Prayer Cures Disease? Tried and Found Wanting.

Does prayer cure disease?In early 2012, Washington state declared an epidemic for pertussis (whooping cough). Pertussis hadn’t been this bad for decades. The 2500 cases during the outbreak was more than ten times higher than the previous year.

Before routine child vaccination in the 1940s, pertussis caused thousands of fatalities annually in the U.S.

You might imagine that this is a story about anti-vaxers, afraid of a perceived vaccine-autism link, who refused to vaccinate their children and helped create this epidemic. Not this time. The anti-vaccine movement seems not to have been a factor.

Instead, the interesting angle on this story is not disease prevented by vaccine but disease prevented by prayer. Kingdom League International, an online ministry based in western Washington, said in a brief article titled “Whooping Cough Epidemic Halted in Jefferson County”:

Churches in Jefferson County [one of those hardest hit by the statewide epidemic] used our strategy to mobilize prayer and establish councils to connect in 7 spheres of society [the Dominionists’ Seven Spheres of Influence]. On Mar 27 they met and a County Commissioner asked them to pray about the whooping cough epidemic. … As of April 13 there has not been one case reported. From epidemic proportions to zero.

A bold claim, but the question is whether we can find natural explanations besides prayer to explain the facts. We can. Epidemics peak and then diminish, particularly when there’s an effective health system in place that can administer vaccines. There were 21 confirmed cases for this county in 2012, with no new cases since mid-April. Is this remarkable? Is this unexplained by the efforts of the public health system? This looks to me like an epidemic that’s simply run its course.

I jumped into a discussion with the author in the comment section. Aside from being quickly asked my faith status (though I’m not sure how this affects one’s ability to evaluate evidence), I got the expected tsunami of miracle claims—a bad knee healed, a barren woman now pregnant, lung cancer cured, demons cast out, blindness healed, a stroke patient recovering, a rainstorm to break a heat wave, a cracked rib healed, and so on.

(For comparison, consider the pinnacle of medical cure sites, Lourdes. After 150 years as a pilgrimage site and with six million visitors per year, the Catholic Church has recognized just 67 miraculous cures.)

I pointed out to my Kingdom League correspondent that natural explanations hadn’t been ruled out. Surprisingly, he had no interest in doing so.

I tried to portray this as a missed opportunity. If any of the many healing claims were more than just anecdotal, this group should create a dossier of x-rays, test results, photographs, or other evidence, both before and after the miracle. Add the report of the doctor who witnessed the change and then show this to the Centers for Disease Control or an epidemiologist or some other qualified authority. Why hide your light under a basket? Jesus had no problem using miracles to prove his divinity.

There seems to be no shortage of these miracles (at least in their minds), so if one miracle claim isn’t convincing, then pray for some more and try again to convince the skeptics.

That this group has no interest in going beyond feel-good anecdotes makes me think that they understand that their claims wouldn’t withstand scrutiny, not because skeptics wouldn’t play fair, but because honestly evaluating the claims would show them to be little more than wishful thinking. Their purpose in celebrating these “answers to prayer” isn’t in convincing others but convincing themselves.

Pray v. To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled
on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
— Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 5/31/12.)

Photo credit: AJC1

 

About Bob Seidensticker
  • RichardSRussell

    For an in-depth look at the efficacy of prayer vs. bodily affliction, Google “god hates amputees”.

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

      … or not, if you want to preserve your idea of God as an all-loving father figure.

    • Ron

      You just don’t understand, Richard. God doesn’t heal amputees because he has a special plan for them.

  • Mick

    They’re probably not even trying to convince themselves. They just think that Christians are supposed to believe in miracles – so they believe in miracles. It’s what they do.

  • Lbj

    What would a healed amputee prove?

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

      It would prove nothing, but it would at least give evidence for the Christian claim that God is like a loving father.

      Where the evidence points is to a god who’s more like an alcoholic who drinks all his salary on Friday night, giving no time to his children.

      • Lbj

        You should read Keener’s book on miracles. He does have some documentation that supports them.

        God is like a loving father. Every breath you take, every piece of food you eat, every loved one you love and all the good things in life shows He is a loving father. What’s amazing is that you can’t be grateful for these things since they are all just accidents of nature and nothing more.

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

          Amputees not getting healed? Looks just like nature.

          Beautiful sunsets? Nature.

          Yellow fever and plague? Nature.

          Happy puppies? Nature.

          See how that goes? Drop the God hypothesis, and everything is easy to explain. Keep it, and you’ve got to tap dance why God loves you to pieces but lets babies be born with terminal illnesses or people be tortured to death (both neatly explained by “Nature,” yet again).

        • Lbj

          If an amputee is not healed it proves nothing about the viability of miracles.
          As atheist all you can say about those things “sunsets, plagues etc” is that its only atoms in motion. Such things are neither good or bad or beautiful. They just are. All the result of the mindless-purposeless forces of nature.

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

          Yeah, I didn’t prove miracles never happen. That wasn’t my goal. This discussion (or whatever it is) isn’t about proof. What I did do, however, was show that the evidence points away from “God dun it.”

        • SuperMark

          do you really think all atheist think the same way? we don’t, one of the many reasons why it is absurd to label atheism as a religion the way so many christians love to do.

        • Lbj

          The ones I have encountered pretty much think the same way.

        • SuperMark

          then you need to broaden your horizons, or at least stop generalizing so much.

        • Lbj

          What do you think you are continually doing about Christians?

        • Greg G.

          Confirmation bias is when your thumb is on the scale when you remember the people who claimed to have been healed by God but it is off the scale when you forget the people who weren’t healed. Then there is the bias of meeting lots of folks who were healed who brag about it but you don’t hear from those who were not healed because they had nothing to say about it, they are still ill to go out, or they are dead.

        • Lbj

          Not everyone is healed. Not making that claim.

        • Greg G.

          I wasn’t saying that. You remember the ones that are healed more strongly than those that are not because of the emotional impact it makes. A non-answered prayer doesn’t surprise you enough to make an emotional impact and you don’t hear people complaining about unanswered prayer. It would make it look like somebody up there didn’t love them as much as the one who claims to have been healed.

          People hear that full moons cause weird things to happen. If something strange happens and a person happens to notice that the moon is full or nearly full, then that is thought to have been related and it confirms that belief. If not, it’s just written off as one of those things that just happen from time to time. People convince themselves that they are psychic by making guesses and the hits make bigger impressions so they form stronger memories than the misses. The same way if you pray for something and it happens, you believe the prayer had something to do with it and it forms a strong memory. When it doesn’t happen, you don’t have a strong memory of it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          if you had meaningful records of these encounters, including evidence that you could grasp all of their arguments, that assertion might mean something.

        • Lbj

          I have yet to meet an atheist that gets to any facts in support of his atheism. They all think pretty much the same way.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you’re not making any sense. not-believing has nothing to do with providing proof. theists provide the claims of truth, therefore the burden of proof lies with them (you).

        • Lbj

          True theists have a burden to prove their view. So do atheists.

        • Philmonomer

          True theists have a burden to prove their view. So do atheists.

          Why do you think that?

        • Greg G.

          Why is the prayer cure rate the same as the natural remission rate for each ailment? Amputations don’t heal on their own unless you are turned into a newt and they don’t respond to prayer either. A friend told me about his friend with multiple sclerosis who prayed and it went away. But temporary remission is common though it usually comes back.

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

          What about bad things which happen? Do they count against your idea?

        • Lbj

          What do you mean?

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

          Well, you say that every good thing is evidence this loving god exists, so what about bad things?

        • hector_jones

          Bad things are also evidence that this loving god exists. God is praised if he do, and praised if he don’t.

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

          That’s precisely the problem.

        • hector_jones

          Yep. That’s why I said it.

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

          I agree. There’s no reason to deal with a claim that isn’t falsifiable. It’s quite pointless.

        • Lbj

          Do you know there are no bad things in the world if atheism is true. Its all atoms in motion.

        • hector_jones

          That depends how you define ‘bad’. There are bad things in the world, in my opinion. There are no bad things in the world as God would define the word ‘bad’ since he’s imaginary.

        • Pofarmer

          Yes it is allmatoms and motion, and somewhere in the middle of all the quantum fields and fluctuations that make up time and space, here we are, and what do you want to do with that time?

        • hector_jones

          If you want to play the ‘implications’ game, have you considered the implications for how you live your life if there were no god, no heaven and no hell?

        • Lbj

          Yes. I would wasted some time and money in my life. Other than that it would have given me a false hope that was beneficial temporally.

        • Scott_In_OH

          I pointed out on an earlier thread that this is sad to me. How would it be a waste of time and money? What are you doing now that you wouldn’t do if there were “no god, no heaven, and no hell”?

        • smrnda

          Why is this the case?

          My coffee is just atoms in motion as you said. A cup of instant coffee is also just atoms in motion, yet calling one better is still possible. Yes, it’s only better *to a person drinking coffee* but you can’t escape subjectivity with a god even.

        • Lbj

          God and His laws are the objective standard by which we can judge. If atheism is true then it is all subjectivity and opinion on morality.

        • hector_jones

          You are like a broken record. You have said this repeatedly about atheism for days now, and our reply is ‘yeah, so deal with it’. Face reality, man.

        • Lbj

          It needs to be repeated said so it sinks in. I don’t think you are facing the reality of this.

        • hector_jones

          Oh believe me, I get it. You are completely hung up on argumentum ad consequentiam. You think it would be so totally and completely unfair that a guy like Hitler could ‘get away with’ his crimes if all he got in the end was oblivion instead of the fires of an eternal hell. However, this isn’t a logical argument. It does not follow logically that something exists because you think it would be unfair if it didn’t exist. Yes it’s totally not fair that Hitler did all those things he did to people and in the end all he got was what the rest of us get – death. But that’s reality whether you like it or not. It’s because you can’t grasp this that I doubt your rationality and intelligence.

          Show me that Hitler is in fact being punished by your god, rather than simply asserting that that’s what you believe your god does to malefactors after they die. Oh wait, I asked you about this and you told me I have to wait until the final judgement. Sorry but that’s an entirely inadequate response. Hence I would be a fool to believe that Hitler is anything but dead, i.e. completely and permanently unconscious. That’s the reality, and I am fully facing it. You are the one living in denial of reality because you find reality too ‘brutal’.

        • Greg G.

          How do you know what is objectively good? Barbecue smells good but is it objectively good? If you base it on God’s desires and you read Leviticus it is.

          Beef
          Leviticus 1:9 but its entrails and its legs shall be washed with water. Then the priest shall turn the whole into smoke on the altar as a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord.

          Goat
          Leviticus 1:13 but the entrails and the legs shall be washed with water. Then the priest shall offer the whole and turn it into smoke on the altar; it is a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord.

          Squab
          Leviticus 1:17 He shall tear it open by its wings without severing it. Then the priest shall turn it into smoke on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire; it is a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord.

          On the other hand, when you read Isaiah, it is not objectively good.

          Isaiah 1:11
          What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
              says the Lord;
          I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
              and the fat of fed beasts;
          I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
              or of lambs, or of goats.

          Does closing the canon keep God from changing his mind on good and evil?

        • smrnda

          God’s opinions are just his opinions. The only difference between god and humans is the level of power. Still totally subjective.

          This is no different than saying that if *random person X* doesn’t like something, so what, but if Genghis Khan does not like it, it must be destroyed.

        • TheNuszAbides

          talking past people whose thoughts you refuse to take seriously. no big surprise that you accuse them of the same even when completely inaccurate.

        • Lbj

          Bad things are evidence of a fallen world.

        • Greg G.

          Your thumb is on the scale again.

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

          How do you tell a fallen world from one without gods (at least all-good or all-powerful ones)?

        • Lbj

          All fallen world is a world where evil exist and bad things happen. It is a world that does not live up to the perfect standards of God. The world is less than what the Creator originally made.

          The atheist has no way to explain why there is evil in the world.

        • hector_jones

          How is this different from a world where there is no God? How is this different from a world in which there is a God, but he is evil?

          The atheist can easily explain the evil in the world. ‘Evil’ is merely a name that we humans give to things that we, in our judgement, consider to be highly undesirable. Things that we find highly undesirable exist because that’s reality, which doesn’t care about what humans do or don’t find desirable. That’s it. There is no need to believe in a god to find something highly undesirable. All you do is project your own opinions of what is evil onto your god and then pretend to yourself that it is god that decided what is good and what is evil. It was you who decided it.

        • Lbj

          Its all opinion. Evil is just a name. You may not like what Hitler did in the holocaust but you cannot say it was really evil. He found it highly desirable to kill Jews in furnaces. Evil is just like a preference. What’s you think is evil someone else thinks its good. No way to decide one is right or wrong.

        • hector_jones

          Yeah I can say what Hitler did in the Holocaust was really evil because that’s my opinion. And that’s exactly why you say what he did was evil, because that’s your opinion. I haven’t heard a word from your god, spoken or written, that says he finds what Hitler did evil. In fact if you read the bible, your god seems like he might be ok with things like holocausts. Our resident Mormon John thinks he is.

        • Lbj

          No one is obligated to take your opinion seriously. It is not binding on anyone. Hitler certainly had a contrary opinion and he thought it was good.

          What Hitler did was to break the commandment -Thou shall not murder and he will be held accountable at the judgement for this.

          The atheist cannot hold Hitler accountable since he died and there is no judgement after death.

        • hector_jones

          I never said my opinion was binding on anyone. Neither is yours. Neither is god’s, since he doesn’t exist. This is why we have a legal system instead of just leaving it up to god to punish offenders.

          Yes Hitler broke that commandment. So what? That commandment obviously wasn’t binding on anyone, since Hitler broke it and god did nothing about it. It took a massive human intervention to stop Hitler.

          Indeed the atheist can’t hold Hitler accountable since he is dead. The christian can’t hold him accountable either, for the same reason. This is just another argumentum ad consequentiam from you, i.e. there must be a punishing god out there because christians can’t stand the thought that Hitler is merely dead and not burning for eternity in Hell.

          Show me an official list of people currently burning in Hell and then maybe I’ll take your concept of divine punishment in the afterlife seriously.

        • Lbj

          I can’t right now give you a list of people in hell. Maybe after the judgement. If there is no judgement after death for evil then Hitler got away with his evil. He was never brought to justice and punished for his deeds. If atheism is true, then evil triumphs at times.

          If Christianity is true, all evil is judged and punished. No one gets away with anything. Not even Hitler.

        • hector_jones

          I can’t right now give you a list of people in hell. Maybe after the judgement.

          How unfortunate. And how convenient for you.

          I’m not convinced Hitler got away with his evil. Germany was eventually defeated in the war and Hitler was forced to commit suicide. Evil didn’t triumph in that case, though it was in the ascendant for a while and did a lot of permanent damage. It did triumph over many individuals, but not over the world as a whole. We didn’t get the perfect justice that you imagine your god dishing out, but that’s just reality. Where was your god during all of that?

          If Christianity is true, all evil is judged and punished. No one gets away with anything. Not even Hitler.

          Perhaps, but this still fails to answer the question, of whether Christianity is true. You are horribly fixated on argumentum ad consequentiam. You say this as if you believe that Christianity must be true because it would do a better job of punishing Hitler than atheism does. This is wishful thinking. You need to prove that Christianity delivers rather than just spouting theology.

          If we look at the world around us and at what actually happened in the case of Hitler we can see that whatever punishment Hitler received was entirely meted out by human beings. There isn’t a trace of evidence that God lifted a pinky to stop or punish Hitler. Telling me that God’s punishment only happens in the afterlife is just far too convenient because it is completely unverifiable. It’s also an inadequate punishment as it fails to stop evil as it happens, and offers a poor deterrent effect.

        • Lbj

          I wasn’t using this example to prove Christianity true only that atheism cannot account evil. The fact is, there was no justice and no accountability for Hitler. He avoided it by killing himself. If fact, from the records we have of him he displayed no remorse for what he did.

        • hector_jones

          There is nothing about the example of Hitler for which atheism cannot account. It is utterly baffling that you think explaining Hitler is a difficulty for atheism but a piece of cake for christianity.

          On the contrary, the example of Hitler may be ‘accounted for’ in christianity, but only to the extent that Christianity recognizes that people do bad things to one another, something that atheism fully acknowledges and is a thoroughly banal observation. What Christianity cannot explain is how its all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving god a) created a world in which a person like Hitler managed to come along and do what he did, and b) refused to lift a fucking finger to stop or deter Hitler. You yourself concede that Hitler received no punishment or hindrance whatsoever from your god while Hitler was alive. Christianity cannot adequately explain this at all. Atheism certainly can.

        • hector_jones

          If Christianity is true, all evil is judged and punished. No one gets away with anything. Not even Hitler.

          I also note that your poor reasoning skills are reflected in your use of grammar. The phrase ‘not even’ in the context of your comment should be used for the minimal case, not the maximal case. But you clearly think Hitler was the maximal case (and I agree). So you should have written ‘Especially not Hitler’. The words ‘not even’ would have been appropriate if you had said ‘Not even a small child who takes a nickel from his mother’s purse’, which is an example of a minimal case.

          Normally I wouldn’t waist time pointing out something like this, but I think it is typical of your poor reasoning skills. Your reasoning is so poor that it shows up in your use of language as well as your demonstrated inability to understand the arguments being made against you. The fact that you ignore many of the arguments made against you probably reflects on your dishonesty, as poor reasoning and rank dishonesty are the most commonly used tools in the Christian tool box.

        • Lbj

          Thanks for the gramar leson.

        • hector_jones

          You are welcome. You could work on your spelling too and not just your gramar while you are at it. But for the purposes of posting here it’s your reasoning skills that really need major work.

        • Lbj

          right. This tactic of yours is called Ad Hominem.

        • hector_jones

          No it’s not. Your poor reasoning skills are demonstrated by your comments here, whether I point them out or not.

          Good old ‘ad hominem’, the lazy internet debater’s favorite go-to accusation in response to everything. How about using sound reasoning skills instead, mmkay?

        • Lbj

          Here is what you are guilty of:

          “”Ad Hominem” means “against the man” or “against the person.”

          An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting).”http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-hominem.html

        • hector_jones

          The reason my argument isn’t ‘ad hominem’ as you define it is because I did NOT reject your argument based on some irrelevant fact about you. I rejected your argument because it is unsound, which I demonstrated extensively. Others have demonstrated likewise. I then opined that your arguments were so unsound that they reflected negatively on your critical thinking skills. This is perfectly valid reasoning on my part.

          That you then incorrectly reply that I have engaged in a fallacy, while you continually refuse to see the argumentum ad consequentiam fallacy in your own thinking, only confirms my opinion that you have poor reasoning skills.

        • MNb

          Hector is right. This

          “Your reasoning is so poor that it shows up in your use of language.”
          is a conclusion – perhaps a wrong one, but that doesn’t matter here. It’s not the starting point of his argument. So it’s not an Ad Hominem. That you don’t recognize this confirms what Hector writes about your logical skills.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “If atheism is true…”

          try again. atheism is not and never has been a statement of fact, it’s an absence of theism.

        • Lbj

          It does make a statement of fact that God does not exist.

        • TheNuszAbides

          wrong again. an individual atheist may do such a thing. atheism is not a claim, it’s an absence of a specific category of claims.

        • smrnda

          “No one is obligated to take your opinion seriously.”

          Opinions have consequences. I am not obliged to take the opinion of a doctor seriously, but there are consequences for me if I listen to some faith healing quack instead of my doctor. When it comes to moral questions, we look at consequences for themselves and society.

        • MNb

          Your god commanded the Hebrews to break that commandment a couple of times – and he did so himself with the Great Flood, if we are to rely on your favourite holy book.

        • Lbj

          What command was that?

        • MNb

          The same Hitler did break.

        • Lbj

          Hitler murdered. He had no just reason to murder.
          Killing someone for a just cause is not murder. When God flooded the world He did so reluctantly but He had good cause to do so because it was wicked.

        • Greg G.

          The guy who shot a man for texting at a theater said he had a just cause to kill the man, too. Isn’t that typical of killers?

          Why didn’t God make Jesus instead of Adam and make Jeve out of his rib?

        • Lbj

          The courts will tell us if the man had a just cause to kill the man for texting. I think we both know he did not. I can justify my position as a Christian that it was wrong but you as an atheist cannot.

          Sometimes we don’t know why God does things.

        • MNb

          Nobody can bring god to court so there goes your argument of accountability.

          “you as an atheist cannot.”
          Sure I can. I only need one assumption for it. You a lot more.

        • Lbj

          Not only can any court hold Him accountable but no one has the power to do so.

          I can justify murder as wrong because the law of God (which is above man) says it is. All the atheist can do is to say it is wrong. He doesn’t like it but he cannot tell you via his atheism that it is fundamentally wrong. There is nothing in nature that says murder is wrong.

        • MNb

          “the law of God (which is above man) says it is. ”
          For the third time you admit that your morals are subjective – they don’t apply to one subject (your god) in the same way as to another (Homo Sapiens).
          Thanks.

          “There is nothing in nature that says murder is wrong.”
          No atheist claims that. Like I wrote above I only need one assumption to be capable of calling murder wrong. You need many and they lead to a contradiction: assuming objective morals results in subjective morals.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “…no one has the power to do so.”

          incorrect, every individual has complete and absolute authority over their own personal fictions.

          …okay, perhaps schizophrenia shows an exception…

        • Lbj

          True. Atheism is your fiction.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “…your fiction.”

          Justas, you know precisely *nothing* about what i personally believe or don’t believe. i am trying to clarify varying definitions for you and point out where your arguments are profoundly lacking in utility, sense, consideration, context, nuance and even the mere appearance of ‘good faith’ (the debate kind, not the worship kind). the more you assume that everyone here is saying the same thing (which would speak to a distinct lack of discernment), the less surprising it is that you repeat utterly failed assertions and arguments which appear to have no purpose or value beyond helping you feel better about your choices in life.

        • TheNuszAbides

          but there’s no seeing beyond the first assumption, “because mysterious all-everything Bog”. there’s absolutely no reason for J to acknowledge the cascades beyond.

        • Greg G.

          But you can justify killing just as easily by saying “GodToldMeTo”.

          Atheists know why God doesn’t do things.

        • Lbj

          Claiming “GodToldMeTo” as a justification to kill someone won’t fly. That is never enough to justify anything.

          Why “God doesn’t do things”?

        • Greg G.

          What about the Midianites, the Canaanites, the Amalekites? Abraham was willing to do it.

          God doesn’t do anything because he doesn’t exist. You don’t have to make up excuses.

        • Lbj

          The Midianites, the Canaanites, the Amalekites were evil.

          What was “Abraham was willing to do it”? Do what?

        • Greg G.

          But you just said:

          Claiming “GodToldMeTo” as a justification to kill someone won’t fly. That is never enough to justify anything.

          The scripture says that God told them to do it. God punished them for not killing animals. Sometimes they were permitted to take young girls as sex slaves. You are supposed to believe they were merciful that the girls were given a month to mourn the loss of everyone they knew and everything they had known and that if they didn’t please the man, he had to let her go free. Where was she supposed to go?

          Abraham was willing to kill Isaac, remember? God got off on it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          if The Son had no reason to procreate into the world he was about to redeem from Sinnery, why would he need a Jeve in the perfect closed system of Eden?

          alternatively, he could just make a Mary that gave birth to a Jesus. when is Harry Turtledove going to write the Monotheistic Matriarchy’s alternate reality tunnel?

        • Greg G.

          That’s a better scenario. God could have made Mary out of mud the same way he made Adam, then have the Holy Spirit come over her to produce Jesus. That would eliminate questions of her virginity and why man was created like the other animals but Eve wasn’t.

        • TheNuszAbides

          excellent! now i have to incorporate the Mud-Marian heresy into my next Ars Magica campaign…

        • MNb

          When Hitler murdered the jews (and many more people) he had good cause to do so because they were wicked. That’s what he said, just like it’s what you attribute to your god.
          Same difference.
          This applies to your god commanding the Hebrews killing off Canaanites and the inhabitants of Jericho.

        • Lbj

          Hitler never justifies his action to kill the Jews in a court of law. They were murdered because they were Jews. That is not a justifiable reason to kill someone.

          Since God created the world, He owns the world. He is the lawgiver and no one holds Him accountable. In the case of the Canaanites they were a wicked culture that deserved to be exterminated. Much like the Nazis.

        • Greg G.

          God never justified his action to kill everybody in a court of law, either. He seems to be hiding so a subpoena can’t be served.

          Why didn’t he just make Jesus instead of Adam and JesusEve out of his rib? He had the ability. He regretted creating non-Jesus humans.

        • Lbj

          Not everyone is killed in a court of law. The Law of Moses for example was very specific in what was required for capital punishment.

          We can speculate why God didn’t allow Christ to come into the world first instead of Adam til the day we die and never answer it. WE can only deal with what did happen.

        • Greg G.

          For an omniscient God, the Flood was premeditated murder.

          If God wasn’t omniscient, he might have an excuse.

          He had the ability to make someone who wouldn’t sin if the Jesus story is to be believed. Did Jesus have free will? He could have had it in the Garden of Eden.

          I don’t think you can speculate why God didn’t just put Jesus in Eden. Try to come up with something that makes sense. Try to come up with something that doesn’t turn your stomach. Try to think hard. I got one: God likes the aroma of burning souls.

        • Lbj

          How could the flood be murdered when God Himself who is the perfection of His law be a murderer? Only God has the right to take a life as He sees fit. The conditions before the flood was because of wickedness.
          Here is what Genesis 6:5 says–“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” As you can see the Lord God had good reason to do it.

          He made Adam and Eve perfect. They had no sin in them.

          This shows God could make perfect sinless creatures.

          Jesus had a freewill.

          Where in Scripture does it say “God likes the aroma of burning souls”?

        • Greg G.

          If Adam and Eve were perfect without sin, where did the sin come from? Who made the conduit that brought them the sin? Who made Satan? Who made the object of the sin? Why didn’t God just put the tree on the moon?

          Were Adam and Eve as perfect as Jesus? If Jesus had lived longer, would he have sinned too?

          If the serpent was Satan, why did God punish serpents? Isn’t that like putting Romney in jail because someone robbed a bank wearing a mask of him?

          God is more complicit in bringing sin into the world that anyone because he knew the implications of everything he did. An omniscient being can’t do anything without it being premeditated.

          Do you have a better explanation for burning souls? Why create people you can’t help but know you will damn?

          You aren’t thinking your answers through.

        • Lbj

          Good questions. One of the first recorded mention of sin-corruption is found in Ezekiel 28:14–15You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were upon the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in thee.” This is a reference to Satan who was created by God.

          Sin is not a physical thing. It is a corruption of the good.

          Why God allowed the fall has been debated for centuries. I wonder to.

          Adam and Eve were morally perfect when God created them. What caused them to sin is another mystery.

          No reason to think Jesus would have sinned if He lived longer. Living 33 years without sinning and under extreme temptations shows He would not have later.

          God did not punish serpents but cursed Satan who would crawl like a serpent.

          God knew what would happen. Perhaps this was the way to a better world. God allowing sin does not make Him complicit.

          Souls don’t burn. Fire is a metaphor for something terrible. It is not His desire to condemn anyone which is why He sent Christ into the world to save it.

          I may not be able to answer all your questions to your satisfaction. But I think you know the way of salvation and yet choose to reject it. If this is true, then why would you gamble with your soul? I don’t get it. I don’t understand everything why God does what He does but that does not lead me to reject His gift of Christ.

        • Lbj

          I hope you do seek some answers to your questions. Its a good thing you are thinking about these things.

        • MNb

          I have sought and found nothing. Conclusion: your view is incoherent.
          Also note again your double standards. You demand from atheism to explain the entire Universe definitely and conclusively before you think it worth considering. You yourself are not even capable of explaining your very own Holy Book.

        • Greg G.

          If the cherub was perfect, where did the sin come from? Was it a damn serpent?

          If everything was created perfect, where did the sin come from first? There had to be a flaw. That indicates that God is the source of the flaw. A flawed being who blames everybody but himself.

          Your God caused everything. If things went wrong, it was his fault, it was intentional or negligent. If he is omniscient, it cannot be negligence. If it was intentional it is malevolence.

          How do you know souls don’t burn? Do you know what they are made of? Is the fire of the physical world a metaphor for the fire of the spiritual world? Are you trying to say an omnipotent being can’t smell a burning soul?

          You don’t need to answer the questions for me. You need to think these things through for yourself. I am pointing out plot holes you can drive a truck through. If you thought you understood why God did the things the Bible says, you would be insane. Your inability to reconcile them shows your brain is working.

          There is no salvation but don’t worry. There is nothing to be saved from. Those are all mind fucks the church lays on you so you’ll keep giving them money and bringing friends with money. They also instill mind fuckw to make you stop thinking about a problem when you think you have an answer. Think them through.

          Been there, done that. Freedom from religious brain slavery is better.

        • MNb

          “Only God has the right to take a life as He sees fit.”
          Which is the very definition of subjective morals.
          Thanks again.

        • smrnda

          There was this thing called PROPAGANDA that the Nazis were really big into, which, among other things, was full of antisemitism.

          It seems like your god is just a tyrant who rules by force.

        • Greg G.

          I was thinking that the Bible was like propaganda against the Amalekites, Canaanites, and Midianites and thought of the WWII propaganda against the Japanese like they put knives in the cribs of babies to teach them to kill Americans. I remember my dad telling a story of a WWII vet who was working in his yard when a carload of Asians stopped to ask for directions.

          His only answer was, “You found Pearl Harbor, didn’t you?”

          Then I thought of concentration camps vs internment camps, medical experiments on Jews vs nuclear experiments on Japs, millions killed vs hundreds of thousands killed.

          The Japanese propaganda against the Americans made women jump off cliffs with their babies, too.

          I’m not defending Hitler but are we that much superior? We fell for the WMD propaganda.

        • TheNuszAbides
        • MNb

          It seems like Hitler was just a tyrant who ruled by force. Oh wait, he totally was.

        • MNb

          Your god never justified his action to kill the Canaanites in a court of law. They were murdered because they were Canaanites. That is not a justifiable reason to kill someone.

          Since Hitler created the nazi-society he owned that society. He was The Füher and as such the lawgiver and no one holded him accountable. In the case of the jews they were a wicked culture that deserved to be exterminated. Much like the Canaanites.

          In case you haven’t noticed: you’re suffering from the Eutyphro dilemma.

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

          What’s more, you just have admitted that your objective morals are actually subjective – they depend on the subject. If the subject is god then genocide can be justified (in case of the Canaanites) and if the subject is Hitler it cannot.
          That’s why you can’t win this little game. No matter what argument you will bring up, I will replace “god” by “Hitler”, “creator” by “Führer” and “jews” by “Canaanites” and your argument will bounce back.
          Thanks that you yourself thus have defeated your own statement of objective morals.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Since God created the world, He owns the world. He is the lawgiver and no one holds Him accountable.

          So we’re back to God as powerful and abusive, not moral and loving.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you should have a chat with one of the bright lights who equivocates that the Canaanites were merely ~absorbed~.

        • Pofarmer

          To quote Christopher Hitchens, “we are evolved primates, not fallen Angels.”.

          Give me some evidence of the fall, evidence of a perfect world before the fall.

          I think there are multiple paths to explain why there is evil in the world. Try reading some Sam Harris or Dennet.

        • Lbj

          Genesis 2,
          If all “”we are evolved primates, not fallen Angels.” then your dog should sleep in the house tonite while you sleep in garage since you are no better than your pet.

          Hichens is right if atheism is true. Please don’t try to claim there is such a thing as evil. It would not exist. All “bad” things that happen are just atoms in motion. There is no morality connected to it.

        • hector_jones

          There isn’t such a ‘thing’ as evil. Evil is a human value judgement.

          Do you really think what you said about the dog sleeping in the garage proves something? If we are fallen Angels but dogs aren’t, then why aren’t dogs sleeping in houses while we fallen beings sleep in holes in the ground?

        • Pofarmer

          Is my dog an evolved primate? It is interesting though, since some religious sects do argue all creatures are equal. Morality and evil are connected to us, to our ideas, to our consciousness. And, some of the most evil things imagined have been committed BECAUSE OF religion, so fuck you if you want to claim exclusive right to terms. There was evil before there was a bunch of deluded asshats that thought a jew 2000 years ago somehow rose from the dead, and there will be evil after your asshat ideas die out, but hopefully less of it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          again, your imagination (and experience of the world) fail you. morality does not require supernatural forces. all it requires is a spectrum (or two, or ten…) of strong feelings.

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

          On the contrary, there is no good way to explain evil while at the same time believing an all-good, all-powerful god exists. An atheist, on the other hand, can simply define evil as things harmful to us, which needs no explanation as we don’t claim the world was especially made to exist for us, as Christians do.

        • Lbj

          Whose says evil is defined “as things harmful to us”? What you claim is harmful another could easily say its beneficial. Its all opinion and all opinions are equal.

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

          I say it, among others. Naturally we don’t all agree. That does not make each opinion equal. I’m sure you don’t think your opinion that a god exists is equal to mine which doubts it. Both are opinions, but one is wrong.

        • hector_jones

          No not all opinions are equal. If my neighbor is of the opinion that beating someone up and robbing them is perfectly ok, but the victim, the police and the judge have a different opinion guess whose opinion will prevail?

          All you are trying to argue is that your god’s opinion trumps every human being’s opinion. But you haven’t shown that your god exists or that he has any power. You even claim that he is rather weak because he was unable to prevent the world from becoming imperfect.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Justas’ brilliant conflation of anomie (and/or moral relativism) and the handy catch-all of atheism strikes again!

        • TheNuszAbides

          hopefully Justas isn’t a “the planet is our sandbox” dominionist (fat chance, though), because otherwise your closing line there will fall on exceptionally deaf ears.

        • smrnda

          I think the city of Tokyo is bigger than Trenton. If someone thinks more people live in Trenton, they are wrong.

          If you think that eating burgers and watching TV will prepare you for a marathon, you will be lucky to survive a 5k. You will not run as well as someone who thinks running and eating well is a better way to train.

          What works and what doesn’t are resolved by empirical evidence.

          People aren’t particularly divided when it comes to ‘harmful’ or ‘beneficial’ mostly since we are a social species. When disputes arise, there are discussions and a look at the evidence.

        • Greg G.

          all opinions are equal

          Opinions based on logic and evidence are superior to opinions based on guesses and visions. Do you visit trained physicians or witch doctors?

        • Lbj

          Then you should apply this to your atheism because atheism is no based on logic nor evidence.

        • MNb

          Empty claim.

        • Lbj

          True. Atheism is empty of any claim. It can’t prove what it asserts.

        • MNb

          You’re the one who makes an empty claim, as you don’t prove “atheism is not based on logic nor evidence.”

        • Lbj

          Atheism cannot account for logic. It cannot support its assertion there is no god with any facts. That’s why its empty and bankrupt.

        • MNb

          1. Logic is a human invention.
          2a. There is no methodology to separate correct claims about the supposed immaterial reality from the material one.
          2b. Never has a way been detected that an immaterial entity can interact with the material reality.
          Hard facts that back up atheism.

        • Lbj

          The laws of logic are universal. They were not invented by man but deduced by sound reasoning and thinking.

          2a- give me an example what you mean please.

          2b- a miracle would be a way to detect an immaterial entity can interact with the material reality. In fact you live with this everyday. Your soul-spirit is immaterial and is the source of your thinking.

          Even if I couldn’t prove these things, it would not mean atheism is true. For atheism to be true the atheist would have to have exhaustive knowledge of the universe since it began. In that way he could know if there is no god or that the universe is all there is.

        • Greg G.

          Logic is mainly binary, true and false. A life form that can make slightly accurate assessments of its environment would have a survival advantage over those without for acquiring food or avoiding death. The better the decisions they make the better their chances of reproducing offspring with the same characteristics.

          A complex brain requires a large payoff in food and safety. In the wild, sometimes there is little time, so certain rules of thumb are employed. When the brain was developed enough, it could notice that some of their rules of are usually wrong but prudent. If you run from rustling weeds a be wrong about it being a tiger a thousand times but if you don’t run, you are wrong once. Some rules are usually right. These they called fallacies. But some are always right and arranged in certain ways, yield results as accurate as the premises. That is logic. You don’t need a god to do it. Just a big brain. But any creature can make use of it. Crows and keas, for example.

        • smrnda

          “The laws of logic are universal.”

          HA HA! I guess you are not a mathematician or logician.

          You might want to read up on topics like – mathematical formalism, Kurt Gödel’s work, and the axiom of choice in set theory, or the fact that we have multiple types of geometry.

          Mathematics and logic are formal systems invented by humans. They can be rather counter-intuitive. There are an equal number of integers and perfect squares, even though not every integer is a perfect square.

        • Compuholic

          The laws of logic are universal.

          Which laws of logic? Predicate logic? Temporal logic? Modal Logic? Fuzzy Logic? The very fact of the existence of multiple logical systems should tell you that logic is created out of a need to formally describe nature. If you don’t care about temporal relationships you don’t need temporal operators.

          They were not invented by man but deduced by sound reasoning and thinking.

          I guess god is also on the standardization commitee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The IEEE 1164 Logic very much sounds like it was invented by humans to help us synthesize integrated circuits.

        • MNb

          2ax. Jesus rose from death.
          2ay. There are undetectable fairies in my garden who tend my flowers.

          There is no methodology to find out which claim is correct and which one is incorrect.

          A miracle is a phenomenon, not a way to detect something. As a result you immediately fall back on circular logic:

          “Your soul is immaterial”
          You postulate an immaterial entity to “prove” that immaterial entities can interact with the material reality. But you don’t tell us how this supposed soul interacts with my material body, which procedures it follows, which influence it has on my thoughts and on my behaviour. You don’t tell us where in my body it is situated, how we can detect it and what separates this immaterial soul from my material mind.

          “the source of your thinking.”
          Defining something into existence doesn’t address the problems.

          “For atheism to be true the atheist would have to have exhaustive knowledge of the universe”
          Strawman, god of the gaps plus a double standard – that’s three logical fallacies in one sentence. Oh – and you use the word “true” in an ambiguous meaning. Good job, Justas.
          I’m not interested in truth. Neither is science. Everything science – and hence I – postulates is temporary and might turn out incorrect. Moreover exhaustive knowledge of the Universe is impossible by definition. Our knowledge always can be improved. There is the strawman. I don’t claim exhaustive knowledge of the Universe. No atheist and no scientist does.
          So there always will be gaps in our knowledge. They will become smaller and fewer, but they will remain. Deriving god from this is the same mistake as the old Greeks and Germanics made, when they thought that thunder was the result of the anger of Zeus or Donar. You only show that you are as superstitious as them.
          To pull this off you use “truth” in the meaning of eternally, absolutely correct and certain. You demand that from us, but when you talk about christian truth (like murder is wrong) you mean something different, as your defence of the Great Flood showed. That results in a double standard: you demand eternal, absolute truth from atheists, but are not capable of delivering itself. You showed this when you postulated that man cannot always understand god’s ways.

