pleading, which is something religious people do all the time.

          But as I said, our classical, basically subjective conception of causation goes out the window in this kind of physics. It would be nice if you bothered to acquaint yourself with some of this stuff before deigning to prattle on about it endlessly.

  • Greg G.

    Another quote for #2 is from Galileo:

    Surely, God could have caused birds to fly with their bones made of
    solid gold, with their veins full of quicksilver, with their flesh
    heavier than lead, and with their wings exceedingly small. He did not,
    and that ought to show something. It is only in order to shield your
    ignorance that you put the Lord at every turn to the refuge of a
    miracle.

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

      I’d never heard that one. Thanks!

    • hector_jones

      Can you cite a source for this? It’s very well said, but I searched and can’t find solid evidence that Galileo wrote this, only that many people say he did.

      UPDATE: I’ve searched some more and what I’ve found points to the view that this is from Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems published in 1623 in Italian. The words were spoken by a character named Simplicio. It was seen as mocking the Pope, and Galileo got himself into his jam with the Church largely because of this. If anyone can find a link to a complete English text of this work, I would appreciate it.

  • Southern Skeptic

    And that’s just 5 points. The fine tuning argument is wrong in so many ways and on so many levels it makes my head hurt.

    The thing that makes me laugh is even if the universe were fine tuned, that wouldn’t prove there’s a single, all-powerful god. Why not hundreds of gods (as most people believed before Judaism was born)? Why not some sort of powerful alien being? Why not some other explanation beyond our understanding?

    No, it must have been Yahweh (or Allah, Vishnu, etc.).

    • CodyGirl824

      You confuse the many names for the one God of monotheism with the names of the many gods of polytheism. Why not hundreds of gods? Because we monotheists recognize that the universe is all just one all around, hence the origin of the word uni = one, verse = all around. God is the name we humans in our many languages give to the force or forces that created the whole, entire, one thing we call the universe. You are just playing word games with different names for God.

      • Southern Skeptic

        It doesn’t matter whether it’s monotheism or polytheism, the point is that theism in general is not the only possible explanation for the universe being fine tuned (which it isn’t, anyway).

        • CodyGirl824

          Theism is not an explanation for the universe being fine tuned for life. It is an expression of our understanding of the fact that it is and of our awe, admiration and gratitude of/for whatever caused it to be so in order for us to exist.

        • MNb

          Empty semantics.

      • Kodie

        You anthropomorphize whatever created the universe by giving it human characteristics. Nobody knows how you got there. You give this persona Christian-centric preferences. Nobody knows how you got there.

        • CodyGirl824

          Nobody knows? Wow, this is total denial and complete nonsense.

        • MGreen

          “I have a book” isn’t much to go on in terms of establishing a chain of reasoning.

        • pianoman

          ok, since you’re not interested in having any real discussion, let’s try this:

          you are a christian, therefore you believe god exists. now all you need to do is demonstrate that so that it can be evaluated by peer review. and if it’s confirmed, you will be famous. otherwise, you’re wasting your time on here, because we’ve all heard this bullshit a thousand times.

          so…what’ya got???

        • CodyGirl824

          I would say that the existence of 2.3 billion Christians in the world today and billions more throughout Christianity’s 2,000 year history is all the “peer review” that Christianity needs.

        • hector_jones

          Once again, argumentum ad populum.

        • CodyGirl824

          Once again, you are wrong.

        • pianoman

          then fucking prove it without a bullshit fallacy like “there’s lots of us”!

        • CodyGirl824

          You are the one who suggested that Christianity be subjected to peer review. Who are the peers of Christianity who are supposed to review it? And on what criteria? I’ll also let you know that I find the use of profanity in comments to be sure and certain evidence of a weak argument.

        • pianoman

          oh, no, are your eyes offended that i used a curse word? Dear me, how sensitive!

          I’d be delighted if you actually made an argument that wasn’t steeped in horse poopie (is that better?).

        • Kodie

          You might have a reading comprehension problem if you don’t know how to interpret the word ‘bullshit’ in context.

        • CodyGirl824

          In this context, it’s profanity. On a ranch in Wyoming, it’s a fact of life.

        • Kodie

          It’s just a word. It means lies. When I use the word ‘bullshit’ (or anyone else does) they are telling you your lies stink like what comes out the rear of a bull. But you’re the one who is lying. Which is really worse in your warped ethical system?

        • wtfwjtd

          I can’t believe you actually had to explain that here.

        • Pofarmer

          fwiw, peer review, in a scientific context, is usually hostile. It’s not rubber stamping, it’s testing the arguments or conclusions.

        • CodyGirl824

          I’m sincere about this question: How do you think a religion or religious belief can be or is “peer reviewed”? If hostility toward the peer from his/her/their peers is a factor, then certainly you would agree that early Christianity got a “peer review” from a hostile society in its beginning formation. No one “rubber stamped” Christianity in the first century A.D.

        • Pofarmer

          FWIW early christianity was a very small sect until Comstantine In the 4 th century. To give you any indication, it probably grew at about the same rate as Mormonism is today.

          Now, about peer review. Subject the claims to statistical analysis. Are there statistical areas where one religion shows advantages over another? Do a religions ideas about the world around us conform to what science has determined about the world around us? Do the religions texts hold up to historical scrutiny? I’m sure there are other ways, but these would be a start.

        • smrnda

          In order for religion to be peer reviewed as in *which ones are true* they would have to provide us with falsifiable hypothesis to test. None of them deliver on this, but this is a problem the religions created by providing unfalsifiable claims. Prayer works, only when it doesn’t, for example.

          A paper about the nature of a religion could be peer-reviewed based on the accuracy of what it says – if my paper said that infant baptism was not a Catholic practice, it would be wrong, but it’s not a test of the truth of the religion, just whether my paper describes it accurately, and then you have more problems – what say, Catholics believe and what the Church teaches are two separate things, and any sensible paper on Catholicism would admit that.

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

          “Christianity, the Marlboro of religions!”

        • MNb

          Yup, an argumentum ad populum is not an argumentum ad populum when you pull it off to defend your belief system. Because everything is justified to defend it.

        • CodyGirl824

          Do you deny that it is a fact that there are 2 billion Christians in the world today? What argument does this fact (statistic) make?

        • MNb

          That 2 billion people one way or another pick the Bible as their Holy Book and (though there even here might be exceptions) they accept Jesus as the saviour of their souls.

        • 90Lew90

          I deny that flat outright. In the Catholic church at least, that number is plucked from baptismal records. There are a lot more people who are baptised than there are actual Christians. Take me for example. I attempted (with great difficulty) to have myself de-baptised, and to have my name scrubbed from the register. Even having achieved that, I was told that I would still remain “confirmed” and that to get that scrubbed I would have to go to court. That doesn’t do much for your figure.

