God is Nonexistent

christianity atheismDoes God exist? I don’t think so. But can we prove that?

Proving that God doesn’t exist—or, more generally, that no supernatural beings exist—seems impossible. An omniscient being wanting to remain hidden would succeed. That’s a game of hide and seek we could never win.

Looking for parallels

To see what we can say about God, let’s look for parallels in how we handle other beings not acknowledged by science—Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, space aliens, leprechauns, fairies, or Merlin the shape-shifting wizard. Any evidence in favor of these beings is sketchy, far too little to conclude that they exist. Do we reserve judgment? Do we say that the absence of evidence is no evidence of absence? Of course not. There’s plenty of evidence (or lack of evidence) to make a strong provisional case. As a result, we typically say that these things don’t exist.

While we’re at it, note the error in the adage “absence of evidence is no evidence of absence.” Of course it’s evidence! Absence of evidence is no proof of absence, but it can certainly be strong evidence. If you’ve spent five minutes poking through that drawer looking for your keys and still can’t find them, that’s pretty strong evidence of their absence.

Examples in the animal kingdom

Note also the difference in the claim that Bigfoot doesn’t exist versus the claim that God doesn’t exist. Science has been surprised by new animals in the past. The gorilla, coelacanth, okapi, and giant squid were all surprises, and Bigfoot could be another. After all, Bigfoot is just another animal and we know of lots of animals. But the very category of the Christian claim is a problem because science recognizes zero supernatural beings.

As definitively as science says that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, how much more definitively can science say that God doesn’t exist when the category itself is hypothetical? Perhaps more conclusively, what about the claim that a god exists who desperately wants to be known to his creation, as is the case for the Christian god?

Let’s be careful to remember the limitations on the claim, “God doesn’t exist.” Science is always provisional. Any claim could be wrong—from matter being made of atoms to disease being caused by germs. Austin Cline observed that a scientific statement “X doesn’t exist” is shorthand for the more precise statement,

This alleged entity has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe any thing or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful.

The Christian may well respond to science’s caution, “Well, if you’re not certain, I am!” But, of course, confidence isn’t the same as accuracy. That bravado falls flat without dramatic evidence to back it up.

Does God exist or not?

Now, back to the original question, Does God exist? Does this look like a world with a god in it? If God existed, shouldn’t that be obvious? What we see instead is a world in which believers are forced to give excuses for why God isn’t obvious.

Or, let’s imagine the opposite—a world without God. This would be a world where praying for something doesn’t increase its likelihood; where faith is necessary to mask the fact that God’s existence is not apparent; where no loving deity walks beside you in adversity; where natural disasters kill people indiscriminately; where far too many children live short and painful lives because of malnutrition, abuse, injury, or birth defects; and where there is only wishful thinking behind the ideas of heaven and hell.

Look around, because that’s the world you’re living in.

But this isn’t an anarchist’s paradise; it’s a world where people live and love and grow, and where every day ordinary people do heroic and noble things for the benefit of strangers. Where warm spring days and rosy sunsets aren’t made by God but explained by Science, and where earthquakes happen for no good reason and people strive to leave the world a better place than it was when they entered it. God isn’t necessary to explain any of this. Said another way, there is no functional difference between a world with a hidden god and one with no god.

Listen closely to Christian apologists and you’ll see that they admit the problem. The typical apologetic approach is to:

  1. make deist arguments (for example, the existence of morality or design demands a deity to create it), and
  2. argue that this deity is the Christian god rather than the god of some other religion.

Are these deist arguments convincing? If so, the apologist should be a deist, not a Christian. And why is the first step necessary? It’s because the Christian god is functionally nonexistent, and this step admits as much.

The God hypothesis isn’t necessary. God has no measurable impact on the universe, and science needn’t sit on the sidelines. There is enough evidence to render a provisional judgment (and scientific conclusions are always provisional).

Prayers are answered with the same likelihood whether you pray to Zeus, the Christian god, or a jug of milk. Religion is what you invent when you don’t have Science.

Can we say that anything doesn’t exist? With certainty, probably not. But with the confidence that we can say that anything doesn’t exist—leprechauns, fairies, or Merlin the wizard—we can say that God doesn’t.

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect 
if there is, at bottom, 
no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, 
nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.
– Richard Dawkins

Photo credit: Philosophy Monkey

 

25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 11)
The Inadequate Deist Argument
Wondering What to Give that Christian or Atheist on Your List?
Response To an Angry Christian
About Bob Seidensticker
  • Mick

    Proving that God doesn’t exist—or, more generally, that no supernatural beings exist—seems impossible.

    It is not impossible to prove a negative: The earth is not the center of the solar system – Can I prove it? I think I can.

    Theists always go for the “supernatural being” which enables them to shift the goalposts whenever they start to lose the debate. Pin them down. Insist on a clear definition of God. (Maybe Christians could use the Bible to get information about him?) Then you can go ahead and prove that their (well-defined) god does not exist.

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

      I say that it’s impossible partly because I just don’t want to get into that discussion (there are bigger fish to fry) and because God could always win hide and seek if he wanted to. Yes, I realize that this would conflict with God’s supposed desperate desire to have a relationship with us, but the Christian could always fall back on the (laughable) “God has his own good reasons” response.

      Your suggestion to demand a definition and then see if that definition is possible in our world is good; perhaps I’ll explore that at some point.

    • TheSquirrel

      Most people do not fully agree on any definition or description of god, probably because he doesn’t exist for them to draw a singular belief from. It makes forcing them to pin down qualities or properties of god difficult, because no angle they try from is going to be acceptable to everyone.

    • MNb

      “The earth is not the center of the solar system – Can I prove it? I think I can.”
      No, you can’t, because motion is relative.

    • The Man With The Name Too Long

      It’s not so much “Can you prove that God exists?” as it is, “Is there enough evidence that we can reasonably conclude that God exists?” The problem there is, what serves as evidence for God and what serves as evidence against it? I doubt anyone will find much agreement on either of those things.

      • MNb

        You might find more agreement than you assume. Most arguments start with an empirical observation and go from there by means of logic to god. Obviously there are two ways to counter them: denying the empirical observation (like Intelligent Design, Irreducible Complexity, Fine Tuning, causality) or point out logical flaws (like you did with the First Cause Argument).
        There is also at least one argument that only uses logic: the ontological argument. It’s not very popular, has been subject to a lot of ridicule, but pointing out what exactly is wrong is not so easy. I think Chris H has succeeded by finding a logical contradiction.

  • MNb

    “Can we say that anything doesn’t exist? With certainty, probably not.”
    Square circles don’t exist. Ether as the medium that carries light doesn’t exist. Now we can’t disprove god like Michelson and Morley disproved ether if god is defined as an immaterial entity. Square circles at the other hand can be defined in an immaterial way as well.

    • Greg G.

      Can a round circle actually exist? Actual existence implies three dimensions while a circle is defined as being two dimensional.

      • MNb

        In a metaphysical (Platonic) reality yes. In that reality the round circle is a meaningful concept as it can be related to our imperfect material reality. Not the square circle and god.

        “Actual existence implies three dimensions”
        No, at least four. You forgot time.

    • RichardSRussell

      Indeed, I follow that “square circle” logic to demonstrate that the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent deity of the great monotheistic religions cannot exist. Not merely does not, but can not.

      How do I arrive at that conclusion? Thru logic. I have listed 4 ultimate characteristics — all claimed to be the case for Yahweh, God, and Allah — and no entity can possibly have more than 1 of them. Why not? Because it’s easy to imagine situations where any 2 of them would be pitted against each other, and (at least) 1 of the 2 must lose, meaning that the entity didn’t have the 2nd one after all. Indeed, as with the old riddle “Can God make a rock so heavy he can’t lift it?”, a single ultimate characteristic can even be pitted against itself to show that no entity may possess it.

      Thus I am a gnostic atheist with respect to such deities, while remaining an agnostic atheist with respect to the merely superheroic gods like Thor or Zeus or Ahura Mazda or Quetzlcoatl or Anansi — no logical or physical reason why they couldn’t exist, simply an utter lack of evidence that they do.

  • The Man With The Name Too Long

    Ok, so the First Cause argument says “Every chain of causality must end. Hence, there must be an uncaused cause.” This argument implies that there is at least one entity that is uncaused. Why can’t it be the universe itself? I’m no physicist, but is there much agreement among physicists that matter/energy have always existed in some form, or that there’s never been “nothing” as far as we can tell?

    Anyhow, that’s why the Kalaam Argument was proposed and stated that “Everything that begins to exist must have a cause. God has no beginning therefore has no cause.” It’s not a problem with the form of the argument but with the premises. The premise that “everything that begins to exist has a cause” is sketchy. It’s something asserted that we reasonably expect to be true, but is brought up so that we can simply assert that whatever created the universe is eternal and needs no cause without evidence that such a thing exists. The problem with this argument can be illustrated by the Argument from Sentience which states, “Every sentient being is caused (which is true as far as we know). Therefore, there must be a first cause that is not sentient to end the chain of causality”. Theists would reject this because they claim that God is a sentience without cause, but then God is being presupposed here as a counterexample to the argument from sentience when God is the very thing whose existence is in dispute. Without presupposing that the first cause is intelligent, the claim that the first cause is intelligent is refuted by the argument from sentience.

    I don’t know if I’m getting my message across correctly. If anyone has trouble understanding what I wrote and wants to understand, please reply telling me what is unclear.

    • MNb

      It goes a little further.

      “This argument implies”
      first of all causality. And since about eight decades the predictive power of probabilism is bigger than the predictive power of causality, which is required by the First Cause Argument. I refer to the decay of radioactive atoms.
      This doesn’t mean that your remarks are wrong; it only means that the problems with the FCA are even bigger than you may realize.

    • Pofarmer

      The Cosmological argument dates back to Aristotle, so, like much of Aristotles philosophy is flawed, in that it lacks emperical justification. Not knowing about things like gravity and the basics of nuclear forces would have been useful.

    • JohnH2

      Except normally when we say something begins to exist it has no relation to how the Kalaam argument uses the term. In fact using how we normally use the term suggests an eternal universe as everything that begins to exist is caused to via preexisting substance.

  • Paul

    “But the very category of the Christian claim is a problem because science recognizes zero supernatural beings.”

    That raises a question: If God is by definition supernatural and science is used to study the natural world, why are you using science to disprove God’s existence? That would be like trying to weigh a chicken with a ruler.

    • MNb

      I don’t think science can disprove god’s existence a priori. But you can compare, given science, the predictive power of theism and the predictive power of atheism. The latter is bigger.

    • Greg G.

      The concept of supernatural is just an excuse for why something is indistinguishable from imaginary things as far as naturalistic science can tell.

      • Adam King

        Exactly. “Supernatural” is as undefinable as “god” is. How would you recognize either, since they’re undefined, have no exemplars, and require no empirical evidence? Imaginary mush in, imaginary mush out.

    • hector_jones

      “If God is by definition supernatural” – Well, that’s the definition many Christians apply, but it’s by no means an established fact. Mormons, for instance, don’t think God is supernatural at all. Yet Mormon scientists can’t find Him anywhere.

      “Science is used to study the natural world” – Not because science is barred from studying the supernatural world. Science is a method for getting at truth through observation, with a success record that is far superior to religion, revelation or mysticism. Hence it is perfectly valid to use science to study God. So far this method hasn’t found a shred of evidence for anything you would call ‘supernatural’. The reason science devotes so little time to the pursuit isn’t because there is a rule against science studying god, but because the evidence we humans actually have doesn’t point toward a god or gods at all. Science has abandoned the God Hypothesis and moved on to more fruitful areas of study.

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

        Sean Carroll noted that you don’t find the words “transcendent cause” in a cosmology textbook; what you find are differential equations! There simply is no need for metaphysical baggage on top of the known physics.

        • hector_jones

          This is the thing about trying to argue that science supports christianity because so many scientists (in the past) were christians. Well sure they were, because in the past the God Hypothesis was deeply entrenched in society and passed on for generations, long before the scientific method was established.

          What happened was science abandoned the hypothesis over time because it couldn’t find a shred of evidence for it. That’s what science does with hypotheses for which no evidence to support them can be found. But science didn’t make a big announcement, it was a gradual process whereby that particular hypothesis was abandoned and science went in other directions, where there was actual evidence to be found.

          Christians today like to claim that this is proof that the question of god and all that jive is untouchable by science. Sure there are scientists today who pay lip service to the idea of ‘non-overlapping realms of magisteria’ but they do so for political reasons, pretending that god and all that is ‘off limits’ to science. No, it’s just been abandoned by science. Indeed it was abandoned so long ago now that many people today, including scientists, don’t realize that’s what happened.

    • Deanjay1961

      Science would be useless to study God if God has no effect on the natural world. Anything that has an effect on the natural world can be, in principle, studied scientifically.

  • Southern Skeptic

    Many interesting points. It had never occurred to me that we’re more likely to find bigfoot than god. Made me laugh.

    • wtfwjtd

      Well, at least there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of people around the world who claim they have seen Big Foot. With God? Not so much…

      • JohnH2

        Billions?

        • hector_jones

          “Seen” god. Not merely imagined his existence because they saw a tree or a flower or a sunset.

        • MNb

          Or a three step waterfall, in which Francis Collins recognized the holy trinity.

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

          Well, a 3-part frozen waterfall is actually pretty overwhelming evidence of the Trinity. I mean, c’mon.

        • hector_jones

          Or a dangerous 3-wheeled ATV.

        • Pofarmer

          Not seen, experienced-generally indirectly.

        • wtfwjtd

          Now you’re just playing word games with me. When I use the word “seen”, I don’t mean “saw with their mind’s eye” or “envisioned in their mind.” You know I mean they actually believe that they beheld a physical creature in front of them. It’s not that hard John.

        • Psycho Gecko

          So they hallucinated?

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

          Billions have seen Yahweh? I can only think of Abraham and Moses.

        • wtfwjtd

          Don’t forget Jacob!(Gen 32:30). Or, all these guys a fraud? The Bible itself(surprise, surprise), says they are liars, as well as anyone who claims to have seen God (Ex 33:20).

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

          And yet, in the very same chapter, you get this contradiction: “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Ex. 33:11).

          Ah well–mistakes are inevitable. God’s only human.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Ah well–mistakes are inevitable. God’s only human.”

          Yes, there’s nothing so comforting and re-assuring as using this fallacy- and contradiction-riddled text as the source for the unchanging, objective morality as dictated to mankind by God. Or, so I’m told, anyway.

  • Trent Horn

    What would the world look like if God existed? You weren’t specific in your post. What specific elements would the world have and why would it have those elements instead of other ones?

    • Greg G.

      If there were an omnipotent, benevolent god, the element of suffering wouldn’t exist.

      • Trent Horn

        At all? Is there ever a good reason to allow suffering to exist? For example, would you deny God exists in a world that was perfect but the only “suffering” was that you had to wait in line each morning for one hour in order to cultivate virtues like patience?

        • Greg G.

          An omnipotence wouldn’t need an hour to cultivate patience.

          Julius Caesar was more powerful than I but he wouldn’t count as a God because the leader of an alien race could be more powerful. Zeus could be more powerful than the alien. But there could be an entity a million times more potent than Zeus. We wouldn’t be justified in calling Megazeus “God” because there could be an entity a million times more powerful who hides from other entities for ineffable reasons.

          The only entity we would be justified in calling “God” would be an omnipotence. An omnipotence wouldn’t need to cultivate patience in its creations.

          Furthermore, Megazeus, or some sufficiently potent entity, could give the illusion of omnipotence to any person or clam with the false sense having existed forever and false memories of creating the universe, while creating illusions of every whim being done immediately. So even an entity who thought it was omnipotent wouldn’t be able to distinguish actual omnipotence from a perfect illusion of omnipotence, which creates a logical contradiction for omnipotence. Omnipotence that lacks the ability to test for omnipotence cannot be omnipotent.

          Therefore, we would never be justified in calling an entity “God” no matter how powerful it appears to us.

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

        At the very least, gratuitous suffering (Bambi is injured in the forest and dies a slow death from starvation) wouldn’t exist.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, hell, why would sentient animals need to kill other sentient animals to survibe?

          ?

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

          Indeed, God had a violence-less way of life in the Garden of Eden, so it’s not like it was beyond his abilities.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I don’t know if this is accurate but is it possible to live a healthy life without ever eating meat? If so, then killing animals for food is causing unnecessary suffering for them. I am left to wonder why eating meat in the Bible is seen as a perfectly normal and acceptable thing when causing an animal to suffer is seen as a bad thing.

        • wtfwjtd

          It’s safe to say that tens of millions of human beings have lived and died on planet earth without ever tasting animal flesh. Yes,for omnivore humans, vegetarianism is a totally sustainable lifestyle. For other carnivorous food-chain predators? Not so much.

        • MNb

          According to christians it’s the same in afterlife, if they manage to qualify.

        • Adam King

          Where’s our manna?

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

      It would be a world where God’s existence was obvious.The mystery and need for faith would be gone.

      • JohnH2

        Unless God has a reason for us needing faith, in which case God’s existence wouldn’t be so obvious.

        • Pofarmer

          Which would be what?

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

          Agreed. Sounds like John is simply retreating into, “Well, God could have his own good reasons that we can’t understand.” Fair enough, but that simply presupposes God and admits that this is just one more bit of missing evidence.

        • JohnH2
        • MNb

          The first link is about purpose in life and doesn’t answer Pofarmers and BobS’ question. The second one is a collection of articles I’m not going to wade through to find out.
          So which reason does your god have to remain hidden? If you can’t answer it the rational conclusion must be, as Herman Philipse has pointed out, that (your brand of) theism has less predictive power than atheism.

        • JohnH2

          The purpose of life, otherwise I wouldn’t have linked to it.

        • MNb

          The purpose of life is not an answer to the question: which reason does your god have to remain hidden? I wrote this just above.

        • JohnH2

          Yes it is an answer to the question:

          “Exercise agency and learn to choose between good and evil”.

        • Adam King

          Why?
          Does this end really require the suffering of trillions of creatures for billions of years? And God is Love?
          Load of nonsense, right there.

    • Pofarmer

      Richard Carrier has a pretty good youtube video on what a Universe with God should look like.C

      • JohnH2

        Because Richard Carrier has lots of examples to compare to? Or because he is mentally masturbating off of what he wishes were the case in order to reach his desired conclusion?

        • hector_jones

          How can you post a comment like this and live with yourself? Can you not see how your own prophet Joseph Smith can be easily accused of “mentally masturbating off of what he wishes were the case in order to reach his desired conclusion”? I’ll never understand how true believers can’t see the illogical and hypocrisy of their beliefs, when it’s staring them right in the face.

        • JohnH2

          Because you assume that Joseph Smith did not actually receive any revelations from God where as I know he did.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m sure he receives as many revelations as Jim Jones or the Heavens Gate cult.

        • hector_jones

          The burden is on you to prove it. You don’t know it. You just believe it.

          I don’t assume he didn’t, but I consider it about as likely as Adolf Hitler receiving revelations from God.

        • JohnH2

          I know it because I have experience from God.

          I know it because he prophesied the civil war, the gathering of Israel, and many other things which have happened and continue to happen, beside the applications of what he revealed in my own life and the lives of others in effecting, statistically significantly, our outcomes for the better.

        • hector_jones

          Oh bullshit.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m sorry John, but just because Mormons have statistcal differences with other groups, in no way validates that the supernatural beliefs are true.

        • JohnH2

          Of course, just like because experience matches the theory in no way validates that the theory is accurate.

        • Pofarmer

          What theory and what practice? Mormons tend to be nice people. Doesn’t validate any of their wacky underwear beliefs.

        • hector_jones

          There are ways to test whether experiences reflect an external reality. What testing have you done to confirm that your ‘experience from God’ is truly ‘from God’? Did you weigh Him, for instance?

        • JohnH2

          Results testing, seeing what the results of following the experience lead to, and which can be, again, demonstrated statistically.

        • hector_jones

          Were these proper double blind tests? I want to see your data please.

        • JohnH2

          Here is one that is for what it is measuring much better than a double blind test http://www.scientificintegrityinstitute.org/PM2008.pdf

          These things really aren’t that hard to find, google can be your friend.

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

          How is the article “Lifestyle and reduced mortality among active California Mormons” relevant to your claim that science can help prove your claim, “I know [Joseph Smith received revelations from God] because I have experience from God”?

        • smrnda

          Jews tend to be better educated than average, and are greatly over-represented in academia and intellectual areas, but I don’t think that would prove that Judaism (the religion) is correct. It would be absurd to read causation into such a thing.

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

          Take just about any subset of the population (Mormons, atheists, cab drivers, …), and you could probably find at least one category in which they beat the national average–less prostate cancer, less smoking, better at math, less littering, more generous, nicer drivers, keep their sidewalk cleaner, more skillful gardeners, whatever.

          John’s found that a subset of Mormons have improved longevity. Great, but I don’t see what that proves.

        • smrnda

          I don’t see what that proves either. The Japanese (last I checked) had pretty decent longevity, but nobody seems to think this means that Buddhist/shinto beliefs are correct. The reports I’ve read on that tend to focus on lifestyle and a high level of social cohesion.

          I like to pick Jews since, as a group we do pretty well, but we also tend to have lots of disbelief as well.

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

          Good point. I bet that Japanese people would beat California Mormons on longevity. I guess Shinto/Buddhism is the way to go.

        • smrnda

          I’m going to tell someone Japanese I know that, since they have good stats, I’m going to practice shinto. I’m expecting they will get a laugh out of the suggestion.

        • hector_jones

          Sorry that doesn’t prove the existence of God. It just suggests that California Mormons live longer on average. Moreover it says they do so because of a healthy life style. It has nothing to do with Mormon Jesus or Mormon God being real.

          What has any of this got to do with your ‘experience with God’ anyway? It looks like a bait and switch to me.

        • smrnda

          The Japanese have rather solid longevity as well. Of course, nobody I know has ever tried to attribute this to their religious practices or beliefs.

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

          You’re talking like a scientist. How about showing this to us? What experiment do you propose? If the evidence convinced you, should it convince the rest of us?

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

          Or take a photo?

        • wtfwjtd

          Many of the “predictions” of Nostradamus have come “true” as well. Does this mean he was an even greater prophet of god?

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

          How do you know that you aren’t deceiving yourself? After all, all those people believing the wrong things have deceived themselves. Maybe you only think that God gave you a particular experience.

          As for prophecy, I’ve not seen any impressive prophecy claims that have panned out.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          Are you talking about the American Civil War? Is it an actual prophecy, or is it, “There will be bloodshed across the whole nation” or something really general like that? The “gathering of Israel” is really a self-fulfilling prophecy, so I’m not really convinced that anyone knew it would happen but rather that they really wanted to make it happen. And there’s nothing divine about that.

        • wtfwjtd

          John Brown also predicted “rivers of blood” at his hanging in 1859, so I guess that makes him a great prophet of god as well.

        • JohnH2

          Mormons didn’t cause, and were in no position to make it happen, the gathering of Israel so I don’t know how that remotely counts as self fulfilling.

          American Civil War yes. It is found in D&C 87 and specifically says that it would start in South Carolina.

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

          In 1832, predicting war wasn’t that big a stretch. I notice that God wasn’t able to provide any dates or anything truly remarkable that would show it as more than an educated guess. I bet that if a similarly vague “prediction” claim were made by someone else from a different religion, you’d be just as skeptical and unconvinced as I am. One wonders why you then even bother putting this one forward.

          87.4 predicts a slave uprising. That happened in Haiti, I believe, but it didn’t happen in the U.S.

          I can’t figure out 87.5. God wasn’t in a mood to be clear on this one, I guess.

          87.6: yes to sword and bloodshed. No to plague, lightning, and earthquake. “The consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations”? What the hell is that supposed to mean? 150 years after the Civil War, we’ve still got plenty of nations.

        • wtfwjtd

          You mean, when a “prophet” makes dozens of predictions, and a few of them actually happen (sort of), but the rest don’t, you aren’t convinced of his absolute authenticity and authority coming from God? I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you.

          Seriously, didn’t you have a post here awhile back that showed how anyone could be a prophet, and could make predictions that would come true? I thought that was a great one, and it illustrated the con-man’s game of “prophecy” nicely.

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

          Now that you mention it, yes I did!

          Make Your Very Own Prophecy (That Actually Comes True!)

        • smrnda

          If you predict war, you will usually be right, given enough time. Of course, that’s a pretty vague prediction.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I meant that the people descended from the Israelites (or at least some of them) would want to rebuild the nation of Israel, not Mormons. I’m sure you are aware of Zionism before 1948. Given that there were people actively trying to create the nation of Israel it should count as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

          Is this what you are referring to as prophecy of the civil war? https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/87?lang=eng Do you think it’s possible that Joseph Mormon was simply an insightful person who made an educated guess that there would be a civil war starting in South Carolina or is it more likely a divine revelation?

        • MNb

          I know you’re wrong because I experienced a voice in my head that told me Smith was a fraud.
          Now what?

        • JohnH2

          And the results of following what that voice said?

        • MNb

          Rejecting your belief system.
          Now what? How are we going to decide who is right and who is wrong?

        • JohnH2

          First, you have previously already demonstrated that you are a liar about such things.

          Second, If there is no actionable information other than the rejection of my belief system then there is no point in you even paying attention to such a voice as you already reject my belief system. If you have some actionable item that leads to results different from what you are already doing then we have something to test. Otherwise it is just how your current action and life compares to the statistical average of Mormons, which is not going to be favorable to your voice.

        • MNb

          See how dishonest you are? You don’t know. You have faith.

        • Pofarmer

          He just simply takes religious arhuments and extrapolates them.

    • wtfwjtd

      “What would the world look like if God existed? You weren’t specific in your post.”

      Bob has already answered this question, if you would care to take a look:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/07/a-god-created-world-would-look-like-a-60s-family-sitcom/

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

        Thanks. I’d forgotten that one.

  • KarlUdy

    Are these deist arguments convincing? If so, the apologist should be a deist, not a Christian. And why is the first step necessary? It’s because the Christian god is functionally nonexistent, and this step admits as much.

    Bob, is deism a subset of theism? Do these ‘deist’ arguments argue against other theist conceptions of God? In particularly, do they argue against a Christian conception of God?

    • Greg G.

      Theism is a subset of deism. It is belief in a deity without presumptions of knowledge of the deity, AIUI.

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

        Agreed.

        • KarlUdy

          If theism (and Christianity) is a subset of deism, then it makes sense to begin with deist arguments to prove the broader point, so to speak, before progressing to more specific arguments re theism or Christianity per se.

        • wtfwjtd

          The problem is, deist arguments are offered as convincing evidence for the Christian god, and not simply as an intermediate step or as an attempt to prove a broader point. The theist usually does this in the hope that no one notices that his deist arguments aren’t specific to his god, and can be employed equally in attempt to show the existence of all posited gods and not just specifically for the Christian god. What’s missing, and what’s needed to be more convincing, is for the theist to show how these arguments lead specifically to his particular brand of theism.

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

          Some Christians disagree (they start with the historicity of Jesus), but that your argument must be so convoluted–to start with deism and then gradually sneak up on Christianity–is damning.

          There’s a supernatural creator of the universe who desperately wants a personal relationship? Cool–point him out to me.

        • wtfwjtd

          He desperately wants a personal relationship, and yet remains invisible, inaudible and immaterial. Which sure sounds like the polar opposite of a personal relationship to me. And Christians wonder why we don’t find their arguments for a personal yet vague and hidden god at all convincing.

        • Pofarmer

          You missed the trick. You have to believe-first.

        • wtfwjtd

          Ah yes, as per usual religious doctrine it’s me that’s expected to do all the heavy lifting, while the Creator of the Universe skates by. Typical, very typical.

        • KarlUdy

          Some Christians disagree (they start with the historicity of Jesus), but that your argument must be so convoluted–to start with deism and then gradually sneak up on Christianity–is damning.

          Where you start depends on who you’re talking to. If someone’s sticking point is that they believe there is no God, then there is sense in discussing the existence of God first.

          There’s a supernatural creator of the universe who desperately wants a personal relationship? Cool–point him out to me.

          His name’s Jesus, he rose from the dead.

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

          Where you start depends on who you’re talking to. If someone’s sticking point is that they believe there is no God, then there is sense in discussing the existence of God first.

          God’s invisible qualities are clearly seen, remember? None of us has an excuse. So throw me a bone here—the evidence must be staring me in the face.

          No?

          His name’s Jesus, he rose from the dead.

          I’ve got the scientologist telling me that his name is Xenu. His evidence is just as compelling as yours.

        • KarlUdy

          God’s invisible qualities are clearly seen, remember? None of us has an excuse. So throw me a bone here—the evidence must be staring me in the face.

          You may be too heavily invested in your current position. I am intrigued by your apparent allergy to taking on the burden of proof for anything you believe. It’s almost as if you don’t want to find something out …

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

          I do indeed have an allergy; it’s to seeing an asymmetrical situation with a null hypothesis as one where each party is making an equally plausible claim.

          The null hypothesis is: no supernatural. You want to argue that it exists? Cool–I’m listening. But don’t pretend that if I fail to show that the supernatural doesn’t exist that you’re entitled to your Yahweh beliefs.

        • MNb

          It would make sense if apologists would make that clear. Some do, but several don’t.

  • Greg G.

    “Religion is what you invent when you don’t have Science.”

    That’s a keeper.

  • KarlUdy

    As definitively as science says that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, how much more definitively can science say that God doesn’t exist when the category itself is hypothetical?

    The problem with comparing Bigfoot et al with God is that all of those other examples are things that are suggested to exist in the physical world. That God is not something that exists as part of our universe is something that we can all agree on.

    Now if you want to have a good parallel to the question of whether God exists and what evidence we have for it, perhaps you should compare like for like. Compare the evidence we have for God with that for something outside of our universe. For example, how about comparing what science can say about God with the multiverse.

    • kraut2

      You compare two hypothesis. One has at root the physical universe, and looks for evidence that a multiverse exists.The multiverse is still – if it exists at all – grounded in physics and one can look for ways to falsify the hypothesis, as has been tried.

      God is by definition of the believer of no physical reality and cannot be falsified. Since there is no way to measure his impact and it is unclear how any non physical entity could influence the physical world (magic?) and no evidence of any such impact can be shown, the two hypothesis cannot be compared at all and are not alike.

      • KarlUdy

        As far as I’m aware, the multiverse is a speculation following on from evidence which is often described as the Fine Tuning Argument for God.

        In fact, I am unaware of any serious consideration of the multiverse by scientists before the research that led to the Fine Tuning Argument demonstrated how incredibly unlikely our universe came about by chance. It almost seems as if the multiverse has been invoked to avoid the obvious alternative – that God created the universe.

        • Scott_In_OH

          What research are you thinking of that led to the Fine Tuning Argument? And to what time period or scholars you are dating “serious consideration of the multiverse by scientists”?

          My understanding of cosmology comes almost entirely from the popular press, so I’m no one’s expert, but I’ve never had any sense that scientists were running scared from the Fine Tuning Argument and therefore came up with the idea of a multiverse. The theory of evolution explains why the universe seems fine-tuned for our existence. The multiverse hypothesis, meanwhile, comes out of the math that physicists use to describe the universe we see.

        • KarlUdy

          What research are you thinking of that led to the Fine Tuning Argument?

          – the nuclear ground state energy levels required for the formation of carbon, as discovered by Sir Fred Hoyle

          – the ratio of the nuclear strong force to the electromagnetic force in star formation

          – the rate of entropy increase as calculated by Sir Roger Penrose

          that should do for starters.

          And to what time period or scholars you are dating “serious consideration of the multiverse by scientists”?

          Roughly, this century.

        • Greg G.

          Victor Stenger points out that the weak nuclear force is not fine-tuned. It could be set to zero without affecting complex chemistry. He says that adjusting one constant screws things up but adjusting others at the same time can compensate. He reports that simulations have been done where the universal constants are randomly shuffled and about a quarter of them result in universes with stars, planets, and complex chemistry.

        • kraut2

          http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2011/06/why-the-universe-wasnt-fine-tuned-for-life.html

          . “But, as Stenger points out, in 1989, astrophysicist Mario Livio showed that the carbon-12 energy level could actually have been significantly different and still resulted in a
          universe with the heavy elements needed for life.”

        • KarlUdy

          Funny that if there is no fine tuning, he still needs to invoke the multiverse.

        • MNb

          Funny that you’re not willing to find yourself and absorb some information about the theory and prefer to stick to your non-sequitur.

        • Guest

          I didn’t mention the weak nuclear force

        • KarlUdy

          I didn’t mention the weak nuclear force.

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

          This is Stenger’s Monkey God experiment. More here.

        • Greg G.

          The multiverse hypothesis is the implication of applying Occam’s Razor to the existence of the universe. If one universe can come into existence, then other universes should be able to do so as well. A universe that prevents other universes from coming into being would be far more complex than a multiverse. Guth’s equations show that space/time and matter/energy could be a zero-sum game, so there is no limit for the number of universes.

          The counter argument to the FTA is nothing but a logical extension of the multiverse hypothesis, a natural by-product.

        • KarlUdy

          The multiverse hypothesis is the implication of applying Occam’s Razor to the existence of the universe.

          That’s funny. What do you reckon my chances are of finding experts who think that the multiverse hypothesis is contrary to Occam’s razor?