        • TheNuszAbides

          but Justas doesn’t seem to feel the need to ‘deliver’ anything (other than The Good News!), because ~god will deliver what needs deliverin’~. and Justas presumably denounces all personal accountability beyond Proper Worship and Following the Tenets… it’s just that s/he can only reveal the attitude and would never admit such a thing in so many words.

        • Ron
        • Lbj

          Believing in one less god means you are forced to believe in all kinds of absurdities.
          I agree that there is only one God.

        • MNb

          Believing in one less god means to believe in one less absurdity, as you yourself show over and over again.

        • Greg G.

          We don’t have to believe in souls, a teleological meaning of life, the efficacy of prayer, that churches are holy, that scripture is sacred, that ingesting a fruit puts knowledge of other things into the brain, that killing one person pays for the sins of others, eternal punishment for finite sins, the concept of sin, that anger at someone is equivalent to murder, that finite life has no meaning, that logic can’t be accounted for without a deity, that we can’t know that killing is wrong.

        • Lbj

          I agree you don’t have to believe these things. However your disbelief in a soul for example creates huge problems for you in your atheism. Without a soul you have no freewill. No independent thinking. All you are is a meat machine.

        • SuperMark

          do animals have free will? if a person’s free will is broken through torture or coercion do they lose their soul?

        • Lbj

          I’m not sure about animals. No to the 2nd question.

        • Greg G.

          The brain has signal pathways. The larger the diameter of the pathways, the more reliable the transmission but it takes more energy to run them, more resources to make them, and they take up space. By making them smaller, there can be room for error correction circuits to correct the reduced reliability. Natural selection is very good at optimizing functions like that. The error correction is not perfect however, it’s like the way the visual error correction creates optical illusions. The errors can account for creativity and the illusion of free will.

          There is nothing wrong with being a meat machine. Why does a soul need a meat machine? Why does damage to the meat machine affect the functioning of the soul?

          If the soul give free will, and the possibility of sin is required for free will, and souls go to heaven, then free will goes to heaven and takes the possibility of sin with it. If a third of the angels are going to be cast out of heaven then the possibility of sin in heaven is confirmed.

          If one out of three angels will be cast out for sinning in a few thousand years, what chance do you have of lasting a billion years?

          So maybe there is an after-afterlife after all. There would have to be such a thing because the afterlife would be meaningless without it.

        • MNb

          What difference will there between Earthly life, afterlife and after-afterlife?

        • hector_jones

          In the after-afterlife the food is terrible and the portions are tiny.

        • Greg G.

          I’m referring to a DarkMatter2525 video that parodies the argument that life has no meaning without an afterlife. I think The Friendly Atheist highlighted it a few days ago.

        • MNb

          “Without a soul you have no freewill.”
          In the first place this isn’t a problem, let alone a huge one. In the second place science – ie neurobiology – has not decided on this issue yet. In the third place belief cannot prescribe what science should find.

          “All you are is a meat machine.”
          So you have a problem, not the atheists.

          “No independent thinking.”
          Anyone who who relies on scripture for his views abandons independent thinking a priori. You are for instance not capable of considering atheism or other religions.

        • Lbj

          If you are a meat machine then you are not communicating any independent thinking of your own. Its all the result of the configuration of the chemicals in your brain. This means you have no independent thinking. Your like a robot.

        • MNb

          So what? If I teach Newton’s Laws I am obviously repeating what other people wrote before. Newton himself famously wrote that he was standing on the shoulders of giants, ie didn’t think too high of his own independency of thinking. Whatever new he brought up was just the result of a new configuration of the chemicals in his brain.
          If you accept some books you think holy and were written 20-30 centuries ago as the indisputable divine word then you are not communicating any independent thinking of your own. It’s all the result of mindlessly swallowing of what you have read. This means you have no independent thinking. You’re like a robot.

          “the configuration of the chemicals in your brain”
          is exactly what defines my identity. As always you are the one who has a problem, not we atheists.

        • Pofarmer

          Without a soul you have no free will. It seems to me that the opposite is true. Without the assumption of a diety, and that it wills us to do certain things and be certain ways, all we have is free will.

        • TheNuszAbides

          if by ‘agree’ you mean ‘agree with something anyone else in this thread just posted’, then your reading comprehension truly needs development.

        • TheNuszAbides

          correct! it’s based (primarily, to go out on a limb) on the lack of logic and absence of evidence that theists display.

        • Greg G.

          “The atheist has no way to explain why there is evil in the world.”

          Shit happens. Only the theist who proposes a caring being capable of preventing shit needs to explain why that being doesn’t. Blaming the victims is a poor excuse for a caring being.

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

          Sounds like an abusive relationship. I think she should leave.

        • busterggi

          “The world is less than what the Creator originally made.”

          So your answer for the existance of evil is that your god does shitty work?

        • hector_jones

          Define ‘fallen’.

        • MNb

          Something good happens: praise the Lord.
          Something bad happens: blame Homo Sapiens.
          Totally convincing.

          Why not the other way round? Because the way you defined god. Into existence.

        • Lbj

          Something good happens to an atheist and all he can say is “lucky me”.
          Something bad happens- That’s the way things go. Suck it up.

        • Greg G.

          So? That is not a problem when you don’t have an emotional investment in having an omnipotent being protecting you.

        • MNb

          You didn’t answer my question – because you don’t have an answer.

        • Lbj

          Not sure I understand the question. I gave you a counter to how you would respond to the good and bad in life.

        • MNb

          The question was: why not the other way round? In case of reading comprehension problems: why not

          Something bad happens: blame the Lord.
          Something good happens: praise Homo Sapiens?

          It makes exactly as much sense.

        • TheNuszAbides

          encouragement doesn’t require belief in a deity and belief in a deity doesn’t preclude discouragement, so you can suck that ‘argument’ right back to where it came from and try to develop it into something coherent and substantial.

        • Greg G.

          I remember a decade or so ago, there was a list of evidences for a young earth. One was that at the rate at which mountains rise, they would be hundreds of miles high if the earth was billions of years old. Further down, there was the rate at which mountains erode, they would all be flat if the world was billions of years old.

          They just can’t see when they refute themselves.

        • SuperMark
        • TheNuszAbides

          just because you can’t imagine appreciation without [giving credit to a comfortingly vague quasi-externalized entity] doesn’t make it impossible. you also continue to evade the distinction between a) individual Mere Mortals deciding for themselves what has value (and is thus worth appreciating), and b) ‘Nature’ (whatever you imagine nonbelievers mean by that) not being a Fatherly Thinker, Planner & Actor that ‘cares’ about its process.

        • Lbj

          Why would an atheist give thanks for the good things in life that other human beings have nothing to do with?

        • TheNuszAbides

          i really wonder how many times Mr. Seidensticker will post a paragraph or more re-articulating how diverse the thought of nonbelievers can be,
          and how many comments down below will elaborate/riff on such concepts,
          before you finally comprehend that there are more than (number of religious sects +1) ways to think, ways to approach the world around us, etc.

          like i said, you’re missing a distinction between ‘appreciate’ (there are 4 or 5 definitions of it in most dictionaries and only one of them has anything to do with giving thanks to anyone or anything) and ‘thank [entity deemed responsible] for’. i never claimed an atheist would ‘give thanks for the good things in life that other human beings have nothing to do with’, because such a concept prefigures that there is thanks owed or somewhere for the thanks to go.

          any human is capable of saying, meaning and believing “that flower sure is pretty!” or “i sure am glad that most people in this part of the world have been in the habit of washing their hands between meals/bathroom visits/surgeries for several generations!” without attributing anything in particular to any specific effort.

          if you accept that god has made more things than you can count, more types of things than you can count, more intricate designs of each of these types of things than you will ever memorize in a lifetime, etc., it really shouldn’t be difficult to wrap your head around the fact that there are people who don’t share your beliefs, don’t give thanks to a creator for things they haven’t seen/assumed were created, AND don’t actively disbelieve or argue about whether or why there should be an unmoved mover behind the ultimate beginning of everything. it might be difficult to evade the trap of thinking that ~Atheism~ is a monolithic entity that represents a singular point of view, but the fact is it’s at least as diverse as any other group of humans.

        • Lbj

          Atheist can and do say all kinds of things. The problem is that they can’t justify or ground it in atheism. He can thank another human being for doing something good to him but that’s as far as it can go. He might be glad about his good fortune that he had nothing to do with but it stops there. He doesn’t thank the earth or the universe for it. He knows “stuff happens”. Its all atoms in motion.
          The atheist lives in a black and white world without hope.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you’re still missing the forest for the trees, as they say.
          atheism is not a belief. therefore atheism is not something that an atheist would (or could) rely on to ‘justify’ anything. many will rely primarily or exclusively on scientific principles to consciously navigate their world.
          it’s abundantly clear that you aren’t willing to honestly, mentally step into the shoes of a nonbeliever, so please stop your overwrought caricatures of the oversimplified, hopeless, passionless “atheism” you prefer to ‘believe in’.

        • TheNuszAbides

          when you are addressing those who actually do make explicit assertions that e.g. there is not or cannot possibly be anything that anyone has ever described as ‘god’, then you are unequivocally, definitively not addressing ‘atheists’ as a whole, you are addressing anti-theists. try to develop distinctions such as this and you may cause less unintended offense (that’s already extending benefit of the doubt).

  • SuperMark

    I don’t understand why god pays special attention to problems when a large number of people pray for one thing. Why does the number of people who are praying about something matter to god?

    so if this large group of people had not gotten together to pray about this epidemic then god wouldn’t have stopped it? I think it’s safe to assume that if any of the parents of affected children were christians they would have been praying for the same thing.

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

      I guess they’re like commandos or something. The ordinary soldiers can do a good job, but if you want some serious, focused work, call in the elite squad–or elite prayer squad, in this case.

      • SuperMark

        is this substantiated in their holy book? i remember prayer groups being a big part of several different denominations i was part of over the years but i can’t recall any verses about it.

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

          I’ve heard the term “prayer warriors,” but this idea that God would answer one person’s/group’s prayers more than anyone else’s seems quite unbiblical.

        • SuperMark

          agreed, maybe it’s just self affirmation then

        • Greg G.

          Prayer warriors are those with the faith of a mustard seed. Civil engineers use them to build highways when a mountain needs to be moved. It says so in the Bible if you doubt me.

        • MNb

          With the world cup going on I can’t help presenting Johan Cruijff’s (the best player in history and no, I’m not forgetting Pele, Maradona and Messi) proof that there is no god (I paraphraze):

          “In Spain all players pray for a win before a match begin. If God exists all matches would end with a draw.”

  • smrnda

    Do people touting the ‘prayer works’ understand that anecdotes are not data? Do they understand how you set up a falsifiable test to determine if something works? Medicine does this thing called a double-blind placebo trial to minimize the effects of confirmation bias. Does anyone subject prayer to such a test?

    People are also unreliable when it comes to recalling events, and many *miracle stories* end up being second, third or fourth or more-hand accounts which have gone through a degree of distortion, intentional or not. Stories get warped all the time just since memory isn’t perfect.

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

      All valid points. And all points that I think most Christians would think are irrelevant to their position.

    • Timothy Cooper

      There was a double blinded trial on faith healing. The people knew they were participants in the trial but didn’t know if they were on the prayer list or not. The results were about the same for both sides.

    • Greg G.

      Studies have shown that if the testing protocol for prayer studies has the possibility of the outcome being influenced by a believer, the outcome tends to be positive. If the testing protocol prevents that sort of interference, the outcome shows no correlation. I wonder why that is?

      • smrnda

        Yeah, the placebo effect. I would like to see an experiment where say, Christians are told a person will pray with them, but they do something like send in a pagan to do a pagan prayer and then see how that effects the outcome. “Hey, let me call on Odin to make you feel better…”

        • Greg G.

          I’m thinking of the scientific tests that had a positive indication for the efficacy of prayer. When the protocols were examined, there was always a way that the results could be skewed, either the evaluators were aware of whether the person be evaluated was in the prayer group or not or the person amaking the assignments could choose the group the patient was put into. If 10% did something subconsciously a few times, the test would be skewed.

          The Templeton Foundation did an experiment with double-blind protocols and one of the prayer groups did worse than the others.

        • Pofarmer

          It seems like the group that knew they were being prayed for did worse.

        • Greg G.

          They didn’t have group that was told they were being prayed for but were not. They thought would be unethical because they expected prayer to work.

          I recall a study that showed that the death rate of those who attend church was lower than those who didn’t. Believers will crow about that one. But they overlook that people who are too sick to go to church are eliminated from their group and tend to die at a higher rate.

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’t that crazy? They believed it would work, and still couldn’t claim any evidence.

        • TheNuszAbides

          that’s the ‘beauty’ of faith!

        • MNb

          “I recall a study that showed that the death rate of those who attend church was lower than those who didn’t.”
          If you have read exactly this it was a fraud. Death rates for all humans are typically 100%. But perhaps you were talking about life expectancy. In that case I refer to correlation is no causation.

        • Greg G.

          The study looked at several factors over a time period of x number of years, with x being a number I don’t recall so the death rate was less than 100%. It listed a large number of factors and church attendance had a correlation with a lower death rate. Religionists tend to bring up that one finding as if it might have some causation behind it without considering what cofactors could be an actual cause of the statistical artifact.

        • MNb

          So essentially life expectancy indeed. I bet about the same takes place as with “smoking is the cause of a lower life expectancy.” There are strong indications that character traits are the third, real cause. Smokers commit more often suicide, are more often murdered and die more often in accidents.
          My bet is that church going is self-selecting: people who tend to lead a more cautious, prudent life tend to go to church more often. If this is correct forcing people to go to church will not extend their life expectancies, but lower the average life expectancy. They will not change their life styles.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, it’s not only that, but people who are old and sick typically can’t get to church, so there is kind of a built in selection bias.

        • MNb

          Yeah, but it’s quite easy to correct that one (omit old and sick non-church goers as well). I still expect a higher life expectancy for church goers and it still says not what those christians want it to mean.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, I agree, but in the one study christians like to crow about, the old and the sick were not excluded either.

        • hector_jones

          What’s this supposed to prove anyway? When a 4 year old dies of cancer christians say that’s just God’s plan. If a study showed that atheists lived longer than christians, christians would dismiss it and say, ‘So what? That’s just God’s plan’.

        • MNb

          It’s supposed to “prove” that believing is healthier than non-believing.

        • hector_jones

          But xtians argue over and over that a long healthy life isn’t something their god cares much about anyway since he kills young believers all the time as part of his inscrutable plan.

        • MNb

          You’re not going to argue that christians should care about something as banal as consistency, are you? Why would they throw away a nice ad hoc argument as long as it nicely confirms their biases?

        • Lbj

          When the 4 year old dies the atheist can only say “to bad”, “tough ;luck”.

        • Greg G.

          Atheists say, “I am sorry for your loss.”
          Christians say “Cheer up, you’ll never see the kid again until you die.” Or something similar.

        • Lbj

          You can say you are sorry for your loss but you can offer no hope. Your child no longer exist.

        • Greg G.

          You can tell them the truth that you are sorry for their loss.

          Do you think the best thing about religion is that you can tell pretty lies at a funeral?

        • Lbj

          It is not the truth to say this life is all there is. This is a lie.

        • Greg G.

          As MNb points out, the grief is bad enough when you realize that death is a part of life. It is hard for a believer to accept that the God chose to kill the child for some mysterious good. How often can you explain the good that comes from the death of a loved one?

          Justus: “I prayed for your child and I prayed for a good parking spot here at the funeral parlor. Guess which one got answered.”

          Have you figured out where the first evil came from, and why, yet?

        • Lbj

          I know of no Christian that would say “God chose to kill the child for some mysterious good”. He would say that “God causes all things to work together for good” though at the moment the Christian may not understand fully what that good will be. Sometimes it can lead to a greater faith and hope. There is always the hope that whatever happens in this life is temporary and our hope is in heaven where death and suffering will be done away with. God uses suffering to make us stronger when we are trusting Him.

        • MNb

          I suggest you to visit some christian mothers who have lost their childs and tell them, if it weren’t such an unethical thing to do. At the other hand I’m glad you didn’t visit my father’s cremation service. I would be enormously offended by your attempt to offer false hope.
          I notice Greg G has formulated another question you can’t answer. So much for christianity explaining our reality. Still you have the guts to claim that atheism lacks logic.

        • Lbj

          Greg asks good questions and I try to answer them all.
          I have known death close to me. I have seen many Christians who have mourned the death of a loved and yet have great hope in seeing them again.

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

          Luckily, anyone who doesn’t get the Christian promise of heaven won’t be able to come back and tell us. That’s all that really matters, right–keeping the Christian edifice going strong?

        • TheNuszAbides

          i hope that some day you realize that “try to answer them all” could include more effort than “repeat the same circular reasoning and blatant mischaracterizations ad nauseam”.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i would say ‘gall’ rather than ‘guts’, since he does absolutely nothing to back it up relative to a disinterested observer, and shows no willingness/ability to apply logic that isn’t circular.

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

          So, just to make sure I understand what you mean, “not understand” is the thing you say when God’s actions are bad, right?

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m sure Justas could scare up a little ‘not understanding’ for the aforementioned hypothetical of atheists being found to live longer lives than theists… at least until they worked out the angle of “oh, we mustn’t begrudge them the extra time god gave them to repent” etc. etc.

        • MNb

          Just because you say so? You’re violating your own belief system. Go reread Matth. 7:1, evil sinner. Then pray, confess and repent if your belief system means anything to you.

        • Lbj

          Not because I say so but what Christ says. There is life after death.

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

          Show us the evidence. “My imaginary friend said so” doesn’t count.

        • Lbj

          Go back to the gospels. Keep in my mind also that the one who spoke of life after death also rose from the dead and is the most influential person in history. That is imaginary.

        • shart of turin

          Also, there’s the new movie, ‘Heaven is for Real’ with Greg Kinnear. Powerful evidence, wouldn’t you agree?

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

          Of what? Of heaven? I’ve seen the movie and reviewed it at this blog. Unimpressive as evidence.

        • shart of turin

          Sorry Bob, I was yanking Justas399’s chain. If the gospels are evidence, then why not a movie?

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

          OK, gotcha.

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

          The resurrection is a story. Please bring historical evidence only. “Yeah, but my religion says so” isn’t it.

        • MNb

          False hope.
          Haven’t I told you before that facing the ugly facts straight in their eyes is the first step in accepting them and coming to terms with them? This is confirmed by psychology; a fine example of science helping. I know this from my own experience; so does my son.
          Christians at the other hand are saddled with questions like “Why have you taken away my child from me? What have I done to deserve this? Why must I feel guilty?”
          You haven’t answered this the previous time and I’m sure you will not be capable of answering them this time. Christianity only makes mourning more difficult. You are not capable of learning anymore, are you?

        • TheNuszAbides

          clearly highly resistant* at best, disingenuously manipulative of trivial language at worst.

          *at least if the learning comes from someone who professes nonbelief. maybe all these magazine articles Justas is so fond of linking to were recommended by their favorite pastor.

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

          An atheist offers no false hope and that’s a bad thing?

        • TheNuszAbides

          what are memories of the child for, then?
          are you now busy fabricating another hollow lie – that the monolith of ~Atheism~ forgets the dead utterly because they cannot scientifically uncover any means by which to honor the lost?

        • hector_jones

          You really are clueless, aren’t you?

        • TheNuszAbides

          that would be the most charitable explanation.

        • TheNuszAbides

          that displays nothing more than the failure of your imagination. it may display as little as your contempt for honest debate. but some of us understand that your agonizing over whether you admit to dishonesty or to obliviousness… could take a while (and might predictably never end)!

        • Greg G.

          The study looked at mortality rates for many different factors for correlation, not causation. Church attendance happened to be one factor they looked at. Christians jump on that one without paying attention to the underlying factors.

        • TheNuszAbides

          eh, i think a select few of them would actually be a bit shaken up.

        • Greg G.

          Those who drink heavily on Saturday nights are going to raise the mortality rate of whichever group they are included with and they are not going to be with the Sunday morning church-goers.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and ‘Health Benefits’ as trade-off for ‘Don’t Question The Intangible Authority’ (and its corollaries) doesn’t exactly paint a bright picture of the motive for worship by god’s sinner children.

        • smrnda

          I had heard of the Templeton one (and the handwaving to dismiss it.)

          yeah, observer bias is a problem and not all studies control for that adequately.

    • TheSquirrel

      “Do people touting the ‘prayer works’ understand that anecdotes are not data?”
      No.

      • TheNuszAbides

        exactly. the entire construct is about as far from conducive-to-hard-data as you can get. not that i don’t appreciate a variety of sociological efforts – surely there are questions worth asking – but sometimes i think those folks need a massive dose of trust in their methodology to even bother, given the general global public’s latest levels of ‘telepathic’ technology, susceptibility to bad-faith rhetoric/drive to conform-and/or-confirm-bias, etc.

  • wtfwjtd

    To paraphrase Hitchens, “The man who prays is the man who thinks God got it wrong, and this man also believes he can lecture God, on how to put things right”…

    • TheNuszAbides

      it’s like a moneyless (well, sometimes) version of the Gouging Doctrine: [despite the omnipresent, omniscient lord father on high never needing to be made aware of any particular circumstance or thought of any of his constituents,] “if they truly want it they must ~express~ that want”.

  • http://opportunityseekers20.blogspot.it AndyT

    The saddest thing about it is that so many lives (including many children’s) have been put in jeopardy so far by fundamentalist preachers (and parents) avoiding common medical devices as an offense to their trust in “God’s healing force”.

    • MNb

      My ex-wife had a brother who relied on prayer instead of medicines to address his diabetics. He died.

  • TheSquirrel

    If prayer and faith worked, no one would not be xtian (or what ever religion works). We would not have a need for doctors.

  • Lbj

    Science cannot test prayer because science deals test event causation, where one event causes another event causes another event. It cannot test the wills of personal beings. God is a personal being with a will just as men are. So the idea of scientifically testing prayer is really silly.

    • MNb

      Dead wrong. Science totally can measure probability. Scientific tests don’t require causation. They require a correlation.
      Moreover you are contradicting yourself.

      “God is a personal being with a will”
      And will, in christian theology, totally can cause events.

      • Lbj

        How could science measure what an immaterial being such as God will grant when someone prays to Him? Science can measure known causes and forces of nature but it cannot measure what God will do given that science cannot even begin to understand what kind of being God is.

        • MNb

          According to your own argument above

          “because science deals test event causation”
          science not being capable of measuring what god will grant said god is meaningless as a possible cause.
          Once again you refute your own argument.

        • Lbj

          What??? How is “god is meaningless as a possible cause”?

        • MNb

          You have problems with comprehensive reading indeed. You write the answer yourself: science is not capable of measuring what god will grant. God’s will as a cause is as meaningless as my beloved undetectable fairies in my garden tending my flowers, so that they blossom beautifully. Science can’t measure what those fairies do either.

        • Greg G.

          Many forces were measured and came to be understood by measuring them but they were unknown in the 18th century. The biblical claims about prayer make testable predictions. When tested, the claims are disconfirmed. You should adopt a belief system based on reality instead of ancient superstitions.

      • TheNuszAbides

        “And will, in christian theology, totally can cause events.”

        well of course it can if it all belongs to/emanates from/yadda yadda Bog.

      • JohnH2

        One of the driving forces behind the development of probability was to measure the will of personal beings.

    • Greg G.

      Are you saying that if someone keeps track of prayers and whether the prayers are answered in order to eliminate confirmation bias, God will deny the would-be beneficiaries the answered prayers just to make the statistics look like God doesn’t answer prayers? But if they do a similar experiment that allows the possibility of a believer skewing the results in favor of prayer, God won’t withhold as many answered prayers?

      That’s just the way it looks when the experiments have been done. Christians like to tout the studies with the flawed protocols because they are the only ones that show any benefit to prayer.

      Have you figured out where the first evil came from and why, yet?

      • Lbj

        1- No. God will not deny the would-be beneficiaries the answered prayers just to make the statistics look like God doesn’t answer prayers. One thing that prayer does for those who pray and see God answer is that it strengthens their faith and makes one more thankful to God.

        The problem with trying to scientific measure prayer is as I said above. God has His reasons that we may not know about for not answering specific prayers when we want them answered. The apostle Paul didn’t have his prayers answered in regards to his “thorn in the flesh” but realized this “thorn in the flesh” made him trust in Christ more.

        2- I suppose you are right about Christians wanting studies to support their faith. Most people do of any kind of beliefs and unbeliefs. However, most believe in prayer is because Scripture teaches it and they have had many of their prayers answered. Also, sometimes prayers are said in times of desperation and great fear.

        3- Scripture tells us that evil started first in a perfect angel (Lucifer-in the King James Version called the “morning star, son of the dawn” in the NIV. Other Bible versions call him “Day Star,” “shining star,” and “the bright morning star.”) who wanted to be like God. This angel was in the highest relam of heaven ““You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”

        Isaiah 14:13-14

        This may not satisfactorily answer the origin of evil but this is as far as I can take it.

        • Greg G.

          Then the results of thousands of cases with thousands of prayers should be apparent. The countries with the most people praying to the right god should show better results than those who pray to the wrong god or pray incorrectly.

          The evidence in fair prayer studies shows that prayer doesn’t help. If someone is able to skew the data through faulty protocol, then it doesn’t matter which god is prayed to, the data gets skewed. The Templeton study that showed that the group who was prayed for and told they were being prayed for yet fared the worst of the three groups was conducted by a Christian organization.

          How can a perfect angel create evil? If ambition is a sin, how can an ambitious angel be called perfect?

        • TheNuszAbides

          we can only hope that Justas some day begins to look into these questions instead of making the Mysterious Ways handwave. (i mean, really! we can’t have the father, son AND holy ghost – or even one of them – acting in straightforward ways! how would we compete with the other Mystery Cults?)

        • Greg G.

          She says her religious faith is no different than a normal person’s uncertainty. She sees good things and bad things in the world as evidence. The good things are evidence that her god exists and the bad is mysterious but she refuses to acknowledge that the bad is just as much evidence as a bad god and the good is mysterious. That is the religious faith that separates the religious from the non-religious.

          Under the handle “Cody…” (I forget the whole thing as it changes every few weeks) she said the soul was just the working of the brain and God was the universe. She seemed to think that was typical Christian belief. So she and her socks are a Mystery Cult.

        • MNb

          “we may not know about for ”
          But still you demand from atheists that science knows the complete, absolute and 100% certain truth about the Universe before you want to take it seriously.
          Well my friend, I’m going to turn your own argument against you once again. Only when you can tell me the complete, absolute and 100% certain truth about god’s will I’ll take your belief seriously.
          You’re invited.

        • Lbj

          I don’t know God’s will perfectly but I do know some of it because its revealed in Scripture. For the atheist’s claim that there is no god would require him to know the universe exhaustively. The same is not required to know God’s will perfectly or exhaustively. The Scripture tells me enough of God’s will to save me and live by. It does not tell me everything about Him.

        • Greg G.

          We only need to show that your god doesn’t exist. Your claim is that your god is omnipotent and omnibenevolent. The existence of suffering shows that at least one of those qualities is lacking, so there is no god that is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent. All you can do is put up excuses for suffering.

        • Lbj

          There is suffering in the world and it is not caused by God but by the evil that men do. Some suffering is caused by nature such as diseases.

          Even though you reject God and dishonor Him yet He still blesses you with good. Things such as a body to experience the good things of the world such as beauty, air, good food to enjoy, love, companionship. Instead of thanking Him for these things you ignore Him and take them for granted and attribute these things to mindless natural forces.

        • Greg G.

          Just as I said, more excuses. Who created evil? Who made nature cause disease? Who made life susceptible to disease?

          Why doesn’t a benevolent being protect life forms from mindless natural forces that he put in motion?

          You put your thumb on the scale when you say God gives the good things but the bad things aren’t his fault. You are not being honest with yourself. I can say the same thing about my lucky quarter. Would it make more sense to you if I told you my lucky quarter was invisible?

        • Lbj

          Since you are an atheist there is no such thing as evil. So there is no reason to discuss it further.

        • Greg G.

          We’re all atheists. Why did you come here if you didn’t want to discuss it? You still haven’t said anything that makes sense about the origin of evil.

        • Lbj

          I have made sense. You just don’t like it and you can’t even begin account for it.

        • Greg G.

          You have not given a reasonable explanation of the origin of evil. You keep insisting that atheism can’t account for it but it is not a problem for an evolved system in an indifferent universe. It is only a problem in a system created by a perfect being.

          You blamed a perfect angel by quoting the Bible. If it created evil, then it was not perfect at that time. When did it become imperfect if it was created perfect? You quoted another verse out of context because you didn’t know any better from listening to theologians.

          The Yin-yang concepts of Eastern religions make better sense than what you are trying to present.

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

          The idea of Karma also sounds pretty good. I also like the Wiccan Rule of Three. Of course, wishing for it doesn’t make it true. That goes true for Justas’s bizarre philosophy.

        • Lbj

          Evil is not a thing. Its not created.

          Evil is not a problem for the atheist. It doesn’t exist. When we look at the holocaust the Christian says this is evil while the atheist can say stuff happens. No such thing as evil. Go figure.

        • TheNuszAbides

          not all atheists are moral relativists saturated with anomie. so for the umpteenth time you are wasting these arguments you seem to think are sound against people who don’t think they way you wish we did (and i’m not talking about our lack of faith, i’m talking about your failure to identify our specific modes of thought). learn to articulate something other than a straw-man caricature of atheism so we can at last give you the benefit of the doubt.

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

          Yep, no cloud ever darkens the life of an atheist.

        • hector_jones

          So nature can cause things to happen without God? Interesting.

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

          Some suffering is caused by nature such as diseases.

          By “nature,” do you mean “God”?

        • Lbj

          No.

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

          Disease exists because God created it. He’s kind of a dick.

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

          By “Him,” I assume you mean Quetzalcoatl.

          Yep, I take him for granted. Don’t give him the respect he deserves. Shame on me.

        • Lbj

          I don’t know anything about Quetzalcoatl. Where is he mentioned in the Bible?

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

          Sorry–I thought you knew about Central American deities.

        • Greg G.

          Do you know that Balaam and the talking donkey is an ancient Hebrew fairy tale? So is the talking serpent. So is the whole Genesis story. Samson and Delilah. Abraham, Moses too. Don’t you feel silly citing those stories to answer questions about evil and the meaning of life?

        • MNb

          “I don’t know God’s will perfectly”
          Double standard indeed, because you refuse to withdraw your demand regarding atheism. As long you don’t we must see you as a dishonest guy. That’s nothing new though.

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

          Let me guess: where you like what the Bible says, you understand “God’s will.” Where it looks hideous (God demanding genocide, for example), you say you don’t understand.

          Consistency, please.

        • Greg G.

          Is consistency a good thing for a theist? They are most honest when they plead ignorance. It’s refreshing to see that glimmer. I’d prefer honesty over consistency.

        • Lbj

          Then you should practice what you preach.

        • Greg G.

          Bob is right. You credit God for everything that is good as if you know it came from God. Everything bad you shift the blame to the victims or plead ignorance of God’s mysterious plans.

          We can look at all the bad things as evidence of an evil God and say that the good things are part of his mysterious plan.

          The evidence cannot distinguish between the two opposite assertions. One is “things hoped for” but that doesn’t make it more likely.

          A third option is that we don’t contrive an unlikely, undetectable being and pretend things we see are evidence of the imagined being and just say we live in a universe that doesn’t care or know we’re here.

          If either of the first two options is true, the being is welcome to present itself at any time. It’s foolish and childish to believe in such a being until then.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “…a universe that doesn’t care or know we’re here.”

          i find myself channeling Sam Harris and Non Stamp Collector, in the realm of “something there shouldn’t even need to be a special term for” (in their case, ‘atheist’, in my case, projecting a consciousness on Nature/evolution/the universe – even if only to illustrate its ‘lack of interest’ in, e.g., humanity). is there a more concise way to convey this counterpoint to “jesus saves/god wants what’s best for us/etc.”?

        • Lbj

          The will of God for an individual can be found in the teachings of Christ such as Matthew 5-7.

          Some things I don’t understand such as why God allowed Adam and Eve to sin. I do understand why certain peoples were nearly exterminated in the OT. I can compare it to such modern societies such as Nazi Germany and the Japanese of WW2. If the Allies had not decimated them we might all be Nazis today.

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

          “I don’t understand God” is a euphemism for “God screwed up here,” right?

          Your humility is touching, but by abdicating your own conscience and morality, you’re accepting regardless of evidence. Don’t you think you should be evaluating to make sure that your beliefs make sense? That they hold up? That if there really is a good god that he’s pleased with what you accept, reject, or give a pass to?

        • TheNuszAbides

          what about the atheists who don’t “claim that there is no god”? you seem impervious to acquiring a grasp on this concept. and if you say one more time that ‘most/all atheists i’ve encountered make that claim’, try again to actually read the question.

        • Greg G.

          Your interpretation is taking Isaiah 14:13-14 out-of-context. Isaiah 14 is a taunt against the king of Babylon as seen in verse 4: “you will take up this taunt
          against the king of Babylon”.

        • Lbj

          Where does it say that the king of Babylon was in heaven? Where does it say this king fell from heaven (verse 12)?

        • Greg G.

          It’s a taunt. A taunt exaggerates and is not to be taken literally. Verse 7 says “All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing.” Is that literal? Do you think the cedars of Lebanon actually spoke in verse 8? The ancient Hebrews had no concept of heaven as a place where souls go, so when it says “heaven” in the Old Testament, it means the sky.

        • Lbj

          The are many commentators over the centuries that have understood this section as being about Satan. There is the literal context but at times the Scripture is saying more than the literal.

          If the ancient Hebrews had no concept of heaven then what should I make of Ecclesiastes 12: 5-7?

          “5 Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. 6 Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; 7 then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”

        • Greg G.

          Those same commentators tried to make the serpent in Eden to be Satan, too. If it was Satan, why did God punish serpents? If God is going to punish the innocent, why do you call him good?

          The Hebrew word for “breath” is often translated as “spirit” for religious reasons. The ancients equated breath and blood with life. When the last breath was exhaled, the life was gone. Where to? They assumed God took the breath back but not as a soul. You have to read things into scripture that is not there to get your religion to work. You should be honest instead.

        • Lbj

          Get serious. How much have you studied the Bible?

        • Greg G.

          I have studied the Bible as a Christian and as an atheist. It makes more sense when you don’t read it through Christian goggles.

          Do you know what a concordance is? Have you ever looked at the Bible objectively? There are 40,000 different Christian denominations that think the other denominations aren’t reading the Bible right. You should study it without the religious gobbledygook and see what it actually says. Start with the Documentary Hypothesis. I recommend Who Wrote the Bible by Friedman.

        • Lbj

          Let’s test your “There are 40,000 different Christian denominations that think the other denominations aren’t reading the Bible right”. Do you think there are 40,000 different interpretations among them on who Christ is? Do you think there are 40,000 different views on what books belong in the Bible?

          Keep in mind no one unbiased. You have your atheistic gobbledygook bias that warps your view of the Bible.

          What does Friedman say about the Bible?

        • MNb

          Well, christians can’t even agree about the doctrine of the Trinity, so I learned a few days ago.

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

          Let’s test this. Which method do you – or any theologian – use to determine whether Unitarianism or Trinitarianism is correct? As I have asked this question a couple of times before and never got an answer I start speculating: you rely on how your underbelly feels.

        • Lbj

          That is a theological question that can only be determined by what the Bible says. This is where we find how God has revealed Himself to man.

        • TheNuszAbides

          don’t unitarians tend to be comfortably vague about everything, and not demand any hard and fast particular beliefs of their congregations? or is that only a universalist subgroup? i’ve not known a unitarian who explicitly professed christianity, but out of three or four congregations around the west coast of N.America i can only recall one that definitely included ‘universalist’ on their signage.

        • MNb

          I have no idea. Only today I learned that my home-country, The Netherlands, have exactly one Unitarian community:

          http://www.immanuel-gemeente.nl/

        • Greg G.

          I see MNb mentioned the difference between Unitarians and Trinitarians as an example of different theologies about who Christ was. Even the gospels differ on whether Jesus was adopted as the Son of God or was divinely conceived when the Holy Spirit came over Mary.

          If you don’t know the Catholic bible has books rejected by protestants and some protestants reject books like the Epistle of James. The collection of the Canon was done by committee with lots of compromises and deal making.

          Friedman explains the Documentary Hypothesis, which is the working hypothesis for serious scholars for two centuries. Fundamentalists tend to reject scholarship in favor of the fairy tale hypothesis.

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

          The value of the Documentary Hypothesis (as mentioned by Greg) is that it actually explains much of why the Bible says what it says. If you’ve not read about it, you’ll find that it gives a clear and simple explanation of some of the crazy contradictions in the Old Testament.

        • Greg G.

          The DH also neatly explains the attractiveness of the Bible god by how it combines the cosmic god of the priests in Genesis 1 who doesn’t interact with the unsanctfied masses with the Genesis 2 god who does interact directly in a hands-on manner.

        • busterggi

          “What does Friedman say about the Bible?”

          Here’s a crazy idea – how about you read it? I did decades ago & its quite good.

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

          ?? Given this ongoing conversation, you really think it’s wise to throw down that gauntlet?

          Hope springs eternal, I guess.

        • Greg G.

          Why did God punish serpents for something Satan did? What if Satan is blaspheming the Holy Spirit in a Justas399 mask? All your faith and belief is for nothing because God can’t tell the difference between a costume worn by Satan and the real thing. On the other hand, it makes more sense that you’ve swallowed a faulty theology.

        • Ron

          Well, speaking for myself…

          Cover to cover: at least three times. The Pentateuch (excl. Numbers), Judges, Joshua, Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, Job, the gospels and epistles: so many times that I’ve lost count. The remainder of the OT and Book of Revelation: at least a dozen or more times.

          In addition to that I’ve also read at least some of the old and modern apologists (Tertullian, Eusebius, Martyr, Luther, C.S. Lewis, Craig, Habermas, Licona, Plantiga, Strobel, Slick, Comfort, etc.).

          Now, how many atheist/secular philosophers have you read? Can you even name any?