        • CodyGirl824

          Here is the website that give these demographic statistics:

          https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2122.html

          Religions: Christian 33.35% (of which Roman Catholic 16.83%, Protestant 6.08%, Orthodox 4.03%, Anglican 1.26%), Muslim 22.43%, Hindu 13.78%, Buddhist 7.13%, Sikh 0.36%, Jewish 0.21%, Baha’i 0.11%, other religions 11.17%, non-religious 9.42%, atheists 2.04% (2009 est.)

          If you have a set of statistics that you prefer, please post it. However, these demographic statistics are still only facts, not an ad populum argument.

        • 90Lew90

          Where does the CIA get its stats? They’re estimates. They’re best estimates usually taken on the basis of census declarations (if available), other government sources and a lot of those figures come from churches themselves. Now, as an Irishman, I can tell you that practically everyone in Ireland is baptised. But by any reasonable survey, 33% now do not believe. This is further complicated by people who say they “believe” but never set foot in a church. And by leading ways of asking the question, such as in the recent UK census where one had no opportunity to say definitively that one was atheist and was led into declaring the religion they were raised in. I’m sorry, but the CIA World Factbook is too crude to be of any use to anyone outside high school.

        • CodyGirl824

          Okay. It is perfectly legitimate to question how an agency or organization arrives at its categories and statistics. So if you care to, send another URL with different stats. But my point still stands. These statistics do not make an ad populum argument. They are mere data. However, I caution you about committing the error of equating secularism (non-affiliation with an established religion) with non-belief or atheism.

        • Kodie

          YOU used the data to make the fucking argument. I would caution you to read the studies and surveys I posted FOR YOU TO LOOK AT in the “500″ thread this morning to get the real data on nones – it turns out if you read the graphs, atheism is on the rise. I caution you to avoid committing the error of not reading the actual data and then blurting out something else you want to be true. I posted it for you and you did not see it? Do you know how to read? Can you look things up on the internet yourself?

          Why show you things to enhance your knowledge about the world we live in if you’re going to ignore them and then smugly caution atheists against not reading into the data, especially since we read the actual data, we do not have to assume.

        • CodyGirl824

          I missed this post. If you provide me the URL, I’ll take a look. I’ve seen polls that show that the “nones” (non-affiliated with an established religion) are on the rise but when the data is disaggregated to indicate those who self-identify as atheists, the percentage of atheists in the population is stable. But then, different polls ask different questions and create different categories. That’s why we have to be cautious in interpreting these statistics. One poll I saw awhile back even identified a tiny number of people who self-identified both as Christians and as atheists.

          Here are the statistics I found if you want to compare: http://religions.pewforum.org/affiliations

          “Statistics from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life show that 16.1% of the USA are unaffiliated with a religion. Among these, their stats indicate that 1.6% are atheists; 2.4% are agnostics & 12.1% are “nothing in particular” (Pew’s label for the category).

          However, a new survey (2013) by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted jointly with the PBS television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.”

        • Kodie

          http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/

          Unaffiliated does not mean self-identified atheist. Do you know how percentages work? Do you know that 2.4 is more than 1.6? Do you know how much more? As for the unaffiliated, 1/3 (32%) do not say they believe in god. Almost half of them (42%) do not say they have felt a deep connection with nature and the earth, while 2/3 do not classify themselves as spiritual but not religious (63%). 4 in 5 (79%) do not say they pray every day.

          What do you extrapolate from the data? I can even say the increase in atheism does not mean it’s the correct view, only that more people have been convinced of it. Changes in population only says changes in population. “Other faith” has had a similar increase. Do we think that indicates another faith is as credible as atheism based on how people answered the survey? Analyzing the data, as in the article breaks down the demographics of the responses – does not tell us the correct belief. It just tells us what people believe and why they might have increased or decreased in percentage.

          Could it be due to being correct? No. That cannot be extrapolated by the data. You seem to be surprised again that people report religious experiences or a connection with nature, as if that indicates the veracity of your beliefs. This is why people think you’re an idiot – because you have confirmation bias, and an increase in atheism (not non-affiliated) looks “stable” to you. Was atheism less correct when fewer Americans were atheists? Was Christianity more correct when more Americans were Christians? The report says the biggest drop in religious affiliation was among Protestants? Aren’t you a kind of Protestant? You seem to have a problem understanding humans and what they are persuaded to believe and why.

          Nobody disputes the presence of religious people, and that they report sincere beliefs. Nobody is surprised that people don’t affiliate with a religion and still report religious experiences. You’re the one reading a lot more into the data and can’t do arithmetic.

        • adam

          The MAJORITY of American’s supported invading Afghanistan, it was wrong
          The MAJORITY of American’s supported invading Iraq, it was still wrong.
          At one time the MAJORITY of people believed ‘gods’ made thunder out of anger, they were wrong.

          Propaganda does not make right.

        • smrnda

          Excellent point. If you ask people simple, fact based questions the majority will often get answers wrong.

        • 90Lew90

          Secularism is a political position. It has nothing to do with belief or affiliation, it is simply a position on church-state relations. Nothing more. You needn’t caution me about getting confused about something you’re not too clear on yourself. And you have singularly ignored my point that despite being atheist, I am still counted as “Catholic”. I actually have to go to court to get the Catholic Church to stop counting me as a Catholic. I have to make some dumb statement of apostasy. I have to jump through hoops. I am not alone in this. Neither are many other people who have little or no interest in their religion, if they don’t actually oppose their religion’s influence, who are nonetheless still counted as being of that religion.

        • wtfwjtd

          I was reading here awhile back that actual church attendance in Ireland has collapsed over the last 10-15 years, due to the ongoing sex abuse scandal that the church refuses to address. I don’t know what the Protestant/Catholic breakdown is in Ireland itself, but this should still lend considerable credence to your assertion that 33% + are non-believers.

        • Kodie

          Your statistics are not an argument, you used them to make the argument. You idiot.

        • CodyGirl824

          Hey, I always thought that arguing based on facts and statistics is a good thing. Don’t you agree?

        • Kodie

          Using facts to support arguments is fine. But jumping to a conclusion based on a fact is a logical fallacy. We’ve established your very bad at recognizing them.

          The number of people who believe something is not a way to discover the veracity of the belief. It is only a statement of how many believers of that belief are, not at all whether they are right or wrong – hypothetically if 50% were atheists, I would still not use it to back up my arguments. That’s what makes it a fallacy, when you use the numbers to back up your claims of veracity, especially since you’re not a Muslim. (But it would be wrong for Muslims to do that too). If being a popular belief is important to you and how you decide whether it’s true, your protestant sect is somewhere below 5%. It’s not a good way to determine veracity, so you probably should never use it to support your argument that Christianity is true, unless you love being called an idiot.

          What you want to do with data instead, if you want to talk with grown-ups, is read it, not read into it. If the numbers can be used for another purpose, that does not make a similar fallacy. The numbers can be used to show other trends, like the rise in atheism (according to one report) from 1.4 to 2.6* “self-identified” atheists does not factor in people who answered the question “do you believe there’s a god? with “no” but would not use the label, nor people who chose the label, but answered the question with “yes”. Other statistics in this report demonstrate that many people believe “nothing in particular” and most of them are not looking for a religion. Since I might be remembering it wrong, I suggest you look at it yourself.

