ONE Bias That Cripples Every Christian Apologetic Argument

Every apologetic argument? Well, perhaps that’s an exaggeration. But if not universal, it’s nearly so. The bias is this: Christians want to interpret or spin the facts to support their preconception. Instead of following the facts where they lead, these Christians would prefer to select and interpret them to show how they can still justify their worldview. They don’t want to follow the evidence where it leads and they certainly don’t want to question their position; they want to stay put and shore up their position with sand bags.

special pleading

Consider these examples

  • Are we talking about the good and bad that happens in life? They’ll tell you how the good in the world points to God’s love or God’s perfect design, but don’t blame the bad on God. That’s from Man’s fallen nature.
  • Are we talking about the reliability of the New Testament? They’ll show you how their preconceptions can be maintained by reinterpreting the dating evidence to support an early date for the gospel of Mark.
  • Are we talking about the Amalekite genocide in 1 Samuel 15? They’ll want to take this one slowly, to show that the plain interpretation is wrong or that God must’ve had reasons that we are simply unable to understand.
  • Are we talking about God’s not lifting a finger when a tornado destroyed a church in Wisconsin? They’ll ignore the church and focus instead on the three crosses that were left standing. About that, the pastor said, “It has been a powerful sign, and it speaks volumes to us about the presence of Christ among us.”
  • Are we talking about gay marriage? They’ll tell you how Leviticus is plainly against homosexuality even though the sacrifice of Jesus dismissed the other ritual abominations like kosher foods, animal sacrifices, and mixing fabrics.
  • Are we talking about morality? They’ll tell you how morals are objective and unchanging, and they’ll handwave away God’s support of slavery and genocide in the Old Testament.
  • Are we talking about Bible prophecy? They’ll ignore how they would reject popular Bible prophecies if they came from any religion but their own.
  • Are we talking about the value of science? The Creationist will emphasize the consensus view in the area of cosmology (“The Big Bang points to a beginning!”) but dismiss it in the area of biology (“Evolution argues, ‘from goo to you via the zoo’!”).
  • Are we talking about the age of the earth? The Young Earth Creationist will tell you how radioisotope data is flawed and rock strata can be interpreted to show that Noah’s Flood happened.

Special pleading vs. following the evidence

This is the fallacy of special pleading—having a high bar for evidence from the other guy’s worldview but a lower one for yours. And if you want to argue that the Christian god could exist, don’t bother. I grant that. What I want is positive, compelling evidence for your position.

I’ve heard these arguments called “zombie arguments” because, after you kill them, they just pop back up again. They’re not defeated by reason because they weren’t created by reason.

Ray Comfort is an example. The profile of his anti-evolution blathering is high enough that he’s gotten the attention of some of the world’s most prominent biologists, and they’ve corrected his childish “Well, why don’t we see a crocoduck?!?” arguments. Maybe Ray is too stupid to understand, or maybe he simply knows that his anti-evolution argument doesn’t need to be correct to satisfy the flock.

The problem, of course, is that no open-minded person interested in the truth comes at the question with a bias that they’re trying to support. Rather, they set their beliefs and assumptions aside and go where the facts lead. Whether they like the consequences of that conclusion or not is irrelevant. The solution is easy: go with the flow. Follow the facts where they point, and the problems answer themselves.

Christians, be honest with yourselves. If your worldview is nonnegotiable, admit it—to yourself at least. In this one area of life, you don’t much care what the evidence says. But since you didn’t come to faith by evidence and don’t have much use for it to support your position, don’t pretend to be an honest participant in the intellectual debate.

Or, if this is precisely what you don’t want to do, approach discussions or new ideas openly. Don’t be quick to rearrange or reinterpret the facts to show how your presupposition could still be true. Be aware of this potential bias in your own thinking and ensure that you follow the facts.

This is related to the Hypothetical God Fallacy.

You will not find an American astronomy, a Baptist biology,
a capitalist chemistry, a mammalian math, or a feminist physics.
There’s only one worldwide version of each, because they’re all based on facts,
not accidents of birth or matters of opinion.
Conversely, religion is nothing but opinions, no facts involved,
which is why anybody’s word on religion is just as good as anyone else’s
(to wit, no good at all).
— commenter Richard S. Russell

 (This is an update of a post that originally appeared 8/19/13.)

Image credit: Luis Marina, flickr, CC

 

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  • Sastra

    But since you didn’t come to faith by evidence and don’t have much use
    for it to support your position, don’t pretend to be an honest
    participant in the intellectual debate.

    There is a case to be made that a theist pretending to be an honest participant in the intellectual debate might lead to a breakthrough — if the person whom they are fooling first and foremost is themselves. At least the acceptance of the format assumes a common ground. And a sincere respect for the cautious pursuit of truth is likely to stand them in good stead — though it won’t do much for their faith.

    I think embracing a completely fideist position is much more damaging to honesty (and others) in the long run — if the person who admits they have no real case also believes that it’s very, very important to believe in God. That means they must believe they got there by dint of their great character — and we didn’t get there due to a complete lack of ours.

    I’d rather someone think I made a mistake in reasoning, than believe I suffer from a black and perverse heart.

  • Kevin K

    Exactly. It’s the presuppositionalist turtle all the way down.

    That’s why I insist that they focus on disproving the null hypothesis.

    Disprove the statement “no god exists”, and we can begin to have a conversation. Of course, first you have to describe what a god’s ontology might be, how it can be measured and verified, etc. They never want to do the heavy lifting.

    I will also continue to point out that if your argument does not suffer in the slightest if you replace the word “god” with the word “alien”, then you’ve got a mighty bad argument.

    • Paul

      “That’s why I insist that they focus on disproving the null hypothesis. Disprove the statement “no god exists”, and we can begin to have a conversation.”

      The onus is not on them to disprove the statement “no god exists.” The burden of proof is on the one who makes that claim. As Aristotle showed, it is possible to prove a negative claim.

      • Halbe

        So, if I say “Unicorns totally exist!” and you say “No, they don’t!”, the burden of proof would be on you!?

        • Paul

          No, the burden of proof would be on both of us, since we both made a claim. Sure, one is positive and one is negative, but they are both claims.

          Consider 4 statements:
          1) Unicorns exist.
          2) Unicorns don’t exist.
          3) I believe in unicorns.
          4) I don’t believe in unicorns.

          The first 2 statements are claims which require proof.

        • adam

          But in this reality the conversation is more like.

          1)Unicornism = Unicorns exist
          2)AUnicornism = I dont have enough evidence to believe

          3) I believe in unicorns.
          4) I don’t believe in unicorns.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6597272c55aa1dd14b2602406d98ba576903e53dce5800dd7f26a6fb2ca9728c.jpg

        • Paul

          That graphic is a good example of shifting the burden of proof. If someone makes the claim “God doesn’t exist.”, the burden of proof is on them.

          Query: Is adam able to respond to posts without using pictures he found on the Internet?

        • Kodie

          I say god doesn’t exist. All you have to do to prove me wrong is show me. What’s the matter?

        • MNb

          And …. you’re lying again.
          Adam gave the “proof”, though I would think it too strong a word. I quote him:
          “I don’t have enough evidence to conclude [edited by MNb]there is a god.”

        • adam

          That graphic is a good example of shifting the burden of proof.

          Which is the standard Christian claim, that is now seeping dangerously deep into US politics:

          “Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many “coincidences” tied to it,” Flynn Jr. said in one of his tweets.

          MIke FLynn Jr twitter

          ” If someone makes the claim “God doesn’t exist.”, the burden of proof is on them.”

          Ok when that happens, which is EXTREMELY rare, vs the agnostic – I dont have enough evidence

          Compared to the MILLIONS, hundreds of MILLIONS of christians whose claim of ‘God is real’ still duck the burden of proof, as you are doing right now.

          “Query: Is adam able to respond to posts without using pictures he found on the Internet?”

          Of course

          Query, can Apologetics exist without dishonesty?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1a147603f3f8ddd5bac7404ea18a3b3d893f7c6ad238d9482d931013803dff1d.jpg

        • Herald Newman

          > Query, can Apologetics exist without dishonesty?

          Probably, but would likely only convince those who ask no hard questions.

        • MNb

          See? Calling you out on your lies works. You felt forced to clarify you position.
          I agree that statements 1 and 2 need to be backed up. Adam is right underneath that “there is not evidence for 1)” backs up 2). It’s not a particularly strong back up, but a back up it is. The principle is called Ockham’s Razor.

          Let’s see if you now are willing to clarify your position on a topic I have asked you about several times now. Consider these two quotes.

          “The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger.”

          “iron law of Nature–which compels the various species to keep within the definite limits of their own life-forms when propagating and multiplying their kind.”
          Does that sound like creationism to you or like “Darwinism”?
          As long as you refuse to answer my simple question I can keep on calling you a liar.

        • KarlUdy

          See? Calling you out on your lies works. You felt forced to clarify you position.

          MNb, I know English is not your first language.

          In English, a statement that requires clarification to avoid misunderstanding or confusion is called “confusing” or “misunderstood”, not “lies”. “Lies” is a pretty loaded term that is not likely to lead to a productive conversation.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Paul’s misrepresentations are practically pernicious by now; if he’s honestly missing a correct understanding of more than a single and particularly rigid atheist position, maybe he can try flexing his humility muscles, or at least his imagination, for a change.

        • TheNuszAbides

          you’ve done nothing whatsoever to address those of us who say “i don’t believe any God claims I’ve encountered”, but you seem to want to pretend that this statement is identical with “God does not exist”. it isn’t and never will be.

      • Michael Neville

        This is incorrect. Theists claim that various gods exist. This is a positive claim. The claim that gods do not exist is the negative claim. If you or any other theist want atheists to believe in your gods then it’s up to you to provide evidence that your gods aren’t figments of somebody else’s imagination.

        • Paul

          Whether a claim is positive or negative doesn’t matter. The burden of proof is on the one making the claim. As I already mentioned, Aristotle showed that negative claims can be proven.

          “If you or any other theist want atheists to believe in your gods then it’s up to you to provide evidence that your gods aren’t figments of somebody else’s imagination.”

          Now you changed the argument. The key word being “believe.” The burden of proof is not on the believer or unbeliever, it’s on the one making an affirmative claim. I’ll repost my response to Hable here:

          Consider 4 statements:
          1) Unicorns exist.
          2) Unicorns don’t exist.
          3) I believe in unicorns.
          4) I don’t believe in unicorns.

          The first 2 statements are claims which require proof.

        • Michael Neville

          While there’s nothing in formal logic that says one can’t prove a negative, for pragmatic reasons it’s usually quite difficult if not impossible.

          Consider the following positive claim: All granite floats in water. To disprove this claim we take a chunk of granite and heave it into the nearest body of water. It sinks. Positive claim disproved.

          Now consider the following negative claim: No granite floats in water. We would have to test every bit of granite in the universe to disprove this negative claim. So while theoretically we can say this claim is provable or rather can be disproved, in reality it is impossible to disprove this negative claim.

          Belief in gods does not change your argument. The practical result of you proving your favorite pet god or any other gods exist would be atheists believing in whichever god or gods was proven to exist. Actually we’ll make it easier for you. Rather that “proving” gods’ existence, you just have to provide reasonable evidence supporting the existence of gods. Until that time, we’ll continue not believing in gods for the simple reason there’s zip point shit evidence to support the idea that any kind of god exists.

        • Halbe

          Nope. The 2nd statement only requires proof if there is evidence for the 1st. (And yes, I know that if you take a very formal mathematical perspective you would be right, but I am not here to play your deceptive apologetic games.) Show me some evidence for 1, otherwise thinking or talking about 2 is just a waste of time and energy.

        • al kimeea

          Fine. I don’t believe in deities because those that do can’t support their belief, and have been unable to since its conception.

          woiks fer me

        • adam

          Since your 1 is separate from your 3 and 4.

          How does the hidden god concept work?

        • Paul

          What hidden god?

        • adam

          Gods who want everybody to know them, but remain hidden.

      • MNb

        Indeed it’s possible to prove a negative. However “god exists” is not the null hypothesis exactly because it’s a positive claim. “we don’t know if there is a god” is the null hypothesis. That would be called agnosticism and that’s also a form of non-belief.
        But then again you’re an established liar, of course.

        • Paul

          “However “god exists” is not the null hypothesis exactly…”

          Then why are you responding to me? Talk to Kevin K about the way he phrased it.

        • MNb

          Because you still have to disprove “no god exists”.
          And because you’re an established liar.

        • Paul

          “Because you still have to disprove “no god exists”.”

          It’s not my claim. So it’s not my job to disprove it. It’s the job of the person who made the claim. As I said before, go talk to Kevin K.

        • Kodie

          It would be so easy for you to disprove it and end the argument, but you are so stubborn. Because you can’t. I’m not saying I can’t prove no god exists, I’m saying you just did.

        • MNb

          Wrote the established liar, who refers to another liar, Richard Weikar, as a reliable source.
          Elsewhere on this blog you totally did.

        • Paul

          I did no such thing. That is merely your interpretation. I simply pointed out to Bob that another article mention one of his previous blog posts. That’s all I did. The fact that the article mentioned Richard Weikart is irrelevant. Another fact: Richard Weikart wasn’t even the one making the misquote in the article. The article was simply talking about his new book.
          You can also scroll up to Kevin K’s post and find out that HE was shifting the burden of prove by saying that it was up to Christians to prove that “no god exits.”
          You just proved to everyone here that you have reading comprehension problems.

        • MNb

          Yeah, you defend creationism and don’t claim there is a god. Go fool your demented grandma, no us, you stupid liar.

      • Kevin K

        Nope. You claim Doug exists. Therefore, it’s your burden of proof, not mine.

        I merely hold you to the exact same standards of evidence I would for someone claiming unicorns exist, or fairies living at the bottom of the well, or an invisible dragon living in your garage.

        However, were I to take up your challenge, it would be in the form of an argument that goes like this.

        1. Any existent god that wishes to interact with humans would clearly and positively reveal itself in a way that can be verified by believers, non-believers, and disinterested parties.
        2. No god has ever met that standard of proof.
        3. Therefore, the likelihood that there exists a god that wishes to interact with humans is vanishingly small, given the several thousand years and thousands of gods claimed to exist by humans.

        • Paul

          “Nope. You claim Doug exists. Therefore, it’s your burden of proof, not mine.”

          First of all, I didn’t make that claim (please provide evidence to the contrary, if you have any). Second, I work with 2 guys named Doug so I could prove to you that they do exist if I did make such a claim (which I didn’t. Again, please provide evidence to the contrary, if you have any). Second, the fact remains that the burden of proof would be on you for making the claim “no god exists” if you do make that claim.

        • Kevin K

          Every pixel out of your fingers is in service of the notion that there exists some unseen entity that demands things of humans, like not eating bacon cheeseburgers on Fridays during Lent or only sticking your penis in one particular spot.

          It’s pure sophistry to declare otherwise.

        • Paul

          I’m not sure what that has do with you not understanding the burden of proof. It’s just a red herring. FYI: it’s not God that demands that humans not eat meat on Fridays during Lent, that’s only required by the Catholic church as far as I know.
          Question: if there is no god to be held accountable to, who sets the rules?