        • Lbj

          I’ve read a few articles by atheist. There really is not much substance to atheism. I have never seen an atheist give any facts or good reasons why atheism is true.

        • Ron

          Unfortunately, you don’t even understand the meaning of the word atheism: it’s a lack of belief in gods, not a positive assertion that there aren’t any; there very well could be, but pending further evidence, atheists see no reason to adopt such a belief. As such, there is nothing to prove. The onus of furnishing proofs lies with those making a positive claim for the existence of gods.

          In fact, until you can actually provide us with a proper definition of what is meant by the word “God” there isn’t even anything to discuss.

        • Lbj

          Thank you for proving my point that there is not much substance to atheism and that there is no evidence for it being true.

          God is an immaterial being that is all powerful and eternal. This God has revealed Himself in Scripture and is the one who created everything. Over a billion people believe this.

        • busterggi

          “This God has revealed Himself in Scripture’

          lots & lots of contradictory scripture apparently.

        • MNb

          An old book tells about god, who has inspired that old book. Over a billion people believe in a circular argument.

        • Ron

          No, there is no substance to atheism. That’s because atheism is a stance on god beliefs, and by your own (rather weak) definition there is no substance to your God. QED

          And the strength of an argument isn’t based on the number of people who believe it to be true, but on the evidence in support of the claim itself. Trillions of flies eat shit, but that doesn’t make it a scrumptious meal.

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

          So Ron has read the entire Bible muchly. You’ve dipped your toe into the writings of atheists and don’t much care for it. I think you’ve been bested yet again.

          I think you’re simply determined to be unimpressed by what you read, regardless of what you read. Or, perhaps you can show my error. I’ve written 500 posts here, most of the substantial attacks on Christianity. Take your pick and show me the flaws.

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

          It’s good to demand that Christians read widely within atheist literature, but I’d be interested to hear Justas respond just on the Bible. Justas: how many times for you?

        • TheNuszAbides

          “Get serious.”

          now i’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you could not possibly be more disingenuous.

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

          The atheist schools the Christian in reading the Bible? That’s a first!

          (Or not.)

        • Greg G.

          Somehow they see being wrong for 2000 years as a virtue.

        • TheNuszAbides

          indeed, ‘double down’ is the ultimate understatement in this context.

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

          t strengthens their faith and makes one more thankful to God.

          What good is faith? It’s what one points to when one wants to imagine the supernatural but has no evidence of it.

          God has His reasons that we may not know about for not answering specific prayers when we want them answered.

          Ah, I see how it works. First you assume that God exists, and then you see that he does, in fact, exist. Nice.

          I suppose you are right about Christians wanting studies to support their faith.

          You bet your bippy. If Christians had evidence, they’d be shouting that from the rooftops. They satisfy themselves with faith only because they have nothing better.

          they have had many of their prayers answered

          … and yet there is no scientific consensus that even a single one actually happened.

          I think you mean: they think that prayers have been answered. That’s easy to imagine.

          Scripture tells us that evil started first in a perfect angel

          Read up on the evolution of Satan, and I think you’ll see this as less certain.

        • Lbj

          Faith is something all human beings have to live by. There is no getting around this fact.
          You have plenty of evidence for the supernatural. Your denying it doesn’t make it go away.
          Some people do start out that God exist and then see the evidence for it. Science does the same thing. It assumes its theories are true and then looks for evidence to support them. Science assumes all kinds of things to be true even when there is no proof.
          Prayer is not the kind of thing that science can prove or disprove. Science can deal with natural causes and effects. In regards to prayers being answered there are just to many of them to discount as being false.

          How does the atheist account for evil? Since everything is just atoms in motion and cause and effect how do you account for evil?

        • Greg G.

          Humans act despite uncertainty. If that is what you mean by faith, the word is meaningless and religious faith is meaningless. That’s equivocation when you use to different meanings of a word as if the meanings are the same. It’s either careless or dishonest.

          Evil is only a problem for theism. For atheism, it’s just that shit happens. We humans have built a civilization that protects us from most of the shit that happened to our ancestors. That’s why life expectancy is longer now. Why didn’t that happen when Christianity was strong? They wouldn’t call it the Dark Ages if it had.

        • Lbj

          There is always uncertainty. You use faith everyday and in almost everything you do. Its dishonest to deny this. You don’t have certainty you will live to see tomorrow nor that your car will work.

          The holocaust “just happened” Wasn’t really evil. Right?? That’s how bankrupt atheism is. It cannot account for the most wicked evil the world has ever seen.

          It was because of Christianity that modern science happened. Atheism had nothing to do with it. One of the practical application of science was a longer lifespan.

        • MNb

          “It cannot account for the most wicked evil the world has ever seen.”
          No matter how often you repeat this, it is and remains incorrect. The more often you repeat this, the more you look like a fool.

          :”It was because of Christianity that modern science happened.”
          I suppose that according to you modern science started early in the 4th Century CE, when christianity became the main stream religion in Europe. No? Then please explain why it took christianity such a long time to pull it off. Explain why at the end of the 10th Century the totally christian pope was considered a genius, when he explained to the bishop of Utrecht that doubling the dimensions of a building results in a volume eight times as high – ie something 10 year old kids understand in our days.
          I can think of a few answers myself. Every single one means that modern science did not happen because of christianity.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “The more often you repeat this, the more you look like a fool.”
          which is why i’m increasingly of the assumption that Justas is not here for the benefit of anyone other than fellow theists who (it may be expected) need reason-numbing talking points to comfort them amid all this fearsome ~A~theism…

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

          What would it take for you to reject your Christian belief?

        • Lbj

          Give some good reasons why God cannot exist,or the gospels are not historical and are proven fictions or Christ did not rise from the dead.

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

          I can prove nothing, nor can any atheist. If that’s your criterion, then just make plain that nothing anyone can provide will change your mind.

          What did you think of my Wm. Lane Craig post recently? He has an interesting relationship with evidence.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “I can prove nothing, nor can any atheist.”
          …nor can any merely human intelligence (barring Coast-to-Coast-style super-secrecy confabulations), which of course Justas sees as the ultimate trump card.

        • Lbj

          I’m not asking you for iron clad proof. I won’t set the standard that high. Just give me some good reason why you think God most likely does not exist or that the gospels are fictions.

          I will have to read your craig article.

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

          This entire blog is an answer to your question. Click the All Posts tab at the top and see every post with a summary.

          If there were any chance that you’d read a post with an open mind, I’d dig through to find them for you. I’m sure that’s not the case, though. Nevertheless, I welcome you scrolling through to find what you’ve asked for.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “… just make plain that nothing anyone can provide will change your mind.”

          but then she would have one fewer imaginary “gotcha!” moments to thank us for!

        • Pofarmer

          You have been given numerous examples of fictions in the Gospels. The Jesus Seminar concluded only possibly about 16% of the stuff in the Gospels was/could be historical. It’s pretty darned obvious if you have your eyes open.

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

          It cannot account for the most wicked evil the world has ever seen.

          What’s to account for? People do bad stuff to each other. Where’s the puzzle?

        • hector_jones

          I have to laugh at a defence of Christianity that says Christianity does a better job of explaining Hitler than atheism does, since the implication of this defence is that christianity leads to Hitler while atheism does not. And yet the Christian god and his world is supposedly morally superior to the atheist world.

        • Lbj

          Atheism cannot account for evil. All the atheist can say is that stuff happens and just give his opinion that it was evil. He can never justify evil as being evil.

        • Pofarmer

          This is just so tiringly stupid. In a world with a benevolent, all loving, all knowing God, there should be no evil. In the world we have, evil amounts to people acting against the interest of other people, sometimes in ways that are horrific to us. Why are they horrific to us? Because we can empathize with the victims. The main way that people get other people to commit evil, is by getting them to override their natural empathy in one way or another. This can be done for a variety of reasons, some of them religious.

        • Lbj

          Why should there not be evil if a good and all powerful God exist? Evidently He has His reasons for allowing it to exist and I have given some reasons why they may be.

          I think the thinking atheist knows there is evil but also knows cannot justify it by atheism. He is aware of evil but when asked to understand it via atheism it cannot be done. Evil can only be understood in a theistic worldview.

          The atheist can empathize with victims because God has put that awareness in you. If empathy is just the result of evolution then all it is is an uncomfortable feeling.

        • MNb

          “I think …”
          Correction: should be “I parrot …”

          “If empathy is just the result of evolution then all it is is an uncomfortable feeling.”
          Uncomfortable feeling is an understatement, but essentially this is correct. For the gazillionth time: so what?

        • Lbj

          If empathy is just the product of evolution and does not come from the (immaterial not literal) heart then its not genuine empathy.

        • MNb

          Ah, the no-true-empathy fallacy. We haven’t that one from you before. You arrogant christian; you betray Jesus’ ideal of modesty. Who are you to judge what is genuine and what not?

        • TheNuszAbides

          you mean apart from a born-again sheep so special because #createdinHisimage #diedforOursins et al.?
          now i’m starting to wonder whether the
          ‘spend as much time as possible singing hymns of praise, because that’s all anybody wants to do after they get to heaven anyway’
          line of endeavor was primarily designed to keep an excessive number of the flock from getting carried away with immodest self-righteousness?

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

          Oh? Show us “genuine empathy” in the dictionary. You’re saying that the dictionary proves the Christian position?

        • busterggi

          God allows evil to exist – then god approves of evil for whatever reason.

        • Lbj

          I would not say “approves” but He uses it for His purposes.

        • TheNuszAbides

          but only He is allowed to, right? if anyone else did that it would be Wrong?

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

          Showing God exists is so much easier when you just presuppose him. Nicely played.

          An atheist defines evil like in the dictionary. Show me the Christian component of that definition. I missed it.

        • Lbj

          Of course. Just like a scientist presupposes his theory will be backed up with some facts.

          The dictionary definition is a good definition. The problem is the atheist has no way to justify it.

          In Christianity evil is the breaking of the law of God in attitude and deed. There are many examples of it in the Scripture.

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

          A scientist’s relation to his hypothesis is the same as yours with respect to God? Since most hypotheses turn out to be wrong, you’re also not too wedded to your God hypothesis? Like the scientist, you’ll be happy to accept disconfirming evidence and drop your hypothesis? That’s certainly not what I’ve seen of you so far.

          Show me where the dictionary definition of evil is a problem for the atheist. For the Christian, yes I see the problem. The Christian pretends that objective good and evil exist, but the dictionary doesn’t allow that conceit.

        • Lbj

          Ok. Let’s get specific. Let’s take the cell which essentially is a high tech factory. Since this is true analogy we know the only way we get factories is by intelligence and not by mindless-purposeless forces of nature. Forces of nature do play a part in the cell but by themselves they cannot create a cell. Only an intelligence cannot account for the design and complexity that is the characteristics of a cell.

          To disprove this you will have to demonstrate how the forces of nature created the first cell and all other cells. If you fail to do this will you then acknowledge there must be a God?

          The dictionary definition is not a problem for the atheist. The problem is that he can’t justify evil at all no matter how it is defined. The atheist cannot say evil really exist because every cause and effect is due to only atoms in motion.

        • MNb

          “Since this is true analogy”
          It’s a false analogy. We know how high tech factories are build, which means were used and which procedures were followed. If you assume that the cell is build by an immaterial intelligence you have to tell us how He/She/It build that cell, which means He/She/It used and which procedures were followed. You can’t. That’s why the analogy is false.
          You’re just presenting Paley’s Watchmaker Analogy of 200 years ago in another form. It has been thoroughly debunked and totally been replaced by Evolution Theory. That one happens to make testable predictions and has contributed to our understanding and knowledge. Your analogy hasn’t provided anything.

          “If you fail to do this will you then acknowledge there must be a God?”
          God of the Gaps. Because the old Greeks and Germans failed to explain thunder and lighting they were justified to acknowledge Zeus and Donar?

          Hey, I have some more evidence for your god for you (no, BobS, I will never let an opportunity pass to satisfy my favourite fetish).
          The best physicists can’t explain superconductivity at relatively high temperatures. Must be your god doing some juggling as a pastime.

          http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supergeleiding#mediaviewer/Bestand:Meissner_effect_p1390048.jpg

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

          Science has lots of unanswered questions. Why not demand right now that I acknowledge God since the Christian has an answer ready to hand (an answer based on wishful thinking, but forget that for now) while the scientist doesn’t always?

          If the scientific consensus is that abiogenesis came from God, yes, of course I would accept that.

          Now: what’s the equivalent for you?

          The dictionary defines “evil.” What’s hard to justify about it? And what does “justify” mean?

        • hector_jones

          Just like a scientist presupposes his theory will be backed up with some facts.

          This is a clueless comment on so many levels.

        • Greg G.

          Why should there not be evil if a good and all powerful God exist? Evidently He has His reasons for allowing it to exist and I have given some reasons why they may be.

          An omnipotence with reasons for allowing evil is cannot be good.

          Evil as a malevolent force of some kind can only be understood in theological terms but is incompatible with all theologies that have an omnipotent evil hater.

          Evil as a point on a scale that rates good or bad is perfectly compatible with an atheist worldview. Teying to apply a theistic definition of evil to a non-theistic view is non-sensical.

          Empathy is beneficial in social creatures and evolution can account for it. Any feeling that elicits an appropriate response will be favored by evolution. It doesn’t matter if the feeling is an illusion, it only needs to favor the genes that produce it.

        • Lbj

          How does it follow that “An omnipotence with reasons for allowing evil is cannot be good”? We already see in the world there is good. If God were evil, there would be no good.

          If empathy is just a product of evolution then its meaningless to express empathy. Just think. Someone just lost a loved and the atheist expresses empathy not because he feels for the person but because its an illusion or his genes are making him do it. How bizarre.

        • Greg G.

          Do you grasp the concept of omnipotence? If an omnipotent being is good, it would abhor evil. Being all-powerful it could conquer evil with a wave of the hand, so to speak, so evil is unnecessary. If it chooses to allow evil, then it does not abhor it and chooses for unnecessary evil to exist. An omnipotent being that chooses the existence of unnecessary evil cannot be called good.
          If the omnipotence is supposed to be the creator of everything, then everything that exists is the result of the omnipotence, including evil. The creator of evil is not all good.

          Mammals care for their young. They will fight predators to defend their young. The emotions for the young are aroused by progesterone. Our emotions are manipulated by hormones. Our hormones are controlled by genes. Genes are selected for their effectiveness. It is very important in the struggle for survival that the emotions trigger strong responses. We really feel them because our brains are programmed to respond. The emotions are chemical reactions in the brain, just like thoughts are. They come from a different part of the brain but they can affect each other.

          When we die, the cranial chemical reactions stop but copies of our genes continue to operate in our children or the children of our brothers, sisters, and cousins. That’s life.

          Adding a magical life force to the description doesn’t help. It doesn’t explain thoughts or emotions and doesn’t make them more real than they already feel to the person experiencing them.

        • Lbj

          Keep in mind all you are giving me here is just opinions. To say that “An omnipotent being that chooses the existence of unnecessary evil cannot be called good.” For that to be true you would have to know again exhaustively the mind of God and all events in the universe. You have no way to know why God allows evil in some cases and not in others.

          All your telling me is that emotions are just the result of chemicals. They are really no different than the wind. Another manifestation of atoms in motion that means nothing.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t have to know the mind of God to know the difference between good and evil. Your description of an omnipotent good God demands that it adhere to the definition of good. You wish good to mean perfect. Perfect would be unblemished by evil. Yet it is necessary that it chooses for unnecessary evil and unnecessary suffering to exist. Saying that God can use evil to bring out good is like excusing a murderer for the beautiful flowers he grows because he fertilizes the soil with his victim’s bodies. An omnipotent being could get the same results without the evil or the suffering. Choosing the evil and suffering is a sadistic choice which is inconsistent with the word “good”.

          My opinions are primarily based on the findings that have taken us from the knowledge of the 17th cenury to the knowledge of today. Your opinions are based on the knowledge that led to the 14th century which was a decline from the Roman civilization.

          All the information on the internet is ones and zeroes in motion, too. But there is an emergent property to it all that makes it more than bits. The chemical reactions of ourselves are just atoms in motion but the results are an emergence of awareness processed by brain structures that were built by natural selection. The amazing properties of the brain based on research are more interesting than the vacuous explanations of those who thought breath was spiritual and didn’t know that the brain was the functioning part of thinking.

        • Lbj

          You do indeed have to know the mind of God to declare that God is evil and His action are. You would have to know His motives for doing so. You also have to have some kind of objective criteria to know what evil and good are. These are things you cannot do. All you can say is that you don’t like it. Much like a person that doesn’t like vanilla ice cream. Its all opinion for the atheist.

        • MNb

          And you do indeed have to know the mind of god to declare that god is good and his actions are. You would have to know his motives for doing so. You also have to have some kind of objective criteria to know what good and evil are. The are things you cannot do. All you can say is that you like it. Much like a person that likes vanilla ice cream. It’s all opinion for the christian.
          What I like about you is that no matter how often I warn you you are still willing to play a lost game.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t have to know the mind of your imaginary being at all to know that it cannot exist. Your god claims the right to damn imperfect humans for sin which he claims is evil. Your god is supposed to be responsible for the existence of everything. Anything that results from the flaws is his responsibility. A being that is omnipotent enough to create all things is responsible for the flaws that result in evil and suffering. If it is not responsible, then it is not all-powerful. If it condemns sentient beings to eternal torture for its own failings it is not good.

        • MNb

          Yeah yeah, the old canard again: “atheists must know everything exhaustively but I as a christian don’t”.

          “Another manifestation of atoms in motion that means nothing.”
          And another opportunity to ask you: so what? Another opportunity to tell you that you have a problem, not we atheists.

        • MNb

          “If God were evil, there would be no good.”
          If god were good, there would be no evil.”
          You’re an expert at defeating your own arguments.

          “If empathy is just a product of evolution then its meaningless to express empathy.”
          Non-sequitur. It’s us humans who attach meaning to empathy.

          “How bizarre.”
          That’s the very foundation of your belief system, isn’t it? Something is beyond your imagination, ou think it bizarre hence you conclude it is wrong.

        • hector_jones

          “If God were evil, there would be no good.” So it follows that if God were good, there would be no evil.

        • Lbj

          No. Evil is the result of the choices of men and their motives for choosing evil.

        • hector_jones

          So God is powerless to stop men from producing evil.

        • hector_jones

          This is yet another logic fail by you. You make a claim of the form ‘If God were A, there would be no Exact Opposite of A.’ It follows perfectly from this logic that ‘If God were the Exact Opposite of A, there would be no A’ which is what I responded with. But of course you reject what follows logically from your very own arguments when it’s inconvenient for you. So just stop pretending that logic has any bearing on your beliefs, please.

        • busterggi

          “In a world with a benevolent, all loving, all knowing God, there should be no evil.”

          True but if god is a sadistic dickwad…

        • MNb

          there should be no good.

        • busterggi

          You need some good in order for the evil to hurt more.

        • Ron
        • MNb

          I think Stephen Law wrote something about this too.

        • Lbj

          There is good though. How can that be if God is evil?

        • MNb

          There is evil though. How can that be if god is good?
          You’re really not smart enough to learn from your mistakes, are you? I can set this trap for you as often as I like and you will never fail to fall in it.

        • Lbj

          Evil does not exist for you. Your atheist, For me who believes in God can understand how God can allow for evil and work good from it. That is what the death resurrection of Christ shows. His death was the worst thing that could happen yet it was the best thing that happened for those who believe in Him. By His death for sin, He saved those who would believe in Him. This is a good example of God using evil (the death of Christ) for good.

        • MNb

          You’re not answering my question. Obviously you can’t, so you change subject once again.

          The death of christ was not evil as he is supposed to know that he would resurrect anyway. Neither it’s the best thing that happened for me, because I strongly dislike the idea that somebody 2000 years ago takes away my responsibility for my own wrongdoings.

          “Evil does not exist for you.”
          Evil, like good, is a category developed by human beings – and I happen to be one – to enable us making moral judgments. Very handy.

        • Ron

          LOL Every time I pass by your comment I hear a movie trailer voiceover in the back of my head:

          “In a world…”

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

        • Pofarmer

          So, is stoning unruly children to death good or evil?

        • Lbj

          These were not small children but adult children.

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know what? You really are a worm. If you are put to a question, all you do is dissemble and avoid. We give answers to questions that you then studiously ignore and go on to repeat the same fallacious thinking over, and over and over. I’m done with you. You are an ignoramous and a jackass.

        • MNb

          He is an IDiot. Don’t tell me you’re surprised.

        • Greg G.

          These were not small children but adult children.

          Where does it give a minimum age? Do parents discipline adult children? You are making God in your own image, aren’t you?

          Proverbs 22:6
          Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

          That means it is the parent’s fault for not raising the kid right.

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

          ???

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

          Stuff happens. I think this is evil. QED.

          What is baffling you is the problem of objective evil vs. evil as people actually use it and how it’s defined in the dictionary. The dictionary definition works just fine, thanks, and there is no objective component.

        • Greg G.

          I just explained that you were using the fallacy of equivocation for the word “faith” and you come back with it. Religious faith is belief without or beyond evidence. Expecting your car to run is based on the evidence that it usually does run. If your car has a history of not running, your expectation is diminished. If your god has a history of never showing up, your faith is strengthened because it’s what you have been trained to expect from your god.

          We don’t expect a magic being to prevent bad things from happening. A theist has to account for why their loving creator allows bad things. The preferred explanation is to blame the victims.

          The Germans put Jews and others in concentration camps. The US put Japanese in internment camps. The Germans killed Jews. The US killed Japanese. Both countries were driven by emotions stirred by propaganda. One was based on fear of war. One was based on hatred bred by centuries of reading the New Testament. Humans are capable of good and evil things. There is no reason to believe in gods or demons.

          Science became effective when it ignored the supernatural. That is an atheistic concepts. Christians do their best work when they apply atheistic concepts. Do you want medicine or exorcism for a headache?

        • Lbj

          What Christian theologian uses your definition of faith (“Religious faith is belief without or beyond evidence.”)? Jesus certainly did not teach such a thing.

          You still apply faith in your car when you turn it on.

          God has shown up in history many times. Most fully in Christ.

          The US did not murder the Japanese in ovens or gas them. The Germans did and you can’t call this evil because evil does not exist in atheism. Don’t be saying humans are capable of evil if you are an atheist. All you can say “stuff happens”.

          There is no scientific experiment that has disproved the supernatural or God.

        • MNb

          Why should we care which christian (or any) theologians use which definitions of anything? Pick randomly two theologians and you get at least three “theories”, without any means to decide which one is correct.

        • Lbj

          To an atheist it won’t matter but it does to Christians. In atheism there is nothing to discuss among atheists but there is among theologians.

        • MNb

          That’s not the point. As I have told you many times before scientists have developed a reliable method to decide who is right and who is wrong, when two (or more) scientists disagree. That’s why all atheists here and the vast majority of atheists in the world rely on science for knowledge. I would go so far to say that knowledge only can be defined in scientific terms. You know – correction: I have told you why. I will tell you again.
          Theologians totally have failed to develop such a methodology. That’s why their definitions are irrelevant. They can (and often do) change their definitions as they like.

        • Ron

          What is science?

          The Science Council’s definition of science:

          Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.

          Scientific methodology includes the following:

          – Objective observation: Measurement and data (possibly although not necessarily using mathematics as a tool)
          – Evidence
          – Experiment and/or observation as benchmarks for testing hypotheses
          – Induction: reasoning to establish general rules or conclusions drawn from facts or examples
          – Repetition
          – Critical analysis
          – Verification and testing: critical exposure to scrutiny, peer review and assessment

          The reason no scientific experiment has disproved the supernatural or God is because science doesn’t concern itself with the supernatural, and the manner in which you’ve defined God (an omnipotent immaterial being) doesn’t lend itself to scientific experiment.

          And as I’ve mentioned several times now: atheism does NOT state that gods don’t exist—it states that there is no empirical evidence to warrant BELIEF in your proposition that gods exist.

        • Lbj

          Lets apply to atheism. We know when we do, it shows there is not substance to it.

          Many ID scientists do have scientific evidence for a creator based on the origin of the universe, its fine tuning and our planet and solar system.

          Good science does not rule out intelligence from the start. If the evidence leads to an intelligent creator then so be it. Those in science who embrace naturalism (the universe is all there is and is composed of matter, energy and laws which has never been proven but just assumed) will in some cases lead to ridiculous conclusions. The origin of life is one such problem not to mention the cell.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, there isn’t much to atheism. It’s one less god than you believe in.

          IDiots used to promise that they would show the world evidence of Intelligent Design. Now they don’t even bother with pretending to do science. Their arguments were debunked.

          Good science has ruled out the need to assume an intelligent agent. An omnipotent creator could have created the universe in any state and we wouldn’t be able to distinguish the illusion of history from real history. We could have been created last Thursday with intact memories of a long life and the scars to prove it. It could have been God, Loki, the FSM, or Maeve the cat.

          It’s just that there is equal evidence for all of them and more or none of them. It is not rational to jump to any conclusion beyond Occam’s Razor.

        • MNb

          Thanks for confirming you’re an IDiot. I happen to have followed the publications of Dishonesty Institute (well, by proxy; other bloggers select for me what’s relevant) for several years now. They have zilch, nada, nothing.

          “Those in science who embrace naturalism.”
          Pssst – I’ll tell you a little secret. A synonym for the scientific method is methodological naturalism. So everyone in science accepts it by definition. That’s why IDiocy is not science.
          I’ll tell you another little secret. Some IDiots from Seattle quite recently have admitted that their IDiocy is about religion after all and not about science. If you like I can provide the relevant links.
          If you are going to take that path nobody here will take you seriously anymore, because of MNb’s Law: whenever science and religion/theology/philosophy conflict science wins, always and everywhere.
          (disclaimer: I doubt if I am the first to formulate this, but I don’t know who did – hence my arrogance)

        • Lbj

          How do you know naturalism i.e.”the view of the world that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or
          spiritual.” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Naturalism) is true? What scientific test has proven this? What scientific test can measure every square inch of the universe since the beginning that has completely ruled out the supernatural?

          Keep in mind that your position means you are just an accident of nature with no ultimate purpose.

        • MNb

          I don’t. That’s why I don’t have much use for the word “truth”; neither does science. Of course you can refer now to Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True, but he uses the word in a different meaning (and explains so in his book, which I still object) than you do. You’re attacking a strawman.
          I don’t guarantee 100% absolute eternal undoubtable certainty. That’s for you believers – and that’s why BobS compares your belief system with a scam, because you don’t deliver.

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

          Do you reject evolution?

        • TheNuszAbides

          still, Justas is more than willing to plug in the fallacy of “somebody who identifies as [X] said [Q], therefore [Q] is the way [X]s think”.
          that has a name, yes? i’m better at visual/conceptual identification than actual name recall these days. :

        • Greg G.

          What Christian theologian uses your definition of faith (“Religious faith is belief without or beyond evidence.”)? Jesus certainly did not teach such a thing.

          How about:

          Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
          11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

          That is what the everyday Christian strives for. That is what they usually mean. Do Christian theologians disagree with that? I’m sure they would like to abandon it because it is foolish. Trying to equivocate small uncertainties in things we see consistently with things we never see, and are contrived to be unseeable is stupid and dishonest.

          God never shows up except in literature.

          Hiroshima and Nagasaki were annihilated by nuclear weapons, devices so terrible, they have never been used since. Do you think they are better than ovens or nerve gas?

          Good and evil are separate ends of a range of behaviors. You try to make evil a thing in and of itself. That concept is another poison of religion.

          Define supernatural or God so that it can make testable predictions then we can test those things. As it is, the best definitions are compatible with imaginary objects that are contrived to be untestable. That is a good reason to not believe in invisible unicorns and omnipotent beings with undetectable powers.

        • Lbj

          Hebrews 11:1 is not ” faith is belief without or beyond evidence.” The entire chapter deals with the various ways faith was expressed and why.

          God “shows up” everyday. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God;And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Ps 19:1 Or ” 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Romans 1. This is a good description of those who embrace atheism. They are guilty of this very thing and are without excuse for doing so.

        • Greg G.

          Hebrews 11:1 is not ” faith is belief without or beyond evidence.” The entire chapter deals with the various ways faith was expressed and why.

          Then let’s look to the end of the chapter:

          39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

          It’s all pie in the sky. None of the patriarchs listed were said to have faith in normal, everyday uncertainties. Their faith was in the extraordinary, according to the stories.

          In the Psalm passage, how does the expanse of the heavens that are hostile to human life indicate the work of a god worth worshipping and not one you should despise?

          One thing I find interesting about the Romans passage you cite is that Romans 1:19-27 seems to have used Wisdom of Solomon as a source. Just an interesting observation, nothing to do with the argument.

          Check out Romans 1:17 where Paul quotes Habukkuk 2:4 with “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” Aren’t you demeaning the righteous when you equivocate how an infidel lives with how the righteous live? Is that what you mean by faith? Look at the rest of the Habakkuk verse:

          Habakkuk 2:4
          Look at the proud!
              Their spirit is not right in them,
              but the righteous live by their faith.

          Do you see a difference in the way you are arguing for faith and the way the Bible describes religious faith? The Bible makes a distinction between those who live by faith and those who do not. If you think atheists live by faith the same way you do, your faith is biblically incorrect.

          But that’s OK. Biblically correct faith is incorrect, anyway. Scholars and theologians are right to reject that definition.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “Do Christian theologians disagree with that? I’m sure they would like to
          abandon it because it is foolish. Trying to equivocate small
          uncertainties in things we see consistently with things we never see,
          and are contrived to be unseeable is stupid and dishonest.”

          but quite handy for the “obey, endure, redeemable for pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die” toolkit. i mean, we COULD assume that few theologians are inspired by confirmation bias solely in the interest of crowd control…

        • JohnH2

          You have proof that induction from experience is correct? You have proof for all the axioms? Of course, you don’t, what you have is confidence, or trust, that they are correct, in other words: faith consistent with the definition in Hebrews.

        • Greg G.

          When it comes right down to it, I can’t prove I’m not a brain in a vat, plugged into the Matrix, a computer simulation, or a dream of Vishnu. All I know is that I am aware that I am thinking about things. If I interact with the sensations in certain ways, I get comfort and pleasure, other ways bring pain. Everything I “know”, that I have confidence in, is from a posteri experience.

          I have found that I can learn from the other characters in my perception. If they derive their learning from certain pathways, their learning is more reliable to obtain comfort and pleasure while avoiding discomfort.

          Other characters are confident in their methods but the knowledge they claim does not lead to reliable results.

          When I emulate the methods of either, the results are similar in reliabilty to the observed results of the characters emulated.

          So what I have confidence in is the results experienced. When I try that on religious beliefs, I’m told that I’m doing it wrong, that I can’t test God. They don’t test God and neither should I. Their results are not carefully evaluated so any positive results are very subjective and loosely defined. They say there are reasons that are mysterious why the results cannot be carefully evaluated. That is the opposite of what I call confidence. Theirs is religious faith.

        • JohnH2

          You do realize that a scripture reference goes right here given who you are talking to, right? In fact I would almost be surprised if you didn’t know which scripture I am meaning to reference.

          The basis for my faith, both individually and as a faith, is on testing God. As for carefully evaluating the results of following my faith, there are plenty of statistical measures that support my faith. In fact, the lives and behavior of Mormons are very rarely given as a reason as to why someone is not a Mormon; if your sole criterion is the average result of following the beliefs then you should probably be Mormon.

        • MNb

          “The basis for my faith is on testing God.”
          But we can’t test if he has mass and volume …..
          Nice contradiction, John.
          Or can we? Then please tell me how.
          For the uninitiated: according to John his god is material. The Holy Spirit isn’t though, so he suffers from a few problems more than “regular” christians. Because he can’t tell us how The Holy Spirit interacts with our material reality either.

        • JohnH2

          Why do you always get that spirit is also matter wrong? Really, we have covered it literally dozens of times.

          Get God to agree to get on a scale and we could find His mass and volume.

        • Greg G.

          In fact, the lives and behavior of Japanese people are very rarely given as a reason as to why someone is not a Japanese person; if your sole criterion is the average result of following the beliefs then you should probably be Japanese.

          I dated a woman who got into network marketing. She went whole hog and dumped me because I wasn’t willing to work the program. One gets rich in network marketing by selling motivational products to those in network marketing, not from the products that are sold. The motivational products tell the person to stay focused on the motivational products.

          Religion is like that. The theological product is irrelevant but they want their believers to stay focused on the scripture that can be interchangeable between theologies or special. They sometimes offer gimmicks to keep the mind focused like prayer beads or special underwear.

          When I was still a Christian but struggling to maintain my faith, we had a weeknight meeting with a segment that people could share their answered prayers with the group. The things people considered to be answered prayers were appalling. One that stuck with me was “I couldn’t find my keys but after I prayed to Jesus, I found them.” I was surprised to hear that brought up by others, too. I was impressed with one, though, about a couple of guys who said they were fishing at dusk and the mosquitoes were bothering them. they prayed and almost immediately the mosquitoes quit biting. A few years later I learned that mosquitoes are most actively feeding at dusk and dawn when it is too dark for birds to hunt and still too light for bats.

          I was impressed by ampther Christian’s claim that his friend was cured of multiple sclerosis when she prayed and stopped taking her medicine. Then I learned that MS symptoms can disappear for long periods.

          I have heard Christians tell me of visits by angels or deceased loved ones that were completely consistent with waking dreams. A couple were surprised when I asked if they were paralyzed during the event. They were surprised that I asked because they had never told that to anyone.

          Then there are the claims of miracles when a dozen people die but the one who survives credits a miracle because God must have a plan for that person.

          But it is not just Christians with miracle claims. It is common among religions. Hinduism is rampant with them.

          Miracles occur in inverse proportion to the standards for quality of evidence.

          So I am not impressed by miracle claims, until a road construction contractor sells their earth-moving equipment and hires a Christian with the faith of a mustard seed instead.

        • JohnH2

          How would one choose to be Japanese?

          I am not after miracle claims, but experience claims and everyone having them. Nor do I really care that anyone else has miracle claims, in fact I expect it.

        • Greg G.

          I was parodying the idea that one would opt to be religious based on the perceived behavior of its followers.

          All right, what do you mean by testing God? I’ve seen claims like this that have predictable results that are attributed to God anyway. How do your tests eliminate ambiguous results? Justus for example believes on religious faith that God is good, looks at all the good things as evidence that God is good, while ignoring all the bad things.

        • JohnH2

          Moroni 10:3-5, but it doesn’t eliminate ambiguous results.

        • Greg G.

          I remember the Amazing Kreskin. We had a board game that included cards with symbols for doing ESP tests. One day, I had a warm feeling come over me during one of the tests my sister was adminstering. My results were better than average. We did three more and my score improved each time. I was sure I was on to something. After that it was just regression to the mean but it didn’t change my mind and I continued in that belief for a few years. Confirmation bias maintained the idea.

          Once I had a dream that my aunt had died and I woke with that same warm, fuzzy feeling. I didn’t know whether I should warn my mom. Every time the phone rang, I expected the bad news. And for several days, I kept expecting it. Decades later, she is still alive.

          Eventually I realized that the feeling was meaningless.

          The “manifest the truth unto you” phrase brought that old feeling to mind. It sounds like you are supposed to convince yourself of the truth of things that can’t actually be known. It seems like the power of suggestion, just like I got from Kreskin.

          Why is Moroni written in an imitation of 16th century English? Is it written for the look and feel of the KJV Bible? If an angel can pick up an evolving language, it should be able to communicate as it is spoken at the time. Instead of archaic phrasings, why not give it in future slang?

        • JohnH2

          Because Joseph Smith knew how to read via the KJV.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “…very rarely given as a reason as to why someone is not a Mormon…”

          it must be exhausting going over the copious literature of People Giving Reasons That They Aren’t Mormons.

        • MNb

          Wrong. You are correctly pointing at the problem of Induction by Simple Enumeration though. That’s why induction alone is insufficient indeed.
          But science has another method: deduction. Cross-checking the results from induction and deduction allows us to assume that conclusions are correct – and to make predictions. That’s why you don’t expect to fall upward when jumping off a bridge: we have the experimental results and we have the theory.
          Faith has nothing to do with it. Faith relies on underbelly feelings and/or revelation.

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

          All addressed many times before to you and to Jenna and CodyGirl. You’re determined to just stay in one place, right? In few domains could that be considered a positive thing.

          Or maybe you think that your intransigence will convince us of something? (My advice: try arguments and evidence.)

        • MNb

          “hatred bred by centuries of reading the New Testament.”
          Rather the Old Testament. I agree with Bertrand Russell on this.

        • Greg G.

          I’ve always thought it was because of the Jews being called “Christ-killers”, the Catholic prayer used until the 1960s that referred to “perfidous Jews”, and Martin Luther’s comments toward Jews that led to mistrust and anit-Semitism.

        • MNb

          Yes, that played a role indeed. The idea of bloody revenge is from the OT though.

        • TheNuszAbides

          ‘Paul’ does have his moments. they’re just couched in less blatant flourishes of righteousness/flat-out crude authoritarianism than Testament 1.0.

        • Lbj

          Biblical faith is no different than the kind of faith we apply everyday in our lives. Jesus Himself exhorted those to believe in Him not just because He said so but He demonstrated by miracles that what He said was true.

        • MNb

          Poor, poor stubborn little christian you are. You have shown to be wrong on this both by me and by Pofarmer and the only thing you can do is repeat your error ad nauseam.
          Plus we have a circular argument once again. Jesus was divine, hence pulled off miracles, hence was divine.
          Of course the stories about those miracles are just fiction.

        • Lbj

          All you are doing is giving your unfounded opinion that has not basis in fact.

        • Greg G.

          How do you tell the parts Jesus really said from the parts someone said he said? How do you tell the miracles Jesus actually did from the miracles that were done by Elijah and falsely attributed to Jesus? Do you handle poisonous snakes and drink poison? Mark says that Jesus said you could. The snake handlers in West Virginia have religious faith but they demonstrate it by chilling the snakes before handling them and they only drink poisons that one can build a tolerance for instead of poisons that accumulate in the body.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and/or they get bitten and die anyway.

        • Lbj

          For the most part a person can tell what Jesus said from others in a red letter editions. They do a pretty good job.

          You would have to demonstrate with some facts and sound reasons that “the miracles Jesus actually did from the miracles that were done by Elijah and falsely attributed to Jesus”. Where did Elijah walk on water or cast out demons with a word, or still the sea with a command? Where did he rise from the dead himself?