          *This is from the Pew Research I posted this morning, and as close to the actual statistics as I can recall reading. If I were you, I would look it up to learn everything it says, and stop cautioning atheists not to “read too much into” a decrease in theism as a rise in atheism. Why make that assumption if you don’t have the data to back it up? Because that’s actually what it says.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie,

          The line of discussion where this came up was about having a “peer review” of Christianity. I responded that I think that the numbers of followers of a religion is a form of “peer review” of its credibility (and durability). What other way is there to judge a religion’s credibility. This is why I use the trial by jury analogy. Numbers matter, most especially to the accused. If half the jurors don’t find the evidence and testimony of the witnesses to be credible (beyond a reasonable doubt), then the accused is acquitted. If all of the jurors find the evidence and testimony to be credible and relevant, then the accused is convicted. This is a form of peer review. This is my best effort to explain why I cited the number of Christians in the world today and throughout history, to support my claim that Christianity is a credible religion. This is based on the assumption, which I think the poll data we are discussing bear out, that people don’t affiliate with a religion they don’t find to be credible. I also assume that those who self-identify as Christians believe that Christianity is a true (credible) religion, although the world statistics may not reflect those who are only culturally or nominally Christian. Also, my caution is to all of us not to fall into an equivocation fallacy by assuming that secularism or non-affiliation with an established religion is equal to atheism. Atheism may in fact be on the rise, but the statistics I cited from the Pew Center on Religion suggest that the reality is more nuanced and complex than we might think at first glance.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think you know what peer review is. What other way is there to judge a religion’s credibility? What other ways do you use to reject most of them? How do you account for someone affiliating with a religion that fundamentally disagrees with yours? How do you criticize their method of confirmation and peer review? Because you’re not a Muslim, are you?

          I cited from the Pew Center on Religion suggest that the reality is more
          nuanced and complex than we might think at first glance.

          It is. If you read it, it would say atheism is rising. Another study I cited this morning pulled different numbers, using different metrics, which you can read about in the study, citing an increase from 1% to 5% of Americans are atheists between 2005 and 2012.

          But you are suggesting it might be more nuanced than “we” might think at first glance because you hope it doesn’t say what you think it suggests on first glance. You didn’t actually look at it, and I don’t actually think you know how to read data to figure out what the nuances are. You just said that to appear intelligent, like someone who had read the data or habitually examines data (implying that we’re the ones who don’t), exposing your ignorance.

          You seeing what you want to see in whatever you want to call “evidence”, while actual confirmed data might be too nuanced for atheists and we’re the ones who are prone to read too much into a cursory glance! You’re hilarious.

        • smrnda

          It depends on the stats and their relevance, and also exactly what the stats say, which is why people say ‘correlation does not imply causation’ so much.

        • Greg G.

          When the numbers are totaled, how do they handle things like “Argentina nominally Roman Catholic 92% (less than 20% practicing)”? Do they count 92% of the population as Christians or 20%?

          However, these demographic statistics are still only facts, not an ad populum argument.

          It wouldn’t work as an ad populum argument anyway as it shows that most people are wrong about religion no matter how you slice it.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why do you think these statistics show that “most people are wrong about religion”? Religious diversity is not at all remarkable, given our geographic, cultural and linguistic diversity as humankind. In fact, I think that the predominance of a few major world religions is rather remarkable in the face of our cultural diversity.

        • Greg G.

          If 33.35% had the right religion, then 66.65% of the world is wrong. If Catholics got Christianity wrong but others got it right, then 83.48% are wrong. There are over 40,000 denominations of Christianity, so that figured gets whittled down to a nub pretty quickly.

          I think having more than one religion is an indication that they are all wrong. A true religion should be so obvious, it could not be denied and it wouldn’t require cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias to maintain belief.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why do you think that religion should be obvious? Most things that require reasoning and thought are not obvious. Science is certainly not obvious, cosmology especially. I don’t understand how you arrived at this theory. Something that I find analogous is linguistic diversity. Do you think that we should all speak the same language throughout the world? Do you think that speaking other languages in addition to one’s native language to be “obvious.” Or do you mean that religion should be effortless?

        • Greg G.

          If religion has some teleological significance, it should come as naturally as nursing to an infant. Everybody should be able to come to the same conclusions independently.

          Everybody recognizes that objects fall. People who measure the rate at which objects fall get the same results. Religion should be more obvious so that it doesn’t take education to understand it.

          An actual religion should be easily distinguishable from one contrived by humans. It should be as obvious as the difference between the sun and the brightest light ever devised by humanity.

          A real religion would not need excuses for why the deity is undetectable.

        • wtfwjtd

          Bob had a post here awhile back, with a chart “religions of the world” that’s relevant to that. There are blue areas, purple areas, red areas, etc. for all the different religions and faiths. So what about a similar chart for science? Of course there isn’t one; there isn’t any need for one, as the various claims for science can be tested by most anyone, anywhere. If there were one, true, god-inspired religion, I would expect the same. But of course there isn’t, so we see exactly what we would expect with no god at all: complete chaos, with no way to verify the thousands of different religious claims.

        • Kodie

          This is why we call you on your intellectual dishonesty. You want to use large numbers to impress us but you want to explain away religious diversity as if it doesn’t have impact on your claim. This is called rationalizing, do you know that word?

          2.3 billion Christians, to you=remarkable! A testament to how many saved souls are correct about god! Forget that Christianity is not a monolithic and uncontroversial belief.
          4.7 billion believers in everything else, to you= no biggie. Religious diversity is not remarkable, given the differences around the world, it’s not remarkable that people all over the world believe different beliefs than me, it’s not remarkable that they can differ in interpretations and opinions.

          You’re not fazed that your religion is greatly outnumbered, and you recognize cultural and geographic influences in the acquisition of a belief, but it’s all meaningless to you. You can spin anything to mean whatever you want it to mean, showing us that you’re a liar.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, I am not “fazed” that Christianity is not the religion of the majority of people in the world. I understand why this is the case. However, I also call your attention to the fact that Christianity is the largest religion (one with the most followers in the world) and that there are many countries where Christianity is the dominant religion all around the world. Why do you accuse me of lying about these statistics or putting a “spin” on them? Religious diversity is simply a fact of life, just like cultural and linguistic diversity. Do you disagree with that? If so, why?

        • Kodie

          You are spinning it right in front of me. Islam is the largest religion. Christianity is a large convenient umbrella when it pleases you, but your consistency would fail when you are in disagreement amongst yourselves. You cannot use a monolithic plurality as the basis for your argument and then explain away why a majority does not mean anything to you. It all means something or it all means nothing.