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Why ought we follow the rules set by god?
          Since the rules allegedly set in the bible by god condones slavery, why ough I condone slavery?

          Or are you simply to grandstand again?

        • Paul

          I seek applause from no one.

          If you think the rules were just created by humans, why should they be obeyed then? They would just be their opinions, right? And if someone doesn’t like your rules, they’ll just go and create their own, right? But if the rules are nothing more than opinions, can you really say that one person is right and another is wrong when there’s no ultimate standard to compare them to?

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Again, a whole lot of words to avoid the question.SO you were simply grandstanding, again.

        • Paul

          Again, I seek no applause or attention from anyone. Maybe you don’t know what grandstanding means.

          I’m certainly not avoiding the topic. Either the rules are set by God or they are set by man. If they are set my man, then ultimately they are just personal opinions. If they are just personal opinions, they can you really say that breaking them is wrong. On the other hand, if the rules are set by God, then there is an ultimate authority. Why break those rules?

        • TheMarsCydonia

          What was it, at least three times now that I ask “why ought I follow those rules”? I mean on this thread alone as you avoided the question on another.
          So can you answer the question with something else other than a question like “why break those rules”?
          Why ought I share your personal opinion that god is the ultimate authority?

        • Paul

          “Why ought I share your personal opinion that god is the ultimate authority?”

          I understand that from your worldview that it must seem like my personal opinion, but you must understand that I don’t share your worldview. From my worldview, “God is the ultimate authority.” is not a personal opinion.

          “What was it, at least three times now that I ask “why ought I follow those rules”?”

          I’m certainly avoiding giving you a direct answer to the question, but, like I said earlier, I’m not avoiding the issue at all. Sure, I would give you a direct answer if I thought it would help. I think the best solution is for you to think about the answer to that question yourself. Either God is the ultimate authority or man is. Are you going to follow God’s rules or man’s rules. What are the consequences for following man’s rules? What are the consequences for breaking man’s rules? What are the consequences for following God’s rules? What are the consequences for breaking God’s rules?

        • TheMarsCydonia

          How is it not your personal opinion? Why ought I agree that god is the “ultimate authority”? Because of the consequences for breaking god’s rules? Hell? And this is why I ought follow your “ultimate authority”, because of the threat of punishment?

          Is this your “objective morality”? “You ought to follow the rules because you’ll be punished if you don’t”?

        • Paul

          Think of it as “ultimate moral authority” (instead of “objective morality” which didn’t quite send the message I wanted to convey) or even “ultimate authority” for pretty much everything. What’s the alternative?: human beings being the ultimate authority ( because let’s face it, no one wants to follow the rules made by elephants or apes. They don’t play fair. Neither do alligators and sharks. ). Joking aside, there really is no other choice: God either set the rules or they were created by man. You have to choose which ones you’re going to follow.

          If God created everything, isn’t He allowed to set the rules? Hypothetically, let’s say there is no God and human beings have set all the rules. Aren’t you threatened with jail or even the death penalty for breaking them? So why cringe at the thought that God is allowed to punish those who break His rules? But does God want you to go to Hell? No he doesn’t. But you have the freedom to make your own decision. God can’t make up your mind for you.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          So because god created everything “he’s allowed to make the rules”(I don’t see why that allows him to set the rules other than it being your personal opinion it does).

          That still does not answer the question: why ought I follow the rules set by god?

          According to the bible, one of the rules set is that slavery is acceptable. Why ought find slavery acceptable just because set a rule that slavery was acceptable?

          Why should I follow god’s rule that says slavery is acceptable rather than men’s rules that say it isn’t?

          Because of punishment? Why ought I follow the rules out of fear of punishment?

          Other than your opinion I should? Where is this objective morality you fault atheists for not having?

        • Paul

          “According to the bible, one of the rules set is that slavery is acceptable.”

          You mean according to your interpretation of the Bible. Try this:
          https://gotquestions.org/Bible-slavery.html

          “That still does not answer the question: why ought I follow the rules set by god?”

          Like I said, I wasn’t going to give you a direct answer to that question. You have to think through that yourself. You were on the right track in a previous post.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Have you read the gotquestion piece you linked to? Because they confirm my point: slavery was condoned in the bible.
          They just try to excuse it.

          So no direct answer, no objective morality from you. So then, will you object to me pointing it out everytime you fault atheist for it?

          Because that seems to be hypocritical, according to my “interpretation” at least.

          And I have thought it through. Hence why you’re not writting anything that is surprising to me.

        • Paul

          Did you read the gotquestions piece or did you interpret it the way you wanted to interpret it? Working off a debt is completely different than antebellum slavery. If they couldn’t pay off their debts in 7 years, the debts were forgiven. Has your bank ever done that?
          Nothing you say is surprising to me either. I’ve heard all the atheist arguments.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Are you ignoring the other forms of slavery within the bible? And it’s not “if they couldn’t pay off their debts in 7 years”, the servitude itself was the “payment” but that, only for male israelites of course.

          At least you didn’t go with “It wasn’t cruel slavery” as opposed to the “soft” slavery condoned in the bible.

          You can keep your objective morality (which you can’t demonstrate) that condones such a thing as owning another human being as property until you show why I ought condone owning human beings as property.

          If you’ve heard all of the atheists arguments, have you ever thought about actually adressing them?

        • Myna

          He won’t even address the concerns on biblical slavery from sources that aren’t atheist. He wants his link read and accepted at face value. Give him a more extensive link, and he’s “heard all the atheist arguments”, even when the link isn’t to an atheist’s writing.

        • Myna

          I trust you will not ignore the site I linked to on the grounds that you’ve “heard all the atheist arguments,” since the young man who wrote the essay there it is not an atheist, rather refers to himself as a reluctant skeptic.

          The FACT, Paul, is that the textual verses on slavery exist and are more numerous than in the link you provided. The link you provided is profoundly disingenuous, Paul. If it were not, it would have explained ALL the chapters and verses that pertain to slavery in the bible, even the uncomfortable ones. The TRUTH, Paul, is that the young man who wrote the essay on his blog (in the link I offered) is more honest than you and the link you pointed to only gives evidence of your dishonesty.

        • Myna

          You mean according to your interpretation of the Bible.

          Get real. If you are going to share a link, make some effort to show you are being completely honest by providing a source with all the chapters and verses that pertain to biblical slavery. They’re not pretty. They’re not excusable.

          http://yuriystasyuk.com/biblical-slavery-the-uncomfortable-truth/

        • Michael Neville

          As you’ve been told before, both the Old and New Testaments give specific rules on how to treat slaves. That tells us the Bible sanctions slavery. The only reason why some apologists try to weasel about what the Bible actually says is they don’t want to admit their “good book” condones something that most people consider evil.

          Your link says that Biblical slavery wasn’t race based. So what? Slavery is slavery. Owning another person is slavery regardless of whether or not their skin is the same color as their owner. A book which says beating a slave so hard that they die several days later is just hunky-dory is a book which says slavery is an acceptable practice.

        • TheNuszAbides

          So because god created everything

          why even grant that much? an self-admitted Jealous God isn’t restricted from lying/misleading about the [speculative!] fact that some things exist which He didn’t create …

        • Myna

          Aren’t you threatened with jail or even the death penalty for breaking them? So why cringe at the thought that God is allowed to punish those who break His rules? But does God want you to go to Hell? No he doesn’t. But you have the freedom to make your own decision. God can’t make up your mind for you.

          That’s as goofy an analogy as I have read. First of all, society’s rule of law, agree or disagree as one might choose, is set up by tangible human beings. Laws can also be altered by advocacy and by protest…ie: voting rights. You don’t like the law? Talk to the lawmakers. Write your representatives.

          If you commit a capital offense either because you feel entitled or you are just sick in your mind, tangible authorities are going to take you to a tangible cell and you will suffer tangible consequence.

          A law is a concept to bring order, to prevent chaos, not to demand worship…unless you live in North Korea.

          Your “God” reasons like Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest.

        • Kodie

          You have to give some indication that there is any consequence to following or breaking some dope on the internet’s rules. You call them “god’s rules” but they are the rules of a figment of your imagination unless you can demonstrate otherwise. I can’t respect the giant overarching character of your worldview, as from my worldview, that’s a fictional character, and there are not consequences from that fictional character. If you break a human rule that happens to coincide with a “god” rule, humans take care of it entirely. There is plenty of evidence they can and they do, but no evidence of a consequence from any god. Behaving a certain way to avoid the lightning bolt of judgment as it were, from an invisible force, is commonly referred to as a superstition. 7 years of bad luck or your mother dies, etc.

        • Myna

          From my worldview, “God is the ultimate authority.” is not a personal opinion.

          But it can only be your personal opinion because it is not universal. It is not a personal opinion that air exists, because it is a shared reality.

          Either God is the ultimate authority or man is.

          Man is the ultimate authority over man. Unless you are into ancient alien theory, man has made all the rules and invented all the stories. Other than this, Nature is the ultimate authority. Gods and arrogance comes and goes, Nature devours them all. Is Nature then a manifestation of Immanence? Could be, might not be, but either way I wouldn’t mess with it, considering it always wins.

          Are you going to follow God’s rules or man’s rules.

          Nature’s rules.

          What are the consequences for following man’s rules? What are the consequences for breaking man’s rules?

          Depends on the political soil you find yourself on.

          What are the consequences for following God’s rules?

          First, you have to define “God”. Then you have to show evidence of “God’s rules.” Then, you have to show why this “God” differs from that “God.” Then you must argue who has the authority to interpret those rules? What and who gives them authority? Why is one authority more crucial than another? Is it crucial at all?

          What are the consequences for breaking God’s rules?

          One might refer that question to one who has lived in Saudi Arabia. But truth is, if you live under an active volcano, sooner or later it’s going to erupt. If not on you, then your progeny if they remain long enough under the shadow of the mountain. That’s earth. It is what it is. No dispute. And if you mess with Nature, again, sooner or later it will take you down, believer, unbeliever, it knows no prejudice.

          Now, is this an argument for Immanence if you are going to go the “God” route? It doesn’t matter, you see, because for all the stories, Nature still reigns supreme. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, no matter what beliefs you carry with you, you are subject to it.

        • Michael Neville

          And if you mess with Nature, again, sooner or later it will take you down, believer, unbeliever, it knows no prejudice.

          Don’t anthropomorphize Nature. She hates that.

        • Myna

          Oops!! You’d think one would have learned after the embarrassing margarine incident.

          https://youtu.be/FUecymQ3zxs

        • Myna

          The ultimate standard is what has been found to work for the functioning of the collective. The model of democratic government comes from the Greeks, but social order too often follows the hierarchy of religions, which make some men king (divine right and all that) and others lackeys and still others, slaves.

          And if someone doesn’t like your rules, they’ll just go and create their own, right?

          Happens all the time. That’s what schisms are all about.

        • Paul

          Sure it happens all the time. Man’s rules are just personal opinions and no one could really say whether they are right or wrong if there is no ultimate standard to compare them to.

          “The ultimate standard is what has been found to work for the functioning of the collective. ”

          What is the “ultimate standard”? The answer to that question will give someone a good idea about your worldview and your beliefs.

        • Myna

          Worldview and beliefs are variable. The standard for a functioning society is what the collective either agrees on or is forced upon them. The ultimate standard, I would venture, would be collective well being and that which would serve it best, but then the question often becomes whose well being? A government’s particular playing field or the people it proposes to govern?

          [ed.]

        • Paul

          So what you’re really saying is that the “ultimate standard” is created by human beings, correct?

        • Myna

          Of course it is, through trial and error, because all creatures ultimately learn by trial and error. If you are proposing that a standard comes from any specific religious deity, you would have to choose which one. In a social democracy, you would be free to choose your own personal deity. In a theocracy, you would be hard pressed to.

        • Paul

          So ultimately they are just personal opinions, correct?

        • Myna

          I’m not going to play ‘Ring Around the Question’. Read what I wrote and answer it yourself.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Why should we consider what you like as an ultimate standard to be the ultimate standard for everyone else? If this “ultimate standard” condones slavery, why ought I betray my conscience and condone it too? Why should we consider your personal opinion on the matter rather than someone else’s?

        • adam

          “Question: if there is no god to be held accountable to, who sets the rules?”

          What rules?

        • Paul

          Exactly. Now you’re thinking like an atheist.

        • adam

          “Exactly. Now you’re thinking like an atheist.”

          Well I do understand that society has rules and how those rules come about..

          I assumed you were talking about some MAGICAL rules that you IMAGINE https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b1812f9f40551fc82e960af7362297e898cfec03cabc026a09208dd480ec6672.jpg .

        • Paul

          “No I understand that society has rules and how those rules come about..”

          Then why did you ask “What rules?”

          Just replace the word “Christians” in that graphic with “adam”

        • adam

          “Then why did you ask “What rules?””

          Well I do understand that society has rules and how those rules come about..I assumed you were talking about some MAGICAL rules that you IMAGINE

          Notice how you were not bright enough to pick that up….

        • Michael Neville

          FYI: it’s not God that demands that humans not eat meat on Fridays during Lent, that’s only required by the Catholic church as far as I know.

          According to the Catholic Church it is God’s requirement. The Christian god has a whole lot of nit-picky rules one has to follow or else be punished forever. These rules are explained to us hoi polloi by self-appointed interpreters of God who knew exactly what the unknowable, ineffable God is thinking about any subject.

        • al kimeea

          Ha, you missed the bit about yummy bacon which made the statement a grin worthy mashup of Judaeo-Christian rules.

          Since you mention VatiCorp, it would be the Pope that sets the rules according how they interpret what their imaginary friend wants, just like any of the other religious authorities of the myriad sects. Assuming a deity, as you propose.

          Interesting that the christian holey book has nothing against slavery or raping children in the top ten list of rules and that the first four are all about kissing doG’s arse.

        • Kevin K

          I’m quite certain you don’t understand burden of proof.

          As far as the eating of bacon cheeseburgers, it’s a demonstration that religions all over the world claim to understand what their god wants of them — but each religion chooses differently. So, it’s an example of the human origins of each religion. It’s not just Catholics.

          Jews declare that the bacon and cheese must not be eaten with the burger, because their god demands it.
          Muslims declare the bacon is forbidden by their god.
          Hindus will not eat the cow, because their god(s) is offended by such a thing.
          Christians of a certain stripe (Jehovah’s Witnesses) declare that god wishes humans to not eat meat of any sort.

          Unless and until religions everywhere can agree on the status of the bacon cheeseburger, I’m afraid it stands as a prime piece of evidence in favor of the notion that all religions are man-made.

        • Paul

          You demonstrated quite well that you don’t understand the burden of proof. You also demonstrated quite well that you’re good at red herrings.

        • Kodie

          Paul if you can demonstrate god exists, the argument will be over. If you can’t, then I can’t believe god exists.

          What’s the hold up?

        • MNb

          “It’s just a red herring.”
          No, it isn’t. It’s just a complicated way to say that you’re a liar – established a couple of times. You do claim there is a god.

          “who sets the rules?”
          We humans do.

        • Paul

          “who sets the rules?”
          We humans do.