          Don’t handle snakes or poison. This is mentioned in a disputed section in Mark.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “Biblical faith is no different than the kind of faith we apply everyday in our lives.”
          asserted with zero evidence, immediately after you are presented with a clear, definitive explanation to the contrary.
          and your excuse is? oh wait, you skipped that part. AGAIN.

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

          Biblical faith is no different than the kind of faith we apply everyday in our lives.

          Use your faith to know when to cross a busy street. Come back and tell us how that experiment went … if you survive.

        • Lbj

          Faith considers the evidence and either trust’s it or not. When i cross the street and see if it is clear I trust or have faith in my senses that it is safe to cross.

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

          If you mean “belief well grounded in evidence that will be overturned by a preponderance of contradictory evidence,” let’s use the word trust.

          If you cross the street based on evidence, then you’re using trust.

        • Lbj

          Trust and faith are similar. “Synonyms 1. certainty, belief, faith…” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/trust

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

          Do us all a favor and eliminate any chance we can have for thinking you’re playing games with words. If you mean “well evidence belief,” use “trust.”

        • Lbj

          I know you don’t like the word faith and that you live by it.
          Here is how faith is defined in a dictionary: “confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith?s=t

          You cannot live life without faith. Deal with it.

        • MNb

          I know you don’t like clear cut unambiguous definitions. This especially applies to the words faith and trust. Only with an ambiguous meaning of the word faith you can maintain that we should pay as much attention to religious, preferably christian claims as to scientific claims.
          Your are not honest enough to admit that science uses two objective (or intersubjective if you prefer) methods (deduction and induction) and religion one at best. I have asked you many times what your methodology is and you simply refuse to answer.
          You can jump high, you can jump low, as we Dutch say: fact remains that science does not need faith.

        • Lbj

          What do you mean “what your methodology is”?

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

          I can’t live without trust. If you want to redefine faith to be identical to trust, then I still can’t live without trust.

          But here’s the Pandora’s Box you’ve opened: are you saying that faith and trust are always synonyms in your mind? That faith is always belief based solidly on evidence and that you’d reject that belief given a preponderance of evidence? Always?

        • Lbj

          Faith is belief in something I have reason to believe is true. Trust involves the “application” of faith. When I have faith-reason in someone, I trust them.
          I have faith in the pilot that he can fly the plane. I trust him when I get on the plane and takeoff.

        • 90Lew90

          You have good reason to believe the pilot exists, and in any case, you’re using “faith” here in two different senses. Religious faith is belief without evidence. Your subjective experience is not evidence, and neither can you really say you have any “reason” to believe it is true, at least if you’ve got enough self-awareness to know that your mind often plays tricks on you and your senses are far from perfect in reflecting reality.

        • JohnH2

          “Your subjective experience is not evidence”

          Your subjective experience is all the evidence anyone ever has to go off of. Reading this is a subjective experience, everything is subjective experience.

          Furthermore until demonstrated otherwise there is no more reason to believe that ones mind is playing tricks on them or senses are deceiving them on the subject of religion as on looking at the data from the LHC or Hubble or anything else.

        • 90Lew90

          To an extent you’re right. How do I know my “red” is not “yellow” to you? I don’t, but we both call what I see as red “red” whether you see it as “yellow” or not. But the point of the scientific method is to move tentatively, with the knowledge that we are prone to all sorts of cognitive biases and that our senses aren’t to be trusted, and that we’re on particularly shaky ground when we get into intuitions. The point of the scientific method is to overcome subjectivity, and as far as that goes, it has been very effective indeed. That’s why a lot of what has become established scientific theory (which we lay people might as well call “fact” since it’s as close an approximation of “fact” as we’re ever likely to get) is completely counter-intuitive. An obvious example is that evolution by natural selection up-ends our intuitive sense that nature must have a designer.

        • Lbj

          Actually our experience tells us that the mindless forces of nature cannot account for the cell or DNA.

        • 90Lew90

          Actually evolutionary theory explains both the cell and more fundamentally DNA (the latter produces the former). See Watson and Crick, who discovered DNA for the classic work. I’m sorry but all you’re doing is parading your own ignorance here. Sadly it seems that, like a lot of your cohorts, your ignorance is probably willed ignorance. So tell me straight. Do you accept evolution by natural selection? Or maybe a better question is, do you know the first thing about it? A better question still might be, is there any point in my carrying on a discussion with you? Or am I talking to a brick wall? Your mind’s made up? By now I’ve referred you to a number of good books which explain in an accessible way what science has found and how. What you’ve come back with is your experience, and you’re trying to call that “evidence”. If that’s as far as we’re going to get, then I bid you good day, because my name is not Sisyphus.

        • JohnH2

          Which still doesn’t at all address Justas’s or mine or anyones subjective religious experience being evidence for Justas or me or anyone else that has had one. Since the experience itself is not sensible to you the evidence is asymmetric for you, it is still evidence per the scientific method but not particularly useful or good evidence.

          Science really can’t say much on whether or not there is a designer; that isn’t the best example. But there are plenty of things from Aristotle that you could have validly chosen.

        • 90Lew90

          The idea of a designer (per Paley with his watchmaker, for example) is blown out of the water by the *fact* of evolution by natural selection. That’s what science has to say about a designer and it’s conclusively done with. The “intelligent design” argument is finished. The thing about Aristotle (and what’s he got to do with anything we’re talking about here?) is that, giant though he was, he was wrong on just about everything he said. His greatest legacy has been the tools he gave us for critical thinking, which, incidentally, Christians rejected, buried, and forgot until the Arabs reintroduced them to the West.

        • JohnH2

          I am not arguing in favor of any theory of how a designer would work, just that science can’t say if there was a designer. It is a different question being asked; unless one were to know how the designer worked then stating that there could be a designer is not a scientific statement. If one has some idea as to the nature or methods of the designer then we can look at evidence to see if what happened is consistent with that. Without a theory on the nature and methods of any hypothetical designer the question of a designer is not really useful to anything.

          Aristotle worked off of intuition largely, which is why he has lots of examples you could have chosen.

        • 90Lew90

          And I am saying that evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of life on earth and the earth’s ecosystems which we would intuitively assume had a designer. There is none. Evolution by natural selection operates entirely by incremental change over long periods of time favouring species in which minute, mutations occur conferring a survival advantage. It explains why species are not immutable. It leaves what was held to be true for a very long time (in human history at least) — the view propagated by religions chiefly — in tatters. And don’t even begin to start with some “theistic evolution” crap. That’s just typical equivocation by the religious in the face of insurmountable evidence contrary to what they had previously held to be unassailable truth. In short, it’s intellectually dishonest. I’m still at a loss as to what you’re getting at with Aristotle.

        • JohnH2

          Right and any omniscient being would be able to set the initial conditions such that the evolution that happened did happen; even from the point of the Big Bang.

          Just go with spontaneous generation from Aristotle who thought that whenever water and heat and air and earth were combined that life would appear.

        • 90Lew90

          Right, so you are going with the intellectually dishonest “theistic evolution” bullshit. It has precisely zero explanatory value. None. Zilch. And your Aristotle stuff is a complete irrelevance here.

        • JohnH2

          I don’t think you understand either point of what I was saying, but that is okay.

        • 90Lew90

          I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying either. Maybe that’s because you’re kind of dangling a carrot without committing yourself to saying anything definite, which is typical of the kind of lazy-minded evasiveness of a religious person.

          “I know something you don’t know…”

          “Yeah, what’s that?”

          “Oh you’d know if you knew it.”

          Great stuff.

        • MNb

          “any omniscient being would be able to set the initial conditions”
          How? Which means? Which procedures?
          No answers? Just another meaningless statement, nothing better than my favourite one about the undetectable fairies in my garden tending my flowers, or Jerry Coyne’s little undetectable demons running his computer.

        • JohnH2

          Omniscient means that one knows all that can be known; assuming that such a being has any power at all to effect the universe then such a being has the ability to determine any particular aspect of the universe that it desires.

        • MNb

          A non-answer indeed. Or do you suggest that that omniscient being of yours setting those initial conditions can’t know how, which means and which procedures, ie can’t know what he/she/it is doing? In that case:
          LOL.

        • JohnH2

          I am saying that I don’t know the means or procedures that such a being would or did use, not that such a being wouldn’t know.

        • MNb

          If you value honesty you should go a step further: you can’t know the means or procedures – you can’t even know if such a being would know.
          Meaningless like the fairies in my garden.

        • MNb

          “unless one were to know how the designer worked then stating that there could be a designer is not a scientific statement.”
          That’s correct. That’s why this statement is nothing but faith. From a philosophical point of view this renders the designer meaningless. That’s why I keep on asking you about the mass and volume of your god and keep on asking Justas about how his (immaterial) god is supposed to interact with our material reality.
          Justas and you postulating a designer or however you prefer to call him/her/it is just empty.

        • MNb

          Of course it does address your subjective religious experiences – in fact in two ways. If your statement “there is no more reason to believe that ones mind is playing tricks on them” is serious you should begin to reject your own religious experiences yourself. At the other hand it’s rather remarkable that say Papua’s, at least before they met christian missionaries, didn’t have the same religious/spiritual experiences as you. But they do seem to have the same experiences with falling downward as you and me. How come, you think?

          “there are plenty of things from Aristotle that you could have validly chosen”
          If you prefer medieval science, yes. All progress science has made since then consisted of rejecting what Aristoteles said.

        • JohnH2

          Why is it remarkable that the Papua’s don’t have same ideas about religion that I do? That is in my opinion to be expected, at least per my scriptures.

          They do have a sense of fairness and some sense of right and wrong, even if it isn’t exactly the same ideas about right and wrong, which is what is important.

          The point with Aristotle is that talking about a designer was a poor example as a designer is not a scientific statement, while Aristotle has lots of scientific statements based on intuition which are wrong.

        • 90Lew90

          What utter crap you are brim-full of. “They do have a sense of fairness and some sense of right and wrong…”. How very gracious of you to admit that.

        • JohnH2

          What?

        • 90Lew90

          They have “some sense of right and wrong”? What, like dogs? You don’t even realise how condescending that sounds do you?

        • JohnH2

          That they have a sense of right and wrong is evidence of the universality of morality, its objectivity if you will. That you are so outraged further demonstrates that point.

        • 90Lew90

          It’s not evidence for the objectivity of morality. And you didn’t initially say “a sense of right and wrong”, you said “*some* sense of right and wrong” as though they have no better a sense of right and wrong than the average monkey or dog. Ethical systems are specific to time and place. They are human constructs built mostly out of language and culture. We can only venture to say that objectively, as social primates, we are hardwired to have empathy with our kin. We know roughly how this works in the brain, particularly with so-called mirror neurons in action, whereby for instance, if we watch a video of a person being pricked with a needle, we wince because the neurons which would fire were we being pricked ourselves start going haywire. But your religion tells us that until we are baptised we remain in the same “sinful” or “fallen” state as Adam and Eve. Do I have to remind you that’s the state we all were cast into by your ultra-benevolent god? It seems you’re trying to have it both ways — again — with this. What’s it to be?

        • JohnH2

          It was the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, ergo everyone has a sense of right and wrong, and we all sometimes do things that we know to be wrong.

        • 90Lew90

          No, not ergo. We had no knowledge of good or evil until the tree was eaten of. We were innocents in paradise up until that point. But your ultra-benevolent god put a talking snake there for some reason and the innocent, unsuspecting Eve went and had a munch. So every female was condemned to excruciating pain in childbirth ever after, and every child hence was to be born with the stain of the same sin. What gives?

        • JohnH2

          The child does not share the guilt of the parent, we are not stained from birth but only with what we have done wrong ourselves.

          http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/fair-conferences/2010-fair-conference/2010-the-two-trees
          https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/moro/8?lang=eng

        • 90Lew90

          Why should I suppose your approach to this question is any more or less flexible or rigid than any of the others that have been presented to me? This is pie in the sky. I’m making an effort here to present arguments from evidence which suggests that what religions have to say about “truth” should be taken with a bucket of salt, and you’re coming back with nothing but convenient flim-flam.

          “To wrestle with a blancmange is, in my experience, a mistake. Pink, sickly and smug, the sugary pudding happily takes any number of blows, absorbs the attack, quivers a bit and comes back – unperturbed – as a blancmange.”
          — Steve Jones, the world’s leading authority on snails.

        • JohnH2

          You were the one that moved from talking about evidence to talk of beliefs:

        • 90Lew90

          Aren’t those terms interchangeable in your world? Excuse me if I’ve lost track but it’s very late here and believe it or not I’m relaxing and while supping copious amounts of alcohol I’ve been watching at least three breeds of bird feeding their young in the ivy growing up the wall outside my window. Thrush, blue tit and maybe a starling but I’m not sure. You should hear the noise the young have been making. I’m quite far north and it’s been light since about 4am. Now it’s 5.30 and I really couldn’t care less about this conversation. My heart is filled. I have a pet Rottweiler by me here (they get a raw deal don’t you think? Maybe something to do with those Omen films…). Birdsong. Beautiful garden. Glass of vodka. Day off tomorrow. Even the sound of the fridge is annoying. This conversation? Is over. All the very best to you.

        • JohnH2

          To you as well.

        • CodyGirl824

          JohnH2, In your discussion with 90Lew90, IMO it is important to keep in mind that the Adam and Eve story is an allegory. The ancient Hebrews looked at the human condition and then created a mytho-poetic narrative, using symbols and metaphors, to teach how disobedience of God’s commandments is the root of all evil. Unfortunately, our atheist interlocutors seem to stray into the domain of biblical literalism in discussions about the Book of Genesis.

        • JohnH2

          While it is deeply allegorical, I believe the story of Adam and Eve to be more than just allegory; and even if just allegory its impact on how Christians have viewed women, children, work, sexuality, and knowledge is very real and very damaging and not at all what I or my faith believe, as per “the two trees’ article I linked to.

        • 90Lew90

          How much time have you spent in “god’s creation” — working with it — lately?

        • MNb

          Hey, Cody is back! Nice. Have you already figured out how to seperate correct claims about the supernatural from incorrect ones? For instance: how do you know that the Adam and Eve story is an allegory (a big chunk of the American population will disagree) and Jesus’ Resurrection isn’t? Which method do you use?
          Oh wait – of course, what makes your underbelly feel warm and cozy.

          “Unfortunately, our atheist interlocutors seem to stray into the domain of biblical literalism in discussions about the Book of Genesis.”
          Of course your come back would be incomplete without a straightforward lie. The atheist position here is that the Resurrection is a myth – ie should not be understood literally. You maintain it’s a historical event – ie that parts of your favourite Holy Book should be read literally.

        • MNb

          “Your subjective experience is all the evidence anyone ever has to go off of.”
          Yeah, you and me and everyone else falling downward when jumping from a bridge is totally a subjective experience.

          “as on looking at the data from the LHC”
          Well, of course we cannot rule out the possibility that your fantastic god is a bit bored – eternity lasts pretty long – and hence to amuse himself tricks all the scientific minds who have looked at those data, plus the rest of the scientific community, plus the rest of the human population. Yes, your fantastic god might have tricked us in believing that we are falling downward, while in reality we are falling upward, whatever reality means here.
          You should convert to pastafarianism, because this is a pastafarian core doctrine regarding Evolution Theory. That’s to say, if you take your own words seriously, which I doubt.

        • Lbj

          Some religious faith maybe without evidence but not Christianity. Faith in Christian is belief in something that I have good reason to believe is true. It does hinge on one reason but multiple pieces of evidence and reason.

          I could be mistaken but so could you. In fact, your in a worse situation than i am when it comes to evidence for your atheism. There is none for it.

        • 90Lew90

          Repeating the thing I’ve just responded to is not how we move forward in a discussion. Atheism doesn’t need evidence. You’re the one making the positive claim. I’m quite sure you’ve been told that means the burden of proof (that your god exists) is upon you. Without your claim that your god exists, there would be no atheism. To reiterate, since you didn’t get it the first time around, your religious experience does not count as evidence for the existence of your god. Your religious experience is as much evidence for your god as the experience of someone on acid is for the existence of those beautiful colour patterns on the blank white wall.

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

          And now that those tangents have been explored, perhaps we can get back to the questions I asked before.

        • busterggi

          “The holocaust “just happened”

          Not at all, it was deliberately performed primarilly by Christians following centuries of church approved hatred for Jews.

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

          Kinda makes you wonder how it would’ve played out without Martin Luther (author of “On the Jews and their Lies”).

        • Lbj

          Hitler created the Holocaust for biological reasons. He wanted a super race and he wanted to help evolution along by destroying “weaker races”.

        • busterggi

          Hitler made teaching of evolution illegal just as your fellow Christians are trying to do in the US. But afterall, he was one of you.

        • Lbj

          This is the first I have heard of this. Do you have some articles you could point me to?

        • busterggi

          t intertubes called ‘the Google’.
          Honestly, are you a learning disabled 12 year old?

        • TheNuszAbides

          hey, if the only time Justas displays anything resembling genuine curiosity is in poring over historical details of ‘proven’ mere mortals, it’s a start!

        • MNb
        • MNb

          Hitler was anti-evolution. He doesn’t mention Darwin even once in Mein Kampf. In fact he was a creationist. He didn’t want to “help evolution”, he wanted to avoid degeneration (a typical creationist concept) by destroying “weaker races”. Hence the Nürnberg Laws.
          Some relevant quotes from Mein Kampf:

          “Think further of how the process of racial decomposition is debasing and in some cases even destroying the fundamental Aryan qualities of our German people.”
          “For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties. Whoever destroys His work wages war against God’s Creation and God’s Will.”
          “iron law of Nature–which compels the various species to keep within the definite limits of their own life-forms when propagating and multiplying their kind.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          this ‘minor’ detail finally struck me during a session of Europa Universalis II. “half a continent, 99% professed Catholic? hmm, that’s like evidence of… something…”

        • MNb

          “You have plenty of evidence for the supernatural.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          1. You write that science can’t measure supernatural phenomena like your god.
          2. You don’t have a methodology to distinguish correct supernatural claims from incorrect ones.
          3. So science is the only method that works.
          4. So there can’t be evidence for the supernatural.
          It’s just a produce of your overheated religious fantasy.

        • Lbj

          What scientific experiment has disproved the supernatural?

          What scientific theory rules out the supernatural?

          You can falsify Christianity in a number ways. One is to disprove the resurrection of Christ.

        • MNb

          Congratulations. Once again you ask the wrong questions. They bear no relevance at all to my four points. You neglect them; given the dishonesty you have displayed a couple of times I conclude you can’t address them.
          I never claimed that scientific experiments can disprove (or prove, for that matter) the supernatural. This question is based on a strawman.
          All scientific theories rule out the supernatural. No matter which branch of science, no matter which scientific book or magazine, you won’t find anything about the supernatural except understood as stories, myths and legends.
          Please explain how to falsify the Resurrection – or the fairies in my garden tending my flowers, for that matter.

        • Lbj

          Again, what scientific experiment ruled out the supernatural? Where was it done?

          What you have in science is a bias against the supernatural. Its never been disproven or shown to be so. Its only assumed

          You can falsify the resurrection by giving good reasons why God cannot exist. Or you could show the gospel accounts to be fictions. Prove one of these 2 things and you will have disproven the resurrection and I will become an atheist. .

        • MNb

          Repeating your question doesn’t make it any more relevant, nor does it mean it’s not based on a strawman anymore.
          You’re correct that science assumes against the supernatural. That’s why I have asked you several times what your methodology is to distinguish between correct and incorrect supernatural, transcendental, immaterial claims or whatever fancy word you want to use.

          “You can falsify the resurrection by giving good reasons why God cannot exist.”
          You don’t know what “to falsify” means. A falsification is an observation or experiment that contradicts a prediction, which results from a theory or hypothesis. The hypothesis of Jesus’ Resurrection doesn’t make any prediction, hence can’t be falsified.
          Moreover I have given you good reasons why god cannot exist. You have neglected them; biased as you are though I predict you will dismiss them without any further thought.

        • Pofarmer

          “The hypothesis of Jesus’ Resurrection doesn’t make any prediction, hence can’t be falsified.”

          Well, it sorta does. The Resurrection was said to atone for the Sin of Adam and Eve, and thus be a correction to Original Sin. So, I think the releivant question would be, what should have changed, and what did/did not change, due to the atonement for Original Sin.

        • Ron

          This site lists five Harry Potter prophecies that came true. Hence, by your reasoning the supernatural elements of the Harry Potter stories must be true.

        • MNb

          Ah, this link makes me very happy. I thought it a delicious piece of irony from Rowling to depict Trelawney as a total fraud, making most (if not all) of her prophecies come true and no main character even noticing!

        • MNb

          If I have understood the doctrine of atonement correctly that change occurs in afterlife. That’s not falsifiable either.
          But please correct me if my understanding is wrong.

        • Lbj

          Jesus predicted His death and resurrection. It proved to be true as He said.

          The resurrection can be disproved if you can show the eyewitness accounts to be false.

        • MNb

          The authors of the Gospels claim that Jesus made those predictions. There is no reason to accept that claim though.
          There are no eyewitness accounts left, so they can’t be proven to be true or false.
          Moreover you’re dishonest once again. You demand “Show x is false then y is disproven. If not y is correct”. X here is “eyewitness account”, y is “Resurrection”.
          Now replace x by “life emerging from dead matter by biochemical means” and y “materialism” and you suddenly reject this logic.
          You make me suspect that believing is actually a synonym for lying.

        • Lbj

          The gospels are eyewitness accounts and have been shown to be historically true. Since this is true, it proves the resurrection to have happened.
          The resurrection was not the result of natural causes or some force of nature. It was cause by God Himself raising Christ from the dead.
          This shows that atheism is a lie because it shows God does indeed exist.

        • busterggi
        • MNb

          “The gospels are eyewitness accounts”
          They aren’t. The authors of the Gospels weren’t there.

          “and have been shown to be historically true.”
          They haven’t. All the people who claim this start with the assumption that they are historical accounts in the first place; they aren’t. Moreover several parts of the Gospels have been shown to be made up indeed. The two I know about are the infanticide as told by Matthew and the exorcism by drowning pigs.

          “Since this is true, it proves the resurrection to have happened.”
          Since this isn’t true, it proves nothing.

          “This shows that atheism is a lie”
          Here you contradict yourself – above you wrote that the Resurrection can be falsified. Here you admit it can’t, or you wouldn’t use the word lie.

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

          One happy day you will approach a claim in some way besides starting with the God hypothesis and then seeing if the facts can be interpreted to not contradict that hypothesis.

          Your bias is obvious.

        • Lbj

          And so is yours.

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

          Is this because you see the same flaw in my thinking–starting with the God hypothesis and then adjusting the facts to fit it–or is this just a “Your mother dresses you funny!” schoolyard taunt that you fling out when you have nothing substantial to say?

        • TheNuszAbides

          if only we had records of prayers and their results before and after Testament 2.0 to mark the revolutionary advent of ‘forgiveness’ which was never granted until the Trinity made that sweetheart deal…

        • Pofarmer

          Something tells me it has always hovered vanishingly near zero.

        • Lbj

          In the case of a resurrection you must first confirm that the person was dead. Jesus was killed by professional killers i.e. the Romans. What led to His death was scourging with whips, crucified on a cross and the piercing of His side. He was DEAD. After this He was put in a grave that was known to many. 3 days later He is no longer in the tomb that was guarded by Roman guards and appears in bodily form on a number of occasions and circumstances over a period of a few weeks. He was seen by over 500 people.

          Remember Jesus predicted His death and resurrection.

          To disprove this, you will need to come up with an explanation that has facts that show this did not happen. For 2000 years people have tried and all have failed. Maybe you will succeed where they failed. Ball is in your court.

          BTW- you have not given any facts why God does not exist. You have asserted it. Assertions are not facts nor proof.

        • MNb

          “3 days later He is no longer in the tomb ”
          “appears in bodily form”
          Which observations and experiments are supposed to falsify these statements?

          “To disprove this, you will need to come up with an explanation that has facts that show this did not happen.”
          That explanation is extremely simple and brought up on this blog many times.
          It’s a story. Fiction. The authors of the Gospels made it up.

          “you have not given any facts why God does not exist”
          This time I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, as I have problems with Disqus myself. I totally did. You can find them on this very page.

          1. It’s fact that neither you nor any other believer (or any other dualist for that matter) have ever explained how an immaterial being like your god interacts with our material reality. You only have postulated that he can, never described how, which means he uses and which procedures he follows.
          2. It’s a fact that, assuming an immaterial, trancendetal, supernatural reality or whatever you like to call it, neither you nor any other believer/dualist has ever developed a reliable methodology to separate correct claims in this domain from incorrect ones. I have asked you several times how you decide which one of the two following claims is correct and which one is incorrect:

          a) there is a god;
          b) there are undetectable fairies in my backyard tending my flowers.

          You never answered. Because you totally can’t.
          These facts are excellent positive reasons to postulate that our material reality is all there is; hence there isn’t a god.

        • TheNuszAbides

          troll. should never have been fed.

          (to elaborate, so that this isn’t mere name-calling:)
          your corpus of commentary (or what few reams of it i have seen thus far, as well as numerous responses by individuals clearly more willing/able to respond directly and in detail to a particular argument or assertion) indicates

          1a) you latch onto words with multiple meanings (appreciation, faith) and even after someone has explained the specific usage they are referring to, you either deliberately or obliviously continue to frame your ‘arguments’ with a different definition.

          1b) the regularity and preponderance of these incidents implies that you either barely read the responses, barely absorb their content, or disingenuously re-parrot your talking points with little to no consideration for the time spent responding to you. one suspects that genuine humility might entail your admission of the first or second possibilities. (or are you Instructed to be humble only before your lord, and a warrior of ‘truth’ before all others even when your words have no persuasive power over them? is your participation here only for the sake of other believers?)

          2) you throw around other words (falsify, atheism/atheist, science) with a fairly obvious attitude of not knowing how (or how diversely) they actually work in practice (see 1). these words too are explained to you and you come right back the next day with no indication of having accepted the distinction, context or nuance.

          thus, your ‘challenge’ rings terrifically false because you’ve provided no reason to believe your mind is that open. showing up here time and time again is one thing; redundantly throwing up a brick wall of circular logic and substance-free (in the context of actual debate/evidence/proof/etc.) affirmations is quite another.

        • MNb

          “troll. should never have been fed.”
          I beg to disagree. I think Justas great fun. He likely doesn’t realize and if he does he won’t admit, but he’s excellent anti-propaganda for his belief system.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i should edit my last comment anyway, because i finally noticed your “there is no god” assertions which i thought J was dragging in from some other person, some other page, some other time.

        • Ron

          You don’t seem to get it. Medical science has demonstrated that your brain cells start deteriorating within six minutes after death, while the the rest of your tissues follow soon thereafter. There are no medically documented cases of bodily reanimation three days after clinical death.

          So the onus falls squarely on those making the claim that such a thing is possible. Either introduce us to this resurrected Jesus, or admit that your “evidence” is little more than hearsay.

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

          If “faith” is “belief despite insufficient evidence,” then I have no faith. If “faith” is “trust,” then I have trust (and call it that).

          You have plenty of evidence for the supernatural.

          And there’s the problem. You make clear that you presuppose God and then work the facts to fit that preconception, and then you want to have an honest debate over the facts? You prove to us that you have no use for honest debate. Don’t be surprised when we think little of your little challenges.

        • Lbj

          What counts as sufficient evidence for something?

          You presuppose things everyday. You presuppose the the office where you work is there. You presuppose that your car will start. You presuppose that the drivers on the road know the traffic laws and will obey them.
          You don’t always have sufficient evidence to live.

        • Pofarmer

          That word you are using, I don’t think it means what you think it means.

        • Lbj

          Here is what the word means-“to be based on the idea that something is true or will happen”http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/presuppose

        • Pofarmer

          Now, why did you clip the definition?

          pre·sup·pose verb ˌprē-sə-ˈpōz

          : to be based on the idea that something is true or will happen

          : to require or depend on (something) in order to be true or exist

          Full Definition of PRESUPPOSE

          transitive verb

          1: to suppose beforehand

          2: to require as an antecedent in logic or fact

          — pre·sup·po·si·tion noun

          — pre·sup·po·si·tion·al adjective

          See presuppose defined for English-language learners »

          See presuppose defined for kids »

          Examples of PRESUPPOSE

          The rule presupposes a need to restrict student access to the library.

        • Lbj

          I didn’t clip to avoid something. The full definition you quote changes nothing.

        • Pofarmer

          I see MNb beat me to it above. Read the Example. Here’s another one.

          “Prayer presupposes the existence of god.”

          Let’s take a look at your office example. Ever since you were an infant, you have been noticing that things are generally in the same place every day, at least if you live in a semi-normal environment. That tree in the front yard? Yep, still there day after day. Your crib? Yep, same place every day. House? Yep, right there every time you come back home. Now, let’s say that you get a Job interview at this office building. The Human resources person gives you the address of the building and the floor and room the interview will be in. Experience tells us that those directions will lead us to the place we are supposed to go. So, we get the job, and are assigned a station, office, or cubicle in the building. We come back to the same building where we had the interview, or go to the address of the building supplied by human resources. Once again, experience tells us, that things like buildings don’t mysteriously move. They are pretty much generally in the same place we left them. At no point in this example does someone presuppose the building will be where it is. Long chains of experience tell us that when we leave a building, or a desk, or a tree, it will be in the same place tomorrow, in fact, it would be surprising if it weren’t. Now, let’s say we are going to presuppose where our building is. The human resources officer would contact us and tell us to come in for an interview. Rather than giving us an address, we would just drive to the intersection of 6th and maple, because we always wanted a job in that the building. In other words, we picked the answer before hand. So, is the Human Resources officer that we talked to in that building? Maybe, but probably not, since we picked the answer out of our hat without the benefit of asking the question where we should report for the interview. This is why presupositionalism doesn’t yield consistent results, while the scientific method does. We don’t start with an answer, we start with a question and investigate to find the answer. Theology starts with a presupposed answer, and massages the question to fit.

        • Lbj

          Science starts with assumption that the world and its forces are the same as yesterday. That’s why we can say ” when we leave a building, or a desk, or a tree, it will be in the same place tomorrow”. Because you believe the laws of nature did not change overnite. Its not that you go out test this but assume it when you get up in the morning.

          Theology answers different questions than science. Science cannot address issues such as evil or meaning or God. Only religion or philosophy can.

          If you think that science is the only way to know something then you will be limited in what you can know. AS a Christian, I use science and theology to tell me a lot about the world.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, science absolutley can and does answer your questions, you just don’t like the answers.

        • Lbj

          Ok. What does science say what the meaning of life is? Or what is the true morality?

        • busterggi

          What does religion say is the meaning of life – of course with over 40,000 versions of Christianity alone as well as tens of thousands of other religions all of which have different answers it seems religion is undecided.

        • TheNuszAbides

          wow, you really want to give her that much more rope? the only questions Justas seems willing to ask are phrased either to evade any scientific significance or to have no coherent answer outside of regurgitated theology exercises (if they even reach that level of sophistication).

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

          Its
          not that you go out test this but assume it when you get up in the morning.

          Wrong again. Those assumptions are tested every time they’re made. When 1 + 1 = 2 stops being correct, we’ll take notice and respond as necessary.

        • Lbj

          Your assumptions are predicated on the assumption that the laws of nature did not change while you were asleep. You live your life assuming this because you are not going to test it but assume it by faith.

        • MNb

          Yup. As soon as I’m awake I can check them again if I like. That’s why it’s an extrapolation from past experience, unlike your belief system, which is an extrapolation of your underbelly feelings. Plus I have a sound theory for that extrapolation, while you haven’t.

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

          Wrong. No faith going on here.

          I trust in things that are trustworthy.

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

          Only religion or philosophy can.

          What good is religion? Every religion has a different answer. I see little use for philosophy as well (as you’ve seen in recent posts).

        • Greg G.

          Nothing can tell you about non-existent beings.

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know, I’ve been thinking about Justas/cody/jennas holocaust example and their ideas about evil and
          God. Supposedly God can’t be tested, well, o.k. God could have killed Hitler in his crib. He could have had hom shanked in prison, could have made an assasination attempt to work. But, nuthin. 50 million fucking people worldwide die, and from God? Not a thing. Even if it was real, why would you worship this being?

        • hector_jones

          “Science starts with assumption that the world and its forces are the same as yesterday.”

          No, science doesn’t start with this assumption at all. You really have no business pronouncing on what science does or doesn’t do, because you clearly know nothing about the subject of science.

        • Lbj

          When the scientist starts doing his experiments today he assumes by faith that the laws of nature are the same as yesterday.

        • busterggi

          No, he assumes by the evidence that the laws of nature are the same – until some evidence contradicts it.

        • MNb

          Actually it’s the other way round. When the scientist starts doing his/her experiments he/she totally keeps the option open that those laws of nature have changed.
          We can check Newton’s Second Law – F = m*a – as often as we like, in various set ups.
          No, it’s when a scientist writes a paper and uses that Second Law he/she assumes that the laws of nature haven’t changed in the meantime.
          You don’t understand the scientific method.

        • MNb

          “What counts as sufficient evidence for something?”
          Concrete empirical observations.

          “You presuppose the the office where you work is there. You presuppose that your car will start. You presuppose that the drivers on the road know the traffic laws and will obey them.”
          These are not presuppositions. These are observable predictions based on past experiences extrapolated to the future, because we have sound theories that make those predictions.
          That’s how science works; with considerable success, unlike for instance praying.

        • Ron

          You’re right—I make a lot of presumptions about how the natural world functions. So here’s a challenge to see whose presumptions warrant greater faith. (A challenge for which I’m willing to bear all costs, including travel and funeral arrangements.)

          We’ll both board a plane and go skydiving. I’ll place my faith on a safe landing solely in a parachute, while you place yours solely in God (i.e. sans parachute).

          Will you accept this challenge?

        • Lbj

          No. I am not to test the Lord God. You should only place your faith in that plane and parachute if only have good reasons to. Without doing so, would be foolish.

        • busterggi

          But placing your faith in your lord god would be foolish according to you. Interesting…

        • Greg G.

          So your idea of faith is just that he exists and does miracles that are indistinguishable from non-miracles. Your faith doesn’t extend to actually expecting a miracle.

          How about a challenge similar to what Elijah put forth to the priests of Baal in 1 Kings 18:20-40? We’ll make hamburgers on a charcoal grill. You light your hibachi the way it says Elijah did. I’ll light my hibachi using methods developed by science. The loser is he who has hamburger tartare. We won’t do the verse 40 stuff. That would be evil.

        • Ron

          So you lack the faith of even a mustard seed?

          That’s too bad, because Nicholas Alkemade and at least four others (see links to “Fall survivors” at the bottom of the page) have survived such falls.

          Granted, they didn’t plan on it, but Gary Connery (who trusted in science) most certainly did. He even had the event filmed for posterity.

          Q: Why did he trust science?

          A: Because it actually works—consistently!

          BTW, the passages in Matthew 4:7 and Luke 4:12 have Jesus misquoting the Old Testament. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.” (Deuteronomy 6:16) is a reference to Exodus 17:1-7 in which the Israelites didn’t put their trust in the Lord—which is precisely the opposite of what I’m asking you to do here.

          “Put everything to the test. Hold on to what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21

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

          Test God? The king of Judah is told in Isaiah 7 to test God. He gives your line and pays for it dearly. Oops.

        • Greg G.

          Isaiah 7:10-12
          10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

          12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”

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

          I “presuppose” the office today because I have overwhelming evidence of it in the past. Once in a great while, my presuppositions about the office and the other drivers are not met.

          God is in a different category.

        • Lbj

          True God is a different category. My point is that we can’t live without making presupposing things.

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

          Huh? Why then give all the examples of things that we agree on when they are in a different category from God?

          “Here are things we trust for good reasons … and then there’s God.” Is that the argument?

        • Lbj

          As I said, we all presuppose and live by faith. God is in a different category than a car or milk shake. So is a black hole. We use different ways to know they exist.

          We use reason and other things to know if God exist. Observations in nature, Scripture, experience and prayer are ways we can know if God exist or not.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!

          “As I said, we all presuppose and live by faith.”
          The fact that you said it before doesn’t mean you’re right. Once again you’re so nice to defeat your own statement.

          “God is in a different category than a car or milk shake.”
          Exactly. That’s why you need faith for your god and not for your car and milkshake.

          “Observations in nature ….. are ways we can know if God exist or not.”
          So apparently you don’t need faith after all.
          Justas our champ of illogic.

        • Lbj

          You need evidence for a car, a milkshake and God. You use faith when you drive your car and drink a milkshake. (You have faith the milkshake is not poison) The Christian puts his faith in God by striving to live according to His commandments. He knows He exist because He has made it evident within all human beings. Those who deny this are lying to themselves.

        • busterggi

          “He has made it evident within all human beings. ”

          No, clearly he has not. BTW, calling everyone who doesn’t worship your god a liar is no way to make friends.

        • Greg G.

          I can see and touch a car and a milkshake. That is what being evident is. Cars have connections for computer analysis these days. If I have doubts about the milkshake, it can be chemically analyzed. If I want to test God, you say we can’t do that. That is the difference between everyday expectations and religious faith.

        • Lbj

          If you want to test if God exist you have to use different tools. Live by the teachings of Christ and you will know God exist. I can know God exist by the prayers He answers.

          I don’t exercise a different part of my brain when put my faith in God. I apply the same principles in this world to my understanding and experience of God.

          Jesus didn’t just show up and claim to be God. Rather He performed miracles for people to see to pointed to Him being God.

        • MNb

          “Live by the teachings of Christ and you will know God exist.”
          In the first place that’s not a test; in the second place many ex-christians on Patheos-Atheism have lived by the teachings of Jesus in the past and learned that god doesn’t exist; in the third place living like that presupposes that god exists so you’re pulling off a circular argument.

          “I can know God exist by the prayers He answers.”
          How does that work? Do you hear a voice in your head when praying or something?

        • Greg G.

          Jesus didn’t show up at all. I have given you links to evidence for the stories in Mark coming from the literature of the day. I have given you the New Testament verses for everything Paul says about Jesus, besides his fawning, and the Old Testament passages where that information came from. Your faith is religious faith that is held despite evidence to the contrary.

          Your faith that the universe is God is also religious faith. It is something in your imagination that you cannot test. Your religious faith makes everything evidence for your belief. It is conceptually unfalsifiable so it is not a reliable belief. If you believed God was bad and good things were mysterious ways, everything would point to that belief, too.

        • TheNuszAbides

          received wisdom = purely circular ‘reasoning’. nothing less, nothing more.

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

          We use science to understand about black holes and common sense to understand about cars and milkshakes.