        • Greg G.

          Sure you can find dissenters but you should consider their reasoning more than just the letters attached to their names. Some consider the question to be philosophical. Some reject the multiverse hypothesis as being untestable but that throws the One and Only One Universe under the bus for the same reason. So it’s a philosophical question again.

          But if it is a philosophical question, then Occam’s Razor is in play. You would need to find an expert with a hypothesis that explains this universe and how it prevents other universes to make your case plausible. I don’t know of any theory that can account for this universe and rule out other universes. That is the challenge you are facing.

        • KarlUdy

          Sure you can find dissenters but you should consider their reasoning more than just the letters attached to their names.

          Which point of view would be “dissenting”? On first glance, it would appear that proposing a multitude of universes to avoid a metaphysical conclusion that arises from just one would fly in the face of Occam’s razor.

        • MNb

          That’s correct, which was why I was initially very skeptical too. But if it’s an integral part of a solid scientific theory that can be tested in all kinds of ways it’s a different story. And it totally is, which I learned only a year ago.

          http://www.space.com/18811-multiple-universes-5-theories.html
          http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25249-multiverse-gets-real-with-glimpse-of-big-bang-ripples.html#.U8qHGLHNjIU
          http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2011/10/28/why-we-think-theres-a-multiver/

          Don’t worry, it receives healthy criticism as well:

          http://www.nature.com/news/big-bang-blunder-bursts-the-multiverse-bubble-1.15346

        • Greg G.

          Would you believe it if JohnH2 said it?

          I actually think that MWI is wrong, via my interpretation of my religious texts (unique to my faith), but fun to play around with. It isn’t outlandish in physics; it is one of the most popular interpretations by physicists.

          If you have the right ingredients, a lipid, a dipolar liquid, and a gas, you can make bubbles until you run out of one. Soap, water, and air, with some type of agitation to get the film around the air produces lots of bubbles. It takes a very contrived situation to produce one and only one bubble.

          Universe would be the same except they can arise from nothing as space is equivalent to the negative of the energy. Since they are balanced, universe creation would never run out of ingredients.

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

          How does this salvage your claim that the multiverse is merely the result of scrambling to avoid the fine tuning argument’s god conclusion?

        • hector_jones

          “What do you reckon my chances are of finding experts who think that the multiverse hypothesis is contrary to Occam’s razor?”

          William Lane Craig doesn’t count as an expert. Sorry.

          You have made the classic mistake that Craig did of trying to argue that since 1 is a lower number than ‘many’, one universe doesn’t violate Occam’s Razor but the multiverse does. This was addressed in Sean Carroll’s debate with Craig where he replied that it’s not the number of universes that matters but the overall simplicity and explanatory power of the model. Sean Carroll, an expert, believes the multiverse is likely correct and doesn’t violate Occam’s Razor. So there you go.

        • KarlUdy

          Wasn’t even thinking of William Lane Craig. As MNb says – go and do a quick google search, or check out Wikipedia, which explicitly states that there are two schools of thought about the relationship between the multiverse and Occam’s razor.

        • hector_jones

          Whether you were thinking of William Lane Craig or not, he beat you to the punch and got his ass handed to him on the issue.

          What is the point of all this anyway? Multiverse or universe, science can’t find your god anywhere.

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

          Let’s get back on topic. In response to your comment about comparing God with multiverse theory, science (in some interpretations) supports the multiverse, while it is either silent or rejects the idea of God.

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

          Seeing Craig get his ass handed to him by stepping into the ring to debate cosmology with a cosmologist (if you can imagine such a thing) was delightful.

        • hector_jones

          I also have to laugh at how many times Craig appeals to personal incredulity. He says things like “I just can’t believe …” or “I find this claim astounding!” over and over. Never once did Carroll use that kind of argument against gods. If Craig thinks finding something astounding is an argument against it then I have no idea why he believes in Christianity, since it is nothing but astounding.

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

          Craig likes to appeal to incredulity which, as you say, is a poor stone to pick up for a man living in a glass house. I remember when he was trying to dismiss some of the noncanonical gospels. He mentioned the talking cross in the Gospel of Peter. I was thinking, “Dude, have you read your own gospel story??”

        • MNb

          One of the first things every student of physics learns after secondary school is that physics is counterintuitive.

        • MNb

          You don’t seem to understand what Occam’s Razor is for either. It’s rather simple though as especially the Multiverse makes clear.
          Let’s grant you that the Universe is simpler than the Multiverse indeed. Now what happens if there are empirical data that are explained better by assuming a Multiverse than a Universe? Indeed – forget Occam, accept the more complicated theory.
          As the links I gave underneath make clear that might very well be the case.

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

          There isn’t just one proton or planet or galaxy, so why should we expect there to be one universe? It could be, but we’d need to see evidence. The null hypothesis may well be the multiverse, with the burden of proof on the single-universe claim.

        • KarlUdy

          And the universe within the multiverse that we’re currently inhabiting just may well be the one where Jesus rose from the dead.

        • Pofarmer

          Or not. Just because there are various universes, wouldn’t many any of them would have occurances outside the natural laws of that Universe. Just because we could posit infinit natural universes, doesn’t mean any of them would violate their own laws.

        • KarlUdy

          Pofarmer, what laws of another universe would be violated?

        • Pofarmer

          That would depend on the physical laws of that Universe. Perhaps in another Universe beings routinely come back to life after beginning to decompose, then the ressurection wouldn’t violate that Universes physical laws, but matbe everything is too heavy to swim, I dunno, so swimming would be seen as miraculous. The point is, just because there may be many Universes, there is no neex to think that any of them would have supernatural occurances. Why would they? Given what we know about Gravity, mass, atomic forces, etc, it seems natural to assume that most Universes would be similar to our own, thus it would still be unnatural to assume some ressurection there.

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

          Not likely, but yeah, that’s possible. Show me the evidence to back up this bizarre and incredible proposition.

        • KarlUdy

          Given enough universes, every statistical unlikelihood is bound to occur in at least one of them

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

          Agreed. Now, how does that get us to your claim that our universe has a resurrecting Jesus? Or is this just misdirection?

        • KarlUdy

          Just pointing out the inherent hazards of positing theories to avoid dealing with outrageous odds.

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

          And you’ve lost me. Show me the error that I made.

        • kraut2

          If he ever existed. Which is far from certain considering the controversy of historicists vs. mythicists.

          And I am not speaking of him as a deity.

          This claim is rather absurd and even a violation of monotheism, despite the bretzel logic of the triune god.

        • KarlUdy

          Absurdity can be rather difficult to avoid when seriously considering multiverses

        • kraut2

          multiverses are a hypothesis based on our current available evidence. A deity is a hypothesis based on prescientific understanding of the world making a creator necessary.

          However, the hypothesis that a creator exists outside of time, eternal thus unchanging and than is able to create (which is action and action happens in time, see genesis) and as a timeless being creates time by creating a thing (the universe) is so empty of logic and evidence that it is not even a hypothesis but simply baffle-gap.
          What happens to a timeless being that suddenly becomes aware of time, and entropy.What happens to his experience of past and future eternity?
          Does it drive him nuts, not to know where he came from? And seeing the time roll on into forever?

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

          We left the Land of Common Sense lo-o-o-ong ago. Modern cosmology is absurd. It’ll violate your common sense. “That’s absurd!” is no longer a valid complaint but simply an accurate observation now.

        • MNb

          Then you’re not very aware – typical theist, I’d say. The multiverse has exactly nothing to do with fine tuning.

          “I am unaware”
          Your honesty is laudable. That you do nothing about it not so much, especially as it takes only a couple of seconds googling

          http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/02/a-brief-history-of-the-multiverse/
          http://web.stanford.edu/~alinde/
          http://www.ctc.cam.ac.uk/stephen70/talks/swh70_linde.pdf

        • KarlUdy

          The multiverse has exactly nothing to do with fine tuning.

          Then please tell every atheist who quotes the multiverse in response to the fine tuning argument.

          Thanks for the links. The second article has the author claiming to have introduced the theory of the multiverse in 1982. The third article gives a timeline for multiple universes, but all of those that precede the 1980s refer to different universes where the laws of physics remain identical. Those that posit universes with different values for these constants of physics therefore definitely do post-date the fine tuning argument.

        • MNb

          I know as I looked up that one too: the first to formulate fine-tuning was a chemist in 1913 or something. That isn’t nearly enough to assume a causal relation though and was not the reason either why I provided the links. I provided them to show you that in none of the articles either fine tuning or god was mentioned. Hence your statement

          “It almost seems as if the multiverse has been invoked to avoid the obvious alternative – that God created the universe.”
          comes straight out of your big fat thumb.

        • KarlUdy

          “It almost seems as if the multiverse has been invoked to avoid the obvious alternative – that God created the universe.”comes straight out of your big fat thumb.

          More probably it comes from the fact that nearly every reference to the multiverse mentions fine tuning

        • MNb

          More probably you’re just a liar. None of the links I gave underneath mentions it.

        • RichardSRussell

          … research that led to the Fine Tuning Argument demonstrated how incredibly unlikely our universe came about by chance

          Do you know how stupendously unlikely any given bridge deal is? That is, any particular combination of 52 cards distributed among 4 players? From Wikipedia: “In total there are 53,644,737,765,488,792,839,237,440,000 different deals possible.”

          And yet, every time you sit down to play a hand of bridge, there it is, another miraculous long shot. Reshuffle and redeal, and there it is, another unbelievable miracle triumphing against phenomenally overwhelming odds of ever existing. (You could keep this up all night, you know. In fact, many people do exactly that.)

          In practical terms, the chances of a Universe existing that has exactly the same physical constants that we observe in our own is 100%.

          Any woo-woo mystical handwaving to “prove” otherwise falls into exactly the same trap as claiming that the particular bridge deal you encountered was a miracle, IE, only true if you predicted that exact hand before it was dealt. Waiting until afterward to express your amazement is just demonstrating what an easily gulled doofus you are.

        • KarlUdy

          The numbers that are associated with the fine tuning that I mentioned elsewhere in this thread are too long to be write out in the normal way, even if we used every particle in the entire universe. Something like 1 in 10^10^123.

          If you want to call that dumb luck I guess it’s up to you, but I wonder at what point you would begin to think a hustler was working with a rigged deck or loaded dice with you? I suspect that you would tend to reject a hypothesis of randomness as much lower odds than what we’re talking about.

        • Greg G.

          But a quarter of the number you gave are viable for life. You are still being amazed by the odds of a bridge deal or a sequence of deals when the comparison of the odds is like bridge partners winning two consecutive hands and not the odds against two consecutive deals.

        • RichardSRussell

          OK, you wanna talk large numbers, picture this: Every time any particle in the Universe arrives at a decision point, where it could go one way or the other, the Universe splits into 2 separate Universes, 1 each where the particle went in either possible direction. And we inhabit ONE of the resultant Universes. How many others do you think we’re talking about here? Let me assure you that 10^10^123 is indistinguishable from 0 at that distance.

          See, 2 people can play at this game of mindless speculation involving inconceivably large numbers.

          But, as noted above, both of us are engaging in that speculation after the fact, at a point when we already know how at least 1 iteration of the possibilities turned out, and the probability of that particular outcome is, in empirical terms, 100%. That’s the only solid fact we have to go on here.

          Perhaps an analogy will be useful here. About a decade after the assassination of President Kennedy a statistical analysis similar to yours arose among the conspiracy theorists. They assembled a long list of people who were involved, directly or tangentially, with the assassination and who had died in the intervening years (people like Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby), figured out what their normal life expectancy would’ve been, then the likelihood that they would have (in the normal course of events) died so much earlier than expected, then multiplied them all together to arrive at a teeny, tiny number, thereby “proving” that such a statistically unlikely chain of events could only have been the result of a massive conspiracy.

          Their gimmick, as with the “authorities” you cite re the Fine Tuning Argument, was to cherry-pick only the data points that supported the conclusion that they had pre-determined they wanted to arrive at. In particular, the conspiracy theorists utterly ignored the people in that case who didn’t die young. And, of course, it was way too early to figure out who had actually outlived expectations.

          So face it, Karl: The only real reason you find any value in the Fine Tuning Argument is because it leads to a conclusion that you desperately want to be able to support — somehow, anyhow — regardless of its actual merit and utter lack of any possibility of demonstration.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          And if there is a God, what are the chances it would want to create this particular universe as opposed to one with, say, one less electron? A theist might say it doesn’t matter. But think about it. This is the all-knowing, perfect creator of the universe. You think a guy like that is going to let something just slip in or out of his perfect plan for the world? No, surely he’d create everything down to the last detail. If not, that means there’s something that got there by accident. Which means…*gulp* random chance.</b?

    • Scott_In_OH

      The problem with comparing Bigfoot et al with God is that all of those other examples are things that are suggested to exist in the physical world. That God is not something that exists as part of our universe is something that we can all agree on.

      There are two possibilities:

      1. God never interacts in any way with the natural universe. In that case, we can’t prove His existence or non-existence. Also, His existence or non-existence doesn’t matter, since He never does anything in our universe. (Maybe He matters in some other life in some other reality, but He doesn’t communicate anything about that to us.)

      2. God interacts with the natural universe. Maybe He causes inexplicable floods. Maybe He heals diseases. Maybe He creates the universe. Maybe He sends plagues or grants wishes or enables His followers to speak in tongues. In that case, we would expect to see evidence of these things. In practice, we don’t unless we are already trying to believe in God. Instead, claims that “God did X” fall again and again, to be replaced with “natural causes did X.” Discoveries don’t go the other way (from “natural causes did X” to “God did X”).

      The argument that “science can’t measure the supernatural, so it’s the wrong tool to look for God” is mistaken. Everything we experience–including God’s works, if there are such things–is part of the natural world.

      • KarlUdy

        The argument that “science can’t measure the supernatural, so it’s the wrong tool to look for God” is mistaken. Everything we experience–including God’s works, if there are such things–is part of the natural world.

        Your argument is like saying that the orchestra has no conductor because every sound we hear is coming from the musical instruments.

        • Greg G.

          Except that empirical methods can detect a person furiously waving a stick until the music stops.

          Edit: I’m not a musician but I’d expect that a skilled musician would be able to distinguish centrally coordinated music from a jam session.

        • MNb

          Not perfectly. Some of them are so skilled that it’s impossible to determine to what extent it’s coordinated and to what extent it’s improvised. Watch some video’s with Ritchie Blackmore or Rory Gallagher.

        • KarlUdy

          But that is just saying “your ears are the wrong tool, use your eyes”, which is analogous to”science can’t measure the supernatural, so it’s the wrong tool to look for God”.

        • MNb

          Eh? Ears and eyes both are tools that can measure the natural. Your analogy is false. There is no tool to look for god.

        • KarlUdy

          Your comment makes me think that you have misread me instead of showing my analogy to be false. If that is the case though, it’s not worth arguing about it any more.

        • MNb

          Yeah, a common copout if the theist wants to avoid he/she is wrong.

        • KarlUdy

          No need to bait me.

          I gave an analogy. You seem to have got the wrong end of the stick. I could try to make you get the right end of the stick, but is it worth it when, after all, it’s just an analogy – if it doesn’t make things clearer then why persist with it?

        • MNb

          And Greg pointed out that your analogy is false. You’re just too dishonest to admit it.

        • observer1020

          First, I often wonder what this ‘atheist/atheism’ is all
          about deep down? They claim they do not believe God and despise God/religion particularly against Christianity for whatever reason, I wonder why? What has
          God or Christian faith or Christianity or Bible (God’s Word) done to them? Have they somewhat experienced bitterness or disappointment in their life and now
          blaming it on God/Christianity directly or indirectly?

          At the same token, atheist is in turn promoting ‘atheism’,
          their movement as some kind of ‘religion’ of its own, people (children including) in a sense are expected to ‘believe’ in the movement or ideology.
          Isn’t that again can be called as somewhat ‘religion’ (a set of believe system) in which ‘faith’ is required to follow/believe the ideology?

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

          They claim they do not believe God and despise God/religion particularly against Christianity for whatever reason, I wonder why? What has God or Christian faith or Christianity or Bible (God’s Word) done to them?

          Yeah, that’s what I say! I say that we atheists should be focused on Poseidon worship and Shinto, and I get some blather about how they don’t affect society in America to any appreciable extent.

          Whatever.

          atheist is in turn promoting ‘atheism’, their movement as some kind of ‘religion’ of i ts own

          Seems hard to be a religion if you don’t have supernatural beliefs, but that’s just me.

        • Psycho Gecko

          AronRa had a video defining a religion as including a belief in a human soul continuing on after death that seemed to work pretty well for both religions with afterlives and ones with reincarnation.

        • observer1020

          This has to be the most unreasoned, irrational statement I have ever read from the so-called “party of reason. Attaboy

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

          I don’t see how your reasoned, rational retort adds to the conversation. I guess you got nuthin’. OK, understood.

        • Greg G.

          We promote critical thinking. When critical thinking is applied to other religions, you can see them as false but it works the same for your own religion. Atheism is just a byproduct, the default position when religion is seen without bias.

        • Pofarmer

          There are heretics from every religion, atheists just go one further. Atheism isn’t a belief system within in itself, it is just a statement about deity. For a worldview you have to make a positive statement.r

        • kraut2

          I do not claim not to believe. i just don’t.
          I also do not want to convert anybody – i just want them to start thinking about the premises and consequences of their religion.
          Because there is no evidence for a supernatural being, because the enforcement of believe by organized religions throughout history (especially christianity) has led to to the supression of thinking, torture, murder in the name of religion in order to shore up its power.

          I do not believe in divine intervention, as it would make a mockery of our attempt to investigate the workings of this universe, because a god intervening even from the beginning could only do so by magic violating the laws of physics, creating time and material as a timeless and non material entity (a logical impossibility if there ever was one, solution = magic).

          If you want to believe in a god that does not influence the physical world – i cannot disprove that, that is completely in the realm of believe. But as soon as religion makes claims about the physical univers(es) than you have to supply evidence – which you simply cannot and never will.
          Scientific investigations have shown that the null hypothesis – a claimed supernatural entity is not necessary to explain the laws and workings of his universe – as not been refuted, and therefore the absence of any evidence is the evidence of absence is the only valid conclusion.

          I hate religions because at the level of fundamentalism they prevent clear thinking, curiosity, often compassion,
          lead to arrogance, intellectual dishonesty and outright lying.
          Lying for jesus (or any other religious founder) has it roots in the behaviour of mostly fundamentalist, mostly powerful people invested in political fundamentalism, be it Islam, Buddhism, Christianity etc. .

        • Pofarmer

          No, it’s saying that if the ears can’t detect something, maybe the eyes can. Maybe they are telling the same story, maybe they are telling a different story. We should use as many methods as possible to verify events.

        • Greg G.

          So what is the right tool to look for God? Feelings in one’s heart doesn’t work for lottery numbers, blackjack or and stock picks any better than chance. Why would we expect tools like that to work better when the results cannot be empirically verified?

        • KarlUdy

          Revelation

        • Greg G.

          Right, a tool that works equally well for any religion or pseudoscientific endeavor but works as well as guesswork for any objectively verifiable use.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          Unfortunately, revelations are supposedly revealed through one person at a time in a given place and that person is trusted to spread the revelation to others. That system is very unreliable as anybody can claim to have a revelation and we can’t tell who’s right when their revelations conflict.

          Most claims for the authenticity of a revelation are that a person who supposedly had knowledge divinely revealed to him/her had foreknowledge of something he/she couldn’t have known otherwise. These claims are made for many different people who have contradictory revelations. JohnH2 recently gave the example of Joseph Smith having the knowledge that the American Civil War would begin in South Carolina divinely revealed to him (I don’t remember under which article it was). Muslims claim the same thing for Muhammad.

          If God revealed a revelation to everyone at once then we could corroborate it and have pretty good evidence that God exists. But God doesn’t do that because then we wouldn’t need faith. I personally don’t see why that’s better than having evidence.

        • KarlUdy

          Revelation is actually a widely used and respected form of evidence. If you tell me something about yourself, then that is revelation. For example, your political inclinations may not be discernible by any forensic methods, but if you choose to reveal them they can become known.

        • Greg G.

          The fact that I have an invisible dragon in my basement may not be discernible by any forensic methods, but if I choose to reveal it, then you should believe it. Does the fact that the dragon is invisible make it more or less believable? Would you be more inclined to believe it if the dragon himself revealed it to you telepathically?

        • MNb

          “If you tell me something about yourself, then that is revelation.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          I tell you that I am a teacher math and physics in Moengo, Suriname. You call that a revelation? Then everything hence nothing is.

          “your political inclinations may not be discernible by any forensic methods”
          Social scientists have developed quite reliable methods to establish political opinions, including correction for social desirable (ie dishonest) answers. You’re silly.
          A revelation requires a divine source, not a human one.

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

          We’re talking about evidence-less revelation. Nehemiah or Samuel or Jeremiah get some revelation in their heads, and they tell everyone about it.

          Are you saying that you treat the revelation from the Sikh or Muslim or Mormon as a “respected form of evidence”?

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          If your using revelation to mean someone telling someone else some piece of information, then you understand that there needs to be someone to give that information. You are assuming that whatever created the universe is both capable and willing to give information to us (or at least a handful of us). I do not assume that. If it’s true then I question why the supposed recipients of the message get contradictory revelations if they are coming from the same, truthful source (unless the source is not truthful).

        • kraut2

          “respected form of evidence.”

          That is about the biggest pile of manure possible.
          Do the words “lying”, “economical with the truth”, “misdirection” mean anything to you?

          Man, I would love to sell you a bridge I have on offer.

        • KarlUdy

          Man, I would love to sell you a bridge I have on offer.

          Try RichardSRussell. He’s shown that he’ll probably believe that it is just bad luck if the bridge doesn’t turn out to exist.

        • smrnda

          Actually, I think you are wrong there.

          If you meet me and I tell you my (supposed) political opinions, favorite movies, favorite food, favorite beer, favorite hard liquor, and I could be lying. Maybe I’m lying to make myself more popular by liking the options that are more popular or that might be closer to yours. In any case where you are taking someone at their word, you have to take into account the incentive to lie or the extent to which a lie can be exposed.

          Most of the time we are skeptical of claims when there is some incentive to lie or when a claim seems inflated. If I told you that my favorite beer is Beer X, what’s the point of lying? If I told you that I could bench 225 (I only weigh 104 I think) you would probably not take my revelation, nor would you likely take word from a friend from a friend. An extraordinary claim, even one that is physically possible, will be subject to greater scrutiny. If I told you I could bench two 25 lbs dumbbells, you’re probably going to believe me, but the 225 claim?

        • KarlUdy

          Yes, it is possible for people to lie. In certain circumstances we may even be very suspicious that someone is lying.

          It is a different discussion to the main topic here, but I think I have good reason to trust the revelation that God has made available.

        • MNb

          “I think I have good reason to trust the revelation that God has made available.”
          Except that you totally have failed to provide that good reason. Oh, I don’t doubt you have convinced yourself. But that’s the point. It’s just yourself. Why should anybody else accept your reason? What is your methodology?
          To go back to the original topic: I claim that I have good reason to accept my claim that undetectable fairies tend the flowers in my garden, so that they blossom more beautifully. Why would an outsider accept your reason, but not mine? Again: what is your methodology?
          Your underbelly, I suspect, ie what makes you feel nice, warm and cozy. Norm expressed it beautifully (thanks, Norm!):

          “His embrace,feel loved and encouraged and guided.”
          The Dutch expression for this is “argument from underbelly”.

        • KarlUdy

          Why should anybody else accept your reason? What is your methodology?

          Good questions but I don’t think this is the best place to start what would probably be a long conversation. Disqus isn’t very friendly for conversations that get nested quite a way down.

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

          Is that the reason? You can’t just give us a paragraph that summarizes how you separate true claims of the supernatural from false ones? I’d like to hear it.

        • KarlUdy

          The short answer is that I think the revelation of God in Jesus Christ best explains human experience and meaning in the context of what we understand about the universe through other means.

          There are probably several lines of disagreement, misunderstanding or questioning that people might have about this, and this is the point where it is not really going to work to continue the conversation right here.

        • MNb

          You mean: that’s the point where you’re not capable of separating correct claims about the supernatural from the incorrect ones. You write it yourself:

          “I think ….. best explains”
          You don’t give any objective criteria, hence this means it’s just your subjective opinion. Hence revelation is not a source of knowledge.
          Thanks.

        • MNb

          Weird. I can explain you in about five sentences what the answers are regarding the scientific method (hint: deduction and induction). It almost looks like you don’t have such answers.

        • MNb

          I had one too. Your god doesn’t exist; The Flying Spaghetti Monster has created the whole shenanigan.
          Now what?

        • wtfwjtd

          Are you claiming that the universe is god’s orchestra, and that he’s the master conductor? Wow, he is one fucked-up conductor, if this universe is the best he can do.

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

          Hey, give God a break. It’s his first try.

        • KarlUdy

          No. I am saying that just as we understand that our inability to hear the conductor does not mean that no conductor exists, in the same way our inability to scientifically detect God does not mean that God does not exist.

        • MNb

          Except, as pointed out by Greg underneath, that we have other senses to find out if there is a conductor. Not for god. Your analogy is and remains false.

        • smrnda

          This might be a useful addition .

          There was a time when psychologists considered internal mental states to be outside the realm of science because they could not be observed – you could only detect behavior. However, we’ve actually got some new technologies that are kind of promising in that regard, so perhaps the proper response (at any point in time) is that something may be currently undetectable using existing tools, but new tools could emerge.

          So, either a god could be detected sometime, or else it’s outside of the realm of scientific or even systematic knowledge, or perhaps something which can only be speculated about. It’s true that doesn’t prove god does not exist, but it does mean that it’s probably not the most important line of inquiry.

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

          And certainly undercuts any justification for belief.

        • Guest

          Your sad little limited existence is not the whole universe.
          Just because your life sucks doesn’t mean there isn’t a God,
          it just means your life sucks. You probably deserve it too.
          Have a wonderful day.

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

          Thanks, selin8, for this little burst of Christian joy. I need to figure out how to get me some of that.

        • Guest

          lol you mad bro?

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

          I’m just responding to your nasty comment, bro.

        • Guest

          Just telling it like it is.
          If you can’t take it like you dish it out
          that’s really not my problem.

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

          I point out that the brand of Christian love that you’re spreading is pretty hateful, and that annoys you? Just tellin’ it like it is.

        • Guest

          Who said I was a Christian?

        • wtfwjtd

          Thank you for your insightful comment. Spoken with true Christian humility, no doubt.

        • Psycho Gecko

          I’m sure we’ll cope somehow.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQlIhraqL7o

        • Pofarmer

          We can see and detect the conductor.

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

        Nicely stated. It’s incredible how Christians want God to be inaccessible to explain the lack of evidence for him but still invoke him as the cause of miracles or answerer of prayers.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, it’s the typical apologist dodge. I was reading a blog the other day of a Christian whose loved one was given a grim medical prognosis, and was expected to only live a few more months, and would likely suffer agonizing pain in the process. They concluded with, “well, God is so good, and is deserving of our praise!”
          It left me wondering (again), what would it take for a theist to finally say,”You know, this really sucks, God must be a total heartless imbecile to allow this to happen!” If such a grim prognosis wouldn’t do it, what would? Truly, God is the ultimate unfalsifiable hypothesis for the die-hard believer.

        • Asmondius

          And what does an atheist do to comfort a person in such a situation?

        • wtfwjtd

          Express honesty and sincerity.

        • Asmondius

          Whoop-dee-doo

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

          Yeah, good call. Christianity is superior here by giving confident but empty claims of harps and eternal life. Evidence-less hope is always better than the truth.

        • Pofarmer

          Honesty and sincerety is a whoop de do? What better can any of us do?

        • Greg G.

          Where would religion be if it depended on honesty and sincerity?

        • wtfwjtd

          Ha! Out of business!

        • Asmondius

          How about love, expressed as sympathy and regret?

        • Pofarmer

          None of that is mutually exclusive.

        • Asmondius

          Great.

        • smrnda

          Do you really think the banal religious platitudes are actually worth anything?

        • Asmondius

          Of course not – that is why religious comfort is offered.

        • RoverSerton

          What a witty reply. I guess that honesty and sincerity (genuine caring) is lost with your belief system. Very sad.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          It’s not about what we do to comfort each other, it’s about the inconsistency of a God who supposedly miraculously saves a person’s life yet allows someone else to die a slow, agonizing death with seemingly no rhyme or reason.

        • hector_jones

          How do you comfort someone in that situation who you don’t think is going to heaven?

        • MNb

          Not by telling lies, but by trying to figure out how to make the best of the remaining months, no matter how hard this is.

        • RichardSRussell

          Drugs.

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

          Not for Asmondius! He’ll take a good old pray over drugs any day.

        • observer1020

          The best reply to his point about children was posted on
          another site: “Well, atheists tell children that no matter what they believe,
          when they die their bodies will decompose, their brains will be eaten by
          maggots, their consciousness will be extinguished, and so it will be forever. Quaint, indeed.

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

          So you’re celebrating an honest explanation of the truth?

        • observer1020

          You and the word “honest” should never be put into the same sentence.

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

          When you feel like getting back on topic, I’ll be here.

        • Asmondius

          Exactly – thanks.

        • Asmondius

          Your problem here is your misunderstanding of Christian belief rather than the beliefs themselves.

          For example, Christians do not believe that God is a vending machine and that prayers are coins.

        • hector_jones

          Christians definitely don’t believe God is like a vending machine, because vending machines that take your coins and give nothing in return aren’t allowed to exist, so it’s a bad metaphor. Christian God is more like a rigged slot machine.

        • Asmondius

          Then you confirm that that the general definition of Christian prayer in this blog is false.

          Thank you kindly.

        • Psycho Gecko

          I know a woman, a Christian, who said she used to pray for things in more vague terms, like hoping they’d be prosperous in the future. The woman’s mother told her to stop beating around the bush, go ahead and ask God what she wanted. So they both prayed to win the lottery.

          On top of that, you’ll see people who pray for loved ones to get better, or they’ll pray that a liberal politician dies, or that they’ll get enough money for this or that.

          So yeah, I’d say they do use it like that.

        • Asmondius

          The first problem with your argument is that you’re trying to draw a general conclusion based upon your own limited, anecdotal experience.

          The second is that you are trying to tell us that a great many people invite you along when they pray. Since prayer is generally a private matter, it’s highly unlikely that you ‘see’ so many conducting it.
          The third problem is how you would explain why people would continually pray for specific ‘stuff’ when it never works.
          The final problem is that the purpose and use of prayer within Christianity is well known. Someone attempting to use it incorrectly invalidates the concept no more than a person running a red light invalidates the traffic laws.

        • Pofarmer

          Mkay. IS what is the purpose and use of prayer within christianity?

        • Scott_In_OH

          how you would explain why people would continually pray for specific ‘stuff’ when it never works.

          The same reason Native Americans continued to pray to their gods for rain or victory over their enemies, even if neither came. And the same reason a Cubs fan continues to sit in his “lucky chair” more than 100 years after they last won the World Series.

        • Asmondius

          ‘a Cubs fan continues to sit in his “lucky chair” more than 100 years after they last won the World Series.’

          Old fans never die……

        • MNb

          Which method do you use to decide if prayer is used correctly or incorrectly?

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

          “Ask and ye shall receive” (John 16:24).

          Jesus said that if you have faith as tiny as a mustard seed, you will be able to move mountains. Jesus said that prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. Jesus said that whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Jesus said that all things are possible to him who believes. Jesus said, ‘Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it.’

          Yep, God is a vending machine.

        • MNb

          Christians do believe all kind of things, while others do not. On a regular base I read advertisements in my Surinamese newspaper (of American origin) that very well fit your description.

        • Greg G.

          That’s a very good description of the doctrines of many megachurches with TV ministries. It’s called “the Prosperity Gospel”. Actually, it’s prayers AND coins, but they prefer folding money over coins.

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

          Large checks are also welcome.

        • wtfwjtd

          With slogans like “you have not because you ask not”, “God wants you rich,” and “name it and claim it”, I’d say it’s a description that’s right on the money, if you know what I mean.

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

          “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse . . . and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)

        • Asmondius

          Name one.

        • Greg G.

          Joel Osteen. See Prosperity theology for more information.

        • Asmondius

          I see nothing in this wackipedia entry to support the proposition that Christians treat God as a vending machine.
          Incidentally, it is an entry which has not yet been fully documented.

        • Greg G.

          You asked for one. I gave you one. I also gave you a link to a reference. If you want more references, Google it for yourself.

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

          I find “God = vending machine” in the Bible. You’re saying that there are no verses that support that idea?

        • Asmondius

          Correct – there is no standard method of exchanging something in order to obtain a consistent physical result or response.

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

          I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete (John 16:23–4).

          A few verses later:

          Then Jesus’s disciples said, ‘Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech” (:29).

          God = vending machine.

        • MNb

          Perhaps you should read God in the Age of Science after all. Philipse calls this the Tension: apologists want theism to look like a scientific theory enough to have credibility, but not enough that it can be falsified.

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

          I’ve also seen them argue that it can be falsified–but by some ridiculous means, like “Give me a time machine and take me back to watch the tomb so I can see it not become empty.”

        • MNb

          By violating some natural laws you mean? Like the one about the Arrow of Real Time (as opposite to time described by imaginary numbers?