          If there is no God then, yes, humans do. So should the rules be obeyed then? Aren’t they just a matter of personal opinion. What if someone doesn’t like your rules?

        • adam

          ” What if someone doesn’t like your rules?”

          Well, if you are an authoritarian despot, you get not only to make the rules, you get to enforce the rules as well, so you normally just have those kinds of people killed. Genocidal drownings, or maybe just tortured for eternity if your are feeling generous.

          A democratic society is responsible for its own rules, nobody has their ‘own’ rules.

        • TheNuszAbides

          not really that true, there is always (barring the discovery/invention/inevitability of a Hive Mind) a matter of scale. some individuals might skate through life without brushing up against temptation to disobey/ignore any community/civic/regional/federal/religious rule, but generally it’s academically uncontroversial that each one of us determines our ‘own’ parameters of behavior (mitigated by societal factors, sure, but only submitting to anything ‘ultimate’ by choice [the only technically ‘ultimate’ authority, assuming we skip the Free Will rabbit-hole!] or at least practical necessity). but none of this justifies Paul’s latest straw-man anyway; no matter what the topic is, he keeps imagining he has a Gotcha! in his toolkit and never seems to acknowledge that thrashing dead straw-horses isn’t how an actual Gotcha! works.

        • MNb

          “So should the rules be obeyed then?”
          That’s up to everyone to decide. Just accept the consequences.

          “Aren’t they just a matter of personal opinion.”
          If you’re talking law then no – they are the opinions of many, many politicians, not just one person.

          “What if someone doesn’t like your rules?”
          Bad luck for me. Spoiler: it happens all the time. In my world everyone is free to like or dislike my rules. Unlike christian bigots like you I don’t feel the slightest urge to force my rules upon anyone else.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          You avoided answering this question so I will ask again:
          Why ought we follow the rules set by god? If one of those rules is “slavery is acceptable” and another is “thou shall not suffer a witch to live”, why ought I follow these rules?

      • eric

        I don’t know many atheists that are making the philosophically absolute claim ‘no god exists.’ Most of the time, atheist assertions are more along the lines of ‘there is no evidence for your conception of God existing.’ And they are typically parsed as a standard empirical induction, i.e. meaning that the atheist is stating their conclusion is provisional and subject to change should new evidence arise.
        Heck, even Dawkins didn’t rate himself a 7 on the 1-7 Dawkins scale. And yet it seems to me that any time an atheist says “God doesn’t exist,” the standard theistic response is to assume they’re making a 7-claim on that scale and point out that a 7 is unwarranted. Let’s get that out of the way right now; yes, a 7-claim is unwarranted. But nobody is actually claiming a 7. So stop arguing against it, that is straw manning your atheist opponents. They’re claiming there is little empirical warrant for a belief in an active, interfering deity who seeks the best for humans. IOW, what they are claiming is more like “when it comes to the Christian God, a 6.something is the best fit to the evidence.”

        • Paul

          “I don’t know many atheists that are making the philosophically absolute claim ‘no god exists.'”

          You now know at least one: Kevin K.

        • TheNuszAbides

          he already qualified ‘many’–you know, the word that isn’t a synonym for ‘any’. so you’re only demonstrating yet again that you can’t/don’t/won’t read carefully [if it doesn’t suit your oh-so-cunning agenda]. and your justifications for being taken seriously are already on thin ice. you wore out ‘benefit of the doubt’ dozens of comments ago.

      • TheMarsCydonia

        What proof would you expect for the non-existence of something? An absence of evidence? Well that’s exactly what we have here.

        So then, that’s easy to prove wrong by disproving the statement and providing evidence and disproving the statement.

        Thus if they cannot disprove no god exists, then why should we believe there is one?

        • Paul

          “What proof would you expect for the non-existence of something? An absence of evidence? Well that’s exactly what we have here.”

          Interesting. I’ve had another atheist tell me that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This was in relation to so-called missing-links. I guess atheists will use the argument either way when it suits them.

          I had one atheist tell that because the Bible says “Go forth and multiply”, Christians are responsible for the earth being overpopulated. Another atheist complains to me about Christians being in favor of abstinence programs and saying that Christians are anti-sex. So were anti-sex and we’re responsible for the world being over populated? Makes no sense. Atheists attack Christian on all sides. They just end up contradicting themselves.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          That was a whole lot of words to avoid answering the question.

    • TheNuszAbides

      if your argument does not suffer in the slightest if you replace the word “god” with the word “alien”

      yes! this is why creation ‘scientists’ should just bring followers of Sitchin, von Däniken, et al. on board already. (in their interest of strength in numbers, in our interest of easier targets.)

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    Re: “Instead of following the facts where they lead, these Christians would prefer to select and interpret them to show how they can still justify their worldview.”

    Absofreakinglutely! Here’s another example of their selectivity: It was hailed as a “miracle” that a Jesus statue was the only thing left standing after a wildfire in TN. Wahoo! God is great, right … ?

    Except, people freaking died in those wildfires. Those deaths don’t count against their deity, but the statue counts for him. Can’t beat that apologetic logic!

    • Kevin K

      And it was a concrete statue. Incredible.

      It’s one of the worst examples of Miracle of Incomplete Devastation I’ve ever heard.

      • adam

        Right up there with ‘iron chariots’, huh?

    • Joe

      The worst thing is that some people who lost things in those fires, including loved ones, will still see the statue surviving as some kind of miracle! Lifelong biases are very hard to let go of.

    • adam

      “Except, people freaking died in those wildfires. ”

      It is the psychopathic nature of their ‘faith’

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/28b3e10c9441a33fce618cdb98800e4bba8705855d849fc6770b645bea4a0d33.jpg

      • carbonUnit

        Ah, the Miracle of Incomplete Destruction Devastation. (Saw that phrase for the first time in a comment on here in the last week or so. And I see it has already been used in these comments.) Survivors praising God in a situation of death and destruction drives me crazy.
        edited

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

      Absolutely incredible! A stone statue (plus everything else that didn’t burn, like metal and cinderblock) was standing after a fire?!

      It’s a gosh darn miracle, completely unprecedented.

      https://twitter.com/CNN/status/804350598841831424/photo/1

      • Kevin K

        Unless you want to count the cinder block foundation, of course….

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

          Cinder blocks surviving a fire?!

          It’s a miracle!

        • Pofarmer

          The Tim Tebow 3:16 miracle is making the rounds of facebook, again. I’d never even heard of it. I guess we should all be believers now.

        • Kevin K

          Is that the one where he prayed on an airplane while a physician took care of a sick passenger? So that god could take the credit? smh.

          Gotta be 5 pm somewhere.

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

          I speculate if Tebow used different Bible verses instead of the old standbys here:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/09/football-christianity-2/

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

          That reminds me of the “Touchdown Jesus” statue. Nothing much miraculous here.

          http://www.thegoodatheist.net/images/burn_jesus.jpg

        • Kevin K

          That’s a classic!!

        • carbonUnit

          That’s a classic!!
          Yep, and the Hustler Hollywood adult store a mile or so away and at a higher elevation still stands, unscathed.

        • carbonUnit

          I always wanted to photoshop a hot dog on the burnt out frame… God’s weenie roast.

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

          “I once caught a fish this big!

        • busterggi

          It was named Leviathan.

        • al kimeea

          with only one hand up

        • Doubting Thomas

          In my avater I photoshopped the picture (poorly) to where it looks like Thomas is pulling a hot dog out of Jesus’ wound. It makes me chuckle.

        • TheNuszAbides

          worthy of a SubGenius publication.

        • Greg G.

          I have seen photos of OSU Buckeye fans doing the O-H-I-O pose with Jesus being his middle initial.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “oh Jesus I owe”?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker
        • Without Malice

          And if there was a brick or stone chimney that would probably still be standing too, as they almost always are.

      • eric

        Well, given today’s consumer industry, It is something of a miracle that a statue advertised and sold as stone turned out to actually be made of stone… :)

      • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

        Yes, never before in all of history has stone failed to burn! Science proves God again!

        </sarcasm>

      • Myna

        A whole lot of cemetery statuary survived as well, no doubt, which only proves the angels were looking over the bless’ed dead. During the bombing of Milan in WW II, Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” remained to stand among the rubble of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and people called it a miracle, although the wall had been sandbagged and scaffolded to prevent a collapse previous to the attack. Same with Michelangelo’s “David,” among other masterpieces, but many, many were lost which had not been scrupulously protected…still, one occasionally sees sites which yet proclaim it to be a miracle, a sign from above. It must bring tears to the ghost of Cesare Borgia’s eyes.

  • Joe

    If you head over to the “25,000 New Testament Manuscripts…” blogpost, you can see this bias in action. Very simple thought experiments end up with nonsensical answers when subjected to apologetic thinking.

    Consider two simple questions:

    Which is more believable:
    a) I own a car.
    b) I own a spaceship.

    Which would you say would be a more reliable account of 9/11:
    a) A newspaper clipping from the New York Times, dated 10/11/2001.
    b) An anonymous report, written decades later, by someone who never saw the events?

    Under any other circumstances, most people would answer a) to both. In a theistic context, however, we get answers c) through to z), encompassing any number of assumptions or ad-hoc explainations.

    • Kevin K

      And, of course, in your second example, the analogy is wrong…because it’s not an account of 9/11 (an event clearly experienced live by hundreds of thousands, witnessed live by multimillions/billions via mass communications)…it’s more analogous to an account of a unicorn flying around the White House and sprinkling the crowd with fairy dust on inauguration day.

      • TheNuszAbides

        a unicorn flying around the White House and sprinkling the crowd with fairy dust on inauguration day

        finally worth considering, with the advent of Alternative Facts!

  • Doubting Thomas

    I think it’s more a case of motivated reasoning rather than special pleading. The believer starts with the assumption that god exists and then makes excuses for why reality looks exactly as we would expect it to if gods are man made fiction.

    Horrible acts happen with no supernatural intervention? Bullshit excuse.
    Bible has horrible and idiotic passages? Bullshit excuse.

    The believer simply has to get from point A (A tsunami killed thousands of children) to point Z (an all-powerful all-loving god watches over us) and will do so no matter how ridiculous and intellectually dishonest the path may be.

  • eric

    Something of an aside, but its perfectly normal in both science and philosophy to take a hypothetical assertion and try and follow where it might lead. In philosophy you might try and figure out what it logically implies or do a reductio on it. In science, you’re probably trying to figure out whether the hypotheses results in a prediction that can be cheaply and easily tested (or maybe makes a novel prediction that can be checked with data that already exists). You’re model-building, essentially.
    So in principle there’s nothing wrong with starting with “let’s assume this particular type of God…” and seeing where that assumption might lead. The problem with apologetics, as I see it, is that they don’t really follow standard practices on what to do with a model once you’ve built it. They try and immunize their model from tests rather than seeking out ways to test it, for example. Or they use the ‘god’s ways are mysterious’ response to more philosophical objections. Or, as Bob says, they shift the burden of evidence and play the ‘you can’t philosophically prove my hypothesis is impossible’ game. Perhaps another way to put it is that in science and philosophy, hypotheses and models are a means to the end of helping us understand ourselves, the world, etc. In theology, getting people to accept the hypothesis/model is the end.

    • Ficino

      “They try and immunize their model from tests rather than seeking out ways to test it, for example.”

      Very good point. From what I’ve seen, a good example of this strategy is seen in some of the Thomist apologists around now. They refuse to allow any reference to any result of scientific inquiry, although Thomas himself does theology as a higher science that uses output of lower sciences like (Aristotelian) physics etc. So far it escapes me how what is left of the Thomistic synthesis is amenable to any kind of testing. And anyone who disagrees with Thomas is branded as “failing to understand Thomas” on the point in question. Case in point: combox dudes who sneer at Anthony Kenny.

    • sandy

      Yes very good point Eric. One example of how a christian could test their belief would be to read one of the many books out there that offers criticism or an argument as to why their belief may be wrong. Due some due diligence on their belief so to speak. Here’s what I ran into when I proposed such an idea to a good friend of mine who is a devout christian and bible school teacher.
      I suggested he read “Forged” by Bart Ehrman (which is an excellent read on the authors of the bible and who actually wrote it and why) so that he could get a better understanding of who actually wrote the bible knowing it should present some cracks into his belief if not a complete revelation. His response was “it’s only a book and anyone can write a book.” I’m still thinking of sending him a copy for Xmas.

      • Kevin K

        You should also send him The Bible Unearthed. Excellent OT resource from highly respected archaeologists.

        https://www.amazon.com/Bible-Unearthed-Archaeologys-Vision-Ancient/dp/0684869136

        • sandy

          Thanks Kevin K. I have read reviews on this book and agree it looks like a good one. I think I will order it up and read it myself first.

        • sandy

          Ordered up! Also Jerry Coyne’s “Fact vs Fiction” a must for your library IMHO. I had perviously owned it but gave it to a friend as a gift. Couldn’t resist but ordered up 8 more books. Amazon is great especially for the used books and paper back options as they always arrive early or at least that way so far. F’n cold in Calgary tonight….minus 27 C!

      • exrelayman

        So is the Bible only a book and anyone can write a book.

        • sandy

          Yes of course the bible is a book, a compilation of books written by men making it a very human book. We only know of one author and that is Paul and his letters. The 39 books of the old testament and the 27 of the new, except for those attributed to Paul are all written anonymously. So, theoretically anyone could have written the bible assuming of course they were literate.

        • sandy

          So do you think the bible is more than a book? Just trying to figure out your question.

        • exrelayman

          The Bible is words on paper. Just a book. I use this as response to the Christian who felt ‘Forged’ was just a book. To go beyond that a bit, as alleged evidence, it is even worse than hearsay evidence. With hearsay evidence you can confront the known claimant and know something about the claimant’s character. With the Bible’s unknown authors, even that is not possible. All the supposed important matters of the Bible, God, Satan, soul, sin, heaven, hell, etc are unseen and undetectable items, just taken on faith from the testimony of unknown writers writing in less erudite times and showing remarkable similarities to earlier beliefs from surrounding and earlier cultures (besides containing a wealth of contradictory and illogical content). As is famously said, the invisible and the nonexistent are remarkably alike.

          I hope the meaning of my initial comment is clarified.

  • Dago Red

    Many prominent scientists have contrasted the fact that a general science method (as well as everyday common-sense) always gathers the evidence first then draws conclusions from that evidence…and that religion does exactly the opposite (always gathers conclusions first and then draws upon evidence that only supports their assumed conclusions). This post is as excellent philosophical expansion of that notion, by explaining WHY this inversion of science methodology by religion is flawed reasoning through and through.

    This is why so many people think science and religion conflict with one another. It isn’t in regards to variations in fact interpretations (although, with people like Ken Ham, that is also the case) as so many religious people choose to interpret any mention of the “conflict” — and thus conclude there isn’t one. But, even if one has a subset of human knowledge in mind where both sides totally agree upon the implications and value of that knowledge (which is entirely possible for most forms of liberal theology), the fact that this general religious methodology to knowing truth *remains* entirely reversed from how science works remains a de facto demonstration that there is indeed a huge conflict between science methodology and religion methodology that cannot be denied. And, while its still better when people reach the right conclusions even if for the wrong reasons (rather than just reaching the wrong conclusions), such a happy accident does not, nor cannot, support the flawed ways by which you reached your ends. Religious methodologies remain unreliable and unpredictable methods for reaching truthful conclusions — even if they are right some of the time.