          And then there’s faith, which is useless except that it’s great for giving you something to hide in when claiming the supernatural.

        • MNb

          Somewhere on this page you wrote you don’t have much use for philosophy. Always willing to contradict everybody I present what a philosopher has done for a biologist recently:

          http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/06/16/deconstructing-metaphors/

          Theologians won’t like it, I guess.
          You might also like the piece of your colleague at the Uncredible Hallq:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/hallq/2014/06/philosophy-of-religion-is-mostly-not-taken-seriously-in-mainstream-philosophy/

          This piece totally confirms my own experience. I suppose it’s time to rename it apologetics indeed.

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

          I’m happy to have my opinion of the value of philosophers improved. I just need the examples. I’ll take a look.

        • Greg G.

          Beauty is not evidence of the supernatural. Neither are air, food, logic, or good and bad things. An indifferent universe accounts for all those things better than an omnipotent, benevolent being because there’s no need to explain away the obvious contradiction of the existence of suffering.

          EDIT:
          Saying that beauty and air is evidence for the supernatural is evidence of a desperate lack of evidence for the supernatural.

        • Pofarmer

          Everything is evidence for God, except when science disconfirms it, then it’s just inconclusive.

        • Ron

          If (as Christian apologists maintain) God is the uncaused cause of everything that exists, then it follows that God is also the first cause of evil. Indeed, the scriptures declare this to be the case:

          “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things.” Isaiah 45:7

          Those same scriptures also inform us that God sends out evil spirits. (Judges 9:23; 1 Sam. 16:14;1 Sam. 18:10; 1 Sam. 19:9)

        • Pofarmer

          That’s – inconvenient.

        • TheNuszAbides

          but but but but [New Testament cherry picking] therefore [handwave]!

          because Updates to Ultimate Truth trump ancient scripture. unless the ancient scripture is Super Important and Indisputable, of course!

        • Greg G.

          2 Samuel 24:1 says the angel of the Lord incited David to take a census. The rest of the story says God got mad about it and sent a plague as punishment. It turned out well in the end because David bought a mountain top to build an altar which is where Solomon built the first temple. 1 Chronicles 21:1 says it was Satan that incited the census, so the Bible indicates Satan is the Holy Spirit.

        • Lbj

          As I said, God uses evil for His purposes. Isaiah 45:7 translation is not a good one. The NASB is better-“The One forming light and creating darkness,Causing well-being and creating calamity;
          I am the Lord who does all these.

        • MNb

          As others have told you repeatedly an all-good god who isn’t capable of using only good for his purposes is not a perfect being. So this doesn’t work.
          At the other hand you believe in heaven – a realm where god is supposed to use only good for his purposes, where deserving souls like you should do have free will but still invariably will choose to do good. Apparently god is capable of creating such a realm. Then he is not all-good sending deserving believers like you through the vale of tears called Earthly life first. Omniscient as he is he of course knows that you deserve it. You may think your Earthly life has meaning, it doesn’t make sense.
          Of course all this doesn’t apply to me atheist. That’s OK – I don’t even want to go to heaven. Sharing eternity with believers like you sounds like a good description of hell to me. So at this point I’d like to propose a deal, one that reflects the deal offered by your favourite superhero. I give up my existence here and now; you get your wish fulfilled and go to heave, also here and now. What do you think?

        • Lbj

          Where is this objective standard that tells you “an all-good god who isn’t capable of using only good for his purposes is not a perfect being”? Whose says?

          I know you don’t want heaven. You prefer nonexistence instead. How bizarre.

        • TheNuszAbides

          it’s not ‘preference’, it’s acceptance of where the evidence points. except, of course, for your likely-to-be-full-of-holes ‘understanding’ of “nonexistence”.

        • Lbj

          Right. You have no evidence that you cease to exist at the death.

        • Pofarmer

          Are you intelligent enough to be aware that that knife cuts both ways?

        • MNb

          You have no evidence that you didn’t exist some 13 million years ago either.
          Now I think of it – where is your evidence that Russell’s Teapot doesn’t exist? Where is your evidence that your computer isn’t run by little undetectable demons? Where is your evidence that your god isn’t a cheap trick pulled off by satan just to fool you, for his own amusement? Where is your evidence that your god hasn’t been created by The Flying Spaghetti Monster, who obviously has created all gods worshipped and to be worshipped by man, including yours?

        • Greg G.

          Sure there is. When brain damage occurs, there is a loss of function of mental abilities. It follows when the brain is completely dead, all mental abilities will cease to exist. So there is evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          But what about all the non-evidence for the soul residing somewhere or other inside or outside the body? Oh, oh, oh, I got it. The soul resides on another plane, invisible to us, the same place that God resides. So, when we die, then our soul is just over there, and not interacting with our physical bodies over here any more. But then, we should be able to detect the interaction, so, well, yeah, I got nuthin.

        • Greg G.

          We can see small scale increased blood flow to active parts of the brain. We can detect electrical activity in the brain. The head produces a great deal of heat probably from the combining of sugars and oxygen to produce the electrical energy. That takes a lot of resources from the body. If the soul is doing anything, why is the brain wasting all that energy? The areas that show increased activity during cognition are like the brain functions in the autonomic areas. Does the soul control that? Why would it?

          Animal brains have similar architecture to human brains, including primitive animals. Do they need souls to run their brains.

        • Lbj

          Your personal awareness does not mean you don’t continue to exist after you die. When you go to sleep you become unaware of the world around you. That does not mean you or your world ceases to exist.

        • hector_jones

          But we know this because we have plenty of experience with people going to sleep and waking up the next day. We know that sleep is a function of a living brain. We have absolutely no experience of people continuing to exist after their brain has ceased to function, i.e. died.

        • MNb

          Where did I claim that I have an objective standard? Strawman again, dear Justas.
          You are the one who needs that objective standard, not me.

          “How bizarre.”
          As always this tells more about you than about me. Do you realize you didn’t exist before your conception (if you like, add “god creating your soul”). I don’t know about you, but at least until a year before I was born I didn’t care at all about me non-existing. So I don’t think I will care.
          I notice you neglect my deal – apparently you don’t like it. So in the end you don’t take your own belief system too seriously.

        • Lbj

          It is true you didn’t have any awareness before you were born. But now you do have awareness and the idea of ceasing to exist forever has got to be frightening.

        • 90Lew90

          “It is true you didn’t have any awareness before you were born.”

          No it isn’t and that’s not what he was saying.

        • Greg G.

          Not existing for billions of years didn’t inconvenience me in the least. Not existing for the rest of eternity can’t be any harder.

          “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.” – Isaac Asimov

        • Lbj

          How do you feel when a loved one dies?

        • 90Lew90

          Giggly. Gimme another.

        • Greg G.

          I grieve.

          Are you going to make an insulting, offensive point about that?

        • 90Lew90

          What do you mean you grieve? You’re an amoral atheist and because you don’t believe in his god you must be a complete psychopath devoid of any kind of human feeling.

        • MNb

          Has got to? Because you have religiously inspired psychological problems (it’s called existential fear) I have to have them too? I don’t think so – I rather have a healthy mind.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t think he is talking about an objective standard of good. The word “good” is an English word for our concept of good and that is most likely what he means. We don’t need an objective deinition of the color red to know it doesn’t apply to ultraviolet light.

          A being that creates calamity that brings suffering to some people so he can bring well-being to other people is not a being that the word good applies to. An omnipotent being could bring the same well-being without the calamity. A good omnipotence would cause well-being and create well-being.

          The Lord presented in Isaiah 45 is not a good god, it’s a god that f*cks people up.

        • TheNuszAbides

          oh, you’ve already fallen into the speaking-for-God trap. that dog won’t hunt.

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

      “Ask and ye shall receive” and the half-dozen other claims about prayer are scientifically testable claims. Your problem isn’t that science doesn’t work but that you’d prefer it not be applied. You simply don’t like the results.

      • Lbj

        Many millions of people have had answered prayers. Of that there is no doubt,
        The problem for making this a bonafide scientific experiment is that science cannot know all the variables in what is required for prayers to be answered because God is a being with a will. Science only works with forces of nature (which it understands to a point) and not wills. Science would have to know the mind of God almost exhaustive to even begin to have a real scientific experiment.

        • Ron

          “These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” Mark 16:17-18 (NLT)

          That’s a testable claim. Gather together a group of true believers (I’ll let you decide who qualifies as a true believer) and go clear out an entire hospital of sick people. I’ll catch it on the six o’clock news.

        • Lbj

          That passage is not in the earliest manuscripts of Mark.

        • Greg G.

          That’s right. When you say the “earliest manuscripts”, you mean copies of copies of copies. The manuscripts that have the passage are copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies with passages, added, changed or omitted. You don’t know if any given passage was in the original or just written into the first copy of the original.

          The Gospel of Matthew is a copy of Mark with improvements.

        • TheNuszAbides

          isn’t that a more loaded term than ’embellishments’?

          the Gospel According to Mark–now with 63% more thrills!

        • Greg G.

          Matthew did plenty of embellishing making Jesus’ miracles happen immediately, made him cure two at a time instead of one, had him ride two donkeys instead of one, but he left out the naked boy from Gethsemane. Matthew would have seen that as an improvement but not an embellishment. After all, it wasn’t two naked boys.

        • wtfwjtd

          Speaking of that naked boy, Robert Price says that is Mark’s clumsy attempt at inserting a fulfilled “prophecy” into his story–from Amos 2:16–“Even the bravest warriors will flee naked on that day, declares the Lord.”

        • Lbj

          And how do you know Matthew supposedly embellished?

        • Greg G.

          And how do you know Matthew supposedly embellished?

          In Mark 8:22-26, Jesus heals a blind man at Bethsaida. He uses spit and it takes two tries and tells him not to go into town. Matthew omits that story and inserts Matthew 9:27-31 where Jesus heals two blind men immediately just by touching their eyes and they go into town and start talking about it. That is an embellishment.

          Mark 10:46-52 is the healing of blind Bartimaeus as they were leaving Jericho. Matthew 20:29-34 is the healing of two blind men as they were leaving Jericho. That is an embellishment.

          Mark 11:12-14 is the cursing of the fig tree. The tree is found withered the next day in Mark 11:20-21. Matthew 21:18-19 has Jesus cursing the fig tree and it withered at once. That is an embellishment.

        • Lbj

          Here is what embellishment means–“a detail, especially one that is not true, added to a statement or story to make it more interesting or entertaining”. https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chromenstant&rlz=2C1CHFX_enUS0537US0538&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=embellishment%20meaning

          That is not what going on among the gospel writers. Each may have more or less detail on a given account. That is not an embellishment but a difference in how each writer recorded it. This kind of thing goes on all the time when different authors are writing about the same subject.

        • Greg G.

          We have Mark’s source material and most of it is not even about Jesus. The little that is about Jesus is taken from the Old Testament. When the other authors embellish the stories, they are adding more false stories.

        • Lbj

          What source material of Mark do you have?

        • Greg G.

          The books of the Protestant Old Testament plus some books of the Catholic Old Testament, Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, some of Paul’s letters, and the Gospel of Thomas off the top of my head. I have provided the links for you multiple times.

        • Lbj

          There is no proof that Mark even knew of Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad let alone had a copy of it at his side as he wrote down what Peter told him to. Is there anyone in the first century church or secular society that mentions Mark knowing about Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad?

          The earliest date for the gospel of Thomas is date to between 130 and 250 AD. This is well after Mark wrote. Mark was probably written in the 50-60’s before Peter died and the temple was destroyed in 70.

        • Greg G.

          The Odyssey and The Iliad were the most popular works of the day. Those works were used to learn to write in Greek. If someone wrote in Greek in the first century, it would be up to you to prove he didn’t know them because it was be far from the norm. The proof that Mark did know the works is that they are apparent in the Gospel of Mark.

          The Gospel of Thomas is dated on the assumption that its sayings were taken from the gospels. The differences in some of the details of the parables in Mark and Thomas make more sense if Mark was doing the alterations.

          The knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem was common knowledge among literate people so there was no need to mention if Mark was writing an allegorical explanation of the events that led to the destruction.

        • Ron

          Mark 5:1-17 says Jesus healed one demon-possessed man. Matthew 8:28-34 makes it two.

          Matthew creates “fulfilled” prophecies by quote mining the OT. For instance:

          Matthew 2:15 (And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”) is a partially lifted passage from Hosea 1 which reads:

          1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”

          2 “But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.”

          The above text refers to the nation of Israel, not a singular man.

          Matthew 2:17 does the same thing with Jeremiah 31. In context, the passage reads:

          15 “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

          16 This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy.

          17 So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land.”

          First off, why would a voice be heard in Ramah—a town located along the Egyptian border—for a slaughter that took place in Bethlehem almost a hundred miles away?

          Second, how would the remainder of this prophecy ever apply to Matthew? From which enemy land would the dead infants in Bethlehem return from?

          The answer: it doesn’t. The passage is figurative speech for the Israeli exile (some escaped to Egypt) and eventual return.

        • Lbj

          Mentioning 2 persons instead of one is not an embellishment. An embellishment is “a detail, especially one that is not true, added to a statement or story to make it more interesting or entertaining”. https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chromeinstant&rlz=2C1CHFX_enUS0537US0538&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=embellishment%20meaning

          Mentioning another person in Matthew 8:28-34 is not an embellishment but a detail that Mark did not mention.

          The gospel writers at times did use the OT references of Israel to Christ. This makes sense since Christ was the fulfillment of Israel.

          You should read some scholarly works that explain how the gospel writers quote and use the OT. It would help you understand this.

        • Pofarmer

          “An embellishment is “a detail, especially one that is not true, added to
          a statement or story to make it more interesting or entertaining”.”

          And?

        • Ron

          Embellishment, exaggeration, enhancement… call it what you like. The point is that Matthew doubled the number of demon-possessed men. And claiming that Mark failed to mention the other man is the equivalent of saying that a historian forgot to mention the second tower fell—years after it happened.

          I know that the NT writers combed the OT looking for parallels between Israel and Christ, but the fact remains that no OT author ever intended those passages to be read as a messianic prophecy.

          The truth is that anyone could fabricate a prophecy via creative interpretation and cut&paste quote mining from the scriptures.

          Let me demonstrate this by using Hebrews 11:32-38 as a fulfillment of prophecy regarding US military intervention in the Middle East:

          “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Barak, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were killed by the sword. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.”

          See how easy that was?

        • Lbj

          If Matthew was a copy of Mark they would be identical. The fact they are not shows Matthew not to be a copy of Mark.

          We don’t have any originals of any work in the ancient world. The gospels are the best attested works of the ancient world by far.

        • 90Lew90

          What do you mean “best attested”?

        • Lbj

          The gospels are written within the life times of the eyewitnesses and we have more copies of the manuscripts than any other work in the ancient world. The earliest copy of Plato is about 1200 years after he lived and we have only 7 copies. The earliest complete copies of the gospels is around 200. We even have a fragment of the gospel of John to around 120. Total copies for the gospels are in the thousands.

        • Pofarmer

          “The gospels are written within the life times of the eyewitnesses”

          Look, it’s been pointed out to you over, and over, and over, that this is a fringe opinion and way outside of the scholarly consensus.

        • Lbj

          This is not a fringe opinion but well grounded in the facts of history. Those that reject this are not doing it on the facts but ideology.

        • Pofarmer

          “Those that reject this are not doing it on the facts but ideology.”

          I don’t think you’re one to talk about operating on ideology instead of facts. You have already pointed out that we have no complete or incomplete copies of the Gospels before the late 2nd or early 3rd century. We don’t have any church fathers talking about complete Gospels until sometime will into the 1st century. Yes, they may quote a verse here and there, but those writings are early in the 1st century. In order for your narrative to be true, you need them to be, but there is nothing that definitively places them before the 1st century. There is nothing that definitively places them as eye witness accounts. And there is nothing that verifies their historical accuracy. The Jesus seminar tried and came up with about 16% of the Gospels might be historical. You have got apologetic wishful thinking, which is nothing like proof.

        • Lbj

          The earliest fragment of a gospel is dated to around 115-125. Its a credit size fragment from the gospel of John. If John wrote his gospel in the 90’s then we are within 25-40 years of the original. By ancient document standards this is unheard of. Compare this to the earliest copy of Plato is 1200 years after he died. Scholar are confident about the Plato document even though its 1200 years after Plato. How much more we should be confident with the gospel manuscripts which are within 150 years after Christ. There is nothing like this in the ancient world.

          There is all kinds of evidence that shows the gospels to be eyewitness accounts within the gospels themselves. Just read Luke 1:1-4 for an example.

          The Jesus Seminar is on the fringe of scholarship.

        • Pofarmer

          “1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

          What in that passage could you use to confirm it’s veracity?

        • JohnH2

          I believe that point is that Luke was attempting to get things “correct” by using prior sources and interviewing eyewitnesses. Which doesn’t prove that the parts that Luke gets from Mark and Matthew are correct (as they depend on the correctness of Mark and Matthew) but that what is left of Luke may be correct, depending on the correctness of the people that Luke was interviewing (and Luke’s compiling, which given Acts is quite clearly partisan and not impartial).

          Luke presents himself as a historian, and his writing is definitely in the style of a historian from his time period, which is quite different from the style of a historian today. Traditionally Luke interviewed Mary the mother of Jesus as well as James, among others. He includes accurate and precise details in his writing, including in places where the others do not. Luke was trying to get to the facts, as he saw them, and gives the best evidence that there were real people that claimed to know Christ, and be family of Christ, and be eyewitnesses to Christ’s miracles and resurrection.

        • Ron

          David Barton presents himself as a historian, too. Doesn’t make it so.

          And at least we can fact check Barton’s stuff. How do you do that with Luke—i.e. what do you personally know about Luke and his unnamed witnesses to help you determine their honesty and accuracy?

        • JohnH2

          Obviously nothing. Similar in fact to many of the other histories of the time period.

        • Pofarmer

          “With thanks to Larry Hurtado and the PhD student
          who brought this to his attention, I have accessed a recently published
          article that, as Dr Hurtado himself says, “all concerned with the study
          of NT manuscripts should read”:

          Pasquale
          Orsini & Willy Clarysse, “Early New Testament Manuscripts and Their
          Dates: A Critique of Theological Palaeography,” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 88 (2012): 443-74.

          As Hurtado himself points out, “the authors are both
          professional/trained palaeographers, and Clarysse is the founder of the
          extremely valuable Leuven Database of Ancient Books (LDAB), which
          provides data on all published/edited manuscripts from the ancient
          world, and can be accessed online here.”

          The point of the recent article? Again, Hurtado:

          The object of the recent article is a critique of the tendencies of a few scholars in NT studies to push for early datings of NT manuscripts, sometimes highly improbably early datings.”

          Like I said, you need these early datings for your narrative to work, but although they may be accepted by apologists, they are not generally accepted, and significantly older dates are often the more commonly preferred ones.

          Even at that, though, you have a scrap of story written about someone 100 years after they left the planet. O.k.?

        • MNb

          The account itself proves its an eyewitness account. Yeah, my neighbour claims he spoke with an alien yesterday. His account proves he provides an eyewitness account.

        • katiehippie

          E.T. phone home.

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

          Major deal. If you were to stack all the works of the greats in the ancient past it would be about 6 feet high. If you were to stack all the copies of the NT manuscripts it would be over a mile high.

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

          Or you could just ignore my post. Well played, sir or madam!

        • MNb

          That it gives him a warm cozy feeling in his underbelly.

        • MNb

          “If Matthew was a copy of Mark they would be identical. The fact they are not shows Matthew not to be a copy of Mark.”
          This false dilemma is so ridiculous that it doesn’t require an answer. A link to a scientist, someone who unlike you knows what he’s talking about and isn’t interested in making you (or anyone) feel good:

          http://www.livius.org/source-content/q-text/

          Because I must assume problems with your reading skills:

          “the gospels of Matthew and Luke, which are based on two earlier sources: the gospel of Mark and Q.”

        • Pofarmer

          We simply have the most copies of them, because-Christianity.

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

          No, brother, you have it backwards. We have the most copies of them, therefore Christianity.

        • Lbj

          That is true. The churches considered the gospels so important that they copied and passed them on. After all, the gospels are the greatest news ever to come to mankind.

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

          Matthew copied from Mark. No scholar disputes this. It’s pretty easy to see when you read the passages side by side.

          Of course, you could just read Greg’s comment at face value, but then you’d have nothing to respond to, so I understand why you wrote about something else.

        • Lbj

          If Matthew copied from Mark does that mean Matthew is a fake? After all, authors today may copy parts of earlier work and yet add their own insights into what they are writing about and no one considers that wrong or the work to be bogus. So why would you with the gospels?

        • Greg G.

          If Matthew was a copy of Mark they would be identical. The fact they are not shows Matthew not to be a copy of Mark.

          You are trying to quotemine me. I said “The Gospel of Matthew is a copy of Mark with improvements.” If it was identical, it wouldn’t have any improvements.

          By your standards of being identical to be a copy, do we have any copies of anything before the printing press?

          We don’t have any originals of any work in the ancient world. The gospels are the best attested works of the ancient world by far.

          Without the originals, it’s hard to say that they are the best attested. Perhaps you mean that some version of the not identical copies are the best attested.

          I would dispute that however by pointing to Egyptian heiroglyphics and Akkadian clay tablets that are original and are older.

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

          Last sentence: brilliant!

        • Greg G.

          Attestation is a poor substitute for authenticity.

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

          I hadn’t made that connection before. 25 thousand or 25 billion copies are a poor substitute for the one actual original, which we have with those examples.

          And who knows what the Christian originals said? Maybe the poorly evidence status quo is actually better for the Christian than reading what the authors actually said.

        • Lbj

          The fact is that scholars who work on these manuscripts are confident that we have 99.999% of the original NT.

          This is far superior to any other work in the ancient world.

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

          I doubt that. The problem I’m guessing is with the phrase “scholars who work on these manuscripts.” I’m guessing you’re thinking only of ones whose opinions you fancy.

          Do they acknowledge the second ending of John? Do they acknowledge the multiple authors within the Petrine epistles?

          Things get a lot simpler when you pick the authorities based on their closeness to your own opinion.

        • Lbj

          Doubt no longer. This is a well attested fact.
          As for your other questions those are separate issues.

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

          Oh, so I know because you assure me? Point me to an interesting authority and I’ll take a look. Until then, I think I’ll continue to doubt that the original authors would approve of the “Christianity” that we have today.

        • Lbj

          Ok. Michael Kruger and Daniel Wallace are PHD experts on manuscripts and how the NT was put together.

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

          Swell. You’ve got a ways to go to show that our NT is negligibly different from the original. And you haven’t responded to my specific concerns about the NT. Perhaps you’re just hoping that I’ll forget.

        • Lbj

          That last sentence should be applied to atheism.

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

          Yeah, good call. That we have originals of Egyptian and Akkadian documents but none of the early Christian ones does reflect badly on atheism.

          Or not.

        • Lbj

          what are the nature of the originals of Egyptian and Akkadian documents? What are they about?

          Do you know of any scholars who study this period and manuscripts that claim that since we don’t have the originals of something we cannot know what the original said if we have copies? Take the works of Plato. The earliest copy is 1200 years after his death and yet scholars accept these copies as a good representation of his work. Why should we not with the gospels given they are superior in manuscript evidence and closer to the time of Christ?

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

          The difference is that no one cares about Plato. If we discovered some great error or that they were all forgeries or whatever, you and I wouldn’t care. If you want to say that Jesus is analogous, I’m OK with that.

          Furthermore, we delete from any ancient work all the supernatural stuff. Not much is left of Jesus after this process.

        • Lbj

          if what you say is true “Without the originals, it’s hard to say that they are the best attested” then we cannot know much about the ancient world. The fact is that scholars who work on these manuscripts are confident that we have 99.999% of the original NT.

          How well attested are these Egyptian heiroglyphics and Akkadian clay tablets that are original and are older? How many are there and what do they say?

        • Greg G.

          No, whether the writings are true or not is a completely different question. We can see what the Egyptians and the Akkadians wrote. There is no doubt about what they wrote.

          We have a stone that was probably commissioned by Pilate himself and we know what it says.

          Why did you try to change what I said and read something completely different into it? But let’s go there. We have no reliable attestation that the gospel stories are true. The other gospels rely on Mark and we can see that Mark made the stories up by borrowing from the literature of the day.

          Not only do you not have any attestation of the veracity of the gospels, there is evidence in older literature that the gospels are based on that older literature, not oral tradition.

        • Lbj

          Who wrote on those tablets and what does it say? In other words, how much do we know about them and what impact did they have on the society?

          Of course we know the gospels are historically true because we have other ways to check the events, people and things. Pilate is an example of this. We know he lived not just because the gospels mention him by so do others.

          It is said that Luke-Acts gets over 70 historical details correct.

          Even if the other gospel writers used Mark that does not mean those gospels are fakes. No one who studies would draw that conclusion.

          Papias in the 2nd century said that Mark wrote down what Peter told him to. He did not make it up or borrow “from the literature of the day.”

          Studies from this period tell us that disciples were to memorize their teachers teachings. Jesus’s teachings would be easy to memorize.
          Matthew could have taken notes. The miracles would have reinforced the memory of the disciples. Remember the first time you heard about 911 or some other special event in your life? I do and i can remember exactly where and what time and what I was doing when 911 hit. That is because it was such a powerful event that it reinforced my memory that day. So it would also be true with the miracles of Christ. If you saw Him raise someone from the dead you would never forget it the rest of your life even if you lived another 50 years.

        • hector_jones

          Pilate is an example of this. We know he lived not just because the gospels mention him by so do others.

          And the author of the gosepl story put Pilate in it because he knew he lived. So what does this prove? Have you never heard of a work of fiction that contains characters taken from history?

        • Lbj

          Its not just Pilate but over 70 other historical details that we know are correct.
          If the gospels are fictions, then all of ancient history is a fiction also.

        • hector_jones

          Oooo 70 other details we know are correct. Imagine that, an author knowing 70 correct details about a recent time period. Astounding.

        • Lbj

          It just shows that Luke was a good historian and that his gospel is not a fiction.

        • hector_jones

          No, it doesn’t show that at all. First of all I don’t really agree with your ’70 correct details’ because you haven’t presented them. Secondly the writers of modern day movies and novels are perfectly capable of providing ’70 correct details’ about the modern world without that making them good historians or their works non-fiction.

        • Lbj

          Let me give you a few of the historical details Luke got correct:
          1- the name Tyrannus as attested from Ephesus in the 1st century.
          2- the proper description of of Phiilippi as a Roman colony.
          3- Felix being governor.
          These are just 3 of the over 70 historical items Luke has right.

          We know that modern day movies and novels are fictions because they usually claim it upfront. Luke is claiming to a truthful account of what happened and not a fiction. Luke 1:4

        • Pofarmer

          “If you saw Him raise someone from the dead you would never forget it the rest of your life even if you lived another 50 years.”

          And yet, after all the dead saints came up out of the tombs and wandered into Jerusalem, the Jews didn’t convert en masse. Interesting.

        • Pofarmer

          “It is said that Luke-Acts gets over 70 historical details correct.”

          That wouldn’t be surprising since it SEEMS TO COPY FROM JOSEPHUS!

        • Lbj

          You don’t know this to be true and did JOSEPHUS mention all of these 70 historical details? Have you read JOSEPHUS?

        • Greg G.

          I had a book several years ago by a businessman who said there was a tablet that described business practices he was using in this day and age.
          There is the Code of Hammurabi which influenced Hebrew law in the Bible.

          Clay Tablets. Many are written records for everyday use. Not all of it is religious bullshit.

          Why don’t you just type your questions into Google and Wikipedia? I don’t know if you bother to look at the evidence. I keep presenting it but you seem to ignore it.

          Luke copied from Josephus. When you say that he got “over 70 historical details correct”, you’re saying he was good at copying someone else work. They way you think he was correct is by comparing them with the writings he copied. You mentioned that there were 25 names in the gospels and Acts that had been verified in other historical writings. Fourteen of those are from Luke-Acts, thirteen of them are found in Josephus and nine of those are only known from Josephus. Your list left off two others that I thought of off the top of my head, both only known through Josephus. Also, Luke 24:13 gives the wrong distance from Jerusalem to Emmaus but it is the same exact wrong figure Josephus gives.

          If they would take all the studies that show Mark used other material to write his story and combine them, they would have to come to that conclusion. Mark was an allegorical story. The other authors thought it was a true story because they had no true or complete stories. They thought that taking Old Testament verses as prophecy was a legitmate way to get information about Jesus. I don’t think of them as fake, just false because they are not based on actual events.

          Papias also said Matthew was written in Hebrew. I don’t think he was talking about the gospels we have or knew where they came from. We know Papias through Eusebius who thought Papias was an idiot.

          They wouldn’t have anything to remember though. Matthew used Sirach for material to put into the sermon on the mount.

          If you didn’t see somebody rise from the dead but your religious faith said that someone did rise from the dead and you wanted to write a story about it, there no reason you couldn’t.

          Your faith is based on ridiculous beliefs. You should sue the people who filled your mind with this junk.

        • Lbj

          You are assuming Luke copied from Josephus. Many historians consider Luke to be a first rate historian.

          Luke says its “about 7 miles” from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Here is what google says it is–“5,764 mi”. https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&rlz=2C1CHFX_enUS0537US0538&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=how%20far%20is%20it%20from%20jerusalem%20to%20emmaus

          That looks like its in the ball park to me.

          Are you saying that Jesus never existed because you wrote–“Mark was an allegorical story. The other authors thought it was a true story because they had no true or complete stories.”? That’s what I’m concluding by your statement. Am I right?

          How do you explain the birth of the church from the 1st century to today?

        • Greg G.

          I have provided you the evidence for Luke copying Josephus. Luke is judge as a good historian by comparing him to Josephus. The story of Paul being thought to be the Egyptian is undisputable evidence that Luke copied Josephus. You have to explain dozens of coincidences. Why does Luke correspond to Josephus while the other gospels don’t?

          The first link for your Google search goes to Wikipedia. See Historical identification. The site now called Emmaus was identified in the 4th century. Emmaus means “hot springs” but there apparently are no hot springs with a first century settlement at that distance from Jerusalem. So it’s all just religious faith confounded by reality.

          I’m saying Jesus never existed because everything Mark wrote about him was deeds done by other characters in fictional accounts. The other gospel writers expanded on the Mark’s fictional accounts which shows they didn’t know about a real Jesus either. Mark’s Jesus discussed Paul’s Jesus and everything Paul had to say about his Jesus came from the Old Testament. Paul’s Jesus existed at some time in the past from his era. Paul thought he knew as much about Jesus as the other apostles so he thought they didn’t know a first century Jesus.

          I have provided this information to you multiple times.

          I explain the growth of the church probably the same way you do except the apostles had a slightly different message, the difference being that Jesus was crucified centuries before. That also explains why the early epistles don’t talk about Jesus as a teacher, preacher, companion, or anything. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the next generation took an interest in what had gone on before and that religion was spread around the Roman Empire.

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

          Wrong again. Millions of people claim to have answered prayers. I’ve corrected you on this once already. You do see the enormous difference, right?

          The claims for prayer in the Bible are trivially testable. You’re saying that you’d have no idea what to do with “Ask and ye shall receive”? I dunno–how about asking and see if you receive?

        • Lbj

          There are many examples of prayers being answered. The KNOW they were answered. Its not just a “claim”.

          I have “asked and received”. It doesn’t work for atheists because you must believe in God. Sorry.

        • Pofarmer

          Didn’t work for me when I believed in God either. Sorry.

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

          What I’m demanding to work is not prayer but the evidence for prayer.

          You say that answered prayer isn’t just a claim? What is it then? What I want is for the scientific consensus to verify the miracle claims. Wake me up when that happens.

        • Lbj

          How many things do you believe in your life that have been scientifically proven? How would you go about proving scientifically you love your children (assuming you have some)?

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

          Some things I’ve figured out on my own without relying on scientists, that I love my children being one of them.

        • Lbj

          So you agree we can know something to be true without science?

        • 90Lew90

          “How would you go about proving scientifically you love your children (assuming you have some)?” That can be shown quite easily using fMRI brain scans. Assuming you’re going to read any of the books I suggested to you, you should look into mirror neurons. The rate at which we’re accumulating knowledge about how our brains actually work is breakneck. No sign of any gods pushing any buttons. Anywhere.

        • Lbj

          So a brain scan can detect love? This is the first I have ever heard of this.

        • hector_jones

          What point are you trying to make with this? Even without a brain scan science can detect love by asking people how they feel about other people. How would you go about ‘religiously’ proving you love your children, and how is this different from what science does?

        • Lbj

          We know how to recognize the love a parent has for his child by the way he takes care of the child, protects and expresses love by his speech and giving. Parents who love their children, sacrifice for their children.

        • hector_jones

          What a coincidence. That’s exactly how science recognizes love too. Congratulations, you agree with science.

        • Greg G.

          Nobody Loves Me But My Mother and she could be jivin’ too. (YouTube)

        • 90Lew90

          Well pick up a fucking book then!

        • Greg G.

          From: MRI SCANS What does my brain do when I…?

          In one fMRI study the brains of people who were in love were scanned while they looked at photographs, some of their friends and some of their loved-ones. When they saw a picture of their loved one specific areas of the brain became active, suggesting that there is a specialised system in the brain relating to romantic love.

          Also see Brain Researchers Can Detect Who We Are Thinking About.

          What is the function of the soul?

          EDIT:
          BTW, I found those links by copy and pasting “brain scan can detect love” from your post. You should have typed it into Google first.

        • Lbj

          All that the brain scans tell is that there is a chemical reactions in the brain when they see a picture of a loved one. It does not tell us if its love or something else.

          The function of the soul-spirit is who we really are. It is our identity our as a person. Its where we think and reflect.
          If we were just physical beings then we would have serious problems with identity. For example; the cells in the body completely change every 7 years. Does that mean you are a completely different person? If yes, then how could a person be held accountable for a crime committed 10 years ago if the cells that make him up no longer exist?

          Or if you lose a finger, are you less of a human being?

          This is why a soul-spirit is necessary. It does not lose or gain parts over time but is the same through time.

        • Greg G.

          As I understand quantum physics, every subatomic particle in your body could be replaced many times every second.

          No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
            –Heraclitus

          Calling a thing the same after it has changed is a conceptual issue. You were on about a copy isn’t a copy unless it is identical. But it still wouldn’t be identical because it’s different paper and different ink. When something changes it is not the same but the concept in the mind holds it as being the same.

          Your argument is conflating soul and a concept. A concept is different than the thing.

          It’s like you are arguing that God is going to send a concept of me to hell and I’m supposed to be concerned about it.

        • MNb

          A person is not only defined by his/her cells, but also by the relations between them. This is a very simple scientific concept that no believer seems to grasp.
          Compare a fluid, say water. If we single out a water molecule and put it in a vacuum the word fluid loses its meaning. At the other hand you can gradually replace all the water molecules by other water molecules and it will still remain water – we can manage this in such a way that none of the features (shape, temperature, you name it) ever changes.
          This pretty much answers your question.

          That you think a soul necessary doesn’t mean it exists. Nobody ever has been able to define the soul in a meaningful, where it is situated, which characteristics it has.

          “It does not lose or gain parts over time but is the same through time.”
          Then Alzheimer shows that the soul has exactly zero parts. So do some accidents which have completely changed the personalities of the victims.

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

          Your very own definition of soul shows it doesn’t exist. Attempts to twist the definition in such a manner that PG can be assumed to have one only make it meaningless.

        • katiehippie

          You have asked and received? Every time? Every time you pray and ask for something it happens? That’s what the bible says. None of this yes, no or maybe business. So it better happen every time if you are claiming it is true.

        • Greg G.

          How do you know miracles can’t be tested? How do you know prayer isn’t a force of nature?

          I think you know it’s imaginary and deliberately contrived to be untestable. You know the reason science can’t test it is because it can’t test for imaginary things. But religious faith prevents you from letting go.

  • Kevin Osborne

    We operate in a very large system where everything interconnects. To know entirely why something happens is unlikely and to put limitations on understanding is to exercise a personal predilection toward needing solutions. Science and religion are subjects. Understanding is oneself.

    • Greg G.

      The difference between the 4th century and the 14th century is the result of religion. The difference between the 17th century and the 21st century is the result of science. The effects are greater than understanding one’s self.

      • Pofarmer

        The problem is science and religion are given equal validity in understanding the world around us, when only one is shown to produce verifiable results.

        • Greg G.

          Right. One promises pie-in-the-sky and one delivers tangible pie-a-la-mode, apple pie, chocolate pie, cherry pie, Boston cream pie, lemon meringue pie, peach cobbler… I could go on but suddenly I’ve got the munchies.

        • Ron
        • Greg G.

          I always liked that song but this is the first time I saw it performed and the first time I paid attention to the lyrics. I can’t believe how naive I once was.

        • Lbj

          What does science say about morality and the meaning of life? What does science say about murder?

        • Pofarmer

          Science, ie psychology, sociology, nuerology, has plenty to say about morality.

        • Lbj

          Are these disciplines considered “true science”? Are there laws in these fields that can be tested scientifically?

        • MNb

          Yes. Those “laws” don’t imply 100% correlation though. But based on my psychological knowledge I can to a high degree predict how my pupils react when I treat them one way or another. Note that they are from a completely different culture.

        • Pofarmer

          They are considered “Social Sciences” and as such, yes, are true science. Why, you’ve tried to quote some of them yourself to boost your cred. Can their finding be tested scientifically? Absolutely, that’s the point.

        • Lbj

          How does repeatability apply to the social sciences? What laws of nature are said to be in human beings that affect a person’s morality? If these laws exist in human beings where have they been quantified like gravity and the speed of light?

        • MNb

          Repeatability isn’t essential for science. It doesn’t apply to the Big Bang, Supernova’s and digging up fossils either.
          Neither do scientific laws have to be quantifiable. Social sciences do investigate all kinds of statistical correlations though. I would need to look it up, but if I’m not mistaken the results of the infamous Milgram experiment are remarkably consistent.

        • 90Lew90

          Not being a scientist, I tend to shrink from making any “science-says” statements because I might be wrong, which would be a disservice to you and the people working in the field. I can however point you to some popular literature on what researches scientists are making into this area. See The Origins of Virtue by Mat Ridley; The Evolution of Cooperation by Robert Axelrod; Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality, by Patricia Churchland; Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil, by Paul Bloom. The last two are quite new and draw on neuroscience in particular, which is one of the most exciting areas in the life sciences at the minute because of the emergence of new technology which allows us to examine living brains non-invasively. All are available on Amazon. If you’re really interested, you should look at books by scientists working in the field. There is no shortage of them and many of them are a pleasure to read.