        • wtfwjtd

          I thought it was a very clever ploy that Bill Nye used against Ken “the hamster” Ham, when he asked Ham what evidence would convince him that his worldview was false. Ham, of course, hem-hawed around but finally admitted that there was nothing that would convince him, and hence, admitted that he was discussing dogma and not science. Hence, your point was well-confirmed in that debate.

    • MNb

      “That God is not something that exists as part of our universe is something that we can all agree on.”
      Really? You should ask John. It will make you clear that believers can believe anything.
      Your comment is irrelevant the moment it begins:

      “The problem with comparing Bigfoot et al with God …”
      is mentioned in the article itself. Reread:

      “As definitively as science says that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, how much more definitively can science say that God doesn’t exist when the category itself is hypothetical?”
      Yup – BobS is talking about the difference, not about the similarity.

      “comparing what science can say about God with the multiverse.”
      Good angle. God: zero. Multiverse: quite a lot, because the it’s part of a scientific theory that totally can be tested.
      God fails again.

    • Pagan

      You could compare one “flavour” of god with another. Yahweh and Zeus, for example. At one time the latter was believed to exist, but he made nary a whimper when faith in him all but died out and is now considered never to have existed at all.

      Surely even the most hardened theists must acknowledge that the “evidence” for their own contemporary gods are no less flimsy than that which believers of yore relied on for theirs.

      • KarlUdy

        Zeus cannot be the creator of all there is because he himself is a contingent being. Zeus and Yahweh are completely different in that respect. I think all supposed gods that are contingent beings do not be deserve to be worshipped, making their existence or not a moot point.

        • MNb

          “Zeus and Yahweh are completely different in that respect.”
          How do you know? Because the way they are described? That results in a circular argument.

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

          Completely off topic: I just saw that the majority (192) of passengers on the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down on Thursday were Dutch citizens. Condolences. That must be a big news story in your part of the world.

        • MNb

          Thanks, but I’m not especially nationalistic or patriottic and as far as I know nobody I knew was on the plane. It will have some big political consequences. Will PM Mark Rutte show good leadership?

        • Pagan

          I see what you’re saying, but as MNb points out, contingency or otherwise of the god in question is an unverifiable claim; nonetheless if your objection still stands then my proposal can work if you compared Yahweh with any number of similarly non-contingent gods who are no longer worshipped. I doubt you will be lacking in options in that regard.

          I am intrigued by your statement following that, however: that the existence of contingent beings is a moot point. Why would you hold such a position? There is no specific property of a contingent being that might preclude it from being the creator of something. What if that something was us?

          What if, like in the (lousy) movie Prometheus, we were the creation of an advanced space-fairing alien race? Would their existence not be a hugely important thing to learn about, even if you did not think they deserved to be worshipped?

        • KarlUdy

          Would their existence not be a hugely important thing to learn about, even if you did not think they deserved to be worshipped?

          It would certainly be interesting, but the question “Does God exist?” is usually relying on a shared understanding that the definition of God includes “creator of the universe”. A being such as Zeus, or the aliens in Prometheus are automatically moot points regarding this question as they themselves must be created.

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

          Ain’t imagination wonderful?! We can bring all sorts of things into existence in our minds. The problem comes, of course, when the less thoughtful of us pretend that those imaginings are real.

        • KarlUdy

          You mean, like multiverses?

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

          Have you not been paying attention? The idea of the multiverse is predicted by the well-supported theory of inflation. Contrast this with gods, which come from imagination.

        • KarlUdy

          Forgive me for not trusting your dogmatic assertions. Wikipedia in the introduction to the article on “multiverse” says “The multiverse hypothesis is a source of disagreement within the physics community. Physicists disagree about whether the multiverse exists, and whether the multiverse is a proper subject of scientific inquiry.” and “critics … have argued that the multiverse question is philosophical rather than scientific, or even that the multiverse hypothesis is harmful or pseudoscientific.”

          It seems to me that multiverse hypotheses (and there are many, of which the inflationary model is only one) are speculative to some degree.

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

          Where’s the dogmatism? If you’re saying that the multiverse is not as well-established as, say, germ theory, I agree. Nevertheless, there’s a heckuva lot more science behind the multiverse than Yahweh–or indeed behind any supernatural claim.

        • Greg G.

          But are there any One and Only One Universe hypotheses? We don’t hear about m@many of those.

        • MNb

          Yes, my dear Karl. All subjects of scientific research are speculative. That’s why scientists research them. They don’t research Ohm’s Law anymore, exactly because there is nothing left to speculate.
          The fun thing is that they, unlike faithists like you, have a reliable method to do such research.

        • smrnda

          Why are they not worthy of worship? Or is that just a personal preference. I mean, I have taken to (comically) referring to talented individuals I know as ‘the god John Smith’ or ‘the goddess Jane Smith’ when speaking of their achievements. Worship? Not sure, but I’d say plenty of theists also worship actors, actresses, athletes, consumer products. I did see someone tag ‘google is GOD’ somewhere once.

        • MNb

          Sure Ritchie Blackmore is god and I worship him. But only as long as he plays his guitar. Here is my evidence:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTBZvtr-e-Q

        • kraut2

          as to the yahweh an necessary being – familiarize yourself with his history

          http://www.ancient.eu.com/Yahweh/
          http://www.amazon.ca/The-Origins-Biblical-Monotheism-Polytheistic/dp/0195167686

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

      Bigfoot vs. God is an excellent comparison because the Bigfoot is more credible than God because it only claims to be an unknown mammal. We know of lots of (formerly) unknown mammals. Not that big a deal. God is in a category with zero known members and myriads that you reject.

      Multiverse vs. God doesn’t do you any favors. Inflation is a well-evidenced theory that predicts the multiverse. Not so God.

      • KarlUdy

        God is in a category with zero known members and myriads that you reject.

        So, you’re saying that my claim that there is a being that created the entire universe and everything in it is countered by saying there are not many different beings that each created the whole universe and everything in it?

        Multiverse vs. God doesn’t do you any favors. Inflation is a well-evidenced theory that predicts the multiverse. Not so God.

        Multiverse vs God is a much better comparison. Both are posited as explanations for the existence of our universe as we find it. Both have proponents and theories that have currency in respected scientific circles. Both also have detractors and criticisms in respected scientific circles. Both also, as explanations, go beyond science into metaphysics, and therefore may never have definitive answers from science.

        • wtfwjtd

          “So, you’re saying that my claim that there is a being that created the entire universe and everything in it is countered by saying there are not many different beings that each created the whole universe and everything in it?”

          No, Bob’s claim is much simpler than that. Your claim is countered simply by saying that we haven’t even verified the existence of one supernatural being, god-powerful or not, whereas big foot would just be another mammal among dozens. Fairly straightforward, I think.

        • KarlUdy

          If the population of the set we are looking at is one, and we are discussing that one member, then suggesting any other members is a red herring.

        • wtfwjtd

          “If the population of the set we are looking at is one, and we are discussing that one member, then suggesting any other members is a red herring.”

          Are you suggesting that Christianity categorically denies the existence of any other supernatural being besides God alone?

        • KarlUdy

          There is only one “creator of the universe”

        • wtfwjtd

          This doesn’t answer my question–so I ask it again: Are you suggesting that Christianity categorically denies the existence of any other supernatural being besides God alone?

        • KarlUdy

          No. Why are you asking?

        • wtfwjtd

          I ask the question because you seemed to be dodging the point of Bob’s analogy, which was in part: if we can’t even verify the existence of other supernatural beings that Christians claim to interact with people on earth, what’s the point of looking any further into the far more spectacular (and unsupported) claim that a supernatural being exists that created everything?

        • Asmondius

          Such as……?

        • MNb

          Satan/Devil/Lucifer, angels, souls. For many christians we can add mother Mary and saints.

        • KarlUdy

          what’s the point of looking any further into the far more spectacular (and unsupported) claim that a supernatural being exists that created everything?

          There’s the pesky little fact that our universe exists and is kind of crying out for an explanation

        • kraut2

          but god ain’t it.
          If you posit him – he is definitely crying out for an explanation, i.e. where does he come from, what are his properties, how can a disembodied timeless entity create a time bound physical universe, what happens when god suddenly experiences time by contact with it, if there is a god why only one, Ah yes…he is unknowable etc. so why bother with him at all?

        • MNb

          Which is exactly why physicists are busy like bees looking for the Grand Unified Theory. Apologists at the other hand are lazy bummers who explain everything with “goddiddid” – and hence explain nothing.

        • hector_jones

          Because your ‘no’ response means Christianity doesn’t deny polytheism.

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

          … or zero.

        • RichardSRussell

          Geez, I don’t see how you can conclude that. My car and my computer — heck, even my breakfast — were assembled by teams of specialists. Why couldn’t the universe have been done up the same way?

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          The set itself may be empty simply because the elements it is meant to comprise cannot exist. Think of it like this:

          The set of all polygons is infinite. There are squares, pentagons, trapezoids, etc. If I were to take the subset of this set that only includes polygons with 2.5 sides, I would have an empty set, because there are no polygons with 2.5 sides.

          Similarly, the set of all “creators of the universe” may contain one member (depending on whether or not the universe was created) or many. However, you are concerned with the set of all “creators of the universe that are intelligent” which is a subset of the set of “creators of the universe” and one which may have no members.

        • johzek

          An even better and more enlightening comparison is the one between that which is real and on the other hand that which can only be imagined. The god hypothesis posits the existence of a disembodied consciousness with the ability to alter at its whim the objects which exist and even to have created what exists from nothing.
          There is no data supporting any of these assertions. Objects exist independently of our conscious wishes or desires and consciousness in the reality we experience is always associated with physical brains. There is also no data showing that the universe itself was created.

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

          So, you’re saying that my claim that there is a being that created the entire universe and everything in it is countered by saying there are not many different beings that each created the whole universe and everything in it?

          Much more than that: I’m saying that your claim of a supernatural anything is countered by science accepting zero such entities.

          Multiverse vs God is a much better comparison. … Both have proponents and theories that have currency in respected scientific circles.

          What arguments for God are respected in scientific circles? Yes, science does accept as plausible some arguments that end, “… therefore, multiverse.” I know of no similarly respected arguments that end, “… therefore, God.”

        • MNb

          Nope, the multiverse doesn’t go beyond science into metaphysics. I gave you a few links underneath to show this.

          “therefore may never have definitive answers from science.”
          This is nonsense in the most literal meaning of the word, because science never ever provides definitive answers.

        • Adam King

          The multiverse doesn’t consist of a disembodied mind. Religions posit minds without brains: gods, demigods, angels, demons, souls, ghosts, spirits, etc. There is no such thing as a mind without a brain.
          Moreover, nobody claims to know that there is in fact a multiverse, whereas thousands claim, without evidence or reason, to know there are disembodied minds.

      • wtfwjtd

        Ever watch the show “Monster Quest”? I found it entertaining to realize that Big Foot is universal to almost every culture and continent around the world. Like God, Big Foot is everywhere, and yet, at the same time, Big Foot is nowhere. And, like God, the “evidence” of his existence is virtually the same–personal experiences, faulty observations under duress, dark shadows, gossip, tall tales,legends, and so forth. Yes, it’s an excellent comparison, with a lot of parallels.

        • hector_jones

          But the Chupacabra is totally real. I know a guy whose brother’s ex-girlfiend’s best friend’s boyfriend saw one.

        • wtfwjtd

          Exactly!

        • Greg G.

          Off topic, real life comment. We now have a mutual acquaintance. I met JT today.

        • wtfwjtd

          Good for you! He’s definitely an interesting character, I always enjoy hearing him speak or debate.

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

          Our ol’ buddy Norm D. keeps us honest by pointing out that most people throughout history have had some sort of supernatural belief (ignoring that he disagrees with the other guy’s ridiculous supernatural belief as loudly as an atheist). You raise an interesting point–I’d never thought that some sort of hairy man superstition was also quite common.

    • observer1020

      The fact is, the universe started with the big bang. Now,
      the big bang was an infinitely small point of energy which was setting in empty space………… no, wait, space is a product of the universe so there was no empty space…… hmmm. Well anyway, at a certain point in time the point of energy exploded ……….. well actually time is also a product of the universe so it couldn’t have happened at a point in time.

      OK, skip that. You’ll just have to take my word for it, a
      countless number of impossible accidental coincidences occurred and a perfectly working universe was formed with no intelligence whatsoever to cause it.

      Oh yeah, that’s how it happened alright. SMH

      Atheists (or strong agnostics) who take time out of their
      day to express their rampant incredulity about religion to others make a lot of poorly constructed arguments…while some of their arguments are simply outright lies.

      Calling them out on such things isn’t to change their mind
      (it’s amazing how quickly most of them devolve into illogical ranting or engage in the “Atheist dance”, which we’ve already seen hints of) but to allow anyone reading along to observe the exchange, that way if the reader runs into such argument in the future, they might have a better perspective on the topic.

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

        You’re saying that you reject the Big Bang because it doesn’t make sense to you? How is that relevant?

        I am also annoyed at poorly constructed arguments, but I’m not sure it’s the atheist who’s coming up with them at this moment.

        If you find errors in the post or in comments, point that out clearly. Handwaving about illogical ranting only undercuts your position.

      • MNb

        “at a certain point in time the point of energy exploded”
        This is a sure sign you don’t understand physics.

        http://www.science20.com/quantum_gravity/blog/big_bang_was_not_explosion_however_explosion_metaphor_what_big_bang_was-78575

        “impossible accidental coincidences”
        Coincidences by definition aren’t impossible.

        “perfectly working universe”
        No scientist claims that the Universe works perfectly.

      • hector_jones

        This is called the argument from incredulity, which is a logical fallacy. You find cosmology and the big bang difficult to comprehend (“hmmm”) therefore it’s probably not true. Your conclusion (“not true”) does not follow from the premise (“I can’t understand this”).

      • Pofarmer

        You do realize that your argument fails from the stsndpoint of needing to explain your uncaused cause?

      • smrnda

        Maybe the real issue is that concepts from physics are not capable of being mapped onto ordinary language? Words like ‘something’ and ‘nothing’ may just be inadequate.

      • 90Lew90

        Why so serious?

      • SuperMark

        You’re argument only supports Deism… Most thinking atheists will admit they are what are called agnostic atheists (if you don’t know what that is look it up). But so what, what’s your point? Even if there is a creator god what evidence or argument do you have to support that it is Yahwea?

  • Pagan

    Going into details and demanding specific claims about the properties of the god in question is probably the best first step to take if you want to go about changing the minds of its believers. Once you have the list of claims you can start dismantling them.

    An analogy I like to use is this: I do not know for certain that there is no man named Claus living as a hermit in the North Pole, but I do know that there is definitely no person called Santa who flies out from there one night every year on a sled driven by magical reindeer and who delivers presents to every child in the world depending on their behaviour for the past 364 days.

    • smrnda

      A good point, which also explains why arguments for any type of god usually are fairly vague, deist conceptions.

      I also find the vagueness to be used almost intentionally – I’ve tried to *argue against* some of the Aquinas based claims and the discussion breaks down since I ask for a definition of a vague word like ‘thusness’ and then just get another vague word.

    • raylampert

      Precisely. If you want to prove or disprove a particular claim, you need to first define what it is that you are looking for. Or as a professor might say, “Define your terms.”

  • observer1020

    Without a creator God none of the rest of the Bible makes any sense. And where does the soul come from if there is no creator, and we are all just the product of blind, unitelligent material forces?

    And you say you support tolerance. But of course tolerance presupposes disagreement. You do not tolerate someone you agree with. Lack of disagreement may make for a peaceful life, but a dictatorship has a lack of disagreement. That is not the kind of peace I want, but what most atheists are all about.

    But the real issue here is that of truth. If the truth claims of biblical Christianity are correct, then of course other conflicting truth claims cannot be. You seem to have an eclectic, cafeteria type system of beliefs. This is fine for eating at certain all-you-can eat places, but not as good when determining what is true.

    And it is not a question of criticising other beliefs, but of determining what is true and what is false. I hope you continue to think through your beliefs. Not all beliefs are true, and some have very negative consequences indeed.

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

      What soul?

      I didn’t realize that atheists demand a dictatorship. I think you want to make that thinking clearer.

      Atheists typically believe according to evidence and ignore whether a conclusion is pleasing or not. I don’t see where the cafeteria analogy fits.

      What negative consequences are you concerned about?

    • Makoto

      “Without a creator God none of the rest of the Bible makes any sense.” – that may be as true for the bible as any other religious work, but I think it’s still useful to read and learn about. Most books are, especially religious ones. They have history, and it’s incredibly interesting to learn about the people and decisions behind the various translations/modifications.

    • hector_jones

      Without a belief by the authors in a creator God none of the rest of the Bible makes sense. No actual creator God is necessary to explain the Bible.

      “And where does the soul come from if there is no creator, and we are all just the product of blind, unitelligent material forces?”

      What soul? You are assuming facts not in evidence, counsellor. We aren’t entirely the product of blind, unintelligent forces, unless your parents happened to have been blind and unintelligent.

      I love the leap from tolerance to dictatorship. Haha very logical.

      “But the real issue here is that of truth. If the truth claims of
      biblical Christianity are correct, then of course other conflicting
      truth claims cannot be.” So what? Demonstrate that the truth claims of biblicial Christianity are correct.

      “And it is not a question of criticising other beliefs, but of determining what is true and what is false.” And how do you go about deciding this? You seem to think that biblical christianity is true. Why? What’s wrong with criticizing beliefs that have no basis?

    • Pofarmer

      At least we can agree many parts of the bible make no sense if you don’t presuppose the theology. The idea of a soul is the product of our minds. There is no indication of any such thing existing inside or outside our body.

      Religious authorities had dictatorships of thought for millenia. Tolerance for opposing ideas does not mean that they won’t be debated and discussed.

      If you have some specific truth claims, make them.

    • 90Lew90

      The Bible doesn’t make any sense even with the god stuff. If anything its even more nonsensical with the god stuff. Your belief that you have a soul is a matter of faith. I don’t share it.

      Your second paragraph is baloney. “Lack of disagreement may make for a peaceful life, but a dictatorship has a lack of disagreement.” Says the man whose god demands complete faith and supplication on pain of eternity in hell. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” That’s dictatorship buddy. That’s dictatorship writ large.

      Of your third paragraph, the Bible is no arbiter of truth. You’re very sensible to point out that if the truth claims of the Bible are in conflict with other truth claims, then one or the other must be untrue. I’m afraid the Bible has repeatedly been shown to be untrue. The creation story for instance falls under the weight of massive evidence that it’s simply false. Perhaps you’re one of the ones who likes a bit of “theistic evolution” or some such unnecessary nonsense? You were saying about a cafeteria?

      You’re also bang on to say that some beliefs have very negative consequences indeed. I’d put Judaism, Christianity and Islam in that bracket.

    • Greg G.

      Without a creator God none of the rest of the Bible makes any sense.

      Unless you consider it was written by people who didn’t know what caused thunder and were hoping to find a way to influence the dangerous forces of nature.

      And where does the soul come from if there is no creator,

      From the imaginations of people who fear death.

      and we are all just the product of blind, unitelligent material forces?

      Which explains “mysterious ways” sensibly.

    • Lark62

      Without Lord Frith, Watership Down makes no sense.

      Without elves, The Lord of the Rings makes no sense.

      Without Yahweh, the Bible makes no sense.

      Without Charlie Brown, Peanuts makes no sense.

      Without Voldemort, the Harry Potter series makes no sense.

      Wow. I’ve just proved that talking rabbits are real! And Hogwarts!

      I could go on, and on, and on. All fiction requires strong fictional characters for the plot to make sense. The “truth claims” of the Bible are silly. Talking snakes? The sun stood still? Man created after plants, yet before any plants were created? A person who was crucified on passover and on the day before passover (depending on which gospel is correct) rose from the dead? Slavery is moral?

      Yes, it is important to determine what is true.

      • RichardSRussell

        Without Charlie Brown, Peanuts makes no sense.

        Somewhat creepily, “Garfield” without Garfield makes an eerie kind of sense.

      • observer1020

        I believe I will stick with the 7,000 year old knowledge
        that we have been allowed to practice. Even with the perfect and
        “misunderstood” inconsistencies of the Bible, I will still have a better
        understanding of life and human nature than you could ever conceive. I have the
        “faith”.

        Christ just offered this hope to all mankind. He will never
        insist that you partake of it against your personal conscience and intellect.

        You are allowed to make that decision of your own free will.

        Being totally ignorant of religion must really be difficult
        for the practicing fool that believes in nothing.

        The Greek scholars suggested those that could not imagine a
        God simply lacked knowledge and I tend to agree with them.

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

          I want some of that Kool-Aid! I feel wrapped in a warm and comforting blanket.

        • kraut2

          “Being totally ignorant of religion must really be difficult
          for the practicing fool that believes in nothing.”

          I wonder – haven’t you realized yet that almost all atheist come to their atheism by examining religion and finding it wanting in every aspect,

          I was a catholic once, but at fourteen found big flaws in the churches moral demands and the historical reality, the inconsistencies in the so called holy book and logical impossibilities.

          Answering exactly nothing when asking tough questions and not retracting to the fools refuge: faith when the answers did not satisfy.

          Faith is a cop out, a blind alley, a crutch for those who are afraid of the truth: Nobody is watching over you, and no live exists after that. The positive: it frees you from the prison guard of your mind, an illusion called god, who watches you every second, knows all your thoughts and makes you feel always inadequate to his demands, a bully that hovers over you and kicks you butt with threats of hell if you do not perform to what you interpret from the books are his standards.

          I pity you, you are worse off than the folks in North Korea.
          At least – they can think in private and feel anger against their oppressors. Feeling anger at your oppressor will get you the promise of hell.

        • MNb

          “I believe I will stick with the 7,000 year old knowledge”
          Yeah, especially if that knowledge excluded everything outside of not even the entire Middle East.
          Btw that “knowledge” is less than 3 000 years old. So much for your knowledge.

          “I will still have a better understanding of life and human nature.”
          Of course. Psychology, which also uses the scientific method, is just silly. Plus why use the scientific method if you “have the faith”?

          “The Greek scholars”
          That not 7 000 year old knowledge of yours does not include Greek scholars. So you don’t stick to it after all. You’re not even capable of being consistent in being backward. Kraut is right – you are to be pitied.

        • Lark62

          Hmm. My child is sick. Should I find a doctor with the medical knowledge of ancient Greeks, or a doctor with current knowledge?

          I need to travel across country. Should I trust ancient knowledge or Boeing?

          I am visiting Florida and the sky looks clear, but the barometer is acting strange. Should I offer prayers against gay marriage or check the NOAA hurricane forecast?

          The bible contains the best wisdom of an ancient people. But it is largely irrelevant today.

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

          It’s interesting that when there’s an injury in a car accident, the first thing people do is use technology to call for medical help. Only when there’s nothing better to do do they pray for God.

        • Pofarmer

          This kind of ignorant arrogance just drives me to distraction. The fact is you fundamentally missunderstand life and human nature. I tell you what, you go back to living with 7000 year old knowledge, and see how much those people “understood”. Hell, just go back 100 years and look at birth and death statistics. Why people insist on being stuck in this ignorant, superstitious, stupid, vapid, arrogant, counterproductice, destructive, hateful, useless mindset, is beyond me.

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

          Me, I want to be wrapped in a reassuring blanket of 12th-century Christianity. Yep, gimme the good old days.

        • Pofarmer

          Ah yes, those happy times when someone like a Thomas Moore could have you imprisoned until you died for disagreeing with the church. Times when people were tortured and then killed for witch craft. Better days, indeed.

        • MNb

          Thomas Moore was from the early 19th Century; both Thomas More and witch hunts were rather from the 16th Century. Maybe you were thinking of Thomas Becket? He died for the RCC, not because of.
          Otherwise the 12th Century was relatively one of the best during the Middle Ages.

        • Pofarmer

          I wasn’t thinking a particular century, just things christianity promoted in the past we have happily, for the most part, done away with.

  • ucfengr

    According to a 2009 Pew poll ( http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/ ), a majority of scientists believe in God or some higher power, with nearly 40% being Christian or Jew. It seems most scientist would disagree with your assertion. Anecdotally, I’ve been told when universities look for someone to debate the negative side of a debate on religion, they more often have to go to the Philosophy department rather than one of the hard sciences, which are typically pretty friendly to religious beliefs.

    • Greg G.

      When you put parentheses, or punctuation after around an URL, you should put a space between them. Otherwise, the software includes the punctuation as part of the link and it doesn’t work right.

      Just 11 years earlier, the top scientists were polled and the results for them is that only 7% having a personal belief in God. See Leading Scientists Still Reject God.

      • ucfengr

        Fixed link. The poll also cites a 1914 study by psychologist James Lueba and a similar 1994 study from Edward Larsen at University of Georgia that are consistent with the Pew study. The study showed that chemists are about 10% (40% vs 30%) more likely to express religious belief than physicists or biologists but doesn’t go into detail why.

        • Pofarmer

          A poll of all scientists is going to be really, really broad and ill defined. Neil degrasse tyson quotes 85% of members of the National Acadamy of Sciences being Atheists, and I pulled up the relevant links the last time you pulled this trick. The top scientists are way more Atheistic than scientists in general, who are still more atheistic than the general public.

        • ucfengr

          Which trick? The old “link to a poll by a respected organization that contradicts the author’s opinion” trick? I think Maxwell Smart originally used that one in episode 37. You know, the one with the “shoe phone”.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s more like, link to an ambiguous poll hat says what I want it to say.

        • ucfengr

          As opposed to noted poll taker Neil Degrasse Tyson’s comprehensive survey? Tyson is known as a distinguished physicist, not a poll taker.

        • Pofarmer

          It wasn’t Tyson ‘s poll. Greg links to one such study, and more recent ones only get worse for you.

        • ucfengr

          More recent than 2009?

        • Pofarmer

          O.k. Sorry. He 1998 poll was National Academy of Sciences members. I thought there was a more recent one I found the other day, but don’t see to find it now. I hate disqus. Your 2009 poll, though, is polling a different group, it’s a more general group of scintists, but the level of belief is still something like half that of the public at large. Rather than trumpeting theae findings, you should be pondering them. It’s not a small difference.

        • ucfengr

          Given the anti-Christian and anti-Jew environment that dominates most universities, I’m surprised that so many will admit to some kind of religious faith. Additionally, the level of belief amongst “scientists” is somewhat interesting, but I’m not sure how relevant it is. If I want to talk about physics, I’m probably not going to talk to a priest, and if I want to talk religion, a physicist isn’t going to be my first choice. In any case, the main requirement for being a having a career in science is the ability to understand complex and abstract mathematics. I’m not sure how that particular ability translates into authority on religion or religious belief.

        • Pofarmer

          Eh, I’ve worked at a pretty major state university. I think the anti christian environment is mostly in your fevered imagination.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Given the anti-Christian and anti-Jew environment that dominates most universities…”

          You’re joking, right? Have you ever been to a university?

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

          Well, yeah, but to his point, I’d say that 80% of state universities have “God Hating and Antisemitism 101″ as a required course.

        • ucfengr

          A lot news stories of late about universities pushing to divest from Israel. You have to be willfully obtuse not to recognize that as anti-Semitism.

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

          Lots of universities pushed to divest from South Africa when they were also accused of human rights abuses about 35 years ago. Was that also racism?

        • ucfengr

          We’re not talking about racism, we’re talking about anti-Semitism. Funny how nobody worries about the real human rights abuses of Hamas. You know, using their citizens as human shields to protect their rockets and missiles (while Israel uses their rockets to protect their civilians). And launching missiles into civilian areas. Not to mention their penchant for bombing pizza parlors and what not. And, oh by the way, no mention of Israel giving Palestinian civilians warning before attacking the missiles and rockets Hamas stores there. Oh yeah, no criticism of that, only of Israel. Yep, not anti-Semitic at all.

          I think of figured out why Netherlands atheists and Netherlands Christians are able to get along reasonably well. Netherland atheists aren’t such douche-nozzles.

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

          ?? What is antisemitism but racism?

          You just going to ignore my South Africa/apartheid example because you have nothing with which to respond?

          You apparently think Israel has done nothing wrong in its handling of the latest problems. OK, fair enough. I haven’t studied the issue to have a strong opinion myself. What is a problem is you saying that anyone who disagrees with you is antisemitic. See the problem?

          Israel is a country where most Jews are atheists. Maybe their policies are sometimes wrong. People can object. Doesn’t mean they’re racist.

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

          I’m a douche-nozzle because … ? The only crime I can see is not agreeing with you.

        • ucfengr

          I’m going to ignore it, largely because it takes a special level of moral obtuseness to compare the free and democratic state of Israel and the way it treats its citizens with apartheid South Africa. There are only two options for explaining such a level of obtuseness, gross stupidity or Nazi level anti-Semitism (considering that Mein Kampf still sells very well in the Middle East, I think the comparison is more valid that the South Africa/Israel one). Which is it for you Bob?

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

          Well, yeah. I keep a copy of Mein Kampf signed by the author under my pillow. Anyone who disagrees with you has to be a Nazi.

          We are at different poles on this topic. I’m concerned about the violence but haven’t studied the topic enough to have a reliable opinion. You are certain that you have, so certain that anyone who disagrees is a Nazi.

          Let me just, with hesitation, point out that South Africa didn’t drop missiles on its black citizens under apartheid, and suggest that the decision to divest from South Africa and that to divest from Israel might be motivated by similar thinking.

        • ucfengr

          Nice try, but I didn’t say who disagrees with me is a Nazi, but, you’re condemning Israel, who uses missiles to protect their citiizens and goes out of their way to not target Palestinian civilans, while not condemning Hamas, who mainly targets Israeli civilians and uses its own citizens as human shields to protect their missiles. There aren’t that many ways to explain such a level of moral obtuseness.

          And, it is true that Mein Kampf is still a big seller in the Middle East, so while you may not be a Nazi yourself, you certainly are sypathetic to people who aren’t as reticent about claiming the label.

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

          Nice try, but I didn’t say who disagrees with me is a Nazi

          You kinda did. You said, “There are only two options for explaining such a level of obtuseness, gross stupidity or Nazi level anti-Semitism … Which is it for you Bob?”

          (Well, to be fair, you said that stupidity is an option also. Maybe I’m not a Nazi but just stupid—that would explain it.)

          you’re condemning Israel

          Wrong again.

          You’re a little too quick to level nuclear-level charges at people. Tip: think before you write next time.

          Let’s review. You started this bizarre thread with this: “A lot news stories of late about universities pushing to divest from Israel. You have to be willfully obtuse not to recognize that as anti-Semitism.”

          “Antisemitism” is a big charge. Let’s reserve it for the errors that really deserve it. Not agreeing with every action taken by the Israeli government isn’t antisemitism. Look it up.

        • ucfengr

          Seriously, when your opinion on a subject like Israel more closely mirrors David Duke’s than Martin Luther King’s, you probably need to take a step back and re-think.

          http://www.internationalwallofprayer.org/A-022-Martin-Luther-King-Zionism.html

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

          Make your point more clearly. What do you think my opinion about Israel is and why do you think so?

        • smrnda

          It is quite possible for an antisemite to criticize Israel out of pure antisemitism, but not all critiques of Israel are based in antisemitism. There are Jewish critiques of Israel. Ever read Israeli newspapers? There are Jewish critiques of Israel *within Israel by Israeli Jews.*

          I, personally, as a Jew in the US don’t like to get into the Israel debate because I’m not an Israeli, I don’t live there and I can’t be said to have a truly informed opinion.

        • ucfengr

          It’s been a while, but I do keep running across articles like this http://reason.com/blog/2014/06/10/universities-void-freedom-of-religious-a

        • wtfwjtd

          Ah yes, the poor-Christians-are-being-persecuted meme. A closer look at that article reveals the following quote from the NYT:

          “At Cal State, the nation’s largest university system with nearly 450,000 students on 23 campuses, the chancellor is preparing this summer to withdraw official recognition from evangelical groups that are refusing to pledge not to discriminate on the basis of religion in the selection of their leaders.”

          Yes, non-discrimination pledges, applied equally to all campus groups, hit Christian groups the hardest. It’s hard for me to generate much sympathy for such shenanigans, and furthermore it strikes me as patently dishonest to try and paint this as “persecution”. I’m not impressed.

        • ucfengr

          Yeah, imagine that. A Christian group that wants to choose Christians for leadership positions. How horrible is that? That obviously can’t stand.

          I wonder if you’d be so sanguine about a bunch of Christians, or Muslims decided to take over leadership positions in an atheist group, or worse, a gay group.

        • MNb

          Nicely and predictably missing wtfwjtd’s point. I’m happy to repeat it for you:

          “applied equally to all campus groups”

          I also have a question for you. Why do you silly Americans have problems like these and not a European country like say The Netherlands?

          http://www.ichthusamsterdam.nl/

          Suggestion: because The Netherlands have 30% non-believers and 50% christians. The latter have learned to leave the former alone and not to demand christian privilege. As a result the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as a christian got a lot of atheist and agnost votes – because nobody cares.
          You American christians care way too much though. Your silly cry of persecution confirms this. Learn to behave like Dutch christians and you can have your christian groups.