  • Gunnar Thalweg

    Many of us never expected to become Christians, and became Christians exactly because the evidence led us there. I certainly didn’t expect to become one.

    It was a personal journey, one with “anecdotal” evidence. The question is do I dismiss my own testimony because it’s not replicated?

    • adam

      ” The question is do I dismiss my own testimony because it’s not replicated?”

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/576b5354eb99d2993f45ae1c298d7ea1beb6be63a081a92e69a99632f9b856b3.jpg

      The least you should do is examine your own INTERPRETATION of your experience to see if the cause of that experience is something natural as opposed to MAGIC…

      http://www.near-death.com/experiences/triggers/extreme-gravity.html

    • MNb

      If you don’t, why would I?

    • Doubting Thomas

      Do you dismiss the testimonies of Muslims, Hindus, Pagans, etc, or do you accept their anecdotes as sufficient evidence for their claims?

      Also, you don’t need to dismiss whatever experience you had, you just need to dismiss the conclusion you reached about it.

      • Gunnar Thalweg

        I don’t need to dismiss my own conclusions, no. But thanks.

        • Doubting Thomas

          All you need to do is treat your conclusions the same way you treat the conclusions of people of other religions who have had “religious experiences” that they feel are evidence for the truth of their religion.

          And, as is par for the course for Christians, you didn’t actually answer my question.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          I think I got this just fine, but thanks for the advice. Truth be told, I have had other religious experiences while practicing other religions.

        • Doubting Thomas

          And yet you didn’t conclude that all those other religions were true? How strange.

    • Ficino

      Hello Gunnar, it would be helpful if you gave a more considered answer to the very on-point questions of DT. I was raised in a westernized version of Vedanta. I knew many people’s personal journeys, full of anecdotal evidence. What is your justification for rejecting Hinduism and adhering to Christianity? All this is important, at the least, for our living together as human people.

      • Gunnar Thalweg

        I was investigating world religions. Through meditation in an eastern context — I learned from Hindus, then studied Zen — I came to believe that there was something going on beyond cognitive effects of meditation. There appeared to be a spiritual realm. (I started out believing meditation was simply a cognitive thing — a purely material way of calming the mind and of cultivating gratitude and other positive emotions and intentions, in order to be a more mature individual.)

        At the same time, I went through AA, and the meditation helped my recovery in the first year. But I was still an atheist. Eventually, I tried prayer, at their suggestion, and things happened. Like things I had no influence over, suddenly changed. Prayer by all accounts seemed to work, specific types of prayer.

        I had come to the point where I believed a spiritual realm clearly existed, independent of my opinion of it. It also became apparent that everything in this spiritual realm was not cool — there was good, and there was evil. It became apparent in the course of my prayers, meditation and investigation of Christianity that many of these spirits were violently opposed to Christ. I had to choose. I chose Christ.

        I had hoped to find that there were simply many paths to God … that life was a journey back to the godhead, where many people can take many paths. I was initially greatly disappointed to learn that there really was palpable, manipulative, deceptive spiritual evil present in reality. But there it is — we need protection, and God has provided for it.

        To answer your question directly, I believe Hindu meditative practices/yogas, as well as Buddhist practices, open people to spiritual forces of darkness. Hindus and Buddhists (at least some) would not entirely disagree and say one point of spiritual practice is to overcome this evil and to discern good from evil in the spiritual realm, although they define good and evil somewhat differently. I also investigated Christianity, and found the Holy Spirit, Christian sacraments, and Bible reading drove this spiritual evil away.

        And to be completely fair, I also found that certain cognitive-behavioral practices were effective, too, and seemed to mimic spiritual experiences. However, I found there was a clear enough difference between good thoughts and good behavior leading to a sense of well-being and peace, and the power of the Catholic Mass leading to a profound spiritual connection to God Himself.

        There, that should provide enough ground for people to rip me to shreds.

        Atheists are likely to believe spiritual practice is simply a cognitive effect. I don’t have language to distinguish how to describe gooey warmth from an external spiritual force, other than my own testimony that I am on the lookout for self-deception, while at the same time trying not to wall off God by endlessly putting Him to the test. And since I experience either one through my senses … the difference tests the limits of articulation. Add in the leap of faith, and atheists are likely to throw up their hands and say — what are you talking about–this is anecdotal, tautological, etc.

        But I know what I’ve seen, and it meshes with what other people have experienced.

        • Michael Neville

          I believe Hindu meditative practices/yogas, as well as Buddhist practices, open people to spiritual forces of darkness. Hindus and Buddhists (at least some) would not entirely disagree and say one point of spiritual practice is to overcome this evil and to discern good from evil in the spiritual realm, although they define good and evil somewhat differently. I also investigated Christianity, and found the Holy Spirit, Christian sacraments, and Bible reading drove this spiritual evil away.

          I had exactly the opposite reaction to the Bible. I found Yahweh to be evil. Yahweh is a sociopathic, sadistic bully who kills people just because he can. He insists on belief and worship and punishes those who do not believe or worship (or who worship in the wrong way). The concept of Hell, infinite punishment for finite sins (with the sins often transgressions of arbitrary and picayune whims of Yahweh), is utterly evil. In the Bible Yahweh orders his followers to commit genocide, rape, and slavery. Maybe it’s just me but I think these things are evil.

          Christian sacraments are okay, I guess, if you like that sort of thing. A nice wedding or funeral can be pleasant, as long as the godbotherer running it spends time celebrating the wedding couple or commemorating the deceased, whichever is appropriate. A couple of years ago I was at a wedding where the biblethumper did exactly that, thump the Bible rather than rejoice in the wedding. Weddings are about a couple starting a life together, not about “come to Jesus”. Too many preachers forget about that.

          Anyway, be happy with the thug of a god you believe in. Just remember that according to the propaganda he’s an asshole who might fuck you over just for grins and giggles.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          Let the Lord rebuke you.

        • adam

          How does an imaginary character in a collection of stories ‘rebuke’.

          You understand THAT is left to believers in that imaginary character.

        • Michael Neville

          What does that nonsense even mean? I’m describing the fictional character in the Bible which you admire so much. As adam says, how does an imaginary character rebuke.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          Then you’ve got no problem.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m not the one who said I had one, you are. I’m just explaining why your “rebuke” comment is nonsensical.

        • adam

          Typically he does have problems with nonsense.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          I think he can answer for himself.

        • adam

          Just a heads up for you, the new guy.

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

          Yahweh can’t smite by himself? He has to have you do it for him? Kinda sad.

          It’s also kinda sad that you must resort to magical incantations because your intellectual arguments have run out.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          Smiting is not equal to rebuking.

          I’m pretty sure there were no intellectual arguments being presented to me by Without Malice, just hostility toward God. So I quoted the Book of Jude.

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

          Are your reasons for becoming Christian totally emotional or internal? Or are there intellectual reasons that might convince someone else?

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          I think there is an approach to Christianity that may be possible via the intellect, but I don’t know it and I didn’t get here that way.

          You are asking an important question, though — namely, will anything I have to say here do any good or convince someone else?

          I think the message of Christ is that you have to love others, and love them in a self-sacrificial way, i.e., the way of the Cross. I think we are loved into an act of faith, and that connects us to God. I don’t think we can be argued into embracing Christ.

          Once a Catholic, I found faith to be illuminating of the intellect. But that’s post-faith, not pre-faith.

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

          I appreciate your honesty. I’m pretty sure that most Christians came to their beliefs like you did–not by following evidence but through some other way (taken from the environment, personal feeling, etc.).

          I think the message of Christ is that you have to love others, and love them in a self-sacrificial way, i.e., the way of the Cross.

          The human sacrifice thing is a ridiculous Bronze Age concept that makes Christianity laughable to an outsider. Sorry.

          I don’t think we can be argued into embracing Christ.

          I largely agree. But what does it say about the likelihood of the belief actually being true that evidence doesn’t get you there?

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          Depends what you count as evidence. God cannot be captured scientifically. If you are unwilling to go further than that, and if you are unwilling to accept the concept of personal knowledge ( as in Michael Polanyi), then no, you’ll never get there. Can an individual knower know? Atheists don’t accept this concept of personal knowledge, and I think wrongly so.

        • Kodie

          The “personal knowledge” is really the power of suggestion. You said there’s too many coincidences or surprises, but that you are willing to attribute them to a deity instead of understand how your brain works. Every theist has the same powerful “personal knowledge” and entangle it with a god who wants them to behave a certain way. Without god, why not just behave that way if it is decent and good and generous and productive? You keep defending it, but nobody is buying it. Theists don’t have another way of knowing, they have another way of sensing the world around them and filing it according to their local or chosen superstition.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          No, it’s really not the power of suggestion.

        • Kodie

          You’re not really giving any indication otherwise. You think you’re impervious, immune, you know what you feel, you trust your experiences, you attribute them to god because you are freaked out without a better explanation for the things that happen specifically for/to you, ignorant of others’ experiences and feelings and attributions entirely, ignorant of statistics, ignorant how brains actually work, and determined to come to atheists to get your validation for your own pet feelings like every other Christian. You think because you did a lot more exploring and reading than the average that you have done your homework and come out on the god side – what about everyone else’s experience?

          You denied Michael Neville his experience, and you wished god to disapprove him so he might come to Jesus. You know what an abusive kind of system that is? You know, like when children try to please their parents and are manipulated, and abused wives are treated like dirt so they’ll do even more housework to please the beating husband? You’re already talking in manipulative, abusive kinds of terms that deny compassion and empathy and listening. You’re saying Michael Neville is missing something because you got it but he got something else. You think you’re right and he’s wrong, and you hope your belief in god secretly beats him into submission. That’s a crock. You are a joke.

        • TheNuszAbides

          what a shiny, smuggly assertion you have there.

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

          When the same experience gets one person to become a fundamentalist Christian, another a Mormon, and another a Muslim, I think you need to see if this is just a subjective perception and interpretation rather than the hand of God.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          You can see God behind all of it, too.

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

          So all paths lead to God? Are atheists like me headed for heaven?

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          Do you want to go to heaven?

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

          Do you want to go to Buddhist heaven? Or Mormon heaven? Or Muslim heaven?

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          Buddhist heaven would involve re-merging with the godhead and the extinguishment of self and the cycle of rebirth. Hinduism involves recognizing there already was a divine part of myself and the non-divine part dies and the divine part re-merges. I could live with either of those.

          Mormon heaven involves some kind of blissful state where I get my own planet, and I could live with that. The Yankees will not be winning a lot in Planet Gunnar.

          Muslim heaven is a sensual paradise involving lots of sex and drugs; I might find that exhausting in the long term, but have to assume Allah has other plans in heaven than just sensual delights.

          Christian heaven involves becoming part of the mystical body of Christ, involving both a sanctified individuality yet being part of a larger whole that is connected to God. I think that sounds incredibly great.

          Valhalla sounds great, too.

          Go ahead, Bob: Just for fun what heaven would you like, if there were a heaven?

        • TheNuszAbides

          way to blithely ignore the mutually exclusive entry rules. unless there’s some implicit admission in there that you might yet be convinced to make yet another spiritual-regimen conversion.

        • MNb

          No, I don’t see any god behind anything, sorry.
          That’s my testimony. If yours is sufficient for you, is mine then sufficient for me?
          If yes then BobS is right – your belief is totally subjective. That’s not a bad thing per se.

        • adam

          ” and if you are unwilling to accept the concept of personal knowledge”

          Which makes this true:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c4e3bbea2d1e4d81dbd3798980be2ee8b39f893fee5d1d2b81b76b5e7ba184e1.jpg

        • MNb

          “Depends what you count as evidence. God cannot be captured scientifically.”
          Then what you call “evidence for God” is actually “confirmation of a predetermined faith-based conclusion called God”.
          But you already admitted that implicitly above and like BobS I appreciate your honesty.
          The question remains – if your testimony counts, does mine as well? The problem of course is that my testimony is the exact opposite of yours.

        • adam

          “I think the message of Christ is that you have to love others, ”

          Especially when you are beating them.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b0be92f2734cba2290edbb30769294fb98e7beb4d2c306f48755c4cb99eb13bd.jpg

        • TheNuszAbides

          yet some people love arguing. so try pulling a different one next time. you know, for variety/flexibility. ‘fresh perspective’ certainly worked onfor you once.

        • adam

          “So I quoted the Book of Jude.”

          Well let me quote from the bible as well:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

        • Greg G.

          Jude 9 (NRSV)9 But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

          Do you know what the author of Jude was referring to with that verse? Revelation 12:7-9 has Michael cast down the dragon, aka the devil and Satan, but that statement was not made. Daniel 10:13, 21 and 12:1 mention Michael as a prince of Persia, which the Jews took as the archangel.

          Zechariah 3:2 has “The Lord rebuke you, Satan!” coming from the angel of the Lord, which seems to be a manifestation of the Lord in other books, and there is nothing about the body of Moses in any of the verses.

          Deuteronomy 34:6 discusses the body of Moses and the unknown burial place.

          It seems that you may have quoted Jude quoting an ancient fairy tale.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          Michael is not the prince of Persia. Michael is fighting the prince of Persia.

          Jude is referring to something left to us in the oral tradition.

        • Greg G.

          The oral tradition about archangels would be ancient fairy tales.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          Nice try.

        • adam
        • Kodie

          You wish.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          Actually, no. I hope he repents of his hatred of God and returns to the love of God.

        • Myna

          That doesn’t even make any sense. If one is an atheist, one doesn’t believe in a deity to hate…or love…or be indifferent toward. Now, one might dislike the story of any one particular religion, but that’s not the same thing as having a, “hatred of God.”

        • Michael Neville

          I don’t hate any gods. It would be silly to hate figments of someone elses’ imaginations. Do you hate Sauron or Valdemort or Iago? Of course not, they’re fictitious, just like your god is. I do get angry about things that are done using gods as an excuse, but that’s completely different. So there’s nothing to repent. Sorry but your rebukes and repents are aimed in the wrong direction.

          I don’t think you understand what my original post was about. You said: “Bible reading drove this spiritual evil away”. My reaction to the Bible was completely different. I read the Bible cover to cover three times, two different versions, three different translations. I found your “loving, omnibenevolent” god to be evil, ordering his followers to do evil, promoting evil and committing evil himself. Of course the difference between you and me is you read the Bible with your godgoggles on. I read the Bible as a book of fiction, written by humans primarily to control other people.

        • Kodie

          Didn’t you read his description of god? And then you threatened him with that abusive asshole’s “rebuke”? Is this the “love of God”? It’s like you live in your own little cave and you want validation for your beliefs because they make you feel so warm and blah. You have no consideration for others’ experiences connecting them similarly to whatever myths and legends and humanity and space, and coming out with “it’s just a fucking story, live well and help out.”