          Religious diversity, as you explain is a cultural affect. It does not follow that one is true because it’s yours, nor because it makes up a sizable chunk (in totality, which isn’t an honest representation) of the pie chart. Religious diversity is not like language if the source of faith is an invisible spirit force or forces that could not reliably settle any disputes. People don’t go to war over language. People don’t miss out on whatever afterlife is promised because they don’t speak the right language. Religion is no doubt meaningful to people that they are willing to despise someone over it. I agree religion is a cultural affect, but if any religion is true, it would be too important to leave up to people to comprehend for themselves. That is easily seen as myths, as clothing, food, and music differs, so do stories.

          You are taking whatever you want from the data whether or not it’s a good or logical argument, being inconsistent in your own approach, in other words, intellectually dishonest.

        • smrnda

          I’m not that surprised; religions which are bent on conquest and dominance will tend to push their competitors out of existence, and on a small enough planet, only so many of those will survive. We kind of have 2 big monotheisms (Christianity and Islam) which have been in conflict for quite a while, and both of those, to a great extent, have been employed as means to eradicate other cultures and religions.

        • Kodie

          Religious diversity is your “peer review” – no consensus. All the peers of the world decided that the one true belief was mostly a matter of your geographic location and all the other people “peer reviewing” them into a certain conviction in their immediate location. If not your geographic location, then the geographic location of your birthplace or your parents’ birthplace, or even one of your parent’s birthplace because two parents don’t even agree, or their parents’ birthplace.

          Since we know that is a lot like inheriting a culture, religion is an artifact of culture. Local myths sound real because you’ve heard them all your life, and foreign myths sound stupid and wacky… or maybe beautiful, maybe exotic. You’d like to check that out. The deeply held convictions of your parents and their parents and the other people at their birthplace is just lacking some appeal, maybe too strict, maybe it is unbelievable or mundane to you, but other cultures seem to have an authentic take on this big mystery. Like maybe your parents both came from a long line of teachers, but you want to break the trend and be an actress. Everyone in your family and everyone you know can be the same, and it is bound to have some influence, but there are no rules with religion because it’s a matter of choice. You don’t have to stay where you were born, you can move away, maybe far away or another country. In your mind, via conversion.

          When you are looking to fill a slot like religion is, the people are more powerful influence over your beliefs than the so-called evidence. The people tell you to read a book and you read a book. The people give you validation right away, they have something and they want you to catch it too. You are convinced, the book makes a lot of appealing arguments, and intrigues you to read more of them. SOLD!

          Billions of people can’t be wrong, well, your survey says otherwise, because that’s how math works. It doesn’t say who is wrong, the religious diversity does. That was a key argument for you but it doesn’t seem to work on you when I use it to indicate something actually correct. 2.3 billion Christians are biased, you have to survey all believers. No consensus on the veracity or quality of the so-called evidence of your belief. 4.7 billion people in the world do not find it as convincing as 2.3 billion people do.

        • Kodie

          It doesn’t, then why do you keep trying to use it as one?

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

          What argument does this fact (statistic) make?

          Unless being #1 in popularity makes your religion correct, nothing interesting.

        • adam

          No he’s not, YOU are.

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

          Once again, you haven’t bothered to look it up. Or, explain the nuance that you were going for that made your argument look like the AaP fallacy even though technically it wasn’t.

          “Nuh uh” doesn’t get us very far.

        • pianoman

          are you fucking kidding me???

          OK, so your answer then, after all these posts you’ve put up, is “I got nothin’!”

          Please, what a waste of time!

        • Kodie

          That’s hilarious, considering you’re not a Catholic. You can claim numbers when they all fall under the same umbrella but if you talked to many of them, you’d probably say they are not true Christians (or some iteration of that). They don’t understand the same god you do. They have it as wrong as you claim atheists do. Your sect is narrow and hardly any Christian of the billions even “know” the same “god” that you do.

        • adam

          Fred Phelps was a Christian
          As was Adolph, the Inquisitioners and the Crusaders

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

          What does the same logic say about Hinduism? It’s been around a lot longer than Christianity.

        • Kodie

          Denial? Complete nonsense? When have you explained how you arrived at your conclusions? Is accusing me another one of your evasions?

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of Christianity.

          You have had the window of opportunity, but you haven’t climbed through it.

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

        He’s playing word games? Yahweh, Vishnu, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster aren’t the same thing.

        • Castilliano

          Yeah, followers don’t eat Vishnu. (Do they?)

        • Greg G.

          Only if Vishnu has a nightmare that his followers are eating him.

      • Kodie

        The universe is one, but that doesn’t mean that god is not a committee. Likewise, a mono-deity does not rule out any of the multiverse models.

        What you are doing is anthropomorphizing the universe itself and conflating it with the creator of it, and then filling in the spaces with a Christian god. Because you have it all worked out and it makes perfect sense.

      • MNb

        “we monotheists recognize that the universe is all just one all around”
        So is the ball used at football and basketball. According to your logic there will be only one player in the field.
        It’s perfectly imaginable that more than one god work harmoniously (or less harmoniously, whatever you prefer) together to create a universe. Not to mention the model of the multiverse.

        • hector_jones

          The Flying Spaghetti Monster created the clay we know as the Multiverse, and God used a chunk of that clay to create the Universe. All very cooperative and entirely irrefutable by christian apologists.

        • CodyGirl824

          I’m sure that no Christian apologists is going to find it worthwhile to argue about the FSM since neither you nor any Christian believes in it, so what’s the point.

        • Asemodeus

          The point is that reality doesn’t care if you believe in it or not. This is something Christians need to get over if they plan on progressing.

        • CodyGirl824

          I sincerely doubt that the problem most Christians have with atheists is that they/we don’t know that atheists don’t care what we believe, because obviously, many of them do.

        • Asemodeus

          Because Christians in this country routinely step on the civil rights of others. It is the just and moral thing to do to oppose their desire for a theocracy.

          If you had the same moral fiber as Atheists you would agree with me on this.

        • CodyGirl824

          I do agree that it is wrong for Christians to violate anyone’s civil rights. Keep in mind that many of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement are/were Christians. I hope you are not stereotyping all Christians based on the bad behavior of individuals or groups who self-identify as Christian.

        • Asemodeus

          The nominal christians are actually the worst. The reason why the crazies are allowed to maintain such political control is that the nominal christians are too lazy and fearful to challenge them.

          It isn’t enough for Atheists to keep challenging them and winning court cases, the rest of the nation has to get in on it too. Since the theocrats primary defense against reason is their delusion that they are the majority.

        • adam

          Yes, and most of the opposing side were Christian as well.

        • CodyGirl824

          Which tells us exactly what?

        • MNb

          That your rebuttal is invalid.

        • adam

          That ‘christians’ create ‘gods’ in their own image.
          They have no Absolute Morality.

        • MNb

          How do you know pastafarians do not believe in it?
          Also: if the “arguments” you provide not only “prove” christianity, but also pastafarianism and even better so then these “arguments” cast doubt on christianity.
          Matter of logic, something you have serious problems with.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, I believe! his Noodliness does indeed have mysterious and creative ways, sauce be upon him. Ramen!