        • CodyGirl824

          Add these excellent books to your list on neuroscience:

          William P. Alston (1991). Perceiving God: The epistemology of religious experience.

          Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew Newberg (1999). The mystical mind: Probing the biology of religious experience.

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

          Andrew Newberg (2014). The metaphysical mind: Probing the biology of philosophical thought.

          Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman (2009). How God
          changes the brain: Breakthrough findings from a leading neuroscientist.

        • 90Lew90

          Thanks for the suggestions.

        • TheNuszAbides

          neurology is a medical field.

        • busterggi

          What does religion say? Which religion? Which god? Why do the believers of various deities keep trying to kill one another off?

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

          The question isn’t, “What can science say?” but rather “Why should we listen to the supernatural claims of Christianity?” There’s simply no good reason to take its remarkable claims as truth.

        • Lbj

          I know you hate Christianity and think its nonsense. I get it.
          How though does science say about morality, meaning in life and murder?

  • Mozambique

    Too bad God talked about Adam condescendingly by insinuating that he was lonely without a snake in the grass like Eve that Lucifer was going to use to lead all of mankind astray.

  • Greg G.

    I expect my car to start because I understand the chemical reactions that drive electrons around a circuit from a battery. I understand how electric motors convert electrom9tive force into motion. I understand how the gears can engage with the engine to turn it. I understand how that motion operates cams and levers to open the fuel and exhaust ports. I don’t understand fuel injectors as well as the other parts but I could learn if I wanted to. I understand spark plugs and the timing. I expect my car to start but if it doesn’t, I stop expecting it to start until I figure out why it won’t start and do something about.

    Is that anything like religious faith? Does anybody understand how to get prayer to work? Does unanswered prayer make you lose faith? If you see good and evil in the world, it’s religious faith that makes you believe that it’s a good god who allows evil instead of a bad god who allows good. Any argument against the bad god works against the good god hypothesis by interchanging a couple of words.

    Religious faith is a whole different type of uncertainty. It’s the gullibility component that makes the difference.

    • Pofarmer

      Fuel injector is just a pressure regulating pump and a rapidly operating solenoid to regulate fuel flow driven by the vehicles ECM.

      • Greg G.

        I see. Is the ECM an angel or a demon inside that makes all that happen by magic?

        • wtfwjtd

          Neither, really. The ECM is more like a hamster in a wheel, that provides power and brains to the system; the angel or demon resides in the throttle body or solenoid, and is controlled by actions of the hamster, who is prompted to action (of course) by the vehicle operator. The supernatural is what ties all this together into a working system.

        • Greg G.

          Now you’re making sense.

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

      I’d see more value in the Christian approach if contradicting evidence caused Christians to reject a claim. I never do. I only see them double down on their God claim.

    • Lbj

      Scientists believe their theories even though they may not understand it completely.
      With Christian prayer the Christian is to ask in faith and according to the will of God. He is to be persistent.
      The Christian can recognize that evil is in the world. (the atheist can’t) and believe that God is working His purposes through evil. Joseph being sold by his brothers and the good that came about from that. Christ dying on the cross are a couple of examples of God using evil to bring about great good.

      • Greg G.

        Scientists believe their theories even though they may not understand it completely.

        Scientists believe their theories as far as the evidence supports them. The evidence is accrued from repeated testing. If the evidence is not consistent with the theory in some ranges, the theory is used only in the range where it works. Scientists still use Newtonian physics for launching satellites because it is as accurate as their measurements can be but GPS satellites must take Einsteinian relativity into account because precision matters and time dilation must be factored in.

        With Christian prayer the Christian is to ask in faith and according to the will of God. He is to be persistent.

        Sure, if you pray long enough and for a large number of things, something similar to one of them is bound to happen someday that you can pretend is an answered prayer.

        The Christian can recognize that evil is in the world. (the atheist can’t) and believe that God is working His purposes through evil. Joseph being sold by his brothers and the good that came about from that. Christ dying on the cross are a couple of examples of God using evil to bring about great good.

        Anybody can recognize that some things are better than most and some things are worse. The worst of the worst can be called evil. Anybody can do it. You don’t need to pretend there is a god to recognize bad things. You are beating a dead horse on this.

        • Lbj

          There are just to many people (hundreds of millions) who are honest who claim many of their prayers have been answered. I would agree that if a person had only one prayer answered then it might be a coincidence but not when multiple prayers are answered over the course of a life and others have similar experiences.

          You can recognize evil as an atheist but you cannot justify what evil is in atheism. You need God to get beyond the different opinions of men of what evil is. You need God to have an objective moral standard that is above the opinions of men in which all men are accountable to. You don’t get this kind of thing in atheism.

        • SuperMark

          you are a one trick pony.

        • Greg G.

          I would say that there are billions of people who think they have had a prayer answered. They have various other religions so it seems to come from natural gullibility rather than from their theological belief being true. But none of them can demonstrate that it was an actual miracle.

          People claim that finding their keys are a miracle. A person surviving a stabbing when others were killed is called a miracle. I recall a woman who had taken care of her mentally-disabled son for years feared what would happen to him when he died. She didn’t show up for church one Sunday so they checked on her the next day and found both of them dead. The church ladies were thanking God for his mercy in taking them both but they didn’t consider that her worst fear was fulfilled by her son dying of neglect when she died.

          How many of the miracles are the result of medical intervention wrongly attributed to Jesus?

          Then you can take away placebo cures of psychosomatic problems that are called miracles.

          That should leave some interesting cases. If there are millions, some should be able to be demonstrated as miracles show just present those instead of appealing to hundreds of millions of claims of honestly mistaken people.

          You seem to be playing with the word “evil”. Define exactly what you mean by it. You have never explained why evil should exist with a good omnipotent being. Bringing good for some people out of the suffering of people who do not ge the benefit is still a problem for the theist.

          “Shit happens” explains that bad things can happen in an indifferent universe. Bad things are things people don’t like. Good things are things people do like. Evil things are things people really, really don’t like. There isn’t a magic being that can stop really, really bad things from happening. Why is that so difficult for you? It is just your idea of evil from your religious faith that is different from a reasonable person’s uncertainty.

        • SuperMark

          Great points Greg, i’m sure there are billions of muslims who believe their god answers their prayers. So how does that fit into your worldview justas? Is jebus answering their prayers too?

        • CodyGirl824

          Where do you get the idea that any Christian believes that God, the one and only God of the universe, only answers the prayers of Christians?

        • SuperMark

          From your holy book:

          John 9:31 declares, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.”

          you should read it sometime

        • JohnH2

          Your answer only rules out non-Christians under specific definitions of sinners, godly, and the will of God; which definitions are entirely inconsistent with the rest of Christian scriptures. Basically if one is doing what one knows to be right as opposed to what one know to be wrong than one is following the will of God and God will answer their prayers.

        • Greg G.

          Remember Commandment 1?

        • JohnH2

          Romans 1 and 2

        • Greg G.
        • JohnH2

          Right, which was what I was responding to: you are making assumptions about what it is to love God which are not backed up by scriptures. If we love God then we do what is right, if we do what is right then we show our love for God, regardless of our knowledge of God.

        • Greg G.

          Galatians 5:14
          For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.*”

          James 2:8-10
          8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.*” 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

            * Leviticus 19:18

          James takes us back to the first commandment.

          The Bible is a puppet that can say anything you want.

        • JohnH2

          I don’t know that I am getting what you are wanting me to get out of those scriptures.

        • Greg G.

          Hillel was a prominent 1st century BC rabbi. The story goes that he was going someplace when he was challenged to recite the Torah while standing on one foot. His reply was, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

          Galatians 5:14 is a restatement of Hillel’s saying. Luke may have recognized that verse as similar to what was taught in the Hillel school of thought and inferred from that and Galatians 1:14 that Paul studied under Hillel’s grandson (or great-grandson), Gamaliel, in Acts 22:3, which also seems to draw on Galatians 1:21. (Acts 22:3; Galatians 1:14; Galatians 1:21)

          So Paul seems to agree with you.

          The James quote is a direct refutation of the Hillel quote. Though it agrees with it being part of the law, James disagrees with not following the rest of the law. In fact, the Epistle of James seems to be a rebuttal to Galatians. Paul mentions the importance of Abraham’s faith and James points out Abraham’s works. Paul argues the importance of faith for Abraham’s baby mamas and James brings up Rahab’s deeds. This follows point for point until the end of Galatians where James seems to go back for things he missed. Perhaps the letter we have is a combination of two copies having different endings.

          But James disagrees with Paul and you. Martin Luther hated the Epistle of James.

        • JohnH2

          I am neither disagreeing with Paul per se or James. I referenced Romans 1 and 2 and not Galatians because the golden rule is the second commandment, not the first. The first in its most limited form, which everyone can follow, is doing what one knows to be right and not doing what one knows to be wrong. It is entirely possible to follow completely the golden rule while still doing things that one knows to be wrong; and the golden rule, as it is a positive injunction and not the negative of Hillel, goes further than what many people otherwise know to be right or wrong.

          So James is right that doing good to others is not the whole of what one should do; but wrong if read as requiring that one follow the Law of Moses, as it is the law written in our hearts which we are required to follow.

        • Greg G.

          I am neither disagreeing with Paul per se or James. I referenced Romans 1 and 2 and not Galatians because the golden rule is the second commandment, not the first. The first in its most limited form, which everyone can follow, is doing what one knows to be right and not doing what one knows to be wrong. It is entirely possible to follow completely the golden rule while still doing things that one knows to be wrong; and the golden rule, as it is a positive injunction and not the negative of Hillel, goes further than what many people otherwise know to be right or wrong.

          I do not see how you get “doing what one knows to be right” from “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart… soul… mind… strength.” Paul says Leviticus 19:18 is the most important with “whole law is summed up in a single commandment”. Jesus puts Leviticus 19:18 second. James says it is no more important than any other.

          Mark 12:29-31
          29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

          So James is right that doing good to others is not the whole of what one should do; but wrong if read as requiring that one follow the Law of Moses, as it is the law written in our hearts which we are required to follow.

          Just a few verses before Paul’s Leviticus quote, we see:

          11 But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!

          In Galatians 2, Paul informs us who is he means with “circumcision faction” and he tells us about his argument with Peter about his hypocrisy obeying food laws which he introduces with:

          12 for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction.

          So there was more going on than just “doing what one knows to be right”.

          11 For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

          Of course James is talking about more than those two things, but Paul tells us it is about circumcision and being kosher which indicates it is about the Hebrew law.

        • JohnH2

          I am getting there via Romans 1 and 2, as I keep stating.

          You are otherwise correct in your parsing of what is happening with James and Paul; which is why I said what I did as I did.

        • CodyGirl824

          I don’t know what point you’re trying to make. There are righteous (godly people) among the followers of all religions.

        • Greg G.

          *cough* the first commandment *cough*

        • Pofarmer

          So, even for those folks who don’t believe in God, or believe in a different God or savior, it really is God answering their prayers. Interesting.

        • 90Lew90

          Where do you get the idea the Christian god answers any old prayer? Someone should have told all those missionaries before they went shitting all over cultures more ancient and more superior to their own.

        • Lbj

          To dismiss billions of prayers, billions of witnesses to prayer without investigation is not scientific. If that many people claim to have seen answers to prayers and you claim with the wave of your hand to dismiss them all this shows you are biased against the evidence.

          Evil is the deviation of the good.

          To say the holocaust happened because “Shit happens” explains that bad things can happen in an indifferent universe” is to trivialize it. As an atheist you must say this because atheism has no way to justify what evil is. Stuff happens is all you can say. That’s why atheism leads to absurdity.

        • SuperMark

          So, you’re okay with your god sitting back and letting the Holocaust happen? “It’s all just part of gods plan” well if that’s the case then fuck gods plan.

          God being in control when so much shit happens in the world sounds way more absurd to me than just chaos.

        • Lbj

          The atheist tells me “stuff happens”. So why feel bad about atoms in motion?

        • SuperMark

          just drop it, wow, you really have nothing to contribute.

        • Greg G.

          We can dispense with billions of so-called answered prayers by considering how trivial events are called miracles. That should leave you plenty of miracles. It shows how easily people are mistaken about miracles. All you have to do is just present one that can be shown to be an actual miracle. All you can do is offer excuses for why you can’t show evidence.

          Evil is the deviation of the good.

          Average is a deviation from the good. Is that evil? You have presented a definition from religious faith. Good is a deviation from normal. Bad is a deviation from normal. Evil is several standard deviations from normal.

          Your evidence that your god is good is the good things in the world. But you discount bad things as evidence that there is a bad god. Your religious faith is what make you think thee is a god that is good. The evidence points to an indefferent universe.

          You are implying that the Holocaust could not have happened without divine evilness. You trivialize the capability of humans to inflict horrible torments on others. To say that your god allowed the Holocaust to happen so he could make someone else happy is an evilness in you that trivializes the excrutiating suffering that went on in those concentration camps.

        • CodyGirl824

          Read the biography of Holocaust survivor Lou Dunst who tells how his faith in God helped him to endure and survive the horrors of the death camps. It’s available from Amazon.

        • SuperMark

          so you really don’t have a problem with god being indifferent to the suffering of the holocaust? why do you worship a god like that?

        • CodyGirl824

          How do you claim to know that God was indifferent to the suffering of the Holocaust?

        • SuperMark

          If you had the power to stop it, would you do it?

        • CodyGirl824

          Please note that the free peoples of the world did end the Holocaust, at great price and with great sacrifice.

        • SuperMark

          you are very evasive. okay i’ll make it really easy for you. if you had to power to stop it before it ever happened would you do it?

        • Greg G.

          The Allies didn’t realize the extent of the Holocaust until they ended it.

          Are you a historical scholar. We need to know if we can dismiss and disregard everything you say about it.

        • Pofarmer

          Cody, 50 million people, conservatively, died in WWII. Good people. Bad people, religious people, non religious people. If a God could see that coming, and not stop it, why should we worship that being?

        • JohnH2

          A partial answer is that over 50 million people die in the world each and every year.

        • 90Lew90

          If any one nation can be said to have decisively ended that war, it was the Russians. Not the British and certainly not the Jonny-come-lately Americans.

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

          I’ve heard that the Russians lost 9 times as many people as the other allies combined.

          Let’s not diminish the Americans’ contribution of materiel, however. The other parties to the conflict had to produce as best they could despite bombings, but American productivity was untouched and supplied all the allies, including the Russians to some extent.

          (I don’t have figures handy, but I’d be curious to see armament and resource production by country through the war.)

        • MNb

          The American’s contribution materiel was above all important regarding sophisticated technological stuff. For instance the Americans delivered slightly less than 7 000 tanks during the entire war; the Red Army had more than 3 500 tanks in the Battle of Kursk alone, which lasted slightly more than a week. Even in 1942 the Russians produced more than 24 000 tanks, more than 25 000 planes and more than 127 000 pieces of artillery. According to Richard Overy the most important American contributions were jeeps (Studebakers were especially favourites) and railways. What’s more, only from end 1942 on the Land-Lease deliveries became substantial. You might note that the Stalingrad disaster already had begun.
          As for the industry Stavka succesfully managed to evacuate most of the threatened factories in 1941 to the Ural. Of course they only began to produce again in 1942.
          Lend-Lease made a difference, but there can’t be much doubt that the Russians would have won too if the western allies had done nothing. The war would have lasted perhaps two years longer though and The Netherlands would have become communist.
          So I’m still grateful.

        • JohnH2

          This.

          Japan choose to surrender to the US not (just) because of the A-Bomb but because of the Soviet invasion of Japanese held territories.

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

          I heard it the other way around: the Russians could tell that the end was near so they made a last-minute push in the Pacific theater to give some credibility to their land-grab claims (disputed islands) at the end.

        • MNb

          Thanks to espionage Stalin already knew about the nuclear bomb during the conference of Potsdam, before President Truman informed him.

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

          Damn commies!

        • MNb

          I bet the Americans the first years concentrated on ships and airplanes for logistics and for the bombing campaign respectively.

        • MNb

          Total of American deathly victims in the European theatre: 300 000. The Germans suffered that loss (soldiers only) every single month from August 1944 on (including wounded and missing in actions; I just checked). The Russians got more than 8,5 million soldiers killed off in four years, ie more than the Holocaust. If we count civilians too the atheist but not so free Russians lost at least 20 million people, excluding wounded and POW’s (the latter usually didn’t survive either).
          Also all the death camps were liberated by those same commies. The western allies knew about the Holocaust at least since Rudolf Vrba escaped from Auschwitz in april 1944. They did nothing. Ending the Holocaust was not a war goal.
          As so often you don’t know your facts. Before I will read any recommendation by you you will need to read this first:

          http://www.amazon.com/Russias-War-History-Soviet-1941-1945/dp/0140271694
          http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-End-Germany-Ian-Kershaw/dp/0141014210
          http://www.amazon.com/Bloodlands-Europe-Between-Hitler-Stalin/dp/0465031471

          Just to get an idea how shallow your comment is.

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

          8.5M people was more than Jewish Holocaust victims, but not more than the 11M total who died in the concentration camps.

        • MNb

          I stand corrected. These numbers are mind-boggling.

        • JohnH2

          There were reports in the west of the concentration camps prior to the start of the mass killings; Some people did attempt to stop things, but a large part of the problem is that many in the west agreed with the Nazi’s regarding Jews, even though they were outraged and shocked at the mass killings, or given that Jehovah’s Witnesses at least did report on the mass killings as they were happening, shocked at the extent of the mass killings.

        • MNb

          There is a difference between concentration camps and death camps. The west only could know about the latter from March 1942 on, because that’s when Belzec came into operation.

        • InDogITrust

          You’re right. He could have been eating popcorn and chortling. But he certainly didn’t do anything to stop it.

          If you want to say that God stopped the Holocaust using humans to accomplish his goals, you have to accept
          that Allah also stopped the Holocaust using humans to accomplish his goals,
          and that Shiva also stopped the Holocaust using humans to accomplish his goals,
          and that Thor also stopped the Holocaust using humans to accomplish his goals,
          and that every other god also stopped the Holocaust using humans to accomplish his goals.

          In other words, there is no difference between a god, any god’s stopping the Holocaust and humans’ stopping the Holocaust. Except most humans if they were all knowing and all powerful would have not let the Holocaust happen in the first place.

        • SuperMark

          God needs to ask us for forgiveness:

        • CodyGirl824

          The notion of God, the Creator of the Universe and of humankind, begging His creatures for forgiveness for the consequences of their own evil is an oxymoron.

        • SuperMark

          If you truly can’t empathize with this man’s sentiment then your religion has made you heartless.

        • CodyGirl824

          I empathize but it is up to you to convince Holocaust survivors such as Lou Dunst that they are wrong to believe in God and should embrace atheism as a response to the evil of the Holocaust.

        • Greg G.

          I read The Meaning of Life by Elie Weisel who also survived the concentration camps. He had resigned himself to his fate and saw others who seemed to be getting sent to a better camp end up dead. Many times he ended up in one group and the other group didn’t survive. I don’t recall him saying that faith in God got him through.

          There were millions of people in those camps. A certain percentage survived and a certain percentage were theists. I would expect an overlap. The theistic survivors would credit their god and the non-theistic survivors would show that faith was not the deciding factor.

          Picking out one survivor who credits his faith trivializes the deaths of all those with the same faith who died.

          Maybe we could talk about the victims of the Inquistion whose faith never helped them survive.

          What happened to Justas? Is that sock getting darned?

        • Lbj

          Whats the problem??? Stuff happens. A holocaust happened and that’s it.

        • Greg G.

          You are trivializing a horrible thing. Your hole religious faith trivializes it. Millions of people had their existence obliterated because Christianity taught for centuries that their ancestors, or distant cousins of their ancestors, killed Christ.

        • CodyGirl824

          Lou Dunst does not trivialize anyone’s death. But go ahead if you want to and try to convince him that he should abandon his faith in God since many other people of faith died and he was saved.

        • MNb

          Ah, you love turning tables, don’t you? First you were the one trying to convince Greg (yes, the so called “small pieces of wisdom” you pretend to drop qualify as such) and now you send Greg to convince someone else.
          Honesty is not your forte.

        • CodyGirl824

          It is Greg who makes the claim that the Holocaust is evidence against God. I merely challenge him to make his case to a real Holocaust survivor.

        • Greg G.

          I claim that the Holocaust is evidence against an omnipotent caring God. You trivialize the suffering by saying God allows things like that to make something good, but not for the people who did the suffering.

          The Holocaust is perfectly compatible with an evil god or an indifferent one or none.

        • Greg G.

          I wasn’t saying Leo Dunst trivializes the experience by telling his story. You trivialize the suffering of others by citing that as evidence for a god. You ignore that others had the same type of faith and it didn’t help them. Some with no faith got through it. That makes it hard for you to claim that the faith was a relevant factor.

        • 90Lew90

          Read Primo Levi, who survived Auschwitz with no faith at all.

          “Silence slowly prevails and then, from my bunk on the top row, I see and hear old Kuhn praying aloud, with his beret on his head, swaying backwards and forwards violently. Kuhn is thanking God because he has not been chosen.

          Kuhn is out of his senses. Does he not see Beppo the Greek in the bunk next to him, Beppo who is twenty years old and is going to the gas chamber the day after tomorrow…Can Kuhn fail to realize that next time it will be his turn?… If I was God, I would spit at Kuhn’s prayer.”
          From ‘If This Is A Man’

        • InDogITrust

          Lou Dunst’s faith in God is not evidence for God.
          Unless you’re willing to accept that the 9/11 hijackers’ faith in Allah that helped them to fly airplanes into buildings is evidence for Allah?
          Unless you’re willing to accept that Kimberly Dawn Lucas’ faith in God that helped her to drown a 2 year old girl is evidence of God?
          The Heaven’s Gate members’ faith in Marshall Applewhite that helped them commit suicide is evidence that a space ship was following Hale-Bopp?

        • Lbj

          Your still not taking a scientific approach to verifying people’s experience of having their prayers answered. Having a base of just a hundred million claims of a miracle would be quite a lot of data to research. Even by probability there would be at least a few true miracles.

          We already have one miracle in history and that is the resurrection of Christ. No one down through the centuries have been able to dispute it happened on any facts.

          I see nothing illogical about a good God allowing evil for His purposes for a greater good.

          God did not allow the holocaust to happen “so he could make someone else happy,,”. That is nonsense.

          It is the atheist who trivializes evil by claiming that “stuff happens” and evil is just a person or group of peoples opinions. If atheism is true, then many of those Nazis got away with murder because many were not brought to justice in this world. For the Christian this is not true. Everyone will be judged No one escapes the judgement.

        • 90Lew90

          Groan.

        • Greg G.

          Present a miracle that we can rule out a trivial coincidence and has verifiable results that could not have occured naturally.

          Is the resurrection the best miracle you have? It happened in a fictional story.

          Shit happens and sometimes it is really, really bad shit. That is not a trivialization. Believing an omnipotent being allowed it to happen so he could help someone else is trivializing the suffering.

        • Lbj

          If the resurrection of Christ was all I had it would be enough to refute the claim that no miracles have never happened. However, there are literally hundreds of millions of claims in the world today.

          Craig Keener who is a scholar has published a 1200 page book on miracles. This is a very detailed and footnoted scholarly work that deals the evidence of miracles across time and the world over. “The book contains 166 pages of documentary references and lists more than 250 people whom he interviewed or corresponded with about their experience or observation of one or more miraculous healings.” http://www.is-thergod.info/life/moremiracles.shtml

          You should read it if you are serious about refuting the possibility and the reality of miracles.

        • Lbj

          Here is one case of miracle from the book Miracles by Craig Keener:

          “A faulty heart healed overnight
          Ed Wilkinson was trained in neuropsychology, and a christian who was sceptical about healing miracles. In 1984 his 8-year old son Brad was found to have a condition with two holes in his heart, and impaired lungs. Heart surgery was arranged for a few month’s time, and Brad was not allowed to play any sport. As the time approached, Brad asked his dad if Jesus could heal him. His father was initially unsure how to answer, but after some prayer and Bible reading, he suggested they should at least ask.

          A few weeks later a healing meeting was held at their church, and Brad was prayed for. A week later he was taken to hospital in Missouri for final tests, the day before the operation. The tests showed that nothing had changed, and the family gave up hope of healing. The next morning Brad went in for surgery, which was expected to take 4-6 hours, while Ed remained in the waiting area. But after only an hour, the pediatric cardiac surgeon and two other doctors approached him and called him into a room. Fearing the worst, he accompanied them.

          The room had X-ray films on the wall, and the surgeon pointed out the films from the previous day, clearly showing where blood was leaking from one chamber of the heart to the other. However a second film taken just before they started surgery showed that the hole had been filled up. The surgeon explained that there was now nothing wrong with Brad’s heart or lungs. The surgeon explained that while spontaneous closure was known to occur in infants, it was not supposed to happen in an 8-year old.

          You can count this as a miracle the doctors explained, Somebody somewhere must have been praying. They pointed out that this wasn’t a case of misdiagnosis because the two films, taken a day apart, clearly showed the change. The next Thursday, Brad played baseball for the first time in a while. Today he is in his thirties and has had no further heart problems.”

        • Greg G.

          Keener has a PhD in Theology. That’s post-graduate work in believing miracles. I understand that on page 1, he says:

          The book’s primary thesis is simply that eyewitnesses do offer miracle claims, a thesis simple enough but one sometimes neglected when some scholars approach accounts in the Gospels. The secondary thesis is that supernatural explanations, while not suitable in every case, should be welcome on the scholarly table along with other explanations often discussed.

          That says he didn’t come up with a single proven miracle.

        • Lbj

          Get serious. Read the 1200 pages then come back and say that. See an example of a miracle from the book below.

        • Greg G.

          If you have read it, give me one good case.

        • Lbj

          I did. See an example below a post or 2 called “A faulty heart healed overnight”.

        • Greg G.

          I was going to donate blood once and they said my blood pressure was too high. I walked across the street to a clinic to get a second opinion and it was normal. It was a miracle!

        • 90Lew90

          Read the 1,200 pages? Buddy, you have an afterlife. I do not, and life to me is too damn precious and too damn short to waste my time on that drivel. “Scholar” my ass. “Professor” my ass. The secondary thesis tells me as much as I need to know about what’s in that book. You go ahead and enjoy it. It’s intended for the gullible after all.

        • MNb

          And what is Keener’s methodology in separating correct claimes about miracles from incorrect ones?

        • Lbj

          Interviewing people and listening to what people say. Some include medical doctors. Haven’ finished the book yet. Spending to much time out here with my atheist friends is keeping me from finishing it :)

        • MNb

          That’s a methodology to collect information about those people, not to separate correct claims about miracles from incorrect ones.
          Thanks, you just have made clear why we don’t have to read the book. It doesn’t prove what you claim to prove, because it doesn’t investigate what you claim it investigates. What it does investigate is how people view their experiences, not what they actually have experienced. Every psychologist can tell you that these two absolutely don’t have to be the same.
          Still I hope you’ll enjoy the rest.

        • 90Lew90

          I was wondering about that myself, and the answer is he doesn’t have one, and he admits as much with this weasel-worded disclaimer of sorts on page one of his “scholarly” book. Check out thesis two. In plain English, it means: “I know many of the claims I’m about to report are bullshit, but we scholars, being open minded and all, should bother to look at them if we’re interested.” Of course he’s interested. He’s an apologist. And I have a hard time calling someone who’s only studied at Bible college, “professor” or not, a scholar.

          “The book’s primary thesis is simply that eyewitnesses do offer miracle claims, a thesis simple enough but one sometimes neglected when some scholars approach accounts in the Gospels. The secondary thesis is that supernatural explanations, while not suitable in every case, should be welcome on the scholarly table along with other explanations often discussed.”

        • MNb

          “the answer is he doesn’t have one”
          Of course he hasn’t. I learned this from my compatriot Herman Philipse. If you’re ever in need of a solid philosophical foundation of atheism he provides it in God in the Age of Science.
          A short version: his example is “X loves Y.”
          If X is a rock this statement is meaningless.
          If X and Y are humans it has meaning, because X has language, body language, facial expression and behaviour at his/her disposal. They are all material though. God being immaterial can’t use them though. So if we substitute “God” for X the statement becomes meaningless as well.

        • MNb

          “I see nothing illogical about a good God allowing evil for His purposes for a greater good.”
          And what is this greater good in the case of the Holocaust – or rape, for that matter? Please apply this to

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

          When you’re done please consider this:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_tsunami_2011

        • Lbj

          That is a good question why God allowed it. The greater may not be seen until the next life.

        • MNb

          That will be a great comfort for the victims. Not.
          You’re sucking things out of your thumb.
          Also note that take away any incentive to improve Earthly life with your reliance on the next one. Your attitude is medieval. As I don’t long back for that dark period you have just given me another reason to reject christianity.

        • Lbj

          Not really. Those who believe and hope in the judgement do not mourn without hope that the evil people got away with it here will be held accountable in the next. In atheism all you say is “to bad”. Those who did the evil and your loved ones they murdered have ceased to exist. Deal with it.

        • SuperMark

          Wow just wow you are morally bankrupt. If being a christian means being anything like you, count me out forever.

        • 90Lew90

          Oh fuck off. Sorry but I’ve never seen such a cop-out. Ridiculous.

        • Lbj

          No need to get nasty at the truth.

        • 90Lew90

          Don’t defile the language by bandying around a term like truth in this context. To push your notion of evil, which is itself flawed, repugnant, and harmful, and then offer that as some sort of explanation for it? I didn’t think you could fall farther in my esteem but with that you just did.

        • Lbj

          For 2000 years and hundreds of millions of people have believed as I have is not harmful but the truth. Just because you have no grounding for evil in atheism doesn’t mean I don’t in Christianity.

        • 90Lew90

          For the nth time: I don’t accept your idea of evil. Atheism has nothing to say about anything. Atheism is a rejection of the claim that there is a personal god or gods. Wilfully dense? By your inability to string a proper sentence, it looks that way.

        • CodyGirl824

          90Lew90,

          You say this: “Atheism has nothing to say about anything.” With this statement, I do not disagree.

        • 90Lew90

          Well then bright spark, why do you keep referring to atheism as though it’s some sort of body of thought, rather than a simple rejection of your claim that your particular god exists? Hmmm? Oops. Are your shoelaces tied together there? Did you do that all by yourself and then forget? Jesus…

        • Lbj

          So where does the atheist go when his atheism fails to answer a simple basic issue i.e. evil?

        • 90Lew90

          You really are just impenetrably stupid. This particular atheist doesn’t accept that there is such a thing as evil as you understand it. Therefore, this atheist doesn’t have to spend much time trying to figure out an answer to a question which is itself wrong. You see? What are you going to do about my table not being a banana? No, I mean it. What are you going to do to solve the problem of my table not being a banana. I don’t think you’re getting me. My table isn’t a banana. What do you have to say about that? Your religion has nothing to say about my table not being a banana. Where does that leave you? Huh? Fuckin’ idiot.

        • Lbj

          You don’t have to accept what I call evil. Its just in principle that if God does not exist, there is no such thing as “real evil”. Its all opinion.

        • 90Lew90

          The evidence on which I take my position is stacked against you. That should be uncomfortable for you but you seem impervious to any kind of reasoning, which I take as yet another string to my bow.

        • Lbj

          What evidence? What facts support your position?

        • 90Lew90

          Tell you what. I’m just about completely out of patience. Give me some evidence that your God exists, and I might bother to make the same kind of effort I made yesterday with you to answer you. Because you’re wearing me down quite badly now.

        • CodyGirl824

          Before Justas or anyone else does this, you must first define what YOU mean by the term “God” and the term “exists.”

          I’m thrilled to hear that we’re wearing you down, despite your claim to having “the entire weight of human knowledge” on your side.

        • hector_jones

          Oh that’s easy. I define God as ‘that thing christians talk about all the time but which is entirely imaginary and does not exist’. Hence, God does not exist. QED.

        • 90Lew90

          I think Hector got it pretty well there, but as I said, the god is yours so actually, you need to be telling me what “god” means to you. Silly billy. And I think we can fairly safely assume we know what I mean by “exist”. Can’t we? Interesting that a follower of Christ is “thrilled to hear” that they’re assailing someone. Hmm. What’s new?

        • 90Lew90

          “My soul, like Ezekiel’s, is nauseated at eating your bread covered with human dung. Do you know what this means?”

          From Against Latomus, pg. 223 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 32

        • MNb

          I don’t think you’re really sorry; anyway it’s the best we can achieve with people like Justas – making them look ridiculous. He is very cooperative, I must say.

        • JohnH2

          Unfortunately ridiculousness has no bearing on what is true and is in fact a purely emotional response, not a logical one.

        • MNb

          Nope. Someone who shows up with one illogical, self-contradicting defense of an untenable position like you do is totally ridiculous, especially because that person – you – systemetically refuses to recognize it.
          We Dutch have known this at least since GM JH Donner used this technique tongue in cheek.

        • JohnH2

          I refuse to recognize something that you have never shown or explained merely asserted to be the case.

        • MNb

          I apologize – I thought I was answering Justas and hence were talking about him.
          You are only ridiculous when defending that your god is material. How are your measurements going?
          That doesn’t prevent me from respecting you in several other departments.

        • JohnH2

          *In case it isn’t clear I am not actually serious here*:

          God appears to be nervous about His weight. The Missus and Him appear to be engaged in a long dispute on the subject, He apparently thought that She was eating too much cake (Jeremiah 7:18) and She apparently thought that He was having too much BBQ; So He doesn’t want to get weighed as then She would know that He has been cheating on the whole no BBQ thing.

        • 90Lew90

          The apology was directed more at people who recoil from swear words. I can only say that in Ireland the air is quite blue, and there wasn’t any more appropriate response to that turd he dropped.

        • SuperMark

          You hit the nail on the head that is the christian narrative: “don’t worry it will all be better when your dead”
          a total cop out.

        • CodyGirl824

          This is your narrative, SuperMark, not a Christian narrative. But, please compare this narrative to the atheist narrative: When you’re dead, you’re dead.

        • SuperMark

          did you read the Justas comment? That’s exactly what she said and that’s exactly what i always heard when i was stuck in religion.

        • CodyGirl824

          What you offer is your interpretation of a narrative, which IMO doesn’t match up with anything Justas or any other Christian I know “narrates”.

        • SuperMark

          then you have not met very many christians.

        • CodyGirl824

          MNb, The reason there is both evil and good for humankind is that we have free will. Without free will there can be neither good nor evil. This coin has two sides.

        • 90Lew90

          As has been pointed out to you numerous times, the idea of “free will” as conceived of in the Christian religion is fallacious. Ditto “evil”, which is straight from the book of the Bogeyman.

        • Lbj

          So you don’t believe you have freewill?

        • 90Lew90

          Not in the way you understand it, no. Practically everything about me, and you, and everyone else, is contingent.

        • CodyGirl824

          Who are you to say that ” the idea of “free will” as conceived of in the Christian religion is fallacious.”? I don’t think that you really understand what free will means to Christians, so I don’t find your opinion on the matter to be at all convincing.

        • 90Lew90

          It doesn’t matter a jot what it means to Christians. The point is that it is wrong. It is yet another of the myriad examples of the Christian reading of practically everything about the universe, the solar system, the world and everything in it, including people, that is just, fucking, wrong. And yet you cling to it. And yet you would still seek to propagate it and infect future generations with the virus of ignorance that it is, that you and your cohorts here are riddled with. Tell me Cody. What’s to respect? There’s practically nothing redeeming whatsoever about this bullshit you insist on pushing. Nothing.

        • Lbj

          On what basis is it wrong? Opinion?

        • 90Lew90

          Established, observed, scientific fact on one hand, and on the other, common sense.

        • Lbj

          What does science say about morality? About meaning in life?

        • CodyGirl824

          Merely your opinion, which is not shared by billions of others. Why should I or anyone else give your opinion any credence whatsoever?

        • 90Lew90

          Not opinion Cody. The entire weight of human knowledge points to your claims about your god being complete bunk. You might want to acquaint yourself with some human knowledge. It’s all there for your perusal.

        • CodyGirl824

          So, now you claim to have the “entire weight of human knowledge” on your side, the side of atheism? This is nothing if not absurd grandiosity!

        • 90Lew90

          Suck it up.

        • hector_jones

          Ad populum girl is back!

        • MNb

          CodyGirl, as I have asked you before, leading to me to the conclusion that you are as dishonest as the worst fundie,
          1) where was the free will of Elisabeth Fritzl during her 24 years in her father’s basement with the purpose of getting raped two, three times a week?
          2) And now we’re at it: where was the free will of the 20 000 victims of the Japanese tsunami of 2011?
          3) Finally: will you have free will in heaven?
          3a) If yes, will there be evil in heaven? If no, your reason is not valid – apparently good believers like you are perfectly capable of having free will while invariable choosing good. If yes, what’s the fuzz about getting to heaven?
          3b) If you won’t have free will in heaven, what’s the point of having free will on Earth?

        • CodyGirl824

          1) Why do you protest Elisabeth Fritzl’s loss of free will if you don’t believe there is such a thing as free will?
          2) Natural events are not a manifestation of free will, so what’s your point? Do you believe that natural events are evil.
          3) I don’t know. Will we need free will in heaven?
          3b) The purpose of free will is the ability to choose to love or not to love. Without free will there is no love since love is an act of free will.

        • MNb

          1) Where did I write that I don’t believe there is such a thing as free will? I actually do, but am willing to keep the option open that neurobiology decides otherwise.
          As you don’t answer the question “what about Elisabeth’s free will?” my conclusion is that she can f**k off as far as you are concerned. You only have empathy for the rapist, not for the victim. This is confirmed by
          2) “Do you believe that natural events are evil?” You lack the empathy to understand that the suffering that results from a disaster like the 2011 Japanese tsunami is evil indeed. This is especially the case if a god who is supposed to be omnivolent, omniscient and omnipotent doesn’t warn them in advance, say by means of a collective nightmare.
          3) If you don’t need free will in heaven, then why do you need it on Earth?
          3b) If that’s the case and there is no free will in heaven, will you lose the ability to love as well as soon as you enter afterlife?

        • CodyGirl824

          1) We all have compassion for the victims of evil. Elisabeth’s father took away her freedom, but not her free will to respond to his evil in ways that kept her alive and sane and that allow her to choose to heal rather than be destroyed by his evil acts.
          2) Apparently you think that death should not exist or that death is evidence against God. Or perhaps you believe that death itself is evil. Why is death from a natural event of the sort that made the earth habitable in the first place more evil than death than by disease (possibly self-inflicted such as cancer caused by smoking) or death at the hands of one’s fellow human beings, such as in war or the Holocaust? Or are tsunamis that happen in uninhabited places okay but tsunamis that result in human deaths are evil? We’re merely exploring the parameters of your “evil nature” theory.