          Could we get an honest Christian here? Could we ever get one who has no confirmation bias, one who isn’t arrogant, one who has any interest at all in validating our “personal knowledge” that god isn’t really there? Please stop coming here with your personal story nobody cares about. It’s really easily explained, but you are deaf to understanding. If that’s what you want to believe, why do all of you try so hard to get our approval? We don’t really give a shit how warm and comfy your beliefs are, we just know the longer you keep talking about it, the more you’re going to sound like a callous, selfish, arrogant individual who has a delusion like a child about an imaginary friend.

        • Ficino

          Thank you for your informative answer, Gunnar. Needless to say, my experience has led me to different conclusions than your experience has led you. I’m glad to know more about yours.

        • adam

          “Needless to say, my experience has led me to different conclusions than your experience has led you.”

          Well of course, because instead of emotion, I used SCIENCE.

        • adam

          “But I know what I’ve seen, and it meshes with what other people have experienced.”

          Chemistry, pure and simple.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtT6Xkk-kzk

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          You don’t understand. Just because our senses and our brain is activated, does not mean some external force is not acting upon it. In fact, it almost certainly is.

          And nothing simple about the chemistry or the physics of the brain.

        • adam

          “You don’t understand.”

          You dont understand what I understand.
          I have had many Shamanistic Experiences

          ” Just because our senses and our brain is activated, does not mean some external force is not acting upon it.”

          Without evidence it does.

          What force? Invisible Flying Pink Unicorns who fart glitter?

          “And nothing simple about the chemistry or the physics of the brain.”

          Yet, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH,MUCH,
          simpler than postulating MAGIC and a magical sky daddy as real, when science and chemistry demonstrates that this is ALL WITHIN THE MIND and related to brain chemistry..

          BTW, I had studied brain chemistry for years.

          “N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, is an illegal, psychedelic tryptamine compound found in the human body and at least ~60 species of plants
          worldwide. Rick Strassman, MD, described it as “the first endogenous human psychedelic” in DMT: The Spirit Molecule (2000), and in an interview in 2011 said that DMT “seems to actually be a necessary component of normal brain function.”Terence McKenna
          (who, “more than anyone,” Strassman wrote in 2000, “has raised awareness of DMT, through lectures, books, interviews, and recordings, to its present unprecedented level”) called DMT “the most powerful
          hallucinogen known to man and science” and “the commonest hallucinogen in all of nature” in his 1994 lecture “Rap Dancing Into the Third Millennium.”
          McKenna wondered why theology had not enshrined DMT as “its central exhibit for the presence of the other in the human world,” and said:”http://www.vice.com/read/dmt-you-cannot-imagine-a-stranger-drug-or-a-stranger-experience-365

          Science demonstrates.

          And you dont need external DMT to have these kinds of experiences a simple centrafuge will evoke the experience in a large percentage of the population:

          http://www.near-death.com/experiences/triggers/extreme-gravity.html

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          You obviously have very strong emotions about this.

        • adam

          No, strong SCIENCE….

        • adam
        • Susan

          In fact, it almost certainly is.

          Explain.

        • Joe

          Just because our senses and our brain is activated, does not mean some external force is not acting upon it.

          All the more reason to doubt our own experiences.

        • TheNuszAbides

          we’re terribly unlikely to get anything coherent/sustained out of Gunnar. he demonstrated that months (if not years) ago on Godless in Dixie. here just a few pages up, in a single comment, he followed “I am on the lookout for self-deception” with “But I know what I’ve seen”. he’s all about grandiose flourishes of lip service without ever showing his work.

        • Without Malice

          It might mesh with what some people have experienced but it does not mesh with the experience of many others, such as myself, who used to be Christians but after years of study concluded that there was no there there unless you really used your imagination. When you start to think that God’s answering your prayers but he’s just saying no your request to heal your sick child, then you can either enter dumbassville and keep believing in all the pretense or man up and admit that it’s all a con game of the highest order. It’s rather interesting that you consider religions other than your own new one as the well-spring of evil when all you have to do is check the prison records of convicts to see that nearly all of them are Christians (especially Roman Catholics) and very, very few are Jews, or Hindus, or Buddhist. But if you find peace in drinking human blood and eating human flesh, who am I to say you’re mistaken. But of course, you know damn well when you drink it that the wine is still wine, and when you consume the host you know damn well it’s still a wafer and not human flesh, but the power of human self-deception is great indeed; especially when it comes to religion.

        • Doubting Thomas

          And we’re back to my point: I don’t need to doubt your experience in order to doubt your conclusions about your experience.

          There are thousands of Hindus and Buddhists that have had experiences that they feel are evidence for the truth of their religious beliefs. Do you think non-Christian personal experiences are sufficient evidence for non-Christian beliefs? And if not, why would you think that your personal experience should be sufficient evidence for your belief?

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          I think I’ve answered this. Hinduism and Buddhism are both millennia-old mystical traditions. I am not saying — oh, my experience is true as a Christian, whereas theirs are made up. They are indeed having mystical experiences and connecting to something greater than material reality. There are differentiating factors from there, so a C.S. Lewis was a Christian whereas someone like Christopher Isherwood preferred Vedanta, and Gary Snyder prefers Zen.

          I am certainly not denying the experiences of Hindus or Buddhists, and both sets of experiences are evidence for their beliefs. If I would err on the side of caution, it would not be on the atheist side, but more on the other side, the Joseph Campbell “many paths to God” side of things.

          Why do I think my personal experience is sufficient for my belief? Well, I don’t. I don’t think, “Oh, I had this experience, so I’m right and everyone else is wrong.” I have had many experiences–including a traditional Hindu experience of something blowing out my seventh chakra, but I had it in a Christian context.

          As a Catholic, I look for community, scripture, sacraments, history, and the history of Catholic spirituality. My experiences are not unique — other Catholics have had them and describe them in ways that track with my own experience. Yet, there are enough surprises that it’s not just the power of suggestion. The Eucharist really does involve an encounter with the divine.

          Also, I don’t mean to get the sense that mystical experiences lead me further and further into the ether. In fact, most of mine involve a reconnection to the very ordinary and the mundane aspects of life. It’s not a Holy Spirit trip that makes me a guru. In fact, there is often a grounding that occurs after these experience that makes it seem “Did I really just experience that?”

        • adam

          ” If I would err on the side of caution, it would not be on the atheist side, but more on the other side, the Joseph Campbell “many paths to God” side of things.”

          ” In the 2000 documentary Joseph Campbell: A Hero’s Journey, he explains God in terms of a metaphor:

          God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought, even the categories of being and non-being. Those are categories of thought. I mean it’s as simple as that. So it depends on how much you want to think about it. Whether it’s doing you any good. Whether it is putting you in touch with the mystery that’s the ground of your own being. If it isn’t, well, it’s a lie. So half the people in the world are religious people who think that their metaphors are facts. Those are what we call theists. The other half are people who know that the metaphors are not facts. And so, they’re lies. Those are the atheists.[28]” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell

          So which was Campbell?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5abfa2ba13cc7e722de40648b174637dd91a60851cb35ddbbc67a8c553ec75c4.jpg

        • adam
        • Gunnar Thalweg

          Well, he’s being descriptive here, so it’s not either/or.

        • adam

          No, it is very clear that he understands that metaphors are not facts and that gods are IMAGINARY.

        • Doubting Thomas

          So personal experiences are evidence for the truth of Hinduism and Buddhism even though those beliefs are not true? Again, your conclusions about personal expierience are baffling.

          The most intellectually honest thing to say is that since personal experience can lead people to come to different and contridictory beliefs, then personal experience is an unreliable pathway to truth.

          Treat warm fuzzies as warm fuzzies. Nothing more.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          It depends by what you mean by “beliefs are not true.” Hinduism and Buddhism possess various degrees of spiritual truth and varying degrees of spiritual deception. But it’s spiritual either way. I don’t know what’s baffling about that.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          The most intellectually honest thing is to deny your own experience? God heals you and you say, nah, that didn’t happen, because it didn’t happen in a lab?

          I’d say it really depends on the experience.

        • Kodie

          The intellectually honest thing would not be to leap to a fallacious conclusion because it makes you feel better.

        • Doubting Thomas

          You don’t know god healed you even though you may have healed. Once again, you don’t have to deny your experience. You just shouldn’t make unwarranted CONCLUSIONS about your experiences.

        • adam

          “The most intellectually honest thing is to deny your own experience?”

          No, just claiming it involved MAGIC is intellectually DISHONEST.

        • TheNuszAbides

          there are enough surprises that it’s not just the power of suggestion.

          the only way that claim makes sense would be with concomitant (let alone retrospective!), comprehensive analysis of every possible way any suggestion could embed. pretty sure we can’t do that yet, even with keenly-honed mindfulness in a sense-dep tank.

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

          I don’t have language to distinguish how to describe gooey warmth from an external spiritual force

          With all your study, surely you know that the mind can fool itself. Aren’t the positive feelings simply generated within the brain?

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          Positive feelings are generated within the brain, but they also can be caused. If I say, Hey, Bob, my friends can’t help notice what an absolutely witty, smart and funny person you are to have around –and we’re having a party next week, and everyone wants you to be there. Does that feel good? Did you generate the positive feelings all on its own? Or did your brain’s interaction with others’ positive emotions cause it?

          That said, yes, the brain can fool itself.

          The problem is, as an atheist, you can write off any experiences as personal, without leaving open the possibility that God can contact us and that that experience would involve the brain.

          Scientists can stimulate a rat’s brain with electrodes so the rat will have an orgasm. Doesn’t mean two rats can’t experience orgasm another way.

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

          I can’t think of any explanation that you could give that I would reject if you qualified it by saying, “This could happen.

          Yes, I agree that it could happen. I agree that God could be there, giving you little nudges this way and that to show that he’s really there and cares about you deeply. But is that really what the evidence, seen objectively, points to? Is “But you can’t rule out God!” enough evidence to overrule the obvious fact that believers from just about all religions can have the “burning in the bosom” feeling?

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          But what if it’s not a “burning in the bosom” feeling? (Which, by the way, sounds like Mormonism, anyway.)

        • Ficino

          hi Gunnar, the form of your reply seems as if you had said, ‘as an atheist you can write off thunder as caused by rapid air expansion from an increase in its temperature and pressure, without leaving open the possibility that thunder is from Zeus.’

        • Michael Neville

          Silly Ficino, everyone knows that thunder is caused by Thor striking his hammer against mountains.

        • Greg G.

          Thor and his hammer always reminds me of Jesus and his nails.

        • Kodie
        • Greg G.

          There is a manicure shop less than two miles from where I live called Easter Nails. I sometimes wonder if I am the only person who thinks that is funny.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          No.

        • Gunnar Thalweg

          No, I’m saying that because senses tell me there is thunder doesn’t mean I need to doubt that there’s real thunder outside.

        • Ficino

          ???

          It sounded as though you were saying that a scientific explanation of the mechanism by which some phenomenon occurs does not rule it out that a god or demon is using the mechanism to produce the phenomenon. I’m happy to be corrected if you did not mean this.

          I’m just thinking Ockham’s Razor here.

        • TheNuszAbides

          sadly, Gunnar wasn’t clever enough to follow that (and being a late-to-the-party Catholic, seems predictably unwilling to just own up to being in over his head or retract a comment built on his own misunderstanding). he’s just Really Spiritually Centered, man.

        • Myna

          At the same time, I went through AA, and the meditation helped my recovery in the first year.

          With addiction, it comes down to whatever works to ease or heal the compulsion. Whether Jesus or Buddha, hard won self-will or angels in a New-Age trinket box.

          I had come to the point where I believed a spiritual realm clearly existed, independent of my opinion of it.

          And that’s the bottom line of mystery, isn’t it….independent of one’s opinion. This makes no belief superior to the others, no deity stronger or weaker, things real or fabricated, traditional religion or coming out of yesterday’s revelation in desert or forest. We all face mystery, and often insist on giving it a story.

          and found the Holy Spirit, Christian sacraments, and Bible reading drove this spiritual evil away.

          Allah drives genies away, too.

          I believe Hindu meditative practices/yogas, as well as Buddhist practices, open people to spiritual forces of darkness.

          Anything is open to being abused, but meditation and yoga are, at their core, practices of stilling the chattering of mind, which brings a clarity…seeing and accepting things for what they are, not what one desires them to be. During the process of that stilling, repressions can and do surface. They’re inner demons, not external. Seeing through the glass darkly, to borrow the passage, then face to face.

          But I know what I’ve seen, and it meshes with what other people have experienced.

          Nothing new under the sun. Universal. Common to each. Does it diminish the experience? No. What it does do, is put it in perspective.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I am on the lookout for self-deception

          But I know what I’ve seen

          feel free to finish squaring that circle any day now, champ.

    • sandy

      I just have to ask as I am seriously curious, what was the evidence that led to Christianity?

      • Gunnar Thalweg

        See answer to Ficino. Thank you.

      • TheNuszAbides

        an anecdotal “It Has To Be More Than Just Brain Chemistry” Mystery or three.

    • TheMarsCydonia

      People not dismissing their own testimony when they can’t demonstrate that they are nothing more than imaginary is how you ended with hundreds of different of religions with hundreds of different interpretations.

      Since they often contradict each other, they can’t all be true. If you can’t show yours has more value, why should’t you dismiss it?

      I dismissed my own, why shouldn’t you dismiss yours?

      • Gunnar Thalweg

        I don’t know why you dismissed your own. What happened and why did you dismiss it?

        • Michael Neville

          I can’t speak for TMC but in my case it became obvious that my testimony was based on myths made up over centuries by large numbers of people all with different agendas, mainly seeking to have power over other people.

          I made the interesting discovery that theologians were literally making it up as they went along. The Trinity came about because Constantine I didn’t like Arianism and forced the 325 Council of Nicea to make the divinity of Christ part of Christian dogma. The controversy of icons versus iconoclasm was decided when the Byzantine regent, Irene of Athens, ordered the Second Council of Nicea (787) to restore icons and declare iconoclasm a heresy. She did this for purely political reasons (she actually didn’t care one way or the other about icons). The Catholic doctrine of the Assumption of Mary came about because the Patriarch of Jerusalem needed to placate the Byzantine emperor and made up a story.

          Much of Christian dogma is based on bullshit. Other religious traditions aren’t any better. So why should I have a testimony based on bullshit?

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

      You don’t dismiss your own testimony, but you consider the big picture–the believers in other religions who reach very different conclusions with their supernatural “testimony,” studies that show how the brain is fallible, atheists who look back on when they were just like you and find natural explanations for why they felt that way, and so on.

      The problem is looking at just your own personal experience and concluding that the supernatural explanation (which you’d reject if told you by someone from an incompatible belief) must be right.

      • Gunnar Thalweg

        The problem is, as an atheist, you are saying you know what others’ mystical experiences better than they do.

        On one hand, you are saying these experiences across faiths are contradictory and thus they all must be wrong; on the other, you are saying if not contradictory across faiths, then they are part of a natural brain function, and can all be discounted.

        You are not leaving the door open that other people may have experienced the divine, just as they say they have.

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

          On one hand, you are saying these experiences across faiths are contradictory and thus they all must be wrong

          Nope. I’m saying they can’t all be right (to the extent that they’re contradictory).

          you are saying if not contradictory across faiths, then they are part of a natural brain function, and can all be discounted.