      • Nemo

        If you are a Christian, you believe in one God who is also three gods at the same time. Not entirely unlike how the Hindus view Brahma.

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

      I’m amazed when apologists like Craig toss out deistic arguments like the fine tuning, cosmological, design, moral, etc. arguments without realizing the point you’re making. The elephant in the room is that they can only hope to have made deists.

      • Castilliano

        Well, WLC has the advantage of debating in places where Yahweh is the default god. His target audience will make the leap for him.
        I doubt he’s trying to appeal to the well-versed.

        Also, it’s safe. By arguing the theistic god, he’s keeping the battlefield away from Christianity, which keeps the counterarguments safely away from his beloved doctrines, a.k.a. crazy beliefs.

        Reminds me of Sam Harris when he addressed Craig’s god. Even an atheist has told me that Sam lost the debate (perhaps for going off topic?), but to me, and several Christians I’ve heard from, this section slam dunked it.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HthQ6a7FZeA

        • CodyGirl824

          Is there any other kind of god than a “theistic god”? Do you understand what is meant by monotheism?

          I actually felt sorry for Sam Harris in this debate. He embarrassed himself.

        • Castilliano

          Yes, the deistic god. Most forums separate the theistic as revealed, and the deistic as unrevealed.
          Type “deism vs. theism” into Google for a lesson.

          Likely a hard concept for you considering your pseudo-Christian concept of god is a deistic-theistic hybrid with large doses of inclusivism and a glimmer of New Age pantheism. You’re just using the Christian-template, then filling in the rest with cosmic gobbly-gook.
          Side with the largest team? Check
          Show appreciation for other large teams? Check
          Elevate GOD beyond Christian norm so as to utilize or dismiss revealed texts as needed? Check
          Argue surety of evidence without providing evidence? Check
          Dismiss listeners’ abilities to appreciate evidence when they call you out on lack of same? Check
          Troll yourself and your opinions into every conversation without contributing? Check
          Content other than contrary opinions & hollow assertions? Zero…

          At first I found it amusing, watching Kodie (et al) try to pin down your squirmy self, but now, despite your linguistic aptitude, I find you tiresome.
          I have no inkling of what you hope to gain here other than trollish glee, a quite negative and self-centered “gain”. Please reconsider being here.

          I understand what monotheism is, thanks for that demonstration of Christian humility.

          Your opinions on anything theological, much less Sam Harris’ performance, sans actual evidence are worthless.
          Good day.

        • CodyGirl824

          I guess I overlooked the “No Christians Welcome” sign on Bob’s website banner.

        • Castilliano

          No, there are regular Christian participants here.
          You missed the “clear thinking” part.
          It’s right up there in the banner.
          If you can show your thinking, clearly, not just your end thoughts, then you’ll be contributing to the conversation. You haven’t yet.

          Talking to you is like talking to a glib child. Sure, you sound smart, but you’re just rephrasing “Uh-uh” & “Uh-huh” adding appeals to authority, scripture, & popularity. Those last are fallacies.
          They don’t show thought, just regurgitation.

          It’s like a teacher asking you to show your work on an assignment, but you leap to the “right” answer instead, yet refuse to write it down for her to check. Well, we do not agree with that answer (a poorly described variant of Christianity), nor do a majority of Christians share your inclusive concept of Yahweh (nor does the Bible).
          Wanting to engage with you, we ask you to support & clarify, but you don’t. You just cycle through your glib assertions.
          So you end up clogging up our discussions, taking them on your own selfish tangents. Naturally, we resent this.

          So, do take this personally. It’s not Christians, it’s you.
          Not saying you can’t change your ways, but your current ways have only detracted.
          Cheers.

        • CodyGirl824

          I consider this to be an honest reply. Thanks.

        • adam

          You should try it….

        • Kodie

          Non sequitur.

        • hector_jones

          She tends to do that when she hasn’t got an actual response.

        • D Rizdek

          I watched a video of this debate in full. It was a heart-warming experience. People think Harris strayed off topic. But the point of these kinds of debates is to make points. And as you say, he made the point….slam-dunked it. It was the most unsettled I’ve ever seen Craig. I think he was angry at the points Harris was making.

      • hector_jones

        Craig thinks he gets around it by believing in miracles, i.e. he makes his deists with the cosmology arguments, then argues for the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus to make them into Christians.

      • MNb

        Another one, in addition to Hector underneath, is presented by Dutch apologist Emmanuel Rutten: “scholars agree on the empty tomb, hence christianity”.

      • Steve Gray

        Fine tuning fails in numerous ways. 1) About 99.999999…% of the universe is hostile to life. That’s not fine tuning. Apparently God couldn’t do any better or he doesn’t care. 2) By the same Christian claim, God would fine-tune life, especially human life. But we are loaded with defects, so again, God couldn’t do any better or he doesn’t care. 3) If the U is fine-tuned, why did God have to intervene as a designer of life? If he really fine tuned the U, life would arrive and evolve automatically. 4) No believer that I’m aware of has ever justified God’s choice of this particular U or, specifically, Homo sapiens. Are we the best he could do? 5) God is omniscient and, according to most apologists, can foresee the future. He could therefore see exactly what would happen if he did something, so he would not need to actually do anything, such as create the U or life. Fine tuning, like practically all of apologetics, is an argument from desperation, by which I mean a line of “reasoning” that they push, even though they are aware on some level that it stinks.

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

          nicely stated.

    • Asemodeus

      Th teleological argument is so bad that it can be refuted with webcomics:

      http://www.smbc-comics.com/comics/20100311.gif

  • smrnda

    I’ve honestly never understood the fine tuning argument. Life, if it emerged, would emerge fit to exist under the conditions where it happened to emerge. If life exists elsewhere (if we’re able to detect it as life when it’s different from us) there’s no reason it won’t be uniquely suited to its environment.

    Maybe I don’t *get* this since the idea of other kinds of life that evolved under different conditions is pretty standard fare in sci fi.

    • Kodie

      I always just think of “life” as one sort of property that a planet can have. Way back in the whenevers, when people thought the known planets of our solar system all had life. Maybe that was always fiction, but we assumed something about earth that other planets had beings, alien-shaped fish-people from Neptune and little green men with antenna from Mars, etc., and of a human scale, not much larger or smaller than we are. We’re the ideal size and physical arrangement for intelligent life? But not only don’t the other planets have life, they are different from each other. The universe is not made of one earth, one sun for earth, and a bunch of other celestial bodies that are more or less the same.

      I am not sure about the hospitableness for life. Life, life is life? There are so many forms of it. The earth seems pretty hostile to staying alive. Once life emerges, it finds a way to continue, as a property. That is the only mystery, is how it emerged. I don’t find it that hard of a concept to accept, given that we are made of elements and that earliest life was not complex. A hard and violent and wet(?) planet with life you could not see. I can envision another planet with no life on it, but I cannot envision earth without any sign of life. Isn’t that weird? I guess because it grows so fast in my kitchen, lol. I should study the early earth, it’s always portrayed as volcanoes erupting all the time and lightning storms.