        • ucfengr

          I don’t know. Maybe because the Netherlands is a country of about 16M of which 80% are Dutch and 85% are European, while the US is a country of about 300M in which no particular race or culture is a majority.
          Also, I’m not sure why a Christian organization wanting to have Christian leadership is an example of Christian privilege, unless you want to concede that the lack of male leadership in the National Organization of Women is an example of woman privilege and the lack of white leadership in the NAACP is an example of African American privilege.

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

          Yet another meaningless example.

          A guy joins NOW and runs for the presidency. If he’s the best candidate, he might get elected. If he’s there just to be a dick, no one will vote for him. I’m missing the problem.

        • smrnda

          Maybe it’s that Christians in the Netherlands aren’t as bigoted as ones in the US? Are they out waging a war on modernity? In the US, Christians are promoting nonsense in schools for sex ed and creationism, trying to limit access to contraception (something that modern civilization is unimaginable without) and fighting against the rights of gay people to get married.

          On top of that, the most politically powerful religion in the US is white evangelicism, which plays into anti-minority and anti-immigrant sentiment.

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

          Sanguine about what? What is this scary scenario you’re talking about?

          There’s a 30-person atheist group and some nutty Christian wants to become president (let’s ignore the question about why he’d want this). So he runs, and no one votes for him. Where’s the problem?

        • Greg G.

          The poll I linked does not mention a 1994 poll, it that is what you mean. It cites a 1914 poll and a 1933 poll, performed by the same pollster. The 1998 results are not consistent with the Pew results. Note that the 1998 poll questioned the top scientists while Pew polled scientists in general.

        • ucfengr

          I was referring to the Pew poll I originally cited. Sorry for the ambiguity. I would also note a poll of the 10 highest measured IQs on earth ( http://www.examiner.com/article/of-10-highest-iq-s-on-earth-at-least-8-are-theists-at-least-6-are-christians ). Apparently, a solid majority are theists and a significant majority of Christians. Funny that, don’t you agree? Additionally, changing the criteria from “scientists” to “top scientists” seems to a bit of goal post moving. Also, how do we objectively differentiate between “top scientists” and “run of the mill, not so smart, gapped tooth yokel scientists”?

        • Greg G.

          So you are providing evidence that 83% of the most intelligent Christians in the world don’t think religion should be their top priority?

        • ucfengr

          In the Catholic Church, we call the people who think religion should be their top priority priests, nuns, and monks, and there aren’t very many of them (quite a bit less than 17%). The rest of us just muddle through as best we can, some better, some worse.

        • smrnda

          IQ isn’t really much of a claim to fame. A survey of the ‘top IQs on the planet’ is a step up from ‘pisces tend to X’ but seriously, who cares about IQ?

    • MNb

      Note how the poll nicely contradicts itself. Yeah, nearly 40% identifies as some kind of christian or jew. What you forget to mention is that 33% believes in god. I always thought that all christians and jews, in the religious meaning of the words, believed in god.

      “a majority of scientists”
      Wrong. Must be: a majority of American scientists. They are not representative for the rest of the world.

      http://www.ru.nl/@816818/pagina/

      44% atheists. 17% believers. 5% ietsists (some higher power). That leaves 36% agnosts etc.

      • JohnE_o

        “Jew” denotes ethnicity, not religious belief. There is a long tradition of atheist Jews.

  • NSatin

    The whole premise of this article is flawed: Whether an individual believes in God or not, or even struggles to believe in Him, by definition God is beyond the domain of science and thus neither provable nor, more to the point, disprovable.

    Additionally, “Religion is what you invent when you don’t have Science” is a really bad statement to make when science only arose because of the biblical worldview of Judaism and Christianity. This has long been demonstrated and documented.

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

      “By definition God is beyond the domain of science”? Then why bother talking about him? A God that is beyond science is a God that has zero impact in our reality–no miracles, no prayers answered, no universe created. You can’t have it both ways.

      I’m not trying to prove no god but simply examine all the evidence and see where it points.

      The idea that Judeo-Christianity was the cradle from which modern science arose makes no sense either. If so, why did it take 1800 years or so to bear fruit? Why, when Christianity was in control, did we have centuries of feudalism?

      • NSatin

        Feudalism is an economic arrangement, what does that have to do with science?

        In order to understand why science is unique to the biblical worldview you have to understand what science is. In order to be considered “science,” a phenomenon must be: 1) observable via the senses (albeit we must use tools to enhance our sensory limits frequently); 2) reasonable individuals should be able to posit a theory based upon these observations; and 3) reasonable people should be able to replicate conditions to reproduce the phenomenon in question to either confirm the theory or, more to the point, disprove it, via the scientific method. If these three criteria aren’t met, it isn’t science.

        Now, the Greeks certainly made inroads into what we call science, but they were never able to make the next intellectual leap because of their worldview. The Greeks, as typified by Aristotle, believed all things, including inanimate objects, possessed souls and as such, operated according to what their respective souls desired. For instance, objects fell to the ground not because of some unknown force, but because all objects “[desire] their resting place.” This isn’t science.

        Christianity on the other hand acknowledged a rational, loving god who thus freely created a rational universe (tangentially, the Big Bang Theory actually gives credence to Catholic theology, but I digress). Humanity, being created in the image and likeness of god, in part, meant we too are rational beings. And if God is rational, and He created a rational universe, and if we are rational, being made in His image, then we can study God’s creation and observe the rationality and order of creation and in so doing know God all the better. This was known as “natural philosophy,” which we now call “science.”

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

          The point is that when Christianity was in charge, we called it the Dark Ages.

          Your dissertation about science is irrelevant. That Christianity had its chance for centuries and blew it is the point. You must explain how Christianity was in charge and yet vaccines and astronomy and quantum physics had to wait for modern science 200 years ago.

          The Greeks were doing a heckuva lot better than Europe did in, say, 1000.

          Christianity on the other hand acknowledged a rational, loving god who thus freely created a rational universe

          What kind of crazy talk is this? How is a god whose very existence can’t be shown by scientific methods suddenly the champion of reason and inquiry? Even if you met your goal of showing that God wasn’t incompatible with the discoveries of modern science, how would that show that any of this new wisdom came from God, the Bible, or Christianity?

        • NSatin

          Popular culture is the only one who promulgates the nonsense of the “Dark Ages.” Everything that was achieved during the Scientific Revolution had its foundations laid during the Middle Ages and I’m not going to recite the pages upon pages of documented historical and archaeological evidence here demonstrating how Western civilization and science went from A to Z. Do you think it simply sprang up out of nothing? Your logic is clouded by your hostility to theism. Progress occurs over time.

          “What kind of crazy talk is this? How is a god whose very existence can’t be shown by scientific methods suddenly the champion of reason and inquiry? Even if you met your goal of showing that God wasn’t incompatible with the discoveries of modern science, how would that show that any of this new wisdom came from God, the Bible, or Christianity?”

          It has to do with worldview. If, like the Greeks, you believe objects fall to earth because the objects themselves desire it, that isn’t science. If on the other hand you believe objects fall to earth because there is a rational god who created a rational universe that means there are rational processes at work than can be observed and studied. THAT’S science. That’s why science only arose in the West.

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

          I’m moderately familiar with the technology of the middle ages–eyeglasses, cathedrals, water wheels, stirrups, printing press, and so on. I agree that things weren’t static. Nevertheless, the results speak for themselves. The Christian mindset as the crucible from which modern science arose? And it took close to 2000 years for this to happen? Not much of a crucible.

          What is your point in citing false views within Greek thinking? You think Christian scholars in Europe had it all figured out 500 years later?

          Your explanation for where modern science came from is a pathetic apologetic that you offer only to support your preconception. Let’s follow the evidence instead.

        • NSatin

          So let me see if I understand your position accurately and correct me if I don’t, because I thoroughly dislike when people put words in others mouths:

          What I’m hearing is anything predating, let’s say, well let’s split the difference and say the 16th century, is immaterial and has no bearing on anything that came after it? And you’re also suggesting modern science arose only in, what, 500 years? Probably even less? That makes a lot more sense I suppose….

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

          Good you checked. No, I’m not saying that nothing happened before the 16th century (did I not already make that quite clear?). I’m saying that modern science beginning roughly concurrent with the Industrial Revolution changed the rules.

          My point is that Christianity had its chance, and it blew it.

          You say that Christianity is the special sauce that’s mandatory for modern science? Let’s check that: (1) Europe bumbled along for centuries despite being infused with this whatever-it-is and (2) other societies like India, Egypt, China, and Persia (abbreviated list) had no problem coming up with science and technology.

          Your hypothesis fails.

        • NSatin

          Let’s assume you’re correct:

          Why didn’t “societies like India, Egypt, China, and Persia” develop, oh, let’s see, vaccines? Why did all those societies have astrology but only the Christian West had astronomy? Why did all those societies have alchemy but only the Christian West have chemistry?

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

          Why didn’t “societies like Christian Europe” develop, oh, let’s see, paper? Or gunpowder? Or the zero?

          You understand what cherry picking is, right? Europe discovered some stuff, and other societies invented other stuff. Show me that 99% of all breakthroughs before modern science came from Christian Europe and I’ll begin to see your point. As it is, you’re just cherry picking to satisfy your preconception, not following the evidence.

          You know that 1/3 of the named stars have Arabic names, right? Ever wonder why? Ever wonder why they’re called “Arabic” numerals? In the year 1000, the Muslim world and China were at the top of the heap. Europe at that time had close to a millennium of sweet, sweet mind-expanding Christianity, and what did they have to show for it?

          Your argument fails. Drop it. It’s a waste of time.

        • NSatin

          You’re only enchanting my argument. First, you didn’t answer my questions. Second, I never said other cultures and societies didn’t develop technologies and innovations, but there are some things that are unequivocally unique to the West.

          But let’s go with your train of thought. Take water power. The Romans, as far as we can tell, were one of the first, perhaps the first, society to harness water as a power source. And yet, Rome was built on the backs of slaves. Why? Why wasn’t it until Christianity that people saw water power as a means to emancipate people from labor and free them for more creative tasks?

          So, yes, other societies and cultures invented and discovered; yet, these things were not typically used and implemented in ways that allowed for human flourishing.

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

          Weren’t you an adorable Christian couple? And now you’re a refined guy with braces and a pipe? What kind of black magic is this??

          I don’t mean to “enchant” your argument. Sounds like we’re on the same page that Christian societies and non-Christian ones can develop science and technology.

          And I suppose we also agree that Christianity is no overnight cure for an unscientific mind. Indeed, I can be excused, I think, for seeing Christian Europe’s very slow scientific progress up to the 1700s, say, as pointing to no advantage at all for its being Christian.

          I wonder then where we disagree.

          And what’s the red herring about slavery? Surely you’re not saying that Christian Europe had no slaves.

          If you insist on continuing your argument, tell me what elements of your argument remain. At the moment, I see nothing.

        • NSatin

          If you want to make personal remarks maybe you should actually go to thy gym rather than stuff an orange in your shirt. But you are old I suppose.

          Hey, we all make typos. This is a comments section, not Oxford University Press.

          Christianity ended slavery in Europe. It didn’t happen overnight, but gradually the Catholic Church offered a new way of looking at the world, encouraging a view of humanity that recognized its intrinsic worth and dignity. First, the Church purchased slaves for the sole purpose of emancipating them. Next, parish priests began calling for slave owners to offer freedom. Finally, the Church provided the sacraments to slaves and was able to enforce a ban on the enslavement of Jews and Christians, which within the context of medieval Europe, was akin to universal abolition. By the seventh century we see evidence of intermarriage between free individuals and slaves, something previously unthinkable were it not for the Church’s growing insistence all slaves were equal to them, being made in the image and likeness of God just as they were. As the eleventh century dawned few, if any, could be found advocating slavery.

        • 90Lew90

          I have a sneaking suspicion… You sound a lot like our Asmondius.

        • MNb

          That’s not a coincidence – the arguments of christian apologists are very stereotypal. NSatin doesn’t look braindead to me, so I think your suspicion is wrong.

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

          If you want to make personal remarks

          Not sure why my comments were offensive. Please allow me to retract them.

          you are old I suppose.

          I am indeed old. And old people all do something. And whatever that is, I did it here.

          Christianity ended slavery in Europe.

          People ended slavery in Europe. I don’t know much about that process (since Christianity was almost universal, almost every abolitionist would’ve obviously been a Christian, so that doesn’t say much about Christianity with just that statistic). I know a bit more about it in America. Here, the Bible unsurprisingly provided greater support for Southern pastors arguing for slavery than Northern pastors arguing against it.

          First, the Church purchased slaves for the sole purpose of emancipating them …

          Y’know what would’ve been cool? If God in the OT and Jesus in the New were loudly against slavery. And then the church could’ve used its enormous influence in Europe to eliminate slavery as it spread so that by 500 or so, slavery would’ve been just a distant memory, and the African slave trade would’ve been unthinkable.

          Didn’t happen. I think we’re back to people rather than Christianity being the cause of abolition. You say that the Bible was used to argue for abolition? Sure, and it was used (more effectively) to argue the reverse. The Bible is a sock puppet that can be made to say whatever you want. I applaud Christians doing that to make an argument against slavery, but let’s not pretend that the Bible is an unambiguously moral document that makes clear that slavery is wrong. It’s not.

          As the eleventh century dawned few, if any, could be found advocating slavery.

          Again, I don’t know much about the history of slavery or abolition in Europe. One data point: the Domesday Book (1086) records slaves in England.

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

          And where are we with your argument that Christianity is the source of modern science?

        • 90Lew90

          “Take water power. The Romans, as far as we can tell, were one of the first, perhaps the first, society to harness water as a power source.”

          Have you ever heard of the Archimedes screw? Greek.
          What really got things going in the West which has been alluded to already by Bob was the Guttenberg Press. That’s when the ball started rolling. And the Christian establishment recognised it as a threat and resisted it with every sinew of muscle it had. Information shared, compared, criticised and built upon. And shared again. That’s it. Suck it up. People like you with a need for a sky daddy clinging to your beliefs are a bane.

        • NSatin

          “Have you ever heard of the Archimedes screw? Greek.”

          But neither the Greeks nor the Romans ever thought to use it to free people from labor.

        • 90Lew90

          What now? Would we be shifting goalposts a little bit? Your god didn’t do much to emancipate slaves either. That didn’t begin happening until much later. It didn’t start happening until the Enlightenment. Just around that time when the yoke of church dominance was beginning to be thrown off and free-thought was seeping into the wider culture. A point? Do you have some point to make?

        • NSatin

          Unfortunately history proves otherwise. It didn’t happen overnight, but gradually the Catholic Church offered a new way of looking at the world, encouraging a view of humanity that recognized its intrinsic worth and dignity. First, the Church purchased slaves for the sole purpose of emancipating them. Next, parish priests began calling for slave owners to offer freedom. Finally, the Church provided the sacraments to slaves and was able to enforce a ban on the enslavement of Jews and Christians, which within the context of medieval Europe, was akin to universal abolition. By the seventh century we see evidence of intermarriage between free individuals and slaves, something previously unthinkable were it not for the Church’s growing insistence all slaves were equal to them, being made in the image and likeness of God just as they were. As the eleventh century dawned few, if any, could be found advocating slavery.

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

          Why didn’t it happen overnight? When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the 10 Cs, they were implemented overnight. They didn’t hand out warning slips for a few generations while people got used to the new rules; no, the rules were in place, with capital punishment for many of them.

          God could’ve included an 11th commandment, “No slavery.” (Or perhaps use that instead of #10, “Don’t covet.”)

          Why do you suppose he didn’t? It was because God (and the Early Iron Age people who pulled his strings) didn’t think it was wrong. So much for objective morality.

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

          Oh, I’m sure NSatin will acknowledge valid points that are made against his arguments that Christianity gave us science and that God was always against slavery, never for.

          I can’t imagine he’d just ignore valid points and then just carry on, like someone pretending no one notices it was he who farted.

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

          Huh? You can use an Archimedes screw or use 10 men to haul water up the hill. How does using the screw not free people from labor?

          Did people in medieval Europe just get 20-hour workweeks because of waterwheels? I’m not seeing where you’re going.

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

          William Tyndale was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English too early.

          The lesson Tyndale learned is that when a despot says to not do something, maybe you’d better not do it.

        • 90Lew90

          I can’t tell you how much I hope you stick around.

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

          Now, now–don’t play with your food.

        • MNb

          “but there are some things that are unequivocally unique to the West.”
          Correct. They can’t be attributed to christianity though or the Scientific Revolution would have happened in Byzantium as well. It didn’t, even if the christian scholars in Constantinople had access to the relevant information for centuries and centuries.
          Why it happened in western Europe has been thoroughly documented as well. Besides the fall of Byzantium, which resulted in providing European scholars with relevant and new (to them) information their were other necessary factors;. One was the decline of the authority of the RCC, which started with the Great Schism and was stimulated by the Great Plague, to which the RCC didn’t have an answer. The second important development was the rise of an economical elite due to trade. As a result Europe got well educated non-clergy. The third important development was the rise of national monarchies in Spain, France and England. It’s no coincidence that both Copernicus and Brahe served kings, not clergy.

        • hector_jones

          When you say ‘until Christianity’ do you mean the Christianity that kept people in serfdom in Europe until as late as about 1900? Or the Christianity that enslaved Africans in the United States until the 1860s? I’m afraid I don’t see the causality between Christianity and the use of water power to emancipate anyone.

          Overall I think this is a very bad argument. You seem to be saying Christianity is responsible for a whole bunch of good things (a dubious position) therefore it’s true. Even if it were true that Christianity deserves some credit for those things, it’s still time to move on. Its claims about reality cannot be substantiated. The steam engine deserves a lot of credit for the role it played in the industrial revolution, but since then we’ve come up with better ways to power things. Like the steam engine, Christianity is obsolete.

        • NSatin

          How about the Christianity that ended both?

        • hector_jones

          Which Christianity would that be? There are so many I can’t keep track.

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

          Why do you keep making this failed argument? If Christianity were the juggernaut that ended serfdom and slavery, it wouldn’t have taken centuries to do so!

          You don’t even have correlation, let alone causation. This argument only embarrasses you.

        • smrnda

          Could it just be that the Romans had greater military power to force people into slavery who lived in other nations? If it’s harder to get labor – you can’t just march into a neighboring country and walk out with a new shipment of slaves – labor saving devices are beneficial even if you’re not the one doing the work?

        • wtfwjtd

          “It has to do with worldview. If, like the Greeks, you believe objects fall to earth because the objects themselves desire it, that isn’t science. If on the other hand you believe objects fall to earth because there is a rational god who created a rational universe that means there are rational processes at work than can be observed and studied. THAT’S science.”

          How is the assertion that there’s a “rational god” any less arbitrary than believing that “objects themselves desire falling to the earth?”
          Show me this rational god first, via rational and verifiable means, and we might have something to talk about. Otherwise, it’s just one more unsupported supposition of Christian theology. And that definitely ain’t science.

        • NSatin

          You miss the point:

          The Greek worldview can’t be considered “scientific” because you can’t empirically falsify inanimate objects “desiring” to fall to earth. Christianity said, we can’t empirically falsify the existence of God, but our rationality informs us He is rational, which means we CAN empirically falsify His creation. I.e, we can observe a “rational,” “natural” process that causes objects to fall to earth. To the Greeks such thinking was inconceivable.

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

          Just shoot me now.

          Show me one thing about reality that we learned from the Bible before learning it from science.

        • wtfwjtd

          ” I.e, we can observe a “rational,” “natural” process that causes objects to fall to earth. To the Greeks such thinking was inconceivable.”

          If this is the case, then why should we arbitrarily decide that the supernatural is responsible for for said natural process, when the natural explanation explains it so much simpler? Have you ever heard of Occam’s razor?

        • NSatin

          That’s actually a perversion of the maxim. It’s actually “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate,” (Plurality should not be posited without necessity). As Rodney Stark accurately summed up, “theories should include no more terms and principles than are needed to explain the matters in question. Hence, if two theories are equally efficient, prefer the one that is simpler.”

          We aren’t dealing with equally efficient theories; we’re dealing with WHY people observe and study the natural world, or why they do NOT.

        • wtfwjtd

          …and science always chooses the natural explanation over a supernatural one. In all the history of science, there’s plenty of observed phenomenon that were once thought to have supernatural causes, but have since been shown to have perfectly natural ones(earthquakes, lightning, tornadoes, disease, and much more).
          I’m not familiar with a single observed phenomenon that was thought to have a natural cause that later was demonstrated to have a supernatural one, are you? I wonder why that is?

        • NSatin

          Where, in any of my comments, did I even IMPLY supernatural explanations of natural phenomena? In fact, I rather explicitly articulated it is precisely the Judeo-Christian acknowledgment of a rational universe that allowed for the development of what we call “science.” That’s precisely my point.

        • 90Lew90

          Ahem. The “Judeo-Christian acknowledgement of a rational universe” was not a Judeo-Christian idea. It took the Christians’ rediscovery of Greek thought (which they buried and suppressed) via Augustine (but the Christians buried it again after him) and via Aquinas, to give their daft cant any kind of respectable underpinning. In the process, they damn-near ruined any semblance of rationality the original stuff had. And you can drop the “Judeo-Christian” stuff because you owe more to Arabs than to your own tradition for preserving that work.

        • MNb

          You didn’t. Christian scholars from the Middle Ages did. Hence they did not lay the foundation of Modern Science.

        • NSatin

          You’re painting a very, very broad stroke that does not notice the demonstrable change in worldview that occurred.

        • MNb

          That change in worldview did not occur in the Middle Ages, but in the 16th Century with Copernicus and Brahe, which I made clear above and which you have read. You’re dishonest. I’m not surprised.
          You’re also too dishonest to answer the question why it took christianity 15 centuries to pull it off, if your statements are correct.

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

          if two theories are equally efficient, prefer the one that is simpler.

          I like that. So evolution is simpler than evolution and God, for example. Or cosmology is simpler than cosmology and God.

          Makes sense to me.

        • MNb

          “theories should include no more terms and principles than are needed to explain the matters in question. Hence, if two theories are equally efficient, prefer the one that is simpler.”
          God is such a theory. The medieval physicists totally included him in their theories. Once again you have nicely refuted your own statements.

        • MNb

          You miss your own point:

          The christian medieval worldview can’t be considered “scientific” because you can’t empirically falsify inanimate objects “having the purpose” to fall to earth. The Scientific Revolution consisted of throwing teleology out of the window. That took about 300 years; Newton wasn’t free of it either. Teleological thinking is typical for both Aristotelian and medieval christian thinking – including their versions of physics.

        • NSatin

          You should actually read what I wrote.

        • MNb

          I have, or I couldn’t have taken over your own phrasing. I did that deliberately because you christian apologists are a dishonest bunch, which you confirm right here and now.

        • NSatin

          No, actually, you didn’t. The Greeks were the ones who thought objects had a “purpose” (your word) to fall to earth. Christians said there was a rational explanation because God was rational.

        • MNb

          Thanks for sharing your ignorance. Medieval christians totally did too; they had taken it over from Aristoteles via Thomas of Aquino.
          Btw teleology is rational. The problem is, as you explained yourself, that it can’t be combined with empiry. Hence medieval scholars weren’t interested in experiments and observations. Roger Bacon was an exception, but he had zero influence. Modern empiricism goes back to Francis Bacon, who lived several centuries later.

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

          Newton’s belief in alchemy has been cited as giving him the ability to imagine gravity as a sucking force (which, when you think about it, is pretty crazy when seen from a macro-world viewpoint).

          Maybe alchemy should get more credit than Christianity.

        • MNb

          “Everything that was achieved during the Scientific Revolution had its foundations laid during the Middle Ages”
          A very, very popular christian myth.
          Nope. Physics during the Middle Ages was thoroughly Aristotelian, a worldview you so nicely debunked. Copernicus, who basically started off the Scientific Revolution with his heliocentrism, did so by either developing his theory independently or (alas I can’t prove it) by taking it over from said Aristarchos of Samos. He has studied in Italy and might have read Aristarchos’ work. The second notable guy, Tycho Brahe, was the first to decide between two conflicting theories by means of observation. Christianity had nothing to do with either.

          “If, like the Greeks, you believe objects fall to earth because the objects themselves desire it”
          Exactly medieval physics – just replace “desire” with “purpose”. Funny how you refute your own statement.

        • NSatin

          Both Copernicus and Tycho were devout Christians who explicitly connected their work to Christianity.

        • MNb

          I never denied that they were devout christians. I said that christianity did not influence their work. You can’t show that; it isn’t there. Heliocentrism doesn’t require god. Tycho Brahe did not look for god when observing the sky; he looked for empirical data.

        • NSatin

          But the fundamental question is WHY? WHY did they perform such work? Therein is the answer: BECAUSE they were Christian and as such had a conception of the universe that acknowledged it to be governed by rational/natural processes.

        • wtfwjtd

          Charles Darwin had the same motivation– to show God’s hand at work in nature. In the end, of course, he couldn’t find the hand of God, anywhere, and acknowledged that the universe was governed by natural processes, a conclusion which Christianity fiercely resists to this day. What’s so hard to understand about that?

        • NSatin

          You’re incorrect. Although there are many scientific flaws and problematic aspects of the Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection, which even Darwin himself recognized, nonetheless the Catholic Church accepts it as a working hypothesis for matter, just not the soul.

        • wtfwjtd

          Really? Where does the concept of Original Sin fit in with evolution? How is it transmitted from generation to generation?
          And, just what is a “soul”, anyway?

        • NSatin

          Yes, actually. You might want to do your homework next time. It’s Protestants who tend to have problems with the Theory, not Catholics. The Catholic Church has long accepted it as a scientific hypothesis.

        • wtfwjtd

          Way to dodge the questions. I’ve seen some incoherent babble relating to Original Sin and evolution, but nothing that makes sense. I assume by your non-answer that you can’t explain it, either. Not surprising.

        • NSatin

          Unlike Protestants, Catholicism has Tradition (the Magisterium) to fall back on. Tradition informs us there are four senses of Scriptural comprehension that are used simultaneously: literal, spiritual (or anagogical), moral (or allegorical), and a meaning associated with human society (tropological). Thus, “Jerusalem,” when mentioned in the Bible, simultaneously is read to mean: a literal geographic city in the Middle East; heaven, since Jerusalem is the city of God (anagogic); an “upright” life (allegoric); and political rule, since Jerusalem was the capital of Israel (tropologic). Catholics, then, do not read Genesis literally, in the sense that the universe was created in six days or that Adam and Eve even existed. Instead, a Catholic reading of Genesis means that the universe (including time) was indeed created by God, but the Genesis recording of creation does not literally walk us through that process but is meant to be symbolic of it. Similarly, Adam and Eve are meant to symbolize humanity’s downfall, not that a “literal” Adam and Eve existed.

          Original Sin “describes the fallen state of human nature which affects every person born into the world….” In other words, there doesn’t need to be a literal Adam and Eve for Original Sin according to Catholicism.

        • wtfwjtd

          So you’re saying then, that Catholics view Genesis and other books of the Bible as just allegorical and not literal? And that the concept of Original Sin has no scriptural or other basis?

        • NSatin

          Nope.

        • NSatin

          This is oversimplified, but, Catholicism teaches the New Testament is to be read literally, which makes sense. If it isn’t read literally, then Christianity is false. But the four senses of Scripture reading still apply, as well as others, such as knowing the genre of the writing, the author’s audience, etc., when it comes to Scriptural understanding. Again, this is only Catholicism. Protestants reject all this because of Sola Scriptura.

          When it comes to the Old Testament, Catholics use the four senses of Scripture and other methods to discern what is and isn’t “literal.” For example, some individual Catholics might read Genesis “literally,” but the Magisterium of the Catholic Church does not approve such interpretation. But things that have been corroborated by archaeology or other historical sources can be accepted literally. It’s actually a very “common sense” approach. For instance, if a passage says “there were thousands upon thousands of eye witnesses,” a Catholic understanding would be, “ok, there weren’t ‘thousands upon thousands’ there; the writer is merely attempting to convey there were a lot of people there who have testified to the moment in question.”

        • wtfwjtd

          Cool! I like your cafeteria-style Christianity, keep the bits that make sense in modern society, and throw out the crap that is obsolete. The world would be a lot better place if a lot more Christians adopted this attitude.

        • MNb

          But all christians do, including Ken Ham. When the OT writes

          Isaiah 40:22 “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth”
          Daniel 2:35 “the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth”
          Jeremiah 31:37 and Micah 6:2 “strong foundations of the earth”

          Ken Ham doesn’t argue for a Flat Earth, which his literal explanation would require. That makes totally sense in modern society. Of course there is the Flat Earth Society, but they are fringe and reject some other crap.
          At the other hand our good friend NSatin has postulated that The Resurrection has actually happened indeed (or “christianity would be false”), so he hasn’t thrown all crap out either.
          Finally either metaphorically or literally the Bible describes a causal god, which is at odds with Modern Physics (which postulates probability). So this

          “The world would be a lot better place if a lot more Christians adopted this attitude.”
          doesn’t make much sense to me, I’m afraid, even though I strongly empathize with the feeling behind it.
          A couple of weeks ago I asked a local catholic (a teacher at a primary school) about the Great Flood. She said that she simply stopped thinking about the issue if confronted with evidence from physics that it couldn’t have happened “or she would go mad”.
          I have always found it peculiar, if not weird, that sophisticated thinkers like NSatin get pissed off when they feel that we atheists misrepresent christianity (with which they usually mean their very own personal interpretation), but don’t give s**t about common believers like that teacher who according to their own judgment also totally do. That doesn’t make me think high of them, to say it friendly.

        • wtfwjtd

          I don’t disagree with anything in your comment MNb, you are right on the mark. But, remember where I live–downtown Jesus-land, in the buckle of the Bible belt. To see a Christian say even that the Old Testament is allegorical is a breath of fresh air, and something I’m not accustomed to. For me, half a loaf is better than nothing, and a good start in the right direction. From here, the causal god can be shown as silent and inert, and the New Testament with its many flaws and errors is ripe for eventually getting the same treatment as the Old Testament, that is, being thought of as allegory.
          I’m a bit of an optimist I guess, I know that changing minds of the older generations isn’t going to happen much, but as those older generations die off they are replaced by the younger ones, who are much more receptive to the idea of cultural Christianity. This is a direction that I would love to see religion in America (and other places) take. As a realist, it seems more possible than Christianity just disappearing. At least I like to think so anyway.

        • MNb

          That’s why I wrote “I strongly empathize with the feeling behind it.”

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

          It’s almost like science, reality, modern morality, and so on are the authority, with the Bible just a marionette that’s made to adapt as necessary to this changing reality. Given that, though, the Bible seems unnecessary.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, you’ve noticed as I have, Christianity always lags behind, it’s only after society has long since moved on in many of these areas, that Christianity finally grudgingly changes its views to adapt to the new reality. And then, it tries disingenuously to change history, and make-believe that it was the original innovator of society’s bold new directions. Why bother with Christianity, or its relic of a holy book at all, since it’s always a follower and never a leader?

        • hector_jones

          Catholicism teaches the New Testament is to be read literally, which makes sense. If it isn’t read literally, then Christianity is false.

          Oh my. I’m going to hold you to this. Oh wait, when you said ‘literally’ you literally didn’t mean literally. So much for literally.

        • wtfwjtd

          Where’s Pofarmer when we need him?

        • MNb
        • hector_jones

          I love the way you toss in phrases like ‘many scientific flaws’ and ‘problematic aspects’ as if you know what you are talking about and the Catholic Church is an authority on evolution. What about the ‘many scientific flaws’ and ‘problematic aspects’ of Roman Catholicism? Do those keep you up at night? Or do you just let the pope paper them over for you?

        • NSatin

          Guy, you’re talking to: a historian; an anthropologist; and a Catholic. I’m rather familiar with the material.

        • hector_jones

          With those credentials I guess I really need to stop listening to Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers.

        • MNb

          A historian who happens to ignore relevant data (the fall of Toledo, the Great Schism, the Great Plauge, the fall of Constantinople) for his theoretical framework. Quite a spectacle.
          Let me make a prediction. You also think Georges Lemaitre was the first to postulate the Big Bang (it wasn’t called such, I know), don’t you?

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

          Though not a biologist, I see. I wonder then at the flaws and problems that you see in evolution.

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

          Oh dear–you’re not an evolution denier as well, are you?

          Yes, I realize that that kind of comes with the territory, but it’s always a slap in the face for me when that comes up in a conversation.

          No one cares what Darwin said except historians of science (and Creationists). No biologist today goes back to consult On the Origin of Species to see if a new conclusion conflicts with what the great man thought.

          [Edit: Looking at another comment, I guess you don't have any problem with evolution? Sorry--you confused me with your "many scientific flaws and problematic aspects." What was that all about?]

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, which is why the Catholic Church is becoming more anti-science fundamentalist. Now, about that soul thingy………..

        • MNb

          The answer why has been provided since long: influence from Arab countries. It began in 1085 CE, when Spanish christians conquered Toledo and the Arab muslims (unlike their christian counterparts, I like to add) left the library intact. Toledo had the oldest university in Europe. Sure enough a few years later the university of Bologna was founded. That’s where scholasticism started off.
          The second main development came with the fall of Constantinople. Many christian scholars – who notably failed to kick off the Scientific Revolution for centuries, while being in an excellent position to do so and while their empire needed it badly – fled to Italy. Italian christian scholars didn’t realize either what had fallen in their hands; mankind had to wait for Copernicus coming along.
          Hence christianity did not provide the foundation of modern science.