          Nope. If they’re not contradictory across faiths then there might actually be something to it. It’s their contradictions that points to their being brain created.

        • adam

          “The problem is, as an atheist, you are saying you know what others’ mystical experiences better than they do.”

          Funny, what I am saying is that SCIENCE knows more about mystical experiences than the experiencer does, unless that person is using science to evaluate that process.

          “You are not leaving the door open that other people may have experienced the divine, just as they say they have.”

          Well of course, UNTIL you can demonstrate that the ‘divine’ is not IMAGINARY.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Unfortunately, there is a significant number of athiests who make the same mistake. Embarrassing, that.

    • Dago Red

      Very true, but this wasn’t a post trying to say, “hey look, religious people think this stupid way, while we as atheists never do” nor is it fair to imply (as you do here) that both subcultures suffer equally from this problem.

      Rather, this kind of post (and subsequent discussion) is to point out that when presented with a failure in human cognition common to everyone in our species, like special pleading and motivated reasoning, these two subcultures deal with addressing it in totally different ways — and that its the religious way that is by far the most dysfunctional. Atheist culture at least attempts to highlight human failings in cognition (by regularly discussing it in posts like this one and by embracing the scientific evidence on this topic wholeheartedly) and even discourages it for the most part (atheist and religious alike face similar criticisms *from other atheists* when they rely upon poor argumentation).

      In contrast, however, the religious do the exact opposite: they generally ignore these kinds of problems altogether (rarely openly discussing this topic among themselves) and even go so far as to commonly embrace and enshrine bad thinking (i,e. through tools like apologetics). Perhaps most egregious is the general inability of the religious to ever address or correct poor reasoning and cognitive flaws when they appear in their dogma and traditions. So, like Microsoft, religious culture ends up passing along the message “these aren’t flaws, but virtues” for countless future generations.

      Its not wrong to be flawed, its just wrong to promote such flaws in society because a person (or subculture) is too arrogant or fearful (or both) to address these problems in themselves instead. This is what religious apologetics commonly does all the time and why its worthy of criticism like this.

      • KarlUdy

        Atheist culture at least attempts to highlight human failings in cognition (by regularly discussing it in posts like this one and by embracing the scientific evidence on this topic wholeheartedly) and even discourages it for the most part (atheist and religious alike face similar criticisms *from other atheists* when they rely upon poor argumentation).

        In contrast, however, the religious do the exact opposite: they generally ignore these kinds of problems altogether (rarely openly discussing this topic among themselves. and some going so far as to deny the science on it) and even go so far as to commonly embrace and enshrine bad thinking (i,e. through tools like apologetics). Perhaps most egregious is the general inability of the religious to ever address or correct poor reasoning and cognitive flaws when they appear in their dogma and traditions.

        I think it’s time to step outside of your echo chamber. There is plenty of discussion on these issues in many different religious circles.

        • Dago Red

          “Plenty of discussion” isn’t quite the same thing as saying the topic
          is a commonplace part of religious discussions, nor does it imply that the science is a foundational part of the culture itself. In contrast, both of these points are quite arguably part of the modern atheist movement.

          Moreover, your simple claim — that there is “plenty of discussion” — stands in stark contrast to what people find, at least, in the huge body of best-selling mass-market religious apologetics writings in wide circulation today — like those from Zacharias, Geisler, McFarland, McDowell, Turek, Strobel, or even the older classic, C.S. Lewis. Not only do these authors fail to address this topic of cognitive limitations in any meaningful or accurate way (if at all), the very arguments presented within this body of literature routinely rely upon exploiting the human limitations we are talking about. Again, rather than the religious community raising concern about such issues in attempts to better humanity, such literature embraces these human shortcomings as virtues thus promoting and perpetuating our inherently bad behaviors instead.

          While one cannot deny their own limitations (i.e. we all live in our own “echo chambers” to some extent), there simply is no analogue in the atheist community to the “echo chamber” that is religious apologetics. Nor is merely claiming the existence of exceptions that prove the rule, a counterargument. Simply because one can find sane people in an asylum is no demonstration that the general body of residents are not, in fact, insane.

          Rather than flippantly criticizing people who say things you think offensive or wrong, how about providing evidence — religious authors whom you could recommend who do, in fact, provide some basis to your claim and might lead me to revise my point of view. Otherwise, move along and stop being a tool.

        • TheNuszAbides

          sadly, Karl is heavy on righteous [if consistently articulate] indignation and weak-to-zero on substantive citation.

  • See Noevo

    “Instead of following the facts where they lead, these Christians would prefer to select and interpret them to show how they can still justify their worldview. They don’t want to follow the evidence where it leads…
    They’re not defeated by reason because they weren’t created by reason…
    If your worldview is nonnegotiable, admit it—to yourself at least.”

    Bob,
    I actually would agree with you that many, perhaps even the majority,
    of Christians could be characterized this way.
    But *not* me, and probably not many millions of others.

    And MY life HAS demonstrated that my worldview certainly IS negotiable.
    I started out in life as Catholic, or at least nominally Catholic, became
    atheist/agnostic in my late teens and remained so for about 15 years, converted
    back to Christianity (but still only nominally Catholic), and after about 15
    more years became fully and unreservedly Catholic.

    While some people may have more mystical or spiritual reasons for ending up Catholic, *my* journey was primarily, perhaps entirely, and intellectual one.
    Contrary to what you say above, *my* exploration *was* an *open-minded*
    following of facts and evidence where they lead; my current position *was* created
    *by reason*.

    So, stereotype Christians all you want. It’s a free country.
    Just realize that your stereotype is false.

    • Ficino

      Hello, See Noevo. We wind up on many of the same Patheos blogs. Great fun, no?

      My journey has been the exact opposite of yours.

      I’m wondering whether the *reason* to which you attribute your current position is provided by Thomism. I see it as the only system seriously to challenge the atheistic stance to which I gravitated after abandoning Catholicism. But Thomism does not cut it, as far as I can tell.

      • See Noevo

        “My journey has been the exact opposite of yours.”

        Not the *exact* opposite, because I started out sort-of-Catholic
        and ended really Catholic, with some atheism and such in between.
        I’m guessing you mean you started from my end point and
        worked your way backwards, i.e. From Catholic to Protestant to atheist.

        Recently on Patheos I remarked to another ex-Catholic atheist that it’s interesting how leaving the Catholic Church seems to put one
        on a vector or continuum leading to Protestantism to evangelicalism to…atheism.
        She agreed that this was her trajectory and that of many others she knows.
        ………….
        “I’m wondering whether the *reason* to which you attribute
        your current position is provided by Thomism. I see it as the only system
        seriously to challenge the atheistic stance to which I gravitated after
        abandoning Catholicism. But Thomism does not cut it, as far as I can tell.”

        I’m no Thomist scholar but I know some of the philosophy. What
        doesn’t cut it for you? Did you leave his five “proofs” for God’s existence on
        the cutting room floor?

        • Ficino

          Much to reply to here, and so little time right now.

          I was very inexact in saying, “exact.” It would be a tedious screed to lay out my religious history. In a nutshell: parents into Vedanta; born again as a Pentecostal; became a Calvinist; became Catholic; became atheist after a dribbling away of faith. I will always be grateful for what happened in my mind as I “went backwards” through the Reformation to the catholic faith. I shall always be grateful for many things in it. I wept when I realized that I could not pray the Rosary any more. But I am glad that I affirmed what seems to be true. In this mortal life I don’t know what else we can do. We are all only human people.

          As for Thomism: I am looking into it again after some decades. So far, I think Thomas makes moves to which he is not entitled on his own presuppositions. Beyond that, I think it’s a major problem that modern Thomists have to quarantine the fruit of scientific research, when Thomas made the lower sciences the foundation in a certain way of the higher ones, up to theology. On the moral philosophy front, I think that outcomes of natural law reasoning are shoehorned into Catholic moral teaching w/o a sufficient philosophical basis. Fine if the Church just wants to declare a taboo, but to argue natural law is more complicated.

        • See Noevo

          “… to the catholic faith. I shall always be grateful for
          many things in it. I wept when I realized that I could not pray the Rosary any more.”

          Why did you weep?
          …………….
          “So far, I think Thomas makes moves to which he is not
          entitled on his own presuppositions.”

          I’d be interested in hearing about one or two of these
          moves, ideally your top one or two.
          ……………
          “Beyond that, I think it’s a major problem that modern
          Thomists have to quarantine the fruit of scientific research, when Thomas made the lower sciences the foundation in a certain way of the higher ones, up to theology.”

          I don’t know what you mean by “quarantine the fruit of
          scientific research.” I don’t, and I don’t think Thomas would, deny the benefits of scientific research. I think we both would encourage the practice of science, but also realize that science is just *a* tool, just *one* means, of exploring reality.
          ……………
          “On the moral philosophy front, I think that outcomes of
          natural law reasoning are shoehorned into Catholic moral teaching w/o a sufficient philosophical basis. Fine if the Church just wants to declare a taboo, but to argue natural law is more complicated.”

          Just about *everything* gets “more complicated.” Just about
          every subject under the sun has many thick books written about it and PhDs to tell you about it, if you *really* want to get into it.

          As far as ‘natural law reasoning being shoehorned into
          Catholic moral teaching w/o a sufficient philosophical basis’,
          I’ll just note for now that I’m pretty sure that Catholic priesthood formation requires thorough training in philosophy *before* advancing to theology. It only makes sense.

        • Ficino

          With phrases like “sufficient philosophical basis” I am only stating what seems so to me. I agree that there are many philosophically trained and sophisticated Catholic proponents of natural law ethics.

          What I said about “quarantining the fruit of scientific research” expresses an impression I’ve formed over some months now as I see Thomistic apologists in comboxes leap to dismiss the arguments of interlocutors as instances of “scientism.” They’ll say that Aristotelian/Thomistic science is rightly abandoned but the metaphysics are the best ever conceived by man (this is my summary, not a direct quotation). I can’t see how that move is sound. For example, Aristotle held that every species is eternal, and wherever we locate essences, they are at least coeval with the universe in the A/T system. I think if one accepts the ToE, a nominalist approach to genus and species fits. But nominalism blows the Thomist system apart.

          I also think that the doctrine of analogical predication makes a mess of language. I start to lose patience with a system that has to say that God is personal but not a Person, and so on. “But God is beyond human language and comprehension, so no language can capture His essence, which is identical to His existence, which is pure act and purely simple, though we go on to describe His various attributes as though they are attributes ….” After a while I don’t think this kind of discourse is about anything but discourse. We don’t even know God exists but we have to invoke an analogy doctrine to make our proofs go through.

        • Michael Neville

          “But God is beyond human language and comprehension, so no language can capture His essence, which is identical to His existence, which is pure act and purely simple, though we go on to describe His various attributes as though they are attributes ….”

          I get rather annoyed at the apologists who say, “God is unknown and unknowable but I know exactly what he thinks about X.”

        • See Noevo

          “I think if one accepts the ToE, a nominalist approach to
          genus and species fits. But nominalism blows the Thomist system apart.”

          IF the ToE and nominalism are true, then much of the Thomist
          system would indeed be blown apart.
          But from my non-PhD perspective, Thomism makes sense.
          Because if Thomism is false and the ToE/nominalism is true, then
          there is no true being/essence to anything. If this were so, then every “thing” (which would have no true, ultimate definition) is in the process of becoming some *other* “thing”, and basically, everything is nothing and nothing is everything and all is one, one big nothing. Doesn’t make philosophical sense or common sense to me.

          However, it *also* does *not* make *scientific* sense to me.
          [Full disclosure: I myself believed in the ToE for about
          thirty years, until I was in my mid to late forties. For some reason about twelve or more years ago, I became more interested in the topic and began reading the literature *from* the evolutionary biologists and *from* the rest of the evolution science community. Longer story short, I no longer believe in evolution. In fact my bet is that one day, the ToE will be revealed to all as perhaps the greatest embarrassment and shame in the histories of science and of rational thought. (And fortunately, the Catholic Church allows me to have that opinion!)]
          ………….
          “I also think that the doctrine of analogical predication
          makes a mess of language. I start to lose patience with a system that has to say that God is personal but not a Person, and so on.”

          Well, off hand, I’d say a dog can be personal but not a person.

          But more to your point, to my mind, most of our communication and most of our knowledge is at bottom analogical. Perhaps all of it is.
          I remember thinking something like this even as a child. Like “Describe the color “blue.”” I couldn’t figure out a way to do it without reference to *other* colors or to other things, like pointing to a blue sky.
          …………
          “We don’t even know God exists but we have to invoke an
          analogy doctrine to make our proofs go through.”

          So, you do *not* find Thomas’ five “proofs” compelling?

        • Greg G.

          Because if Thomism is false and the ToE/nominalism is true, then
          there is no true being/essence to anything. If this were so, then every “thing” (which would have no true, ultimate definition) is in the process of becoming some *other* “thing”, and basically, everything is nothing and nothing is everything and all is one, one big nothing. Doesn’t make philosophical sense or common sense to me.

          I saw a craft video on Facebook this morning. It showed several things one could make out of a coat hangar. The coat hangar had no true essence, it was just whatever you wanted to make it.

        • See Noevo

          I’ll try consulting a philosophy professor I know for a better, more precise answer, but in the meantime, I’d say this:

          The hangar doesn’t have an essence or a nature of its own.
          The hangar, say, a wire hangar, is just metals (which *may* have an
          essence/nature of their own), which have been fashioned/designed by an outside agent for the outside agent’s purposes/uses.

          The outside agent in question is a human being, who *has* an essence/nature.
          He can bend the hangar into something that’s not a hangar.
          But neither he nor anyone/anything else can bend himself into something that’s not himself.

          Perhaps more to follow from my PhD friend.

        • Michael Neville

          Perhaps more to follow from my PhD friend.

          You have friends?

        • Greg G.

          Does his friend have a David Barton PhD or a Kent Hovind PhD?

        • TheNuszAbides

          perhaps that’s what [he] calls smug [pseudo-]intellectuals whose attitude rubbed off on [him] for whatever reason.

        • Greg G.

          The hangar doesn’t have an essence or a nature of its own.
          The hangar, say, a wire hangar, is just metals (which *may* have an
          essence/nature of their own), which have been fashioned/designed by an outside agent for the outside agent’s purposes/uses.

          To the person who just finished doing laundry, the essence of a coat hangar is to hang clothes on. To the person who locked his keys in the car, the essence of a coat hangar is a car unlocker.

          The true essence of a woman would be a composition of water held together with proteins made of hydrocarbons. To a hungry shark, the essence of the woman is meat made of proteins. To a pet, her essence is a master and provider of food. To her children, her essence is a mother, Her essence might be daughter, sister, grandmother, wife, ex-wife, girlfriend, friend, boss, employee, or taxi driver, depending on the perspective of a given person. But from her own perspective, she is more than that. Most people rate their own intelligence and how well they drive as better than their abilities and skills actually are. So there is no “true essence”, the essences are all a matter of opinion and perspective.