      But when life emerges, it appears to stay alive, as a property. It’s as continuous as the atmosphere and nothing can shut it all down. It’s a treacherous place to live for individuals, and many species. Until something catastrophic happens to our climates/atmosphere, and maybe even not then, life will not end. There is something that has managed to live everywhere. Most of the planet is inhospitable to humans without help from technology, whether that be hunting to skin an animal for its fur or a house on stilts or have supplies shipped in. Life has adapted to every crazy environment on earth that doesn’t make sense to us – on earth! Could another planet support life? How extreme is the earth anyway? If we can’t live on Mars without simulating an earth-like environment/atmosphere, is there anything on our planet that could? It wouldn’t have anything to eat. The sun might not be bright or hot enough. Can we create a Mars-like atmosphere on earth, in a lab, and test whether any living thing might fill the niche?

      I just don’t think fine-tuning explains anything, since it goes backwards anyway. We’re here, what does that suggest? A planet with properties, I just think of life as a property like perpetual hailstorms or being made of iron, or whatever a planet can be. I don’t really understand (my understanding of it) like a star explodes and some huge rocks came out and then started circling it? That doesn’t seem fine-tuned to me. If earth was X closer or farther away from the sun, life wouldn’t exist, therefore it was put in the exact right place because “whatever” wanted a place to grow things. “Hospitable to life” is a rare property, but that treats the rest of the celestial bodies as not having interesting properties because life is not among them. It’s a “why is there something rather than nothing” kind of answer. It’s why is life so rare in the universe, and that seems to have a lot to do with sources of heat and let’s say oxygen. Why is human life so rare in the desert or the South Pole or the ocean? is another way to look at it. The earth doesn’t seem very fine-tuned for humans, we fine-tune what we want, or we could hardly live anywhere. Meanwhile life finds a way to find all those places comfortable.

    • MNb

      When formulated correctly the finetuning argument applies to the about 30 natural constants. Life is not possible for all values of these constants; not even universes are.

  • SparklingMoon

    Theism predicts that religious belief should be universal; there should be just a single, correct religion (in fact, we have thousands of denominations within just Christianity, plus many thousand more other religions)
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………
    How can we prove that a religion is actually from God while there are thousands of religions in this world that attribute themselves to Him? Should a true religion not have some distinction? The fact that a religion is rational cannot be a proof of its being from God, for man, too, can speak of rational things. And the ‘God’ who is only a creation of man’s own reason is no God at all; God is He Who manifests Himself through powerful signs. A truly Divine religion must possess signs of being from God, and it must possess the Divine seal to prove that it has indeed come from Him .

    Religions that are only based on tales are hardly distinguishable from idol worship, for they are devoid of the spirit of truth. If God is still Living as He was before, and if He still speaks and hears as He did in the past, then why should He have observed such silence in this age as if He did not exist? If He does not speak today, then surely He does not hear either, which means that He practically does not exist. Hence the true religion is that which testifies that God hears and speaks even in this age. In the true religion, God Himself informs about His existence through His dialogue and communion. (Fountain of Christianity)

    • MNb

      “In the true religion, God Himself informs about His existence through His dialogue and communion.”
      He doesn’t, so your quote makes clear that there is no god.

      • SparklingMoon

        I have also stated : the true religion is that which testifies that God hears and speaks even in this age. In the true religion, God Himself informs about His existence through His dialogue and communion.

        • 90Lew90

          Funny. In the largest, most thoroughgoing, long-term study of intercessory prayer, carried out by the Templeton Foundation, it was found that those sick people who were told the were being prayed for actually got sicker. No effect was found in those who didn’t know they were prayed for, the same as the control group who weren’t prayed for at all. This was a ten-year study carried out with more than 1,800 patients. The moral of the story? Don’t tell sick people you’re praying for them.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/31pray.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          I’m interested to know at what point the immaterial interacts with the material in all of this “dialogue” and “communion”.

        • SparklingMoon

          Most people do not realize the true nature of prayer, nor do they comprehend the relationship between prayer and Divine determination. God Almighty opens the way for those who have recourse to prayer and does not reject their supplications. Prayer and Divine determination are juxtaposed to each other.

          It should be remembered that though everything has been determined by Divine decree, yet this does not exclude science and knowledge as everyone has to acknowledge that the use of appropriate medicines, through the grace and mercy of God Almighty, benefits the patient. In the same way everyone who is bestowed comprehension of the Divine has to acknowledge as the result of experience that prayer has a relationship with acceptance

          A non believer may say that it might have been by chance that those incidents happened that were prayed for. But the accepted prayers are different from the other ones. God not only listens to the prayers of his chosen one, but also He informs them about their acceptance. Many prophets have claimed about a number of things, and all those claims had been fulfilled, e.g their ultimate success is always foretold when apparently they were very weak and oppressed, but all of them succeeded ultimately. (The Blessing of Prayer by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad)

        • 90Lew90

          Ah, I see. I just don’t geddit. Either that, or it’s just so much claptrap. I’m inclined to think it’s the latter. Another study which may be of interest is a very large-scale meta-analysis of the Successful Societies Survey by Gregory S. Paul et al, entitled The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions. It found popular religiosity to be rather parasitic, thriving in dysfunctional societies, and also contributing significantly to keeping them dysfunctional.

          It can be accessed free here (pdf): http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP07398441_c.pdf

          Cue more meangingless, wordy, metaphysical flim-flam.

        • SparklingMoon

          The religious history of all prevailed religions informs:

          The Founders of religions did not possess those powers and accomplishments which ordinarily make lor successful leadership. They knew little or nothing of the arts or culture of their time. Yet what each taught turned out to be something in advance of his time,something pertinent and seasonable. By adopting this teaching a people attained to a great height in civilization and culture, and retained the glory for many centuries. A true religious Teacher makes this possible. Yet it is inconceivable that a person innocent of ordinary accomplishments, as soon as he begins to lie about God, should come to have such tremendous powers that his teaching dominates all other teachings current in his time. Such a development is impossible without the help of a powerful God.

          When we consider what these Founders of religions taught, we find that it has always been contrary to all contemporary trends. If this teaching had been in line with the tendencies of their times, it could be said that these Teachers only gave expression to those tendencies. Instead, what they taught was very different from anything they found current. A terrible controversy ensued and it seemed as though the country had been set ablaze. Yet those who chose to deny and controvert the teaching were ultimately themselves compelled to submit to it. This also proves that these Teachers were not a product of their times, but were Teachers, Reformers and Prophets in the sense in which they claimed to be.

          Many millions of human beings throughout the ages have done what these Teachers, such as Moses, Jesus,Krishna Zoroaster and the Holy Prophet of Islam etc. bade them do. Many millions have denied themselves what these Teachers forbade. Their smallest thoughts, words, and deeds have been subject to what they were taught by their Masters. Do national heroes command even one iota of the loyalty and submission accorded to these Teachers ? These Teachers, therefore, were from God and what they taught was taught by God.