        • NSatin

          I don’t know where your history degree is from, but it’s highly suspect.

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

          WHY did they perform such work? Therein is the answer: BECAUSE they were Christian

          So non-Christians couldn’t have done that? I guess that’s why there was never science outside of Christiandom, like in Egypt, Persia, or China!

          Things are so much clearer when I let go and let God.

        • Asmondius

          And where did that ‘science’ go?

        • Asmondius

          ‘ never denied that they were devout christians. I said that christianity did not influence their work.’

          Humorous desperation.

        • SuperMark

          Just keep those one liners coming. They all boil down to “I don’t like what you said but i’m not going to tell you why”.

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

          “I don’t like what you said, but I have no actual arguments to offer against it.”

        • Asmondius

          I argue that speculation concerning what was in the mind of a long dead person is not concrete fact. Seems self-evident.

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

          Then complain to your little Christian friend.

          My snarky comment was yet another effort to point out that you offer nothing. You’re a Christian, right? This is an atheist blog–give us some rebuttals. Put some thought into it. Point out errors. Give us something besides, “Oh yeah? Well, you’re a poopy-head.”

        • Asmondius

          I’ve already pointed out many obvious errors.
          I note you chose note to respond to the specific argument I offered you just above.

        • 90Lew90

          You say: “I argue that speculation concerning what was in the mind of a long dead person is not concrete fact. Seems self-evident.”

          On the face of it, with that statement haven’t you just undermined the entire basis of your own religious belief? I’ll answer: Yes. Yes you have. No wonder you shrink from putting on your shoes to venture out. Your feet are too small.

        • Asmondius

          This argument is purely speculative.

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

          They might also have been carnivores. Maybe they both drank wine. I’m sure they both breathed air. And, yes, they were Christians–who wasn’t? These are all common traits.

          Y’know what’d be cool? If you showed us how the Bible contained God’s nuggets of scientific wisdom that later theologians decoded so that, like you wish in your dreams, Christianity could actually birth science (or at least some scientific truths). But you can’t provide even one example.

        • Asmondius

          Back to the Bible, yet again.

        • Asmondius

          ‘might have’ = speculation

        • Pofarmer

          One book by one author might be interesting.

        • MNb

          “they were never able to make the next intellectual leap because of their worldview”
          They were. Both Archimedes and Aristarchos of Samos made that intellectual leap. They fulfilled all three of your conditions cum laude. Their theories did not depend on Aristoteles. Archimedes keeps on influencing physics until this very day, something no ancient jew or christian can boast.
          Same for several other cultures, including China and India.

        • Pofarmer

          So, give me some evidence that we were created in the image if God. I mean. We certainly seem an awful lot like the rest if the mammals on the planet.

    • kraut2

      You are wrong. When religion claims that their god(s) actions influence the physical world, those actions can be investigated and tested. The religionists claims themselves transport the god(s) from the purely imaginary realm or the realm of complete subjective experience to a realm where their claims become a matter of scientific investigation.

      • Asmondius

        Assuming, of course, that science has the knowledge and/or tools to do so.

        • Pofarmer

          We have many tools to measure our physical universe. If some God were interacting with it, there should be evidence ofmit.

    • RichardSRussell

      It’s crazy to say that science originated in Judaism and Christianity, and I can’t imagine where you found it “demonstrated and documented” — certainly not in any academic history-of-science literature. This probably explains you didn’t bother to quote your sources.

      Out here in the reality-based community, we know that the ancient Greeks were working on a naturalistic worldview and observation-based science centuries before Jesus supposedly lived, and the Hebrews knew nothing about astronomy that they hadn’t picked up from the Babylonians and Egyptians, so science and math owe way more to those sources than they do to your favorite band of ignorant Bronze Age sheep-herders.

      • NSatin

        I would suggest you read Stanley Jaki, among others.

        • MNb

          You apparently have. So perhaps you could be so kind to tell us how science of the Ancient Greeks, the Maya’s, the Chinese, the people of India and the Arabs originiated in christianity.
          If you don’t I’m going to assume that Jaki didn’t make the claims you make.

    • MNb

      “by definition God is beyond the domain of science and thus neither provable nor, more to the point, disprovable.”
      By definition the fairies in my backyard who tend the flowers to blossom more beautifully are beyond the domain of science and thus neither provable nor, more to the point, disprovable.

      I suppose you worship those fairies too.

      “when science only arose because of the biblical worldview of Judaism and Christianity.”
      Yeah, it’s not like the ancient Greeks, the Maya’s, the Chinese, the people from India and the Arabs did any science despite not having that biblical worldview. It’s not like modern started off about 15 centuries after that Bible was written either.

  • Meccaisbabylonthegreat

    As Atheists you have failed to admit your own bias. As Penn Gillette aptly noted in one of his shows, “Richard Dawkins in his book ‘the God delusion’ eloquently explained why we don’t believe there is a God and why we WOULDN’T WANT THERE TO BE A GOD.” (emphasis mine, of course). You guys don’t WANT God to exist. You want to live your life how you want. And God will not force you to serve Him. The reason you keep bringing up how religion rules people’s lives and are always railing against the “power” priests, pastors and mullahs hold over people is because you lust for that kind of power and influence.
    While we’re comparing the net results of someone’s worldview played out to it’s logical conclusion, I’ll mention how atheism has had (and unfortunately continues to have) it’s heyday on the world stage. It’s called communism. In the 20th century it cost the lives of over 100m people. Not to mention the wars it started to expand empires and other countries like the US trying to stop it. When there is no God to whom we are accountable for our actions, the only other alternative is the “community”. I’ve debated many atheists about morality and they always defer to the “community”. Well, once put on a large scale, the “community” is called government. And again, with the absence of God there is no grounds to say that corruption shouldn’t occur. It becomes the standard once it is in place. And that’s not to say there is no possibility for corruption in the church or in a theocracy! I don’t think anyone would really argue for a theocracy. Government is a huge fertile field for the seeds of corruption. However, if there is no God, the people over whom the government holds sway have no reason or right to throw off their government and institute a new one. After all, as the founding documents of the US state, we are endowed by our CREATOR (not govt) with certain INALIENABLE rights (in other words, no one can take those rights away). The founding fathers worded it that way because if government gives you your rights, government can take them away. And who are you to argue with the omniscient, omnipotent incapable-of-being-fooled-or-mislead community!?
    Now, I’m a Christian and I lead a good life. If I’m wrong and I die, go to the grave and rot and that’s it……I’ve lost nothing. I will have lived my life as a moral example for others to follow and I have lost nothing. If you as atheists die and you’re wrong…I’m sorry but you lose everything. And it’s not God being mean and nasty. You chose it for yourself! God will not force you to go to heaven if you don’t want to go to heaven. But He will not block the consequences of your actions if you choose the other direction either. Actions have consequences! (Sir Isaac, anyone!?) And the Bible says that the invisible things of God are clearly seen in His creation. You see, in the Bible it says that the Spirit of God draws us to repentance. Atheists must continuously argue against the existence of God in order to suppress their conscience. If you are so convinced that you’re right, why argue about it!? There’s no point, right!? You’re just wasting the one life you have to live arguing! But creation reveals God and you all see it. The same Holy Spirit that speaks to me on a daily basis speaks to you. The difference between you and I is that I listen and you stick you fingers in your ears and scream while running away. Just because the scientists that are called the smartest say it is so, doesn’t make it so. They are deemed the smartest simply because they toe the line and say and do (and believe!) what they are told to. I’ve met a number of people from various disciplines that have disagreed with the “wrong person” and lost their position. Just like in many churches, when you disagree with the wrong person, you get thrown out on the street, you lose your title, you’re labeled and “nutcase”, an “idiot”, they’ll say, “we have no affiliation with this guy!!!” and so on. See, you’re not so different from the corrupt people in those other organizations after all.

    • Jeff

      Next time, just post the words “Insert standard fundamentalist bullshit here.”
      It’ll save all of us a lot of time.

      • Meccaisbabylonthegreat

        Next time just post the words “insert standard ‘I have no answer so I’ll just call you an idiot’”. It’ll save time.

    • SuperMark

      You assert that I don’t believe in your god because I don’t want him to exist. It is very arrogant to say that I don’t want to believe in god because I want “to live in sin” I don’t believe in your god because monotheism doesn’t make any logical sense and it doesn’t fit with reality see the picture below for why one god doesn’t make any logical sense.

      Your assertion that atheist ideology will only lead to atrocities is very dishonest because you are ignoring all of the atrocities committed your god’s name. Even if you are a protestant you cannot separate yourself from the history of the Catholic church and it is very dishonest to do so.

      Morality is independent from the idea of god, you don’t get to own morality just because you believe in monotheism. This is a very complicated and difficult issue so if you actually care to educate yourself on the issue see the “Euthyphro Dilemma” it’s the best argument I’ve found regarding this issue.

      There are answers to all of your problems with atheism and you should educate yourself on the issues because you are clearly stuck in a dogmatic bubble because you are bringing up old and weak apologetic arguments that have great answers to them, even if you don’t like/accept the answers doesn’t mean they don’t exist. You should read a book, there’s more than one out there.

      • Meccaisbabylonthegreat

        I’ll just echo you here….”you are clearly stuck in a dogmatic bubble…even if you don’t like/accept the answers doesn’t mean they don’t exist.” And it doesn’t mean that you are correct, sir. You also mention that the there are atrocities committed in God’s name. That’s very easy to generalize like that. Most of the statistics I have seen take in the atrocities committed by the catholic church and/or islam. And the tired old argument that “more people have died because of religion than all wars…” Oh my word. How about all the wars that have been fought so the Romans could rule over more territory? What about all the wars that have been fought over resources? The Spanish conquistadors? Please! They were fighting to expand the Spanish empire and religion was a convenient excuse used to motivate the soldiers.
        And God will destroy satan, (book of Revelation) but when He does, you’ll just complain about how He did it, so there’s no point in arguing that.

        • SuperMark

          I never said I was right it’s the religious like yourself who claim authority and certainty about things that no one can know with certainty.

          You clearly know nothing about history and only read what other christians have to say about the history of the catholic church.

          god allows satan to exist and influence the world and the people in it so he is complicit in evil and therefore not all good. absolutes do not work within logic.

        • Meccaisbabylonthegreat

          so…. 2+2 does not equal 4?! I guess I need to go back to school for math too

        • SuperMark

          math isn’t logic… math is just a description of reality, and math is used to explain logical theories… wow, you really need to educate yourself because whatever school you went to failed you.

        • Meccaisbabylonthegreat

          but math is logical, rt!?

        • SuperMark

          not always, what do you know about linear regression and number theory???

        • Meccaisbabylonthegreat

          Yeah, you have me there. But what you’re saying is, there are exceptions? Hmm… interesting.

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

          1 + 1 = 2 might be objectively true. But let’s look at more interesting matters: are there moral claims that are objectively true? The claim is frequently made, but I’ve never seen evidence.

        • Asmondius

          ‘are there moral claims that are objectively true? The claim is frequently made, but I’ve never seen evidence.’

          Then the premise that people can know moral truth without God must be suspect.

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

          Nope, being moral is not difficult.

          If your point is that no one can know objective truth because it doesn’t exist, well, yeah. That kinda falls out from what I already said.

        • Asmondius

          ‘…being moral is not difficult.’

          ‘no one can know objective truth because it doesn’t exist, well, yeah.


          More contradictions.

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

          Look up “morality” in the dictionary. “Objective morality” is something different.

        • SuperMark

          everything is suspect, that idea is what brought us out of the dark ages. there is no authority in science.

        • Asmondius

          Then most of the comments in this blog are pointless.

        • SuperMark

          “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
          says the Teacher.
          “Utterly meaningless!
          Everything is meaningless.”

          What has been will be again,
          what has been done will be done again;
          there is nothing new under the sun.
          Is there anything of which one can say,
          “Look! This is something new”?
          It was here already, long ago;
          it was here before our time.
          No one remembers the former generations,
          and even those yet to come
          will not be remembered
          by those who follow them.

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

          You’re certainly doing your part.

        • Pofarmer

          The whole idea of moral truth is suspect.

        • Asmondius

          Where may I see a negative integer in ‘reality’?

        • SuperMark

          Where will you see zero in reality? Things like this in math are just ideas that make math work. The Romans didn’t make it very far with math because they never discovered the idea of zero. Zero isn’t a number it’s a concept.

          So what’s your point or is this just another one liner? Do you actually have anything to contribute?

        • Asmondius

          ‘…math isn’t logic… math is just a description of reality…’

          ‘Things like this in math are just ideas…’

          You can’t blame people for becoming confused when you contradict yourself from one post to the next.

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

          You can’t blame people for hating you for wasting our time with nothing more than snarky one-liners.

          If your job is to just be a Christian horsefly, go annoy someone else.

        • Asmondius

          Pointing out obvious conflicting statements is not being snarky – just observant.

          And you all do it.

        • SuperMark

          I don’t get what you don’t understand about my statement? Math describes reality, zero is a real thing it’s called a black hole. We come up with ideas before we understand how it describes reality. Negative integers do exist, look into particle physics.

        • Asmondius

          A black hole is not a ‘zero’.

          Negative particles do not equate to negative integers.

        • SuperMark

          a black hole is zero, look into Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

          maybe that was a bad example with negative particles, even though it makes sense. even if we don’t have an example of how negative integers represent reality doesn’t mean there isn’t one we have yet to discover.

        • Asmondius

          Zero is null – a black hole is not, unless nulls have gravitational effect.

        • Meccaisbabylonthegreat

          And you’re not saying you’re right. You’re hinging an awful lot on a bet that you’re not sure about.

        • SuperMark

          pascals wager won’t work here, i’ll gladly go to hell than spend one second with your wicked god.

        • Meccaisbabylonthegreat

          And you have that right. It is your choice to make however you want.

        • Asmondius

          Hmmm – the wager states that you would only ‘go to hell’ if God exists.

          Do you acknowledge God and just don’t like Him?

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

          Which is why the wager is useless. “Yahweh exists/doesn’t exist” doesn’t exhaust the relevant supernatural possibilities.

          And from this you suspect that atheists are actually not atheists but just hate God?

        • Asmondius

          Name another ‘relevant supernatural possibility’ then.

          Since my comment regarding God and atheists was directed specifically at one person – not all atheists – your question is simply a straw man.

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

          Zeus exists.

        • Asmondius

          I’ll have a better chance for winning by believing in Zeus than you will by believing only in ‘science’.

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

          ??

        • SuperMark

          Both, i don’t acknowledge the existence of a god that influences our reality and I don’t like your view of theism.

        • Asmondius

          Since I haven’t expressed very many of my particular views, which one gives you the most trouble?

        • SuperMark

          the hell doctrine

        • Asmondius

          Not familiarr with that title – can you just define it a bit for me?

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

          Aha! I think you may have put your finger on the problem.

        • Asmondius

          The mortal life of all humans eventually comes to an end.

          That’s an absolute – is it illogical?

        • SuperMark

          Did Lincoln’s moral life end with his death? How about Gandhi or MLK?

          Only Seth’s deal in absolutes.

        • Asmondius

          er, I said ‘mortal’, not ‘moral’.

      • Asmondius

        Well, since you are using an item called ‘evil’ (although your little picture also mentions ‘Satan’, curiously enough) to disprove God, I think you owe it to all of us to explain what you mean.

        Is ‘evil’ a concept, an entity, a personification, a force of nature – what?

        • SuperMark

          I’m not trying to disprove god, thanks for putting words in my mouth (or on my keyboard). I’m only trying to point out that the idea of monotheism is logically flawed.

          Your little “bible” personifies evil within the idea of Satan so I don’t see the problem with the diagram.

          I don’t think I need to define evil, the idea is self evident for any human being. You are implying that evil cannot exist without the idea of god. So what’s your argument for that? Why can’t good and evil exist without god?

        • Asmondius

          ‘I don’t believe in your god because monotheism doesn’t make any logical sense and it doesn’t fit with reality see the picture below for why one god doesn’t make any logical sense.’
          Not trying to disprove God, eh?

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

      “Richard Dawkins in his book ‘the God delusion’ eloquently explained why we don’t believe there is a God and why we WOULDN’T WANT THERE TO BE A GOD.”

      Where’s the bias? God is a dick—read the Old Testament. Who’d want to have that guy running around with infinite power?

      Bias would be if we didn’t follow the facts where they lead. Is that the problem here? Show us.

      You guys don’t WANT God to exist.

      A god who supports slavery and demands genocide? No, we don’t want that him to exist.

      You want to live your life how you want.

      Ah, the “Atheists are hedonists” argument! What fun. I haven’t seen that one for a month or two.

      Guilty as charged. Atheists just do what they want and answer to no one—not their friends or family, and certainly not to the police or other authorities. You should see the faces of the cops! They pull me over for speeding or reckless driving or vehicular homicide, and I show them my atheist card, give them the finger, and roar off. Ain’t nuthin’ they can do about it! Yee-ha!

      I’ll mention how atheism has had (and unfortunately continues to have) i t’s heyday on the world stage.

      You do know that the U.S. Constitution is an inherently secular document, right? That it plays the tune, not the Bible, right? And that therefore, America is a secular country, right? That Christianity is given space to exist at the pleasure of the Constitution, right?

      It’s called communism. In the 20th century it cost the lives of over 100m people.

      Interesting. Show me one of them who was killed in the name of atheism.

      Not to mention the wars it started to expand empires and other countries like the US trying to stop it.

      Why should the US try to stop it? I hear God can do such things easily … or maybe he doesn’t exist?

      When there is no God to whom we are accountable for our actions, the only other alternative is the “community”.

      Yeah, I have a community of friends and family that I answer to. How about you?

      once put on a large scale, the “community” is called government. And again, with the absence of God there is no grounds to say that corruption shouldn’t occur.

      Sometimes government does good stuff and sometimes not. What’s your point? We’re fallible people.

      Sure, if there were a fabulous omnipotent god who could set things right and establish objective morality, that’d be great. I await the evidence.

      Government is a huge fertile field for the seeds of corruption.

      I don’t know that corruption is the issue. It’s more inefficiency, ineptness, and so on. Government is fallible—at least we agree on that. Show me anything better (with evidence).

      if there is no God, the people over whom the government holds sway have no reason or right to throw off their government and institute a new one.

      Huh?

      Aft er all, as the founding documents of the US state, we are endowed by our CREATOR (not govt) with certain INALIENABLE rights (in other words, no one can take those rights away).

      Error #1: the Declaration of Independence (from which this came) says, “Government derives its just powers from …” (from who, do you think? God?) “… from the consent of the governed.” The people are in charge, Mack, not God.

      Error #2: the Declaration of Independence is irrelevant now. It’s a historical document, nothing more, and was never a governing document. The Constitution calls the shots, and it defines the U.S. as a secular country.

      if government gives you your rights, government can take them away

      Hmm … that could suck. Got anything better? I mean, something with evidence, not just a fairy tale?

      Now, I’m a Christian and I lead a good life. If I’m wrong and I die, go to the grave and rot and that’s it……I’ve lost nothing.

      Oh God … Pascal’s Wager.

      Look it up on this blog and learn a bit. Then get back to me.

      I will have lived my life as a moral example for others to follow and I have lost nothing.

      Huh? You’ll wind up in Buddhist hell! I’ve seen the paintings—it ain’t pretty.

      Or maybe it’s Mormon hell. Anyway, you’ll wind up in somebody’s hell.

      it’s not God being mean and nasty.

      Yeah, it pretty much is. You didn’t believe that which was unbelievable, so you roast in hell forever. Sounds mean and nasty to me.

      the Bible says that the invisible things of God are clearly seen in His creation

      Ah, yes. That’s a good authority that an atheist turns to for truth.

      If you are so convinced that you’re right, why argue about it!?

      Are you blind? Do you not see any consequences of Christianity in American society? If Christianity were no more substantial than knitting, I’d have a different hobby. But no, Christian busybodies are eagerly forcing their religion on society.

      • Meccaisbabylonthegreat

        In American society I see the morality declining and abortion and all manner of bad things becoming normal and accepted as we have turned away from God. Kids didn’t go shoot up schools years ago when they were whipped by their parents and parents cared about the kind of people they were turning out into society….as the bible says parents should.

        By definition, Christianity cannot be forced on anyone. You have to choose it. no one can choose it for you.

        It doesn’t matter if YOU turn to the Bible or not. It’s a historic document and has been around longer than any one of us and when people turned to the Bible for direction, society was far better off.

        God never supports slavery. His point in the Bible in telling slaves to do good work was to say, “don’t let your situation get to you. Don’t be bitter and lazy. Even if you weren’t a slave, you would still have to work.” Pretty simple, really.

        And genocide….what would YOU do if an entire city or country for that matter, was filled with rapists and murderers? Let them continue on forever!? You complain that God doesn’t stop evil when it springs up, but then complain when He DOES act! God can’t win with you!

        Atheism in communism. Marxism-Leninism holds that religion is the opium of the people, in the sense of promoting passive acceptance of suffering on Earth in the hope of eternal reward. Therefore, Marxism-Leninism advocates the abolition of religion and the acceptance of atheism.

        And your community of friends are probably all atheists….so, not much of a standard there. And whatever morality you do have is a residual morality brought on by the influence of Christianity. Murder is wrong because society says it’s wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong. sure there are plenty of arguments for why, but the Bible said it first. (Okay, maybe not FIRST, but that’s what WE got the idea that murder is wrong from.) Same with lying and such.
        And govt lets you keep your rights only until it becomes inconvenient for them to allow you to maintain the illusion that you are free. Then they take your rights away. This has been proven in history time and time again.
        And I’ll end up in Buddhist hell? What?! Being reincarnated over and over? Well, I suppose I would have to put up with atheists for another 80 years or something….good point.

        • SuperMark

          so the current moral decay has nothing to do with the economic collapse and nothing to do with the downfall of the middle class? It’s all because we reject jebus. There are numerous majority atheist countries in Europe that are doing just fine, better than us actually.

          Let me guess you have an ideolized view of america from the 50′s when gays could be killed with impunity and blacks and women knew their place? Seems like society as a whole has improved morally over the past 100 years after religion lost it’s strangle hold over culture following WW2 (society as a whole not individual actions…)

          Saying that Communism represents current atheist thinking is very ignorant.

          Reincarnation is not taught in Buddhism??? You continually show your ignorance and show us that you know nothing other than what is in your christian bubble.

        • Meccaisbabylonthegreat

          So you’re ok with the wars that we have fought for basically the entirety of American history because the bankers wanted a war? And economic prosperity has to do with debt, interest and having money to throw around, not morality.
          And I’m very much in favor of treating everyone with love and respect, not pushing anyone around or throwing anyone down. Jesus, after His resurrection, first appeared to a woman (a gesture that unless true would have made no sense as women were not respected at that time or place) and His cross was carried by a black man. God created everyone and loves us all the same.

        • SuperMark

          yes i’m okay with all the wars that had nothing to do with religion, you’re an ass.

        • Asmondius

          Like the war of 1812?

          World War II?

          The Falklands War?

        • SuperMark

          exactly

        • Pofarmer

          while not technically a religious war, WWII sure had a lot of religious components.

        • Asmondius

          Such as?

        • Pofarmer

          Well, there was the whole kamikaze thing and the Japanese beleiving their emperor was a God. Nazism wasn’t unique in it’s hatred of Jews, and was largely suppored by the Catholic Church and fed on the hatreds of Luther

        • Asmondius

          I think it’s fairly obvious that just because combatants have religious beliefs the war they fight is not necessarily over religion. The Japanese weren’t trying to convert Americans.

          The graveyards are full of Catholics who died fighting the Nazis – odd to make such a fantastic claim about the Catholic Church. The Nazis executed plenty of Catholics as well.

        • kraut2

          What a fucking liar you are – show me those graveyards full of catholics, a religion whose head master had signed a concordat with Hitler to keep its possessions save from the Nzis, and who often enough supported Nazi politics. Of course, the odd catholic who was stupid enough to violate his churches policy to not oppose Hitler wound up dead – there were actually a few after Juli 20, 1944, but a lot of catholic priests – not only in Germany, but also in Croatia, Hungary etc. who were happy to assist the Nazis.

          There are galleries of pictures of catholic bishops who quite voluntarily raise their arms in Adolph’s salute.
          And do not forget that Rome was instrumental in building the Nazi railroad to help Nazi war criminals escape after WW2 and settle in predominantly catholic South America.
          You might not have a fucking clue what you are talking about, but I grew up catholic in post war Germany still playing among the ruins, and the well known stance of the catholic hierarchy in Germany was one of the many reasons why I began my two year road to atheism that started when I was fourteen, only two years after my attempt to become a nice altar boy..

          The catholic church was also quite cozy with the likes of Franco, Salazar, Mussolini, Trujillo, Batista, and was happy to if not outright disown but at least keep apart from a Bishop Romero and other attempts of the liberation church

        • Asmondius

          Me: ‘The graveyards are full of Catholics who died fighting the Nazis – odd to make such a fantastic claim about the Catholic Church. The Nazis executed plenty of Catholics as well.’

          You: ‘What a fucking liar you are…’

          I can see by the intellectual level of your comment that you are probably the victim of a government education. Therefore in charity I must choose to ignore the ridiculous claims you have made.

        • Pofarmer

          i would ignore him too, because that’s the best chance you’ve got of not being proven wrong again.

        • Asmondius

          No ‘proof’ is found in the gutter.

        • Pofarmer

          The japanese were indoctrinated from a young age to think that the Chinese (their first target” were the descendents of lower species, and that the war was divine. Japanese soldiers were merciless to the chinese. Don’t make someoe whip out the quotes of the Catholic Church supporting the Nazi’s, or that it was the Catholic faction on Germany who put Hitler in power.

        • Asmondius

          What you are describing is racism or nationalism, not religious conflict. The United States was merciless toward the native American peoples (remember ‘Manifest Destiny’?) – was that a religious conflict?

          I suppose the Americans and British were Nazi sympathizers as well, since they maintained diplomatic relations with Hitler.

        • Pofarmer

          So, the catholic Poles who eagerly killed Jews after the Nazi invasion? What was that?

        • 90Lew90

          I’m actually beginning to loathe this one. Slimy bastard.

        • Pofarmer

          He can’t help it. Indoctrination is tough to see through. Doesn’t make it less despicable, though.

        • 90Lew90

          And Jews. And gypsies. And gay people. Deliberately and explicitly.

        • Asmondius

          Thanks for clarifying.

        • smrnda

          Morality is largely dependent on economic issues. Nations with low rates of poverty and better social welfare programs have less crime.

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

          Jesus, after His resurrection, first appeared to a woman (a gesture that unless true would have made no sense as women were not respected at that time or place)

          Caring for the dead was women’s work in that culture. The story would be ludicrous if men went to the tomb. More here.

          and His cross was carried by a black man

          I’ll just let that one sit until the irony sinks in.

        • SuperMark

          LOL, I didn’t know what to say to that one, good answer.

        • Asmondius

          Now Bob, you know that men took the body to the tomb. Women weren’t expected to lug dead weight around.

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

          That’s nice.

          Now that the trivia is out of the way, let’s return to the topic: visiting the tomb with spices wasn’t something that men would do in that culture. Having men discover the empty tomb wouldn’t have increased the credibility of the story but would’ve made it ridiculous.

        • Asmondius

          The spices were probably already at the tomb, as described in scripture.

          Women were not acceptable as formal witnesses in the culture, so their presence lends credence to the Gospels at this point as having some historical merit. If the authors were merely spinning a yarn to gain adherents, this would not have been a slick way of introducing the risen Christ. Clearly something happened at the tomb.

          Does the presence of women at the tomb alone prove the Resurrection? Probably not, but we do know that the Resurrection was a core belief of the earliest Christians.

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

          “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.” (Mark 16:1)

          Wow–it’s your scripture. Shouldn’t you know what it says?

          “Formal witnesses”? I’m pretty sure that a trial where the women would give testimony is not part of the story. These are trusted members of the inner circle. No, their story would not be dismissed because they were women (though it is temporarily doubted because it is so incredible).

          “Spinning a yarn”? No one is talking about that. Except you.

          Dealing with the dead was women’s work. Having men go to the kitchen at dawn on Sunday and discover Jesus in the darkness–that would be incongruous. Women finding the empty tomb wasn’t.

        • Asmondius

          Well Bob, you have managed to make an incorrect statement, contradict yourself, and miss the point entirely.

          We could spend lengthy volumes discussing the interesting subject of Jesus’ burial, as others have, but for now I will just address directly what you stated.

          ‘Dealing with the dead was women’s work.’

          This is incorrect. It was the work of the person’s family. Perhaps you are simply confusing the fact that men could attend to a man’s body but only women could attend to both males and females.

          And you have clearly contradicted your own contention on this with your use of the Gospels as evidence. All four clearly state that it was men who dealt with the disposition of the body – not women, who merely followed along or watched. The women who visit the tomb are not necessarily there to perform basic funerary rights, the visitation follows the cultural norm of mourning and/or verifying that the person was not buried prematurely. Because Jews did not practice embalmment, anointing the body with spices would be necessary to dispel the odor of corruption.

          Finally, the point is that the events surrounding Jesus’ burial are not depicted in a glorious way in light of ancient Jewish sensibilities. He is essentially buried by strangers, not by His family. There is no formal eulogy, dirge or funeral procession; the body is hurriedly interred as quickly as possible. He is not placed within a family crypt, but rather a tomb which perhaps exists as a sort of Potter’s Field for executed criminals. There are no mourners outside the tomb, perhaps only guards. Once the Sabbath is over, a small group of His female followers venture out to visit the tomb, not His closest disciples (all of whom are in hiding). The testimony of women concerning the Resurrection would have held little value for those of 1st century Jewish culture, the initial target audience of the Apostles. All of this points to a possible historicity concerning the accounts.

        • Pofarmer

          first off you are harmonizing again. There are four different burial and ressurection accounts. It’s my understanding all four say he was buried in a rich man’s tomb. The use of women as witnesses, as well as the original ending of Mark, with the women simply running away, could easily be a device to explain why no one had heard such a story of this raised messiah.

        • Asmondius

          ‘you are harmonizing again’

          Meaningless statement, irrelevant.

          ‘There are four different burial and ressurection accounts.’

          Somewhat different, yet they agree more than disagree. That is an indication of historical events.

          ‘It’s my understanding all four say he was buried in a rich man’s tomb.’

          Actually, none of them say that.

          ‘could easily be’

          Speculative – could also be true.

          ‘..no one had heard such a story of this raised messiah.’

          The spread of Christianity contradicts your statement.

        • Pofarmer

          Harmonizing is hardly irrelevant, scholars like Bart Ehrman spend signifigant time on it, because the scriptures differ in small but signifigant ways. They differ in ways that substantially alter the theology, and in ways that make them contradictory. The spread of christianity isn’t signifigantly different from the spread of religions today like mormonism. There is also signifigant evidence that christianity spread initially more away from palestine. Richard Carrier discusses this in “Not the impossible faith” which is a good read and heavily footnoted.

        • Al

          It is not true that “the scriptures differ in small but signifigant ways. They differ in ways that substantially alter the theology, and in ways that make them contradictory.”

          It is true that Christianity spread from Jerusalem to the rest of the world. How something spreads is not as important as the truth it proclaims and demonstrates.

        • Pofarmer

          The spread of a religion, political movement, or meme, often has little or nothing to do with the truth of it’s tenents. The most fanatical movements generally require the believers to acknowledge something impossible as true as a core tenent Eric Hoffer “The true believers.”

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

          Tell us then how reliable the scriptures that we have now are and how you know.

          Ever looked into the authorship of the pastoral epistles? Of 2 Peter? Of the last chapter of John?

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

          Well Bob, you have managed to make an incorrect statement, contradict yourself, and miss the point entirely.

          What, again? That’s like, what, 2 million times in a row now, isn’t it?

          ‘Dealing with the dead was women’s work.’

          This is incorrect. It was the work of the person’s family. Perhaps you are simply confusing the fact that men could attend to a man’s body but only women could attend to both males and females.

          So then applying spices to the body after death would’ve been culturally appropriate for the male disciples to do?

          All four clearly state that it was men who dealt with the disposition of the body – not women, who merely followed along or watched.

          Yeah, men carried the corpse into the cave. I thought it was obvious that we were all on the same page here, but thanks for clarifying.

          Because Jews did not practice embalmment, anointing the body with spices would be necessary to dispel the odor of corruption.

          And the disciples could’ve done this just as easily as the women?

          The testimony of women concerning the Resurrection would have held little value for those of 1st century Jewish culture

          How many times have we been over this? Yes, Josephus says that women’s testimony at that time had half the weight of men’s. So what? There is no courtroom in the bit about the women’s testimony.

          A woman in the inner circle reports the empty tomb to the disciples, and they react with incredulity (duh) but then they go to check it out. It would happen that way today; it would’ve happened the same way back then if a man had reported the empty tomb.

          Heck, look at the story of Thomas—every other disciple tells him that they saw Jesus face to face, but does he believe it? Does he point to any gender-specific issue of courtroom believability? No—he (sensibly) says that he won’t believe anything so remarkable without personal evidence.

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

          In American society I see the morality declining

          Could be. Compare the social stats of America and Western Europe—they spank us, and with less God to point to.

          and abortion

          Don’t like abortion? Then don’t have one. Don’t like others getting abortions? Then work to reduce unwanted pregnancies, the primary cause of abortions.

          we have turned away from God.