        • See Noevo

          “To the person who just finished doing laundry, the essence
          of a coat hangar is to hang clothes on. To the person who locked his keys in the car, the essence of a coat hangar is a car unlocker.”

          I can see you wouldn’t be able to “hang” out with the Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophers. They might turn the hanger into a hook and
          yank you off the stage.
          …………..
          “The true essence of a woman would be a composition of water
          held together with…”

          Yeah, I think they’d *definitely* yank you off the stage.

        • adam

          “But neither he nor anyone/anything else can bend himself into something that’s not himself.”

          Which is why you continue to be dishonest.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Did your “PhD friend” ever take a class in simple logic?

          “Everything’s essence is to be itself and cannot be not itself”, well duh, because “A cannot be not A” is extremely basic in logic and certainly does not require a god.

          I bet even you could have figured this out, cowardly liar.

        • See Noevo

          TMC, you just might be my biggest fan (or obsessed cyber stalker).
          You funny.
          Keep it comin’!

        • TheMarsCydonia

          What a compliment from the biggest cowardly lying troll here from all the christians obsessed and scared by atheism.

          Congratulations.

        • Michael Neville

          It certainly says something about the liar that several people here call him a liar. Maybe he should try to be less blatant and obvious with his lies.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the ‘hangar’ would be the wardrobe, me thinks. the wire thingy is the hanger. more technically, the person actively utilizing the hanger is the hanger. really, the coat hanger [as commonly understood] should be called ‘coat suspension intermediary’.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          So that’s a no on trying to be honest then?

        • Michael Neville

          Because if Thomism is false and the ToE/nominalism is true, then there is no true being/essence to anything. If this were so, then every “thing” (which would have no true, ultimate definition) is in the process of becoming some *other* “thing”, and basically, everything is nothing and nothing is everything and all is one, one big nothing. Doesn’t make philosophical sense or common sense to me.

          I see. You reject evolution, which you don’t understand, not on scientific or realism grounds but because you don’t understand Thomism either. What an idiot you are. Thank you for showing that your ignorance knows no bounds and you’re too egotistical to admit that you’re completely fucking ignorant.

        • See Noevo

          Hi, Michael “the Modified Bacteria” Neville!

          “What an idiot you are. Thank you for showing that your
          ignorance knows no bounds and you’re too egotistical to admit that you’re completely fucking ignorant.”

        • Michael Neville

          Repeating what I said about you is not a rebuttal, you ignorant idiot. But then you don’t rebut people’s arguments, you just insult them.

        • See Noevo

          Bye, Michael “the Modified Bacteria” Neville!

          “…you ignorant idiot.”

        • Ficino

          In a certain way, every thing in nature is in the process of becoming some other thing. We don’t have to have eternal essences to provide stable referents for language. A start would be the notion that a word’s meaning is a function of its use.

          We have to define some terms ostensively, such as terms for the primary colors.

          No, I don’t find Thomas’ 5 Ways sound demonstrations of God’s existence. Much has been written on them, so I won’t start repeating what others have written. I think I see a few additional flaws that I have not found discussed in the literature, but I am not going to jump the gun on this until I do a lot more work. Medieval philosophy is not my area.

          One of the problems with analogical predication arises from Thomas’ claims that in theology he is practicing a science and that God’s existence can be demonstrated by reason from things of our experience. Aristotle was emphatic that scientific demonstration requires predicates to be predicated univocally. Thomists have various strategies to try to get around this when they seek to demonstrate truth of propositions about God. Those strategies kick up further problems because Thomists also hold that we cannot know God’s essence. So we don’t know how analogous predicates can be applied to God or even if they can be applied at all, since we don’t know that of which they are supposed to be predicated.

          E.g. although a knife and a heart are not good in the same way, not in the way that a knife and a box cutter are both good, we can understand an analogy of proportionality between the knife’s goodness and the heart’s goodness. That’s because we understand their essences. But being ignorant of God’s essence, we cannot fit God’s goodness into the same proportion of analogy. I thought as a college junior that analogical predication about God collapses into equivocity. I still think that.

          There is no way I am going to start trying to defend doubts about the ToE.

        • See Noevo

          “In a certain way, every thing in nature is in the process
          of becoming some other thing.”

          Would you please provide one example, ideally your favorite,
          most compelling example?
          …………
          “One of the problems with analogical predication arises from
          Thomas’ claims that in theology he is practicing a science and that God’s existence can be demonstrated by reason from things of our experience.”

          I doubt Thomas claimed he was practicing “science” in the
          modern sense. I think the concept and term “science” wasn’t coined until about 500 years after his death.

          But anyway, the word “science” comes from the Latin “to know”
          and its modern usage merely denotes *one* way of knowing, of gaining knowledge.

          As far as his claims that God’s existence can be demonstrated by reason from things of our experience, well, it makes sense to
          me.
          ……..
          “Aristotle was emphatic that scientific demonstration requires predicates to be predicated univocally. Thomists have various
          strategies to try to get around this when they seek to demonstrate truth of propositions about God.”

          Again, I doubt an ancient such as Aristotle referred to “scientific”
          demonstration. But perhaps to demonstration to our senses and to our common sense and beyond a reasonable doubt.

          I’m not familiar with “predicates” and “predicated univocally”, but I will say that much of modern science employs various strategies to demonstrate the truth of certain propositions which have about as much “scientific” integrity as the old “God did it”.

          I’m thinking here particularly of evolution (all of it) and cosmology (much of it). On the latter, “multiverses” and “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy” come to mind.
          ………….
          “Those strategies kick up further problems because Thomists
          also hold that we cannot know God’s essence.”

          If you could know God’s essence, *really and fully* know God’s
          essence, you’d be God. But no human is God.
          Sure as hell, I can’t even say I fully know *my* essence!
          …………….
          “E.g. although a knife and a heart are not good in the same
          way, not in the way that a knife and a box cutter are both good, we can understand an analogy of proportionality between the knife’s goodness and the heart’s goodness. That’s because we understand their essences.”

          I’d say we understand the “essence” of a knife and a box
          cutter very well, but the essence of life and of living beings a lot less so. Nearby in this blog I wrote some words not about knives and box cutters but about hangars, which I’ll repeat here:

          “I’ll try consulting a philosophy professor I know for a
          better, more precise answer, but in the meantime, I’d say this:
          The hangar doesn’t have an essence or a nature of its own.
          The hangar, say, a wire hangar, is just metals (which *may*
          have an essence/nature of their own), which have been
          fashioned/designed by an outside agent for the outside agent’s purposes/uses.
          The outside agent in question is a human being, who *has* an
          essence/nature.
          He can bend the hangar into something that’s not a hangar.
          But neither he nor anyone/anything else can bend himself
          into something that’s not himself.
          Perhaps more to follow from my PhD friend.”
          ……….
          “There is no way I am going to start trying to defend doubts
          about the ToE.”

          No doubt you couldn’t even start.

        • Michael Neville

          No doubt you couldn’t even start.

          You are a manipulative liar. I gave you five examples of evolution and you whined that was too much and was hurting your puny little brain. So I gave you one example and all you did to deny my example was to show you don’t know what bacteria is. Don’t fucking pretend that nobody has explained evolution to you. And don’t fucking lie that you “studied” evolution because you’ve already show you don’t have a clue about what it is or how it works.

        • See Noevo

          As I recall, you started, or *tried* to start.

          It was with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria stuff, right? Must have been. That’s why I call you Michael the Modified Bacteria Neville.

          Yeah, you started and your favorite, most-compelling “argument”
          was stopped dead in its tracks.

          “You are a manipulative liar… your puny little brain… Don’t
          fucking pretend… fucking lie…”

        • Michael Neville

          You didn’t “stop my argument dead in its tracks”. You showed that you (a) don’t know what bacteria is and (b) don’t know how evolution works. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is evolution in action. But you’re too stupid and ignorant to understand this, Mr. “I believed in evolution for a bazillion years” liar.

          If you don’t like me calling you a manipulative liar and using the word fucking that’s your problem, not mine. When you finally grow up you’ll find that liars are called liars and that adults use adult language.

        • See Noevo

          “… you’re too stupid and ignorant to understand… manipulative liar…”

        • Michael Neville

          It’s not my fault you’re a stupid, ignorant, manipulative liar. Perhaps you should consider the point that I’m not the only one calling you a liar. Maybe if you stopped lying you wouldn’t be called a liar. But you’re probably too stupid to realize this, Mr. “I believed in evolution” Liar.

        • Kodie

          Is that your answer? You dumb fucking moron, everyone who gives you an answer, you just call them a name and think you’re winning an argument. Nobody here doesn’t think you’re just a clueless troll attention whore with nothing to add to a mature discussion. Don’t try claiming you’re over 40, because you don’t sound like you know how to keep up, you just are a teenage homeschooled troll. Go cry to your teachermom about those meanies on the internet, but then she will know you’ve been on the internet. What a dilemma!

        • See Noevo

          Hey!
          Kodie the Mountain Man (from the “Mountain of Evidence”) is back!
          Hi, Kodie the Mountain Man.

          “Don’t try claiming you’re over 40”

          I won’t. I’ll claim I’m 60.
          “You dumb fucking moron…clueless troll attention whore with
          nothing to add to a mature discussion.”

        • Kodie

          You are practically illiterate. 60 is over 40, so you lied. You’re not witty, you’re not clever, you’re not intelligent or intellectual or rational. You have nothing to offer so you insult people instead. Is this how a 60-year-old behaves, or more like 13-15ish? You don’t care about having a discussion, you care about getting hits and responses, you care because you think being fed like the troll you are (and all you are) gives your position support. You get your old man jollies from being dumb-fucking stupid on the internet and getting banned. Go tell your invisible friend you won, because that’s all “god” cares about. That’s what it will say on your tombstone. Aw, yeah, See Noevo, the dumb-fuck, stuck by his superstition and called people names on the internet instead of say anything useful to support his denial of evolution.

        • See Noevo

          Yawn.

          “… you lied. You’re not witty, you’re not clever, you’re not
          intelligent or intellectual or rational… dumb-fucking stupid … dumb-fuck…”

        • Kodie

          Yawn? Half your life is making up douchey names for people, and the other half collecting swear words people call you. Zero of your life seems to be engaging people as an adult, and you wonder why people think you’re a loser.

        • Susan

          Half your life is making up douchey names for people, and the other half collecting swear words people call you.

          Yes. When people start swearing at him, I think he gets a little thrill.

          He utterly fails to engage, tells us he did lots and lots of studying and that he has an opinion which is more reliable than people who can show their work. We all know how well-served logic is by the “I’ve thought about this a lot and so my opinion is credible because I said so.”

          And rather than address the substance of the responses, he calls people unimaginative names and links silly music and movie clips
          .
          Eventually, people start swearing at him for being such a jerk and he fixates on that.

          I don’t think he’ll be happy until he is banned. Another delusional notch on his belt.

          I don’t really care.

          He’s a waste of time and cyberspace and made that clear since the second he arrived here.

        • See Noevo

          “… douchey… loser.”

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

          Your thought-provoking contributions to the conversation are no longer needed.

          Clear out your desk. Security will walk you out.

        • einSkeptiker

          I see an emaciated 60-year old ape-like creature, left behind by evolution, popping his head up from behind a bush in a zoo, signalling and mumbling to visitors:

          “Do you have a “rock” for me? HIT ME!”

        • TheNuszAbides

          oh, come on. [he] has a clue. just doesn’t care to examine it without IDiot filters (or at all).

        • Ficino

          Much of the above betrays scant acquaintance with either Aristotle or Aquinas or with the vocabulary used in scholarly treatments of their works.

    • TheMarsCydonia

      That is exactly you. You deny evidence and reason so your position was not created by it. You even think you’re catholic but the church doesn’t deny the evidence discovered by science like you do.

      I think this is the most hilarious thing you’ve ever written because the only person you’re kidding is yourself.

      Once you’re honest, you’ll be more convincing.

    • adam

      “While some people may have more mystical or spiritual reasons for ending
      up Catholic, *my* journey was primarily, perhaps entirely, and
      intellectual one.”

      You are not alone https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5ef404e0d08aa25dde5f095b3601b4b32f20ea037498ce8ca4d185c8b0e18de7.jpg

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

      *my* journey was primarily, perhaps entirely, and intellectual one.

      Given your childish schoolyard blather in other comments, I doubt it.

    • Lambchopsuey

      See, of course your own experience is unique to you. But none of us can generalize from the example of you to anyone else, of course. In several years on a different site, I saw at least 40 people leave Christianity (all flavors), ending up from vaguely “spiritual” to strong atheist. There were a few Muslims as well. But only one person, a man, ever went the other way, and he started attending Catholic church (again) with his wife and family because he felt left out.

      Considering that 3,500 people are leaving Christianity EVERY DAY and no “grand revival” is visible on this or any horizon, I’d say that the virtually one-way move AWAY from Christianity is the rule, and those like you who simply return to what they were raised with (how predictable) are the exception. But even there, you returned to what you were raised in – weren’t you lucky to have been born into the One True Religion out of the thousands and thousands in the whole wide world??? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNCkHsOTJT4
      Besides, Catholicism is losing members the fastest of any denomination:

      And perhaps more troubling for the church, for every one Catholic convert, more than six Catholics leave the church. Taken a step further, Catholicism loses more members than it gains at a higher rate than any other denomination, with nearly 13 percent of all Americans describing themselves as “former Catholics.” Source

      • Ficino

        At first, I thought the slightly out-of-focus man in the background of the video was Vladimir Putin.

  • RichardSRussell

    And if you want to argue that the Christian god could exist, don’t bother. I grant that.

    But you shouldn’t. The claim for the Christian god is that she/he/it (say it fast) has multiple ultimate characteristics — omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. The most any give entity can possibly have is one of them, since it’s always possible to posit a situation in which 2 of them are pitted against each other, and one of them must lose. Indeed, it’s possible for at least one of them (omnipotence) to do battle with itself, as indicated by the insoluble riddle “Can God make a rock so heavy he can’t lift it?”

    Therefore, if there is in reality some kind of supernatural entity, it can’t have the nature claimed for the Christian god. It’s logically impossible for anything to have more than one ultimate characteristic, and stupendously unlikely that it has even the one. So I for one have no difficulty whatsoever saying that no, the Christian god not only doesn’t exist, it can’t exist!

    • sandy

      Hey Richard, It is an absolute joke to even think the christian god is the god of all humanity and existence. This dude, god, who we really have no description of, cares about if not obsesses of circumcsision and other old fashion beliefs…wow you must be totally indocrinaterd to buy this BS

      • Pofarmer

        Or, as I said once to a marriage counselor. “How do you get from the God who created the Universe to the one who is worried about the skin on the tip of my Dick?” She seemed a little taken aback at that point.

    • Zeta

      RichardSRussell: “… the Christian god is that she/he/it (say it fast) has multiple ultimate characteristics — omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence.

      This is a very common claim made by many believers and apologists on blogs. They are also found on many Christian websites. These people don’t seem to realize the inherent contradictions (or they are just blind to them) and how each of them can be easily refuted without even reading far into their holy book. None of these is true for Yahweh without later embellishments from theologians. These believers seem to ignore what their own holy book says about their god and invent God v2.0 based on wishful thinking.