          All this had helped the followers of these prophets to recognize their Live Almighty God. They also stepped on the path, shown by their Prophets, to find and converse this God to ascertain their faith. If a long history of religions confirms the existence of such an Almighty God who used to hear prayers and response to His people in the past then it is a mistake to consider the suspension of His any attribute at this time. There is an article about prayer and the methods of prayer: https://www.alislam.org/books/essence/chap5/chap5.html

        • 90Lew90

          In other words, these “Founders” thought: “? Therefore God.”

          Joking aside, it seems you’d probably enjoy ‘The Perennial Philosophy’ by Aldous Huxley. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_24?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the%20perennial%20philosophy&sprefix=the+perennial+philosophy%2Caps%2C415

          Open-minded, wise, humane, beautifully written, and probably wrong, but whatever. I liked it.

        • adam

          Incantation
          An incantation or enchantment is a charm or spell created using words. An incantation may take place during a ritual, either a hymn or prayer, and may invoke or praise a deity. Wikipedia

        • CodyGirl824

          I would be very careful about referencing the so-called prayer studies in making any statements about God because God was not a scientific variable in these studies. These studies are junk science.

        • Pofarmer

          God was subjected to peer review, and failed to show up.

        • CodyGirl824

          Because His custom is to show up unexpectedly, perhaps. He doesn’t give on-demand performances.

        • Pofarmer

          Right when you’re in a cognitively compromised, highly emotional condition, bam, there’s God.

        • CodyGirl824

          “…cognitively compromised”? Like when a person are praying and meditating? This is not the way people who are disciplined practitioners of meditation describe the state they work so hard to achieve.

        • 90Lew90

          Tell that to the Templeton Foundation. I would have thought they were right up your street:

          “The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. We support research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. We encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.

          Our vision is derived from the late Sir John Templeton’s optimism about the possibility of acquiring “new spiritual information” and from his commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship. The Foundation’s motto, “How little we know, how eager to learn,” exemplifies our support for open-minded inquiry and our hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries.”

          http://www.templeton.org/who-we-are/about-the-foundation/mission

          D’oh! Cody puts on big boots to step into her own mouth. Again.

        • CodyGirl824

          I have done a considerable amount of reading about the controversial “prayer studies” (PS) because they interest me from a scholarly research point of view. Several researchers have conducted what are called a meta-analysis of the compendium of PS from various institutions and foundations. Here is one of them:

          Intercessory prayer for the alleviation of ill health.
          Roberts, L, Ahmed, I, & Hall, S.

          Westcott House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, UK, CB5 8BP. lr226@cam.ac.uk

          REVIEWER’S CONCLUSIONS:

          “Data in this review are too inconclusive to guide those wishing to uphold or refute the effect of intercessory prayer on health care outcomes. In the light of the best available data, there are no grounds to change current practices. There are few completed trials of the value of
          intercessory prayer, and the evidence presented so far is interesting enough to justify further study. If prayer is seen as a human endeavour it may or may not be beneficial, and further trials could uncover this. It could be the case that any effects are due to elements beyond present scientific understanding that will, in time, be understood. If any benefit derives from God’s response to prayer it may be beyond any such trials to prove or disprove.

          Here is part of my analysis of the PS methodology:

          I find the concept or definition of prayer as a “treatment” to be part of the problem with these studies, as if “prayer” versus a placebo (in the form of a pill, no doubt) are equivalent unless statistics show otherwise. Consider how scientifically lame the attempts at having a non-prayed-over control group as a group to compare when of course the researchers cannot control who prays for whom or even who prays for him or herself, thus giving the researchers hopelessly “polluted” data.

          These prayer studies are meaningless because “no difference” between the experimental group (those who were prayed for at the request of the researchers) and the allegedly non-prayed for control group means that the
          studies were inconclusive. Inconclusive means any of a number of things: 1) that the methodology used cannot discern the “effects” or “outcomes” of prayer 2) that what the “outcome” of prayer defined by the researchers is not in fact an outcome of prayer 3) that what the researchers called “prayer” is inauthentic and therefore that the
          study says nothing about the outcome of authentic prayer vs. experimental laboratory inauthentic prayer or 4) that both the control group and the experimental group were being prayed for since the researchers could not control for unsolicited prayer for the control group subjects or 5) God simply refuses to play along with this nonsense and was just doing His usual job of healing people at a normal rate to frustrate these silly pseudo-scientists or 6) any number of other reasons why the results were inconclusive.

          One thing the studies did show, as you mentioned, is that it is unethical to tell a cardiac heart patient that s/he is being prayed for with artificial prayer because it causes anxiety. This is not in the least surprising. If you tell Rose in the hospital that her fellow Christians at St. Olaf’s church where she arranges flowers on the altar every Sunday are praying for her rapid recovery from heart surgery, she’ll simply say thank you. If you tell atheist Richard D. who doesn’t believe in God that people (strangers) have been asked to pray for his recovery, it will scare the bejambers out of him! Who is surprised by this ?

        • Pofarmer

          The “reviewers” have offices on Jesus lane? Really?

        • CodyGirl824

          Yes, I found this interesting and amusing as well. It may be that a street was created for access to this foundation’s headquarters and they got to name it. Who knows.

        • Pofarmer

          Westcott House Anglican Theological College in Cambridge

          I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. A miracle practically.

        • Pofarmer

          What to hell is authentic vs in-authentic prayer?

          “that both the control group and the experimental group were being
          prayed for since the researchers could not control for unsolicited
          prayer for the control group subjects”

          I’m sure that’s it, prayers are so powerful that you can just never rule it out.

          “If you tell Rose in the hospital that her fellow Christians at St.
          Olaf’s church where she arranges flowers on the altar every Sunday are
          praying for her rapid recovery from heart surgery, she’ll simply say
          thank you. If you tell atheist Richard D. who doesn’t believe in God
          that people (strangers) have been asked to pray for his recovery, it
          will scare the bejambers out of him!’

          Now you are just reading your own biases into it. I’m not surprised by that, at all.

        • CodyGirl824

          Many reviewers that I have read of the PS have concluded that telling people in these experiments that they were being prayed over is unethical for this very reason. These researchers must adhere to the standards of ethics adopted by and in the research community regarding the treatment of human subjects to ensure that no aspect of the research methods causes harm to anyone. When subjects in this particular study reacted by experiencing anxiety and stress, this “procedure” in the PS was discontinued. I merely gave an anecdote as an example, in case you missed my reference to the character played by Betty White in the “Golden Girls.”

          As for my control group comment, the results of an experiment cannot be interpreted if the experimenters cannot isolate their variable and ensure that no members of the control group received the “treatment,” which in this case was “intercessory prayer.” So the data was, from a research point of view, “polluted” or “contaminated.”