          It’s a secular country. And you’ve not shown that this “God” guy even exists.

          Kids didn’t go shoot up schools years ago when they were whipped by their parents and parents cared about the kind of people they were turning out into society….as the bible says parents should.

          Christianity has had a huge hand in making America the way it is in 2014. How do you know that Christianity isn’t part of the problem?

          Christianity cannot be forced on anyone

          Then tell Christians to leave the rest of society alone. They can practice their religion in peace, we won’t even know they exist, and everyone’s happy.

          when people turned to the Bible for direction, society was far better off.

          When was that? In the medieval period? I’m pretty sure things sucked then.

          God never supports slavery.

          Read your Bible. He regulates slavery just like he regulates accurate weights and measures. Read Lev. 25:44-46.

          And genocide…. what wou ld YOU do if an entire city or country for that matter, was filled with rapists and murderers?

          What?? Do you know what we’re even talking about here? We’re not talking about what I would do; we’re talking about what the omniscient and omnipotent Creator of the Universe® would do! Genocide is the cleverest thing he can think of?

          Why is the atheist always the one schooling Christians in what omnipotent means?

          Marxism-Leninism holds that religion is the opium of the people

          Lenin was giving religion a compliment. Search this blog for more.

          Marxism-Leninism advocates the abolition of religion and the acceptance of atheism.

          That’s nice. I’m not advocating communism.

          your community of friends are p robably all atheists….so, not much of a standard there

          We haven’t murdered anyone in months now. What’s your point?

          whatever morality you do have is a residual morality brought on by the influence of Christianity.

          Christianity is praised for giving humanity rules of good conduct that humanity itself figured out? Nope.

          Murder is wrong because society says it’s wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong

          You couldn’t figure out that murder is wrong without the Bible telling you?

          there are plenty of arguments for why, but the Bible said it first. (Okay, maybe not FIRST

          No, maybe not first. Humanity figured out that murder is wrong.

          And govt lets you keep your rights only until it becomes inconvenient for them to allow you to maintain the illusion that you are free.

          You are the government. It’s not some alien force.

          And I’ll end up in Buddhist hell? What?!

          ?? Read up on Buddhism to avoid embarrassing yourself.

        • smrnda

          “kids didn’t go shoot up schools years ago when they were whipped by their parents and parents cared about the kind of people they were turning out into society….as the bible says parents should.”

          Actually, school shootings are not new. Check out the wiki

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

          The technology for shooting has improved, but seriously, all the stats show us that we are less violent now.

          Additionally, there is plenty of evidence that the use of physical discipline does nothing positive.

          the US is worse? is it worse for Black people? Separate but equal is history, and the KKK is no longer quite the violent organization it once was. It’s better for women, better for minorities, better for people like myself (Jewish, GLTBQ). The idea of child and domestic abuse didn’t even exist. Marital rape was legal. You’re telling me there’s been decline?

        • wtfwjtd

          Hey, I saw the other day where in South Carolina, the KKK was handing out candy to children, to,you know, promote its kinder, gentler image (I’m sure it really helped). Tsk tsk, what’s society coming to? God must be so pissed.

        • Asmondius

          Actually, in one small town someone left bags of candy around homes with some KKK literature attached.

          Sounds like an atheist plot to me.

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

          It’s weird when the ethnic Jew is reserving judgment, but the Christian responds to anything but agreement with the policies of the government of Israel with the charge of antisemitism.

        • smrnda

          i think it comes from knowing actual Israelis. It isn’t as if every single time there is an Israeli military action that every single Israeli agrees 100% . Every single USian doesn’t agree with every military action the US engages in.

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

          And it’s not like the US, either government or citizenry, is obliged to rubber stamp any Israeli government action. ucfengr apparently sees things differently.

        • Pofarmer

          Look, just had one of my kids get screwed over real good by some people who are good, staunch, christians. It’s not that morality is declining, it’s that kids and young adults are being sheilded from the consequences of their decisions bu well meaning but ignorant parents.

        • Asmondius

          There’s truth in that. If Christianity made people perfect, this blog would not exist.

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

          Ah–so the only issue here is imperfect Christians, not the question of evidence of God. Do we just assume that? Or is the evidence overwhelming? ‘Cause I’m not seeing much at all.

        • Asmondius

          That’s the issue form this specific conversation, yes.

    • RichardSRussell

      Oh, cripe. “Atheists are indistinguishable from Communists.” Anyone with a brain can stop reading right there.

      • Asmondius

        All true Communists are probably atheists, but not all atheists are Communists.

    • MNb

      “you lust for that kind of power and influence”
      Pure smelly manure. I don’t have any desire for such power and influence.

      “If I’m wrong and I die, go to the grave and rot and that’s it……I’ve lost nothing.”
      Yes, you have spend time, a lot of time, wasting on worshipping an imaginary skydaddy and could have used that time in many, many other ways. Like trying to leave the planet in a slightly better state (now matter how little) than it was when you were born.
      From your comment it becomes clear you are not interested in doing that.

      • Asmondius

        The heck with people, let’s worship the planet.

        • kraut2

          You seem to be unable to think past worship.
          Taking care not to wreck things in a way to enable the future well being of human generations has nothing to do with worship but responsibility for ones and societies actions.
          you might as well saying one worships peace by trying to make warfare impossible.

          Your arguments are rotten to the core.

        • Asmondius

          ‘Taking care not to wreck things in a way to enable the future well being of human generations …’

          How does abortion fit into that desire?

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

          Abortion? Non-sequitur.

        • Asmondius

          Roger, Dodger.

          ‘well being of human generations’

          How do new generations get here?

        • Lindsey Leigh Phillips

          Hmm…could it be that by deciding to abort an unwanted pregnancy, a woman takes control of her situation, mitigating risks to her body she is unwilling/able to take (possibly because she already has children who depend on her)?

          There are plenty of reasons why a woman would choose an abortion (no explanation is owed to you) and the best reason is that her wellbeing is protected by making that choice. The embryos? They will not be missed, except by the fetus fetish brigade, and who gives a shit what they think, anyway?

        • Asmondius

          One can not produce a good result from an evil act.

          Narcissism is never beneficial for society.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          That wholly depends on what you define as good and what you define as evil. I assume that you refine the rightness/wrongness of killing a human being based on certain circumstances (i.e. self-defense, executing a criminal, etc.) even though you might refer to the act as “evil” by default.

          “One can not produce a good result from an evil act.” What if I steal food to feed a starving child? You should be careful with absolute statements.

          “Narcissism is never beneficial for society.” I hope you’re not implying that something that doesn’t benefit society is immoral. Plus, that doesn’t really apply to abortion since it doesn’t negatively affect society, unless you consider zygotes part of society (which I do not). In my opinion, It’s not wrong to do things solely for your own benefit, that just should not be all you do. Having an abortion prevents a particular instance of increasing the population and society gaining a new member, but the woman could choose to actually have a baby afterward. If you want to have a child you can, but mixing a sperm and an egg doesn’t immediately produce a new member of society as far as I’m concerned (you’d have to give it a few months).

          The dissonance in our views toward abortion stems from the fact that you consider a zygote with human DNA to have the same right to life as a sentient human while I don’t, mostly because of the zygote’s non-sentience. Killing a sentient being seems to me much more dire than killing something that is technically “alive” but does not think (and yes, animals think if only in a limited manner compared to us). So a sentient blob monster capable of reason would be something I would treat as a sentient human as opposed to a clump of cells that could become sentient. Whether or not it contains human DNA is irrelevant to me. It’s not like the zygote wants to become a full human and the mother is denying its wishes because it lacks the capacity to “want” in the first place.

        • Asmondius

          By definition, evil acts are voluntary. Therefore an act of self defense can not be evil as it is involuntary. State execution of criminals is an evil act.

        • MNb

          Mr.Braindead is not capable of recognizing a metaphor if it’s not a christian stereotype.
          With “the planet” I mean everything, including “the people”. Hence you present a false dilemma.

        • Asmondius

          That’s might big of you.
          What have you done for me lately?

        • MNb

          Are you not even capable of figuring that out yourself?

        • Asmondius

          Hmm – grass still needs cutting.

    • 90Lew90

      “You guys don’t WANT God to exist. You want to live your life how you want.”

      Well, yes frankly. You seem to be coming from that Christian starting point that people are shit, therefore people need Christ. Well, no. As far as I’ve seen, people are generally ok. And some of the worst pieces of shit I’ve come across have been very pious Christians.

      If you think that without your god you would be a raping, lying, sinning scumbag, speak for yourself. Do not suppose that everyone else needs the same palliative that you do. How does that grab you?

      • Asmondius

        ‘And some of the worst pieces of shit I’ve come across have been very pious Christians.’

        Thanks for the example of how a person without God comports themselves.

        • SuperMark

          you sure are full of one liners, you do realize that no one here is keeping score but you right…

          bablyons assertion about atheists is very insulting so Lew responded in kind. I’ve seen you be a self righteous dick on threads before, maybe you should look into that log in your eye…

        • Asmondius

          Another fine example.

        • SuperMark

          Thanks!

        • Asmondius

          Does the use of foul/rude language under the disguise of anonymity give you some feeling of the power you lack in real life?

        • SuperMark

          You’re a real dick. So what is it, you think it’s okay to be an ass to people you disagree with because we’re “the enemy” but when we give it right back to you we’re the bad ones? You’re the one claiming the moral high ground here and yet you’re a complete ass.

        • Asmondius

          Does the use of foul/rude language under the disguise of anonymity give you some feeling of the power you lack in real life?

        • SuperMark

        • Asmondius

          Does the use of foul/rude language under the disguise of anonymity give you some feeling of the power you lack in real life?

        • Greg G.

          Do you still masturbate in the back pew during church?

        • Asmondius

          Am I supposed to be shocked by that type of puerile comment?

        • Greg G.

          You started it by repeating a leading question repeatedly.

        • Asmondius

          Your comment is your own. It’s very revealing.

        • Lindsey Leigh Phillips

          Beep beep! It’s the tone police!

          “Up against the wall, motherfucker!”

        • Asmondius

          Does the use of foul/rude language under the disguise of anonymity give you some feeling of the power you lack in real life?

          Does portraying a female make you feel clever?

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

          No True Scotsman. Love it.

        • hector_jones

          God exists because an atheist said ‘shit’.

        • Asmondius

          If that’s what you believe, God will never cease to exist.

        • Greg G.

          I heard a sermon many years ago about why people take the name of the Lord in vain. The preacher said it was because there was power in the name. I wanted to shout out “Bullshit! Oh, there’s power in that name, too!”

          I was losing my faith at the time and that sermon sealed the deal.

        • Asmondius

          Perhaps you lost it because you focused on preachers, rather than God.

        • Greg G.

          Wrong. That was the last resort. But then focusing on the non-existent isn’t a good thing either.

        • Pofarmer

          Personally, I focused on God, and realised it was a mirage.

        • Asmondius

          Humans are actually pretty good at focusing on the non-existent. Those who are exceptionally good are often called ‘visionaries’.

        • kraut2

          You say as if that was an unequivocally good thing.

          Hitler was a visionary, so was Pol Pot, so was Mao, so was
          Qin Shi Huang, so was Hannibal, so was Timur, so was Vlad the impaler, so was Franco, so was Lenin, so was Alexander the Great, so was Muhammad, so was Khomeini, so was Bonaparte so was Robespierre…need more examples why visionaries might not be a good thing for humanity?

        • Greg G.

          Those who are exceptionally good at focusing on the non-existent are often called insane, too.

        • Asmondius

          Visionaries have been called insane – yes.

        • Pofarmer

          Good or Lucky? Look at all the “visionaries” that were wrong. Well, some of the stuff maybe just hasn’t happened yet. But just because some people get lucky and get something right, we tend to forget all the other stuff they got completely wrong. It’s called confirmation bias, and it’s natural.

        • Asmondius

          Lucky is ‘good’, is it not?

          The point is that humans have the ability to conceptualize beyond their current physical surroundings.

        • Pofarmer

          Remember thay statement about confirmation bias? We tend to remember the hits, and forget all the misses. I see it all the time shooting trap and skeet. I think, man, I did really well that round, and it’s another 12 or whatever.

        • Asmondius

          Anecdotal is inadmissible.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s a known, studied pheonomenon. MnB pegged you. Braindead.

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

          When Jacob fought the angel, the angel refused to give his name. I’ve heard that in that culture, names had power, like Beetlejuice or Rumpelstiltskin or abracadabra.

        • Greg G.

          Don’t forget Paul “Muad’Dib” Atreides from the Dune series.

        • hector_jones

          Still waiting for your evidence that God and that Geneva case you mentioned exist. Thanks.

        • Asmondius

          You missed you opportunity on God – someone else has taken me up on it.

        • hector_jones

          I don’t know what that means. Perhaps you could post a link?

        • Asmondius

          How may I post a link to one of my own posts?

        • hector_jones

          Scroll up. No wait, scroll down.

        • Asmondius

          Thanks very much.

        • Pofarmer

          if you hit the share tab under your post, you can open the post in it’s own window, you can then copy and paste the url, at least that’s the way it is on my ipad, on my phone, you can hold down over the post and copy it’s location, not sure exactly how it is on a windows machine.

        • Greg G.

          Your reply popped as I was typing the last sentence. Mine is for Windows, so he should be covered.

        • Asmondius

          I appreciate that – thanks.

        • Greg G.

          On my computer, not my hand-held, next to the Reply link is a Share link. If I mouse over it, three icons appear: Twitter, Facebook, and an icon with a couple of chain links. If I right-click, I get the option “Copy Link Location” in Firefox and IE has a different phrasing, and left-clicking that option copies the hashed URL to Clipboard where it can be pasted elsewhere. A hyperlink can be created or the URL itself can be pasted. For the latter option, make sure there is no punctuation immediately after the URL as it gets incorporated by the software and breaks it.

        • Asmondius

          Thanks much for the tips.

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

          Find your old comment.

          Then click on the timestamp (“X hours ago”) to change the URL and the orange bar.

          Then take the new URL and paste it into a new comment.

        • Asmondius

          Thanks for the assist.

        • Asmondius

          Just another example of the level of discourse on your blog.

        • SuperMark

          yeah and it’s always self righteous assholes like you that bring us down. check out a thread on Bob’s blog that doesn’t have a troll like you on it and you will see it’s very different.

        • Asmondius

          Are you Bob’s alter ego?

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

          I post an article 3 times a week. You got something thoughtful to add? Do so. The quality of the posts isn’t good enough? Leave.

          You seem to prefer to just hang around like a shade in Hades, not really contributing, just whining and complaining.

        • Asmondius

          My comment referred to the foul language, not your editorial posts (‘article’ seems inaccurate).

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

          I said “article” when “post” is more accurate because so often in these comments, “comment” = “post” (which seems confusing to me, but that’s a quibble).

          And you use “editorial” because you see more opinion than fact? I’d urge you to point out any errors that I make instead of just coming here to take a dump, but I’ve done that before without results. Conclusion: dumping is all you got.

        • Asmondius

          Bob, I have done so – look around. Once again, point out any you wish me to critique. That’s more productive than trading quips in the comments section.

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

          Oh? None sticks in my mind. Even if you did have some good points, they would’ve been overwhelmed with all the crap you post in addition. Maybe the crap isn’t helping your position.

          You’ve been poking around at various posts. Go ahead–but if you have something to say, keep it relevant and topical.

        • Asmondius

          I can only work with the material at hand.

        • Greg G.

          If you don’t have anything to say that is relevant and topical, then there is no need to post anything. Bide your time and you may think of something interesting later.

        • Asmondius

          Preaching to the choir.

        • Philmonomer

          You could explain to me why I am not getting $20.

        • Asmondius

          ?

          ?

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

          No, not really. If you were in the choir, you’d get it and would focus on substantive comments (which I’ve noticed you actually can make) rather than petty sniping.

          Show us the best that Christians can be. We already have plenty of examples of Christian assholes.

        • Asmondius

          Both of your posts seem like snipes from my perspective.

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

          And yet again, this does nothing to point out the errors. If there’s nothing that you can refute or correct, then I guess they stand.

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

          I just replied to a comment of yours that, surprisingly, was on topic. This is the one arguing about women witnesses to the empty tomb was especially reliable.

          Your arguments were all ones that I had dealt thoroughly with in my post on that subject, but at least you were trying. That conversation could conceivably turn into something where you present evidence or ideas that are new. That’s what we’re looking for. Do more of that.

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

        Well, yes frankly.

        That does seem a bit selfish. Babylon would very much like to tell you how to live your life, and you just dismiss that? Don’t you think of his feelings?

        [Edit: I picked up Asmondius's name from below. My bad.]

  • King Dave

    There is no advantage to being an Atheist. You still can get run over by a bus. And if after death you turn out to be wrong about god, whether it’s Allah or Jesus, your now doubly f*@ked.

    • hector_jones

      And how is a Christian who gets run over by a bus not doubly f*@ked if he turns out to be wrong and it’s Allah and not Jesus?

      And look how a Christian comports himself. Oh my.

    • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

      *you’re*

    • MNb

      If I reconvert and turn out to be right about god, whether it’s allah or Jesus, I’m double f#$ked as well. Heaven – ie spending eternity with people like you – is totally unattractive.

    • Greg G.

      But if we are wrong and there is a god who made the universe to look like there was no god and made a heaven for those who understood that and a hell for those who believed in a god anyway, then we’ll be fine and you will be triply f*@ked.

      Of course you have to remember that God has free will and could change his mind any time. Jesus could be quoting Matthew 7:22-23 to all the Christians. You will be quadruply f*@ked.

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

        Christians are quick to say that God’s ways are not our ways or that God’s mind understands things that our feeble human minds just don’t get. The Christian who’s sure he has a ticket to heaven could walk up to the pearly gates with a smile on his face, only to have St. Peter pull the lever that drops the trap door, sending him to hell. “Surprise, bitch! God’s ways are not your ways.”

        • Greg G.

          I know a Christian who needs to hear that one. Thanks.

        • Lindsey Leigh Phillips

          Hahahahaa!

          I think I’ll turn that into a comic book.

  • Asmondius

    ‘To see what we can say about God, let’s look for parallels in how we handle other beings not acknowledged by science—…space aliens…… ‘

    ‘NASA held a panel discussion at the agency’s Washington headquarters on Monday, where space experts talked about the search for Earth-like planets that host life. Based on recent advancements in space telescope technology, scientists estimated that in the coming decades we’ll confirm suspicions that we’re not alone.

    “I think in the next 20 years we will find out we are not alone in the universe,” NASA astronomer Kevin Hand said in footage filmed at the discussion and posted on YouTube.’ —- Huffpost 071514

    Remember folks – science is provisional’.

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

      Sounds good to me. Does this undercut the post somehow?

  • Asmondius

    ‘Absence of evidence is no proof of absence, but it can certainly be strong evidence. If you’ve spent five minutes poking through that drawer looking for your keys and still can’t find them, that’s pretty strong evidence of their absence.’
    Absence from the drawer only – not absence from existence.

    • GAB

      all of this you posted is word from word from another cite

      • Asmondius

        Then by all means, let’s see it.

        • hector_jones

          Then by all means let’s see the evidence for your god, and for that Geneva decision while you are at it.

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

        Interesting. Where does our ol’ buddy Asmondius like to hang out online?

        • Asmondius

          Why, right here Bob.

    • MNb

      Yeah – if you want to use this argument regarding Moses and his gang you have to dig the entire Sinai – which exactly was what Israel Finkelstein did. Guess who are “digging” (warning in case you’re going braindead again: this is a metaphor) the Universe?
      No evidence for any god. Wake me up as soon as you have found some.

      • Asmondius

        How many common ancient Egyptians have been dug up?

        Human remains are a very unreliable historical marker.

        • Greg G.
        • Asmondius

          As to my point:

          http://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/science-lost-army-persian-king-cambyses-ii-02002.html

          Not sure what your point is – if a destroyed 50,000 man army provides just a relatively small pile of bones and metal objects, what could one expect to find of a group of living Jews?

        • Greg G.

          There are three pages to the story. Read Exodus and notice how many are killed at a time. There should be many piles of bones like that for the 2 million or so.

          Two million dead in 40 years is 50,000 per year plus all of their livestock plus all the coprolite, not to mention the infant mortality rate.

        • Asmondius

          ‘There should be many piles of bones like that for the 2 million or so.’

          False assumption. We have barely any from all of the human generations preceding us.

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

          What part of “they’d be buried in a desert” do you not understand?

          There are stories (perhaps apocryphal) of mummies being used as fuel for locomotives and as sources of rags for making paper. Mummies are prized acquisitions in museums only if they’re famous. Ordinary mummies were quite common–and well preserved.

        • Greg G.

          You apparently clueless what this conversation is about. Bob linked to a picture of 3000 year old bones in the desert from a group of 50,000. Where are the bones of 2 million? Where are the bones of their livestock? Where are the shards of pottery? There should be all of these in the Sinai Desert if Exodus was true.

          Read the conversation, then comment on the context instead of guessing incorrectly what was said before.

        • Pofarmer

          No human remains. No settlements. No historical records from Egypt. No archaeological records from Egypt. Not to mention, the line of people would have nearly stretched from Egypt to Palestine. They could have held hands and made a chain. The whole thing is an invented story to explain why one group of Canaanites had different religious beliefs than another group of Canaanites. That’s where the archaeology points, that the Israelites were pretty much always right where they were.

        • Asmondius

          All which is typical for this period of human history. Those of you who believe there are volumes of ancient material available are mistakenly equating the past with your own time. Others expressed the same sentiments about Troy until it was actually located and unearthed.

          The Old Testament itself is a set of historical literature, it would be foolish to merely discount it as a huge body of fiction.

        • Pofarmer

          The OT seems largely to exagerate history, which was common. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Exodus story didn’t start out as Joe’s, uncles, cousins, Grandpa escaped from Egypt and that’s how we got here. I’m sure there are nuggets of truth in the bible, but it’s completley overwhelmed by the story telling.

        • Asmondius

          If Jesus Christ is the one ‘nugget’ you take away, you are in good shape.

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

          Not likely in Pofarmer’s case. Nor mine.

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

          High five! That’s what I say, bro!

          And what about those clueless whiners who deny that the Iliad is historic literature? As you mentioned, you’ve got Troy! Uh, hello? I mean, how much dot connecting must we do for you people?

        • Asmondius

          If you are comparing the Iliad to the Bible, you have made a very poor choice.

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

          … and my argument lies in tatters at my feet.

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

          2 million corpses in the desert? There should be some evidence of that.

        • Asmondius

          Bob, I’ll politely ask once again.

          Have we dug up large numbers of all the generations of common Egyptians who were put to rest in the desert?

          Why do you believe that human remains from antiquity are somehow indestructible?

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

          We have dug up large numbers of Egyptians who were buried.

          Hebrews were buried–2 million of them, according to the Good Book.

          Organic things last for a long time in the desert. Perhaps you’ve heard of Oxyrhynchus.

        • Pofarmer

          No one is saying only human remains.

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

      Correct. Because you know that the keys exist.

      The God situation isn’t much different: if you’ve been looking for a God who you’re told is eager to be found but you haven’t found him, that’s evidence of his nonexistence.

      • Asmondius

        That’s only evidence of your own unfamiliarity, His existence can certainly be universal beyond your personal scope.

        There can be several reasons for your personal inability to find God, such as approach or method. Spinsters may feel they have evidence that married love does not exist, yet their observations are not automatically universal.

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

          Of course. God will always win a game of hide and seek.

          But this isn’t the Christian god who wants to have a personal relationship with his creation.

          Your spinster example is unhelpful to your position. Spinsters who actually live in society can see romantic love in others within society. They actually have evidence. There’s no evidence-less appeal to the supernatural.

  • ucfengr

    Wow, a Jesuit monk just won the Carl Sagan medal from the American Astronomical Society. How can that be? Christians don’t believe in science, right?

    http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2014/07/trasancos-brother-guy-consolmagno-carl-sagan-medal-winner-and-role-model/

    • MNb

      That Asmon is the only one who voted you up should tell you something. Nobody here ever claimed that christians “don’t believe in science”. Are you initiating a competition with Asmon who can pull off the silliest comments? Could become quite a spectacle.

      • Asmondius

        Apparently you don’t read the musings of your fellow posters.

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

      I’m missing the problem. Lemaitre (priest) and Mendel (Augustinian friar) also contributed notably to science.

      If you’re making a point, you’ll have to make it clearer.

  • Asmondius

    ‘Science has been surprised by new animals in the past. The gorilla, coelacanth, okapi, and giant squid were all surprises, and Bigfoot could be another. ‘

    Minor corrections for clarity:
    We have fossils of the coelacanth, the surprise there was that it was not extinct, as had been thought.

    Giant squids were not a ‘new animal’, simply a new dimension of an existing animal.

  • Asmondius

    ‘The gorilla, coelacanth, okapi, and giant squid were all surprises, and Bigfoot could be another. ‘

    I think it is unfair to say the gorilla and okapi were ‘surprises’ to science, they are just new revelations resulting from discovery.

  • Asmondius

    ‘Does this look like a world with a god in it? If God existed, shouldn’t that be obvious? ‘

    Your complaint seems to be with the state of the world rather than with God.

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

      My original wording works fine, thanks.

      • Asmondius

        Did you mean to say ‘wording’?

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

          Yes, typo. Thanks for pointing that out.

          Fixed now.

  • Asmondius

    ‘There is enough evidence to render a provisional judgment (and scientific conclusions are always provisional).’
    Thus you have dedicated years of your life to what may be a temporary state of affairs. I do like the idea that you leave the door open for God just a crack.

    • MNb

      Every science-minded guy – ie not you – has this attitude. In some mathematical context square circles also might exist. Show me one and I’m convinced.

      • Asmondius

        Then you are wasting your time attempting to judge everything in human experience via ‘science’.

        • Greg G.

          Then you are wasting your time attempting to judge everything in human experience that is indistinguishable from the imaginary.

        • Pofarmer

          Let’s not bother that science has actually made measurable improvements in peoples lives. Let’s not bother that science has actually taken us into the heavens while religion just made up stories about it. The only reliable judge of reality we have, would appear to be science.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, but as soon as there is a better way to judge reality than carefully considering empirical evidence, I’m switching to that. It doesn’t make much sense to use the second most reliable method.

        • Asmondius

          The first problem for you is that imagination is not the only intangible in human experience.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, it’s a problem for everyone but as to the existence of the supernatural, it’s only the believer’s problem.

        • Asmondius

          The believers are not here – you are.

        • Greg G.

          You are particularly incoherent today. You are not comprehending the preceding conversation yet you can’t shut up.

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

          Tourette’s, maybe?

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

          Not necessarily everything. Scientific claims like those made by Christians about how God impacts the world (miracles, answered prayers, Creation, etc.) are a good place to start.

        • Asmondius

          A ‘scientific claim’ is simply a hypothesis – right?

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

        On a hyperbolic surface, the circumference of a circle can be greater than pi*r^2. On a parabolic surface, it can be less.

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

      I have no proof that God doesn’t exist. I can’t foresee having that proof. The door has always been open just a crack.

      Point to something that’s not a “temporary state of affairs” that I’m overlooking.

      • Asmondius

        ‘The door has always been open just a crack.’

        Great.

        ‘Point to something that’s not a “temporary state of affairs” that I’m overlooking.’

        Anything that exists outside of the space-time continuum – perhaps God.

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

          Nah–I’m looking, but I don’t see anything like that.

  • Asmondius

    ‘…where far too many children live short and painful lives because of malnutrition, abuse, injury, or birth defects…’

    The shortest life of all is suffered by the approximately one million new lives aborted in the USA alone each year. A practice you support.

    • David Mills

      I don’t think all atheists support abortion, and since you weren’t responding to one person directly, I take that to mean everyone here. I think that a dishonest generalization that undermines your arguments.

      • Greg G.

        Anti-abortionists conflate biological life and the mind. Those are different things. Body parts can be transplanted and continue biological life when the rest of the body is dead and decayed. The mind is a process of the brain, just as vision is a process of the eyes and visual center of the brain.

        The idea that a soul is infused at conception has no evidence to support it and lots of conceptual reasons to reject it. Does a fertilized egg get more than one soul to turn into identical twins or triplets? What happens in the case of chimeric individuals where two fertilized eggs merge into one fetus? What about two headed babies? The math doesn’t add up.

        People who don’t or can’t make those distinctions have no business telling a woman what she must do with her body.

        • David Mills

          Wow Greg, you stepped right over me and into the line of fire while I tried to cover fire, making Asmondius the victor. My apologies to Asmondius.
          Yes, this picture is offensive. It’s also accurate. Of course you and I both know why abortion is really promoted… 50% of aborted fetus are black.

        • SuperMark

          I think that has more to do with our education system than some great racist conspiracy…

          That picture is part of the problem, it is implying that babies past the first trimester are aborted in mass which simply isn’t the case.

        • Greg G.

          About 70% of women having abortions are economically disadvantaged. About 40% are unmarried. The racial aspect has nothing to do with it.

        • MNb

          Either you are a fool or you are a liar. In both cases you are violating your very own 9th commandment; ignorance is not seen as an excuse.
          This is the accurate picture:

          http://www.stemedical.de/en/dictionary/zygote/

          Remember: I’m Dutch. The Netherlands have legalized abortion since more than 30 years. Abortion rates are more than 3 times lower than in Louisiana, where abortion is prohibited. Most women having abortions in The Netherlands are totally white. So this

          “know why abortion is really promoted”
          is a lie too. Nobody in The Netherlands promotes abortion; on the contrary, Dutch government (a failure in quite a few aspects) does an excellent job to minimize it. Since three decades.
          That’s a lot of points down for your version of christianity. It makes you bear false witness.
          Only way to get your points back is to swallow your words. Even if you are against abortion you are simply wrong here. Plus you offend an entire country. At the positive side you confirm my Dutch prejudices against Americans.

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

          Further, the zygote from your site magnified. It is actually smaller than this period: .

          http://www.stemedical.de/uploads/pics/zygote_.jpg

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

          Huh?? White folks can’t make mistakes, too?

          Is the picture equally offensive when the fetus is actually just a single cell?

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

        I think Asmondius was talking to just me, the author of the post above. The abortion point was a non-sequitur.

        You’re right that not all atheists support abortion, and those that do support it might want various limitations imposed. Nevertheless, I don’t see Asmondius as out of line (except in his feeble attempt to change the conversation).

      • Asmondius

        I’m afraid the ‘dishonest generalization’ is yours – since I plainly quoted Bob, obviously my comment is directed at him.

        Bob’s support of the option to abort is well documented in this blog..

    • Pofarmer

      I don’t support later term abortions. although I think Plan B, the morning after pill, etc, etc, are perfectly fine, and reduce the number of later term abortions. If you are serious about reducing abortions, then you should support birth control and education in it’s use.

      Here are some relevant statistics.

      .

      Miscarriage Statistics

      Sadly,
      miscarriages are a very common occurrence.
      Sources vary, but many estimate that approximately
      1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; and some estimates are as
      high as 1 in 3. If
      you include loss that occurs before a positive pregnancy test,
      some estimate that 40% of all conceptions result in loss.

      Although
      statistics can vary slightly from one source to the next, here
      is a general account (based primarily on information provided by
      the March of Dimes) of the frequency of miscarriages in the
      United States:
      There are about 4.4 million confirmed pregnancies in the
      U.S. every year.
      900,000 to 1 million of those end in pregnancy losses EVERY
      year.
      More than 500,000 pregnancies each year end in miscarriage
      (occurring during the first 20 weeks).
      Approximately 26,000 end in stillbirth
      (considered
      stillbirth after 20 weeks)
      Approximately 19,000 end in infant death during the first
      month.
      Approximately 39,000 end in infant death during the first
      year.
      Approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; some
      estimates are as high as 1 in 3. If you include loss that
      occurs before a positive pregnancy test, some estimate that
      40% of all conceptions result in loss.
      Approximately 75% of all miscarriages occur in the first
      trimester.

      God ain’t doin’ so hot, either. Now, add onto this that there are nearly ONE THOUSAND MILLION people living in hunger on this planet, and somewhere around 3 million children per year under the age of 5 die from hunger every year, that’s nearly one a minute, and it looks like God really sucks at his job.

      • SuperMark

        Hey Po do you have a link with all of this useful info? This is the first lie I was told by my church that uncovered when I made it out on my own. I didn’t even know that abortions after the first trimester have always been illegal until I was in my twenties. Christians never talk about this because it doesn’t support the “baby killing” mantra.

        • Lindsey Leigh Phillips

          they conveniently neglect the fact that most late term abortions occur because something goes horribly wrong with a wanted pregnancy.

      • David Mills

        No, we’re in a fallen broken world, which will not go on indefinitely.
        I’m not sure you don’t believe in God, or you just don’t like the one you were issued.

        • SuperMark

          I would expect a perfect god to create a better world, one that could not be “broken”.

        • David Mills

          And where is the adventure in that?
          Something came up…probably won’t be back the rest of the day. I will tag up later. You guys are nothing if not persistent. While eating dinner last night my phone was blowing up with notifications. Wife says, what’s going on? I tell her I stirred up an atheist nest ; )

        • MNb

          Shitty adventure, when you run a serious risk to end in Auschwitz or get drowned in a tsunami when born in the wrong time and wrong place. I doubt if you would permit your children to take part in such an adventure.
          Indeed, persisting we are. I like to tell myself that I’m one of the worst.