        • SuperMark

          Do angels have free will? They seem to be doing pretty fine and not sinning and what not.

        • JohnH2

          How did Lucifer fall if not via free will?

        • SuperMark

          But that’s exactly my point, according to your book angles do have free will and they don’t sin. Also i said angels not deamons. Cody is implying that evil is a consequence of free will well why didn’t god just stop with the angels?

        • JohnH2

          Lucifer was an angel who fell to become a demon: ergo angels can sin.

        • Lbj

          Do humans have freewill?

        • SuperMark

          Of course we do we don’t have a choice!

        • Lbj

          Then how can we be held responsible for our choices? How can we hold a criminal responsible for his crimes if he has no freewill in which to make a choice?

        • SuperMark

          that was a joke which you clearly don’t see the irony in: “do men have free will? of course we do we don’t have any say in the matter”

        • 90Lew90

          That’s a very good question Einstein. There’s hope for you yet. That’s why in more enlightened societies we’re moving more towards treatment and reform instead of retributive justice. Denmark is leading the way in this area of criminal justice and you know what? Denmark has one of the lowest rates of criminal recidivism in the world. Go figure.

        • SuperMark

          Okay, will we have free will in heaven?

        • JohnH2

          Yes, “the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”

        • SuperMark

          that’s exactly why the whole bible/god theory doesn’t make any sense. why didn’t we just start in heaven what is the point of all of this suffering. your god is a sadistic asshole.

        • JohnH2

          The options in heaven in terms of free will between good and evil are much more limited: here when we screw up we can repent, in heaven you screw up and you are cast out eternally. If God choose evil then He would cease to be God.

        • SuperMark

          So you’re saying one slip up in heaven and your out? Sounds pretty scary, more like hell to me or a “Divine North Korea”.

        • JohnH2

          There is never any such thing as a ‘slip up’, there is the intentional choice to do something wrong or not. Here we can question what others know to be wrong and their ability to make unconstrained choices, but in heaven with perfect information and freedom of choices that is no longer an option.

          Not all choices in life are moral ones.

        • 90Lew90

          So in heaven we’re still constrained by the morals of a bunch of tribal Bronze-agers? No matter how far we ever get from the Bronze Age? What if we make it into space? Still? If we bring prawns along and eat some we’re to be damned? Or if affection between two men getting us there spills over into you-know-what? Damned? They don’t get into heaven? What if, in their terrestrial/extra-terrestrial lives they managed to contain themselves, then they meet in heaven and it all spills over into “uncleanliness”? They’re out? I didn’t think souls had dicks. I thought heaven was supposed to be such unadulterated joy that you’d be too high to think about anything remotely sinful because you’d be having such a great time. From what you say, I think I’d prefer the long sleep of death. Yup! Worm food. Grow some trees out of me. Night.

        • JohnH2

          I like shrimp, in fact cheese stuff shrimp wrapped in bacon is really good.

          Per my faiths scripture, God has a dick.

          Any question of marriage has to be resolved prior to heaven. God is able to reveal more and change the rules under which we live if we have a covenant with God.

        • katiehippie

          The plural of anecdote is not data.

        • 90Lew90

          Sorry to interject here, but the Holocaust is entirely explicable in historical terms, and the groundwork was laid for it by… Christians. Apart from that, many, many more people died in the Second World War than were claimed in the Holocaust, and that’s historically explicable too. What do you say? The devil had a few good days in the 20th Century? That’s not only deeply stupid but also deeply offensive. People like you would have us sleepwalk into the same thing over and over again with that level of stupidity.

        • Lbj

          The ground work for WW2 was laid in WW1 and how the Germans were treated after that war. The German economy was shot and made it possible for nut jobs like Hitler to come to power in the 30’s.

        • 90Lew90

          I’m aware of that, but you are aware, aren’t you, that the Holocaust refers specifically to the slaughter of the Jews. The groundwork for that was laid, fairly and squarely, no-two-ways-about-it, by Christians. Suck it up. If a pope can admit it, you should be able to yourself.

        • InDogITrust

          “To [believe] billions of witnesses to prayer without investigation is not scientific.”
          FIFY.

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

      • 90Lew90

        “The Christian can recognize that evil is in the world. (the atheist can’t) and believe that God is working His purposes through evil.”

        Excuse me but I take extreme issue with your bald assertion that as an atheist I can’t recognise evil in the world, as though I need to believe in your god in order be able to witness and react when terrible things happen. “Evil” is itself a primitive religious concept. The idea that all bad things have a single source is a primitive religious notion. Conceived in this way, untold harm has been done in the name of “combatting evil”, so we have your utterly, utterly daft ex-president’s legacy in Iraq for instance. He couldn’t have done what he did there unless he was able to use that dog-whistle term to rally equally daft people who believe “evil” has a single source. So we have children, to this day, beaten and starved and tortured in order to rid them of “evil” spirits. Those are just two examples from the 21st Century of the kind of harm that can be wrought using the concept of evil as framed by religion. That is to your shame.

        I can recognise very well what you would call “evil” as shameful and harmful and regrettable and often just despicable, but I may choose not to use such a primitive term. A more enlightened view is that the “evil” done by supposedly “evil” people, who in the past would have been condemned to unspeakable tortures by righteous men, usually has a back story. The perpetrators of acts of seemingly senseless malevolence always have a back story. Seeking to understand these people better is much more in our interest than simple condemnation.

        The thing about “evil” as framed by Christianity is that Christianity has painted itself into a corner. The “problem” of evil is very much a problem for a religion which holds that its god is both omnipotent and entirely benevolent. What never ceases to amaze me is the extraordinary amount of utter piffle that apologists have produced in trying to answer this problem. You ventured to proffer a particularly weak defence yourself, with your “His-mysterious-ways” nonsense.

        You also come fairly close to suggesting that an atheist must be amoral, almost psychopathically devoid of compassion or concern for the world with your insulting little assertion. Let me put it to your this way: if you think that without your belief in your god, you would be a lying, stealing, raping, murdering scumbag, you speak for yourself. If that’s what you think, you just keep on believing, but I would ask that you draw the line in assuming that everyone else is as much a shit as you are underneath your smarmy smile and your religion of “love”. Don’t make me laugh.

        • Lbj

          You recognize what evil is not because of your atheism. In atheism there is no such thing as evil. Its all atoms in motion. For you to know what evil is you have to steal from another belief system to do it. There is no way in atheism to account for evil.

        • 90Lew90

          You’re quite right, bright spark, to say that there is no way in atheism to account for evil. That’s because all atheism (a-theism) is, is a rejection of the claim that there is a god or gods, specifically a personal god, such as that of the great monotheisms, including your own. That’s all there is to atheism. If you’d read my post, and you obviously haven’t, you would have seen that “evil” as understood in the West today is saturated in Christian (and more broadly, Abrahamic) theology. Much of that can be rejected.

          Our sense of “right” and “wrong” is hardwired in our brains and is present at birth. See the book “Just Babies” by Paul Bloom that I recommended to you. As to your claim that I can’t know what evil is without either being Christian or stealing from it, well, that’s just bollocks frankly. You’re more than welcome to the primitive Christian notion of evil because we’ve become a lot more compassionate and a lot more wise about why bad things happen, whether they are done by people or not, since we’ve dropped the daft Christian dogma that it’s Satan at his work or your god working in his “mysterious ways”.

          Do me the courtesy of reading my posts if you’re going to respond to them. Surely that’s not much to ask. Or are you another one of those fingers-in-ears, la-la-la-la people? Probably.

        • SuperMark

          Right on! Justas clearly doesn’t understand the difference between atheism and humanism. Atheism only makes one claim, there is no doctrine…

        • Lbj

          Atheism’s doctrine is “there is no god”. What follows are all kinds of absurdities.

        • SuperMark

          I’m willing to grant it all. I’m willing to grant the immaculate conception first, then the virgin birth, then the resurrection. And the annunciation and the assumption. I’m willing to grant all of it. It doesn’t prove the truth of the proposition that you should take no thought for the morrow, the central doctrine of Jesus of Nazareth, take no thought for the morrow. No investment, no thrift, no care for your children, that you should abandon your family, not worry about construction, about investment, about anything. Just follow me.

          A ridiculous and immoral proposition that as C. S. Lewis so cleverly and I must say for him very honestly puts it, means that the man must either have been a maniac, a sick man, an evil man, or he must have believed that the world was coming immediately to an end, and that he was commanded to announce this fact to the deluded bronze-age inhabitants of Palestine.

          Because if he didn’t believe that, if he didn’t believe he was divinely mandated, then his words would not have been inaccurate or false, they would have been wicked. That’s what you have to be talking about.

          – Hitch

        • Pofarmer

          The funny thing is, both he and Paul apparently believed the latter, that the world was imminently coming to an end. They both said so in as many words, and yet, here we are? Why wasn’t this religion falsified 1900 years ago?

        • SuperMark

          Constantine The Great Liar, I don’t believe for a second that he had a vision of the cross.

        • Lbj

          If you don’t believe he didn’t then that’s all we need to know if its true or not. You should be a historian. You save them a lot of work.

        • SuperMark

          It’s called an opinion… Constantine picked christianity as the state religion not because he thought it was true but because it was the most ethnically diverse, just like Rome…

        • Lbj

          That could be but it is said he saw the sign of the cross and he was to conqueror in that sign. He perhaps also saw he could unify the empire by embracing Christianity.

        • Greg G.

          That could be that making a religion that promised pie-in-the-sky and not to expect much in this life as a way to exploit a certain set of people.

        • Lbj

          No doubt many have used the faith to abuse people.

        • MNb
        • MNb

          Constantine was not a liar. He probably had such a vision, but just didn’t see what he thought he saw.

          http://rambambashi.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/common-errors-40-constantines-conversion/

        • Lbj

          Jesus nor His apostles give any specific dates of the end. What they did teach that the end would happen in a specific way.

        • Pofarmer

          Are you fucking kidding me? Jesus said he would come back within the lives of his apostles. Paul thought that Jesus would return within his life or the lives of his direct followers.

        • SuperMark

          Justas seems to be one of those christians who believes what he/she is told and has never actually read what his/her holy book actually says.

        • Lbj

          Where did Jesus specially say He would come back in the lifetimes of the apostles? Book, chapter and verse please.

        • Greg G.

          Matthew 16:28 and Luke 9:27.

          Matthew 16:28
          Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

          Luke 9:27
          But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

          You may also find Matthew 16:24 (“Then Jesus told his disciples”) and Luke 9: 18 (“Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him”) relevant

        • CodyGirl824

          So Greg, define for us what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God.

        • Greg G.

          So Cody, define for us what Xrgmw meant by the keohaioher of Trc.

          Jesus never said anything.

        • CodyGirl824

          Oh, so that’s your theory, that Jesus never existed!? The classic default for lazy atheists.

        • Greg G.

          No, I have actually presented the evidence that everything Paul said about Jesus came from centuries old scripture and that everything Mark said about Jesus came from other literature most of which wasn’t even related to Jesus. It is obvious from that that the other gospels relied on Mark.

          Most scholars assume Jesus existed but none have actually shown it. The best evidence seems to be the scholarly consensus.

        • Lbj

          I have already showed you what Papias in the 2nd century said about the authors of the gospels. Mark wrote down what Peter told him to. He did not get it ” from other literature most of which wasn’t even related to Jesus. “

        • MNb

          Because Papias said it? Are you gullible.

        • Lbj

          Its one of the earliest attestations we have. He would have been in a position to know because “He is described as “an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp” by Polycarp’s disciple Irenaeus (c. 180).” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias_of_Hierapolis

        • Pofarmer

          So, we know Papias is genuine because a disciple of friend said so?

        • Lbj

          We have no reason to doubt him on this issue.

        • 90Lew90

          Apart from the not insignificant fact that history wasn’t written with anything remotely like the kind of rigour we expect from modern historical scholarship until the 18th Century. Quite a long time after the venerable Papias was at work.

        • Lbj

          We can only go by what we have in documents for the most part.

        • Pofarmer

          But we know that other apologists from the same or later eras doubt him on other things. So, why should we accept it uncritically?

        • Greg G.

          Yes we do. We know he wasn’t talking about Matthew that we know. We don’t know that he knew the origin of the Mark he had or that he was talking about the same Mark. Look at the argument Paul says he had with Peter in Galatians 2. Read the argument Jesus had with the Pharisees in Mark 7. How could Peter relate the story to Mark if he wasn’t there? How could he argue with Paul if he had been there in Mark 7?

        • Pofarmer

          You need to homogenize it through some of Justas scholars first. Reading it as it was written, in the order it was written to see what it says, is verboten, and we all know there are no contradictions in the bible.

        • Greg G.

          I also told you that Papias said Matthew was written in Hebrew. The Matthew we have was not written in Hebrew so it is not the Matthew we have today. It is possible that he was referring to the same Mark but it doesn’t show that he knew its origins. The internal evidence of Mark associates itself with other literature, not something that was told to him.

        • Lbj

          Where do you get these crazy ideas? Papias is clear when he says Peter told Mark what to write down. Mark is told from Peter’s experience with Christ. To claim that Mark was ” not something that was told to him” is to say Papias was a liar. You have no proof that Papias was lying.

        • 90Lew90

          “Where do you get these crazy ideas?” Chortle.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, you have not presented evidence. You have offered your uninformed opinion.

        • Greg G.

          Scholars say the information came from human sources but Paul says it didn’t. I have provided book, chapter, and verse from the Old Testament, mostly Isaiah, the book that Paul quotes most often, where the same information is. Every single thing he says about Jesus. I even provided links that would show the Pauline verse and the verse or verses. Do you need someone with a PhD to read it to you?

        • CodyGirl824

          Scholars say many things. You don’t appear to be one.

        • Greg G.

          I am not a scholar. Let the evidence speak for itself.

        • CodyGirl824

          And you don’t speak for scholars either.

        • Greg G.

          I do not speak for scholars. I am also not a ventriloquist for a Jesus puppet either.

        • CodyGirl824

          So, we got that cleared up. You are not a scholar yourself and you do not speak for scholars, so I can safely dismiss and disregard all of this discussion from/with you about who spoke Jesus’s words.

        • 90Lew90

          On the same basis you can safely dismiss and disregard the notion that Jesus said anything at all. D’oh!

        • Greg G.

          It is no wonder your thinking and beliefs are so strange. You just love fallacies. You are going to use the ad hominem fallacy to dismiss my argument because I don’t have the right letters after my name. I said that the best evidence for the scholarly consensus is the scholarly consensus, which is circular, but you insist on that.

          You can safely dismiss and disregard what I say when you refute them by showing that Jesus actually said them or that Mark did not get the words and deeds from other sources. But that would require you to actually look at the words in the Bible and the other sources.

        • Pofarmer

          “Do you need someone with a PhD to read it to you?”

          Preferably from Liberty University or an affiliated bible college.

        • Lbj

          What follows from those passages is the transfiguration. (Matthew 17) They got a glimpse of what the nature of Jesus was like and saw some of those who would be in the Kingdom such as Moses.

        • Greg G.

          Ha! That’s some claim. Why the “will not taste death” bit if it’s going to happen in the next chapter? What a drama queen! That is the most desperate apologetic I have ever seen!

        • CodyGirl824

          So, Greg, what’s your definition of the “kingdom of God”?

        • 90Lew90

          If I may: A catchy figment of the imagination of someone long dead.

        • MNb

          Why would Greg need such a definition as an atheist?

        • katiehippie

          Maybe they are like highlander or Edward Cullen and THEY ARE STILL HERE!

        • Lbj

          You show an incredible ignorance of what Christ taught. This is embarrassing.
          Jesus was the smartest man to have ever lived and the most influential.

        • SuperMark

          What was incorrect about my hero’s statement?

        • Ron

          According to the Bible, a good test of whether or not someone is a true prophet is the accuracy of their prophecy.

          In Matthew 24:29, Jesus says:

          “Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”

          The absurdity of this claim is apparent to anyone who’s passed grade school science.

          Take a look at these images. (Click on pic to embiggen)

          The third one down the left depicts Earth’s size in relation to our closest star—the Sun. If the Sun were a hollow sphere, it could contain approximately 1.3 million Earths.

          The remaining images depict our sun’s size in relation to other stars. VY Canis Majoris, for instance, is estimated to be large enough to contain over 6 billion stars the size of our sun.

          Clearly, the passage in Matthew betrays the scientific ignorance of the person(s) who penned it. Predicting that trillions of humongous stars located light years away from us could fall to Earth is the equivalent of saying that the skyscrapers of New York will fall towards a dust particle in Hong Kong.

          And if that passage actually reflects the words spoken by a man named Jesus, then it’s equally clear that he was neither the smartest man to ever live nor a true prophet.

        • Lbj

          Jesus is speaking metaphorically not literally. His teachings are the most influential in history. More people know about Him than anyone else who has ever lived. Including John Lennon of the Beatles.

          The following puts it so well about the influence of Christ:

          One Solitary Life

          He was born in an obscure village
          The child of a peasant woman
          He grew up in another obscure village
          Where he worked in a carpenter shop
          Until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him

          He never wrote a book
          He never held an office
          He never went to college
          He never visited a big city
          He never travelled more than two hundred miles
          From the place where he was born
          He did none of the things
          Usually associated with greatness
          He had no credentials but himself

          He was only thirty three

          His friends ran away
          One of them denied him
          He was turned over to his enemies
          And went through the mockery of a trial
          He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
          While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
          The only property he had on earth

          When he was dead
          He was laid in a borrowed grave
          Through the pity of a friend

          Nineteen centuries have come and gone
          And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
          And the leader of mankind’s progress
          All the armies that have ever marched
          All the navies that have ever sailed
          All the parliaments that have ever sat
          All the kings that ever reigned put together
          Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
          As powerfully as that one solitary life ”

          Dr James Allan Francis © 1926.

        • katiehippie

          John Lennon?
          ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

        • 90Lew90

          Jesus’ teachings were unoriginal. The influence of Christianity owes more to the Greeks than Jesus. Ironic that isn’t it, since Christians stamped out their thought.

        • Ron

          Metaphorically? It’s an apocalyptic theme that’s repeated over and over (see: Is 13:10, Is 34:4, Ez 32:7, Jl 2:10, Jl 2:31, Zep 1:15, 2 Pt 3:10, Rv 6:12-13, 8:12)

          And from the Pulpit Commentary:

          There is no valid reason why the physical phenomena mentioned in this verso are not to be taken literally, even if we see also in them a spiritual significance. It is only reasonable to expect that the end of this world should be accompanied by stupendous changes in the realm of nature. The sun was miraculously darkened when Jesus hung on the cross. What wonder if similar catastrophes signal his coming to judgment?

          As to great influence: Archimedes, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Lucretius, Linnaeus, Gutenberg, Galileo, Newton, Rutherford, Einstein, Kepler, Copernicus, La Place, Faraday, Gauss, Kirchoff, Maxwell, Pasteur, Flemming, Salk, Turing, Darwin, Watson, Sanger and many others whose names may not be as well-known have had a thousandfold more positive influence on humanity than any religious figure.

        • Pofarmer

          Now you’re just being stupid.

        • 90Lew90

          “Atheism’s doctrine is “there is no god”.” That’s not a doctrine. It’s a rejection of doctrine. And sorry, but the absurdities, which you so readily keep demonstrating, flow from the claim that there is a god such as the one described in your particular book. Absurdities I could live with. You can laugh at absurdities. But it doesn’t stop there. All kinds of utterly repugnant thinking and action flow from the mass belief in your god. The growth, by conquest — nothing less — of the Middle Eastern religions around the world has been tragic for humanity. They have been a millstone around man’s neck. Every time I see the pathetic arguments wheeled out in their favour I utter a curse. Not that that does any good.

        • Lbj

          There are absurdities when you reject God. Absurd beliefs such as you are an accident, have no ultimate purpose and unable to explain why the universe is even here.

          What would you prefer to live under? A communism such as North Korea, China or the US which is deeply religious?

        • katiehippie

          Uganda and Saudi Arabia are deeply religious too. Which would you prefer?

        • Lbj

          Probably Saudi Arabia.

        • katiehippie

          Why am I not surprised.

        • Lbj

          Lesser of 2 evils. How about you? Uganda or Saudi Arabia?

        • katiehippie

          I would prefer Canada or northern Europe.

        • 90Lew90

          South East Asia. All the way and hands down. Better food, nicer people. Not much rat race. Deeper culture. Fewer fucking white people. (I’m allowed to say that aren’t I? Being fucking white?)

        • MNb

          As I have shown you over and over again the only absurdities when I reject god arise in your underbelly feeling uncomfortable. That’s why you always end with “how bizarre”.

        • Lbj

          Let me ask you: What would you prefer to live under? A communism such as North Korea, China or the US which is deeply religious?

        • Pofarmer

          So, what is our purpose and why is the Universe here?

          As to your second question, how about Switzerland, Sweden, or Denmark? Or most of Eastern Europe. You raise a false dichotomy.

        • Lbj

          Our ultimate purpose is to be conformed to the image of Christ which won’t be completed until after death. Those that reject Christ will not be in heaven but in hell.

          The universe is here because God created to be here and for His glory.

          Switzerland.

        • Pofarmer

          And the evidence for this issssss……….?

        • Lbj

          Revelation. Knowing what our Ultimate meaning can only be revealed to us in some way. We can only know it by an authority greater than ourselves.

        • Pofarmer

          So, you don’t need no stinking evidence. How does it feel to love a fact free existence?

        • 90Lew90

          Jesus. That is indeed “Good News”.

        • Lbj

          I agree. What do you think our ultimate purpose is?

        • 90Lew90

          I’m happy in Europe thanks. South East Asia is where I’d like to end up. America? No thanks. Land of the deluded where dreams are broken. North Korea? Your heaven often sounds a lot like a celestial North Korea, as Hitchens wryly observed.
          For you to try to tell me that my beliefs are absurd because I’m prepared to look reality in the face, particularly given what you yourself believe, is… Well. Let’s just say it tickles me.

        • CodyGirl824

          All kinds of utterly repugnant thinking and action flows from disbelief in God (atheism).

        • SuperMark

          maybe you’re right, but the religious have committed just as many repugnant actions so your point is meaningless.

        • CodyGirl824

          My point is that no matter what atheists think of themselves, they offer nothing to individuals, society and civilization that is morally or intellectually superior in any way to religion.

        • SuperMark

          that’s because your religion has perverted your sense of morality. i think the way the majority of christians treat homosexuals and muslims and their opinions on women’s health are morally bankrupt.

        • CodyGirl824

          So what does this have to do with atheism. What evidence do you have that the majority of atheists’ treatment of homosexuals, Muslims and their policies on women’s health are more moral. Example: Cuba is officially an atheist country. Cuban has a history of terrible treatment of homosexuals.

        • SuperMark

          I’m not trying to prove anything, my only point is that you are incorrect in saying that “utterly repugnant thinking comes from atheism” because just as much shit comes out of religious people. so your statement is meaningless.

        • Pofarmer

          :”Cuba’s prevailing religion is Roman Catholicism, although in some instances it is profoundly modified and influenced through syncretism. A common syncretic religion is Santería,
          which combined the Yoruban religion of the African slaves with
          Catholicism and some Native American strands; it shows similarities to Brazilian Umbanda and has been receiving a degree of official support. The Roman Catholic Church estimates that 60 percent of the population is Catholic,[1] but only 5% of that 60% attends mass regularly,[2] while independent sources estimate that as few 1.5% of the population does so.[3]

          Membership in Protestant churches is estimated to be 5 percent and includes Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and Lutherans. Other groups include the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Baha’is, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

          Entrance to the Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana (Cathedral of Saint Christopher of Havana)

          Cuba is home to a variety of syncretic religions of largely African cultural origin. According to a US State Department report,[1]
          some sources estimate that as much as 80 percent of the population
          consults with practitioners of religions with West African roots, such
          as Santeria or Yoruba. Santería developed out of the traditions of the Yoruba,
          one of the African peoples who were imported to Cuba during the 16th
          through 19th centuries to work on the sugar plantations. Santería blends
          elements of Christianity and West African
          beliefs and as such made it possible for the slaves to retain their
          traditional beliefs while appearing to practice Catholicism. La Virgen
          de la Caridad del Cobre (Our Lady Of Charity) is the Catholic patroness
          of Cuba, and is greatly revered by the Cuban people and seen as a symbol
          of Cuba. In Santería, she has been syncretized with the goddess Ochún.
          The important religious festival “La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre” is
          celebrated by Cubans annually on 8 September. Other religions practised
          are Palo Monte, and Abakuá, which have large parts of their liturgy in African languages.”

        • CodyGirl824

          So what is your point? Cuba is officially an atheist state. What evidence do you have that nations that are officially atheist treat homosexuals better than nations that have freedom of religion?

        • Pofarmer

          The point is that there is a whole lot of religious folks in cuba.

        • 90Lew90

          “What evidence do you have that the majority of atheists’ treatment of homosexuals, Muslims and their policies on women’s health are more moral.” I know this doesn’t count as “evidence”, but since you lot keep wheeling it out as though it were, allow me: Personal experience. As a homosexual, all my friends are atheists. Not one believer among them, and that’s not by any choice on my part. I lived in London for ten years (not for nothing also known as Londonistan). The British Humanist Association of which I am a member, and the National Secular Society, of which I am also a member, were deeply involved in the biggest anti-war march ever seen in the history of that city, against the disastrous invasion of Iraq waged by your fundy ex-president and his catholic cohort Blair. We made common cause with Muslims. Other groups we tend to make common cause with a women’s groups. The bottom line is, we’re more enlightened.

          I have a question of my own, and in this I’m including Christianity with its two ugly sisters, Islam and Judaism. Has it escaped your notice, I mean, are your blinkers that big and heavy, are you so myopic that you haven’t noticed that practically every serious conflict in the world at the moment has a very important, deeply influential religious element? That almost seems too obvious to have to point it out, but have you not noticed?

        • CodyGirl824

          Your experience is anecdote, of course, and is not, as you admit, evidence.

          As for your question: Whatever do you mean by “deeply influential religious elements”? Are you suggesting that if the world were entirely atheist, there would be no conflicts?

        • 90Lew90

          Nice attempt at evasion. Europe is the most atheistic region in the world, and we’ve had one major and one low-level conflict here since the end of the war. One in the former Yugoslavia — religious. One in my home, Northern Ireland — religious. Now, I’m not suggesting anything, but back to my question: isn’t it striking to you that every conflict in the world at the moment has a religious element as a driving force? What, may I ask, does that tell you? I know what it tells me and as someone who gives a shit about people and the world it makes me sick to my stomach, particularly since it’s 2014 and there is no excuse for this kind of bullshit these days.

        • Lbj

          Every conflict today has a political element. If anything, that is what is driving it.

        • CodyGirl824

          You need to answer my question since you make the claim: What do you mean by “religious elements” in “every conflict”?

        • SuperMark

          you need to read more than one book.

        • 90Lew90

          Religion as a driving, justifying force in the conflict in the eyes of the combatants. Come on. I know you’re dense but stop playing to it. Now, I asked you the question first. If you’re going to refuse to answer because you don’t like what you know the answer to be, I would call that intellectual and moral cowardice.

        • CodyGirl824

          Don’t accuse me of intellectual and moral cowardice or of being dense because I ask you to define and clarify the meaning of terms you use in making a claim. Yes, many cultural, ethnic or religious groups who identify themselves with a particular religion that are involved in power struggles with/against each other will attempt to justify their dominance or persecution of their rivals through religious rhetoric or will pepper their political debates with religious symbolism, but if you examine the reasons for these conflicts carefully and honestly, they are not caused by religious differences.

        • 90Lew90

          Bullshit Cody. Don’t give me cod sociology. I grew up through one of those conflicts. One of my earliest memories is of a bomb going off across the street. I live in Belfast. I’ve studied some of these conflicts. I’ve travelled in the Middle East. Don’t give me your armchair apologetics, and don’t think my anger at what religion causes comes from nowhere. I have more justification than most on here, I would proffer, to hold strong views on this, particularly when all the level-headed scholarship I’ve come across, setting emotion aside, stands in my favour, not that of the religious believer. So yes, intellectual and moral cowardice it is. But don’t be too bruised, you’ve got a lot of company with your “billions” of believing cohorts, just less of an excuse, given that you’re sitting there at your computer in one of the most economically developed countries on the planet.

        • Lbj

          I’m sorry to hear that.

        • CodyGirl824

          Yet again, you give much too much weight to your personal anecdotes and narratives in analyzing world events. Is the conflict in Ireland really about religion or is it a power struggle for social dominance between two groups who happen to identify themselves with different sects of one religion? If both groups followers of one religion, then how is that one religion the cause of the conflict?

        • 90Lew90

          Are you now going to lecture me on my country when, if memory serves me correctly, your knowledge of your own is rather less than perfect? Really Cody? Apart from that, I would say a year studying nationalism, ethnicity and religious conflict at one of the UK’s best universities as part of a wider course on philosophy, politics and economics, and more than six months spent travelling in the Middle East (Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine) gives my anecdotes some weight.

          “If both groups followers of one religion, then how is that one religion the cause of the conflict?”

          Stop trying to be clever. It really doesn’t suit you. There’s a simple answer to that. It’s that not only is religion divisive on the grand scale, it’s divisive even if the divided parties are of basically the same faith but don’t agree on how it should be practiced. So we have sectarianism. Forget the Crusades. They’re well worn as an example of the barbarity groups from two different religions can inflict on each other. Have a look at the hundred or so years of the Wars of Religion which ravaged Europe as an example of how “mere Christianity” has a hatchet up its back. Have a look at Oliver Cromwell’s attitude to catholics in Ireland. Adopt an Irish accent and I’ll point you to a few bars or housing estates where you can go and announce that you’re catholic. You wouldn’t come out in the same condition you went in, if you got out at all. Your ignorance, by the way, is quite breath-taking.

        • CodyGirl824

          Again, you claim that “religious elements” are the cause of every world conflict. You use Ireland as a prototype. You have not made your case. Struggles over power and social dominance are the cause of the conflict, not religion, despite the fact that these divisions were between sects and the partisans to the conflict identified with different religious sects. Cause is the key factor here. To support your claim you must identify religion as the cause, not “attitudes” of one powerful group toward another.

        • 90Lew90

          “Again, you claim that “religious elements” are the cause of every world conflict.”

          No, actually I did not say they were the “cause”, but I did say religion is a key driving force, and a divisive force, in the majority of conflicts in the world today. There simply are no two ways about that.

          “You use Ireland as a prototype.”
          What? Perhaps you mean “stereotype”, but I can’t be sure.

          The Irish conflict historically was religious. Catholicism was banned, the Irish language was stamped out. Mass was held in secret at “mass rocks”, usually in some secluded spot up a mountain.

          The Plantation of Ireland saw mainly Scottish Protestants moved to Ireland to oust the native people from their land, bringing about a long period of Protestant, for which read British, dominance in the country. The majority of the Planters were settled in the North, and since there remains a Protestant majority in the North, it was retained by the UK after the Partition in 1921.

          At that point, the cause of the Irish (almost exclusively catholics) in the North, still oppressed by their Protestant neighbours, became republicanism. They wanted a united Irish republic. The Unionists continued to oppress catholics and gerrymandered elections and basically tried to run catholic communities into the ground until in the 1960s, when the place was a pressure cooker, the Provisional IRA was formed. Thus was born the “Troubles”.

          Loyalist terror groups were also formed. Where the central aim of republicans was a united Ireland, preferably socialist, the loyalists, who were hardcore protestants who identified as British, were explicitly anti-Catholic. This thinking is laid out most clearly and iconically by the language of Ian Paisley.

          Now, it’s a hell of a lot better than it was, but the fact is this remains a divided society. The dividing line is religious. The accident of birth which determines which “side” you fall on, is whether your family happens to be protestant or catholic. Protestant — British. Catholic — Irish. Take religion out of the equation and this kind of division would be extremely hard to sustain.

          The proof of this division is that, crazily, we have segregated schooling here, because the Catholic Maintained Sector refuses point blank to allow its schools to become integrated. Protestants are welcome, it says, but anti-Catholicism is such that this is just mealy-mouthed weasel words.

          And so the violence continues, and “FTP” (Fuck The Pope) is still scrawled on walls by teenagers. If you go to a bonfire on the 11th of July, you had better make damn sure no-one suspects for a minute that you’re catholic. Polish people are routinely attacked. Why? Because they’re known to be Catholic. Meanwhile hardline republican dissidents are still fighting the other way, and you’re a particular target for them if you’re a catholic and you dare to join the police force. That makes you a traitor.

          Now Cody, I live here. I know what I’m talking about. I think you should pull your head out of your ass on this one. And please, just have the good grace not to lecture me again about my own country, because I’ve seen the guns, and I’ve seen the bombs, and I’ve seen blood running in streets, and I’ve been intimidated and attacked, and I’ve had to run gauntlets. I can assure you, I know exactly what I’m talking about. Neither deign to lecture me about the Middle East and African conflicts where religion again defines who is who’s enemy. I’ve studied them at academic level. So spare me your bullshit on this one. You haven’t the slightest clue what you’re talking about, your ignorance, particularly when you spout at me about it, is offensive, and your inability to admit that religion is, has been, and will remain often deeply troublesome is just purblind.

          PS. I almost forgot to get Luther to insult you.

          “You act and speak as a bride of the devil, expressing what the devil inspires. All blasphemous words of this kind are nothing but childish, mad, sacrilegious ideas, and lies which are not worthy of answer.”

          From Against the Heavenly Prophets, pg. 216 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 40

          http://ergofabulous.org/luther/

        • CodyGirl824

          Lew,

          You say this: “Now, it’s a hell of a lot better than it was, but the fact is this remains a divided society. The dividing line is religious.”

          And you say this: “Take religion out of the equation and this kind of division would be extremely hard to sustain.”

          Your summary history of Ireland actually makes my point. These conflicts were clearly over territory, social dominance and control, with the “dividing line” between the groups being religious affiliation or religious identity. I repeat, these group identifiers do not make a conflict a dispute or struggle over religion. That is the case you have to make to support your claim, which is, in its essence, a claim that in the absence of religion, such conflicts between groups would not occur. This is to suggest that if all Irishmen were atheists, there would be no conflicts among them, and by inference, if the entire world population were atheists (instead of about 10%) all conflicts among groups and nations would cease. The bar you must jump over to support this theory is very high, given the reality that most group conflicts aren’t about religion and that atheists have conflicts with their/your fellow human beings and groups of fellow human beings, too. Talk about “religious elements” in conflicts is just a straw man argument.

        • 90Lew90

          I’ll let Luther insult you. “You say, “What comes out of our mouth must be kept!” I hear it – which mouth do you mean? The one from which the farts come? (You can keep that yourself!)”

          From Against the Roman Papacy, an Institution of the Devil, pg. 281 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 41

          Irritating, impenetrably thick, ignorant, offensive, stupid woman.

        • MNb

          “these group identifiers do not make a conflict a dispute or struggle over religion.”
          Isn’t it lovely to see an ignorant American christian lecturing an inhabitant of Ulster/Northern Ireland about the Troubles? Such a fine example of christian modesty a la Jesus!

        • InDogITrust

          Cody makes me so proud to be an american.
          /sarc

        • MNb

          “This is to suggest that if all Irishmen were atheists, there would be no conflicts among them.”
          Nice strawman. Lew isn’t suggesting that. What he says – and from what I know about the Troubles he’s completely right – is that there wouldn’t have been Troubles without catholicism and protestantism, or at least the radical versions of them.
          Andy McCairns is the band leader from Therapy and from Northern-Ireland/Ulser. He made a bold statement during concerts in the 90’s when introducing himself and his band mates: a catholic, a protestant and an Englishman. If The Troubles weren’t about religion he wouldn’t have to do so.

        • 90Lew90

          Saw them play the OzFest at Milton Keynes Bowl in 1998. I was living in London by then and a few friends came from here came over for it. I have to say we all looked at each other and rolled our eyes when he started with that line. I think we’d all had enough. The peace agreement had only just been made and all of us had grown up with the conflict. It was just about the last thing any of us wanted to hear about that day. But yeah, good point.

        • MNb

          I own all their albums bar three.
          I can imagine you and your friends didn’t want to hear it, but I as a Dutchman was impressed, because I understood the courage.

        • 90Lew90

          The best thing that happened to Northern Ireland, and which is never, ever mentioned, was the influx of ecstasy and acid that came with the rave scene that began in the late 80s and continued for a good ten years. Young people who would have been killing each other started partying together and loved it. Alcohol very much took a back seat, and people began to look at the whole situation from different angles. Yes, there was political stuff going on, but a lot of the would-be paramilitary henchmen — young people — basically stuck two fingers up at the whole grind of it. I have tried, and I would love, to get some decent sociologist to investigate that angle. No joy. We can’t be having any positive stories about drugs now, can we. But I’m not alone in being convinced that that youth culture at that time was massively important in helping to end the Troubles. Rave was huge here. I partied in places where before I’d have been lynched and it went both ways. It was a great little underground thing to be a part of. Unrecorded history.

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

          A fascinating bit of history. Yes, it would be great to get a sociologist to do a study.

        • 90Lew90

          I’ve put the idea out and pushed it a bit, it’s just that nobody bites. I was among the youngest who experienced that scene but it would be a shame to lose the story. The older ones — basically the ones who mattered most at the time — are all still only in their fifties. They’re all still around. Maybe a bit frazzled but still around. It’d be great to get a good study done.

        • MNb

          Yeah, protestant vicar Ian Paisly calling the pope “the whore of Babylon” – in explicit reference to Scripture – totally shows that religion is not “a major driving force of The Troubles”, but rather “the solution iso the problem”.
          The lack of empathy you as a christian display over and over again is stunning, but matched by your ignorance and arrogance.

        • InDogITrust

          On behalf of America, i apologize for Cody.

        • hector_jones

          Oh suddenly Cody understands the meaning of the word ‘claim’. It’s a miracle!

        • CodyGirl824

          First of all, I concede that Europe is one of the more secular regions of the world, but secularism and atheism are not synonymous. And second, any argument that you may make about the alleged lack of conflict in Europe based on the number of atheists in Europe are unconvincing since correlation does not prove causation. You cannot establish that Europe has fewer (armed) conflicts because of atheism so this fact is irrelevant. Most armed conflicts are caused by economic inequality and power struggles among political, ethnic or religious groups, not belief or non-belief in god.