        • 90Lew90

          I posted that to be glib. It passed you by. I find the “mission” of the Templeton Foundation a waste of time. It’s clear that you neither read the NY Times article I linked to, and nor did you look up Templeton. They say a lot of the same kinds of things about religion and science as you. If you’d just read the NY Times report and had a quick look at the Templeton Foundation’s website, you could have saved yourself the bother of assailing me with that slew of bollocks you posted above. I just thought it ironic that the people who were told they were being prayed for ended up having more post-operative complications than those who weren’t told and those who weren’t prayed for at all. Of course I don’t suspect any “divine hand” at work here. Give me a break. What was that I read somewhere about the link between irony, sense of humour and intelligence…?

          “If you tell atheist Richard D. who doesn’t believe in God that people (strangers) have been asked to pray for his recovery, it will scare the bejambers out of him! ”

          …I’m resisting the urge to swear at you here. Really. I mean, what?! That’s two guffaws you’ve given me today. Usually weeks and months pass between posts that make me go “GUFFAW!”

        • MNb

          Yes, you have stated that, but still your god doesn’t inform about his existence, neither through his dialogue or communion, nor in any other way. From your own words it follows that there is no true religion, hence there is no god.

        • SparklingMoon

          God Almighty says that he who desires to see Him -who is the True Creator -in this very life, should act righteously. That is to say, his conduct should exhibit no default and his actions should not be for show, nor should he take pride in them that he is such and such, nor should his actions be defective and incomplete, nor should they inconsistent with his personal love of God. All his actions should breathe sincerity and faithfulness. He should abstain from associating anything with God. He should worship neither sun nor moon, nor stars, nor air, nor fire, nor water, nor any other thing whatsoever. He should not exalt worldly means so as to depend upon them as if they were God’s associates, nor should he depend upon his own enterprise and effort, for this is also a species of association. Having done everything, he should consider that he has done nothing. He should have no pride in his knowledge, nor have dependence upon his actions. He should consider himself truly ignorant and slothful and his soul should be prostrate all the time at the threshold of God Almighty. He should draw the grace of God to himself through his supplications. He should become like a person who is thirsty and is helpless and finds a fountain spring forth in front of him, the water of which is clear and sweet, and he crawls up to the fountain and applies his lips to it and does not let go till he is fully satisfied. (Ruhani Khazain)

        • 90Lew90

          Sounds miserable. Then he dies.

        • Pofarmer

          It seems to be a point of pride among those of certain religious bents to see how miserable they can make themselves.

        • wtfwjtd

          Isn’t that the whole point of fundamentalism?

        • SparklingMoon

          The above post that was about the changing of human nature to have a personal converse with God Almighty seems you fundamentalism. Perhaps this described path seems you a little bit hard to follow or the same one as had been told by other previous prophets also. Actually God is the same God Almighty who used to appear to all other people of previous ages to guide them. We as a human beings have to follow His decided laws to have success in different matters. People of all ages have to sow a seed in soil by following the law of nature to find fruit. (A seed on a table never turns into a fruitful tree even exist there hundred years. It must have to mix itself into dust and have to bring a great change in itself ) As God Himself (as a Creator of human nature) has informed by his revelation to follow a particular path to reach the stage of conversation then no body other can device an other path. According to religious teachings a human nature have to pass through a procedure for progress of its purity to a certain level to find God.

          There are three springs from which human states flow, namely,the self that incites to evil, the self that reproves and the soul at rest. There are also three methods of reform.The first is that senseless savages should be taught the elementary social values pertaining to eating, drinking, marriage etc. They should not go about naked nor eat carrion, like animals nor practice any other type of wildness.This is an elementary stage of the reform of natural conditions of the type that would have to be adopted, for instance, if it is desired to teach a savage from Port Blair, the elementary ways of human behavior. The second method of reform is that when a person has adopted elementary human ways, he may be taught the higher moral qualities and should be instructed to employ his faculties in their proper places and on their proper occasions. The third method of reform is that those who have acquired high moral qualities should be given a taste of the draught of the love of and union with God.(Ruhani Khazain)

        • SparklingMoon

          According to the Laws of Nature people have to follow a particular path with a struggle to achieve any thing. A more precious thing demands more struggle according to its value. Here we are talking about a God Almighty Who is the Creator of this whole universe. If a person have a wish to converse with him in this life then must have to bring a great change in his nature . A human nature with great humbleness plus purity is the only source that creates a relation (Holy Spirit) between man and his God and draws His love .

        • MNb

          “God Almighty says …..”
          Your god, almighty or not, has never said anything to me.

  • Agni Ashwin

    By “theism” you mean “certain forms of Christianity”?

  • The Man With The Name Too Long

    One thing proponents of the fine-tuning argument seldom think about is that the very concept of necessity is irrelevant to the cause of the universe if it was even caused at all. Life doesn’t “need” those physical constants to exist, it just happens to. We live in a universe in where life happens by this and that means, but how do we know that this couldn’t be a universe where life happens by some other means? You can’t disprove such a universe by arguing how this one works, because that universe would play by different rules. I hope I’m not confusing anyone.

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

      NIcely stated.

    • Speculation

      Please provide proof of your argument that life doesn’t need physical constants. This is pure speculation.

      • D Rizdek

        I took the post to be opening the idea of plausible options, not an argument.

        Certainly, most theists happily imagine life, lots of varieties of life, sentient life, free willed life, with NO physical support at all thus NO physical constants. I understand that many believe angels are sentient and have wills.

        By definition EVERY theist has to absolutely agree that life without these physical constants exists. Their God is generally thought to be alive and doesn’t depend on any physical constants.

  • Sophia Sadek

    When push comes to shove, learning from nature in order to live life to its fullest beats the hell out of depending on religious dogma. (Pun intended.)

    • Godwin

      Natural order justifies might makes right, homicide and a myriad other “social evils,” including oppression, slavery and poverty. What that means is a few live “full lives” on the backs of the many who barely get by. I’m going to invoke Godwin’s law and say that the Nazis and Soviets best exemplified the result of scientific atheism as a world view.

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

        I don’t follow.

        Arsenic kills people. I could take my cue from arsenic and go kill people, but that would be moronic.

        “Natural order” doesn’t justify anything; it’s an explanation for the way things are. We don’t take our morality from animals (too bad, perhaps, because our actions are worse than those of lots of animals).

      • Pofarmer

        You have two problems here. First of all, you don’t invoke Godwin’s law when you mention Nazi’s. Normally, Godwins law is invoked AFTER someone mentions Nazi’s. If you have to invoke Nazism or Hitler to win an argument, you automatically lose it. Second of all, much of what typified Nazism, bears a large resemblance to Protestant Lutheranism and views held by the Catholic Church for 1000 years.

      • Sophia Sadek

        Worshiping the material Creator never stopped anyone from committing acts of theft, murder, and destruction. All you need to do is to recount the myriad such acts committed against heretics, Hebrews, and heathens by pious orthodox Christians.


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