        • David Mills

          MNb, wait, I was told by one of you guys that man is inherently good, not evil as the bad preachers told us. Now you’re saying man can be shitty. Cake+eat it too? I hate the fact you keep drawing me in when I really have stuff to do! 10 notifications in my email for cripe sake!
          I’ll be back, God willing :) and will try to research the slavery issue. Seem that’s a real hang-up for you guys.
          Dave-out for now.

        • Greg G.

          He didn’t say man was shitty. He said he called himself the worst but a box of mixed chocolates has a best kind and a worst kind, but none of them are shitty.

          Your first post was about morality and eternal consequences. You need a source for the claim of eternal consequences and the morality required to escape the consequences. If the Bible is your source, you have to explain the immorality in it. Slavery is just one. We can talk about genocide, too. Or killing people for picking up sticks on the sabbath, having your children stoned for being sassy, and things like that.

          Some will defend the Bible by saying Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection cancelled those old laws but that doesn’t make the old covenant moral, does it? That gives away the absolute morality argument. How can someone be eternally punished for a law that can be overturned or for a sin that could be changed to not a sin?

          We can talk about the reliability of the Bible. The evidence shows that Abraham and Moses never existed. The genocides never happened either. Those are just tall tales. We can talk about whether Jesus actually existed and we are not in total agreement on that issue.

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

          What’s a hoot is to hear apologists respond to charges of genocide by saying, “Oh, yeah–those are just soldiers bragging around the campfire. Oral histories got captured in Hebrew history. They didn’t actually happen!”

          So to dodge the Genocide bullet, they step in the path of the Bible is Unreliable bullet. Not an improvement, IMO.

        • MNb

          Not by me. It’s a long time ago I defended that homo sapiens is inherently good. That doesn’t mean I think homo sapiens is inherently evil though. He/she is a lot of both, with in the very long run (ie longer than my lifetime) more good than evil.

        • SuperMark

          I think we could still have adventure without so much suffering. Where is the adventure in heaven then?

          You also have to realize that you’re different than most Christians that comment on these blogs. See Asmondious below as an example…

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

          Tell some of your Christian buddies to drop by and add to the conversation.

          (Tip for your buddies: respond thoughtfully and politely, not making any statement that you can’t [or haven't] justified, and you’ll likely get the same in return.)

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

          I’ll add to SuperMark’s point: I think commenters are being tough on you because you can take it and because you might be able to assimilate new information and drop flawed arguments as necessary. That’s a good thing. And rare.

        • David Mills

          Good gosh do any of you have jobs?

        • David Mills

          Good gosh do any of you have jobs???

        • Pofarmer

          never heard of multitasking?

        • Greg G.

          I do but we must have priorities. 80)

        • MNb

          “Good gosh do any of you have jobs???”
          Not me. My non-existing god provides me with everything I need.

        • MNb

          Is Heaven a fallen broken world? Of course this is a trick question again. If you answer yes I’ll ask what the fuzz about salvation is; if you answer no I’ll ask why perfect god, who has known at least since you have been conceived, doesn’t send you to Heaven straightaway, allowing you to skip the vale of tears you call “a fallen broken world”. It’s a lot of unnecessary suffering your gods make you go (and people) through; as a military man you undoubtedly have first hand experience with such unnecessary suffering.
          Related is this question, regarding a remark you made above.

          “That’s our free will at work.”
          Will you have free will in Heaven? (once again: trick alert) If yes, will you invariably choose to do good? If yes, why hasn’t your god created Earth that way (or, if you prefer, let you enter Heaven directly)?
          If you can choose to do evil in Heaven, what’s the difference with Earth and why should you want to go there?
          If you don’t have free will in Heaven, what’s the buzz about free will on Earth?

        • Pofarmer

          As Christopher Hitchens liked to say ” We are evolved Primates, not fallen Angels.”. Give me some evidence of how things were before “The fall”.

        • Pofarmer

          Let’s not beat around the bush. There was no Adam and Eve. There was no Garden of Eden. There was no talking Serpent. There was no Fall of Man. These were ways for a pre-scientific, superstitious society to explain the way the world was. Every culture all over the world has/had some similar story. There is no “fallen broken world” except to the extent that we fail to make it better when we can. The idea that we’re all horrible sinful worms, fallen away from God, has done untold damage over the course of history, it’s high time this bullshit was abandoned.

        • MNb

          For one thing, if you tell people often enough that they are pieces of shit, that nothing good can come out of them, no matter how hard they try, then many will begin to behave accordingly.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve seen kids self image really damaged by the constant harping on this.

      • Asmondius

        Miscarriage numbers are projections and vary wildly. If you delve into some of the details it is known that a fair amount of miscarriages are due to human factors such as health, diet, drug use, etc.

        Trying to fashion a equivalence between miscarriage and abortion makes about as much sense as comparing death by heart attack to homicides. This is a sad old pro-abortion argument I am sorry to see dredged up once again here.

        It is not God’s fault that people are hungry and children starve to death – its ours.

        • Philmonomer

          The shortest life of all is suffered by the approximately one million new lives aborted in the USA alone each year. A practice you support.

          Actually, the shortest lives of all are those “human beings” (killed by God) who “naturally” fail to implant in the uterus. That is approximately 2-3 million babies in the USA alone each year.

        • Asmondius

          ‘Trying to fashion a equivalence between miscarriage and abortion makes about as much sense as comparing death by heart attack to homicides. This is a sad old pro-abortion argument I am sorry to see dredged up once again here.’

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

          I accept your comparison. And they both support the idea that God doesn’t much care. Why get in a lather about abortions when God kills so many more precious babies? He’s the one you should be working on.

        • Pofarmer

          No one is trying to fashion an equivalence. If you want to really see an eye opener, look at infant and maternal mortality statistics in say, 1900 vs today. Also, starvation isn’t a modern phonomenon, hunger has been a leading cause of death, it is much BETTER today than in the past.

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

          Incredibly, 1900 was long after Pasteur, Semmelweis, and Lister. I guess germ theory was a mind-bending idea that took a while to catch on.

        • Pofarmer

          We knew a little something about germs, we just didn’t have the techmology yet to do much about it.

        • Asmondius

          Your statements:

          ‘Here are some relevant statistics.
          .
          Miscarriage Statistics

          God ain’t doin’ so hot, either. ‘

          The great thing about posing your thoughts in writing is that you can’t deny them after the fact

        • MNb

          Yeah yeah, the old canard

          Something good: praise the Lord;
          Something bad: blame Homo Sapiens.

        • Asmondius

          Are you trying to say that induced abortions are not a conscious human action?

        • MNb

          And how am I supposed to say that? I’d love to learn a bit more about your twisted apologist line of thinking.

        • Lindsey Leigh Phillips

          If I have an abortion, I won’t be asking you or “god” for permission.

          Creep.

        • Asmondius

          Since that is impossible, your point is moot.

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

      Abortion? Yep.

      A 5-year-old is really, really, really, really, really, really different than an insensate single cell. Apparently you disagree.

      • Asmondius

        A 15-year-old is really, really, really, really, really, really different than a 5-year old.

        Grounds for casual execution?

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

          1st sentence: I disagree. I could explain why, but you’ve probably already heard it.

  • Asmondius

    ‘Can we say that anything doesn’t exist? With certainty, probably not.’

    End of the rationale for this blog, I suppose.

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

      Whew! Good thing you came along to tell us what the rationale for this blog is. Please inform us.

      • Asmondius

        Seems to be just good ol’ capitalism.

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

          Explain further. Pull the curtain off this corrupt money making machine.

  • David Mills

    What is your reaction to this statement: If there is no God, then there is absolutely nothing illegal (because there are no eternal consequences).

    • SuperMark

      God doesn’t write our laws, something is illegal because society say it is wrong/harmful. I think you mean to say without god nothing is immoral. What do you think about Plato’s argument below:

      • David Mills

        Thanks for the correction, immoral is a better word. But you still made an end-run around the lack of eternal consequences.

        • SuperMark

          What does morality have to do with eternity? Why does the idea of morality hinge on the idea that you have to be punished or rewarded for eternity?

          I’m not trying to be facetious with you I just don’t understand why they have to be connected?

        • David Mills

          I don’t particularly enjoy these kinds of arguments, primarily because every argument that can be made, has been made on both sides. You and I will add nothing new.

          Plato’s argument doesn’t invalidate God’s existence…what it does do is define the problem; it has to be one or the other. I contend that something is right because God ordains it as right. Some of God’s commands are counter-intuitive. Some are difficult if not near impossible to keep. Left up to man himself, he would not encumber himself with life rules that are near impossible to keep.

          Edit: I’m new here and just tripped in here from another link. Just so you know, I’m not a sanctimonious pious-type Christian. I can take a cussin if you need to cuss at me. I don’t mind. I was a Survival Instructor in the Air Force for 27 years and it’s a rough group…and I’m the first to admit I dealt out a lot of good cussings. One of my class-mates was a Mormon turned atheist. If he came to my house I’d give him a good bear hug. Doubting there is a God is one thing. Hating God is another. Some can’t decide which they are. If you’re a doubter, you’re in good company. It’s good theology to doubt. But if you’re a hater, then we’ll just part ways and hopefully avoid each other.

        • SuperMark

          I agree “there is nothing new under the sun” but that does not mean that we cannot learn from each other and grow in our understanding of the world.

          I don’t think Plato’s argument invalidates the god hypothesis either, it just invalidates the “divine command theory” at least to me as I find it a very compelling argument. The best one I’ve found to answer your question “is there morality without god”.

          I still don’t understand why you think eternity is a precondition of morality. Can you imagine a fictional world where heaven and hell is not in the bible but all of the morality is the same? If so, why would that make the morals of the bible in that reality any less true?

        • David Mills

          That’s a question that requires a book to answer. Hey there is one!

          SuperMark, my understand is that man is not inherently good, and left to our own devices, we would not be able to live in peace anywhere. I think the Spirit of God allows us to come as close as possible to the point of absolute chaos, to show us just how completely jacked up we are (think of the worst that man has dished out on his fellow man), and that we can’t do this on our own. The idea from the Garden of Eden is that God created us to have a relationship with Him. But Adam’s sin was trying to take control, and be like God. That was Satan’s fall too. So, when we try to take control away from God, we find ourselves and a position where we cannot have a relationship, and we are on the “outs” with our creator.

          As far a Christians being painted as the most evil people ever, well, I guess some are. David sent a man to war to be killed so he could have his wife. Damn that’s bad. But the story is there to show us how David “bounced back” from that evil when he let God back into his life. I need that because I’m inherently evil myself. It’s good to know there is a way for me to bounce back!

        • Greg G.

          A person who wants to be a good person is inherently a good person. If the person is put in a situation that is not ideal, compromises may be made. If a person doesn’t want to be a good person, they wouldn’t be interested in trying a religion to improve.

          We have some very basic needs so our first priority will be making sure those will be met. But when we are assured of that, then cooperating with others is a good way to make life better for all.

          You don’t need a magic man with eternal punishment to understand that. You shouldn’t pay someone every week to tell you different, especially if they are telling you that the Bible doesn’t sanction slavery.

        • David Mills

          RE: “You don’t need a magic man with eternal punishment to understand that. ”
          And I don’t need you referring to someone I hold as sacred in my life in the pejorative. I came in here with a respectful tone. It didn’t take long to uncover you not as a doubter but as a hater.

        • Greg G.

          You said, “my understand is that man is not inherently good, and left to our own devices, we would not be able to live in peace anywhere.”

          You heard that from a hater and you are going around repeating it. I argued against it but all you can do is find a reason to be offended. Is your god so petty as to be offended by that?

        • Greg G.

          Look, we respect you enough to tell you the truth. Somebody led you to believe the Bible doesn’t sanction slavery, but you have been shown chapter, verse and quotation that is does condone, sanction, and promote slavery.

          You’ve been told that man is inherently evil, but there have been times of peace in all parts of the world while those regions with proponents of the Abrahamic religions have been at war nearly constantly, mostly over religion.

          You say that Leviticus is hard to understand. It really isn’t when you realize it was written by humans who wanted to be treated well by their neighbors but be allowed to exploit the labors of others. It’s only hard to understand because somebody told you the Bible was the basis of morality when it isn’t.

          Cowboy up and address the points made.

        • David Mills

          Greg- You all have a lot invested in your unbelief here. This website alone is testament to that. Seems you have to become a scholar to become an atheist. I’m an average Joe with average IQ, rural values and an uncomplicated life.

          With regard to Leviticus, you will always be able to ask a question about the Bible I can’t answer. I know this because I have read many scholarly debates about original manuscripts, dates, authors, conundrums, that are way above my head. It can be a tactic. Example: for 2.5 years one of my jobs in Survival School was interrogating students in a mock POW camp. One very easy way to break down the “prisoner” was to ask a barrage of questions he can never answer, such as…”You’re in my country, fighting for what you say is good and just causes…so exactly how many Americans have spilled their blood in my country for your cause?” And when he can’t provide the exact number, I provide it for him. Then I proceed to mock him as a fraud for not knowing. It is all designed to break that person. I see much of that here. So let me jump ahead three moves. Take the Bible away and I still believe there is a supreme being, creator of all things. Perhaps I’m just wired that way. But I see God in all things. So what about wars and inhumanity? That’s our free will at work. Why was Hitler so evil? Because he chose to be.

          I like what Polycarp said before he was burned at the stake: “Eighty and six years have I served Him and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior? Bring what thou wilt.” There isn’t anything anyone can show me, tell me or do to me that would hamper my belief in the creator.

        • Greg G.

          Hi David,

          If what you believe is true, then you will remember 1 Peter 3:15.

          1 Peter 3:15 (NRSV)
          15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you;

          Luke 12:11-12 (NRSV)
          11 When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.”

          Surely you don’t expect the Holy Ghost to abandon you when you volutarily come to a blog. So you shouldn’t be affected by interrogation tactics. I have never been a military instructor or a police detective so I am not trained in interrogation tactics.

          If you are going to claim things about the Bible, be prepared to defend the claim. If someone claims the Bible sanctions slavery and you say the Bible doesn’t sanction slavery, you might have to deal with the evidence that the Bible does indeed sanction, condone, and promote slavery. Who is telling you the truth about the Bible, apologists who don’t distinguish between indentured servants and slaves or atheists?

          How far does that go? Preachers give false impressions of what scientists say about evolution. Do you accept what the preacher says or what the scientist actually said? The scientist backs up what he says with hard evidence. The preacher who denies that evidence will tell you all about heaven in the next breath, stories he got from a pre-scientific understanding of the universe.

          Looking at good things as evidence of a good god and bad things as mysteries is no different than seeing the bad things as evidence of a bad god and the good things are mysteries. Seeing both together could be seen of evidence of an indifferent god. It is more reasonably evidence of no god.

          We all have greed. It is a necessary part of the survival instinct. Circumstances and ambition can lead to a powerful person exercising his greed for power. There is no need to invoke a spooky malevolence beyond naturalistic explanations.

          We aren’t going to try to trick you into believing false things. To us, knowledge is justified belief. Justification of knowledge is dependent on the strength of the evidence.

          Many of us were in your position at some point in our lives. We couldn’t imagine not believing in God, either. As long as you focus on one book, without considering the implications of some of its texts, and only accept confirming evidence while rejecting dis-confirming evidence, your beliefs will be safe. But when you don’t have a rational way to distinguish between confirming evidence and dis-confirming evidence except the consequences to your favorite beliefs, you can’t claim that you are being honest with the evidence.

        • David Mills

          Apparently slavery is a huge topic, the answer to OT slavery is here and would take pages to cover here->

          http://www.compellingtruth.org/slavery-Old-Testament.html

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. That page confirms most of what I said about slavery. It whitewashed Exodus 21:20-21 though. The conclusion doesn’t follow. So what if that was the culture of the time? If the Bible has divine origins, why not have an eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt not enslave people. ” It’s a legitimate objection that the page poo-poos.

          That’s from one reading without making notes as I’m using a hand held phone.

        • David Mills

          I think what we’re interpreting as the word slavery, conjuring up all kinds of horrible pictures, is not what this is. Remember, they didn’t have EBT cards back then, so what was a destitute person to do? This was a way to voluntarily enter into a bondservant program for 6 years and hopefully exit with some assets.

        • Greg G.

          There is a difference between being bond servants and slaves.

          Exodus 12:43-45 (NRSV)
          43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance for the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but any slave who has been purchased may eat of it after he has been circumcised; 45 no bound or hired servant may eat of it.

          Leviticus 22:10-11 (NRSV)
          10 No lay person shall eat of the sacred donations. No bound or hired servant of the priest shall eat of the sacred donations; 11 but if a priest acquires anyone by purchase, the person may eat of them; and those that are born in his house may eat of his food.

          That web page tries very hard to distinguish ancient Hebrew slavery and chattel slavery but they were more alike than different. The ancient slave system owned their humanity, too. They had to be circumcised and adopt their owner’s religion. Exodus 21:2-6 shows that their master owned the children that were born to a slave woman owned by the master. Leviticus 25:46 says you could will slaves to your children.

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

          I can’t think of anything more than trivial differences between American chattel slavery and Hebrew slavery-for-life of foreigners. What did you have in mind?

        • Greg G.

          I don’t know of any differences between the Hebrew system and chattel slavery so I hedged a bit for the unknown unknowns. Perhaps there were differences in acquisition. The page David linked claimed in its conclusion that there was a difference between them but didn’t make a memorable case for it.

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

          OK. It’s good to be cautious.

          I’ve said that they’re equal but want to know any significant differences to correct myself.

        • MNb

          See my question above. I don’t blame the Hebrews; what interests me is your position anno 2014. You might be the one to blame – or perhaps not. This comment of yours doesn’t provide any relevant information in this regard.
          (So yes, I do think Greg’s approach is wrong)

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

          We’ve been over this!

          Who’s talking about 6 years for a fellow Jew? We’re talking about a lifetime of slavery for an outsider!

          You don’t like American slavery for life? Then you won’t like Jewish slavery for life! Stop apologizing for the actions of the omniscient, omni-benevolent creator of the universe.

        • Philmonomer

          Here is a perspective on Slavery and the New Testament:

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-carey/slavery-and-the-bible_b_880756.html

        • Greg G.

          Apologists keep claiming that Biblical slavery was much different than the slavery we had in the USA. The more I compare them, the more they look the same. That article confirms that view.

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

          Wait–is that all you’ve learned so far? That when you get backed into a corner, you find an apologist to bail you out and hide behind his skirts? Does this page respond to the problems we’ve raised or not?? If so, man up and tell us yourself.

          Given your initial comments about slavery in the Bible, it’s clear that you’ve been badly misinformed by Christian sites. So your response is to retreat back into those dark and grimy corners when things get tough? Those guys didn’t prepare you with the truth before; why imagine that their BS is correct this time?

        • MNb

          Don’t worry, I’m not special either – I dropped out of university. So I won’t mock you for not knowing. There is lot of stuff I don’t know; I enormously respect it when someone admits that “I don’t know”. I only mock those who contradict themselves – like you above about cussin – and are too proud to admit it. I also mock those who don’t know and make up answers to avoid admitting.
          Now regarding Biblical slavery simple MNb has a simple question for simple David Mills. Do you in the 21st Century approve of any form of forced, unpaid labour? If no, why don’t you condemn Biblical slavery (eg by declaring that what the Bible writes about it has become irrelevant for us, divinely inspired or not)? If yes, which form and why?
          Of course this is a trick, but I’m a honest guy and will tell you exactly what the trick is. If you answer yes I’ll conclude that because of the Bible there is something fundamentally wrong with your morals. If you answer no I’ll conclude that your morals are OK, but that you have undermined the authority of the Bible for us 21st Century humans.

        • David Mills

          NMb, don’t have the answer at this moment. Obviously, I need to answer this, in time. If I could answer everything in the OT though, you would know my name as I’d be bigger than a Billy Graham. I do have some trusted sources, I’ll see what if any light they can shed. For the hardest questions, I look to Daniel B. Wallace, who has a 30 lb brain and lots of field work in the area of original manuscripts. Let me see if I can find something legit.

        • MNb

          OK, thanks. Like I wrote I don’t mind. I’m very satisfied that I have succeeded in making one of my problems with the Bible clear. I really dislike large parts of it.
          Time to tell something about my background, I guess, so that you know where I’m coming from. I’m a Dutchman living in Suriname; raised secular, never been baptized. My first confrontation with a difficult question for christianity (I was 13 or 14) resulted in a deep aversion to some aspects. I’ll never forget that confrontation with two teens from Youth for Christ.

        • Philmonomer

          I apologize for cutting in on an ongoing conversation, but slavery is one of my own pet issues. That is, I’ve never heard a good answer from a Christian, so I put it out there again:

          I don’t think you really believe the Bible, or follow Biblical morality. Here’s why:

          I assume you are against slavery, in all forms. But that is not a Biblical position. Specifically, the Bible finds the type of slavery that existed at the time of the New Testament to be morally acceptable/permissible. There is no basis, Biblical speaking, to reject the type of slavery then in existence. For example, it was morally permissible for a man to sell himself into slavery due to debt. It was morally permissible to enslave an enemy captured in war. It was morally permissible to keep as a slave a child born to a slave. Nowhere does the Bible condemn any of this.

          So, if I were to advocate for a return to Biblical slavery now, you’d be (rightly) horrified. But why? I am merely advocating for Biblical morality. (Indeed, how can “Slaves obey their masters” when there are no slaves?)

          (BTW, I’ve actually had Christians acknowledge “Slavery is ok.” I think Douglas Wilson has said it, too.)

          (BBTW, I went through a USAF SERE POW camp 20 or so years ago. It was an unpleasant experience.)

        • Greg G.

          We had a conversation like that a few weeks ago. One The-Universe-Is-God Christian tried to argue that the Jubilee made it OK.

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

          What a coincidence–I’m attending a Dan Wallace lecture at Mars Hill church in Bellevue, WA (outside Seattle) this Sunday.

          I’ve listen to and read works from a couple dozen apologists, and I’ve found their work quite disappointing. But perhaps that’s a tangent for another time.

          Caution: as we’ve seen with this slavery example, alarm bells should ring when you read an apologist who says, “Ah, the atheists’ X objection! Oh yeah–that’s trivially resolved. Just tell them …”

          These arguments are almost always rationalizations. That is, they take the Christian position as a presupposition and then show why the facts can be lined up to preserve that presupposition. Of course, no honest seeker of the truth does it that way. Instead, you look at the facts first and then follow them wherever they lead–either to the Christian worldview or not.

        • David Mills

          I really wish I could attend that as well. I’ve never heard Daniel in person, from from what I know about him, he won’t be flip with you, will respect your questions. Bob I can see why you might not respect my position that I’m firm in my belief. I have personal very real experiences that affirm my faith in God.. I should have died in a cave when I was 18. We were lead out by a miracle (long story). I should have died when I broke through a snow bridge on a mountain when I was 25 (another long story). I should have died in Somalia (long story). A rocket landed 35 feet from my bed in Afghanistan. My sister and I should both have died as we were swept down some Colorado rapids when I was 5 and she was nine. A man standing on a rock in the middle of nowhere saw us and pulled us out and took us to shore, We ran we were so scared, but when I remembered we didn’t thank him we turned around and he was gone and we never found him.
          A miracle saved my dad in Haiti after a head-on collision with a taptap bus. The only American doctor for hundreds of miles happened to be out on a picnic when he saw a car in the rice paddy, and a group of Hatians robbing him as he was dying.
          A miracle rescued me from divorce. I filed. I wanted out, but I was being the A-hole not her. A ton of people prayed for me to come to my senses, people I didn’t even know. A series of events occurred that did bring me back when hours earlier I was leaving and headed to a new job. Now I’m back in love and can’t imagine what came over me.
          So, I’d have a hard time not believing in God.
          I know you will ask, what about the 4-year old yesterday who was mauled by the family pitbull. Why didn’t God save that boy? I don’t know. Do I know why people are born in a suckhole like Somalia and I get to live in this great country. No. I can’t understand that one bit. Do I wonder why some people are comfortable believing there is no God? Yes every day. I’m fascinated we can be so different. Sometimes I do question God, what the heck is He doing? Heck, Mother Theresa even had questions and doubts. But there’s one line I don’t cross, and that is I don’t disrespect God’s actions, or what God allows to happen. How can I? How can I disrespect the one (I believe) created me? I know a boy who is in a wheel chair, has a bizarre disease, can not control his muscles, has internal bleeding, experiences unbelievable pain, and praises God. He doesn’t hate God for the way he is, so why should I? Sorry so long winded. Thanks for being a gentleman, for letting me stumble in here and allowing me to praise my God on your website. Punch Daniel in the arm for me, which will be really funny because he has no idea who I am.

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

          I’ve never heard Daniel in person, from from what I know about him, he won’t be flip with you, will respect your questions.

          Yes, I’m sure there are Christian scholars who honestly face the facts without an agenda.

          Bob I can see why you might not respect my position that I’m firm in my belief.

          Firm is fine. Immovable is not.

          For me, every debate is a prize match. The champion belt is on the line. If I get beaten (that is, my position is proved to be faulty), I’ll accept the new position. Depending on the circumstances, it may not happen immediately and I may not be happy about it, but I’m sure as hell not going out there again with an argument that I know is flawed. What’s incredible (as some recent comments have touched on) is professional apologists who are shown the error in their arguments, and then in the next debate … they trot out the same arguments as if nobody noticed.

          I have personal very real experiences that affirm my faith in God.

          Seems to me that you’re just reinterpreting coincidences, luck, and strangers’ good will as the hand of God. Is that the only interpretation?

          Why didn’t God save that boy? I don’t know.

          Good for you for raising the tough questions and facing them squarely.

          Do I wonder why some people are comfortable believing there is no God? Yes every day. I’m fascinated we can be so different.

          Yes, it is fascinating, but what about my position hard to understand?

          Sometimes I do question God, what the heck is He doing?

          And for the person whose God belief is unfalsifiable, he will rationalize answers. Did God answer my prayer? Proof that he exists! Did God not answer my prayer? Proof that he exists!

          Heck, Mother Theresa even had questions and doubts.

          Big time.

          there’s one line I don’t cross, and that is I don’t disrespect God’s actions, or what God allows to happen. How can I?

          What?? So you presuppose God’s existence? Why is the question of God’s existence off limits?

          How can I disrespect the one (I believe) created me?

          What’s disrespectful about using the brain he fucking gave you to use? When you have doubts, what do you think he thinks about you when you just push those down and turn away from them?

          Here’s the Reverse Pascal’s Wager: you and I die at the same time and are standing in front of the Judgment Seat. You’re smiling—heck, what more proof do you need that you guessed right? But then God turns to you and demands to know what you made of his previous gift of a human brain. Not a mouse brain, not a chimp brain, but a top-of-the-line human brain. Did you follow the evidence, or did you just check it at the door of the church?

          Who do you think God is going to reward with heaven, the guy who actually used his brains to follow the evidence where it lead, or the guy who was too afraid to offend to follow the evidence?

          He doesn’t hate God for the way he is, so why should I?

          Like you alluded to, I got nuthin’ to complain about. I’m well fed, I’ve got a place to stay, I live in America. If someone is in an abysmal state and gets through life with supernatural belief, whatever. There are bigger issues than for me to quibble about something from which he may be getting solace.

          You are a different story.

          Sorry so long winded. Thanks for being a gentleman, for letting me stumble in here and allowing me to praise my God on your website.

          Polite, thoughtful Christians who ask intelligent questions are always welcome here.

        • Pofarmer

          So, you’ve lived a dangerous life and survived it? Some do, some don’t. You seem to be puzzled why you can’t understand Gods plan, well my friend, there is no plan. That’s the truth. I have a son with a rare disorder called Hurlers syndrome. Should I praise some God for his life of pain and surgeries and doctors when he did absolutley nothing to deserve it? No. It’s genetics. It sucks, happens all the time. People come and go and dissapear all the time. We’ve nicknamed my middle boy Houdini. Nothing miraculous there. You’ve got your God goggles firmly planted, that is for certain. So why are you here? T learn, to argue, to proselytize? If it’s the latter, I think you’ll be dissapointed. Oh, and Mother Theresa was a horrible person.

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

          Wow–that sucks about your son’s condition. Best wishes.

        • MNb

          My best wishes too.

        • Guest

          You’ve got your God goggles firmly planted, that is for certain. So why are you here? T learn, to argue, to proselytize?

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

          So why are you here? T learn, to argue, to proselytize? If it’s the latter, I think you’ll be dissapointed.

          If it’s anything other than to be patronized and insulted, he’ll be disappointed.

          I see why you guys gang up on a nasty troll like Asmondius. But David seemed like a nice enough fellow, someone you could find common ground with. What’s wrong with showing some old Christian that atheists can be civil and tolerant instead of forcing him to justify every one of his beliefs on the spot? Maybe he came on a bit strong to begin with, but can’t we atheists do better than forcing some geezer to defend an opinion on slavery that civilized people haven’t held in centuries?

          Lighten up, for once.

        • Pofarmer

          Have you read all of David’s posts? Probably not considering how shitty Disqus is about hiding posts. If anyone wants to come on and be all butthurt because someone insulted God, then they get what they get.

        • MNb

          I thought the same – until he produced an offensive lie on the abortion issue.
          Moreover I think you miss the point. The real question is how relevant the Bible is for us in the 21st Century. If christians give a positive answer – and they generally do – they have some explanation to do, especially if they also hold that morals are objective.
          Btw David still defends a form of slavery; he is OK with forced labour in prisons. So much for “civilized people”.

        • Asmondius

          Thanks for the plug.

        • MNb

          Well, I didn’t live a dangerous life, did get a divorce (and came pretty well out of it) and am not impressed by the belief of your boy in the wheel chair. None of my life experiences can be related, not even by superstition like yours, to any god. I guess your god or any god doesn’t care about me like he cares about you. Then why should I care?

        • David Mills

          RE: “Do you in the 21st Century approve of any form of forced, unpaid labour?”
          In the case of prison, yes.

        • Greg G.

          Would you favor the return of Bible-based slavery and bondage?

        • MNb

          Then we fundamentally disagree. In my opinion civilized countries do pay inmates a small income for labour. That’s what happens in both The Netherlands and Norway.
          Point down for your version of christianity.

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

          I’ve spent years as an amateur scholar. That’s not to say much, because I’m frequently impressed by great observations, connections, evidence, and arguments that commenters bring here. But an amateur who’s open minded and eager to learn will always be welcome here. I’m sure you have plenty to teach us.

          Throwing Bible verses in someone’s face is an excellent and defensible tactic if that person has already claimed that the Bible supports his position. Solution: add a few “as far as I know” or “I’ve heard” or “What do you think about …” into your comments. If you haven’t said that you’re certain of something, I can’t then lampoon you if you turn out to be wrong.

          If you believe that God exists “just because,” that’s fine. We can talk about the weather. It’s when you say that God exists and you can show me why I should agree with you (that is, you have picked Evidence and Reason as the domain of battle) that we have something interesting to talk about. Don’t be surprised when I then bring to bear the strongest argument that I have.

          If you’re going to bring up Hitler and show supernatural forces behind his actions, be prepared to defend those remarkable claims.

          There isn’t anything anyone can show me, tell me or do to me that would hamper my belief in the creator.

          I presume your proud of your resoluteness. OK. The 9/11 hijackers were resolute, too. But you’ve made clear that you’re closed-minded. Why should I engage with you now?

        • Pofarmer

          if you really are wired to see God in all things, you may very well be wasting everyones time.

        • MNb

          Ah, the usual christian long toes. So much for

          “I can take a cussin …… I don’t mind.”

          Btw I’m not a doubter. I’m a 7 on the scale on Dawkins, which means that I’m as sure as possible. As it’s nonsensical to hate something that doesn’t exist (can you hate Voldemort or Sauron?) I’m not a hater either.

        • David Mills

          You mis-diagnosed. I can take a cussin…however you belittled the one I would die for and that’s different. If you want to use little g referring to god because of your unbelief, fine, but pejoratives are completely unnecessary. I really don’t need to defend God, He can do that himself.

        • Pofarmer

          actually, God can’t defend himself. That’s why you’re here.

        • MNb

          Ah, the one you would die for can’t take a cussin, even if he either has been dead for 2000 years or far above our poor level. Nice contradiction – you don’t need to defend god, you say, but that’s exactly what you do when you write “It didn’t take long to uncover you … as a hater.”

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

          Complain that I belittle your wife or kids. Your supernatural beliefs, however? I shouldn’t belittle those because it doesn’t create a positive environment for conversation and debate, but that’s it. I think you need to be thicker-skinned.

          You want to defend God? Show that he exists first. That your beliefs can’t take a little trash talk suggests that they’re not very well evidenced in your own mind.

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

          If you’ll excuse my saying so, getting offended at frank criticism of your supernatural beliefs sounds childish. You think God can be hurt by a frank critique? Seen from the other standpoint, what does it say about the Creator of the universe that you (a mere mortal) have to stand up for him. It’s almost like he doesn’t exist.