        • 90Lew90

          God you’re clumsy. First, Europe is not “one of the most secular regions of the world”. Europe retains a lot of old monarchies, Europe remains riddled with established churches and concordats with the Holy See. Only France could be considered as secularised as the US. Europe is however, as I said, the most atheistic region on the planet. It has the highest concentration of non-belief anywhere on the planet. It is also the most peaceful region on the planet. It is also the most socially progressive region on the planet. I wouldn’t trot out some bullshit to support and unsustainable argument. That would be to stoop to the level of the religious. So stop arguing. There is nothing to argue about what I’ve said. Yes, there are ways of looking at conflicts and what exacerbates them, but when battle lines are drawn, religion figures more often than not. Religion IS a line. It is a divider. And all of the Abrahamic religions — the three biggies — are ultimately universalist. They all make claims to absolute truth, despite their claims having been shown to be bullshit for many, many years now. They can not help but draw people into conflicts, and we now live in a globalised world. Religion is one of the greatest banes humanity has ever been saddled with. No amount of mealy-mouthed apologetics can get around that. The bottom line is that it survives because it is like a drug and if we’re to have a war on drugs I don’t see why in the hell we don’t start with a war on the biggest, most insidious one of all. I think it’s about time we grew the fuck up.

        • MNb

          Several offer rejection of authorities, something many believers have big problems with. But no, I don’t think atheists are a priori morally or intellectually superior to religious folks.

        • Pofarmer

          Have you ever considered yourself a closed minded bigot? Because you should.

        • CodyGirl824

          So, we have once again reached the point where you resort to insults, having run out of any coherent arguments.

        • Lbj

          Yes. Another sign of a failed argument.

        • Pofarmer

          What I lack is a coherent listener.

        • Pofarmer

          What follows is Astronomy instead of Astrology. Physics instead of Metaphysics. Psychology instead of Theology. Chemistry instead of Alchemy. Medicine instead of exorcisms. Pills instead of prayers. Biology instead of “God created.” The history of achievement since throwing off the shackles of the priesthood should be self evident.

        • Lbj

          Right. Were a lot more compassionate and wise. Just look at the 20th century at how many people were killed in its wars. Just look at our prison system that is busting at the seems. Just look at how many millions of babies have been murdered since abortion has been legalized.

          Its not bollocks to say you must steal from other belief systems to understand evil or even to call something evil. Atheism is bankrupt.

        • 90Lew90

          I’d point you to Stephen Pinker’s magisterial ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes. The two world wars of the 20th Century were aberrations attributable in part to our capacity for industrial-scale killing. Not to attempt to diminish how awful they were, but to put them in perspective, the numbers of dead in both as a proportion of the total populations involved was actually smaller than the Crusades, for example. I shudder to think what would have been the outcome of those wars had the crusaders the ability to kill on an industrial scale.

          Apart from that, you are by far less likely to die at the hand of another now than at any time in human history. Of abortion; didn’t you say in the past hour that there is no awareness before birth? Didn’t I correct you on that? Tell me, if you accept evolutionary theory, can you tell me at which point your god decided to give the first human their first soul? Or perhaps you don’t accept evolution. Tell me then, at what point does a blastocyst get its soul? The sin of Adam carries down the male line (this is why masturbation is “sinful”). What of all those gazillions of ensouled sperms that your oh-so-compassionate god allows to die? Not to mention the gazillions of miscarried “baybees” that he lets go down the sewers without their mothers even knowing? Please. Give me a break.

          And it is bollocks to say you must “steal” from another belief system to understand “evil”. I can understand the Christian notion of evil perfectly well. I don’t have to accept the Christian view of evil. You don’t seem able to grasp that the Christian view on evil is not the final word, nor my point that the Christian view on evil is itself flawed. I don’t have to steal anything to take a view on a claim. Christians don’t have a monopoly on ideas about evil. The idea is not original to Christianity. And what Christianity has to say about it is pretty much all wrong. No theft there, just debate.

          Now, if you want to talk about plagiarism, there’s plenty I could rake up about the Abrahamic religions which are plagiarisms of each other in turn, not to mention the plagiarising each has done from the cultures they came into contact with down through their histories.

        • Lbj

          More people were killed in the 20th century than any other century. Let’s hope they were “aberrations”. It does show man is evil.

          When the sperm and egg form the zygote that is the beginning of a human being. Its best to assume at this point God puts the soul in at this point. It is one thing when human life is lost due to natural causes and another when a human being destroys a human life deliberately. That’s murder.

          In regards to evil and other issues of morality the atheist does not have a way to justify morality or ground it in atheism. Without God, you cannot transcend the moral opinions of men nor can you say one moral system is superior to another. All you have is opinion and not transcendent criteria that is universal and binding on all men.

          What do you mean the Abrahamic religions are plagiarisms of each other? God called Abraham out of paganism.

        • katiehippie

          “Its best to assume at this point God puts the soul in at this point.”

          You know what happens when you assume?

        • 90Lew90

          “It does show man is evil.” You see, that’s the kind of repugnant thinking that I find makes religion loathesome to me personally and also morally redundant. And I’m the atheist here, whereas you are supposed to be the follower of the all-loving, all-forgiving, Jesus Christ. Has it escaped you that religion is playing a major role in practically every serious conflict in the world at the minute. Here’s a little job for you. Find a conflict where religion ISN’T involved.
          “Natural causes”? That’s a handy one for you to fall back on when on your own account, there are no natural causes. All those lives lost are all part of your god’s plan and are probably to the greater good. You’ve not only said that once but have spent a good many posts arguing the point. All those lives, on your own account, were ensouled beings.
          You’re so far up the fucking swannie it’s hardly believable. And you’re too fucking stupid to even see it. You’ve come out with two statements in the past hour that I find morally reprehensible, and you’re sitting there preaching that because I don’t believe as you do, I must be amoral. You are, sir, a Grade-A, true blue, absolute fucking wanker.

        • JohnH2

          Maybe I am not familiar enough with religious differences between Ukraine and Russia, but as far as I know religion isn’t playing a part in that.

          North vs South Korea: what is the religious impetus of that?

          Japan vs. China over the China Sea, what is the religious cause of that?

          Somaliland vs Puntland: is there an actual religious element to that? I thought it was more tribal independent of religion.

          China vs. Taiwan?

          I suppose the conflicts in central america don’t count as serious, though the refugees flooding into the US seem to think they are. As far as I know none of them have any religious components.

          I do have to point out though that the Syria-Iraq conflict actually has a lot to do with climate conditions more than it does religious conflict. In fact the entire Arab Spring has more to do with rising food prices due to ethanol production in the west and drought in the area than anything to do with religion, or democracy for that matter. Though obviously there is religious motivation for Syria-Iraq.

        • 90Lew90

          None of those are at war? They’re territorial disputes? There is no fighting? I’m talking about conflicts — guns and all, killing and dying — you know?

        • JohnH2

          There is totally fighting in Ukraine (and Central America, but no one cares about that)

        • 90Lew90

          Yeah dude, there is toadally fighting in Ukraine. What are you out of? Fucking Wayne’s World? Right well that’s one. One. And it’s not going anywhere. Which leaves you with every other bloody conflict going on in the world at the moment, which number in the hundreds, practically all of which — practically ALL — have religion as a driving force. What. The fuck. Does that tell you?

        • JohnH2

          I forgot about the coup and other conflicts in south east Asia, also not religiously motivated, and involving actual fighting.

          That atheists poking people for their beliefs may not be the best long term survival strategy?

          That religion is a very important part of people identities both individually and as groups and is highly effective and successful at getting people to action, including violent action.

        • 90Lew90

          I might start bothering with you again when you write in proper sentences. First lesson: a sentence must make sense.

        • JohnH2

          Everything I wrote makes sense to me, what doesn’t make sense to you?

        • Lbj

          As far as I know WW1 +2 were motivated by politics and not theological differences. The war in Iraq was in part started because it was believed that Saddam had Weapons of mass destruction.

          If man were basically good and not evil then why is there so much war, crime, abuse and families falling apart? Why are billions lost to businesses because of cheating? You need to get your head out of the sand and look around.

        • 90Lew90

          I’m not talking about the wider context of the world wars, I was talking about the Holocaust — the attempted total extermination of the Jews. You raised that, not me. And the ground for that atrocity, once again, was laid by Christians, after centuries of persecution and calumny against that people. Your question of whether man is inherently good or evil is settled. Did you get any of those books I recommended? Particularly Paul Bloom’s ‘Just Babies’? I really don’t have the patience this evening to argue with an utter ignoramus. I should get my head out of the sand? Take that piece of advice and stick it up your hole. You’re the hateful fucker here. How much cognitive dissonance can one mind withstand before it pops? Loads of it apparently. Incredible.

        • Lbj

          One common thread I find a lot with atheists and homosexuals is filthy language when they don’t like what they hear. Filthy language is a sign of a failed argument.

        • SuperMark

          bigot, i use filthy language when i have to deal with highly irrational people too this has nothing to do with sexuality.

        • Lbj

          As I said, “Filthy language is a sign of a failed argument.”

        • SuperMark

          bigot

        • Lbj

          Do you even know what a bigot is?

        • SuperMark

          sweeping generalizations about a specific group of people. for example “homosexuals use filthy language when they don’t like what they hear” substitute an ethnic group for homosexuals in that sentence and tell me it’s not racism.

        • Lbj

          You need to quote completely what I wrote–” I find a lot…..” I did not say all people in a specific group. This is not a sweeping generalization.

        • SuperMark

          Don’t make me go all Freud on your ass, you wouldn’t have brought it up if you didn’t have a problem with it.

        • CodyGirl824

          Justas, I completely agree with you.

        • Greg G.

          Don’t be a tone troll, too.

        • Greg G.

          Cody agrees with you. Now that is a sure sign of a failed argument!

        • 90Lew90

          Apart from the fact that your drawing attention to my swearing is an attempt to evade having to actually tackle my robust retort to your own stupid argument, I make no apology whatsoever. To you, at least. Ask yourself. Can language really be “filthy”? Your use of that term regarding swear words is very revealing indeed. You’re exasperating. I’m Irish. We’re not so poe-faced about swearing and we’re pretty good with language. Take my calling you a hateful fucker as an accurate measure of the impression you’ve given me of yourself, despite that you think your silly belief in your god confers some sort of moral superiority upon you over me.

          Arguments? I would say that your absolute avoidance of my point — that it was Christian hatred of the Jews which culminated in the Holocaust — is something of a sign that you have no argument to make in return, so you instead resort to treating me personally as though I’m an eight-year-old because I’ve used the word “fuck”. Are we not adults here? Take my swearing at you also as a measure of how much respect you’ve garnered from me. None. I wouldn’t be swearing at you if you hadn’t implied, imperiously, and with no grounds whatsoever, that I’m some sort of snake in the grass, simply because I find your religious beliefs ridiculous. I’m in good company in finding your religious beliefs ridiculous.

          As to my sexuality; someone asked a question which pertained directly to homosexuality, and so, you know, being homosexual, I answered honestly. I put a lot of store in the value of honesty and directness. I note with interest that you’ve seen fit to latch onto that bit of candidness on my part, and sought to present it as though it’s something that was perhaps in bad taste for me to have even mentioned. Again you reveal yourself more than you know.

          There is a very good essay by Bertrand Russell called ‘Nice People’ in which he sums up brilliantly the kind of person you come across as. You can find it online I’m sure, but since you probably won’t look, the last line is: “Nice people have nasty minds.” That’s you to a tee I’d say.

          Anyway you hateful fucker, I’ll be off to bed soon. I’ll leave you to imagine what I might get up to when I get there. You “decent” types — “nice people” — always seem to be able to dream up the most repulsive stuff you imagine “other people” do, particularly “other people” you don’t much like. I’ll just leave you to your thoughts. Hey, be thankful. You’re forgiven, just as long as you’re sorry.

        • Lbj

          I do find your cussing offensive. Nevertheless this issue is to emotional for you and I will not be discussing this any longer with you,

        • JohnH2

          You have to realize that for 90Lew90 it is something like 3am right now and he has also probably (as he usually does) been drinking some. He hasn’t said it but I think he might also suffer from insomnia. His comments tend to get more emotional and vulgar the later (and/or drunker) it gets for him.

          If you actually want to discuss something that he is emotional right now about, you might try sometime earlier in the day.

          Though admittedly, he totally has every right to be upset at you with your prior comment.

        • 90Lew90

          Not insomnia John. I sleep like a baby. I am however (amoral, dirt-eating atheist that I am) looking after a man approaching 90 years of age almost full-time single-handed, and working, and studying law, so when I catch my moments, I do as I please. That’s usually between 11pm and about now, when I’ve done all the shopping, cooking and cleaning. I’ll be up at 9am to resume work in a fairly sizeable garden which has been let go, and which I feel something of a duty to try to maintain. Not that I feel I have to justify having a beer when I get some time to myself. Sometimes, confronted with the fuckin stupidity of some people, I wish I’d chosen to do something else with my leisure time. Such as now. But then we take the rough with the smooth, don’t we John. Comme ci comme ca.

        • JohnH2

          Arguing religion online doesn’t seem to be generally a sign of amorality; or rather those on both sides that do it amorally tend to resort to insults a whole lot sooner and never appear to attempt to think about the issue. If those of all other religions can be moral or immoral then those with no religion can be moral or immoral.

          As for the homosexuality, I know I don’t have all the answers for you. Were you to have grown up in my church it is a virtual certainty that your life would have been very difficult. Were you to convert your life would be very difficult and you would have to deal with all sorts of issues, prejudices, ideas, and people. Unlike with women’s rights, roles, and position with priestesshood; the theological way forward isn’t clear or even appear possible, but that doesn’t make you immoral or amoral and doesn’t change how you should be treated.

          I didn’t mean to imply that it was wrong of you to drink; I don’t drink for religious reasons, and there are clearly limits on what is moral/safe when it comes to drinking but I understand the desire to not focus on the day to day, and Christ drank (and presumably got drunk at the wedding feast with everyone else). It was meant as an observation, not an accusation.

        • 90Lew90

          Book of Job. Probably the closest the Bible gets to the reality of the human condition. And even allowing that, it’s still nowhere near it.

        • 90Lew90

          Don’t condescend. Yes, I’m venting spleen, but you’re drawing my bile quite stupendously well. I keep a candle burning that I might come across a few more apparently intelligent Christians in these discussions. They’re worth the while. Alas, most of you come across as absolute morons. So I end up saying “fuck” a lot. Don’t let me be misunderstood. It’s despair borne ultimately of compassion and pity. I suppose you could call those Christian traits. If you wanted to. In your mind. Tell you what: You believe as you will. You’re the one who needs the security blanket. I’ll keep chipping away at what I’m doing. Things like reorienting my life at least in part to combat people like you on a level playing field where your claims and protestations, no matter how inanely and repeatedly you make them, count for nought.

        • Lbj

          I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. I can take that. I just don’t like cussing. It seems you have encountered more violence than I have and that probably affects how you look at this. You come across as being very angry and I have no desire to make you even more so.

        • 90Lew90

          If I wasn’t angry I would be either insane or stupid or a psychopath. I’m not insane (I think), and while I’m not the smartest in the world I’m not stupid, and I’m certainly not a psychopath, so angry it is. With reason. Well directed anger is a good thing to harbour. Arbitrary rage, and hate, and self-pity are poisonous. I can recognise that quite well. Channelled, accepted, righteous anger? A desire to bring about change so that perhaps some people might not have to undergo what you’ve undergone yourself? There is no greater motivator. And it does not preclude peace of mind.

        • SuperMark

          Yes, thank you, before this post it came to mind that the Irish don’t find offense in the sounds words make like most americans do. It’s difficult for most americans to understand different cultures like Europeans do because we are so isolated here in our american bubble.

          Hey I’m half Irish so maybe we’re distant kin. My mom’s maiden name was Conner aka O’Conner

        • 90Lew90

          Sorry for the delay, I just saw this message. It’s probably right to say that swearing is laziness with language and it’s probably right to discourage kids from doing it. Hearing kids swear makes even me wince. But the Irish and the Brits swear all the time. The Irish and Scottish deploy blue language in much the same way, often with a bit of humour. “Fuck” is dished out so much that its venom has been well and truly drawn. If you’re called a “bastard” or “cunt” then you’re probably in deeper water. Americans are more uptight about a lot of things…

          I actually do have distant O’Connor cousins (I notice the proper spelling has been lost somewhere in the Atlantic). Who knows? Do you have any idea what part of Ireland they came from? To be honest, there are a lot of O’Connors around!

        • Pofarmer

          Dude, you really, really need to get some persective. This is one of the many bad sides of christianity. Everything is horrible, terrible, falling apart, the end is nigh. And yet, Christians have been preaching this for 2000, exact same message. You would think we would have fallen into an amoral pile of filth by now, and yet? In general this is the best, safest, most secure, easiest time ever to be alive on this planet. The one who needs their head put of the sand is you. Read some history, look around.

  • 90Lew90

    I find this pretty infuriating. There have been a number of cases in the UK recently where children have died because their parents were convinced all they needed was prayer. What also gets my blood up is when people undergo lifesaving surgery and then they or their families emerge and thank god. No, thank the people who devoted their lives to their work saving people like you. You know, that flesh-and-blood person who just spent nine hours fixing your clogged up heart.

    • Pofarmer

      It’s interesting. My youngest, now 11, had two bone marrow transplants for a rare genetic disorder. One when he was 1, and one when he was 2. I recently learned that some ladies from the Church got together and went down to where he and my wife were staying and had a prayer vigil type thingy for him. All right, that’s fine. But, where were these ladies when I was farming full time, taking care of a 5 and a 4 year old and trying to see my wife some who was staying with her mother 70 miles away because our child had to be within an hour of the hospital for 6 months? For the first two and a half years of his life, my wife and I were apart for basically a year. I think that’s when too much time with her highly Catholic mother really ramped up her “faith.” I called it “getting her Catholic on.” She hates that. But hard core Catholics are just as bad or worse than any other denomination. Highly superstitious, highly fear driven. Oh, hell, I got off my point. But, where were these nice ladies when I could have used some help with laundry or maybe a meal?

      • wtfwjtd

        Your story clearly illustrates the saying: “Two hands working accomplish far more than a thousand hands clasped in prayer”.

        • CodyGirl824

          Pofarmer’s story illustrates the point that some atheists have very high expectations about how they should be treated by a community of faith in which they refuse to participate.

        • wtfwjtd

          At the time, Pofarmer’s wife and himself were both heavily involved in this “community of faith” that you refer to. You would have realized this if you had actually bothered to, ya know, read his posts.
          A word of friendly advice: You might try informing yourself a little better before commenting on things, rather than just rushing in and putting your foot in a big pile of sh*t all the time.

        • CodyGirl824

          Does Pofarmer or does he not now refuse to participate in the community of faith in which he was formerly a part?

        • wtfwjtd

          Why don’t you ask him?

        • Greg G.

          Because that would be the logical thing to do.

      • JohnH2

        ” where were these nice ladies when I could have used some help with laundry or maybe a meal?”

        My church’s women’s organization explicitly does try to help members with such things, and will help those not of the faith if attention is called to them. It can be hard to know who needs, wants, or would even accept help and it is really easy to assume that everyone is okay or that someone else is taking care of things; I wouldn’t judge those ladies too harshly.

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

      Another example: take the person who, six months after a disaster destroyed everything they own and threatened their life, is now rescued from the destruction and given food, clothes, and shelter.

      Their response? “Thank you, Jesus!”

  • David

    Almost 7,000 cures have been documented at the waters of Lourdes. The Church has vigorously investigated and validated a mere 67 of them. After reading the very exacting verification process required to confirm a miracle, I think that the International Medical Committee of Lourdes (C.M.I.L.), comprising renown medical practitioners, has established that miracles do and have occurred. The quantity is not the pertinent issue here. Now if miracles have been verified and documented as having occurred means that atheists have a really big problem on their hands: a faith problem. I am afraid this problem will not go away by wishful thinking

    • Pofarmer

      The Church claims miraculous deeds of saints. Miraculous appearances and deeds of the virgin Mary, all subject to some panel or the other. I’m sorry, but color me unimpressed. Fwiw, most protestants don’t give supposed Catholic miracles a second thought, either.

    • Greg G.

      Lourdes gets 80,000 visitors a year. Many of them would be cancer patients who are not too sick to travel. The rate of spontaneous remission of cancer is thought to be around 1 in 100,000 cases. There should be cases that coincide every decade or so.

      But then one would have to consider the remission rates of all the ailments of the visitors. I think 1 in 80,000 would be a reasonable guess, so there should be one case every year that looks like a miracle, given the standards of the CMIL, yet it would simply be a natural event.

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

      Why has this conclusion of miracle not gone beyond the CMIL within the scientific community? It should be the scientific consensus that medical miracles happen … and yet it isn’t.

    • 90Lew90

      Sorry but this committee’s approach seems very far from being scientific. It looks a lot like a bit of religious masquerading to me. Check it out: http://en.lourdes-france.org/deepen/cures-and-miracles/the-international-medical-committee

      The other interesting thing about Marian apparitions is that there was a glut of them after the disastrous reign of Pope Pius IX, author of the notorious Syllabus of Errors, whose pontificate was marked basically by tantrums. He was anti-modernist (both as understood in the church and in wider society), anti-science, felt the church should have the ear of government, be dominant in public health and in education. Some observers have suggested that the sudden glut of Marian apparitions, mostly to little peasant girls in tiny villages like Lourdes and Knock in Ireland, was an attempt by the church to soften its image with a good dose of the “divine feminine”. Wouldn’t be unlike the catholic church to engage in a bit of cynical PR spin now, would it.

  • David

    I hope Bob Seidensticker is not seeking to discredit the CMIL. But yes, I agree that the CMIL may wish to open up their investigations to the wider scientific community. And Bob, what if the wider scientific community reaches a consensus in keeping with the CMIL? What then?

    • Pofarmer

      Yes, what then, what if, if it’s proven, if it were a fact, in the case of…………..ad nauseum.

      Greg G shows below the problem with claiming “miraculous” cures in that, for one, they fall into the statistical probabilities. I’ve seen it expounded, can’t remember where, that given all the people that go through Lourdes, and the number of spontaneous or unexplained cures that occur, the incidence there is actually somewhat lower than what one would expect just due to the statistics.

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

      Lew’s critique of the CMIL is enough for me. I’m happy to let their own summary stand.

      what if the wider scientific community reaches a consensus in keeping with the CMIL? What then?

      Then I’ll accept the scientific consensus as the best provisional explanation of the facts, obviously.

  • 90Lew90

    Best quote I’ve seen from a Christian for a long while. Maybe ever. From JohnH2: “Per my faiths scripture, God has a dick.” You should also be aware (in case you were thinking of swinging a bit on Belief Street), that in JohnH2’s version you can be kicked out of heaven for fucking. Keep that in mind. It’s still an option and you will be there forever. My first choice would be to push up daisies, but I really think I’d sooner check out what old Beelzebub has to offer before I’d go knocking on the pearly gates. My sympathy for the Devil grows by the day.

    • JohnH2

      You are fine to have sex with your husband or wife, fyi.

      • 90Lew90

        For eternity?

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

          That does sound a bit boring. One’s sex life even with 72 virgins might need some spice after a trillion years.

        • 90Lew90

          You don’t even get the 72 virgins. John’s a Christian and you have to stick to your wife. My worry is what God does with his dick. What happens if you don’t fancy him? He sounds a bit like that “Bubba” in the jail cell of your worst nightmares. Anyway, I’ve definitely overstayed my welcome and apparently used swear words too much.

          But just for good measure: “Per my faiths scripture, God has a dick.” Excellent! I can see him now. Ewww.

          [Edit: I wonder is he circumcised?]

        • JohnH2

          God is married, we have a Heavenly Mother.

        • MNb

          Great. You are a polytheist.

        • JohnH2

          Monolatrist or henotheist actually; Monolatrist is definitely the most accurate term.

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

          Do you see the LDS position on homosexuality changing? Is there any movement there or is that pretty much inviolate?

        • JohnH2

          There is movement in the sense of overturning cultural prejudices towards homosexuals and accepting that being attracted to the same gender is not itself sinful. One can now be Mormon and attracted to the same gender and have that be okay, at least in some geographical areas. However, actually acting on those feelings at all can get one in trouble: the Neon Trees “Sleeping with a friend” for instance is about the lead singer (who is Homosexual and Mormon) dealing with precisely that issue.

          The problem is where is there really room for movement towards accepting homosexual marriages (as it would have to be marriages)? Gender is eternal, marriage has as its major end the producing of children, and men and women being married is very much the repeated doctrine and the highest goal. There isn’t even really precedence, unlike the questions regarding women in the church, unless one takes seriously slanted readings of some same gender friendships in the Bible. God can reveal more, but the principle of non-contradiction leads to questions as to what that more could even theoretically be.

          Put another way. all of the youngest of the Twelve have stated that homosexual marriage will never be accepted by the Church; questions lead to revelation and revelation must pass through the unanimous Twelve; there isn’t even a question currently.

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

          Here again the LDS church is (was?) more honest with the Bible. The conventional Christian must dance around the fact of OT polygamy while stating that it’s wrong today.

          Or perhaps the LDS church is now in the same boat.

        • Lbj

          The Bible never affirms polygamy. It does report that some were doing it. Jesus in Matthew 19 does affirm that marriage is to be between one man and one woman,

        • MNb

          I’m soooooo anticipating BobS’ answer …..
          In the meantime you might like

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

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

          “4 out of 5 evangelical divorcees believe marriage is sacred.”

          No irony there!

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

          Oh, Jeez–what an idiot. See, this is the problem when you check your brains at the door. Do you really think God is pleased by this tap dancing away from the facts? You treat God’s book like a sock puppet to make it say what you want it to say? Wow–you’ll have a lot to answer for at the Pearly Gates®.

          Here’s a post where I humiliate your argument. I’m sure you’ll ignore it. Search for “polygamy” for more.

          Biblical Marriage: Not a Pretty Picture

        • Lbj

          Bob,
          I’m beginning wonder if you are able to read the Bible in context. No one who studies the Bible takes your arguments seriously. Sorry but when you show competence in understanding the contexts and backgrounds then you will be taken seriously.

        • Pofarmer

          Check out Marcus Borg et al.

        • JohnH2

          Polygamy is affirmed in the Law of Moses, and lest you complain about that, Abraham who was not under the law of Moses, as well as Jacob practiced polygamy. Furthermore, God explicitly commands Hosea to marry two women. There is a prohibition in the pastoral epistles of Paul of various ecclesiastical positions having multiple wives, but that itself gives the implication that those not in such positions can have multiple wives.

        • Lbj

          Where does the law of Moses explicitly affirm or sanction polygamy?

          Where does God command Hosea to marry two women at the same time? If He did, was He doing it to affirm polygamy?

          The prohibition in the NT for the leadership to have only one wife does not imply other can have multiple wives.

        • James Walker

          if Jesus, while making a point about divorce, citing Adam’s monologue in Genesis counts as “affirming monogamous marriage” then surely an OT prophet being commanded by God to have more than one wife simultaneously counts as “affirming polygamous marriage”.

          ETA: I find both points highly dubious. I don’t see the Bible “affirming” marriage at all. There is no actual definition of marriage found in its pages, no description of a wedding ceremony, of vows exchanged, of what the contract contained. this leads me to believe that even among the Jews and Christians of the Bible, marriage was first and foremost a secular affair with certain regulations imposed and behavioral recommendations made by the religious practice.

        • JohnH2

          Deuteronomy 21:15 “If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son is hers that was hated” Among others.

          Hosea is commanded to marry Gomer and a friend of Gomer’s. He was doing it to affirm the covenant with Israel and what would happen with Israel. As in Jeremiah 3, Jeremiah 31, and Ezekiel 23 where God says that He is polygamous via Israel and Judah. Of course, there is also the prophets giving various kings wives, even via prophecy, which David and Solomon being condemned not for taking wives, but for taking someone elses wife (David) or taking foreign wives (Solomon).

          Given that the Christians under Paul were to follow only the Noahide laws then polygamy is not barred, especially as that is seen as being a more minor law then the Law of Moses (which again allows polygamy) and Paul’s statement of leadership being monogamous was due to leadership having to deal with the Romans who did not like polygamy.

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

          Hmm–on the topic of knowledge of the Bible, I’ll put my money on John over Justas.

          Justas’s secret weapon is not knowing how foolish he/she looks.

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

          Or, you could read and respond to my post. I guess that’s a lot to ask? It’s more fun to condescend, I guess.

          No one who studies the Bible takes your arguments seriously.

          You mean: “no one who believes like I do takes your arguments seriously.” Sure, I agree. But people who study the Bible are indeed quite familiar with the many kinds of alternate marriages besides the one that you cherish.

          Hey–I have an idea! Why don’t you actually respond directly on the polygamy issue by making an argument? Y’know, with facts and references? Might be fun for a change!

        • Lbj

          I already responded to your polygamy arguments. The Bible reports that there were those who practiced polygamy. However, there is no explicit command for them. In Genesis 2:24 we find this command “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The one man shall leave his parents and hold fast to his one wife. Jesus also uses this passage to support that marriage is to be between a man and a woman only. They are no longer 2 but one flesh. (Matthew 19:6) This is the standard that God gave since the beginning for marriage. Any “marriage relationship” that deviates from this standard is against the will of God. What we have here is the strongest authority in regards to what a marriage is to encompass with direct approval from God Himself.

          Since we are on the topic of marriage would you have a problem 3-4 people marrying? A problem with a father marrying his daughter?

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

          Show me that the Bible consistently demands that marriage be just one man and one woman.

        • 90Lew90

          “You poisonous loudmouth.”

          From Against Hanswurst, pg. 242 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 41

        • JohnH2

          Father marrying his daughter is clearly against the law of Moses.

        • JohnH2

          Polygamy is still very much doctrine, and very much uncomfortable for quite possibly the majority of Mormons to talk about, or even think about.

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

          So it’s doctrine but the church forbids it? What’s that about? I’m missing something.

        • JohnH2

          A man is free to marry as many women as he wants, assuming the women all die, serially. So a single 21 year old could theoretically find terminally ill never previously married women who are Mormon (or have at least a year left to live and are willing to become Mormon) and go to the temple and get married with the one closest to dying repeatedly and do this (theoretically) indefinitely. One does need a living ordinance recommend so church leadership could and probably would quickly put a stop to such a scheme. However, Elder Nelson and Elder Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve are both remarried after their wives died.

          Polygamy is however illegal among living people in the US and the church is instructed to follow the laws of the land, with specific revelation in regards to the subject of polygamy (Official Declaration 1). Furthermore the Reed Smoot hearings to seat the senator from Utah got the church to put a stop to all polygamy, even in places where it is legal.

          In case it isn’t clear, my hypothetical theoretical is not something that I am advocating or think is in any way good. There are situations where someone would legitimately want to marry someone that was terminally ill, but intentionally for the purpose of being polygamous in the hereafter is just sick.

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

          Marriage after your spouse dies is polygamy? That’s an odd definition. Does it work for a woman whose husband dies?

          What does the church think of OT polygamy–one guy with many wives? That it’d be OK with the church if the state allowed it?

        • JohnH2

          Marriage is (or can be) eternal, therefore marrying someone after a spouse dies if both are eternal is polygamy.

          I know if everyone is dead that women can be sealed to all her spouses, I think that might be the case if just her husband is dead but am not entirely certain of that. Polyandry is an even more touchy subject than polygyny in general for Mormons, there is no denying that polygyny happened but polyandry is often denied having ever happened despite clear evidence to the contrary and it happening with the dead currently.

          Church is doctrinally fine with OT polygamy; but to practice it again requires the prophet to allow it again, of which the state allowing it is a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite.

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

          That’s confusing. The church is technically OK with polygamy but it’s forbidden at the moment. But then it might be allowed by the church in the future.

          Obviously, it looks like God conveniently revealed to the leaders that polygamy was bad (-ish) so they could conveniently forbid it to get statehood.

        • Pofarmer

          You would think they would catch that this undermines their whole objective morality thingy.

        • MNb

          Gender is not eternal. It’s even quite artificial.

          http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/4516/Gezondheid/article/detail/3674318/2014/06/18/Het-taboe-van-de-verkeerde-chromosomen.dhtml

          Look at that picture. A woman you say? Well, she has a relationship with a man. But she doesn’t have a womb nor ovaries. Because she has XY-chromosomes. According to the article there are 80 000 unusual gender developments in The Netherlands alone.
          Again an excellent job of the omniscient, omnipotent and omnivolent god.

        • JohnH2

          Doctrinally, gender is eternal. The existence of AIS and other anomalies is the logical thing to press the LDS church on for homosexuals.

          omnivolent- Are you intentionally saying that God is “completely indifferent” or are you meaning to have “Omnibenevolent”?

        • Pofarmer

          And there’s the rub, when doctrinally doesn’t mesh with actuality

        • MNb

          Sorry, I think that kind of accuratism about as uninteresting as the difference between agnostic atheism and atheist agnosticism. Or splitting hairs about the question whether Led Zeppelin was a hardrock or a heavy metal band.

        • 90Lew90

          The plot thickens…

        • JohnH2

          “I wonder is he circumcised?”

          Jesus was.

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

          The servant bows to the master; they don’t both bow. God had no need to demonstrate this sacrifice.

          … or does he? He sacrificed himself to himself via Jesus, so maybe God being circumcised actually does make sense.

          I’m confused.

        • JohnH2

          God, the Father is a different being from Jesus. Jesus though does say that He only did that which He had seen His Father do .

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

          Yes, the LDS church is more realistic about its deities. The Trinity is nonsensical. God being both 3 and 1 is like the beer commercial where people argue “more taste” vs. “less filling.”

        • Pofarmer

          He circumsized himself, to make himself a subject to himself. Makes as much sense as the rest of it.

        • MNb

          Spare me the virgins; they know zilch by definition. And after a trillion years I have lost every drop of patience to teach them.

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

          Yeah, I don’t think the Muslims thought this one through. Occasional sexual conquest can sound pretty good, but things change when the timescale changes from one short life to infinity.

        • wtfwjtd

          You ever see that Twilight Zone episode where a hoodlum gets killed during a robbery? He wakes up in the “afterlife” surrounded by hot babes and gambling tables. After a week or two of winning every single time and having his pick of the women, he thinks he’s been sent to the wrong place by mistake. Finally, though, after some time of this same routine–always winning, and getting pretty much anything he wants, and getting bored out of his mind–he asks one of the dudes that showed him around initially what it must be like in hell. The response? “What makes you think this is heaven?”

        • Ron

          Pastafarian eternity neatly resolves this issue with a stripper factory and beer volcanoes.

          Praised be His Noodly Appendage

        • wtfwjtd

          …and Patafarian hell? Oh, you sooo don’t wanna go there!

        • Greg G.

          Pastafarian Hell is like Pastafarian Heaven but the hookers have VD and the beer is warm.

        • SomersetJohn

          No, no, no; the beer glasses have holes in and the hookers don’t.

        • JohnH2

          yes, Eternal marriage, neither is the women without the man nor the man without the women in the Lord, D&C 132, sort a huge thing in Mormonism.

        • Lbj

          Scripture does not teach that marriage is eternal. “”For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Matthew 22:30

        • JohnH2

          Yes, once we are resurrected we can’t get married or be given in marriage and that question has to be settled prior to that point. However, let no man divide assunder what God has joined together; which He did prior to the fall of Adam and Eve, and neither is the man without the women nor the women without the man in the Lord.

  • 90Lew90

    Phew! Right, well yesterday I was tired and in a bad mood, which caused all manner of what Justas calls “filthy language” to fly out of me. Apparently my swearing a lot is linked to who I find attractive, but I won’t probe that line of thought too much.

    Anyway, from now on when I get exasperated by mind-numbing stupidity, I’ll be employing none other than Martin Luther to do my insulting for me.

    I give you the Lutheran Insulter:

    “You stink like devilish filth flung into Germany.”

    From Against Hanswurst, pg. 242 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 41

    http://ergofabulous.org/luther/

    Just keep clicking. Luther (one of “the world’s greatest haters” along with Calvin, as the brilliant Erich Fromm put it) has lots and lots of quite creative insults.

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

      There should be an app for that.

    • MNb

      Yeah, two nasty pieces of work. Add the madness of the anabaptist Jan Matthijs

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

      and you get such a good idea of Dutch protestant bigotry in the 16th Century that you can’t help developing some sympathy for the RCC.
      Don’t worry, I know the remedy as well:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Troubles
      Dutch name Bloedraad, ie Council of Blood.

      • 90Lew90

        The fans of the Dutch King William of Orange continue to cause a lot of trouble in my neck of the woods…

    • Lbj

      Lol.

  • Asmondius

    Rest easy, Bob. You are sparring with a mere straw man.
    No where in Christian theology is prayer considered a ‘magical’ cure for anything.

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

      Your Bible says so. I thought that was supposed to be an authoritative source by Christians–no?

      More.

      • Asmondius

        Christian theology – which is the term I used – is not necessarily Sola Scriptura.

        But to play along, please tell me where I can see the Bible instructing people that the purpose of prayer is to cure disease.

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

          Ah, thanks for being so broad minded and considering my hypothesis that the Bible is an important source for Christians.

          One blog post on this is here.

        • Asmondius

          Roger, Dodger.

          Your link is simply yet another of your fictional conversations devised to support your own belief. Instead of debating actual Christians, you simply construct a ventriloquist dummy.

          There is no basis for your claim that the Bible or anything else instructs Christians that prayer is a direct cure for disease.

        • 90Lew90

          Try this link instead: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12345b.htm I think it’s reasonable for the believing Christian to infer that to pray for the sick is good for the sick.

        • JohnH2

          Good for the sick, yes, but in what way? There is nothing in that which suggests that the good must be curing the disease, or even surviving the illness. In fact, the Catholic Church explicitly have prayers and more, to do for those that are dying or are in danger of dying, not with the expectation that they will be healed or live but so as to have them better prepared to die, to meet death, and to return to God.

        • 90Lew90

          I can’t count the number of times I’ve been at Mass and the priest has led prayers for the swift recovery of so-and-so. Let’s call a spade a spade here.

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

          Despite the fact that the Bible actually makes that very claim?

        • ScottB

          It seems that the bible pretty explicitly says you’ll get what you want. Matthew 18:19 says that if two or more of you pray for something, you’ll get it. You seem to be saying “…unless that something is something like curing disease, fending off death, or something that could be verified to be a miracle.”

          Where do I find the fine-print version of the bible that includes the qualifiers?


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