      Several believers and bloggers made claims of how great their god was. I challenged them to explicitly state the characteristics of their god (i.e., whether omni-*). The funny thing was that what I got was either complete silence or a non-answer such as “I am” in one case. At least, these people seem to know that such attributes are indefensible yet they cling to them. Without these attributes, their god was just a tribal god and a weakling.

      • Michael Neville

        The various omnis were given to Yahweh when Christians tried to expand an Iron Age tribal god into the creator and master of the universe.

    • Greg G.

      That is why I argue that the existence of unnecessary suffering is inconsistent with omnibenevolence and omnipotence makes all suffering unnecessary. I grant that a god that is not omnipotent enough to prevent suffering could exist, or one that is not benevolent enough to care about the suffering of others could exist, but who wants to spend eternity with that?

      • RichardSRussell

        And you’d think that they would’ve figured this out in the 23 centuries after it was first pointed out to them, but no.

        The Riddle of Epicurus

        • Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
        • Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
        • Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
        • Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

        —Epicurus (341-270 BCE), Greek materialist

        • Greg G.

          The apologists have had to redefine “omnipotent” to mean “able to do anything that is possible to do”. Then they resort to “the best possible world” excuse and assume this is the best possible world, therefore God. They think Plantinga is the best philosopher of all time for coming up with that.

          I substitute “suffering” for “evil” because it is easier to define and not a relative term.

          EDIT: I just remembered that I got the idea of using suffering from a YouTuber named Todd Allen Gates and his book, Dialogue with a Christian Proselytizer.

        • al kimeea

          This is the best possible world?

          That’s a very low bar Alvi has set there.

        • Greg G.

          I wonder how a world without smallpox and polio is not as good as a world with those diseases.

        • al kimeea

          That apologists can’t or won’t imagine something as simple as your examples reveals how the mind’s eye is blinded to suffering by faith.

        • TheNuszAbides

          see, but Somehow it just wasn’t BigPictureBog’sPlan Good or Timely for those diseases to be curbed until they had made millions of lives shorter and/or less bearable.

          … oh, or all the pre-vaccine tragedy was just terribly successful demonic shenanigans. which we invited on ourselves, because talking snakeEve.

        • Michael Neville

          Deleted because I wrote a response to the wrong person.

        • Greg G.

          But I wanted to respond to it. According to the accounts of why David did a census in Samuel and Chronicles, Satan and Yahweh are beyond best buddies. If the angel of the Lord is the Holy Ghost, then Satan is a part of godhead that must be a quadrants, at least.

        • TheNuszAbides

          quadriumvirate?

        • al kimeea

          I imagine evil cometh by Satan when doG was betting on Tebow or helping him heal people. Maybe doG is so distracted by talking to/guiding so many Christians that Satan can generate legions of demons to spread evil.

          Considering that Satan is still with us, along with his band of merry demonic hordes, this deity is not omnipotent or POOF no more Satan.

          So, maybe christians should stop bothering douG, so he can fight Satan and get a grip on that gambling monkey.

        • Michael Neville

          Satan and Yahweh are bestest buddies. The Book of Job has Satan having a pleasant chat with Yahweh, during which they make a bet involving killing people and screwing one guy over. Nope, there’s no animosity between Yahweh and Satan in the least. They get along just fine.

        • al kimeea

          That’s one of the things that made me go hmmm when reading the holey book. “Isn’t Satan synonymous with sin, but this loving deity is involved in a heinous bet (as you describe) with the evil one.”, young me was thinking while hoping this slog of a read and the protagonist would get better. Disappointed.

          I have since learned I’m taking the metaphor out of context.

        • Lambchopsuey

          I have since learned I’m taking the metaphor out of context.

          Naturally.

          I have often been told that I’m taking it “out of context” when I point out problematic passages to Christian apologists, but when I ask them to explain the context and show how the context changes what the passages plainly say, they all take a vow of silence O_O

        • Shan

          Well, of course! To explain the context, they might have to actually READ the book they consider the most important thing in existence! That just won’t do, sir.

        • adam
        • Lambchopsuey

          Moreover, what we learned from the book of Job is that Satan can’t do anything without God’s explicit permission – God keeps him on a very short leash. So let’s have none of this trying to excuse God for what Satan does – he’s like that guy who lets his dog poop on your lawn while he’s taking him for a walk.

        • Argus

          From what I can understand of the Jobian (is that a word) paradigm, Satan the Accuser was like Yahweh’s prosecuting attorney..a member of his royal court. His job was literllay to be devil’s advocate with regard to any person’s righteousness and piety.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Jobian (is that a word)

          Jobal? Jobular?

        • Argus

          I’ll take credit for creating it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          OT Yahweh really could’ve used a solid Jester.

    • Lambchopsuey

      Aha! You, sir, are a critical atheist:

      The most significant variety of atheism is explicit atheism of a philosophical nature. This atheism contends that the belief in god is irrational and should therefore be rejected. Since this version of explicit atheism rests on a criticism of theistic beliefs, it is best described as critical atheism.

      Critical atheism presents itself in various forms. It is often expressed by the statement, “I do not believe in the existence of a god or supernatural being.” This profession of nonbelief often derives from the failure of theism to provide sufficient evidence in its favor. Faced with a lack of evidence, this explicit atheist sees no reason whatsoever for believing in a supernatural being.

      Critical atheism also assumes stronger forms, such as, “God does not exist” or, “The existence of a god is impossible.” These assertions are usually made after a particular concept of god, such as the God of Christianity, is judged to be absurd or contradictory. Just as we are entitled to say that a “square-circle” does not and cannot possibly exist, so we are entitled to say that the concept of god, if it entails a contradiction, does not and cannot possibly exist.

      Finally, there is the critical atheist who refuses to discuss the existence or nonexistence of a god because he believes that the concept of “god” is unintelligible. We cannot, for example, reasonably discuss the existence of an “unie” until we know what an “unie” is. If no intelligible description is forthcoming, the conversation must stop. Likewise, if no intelligible description of “god” is forthcoming, the conversation must stop. This critical atheist thus says, “The word ‘god’ makes no sense to me, so I have no idea what it means to state that ‘god’ does or does not exist.”

      These varieties of critical atheism are identical in one important respect: they are essentially negative in character. The atheist qua atheist, whether implicit or explicit, does not assert the existence of anything; he makes no positive statement. If the absence of belief is the result of unfamiliarity, this nonbelief is implicit. If the absence of belief is the result of critical deliberation, this nonbelief is explicit. In either case, the lack of theistic belief is the core of atheism. The various atheistic positions differ only with respect to their different causes of nonbelief.

      If theism is destroyed intellectually, the grounds for believing in a god collapse, and one is rationally obliged not to believe in a god — or, in other words, one is obliged to be atheistic.

      • adam

        ” or, in other words, one is obliged to be atheistic.”

        Yes, subtract the emotional and disregard the imaginary and what you are left with is the rational.

      • RichardSRussell

        Indeed so. I subscribe to the analysis put forth by George H. Smith in his classic Atheism: The Case against God, in which he says that theism vs. atheism is orthogonal to gnosticism vs. agnosticism. This results in 4 possible combinations:
        • gnostic theist (“I know god exists.”)
        • agnostic theist (“I believe god exists, but I’m not sure.”)
        • agnostic atheist (“I don’t believe god exists, but I’m not sure.”)
        • gnostic atheist (“I know god doesn’t exist.”)

        With respect to any god described as having an ultimate characteristic, I’m a gnostic atheist. With respect to gods who are merely super-duper-heroes, I’m an agnostic atheist.

        • Lambchopsuey

          I cut to the chase – I’m a gnostic atheist. I don’t understand why we’re supposed to be so much more careful about qualifying our state of unbelief with respect to an imaginary being such as a god, while it’s considered perfectly fine to dismiss other imaginary beings such as pixies and goblins out-of-hand. No I don’t believe any of that stupid bullshit. Unless you’ve got some EVIDENCE to show me that meets my standards for evidence, then it doesn’t exist full stop and I’m not going to demean myself or encourage the delusional by pretending there’s some possibility it exists. Pass me a Pokemon (“I believe it doesn’t exist, but I’m not sure”).

        • Argus

          Woe and betide to thee the day the god Cthulu proves you wrong..

      • Kevin K

        That pretty much describes me as well.

        I will grant that an Spinozan-type god could in principle exist…but it would be irrelevant because that god doesn’t demand anything of us (and Spinoza was famous for arguing that the soul existed but died when the person attached to it died).

        But the type of deity everyone is really talking about — Yahweh/Allah, Krishna, Thor, Zeus — you can’t even begin to talk about those gods until you can come up with a coherent ontology. And no one has (nor can they, because they’re imaginary creatures).

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

      Good point. I forgot about the Omni Cage Match where only one survives.

      I should’ve said, “I’ll grant that for the sake of argument.”

  • Zeta

    A sample of my (still somewhat limited) encounters with apologists on this and other similar blogs. The statements below are not the exact wordings (but the meanings and intents are close enough) and each of the Apologists may actually represent several believers.

    Apologist A: God is infinite. To understand god, you must read 60-70 books of the bible. Not only that you also need “divine revelation” to understand bible verses.

    Apologist B: (On atrocities committed by god) I agree that if these atrocities are committed by a human like me, they are certainly immoral. But if they are committed by god, they are all moral and good because god is perfect. Who are you to question god?

    Apologist C: (On embarrassing and nonsensical verses in their holy book) These are all metaphors. You have to understand them this way …

    Apologist D: The bible does not say how knowledgeable Adam was. How do you know that he did not possess knowledge similar to what we have today?

    Apologist E: (On my claim that there must have been some good and righteous people in Noah’s time, and there were innocent children and babies) How do you know? Were you there?

    • Michael Neville

      There’s other common apologist arguments. I particularly like Apologist F: The Bible is the word of God because the Bible says it’s the word of God.

      • See Noevo

        That *would* be ridiculous.
        I agree with you 100%!

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve got news for you, you ignorant liar. There are Christian apologists who make that argument. Difficult as it is to imagine, there are people even more stupid and ignorant than you.

    • Rt1583

      “How do you know? Were you there?”
      In some circles this is an actively taught response. They know they can’t provide a logical answer so they throw this out there and feel they’ve won the debate because, no you weren’t there.
      Of course this falls apart because, just like you, they weren’t there either so they’ve got nothing to base their argument on to begin with.

      • Argus

        To which one can reply: How do you know Jesus rose from teh dead? Were you there?

    • Lambchopsuey

      Next time, ask how they know which verses are meant to be taken literally and which are supposed to be interpreted as allegory or metaphor!

      • Zeta

        That is an inevitable question to ask but don’t expect a response. That has been what I found.

        • Lambchopsuey

          Yah, they tend to take a vow of silence at that point.

      • Argus

        Their answer: The Guidance of the Holy Spirit (in short….my gut feeling)

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

      That’s a good set of challenges.

      A. I’ve usually seen it the other way around. To leave Christianity, you must read a stack of books to make sure you aren’t making a mistake, but to come in an give us money, just pray the sinner’s prayer.

      C. And since the interpretive structure to make “sense” of these unpleasant verses comes from outside the Bible (indeed, from you), what’s the Bible for? It is simply used to rubber stamp your own views.

      • Argus

        Well..at least it’s not like Scientology..Sea Org members leaving that must PAY BACK all that auditing and crazy Hubbard material.

    • Argus

      “Apologist A: God is infinite. To understand god, you must read 60-70 books of the bible. Not only that you also need “divine revelation” to understand bible verses.”

      Yes you need your Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring (divine revelation).

      “A crummy commercial…son of a bitch!”

      • busterggi

        HEY!!! Ovaltine NEVER did that, all their secret messages were related to the program, they were not commercials.

        I hate to see a grand old product demeaned by incorrect legends.

        • Argus

          Legend? Bah! It was stated thusly by St. Ralphie himself

        • busterggi

          The Farkus is trying to control you – resist it for the love of Dill.

        • Argus

          He had yellow eyes! So, help me, God! Yellow eyes!

  • Rt1583

    Storms in the middle east are sent by gawd to keep ISIS away from Israel ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2016/12/10/god-did-not-send-a-storm-to-prevent-isis-from-entering-israel/ ).

    Storms in Louisiana, well gawd’s not there until the Gov. sees a cloud in the shape of Louisiana and declares it a sign that the worst is over.

  • Argus

    “don’t blame the bad on God. That’s from Man’s fallen nature.”

    Killer Tsunamis are the result of Man’s fallen nature. God cannot seemingly stop said tsunami from killing thousands. Ergo, Man is more powerful than god.

  • TheNuszAbides

    Are we talking about the good and bad that happens in life? They’ll tell
    you how the good in the world points to God’s love or God’s perfect
    design, but don’t blame the bad on God. That’s from Man’s fallen nature.

    can it be a coincidence that in the context of religious disagreement, historical record shows less (if any) discussion of practical solutions to obvious worldly problems than overblown purging of ‘heresy’ and other movement-impurities?

    still on the lookout for churchy thinkers more than a century or two old who showed any interest in the common ground of nurturing The Positives (regardless of attribution) and discouraging The Negatives (regardless of attribution). just seems like the attribution itself getting treated as a huge positive or negative in and of itself always gets in the way.

  • Paul

    “The bias is this: Christians want to interpret or spin the facts to support their preconception. Instead of following the facts where they lead, these Christians would prefer to select and interpret them to show how they can still justify their worldview.”

    Bob,
    ALL worldviews do this, even yours. “…following the facts where they lead…” is a reification fallacy. Facts are physically incapable of leading anyone anywhere. They cannot physically say “Hey, follow me. I’ll lead you to the truth.” All facts must be interpreted. Everyone does this, even scientists. Professor Robert M. Hazen in “The Joy of Science” by The Great Courses talks about preconceptions leading to observations, experiments, identifying patters, hypotheses, or predictions. He even notes “Human imagination, intuition, and chance are all vital elements of the process.”
    What’s a preconception? A preconceived idea or prejudice; forming an idea or opinion before having the evidence for its truth or usefulness.
    Scientists aren’t immune to preconceptions. No one is. We all have them. Which raises the question: What are the preconceptions in your worldview Bob?

    • epeeist

      Facts are physically incapable of leading anyone anywhere.

      Nonsense, facts are truth-makers for propositions.

      Professor Robert M. Hazen in “The Joy of Science” by The Great Courses talks about preconceptions leading to observations, experiments, identifying patters, hypotheses, or predictions.

      Which essentially says that science is done in particular social milieus. However you will note that he does not say “observations, experiments, identifying patters, hypotheses, or predictions” are all relative to a viewpoint.

      We have seen all this before, whether you want to call it, “Nietzsche perspectives”, “Wittgenstein language games”, “Kuhn paradigms” or “Gould non-overlapping magesteria”. They all fail in the same self-referential way.

  • Paul

    Bob,

    Whether you realize it or not, your blog is really nothing more than you engaging in apologetics of your own worldview. Apologetics comes from the Greek word “apologia” meaning to give a defense. You are trying to defend your own worldview. Granted, most of your blog post are “offense apologetics” meaning that you attack other worldviews rather than defend your own.