        • MNb

          “left to our own devices, we would not be able to live in peace anywhere”
          Be careful with testable claims. Of all the modern western countries the USA are the most religous one. It also has the highest crime rates of those countries. Apparently either god doesn’t like secularized countries more than christian ones or less reliance on divinity for morals decreases crime rates.
          These people, who don’t even have a concept of god, do pretty well too in this respect:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirah%C3%A3_people

          So if you take your argument seriously christianity is falsified.

        • Pofarmer

          and yet, humanity survived for hundreds of thousands of years before the Adam and eve story was made up. There were even places much more civilized in Ancient times who didn’t believe in the Christian God, amd still don’t. David, you aren’t inherently evil, you weren’t created sinful needing to be saved. You’re an evolved primate on an average planet circling an average star.

        • MNb

          “Plato’s argument doesn’t invalidate God’s existence”
          I agree. It does decrease the predictive power of christianity though compared to atheism. You have a problem we atheists don’t have.

        • Pofarmer

          Man seems perfectly capable of encumbering himself with all kinds of rules all kinds of religions all kinds of beliefs.

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

          I gotta disagree with you there. Morality, legal/illegal, and right/wrong are human-defined concepts. Even the holy books are written by humans. Go back to the beginning of any religion–more humans.

          I don’t think that hating God is the topic with most of the people here.

        • Greg G.

          How would you get morals from a God? If the God said it was immoral to not kill, steal and lie, would you believe him? You couldn’t tell a God from a Devil. You could only judge them by the morals they proclaimed and you can only judge them by the morality you can derive by how you get along best in the world with equals. So if you have the ability to judge a possible God’s morality, you don’t need that morality.

          If your morality doesn’t concur with the God’s morality, there could be eternal consequences even if the God’s morality is horrible. A god who meted out eternal consequences would have horrible morals anyway, so why go with those?

          Where would we find morality from a god? The Old Testament and the New Testament sanction slavery, so we can toss the Bible out as a moral guide. The Koran doesn’t forbid “honor killings” of young women, so we can toss that out.

        • David Mills

          OT slavery was not the same as the kind we witnessed in the US. The Bible does not sanction slavery ever. But does weigh in on how slaves should be treated.

          Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

          Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

        • SuperMark

          Leviticus 25:44-46

        • David Mills

          Well damn supermark, I suppose I owe you an answer to that, but it’s doesn’t make me an unbeliever.

        • SuperMark

          No no sorry that’s not my intent, I just hope you learn something here and think about what you believe.

        • David Mills

          Slavery is a complicated issue, because not all slavery in ancient times was brutal as in our American experience. Some slavery was even voluntary, and temporary. From Constable’s notes:

          “God permitted the Israelites to own slaves from other nations (vv. 44-46). That they were not to mistreat them goes without saying. Slavery in itself, as the Mosaic Law regulated it, did not violate basic human rights, but the abuse of slaves did.”

          I think the world is better off without slavery, but that is because of the abuses especially if you see your servant as property and not human.

        • wtfwjtd

          Bob has discussed slavery extensively here, as it is definitely condoned by Yahweh:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/06/old-testament-slavery-not-so-bad-2/

          Even worse, though, from a moral standpoint, is the Yahweh-commanded genocide found in Numbers 31:

          17Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. 18But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.

          Is the Bible really a good source for morality? I think not. What would make someone think that it is?

        • David Mills

          No doubt Leviticus is a difficult book to digest. It is the source #1 for controversy. So I’m nonplussed you took me to ancient law I know little about.

        • Greg G.

          Would you like a list of the verses where the Israelites gave people a choice of whether to become a slave? The other option was death.

        • wtfwjtd

          I don’t know much about it either, but I do know that genocide is morally wrong. Apparently it was and still is, A-OK in God’s book though, but it’s something that society has long since discarded as rubbish. And, we came to this conclusion without the help of any gods. So why bother to complicate things by postulating a god at all, if man just has to figure out morality by himself anyways? Ditching the god concept makes things far easier, as we can’t then use the excuse that “god told me to” to justify an action that most moral people would deem unjust and maybe even despicable. It’s much simpler and straightforward that way.

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

          Huh? God guided the hand of the author so that it would be approachable. Of what value is the Bible except to educate ordinary people here on earth?

          “That’s a hard book” isn’t much excuse, especially when you spoke with confidence about God’s stance on slavery.

          Again, I think we’ve come to the conclusion that ordinary Christian sites that have supporting their preconceptions as their goal aren’t reliable sources.

        • MNb

          “Slavery is a complicated issue”
          Slavery, defined as forced and unpaid labour, is not a complicated issue at all. Every morally sane person should condemn it. Now I don’t mean to condemn the Ancient Hebrews. They didn’t know better. The consequence though that either christian morals aren’t absolute, eternal and objective, which refutes your original comment. Or you’re worshipping the wrong god and should reconvert.

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

          Mistreat them? I guess the Bible’s “beat them, but not so much that they can’t get up to work after 2 days” is better advice than nothing. You do realize that American states had rules against cruelty to slaves as well?

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

          It needn’t make you an unbeliever, but will you at least be a bit more skeptical about Christian apologetics sites in the future? It might possibly be that they’re toeing the party line, not giving you an honest look at the facts. Unfortunately, that puts the burden on you to do the research on both sides of the issue.

        • Greg G.

          Perhaps you missed these other verses on slavery. Apologetics sites tend to do that.

          This how they treated male Hebrews as indentured servants. Notice that Exodus 21 gives a hint on how to turn an indentured servant into a permanent slave by exploiting family values.

          Deuteronomy 15:12-17
          12 If a member of your community, whether a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and works for you six years, in the seventh year you shall set that person free. 13 And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. 14 Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today. 16 But if he says to you, “I will not go out from you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his earlobe into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. You shall do the same with regard to your female slave.

          Exodus 21:2-6
          2 When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6 then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.

          Hebrew girls are not indentured servants but permanent slaves. They are given some considerations.

          Exodus 21:7-11
          7 When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. 9 If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. 10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife. 11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out without debt, without payment of money.

          A slaveowner can beat a slave to death without further consequences if the slave suffers for a day before dying.

          Exodus 21:20-21
          20 When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.

          Now here is where the permanent slaves come from. It explicitly says to not treat the Israelites harshly but it does not protect the slaves from other nations. That is what the Antebellum South followed.

          Leviticus 25:44-46
          44 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. 45 You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. 46 You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.

          Jesus thought it was OK to beat slaves. He even uses it as a teaching point.

          Luke 12:47-48
          47 That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

          Slaves are told to obey with fear.

          Ephesians 6:5-9
          5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; 6 not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, 8 knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. 9 And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.

          Colossians 3:22
          22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.

          Slaves should shut up and honor their owner.

          1 Timothy 6:1
          6 Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed.

          Titus 2:9
          9 Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back,

          1 Peter 2:18-20
          18 Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. 19 For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.

        • David Mills

          RE: “Slaves should shut up and honor their owner.”
          There’s where you lost credibility. It does not imply that.
          What is says is, should you find yourself as a slave through no fault of your own (slaves exist so the Bible provides them some guidance), this is how you are to act as a Christian. Your take on it is slanted.

        • Greg G.

          Did I lose credibility because I didn’t make “owners” plural or are you reading 1 Peter 2:18-20 with God-goggles?

          If you don’t like my comments, see if you can make the verses sound good on their own.

          If you were just looking for something to feel offended about as an excuse to ignore those verses, then you have no credibility.

          EDIT: Changed a pronoun into the italicized words for clarity.

        • MNb

          “The Bible does not sanction slavery ever. But does weigh in on how slaves should be treated.”
          Nice contradiction. Telling how slaves should be treated implies sanctioning slavery. I don’t sanction slavery. The only morally justified way to treat slaves is to set them free – here and now. That means: they should get paid (retroactively) and get the right to leave their jobs.
          That’s not what the Bible tells us.

          “treat your bondservants justly and fairly”
          That’s a contradiction in terms. No matter how well you treat your bondservants, it remains unjust and unfair.
          So either the morals regarding slavery as described in the Bible don’t come from god – which means its authority must be questioned. Or your god is not worth worshipping, eg because he is imaginary.

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

          I’m coming late to this conversation, but, as others have pointed out, OT slavery was precisely as it was in the U.S. You had indentured servitude (limited time for people like us) and chattel slavery (slavery forever for people not like us).

          I’ve written a number of posts about slavery. Search for them and take a look. Your Christian apologetics sites have very poorly prepared you for this discussion. They may not be the most objective source for information like this.

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

          Indeed, this world is such a mix of good (pretty sunsets, puppies) and bad (cancer, malaria, tsunamis, human cruelty) that the argument for a bad god being in charge makes as much sense as a good one. He just teases us with the good stuff to keep our hopes up, then dashes them with a child dying or a famine.

        • Pofarmer

          Why should the lack of eternal consequences matter? Aren’t consequences in the here and now enough?

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

          Are there eternal consequences? That’s a remarkable claim for which I’ve seen no evidence. Provide some and convince me.

        • smrnda

          Just because there are no eternal consequences does not mean that there are no *other* consequences.

          It’s not illegal for me to do a lot of things, but they are still a bad idea and I won’t do them.

    • MNb

      Mine: non-sequitur – also if you substitute “immoral” for “illegal”. The reason is simple: morals don’t come from god, but from us human beings.

    • kraut2

      An utterly idiotic statement.

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

      Look up “illegal” in the dictionary. I doubt you’ll find anything about God in the definition.

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

      David: I haven’t heard much from you. We were in the middle of a conversation. Life is busy, I realize, but come back when you get the chance. Bring your pastor.

      • David Mills

        How was the lecture with Wallace? I’d be interested to know what you think of him. I searched his blog, and he unfortunately hasn’t given the topic of slavery any treatment. I’m a seminary drop out, and went AF to pay for my kids and get healthcare. What it did instead was provide a path (as a survival instructor) to the kind of adventure one only dreams about. My seminary that I dropped out of, I won’t even mention I’m too embarrassed to admit I went there. Yes there are a ton of intellectually dishonest men in pulpits. It took me and my wife a lifetime to find a minister that treats the scripture honestly. By honestly, I mean he will tell me when he doesn’t know something. He also tells us when something still doesn’t have an acceptable translation. There are still mysteries if we’re honest. I know I will take darts for that.

        I like the fact that you hold God to a very high standard. In other words, you DO take this topic serious. I get the fact you want empirical evidence and that’s admirable. I’m not just patronizing you by saying that.

        Allow me to speak in general terms first. I believe in the doctrine of Christianity, primarily because it for me does provide an explanation for our relationship with God from #1 to now. I can’t buy into a denomination that that may be ancient, but doesn’t provide a redemptive bridge to the first man. The other reason is I do believe in the resurrection. When Christ was buried, and was seen walking around town by many many witnesses, well, Buddha and Muhammad didn’t do that. I’ve read many other religions. They don’t have the same counter-intuitive treatment of our man to man and man to God relationships. The disciples of Christ expect Jesus to whip the Romans and bring the physical kingdom down now. Jesus knew their hearts and for them is was about power. So right now, we have the spiritual kingdom, and the physical kingdom will have to wait for his final return.

        Now, we Christians are not doing a great job with the spiritual kingdom. But we are trying (some are). Many people claim to be a Christian, and there are really much fewer.

        Lastly, I love science. I am not one to duck and dodge science. I also balance that with this fantastic bit of wisdom:

        Matthew 18: 1-4

        At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

        So why a child? I get accused that belief in God is akin to belief in the tooth fairy or Santa Clause. I think that’s a false assessment. I connected a lot of dots, then became a Christian. When it came down to it, I had to decide that it’s not a foolish thing to accept God and hand myself over. But it’s horribly humbling, and not easy to do. Bob, I think what you have a hard time with is God’s absolute sovereignty:

        Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

        Even when we don’t necessarily like what we see in the Bible (I really can’t explain off the slavery problem you point out) I fall back on this: God can do what he wants, when he wants, even when it makes no sense to us. I want to explain the slavery problem, but right now I don’t have a suitable iron clad doctrine to cover it. So I can say, I don’t know what God was doing at the time, but if God decreed it, it had to make sense at the time, somehow. I just don’t know what it is, and it is a jigsaw piece of his ultimate plan, that all work together for good. That’s a hard position to take when you’re requiring empirical answers. I would say, that’s where the child has to come in and accept God know what he’s doing whether we do or not.

        You know, the thief on the cross didn’t care about evolution, or require answers to the chain of custody of the OT scriptures. He needed redemption now, he was about to die. Seems Jesus granted it to him right there. All the guy did was humble himself and ask for it.

        I’ll stick around as I can Bob, I’m trying to build violins and mandolins, seeing there’s not much demand for AF survival guys in this administration. I need to get good at it to make some cash. It’s fun for me, so hopefully I can make it pay off. But I do want to maintain contact, and I’ll take what comes (but not 16 emails in one day!!).

        BTW, I will be meeting with my pastor in a week, and I’m lucky to have his cell number so I can message him. We have a church of 1200 people (it’s not a stadium church, just an old Presbyterian one), and a large elderly crowd, seems we’re having a funeral every other week. He’s a busy guy. But I will ask and see if he will weigh in directly. He’s not one to shy away from a challenge.
        http://www.trinitypca.org/

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

          Sorry for the long reply …

          How was the lecture with Wallace?

          It was boring. He gave an introductory lecture to the reliability of the Christian scripture. It was all stuff that I’ve debunked in a number of posts. I asked him afterwards about one point, how confident we can be that there aren’t simply variant traditions that are lost to history so that we don’t even know to question a particular passages. His answer was that the Bible has weathered the onslaught of new manuscript discoveries, so he’s confident. (Which doesn’t satisfy me.)

          What it did instead was provide a path (as a survival instructor) to the kind of adventure one only dreams about.

          I’ve dabbled with survival skills in the tiniest way. Fascinating stuff.

          By honestly, I mean he will tell me when he doesn’t know something.

          More important: he tells you the things you don’t want to hear.

          There are still mysteries if we’re honest. I know I will take darts for that.

          You have company. Lots of Christians call the Trinity a mystery. They admit that it makes no sense and say they’re eager to hear it explained better in heaven. Of course, that raises the question: what the heck was the Bible for? Isn’t it the tool to teach us the important stuff here on earth? Why must we just accept something nonsensical and wait for heaven? Isn’t faith what you’d have if the religion were built on nothing?

          As for the Trinity, the fact that it’s not even in the Bible is a factor. Imagine going back in time to ask Paul what it meant—he’d think you were crazy.

          I like the fact that you hold God to a very high standard. In other words, you DO take this topic serious.

          Lots of liberal Christians lampoon my approach because they say that I take stuff literally, just like the fundamentalists do. But it seems to me that I’m the one taking the Bible honestly.

          I believe in the doctrine of Christianity, primarily because it for me does provide an explanation for our relationship with God from #1 to now.

          Why not just call yourself a cultural Christian? You go to church, you enjoy the majesty of the building or being part of an ancient tradition, you feel great singing the songs, you enjoy the companionship, you like working together on projects to help people, you like messages that make you think about higher things and your place in the world. Maybe you gently poke fun at other denominations. That’s all good stuff that I might buy into as well. But why not just leave it at that? Why mess all that up by making a supernatural demand? Let’s make that optional.

          doesn’t provide a redemptive bridge to the first man.

          Why bring in sin and redemption? What grounds those besides tradition? They’re made-up ideas that don’t go anywhere.

          But if you want to talk about the good you can do here on earth with the very limited time you’ve got—hey, now we’re talking.

          The other reason is I do believe in the resurrection.

          What bugs me is people trying to justify this belief with arguments. The arguments are weak, usually laughably so. I wonder how an adult can make them with a straight face. My suggestion: either just believe without putting forward any rational justification or don’t believe in the unbelievable.

          When Christ was buried, and was seen walking around town by many many witnesses

          … according to the story. It’s just a story—you know that, right? You want it to be history, and you’ve got to do a heckuva lot of work to show that.

          Historians accept zero supernatural claims. Plenty of such claims were made about the various Caesars and other great figures of the past, but history scrubs those claims from the historical record. Yes, it’s true that those claims were made; no, there is no historical evidence to justify them as history. Same with Jesus.

          I’ve read many other religions. They don’t have the same counter-intuitive treatment of our man to man and man to God relationships.

          Yes, Christianity is unique. So are all the other religions. If they weren’t unique, they’d be the same as some other religion and wouldn’t have a different name.

          Jesus knew their hearts and for them is was about power.

          This is just theology. Yes, I understand it; no, it’s not helpful to our conversation.

          Lastly, I love science. I am not one to duck and dodge science.

          So you accept what science says about the origin of the universe, evolution, and climate science?

          I also balance that with this fantastic bit of wisdom

          If we’re trading Bible quotes, let me share the parable of the sheep and the goats, also from Matthew:

          31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

          34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

          37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

          40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

          41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

          44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

          45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

          46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

          Jesus makes clear that eternal life is to those who do good works. There’s no mention of a faith requirement.

          Bob, I think what you have a hard time with is God’s absolute sovereignty

          We can worry about my hard heart and my reluctant, unbendable knee after we’ve figured out that God actually exists rather than being what he looks like: just another mythology.

          “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”

          And yet it’s weird that Christians judge God. They’re happy to evaluate his actions and call them good. The problem is, when God’s actions are bad (the genocide, slavery, flooding the world, and other shenanigans), they cite verses like this one and say that God is unjudgeable. But, of course, they’re happy to judge God when it suits them! Christians must be consistent.

          Even when we don’t necessarily like what we see in the Bible (I really can’t explain off the slavery problem you point out) I fall back on this: God can do what he wants, when he wants, even when it makes no sense to us.

          You are too inept to judge God? Good—then don’t judge him. Never say that he’s bad, and never say that he’s good. You’re incapable of making this evaluation, right?

          I want to explain the slavery problem, but right now I don’t have a suitable iron clad doctrine to cover it.

          The obvious answer is standing there, slapping you in the face: it’s just pretend. It’s just myth. It’s just like all the other manmade religions.

          if God decreed it, it had to make sense at the time, somehow.

          Didn’t God give you that big brain to use? You think that believing crazy shit will get you into heaven?

          When you and I stand side by side in front of God for judgment, I’ll be the one who used his brain and followed the evidence. You’re the one who checked his brain at the door and said, “Yassuh!” to the scripture that didn’t make sense. Who do you think will please God more?

          that’s where the child has to com e in and accept God know what he’s doing whether we do or not.

          Translated: “Yassuh!”

          (Yes, I’m being rude. I think you can take it.)

          the thief on the cross didn’t care about evolution, or require answers to the chain of custody of the OT scriptures.

          And you’re 2000 years removed. How do you know the entire thing isn’t legend? These supernatural claims are enormous.

          I do want to maintain contact, and I’ll take what comes

          Good luck with the woodworking. Following your Father into the trade, I guess?

        • David Mills

          RE: “Following your Father into the trade, I guess?”

          HA!

          “And you’re 2000 years removed. How do you know the entire thing isn’t legend? These supernatural claims are enormous.”

          Yeah, except I don’t think it was made up. But do I have to become a codex archaeologist to get there? That’s what guys like Wallace does and it’s a lifetime calling. I know you’re going to say that’s blind trust. Maybe I will take that challenge. But it’s daunting and I’m not the brightest bulb.

          “Yes, I’m being rude. I think you can take it.”

          Yes I can directed at me. I do have a hard time with God-smears just because I’m more reverent about that.

          Jesus calls us to love our neighbor, not become a codex archaeologist. I’m having a hard enough time with “love my neighbor”, let alone the latter. But you’re forcing me that direction. As long as your take is, it’s all made up, we’ll just continue talking past each other and I see no value in that.

          But so not all is lost on me, I do get the point that the Book we lean so heavy on is always in question, and how can I depend on, and trust my life to something that has historical gaps, potential manipulation, and constant mis-translation. And your real question is, if God is such a omnipotent bad-ass, why don’t we have more irrefutable proof? And here’s my answer, the Pharisees who should have recognized Christ because of the prophetic announcement of his birth, didn’t believe him either. Even with irrefutable proof, there will be nay-sayers. So if we didn’t have a Bible, could someone still be a believer?

          I’ll get to some of your answer later, but let me ask you to provide me two things:
          1. What is your tipping point? What evidence you you need to tip the balance for you that God exists?
          2. What do I need to answer to tip the balance that scripture is indeed reliable?

          Gotta go varnish.

        • Philmonomer

          I apologize for interjecting (feel free to ignore). You write:

          And your real question is, if God is such a omnipotent bad-ass, why don’t we have more irrefutable proof? And here’s my answer, the Pharisees who should have recognized Christ because of the prophetic announcement of his birth, didn’t believe him either. Even with irrefutable proof, there will be nay-sayers

          First, what “irrefutable proof?”

          In any case, your comment assumes there was “irrefutable proof” back then that the Pharisees ignored. To me, the more logical/sensible/reasonable answer is that there was no such proof then, which is why the Pharisees “ignored” it. To the extent the Bible says there was such proof (does it?), that is just part of the story that people later came to believe.

          In this regard, which is more believable to you:

          1) Pharisees ignored actual concrete proof that the Christ had come? (Why would they do that? That doesn’t make any sense to me.)

          or

          2) Later Christians made up (not deliberately/consciously/maliciously) that the Pharisees had ignored the “concrete proof” in order to a) explain why Jews had not become followers of Jesus in large numbers and b) Show to new/potential converts that there really was “concrete proof” of Christ’s special nature so that those people should become converts too?

          [I edited my comment.]

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

          Christians felt free to read new meanings back into OT texts (pesher). That is not to say that those meanings were in there all the time, for the contemporaries of that message to understand. Rather, it was that, with their new knowledge, they could see clues of Jesus in the books of the Jewish scripture.

        • Philmonomer

          Good point.

        • David Mills

          I’m at reason #1. Without getting into the particulars (His birth foretold clearly in Isaiah) the Pharisees were waiting for a savior, not in the form of a gentle Jew who fought evil with reason and love, but a conqueror who would vanquish their enemies. They did not see a conqueror in Jesus, but he did perform miracles right in front of them to prove his son-of-God claim. But if he wasn’t going to rally a military victory, then to them, all Jesus was doing was stealing power and glory (and wealth) from them. They were making huge profits at selling acceptable “temple” animals, and up-charging for “temple money”, a separate monetary system they came up with. That was so wrong, Jesus went after them with a whip. I think he made no friends there. He would have done the same thing to the Catholic Church in selling “indulgences” in the middle ages. Goes well with my belief that people are basically evil.

          Edit: Some think that the reason Judas betrayed Jesus is because he too was disillusioned that Jesus didn’t come in a sky chariot and kill all the Romans. He could not believe that he would “allow” himself to be handed over and killed. So why not give him what he wants…turn him over and see if he delivers himself.

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

          The claims for the virgin birth foretold in Isaiah are pretty flimsy. I’ve written more here.

          The temple money was mandatory because of the prohibitions against graven images, remember? No, it wasn’t wrong.

        • David Mills

          Clearly Jesus thought it was wrong. I don’t think he had a problem using local denominations, what he hated was the charging for exchange.

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

          But why did Jesus say it was wrong? If the temple authorities thought that a no-fee exchange policy was good, they should’ve implemented it themselves. How do we even know that a high fee was charged?

          I’m asking because I don’t know. Maybe there’s good evidence, but I don’t know what it is.

          And let me know when you’ve read the post on Isaiah 7.

        • David Mills

          Because Jesus said they had turned his temple into a den of thieves. I think thievery means the taxing, the up-charging and the exchanging was getting way out of hand.

          You’re asking a high bar, as if I had to be there myself to know if it actually happened. We can look at codex all day and question their authenticity. How do we know Hammurabi was a real guy? Did Vermeer paint canvas directly, or use a camera obscurea? That was not even as long ago as Jesus, and yet we don’t even know that. PHDs argue and are in two camps over the issue. And they debate harshly. Someone like me thinks, why block your arteries over the issue. Enjoy the painting.

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

          Pointing to your ancient religious book for justification is theology. I’m looking for history and evidence.

          Yes, I know that that’s what the Jesus story said, but I want independent corroboration that the money changers were doing something immoral. We agree that the job they did was necessary; was it immoral? I have yet to see the evidence.

          “Jesus thought so” refers to a story. That’s like saying Obi Wan Kenobi thought so.

          As for the high bar, I’m simply demanding evidence for a claim. If that evidence is hard to find, that’s OK–drop the claim. In this case, though, the evidence is easy to imagine. Josephus might discuss how the money changers worked, for example. Or other Jewish sources from the time.

        • Philmonomer

          Without getting into the particulars (His birth foretold clearly in Isaiah) the Pharisees were waiting for a savior, not in the form of a gentle Jew who fought evil with reason and love, but a conqueror who would vanquish their enemies.

          But that’s what the Jewish messiah was–a conqueror who would vanquish their enemies (among other things). It seems to me you are saying: the Pharisees didn’t think he was the Messiah because he didn’t do Messiah things. But then if he didn’t do Messiah things, he wasn’t the Messiah.

          http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48892792.html

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

          Yeah, except I don’t think it was made up.

          We can’t be sure, but where does the evidence point? And I mean, What would an objective scholar conclude? That a Christian scholar has data that pleases you must be taken with great caution. You are the easiest guy for you to fool.

          That’s what guys like Wallace does and it’s a lifetime calling.

          And there are PhDs on the other side who are not impressed with the evidence. There are also well-educated scholars and theologians from other religions who think that Christianity is ridiculous. I know you’re not saying this, but “Dr. Wallace says so, so I’m good!” isn’t good enough.

          I know you’re going to say that’s blind trust.

          Not really—you are pointing to some evidence. You can find scholars who say what you want to hear (though I think many are shills, not honest followers of the facts). The question is: looking objectively, with no preconceptions, where does the evidence point?

          But it’s daunting and I’m not the brightest bulb.

          Looks to me like you bring a lot more to the table than many brainless Christians who drop by, so don’t underestimate yourself. But the important thing is, all of us (and I’m an amateur, just like you) are obliged to honestly follow the evidence where it leads.

          Yes I can directed at me. I do have a hard time with God-smears just because I’m more reverent about that.

          And what does it say to you that you have to stick up for God. Why can’t he do it himself? Isn’t that a bit of a clue? It’s just like he doesn’t exist.

          Jesus calls us to love our neighbor, not become a codex archaeologist.

          And Buddha teaches us to drop our hold on the material world. So what? There are lots of mythical teachers out there. Let’s see them as mythical.

          I’m having a hard enough time with “love my neighbor”

          Your own common sense and internal compass tells you that this makes sense. Sounds like a good source. The Bible, written in a different time and culture? Not so much.

          As long as your take is, it’s all made up …

          Not made up deliberately, like a hoax or fiction. Made up inadvertently, like legend.

          … we’ll just continue talking past each other

          Why? Surely not because you refuse to consider new ideas that I might bring forward.

          how can I depend on, and trust my life to something that has historical gaps, potential manipulation, and constant mis-translation

          … and looks just like the other books of mythology and legend.

          the Pharisees who should have recognized Christ because of the prophetic announcement of his birth, didn’t believe him either

          What prophetic announcement? Are you referring to the Immanuel story in Isaiah 7? I’ve written about that. Let me know if you need the link.

          Even with irrefutable proof, there will be nay-sayers.

          And I don’t expect or ask for irrefutable proof. I simply ask for a preponderance of evidence. So far, Christianity looks precisely like just another of the thousands of manmade religions that you and I both dismiss.

          1. What is your tipping point? What evidence you you need to tip the balance for you that God exists?

          Take any of the many arguments I’ve made in this blog. Show any of them wrong—that would be a good starting point. So far, Christianity loses on every single point.

          2. What do I need to answer to tip the balance that scripture is indeed reliable?

          I’ve written many posts about this as well. My suggestion is to find those and show me the error in those.

      • David Mills

        Hey Bob, just passing on an interesting blog article. I’m not sending this as a poke in the eye, but CM Patton, the writer, is far more engaging than I am and thought maybe you could “invade” his forum with your thoughts.

        http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2014/08/5-ways-be-a-better-atheist/

        - Dave

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

          I’ll take a look, thanks. Any key points that you think should be raised here?

        • David Mills

          We had a discussion before concerning man’s “state”. You challenged my position that man is born intrinsically evil. I think you misunderstand that word. Not everyone turns out to be a special kind of evil like Hitler or a Dahmer, of course. But the Christian position is all people do things that would place them at odds with God. Think about it. It’s observable in everyone. Take Soviet Russia. It was an atheist society with no predilections towards a God, Bible, or acknowledgement of religion (although there was a state church allowed to operate with a “state approved” message. The whole idea of that society was that everyone would work for each other. So what happened? Why did that society go corrupt? If man is basically good, and no Christians hanging about infecting pure Marxist society, why did they get corrupt? If man is basically good, shouldn’t there be a society somewhere that isn’t corrupt?
          Along with that, isn’t there a way to answer this question once and for all? Without references to God or the Bible, just solve the question is man basically born to lean good or bad? That would be an interesting project.

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

          Sure, people do bad stuff. I don’t think we disagree here.

          Man can still be basically good and things like Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany can take place. A few charismatic sociopaths can cause a lot of trouble.

          The problems with pointing to the Bible’s explanation is (1) there is no single explanation since there are a bazillion denominations, (2) the Christian explanation conflicts with the explanations of other religions (and why should I accept one over another?), and (3) the Christian explanation is based on wishful thinking, not evidence.

          I read the article and disagreed with most of it. I made a comment and didn’t get much conversation going. But thanks for the article.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not as simple as good and evil. There is this thing called evolution, it works because organisms typically act in their own self interests, those who prosper the most pass on their genes. However, if people act too much in their own self interest, and not in the interest of the group, then it harms the group as a whole, and becomes conducive to genes not being passed on. That kind of activity is discouraged by the group. Codes regulating group behavior are ancient, far away predating the Bible. So, basically, society, and individuals, have to constantly weigh self interest against the goods of society. On top of this, we have been taught this, literally for centuries, in one way or another. The Golden Rule, comes to mind. Does this mean that man is intrinsically evil? No, most all people are predisposed to love, raise family’s, not kill one another if not provoked, etc. Humans have basically the same predispositions as any other primate. However, we have more complex societies, so we have more complex morals than most. God is in no way required to explain human behavior. I hope this makes sense to you.

  • Deanjay1961

    I was a little disappointed. Plenty of people qualify their statements about cryptids not existing. All this argument proves is that some people are more comfortable making absolute claims than others.

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

      I’m not following. You’re saying that I’ve been hasty?

      Could Bigfoot exist? Sure. What do we conclude from the available evidence? We conclude (tentatively) that they don’t exist. With new evidence, let’s reconsider.

      • Deanjay1961

        I’m saying that some other people are more cautious about making claims than you. ‘We conclude (tentatively) that Bigfoot doesn’t exist’ is significantly different from stating ‘Bigfoot doesn’t exist’.
        I’m not going to say ‘Bigfoot doesn’t exist’ if I’m just going to backpedal if asked to clarify. I’ll state what I really mean in the first place: ‘I don’t believe Bigfoot is real’.
        I’ve heard your argument many times before: ‘People are comfortable saying there are no leprechauns but not comfortable saying there is no God’. However, I’ve noted no particular tendency of people who aren’t comfortable saying there is no God being comfortable asserting that there are no leprechauns. And they have to be the same people for your argument to work. The pattern I’ve observed is that people who aren’t comfortable asserting there is no God are often not comfortable asserting other universal negatives either.

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

          ‘We conclude (tentatively) that Bigfoot doesn’t exist’ is significantly different from stating ‘Bigfoot doesn’t exist’.

          Ask Science: does Bigfoot exist or not? They’ll say that they can only give a tentative answer.

          Well, yeah, obviously. But where does the evidence point? Which direction does the scale tip?

          The evidence at the moment says: no Bigfoot. Which is the same thing as “we conclude (tentatively) that Bigfoot doesn’t exist.”

          I think we’re saying the same thing. Pretty much every question is somewhere in the grey area. Nevertheless, the God question and the Bigfoot question aren’t so on the edge that science can’t make a conclusion. (Acknowledging of course that every conclusion is tentative.)

    • Matthew Alton

      All this argument proves is that some people are more comfortable making absolute claims than others.

      In fairness, our author did explicitly contextualize his use of the phrase “does not exist.” He is at some pains to differentiate it from a formal categorical statement and it’s quite apparent that he is aware of the distinction. He is using Cline’s very narrow, refined, and pragmatic definition. Redefinition is the root of all quibbling.

      I have found it too arduous a task to explain our author’s thesis to believers. Their minds are capable of emoting but I have no evidence that they are able or willing to reason.

      • Deanjay1961

        I have found it easy to explain why I don’t believe something exists, whereas when claiming something doesn’t exist that can’t be shown not to exist with certainty (like the God of Abraham described in the Bible, which certainly doesn’t exist, while the God of deism only has lack of evidence going against it), one has to convince one’s interlocutor to use a very narrow, refined, and pragmatic definition first. Good luck with that pointless struggle.

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

    Religion is what you invent when you don’t have Science.

    Or it’s what you turn to, if you’re so inclined, in order to give you things Science doesn’t: comfort in the face of tragedy, assurance in a seemingly indifferent universe, and an appreciation of what our knowledge about nature means to us as a society.

    I’m by no means saying religion is the only place we can get these things, or that religion isn’t used for much less admirable purposes. I’m saying that people derive meaning and comfort from religion, and those are important human needs that material explanations for natural phenomena don’t fulfill.


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